Red mother story

Red Mother/Chapter 3: The Family Dog

I knew, or at least greatly suspected, that there was much more to Charlie Bowers than just a man with a burning desire to stuff his entire family, including himself, into the body of a dead dog. If he was an associate of the woman on the tape, and I was fairly certain that he was, then I had a pretty good idea of what might have driven him into the belly of a beast.

 I was going need Jeff again. And I think it was at that point, when the neatly pressed corners of my little mind began to lift up a bit, that I realized that Jeff had always and only been a means to an end: this new, darker enterprise required my full awareness of self, no shadow left unturned. With my realization—clarification—concerning my sometime-paramour, I found manipulating him to be a breeze. My focus was turning my actions automatic, and using Jeff was just a button I needed to push. Whatever barriers he might present to my getting back into the Bower’s house I knew I could overcome, as my heart had finally joined the fight—a particular part of my person that, in its absence, almost always blew a good ruse (as a journalist, lying needs to be an especially polished tool).

I’d like to say that my enthusiasm for the mystery surrounding the “mother” came from a need to see evil fully exposed, but it wasn’t. Not even close. I wanted fame, pure and simple. Unfortunately, my ‘fully realized’ self was still too fragile to confront that dirty little truth.

I’d pulled a few breaking-and-entering gigs, back in the day, as news can be harder to come by than simply waving a microphone in front of someone’s face, so I knew getting into the house wouldn’t be too difficult; but the duplicate house-keys Jeff gave me made the whole thing so much easier.

There was a moment, just before I’d turned the key that unlocked the backdoor of the house, when I knew that my next move cemented my course—there was no turning back after this.

Jeff had told me that the case was being treated as a simple, albeit extremely bizarre, murder-suicide, committed by a deeply disturbed young mind. In short, the clock wasn’t exactly ticking on this case, so I would have all the time I needed to look into things as thoroughly as I saw fit. If I had to, I was prepared to spend the entire night.

I opened the door and walked into the house.

The one thing I’d left out from my home invasion considerations, which became painfully apparent the second I crept into an absolutely icy darkness, was the fear. Much had changed since the last time I’d been to the residence. Without all the moving parts of a crime-scene to obscure the sights, the house was now in full view. I know it’s an odd thing to say, but the place actually seemed more honest at night, as if the darkness somehow stripped the rooms of their middleclass camouflage, allowing some measure of hidden horror to be felt if not directly observed…And I couldn’t resist the urge to grip the handle of the gun in my pocket.

 I don’t think the horror of it all would have struck anyone else as profoundly (even if they did know about the whole ‘stuffed dog’ thing), as they wouldn’t have the Rosetta Stone (that horrible video tape) for translating the apparent ordinariness of the two story Colonial into the horror-hatchery I suspected it to be. That awful woman had her hands in this place, and I knew that murder and suicide were nothing but the red waves she left in her wake.

While the rooms were all a little roughed-up from the police trampling over everything, they still managed to look, objectively, disarming and middleclass. But now that I was in the house—alone—I was more certain than ever that the entire Bowers clan was a shady bunch, and most likely deserved considerably worse than a nice warm place inside of a dead dog’s snug belly.  I can’t say what it was exactly that made me form that conclusion, but I could definitely feel the residue of something vaguely terrible wandering around, and it was most likely pretty pissed-off that the Bowers were late for whatever crazy s#%t previously went on in the house after it got good and dark.

 I didn’t want to linger too long without something to focus on—my anxiety and fear were growing with every unoccupied second, filling the emptiness with all manner of monster and madman—so I engaged my first objective: look for hidden compartments. But after a methodical search of both floors I turned up precisely nothing. I was striking-out fast. My second plan was to investigate the cellar, which I thought was far too obvious a place to bury dirty secrets, but I was running out of house to comb.

When I made for the door that opened to the basement stairs, the air went from cold to humid, like I’d just stepped into a greenhouse. I began to drip with sweat the very instant my hand wrapped around the door-handle. Sheer panic hit me like a fist to the gut as my fingers pressed down on the handle, poising themselves for the turn. And then I knew, with absolute certainty, that if I turned that handle…I was a dead woman. As you can probably guess, I ran as fast as I could for the exit. But just before I closed the door on my way out, I swear to God that I heard, from somewhere deep in the basement, what sounded like a small number of people, maybe no more than five or six…trying to imitate the howl of a large dog.

By the time I got back to my house I had already convinced myself that I hadn’t heard anything, especially not the combined voices of a dead family howling from the bowels of an equally dead dog.  But regardless of whatever I did or didn’t hear, I knew what I had to do next: watch the second tape. If the Bowers really were exposed to the influence of that demonic woman, then there might be clues to what they were up to in the video (because there sure as hell weren’t any clues in the house).

The following evening, I awoke to the sounds of claws tapping across hardwood floors, just outside my bedroom door. They were, I imagined, just like the sounds a gigantic dog might make if it were skulking around my house. I was a committed day-sleeper, at this point, and I was just getting up for coffee and infomercials, so I was fully awake. My gun was already in my hand. But like anyone else, I eventually came to the realization—rationalization—that the sounds were just leftovers from a nightmare, and I replaced my gun back inside the nightstand.

