I’ve decided to try something new and begin publishing some of my original short stories to my well-established film review blog. For this particular story, I took literary inspiration from H.P. Lovecraft, while mixing in elements from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and my very own personal experiences.
Thanks a bunch and enjoy!
The Fiendish Encounter
Wesley and I, Jacobson, are in the furniture business, you see? Under the small establishment of Smith and Son, we travel across the county in search of used furniture no longer desired by the owner. When a price is agreed upon, we purchase the furniture item and refurbish it, selling it for a modest markup value. It’s neither a glamorous nor well-paying job, but it’s reliable income for a poor individual such as myself.
On the first of October 1941, our business ventures led us deep into territories previously unknown to the both of us. Now, my use of the word territories has but two meanings here. Firstly, my partner and I were physically placed in a situation that was completely foreign to us; in a land long since forgotten and abandoned by civilized society.
Secondly, this being the more darkly sinister of the two, we were emotionally shocked and perplexed by the forthcoming events that haunted us for years to come. An event that morphed us into the pessimistic and maladapted individuals we know ourselves as today; effectively reversing us in maturation by nearly several decades. An evolutionarily perplexing occurrence indeed.
The strange peculiarities of that infamous day began with an obscure and indescribable phone call to the Smith and Son office in Newport, Iowa. The call started with, as so I am told since I was not the one to initially receive the ring, a woman making indiscernible grunts and babbling directly into the telephone. After twenty minutes of bewildering our disgruntled company secretary through awkward pauses and the drawn-out hawking of her throat, the woman inquired whether we were in the business of purchasing used furniture. She spoke in such a bygone dialect that it took the secretary nearly two hours to decipher the meaning of her words and archaic language. Utilizing phrases and vocabulary long since considered dead to most civilized human languages.
This all being secondhand information, I took the secretaries words of caution and reservation with prudence. If only I were to have taken her vigilance with sincerity. Maybe then Wesley and I could’ve saved ourselves the agonizing torment of what we now know.
So, there we were, assigned to retrieve two small sofas from a home approximately seventy kilometers away from our store’s present location. These particular sofas were, as we were notified, in stunning condition, and predated the Civil War by about thirty years. With this knowledge, we were to assume the value of the items to be astronomical. At least, in comparison to the usual day’s pull of modern decorum, which is predominantly what justified us making such a distant trip in the first place.
After traveling along the highway southbound for over an hours’ time, noticeable variation in the landscape arose. The scenery began to incrementally change from homes, schools, churches, and sidewalks, to nothing but trees and dense forestry. Occasionally we’d pass a small marketplace or dairy farm, but their prevalence paled in comparison to the overwhelming isolation brought forth by the abundance of plant life.
Following another twenty minutes of driving, we eventually came across a narrow dirt road that blended into the surrounding shrubbery with astonishing simplicity. Had I blinked at precisely the right moment, I’d have missed this desolate path. And to our sincere bewilderment, this happened to be an authentically marked road on our map. It was labeled as Hooper Street, and was the exact road we were looking for.
Reluctantly we pulled into Hooper Street, painstakingly maneuvering our truck through the mess of dense foliage and wet dirt. After ten minutes of cautiously driving down this mysterious and isolated pathway, we came across a small, decrepit farmhouse that flanked us from the right. The house was in a frightfully substandard condition, and I immediately sympathized for the ill-fated individuals forced to live in it.
The white paint of its outer walls had all peeled away, revealing rotten and decayed wood. The windows were covered in dust and grime built up from years of neglect; a few were even shattered or missing altogether. It’s brick chimney had partially collapsed, displaying some of the home’s dilapidated interior. All these disconcerting features of the house were overshadowed by the tremendous amount of vines and vegetation that consumed it. The vegetation reached so far up and around the roof it appeared as if the earth would soon swallow up this forsaken place.
I parked the truck along the side of the road and advanced towards the house. We approached the front porch with great hesitancy as we carefully ascended the ancient overgrown staircase. Each cautious step was accompanied by the creaking of the worn floorboards, eliciting winces from the both of us.
I knocked on the door with a forceful fist; and to my utmost surprise the door swung open by itself. Revealing behind it absolute darkness. From the threshold we called out, “Hello, is there anybody home?”
“We’re here to inquire about several Pre-Civil War furniture items.”
Still, there was no response from beyond the void of blackness.
Already perplexed and disturbed by our surroundings, we silently agreed to turn around and head back the way we came. Just as we began to make our descent back down the staircase and towards the truck, we heard the faintest cry from deep inside the house.
“Hello,” echoed the distant voice. “Come in, please.”
We slowly exchanged looks of confusion, and against all our sensibilities and better judgement Wesley and I entered the farmhouse. To give ourselves due credit, nothing could’ve prepared us for the immoral, nefarious works we would soon bear witness to. And if we had even the slightest inkling of knowledge of what lied within that desolate house, we surely would’ve never embarked on this absurd journey.
Wearily making our way into the family room, I made careful note of my surroundings. There was an old rotary dial television set in the corner; as well as a worn-out couch and chair set that gave off a terribly foul odor. The walls were covered in tattered, peeling wallpaper and alarming quantities of black mold ran along the ceiling.
We quickly made our way through the room and over to a small wooden door along the far wall. A sign that read “Cellar” hung on a rusty nail that was hammered deep into the door. I cracked open the door and peeked inside.
“Hello, anyone down there?”, I called once again.
Again, there was no response.
