north americaeurope


amy downum
page 02:04

With a last glance, I proceeded up the porch. The first step I jumped, as well as the last one, and the door I opened, allowing myself into the dark confines of the ancient house.

I lit a single black candle, allowing the flame to light my path to the kitchen. I passed many portraits of the deceased family, many of whom were buried in fore mentioned graveyard, though some were still here…

A chill passed down my spine. A scream, more terrible than I had ever heard, reached me, safe in my dark house. It was unmistakably the scream of a petrified victim of the Carnival de Morta. The long, piercing shriek was cut short, and the jeers of the undead witnesses sent another unpleasant chill down my spine.

The glowing flame flickered then died, and I was plunged into a ghostly darkness. I did not mind the dark, nor was I nervous and jumpy in its presence as were the normal folk. It bothered me not, rather embraced me, and kept me hidden when I did not want to be found.

Cupboard doors creaked on rusted hinges, spiders fled from my searching hand. Upon finding what I sought, I settled myself down at the oversize oak dining table under the cobweb-covered chandelier.

So great was my lack of coordination this eve that it took several tries with the knife to skewer my rations. The fourth try found the knife sinking deeply into the soft tissue, drawing the blood that pleased me so.

As I ate, the cries of the tortured souls at the Carnival floated through the blackness to serenade me. Three years I had been here, and each year I retreated to this old house to elude that terrible celebration. Each year the festival was more horrible than the last, and it never failed to find me in bad spirits.

I stuffed the last of the raw organ into my mouth and wiped the blood that dripped from my chin. A cloud of dust followed me to the ancient winding staircase, where it laid back to rest with its fellow particles. Miniature filth monsters arose as I ascended the stairs, each no doubt from the remains of a former landlord or lady of this forlorn estate. When at last I reached the desired floor, I had awoken an entire army of dusty soldiers, but one sweep of my hand and their charge was scattered, and they settled down again, eyes glowing.

Lighting yet another black candle, I thrust aside the hangings of the four-poster bed and abolished the sleeping ghost from the moth eaten sheets. Ghostly candlelight flickered off an old mirror, cracked and dusty, that reflected a shriveled pale face of a woman whose mouth was taut in an unheard shriek.

From outside the door I heard the stirrings of the dust monsters, and the telltale scratching downstairs of the phantoms who awoke at night. But this hindered me not, nor sleep did it impair. I only kept the candle close at hand, on the dresser beside the bed, and fell into a haunted sleep.

Outside the festival raged on, fireworks blazed through the air. The forest, while certainly uninhabited by much, was home to a variety of creatures that howled, hooted, and screamed. But I did not stir. One could have marched the Carnival through the woods beneath my window and I would not have awoken, such was the deepness of which I slept.

But I should have awoken. Every instinct in my brain was screaming for me to awake, screaming so loudly and forcibly that a banshee, screeching the same warning haunted my dreams, but I slept on. I should have awoken, for on the edges of the flickering candlelight were gathering an array of the foulest creatures ever to stalk the night.

They circled me, inching close and leaping back as the candlelight seared their skin. Glowing eyes watched me hungrily. Demon and ghouls and creeping phantoms, rotted creatures of the forest, and old family dog long since dead, all waiting at the edge of my bed. I tossed in the threadbare sheets.

The human subconscious is a very strange thing, and as I was not a true human, mine was even stranger. Somewhere in my tortured mind I was aware of the threat that gathered about my bed, and that somewhere was able, at last, to alert the rest. I jolted awake, red eyes heavy with sleep. My heart skipped a beat.

There I saw them; the creatures that meant to make short work of me. All about the bed they were, creeping closer as the candlelight faded, flickered closer to dying.

Instinctively I grabbed the candle away from the advancing specters. I waved it like a torch, trying desperately to ward off these hungry creatures, but they only hissed, and showed their teeth. Their teeth, gleaming in the candlelight, spurred me to greater lengths, so that I reached my hand outside the ever-fading circle of light into the darkness for the matches.

Realization of my stupidity registered its self in my brain a second to late. I felt the teeth hit, the weight of the ghost dog slamming into my wrist in a violent attack. I screamed. The dog held on, but I would not let go of the matches, my only hope. His teeth sank deeper and deeper, drawing warm red blood as he severed my veins. I screamed again and again, and then I screamed no more. The ghost dog bit right through my hand. I felt the bones crunch and the veins burst, and then I felt nothing but a searing pain where my hand used to be.