After I’d prepared a carafe of coffee for the night’s entertainment, I turned on the VCR, put in the tape, and pressed ‘play.’ I took a seat on the couch as the static washed across the TV screen, hoping my nerves were ready for what was coming. I knew damn well that they weren’t. Then, after darkness soaked through the static, I heard her voice—pure sugar and sinister.

“Be careful, my dear…A trail of shadows can never lead you anywhere but further into the dark.”

Her words just hung there, like smoke on a calm night. Nothing immediately followed the words and darkness, just the occasional crackle of an open microphone. It was as if that horrible creature actually knew I was watching the video for clues! My heart began to play to a familiar and frantic rhythm, and my coffee-less hand went to the arm of the couch for support. But my questing limb discovered something wet before it found something solid—there was slime all over the arm of the sofa. My fear quickly shifted from the TV screen to my extremely well-lit house.

And then it dawned on me: Perhaps the liquid wasn’t something that I spilled on the couch, but rather…the drool of a great big English Mastiff, the kind you might stuff your entire family into…

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The Walks of Darkness, Chapter 6

The passage below is rumored to have been based on an actual event that took place within Autumn City, Vermont. The writer, Kyla Flint, was an embedded journalist traveling with a special team of Autumn City police that had been assigned to investigate a number of strange events that took place almost immediately after the Great Darkness of 1999. Flint’s book, “Walks of Darkness,” while supposedly a work of fiction, is believed by many to be a largely truthful account of the writer’s travels with the aforementioned police unit. Unnamed sources close to the writer have claimed that Miss Flint was forced, by certain government agencies, to reclassify her books as fiction, so as not to revel the Great Darkness as anything but the product of a freak solar event.

From chapter 6 of “Walks of Darkness”:

 “The police were swarming a large, rotting apartment building. The men’s movements betrayed a shrinking confidence in their numbers and weaponry. A few years ago, the cold steel of their guns and near-absolute authority to act without penalty would have set them at ease – just enough slack to swagger. But now, after the Darkness, they move more conservatively, as if their lives depended upon it. 

fanning out across the cracked parking lot, the policemen took up strategic positions around the building. The smell of cold sweat was all that remained of the men once they took their places. From the back of a police van a small drone mounted atop a set of miniature tank-treads was set loose upon the sidewalk. It moved to the front door of the building and extended a long mechanical claw that clamped over the doorknob. After an awkward tug the door banged open, and the machine proceeded into the darkness of the structure. Forty-five breaths were held, and sweat ran colder than space. The drone could be heard clumsily navigating the interior of the building. The man remote-controlling the drone sat in the back of a police van and stared into a heavily pixilated screen, carefully monitoring the images coming from the camera secured to the drone. A police officer who had wedged himself between a derelict car and a dumpster began to tremble, as Images of his family looking down into a coffin stuffed with his ruined carcass blinked into the spaces of his mind. The officer who had crawled into a rank tangle of bushes revisited his most recent nightmare. The policeman at the computer monitor turned to look at his watch, and an indistinct face pushed through the haze on the computer screen. Before the officer could react, the eyes in the face opened. The policeman gathered outside heard a scream that quickly melted into bubbling and fizzing sounds, followed by a deranged, wet laughter that seemed as if it were barely breaking the surface of shallow water. The police van hosting the remote controller detonated, spreading thunder and fire in all directions.

Police snipers, hidden in nearby buildings, fired depleted uranium rounds into the husk of an apartment house. The policemen closest to the dwelling retreated behind the rows of remaining law enforcement vehicles, where they formed into staggered firing lines and joined the snipers in shredding the building. After a sustained barrage that lasted nearly thirty seconds, the guns went silent. The apartment building bled small curling snakes of smoke, and moaned from its ruined timbers. Nothing moved. A deep and thickly modulated voice croaked out from a police radio, “Send in the heavy.”

The largest and most heavily armored police van came alive with swirling lights and high pitched, widely spaced whistles. Something huge moved inside the vehicle, as its weight tilted the truck towards its rear wheels. Large hydraulic doors opened slowly and a gigantic shadow spilled out from the back of the truck, followed by a colossus of steel and gun. Great pains had been taken to add a fierce flourish to the metal shell of the armored power-suit—where broad metal plating would have sufficed, layers of steel in the shape of human musculature predominated; and where there was no need of a grinning, demonic face, one was provided. Once the eight-foot tall power-suit had cleared the street and stepped upon the path leading to the bullet-riddled structure, strange weaponry unfurled from lighted recess within its back, looking like the silvered bones of angel wings. When the walking weapon reached the midway point between the street and the building it produced twin spotlights from its shoulders and washed the building in bright, blue light. The increased illumination brought comfort to the assembled strike-team, and just as quickly, a single voice took it away.

“Enough already! What a ratchet you’re making. Look at all of the lovely silence you’ve destroyed. There’s just no fixing it, now. I’m just going to have to replace it, I guess…”

The voice came from a smoking cavity where once hung the front door of the building. A thin figure slowly walked into view. Finally, the figure became a pale man dressed in rags. Dried blood and crowds of flies caked his closed eyes. Without warning, the police opened fire on the strange individual. Then the pale man opened his eyes. The officer inside of the armored giant became screams and evaporated blood. Then, with the slightest widening of his eyes, the strange man reduced the hollow goliath of steel to hot smoke and a single, deafening sound. A voice croaked from a police radio, “Pull back!”

