Suggested Audio Candies:
 John Carpenter Night
 Charlie Clouser Dead Silence
Something unthinkable stirs this night. As I lay me down to sleep each dusk and prepare to take the Sandman’s hand, I can hear them writhing around in the inky blackness around me. Since these visitations began, I have remained vigilant, attempting to make out the source of this ungodly audio the very moment my eyes acclimatize to the darkness but, for all my best efforts, whatever it is that lurking in my bed chamber never make themselves known. Then, once sleep finally claims me, they go to work in their own nefarious manner. Needless to say, my fiendish guests cause bedlam while I’m under, painting the walls of my room deep red and leaving behind numerous clues as to their wrongdoing but, by the time my weary eyes welcome me back each dawn, they are long since departed. At first I was understandably disparaged but, the more frequent their visits, the more curious I have become. Why me? How comes they never harm me when they have the chance?
Should they have so desired then they could’ve siphoned the air from my very lungs on many occasions, ceased my continuation with no resistance by suffocating me where I lay. Yet, there has never been so much as a solitary abrasion donated and they simply appear disinterested in causing anything other than polite pandemonium. However, while they have never so much as plucked a hair from my head despite a deluge of opportunities to do so, it’s the turmoil left behind which needles most. Like the cruelest of clockwork, I am greeted daily by a murder scene and the utter discombobulation that goes with it. Last night I decided that enough was enough and set up a camera to record their nocturnal activities and attempt to fathom what really goes on once the lights go out. I rigged the gear up in one corner, where it had a clear vantage of the darkened recess they appear to habitually roam and played the waiting game.
For the first hour or so of filming, all was rather calm, with not so much as a flicker of activity to speak of. However it wasn’t long before my mind started to play its callous tricks and I began to question my own sanity, whether or not I was imagining this whole sordid scenario. Ordinarily common sense would prevail but I pondered how else my whitewashed walls were being provided with a fresh crimson coat every night without fail and no answers were forthcoming. There simply had to be some kind of logical explanation for all this or, at least, that’s what I kept reminding myself, albeit with no real sense of certainty. Each second felt painfully protracted and every last unannounced creak and groan filled me with an ever more burgeoning sense of dread. It turns out that some things are better left pending and, at 2.43 am, I prayed to be blissfully unaware once more.
It all kicked off with something catching my eye from the darkest recess of my chamber and I immediately checked my equipment to see if any further light could be shed. After a few seconds of inspecting the freshly captured footage, I located the spike in activity and, while it threw up precious little actual intelligence to speak of, my heart sank in my chest like a lead balloon and has remained there ever since. You see, there were discernible shuffles, and the kind you just don’t go mistaking for rickety boards and rafters. Rewind wasn’t kind as I cranked the volume to its max and all manner of other ominous sound bites made themselves known. While providing no inkling as to what my demons actually looked like, by the sound of their waspish whisperings, I could tell only too well that they were plentiful. Hushed tones ricocheted through my ear drums and then, as logic suggested they were purely incoherent ramblings, I made out one word spoken in a thousand tongues and with alarming coherence. “Keeper.” It was as clear as the dryness in my larynx, these hellish heathens were evidently fully aware of my presence and, crushingly, knew precisely who they were taunting.
I sat perched on the seat of my pants for a further hour inspecting these dour dailies, waiting for some indicator as to my visitor’s whereabouts. Then just as my spirits were starting to flag, I caught another glimpse of the same movement I’d discerned previously and the trepidation came flooding right back in a pulse throb. It caught me off guard somewhat so I viewed it again to give it lengthier consideration and the primary feeling was relief as playback finally shed light on the prowler in question. Me. Mystery solved then right? Def Con level stabilized? Crisis averted? Not quite yet as my secondary emotion was vague curiosity and that never turned out well for the cat. Studying the feed intently as this dead ringer of myself strolled nonchalantly to the door and vacated my quarters, rationalization came into play. As far as I was aware, sleepwalking had never been an activity I’d engaged in previously, so I put this unprecedented ramble down to simple auto-pilot and hung on patiently for the customary toilet flush and return journey. However, while nothing initially seemed untoward about this excursion, there was no return journey, at least for a period far too extended for my comfort.
For two hours the quietude persisted and I eventually found myself speeding up the recording until the optimum 32x had been reached. Once again, I opted for sound judgement and poised myself with consideration that I simply must have skipped past reentry. That was until the obligatory reflection period. This tends to be the blight of deep-thinkers such as I and has a habit of shedding more shade than light. Indeed, every question raised was denied its answer. Why did I possess absolutely no recollection of any legwork undertaken? I mean, my bladder is akin to that of a sperm whale, and it’s far more the done thing to wake doubled-up in pain as opposed to relieving this astringent burden after lights out. Why had nobody else ever seen fit to mention any moonlighting antics? If I was a sleepwalker unbeknownst to myself, then my partners would have had to have been pretty fucking heavy sleepers or wanderers themselves to not speak of the elephant in the room. Total bemusement was growing tiresome so I decided on knocking out a brief limerick to raise my flagging spirits. It seemed fitting that I plumped for one in honor of night crawlers as its relevance could possibly uncover some further understanding, lift a stone as yet unturned. As a matter of fact, I have it right here.
