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Unknown Tales

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unknown
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« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2009, 05:15:05 pm »

The Shades of Willow's Creek

 


My black crow quill scribbles out these lines reluctantly. The ink flowing out over the parchment in symbolic futility for no language, written or spoken can capture the true horror of what I have experienced. Just as shadows on the wall only convey a dark reflection, a silent mockery of the living breathing beings who cast them; so my words like shadow puppets act upon the pages of my tale giving only a semblance of life, of experience, but not their true substance.

My mind has not yet fully recovered -- I doubt it ever will. A merciful numbness has settled over me; like a child shielding its eyes from shadows in the dark, I dare not see, nor face, a reality so unwholesome and dismal. To dwell upon it could only invite madness.

I watch with fascination as the flames ebb and flow eerily over a candles' blackened wick. The candle, once firm and graceful has been oddly distorted over time, devoured by the enveloping heat of the flames. My mind lingers in meditative contemplation of candle and flame and their crude resemblance to body and soul. From the open window comes a chilling breeze that makes the flames dance and flutter, struggling to remain alight, just as fate makes a man struggle and falter upon the unrelenting stage of his life.

But I have forestalled the dreaded task too long. No matter how much I should like to forget the tragic events at Willow's Creek. The story must be told, if only to relieve the terrible burden of guilt that weighs so heavily upon my weary shoulders and causes me to suffer such bitter pangs of grief and deep regret. I must gird myself, strengthen my resolve and dredge up those painful memories, and at last, set pen to parchment and write.


Chapter 1: The Exile

I'd vowed never to return to my father's house. Our bond had never been strong and with my decision to enlist in the militia that bond had been severed forever. I'd been away for nearly ten years, but the pain and bitterness I felt was still as fresh as the day I left. Those years away brought me my first real taste of freedom and the hope of a life far from Willow's Creek.

If not for a letter from my dear sister, Amelia, I would never have returned. A lonely teardrop stained the rose scented envelope. Her despair flowed with the ink over every graceful letter, imbuing every word, every line, with hidden depths of melancholy. She wrote that our Mother was dying, just barely holding on, and praying to see me one last time.

How could I refuse? I am a proud and stubborn man like my father before me. But unlike him I am not a reptile, not a cold-hearted snake. I'd adamantly refused to return for his funeral. I could not feign grief; nor could I so easily go back on my word, for me it would have been a sacrilege.

But I could not leave my dear sister alone to face the burden and grief of our mother's death, nor could I abandon her again or willfully disregard my mother's dying wishes. I felt I had absolutely no choice.

My only companion on this journey was Sweet Medusa, an aging black quarter horse. Her hooves clopped in the soft mud as we road slowly along the deeply rutted and overgrown trail. Solemn tears fell from the dreary clouds that somehow seemed to share my own gray mood. The wind softly whispered a warning in my waiting ear or perhaps it was only a vague premonition from somewhere deep within me.

Medusa and I trod the lonely miles together until at last we came to a fork in the road. I turned her head down a once familiar path. It led to a secret place where I often went to be alone, to hide after a cruel beating or to escape one. At the end of the path was a clearing overlooking the valley. From the ledge one could see Willow's Creek as it wound through the marshland and disappeared into the tangled wilderness beyond.

I dismounted and stood on the edge, listening closely to the wind rustling nervously in the trees. Water ran over the ledge in ever-deepening channels exposing the roots of old trees. The roots grasped the earth, holding on for dear life like gnarled arthritic fingers.

I filled my pipe and smoked as I watched those dismal clouds move slowly across the eastern sky. Then tapping out my pipe, I reluctantly mounted Sweet Medusa again and we resumed our journey. Higher and higher we climbed into those densely wooded hills until at last we reached the rocky soil of the winding path that led to Willow's Creek. I looked up from the trail and it loomed over me, dominating the landscape, the highest point for miles around.

Willow's Creek had seen better days; tall weeds grew round it, the gray paint was peeling and the wooden slates on the exterior hung loose and disjointed. Oaks had been planted there long ago, to form a barrier against high winds and to lessen the effects of erosion on the ancient foundation. Like almost all houses built at the turn of century it had a roofed front porch wide enough to accommodate a swing. But in my thirteenth summer the swing had fallen from the rafters and was burned in the great pit behind the house.

Somehow the house gave me a strange impression as if it had been waiting for me. Watching from its' many high towers and windowed-gables. I'd been drawn back, as surely and inevitably as the pale moon draws the rising tides to shore.

I tied Medusa to the scarred old hitching post before the porch. My heart beat heavily within my chest as my riding boots thumped loudly on the wooden planks of the steps. The sound somehow strangely exaggerated in the dwindling twilight. I stood there like a lost man. Then summoning my resolve I knocked. I heard muffled footfalls coming quietly towards the door. It flew open and without a word my sister, Amelia threw her arms around me. She smiled deeply at me with tear-streaked eyes, sparkling lambent green. My senses were filled with her sweet warmth and the soft innocence of her embrace. It touched me deeply and made me regret the foolish pride that had kept me away so long.

