Part 4: Of Legends and Shadows, Uncategorized

Chapter 8: Pandemonium

I rarely, if ever before, actively denied myself the pleasure of my art, but never before had I set myself against a living deity from antiquity, and as such, the orderly was left unconscious in the half-lunatic’s bathroom. (I also loosened Cecil’s straps. What happens, happens.)

When I stepped into the hall it became immediately apparent to me that all was not well with the darkness; it seemed too rich, like the soil of a nightmare, where graveyards become gardens, and forbidden things bloom from blight. It seemed as if the insanity of the locked-up patients was somehow being leaked into the darkness of the hallway, whipping it into a frenzy, shaping it. There could only be one reason for the disturbance:

Tom Hush knew I was coming.

However, I’d like to point out that not all of the lunatics possessed a suitably tractable insanity for Tom’s purposes. Lunatics, some of them, are not entirely distinct from artists, as they court dreams just as surely as the artist, but, regrettably, their refusal to accept defeat for their efforts at conjuring dreams leads them to attempt to embody their work, and, like art, they become mere symbols, if not corpses, of their own dreams. But, in their doomed enterprise, the madness lunatics inherit is not without its bounty, as there is wisdom in madness, just not of a type that belongs to this world. It was that dark apprehension that Tom, a god of darkest secrets, worked through, molding madness from a select category of madman, and turning darkness into daemons.

While madness was busy endowing shadows with lungs, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the passing sights—wardens of the mad being overtaken by the, now monstrously physical, infirmities of their tethered wards. There was a fairly stout man, who, it was easily seen, possessed an infinite happiness only when cruelly exercising his limited authority, being filled with locusts, and with no small representation of the species, either. The faces he made as the insects turned him into a human hive were beyond hysterical; and when they came bursting-out of his mouth, parading away with his internal organs, I nearly burst-open, myself. But it was the madness-repurposed custodian with the handgun that I was forced to direct my strictest attention. He tried to say something (which his new foot-long tusks might have made difficult) as my sister passed across the pipes of his throat, likely something terribly menacing passed along from the mind of Mr. Hush, but I had little time for exchanging threats, as unfortunate as that was, as I was certain to have enjoyed the exchange.

My shoulder opened the way into an adjacent room, as the way before me was complicated by a web of barbed, knotted flesh, embellished by dripping spears and hooks fashioned from the bodies of once-custodians, some of whom were still trying to push screams out of their red, ruined mouths (those few who still had that particular orifice). The dream was upon me again, engaged no doubt by my proximity to my prey, as my strength ignored the customs of its construction, allowing me to smash through the wall and circumnavigate the fleshy custodian-barrier with relative, and enjoyable, ease.
Humorously, some of the remaining wardens and a small group of garden variety mad-persons took me for their savior, following upon my path, hoping that I might deliver them from wickedness incarnate. I had never been thought of as such, and so I decided to indulge the fantasy, if only for the opportunity to paint nightmares into their troubled slumbers to come.

I could feel the lingering animosity as I gripped my father. But it was not the time for griping, and so he yielded to my strength and allowed me to lift him into the air. But before I brought him down upon the wall, which would have likely freed my small bevy of well-wishers, I decided to grant my father a boon, for reconciliation’s sake. When I handed my father to one of the custodians, the uniformed man smiled as if I had done him the favor.

My father’s strength was a poor fit for the man’s body, and so the eager custodian’s muscles began to rip and tear, for my benefactor exercised a willpower that ordinary flesh and blood could not contain, at least not without great and horrific expense. Unfortunately for my small gathering of followers, my father did not savor the role of savior, and quickly annihilated the small group, howling and laughing and roaring, as has always been his practice.

Together, my father and I tore through the sanitarium, decimating the shapes that madness made, and closing on room 349.

However, as quickly as I might have regained my father’s approval, I just as quickly, and foolishly, decided to stoke fires best left to die. “Why won’t you stand aside, Father? I must know.” The hallway we walked was empty, only darkness and the echo of battle. My father, still wearing the wrecked body of the, now dead, custodian, walked slightly beyond me, where my words caused him to pause, briefly. He did not speak, but only let his silent menace attempt to extinguish my curiosity, or at least that’s what I believed he was doing.

