TMS 30 Day Writing Challenge #3

Genre bending #2 – choose a well-known horror story and give it a new genre.

Wes Craven’s Scream

NOTE: This is very much the same case as yesterday since I am no way near finished with this, but I will publish the completed thing once I’ve had the chance to polish it off. It’s a little rushed, but I hope you enjoy my little slice of e-scream-pionage nonetheless. 

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“Welcome to Woodsboro.”

Randy Meeks observed his audience as he smoothed the coarse hair of his goatee using his thumb and index finger. They were a gang of misfits, comprised of a doe-eyed teenage schoolgirl, a sharp-tongued ex-journalist, and bumbling moustached man with a past in the police force. He wondered to himself what it was that had attracted the nominating committee to them. Whatever it was, it must have been something special for them to have gotten even this far.

“Before you commit yourselves to Woodsboro, you need to know that there are certain rules that one must abide by in order to make it through the training programme.” He held up three fingers in demonstration. “Number one: you must abstain from sexual activities. Number two: you must abstain from drink and drugs. And number three: you must give yourself entirely to the Woodsboro Secret Service. Once you have done so, there will be no walk-outs or hiatuses, no ‘I’ll-be-right-backs'” He paused to study their stony faces for any flicker of trepidation and found that there were none. “If anyone wishes to leave, do so now, otherwise, you are bound to hold your tongue ’til death.”

No one so much as breathed.

***

Back in the trainees’ dorm, Sydney Prescott was reading over the letter she had just penned to her father back in California. The handwriting was rushed and spidery, almost indecipherable. She had barely had a second to blink since arriving at Westboro, never mind compose a coherent letter.

She was about to shove it under her pillow and finally get some rest when a slim manicured hand snatched the paper away from her.

“What the hell is this?” Gale  Weathers demanded, without bothering to scan the contents for herself. “They would kill us all if they found out one of us was slipping information to people on the outside. I gave up my camera for the programme and you can’t even refrain from spilling your guts out on paper for our sake.”

“Take it easy, Gale.” Dewey Riley was perched on the end of his bed at the other side of the small, clinical room, rubbing his hands together nervously as he spoke. “Letters to family members aren’t forbidden. They censor them anyway. Lets not turn on each other so early in the game.”

Gale exhaled deeply through her nose then reluctantly handed the letter back to Sidney. It was obvious that she had a soft spot for the ex-deputy. Had it have been anyone else who had dared to confront her, they might have lost their head.

Taking the letter from Gale, Sydney was preparing to dish her out a piece of her own mind but was interrupted by the sudden absence of light. Feeling her heart rate quicken, she felt blindly around her bedside table in the dark. Her fingertips met with a cool, cylindrical object which she immediately recognised as being her torch.

With a tremulous hand, she aimed the torch into the body of the darkness and flicked the switch.

Sydney recoiled in horror as the light illuminated a ghost-white face with morphed, empty eye sockets and a mouth melted into a frozen scream. The intruder lunged at her as if it were a moth attracted to the light, but she was too quick for it. She brought the torch up into its jaw with so much force that it shattered the light a second time and sent her assailant sprawling backwards onto the floor. Immediately, the followed the sound of pained groans and saddled them on the ground, pinning their arms to their side and ramming the torch up into their throat.

“Hello, Sydney,” the intruder coughed up at her.

Sydney recognised the voice. She slackened the choke before asking; “who is this?”

Someone somewhere flicked a switch and all the light was returned to the room. Gale and Dewey were close by, holding the first items their hands fell on as weapons in case their assistance was needed.

Sydney was staring down at the person beneath her and came to realise that the contorted face that had lurched at her from within the shadows was actually a mask; a replica of those worn by the Ghost Face agents of the Stab Organisation that Woodsboro had been aiming to take down for years.

Tentatively, she reached out a hand and pressed her fingers against the sooth, plastic surface. Then, holding her breath, she tore off the mask…

To be continued…

By Tyler Turner

TMS 30 Day Writing Challenge #2

Genre bending #1 – choose a well-known story and make it creepy.

John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars

NOTE: I found myself going a bit mad with this, so for the sake of the challenge, I’ve only posted the first section otherwise I wouldn’t have got it all finished today. I will definitely publish the full thing once it’s completed. 

The_Fault_in_Our_Stars

Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was dangerous.

The virus that had gripped our world had first surfaced a couple of years previous to then and she had done everything in her power to prevent me becoming infected. She had even suggested pulling me out of school, but I had refused to leave. Perhaps if I had listened, I wouldn’t have been bitten by that kid in the cafeteria that day, and my mother’s efforts mightn’t have been all in vain.

Infected victims all succumbed to the virus at different rates, but once they had, there was no predicting what they might do. That’s why, when my mother suggested that I were to be detained at a high security protection facility, I agreed for the sake of her own well-being.

God’s Heart protection facility was structured like a cross, which was ironic considering that the whole damned world had lost its faith in religion by that point. The inhabitants were all at varying degrees of infection. Howls of pain and hunger rattled through the corridors all through the night, stealing all hope of sleep. Isaac – the guy in the cell next to mine – had gone as far as to gauge out his own eyes and eat them for a snack. This had only worsened his situation. The consumption of one’s own flesh had a profound effect on the virus’ nature, quickening the process of internal decay.