"I knew you would come, I knew it," Amelia sighed.

Breaking my vow, I stepped across the threshold into my father's house. There before me in the hallway stood the ancient long case clock of polished black walnut. I remembered it tolling the hour both day and night. The familiar smell of the old house brought back painful memories. I had tried so hard to forget. To the right was the once elegant sitting room, a fire crackled softly in the hearth. Above it hung a portrait of my father; tall, hard and wiry, his features sharply chiseled, his eyes burning with an almost feral intensity. The artist had captured him well.

"Let me get those wet things off you, you must be freezing."  Amelia took my coat and hung it there in the hallway. "Would you like some coffee?"

"That would be wonderful."

Amelia brought the coffee and we sat down on the red velvet loveseat, hardly speaking, it seemed to be enough that we were together. "Come -- you must see Mother.  She's been waiting so long." Amelia lit a lantern and led me up the narrow, creaking stairs and then down the long darkened hallway to our mother's room. She looked up at me, nodding her head, encouraging me to enter. When I hesitated, she slowly opened the door for me.

There on the bed lay Mother. The light of the kerosene lantern played softly over her round womanly features, drawn now with age and pain. Her skin was pale and the veins showed through in unnerving shades of blue and red. Mother’s eyes were closed and she was barely breathing. I sank into the chair next to her and slowly leaned over. "Mother?" I whispered. Her eyes opened gradually, and kindled like a flame when she recognized me, as if all the vitality left within her danced there in her eyes.

"Son," she sighed. I held her dry, yet velvety hand and looked into her eyes.

"Forgive me."

"There is nothing to forgive."

"Yes there is, " she said, insistently squeezing my hand. "Say you forgive me."

"I forgive you."

"You don't know what your father was like. When I first met him he was as gentle and honorable a man... until his dreams crumbled around him, life has a way... and he took the loss of our first so hard and it was fear of losing another that made him so harsh and unyielding with you."  She stroked my hair, and whispered, "Son, son. Don't hold onto your anger."

The long case clock tolled dismally and I dropped my head into her lap and began to weep. "There he is - he's come from purgatory to see us. He says he is sorry now and we'll be together soon." I sat with her till Amelia said to leave her be; Mother needed her rest.

As we left Mother's room, my sister noticed the look in my eye and said, "She's been talking that way ever since one of those mediums came through town. We had a séance here."

"In God's name -- why?"

"Whatever you may think brother, she loved him."

I took Medusa to the stable, unsaddled her, and dried her with a blanket. The conversion earlier that night had left me strangely uneasy and I found some forgetfulness, some solace, in caring for her. But when I returned to my room I was still agitated and couldn't sleep. The tolling of the long case clock was nearly unbearable. I lay there reliving my past and brooding over my fading hopes for the future.

When suddenly I heard an anguished cry. Tossing the heavy quilts aside I scrambled from the warmth of my bed; threw on a robe and ran barefoot down the hall. I thought Mother was in dire need, but the voice I heard when I reached her door stopped me cold.

"It's my shame that I never stood up to you in life -- but this time -- this time! I will stop you." I could hear no other voices in the room and so I could only conclude that she was suffering from delirium. I was so terribly upset, something in her words struck a deep somber chord within me and my hands began to shake. Not wanting to disturb her in the midst of an episode, I quietly returned to my room.

As I climbed into bed, I caught a fleeting glimpse in the rain-splattered window of my father's face, leering obscenely at me, but when I turned back again it was gone. I told myself it was only an illusion, my mind playing tricks on me, distorting the oak outside my window into the image of the father I had feared so much in life. I couldn't bring myself to extinguish the lantern beside my bed. I cursed myself for being irrational, superstitious, but no amount of intelligent reasoning could match the blood-quickening fear coursing through my veins.

Chapter Two: The Draining

My Mother's condition deteriorated rapidly; fearfully she stared at shadows and mumbled to herself about the child she'd lost and long dead relatives, some of whom I'd never known. Sometimes Mother would jerk suddenly as if she were being cruelly pinched. Through many a long night, I sat beside her bed, too worried about her condition to leave her alone. Heartsick, I watched as her life slowly drained away before my eyes.

Amelia took care of her during the daylight hours. Feeding her with a spoon, and wiping her chin as you would for a baby. She changed Mother's sheets every day and bathed her with kindness. Amelia never complained. She was always cheerful and pleasant even under the most trying of circumstances. My respect, my love for her grew stronger with every passing day. But the strain on her was all too apparent; dark circles formed under her once bright eyes and her silky rich hair became frayed and brittle.

