Into the Mythos

Thoughts, writings and other things having to do with H.P. Lovecraft and horror in general.

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Location: North Haven, CT, United States

Just another Inmate locked up in this world of Madness.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Awaiting Sunset: The Pickman Paintings pt1

"Come here Josh, you've got to see this!"
Joshua Bradmoore turned off his computer and headed out to the shared living room. His roommate, Benjamin Turnik had been out of the apartment since before Joshua woke up that morning. Joshua had been wondering where Ben had gone, being up before noon was a rare thing for Ben.
As he walked into the room he saw that Ben was standing by the Tv, and pointing to a painting that now covered the formerly blank wall next to it.
"Isn't it stunning? What do you think of it?" Ben asked as Josh looked the painting over.
It was a large canvas painting, and for the most part was painted in the Realism style. It showed the corner of a desert mountain, beautiful in the fading sunlight (the sun itself was evident, slowly sinking down behind the mountain). The sands around the mountain swirled as if in a slight breeze. The detail in the painting was incredible, it looked as if the artist had painted each rock, crag, and nook that made up the mountain individually. At the bottom right-hand corner of the painting was the beginning of a cave opening, the light giving way to shadows and darkness. But what drew the eye of Josh was the tips of what looked almost like tentacles that were slowly making their way out of the back of the cave. It looked as if 6 of them were starting to emerge from the darkness deeper in the cave, the source of them unseen. They looked like octopus tentacles, except they were a dusky gray and purple color. They almost looked the color of bruised skin.
"Well, what do you think?" Ben repeated his question, seeming impatient as Josh took the view in.
Josh turned to his friend "Um... OK. I guess. Not sure I understand why someone would ruin a nice desert scene with those tentacles though"
"Ruin?" Ben said, a scowl on his face "Those make the painting!"
Josh shook his head. His roommate had a taste for the strange and bizarre. From his collection of cult B-movies to his eclectic books that he spent so much money on it occurred to Josh that the painting was right up Ben's alley. Unfortunately, Josh didn't share his roommates thirst for the bizarre. He wasn't quite sure how to tell his friend that he wasn't too thrilled at the prospect of having this hanging in what was supposed to be a shared living room.
"What is it called?" Josh asked to delay having to suggest the painting be removed to Ben's bedroom.
"It's titled Awaiting Sunset. I got it at the auction house over on Lilly Street. They actually had 2 different ones by him but I got outbid on the other one." Ben replied, staring longingly at the desert scene.
"By who?" Josh asked
"Oh, I don't know who won it. It was by someones representative, the person themselves wasn't even there. Personally, I don't think they should allow that. if you want one of the items you should have to be there in person to win it" Ben looked sad at the thought of having lost the other painting.
"No" said Josh slowly "I meant who is this painting by?"
"By Pickman of course. One of the best cult painters EVER. His work is very rare, I've only heard about maybe 10 of his painting known to exist. I'd never heard of this one in fact. The man at the auction house said they had been brought in by someone who wanted to remain private, but had been authenticated by the auction house's resident expert." Ben took a few steps back to be able to see the grandeur of the picture from a different angle. "I so wish i could have won the other one too. it was entitled Alone in N'Gai Woods and was stunning."
Josh turned and walked to the kitchen. Pouring himself a glass of soda he screwed up his courage. "Ben, I don't want you to think I don't appreciate your love of the macabre, but I'm not too sure I necessarily want that hanging in the living room. It is supposed to be a shared space, that's what we agreed on when we moved in and it's supposed to be a joint decision to put anything in it." Taking a sip of his drink he awaited the rebuke that was sure to come.
"But... How can you say that? This is a masterpiece! I can't just hide it away in my bedroom!" Ben sounded hurt and confused.
Josh knew that Ben sometimes didn't understand how others could possibly not appreciate the things that he himself did. They had run into this problem before, over the bookcase. Ben had placed a bookcase in the living room to display some of his more rare and bizarre collection. He and Josh had argued over it for several days before Ben finally agreed to move the collection into his room. He just couldn't grasp that such books as Edward Derby's posthumous collected poems Dreams of a Dying Soul, Randolph Carter's rare story The Eyes of Hypnos or Edgar Gordon's nightmare causing last book Evil Cast in Stone might not be everyone's choice of coffee table reading.
They had had a similar problem over Ben's movie collection. Josh had been forced to have Ben get a Tv for his bedroom after Ben had played a video recording of an opera called the Veil of Time by the Addleton brothers. Some of the story had caused Josh's then girlfriend to be disturbed and she had left to go home. Josh, who had expected the night to end in a much different fashion, had been quite upset. Then when Ben played a film called Geheimnisse Eines Unterzeewelt during a party, and some of the images made people sick, Josh had exploded at him.
Sometimes Josh worried that moving in with his old friend had been a mistake. While they had been great friends through 6 years of collage, since then they had definitely walked down different paths, and perhaps soon they would have to diverge completely.
Yet so far the fights had all passed. In fact after the last one Ben had gone out and bought Josh a pair of expensive Nike shoes to make up for ruining the party. Josh worried that accepting them meant he was appearing to be able to be bought off, yet he liked the shoes enough to let the matter pass.
"Look" Josh spoke, trying to be diplomatic "I know how much you love the weird stuff you collect, but we have to live here together and since I don't inflict my county music or Louis L'Amour books on you then the least you can do is keep the stranger stuff you own to yourself ok?"
"Look, let me just keep it up till next weekend Ok?" Ben asked "I'm having Abraham come over on Friday and I know he'll love to see this. The lighting's all wrong in my room for it to be viewed properly. Once he's seen it I'll move it ok?"
"Well... Ok. But just till the weekend." Josh agreed reluctantly. He didn't like the idea of staring at the tentacles all week, they bothered him worse than they should. But he also wanted to avoid another big argument with his friend.
Work kept Josh busy that week. He got home late most nights, ate and went to bed. He barely saw Ben at all, but whenever he did his friend seemed to be just sitting around the living room staring at the painting. Josh couldn't wait till Friday came and went so the thing would be gone. He was glad that Ben was always in the living room, for some reason Josh didn't like the idea of being in the room alone with the painting. Which he knew was ridiculous, but the feeling was there nevertheless. Every time he walked by it his eyes seemed drawn towards the tentacles coming out of the cave. It gave him the creeps.
At one point, on Wednesday night just before he went to bed, Josh stopped and took a closer look at the painting. He noticed that he had been wrong before, there weren't 6 tentacles but 8. What was worse that when you looked up close you could see that the tentacles had suckers on them, and in each sucker was what looked like small deformed face with a mouth full of sharp teeth. Josh called Ben's attention to this, but Ben just looked at him blandly, as if he already knew about it, until Josh shook his head and walked away.
When Josh got home on Thursday it was very late. One of the night workmen had called out at the last minute and Josh had been forced to stay till they found someone to come in. So by the time he drove in the driveway he felt like skipping dinner and going straight to bed. He had already told his boss he was going to take the next day off and give himself a nice long weekend.
As he walked in he saw Ben standing in the living room, staring closely at the painting. Josh noticed that Ben was wearing the same clothes as the day before. In fact, as Josh thought about it, Ben had been in those clothes the last few days. Ben's hair was slick and oily, as if unwashed. He had a lean look, his skin looked sallow and blotchy. A horrible idea hit Josh and he slowly walked into the living room not even bothering to take off his shoes as he entered.
"Ok, tell me you haven't spent the whole week just sitting around staring at your painting" Josh said as he walked towards his friend.
"I have to watch it." Ben said in a small far away voice "It changes when left alone."
Josh saw that Ben was shaking slightly.
"Changes? What the hell are you talking about?" Josh demanded, wondering if he would have to deal with another argument.
"When I bought it, there were just 4 tentacles barely visible from the darkness in the cave. Now there are 10 of them. The sun has fallen further down behind the mountain and whatever is in there is coming out." Ben looked over at Josh as he spoke, and Josh shuddered himself at the look of horror and sadness in his friends face.
Josh wondered if his friend maybe was suffering a nervous breakdown. Too many horror books, too many late nights watching disturbing films. How much till it all became unhealthy for the human psyche?
Josh walked up to his roommate. He put his arm around Ben's shoulders and turned him towards the painting.
"Look, I counted the tentacles myself the other night and there were eight." Josh told him gently.
"How many are there now?" Ben asked, refusing to look at the painting before him.
Sighing Josh turned and counted the things emerging from the dark cave. Then he counted again. He let go of Ben's shoulders and counted a third time.
"See" Ben spoke as Josh rubbed his eyes and re-counted once more "It's not just me. Whatever is in there has been waiting for darkness. Now darkness is almost there. Soon it will be free. Free to come forth. I don't want to know what it looks like, but I'm afraid to stop looking." By the end Ben's voice was a whisper.
Josh reached up towards the cave. He could clearly see the ten tentacles, one of which actually seemed to be pressed up against the edge of the painting. It was darker on the canvas, the sun was no longer visible next to the mountain and the shadows had grow longer. Gingerly Josh put his hand up to the painting.
"WAIT!" Ben cried
But it was too late. Josh's hand seemed to press against the canvas for a moment, then in an effect that rivaled anything by Hollywood it appeared to push through into the painting itself. Ben's eyes went wide as Josh looked stunned for a moment.
Then Josh began to scream.
Ben could see his friends hand in the painting. The tentacle near the edge was now wrapped around the hand and part of the arm that could be seen in the image. Josh yelled at the top of his lungs as he seemed to be violently jerked towards the painting. More of his arm slid into it, and the moving tentacles in the painting moved towards the arm, wrapping it tighter and tighter in their clutches.
"Help me!' Josh yelled, looking over at Ben. Ben's face had gone white and his breath was coming in gasps.
Again Josh yelled, trying to break Ben out of his stupor "For the love of GOD Ben, HELP ME!"
"IT HURTS! IT"S EATING ME!" Josh yelled even louder, the veins on his neck standing out as he desperately tried to pull himself free. Ben could hear the squeaking of Josh's Nike shoes as the slid on the floor.
Ben stared at the scene before him. It was too much. After a week of barely sleeping and not eating and watching the horror get worse he just couldn't stand it anymore.
Ben fainted.
When Ben awoke the first thing he did was scream.
Looking up he saw no sign of Josh. The painting was there above him, but something was much different about it. Slowly getting to his feet, Ben peered closely at the cave entrance. There were no tentacles coming from it. The light in the painting was bright, and the sun could be seen in the upper left hand corner.
Ben looked around the apartment. There was no sign of Josh. Very slowly Ben tried to piece together what had happened. Vaguely he felt that something bad had occurred, but his memories seemed to stop at some point in the last few days, and try as he might he just couldn't recall what was bothering him.
Not knowing what else to do, Ben crept to his bedroom and went to sleep.
The next day he saw that there was still no sign of Josh. He called up Josh's work and found that Josh had taken the day off. Ben figured that perhaps he had made plans without telling him.
Yet ever time Ben walked into the living room his eyes seemed drawn to the painting on the wall. Something about it bothered him badly.
It was that night, while showing the painting to his friend Abraham that Ben finally put his finger on the problem. Abraham loved the painting, pointing out that you could actually see a single tentacle coming out from the darkness of the cave. But that wasn't what made Ben decide to sell the painting to Abe, at a fraction of the cost. It was when Abe asked, quite innocently, why there was what looked like a small Nike shoe lying forlorn at the entrance of the cave.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Till Death Do Us Part

