Under The Mask

It was Halloween night, and as was the yearly tradition, there was a costume ball being held at the old Murphy mansion. James was excited because he had finally gotten an invitation, after three years of trying to get in. He had just moved to Wellstown five years ago to take the position as CEO of the large construction firm which belonged to the family for which the mansion was named. Technically, the mansion still belonged to the family, but no one had actually lived in it for the last ten years. The family had decided to open it up to the public on special occasions and the occasional tour.

As he had gotten used to know some of the family, he had found himself intrigued by one of the female members of the family. Her name was Anna, and she was the niece of old man Murphy. She had only come into the office about ten times in the five years that he had worked for the family, but he found himself thinking of her from time to time. As many men in town were, James was stunned by Anna’s beauty. It was just so hard to get to know a lot of the people in town though. Especially the ones who ran in the same circles as the Murphy’s. They were a little clannish in this small town, and even though he held a high position in the company, he had never been invited to any of the party’s which they had hosted in the time that he’d known them. They were polite enough to him, but they didn’t really accept him as part of their group of friends and family.

So, when he had gotten the invitation, he was surprised. Especially since Anna had come into the office and hand delivered it herself. She had handed him the envelope and said that she hoped he could make it, and that she was looking forward to sharing a dance or two. James had asked how he would know who she was, since the ball would be masked as well as costumed. Anna grinned at him and told him not to worry…that she would find him. As she walked away from him, leaving a cloud of perfume James sat in a half dazed state for a while, intoxicated by her.

His excitement about being included on the guest list mounted until the day arrived.  James had gone to a specialty men’s shop and gotten a vintage looking men’s tux altered. It was midnight black with deep burgandy crushed velvet accents. He had even found a mask to match. At 7 p.m. on Halloween night, he left to make the 15 minute drive to the mansion. Upon his arrival, he was flabbergasted by the ornate yet classic decorations, both outside and in. As soon as he stepped into the foyer, a uniformed butler stepped forward to take his cape. Before the man had stepped away from him, a familiar female figure approached. Anna didn’t even have to utter a word. He just knew that it was her.

They began to laugh as soon as they said hello, because somehow they had managed to wear matching costumes. He couldn’t get over how beautiful she looked in her form fitting black and burgandy Victorian ball gown…and her mask…it was adorned with copious amounts of feathers and rhinestones. Her costume was made complete by elbow length satin gloves and a gorgeous set of jewelry made of rubies and onyx. Hooking her arm through his, she led him to the bar for a drink before taking him around the room for introductions. As soon as they had made their rounds, she led him out to the veranda and told him that she had been attracted to him since he had arrived in town. He was astonished that a woman as beautiful as she was felt that way. It wasn’t as though he were unattractive, he just had always felt that she was way out of his league.

As the night wore on they had a great time together, dancing and mingling with the other guests. At just a few minutes before midnight, she leaned in and whispered in his ear, “Do you want to go find someplace private?”

She didn’t need to ask him twice! Anna led him downstairs into the basement area. James found it a bit odd that she would choose the old, unfinished basement when there was an entire mansion to choose from. He figured that her reasoning for doing so was probably that it wasn’t likely that anyone else would come down here. They walked through the dimly lit basement, clear through to the back corner or the house. When they arrived at a thick metal door, she reached out and slid it open. The room was pitch dark. James felt a little nervous, so he asked her where they were going. She put her finger to his lips and told him that they were almost there.

“It’ll be worth it James.”, she said.

He heard another door sliding open and thought to himself that he was glad that she knew where she was going. As they walked into the chamber, he noticed that the room was flickering with candlelight and that there was a large table in the center of the room surrounded by several shadowy figures. This definitely made his heart beat faster. As he turned to go back out of the room, he heard the doors slamming shut.

Before he could ask her what was going on Anna said, “Tonight James, you are about to fill a very important role in this community. We know how much you’ve wanted to be included in our group, and even though it may not be as you expected, you’ll be pleased to know that you’ve made the cut”.

As soon as she uttered those words, a large man stepped forward holding a gleaming silver blade. James stepped backward, only to find himself being restrained by two more large men. The two men holding his arms forced him over to the table and pushed him down onto its surface. That was when old man Murphy stepped forward from the darkness.