Between the dismal tolling of the long case clock, and my mother's bouts with delirium, my life became a nightmarish vigil. With dawn my mood would lighten, but to rest, to sleep was only a forgotten dream. In the afternoons I would find myself nodding off, only to be awakened by that accursed clock. I began to despise it, but it was a family heirloom.

One cool and misty afternoon I looked from the window of my room and saw the doctor's carriage in the yard. A quiet humble man he greeted me with an earnest handshake at the door and we went upstairs. I watched quietly as he examined Mother. Afterward we sat in the kitchen and chatted over a pot of hot coffee.

He told me, sadly, that the village was plagued by consumption. I will never forget his words, "It's the damnedest thing." He sipped his coffee slowly, put it back down on the table and resumed, "Never thought I'd be attending the funerals of three children in one blessed week! There's talk of digging up corpses! There was case though -- I remember reading about it. Mercy Brown I believe, in New England. When they dug her up she was still fresh as a daisy -- the consumption stopped, but that was a hundred years or more ago. Damn strange -- well, all this crazy talk is getting to me."

Several days later, I saw Amelia sitting on the stairs with her head in her hands. I sat down beside her. She looked up and said, "She's gone." My sister cried as I put my arm around her and she buried her head in my chest.

It was a small funeral. The few mourners there talked about my Mother's charity and whispered about the years of suffering and heartbreak she'd endured at my father's hand.

It was on the morning of the third day, after the funeral, that I began to notice signs of infection in my sister. Amelia was weak and lethargic, she tried to hide it, but I could tell she was developing a serious cough. I can't tell you how the anguish tore at my soul. How could I watch my dear sister waste away in the same way my mother had.

In less than two weeks she was almost completely bed-ridden, it was only then she began to confide in me. I would sit at her bedside and listen to her simple dreams, dreams of a kind husband, a warm home, and lots and lots of children. We both knew she had very little time left, but we pretended. The doctor came whenever he could, but really, there was nothing he could do for her, other than deaden the pain and suppress the terrible cough.

Then one night with a weak and trembling voice Amelia whispered that Mother stood before her bed at night. Mother tried to drive him away, but she just wasn't strong enough. I couldn't make my sister understand that, that was impossible they were both dead and buried. Amelia put her hand gently to my face, looked into my eyes and sighed, "The spirit lives on, dear brother." I wanted to believe it was only the influence of my Mother's delirious rambling, and my sister's obviously weakened condition that made her say such inconceivable things, but I feared she was losing her mind.

The following evening I must have dozed off in the chair beside Amelia’s bed, when an ominous tolling of the long case clock awoke me. I heard her desperately crying out, "Get off me, get off me!" I leapt from my chair. Her arms beat the empty air, her hips ground up from the bed. I stared in helpless disbelief. I tried to wake her, shaking her shoulders and her eyes flashed open with an unbelievably harsh anger in them. "Oh, I'm sorry, " she said, the anger fading from her eyes, "hand me my bottle -- will you?" She gulped the powerful sedative desperately as if it were a glass of cool water.

"Do you love me?" Amelia asked with her head turned away, setting the bottle down gently.

"Of course I do, you know that."

Amelia turned her head back to look at me and said, "Then you must do something for me."

"Anything."

"Mother says you must stop him and there's only one way."

"What?"

"You must open the coffin, cut off his miserable head and burn the body."

"Amelia -- I can't."

"I'll die if you don't! What harm could it do, if he's already dead? But if I'm right - you can end this."

"No harm? You want me desecrate his grave and burn his corpse!"

"I want to live!" Then she asked with an edgy glare so unlike her. "You can't? After all he did to you! You hated him!"

"It's insane," I pleaded helplessly.

Amelia sat upright in the bed and grabbed my arms forcefully. "If you really loved me, you'd do it!" The strain was too much for her, and she began to cough convulsively and spit up blood, it spilled slowly over her lips and down her chin. She lay back; squeezing her eyes shut hard against the pain and whispered, "You said anything. Anything -- please you must... soon."


Chapter 3: Golgotha

I needed to get out of Willow's Creek the atmosphere was abysmally thick and heavy. Medusa and I spent the late afternoon in the hills. As I rode back Amelia’s words played over and over again within my mind. So I decided to visit the family cemetery. As Medusa and I neared the little white picket fence that enclosed the graves she began to neigh, and retreat, tossing her head, half-bucking. I couldn't get her to go anywhere near those graves. Feeling a little betrayed and angry with Medusa I rode her back to the stables and unsaddled her. She gave me a guilty look then, and nuzzled my shoulder. I stroked her neck as she ate an apple from my hand. I couldn't stay mad at her long.