The pale man dragged his lethal gaze towards the buildings across the street, above the line of retreating policeman, to where snipers fired from attic windows and balconies. Deep furrows in the ground tore open, outlining the surging path of invisible death that flowed from the man’s bleeding eyes. The buildings opened up like the flaming pedals of a burning flower, and then exploded into glowing dust. A retreating gunman turned and placed his weapon’s laser-sight on the forehead of the man with death in his eyes. However, when the officer saw the evil man’s eyes through the scope of his rifle, his mind filled up with every evil sight ever seen: mothers eating their babies; millions of corpses lying beneath shifting blankets of flies; unfurling mushroom clouds; burning cities; and countless other atrocities as seen through countless eyes, all at once. The gunman dropped his rifle, unsheathed a large bowie knife, and spent several seconds cutting his eyes from their sockets.

The remaining policemen could retreat no further, as they were caught between burning buildings and inhuman things. The man closed his hellish eyes and tilted his head, as if listening for something.

“Not quite as before, but we’re getting there.”

The pale man began to walk towards the line of shaking lawmen. Before the officers had a chance to plead for their lives or risk the fires at their backs, something hissed as it passed over their heads. The missile struck thirty feet to the left of the approaching man-monster, throwing him from his feet. A gigantic helicopter descended toward the officers, flattening the plumes of billowing smoke and lowering rope ladders. The death-eyed man rose up from where he had fallen. The policemen climbed over one another in a desperate attempt to reach the ladders. The helicopter turned to face the man and fired both of its chain-cannons. Three of the high caliber rounds hit their designated target. But instead of dying instantly, or even bleeding, the strange man only took three steps backward. The aircraft’s spotlight illuminated the evil figure, revealing gigantic, closed eyes where there should have been only gaping artillery holes. Another missile flew towards the eye-creature. Five hideous eyes opened…

The sounds of explosions, screams, and fire slowly died into the quiet breeze that whispered through the dust of men and machines.”

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Part 5: Carnivals and Killers

(The Family Man) Chapter 2: Down the Rabbit Hole

The thing that sat across from me was nourished by purest darkness, and I could hear the kindle of shadows surging through the metal coils and tubers that slithered, coal-black and primal, every-which-way about the being’s armored exterior. But for all of that, my host was perfectly pleasant, and even offered me a beverage. I declined, of course. I was all too familiar with the sweet blackberry wines that were derived from the dark fruits of the deep forests, where the eldest Dark-hats are known to pray to strange gods. The inky beverages have been suspected, by some rather prominent occultists, to contain spirits of a decidedly non-alcoholic variety.

Without conversational nuances, such as the simple pleasantry of exchanging names, my host began his exposition. “The Shepherd of Wolves is a type of being called, by my kind, an ‘Unbegotten.’ These creatures are without beginning or end, and seek nothing but the limits of their own pleasure. They have been known, from time to time, to put on a semblance of definition, merely a trifling whim on their part, I would imagine. The Shepherd has made a prodigious sport from giving the impression that he is greatly preoccupied with the fate and function of murderers, and has even fashioned games of death to satiate his fascination with killing and killers. Surely, this last bit is why you have sought us out. You are playing one of his games, are you not?”

“Precisely.”

“I see. In the past, the Shepherd’s contests were very small, consisting only of a handful of participants and taking place across a relatively minute killing-field. But since the Darkness, all that has changed. The powers behind the night have been given substantially greater license to tarry beyond the threshold of our solid world, to more completely master their desires. The Shepherd has gathered together some of the greatest of your kind, and he means to see them outline mankind’s darkest nature in blood and death.”

“I know most of this. What I came to know is nothing short of the meaning of the game. What is the purpose of it all?” I said, somewhat ashamed of the banality of my question. My words trailed into the silence, leaving small, whispering motes of insecurity as they traveled outward, over black peaks and graven anthracite.

“The last time a winner was declared, tens of thousands of people were found impaled upon the leafless, winter branches of an entire forest, and only so far from death as to allow a few prayerful moans to escape their mouths, which had been snapped open and filled by an untold sum of sparkling, gold coins. Every dead man, woman and child yawned with jaws overfilled and dripping with gold, which littered the forest floor like yellow leaves during the height of autumn.  At the time, there was a killer well-known for hanging his victims from trees and filling their mouths with gold-painted, wooden coins. That killer, it has been assumed, won the Shepherd’s game.”

“Nearly every greedy child has been forced to know, at some time or another, the cautionary tale, ‘The Golden Leaves of Winter.’ Although the Shepherd of Wolves was not mentioned in any of the iterations of the tale that I’ve ever heard,” I said, not completely sure I believed what my host had told me. “However, I will admit that all of this is very interesting, but it’s far from the definitive answer I was hoping for,” I declared, beginning to understand why the supplicants of the most ancient darkness were willing to meet with me.  