On the day Augustus Waters arrived at God’s Heart, it had taken an entire squadron to transport him to his cell, which just so happened to be adjacent to my own. All he did day in, day out was stare at me mercilessly through the bars. It unnerved me to the point where I one day cracked and confronted him.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” I demanded, my teeth bared.

Seemingly unthreatened by my verbal outbreak, he leaned forwards and pressed his clammy forehead into the bars, allowing an insidious smile to slither across his cracked lips.  “Because you look delicious.” His tongue flickered out like a serpent’s as he spoke. “I enjoy tasting delicious people. When I first got infected, I decided not to deny myself the simple pleasures of existence. That’s how I ended up in here.”

There was an uncomfortable silence then as I watched in horror as he broke off his own pinky finger and placed it between his jagged teeth.

“Are you serious?” I hissed as he ground the finger to a pulp inside his mouth and swallowed. “Do you want to end up like Isaac?” I jerked my thumb towards the cell next to mine, where Isaac was repeatedly butting his contorted face against the wall, pausing only to lick up the gore left on its surface.

“It’s a metaphor,” he belched, still smiling that slimy smile. “It’s only detrimental if you digest it.”

He then rammed the last remaining fingers on his right hand down his throat, causing a wave of bile and half digested mush to erupt out of him along with the mangled remnants of the pinky.

To be continued… 

By Tyler Turner

TMS 30 Day Writing Challenge #1

Choose a song at random and write a short horror story inspired by it.

Fearless Vampire Killers – Maeby

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Every night, she danced her way through my dreams, luring me along and stealing away all hope of a peaceful sleep.

We first locked eyes in the town’s ailing dance hall. She had been centre stage, her hair, skin and dress all the same ghostly shade of white, gliding along like a swan on water. I was captivated instantly. She was so enchanting that I found it increasingly difficult to untangle her from my gaze. When her cool crystal eyes found mine from across the room I flinched as if burnt by ice, embarrassed to have been caught prying, although the prime purpose of her being there was to be seen and adored. It was from that moment that I was cursed.

Following that night, whenever my eyelids dared to droop she would appear, cutting me with her icy stare, enticing me to approach her with a curl of her index finger. I’d obey and attempt to reach out to her, but the action was as futile as clinging onto smoke with your bare hands. Whenever I drew nearer, she would pirouette just out of reach, so that only the tips of my fingers had the luxury of grazing the coarse frill of her dress.

With each night that passed and every hour of rest lost to her, I found myself gradually disconnecting with reality. She started manifesting herself in my waking life; I would catch a glimpse of two oceanic orbs peering at me from within the shadows of my bedroom and in the street, I’d see a flicker of white lace disappearing around the corner.

Every ounce of my being ached for her, yet simultaneously recoiled at the thought of her touch. She had the face of an angel but the lure of the devil. In my sleep-deprived stupor, I decided that I had to have her just as desperately as I needed to be rid of her. Every second I spent chasing shadows was another night wasted. I had to act immediately.

On the night that I finally willed myself to return to the dance hall, I had stood watching from the side of the stage as she swirled across the floorboards, casting her spell over the captivated spectators. This time, her movements were less fluent – or perhaps I was only just starting to notice her faults. Her footing was inelegant and messy, but mesmerising nonetheless.

As she neared my end of the stage, I emerged from my hiding place and intercepted her as she twirled blindly into my arms. She was a little startled, but didn’t resist me. Electricity coursed through me as my skin finally became acquainted with hers. She was as delicate as I had imagined, it was as if I was dancing with a spectre.

I took her tiny dove-like hands in mine and allowed our bodies to become entwined as we swayed like reeds in water. The crowd watched on in awe, unaware that my intervention was unscripted and blissfully ignorant to what I was about to do next.

Using one hand, I spun her around so that her back was against my chest and her head nestled under my chin. We both faced the audience but were blind to them, lost in our own rhythmic movements. The dancer was so engrossed that she never even noticed as the dagger that had been concealed within my sleeve slid out and into the palm of my hand. There was an audible gasp as I brought the blade to her throat and drew it neatly across her porcelain skin.

Her blood christened the front row of spectators, there were a few screams but most remained seated. They thought it was part of the act. The girl then turned to face me, her eyes filling with tears. She clutched at her spluttering wound, coughing up more of the vile gore through her mouth. That’s when I took her chin between my thumb and and index finger and reeled her into me, kissing her blood-slicked lips and stealing her last remaining breaths.

Once her body had spilled lifelessly on the ground, the audience erupted in a chorus of applause, many of them giving a standing ovation. In my sleep deprived state, the many faces blurred into one distorted image. Their claps echoed on in the distance as I felt myself drifting away.

I regarded the girl with a hazy eye. She had fallen face down. The temptation to turn her over and view her pretty face one last time was over-whelming. Instead, I brought down a heavy booted foot onto her skull and felt it crunch sickeningly like a beetle beneath the sole. Tiredness overcame me then and willed me to lay down next to her, using the yolk of her skull as a pillow.

The applause gave way to chaos then. The curtain was drawn and I was finally able to succumb to a dreamless sleep.

By Tyler Turner

 

Creepy Kids – Good Friday Adventure

Good Friday Adventure is a real account written by Ben Turner about his family adventure to find the secret tunnels of the Duke of Welbeck. Edited by Tyler Turner

It was late in the afternoon on Good Friday when mum suggested going on a lovely walk. We went outside and we decided to go and look for the Duke of Welbeck’s secret tunnels. According to local legend, the Duke had a weird face and wanted to hide it from the world. He built tunnels to travel in without the people above seeing his ugly face.