***

I heard the long case clock toll as I climbed the lonely stairwell. Something in those reverberating chimes played eerily upon my nerves. The tolling grew more and more unbearable with every beat of my quaking heart. As I stood at last, at the top of the stairs it tolled again with a final heavy note. Suddenly desperate, panic stricken, I ran down the hall to Amelia’s room and threw open her door. I saw her lying on the bed with her head and arms draped over the edge. Her eyes' were cold and frozen, staring reproachfully at me. Blood stained the sheets and the delicate ruffles of her satiny white gown.

I pulled my dear Amelia up from the bed, cradling her there in my arms, rocking her back and forth. "Forgive me child, forgive me," I wept. How long I held her, I couldn't say, but then a squirming queasy feeling arose from my belly and the thought of holding her suddenly became abhorrent to me. I stood slowly and wiped the tears from my face.

The moments dragged on agonizingly, as I tried to touch her again. Reaching out my hand then withdrawing it quickly, like a child testing the heat of the flames, until it's burnt. I should have been stronger. I'd seen untold numbers of the dead, nearly ten thousand at Appomattox alone. But this... this was immeasurably different this was flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood, the still warm body of my lifeless sister lying before me.

Then cursing myself, ashamed of my weakness. I grimly set my jaw, steeling myself for what needed to be done, out of respect, out of love for her. I slowly neared gently touching her body, and then carefully arranged it there on the bed, folding her arms over her chest and lightly closing her eyes of cold fire.

Madness seized me then like some rough beast, and in the grip of monstrous insanity I vowed to dig my father from the dank and dismal earth. I strode angrily to the barn, grabbed the wheelbarrow and threw in an axe, shovel and kerosene.

 Gray clouds boiled in the angry sky and the ancient oaks swayed darkly overhead as I walked up the hillside to the family cemetery. I stared at the silent graves of my long dead ancestors. Opening the white picket fence I walked irreverently over their graves. Hour after hour, I dug in the rocky root-bound soil, until at last my shovel hit the coffin lid.

The sun set just as I began scraping dirt from the dark surface of that oblong box. The lid groaned as I pried it free with the tip of my shovel. A sudden realization of what I was about to do swept over me, a last twinge of rationality. I laughed with mirthless abandon and tore the lid from the coffin.

Thunder rolled tempestuously across the heavens. Lightning speared the dizzying skies momentarily revealing the cadaverous face of my father. The skin was a ghastly pink, stretched tightly over the sharp contours of his skull, accentuating the angular harshness of his features. His hair always cropped short in life was now long and snaky, the nails grown long, curling and claw-like. A cruel smile twisted his thin lips. Fear, hatred, loathing, regret, a dozen emotions plagued me at once, but none so powerful as my insatiable desire for vengeance.

I dragged his remains from their resting place, slipping in the mud, struggling recklessly in the growing darkness. Grabbing the axe from the wheelbarrow I stood over the corpse and placing the edge on his throat -- I measured my stroke. Lifting the axe back, I swung down with every ounce of my strength and the stroke fell with sick thud, the force driving his now broken and half-severed neck deep into the muddy earth. I swung again and the axe cleaved through.

I stood in the storm staring at the grisly head, as it lay half-buried in the mud, rain-washing dirty rivulets down over his morbid features. Was it over, was it finally over, but what did it matter? My mind wavered precariously on the brink of utter lunacy. I knew I would never be well, never whole again. I would never escape the memories, the shades of Willow's Creek.

I pushed the corpse-laden wheelbarrow through the mud to the edge of the char-blackened pit and wearily dumped its' grisly contents. The headless corpse rolled down over the scorched earth to the bottom. I stacked firewood over it and poured kerosene on it.

As I lit the blaze it woofed loudly, sucking the oxygen from the air. The stench of burning flesh was horrific; yet, I stood there for hours in the rain, feeding the flames as if it were a living thing until only white-hot coals and bones remained.

Then I tossed in his miserable head. I watched as it cooked in the glowing coals of the pit. The tongues of flames licked at it, blistering and peeling flesh from bone.

Tired, wet and coughing, the mud clinging to my knee-high boots; I staggered back to the house. Willow's Creek waited breathlessly -- empty, still and cold. Wearily I opened the door and crossed the threshold. I climbed the winding stairs, pulling myself ever upwards by the strength of my will alone. With great relief, I finally reached the top of the stairs and walked slowly through the darkened hallway.

With a palatable dread that shook me to the very core, I suddenly realized I'd forgotten to close the door to Amelia’s room. I wanted only to absolve my mind of the memory of her death! Not to re-live the nightmarish vision, the spectre of her lifeless form, and yet, my head turned... and I saw her lying there so still, like sleeping beauty waiting to be awakened by a lover's kiss. An abysmal chill ran along my spine at the thought. I turned quickly away, stumbling over my own feet and scrambled down the corridor desperate to reach whatever sanctuary afforded by my room.

