Suggested Audio Candy
Andre Noe “Phantasm (30th Anniversary Edition)”
I always knew that one day I would return to this place. That nagging feeling of the inevitable has never subsided; I’m speaking of the inevitability of death. Back then I couldn’t grasp the concept and neither did I have any desire to. At the time I was too busy sticking up for the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus to remind anybody of the authenticity of perpetual limbo. Instead I bottled my angst and, thirty-years on, it is about to be uncorked. Right now I am utterly beside myself with fear as The Tall Man always pledged a return at some point and it would appear that he is finally ready to come good on this oath. That doesn’t exactly fill me with optimism for the future as my past and present are about to meet in the most inhospitable manner imaginable and they should see me strung out for the foreseeable.
I think I may have brought this all on myself you know. Recently I have pondered my mortality and, by doing so, it would appear that I inadvertently reopened a portal. This is his point of re-entry; the one place where he can invade my reality and your mind becomes rather an insular locale when playing host to one so nefarious. I’m not convinced as to what his actual mission statement is but I know one thing and that is that death need not be the end when it comes to perpetual torment. That’s his jurisdiction; he fashions the boundaries when patrolling my subconscious and I am merely a trespasser in the mindscape he has crafted on my behalf. It will come as no surprise to you that my primary introduction to The Tall Man followed my very first burial. That whole experience was surreal; I was surrounded by fellow mourners, better equipped to fathom the low-down than I, while very much alone the whole time.
Where had my grandfather gone? My first clue came directly after the procession disbanded. All other spectators were preparing to disperse in their clinical fashion but I was too curious to join them. My fixation was on account of that plush pine receptacle; inside that luxurious wooden capsule were the answers I required. After scouting the vicinity I felt primed to take a closer look at this vessel and prepared to engage the same fleetness of foot that guaranteed my standing at the very front of the ice cream van queue every time its come-hither jingle chimed. Other family members had been granted their send-off through way of open casket wake, whereas it wasn’t considered suitable for a young mind such as mine to entertain such an enduring image of lifelessness. While I have no doubt that my best interests were at the heart of this decision to protect my innocence, it had robbed me of closure. This represented my opportunity of forming my own conclusion and I had no idea when the chance would come around again.
Just as I plotted my advancement, I spotted him for the very first time. I was never what you would call short pants but this well-groomed gentleman could devour my entire shadow in a single bite. Had I not chose to keep a vigilant distance then I would have struggled to see past his elongated nostrils; such was his accelerated stature. His long white spindly digits had a hold on the casket as he lifted its considerable heft into the back of his blackened hearse with proposed ease. Although he never actually glanced in my direction I felt as though he was aware of my presence the entire time and fully mindful of the theft he was committing when slamming the hood and removing my one hope of clarity.
Such events will play on a developing mind such as mine and, sure enough, things grew a lot more dubious over the next day or so. As it transpired, this suited and booted nightmare maker knew a thing or five about architecture, and constructed a paradox committed to scaring me witless. The personnel appeared to be bound by his harsh spell and, themselves, trapped in his oblivion. These included a clutch of hooded terrors who doggedly pursued me as I approached each twisted turn. There was a lady in lavender ghosting around too but I didn’t trust that bitch for a second as she was little more than a conduit for his foul play and not to be banked upon for a second. Finally there were the sentinels and I witnessed first hand the carnage one of these death spheres could court.
Once a sentinel has locked into place either side of your cranium and commenced draining your cerebral grue unceremoniously; it’s bye-bye baby bunting. These gleaming metallic globes nestle into their target’s brow with the object of making you privy to your own demise while they bore through your skull-cap as though aged driftwood. Mercifully, I managed to remain beneath their radar but I was offered a first-hand exhibition of their prowess and it put me off spheres for life. I was the only ten-year old who got nightmares from watching Major League after watching hell’s pitcher strike out another soul for his own sick enchantment. I did survive my antagonist’s relentless barrage of psychological abuse but it was not without cost to my already delicate psyche. I jumped at my own shadow throughout my childhood, checked under my bed more than could be considered recreational, and never once left my closet mirror unsheathed as a result of my recurring phantasm.
One’s dreamscape populates itself however the bloody hell it pleases each time you slumber and you relinquish control the very moment your eyes become wide shut. Consequently my nightmares enjoyed all the lucidity of a young boy who had been made wary of what lay beyond the ultimate veil. I wished for insomnia but it was never forthcoming; meanwhile part of me felt more alive, invigorated by teetering so close to such an infinite chasm. Over time, my dreams began to subside, and nowadays I rarely remember the events of these intermissions. It’s all a little hazy and convoluted and any memories are fleeting once I perform my morning stretch. Well, that was until recently anyway. Suddenly I am very much aware of my imaginings but not entirely convinced that this is even a dream anymore. I think I may have been had.
Okay, before we proceed any further, I propose that we take stock of our current locale. It would appear that I am ensnared within some kind of mausoleum; decidedly similar to the one which kept me prisoner as a young child. I’m remaining calm as there don’t appear to be any restraints and I can move freely it seems. Dreams love nothing more than placing success just out of your reach but I don’t feel restricted or like I’m wading through pea-soup as is so often the case. However, I feel almost hopeless right now as it is beginning to dawn upon me that my escape from these fixtures and fittings will not be made elementary. There are number of mirrors before me, regimented in their reflection of the plight which lay in wait. I’m not overly thrilled by these speculums as they appear designed to alert the sentinels to my attendance and I’m not feeling a drilling right now. The comfort of my own bed, on the other hand, is rather an enticing prospect but also disconcertingly distant.
At the far end of the room, which appears to close in as it reaches for its apex, is a single white door, barely visible amidst the whitewashed emulsion of my mind but, in the same moment, frightfully vivid. I guess the only way out of this place is forward and the unmovable pallid fortification behind me is coaxing me this way so there would appear no time like the present. Every step seems to extend my stay further; the door is not forthcoming. There were a handful of thoughts racing through my head a few hours back but not one of them was “wouldn’t it be dainty to entertain a paradox this bedtime?” This isn’t what I signed up for. Why would you do this to me? I was a child for God’s sake, admittedly a little more inquisitive than many, but still just a kid at the end of the day. Did you not punish me enough when stealing my innocence?
It appears not. Maybe this has been my own foolish doing? By recently challenging my own mortality; it would appear I have opened Pandora’s snuff-box once again and now I must purge my own obstacles a second time. I have no concept of what lays ahead and neither do I wish to know; but I get the feeling I’ll be finding out. Onward is upward; I must climb this graduation of mirrors until its summit if I wish to exit into the next stage of my conundrum. Finally I feel like I’m making headway as the door is growing closer now although I still can’t quite place that consternation deep within my knotted abdomen. I can reach out now and touch that brass handle; but I’m not entirely convinced that I’m prepared for what is proposed on the other side. Bear with me a moment; allow me to gather my thoughts. This is the instance when I finally learn of my fate and I refuse to take such intelligence lightly. Okay…I think I’m ready, at least, I know I will never be more so. The knob feels icy to the touch. I open the door and step through.
Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2015