We took a wrong turn which led us to a series of castle-like houses, but it was a brilliant view. In one of the gardens there was a lady cutting the grass. It smelt really fresh and made me feel energetic.

After a while, we found the right path that led us to a really massive posh building that looked like a king might have lived there.

In a nearby field, there was a man doing very hard archery and I didn’t feel safe. I hoped he wouldn’t miss the target and hit me.

We passed the field and went across a bridge that was surrounded by a lake filled with ducklings.

Finally, we found the field that was above the tunnels. It wasn’t what I expected it to be, as we couldn’t actually see the tunnels, they were underneath us!

Once we had made it to the other side of the field, we came to a long road which we then walked down. We soon had to make the decision whether to go further down the road, or to cross through the field. We chose to go across the field – bad choice.

We ended up losing the posts that guided us back to the road. In the distance we heard gun shots, I started to feel terrified. We also saw two rabbit traps that made me feel sorry for them because I thought it was cruel.

Finally after roaming in the fields for hours, we came out at the busy road that led us home. My sister had chosen to wear the wrong shoes and ended up with colossal blisters that were very raw and bled into her socks, so we had to call our mama to come rescue us!

 

The Highwood Witch – Rob Stafford

The Highwood Witch is a chilling fictional account based on a local myth, written by The Mausoleum Scriptures’ contributor Rob Stafford. Edited by Tyler Turner. Featured image also provided by Rob Stafford. 

There are many historic locations in our area. Creswell Crags and the mysterious caves and the haunted Bolsover Castle to name but two.

Of the more sinister places, there is a place that saw some truly disturbing events many years ago.

Between Creswell and Whitwell, as you head up Petre Moor hill from Boalers  corner, a left hand turn takes you along Highwood Lane. Soon, on the left, you come to the entrance to a small wood. A wood that no one can access. A wood with several padlocks clasped securely to two heavy gates. A wood that has a terrible and macabre past…

In the mid 1700s , both Whitwell and Creswell were made up of farms, secluded cottages and little hamlets of around half a dozen small holdings.
The villages were simple places, if a little isolated.
In the autumn of 1745,  parish records state that several villagers sought the advice of the church minister, after unexplained incidents concerning their children.
Parents claimed to have heard their children talking in whispers late at night, holding conversations with a mysterious other presence in the child’s room… to be told that it was ‘the lady from the woods’ when asked about it.
Unsure whether their children were suffering some sort of mild, mass hyteria or possession, villagers collectively sought advice from the church.
Over several months, items of children’s clothing, toys and objects from the children’s rooms went missing from the family homes.
These incidents were becoming increasingly worrying for all concerned. And then things took a sinister turn.
Early February 1746,  records report of a ‘missing girl’, and a party of villagers forming a search party. With nothing to light the way but the flames from their torches, the villagers set out to find the girl.
After a frantic search, she was found, muddy and with cuts and grazes, stumbling along what is, even today, the footpath that links Bakestone moor with Highwood lane.
The girl’s account of what happened to her is documented as follows in the parish records;
“On the 12th feb 1746, a young girl, **** ********, was visited by an unknown woman. The girl claimed she had spoken to the woman many times, after being woken by her in the night. The woman had always asked for a memento from her visit, a piece of clothing or a toy. The woman had told the girl that there were lots of  magical things to do in the place where she lived, and that she should follow her to see for herself. The girl had refused at first, but, on the latest visit, the woman had been very insistent, and promised that it would be a very ‘ special ‘ night if the girl came along”
“The girl was found in a distressed state, dirty and with several injuries, some bordering on a sexual nature.”

The girl’s account of what happened made the villagers realise that their children had ALL been visited by the woman at some point, and fear began to descend on the community.

Winter passed and the strange events of February, although shocking, began to fade into memory as summer rolled in… There were no further visits from the woman.

Then, as autumn came blowing in again, it started again. Lulled into a false sense of security, the villagers noticed more strange occurrences…

Small livestock, pigs, chickens etc. went missing or were found mutilated, foxes and badgers were found beheaded and hung on tree branches, and then, shockingly, TWO more children were found out in the fields, cold, dirty, bloodied.

Gripped with fear, the local minister formed a small band of villagers to act as both security AND as a hunting party to seek out the source of these events.

Soon, history would repeat itself, and a local myth / legend would be born.

Feb 12th 1747, in the half light of dusk a scream was heard along the high street near Whitwell church. ***** ****, the mother of a young girl reported that her daughter was missing, and that worse, the family dog had been mutilated; its blood scrawled on the girl’s bedroom wall…
The hunting party was summoned following a report of more muffled screaming heard across the fields from the ‘Dickin’- a small cluster of cottages down the hill from the church.

In the glow of the flames from the torches, chase was given into the night, following the screams carried on the cold wind.
Eventually they came to a track, just a farm track, stoney and cold. Up ahead, they heard the roar of the wind in the trees… They realised they were at the edge of a wood; dark, menacing and towering above them, thick with leafless trees.

Another scream, from inside the tree line, and the party gave chase.

And then they saw her, in the orange glow of the torches.
Long hair, blackened flowing robes, blood-smeared hands, madness in her eyes, a small girl in her arms.

Hanging from the branches, were children’s clothes, toys, small bones and animal furs… Behold, The Highwood Witch.