My endurance had been driven to its limit; I barely had the strength left to stand. I fell heavily onto the bed in my drenched clothes. I slept, really slept for the first time since my return to Willow's Creek.

The brassy tolling of the long case clock awoke me. I bolted upright in bed, wild-eyed and trembling. It was then I saw it, an unnatural wavering in the corner of the room, a deeper shade waiting among the encroaching shadows. There before me was a dark and misty vision of my own beloved sister.

Blood stained the lacy ruffles of her satiny white gown and a scarlet trickle spilled from her moist and pale, rosy lips. Her raven black hair stirred restlessly, flowing softly about her head. But I felt not the slightest hint of a breeze. How I prayed that I was dreaming or insane. Even insanity was preferable to the nightmare reality that confronted me.

My heart beat heavily within my chest; till I thought surely it would burst asunder, and yet, as the blood thundered in my ears a strangely curious hope awoke in me. Had I been wrong? Was she still alive, still breathing? Her body had been so tensionless and chill like a puppet without supporting strings, a wineskin sans the wine.

She moved slowly, languidly, catlike. I noticed that her bare feet hardly seemed to touch the floor; gliding as if she rode those same strange currents that played so freely, so wantonly, in her dark curling hair. Now she stood at the foot of my bed with a reproachful, yet hungry look in her eyes. She smiled eerily and spoke in a chill hollow voice, "The spirit lives on dear brother."

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"There exists an agent, which is natural and divine, material and spiritual, a universal plastic mediator, a common receptical of the fluid vibrations of motion and the images of forms, a fluid, and a force, which can be called the Imagination of Nature..."
Elphias Levi
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« Reply #16 on: June 24, 2009, 12:24:01 am »

Dude, the best version of this so far, I just spent a half an hour reading it.   Good addition, adding a name for sis.

Any illustrations prepared for it yet?
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Jeanetta Clash
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« Reply #17 on: June 24, 2009, 11:25:03 am »

I liked it, it reminded me of Edgar Allen Poe.
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unknown
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« Reply #18 on: June 24, 2009, 01:49:52 pm »

Thanks Zodiac

I haven't done any illustrations for this one. I can't really take credit for adding the name as one of the Editor's at Bewildering Stories suggested I give the sister a name. I was a lttle worried that they won't except the story because of all the loose ends that are left dangling.

Hi Jeanetta

I really appreciate your taking the time to read it and I am very flattered by the comparison to Poe, actually when the editor sent me his comments he suggested I name the girl Annabelle Lee or Lenore,  an all to obvious Poe reference.
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"There exists an agent, which is natural and divine, material and spiritual, a universal plastic mediator, a common receptical of the fluid vibrations of motion and the images of forms, a fluid, and a force, which can be called the Imagination of Nature..."
Elphias Levi
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« Reply #19 on: July 17, 2009, 12:13:47 pm »

A Lone Man Walks a Dark Road

A lone man walks a dark road into the town they called Lorraine
below the jagged snowy mountain along that cobbled lane.

He wears a cloak of black-bear hide, about his neck hang its' lethal claws.
He holds contempt for all mans' courts and all of their dainty laws.
Chaotic are his wayward locks about a stern forbidding face.
What knows this man of pity? None, no not the slightest trace.

His name is Gregory Hardboughs. When last he heard it called?
It must have been quite long ago for he hardly knows of it at all.
His bearskin boots have traveled many a frightful land of dread
wandered forbidden pathways no others' boots have dared to tread.
What frightful Norn in vengeance cold set his feet upon that cobbled way?
No one knows now or none will dare to say.

King Vladimir proclaimed a land grant and thus he hoped to tame
this lonely twisted land of rumor-haunted fame.
So many forlorn yet eager souls went forth to cast their doubtful lot
along a narrow twisted cobbled road to farm a sunlight-strangled plot.
But the earth was rich and ebon black and full of wormy life
and from it came a harvest dear of tears and bitter strife.

A lone man walks a dark road into the town they called Lorraine
below the jagged snowy mountain along that cobbled lane.

So with bold steps Gregory made his way at last up to the high seat
and said this to the magistrate, "Ah, what a pleasure sir to meet."
He searched the county map for the most remote of spots
and when he saw what he wanted, he thought, "Ah, this is the perfect plot."

"Oh no!" Exclaimed the Magistrate. "Oh no!" Spoke the wigged Judge.”

"Surely you jest good sir, please do compromise.
Pick out some other plot, be very, very wise."

"I am no prancing jester and this be not a lark.
Where do I sign my weighty pledge and leave my lawful runic mark."

