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SNEAK PEEK AT THE NEW HORROR SERIES: DEVIL’S CLAY

The soil there has always been a peculiar thing. Of course, you wouldn’t think so just by looking at it. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to pinpoint a single distinguishing feature that separates it from its more banal, and quite frankly, nurturing, cousin. No, most of you would just see plains of brown mire and swaths of red dirt: An inconvenient place to walk should you accidentally track its remnants into your newly carpeted home.

Stay awhile, though, and you start to notice things, like the particularities of its flora, or the wickedly formed trees bedeviling its woods. By the time you’ve decided to move on, you might have even noticed a certain unnerving quality—a fleeting sense that just below your feet lies an old and smoldering darkness. But when you’ve finally decided to leave, and you peek back to gain one last glimpse at that peculiar little town, it might reveal to you (for only the briefest of seconds) a sliver of its true nature: You might notice that the houses you saw were really the bent reflections of places far more sinister; that the weird people you met were nothing more than fleshy marionettes, beholden to some unseen puppeteer in the sky; that under the ground where you stood, only moments ago, thrives a black and industrious ecosystem feeding the land with the distilled essence of long buried evils. Then, and only then, might you have an inkling of an idea of what terrors reside in the town of Devil’s Clay.

As an inhabitant of Greywitch, I have the unfortunate displeasure of always being close to that wretched place; for our town clings to its demonic borders, and as such, is often host to its parasitic appetites. I sometimes wonder if the earth itself senses its presence, if it, like us, yearns to somehow cut that fiendish hamlet from the rest of it’s body. Sadly, it seems that whatever forces prevail in that accursed burg, they are strong enough to humble even the world itself, stilling its will and keeping us both firmly drawn to its fangs.

But Devil’s Clay is not simply home to some wicked form of darkness—it is also a beacon of sorts, a dire lighthouse to which lost evils are drawn. Over the years it has offered its dark hospitalities to many strange visitors, most of whom have traveled through our town, each one swallowing our humble ranks beneath their stygian shadow. Stories abound regarding these weird figures. For instance, two years ago a strange woman strolled into a local tavern and performed a song, that according to the stories, caused attendants to see “visions” of a “burning universe.” Witnesses claimed they saw scores of behemoth things writhing in the flames, their screams dwarfed only by the maddened laughter of some unseen, cosmic arsonist. Another account took place in an abandoned barn on the edge of town, where Ray Borniak swears that he saw a man being burned alive in a giant, weird looking “lantern.” Ray went on to claim that the owner of the man-sized lamp then used the flames to cast a bizarre and frightful “shadow puppet show”—an orgy of black shapes that played on the wood-rotted walls of a dying barn. And it was only a few weeks ago that some of us saw that rusted-out old car drive by, the motor of which not only lacked the conventional hum of similar vehicles, but instead, seemed to operate through some horrific form of black engineering. The sounds coming from beneath the car’s hood were unforgettable; for they could only have been the pain stricken screams of tortured men, women, and sadly, children.

For centuries, the people of our community have been held in silent bondage by that awful town, and there has been little done to stop it. Until now. As I write this, several people are plundering our town records for insights, while others are trying to excavate old stories and clues from local elders. There are even a few of us, myself included, who will be going into the town of Devil’s Clay itself; otherwise, no one will ever come to believe us, and, consequently, we will never stand a chance of receiving help. It’s this last point I would like to stress. You see, we are not simply here to share our plights with you, we are here to plead for your help. But please believe me when I say inaction on your part will not only doom us, but everyone. For make no mistake—the reach of Devil’s Clay is far, and after we, the people of Greywitch, have finally been swallowed by it’s hungry shadow, the rest of the world will not be far behind.