I’m not a bad person; I wouldn’t say I was cruel, or unfair; often unwanted, granted; but not cruel. I did not take those who were not ready. But this story is not about me, I came too late for the teens who visited the Elmwood Lodge; I could not protect them from the suffering they endured. What they faced, was much darker, and indeed much more dangerous than death- than I. It was a creature who did not hide it in the shadows, it was the shadows; its eyes burned a glaring red- a fire in the depths. Its body was not one shape, like a gas it moved and swirled in a blackened coat. You can’t fight what you can’t see. They tried of course- just like the others- but when you find him you should know you can’t run or hide, because he can smell you, taste you, feel your presence.
He is not my enemy, but nor is he my ally. Often we travel apart, those journeys I like most. When I follow his path of destruction I see loss, suffering, anguish. I hear screams of mothers begging me to turn back, but it is not for me that they have been lost.
The first time I crossed his path I saw destruction in the eyes of a leader, the eyes of someone that the people had looked up to, believed in. Now all that remained was the bloodied bodies of those left lying in mass graves, some praying for death; some hanging on in hope that their families remained. I wanted to comfort them, and as I placed my arms around them I whispered a peaceful tune, a lullaby; they fell into my grasp and let go. I knew he was still watching, admiring his work and the remains of the tattered lives; only the lucky had survived.
This story is about the lives that he ruined - the stories of torture and the prayers of believers and non believer alike. It is the first of my stories, each one equally brutal and eye opening to the evils you find in the darkness.
“Annie! Can you get your ass down here? We’re leaving any minute now!”
“Yes, just…give me two minutes” a united groan came from the floor below, Annie laughed softly to herself as she gathered the last of her belongings; phone, keys, clothes, books and her laptop all slipped neatly into the bag.A weekend away was the perfect plan to kick back and relax from the troubles of the exam season. A chance to forget all their worries and drink the nights away with the people they were closest to. It seemed like the ultimate trip, Annie, Carla, Niamph, Corey and Dan, all travelling in a beaten up, rusted wagon; their bags strapped to the roof and their beer in the back.
As they drove along the dusty road their surroundings grew bleak and lifeless; the trees grew sparse, the land slowly died beneath them; but as the house appeared on the horizon the buzz of energy grew again. Like a mirage is glistened in the sunlight, its wooden palates old and frail. The windows still held their glass, but over time they had become clogged with mud and dust, it was almost impossible to see through them. The floorboards creaked under their feet as they entered with their bags slung over their shoulders; they were bending slightly under the weight which had not walked upon them in so many years. The peace had been broken as laughter and shrieks left the house, soon the bottles of beer formed a pile in the corner-emptied and unwanted. Exams and worries were forgotten as the atmosphere grew lively and excitable. Finally the walls of the house were illuminated with candlelight which streaked across them; beaming its innocent flame into the shadows, it was safe now.
As the teens began to grow sleepy in their drunken state Annie found herself watching the candle's flame as it danced its macarbre dance; against the dark wall it was a ballerina; floating majestically against a black canvas. It was going to be a long night, they would fight sleep for as long as possible. A creak in the upstairs room sent her head spinning to see the intruder, the other teens looked up in a drowsy state - too drunk to be alarmed by the noise which whispered through the walls. She rose- almost disappointed in her friends- and walked towards the staircase that led up to the rooms; several of the stairs were missing but with the moons cool glow she could just make out where was safe to stand. As she reached the top a black cloak fell over the house. The moon had slipped behind a cloud and shadowed the house. No light was left. Annie felt the hairs on the back of her neck rise to this change in temperature; but took cautious steps towards the bedrooms she knew were ahead. There was no noise up on the landing, no hushed tones from the teens downstairs, no floorboards creaking under the pressure of the feet that were falling on them.
After what seemed like an eternity she reached a door; its cold wood brushed her fingertips with a delicate menace. With no doorhandle left to turn or hold in her hand she had to rely on it opening with a gentle push, it gave way easily, swinging open to welcome her into its gloomy hallows. Drapes hung from the windows, moulded and strewn down to the floor; they had been cut and shredded, but Annie could see nothing, only blackness. Her hands were her guides; they slid across each surface until she found a place to pause and wait on the moonlight reappearing. Another creak came, this time from somewhere much closer. Her breath caught fast in her lungs, clinging for a safe hiding place; her eyes widened in fear and horror and her body trembled for a moment. With no other noise to follow on Annie began to relax; this house was old, the wood rotted away over time.
A hand fell over her mouth, stiffling her screams as her body fell forward; her head took the impact as it smashed against the floorboards. Quickly it began to ooze blood in defense, protecting itself and hiding back. She groaned in pain, she had never coped well with blood and already the smell was making her dizzy. It raced down her face as she sat up slowly, three droplets joined and rolled into one -like a snow ball- falling across her cheek. Her thoughts were fuzzy, a mixture of confusion and fear; what had happened to her? She fell quiet as the cold, damp hands took hold again.
It is now I will express my sorrow, something I do not feel often, but something that chokes me when I think about the young girl. I could have gotten there quicker, I could have pulled her away from the darkness faster, but she held on - a fighter. I can't take those who truly want to hold on, their souls do not leave the earth without that will. I had to wait, watch as she slowly lost her energy, before taking her away.
There was a sickening crunch as her body slammed to the wall, her bones cracked and impacting upon eachother as they hit, the shadows danced and laughed- no longer the ballerina they were under the candle light. As her body slipped down to the floor they were filled with glee. He was watching, guiding the torture with his eyes burning in the darkness. As she lay crumpled on the cold floorboards her friends below were beginning to rise, they did not know what their friend was doing upstairs in the bedroom, did not know the danger.
To Be Continued!