Now all this Father Rainer heard and foreboding filled his pious soul
and begged the man be reasonable and therefore not to go.
He took the burly man aside and led him to his humble door
and showed him hidden documents beneath the altar floor.
"Forgive me if I have to laugh but I must make myself quite plain
I never saw a creature yet that with cold iron be not quickly slain.
If you are quite finished sir, my own counsel I must still attend.
Father Ranier sighed, "This will turn out dreadful and have bitter end."

"Oh no!" Exclaimed the Nursemaid. "Oh no!" Spoke the wigged Governess.

"Now we shall all be cursed and cast into the lashing fire
we are all in danger, dreadful and most dire."

So they gathered round to wag their sharpened tongues
and bellow forth dire warnings at the top of their lungs.

"Listen to us common folk and thereby save your skin
to go beyond the Hanging Oak is every bit a sin.
For there beyond an evil waits with sharp and deadly eyes
to fill the heart with wickedness, to mislead the soul with lies."

"You listen closely to each others' lofty toned speech
but no time will I waste on you knaves who do so love to preach."

"We shall not be responsible and from you we'll turn away.
If you don't listen closely to the advice we give this day."

Now many years went rolling past since last he passed this way.
But there was something different in the bundle he held tenderly today.
For from this cradled bundle came a small and lonely cry
"Please give me fresh milk so the lad will not have to die!"

"Oh no!" Exclaimed the Nursemaid. "Oh no!" Spoke the wigged Governess."

"For I thought we made it clear to you upon that fateful day
and did we not warn you that from you we'd turn away?"

"Who was this child's mother from whence did he arrive?"

"I will have naught to do with it as long as I'm alive!
It's unnatural, a child of dark descent,
born of the spirit world and full of foul intent."

Now life went on and all the sleepy town folk nearly had forgot
about Gregory Hardboughs and his rumored demon misbegot.
Their livestock were found their corpses torn and rent
their precious lifeblood had every drop been spent.

It started out just one or two, then three or four, then ten.
No one knew what was happening and so they hired men.
To track and kill this wanton beast that left destruction in its’ wake
and every night in their beds the town folk would quake.

To hear some news the villagers all gathered close around
and when the town crier began no one made the slightest sound.
"The dead men's bones where found bleaching beneath the noonday sun
the stinging gnats and black flies swarming over every blessed one.
Black carrion birds enjoyed a dreadful feast, I would say,
and that marauding killer beastie has gotten clean away."

"Oh no!" Exclaimed the Magistrate. "Oh no!" Spoke the wigged Judge.

Then from the wood sprang a man with rashness in his stride
a blazing look of lunacy that no one could abide.
"A Lad we sent to hunt and kill that dreadful thing!
I wonder what news the lad will have to bring?"
But from the Lad's blood-caked lips never came a sound
unless it was to spout gibberish as if no one were around.

Now Father Ranier arose and told them of a plan to undertake.
"You must send for the witch hunter of that make no mistake.
Send a message to the Church and tell them of our plight
for to let them know now, would only be right."
The magistrate loudly proclaimed that he did agree
and so they sent a formal letter with a dire plea.

A lone man travels a dark road into the town they called Lorraine
below the jagged snowy mountain along that cobbled lane.

He wears a broad brim hat. His cape is long and dark.
His dire face has brought forth more than one hushed remark.
A pilgrim's soul he hides beneath that grim and steely mask
and if you need the sword of god he's equal to the task.
He holds respect for all mans' courts and all their justly laws.
Do not hope for any mercy, not if he looks you in the face.
What knows this man of pity? None, no not the slightest trace.

His name is Loren Blackwell and he often hears it called
in times of dark despair when no joy is allowed.
His high black boots have traveled many a grim and moonlit mile
set forth in righteousness to bring wicked souls to trial.
He has wandered long on this lonely road of pain.
The man is tormented and an obsession wracks his brain.
What angel bright in righteousness set his feet upon that cobbled way.
No one knows now or none will dare to say.

Now as the carriage pulls into the little town
the villagers joyful gathered all around.
They dance and sing and all do loudly shout,
"At last! Someone has come to stomp that foul demon out."
They rush about and fling their hats into the air.
All their cares forgotten along with their despair.

"Oh yes!" Exclaimed the Magistrate. "Oh yes!" Spoke the wigged Judge.

"Good sir we are so honored by your presence. I don't know what to say.
I feel so very joyful. I should get down on bended knees and pray."

"I have not come to hear your speeches just give it to me plain.
I have come to do the Lord's work and from fawning please refrain.
Now if you please, what evidence do you have to show
that justifies my presence here for that is what I must know."

They showed him all the bodies. They showed him all the signs
and when they’d finished he told them his designs.
"I must inform the local folk of the dangers that await
so bring them all to the church before it is too late."
Upon the rough-hewn benches they sat and did not even stir
and waited in anticipation for they knew not what would occur.