She lies next to me on the bed. She's asleep now. I lie here quietly and wonder if what I'm doing is right. I love her. I've always loved her. I believe in some place deep inside she loves me as well. Some part of her that is still the woman I married. That's why I'm still alive.
It's dark in our room. I kept the lights off while I did my work. Making no noise, although she never seems to stir no matter what movements I make, yet I feel inside me that if she know then I would be in danger.
Gently I touch her. Her skin, if it can still be called that, is hard and rough. More like hard wood than flesh. I cannot feel any trace of a heart beat. There's no sound of her breathing. No movement to say that this is not a statue beside me.
Her size is still astounding. I'm amazed the bed can hold her. I think it was the first thing I noticed when she started to change. I've heard of people putting on weight fast, but not like this. I thought perhaps she was pregnant. But even then I think she knew.
It was all because of that book. I should have thrown it away once I realized what it was, but she begged me. She said she needed it for her studies. But part of me knew. She always loved the idea of forbidden knowledge. The thought of something beyond science. No, even at the beginning I knew it was far beyond her masters thesis for her collage courses.
But I didn't connect her growth to it at first. I had no way of knowing. Then she started to pull away from me. I thought it was just hormones, that old male stand-by when women do things we don't understand. She barely talked to me, didn't like having me around after all these years.
Things had been so good for so long. We got married just after I graduated collage. I worked two jobs to allow her to continue her studies. We bought the house four years after the marriage. Everything seemed to be so good. She got her degree, decided to go for another one. One of my jobs promoted me, with a big enough raise to allow me to quit the other job. We spent the weekends driving to universities out of state to allow her to consult books not available at her collage. We both liked to fish and would rent a cottage in the summer and compete to see who caught the biggest.
Then she came to me one night and said she needed a lot of money to purchase a book for her studies. I think she would have done it behind my back if she could have, but it was too much money for me not to notice. The book was called De Vermis Mysteriis, a Latin book that was apparently very rare. I agreed, sad to think that we might have to cancel our trip this year but willing to put her degree before fishing.
She knew how much the trip meant to me and even suggested that I go on the trip alone.
Was she trying to protect me? Or afraid I'd realize what was happening and try and stop it? Did she know what would happen even then?
Several weeks passed without anything unusual. But then the weight gain started. I wanted her to get a test done. She agreed, but for some reason I felt, even then, that there was something she wasn't saying. But the pregnancy idea faded once she started to change.
That last time we talked....
She begged me to leave. Told me she didn't know how long she could control it. I knew by then. The disappearances, the stains on the floor, the strange lights at night. I knew by the rough texture of her skin. Even then I couldn't resist her when she told me to leave the book alone, to not destroy it. She was always the strong one in our relationship. But I wouldn't leave. I couldn't. What good was my life without her? After all these years, who I am was too wrapped up in her, our lives too entwined.
I had a breakdown. It was after the little Marchen boy up the street went missing. Pets and vagrants were one thing, but a child? But by then she didn't even pretend to listen to me. She knew I'd never go to the police. Or maybe even then she didn't care.
So I made myself sick. They took me to the hospital. For two weeks I was in and out of consciousness. She never came to see me. She couldn't go outside in daylight by then. Not without someone seeing her.
By the time I got back she was as she is now.
Yet I still love her. She is still beautiful to me, even if she no longer has a face.
To my amazement the ring is still there. It's bent and twisted, but it still lies on what was once finger. That's how I know she still loves me. That, and she hasn't killed me.
Perhaps I would have never had the courage to do anything. Perhaps I'd have just lived this way, tending her by daylight, ignoring the blood I sometimes found in the house when she had been out at night. Sleeping in the afternoon next to this monolith that was once my wife.
But yesterday I finally knew it had to end. When I saw what was in the basement. She must have started it before she lost her mouth, read something out of the book that caused it to form. It's growing, even overnight I knew it had grown. Is that what the bodies are fed too? After she's done with them? What will it become? It moved a little, when I went down today, and I could swear it was watching me. How it could without eyes is a mystery, but then again so is much of what has happened.
So I got what I needed today, while I was grocery shopping. A quick stop at the gas station, not long enough to vary my timetable so as to make her suspicious.
Now I lie here. The lighter is in my hand. The smell of the propane is almost overpowering, but the window next to me is letting in just enough of a breeze to keep me from passing out. I can hear a noise from downstairs. It knows what I'm doing, but even It cannot make her rise before she is rested. I know her schedule too well. I have almost an hour left.
So I'll wait a bit.
To think back on good times.
To think back on regrets.
While the thing in the basement stirs and struggles.
While the moon rises higher.
While the tears fall down my face.
A little while to lie here next to her and love her just a bit longer.
Just a little while longer.......