Then, as if entranced by some unknown entity of antagonistic intent, we began making our way down the rugged staircase and into the formidable darkness. Each step produced a loud groan that reverberated off the walls.
About halfway down the stairwell I saw something reflecting brightly only several meters below. As I moved in for closer inspection, I noticed a thin string swinging precariously from the ceiling. I regrettably pulled it, and a dim light from above illuminated the putrid horrors that now occupy my frayed and conflicted conscious.
The reflective substance I saw below us was an offensive mixture of what could be none other than human blood, filth, and other unthinkable fluids. It filled the cellar floor knee-deep and was disgustingly murky. Tiny rodents swam freely and quietly through the stomach-turning liquid of human substance.
However, the truly significant horror, the one that’s continued to haunt me every night since the hair-raising ordeal, was dangling just above the water line in front of me.
Six human carcasses were heinously strung up on meat hooks attached to the ceiling. All their frail, vulnerable faces showed signs of horrendous struggle and agony before their untimely demise. Several bodies were relatively fresh and missing several appendages. Their chest cavities pulled open and dissected with exquisite detail and eerie attentiveness. Others had been decomposing for some indiscernible amount of time, with maggots, larvae, and other undesirable vermin inhabiting them.
Wesley and I wasted no time fleeing the gory, nightmarish situation; sprinting back up the rugged staircase and rounding the corner into the family room when something halted me dead in my tracks. I threw my hands back to stop Wesley, who knocked into me forcefully. And when he too looked up to see the egregious sight that had caught me so off guard, he froze too, with the same astonished and confused phrase muttered from his mouth.
The room was exactly how we left it only moments ago, with a few startling changes. The television set in the corner was now on and emitting static and faint white noise, while also casting a grim shadow upon the real horror before us.
Two beings now occupied the chair and sofa, one on our left and one on our right. Decades of relishing in incestual encounters and a hazardous lack of sunlight left them deprived and in an inconceivably sardonic state only fathomable in the bleakest of nightmares.
Their skin so pale and depleted of nutrition that veins and arteries protruded their faces and arms with desperation. Their mouths hung open as if in a constant state of gasping for air, with all other emotions and expressions formed based on this uneasy abnormality.
The most haunting, blood-curdling feature of these beings that still invades my traumatized conscious with contemptuous ease were the eyes. Oh God, the eyes. Swollen and sunken, their eyeballs seemed to recede back into the depths of their deformed and maladapted skulls. The eyeballs themselves were completely bloodshot and dilated, unlike that of any drug abuser or surgical patient known to this world. Their eyes were the embodiment of a terror and sin far beyond the comprehension of any secular human such as myself.
The beings turned their heads slowly towards us, and we caught their malicious gaze outside the corners of their ungodly eyes. Gradually their gaping mouths began to curl on either side, revealing a heinous smile full of deceit and degeneracy.
At this point they both began to emit a dull, lengthy noise from the recesses of their withered and decayed throats that I immediately and unequivocally identified as laughter. Despite the muted, low tone of their amusement, just hearing their blissful contentment sent cold chills between my shoulder blades and down the length of my back.
The whole experience itself was so surreal and hypnotizing that I occasionally ponder whether it happened at all. Perhaps Wesley and I experienced the same evocative dream that you sometimes hear about in the papers or from a close friend. Only for reality to cruelly reel you back in.
This was real.
I clenched my fist over my heart as it palpitated. Wesley jerked my frozen body in the opposite direction of these soulless beings; which snapped me out of my horrified trance long enough to rush for the exit.
We dashed back around the corner, past the rugged staircase, and through the kitchen which yielded a back door. The kitchen was piled high with the utmost vile, nauseating set of dirty dishes the human imagination could conjure. Every single solitary inch of counter and floor space was occupied by porcelain plates and bowls caked in food so rotten it was beyond recognition. Had I remained in the room a second longer, I’d have become violently sick.
Instead, Wesley continued to pull me towards the door, knocking over several stacks of repugnant dishes in the process. Once the dishes hit the floor with an ear-piercing crash, it was then that I realized the soft chuckles of the two beings had developed into a heinous cackle. The noise, which continued to grow louder with every unnatural breath, was so revolting I almost fainted in terrorized shock.
When Wesley got to the door he ripped through the screen and sprinted around the side of the house towards the truck. The ground was soft and mucky, and our feet sunk ankle-deep into the earth with each stride. But we hardly noticed or cared.
We rounded the corner of the house and arrived back to the truck precisely the way we left it only minutes ago, with the keys still in the ignition. Without a moments hesitation I threw the truck into drive, and sped off into the distance, never glancing back. Not even out of a desperate need of assurance that we survived the strange and macabre scenario thrust upon us by fate. Or perhaps, this was God’s doing.
Wesley and I remained silent the entire trip home, each quietly pleading with our conscience for fundamental answers to the bizarre phenomenon that transpired.
Why did they call us? What were they? Who were they? All questions that would echo throughout our conscience and challenge our values and belief systems for years, perhaps decades, to come. I continuously picked apart and mutilated my own thoughts like a psychological mortician until what was left was a cadaverous, hollow man with hollow dreams and hollow values.
Even after considerable amounts of contemplation, as well as lengthy nights full of self-doubt and mutilation, there is but one clear-cut, unambiguous answer to the grotesque events that befell us that day.
These beings were not human. For to be human is to be alive. To feel empathy. And these beings lacked the will, the basic desire, to empathize.