The being from the deep darkness continued, “But you understand what might come of such a game, specifically one that reaches its conclusion after the Great Darkness?” I could feel the darkness around me tighten, trying to hold me in my chair. I decided to answer the creature’s question with all the honesty I could muster.

“Certainly. Entire populations of people could die. Perhaps even something on the order of a country-wide die-out. I know only the identities of two other living players, myself and Jack Lantern…and I can only imagine the dreams that might spring from our killing fields. I can see it now, a nearly endless Halloween, burning dim and orange across half the world, with clean-carved smiles glowing from every window. And then there’s the possibility of an art gallery, its exhibits filled to bursting with lost dreams, spilling weird and wonderful from coast to coast, immortal and explicit.  But you don’t care anything about that, do you? Your only concern is that Nighthead might come under the knife, yes? You don’t need to say anything, as I already know your answer. You wish to end the game by destroying its players, thereby sheltering your own wicked industries from the Shepherd’s touch. It’s a purely logical move for your kind to make, after all. And I’m quite sure that, somewhere upon your person, perhaps hidden in some strange metallic compartment, there are the murder-lists you’ve taken from the fallen players of the Shepherd’s game, players your kind hunted down and killed. And now you would have my list.”   

The bizarrely attired being rose from the table. Once standing, he pushed a button that was located on his armored forearm. And then, with a tiny hiss of steam, a compartment on his belt opened…and out tumbled no less than three kill-lists. I decided to continue with my honesty.

“I certainly can’t hold any of this against you. And if it might make you feel better about attempting to halt the progress of this wonderful game, I will tell you that I had no intention of leaving here without tasting the shadows that swim through your veins, as my visit to Nighthead could very well be my last time in your magnificent city, should I fall to Jack Lantern, or some other player. I just couldn’t leave without showing you my art…and basking in your unsurpassed darkness.”

By the time the vison of the under-city, the rooftop, and the man clad in solid shadow had been stripped from my sight, I had already memorized my surroundings. My father was fuming with stolen darkness as I roused him from red dreams. And while the alien dark was somewhat constrictive, it was not immovable. With some effort, I lifted myself from my seat and prepared my next move.

I knew that the surrounding shadows were like the well-laid webs of a spider, alerting their master to every movement that took place within them; and while I knew well enough my surroundings, I also knew that darkness and time would grant a serious advantage to my opponent. So, not wanting to allow my opponent the luxury of moving too far from where he last appeared to me, I rushed to the spot I assumed he still stood, my father burning within my hands.

As I had assumed, the being wasn’t the fastest of creatures, and so hadn’t moved far from his seat at the table. My father collided with the armored darkness, and sank deep beyond the layers of steel, into a near-ethereal body of shadow.  The being cried out, simultaneously loosing what sounded like gunfire, which no doubt emanated from the many recessed weapon-systems that lined his armored suit. I was already behind the creature when the worst of its weaponry had discharged. It wasn’t terribly difficult to pull the cables out from the creature’s gigantic helmet, cables that fed the darkling his nourishing pitch.

And then it was over.

When I sought out a dead body within the deep spaces of the armored suit, I found nothing; there was merely a silken darkness that weighed slightly more than the surrounding silence. With my aspirations for art dashed, I took up a new idea.

I replaced the cables to the back of the armored suit’s comically overlarge helmet, put on the armored suit, and breathed in a darkness I could have never imagined.

And then, like some deep sea explorer, I began to probe the primordial depths of the dead-black city.

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Weird Book entries

Mr. Spider-head

After the close of the Great Darkness of 1999, reports of a bizarre entity terrorizing a small community in Killarney, Manitoba became national news.  It all began in the summer of 2002, when several residents reported the discovery of large holes punctuating their backyards.  When local authorities finally investigated the claims, they quickly realized that what they were looking at was much more than a simple case of destruction of property.  Specifically, each hole was stuffed with a veritable menagerie of desiccated animals, which included missing neighborhood pets and a wide array of wildlife; all of which were found in varying states of decay.  But perhaps most disturbing was that each carcass was wrapped in a tapestry of thick webbing, as if they’d been spun into a cocoon…and then drained of all their juices by some sort of gigantic spider.

In addition to the bizarre “burrows” being dug into residents’ lawns, sightings of a peculiar man loitering in those same areas began to pour in.  Descriptions of a tall, gangly man wearing a long duster and whistling old nursery rhymes began to circulate throughout the community.   In fact, his presence seemed to foreshadow the appearance of the aforementioned holes: anytime police received word of a sighting, they could be sure the next day would bring hours of sifting through webbing and drained animal corpses. 

However, as time went on, sightings of the man became more bizarre: one story had eight long and spindly legs extending out from the strange man’s coat, which he used to quickly scuttle up the side of a neighbor’ house, and disappear beneath the shade of a crumbling chimney.   Another account has the weird man trying to break through a heating vent in a local resident’s living room, where a little girl claimed to have seen the crooked grin of a hideous “bug man” pressing his face against the grate. In this last account, the eight legs were reported sprouting from the sides of the man-monster’s head, and framed the image of the strange entity, leading to the fashioning of the name the creature would be remembered by: Mr. Spider-head.

