If you’re reading this, it’s already too late. Just one sentence, but as it’s digested by your mind, know the seeds of evil have already been sown. It will only be a few days now, until they sprout and grow into the demonic thing which controls me so completely. You scoff, you think, how is it possible for such a banal sentence to do any kind of harm? Because that was the way they planned it. The way it has planned it. To trick you into reading, by making it just intriguing enough for you to finish the line. No good putting this down now, the damage is already done. You might as well listen to my tale. Not that it will do you any good.
I was an author. Horror yarns were my game, except God help me, I’m no longer writing fiction. I’m explaining facts I’ve only now just pieced together. At its surface, that first sentence makes you think of a hack writer, trying to lure you in, and scare you with threats. I assure you, this is not a threat. There are ancient forces at work here, forces which know how to weave their essence in among the words. How to bind with each letter, until you start to read the letters, and the words, and the essence of the thing travels quietly and invisibly through the air, into your very eyes. Up through to your brain, where it lies inside, and grows, ever so slowly.
It started with a creative slump I was going through. I’d run out of story ideas, as writers occasionally do. I wanted something terrifying to write about, but couldn’t come up with anything. So lucky then, as I was browsing through the web, and found a demonologist who lived a few towns over from my own, in Ostium, Massachusetts. It certainly sounded more foreboding then my own town of Farmingtan. I called the man up, a Mr. Henry Scatherty, and asked if I could talk to him about demons. For story ideas, of course. He sounded excited to talk to me, and quickly agreed. We set up a meeting time, and I hung up the phone with a smile.
I drove up on a Tuesday, in the late afternoon. It was mid-way through October, and all the leaves on the trees were a lush, golden orange or red. I love the fall. It seems like just the right temperature; not too hot, but not too cold. A final few months of beauty, before the darkness and the cold set in, and take hold. Much as this nameless being has taken hold of my very soul. Much as it will wrap itself around your own, never to be separated again. A snake inexplicably coiled about your insides.
I should have been weary from the first time I pulled my beat up sedan in front of that old Victorian house. The shutters were dirt brown, and the rest of the house was the grey of sky, just before the storm. Despite my leanings toward the supernatural and the terrifying in my fiction, I found myself instinctively weary of the house. I felt like it was staring at me, as if the house were somehow alive. A huge host of sparrows rested atop the house, chirping one after the other so that their cries filled the air, and blended together into one incomprehensible din.
I puffed out my chest, filled myself with false courage. I walked up the stone path, and knocked on Scatherty’s door. There was no doorbell. For that matter, there was no outside light, and the sun was setting. Soon its illuminating rays would not be able to help me. After a few knocks, an old man with grey hair, and a red sweater and brown pants, opened the front door. He looked to be in his seventies, but in good shape for his age, with very few wrinkles on his smiling face.
“Can I help you?” Mr. Scatherty asked.
“Yes, “ I said, and proceeded to explain who I was, reminding him that we had talked on the phone a few days earlier.
“Oh yes,” he said. He smiled a toothy grin, and I saw that despite his years his teeth were immaculate, large, and white.
Had I known then what I know now, I would have read into the gleam in his eyes, and took it for more then a lonely old man’s desire for company and conversation.
We sat in his living room, a great big room with eight-foot ceilings and a roaring fireplace, of red brick and black iron. A large bookcase lined the wall opposite the armchair I sat in, filled with non-fiction books about the occult and the demonic. Interspersed, were a few thrillers and horror fiction books, all darkly themed of course. Behind me was a large oak writing desk, with stacks of papers and a laptop sitting on it.
We talked for hours about all sorts of demons, from all different kinds of cultures. Demons of all the different types of elements; water, fire, earth, and sea. The Chinese Niu Mo Wang , and the Japanese Enma Dai-Ō. The Celtic Balor, and the Hyrokkin of Norse mythology. The German Alp, and the Russian Lechies. All the things he told me fascinated me, and I could tell that the old man was greatly amused by this.
“But my how I go on, would you like some tea?” the old man asked. I replied that I would love a cup, and checked my watch. It was only five o clock, and I’d arrived at about four. To my surprise, what I thought was at least a four-hour conversation with the old man, was in actuality only about an hour. We drank the tea, and turned to small talk. How the weather was, whether I’d written anything lately, how our collective love lives were. All trivial, but it was a good chat nonetheless.
At six thirty Mr. Scatherty offered to cook me dinner, and I heartily accepted the proposal. I hadn’t been eating well, too anxious about my lack of fiction output. Now I had a treasure trove of notes to go off of, and I’d many a story idea wandering around like an escaped mental patient, inside my noggin.
Dinner was lamb chops with mashed potatoes, gravy, and a lovely old bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. It was delicious, and I remember joking that if I wasn’t so heterosexual, old Mr. Scatherty might have had to beat me off with a stick. The old man’s reply was extremely dirty, and it very nearly made me spit out a sip of wine.
“Anyway, I would never hit a man such as yourself.” The old man replied.
“You wouldn’t” I said, eager to see what his next retort would be.
“Of course not, I have much better ways to deal with people like you.”
I smiled, though it wasn’t a full one. Try as I might to convince myself it was a joke, I couldn’t keep the chill from traveling up my neck.
He asked me to stay, after a desert of pumpkin pie, and vanilla ice cream. Told me, that he had something in the basement to show me. I made a joke about how I hoped he didn’t have an industrial sized meat freezer and a chainsaw, and he just laughed. I laughed as well. How could this charming, charismatic, gentle old man be capable of any kind of violent activity? He was simply a man with morbid sensibilities, much as my own. I felt foolish, for being so apprehensive, about going down into the room.