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Lesser of Two Evils

Bobby Lawson knew that he was one of the true terrors of the world. He held many people in awe and fear of himself. He had power, and a black enough heart to use that power. But things change.
Bobby Lawson knew he had to keep running. It's wasn't that anyone was after him, at least not yet. But if the found Jake then they would be coming. Yet what else could he have done? Sometimes you have to go to extremes when someone disrespects you.
Jake had disrespected him alright. He tried to withhold money and that was just bad stupidity. There was no way Bobby could let that slide, no way no how. So he had dealt with it. But now he was running. What a bad twist all this had become. Cause Jake hadn't been just another wastehead. Jake was the son of a cop, and things like that didn't stay buried for long.
So Bobby bought a ticket for the bus. He used cash to keep from leaving a trail. He didn't want anyone seeing his name on a ticket slip, that was how they followed you down according to the tv shows. He knew that if he could just make it down south, down where the sun was warm and the water was blue. not like up here in this dirty city. Not like where he had lived the last twelve years of his life. He should never had moved up this way. But he had thought that he could make it big in the big city.
In a way he had, just not the way he had planned. Yet he had been the go to go. The guy who could get it through. The man the cops didn't notice, didn't stop, didn't search. He'd been doing drives and drops for six years and had plenty of money saved up. That was one of the big mistakes that the other dealers made. You don't go spending it on bling or shine, you could always steal that crap or get some wastehead to give it to you. You sure didn't flash things. That's why the cops left him alone, he looked boring. 5"6", brown hair, brown eyes, scruffy beard, he just had the kind of face you could ignore. He didn't spend money much on clothes, jeans and a nice t-shirt had always done for him. You didn't waste it on whores, they would do just about anything you asked for a sniff of the white gold. If someone did wrong you dealt with them quick and hard. That way others would learn to not do wrong. You kept your head low and kept the money in your hand. That's why he had so much in the fake bank account that one of the wasteheads who was a banker had set up for him. Enough to run and hide and live life nice and quiet for a few years till maybe Jake had been forgotten.
So he sat on the bus, the one headed south. He figured that there were still places in the Keys where a man could work on one of them boats and just lie low. Find a nice place, wait for time to do it's job. If only that stupid loser Jake had paid up then none of this would be necessary. But that was life.
Well, not for Jake it wasn't.
The bus rolled through the night. Bobby dozed off and on, sometimes reading the book he had brought. It wasn't a very good one, he'd picked one pretty much at random from the selection at the little store in the bus depot. Mostly though he just stared out the window. The scenery changed as the bus traveled, yet in another way it was all the same. Just an endless array of houses and trees and grass. In a way Bobby wasn't really seeing anything. His mind just kept going over the last few days. How quick things changed. He could still see the look on Jakes face as he brought the bat down again and again. He could see the blood splash across the walls. It took forever to clean the room up afterwards.
Bobby got off at every stop they made, to use the bathroom and get food or drink. He always used the bathroom, just because he hated the idea that he might have to go during one of the long stretches when they weren't stopping for a while. Unfortunately Bobby did have to go during one of the stops. Not a nice quick stand, but a good long sit down. Too long of a sit down in fact. By the time he got out the bus was nowhere in sight. That was bad. What was worse was that this was a little piss town stop, there wasn't even any ticket person on duty. Just an old soda machine and some bathrooms.
Pissed off at something other than recent events Bobby decided he might as well crash at the terminal for the night. By sleeping on the bench near the drop off point he'd get woken up by the next one to stop in and he could just buy a ticket off the driver. While the bench wasn't the most comfortable thing he' ever been on it definitely wasn't the worst either. At least it was long enough for him to stretch his legs out, unlike the bus seats. Glad that he didn't have any luggage to worry about, and that he always carried his book in his jacket pocket, Bobby lied down and was out cold within minutes of his head hitting his curled up jacket that he was using for a pillow.
When he was woken up it wasn't by a bus. It was still very dark out. In fact there was a heavy fog out that made it impossible for Bobby to see very much. It was like he was cut off from the world. If he was in a better mood this would have pleased Bobby, he never did like the world that much. Instead it just got him aggravated, a state that Bobby was spending a lot of time in lately. He rolled over and was about to drift off when his mind asked him what it had been that had woken him in the first place. He sat up, streaching the night out of his sore muscles. Seemed like his back hurt far worse than it should have, but the cold and damp of the air could do that to a man. Wiping sleep from his eyes, Bobby tried to look around. Nothing but the fog met his eyes. He got up and went to get a soda out of one of the machines. The sound the coins made seemed very loud in the dark, and the thud of the can as it fell inside made Bobby jump. He cursed at himself, both for being silly and for the whole situation. Drinking his Coke he went back to the bench and lied down again. Yet still he didn't close his eyes. While he couldn't see anything his body seemed to be trying to tell him something was wrong. Sitting up again Bobby closed his eyes and listened. It was an old trick he learned when he was talking to some of the wasteheads, ignore them and pay attention to the words and sounds. It was in what they weren't telling him that the resal information was, in this case it was in what he couldn't see that the real info was.
It was quiet. Maybe a bit too quiet. The kind of quiet you get when someone was trying real hard to be quiet. The bugs were holding their breath, which meant that something was close enough to them to make them shut up.
Bad vibes. That's what his Dad would have called it back in the day. Bobby checked the Glock 9mm that he had ticked into his pants leg. It was a smaller, and most importantly, mostly plastic gun that could still do a share of damage. Pulling it free from where it had stayed during his long journey Bobby made his way back to the building. The fog was so bad that just standing at the side of the building he could no longer see the bench that should have been but about a little over a dozen feet away. Bobby tried to think about who could be out there. Seemed like a far cry from where the cops would try and nab him if they had found Jake. None of the drug dealers he'd dealt with had any reason to track him down. Maybe someone connected to Jake himself. Either that or some local nut who just didn't know who he was screwing with.
Tucking himself away in the shadow of the building, as far back from the street light as he could so that anyone coming up the area would be backlit. He wouldn't have much time to spot them, the fog would cover them quite far into the bus terminal area. He didn't savor the idea of shutting down some unknown in a town who's name he didn't know with no idea how to put some distance between him and the place. There were far too many unknowns for Bobby. Part of him wanted to just turn and fade. Find somewhere in town where he could do a break and sleep. Check the bus stop in the morn.
Then he heard a noise. But it wasn't the right type of noise. A footstep he could deal with. He expected a shuffle perhaps. What he got was a slither. Like some thing slimy dragging slowly over concrete. It only lasted a second or two, just long enough to hear but short enough to make you think maybe you didn't hear it.
Bobby strained his eyes, trying desperately to see what was out there. He listened hard as he could. Yet for several heartbeats there was nothing. He could smell the ocean out there somewhere, off in the distance. Then the slither again. Soft, wet sounding. Not the sort of noise you should hear at a bus terminal. Bobby realized that he had goosebumps on his arms. That made him mad. He had never been a coward, and he wasn't going to let some small town jack-off make him shake. Instead he decided that he was going to put the fear of Bobby into this damn hick. Crouching low, Bobby made his was down to the side street that the bus terminal was attached too. He figures that whoever it was must be trying to sneak up on the terminal, having seen him there earlier. So if he can swing low and come up behind them then he can give them a night they'll tell the grandkids about.
Staying low Bobby crouch walks towards where he thinks he heard the sound. He moves slowly, thinking about how some small time bad boys were about to meet the real thing. He was big time, bigger than anything this town had ever seen. A dark god come to smite the unbelievers. Maybe after he'd done his fun tonight he'd stick around for a while. He had been a big player, but in a small town he could rule with a smile and blood. Jake could be forgotten, and he would set up here and stay awhile. Rock the boat and change this into his own personal motherland. The more he thinks, the cockier he feels. He can hear his blood pumping in his ears as his adrenaline pushes him to the brink. He loved this feeling. Knowing that he was one bad man about to perpetrate some cruelty on the world. He couldn't remember the name of this town, but he did remember the sign saying the population had been a small number. He covered more people than lived here in maybe four square blocks of Harlem. This was a duck pond, a spit spot on the map. Just the type of place he could stay low while still standing tall. If he had to bury a few more bodies to do it then so be it. He would show this place terror as it hadn't ever known.
Bobby heard the noise again, just in front of him. He thought about running up screaming, guns blazing like in a movie. But another part of him felt it would be better to sneak slow and whisper in the ear. Freeze their water in their bladder. If he had to shoot, he'd do so quick, and bury the bodies in the fog.
Suddenly Bobby could see a darker patch in the fog. Yet it seemed far too big. Had he miscalculated and was approaching the building from the side? Could he have overshot in the deep fog and dark? Moving closer Bobby watched the fog thin until he caught sight of what was ahead of him. Just as the glow of the streetlight caught it he once again heard the slither noise.
The fog cleared, Bobby's eyes took a moment or two to adjust to the sight ahead of him.
Then Bobby Lawson screamed.
And screamed.
He raised the gun, still screaming, and fired.