It is reported that the hunting party, driven by rage and anger, took it upon themselves to finish the witch, despite her being a woman, and savagely attacked her before rescuing the girl…

The Witch’s body was burned that same evening with the local minister overseeing the dark ceremony.

The minister, along with the hunting party, agreed that the woods should be sealed off from the community, and a fence was erected around the perimeter.
Large gates were built, and several large locks were placed on them, ONE FOR EVERY MEMBER OF THE HUNTING PARTY, AND ONE FOR THE MINISTER…

It is now still local law, passed down through, and in accordance with the parish, that the woods remain secured from access, and TO THIS VERY DAY, if you walk past the entrance, several strong locks can be seen on the gates…

The locks MUST stay on the gates, for if they are ever removed, it is feared that the Highwood Witch will be awakened, and her legend will return to haunt the area…

Creepy Kids – Bob’s Adventure

An original piece written by our nine year old contributor Ben Turner. Written as part of a school project last year, Bob’s Adventure tells the spine-tingling tale of a time-traveller named Bob. 

When Bob stepped out of the time machine, he was amazed.

Slowly, he walked down the stony path that lead to Rome. Although he was tiptoeing on the cobblestone path, he noticed his steps were loud like the screams of children in his ear.

He could smell a salty fresh chicken in a shop nearby. He saw an oinky fat pig running from its owner. There was also a person shouting ‘Fruit! Want some fruit? It’s only half price!’

Then Bob saw two ladies dressed in a mixture of dark and light colours which he had never seen before. Also, he saw a Roman soldier dressed in armour so shiny that you could see your face in it.

The Roman houses were really dirty and their windows looked like a church’s.

Bob bought some fruit from the shouting man and then strolled into the middle of the street to look around.

Suddenly, some people who looked a lot like thieves grabbed Bob.

They took him to a freezing, quiet place. It was horrible and smelt like rotten meat.

Bob looked around and suddenly realised that that’s exactly what it was… dead pigs were hung all around the room on washing lines.

The men left Bob locked up in grimy chains that were very strong. He started shouting ‘Help! Help!’ but no one could hear him…

After a while, it grew very dark. Bob guessed it must have been close to midnight. He started to shake because it was so cold. He tried to sleep.

By the time the sun had risen, Bod was sweating because it had turned so hot. It was a new shiny day.

Later, a random person walked past the place where Bob was chained up and stopped. He had muscles that looked stronger than a boxer’s. He then started to walk slowly towards Bob.

Suddenly, the men who had chained Bob up returned and pushed the muscly man from behind. Luckily, he was so strong that he didn’t fall. Instead, he curled his hands into fists and BOOM they were punched to the floor.

The mystery man turned to face Bob. He walked slowly towards him and then yanked his chains off effortlessly.

“My name is Lewis,” the man said. “What’s yours?”

Bob slowly walked up to Lewis and whispered, “My name is Bob.”

“What a nice name.”

Bob walked backwards and said, “Thank you.”

After saying his goodbyes, Bob ran off and found his time machine. Before long he was back in his own time, in his posh house, waiting to see what his next adventure would bring him.

 

Creepy Kids – Luddite Story

Original piece written by our eleven year old contributor Alex Turner. A grim, historically inspired tale about a young boy who joins the Luddites.

The night was dark and gloomy, as if it was already midnight. The time was six-thirty and Alex, a teenage boy, was sat miserably in his grandma’s cottage, designing and making stockings. He had thick, luscious brown hair, and he always wore a bowler hat. He wore a faded red top and some scruffy torn jeans. He had some cheap, patched shoes and always had filthy feet.

He enjoyed working with his grandma, but she was rather ill; very ill. She wore lemon yellow knee socks followed by plum purple slippers, and had a thread-bare nightgown. Her head was covered with curly grey locks. She was quite a loving, caring person, and always had a smile on her face. She always listened to Alex, regardless of how silly he was.

“Are you OK, grandma?” Questioned Alex.

“I’m OK.” Answered grandma. “How many stockings have you made so far?”

“Sixteen and we’re almost out of cotton.” Explained Alex.

“Good lad.” Grandma said with a cheerful smile.

***

The next day, Alex came home with some wool for the stockings.

“Grandma, I’m home!” Shouted Alex with a grin.

There was no reply.

Alex went around the corner and found his grandma lying there. Motionless…

“Grandma!” Alex cried, dropping the basket of wool.

Alex was furious with himself. He knew he should have stayed at home and taken care of her. She had always said the pressure would kill her.

***

With nothing left to lose, Alex decided to join the Luddites. What other choice did he have? His parents and grandparents were dead, and now all the businesses were closing because of the increasing number of factories being built. There was no way Alex would become a factory owner; ever!

“Your first task,” a guy named Ned Ludd had said, “is to break all of the awful Mr. Hartnell’s factory machinery.”

As Alex went off with his axes, guns and other deadly weapons, he wondered if what he was about to do was good or not.

After a while of breaking machinery, Alex’s good friend Sam made an awfully loud shriek. “Run! They’re coming!”

Alex managed to escape just in time, but unfortunately his friend was captured… He was taken to a cell ready to be executed the next day.

“What shall I do now?” Alex thought to himself. He was both frustrated and sad. He didn’t have anyone. No one to comfort him when he was sad, no one to be there for him any more. What was he going to do?

***

As time went by, Alex became very lonely. He had no one to support him or take care of his needs. He felt really angry, so angry that it made him depressed.