However, none of these instances compare to the events of September 26, 2002, which resulted in the disappearance of a six-year-old boy, Toby Meyers, from his home.  At approximately two that morning, the father, Alfred Meyers, claimed to have heard sounds echoing up from the bottom of his house.  Upon reaching the cellar stairway, Mr. Meyers said he heard a muffled scream, and a barrage of loud “thuds.”  He rushed down the steps, concerned that something might be wrong, and entered the dank spaces of his basement. He was greeted by a scene of unparalleled horror: There, dangling out from a small rusted pipe, was Meyer’s son, frantically kicking his legs in an attempt to escape whatever it was that had him.  Mr. Meyers desperately tried to pull his boy out from the pipe, but he quickly saw his son disappear into the emptiness the drainage pipe, wrenched from his grip by something that moved through the deepest darkness, and left webs and dried corpses in its wake.  According to the boy’s father, the last thing he heard were the fading words to “itsy bitsy spider,” echoing out from the blackness.  Toby Meyer’s body was never found, and the dreadful “Mr. Spider-head” was never seen again.

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Weird Book entries

The Weird Book, Chapter 29: The Garden City of Wrotha

As many people know, the City of Wrotha was discovered in 2010 by a farmer in Greenland.  However, after a lengthy legal battle regarding the ownership of the ruins, the ancient city eventually came under the ownership of the Denmark government.  As such, a research team was sent in to investigate the site’s historical significance.  However, in late January of 2015 the impossible happened: the half mile long city disappeared, along with the research team that was in it.  Upon investigation of the site, the journal of a one Dr. Timothy Fisker, the lead Archeologist of the research team, was found buried near the site. The following is the content of that journal:

Journal Entry: November 2, 2015

As an archaeologist, I’ve been privy to some of the world’s most impressive architectural feats—the pyramids of Egypt; ancient Incan ruins in Peru; buried cities in Sudan—but as I sit here, surrounded by the peculiar statuary of a mysterious and bygone people, I find myself taken aback in ways that I’ve never experienced.  Most places tell their stories using the same old lexicon, speaking in buried bones, excavated rock and motes of coughed up dust.  Things are different here, though. There is an aura, a conflagrant sense of something ancient, but still very much present.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, not yet.

They call this place the “Garden City of Wrotha.”  How it got that name is almost as peculiar as the name itself, as the owner of the land it was discovered upon claimed to have heard it in a dream.  A day later he discovered the city (you can see why a story like that might stick).  Of course, the legal battle between Mr. Bystrom (the owner of the land) and the local government regarding the ownership of the ruins was decidedly less garish.  But much to Mr. Bystrom’s chagrin, “the man” won and he was forced to relocate for only a pittance of what his property was actually worth.  And while I believe that such a unique landmark deserves governmental protection, I can’t help but feel bad for Mr. Bystrom.  At least the name remained (that’s something, I suppose).

Anyway, I can’t wait to dig deeper into this place.  At the risk of being too presumptuous, I believe we might be looking at one of the most important archaeological finds since the end of the Great Darkness.

Journal Entry: November 7, 2015

This place is bigger than we thought.  Phillip, our team geologist, says it goes all the way down into the ice shelf.  How it got down there is a matter of speculation.  We’re also not sure how it managed to migrate so close to the surface that a farmer was able to see it simply by turning over the soil.  According to Phil, this place actually rose up from the glacial shelf and settled into the local sediment, instead of being unearthed gradually through the process of erosion (as is usually the case in these instances).  Phil postulates warming arctic waters may have caused large ice sheets to shift, effectively pushing other sheets towards the surface (it couldn’t have just risen up by itself, after all).

In addition to the bizarre circumstances surrounding its discovery, the place itself is quite strange.  For one, the statues and monuments punctuating its labyrinthine hallways and giant rooms are clearly inhuman (yet somehow display some influence of humanity, however miniscule).  These beings, for lack of a more specific designation, seem to be paragons of a sort—large, majestic creatures, muscular in build, with strange elongated skulls, which sometimes displays marking not unlike tattoos or brands.  And the craftsmanship is spectacular, unlike anything I’ve ever seen.  Strangely, which is a word that is all to frequently uttered in this place, we haven’t been able to discover how they were made.  The substance, whatever it is (Phil has yet to identify it), does not seem particularly malleable, and there is no evidence of chiseling or stonecutting of any sort.  It’s as if these statues were not hewn, but instead were naturally occurring (this is clearly an impossibility, and it is only a matter of time, I suspect, before we determine the specific manner through which these effigies were made). 
This place never ceases to amaze me.

Journal Entry: November 17, 2015

Phil is missing and several members of the team have become…paranoid.  Nancy Lindholm, an archeologist of some repute, keeps raving about hearing voices in the deeper areas of the structure (I’m inclined to believe they’re coming from inside her head, rather than the spacious chambers lining these ruins).  Others swear that the hallways are somehow shifting, re-configuring themselves so as to (seemingly) prohibit travel into certain areas.  While I certainly don’t believe the building is metamorphosing (I’m not a lunatic), I do know that this place is huge and can, as a result, easily lead to someone getting lost within its complicated corridors.  That is why, no doubt, Phil is missing.