Bobby Lawson's body was discovered later that night after calls to the police brought someone out to investigate the noises. His body was brought back to offices of the local doctor. It was determined in a very short amount of time that death had been caused by a single self inflicted shot to the underside of the jaw, the exit on top of his head removing most of his brown hair. It took very little time for his ID to be discovered from his drivers license.
Yet the doctor, who had seen far too many corpses for such a small town over the years noted in his log that while the death was obviously suicide, the look of pure horror on the victims face suggested that what ever he had seen just prior to his death must have been truly terrible.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Scene Through a Glass

Sheriff Roadsmen will be here soon.
In what remains of my mind I wonder what he will think of this house and the horrors that await him. In some way I feel sorry for him. He's an old man now, years of peaceful service to this little town. He doesn't deserve to be the one to have to deal with the aftermath of what has happened. But maybe no one deserved to have this happen in the first place. So he'll just be one more tainted innocent thrust into darkness by that damn piece of glass.
That fat bastard Eric is lying next to the front door. That'll be the first thing the Sheriff will see when he comes in. Not that Eric is really fat anymore. Not after having so much of himself removed and spread across the living room walls.
Then there's Ambrose in the hallway. And in the bathroom. And in the dining room. And the garage out back.
Little Devon's screams still ring in my ears. That poor boy. I'm sure the smell will lead Sheriff Roadsmen to open up the fireplace eventually.
Beverly is in the upstairs bedroom, her eyeless face staring out from between the sheets. Well except for her breasts, those big suckers were stuffed inside the microwave.
It'll take the Sheriff a while to make his way to the downstairs, and by then the rats might have had a field day with what's left of Annette. He's going to need dental records to identify her.
Then there's Alex. Oh my sweet Alex. I can't help but wonder how they'll get him down from there. It took so many nails to hold him up.
Of course Brad's body is in the backyard deep in the rosebushes. I figure they won't find him till they look down from the broken window that cut his body into ribbons.
I'm not sure if anyone will ever find Tanya. I'm not sure anyone could ever find Tanya. I'm not sure anyone should ever find Tanya.
I know they'll blame it on me, that's why I have to write this. To try and let them know. They have to destroy it, have to find a way to break it or melt it or bury it forever. I have to make them understand. I didn't kill them, not technically. They had to die, they wanted to die. If you had seen what they had seen then you would too. There was no way to live with that image in their heads. Of course, Eric got the glass originally, but since Alex and mine house was the only one that had a window the same size it was done here. But it was Tanya and I who decide to try and spook everyone, so maybe in that way it is slightly my fault. It's just that we didn't believe it would work.
Life can become so boring when you are hitting around 40 and every day seems the same. You work your job and drink your wine and watch TV as you go to sleep. We all used to be such the adventurous group. But time dulls the flames of youth. Till one day it's your 43rd birthday and you can't think of anything you've really done since collage. It was Eric, graying and growing fatter every year, who suggested we reinvoke our old fear club. Back when we would spend the night at graveyards. Or sit up all night watching horror movies. Researching serial killers. Writing letters to those in custody. Always something to take the breath away. Tanya actually went so far as to join a mortuary school for a year. We had stopped after Ambrose got sent to jail for grave robbing that time. I still have that necklace somewhere. I should have worn it tonight.
But what had thrilled us as young adults seemed to hold no terror anymore as adults. Oh, we weren't about to do anything too stupid. All of us have grown up so much. No graveyards or breaking into a funeral home. Yet the safe activities held no fun. Movies just didn't scare us anymore. Nor did books or paintings. Not the way they used to. It was if as we aged we lost something inside of us. Traded it for maturity. That spark inside us that we had once cherished so much.
I don't know where Eric got the glass. He didn't say. But we all knew what glass it was. In the world of horror it was a legend. The rumors about it was that if you looked through it on the right night after saying the right things it would let you see other places. It was supposedly created in Asia in a place called Leng. Sounded like fun.So Alex decided to install it in the attic window. We had to wait till the winter solstice to try it though, according to the legends. It was while we were waiting for that day that Tanya and I came up with our plan. I think it was because of Eric. He had gotten so smug over the years. He spoke in that annoying lawyer voice, always making you feel like he was talking down to you. It just grated on our nerves. So we figured that if we took his little piece of glass and made it seem real maybe we could make him choke on his words. Oh, we didn't want to hurt anyone, just find a way to bring back the feeling we once had, that beautiful feeling of terror that seemed so far away now.
So after Alex had installed the glass in the attic window Tanya and I went to work. We added another layer of glass behind it, with a small walk area between the two pieces of glass. It was difficult, especially since we could only work on it when Alex wasn't home. It took the better part of the month. Then we had a painting of a desert landscape put on a large tapestry. It was very realistic looking. We installed it in the space against the back glass, so that Tanya could stand in front of it and appear to be on a different place than the window should be looking at. I have to admit the effect wasn't that great, but we figured that between the dim light in the attic and the state of mind everyone would be in when they saw it it should work just fine.
Tanya would be wearing a rag robe and a yellow mask. This was another part of the legend. One of the places that the glass was supposed to allow one to see was the dwelling of the King in Yellow. He was a bit of a mythological character of the occult. Not much was known about him, and what was would make a priest shudder.I still remember everyone getting here. What a group we made. Alex and I were dressed to the hilt. He had on a full old time tuxedo, with top hat and tails. I had on a green and blue dress that looked straight out of a medieval picture. Ambrose and Devon came next. Ambrose was in his military suit that they use for formal occasions. While Devon wasn't part of our old group he came with his dad since even at 15 he was a big fan of horror. He dressed as a swashbuckler, right down to having a sword on his hip. I just loved his cape.
Next to arrive was Brad. He looked so handsome in his arabian outfit. An avid exercise freak his body more than filled out the costume in a nice way. Speaking of filling out, Beverly came in just behind him. My god, that woman filled out her shirt almost obscenely. Dressed as a gypsy I felt jealous of the way her figure had seemed to improve over the years. While I had begun to show signs of sag and weight gain she looked like she could be in movies. Of course no movie starlet had that much up front, it hurt my back just looking at it. Poor little Devon was practically drooling over her. Of course so were all the other men, but he hadn't learned how to hide it.
Eric was late of course. He and Annette drove up a good half and hour after every one else. I could tell by the look on my poor friends face that he had been being his usual charming self. That's one of the curses of not being able to drive, and since Eric was the only one who passed by her house on the way she got stuck dealing with him. If it weren't for the fact that Alex still considered Eric his little buddy I doubt any of us would have stayed friends with him over the years. He was wearing what was supposed to be almost royal robes, but on him it looked more like a purple tent. Annette, in contrast, looked positively adorable in her japanese kimono. She must have spent hours on the makeup.
We had dinner, which I must say I outdid myself with. The roast duck was perfect, and the wine flowed freely.
Everyone was a little disappointed when I said that Tanya had been forced to work for the night. As a nurse it made perfect sense and no one questioned the lie. Only I knew that she had been upstairs since before Alex had gotten home from work and was just waiting for us to start. I was nice enough to run her up a plate of food while everyone was eating.
Of course all anyone talked about was the glass. Eric wouldn't tell us how he got it, and in truth I doubted that it was real. Yet he did say that it had been involved in a missing persons case he'd dealt with not long ago. This made me suspect that he had used illegal means to come by it. That made me nervous. At my age I wasn't interested in explaining to the police what I was doing with stolen propery or missing evidence. But we had come too far and I figured that after tonight we be giving it back to Eric. Giving it back with interest in fact.
I have to admit, Tanya looked almost freaky in her outfit. She hid against the attic wall as we all headed upstairs. All she had to do was wait till Alex had said the ritual and then she'd pull a cord to make the desert backdrop fall. I figured when everyone saw her in her outfit against that desert landscape it should make a few hearts beat faster.We almost didn't do it in fact. I had underestimated how much wine we went through.
Alex kept trying to be frisky with me. Annette had to be helped up the stairs. Brad wasn't feeling well. He said he felt nauseas, and boy did he look it. Ambrose was getting mad because damn Beverly was having fun torturing poor Devon. The kid was doing his best to hide the effect she was having on him. Of course it made him walk a little off. I think she thought it was funny, but Ambrose looked about ready to spit. At one point she stopped right in front of Devon and bent down to fix her shoes, and his whole face went red as he could see right down her blouse. Ambrose just about left on the spot.Oh, how I wished he had. I wish now that something had gone wrong, that we hadn't gone through with it.But we did. Alex pulled out the old leather bound book of so called spells. The moon was coming right in through the window, it made the whole attic look bright. The whole group was on their toes with anticipation. I still don't think any of us expected anything, but just to be trying something like this was giving the old nerves a tingle. Alex started reading a the clock began to strike midnight.
It was then, I think, that I knew something was wrong. The air started to feel almost greasy. It became hard to breath. I could feel the hairs on my neck standing up. Could I have stopped it then? Would it have been possible to make Alex stop reading? I'm not sure. I think once some things have started there's just too much momentum to bring them to a halt.
The glass went misty. Like if someone had just gotten out of the shower. I could swear I heard someone scream, far off. Like I was hearing it in a dream. Then the glass began to clear. Part of me still expected to see Tanya and the desert scene.
It wasn't.
I looked like some kind of throne room. It resonated with ancient age. There was dust coating everything. It reminded me of pictures of the pyramids, not in look but in that feel of distant time. A feeling of aeons passed, or distances and passages of time that the human mind can't, or won't, imagine. There was a chair. A very regal looking chair. yet also in a state of disrepair. The arms were cracked and the velvet was rotted. You almost expected it to fall apart if touched. Yet it must have been sturdy, or else he couldn't have been sitting on it.
I couldn't begin to tell you how big he was. It seemed like he was both emancipated and yet at the same time his presence filled the whole world. He was dressed in rags that at one time may have been royal robes. They were of course Yellow. His face was covered by the mask. It was palid that mask, but I couldn't tell you what it looked like. The harder you stared at it the more it seemed to shift beneath your gaze. Yet you could feel the horror of his gaze, even though I don't think you could see his eyes. It felt like he was filling your mind, filling your soul. I couldn't breath. There was something about him that drew you to him. He radiated rage and madness and terror. Yet there was also a deep feeling of sadness emanating from him too.
Then I noticed her. She sat at his feet with her head against his knee. Her eyes were bleeding, just a flow of seemingly neverending blood. She was dressed in rags like him. I knew it was Tanya. I didn't know how she had gotten with him, but I knew she was lost. Her face was slack, yet even through the blood that came from them I could see the desperation in her eyes. The almost bottomless fear. She was aware of what had happened, and it had snapped her mind. My best friend of the past twenty years was in hell right in front of me.
Then the King reached out. His hand passed through where the glass should have been, right from his throne room into our attic. He touched me. I could feel his withered hand, more like a shriveled claw, as it touched my shoulder. I wanted to scream, I wanted to run, but all I could do was stand there and watch him caress me. I knew then. I knew he wanted us all. Wanted us there next to him, sitting on the floor to worship him as Tanya was doing. We would be his royal court. Forever at his feet. Forever bonded to him in all his despair and grotesque majesty.
Brad is who broke the spell. He dove for the glass. I was sure he would crash straight into the throne, go right into the glass the same way that the King had reached out of it. But he didn't. The glass didn't break either though. Instead Brad passed right through it and crashed out the glass that Tanya and I had built behind it. I could see the broken glass cutting into his skin, as if it was all in slow motion. Slicing him open, piericing his face and body. Cutting him to shreds. Then he fell. I could picture him crashing into the rose bushes at the base of the back wall of the house. Yet he never made a sound.
The King wasn't there anymore, it was back to just being glass again. The horror we had seen was gone, but not inside of us. I could still see him in my mind, could still feel his touch against my skin. Somehow the glass from Leng was still intact. Somehow his image was still in our eyes. Burned there as if we had looked at the sun.
Beverly started to scream, big gasping screams that just didn't stop. Alex wept. I felt so bad for him. All I could think was that he would end up in that room with the King for eternity. It was then that I knew what had to be done. That none of us could live to be drawn into that horrible place. Devon ran down the stairs. He was clawing at his ears. I looked around and saw Alex's tool box. Eric looked at me, and I knew he understood. So we went to work, holding back the madness as we dealt with each of them. Freed them from what the future held. I could never had done it without his help. None of them resisted. They knew it was for the best.
It was after they were all done, after they had all be allowed to escape the vision in their minds, that I took care of Eric. But in a way that was the worst of it. Because he said something as the last of the life drained from his eyes, with his intestines drying against the wall. His last words to me as he left this world. They have left me in a panic.
That's why I sit here waiting for Sheriff Roadsman. Why I can't finish the job on myself. His last words that convinced me that living with this horror is the better alternative. I have to convince them to lock me away for eternity. To live my life out in a room somewhere, where I can try and figure out a way to deny this fate that awaits me. I can't die. I mustn't. The others, the poor souls that I have damned. I must live to find a way to free them, and to free myself.
"He's waiting for us in the beyond...."
It was the last thing that fat bastard said to me. He could see the King past the darkness. I must live, I won't join his court. I'll find a way to beat him. To escape. I did nothing wrong, I don't deserve this fate.
Oh God help me find a way.