That’s when my father struck out. The axe destroyed, in a glorious eruption of smoke and fire, the wall behind me. I barely escaped death. The attack was not a warning; it was a killing move.

“And what, pray tell, do you want to know, exactly?” It wasn’t my father’s voice. At first I didn’t understand. And then I knew myself for the complete fool that I was.

“He may be your father, child, but his secret…that belongs to me. And now…so does he. And oh what a secret he keeps, my boy!”

My father and the dead custodian and Tom Hush turned around to face me, their eyes seething with death, rage and a terrible, wistful curiosity. And after staring at me for some time, Tom Hush spoke. “In time, all things are reborn, in one form or another, to lope across the stage of life, one more time in an infinity of pointless returns…but not you. It pleases me more than you can ever know, to rob you of your fate, and sup upon one of the blackest secrets I’ve had the pleasure of knowing.”

Before I knew it, my father was bearing down upon me, and, for some reason, all I could think of was Cecil, and what he might be doing to the unconscious orderly. “what happens, happens,” I thought, as my sisters rose up against our father, all of us wearing smiles that had been worn countless times before, by gods, and by the fools who amused them.

Uncategorized, Victim of the Month

Art Piece: The Scream Blossom Victim 34 : Jeff Pierce, 25, murdered in May of 2008

The canopy casted an ornate latticework of crawling shadows below, and the Family Man could feel their darkness clinging to his feet like a snaking pit of adumbral vines. They seemed hungry, ravenous even, and the infamous murderer quickly searched his person for any form of nourishment that might help. He didn’t know why, but stuffed in his pockets were organs: Red, ripe viscera that, once he discovered them, he somehow knew (as is the case in so many dreams) to plant them into the dirt below his feet. Not one to second guess his intuitions, the notorious killer dug into the ground with his beastly hands and buried the disembodied entrails into the soil. As he did, he watched the shadows coil all around him like angry snakes until, at last, they lunged towards the final resting place of those mysterious innards. Only a few moments passed before he saw the results of his strange gardening–up from the blackened soil, like some kind of beanstalk born from the darkest of seeds, emerged a glorious, foliated, nightmare. Atop it’s stalk, where there would normally be a crown of gaudily colored petals, was the head of a screaming man. And decorating his body, or perhaps more appropriately his “stem,” were branch-like arms from which his organs (presumably those that were, only moments ago, buried) dangled, like a drooping tree filled with rotting fruit. The newly born plant-man filled the night with his strange howls and, as if his screams were derived from some fertile kind of magic, began to summon other shrieking ‘vegetation’ from the earth. Soon the world was an endless garden of wailing mouths, with each one dressed in the crimson pageantry of beautifully dangling hearts, livers and kidneys. It was then that the Family Man was pulled from his nocturnal fantasies, and planted firmly back into the real world.

Jeff Pierce was an aspiring Botany major at Washington State University. He spent much of his days studying exotic flora and working diligently in the university greenhouse. He was known by his peers as somewhat unorthodox, but brilliant, so it was truly a tragedy when the Family Man took up temporary residence in an alley way located just across the street from Jeff’s apartment. It took only a matter of days for the serial killer to execute his attack. And since the attack took place over the weekend, the police did not find Mr. Pierce, or at least a perversion of Mr. Pierce, until the following Monday, when a call was placed reporting a “strange body” in the university greenhouse. Some students claimed to have heard the young man’s screams late the previous Saturday night, but many assumed the strange caterwauling was someone trying to play a prank. Sadly, there was no laughing in the botany department that following week, only whispers of the terrible fate of poor Mr. Pierce, and the horrible way he was made one with the plants he so loved.

Uncategorized, Weird Book entries

An Excerpt from the Weird Book, Chapter 2: The Ill Omen

The Legend of the Headless Horseman extends as far back as the middle ages, taking various forms in Celtic, German and American folklore. In most myth cycles, the horseman is a headless man who stalks his victims in search of a replacement head. While few and far between, sightings of these hellish beings have been reported throughout the centuries (perhaps these sighting inspired the now popularized mythology of the Headless Horseman). After The Darkness, there were a fairly large number of Headless horseman sightings, and in each instance the creature exhibited far darker humors than were ever previously recorded into myth.