Unfortunately, Alex later killed himself…

He had thought that life was no good for him without his friend, his grandma, or his parents. But what he didn’t know was that his parents had never actually died and he had been lied to all along…

Alex was buried next to his grandma, but unfortunately he would never know that. Just as he would never know of the day when his parents visited him for the first time, or how they stood silently watching over his grave.

By Alex Turner

Below: The original handwritten piece ready to be presented to the school.

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Pray-Ground

Originally written for an English Language AS Level piece, this is the most recently updated version of Tyler Turner’s original short story ‘Pray-Ground‘.

Shane, shrouded in trepidation, drank in the scene around him with reluctant awe. A sea of pews stretched out before his eyes, supporting masses of hollowed out human corpses all praying to a God that could no longer save them.

***

Proceeding the dawning of the apocalypse, the world had morphed into one titanic battle ground. Humans, now in their minority, had resorted to primitive methods of survival. Men who were once valued by society now scavenged the streets like rodents, and children were mothered by squalor and disease. For many, crime was the new deity; something they turned to in times of doubt and despair.

People were disappearing in their dozens. The authorities didn’t act on the reports as they saw it as fewer mouths to feed and fewer degenerates to deal with. Shane, revolted by their corrupt philosophy and overpowered by his own curiosity, took it upon himself to investigate.

After much digging, Shane had uncovered that the victims were strict Christians or recent religious converts who had decided to seek refuge in the church. He had also deduced that they had all vanished on Sundays and were last seen entering the austere building. Shane concluded that a conference with the old reverend was required.

***

Smog clung to Shane’s exposed facial flesh like a shroud. He shivered though the air was mild, trying without success to shake loose the feeling of apprehension. Exhaling the nihilism from his lungs, he set off down the withered winding road that lead to the church, unsure of what to expect from this untimely visit.

Eventually, Shane found himself at the foot of the hill upon which the church was erected. Wind whistled through the rusted gate that stood menacingly between him and his destination, thrashing it around violently and creating a threatening ethereal rattle.  Shane grasped it with both hands and thrust through, plunging himself grudgingly into the graveyard. Tombstones scattered the area, jutting out of the ground like strewn shrapnel. The door of the building seemed to stretch further and further away with each step.

After an endlessly anxious trek up the hill, Shane had finally reached the entrance. The grand oak door was left slightly ajar. He gently nudged it further open.

At first Shane didn’t understand the scene he was observing. The victims all looked forward in unison, their backs to the unknowing spectator.  The realization struck him like a bullet. Every fibre in his body screamed at him to get out or to be shortly re-acquainted with the contents of his stomach. Despite this, he swallowed hard and continued down the aisle, daring to glance down at the glassy eyes staring blankly onwards as he went. Looking up, he noticed that the usual religious relics and artefacts you would expect to find mounted on the walls of a church had been replaced with unearthly equipment of torture.  Pickled human body parts had been rammed into glass jars and displayed like trophies all around the room.

“Joel chapter two: verse thirty to thirty two.”

Shane’s heart jolted at the sound of the gravelly voice that greeted him. He studied the room for a source and soon noticed an older man, possibly early sixties, clothed in torn old reverend’s attire, leaning against the door to the bell tower. He was reading from a Bible.

“And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the Earth:

Blood and fire and pillars of smoke.

The Sun shall be turned into darkness,

And the Moon into blood,

Before the coming great and awesome Day of the Lord,

And it shall come to pass

That whoever calls on the Name of the lord…” Illinstorf paused and smiled sadistically. “Shall be saved.”

“Rev-Reverend Illinstorf?” Shane called out, trying with great futility to steady the tremor in his voice. Illinstorf bowed his head and idly drew nearer his guest.

“What the hell is going on here, Illinstorf?”

“Mass, communion, call it what you will.” He slid a flask out of his pocket and took a swig. He was evidently intoxicated. “What’s on your mind, Shane? You here to repent for your sins?”

Shane’s jaw hung limp, causing him to mumble numbly, “I think you’re the one who ought to be repenting.”

“Yes, yes I’m sure, I’m sure.” The smile stretched further on Illinstorf’s lips, threatening to split the already splintered skin. “But is it really a sin, if it was ordered by God himself?”

Perplexed, Shane paused, considering the question. As he did, Illinstorf reached out to the lifeless shell of a girl sat rigid in the front pew and delicately caressed her face.

“Magnificent aren’t they?” his inquired melodically. “Yes, God did ask this of me. He came to me in a dream in the form of a beautiful white shining light, and told me that Lucifer had broken free from his prison in Hell and had unsheathed the apocalypse in the process. He told me that only I had the power to send that monster back from whence he came. Me, of all God’s children! Me!”

“So what’s with all this?” Shane gestured towards their audience with a sneering grimace.

“An awful shame, that’s what. I took no pleasure in betraying the trust of God’s people. One after another, plunging daggers into their hearts, blowing out their brains, hacking through their gristly neck bones… But alas, I had no choice.”

“But these were good, innocent people… th-they were scared!” Shane barked, feeling the bile return to the back of his throat. “I’m taking you to the police.”

“No. I saw all of this in one of the dreams. You can’t take me away tonight for I shall hand myself in tomorrow. You see, in the dream I handed myself in and I was covered in blood. Black blood. Your blood. You won’t be leaving tonight… Lucifer.”

Shane choked. “You think I’m Lucifer? You’re insane.”