The following trascript was entered into evidence in the case of Helena Elliot. Despite these writing and the fact that she had to be kept sedated throughout the trial, Mrs. Elliot's insanity plea was rejected by the court. Due to the severe violence of her crimes she was sentenced to death and executed by the state 11/13/05. The Elliot's estate has become property of the state and will be auctioned off next month.

Monday, October 23, 2006


My grandfather, Albert Helzinberg, died last month.
I hadn't really known the man. My parents had died in a bizarre accident when I was six. I was raised by my Aunt Tilly, my mother's sister. Because of this I didn't have much to do with my fathers side of the family. Aunt Tilly actually refused to talk about the old man, she seemed almost afraid of him when I would ask her about about my family. I can't say when I had last seen my Gandad. Yet a few days after his death I got called to see his lawyer.
Apparently he had left me a small inheritance. Very small actually. It consisted mostly of his library. He had been quite the book collector, and since most of his money had been taken up by funeral payments and other expenses, all that was left of his belonging for me to get were his collection.
I was surprised by all of this. I told my Aunt, and she said to just refuse to accept anything that was his. This struck me as odd, and wasteful. It wasn't like my Aunt to throw away something that might be worth money. But she was adamant that nothing good would come from having anything to do with my Grandfather.
It was on a Friday when the books finally arrived at my apartment in Brooklyn. The UPS man had me sign, then started to bring in box after box of books. There must have been hundreds. They filled my spare bedroom and most of my living room area.
I figured I could maybe go through them and see if any were worth any money. Perhaps put them up on E-bay and see what I could get for them. After all I could use the cash much more than the clutter. Not that I'm drowning in debt or anything, but there's a difference between treading water and swimming. I hoped that if a few of these were rare old books maybe I could manage a nice vacation out of them.
I took a weekend off to unpack the books, piling them up as best I could in different piles based on if I knew the titles, if they looked old, or if they seemed like trash. It was going pretty good when I came upon the locked box. It was inside one of the UPS boxes they had used, but it was leather and very old looking. It was heavy and had an old rusted lock on it with a key still in it. This got my attention. Clearing up a space I began to see if I could get the box open. Unfortunately it resisted my efforts, the lock was rusted just too much, and since I didn't want to damage it there was only so much force I was willing to use.
I went to the store later that day and got myself a can of WD-40. I ended up using almost the whole can on the old lock, but after a while I was able to turn the key. The box opened with a high pitched grinding noise and a release of rather noxious fumes. Inside the box were 5 books. They looked odd, each very old and with a binding that almost looked like leather, but if so it was no leather I had ever seen before. Almost a pinkish color. Each book was written in some foreign language that I couldn't read. The first was entitled De Vermis Mysteriis, the second was Unaussprechlichen Kultan, the third Deamonalatreia, and lastly Al Azif. The fifth book was newer looking than the rest, it was a collection of artistic drawing by someone named Richard Upton Pickman. These I put aside, because after flipping through the drawings I figured that anything so abhorrent as these pictures were must be worth something to someone. They were of the most horrible subjects, yet done with such a realistic style that one felt like you could reach into them.
I decided that I should try looking up the titles of the other 4 books, as well as the artist who did the drawings. Perhaps these might be worth some real dough. I flipped through the books a bit, there were some disturbing pictures in them, and the one called Al Azif had some almost mathematical equations in it as well. I wondered why the book seemed to feel almost greasy, in fact touching it kind of made my skin crawl. I stared at the words in it. It almost looked like they weren't even real words in it, just squiggly lines racing across the pages. As I blinked I fancied that the words almost seemed to move around, an interesting optical illusion probably caused by the weird foreign writing. I stopped looking at after a while because trying to make sense of it was giving me a headache.
The next day I went on the internet and started to search. At first I had little luck. Amazon had some of the books, but they were obviously either much later versions or more likely different books with the same names. None of them looked remotely like the volumes I had.
Then a break of sorts when I stumbled across a reference to a writer, a Lovecraft. Yet the article I read suggested that the man, some horror writer from way back, invented the books. That of course had to be false, these books at my table were much older looking than to be just under a century and were certainly not imaginary. The books he used in his fiction were of the same name, and also dealt with evil things. I wondered if maybe he had based his stories around the information he had found in the books then pretended they were fiction in order to hide the fact that he'd read them at all. I followed link after link about the books, yet no matter how much I delved I couldn't find any reference to anything that looked remotely like my inheritance.
stymied in my efforts I instead decided to try and translate some of the books. If I could manage to pick out a few phrases then maybe I could get results from googol. So I went looking for for sites that would help me read the strange words inside the books. This took much longer than anticipated, but after a few hours I had managed to copy out some phrases in the Kultan book, which it turns out was in German. Yet the phrases that I managed to switch into English didn't make much sense to me. Just gibberish about people worshiping corpses, or something like that. One of the words came back as meaning dead gods, which I guess meant either zombies or Jesus. It kind of made me think of some of the pictures in that Pickman guys book. Some of the words didn't even seem to have a translation, I couldn't decide if they were meant to be names of people and places or maybe written in some sort of code.
Frustrated with everything I was glad when my Aunt called me on the phone, interrupting my work and giving me an excuse for a break. She seemed uneasy as we talked, and I realized that in her own special way she was edging around questions about the books I had gotten. I finally got her to the point of the call, which was she was uneasy about me reading some of my Grandfathers stuff. She told me, hesitantly, that she always wondered if the old man had had something to do with the night my parents died. It was one of the reasons why she had kept me away. To her my Grandfather was into unholy stuff, and she didn't like to think that it might have now been passed on to me.
I have to admit that all this made me laugh. Who knows, maybe the old man had been some weird satanist, but it was all just headtrips for idiots as far as I was concerned. I told my Aunt that I had no intention on keeping any of the books, that even now I was in the midst of trying to find a little out about them so I could put them up on E-Bay to help finance my vacation. This seemed to relieve her a lot. I also told her that who knows, maybe it was meant for some dark rites, but that it meant nothing to me. In the end I convinced her that what I had read was all just the babbling of some sick little people who didn't know better. Nothing to worry the heart of a good woman like her, or to trouble my sleep at all. To prove it to her I read her the passages that I had been able to translate over the phone.
I was not alarmed at the time when the phone went dead. The fact that it happened right after I finished the passage I was reading didn't even register on me. I figured that either the connection got broken, or that my poor Aunt had accidentally hung up on me. I also didn't get too concerned when my attempt to call her back was met with failure. I began to think that maybe she was a little upset that I had read to her from a book that she considered evil. So I left it at that and went back to trying to translate the books I had.
It was about a half an hour later that the phone rang again. I assumed it was my Aunt, meaning to either apologize for the hang up or to chastise me for the reading. What I wasn't expecting was the police.
The next few days were such a blur that I didn't have much time to think. There was the funeral to arrange, which took up much of my time and even more of my mind. It had to be closed casket. There was no choice due to the shape the body was in. The police seemed to want to talk to me constantly, updates on how the search for my Aunts killer was going, about how outraged the people in the community were over her violent death, the charity fund they raised in her memory. I was amazed at the amount of people at her funeral. I knew that my Aunt was a good women, after all she had raised my poor orphan self, but the fact that this many people knew how good a women she was was stunning in a way. Sometimes we don't realize the impact that the people in our lives can have on others.
After she was laid to rest the whirlwind didn't slow down right away. It turned out that she had left me quite a bit of money. As well as her home. As one of her few family I got the majority of her estate. Even after the bills were paid off I was going to be able to live quite a comfortable life. Aunt Tilly had spent years storing away money just in case, now it had become my just in case money. But none of this could touch the fact that my Aunt was gone, murdered in a horrible fashion. The last real touch of family I had. I was alone now.
It must have been almost a month before I got to look at the books again. I had had everything of mine moved into my Aunts house, a nice little place out in the country. It was perfect. Quiet and just off the direct path. It also had a sturdy basement. That was critical. After all, I need a place away from the light if I'm to deal with the dark.
See, I figure that whatever I read in that book caused my Aunt's death. The way she was killed, well it's the same as pictures drawn by Pickman. The horrible things done to her body, no man could have achieved that. Let the police stumble about and look for a maniac, only I know the truth. The fact that it was something called up by my Grandfathers books that tore my Aunt to shreds. I also figure that my Aunt may have been correct about his having a hand in my parents death. Their strange accident could be tied into something in these books. See, I have translated even more of the book, I know some of their horrible secrets now. They talk of evil and secrets. They tell of things that weren't meant to ever exist, and how to make these things do your bidding.
I also know exactly what I must do. What I have to do, in memory of my poor dead Aunt.
There are so many people in the world who deserved to die instead of her.
The only question left is, who should I call and read to next?