“James, now that we’re all here it’s time to tell you the truth. Every person in this room is at least 200 years old. About every fifty years or so we hire a new CEO, which in our case stands for chief executive offering. All of us have made a pact. The details of that pact are irrelevant to you, except for the part which we’ve brought you here to fulfill. In order for us to remain among the living to fulfill our end of the pact, we have to make a sacrifice about every fifty years. You are that sacrifice. We are going to cut you and drain you of blood, which we will consume. The unfortunate part of this is that we are not permitted to kill you before taking your blood, because the other party to our pact requires a living person to consume. When my ancestors first came to this country, one of my forefathers made a deal with some of the Natives in order to live longer and create a legacy for the family. As a result, he turned into a Wendigo and requires human flesh to keep the bloodline strong and prosperous. So, tonight you will be most useful in your role as CEO”.

Before James could scream, someone shoved a gag into his mouth. He could feel the cuts of what felt like twenty knives all over his skin. People were stepping forward to catch the blood in ornate goblets and guzzled it down. As his vision began to fade, a creature stepped out from the deepest recesses of the room. He knew at that moment, that everything that old man Murphy had said was the truth. Completely helpless, he watched the Wendigo step close to him with its teeth bared. The only mercy in this entire evening was that when the Wendigo took its first, and fatal bite it went for his neck. He could hear the crunch, before the lights went out of his eyes.

 

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The Ward

It prowls the halls late at night

Giving the patients an awful fright

The nurses, they think it’s because they’re old

Never believing the stories they’re told

The tall figure in its black cloak slithers around the halls

Casting eerie shadows upon the walls

Each night seeking for souls to steal

Why won’t anyone believe that it’s real?

Some call it the reaper, others a shade

There will be no stopping it once the decision has been made

You can try to stop it, but whether woman or man

When your time is up, there is no one who can

No amount of pleading will save them, no deal can be made

The price may seem hefty, but it must be paid.

 

 

Brief History Of Halloween Masks, Traditions, and Costumes

Halloween hasn’t always been the lighthearted, child-centric holiday that it is today.  Some 2,000 odd years ago, the Celts inhabiting modern day Ireland celebrated Samhain, which not only marked the end of the Harvest season and marked the new year, but also was the day on which they believed that the souls of the dead freely roamed the earth. It was thought by the ancient Celts, as well as many people alive today that the veil between the worlds of the living and deceased was at its thinnest.

The Celts, markedly the Druids both revered October 31st because it was felt that the priests were able to more easily foretell the future thanks to the roaming spirits, and feared it because the spirits were also believed to cause trouble for the living by damaging crops and just wreaking havoc in general. So, the Celts had several traditions which they put into place in order to both work with the spirits and to keep the troublesome ones at bay. Bonfires and sacrifices were made annually in order to try to appease the spirits, making them amenable to working with the priests, not to mention keeping them from ruining the crops.

In modern times, kids and some grown-ups alike like to dress in masks and costumes for fun, but in ancient times, the idea of “dressing up” for the holiday had a much more serious twist. Back then, they wore masks and costumes to both scare away evil spirits and to disguise themselves so that the spirits would have a hard time figuring out who was who. The traditions of the Celts were long-standing. By the time the Romans conquered a great portion of Celtic territory in 43 A.D., they had been following their Samhain practices for a few millennia. In just a few hundred years of Roman rule, the Romans merged several of their own traditions with those of the Celts, changing an entire way of life. There were some people who held onto the ancient belief systems, but much of it had to be performed in secret as the Romans were sticklers for conformity. Below are a few photos and a video showing some of the older styles of masks and costumes. While these are new in the grand scheme of things, they show some of the remnants of the way that costumes used to be designed compared to the more whimsical ones of today.

Trick or shriek
If I were a ghost, these just might keep me at bay!
All I can say here is, damn! 🙂

 

Demony Cricket

There are creatures roaming this earth which no one would believe existed even if you were to show them a picture. Demony Cricket is one of those creatures. Yes, as his name implies, he is part cricket, part demon. A few years ago, there was a demon looking for inventive way of doing what demons do…taking over humans. Over the millennia, their work had gotten a little boring. It was as though they had seen it all and they were tired of doing the same things. Satan himself had held a meeting to ask his minions if any of them had some fresh ideas, for he was bored too.

Out of the legions, there was only one who had a fresh idea about how to overtake the bodies and souls of people. Even the devil was impressed. The creature now known as Demony Cricket…yes, they watch Disney movies in hell too…had asked Satan if he could take the form of a cricket, and add the killing ability of an assassin bug, along with the web weaving skills of a spider. Once he given the entire run down of his plan, Satan rubbed his hands together gleefully and gave the green light .