Still, with all of the superstitious ramblings, and Ms. Lindholm’s ludicrous claims of ancient denizens lurking in the bowels of these ruins, I can’t help but feel a bit shaken-up myself.  I just need some sleep.

Journal Entry: January 18, 2015

It’s all true!  All of it!  I didn’t want to believe it, but then I began to hear voices, just like the ones Dr. Lindholm claimed to hear.  But they weren’t just disembodied whispers, or echoes floating like ghosts down some old cobwebbed hallway; they were coherent, and they were directed at me.  Not through any traditional means, mind you; but through some sort of telepathy.  There’s no other way to explain it! 

A few days ago, Lindholm and I finally decided to go look for Phil, so we made our way down into the deeper recesses of the structure.  After some time, we finally happened upon a sealed room.  It would have never even drawn our attention if it weren’t for the faint emerald glow leaking out from beneath its doors.  We quickly drew out a crowbar and, after much effort, managed to pry the stone entrance open.  We should never have opened that door.

In front of us was a jungle of wires and electronic ligature.  Standing against the far wall, punctuating a thicket of winding coils and tangled circuitry, were large liquid-filled vats. Inside them were floating…things.  Horrific, indescribable things.  Together they stood there, stolid and titanic, like quiet sentinels standing watch over a meek habitat of silicon and beeping machines.  It wasn’t until we got closer that we noticed a capsule of smaller proportions, sitting just below the larger ones.  Phil was in it—unconscious—floating like a fetus in the amniotic ether.  I felt terrible for him.  In that moment, all I could think about was his state of being: was he alive?  Or had he succumbed to the lunacy of it all, and acquiesced to sleep and the paraformaldehyde dreams that would allow him to wash away this world in exchange for another?

The next instant was nothing more than a flash and a scream.  I turned only to see Dr. Lindholm pointing the smoking barrel of a pistol (I didn’t even know she had one) toward something large on the far end of the room.  And although I couldn’t gain a clear look at whatever startled her, I was certainly witness to its terrible capabilities.

Dr. Lindholm was lifted into the air like a fallen leaf in the autumn wind—weightless and whimsical.  But as she floundered, desperate to find some kind of footing, I could sense a pressure mounting, the kind you might feel right before an explosion, or when a jet takes off.  That’s when I heard her bones begin to crack and the wet song of her flesh and organs being forced into one single, tiny space.  As visual creatures, you would think it was the image of watching her body crumple into a small, dripping ball that would disturb me the most.  But it wasn’t.  It was the sounds that she made, the desperate cacophony of screams and wails, and the sound of a culminated life, bold and bright, concluding with a single, unceremonious “thump.”

I closed my eyes and waited for my turn to die.  But it never came.  Instead, my mind became a rarely traveled road into places both unseen and unknown.  Whatever it was that ended Dr. Lindholm’s life decided to reveal to me another.  It saw my thoughts, and as a result, it afforded me a glimpse of its own.  Its mind is another world, the plains of which I have only begun to explore. 
Since the disappearance of Phil, and now Lindholm, the team has become scared. As a result, I’ve had to assuage there fears for the past couple of hours, just until my new friends from below have made sure they can’t leave.  For you see, to gain new knowledge, there are sacrifices that must be made.  I’ll miss my team; they were good people.

Final Entry: December 2, 2015

So much is known to me now!  I’ve seen landscapes made from midnight; seas of roiling fluids brimming with hunting, carnivorous shapes; I’ve even seen peeks and glimpses of the Great Darkness (a sight that, if witnessed, would surely send man back to the padded white corridors he sought so desperately after that un-remembered year). 

Yesterday I saw one of the entities.   They look exactly like their stone depictions, except even more regal…and ferocious.  I know now why the members of my team (God rest their souls) thought the “walls were moving.” For that matter, I also know why the statues embellishing this entire place did not show any evidence of being sculpted or cleaved.  You see, these things are not slaves to reality, they are masters of it. I’m not sure how to explain it, but these creatures cannot just manipulate matter, they can create it (or at least rearrange it in such a way that it takes an alternative form).  They call it “psycho-incarnation.”

But perhaps the most revelatory thing I’ve discovered is what these entities claim to be.  To put it simply: they are the first men.  While they will not allow me the full extent of their history, I know that they are…human.  The original men. 

I have also heard of their maker, a thing beyond even their vast understanding, living somewhere in the hidden heart of the great city. When they speak of this being—their “father,” as they call him—their nearly inscrutable faces appear, if only momentarily, within the visible spectrum of human understanding: fear.

But if this is all true, and they are indeed the first humans, the question remains: what are we?

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An inhabitant of the Garden City of Wrotha
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A picture from Dr. Fisker's journal. The image is presumably a sketch of the creature he claimed to have seen.