One story comes from the small Village of Darten, where a strange out-of-towner ran screaming down its main street. Shortly after the man was seen, the people of the small village noticed that their windows began to crack and a large number of birds fell dead from the sky. But before the hysterical man could find shelter, a large, flaming sword suddenly separated his head from his shoulders. Witnesses to the murder claimed the impossible—a horseman, with billowing blue flames rising up from where a head should have been, took the dead man’s head and placed it in the flames. Witnesses said that when the dead man’s head was placed atop the horseman’s body, it briefly came alive, sobbing and screaming and poring sapphire light from its eyes and mouth. The monstrous creature slowly departed into the thickets, wearing a new head and leaking horrible screams and pathetic cries for help.

Part 4: Of Legends and Shadows, Uncategorized

Chapter 7: Visiting Hours

There’s more to an artist than this world can ever satisfy. And so, ultimately, an artist is perpetually incomplete. I suppose it wouldn’t be too much different than realizing, somehow, that your eyes held the power to glimpse spirits, and yet knowing, or at least suspecting, that ghosts don’t actually exist. How terrible would it feel to know that you contain a purpose that can never be fulfilled? Of course, you might choose to doubt that ghosts are all but figments of man’s collective imagination, betokening only those real-world, psycho-cultural complexes that need sorting-out through some dark symbolism, or what-have-you. But after you’ve looked everywhere, exhausting the possibility that somewhere, anywhere, there fluttered a specter or two, what would you do? Why, you would try to create them yourself, of course, through whatever medium was available to you. And that’s precisely when a real artist realizes, for the first time, their true calling: to change the universe, either by creating what never was, or by recalling what has been altogether forgotten.

It was my mother who taught me what an artist actually is. And I refuse to believe that such lessons, and the time and energy required to properly impart them, would have been wasted on anyone less than her son. But what I saw, and was told, in the madman’s dream couldn’t be minimized, no matter how hard I tried to keep my mind busy with the wonders of Tom Hush. And on that score, it had become altogether obvious to me that Tom Hush had successfully hidden himself away into a tidy crowd of, what appeared to be, random occult murders, all of which were most likely perpetrated by unwilling enablers to the antlered demon, merely puppets whose strings were being manipulated from places beyond sleep and earthly solidity.

I was torn between tasks, as, on the one hand, I wanted desperately to speak with Marvin the murderer, and, on the other hand, I needed to seek out the latest pawn in Tom Hush’s strange and murderous undertakings. Marvin would come to me, eventually, seeking to strike my name from his list, and so it seemed a waste of time to reverse my course to find him, and so Tom Hush would have to gather the majority of my attention.

The murder mentioned in the newspaper had taken place on the outskirts of Nighthead, and I soon realized that the delicate pull of the shepherd’s game had blended itself into my very thoughts, masquerading as choice and free will, causing me to believe that it was by my resolve alone that I had come to the city of many shadows. (However, it should be said, that this realization did little to disarm my appreciation for the city, for it was equally wondrous within the eyes of servants and sovereigns, alike.)

Tom Hush was a strange addition to the game, as I had no doubt that the demon was killing in accord with its own inscrutable designs, and not at the behest of the shepherd. So I failed to see the reason for his inclusion within the contest. That is, unless the Tom Hush functioned as a test, to further demonstrate the mettle of those who had been chosen for the game; or, he was some kind of rival to the wolf-herder, and the shepherd’s game served as an effective means for his elimination, provided, of course, Tom Hush didn’t eliminate all the competition first. Regardless, he was on my list, and, now that I knew that Nighthead was a predestination, rather than merely a destination, there was only one place in the city where one could reasonably expect to find a straightjacketed lunatic.

I drank from the darkness as I slipped from shadow to shadow, moving closer to my quarry, and trying as best I could to completely dissolve into the night, collapsing the distinction between the darkness within and without myself; if only to stop the red, relentless hands of my father from turning my mind away from certain, smoldering memories.