The Darkest Recess of My Lair
Something is lurking I hear it quite clearly
You’ve gotta believe me I’m not lying, really!
It taunts me each night-time and shuffles around
I throw it some meat and it guzzles it down
I pull up my bed sheets and duck underneath
but still I discern that grim grinding of teeth
it licks each bone dry then it licks its lips after
before scuttling away with its cruel impish laughter
My parents can’t fathom out where the meat goes
as each evening I smuggle it under their nose
they never suspect it is me that has taken
a fistful of steak and two rashers of bacon
While this keeps it at bay I can still feel it stare
from there in the darkest recess of my lair
It’s getting more ravenous each day that passes
and each morning light I just pray for catharsis
I thought I’d eluded it silenced its twitching
but on this fateful night there’s no meat in the kitchen
as I pull up the sheets with intention to hide
this soul eating demon’s already inside
While a welcome diversion, this provided precious little enlightenment as to my current plight and, if anything, I felt more woolly. However, while my journal remained open, it seemed only right that another blackened verse be exorcised from my soul cage. I just had to suss out what was going bump every night beneath my very nose and the more disconcerting signs pointed to an acquaintance of mine from childhood. Perhaps acquaintance isn’t the operative word here, nightmare maker seems far more apt.
The Uncanny Yarn of Monsieur Heureux
I recall the day that my parents donated
this short lifelike scourge who appeared cruelly fated
to bring suffering not once understated
a pain so insane it consumed me
Hatefully carved with the blackest of souls
a dark heart within this most heinous of dolls
malignant no figment pure life-force annulled
with designs to both taunt and groom me
Too fearful was I to accommodate this
His eyes were so bleak and each glare an abyss
I dare not allow myself into such tryst
with one so shrouded in terror
You may call me foolish or even erratic
To banish Monsieur Heureux up in the attic
the punishment set for me being pragmatic
was to pay with my soul for this error
As I lay in my bed contemplating my actions
this hollow vortex of dissatisfaction
taunted me only to see my reaction
absorbing my fear for amusement
A ventriloquist’s dummy no voice-box inside
so why did I feel it compelling to hide
my worst fears confirmed as he then vocalized
much to my deepest bemusement
I’ll carve out your innards with lashings so deep
you’ll not hear me fumble you’ll not hear me creep
I’ll quench myself on life-force while you sleep
with not a soul any the wiser
They’ll just put it down to an unexplained death
and little they’ll know that I stole your last breath
I’m biding my time but I will manifest
see I’m killer not just terrorizer
The very next morning I gave him away
as the attic seemed too close to keep him at bay
an old antique store is where he spent his days
and it seemed I’d unburdened myself
But I lay here right now and still feel consternation
knowing each fretful glance further fuels his elation
and it is with the most grim of realization
that he’s staring once more from the shelf
Have you ever done something only to utterly regret it the very next moment? That pretty much summed up my feelings as, where before I’d been slightly perplexed, now I was more than slither freaked the hell out. Mischievous midnight marauders were one thing but now I had the added consideration of this alarming effigy harassing me each nightfall. Moreover, a faint on-screen flicker then prompted me to review my CCTV footage only this time it yielded results far more comprehensive. Instantaneously I wished for disenlightenment as it was clearly me who skulked back into the room and, this time, the camera picked up my front profile offering clear indication of the vicious instrument I was grasping – a hatchet, bloodied and drizzling with grue. I then kneeled down at my bedside, slid open the storage compartment beneath the valance and place the freshly baptized weapon inside, before calmly returning to my sheets, after smearing my blood-drenched digits along the wall I hasten to add.
This made absolutely no sense whatsoever and there seemed only one thing left to do, although I didn’t particularly relish the prospect as it was one of those damned if you do situations. Should the compartment beneath my bed be empty then I was clearly one troubled individual while, should I unveil this same bloodied weapon, then I was clearly one troubled individual. Either way, I was in a decidedly grave position. Needless to say, I just had to take a quick peek as whatever this needed unraveling before it continued to worsen. Sweeping dark secrets under the rug was one thing, but if there was a gore-sopping hatchet being surreptitiously stashed beneath me each night as I slept then I kinda wanted to know about it.
I grasped the handle, far from prepared to learn the answer to this particularly glum poser and, as I slid the compartment open, was greeted by a pungent odor that briskly filled both my nostrils with its noxious tang. While still retching from that godawful stench, I stooped lower to discern its source, as there seemed no turning back now and I found myself praying for any kind of closure. Through the darkness, I could just about make out an object and recoiled in sheer desperation as it revealed itself as the business end of a bloody hatchet just as I’d feared. Never before had I so wished to be proved wrong as it evidently wasn’t my eyes deceiving me, but something of which I could offer no best defense against. I believe that is what rattled my cage most, knowing all too well that life as I knew it would never be the same again.
It is now almost precisely twenty-four hours since my last blackened masquerade and I can no longer fend off the inevitable slumber. Hopeful prayer seems like a futile endeavor as hell feels a great deal closer than heaven right now and I can already feel the edges closing in around me as my dreadfully weary eyes commence their flicker. I once heard it remarked that it is darkest before dawn and never before have I felt so totally blinkered. Thus I close this entry as it opened as something unthinkable indeed stirs this night.
Sinning is compulsory,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2013 (Revised Edition 2016)