                                                                              

Red mother story

Red Mother/ Chapter 2: At the Heart of it All

I’ll admit it—I’m a drunk. Been one for a while now. And that fact long preceded the videos, by the way. But it’s a sure bet that watching those freaking things didn’t help my condition at all. So when I tell you that the days following my first viewing of the tape I was black-out drunk and barely able to move from my bed, it shouldn’t surprise anyone. I just couldn’t stop asking myself the same question, over and over again: How could any human being be so black-hearted and despicable? I Had no idea that I’d get an answer to that particular question. Anyway, I would have snowballed into a complete mess if not for the nightmares…

The first dream came about a week after I’d watched the video. In it, I saw the woman again. However, the sum total of her face failed to come completely together before my eyes, allowing her to maintain a fairly faceless presence.  She stood under a rain of burning flower pedals, smiling. At the foot of my bed. She just stared at me, within me, like she was looking for something. Her eyes weren’t like anything I’d ever seen before, inside or outside of a nightmare. They were beyond eyes, like things that weren’t just organs within a larger biological system, but complete and independent creatures, with desires that tripped beyond the skin.

Of course, I couldn’t move or speak, so I just looked up at her, praying she’d vanish. She didn’t. She moved closer, crawling animal-like onto the bottom of my bed. I could feel my legs burning as her red hair fell across them. As she drew even closer, her smile began to burn my face, and I could feel my hair beginning to smolder. Soon, smoke from my burning body began to fill the bedroom. She loomed just above my face, her nuclear smile melting away my skin. That’s when I felt her hand on my chest. It was so wonderfully cold. I wanted to scrunch my entire body into her palm. Then her hand pushed through my breast bone, releasing into my body what I can only describe as the overflow of cold autumn creeks. I felt my heart slip softly into her grip. I wanted her to hold it forever. Then she poured her volcanic gaze into my eyes, and said, “What heart isn’t afloat in darkness, my dear? Every one of them throbbing and thrilling deep within the shadows under the skin.”

After she concluded her sentence, she began tugging, albeit very gently, at my heart. I almost wanted to give it to her. But after I started to feel my breath abandon me, taking my life along for the ride, I begged her with my eyes to stop. She only pulled harder. Soon I began to hear the wet sounds of tiny strands of flesh, snapping and popping from somewhere inside my chest cavity. While she continued to pull at my heart, the smoke that had filled the room began to dissolve, and the morning sun began to trickle through the windows. With one final yank from her icy hand, my heart came out of my chest. My breath was almost gone. She held my bleeding heart up to the light of dawn, watching it slowly cease its desperate beating. Then she placed the dead organ directly in front of my face, and whispered, “Tell me, Genevieve, what heart ever benefitted from being shown to the light, hmm?”

Minutes after the nightmare ended, I broke-up with the bottle and made close friends with my coffee mugs.

I don’t know how long I drifted through the nights that followed, each one filled with pointless, mindless doldrums—anything that would get me through to the next sunrise. I assumed the dream’s intensity was a reciprocal of the horror I’d experienced while watching the video, as the video, like the dream, was beyond my typical range of experience. But I wasn’t taking any chances: I’d be sleeping with the sun and waiting-out the nights atop a guard tower of caffeine.

At some point, within the endless procession of fog and fear, I received a phone call from a newspaper about an assignment. Apparently, some young man had taken it upon himself to transplant the organs of his entire family into the corpse of the family dog; the man died shortly after he tried to add his own stuffing to the mix.

It was raining when I got to the crime scene, which I found appropriate for mood and for my pounding skull, as sunlight is no friend to migraines. I flashed my press credentials to the cop standing next to the yellow tape, and he waved me through to the crunch of reporters that packed themselves along the edges of a fat detective who was giving out a press statement.

Before I could write down a word of what the guy was saying, I felt someone tug at my jacket.  It was Detective Jeffery Brewer, a cop I’d been dating, on and off, for about a year. He was a nice enough guy, and I really hoped that my interest in him wasn’t the singular product of all insider-dirt he’d dish out whenever we got together. (It probably was, so I guess I’m just an awful person.)

“Where the hell you been, Veeve? I’ve been calling and calling. I was beginning to expect a report from your neighbors, complaining about the smell of a rotting meat,” Jeff said, as he led me into a house that looked about as suburban as suburban gets.

“Aww… ‘Rotting meat,’ That’s about the sweetest thing anyone’s ever called me, Jeff.” Our conversation was cut-off by the usual din of a crime scene, which I was glad for, as I had yet to perfect an excuse for my prolonged absence.

The inside of the house was unspectacular, and filled with busy police photographers, all of them snapping-off shots at different intervals, which, naturally, played complete hell with my headache. The initial banality of the house abruptly ended when Jeff whisked me into the cellar. It was like a nightmare lifted from a lunatic’s broken brain, and then built to scale within waking reality, no detail left out for its minuteness.

The basement was a pit of slaughter, a dark room filled with deflated corpses and strewn entrails. The entire family had been crudely unpacked of all of their internal organs, which were then repacked into the over-stuffed corpse of an English Mastiff. The dead murderer’s naked legs were still dangling from without the dog’s bloated bowels, where the man had crawled inside the dead creature, apparently in the hopes of, literally, spilling his guts.  

 “Veeve, do your thing. I mean, I can’t let you stay down here all day. And remember, you don’t release any of this stuff till I tell you it’s time, or no more guided tours of Crimeland, got it?” Jeff said, snapping me out of my stunned stillness.

I didn’t want to look any more dumbfounded than I already had, so I ignored his question and immediately got down to business, asking, “Did the sicko leave any kind of a note behind?”