He walked out of the living room, towards an old wooden door, oak, like the writing desk. It was simply the color of the wood. No new paint was added, and I respected the man for keeping the place much as it most likely looked hundreds of years ago. He never gave me an exact date, but he explained that the house was at least one hundred years old, which was easy to believe.
He opened the door, and descended down the stairs, only there was something off putting about his descent. He ventured downward, without turning on a light, or bringing any kind of light source. I chalked it up to there being a light switch at the bottom of the stairs, and hence followed, without hesitance. I took the stairs slowly, ever so carefully, as it was pitch black in the basement, and there was no longer any light from the sky as a guide. It was creepy, but I assured myself, this old man is just trying to be mysterious. To give me a little scare, that’s all. I’d read this countless times in terror tales; the man who walks into the dark basement, and then… But this was real life, and in real life old men who live alone seldom go on murdering sprees, or transform into monsters as soon as they are out of the light.
After what seemed like hours, I made it down the stairs. I felt dirt under my feet, and called out to the old man.
“To lazy to put some concrete down or some wood, ay Scatherty?”
He answered from the far corner of the basement. The only way I knew his location was by the sound of his voice, as there were still no lights on, and the darkness enveloped all.
As my eyes adjusted to the dark, I caught sight of a faint, orange glow at the opposite end of the room. Only, there was something strange about the quality of the light. It appeared to be coming from miles away.
“How are you doing that?” I said to the old man, as I walked toward the source of the light. He didn’t answer me. With each step, the illusion of the light being from a great distance appeared less and less illusory.
Without warning he grabbed me by the shoulders, and I felt the old man’s breath on my face. I looked into his eyes, glowing in the darkness, and God help me, there were flames lapping up the sides of his corneas. He whispered in the darkness, in a voice that wasn’t human, which consisted of multiple voices all at once.
“Foolish mortals”, they said.
“You never believe in us. You assume we are made up, to explain the nature of man. Yet, we are the nature of man, because we have infiltrated humanity, time and time again. Now, the voices said in unison, we will become a part of you. “
The old man let out an unearthly shriek, and the hard, concrete walls began to shake with the force. He grabbed onto my hands, and I could feel sharp claws digging into the tops of my hands. “We will allow you a first glimpse”, they shrieked, in their voices of eternal torment. “You will be the first of many”, they told me, and I felt a sensation that burned beneath the skin of my hands, inside my very bones. The pain traveled up my arms, up my shoulders and neck, into my head. It felt, for a blessedly brief moment, like my brain was literally on fire.
And suddenly, I could see perfectly inside the basement. Could see that there was indeed a passageway that led off for miles into the Earth, leading from a six foot by six-foot hole on the far, concrete wall. Could see that at the end of the long tunnel, was a small entranceway of rock, with flames raging on the other side.
“Go start your work”, the old man whispered in my ear, and I knew then that the Devil might be a made up construct, but that demons are not. We simply haven’t been afforded the proper glimpses to classify them correctly, to give them their proper names. Because, they haven’t told them to us yet. For before me was no longer a man, but a shifting mass of burnt leather skin, with claws and teeth of timeless rock.
I don’t remember how I got out of there. I must have run up the stairs, and run out the front door. I remember hearing thousands of sparrows, as I ran to my car, though there was no light. I crunched through dead leaves, and opened my driver’s side door, then started the car. But, how I drove home, and what I did when I got home, I can’t recall.
When I woke up the next day, I went back online, and tried to find Mr. Scatherty’s website, but it was gone. Likewise, I couldn’t find anything about the man, anywhere else on the web. I drove back to Ostium, drove back to where his house should have been, where its house was, but there was nothing there. Only a small burnt patch of land, where it looked like someone had lit a gigantic bonfire.
I drove back to my apartment in Farmingtan, and when I got in the house, I noticed a new manuscript lay on top of my kitchen table. It was probably there before I left the house, but I was too focused on finding the thing calling itself Scatherty, to notice much of anything. It was entitled, The End of Humanity. I don’t remember writing it.
As I’m sure I will forget that I’ve written this. You see, it won’t let me remember, for long. It is guiding my hand as we speak, along this computer keyboard. It wants me to think I’m still in control, because it enjoys toying with me. I was unable to remember much about that night, until I wrote it down just now. I know now, the foul thing has taken over, and corrupted my every thought and action. Whether I will remember this tomorrow, well, afraid I already know the answer to that question.
I got up just a minute ago, and looked at myself in the mirror. Only, I didn’t see my own reflection. I saw a landscape, with houses on fire, and smoke clouding out the sky. I saw people with guns and knives, shooting and stabbing groups of weaponless innocents, who ran screaming, until they were killed and eviscerated. Men, women, and children, all were chased down and murdered, savagely. And, God help me, I saw myself, reclining on a pile of hundreds upon hundreds of dead bodies. Laughing towards the heavens, as blood soaked into my skin from the pulpy mound of dead flesh, underneath my sprawled and joyous, demonic form.
I don’t know the name of the thing inside me. I don’t know what it looks like. All I know is soon, there will no longer be any of me left. I will be wholly and utterly possessed by this being, this thing from miles upon miles within the Earth, which lives in the flames. This ancient, damned, eternal thing, that uses me as its puppet. And, in a few days, I’m sorry to have to inform you, you will be taken over as well. You and I will be connected, through this power, able to spread myriad parts of itself through the words. Through that one damned sentence, propped unassumingly at the top of this explanation.
To all of you, I am so very sorry. I wish this were a joke, but it’s not. Savor the time you still have being you. Savor the time you still have to be human. For, I’m afraid, that time is short. Humanity is on the brink of its total eradication. And it’s all my fault. Go tell the ones close to you how much you love them. You may not get another chance.
Doom is my new name, and its been a long time coming.
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