Demony Cricket popped back up above the earth’s surface, in the suburbs of New York City. He chose a random backyard and lie in wait for the homeowner to come out and enjoy the night air. It wasn’t long before the man of the house came outside and sat down on an Adirondack chair with a cold beer. Demony hopped out of the weeds and onto the back of the chair, right behind the man’s head, and settled in for a good chirp. The man turned around with a look of irritation and stared Demony right in the face, with a scowl. Once he saw the cricket’s eyes start to glow red, the look on his face changed to one of confused fear. Before the man had a chance to react, Demony shot his proboscis into his gaping mouth, injecting him with venom.

Unlike the Assassin bug though, Demony’s venom didn’t liquify the man’s organs and tissue, it mingled with his essence making it possible for Demony to suck out his soul. As the soul left the man’s body, Demony injected a bit of his own essence. This was where the web building ability of the spider came in. Now, the man belonged to the Underworld. Well, technically the man was dead. There was nothing of him left. As soon as the exchange had been made, the man made his way back into his house and waited to hop on the train for work in the morning. Instead of making his way into the office as usual though, he hid out in one of the dark recesses of the subway system, just waiting for a straggler to come a little too close. At around 11 a.m., he got his chance. A vagrant made her way close enough for him to reach out and drag her back into his hideaway.

Once he got her inside, he used his own proboscis to inject her with the soul loosening agent, then laid her on the floor. Once he was sure that she wasn’t getting up, he used his spidey abilities to weave an enormous web deep inside the tunnel. After it was all done, he dragged her into the web and summoned Demony to come harvest her soul. Within a week, they had created a group of fifty soul harvesters. Demony’s plan had worked so well, that they were going to institute harvesting networks all over the world. It was ingenious really. After all, if anyone were to find the webs they would simply think that there were some sort of insect mutation which hadn’t been discovered yet. No one would even be all that surprised, with all of the weird shit that lived in the subways anyway. Satan and his minions would have plenty of souls, not to mention humans to control, for many years to come.

You Suck

Every night as I try to roam peacefully in search of a meal, I watch them all spill out of their dens of iniquity, and they stare at me. Some of them yell rude things. My personal favorites are…you need to get some sun, you look like you fell into a vat of white paint,  and you should smile once in a while. Most of the time, I just walk away. Every now and then though, I lose it just a little bit and come back with a sarcastic remark. The most common response when I do is, “You suck”. It’s all I can do not to bust out laughing…if they only knew.

So many years of hiding in the shadows. It is a lonely life. People think that it’s all fun and games when you’re immortal. Thanks a lot “Twilight”. It would be cool as hell if I sparkled though! And as for not smiling, I would love to, but if they think that my pale skin looks weird, I could only imagine their reaction if I’d flash my fangs. They really are clueless. In the past 100 years, big cities have made my life so much easier. First of all, the selection is immense. Secondly, it makes me feel a little better when I can choose someone who is leading a destructive life. Before I decide who the next meal is going to be, I follow them for a while to see how they conduct themselves.

Just being a drunk won’t find you in my crosshairs. Now, if you’re a mean drunk…well, that’s a different story. Frequenting prostitutes doesn’t mean that you’re mine either, but if I see you abusing them it’s curtains for you. As you can see, my diet consists of people who hurt other people. Take tonight for example. I have been following this prick for a week. He’s going to be a pleasure to take out of commission. It was bad enough when I saw him beating up a prostitute four nights ago. The only thing that stopped me then was that the streets still had too many people to go unnoticed. Not a one of them stopped to help her either. People often sicken me.

As he was leaving his house tonight though, I witnessed him slap his wife or girlfriend in the face before he came out the door. This piece of shit was an ugly man, inside and out. If I didn’t know what I knew about him, I sure wouldn’t choose to make a meal out of him. Just too gross. Such is life though. After finding out about him, I had no choice really. This guy was going to kill someone, if he hadn’t already. I know, I know…hypocritical. Considering the fact that I was about to kill him, some people would say that I was just as bad as he was. But was I? Not in my opinion and surely not in the opinions of the people he had hurt. Then again, some would be angry at the loss no matter how pathetic my victims were.

As the night wore on, I followed him from bar to bar. It would be better if he was halfway out of it by the time I got to him. Didn’t want him making too much of a racket. The downside of big cities is that it seems that there is always someone around. He staggered out of his fourth bar at about three in the morning. I followed him around the corner, where I knew he’d go to take a piss. So disgusting! I know there was a bathroom inside but this creep always made it a point to go into the alley to relieve himself. I let him get his zipper undone before I made a sound. He turned around and glared at me.