Loren Blackwell took the podium and all were silent, yes indeed,
for he spoke of the creatures’ hungry need.
"He will devour you, you and all your precious kin.
So beware! Beware the changing of his skin.
Now here are the signs, creepy long fingers, slanted almond eyes
and if you notice all of these you may see through its’ disguise.

It feeds beneath the moonlight and will not show itself under the sun.
We'll put the fear of God in it and make it turn tail and run.
So let the church bell ring out its’ holy tolling sound
and then we’ll kill us this dreadful demon hound!"

Pierre was in the crowd that night and thought, "I am a man.
I'm big enough and strong enough to do what any other can."
"Please father! Let me go on the hunt and fight by thy side."
"Ah, Son, how you fill your father's brimming heart with pride!"

They swept through the woods mile after mile
for they were deadly serious and not one of them would smile.
Suddenly they heard a tremendous growling sound
and each one stopped and fearful looked all around.

"Oh no!" Exclaimed the Magistrate. "Oh no!" Spoke the wigged Judge.

They saw Loren Blackwell raise his musket on high
and when the beast lashed out how the man did fly.
Half a bloody corpse went crashing through the trees.
The other half fell down on its’ bended knees.

The Magistrate's sword swung for the dreadful demon's gut
but the blade was not of purest silver and so it did not cut.
The demon's teeth crunched into his startled head.
Now the brave Magistrate lies so still, so very, very dead.

As the blood spattered into young Pierre's startled eyes
the warm urine ran down the young man's thighs.
Then he turned in abject fear and quickly ran away
an act he would regret until his last dying day.

A lone man runs along a dark road into the town they called Lorraine
below the jagged snowy mountain along that cobbled lane.

Beneath a velvet jerkin he wears a golden chain with an ivory locket.
It’s hidden close to his heart so no one will see it there and mock it.
He holds respect for all men and affirms their upstanding ways.
So gentle are his boyish curls that sway about his handsome face.
What knows this man of pity? Much, if you enter into his embrace.

His name is Pierre Lavec. When last he heard that name?
Why just tonight, now he bows his head in everlasting shame.
His doeskin boots haven't traveled over many rough and rocky paths
and he's so deathly afraid of scorn and other men’s wraths.
What fickle sprite in flights of fancy saved him on that day
and set his feet to running all along that cobbled way?
No one knows now or none will dare to say.

"Oh no!" Exclaimed the Servants. "Oh no!" Spoke his wigged Mother.

"Oh God! You're bleeding son and exhausted from an over-panicked run.
What brought you to our door before the **** has crowed the rising of the sun?
Now you servants, Leave us. I must speak to my only boy alone."
And Pierre began to speak of things for which he could never atone.

"Oh, Mother, Father lies in yonder wood headless and dead
and in my fear I left him and like a coward fled."

"Calm down boy and tell it to me straight
where are all the other men and what might be their fate?"
Choking and then gasping he found this very hard to state.
"Oh, Mother the demon thing caught us all by surprise.
I do believe it was sent by the foul black lord of lies."

"Come here son and I will bath your wounds and bring you cups of tea
and we shall speak of a plan, upon which you and I might agree.
You must avenge me son. Both our lives are now at stake.
The spirit of anger that lies dormant in you now must awake.
Kill this thing that slew my man with your own vengeful hand
and you will be a hero in this rumor-haunted land."

Now as if in a dream he saw Harboughs’ swaddling son
and bethought to himself of Loren Blackwell's musket gun.

When the morning sun came crawling up that cobbled lane
Pierre set out toward his goal. His object was all to plain.
For the site of the massacre he made his lonesome way
and when he came to the spot he began to pray.
Then from his Father's corpse angrily swatted crows away.

As Pierre began to walk about trying hard not to make a sound
he found Loren Blackwell's musket lying there upon the ground.
But as he bent to retrieve it he felt eyes upon his back.
So he turned and crouched quickly, prepared to attack.

When he saw Hardboughs' son his first instinct was to run.
Then he steeled himself. Determined to finish what he had begun.
Victor Harboughs spoke out suddenly in shock.
"What happened here? And whose is that flintlock?"

"These men set out to kill the dreadful demon hound
and here they found it. Now their lifeblood soaks the very ground.
I must end this curse and bury all of them with haste.
I must return to Lorraine. I have no time to waste."

A lone man walks a dark road into the town they called Lorraine
below the jagged snowy mountain along that cobbled lane.

A deathly quiet could everywhere be heard.
There was no sound not even the chirping of a bird.
As Pierre walked slowly through the lonely village square
he began to realize that there was no one there.
Then from their forlorn errands the worried women folk arrived
for they began to wonder if their men folk had survived.


"Oh no!" Exclaimed the Nursemaid. "Oh no!" Spoke his wigged Governess.

