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“Something feels supremely fucked up here” Vince remarked the moment they reentered the house. “You feeling that too?” Edgar asked. “I know right? I’ve got a real grim feeling about this” Vincent replied, looking around cautiously. “You two are supposed to be keeping me safe. So why then does it feel like it’s gonna end up being the other way round?” said Belinda, already aware that Eden wasn’t where they had left her a few minutes back. “Where is she at? Eden!” Vincent called. No reply. “I’ll check upstairs, one of you call the police” Belinda suggested, heading off to locate their inebriated friend. “Line’s dead” Edgar tried again to get a ringtone but the phone had indeed been cut off. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” asked Vincent. “Vince. I’ve known you my whole life. And I can say with hand on heart that I have no clue whatsoever what’s running through your head right now.” Vince strode over to the television and turned it back on. “Last twenty minutes of Galaxy of Terror. You in?”
Edgar didn’t require much coaxing and fled to the kitchen to retrieve a couple more cold brews from the fridge. “You read my mind son” Vince complimented his friend, cracking open his Budweiser and pulling over the foot stool. “You seem a lot more relaxed now dude. A few minutes ago you were starting to ovulate. I thought I’d lost you there you know” Edgar explained. “It is a bit messed up though. You think they’re all in on the joke?” said Victor. “That still doesn’t explain Ana does it? What do you reckon has really happened there?” Edgar asked. “I think she’s dead. What other explanation could there be? We live in a small town Vince, not the kind of place she could keep her head down” No sooner had Vincent reclined his seat than Belinda called out from upstairs.
“Fuck sake” Edgar groaned. “Go on then. Putty in your hands you said. Time to prove it son. She’s holding out for a hero” Vincent chirped. “The alcohol’s starting to wear off. So you really think she’s been killed then?” Edgar changed the subject. “Yeah I think she’s had it. Six weeks and no body. I’ve seen enough horror movies to know full well she hasn’t eloped” Vince hardly finished his statement and Belinda appeared between the banisters looking perturbed. “What is it?” Edgar inquired. “She must’ve gone home” she replied. “In her state. I don’t think so. You saw her, she was passed out. Ain’t no fucking way she was going anywhere. Have you checked the bathroom, maybe she’s throwing up her guts?” Vince suggested. “I’ve checked everywhere. She’s gone” Belinda explained glumly.
Vince sat up in his chair “Well we’ve got no line going out. It’s totally dead” He tried one more time “see…nothing.” Belinda made her way down to join them “We should get out of here, don’t cha think? Something doesn’t feel right. Tell me you’re not feeling that” she said. “She’s got a point Ed” Victor reasoned “my spider sense is tingling.” Edgar rationalized his friend’s consternation “That’s testosterone. It’ll pass” he quipped. “Are you incapable of taking anything seriously?” she barked “at which point can we expect the penny to drop for you two?” Both lads looked at one another, knowing full well what was running through the other’s mind. “So what do you think we should do?” asked Edgar. “Something” Belinda replied “we can’t just sit here and wait for everyone to come back.”
She began by glancing from the downstairs window and her intelligence was far less than encouraging. “Guys?” she said calmly “tell me what you make of this.” Both Vince and Edgar’s jaws dropped in unison as they looked outside. “Now that is supremely fucked up” was Edgar’s eventual retort. Outside were all six of their friends including Analise, but none of them appeared particularly welcoming. She was at the front performing a pirouette, her naked body sheathed from head to toe in blood. Cole and Norton both had their heads to the ground, while Amelia, April and Eden were staring right at the window with tainted red smiles which bled down their chests. At the same precise moment, all six became aware of their onlookers and raised their left arms in a synchronized gesture towards their remaining affiliates.
“They’re headed this way. Lock the door Vince” Edgar cried, while Belinda stood firmly planted to her spot and fixated by Analise’s ghostly masquerade. “It’s locked. Let’s get upstairs quick” Vince suggested. “And cut off all available exits. I don’t think so” replied Edgar. “Well what’s your idea then?” Vince asked. “I say we stay right here together. Make sure they don’t get in.” With that, Belinda broke free of her cathartic state and informed both boys “it’s too late” calmly. “What the fuck do you mean?” Vince ran back to the window to get a better view of the group outside but they were nowhere to be seen “Ed. Get the back door. Quickly” His friend wasted no time in facilitating his request and galloped through to the kitchen to secure the door. No sooner had he arrived there, than he let out a chilling scream.
Both Belinda and Vince stopped dead in their tracks. “What the actual fuck?” Vince cried, to which Belinda’s rapid response was “Upstairs. Now.” He agreed to her terms and the pair bundled up the staircase; Belinda heading straight to Amelia’s room while Vince stood gaunt at the top looking down to receive intelligence. It was deathly quiet downstairs and all that he could discern was the faint audio of their late-night B-movie as its credits rolled. Otherwise… silence. Edgar’s screaming had subsided but was still echoing in Vince’s ears as it hadn’t sounded the slightest bit human. It had been more like the condemned shriek of a soul dead inside. Yet, as much as chivalry wasn’t high on Vince’s list of responses right now, he couldn’t help but hang there a second longer doused in dread.