Considering the possibility, Illinstorf shrugged.“Perhaps so, though God is not.” He took another swig from his flask and wiped the moisture off his mouth with the back of his gnarled hand. “God said that the sheer power it had taken to conjure the apocalypse had stripped the Devil of his essence and had forced him to refuel by latching himself onto the nearest strong human vessel he could find. The vessel wouldn’t even be aware of his presence, but the aura of something as diabolically evil as the scene you see around you would naturally draw him to it. Of course he remains dormant within you for now, but once his rage drives you to make that first kill, he will wake within you. The Devil will wake within you and continue his work… I’m here to prevent that from happening.”

Suspense polluted the air; the two men acted as fiery furnaces, chugging plumes of disoriented fear, confusion and elation into the atmosphere which swelled with decay.

Not daring to prise his eyes from his opponent, Illinstorf drew out a sword and studied it with his fingers. He ran a decrepit thumb along the blade, breaking the skin and producing a fine trial of deep vermilion as he did so. Shane watched him, bewildered.

 

That sadistic smile slithered across the reverend’s lips a second time. Then, without warning, Illinstorf plunged forward with astonishing speed. He was a whirlwind of distorted colour that collided with Shane, bringing him to the ground before he had chance to brace himself. Illinstorf sprawled out on top of him with the blade of the sword pressed horizontally against his chin. Shane gripped the blade, trying to depress the force working against him; he felt his palms prickle with a cocktail of blood and sweat. Illinstorf straddled him, and thrust the blade harder upwards, nicking the skin of his jaw. Shane managed to pull his knees up to his chest and he pushed the old man off him with ferocious force, sending him flying into one of the pews and almost knocking him unconscious. Shane ran over to him and retrieved the sword resting loosely in the reverend’s grasp.

“See you in Hell.” Shane made the promise as he plunged the sword deep into the reverend’s chest. His mind fogged with rage, his senses distilled. Biting his own lip, he burrowed the blade deeper and deeper into the old man’s heart, watching persistently as blood bubbled out of Illinstorf’s open mouth, along with his last ounces of breath.

Shane marvelled triumphantly as the reverend’s eyes rolled into the back of his skull, exposing the sepia whites. Shakily, Shane unplugged the sword and dropped it to the ground with a clatter before falling to his knees. The taste of iron lingered on his lips.

***

Within the following hour, Shane has returned safely to the bomb-blistered communal refuge he sheltered in with his wife. He regurgitated to her the events of the evening, not sparing her of the gruesome details. She bestowed no less than a dozen kisses on the bridge of his nose and lectured him about how lucky he was to be alive.

“You have to be more careful, you let your curiosity get the better of you every time!” She had wailed.

“I’ll be more cautious from now on.” He replied. “If I’m not more careful in the future, my reckless behaviour will be sure to get me sent back to perdition.”

“Perdition? Shane, what are you-”

Her jaw fell slack as she looked up and noticed that her husband’s once hazel eyes had been replaced by two vermilion orbs. The nick from the Reverend’s blade was oozing black gunk, and a sinister smile crept insidiously across his colourless lips.

 

By Tyler Turner

The Curiosity Cabinet

An original piece written by Tyler Turner

Molko speculated the cabinet with morbid fascination.

He drank in its gothic exterior; the raven-black oak doors were shrouded in a thick lining of dust, broken only by the intricately carved patterns that clung to it like cobwebs. Its grand glass panels were clouded cataracts, milky mixtures of filth and age that ensured no prying eye would see beyond those panes again. Two brass knobs jutted from its front, each unpolished and neglected of touch, encumbered with mystic engravings that seemed to speak a forgotten tongue.

Delicately, he allowed his fingers to tumble over it, leaving sleek tracks amid the dust. For years he had fantasised about the wonders concealed within. As a child, he would futilely strain his eye against the meagre crack that teasingly parted its doors in the hope of catching a glimpse of what lay inside. On many occasions, his grandmother had caught him and cursed him for snooping before banishing him from the furniture’s presence.

Now he stood before the cabinet and greeted it like an old acquaintance. Almost a decade had passed since he last looked upon its splendour. Being his grandmother’s only surviving heir meant that her sombre little shack and all enclosed within its walls was now his own; including the cabinet and its contents.

Without prising his eyes from its exquisite onyx frame, he reached into the pocket of his tattered paint-stained hoodie and prodded at the cool metallic object nested inside. His grandmother’s words niggled at the back of his mind:

Come away from the cabinet, Molko. Curiosity leads to catastrophe.

Ignoring her ethereal warning, Molko unsheathed the key from his pocket and held it triumphantly before him. He marvelled at its convoluted bow, twizzling the shaft carefully between his fingers as if wielding the most magnificent of swords. He couldn’t quite believe his situation; it was like he was watching himself in one of the many taunting dreams he had endured as a child.

Not wanting to deny himself of the truth any longer, Molko began to approach the cabinet cautiously as if afraid of disturbing it. Gingerly, he slid the key inside the lock with a trembling hand and felt his breath catch as the tumbler turned; a chill of excitement crept insidiously down his spine.

Molko froze as the doors groaned apart. His heart murmured within his chest and his palms prickled with anticipation. All the theories he had conjured as a child bulleted trough his mind in an overwhelming instant; old spell books and utensils of witchcraft; a secret portal to another realm; endless amounts of lost treasure, riddled with curses. All of which would have perplexed him less than what really greeted him once the doors had parted.

Nothing. The single large compartment was completely empty except for what appeared to be a peculiar white necklace stretched across the diameter of the cabinet floor.