Now Pierre had to tell them all that happened in the wood
and he tried to explain it to them. He did the best he could.
The women started weeping and pulling out their hair
falling to their knees and throwing handfuls of dirt into the air.

The elders agreed to help him bury all the mourned dead
and so within the ancient wood along the path they sped
and Loren Blackwell’s words were ringing in young Pierre’s head.
"He will devour you, you and all your precious kin.
So beware! Beware the changing of his skin.
Now here are the signs, creepy long fingers, slanted almond eyes
and if you know notice all of these you may see through its’ disguise.

Now Pierre watched Victor like a sharp-eyed hawk
and everywhere that Victor went Pierre was there to stalk.
He pretended to be his friend; all the better to spy
and to everything that Victor did he bent a prying eye.

Now one night as the lonely orb of the moon was set to rise
he heard Victor and his sweetheart making lovesick sighs.
Victor said, "I love you dear, you are my very heart
and I would surely die if we should ever part."

Pierre began to question all he once had thought
and wondered how Victor could ever be the evil demon misbegot
and perhaps, at last, his vengeance should now be forgot."

Pierre stood for a moment and then silently turned to go away.
Something happened then he would not forget until his dying day.
He stared in awe as Victor’s fingers turned to feral claws
and his face became a drooling sharp-toothed maw.

Where once there was a boy a frightful beast now did stand.
A baying nightmare more than a match for any mortal man.
Pierre boldly raised his musket and fired into the feral beast
and with a silver musket ball Victor's soul was released.
Victor's sweetheart kissed him and drew him into her embrace
and the image of a young man returned to Victor's face.

But none knew then what this act of Pierre's would portend
and Father Ranier's words were fulfilled of a dreadful bitter end.
For what the townsfolk of Lorraine could never ever have known
the demon entered Pierre and oh my, how his fangs have grown.


The End
« Last Edit: October 13, 2009, 04:24:17 pm by unknown » Report Spam   Logged

"There exists an agent, which is natural and divine, material and spiritual, a universal plastic mediator, a common receptical of the fluid vibrations of motion and the images of forms, a fluid, and a force, which can be called the Imagination of Nature..."
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« Reply #20 on: August 23, 2009, 11:26:37 pm »

Nice work.  You need to get yourself an agent and make yourself some money on this, Unknown.  The one thing that horror is lacking these days is style, and you sure have developed one in your work.
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« Reply #21 on: August 26, 2009, 12:10:17 am »

Hi Trent

Thanks man, I just saw that Rachel posted a bunch of stuff about getting an agent and being published. I do intend to give it a shot.

I tried to get this one published at Bewildering Stories but I am still waiting for a second reply.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2009, 03:12:11 am by unknown » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #22 on: October 12, 2009, 09:32:06 pm »

Well, "A Lone Man Walks a Dark Road," was officially rejected by Bewildering Stories. I am not really suprised because they didn't seem interested in it to begin with.
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Veronica Poe
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« Reply #23 on: October 12, 2009, 11:25:30 pm »

That's okay.  It reads like a horror western and I am sure that they are not used to the idea of that yet.  It reads well, but I get the feeling that some horror publications like their stories to be Gothic, with no exceptions.

You should be proud, look at all the stories you have gotten published in the last two years!

Peace,

Veronica
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« Reply #24 on: October 13, 2009, 12:13:00 am »

Hi Veronica

I was just checking out the old Succubus and Incubus threads, (very kinky) it reminded me of the old days at AR. I'm glad you transfered that over here. The thread was a major infleunce on Ezrabette.

The reponse I got was that it didn't have a consistant ryme scheme, and that it was too hard to read because of the bad grammar. I'm sure that they aren't used to getting a poetry submission that is eight pages long and I get the impression that once they hit the first snag in grammar they just quit reading. 

Anyways, I'm not all that disappointed.

 I'm trying to come up with a new story for Halloween...

Thanks for the encouragement.

"Several species of small furry animals grooving with a Pict in a cave."
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Veronica Poe
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« Reply #25 on: October 13, 2009, 06:19:24 pm »

Hi Unknown,

I'm glad that the thread was such an influence. Reading through it last night, I was wondering if it was too "racy" to be printed. Amazing the things we got into back then.

What would the Halloween story be about?

Peace,

Veronica
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« Reply #26 on: October 13, 2009, 06:52:06 pm »

Hi Veronica

We really did get into some wild stuff... and then there was that whole Norman Pounders thing. It's kinda funny when you look back on it.

I really don't know yet what the story would be about... I have started a couple of new stories. One about a convent, and one about a child found in a cemetary. But then I was thinking maybe I'd do zombie story or ghost story.

I got a review for the Devil's Pen that said the characters were cardboard characters and that I went on and on about minor events, but left out the more important elements.
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