“Yeah, it’s already sealed up inside an evidence bag, though. But, knowing you’d want to read it, I copied the letter into my notebook. Just wait till you read it…” Just as I took up Jeff’s notebook, I happened to glance down at an image the killer had scrawled, in blood, upon the floor: a smiling woman standing beneath a downpour of what looked very much like burning flower pedals. My gut tightened, and my heart felt like it was going to break out of my chest. My eyes, for a lack of other places to look, fell across the words written in the notebook.

The note:

As I sit here, a cold void tumbles through the city, piling up along the gutters, and growing heavy upon the tree branches and rooftops. She has left us. We were never her children. We were nothing but her dogs.

We are all nothing but dogs.  

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Uncategorized, Victim of the Month

Art piece: The Marionette/Victim 36: Stacey Sammons, 39, murdered in February 2009

In February of 2009 the Family Man carried out one of his life long aspirations: to visit the small town of Greywitch. It wasn’t every day that he was able to visit a place so rife with tangible dread. Contained within every sound—from the incomprehensible mutterings of a passing stranger to the arthritic settling of an old house—was an irrefutable sense of anticipated doom. All because they are the unfortunate neighbor of a particularly infamous town, one that is said to have grown from the seed of the devil himself, and blossomed, rancid and twisted, into a garden of shadows and secrets. This town is known only as Devil’s Clay.

Originally, the Family Man sought to bed down in the Low House Woods, a span of forestry separating Greywitch and Devil’s Clay, but he decided against it, as delving into another’s darkness uninvited is dangerous, not to mention impolite. Instead, he stayed at a local motel (a decision he didn’t come to lightly, as he preferred the hard concrete of an alleyway, or the moistened feel of wet sod), hoping that the nightmares infesting Devil’s Clay might reach out to him and find a willing dreamer. They did.

The notorious killer walked through a pair of decrepit Victorian doors, entering a room crowded with inhuman shapes and clouds of skulking fog. Situated in the front of the room, behind a flimsy layer of crimson and silk, was a stage colored with the beaming glares of yellow and red spot lights. When the curtains parted a preternatural hush filled the room, an audible silence that could only be born from the most eager expectations. Then, descending from some vague space above the platform, was a strange and ominous figure. She was a smiling jigsaw of divorced parts, a marionette forced to dance by the kicking fingers of an unseen puppeteer in the gloom above. The crowd cheered in response to her bizarre gestures, spilling their septic laughter and crooked songs across the smoke filled room. Eventually, the patchwork woman’s empty gaze, which resembled black holes churning inside a small universe of hollow bone, laid themselves across the infamous murderer.

“Why, what do we have here? Looks like we have ourselves a visitor,” the puppet appeared to say through grinning, dead lips.

The Family Man replied, “I’m simply an admirer, puppet, a lone dreamer taking a stroll through this endless nightmare. It’s beautiful.”

The dismembered woman laughed and looked around the room, seeking the attention of her patrons. “And he calls me a Puppet! If only he knew!”

“Only one of us is attached to strings,” the Family Man countered, slightly annoyed by the woman’s jeers.

“Free will is an illusion, my gigantic friend. The shadows are slaves to the sun; the seas toil to the song of storms; and I dance to the playful urges of hidden fingers. Tell me, my murderous friend, do you know who pulls your strings?”

The Family Man felt a sudden heat flare-up from his back; his father had awakened. And although the killer’s rage was becoming increasingly palpable, the butchered marionette chose to press on, uttering a singular question.

“Do you want to know?”

The dream suddenly erupted into flames, and before the Family Man could savor anymore of the delightful scenes before him, the roar of his raging father forced him into the waking world.

When the Family Man returned to consciousness, he dwelled on the strange words of the mysterious puppet, and why they had infuriated his father so. But after about thirty minutes of pointless pondering, he decided to move on, chalking the mutilated woman’s words up to the clever deceptions of a well practiced trickster (she was from Devil’s Clay, after all). Regardless, the Family Man left Greywitch the following morning, choosing to a find his next victim elsewhere. He reasoned that poaching from another’s territory was as pathetic as it was rude, and, perhaps even more importantly, that an artist should never impose his vision upon another artist’s canvas.

Although the Family Man had to travel over a hundred miles to reach the next town, Elwinsburgh, he found his next muse quite quickly. And how could he not? For the moment he stepped across the borders of Elwinsburgh he saw a woman who looked exactly like the marionette in his dreams. Intrigued, he quickly identified the woman as Stacey Sammons, a local antiques dealer who owned a small shop on the outskirts of the city.

Sammons spent much of her day selling and procuring antiques from various sites around the country. And while she was not the diabolical marionette of the Family Man’s dream, she did give off a certain air—a sense of unspoken wisdom that drifted around her like smoke. With every move she made, he could see the shadow of that unwholesome puppet playing just beyond Ms. Sammon’s skin, seething like a ghost caught in a cage of flesh and finitude. As such, the killer began his work as soon as possible, stealing into Ms. Sammons residence after a few nights of observation, and giving back to her the dream the world had stolen from her.
Two mornings later, the customers of “Stacey’s Antiques” were welcomed by the cold, red smile of a woman held together by cords and twine, instead of flesh and bone. It was beautiful.