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Horrible House in the Woods

I first saw the broken down old house while hiking through the woods behind my friends property. We were both 13 and just going into high school. His name was Jacob Torrington and we had planned on building a dam across the old river that snaked it's way in the woods behind where he lived. It was while we had ranged a bit away from the river, looking for some good solid fallen wood to use as a base for our dam, that I spied the building much further through the trees. If it hadn't been late fall, with most of the trees bare, I would never have spotted the decrepit old structure.
I asked Jacob about it, and he said that his father had told him to stay away from it. He said it was an old hunting cabin, and also private property. His dad has warned him that he'd get in big trouble if he went near it, both possible from the law and definitely by his dad. It had stood back there for as long as Jacob could remember and yet he had never seen anyone ever use it.
Well, as a teenager that got my imagination going. I talked Jacob into going to take a look. He wasn't sure about it, but I convinced him that we were old enough. At 13 you have a weird sense of invulnerability, and neither the law nor Jacobs dad held much terror for me. So we gave up on the dam and headed back deeper into the woods to see about this hunting shack.
It was old, and seemed like it should be falling down. Yet it stood tall, almost brooding. The front door was closed tight, and the light was wrong for peeking in past the dirty windows. It was two stories high, made of wood that looked grey and brittle with age. It was obvious that no one had used the structure for many a long year. Yet despite being curious neither of us quite had the courage to try the door to see if it was open. Looking was one thing, trespassing was another. Yet now that Jacob had gotten this close he seemed loath to just leave. Perhaps it was just a part of him that was excited about going against his fathers wishes for the first time, that first taste of rebelling against authority. We stayed near the house, trying desperately to see inside, until the sun started to go down and we realized that we needed to get home for dinner.
That started a trend for me and Jacob. Every day that we could we made our way back to that house. After a while we became brave enough to try the door, but it was locked tight. I even brought some Windex and paper towels one time to try and wash the windows, but the dirt must have been on the inside because we still couldn't see through them. Sometimes we would talk about breaking one of the windows so that we could get in, but talk was all it was. The thought that someone might one day come back to use the place and find what we'd done was just too terrible to follow through with. So instead we'd hang out in front of it. Acting like it was our house, our place. While we both had other friends we never brought any of them back there, somehow we both felt that it was our little secret.
Of course after we got our licenses we stopped going back there. With a car at our disposal there were much better places to go than to sit in front of an old empty building in the woods. We had discovered girls and cars and arcades. The world seemed full of possibilities. Yet ever once and a while Jacob would still mention the old house back in the woods. I got the impression that maybe he still walked out there sometimes. The thought of my friend standing at the door to the place alone gave me the willies, but I never said anything about it to him. I figured that it was his buisness and no one else's.
We were 18, having just graduated, when he brought the place up again. I was heading to collage, and Jacob had decided to join the navy. In fact he was going to be leaving in about a month from that night. We were having dinner at McDonald's, and he told me that he had thought about it and was going to break the lock to the place. At first I didn't know what he was talking about. Once I caught on I told him he shouldn't do it. I talked about the law, about getting in trouble, but Jacob would have none of it. He said that if no one had gone to the place in all these years then it must be abandoned. I hadn't realized how much the thought of the place had prayed on his mind all these years. He told me that some nights he would tell his parents he was going to a friends, and instead take a sleeping bag and camp out by the houses door. That sometimes he would knock on the front door and wait for hours to see if anything answered. He said that he felt that he couldn't leave the town peacefully until he had seen the inside of the house.
Well, all this kind of freaked me out. I told him that it was going beyond curiosity and sounded dangerously like an obsession. To my surprise he agreed with me. However he said that the only way he felt he could get free of the obsession was to walk inside of the place. I told him that it could be dangerous, the wood was probably rotted and termite eaten, in fact the whole thing could come down on his head just by opening the door. It had looked like it wanted to fall apart when we first found it, and I was sure it hadn't gotten better over the years. Yet still he persisted that he needed to go in, to walk the halls and look upstairs. He said that some nights he would dream about walking out there and finding the door open. He always woke up covered in sweat before he entered the place.
I asked him when he was going to do it, having decided that there was no way for me to change his mind. I suggested that I would like to go in with him, since I had been with him the first time he had gone to it. He said he hadn't decided yet, but sometime in the next week before he left for service. He also promised that he would call me before he did it, so I could come with him.
It was three days later when I was getting out of work when I got the call. I worked at the local Scrubby Bubbles Car Wash, and was just heading out when my dad called my cell phone. He said that there were some police cars and an ambulance over at the Torrington place. I raced over, but by the time I got there it was all over. His mom was sitting outside, just crying to herself. I hugged her and asked what had happened.
Apparently Jacob had gone out somewhere that afternoon for about an hour and when he got back he had walked up to his room, pulled out a gun that his father had gotten him for his 18th birthday, and blown his brains out. No explanation, no warning, just gone. No one could understand what had happened, he had seemed fine until that day. He had been looking forward to the navy, he'd always loved the thought of being in a uniform. Now he was gone. I stayed with his mom till his dad got home, then I went home myself.
Somewhere in me a horrible suspicion was forming. He gone out somewhere on foot for about an hour. Which meant that it had to be somewhere close. I wasn't surprised to see that there was a message on my phone at the house when I got back. At first I didn't want to listen to it. I was afraid of what it might say. But after about an hour of staring at the little blinking light I gave in and pushed the play button.
At first there was nothing. Just white noise that you get when someone is not talking. Then came a sob. A sad little noise that broke my already broken heart further. Then my dead friends voice came out of the machine. It sounded strained and full of bleak depression. All he said were five words.
"Inside....Inside that damn house."
A last message from my friend. Jacobs only explanation as to what he did and why he did it. His suicide note, 5 words recorded on my machine forever. I had to go. Had to see for myself. I ran all the way. Past the house of sorrow, where his parents were undoubtedly sitting and wondering why had their baby boy done this terrible thing. I ran past the river, where we should have just built a dam that day and been done with it. I ran until I reached the house. Then I stopped.
The door was open. It was getting dark, so I couldn't see inside very well, but the door was open. Also the ground floor window next to the door was broken. Some of the other windows were broken too. I wasn't sure if these had been broken at some point in time, or if it had happened when he had gone in. How much had age changed the place, how much had been him? He'd done it. Just as he'd said he would. Gone inside, and whatever was in there had killed him. Maybe not in body, but in mind and spirit and ever other way that mattered. I realized standing there looking at the place that in a small way I had killed him too. It was me, all those years ago who had convinced him to come back here. It was me who had introduced him to this awful place, that had gotten him hooked on it, fascinated by it. Whatever was inside belonged to me as much as it did to him, and maybe it would mean my death too but I had to see. See what had broken my friend. See what had been hidden in these woods for so many years, what had been right next to us all those times we'd hung out here. I knew I had to see.
I walked up to the door. I realized that I was holding my breath, that my heart was just about bursting through my chest, that I was crying. Crying in fear and loss and pain. I couldn't make out anything through my tear blurred vision, and it was getting dark, but I was going in anyways. Then I saw movement from inside, something coming forward in the dark of that place. Coming down the hallway towards me.
I fainted when I heard the voice. Just passed right out. How long I lied there I don't know. When I awoke it was late, the moon shining high over head. The first thing I noticed was that the door, the door to that horrible house, was shut again. I didn't need to try it to know that it was locked. I got up slowly and walked home.
I have never been back to that house in the woods. I think about it a lot, but I have never gone back. I'm glad that I never got to see inside, that I never got to see why my friend died. I'm also glad that I never got to see what was moving inside of there. Whatever shut that door, as I lied there on the ground before it, did me the greatest favor of my life. I'm grateful for that.
But that voice haunts me. I can still hear it while I sleep at night. All it said was one word.
Simple, direct, to the point.
Just the word NO.
But it said it in Jacob Torringtons voice.
That voice, the voice from inside that house.
That horrible house in the woods.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The House in the Shadow of the Hill