“What the fuck do you want, you anemic looking bitch?”

I crossed my arms and said nothing. Finally he turned to face me and waved his member at me before saying, “Want something to suck on baby?”

As I closed in on him, I bared my fangs in a huge smile. “I thought you’d never ask”.

I Watch You Sleep

Image found at: http://www.relatably.com

All of those times you’ve talked to your friends about feeling like something has changed in your house…feeling like there was something dark lurking…as much as you try to convince yourself that it’s in your imagination…it isn’t. Even though I might be gone, I haven’t forgotten you. All of those nights when you talked to your friends about feeling like someone was watching you..well, it’s true. After everything that you did to me, did you really think that I’d just move on when I died and let you go about your merry way? Wrong. You’re going to pay for it. Not only that, but I’m going to make sure that you don’t put someone else through the pain that you put me through.

Don’t think that I can’t. Since I’ve been gone, I’ve learned a lot and trust me, I’m not beyond a little push down the stairs. Yes, there would be a price to pay. Karma really is a bitch, and even though it might muddy mine, I’d be happy to be part of yours. As long as you mind your P’s & Q’s, I’m content with simply making you uneasy in your own home. The dark shadow that you’ve seen darting around corners as you go about your evenings? Yep, that’s me. The cold air that blows down your neck as you walk down the hall to the bathroom? Uh-huh…me.

I gave you twenty five years of my life. Cooking, washing your clothes, working my ass off to pay the bills while you pissed your paycheck away at the bar. My biggest regret is that I stayed with you as long as I did. Now my life as I knew it is over. I’ll never forget the nights you’d come home late and wake me up to heat your dinner. Never mind that I had to get up at 6 a.m. to get up for work. It was always about you. Those nights were the worst. You’d call me every name but my own, and the reasons that you gave…I wasn’t moving fast enough to grab another beer out of the fridge for you, I smiled at the mailman when he brought the mail on Saturday morning, I was a party pooper because I didn’t want to go out to the bars when we were younger. The list goes on and on. After a while though, you stopped asking me to go out with you.

Did you think that I didn’t know why? I could smell the perfume on you when you came in at night, even over the smell of stale cigarettes and beer. No, I never said a word to you about it. Why? Because at least if you were fooling around, you would leave me alone. There’s no worry of me ever haunting the cheap sluts you ran around with, unless I can figure out how to take them gifts. Where you really messed up though was when you started putting your hands on me. By the time I finally got up the nerve to leave you though, my body and soul had already paid the price. Even though I only had a year after I left, it was the best year of my life as an adult, even though some of my family stopped talking to me. You had everyone fooled with your act. You should have gotten as Oscar!

Yes, part of the responsibility is mine for staying and I know that, but now I can finally give you a taste of your own medicine. It was really fun when I learned how to fling the cabinet doors open and send dishes flying across the room. Just seeing your stupid, drunken face in fear made me so happy. Indeed, I’m stacking up the bad karma. The only thing that I can say about that, is that I hope that someone will show me mercy for all of the things I’ve done, and what I’m going to do. Until the day comes that you close your eyes forever, I’ll be watching you sleep.

Worm Overlord

Every day she sat on the bench by the courthouse muttering to herself, at least that’s what most people thought she was doing. Her clothes were always in tatters and she had that crazy-eyed look that caused most people to give her a wide berth. Every now and then, someone else who “knew” would stop and join her for a while. No matter what day it was, no matter how hot or cold, she would sit all day long, clutching a brown paper bag.

About once an hour, she would reach into the bag and grab some morsel of food out of it, reach under the bench and push it into the soft soil with her fingers. “Overlord, please give them a little more time before you start to take over”. This was her daily plea. What most weren’t aware of was that underneath the feet of every person on earth was a network of worms, controlled by the Overlord. He had been watching for longer than any human in existence had been alive, and he was very displeased with what he saw.

Thankfully for the rest of us, there have always been a few people in the know who have intervened on our behalf, because the Overlord was always poised and ready to call his troops into action. His armies reported to him several times a day through their extensive network, filling him in on what the humans were doing. Chemical spills and run-off polluting the water, chemtrails raining down from the skies, coal ash being dumped anywhere they could get away with it…the list goes on and on.