Molko knelt and scooped up the queer object in order to examine it further. He allowed it to become entwined with his fingers, drooping between the gaps between them and sliding over the surface. He analysed the pearly texture; the flaked creamy contour that was browning with age. It took a long moment for him to admit to himself what it was he had held in his hand: A string of more than a hundred tiny human teeth.

 

***

 

More intrigued than repulsed by his discovery, Molko had slid the oddity into his pocket and promised himself to pursue the investigation further once he had finished preparing the house for resale. He instigated this fruitless task in the loft.

Inky darkness was already beginning to bleed across the sky and with the sunroof being the only source of light, he needed to act fast. Using a torch to aid his already impaired vision, he began awkwardly sifting through the array of timeworn boxes that dominated the space.

Twenty pot dolls, three bin-liners worth of moth-eaten clothing, and four biscuit tins full of sewing needles later, Molko had successfully separated the contents of the boxes into two ordered piles; charity shop and skip. He stood with the torch clasped between his lips so he was able to dust his hands. He was about to turn and leave for the night, but just as he did, the torch’s beam tumbled upon a rogue box that had been hidden away in a shadowed corner.

Shoulders slumped, Molko allowed a groan to escape him as he sulked towards the box. He dropped to his knees and proceeded to root half-heartedly through the mounds of paper held inside. The torches light lazily flitted over the paper, illuminating its glossy print. Molko quickly realised that they were Polaroid pictures. Hundreds and hundreds of old photographs.

Intrigued, Molko grabbed a handful at random and positioned himself comfortably with his back against the box, ready to investigate his findings. The first photo was of a sepia little girl, no older than five, cradling a teddy bear. She was a beautiful child, with rosy cheeks on either side of a pearly smile, and soft baby brown curls tumbling out of a lacy white bonnet. Molko smiled, though he failed to recognise the child.

He flipped over to the next photo. The same child stared back at him. This time she was slumped in a chair. Her teddy lay baggy on her lap with its stuffing torn out and skewed all over. The girl’s mouth was slack. Stuffing had been crammed down her throat. Little tufts of it peeped through the bloody gaps where her teeth used to be.

Molko brought a hand to his mouth. He stared in repulse at the trail of blood that spilled over the curve of her lower lip and dribbled down her chin. Reluctantly, he followed the trail with his eyes to the bottom of her neck where a chain of tiny milk teeth hung loosely around it.

Frantically, Molko sifted through the remaining photos one by one. Each held similar disturbed images of children before and after being maimed and mutilated in different grotesque manners: A boy on a bicycle – a boy crushed to death with his own bicycle. A girl with a skipping rope – a girl strangled with a skipping rope. A toddler cocooned safely in a soft blanket – a toddler smothered with the same soft blanket.

Each child too had been posed like lifeless mannequins, modelling pearly necklaces crafted from their own savagely uprooted teeth.

Bile frothed threateningly at the back of Molko’s throat. He threw the photographs to the ground in distain. Questions had already started seething frantically in his mind; who were these kids? Who could commit such profanities? And why is the evidence subsiding in an old lady’s loft?

Molko froze. A white hot sensation crept sinisterly up the length of his spine. It had been faint, almost inaudible, but it had been there; a soft whimper, like that of a frightened child.

Shakily, Molko scoured the area with his torch, whose light was almost futile against the thickening darkness. Shadows from the boxes became erected like ghouls, and Molko jolted as his beam illuminated the glassy stare of a corpse pale pot doll seated in the corner. He laughed uneasily despite the absurdity of his situation.

Not having noticed the doll before, Molko examined it further with the light of his torch. He kept his distance. He couldn’t work out how he had managed to miss the doll before, slumped up in the corner, hidden in plain sight. Its lacy white dress and matching bonnet were tatty and moth-eaten, and the soft brown curls protruding from beneath the bonnet were knotted and frayed. It’s delicately crafted features were cracked and colourless.

A lump formed in Molko’s throat. He watched, disbelieving, as the ceramic lips parted slowly. So slowly that Molko couldn’t be sure that he wasn’t imagining it. The lips continued to part until the doll was wearing an expression of sheer terror. Crimson droplets christened the lower lip. The blood seeped out slowly at first, but then proceeded to pour like a waterfall, staining the white cloth.

Molko wanted to leave, but his feet failed to function. He held his ground unwillingly as the doll staggered to its feet.

He was dreaming, he thought pleadingly. He was dreaming while awake.

Moving slowly like decrepit clockwork, the doll progressed towards him. Its head flopped forwards, allowing the blood to ooze out onto the ground. Its movements were twitchy and clumsy, like a child learning to walk. Or a corpse relearning.

Not being able to stomach much more, Molko found the motivation to move. He dropped the torch, and bolted for the door. He yanked at the handle, but to no avail. The door was jammed shut. He turned with his back pressed firmly against the frame, watching helplessly as the torch flickered on and off, repeatedly illuminating the approaching oddity before plummeting him into darkness.

Molko’s heartbeat quickened uncontrollably. The doll was only a few feet away now, its crooked arm extended as if reaching out for help. It held something in its hand that Molko was unable to identify in the short intervals of light. It was close. Molko closed his eyes.

Colours danced and jumped behind his closed lids as the torch continued to flicker. A few moments had passed but nothing happened. Molko dared a peek, expecting to find the cold dead face an inch away from his own.