Frank Dearbourne and his family are gone.

It makes me sad to think about them now, but I feel I should try and write down what I know. I keep thinking maybe I could have done more to save them, but sometimes things are just too strong for man to fight.
I liked Frank, he was a down-to-Earth no nonsense type of guy. He was straightforward and hard working, and also a bit stubborn. He didn't waste time on silliness or superstition, to him they amounted to about the same thing. Unfortunately, in the end, I believe it was this fact that lead to what happened.
Frank moved into Dunwich from Hartford about 6 years ago. He and Marsha had gotten married a year before and had decided they wanted to get out of the city. How they picked Dunwich I'll never know, but they rented a house from old Beatrice Stewart. It was a small place on Main St., just big enough for 2, and was right next door to me.
Frank worked in insurance for some big company. He was well respected because unlike a lot of people in that industry he was honest. He got called in if a big client had a problem and they needed someone who would get the job done quick and right without a lot of hassle. From what I could tell he made pretty decent money. He had a company car and would sometimes have to go away for up to a week at a time. But that was rare, mostly he did a lot of his job over the computer.
Marsha had a part time job over at the laundromat. She was a quiet little thing, barely said boo to anyone. Very pale, with long blonde hair and big brown doe eyes. She was always very pleasant, but in all the years I knew the Dearbornes I can't ever really recall having a long conversation with her. She wasn't a head turner by any means, more the homely type to be honest. I always thought it odd since Frank was a handsome man, never could figure out how they got together, but beauty they say is in the eye of the beholder, and who am I to argue.
I got to know Frank pretty good over the years, us being neighbors and all. We'd get together on game nights and cheer the Pat's on with a couple of beers. He helped me fix my back porch after that weird storm in Sept. '01. We both helped out looking for Jim Ambrose's kid when he went missing in Dec. '02, and I thank God it wasn't us that found him. Poor Jim is still up in that nuthouse after seeing the condition of his boy.
It seemed like such a happy thing when Marsha became pregnant 2 years ago. Then Frank decided that the house wasn't big enough and it was time to build one for his family. Even that wouldn't have been bad, until he announced that he wanted to build their new dream house at the base of Sentinel Hill.
Well that was a shock. Didn't even know he had ever been near the Hill, people these parts keep away from it if they can.
See Sentinel Hill isn't a good place. Bad stuff has happened up there, and sometimes if something is horrible enough it can leave a mark that never truly leaves. There's legends about that old hill. About witchcraft and murder and sacrifices to other gods. Back in the 20's or so some collage professors from up at Miskatonic did something up there that made my Granpapy shudder when he'd look at that hill. Said something's weren't meat to exist. Once told me something that had no right to live might have no way to die. Wasn't quite sure what that meant, but it stuck with me because of how scared he was when he said it.
In the 50's 2 hitchhikers went up there. Said they wanted to look for old buildings and stuff. They arrested the one fella for what happened, but he swore it wasn't him that did that to his friend. Damn near out of his mind though, so they didn't pay him much mind. From what my Pop said they could hear the screams all the way in town that night. Hard to imagine how you'd get a human body to twist like that my Pop would say. First time he told me that story I had nightmares for a week.
I do remember Father O'Halloran. Old kind of preacher, all fire and brimstone. Very popular when I was young. I do recall that he had strong words about the hill, and about the old Whatley mansion near it. It had been abandoned all my life, run down and falling apart. Well, the priest would say it should be burned to the ground, and that's when people would get quiet at church. Guess fire and brimstone's best if it's far away from you. I remember Pops telling the priest that some things should be just left to be forgotten, but O'Halloran wouldn't hear of it. He snapped in the end, maybe just too much religious fervor, as my Aunt called it. They found him up at the mansion going on about old gods and those that worship them, stark naked and covered in blood. He ended up at the same nuthouse they'd send Jim to years later. I heard where he killed himself and another inmate a few years after.
Come to think of it, it was at the base of the Hill that they found Jim's kid. Never thought about that before. Maybe if I had brought that up to Frank....
But no, once Frank had made his mind up I reckon nothing was going to stop him. Like I said, he was stubborn. He had to hire folks from outside the region to do the work, nobody around here would go near the place. It upset Frank something fierce, the way all the locals kept trying to talk him out of it. He told me I was the only one who didn't seem scared of the place, but that wasn't true. I was scared, less of the place and more about what might happen to Frank and his family. I just knew better than the rest that there was no talking Frank out of something once he'd made up his mind.
They had problems right for the start-up. Some of the machines they brought in wouldn't work right near the Hill. In town they'd be fine, but once at the site they just wouldn't go. Then while putting in the foundation one of the workers freaked out and left on the spot, said something about a face in the dirt looking at him. Then there was the case of the missing supplies, but Frank figured it was just town folk who were trying to hold things up that done that.
Little by little work got done despite the setbacks. It was a nice little place, a light tan color two-story with a 2 car garage and pool at the side.
Well due to the problems, Marsha had the baby before the place was ready. It was a beautiful little boy, they named him Michael after the angel. He had his mothers big brown eyes, but the rest was all Frank. 5lbs 2oz at birth. I gotta admit for a while after the birth I really believed things might just work out after all, it's kind of hard to be superstitious in the face of a family that looked so perfect. Frank was just in heaven with little Mike.
Then about 2 months after Mike was born the house was complete. Frank and I went up there to look at it once it was done. It was then, standing in the driveway looking up at the house with Sentinel Hill looming behind it that I first got an idea that bad times were coming. There was something about the hill that gave you the impression it was a giant predator just waiting to pounce on it's unsuspecting prey. The shadows it cast didn't look right to me, almost as if it was casting much more darkness than it should. I'm still not sure if Frank noticed the way the place seemed to get on you. It was like a heavy weight on your mind. You found yourself constantly looking over your shoulder because it felt like you were being watched.
So I invited Frank over afterwards for a beer and we sat down to have a little talk. Yeah, I knew it would do no good. I'd known Frank too long to think he'd pay attention to what I had to say, but I liked him too much not to try. If for no other reason than for the family. Or maybe it was just for my own conscience.
I told him what I knew, and the things I'd heard over the years. I told him about the deaths and missing people. I talk to him calmly and reasonably and in the end it didn't do a lick of good. He thanked me for me concern and invited me out for a housewarming party. Now that I look back maybe should have tried harder. So many of the rumors and stories seem so vague and foolish if you try telling them in daylight with Brady doing a screen pass on the TV and a can of Bud in your right hand.
So they moved in. The house party was a lot of fun, with only one disconcerting thing happening. At around 11 I felt the old weight in the bladder so I went to christen the bathroom. I was just washing up when something out the window caught my eye, almost like the darkness moved. The bathroom window looked out the back of the house, and in the light you'd see how the hill seemed to just rise straight up just a bit behind the house. I could make out a bit of the dark out here that seemed much darker still. I first thought it was some kind of animal, just a coon or a late squirrel chasing a nut in the night. But the more I looked the more my mind started to think that there was a larger shape in the dark, or maybe a larger shape MADE by the dark. It felt like something that was big and hungry and very old. Then someone turned on the back light, I guess Frank was showing someone the pool, and the shadow was gone and I went and wrote it off as one too many of Anheuser-Busch's party drinks.