My father. He taught me how to summon the fire of my body, how to own it, and to kill with it. He showed me death, let me hold it in my hands, play with it, master it. I remember the weight of his shadow, the smell of his ruined skin, and the thunder that lived in his voice. And now, after everything he was to me, he would deny me what is mine. If he would not step aside, then I would have no choice but to force him to recall the one lessen I taught him, the one he failed to teach me: how to die.

The approach to Nothman Hills Sanitarium was thick with trees, which only assisted me as I made my way to the main fence that encircled a number of small gardens and Koi ponds—all for the amusement of lunatics. There were also cameras affixed to the tops of the light poles that stood sentinel next to the gateway. With only a single bound and I was inside.

I looked up at the building, that was soaked to its metal bones with madness, and gasped at the wild dreams that it trapped. I could feel the shadows of the place, fully contaminated by the aforementioned insanity, whispering into my ears with voices that sounded like crooked little songs who’d long since lost their alliance with meter and tempo. However, they were a pleasant enough gang of shades, offering me their shelter as I slipped into and beyond a service entrance that had been foolishly left ajar.

The inside of the sanitarium was truly exquisite, as it was every inch the facade of a practiced sociopath—calm, cool, and gentle with thoughtful flourishes of false empathy, and placid in places where one might expect a dash of passion. There was the softest music playing into the darkness of the hallways, and of a type that poured too much sugar into one’s ears; its sweetness seasoned the false face of the sanatorium to the point of absurdity, and I nearly laughed at the structure’s overwrought attempt at serenity.

I entered the first room I came to. It belonged to a patient of average dimensions and appearance, whom, for whatever reason, had been secured to his bed via strong, leather straps. As I had hoped, there was a button located on the bed that could be pressed to summon an orderly or nurse. The man on the bed awoke very quietly, and looked at me with no small amount of concern. He did not speak, but only eyed my father with fear. I’m sure I was an awful sight, with my slick of shadows and red-dimmed family stretching out from their resting places. I looked down at the restrained man and simply put a finger to my lips. He understood. He even smiled as I moved to push the button for summoning an employee. (There is seldom any love lost between the insane and their keepers.)

As I awaited the arrival of an orderly, I chatted casually with the lunatic, who informed me that the staff was rather slow to respond to a summons. The man, Cecil Barnes, was pleasant enough, and even possessed a delicate sort of sanity, whereby a single thought out of place could send it crashing to the ground. I decided to inform Cecil’s swaying mind with tales of a great number of my exploits, for the dreams of the lunatic, or near-lunatic, would be filled with my own personal darkness, and I could only wonder at what shapes it would assume, when joined with the rest of the fevered nightmares that haunted the sleep of over a thousand, imprisoned lunatics.

The orderly was not pleased to see me, much less the stinging smiles of my sisters. I handled the man a bit more roughly than was necessary, for Cecil’s sake, and asked my one question: Where is David Link?

The man swallowed deeply, sweating horribly, and then spoke.

“Room 349.”

Uncategorized, Weird Book entries

An Excerpt from the Weird Book, Chapter 4: Those Who Dwell in the Houses of Darkness

Although tales concerning this group go back further than the Great Darkness, rumors concerning their presence became far more prolific after its passing. Not much can really be said about this mythical group, except that its members are said to possess beaming cobalt eyes and are known to cover their faces with ornate, pallid masks. While these beings appear only rarely, they always seem to be accompanied by strange, out-of-place houses (only seen at night) constructed entirely from solid shadow. Those that have attempted to visit these “shadow houses” claim that the structures move further away as would-be visitors attempt to draw near them, always remaining distant.

There have only been a small handful of sightings of these beings. The most notable occurrence took place in a small Russian town named Kashin, where a “Museum of Darkness”—museums that showcase artifacts of the Great Darkness—was broken into. According to witnesses, a K-9 unit responded to the call and entered the building, at which point multiple people claimed to have seen a tall, dark figure with a mask confront the officer. The eyes behind the mask were said to have momentarily glowed a dim blue, which subsequently released a horrible flood of screams. After a few moments passed, a horrible fusion of dog and man shambled out from the museum and began attacking the large crowd that had gathered outside. After mauling several of Kashin’s citizens, the creature was eventually shot dead and burned for fear it might come back from the dead. Days later, the entire museum burned down, mysteriously. Museum officials never revealed the identity of the stolen artifact.