Nothing was there.

Breath gushed out of him as he slumped onto the floor in relief. He scoped the area, ensuring that he was truly alone. It took him a few more moments to realise that he had his hand wrapped around something long and bumpy. Confused, he raised his hand with the object to his face. The delicate string of yellowing milk teeth from the cabinet was entwined between his fingers.

Disgusted, Molko flung the teeth as far away from him as possible then leapt for the door handle a second time. This time, the door opened with surprising ease, spilling Molko’s weight onto the small space of floor at the top of the fold-out staircase that lead back to the second floor.

Relieved to have escaped the nightmare, Molko made a wobbly decent down the stairs.

 

***

 

Water boiled furiously in an old fashioned kettle seated on the stove. Molko foraged through his grandmother’s kitchen cupboards in search of some tea to help steady his frayed nerves. Pleased to have located some stray bags, he set out on his mission of preparing the drink.

As he stirred the fluid, Molko turned over the events in his head. He reminded himself that he had been decorating for most of the week, and the lack of sleep coupled with the high exposure to paint fumes could have provoked him to hallucinate. Feeling somewhat convinced, he took a sip of his tea. He didn’t trust the milk that had been left in the fridge, so was forced to go without. The liquid was bitterly scolding, but comforting nonetheless.

His cup was half drained by the time the solitary bulb hanging above his head started to flicker. A sense of dread swelled up inside Molko as he was reminded of the flickering torch in the loft. Deciding that the bulb was probably just loose, he carefully clambered upon the chair he had just been sat on, and reached up to screw it back in.

His fingertips had barely grazed the glass when it exploded.

Shards of the bulb scattered out across the room. Molko had fallen from the chair due to the shock of the explosion, and had skidded across the tiles, colliding with the wall. Without the light, Molko was unable to see his own hands before him. He listened to the sound of each bulb in every room bursting one by one, drowning the whole house in darkness. He told himself that he must have tripped the system somehow.

With his eyes now starting to adjust, Molko noticed a small silhouette crouched beneath the table. It appeared to be rocking back and forth with its back to him. A pang of panic erupted in Molko’s chest, but he forced himself to bury it. He could hear faint sniffles and feebly concealed sobs coming from the figure.

“Hello?” Molko called hoarsely, shocked by the sound of his own voice.

The figure’s rocking halted immediately. The sniffles and snobs continued.

Molko dared to approach nearer. He was both impressed and horrified by his own nerve. His moistened his lips with a trembling tongue before trying again.

“Hello?”

Molko recoiled in horror as the figure’s face appeared terribly close to his own. That which was probably once a young boy was now a rotting carcass. He donned the familiar bloodied chin and toothless grimace. Tears sprang from the blackening holes where the eyes used to be, dissolving the features further as it streaked down the crumbling flesh. His lips were ragged and melting. His nose was an open crater.

Instinctively, Molko swung at the being, sending it sprawling back into the table. The child only wailed harder, a concoction of tears, blood and bile spilling onto the tiles. It sat up and attempted to approach Molko a second time, its arms outstretched needily. Molko kicked it square in the chest, provoking a sickening crunch before it crumbled back onto the floor.

She did this,” it gargled repulsively.

It started grabbing desperately at something around its neck. Molko swallowed hard when he recognised the familiar misshapen outline of milk teeth through the darkness.

Finally the child managed to claw the chain off of his neck, sending the teeth sprawling freely in all directions. The child then attempted to pick up its broken body, its feeble arms pushing it up only to give way beneath it, sending it plummeting back to the ground. It repeated this process, emitting a revolting squelching sound on impact.

Molko took advantage of the creature’s lack of mobility, and scrambled towards the door. He slammed the door shut behind him as he made his escape, and wasted no time in making his way towards the exit of the house.

In order to reach the front door, Molko had to cross the living room. He thrust his way in, swallowing large gulps of the musty air as he panted deeply. He loosened up a bit as he drank in his surroundings. He had chosen to decorate this room last, with it having been his grandmother’s favourite room and subsequently the one she had died in. He had felt she wouldn’t really be dead until this room was stripped bare and renovated.

Old-fashioned floral patterned furniture sat cosily around the room, clashing with the slightly different floral pattern used for the carpet. The walls were lime green, which had always been Molko’s favourite colour growing up. Without looking at it, Molko knew that there was a quaint old rocking chair nestled in the corner where his grandmother would sit doing her cross-stitching. He was scared that looking up and finding the chair unoccupied would send him over the edge. His memories were so vivid that he could almost hear the familiar squeak of the wood rocking back and forth.

Except he could hear it.

Molko’s breath caught in his throat. His glistening eyes crumpled shut. He could hear his blood pumping in his ears, but the squeaking of the chair somehow managed to drown it out. He turned towards the chair. His eyes were reluctant to open, his lids heavy and leaden. He willed them to part.

She was there. Seated and rocking steadily as she had often been in life. A smile danced on her rotting lips, coaxingly. Her once perfectly permed hair was loose and withered. Her features were sullen and grey with decay. Her terribly bloodshot eyes were wide and threatening. And they were fixed on Molko.

Curiosity leads to catastrophe.

 

***

 

Days had passed before Molko was found.

Having tracked his bloody scuppered footprints to the cabinet, the police prised open the doors and beheld him there. His decaying body coiled up in the foetal position between its enclosed walls; the string of milk teeth clasped in his dead, vice-like hands; his features frozen in a toothless scream.