In that moment, he suddenly wished he hadn’t. Edgar approached the edge of his peripheral vision at the foot of the stairs and the godawful shriek reconvened; only this time the visual accompaniment rattled him to his very core. Analise was dancing daintily behind the boy with both palms covering his face. As the scream intensified, she parted them to reveal no features whatsoever. His face was a blank canvas of death; no eyes or nose, just a wide-open mouth which appeared endless in depth. The others had now joined them and began to push past, reaching out with blackened fingertips as they commenced their malevolent ascent. “Get in here now Vince!” Belinda pleaded from the doorway but he wasn’t going anywhere. Instead she was forced to watch on as fourteen lunging hands muffled his final breath in cruel unison.
His entire body appeared to capitulate all at once and he fell to the floor in an almighty mass of gore and shattered bone fragments. Belinda turned away in disgust before their attentions could turn to her and secured herself inside, blubbering in utter disarray as she did. Frantically, she dragged the bedstead across to barricade the entrance and hurled everything she could get her hands on into her makeshift rearguard. She contemplated vacating via the upstairs window but the drop was too steep and would invariably lead to broken bones. Outside the coarse scream continued and had now been joined by a chorus of guttural gargles and the like. “Leave me the fuck alone” she pleaded, pinned to the wall and inconsolable. The very instance that the words left her lips silence was finally granted.
For a few moments Belinda stood comatose as the air began to return to her lungs. Eventually, she moved from her spot, sliding cautiously along the wall until pressed tight against the door. There was absolutely no way on Earth she was about to take down her fortifications so she remained alert while waiting for a single signal from outside. None were forthcoming. She sobbed into her hand, tears streaming down both cheeks, as she attempted to make sense of what had just transpired. The skinful of alcohol she had consumed earlier was no excuse as she had sobered up the very moment she watched Vince’s body break down before her very eyes. The only consolation she could possibly draw was the fact that she appeared safe for now and the hell playing out at the other side of the door looked like it had reached its end. Now she just had to wait it out until help came.
Any new-found contentment was swiftly shattered as she began to feel moisture around her sneakers. Belinda looked down with a start and her teary eyes widened as she noticed the blood gushing into her sanctuary at ground level. It didn’t move like regular fluid and instead coursed with far greater purpose as it passed straight by her and began pooling on the rug in the very center of the room. Her first instinct was to clear ground level and she hopped onto the bedstead and watched as gallons of dark claret journeyed past her. Once in the middle it began to coagulate; forming chunks of cruor which reunited with one another as it continued its augmentation. It persisted seeping in through the bottom of the door frame as the pool started to take shape no more than a yard from her horrified face.
Suddenly dozens of bloody tendrils shot up from the gore-sodden rug and attached themselves to the ceiling above her. Then the screaming reconvened as eight life-sized shapes commenced reconstruction. This time the cries were far more tortured; as though denoting the agony of all of her friends in harsh synchronicity. Bones began to form, ventricles weaving through each joint as raw flesh started grouping around the marrow. Belinda needed no more convincing that her safe haven had been compromised and hysterically grabbed the bed frame and hauled it away from the door. A quick status check behind her proved costly as each mound of limbs had now taken shape, resembling each of her fallen friends in turn, only minus their epidermises. They appeared hoisted up like puppets beneath a carousel of crimson and, as each harness was pulled taut, their postures straightened until they all reached an upright position, staring at her through the hollow sockets in their freshly reformed skulls.
Belinda managed to gain herself a slender exit way and slid through to the hallway, collective scream ringing in her ears as she did. After using both walls to make it to the top stair, she lost any vague footing and commenced to clutter down each step on her headlong descent. She hit the floorboards hard enough to knock herself out momentarily but the adrenaline surged back through her with the first subconscious imagining of whatever was trailing her. Several broken ribs and a protruding shinbone slowed her movements considerably but he used any remaining endurance to drag her splintered body through the lounge, towards the dead bolted front door. Again she glanced back and through the haze she discerned the blood beginning to trickle down the steps with the same malevolence as previously. Once at the doorway she desperately clawed for grip hold to lever herself up but any remaining upper body strength was compromised by the agonizing pain shooting up her right side.
Then the screaming subsided once again and she was granted disenchanting quietude a second time. “We’re here for you Belinda. We’re all here for you” It was Analise’s voice “turn around and we’ll show you we care.” She daren’t take that advice as she wasn’t prepared to catch sight of the horror in her fickle state of consciousness. “What do you want from me?” she sobbed. “We want you to meet The Keeper. He pulls our strings Belinda and he’ll pull yours too if you allow him.” A second plea commenced; this time in Brad’s gruffer voice “Turn around for your surprise” he taunted playfully, at which point a communal “Yes Belinda. Turn around for your surprise” rang out in the tongue of all her friends “Don’t be afraid. We can play together. Come and meet The Keeper Belinda” Her already-faltering resistance slackened a final time and she turned to face her masters of ceremony.
All at once, dozens of bloody tendrils lurched towards her face, gripping her cheeks tight enough to shatter several of her teeth in the process. Two larger flailing crimson lances punctured both of her eyeballs, pushing them back in their cavities where they instantly provoked rapid hemorrhaging. With a sickening implosion of cranial fluid the feelers collapsed her cranium from the inside and her lower body fell away like saw dust beneath her. Her shell’s ruination may have been swift but the misery of active thought didn’t leave her as her vital fluid seeped through the boards and into the clay beneath, and carried on descending. Her screams traveled the Earth’s core until which time as they reached an insular clearing deep underground. Belinda was reunited with her friends in the dank deciding death bunker, each of them still privy to their torment, and there The Keeper enjoyed his new complete set of fresh blood puppets for the very first time.
Truly, Clearly, Really, Sincerely,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2014