The Overlord had been telling the awakened humans that he was getting ready to take action, because the humans weren’t just oblivious, most didn’t care. They had bought into the whole notion that progress equals trade-offs, which is often true, but it isn’t acceptable that planetary destruction is one of those trades. No matter how much his small band of human helpers tried to educate the masses, they continued to be led like cattle to their own slaughter.

This morning, when the lady in the park gave her first offering and pleaded with the Overlord to give them more time, he whispered up to her from his tunnel, “I’ll give it six more months and that’s all. The ground is becoming too toxic to sustain life for much longer. If something doesn’t happen to change this, we’re going to collapse the tunnels”.

She was horrified, because he had explained to her that when that happened, every city on earth as we know it would be swallowed and very few would survive. As scary as it was, she knew that he was right. The planet would need a reset soon if there was to be any hope. Not many had seen him, but he had revealed himself to her once when she had stayed at the park until late in the night. The moon was full and he pushed himself up out of his tunnel. While all the other worms looked like ordinary worms, which gave no one a second though, he was different. Very, very different.

The hole under the bench expanded until it was almost three feet in diameter, and his giant head poked out. He was gun-metal grey with large almond shaped eyes and two spiky antennae. As his body slithered onto the surface, she saw that it was covered with large spikes, with one large eye behind every one of them. When he had stretched out, he was around four feet long and his skin had a metallic sheen under the full moon. She was shocked at his appearance. “What are you?”, she asked.

He explained to her that his people had populated the earth for thousands of years. “We come from out in the stars. For ages, it was sufficient to leave a small army here to keep an eye on things, but in recent years, you people have gotten so out of hand that you’re putting all of us in danger with your destructive ways”.

She had always believed in alien life, but never expected the worm Overlord to be one of them. This gave her even more respect for him. To think that an alien being of his stature cared enough about the planet, while frightening, made her feel oddly happy. His revelation to her had happened about five years ago. Each day, she came to the park and tried to warn people…to educate them about the consequences of our ways. It was disheartening because it was usually only around five people a year who paid any attention to her, let alone heeded her.

After his warning of the six month deadline, the humans who were working with the Overlord stepped up their efforts to enlist enough people, before it was too late. After months of heavy effort, nothing had changed, despite all of the pressure they had put on the big corporations and governments around the world. The worms had created a few natural disasters in an attempt to wake more people up, to no avail.

On the day before the six month deadline, she went to the park before dawn, to make one final offering and plea. The Overlord once more poked his head up into the dark morning. “I’m sorry. We’ve run out of time. I thank you for your service and effort. You have been one of the hardest workers in our effort to save earth. To show my gratitude, I’m offering you the opportunity to join us down here and help in the rebuilding efforts after the event is over. Several of your cohorts have already joined us and are prepared to assist”.

She crawled under the bench and followed him down into their colony. She was shocked at how developed it was down there. It was like an underground city. There were shelters, store rooms filled with food, water, and medical supplies. The place even had lighting which looked and felt just like the sun. The Overlord explained to her that they had brought special lights with them so that they could grow food if necessary. It was strangely beautiful. He introduced her to several of his troops and some of the other humans.

They spent the entire day preparing for the following morning, ready to spring into action if the news didn’t change overnight. After the sun had fallen on the earth above, the humans went into their shelters for sleep. The worms kept working. They had no need for sleep. After several hours, loud chimes sounded, bringing all of the humans out into the passageways. Over a loudspeaker system the Overlord spoke. “The time has come for us to take action. While we are sorry for all of you…for your losses, for the loss of life as you know it, this must be done”.

They knew that he was right, yet they couldn’t help but weep in sorrow for those too blind to have seen the truth. The Overlord gave the signal to start, and all around the world, the giant termites chewed through the wooden supports the insects had put up to keep the soil from collapsing. The awakened humans were way below the surface of the earth and watched on giant screens as the world above was swallowed. All of the major cities and industrial centers collapsed into destruction, taking with them the things d people which had led to this moment.

It was terrible and awe inspiring to see the level of planning and work they had put into preserving just enough up above to get the planet started again. Life would never be the same, and while that was scary, it was an odd relief for those left standing. There would be no more big corruption…at least not for another thousand years or so…but hopefully never. While things were being rebuilt, the Overlord would remain and lead the work. After the humans got re-established, he would go down into the lower chamber and board his ship to return to his home planet. He knew that there was a chance that they’d do it all again and he may have to come back. This was their last chance though. If they messed up this time, it would be curtains…forever.