I saw Frank 3 days later at the grocery store. He was pale and cranky. We only talked for a few moments, he was heading back with stuff for dinner and didn't want to eat too late. He said things were fine. When I asked about his haggard appearance he said something about not being used to sleeping in the house yet, the quiet and the openness was taking a bit to get used to and so they weren't sleeping too well. Add in that he thought little Mike might be colicky, apparently the kid screamed almost no stop when awake, and it was just life as usual for a new father. It was as he was walking away with his bags of stuff that he mentioned the dreams. I didn't catch it all, hard to hear a mumbling man when his back is turned and he's walking away, but he said something about the damn dreams ain't helping things neither. Wish I asked him more about the dreams.
So I went to visit that Sunday. Kind of hoped that maybe we'd watch the game and have a few beers like old times, but a family man's got too much responsibility to be able to take out time for stuff like that I guess. Oh we talked and ate, but most of it was around the screaming of little Mike. Marsha looked positively worn. Like she'd aged years in the past week. I asked Frank if she'd taken Mike to see the town doc, old Bill Ashcroft. He said she had but that for some reason Michael was fine during the trip. The Doc said he saw no signs of colicky, Mike was as healthy as a kid could be from a medical standpoint. Yet Frank said the moment they got home he started with the wailing again. Part of me wondered about that, but talk turned to how he was having problems with their computer connection and how work was and somehow all the warnings in my mind kind of got washed away. I left early, just so much of a crying kid a non-parent can take. But I was troubled.
Frank called me later that week. He seemed nervous and asked if I could swing by. I said as how I was free and would come by, and ghe asked if I could swing by the store and pick up some wasp spay on my way. So I went, with the quick side trip, and when I got there I was taken aback by the look of my friend. His eyes had dark rings about them and he looked somehow much thinner than he had just a few days before at dinner. I also noticed an occasional twitch at his cheek. He told me to follow him and walked off to the side of the house, over by one of the twisted trees that you seem to find near the base of Sentinel Hill for some reason. We were told as kids it was because of the acid content of the soil that gets picked up by the rainwater and makes the trees look like that. Myself, well I ain't never been too sure about that. Those trees always looked to me like they were in pain and wanted to run away.
But anyways, Frank and I spent the afternoon taking out a huge wasp nest that seemed to be inside the whole old tree. Between the spray and some backwoods application of fire we cleared the thing out. Afterwards we sat by the pool, which looked like it needed to be cleaned pretty bad. I couldn't figure how the thing looked so nasty after such a short time, but I didn't mention it.
Looking back, I didn't mention a lot of things that I could have, maybe even should have.
Frank said Marsha and Mike were lying down inside. I asked how things were and for the first time since I'd first met him Frank didn't answer fine. He said things seemed to be going pretty bad in fact. Marsha seemed sick, talked about hearing things at night, seeing things move in the dark. He said that just last night she woke screaming and ran to Mike's room and snatched him up, crying that he was in danger. Well that got Mike screaming, which is why the siesta today. Afterwards she couldn't remember what had scared her so. So I asked him how he was himself. Frank looked over at me and for a minute I thought the man was gonna cry. But he gave himself a shake and told me that he was just tired and worn out. He passed it off as the whole new father thing, but somewhere inside I felt that he was lying.
Then he said that he wanted to show me something, the reason in fact why he invited me up today instead of just getting the wasp spray himself. We walked over to the ide of the Hill at the back of his house. I could see that someone had been digging into the hillside. The dirt was cleared away to show what looked like a huge rock. Frank picked up a shovel nearby, and telling me to listen carefully, he banged the rock with the shovel.I heard it right way, that rock sounded like it was barely covering a hollow. Like maybe there was an open space on the other side. A big one from the sound of the echoes. I jumped a bit at that. The idea of a cave or something inside Sentinel Hill scared me pretty bad I must admit. The idea of what might be buried in there. I looked at Frank and he was smiling. He asked if I'd heard it, and I said yes I reckoned I did. He said he wanted to break it open, to see how big the space behind must be. I told him I wasn't sure that was such a good idea. That sometimes buried things need to stay buried. Of course he laugh at that, said as how it wasn't nothing buried, just some little cave formed by water erosion. I knew a normal argument wouldn't work, so instead I went with the idea against him that digging it out might affect the erosion of the Hill, maybe cause a dirt slide that could hurt the house or pool. Well that at least got him to stop and think. He said as how he hadn't thought of that.
I asked what got him started digging in the first place, and he said that some nights he could hear what he assumed was the dripping of water from inside it. But when he said that I again got the feeling that the man was lying, but this time I think it was as much to himself as it was to me.
I got him to admit to having someone who knew more about the way the land worked out here to take a look before he dug anymore, just in case it brought the whole hill down on him and the family. I'd hoped that maybe I could get him to stop, maybe fill it all in what he'd already done, if I could get someone else to talk to him about how dangerous it could be. I guess part of me forgot about how stubborn Frank could be. How fatally stubborn.
The scream came the next afternoon. Everyone in town could hear them, just a strange case of how echoes can carry in a wooded area people later said. Myself, I think they were just that damn loud, just like what had happened to them hitchhikers. No one wanted to go see, but I had to try. For the sake of my friend. So I got Constable Watkins to go with me and we flew up there. Of course that was 'cause I drove, Watkins kept telling me to slow down. I don't think it was because of the dangers of driving fast, I think he just didn't want to arrive too quick.
By the time we got there the screams had stopped. The front door was open wide, and we could both see the blood on the doorhandle. We went in slow, him with his gun out me with a old shotgun that I'd brought with me. There was more blood inside, but not a ton of it. Things were knocked around, like a struggle had occurred. From the look of it someone had been forcibly dragged out the back of the house. We searched the house quick, but there were no signs of anyone. Worst part was seeing the window in Mike's room, it had been pulled right out as if something outside had just grabbed it and yanked damn hard.
With no sign of anyone in the house we went out back.
The digging was there, and I could see right away that Frank had broken through that rock. He'd made quite a decent sized hole in it's middle, about the size of a good watermelon I figured. The sides of the rock were covered with blood. The ground around looked like something heavy had been dragged towards the hole, maybe more than one thing. I wasn't sure how strong something must be to fit a full grown human into that hole. Just the thought made me want to run away.
I shouldn't have looked in. Not sure why I did, must have been a bit out of my head by then. Watkins wouldn't go near it, just said we'd have to fill it in and not talk about it. But I had to go look. I shouldn't have looked in.
We sealed the hole. Watkins reported them missing. Just missing. I've read the report and there's no mention of a hole or blood or nothing else.
The house is still out there, sitting at the base of that cursed hill. There have been one or two outsiders who have looked into buying it, but the locals have done a good job of talking them out of it. Best to let it sit. Sit and rot like the old Whatley place has. I've thought about sneaking up there one night and setting it on fire, just to get rid of it. But that would mean being there in the dark and that's just something I won't do.

It was dark and deep when I looked into that hole. Like looking into a dark tunnel, where you can't see far but you can feel far, if you know what I mean. Somehow I could tell it went way back. For just a moment, maybe the light was just right, I could swear that way back in there I could see the tiniest bit of movement, like something lifted out of the dirt and mud and was waving at me from far off, maybe waving to ask me to come and visit.
On some nights I can still see it in my dreams. Some nights I feel almost like something is tugging at me, wanting to have a beer and watch a game.
Wanting me to stay for a while.