Image by Epona Schweer via Flickr
I have been somewhat lax with my posting here. Tis only because I have been having so much fun with The Inferno. We posted the results of our first writers challenge over the weekend. Some excellent stories were submitted, some from regulars we all know and love. Ponderer, Rogue, LouCeel, and many others who take part in The Artists challenge regularly. Please swing by and check out our Writers Gallery for the challenge “Curiosity Killed The Cat”. The following is a story I did for the challenge.
Be mindful what creatures cross your path in the shadows of a misty night. For they may not be what they appear! The mists distort, changing the perceivable vision, causing illusions or phantoms to be seen.
An Autumn Saturdays sunset rested pleasantly on the horizon. Such beauty and temperate atmosphere should always be enjoyed. What better way to enthrall the senses than a quiet stroll along familiar roads. At least that’s what I thought. Little did I know there would be scarcely anything familiar and pleasant about this evenings events.
I snatched my jacket from the hook near the door, grabbed my walking stick and set out. Pausing at the gate to sooth the feelings of my faithful companion, Destiny, who wouldn’t be joining me this evening. A decision I may regret for all eternity. Destiny, a Sheppard of faithful obedience, was disheartened. Exhibiting her concern and displeasure, in ways that were new and worrying to me. She was bordering on the frantic, as if she could see what was about to happen. I should have taken heed, and given in to her worries.
I started off on what I thought was going to be a short walk, exchanging greetings with neighbors as I went. A wave and well wishes here and there, until I came to Matilda’s house. An old Victorian, seemingly falling down in a slowly progressing dilapidation. Matilda got up from her rickety chair on the sagging front porch. A darkness in her eyes, deep, seemingly bottomless, was the feature I remember most. She struggled to the porch rail, leaning hard against it with a faith in it’s stability I would have never had. “Use caution in your wanderings Louis… Autumn evenings are seldom as peaceful as they seem.” Matilda’s voice had an aged quality that added mystery to her statement. Errant strands of unkempt grey hair falling over her forehead as she hunched precariously against the rotting railing. Creating an emphasis on the darkness in her eyes and framing her face in shadows.
I paused at her overgrown drive, with it’s faltering fence and dangerously slanted gate. Holding up my knotted and knurled walking stick. Simply an old Oak limb polished by years of handling and many miles. “I’ll be careful Matilda. I have my sturdy walking staff to defend against the forest critters.”
“Tis not critters you need be concerned with. It’s the creatures, phantoms of the night, with evil in their thoughts that should be halting this evening stroll.” There was a resonating hollowness to her statement that will haunt me ever more. An image of her dressed in black, glaring into a fire darkened cauldron; filling my cognition. The resounding laughter of a wicked old witch wafting to my ears with illusionary, I assumed, frightfulness. Ones imagination can add warning if they simply choose to listen. Had I paid attention to that demented old woman, perhaps I would not feel compelled to share this tale with you.
Shrugging my shoulders, I politely waved, and continued along my evenings route. Dismissing her warnings as the ramblings of an addled mind. Conceivably, it’s the confused mind that sees the illusions of reality more precisely. The distortion of sanity, seems to cloud ones vision, preventing the sights more difficult to believe. Is not reality, so very often, unbelievable and truth veiled in fiction.
The sun had descended below the horizon as I approached the forest road, casting shadows of curiosity along my path. A bloodshot sky was ablaze in the ferocious fire of an Autumn evening. The narrow forest road with its trees forming an impenetrable canopy, appeared cave like and darkened. Concern flitted across my consciousness as I thought once more of Matilda’s warnings. Shaking off a cloud of precarious feelings, I walked on, entering the darkness.
It was as if someone had lowered a heavy curtain, an eclipse complete and encompassing. I paused just inside the entrance, staring into the blackest of shadows allowing my eyes to adjust. An unwelcome cold, seemed to penetrate my very bones, making the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. It seemed early in the season for such a frosty air. After all, just moments before it was temperate and warm. As my eyes slowly became accustomed to the gloom, it seemed to me everything was surrounded in a misty fog. The familiar and fragrant scents I was used to, were missing. There was a dank, musty, and perhaps even rotting odor in the air. Wrinkling my nose and pulling the jacket closed, I continued my stroll. It was only a short distance to the back road leading around the other side of my neighborhood,and I now wanted this hike to be over quickly.
As I walked, I saw an odd form run across the road in front of me. Curiosity being my continual downfall, I followed to see what it was. I could hear the mewling of a woman crying with such intensity and pain. “Are you alright, do you need help?” I called out in my naivety. Trying to quickly catch up, I stumbled and fell, tripping over a limb that seemed to come from nowhere. I could see what appeared to be a huddled woman. The heaving of her shoulders from tearful sobbing emphasizing her posture. My compassion drew me closer, allowing me to see the veiled beauty before me.
The sumptuous form of a purely exquisite female anatomy, partially hidden by a hooded half cloak with what appeared to be split tux tails. Not quite concealing the shapely body, undoubtedly female, with buxom full breasts and shapely sculpted legs shrouded in fishnet stockings. It may have been compassion that drew me in, but it was lustful desire that sealed my fate. I reached out to touch this vision of wonder with crimson hair flowing out the sides and and corners of the hood. She stood and slowly turned, showing me a face, void of expression, vague in form. The only thing I truly remember is her eyes, slate grey and seemingly sightless! Reacting in fear and repulsion, I backed away, quickly trying to distance myself from the horror in front of me. She advanced, seemingly floating over the ground. A huge scythe appearing in one hand, and a pale white skull, held captive in the other. A slight prick at the side of my neck is all I felt, that is until the burning agony of her poison began its embalming path through my bloodstream.
I now am indentured to her, fetching new souls, delivering the weak and curious. Destined to travel this darkened mist filled forest. I may be doomed to an eternity of servitude to Le’ Femme Death, but you still have a choice. Beware the illusions created by a deceptive reality. Perhaps it’s best to push sanity aside and embrace the confusion of insanity.
“The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends and where the other begins.”
Edgar Allen Poe; The Premature Burial, 1844