I always held the belief that objects could hold intent. I believed that the sheer force of an intense sentiment, those raw and feral emotions of passion, fear, and rage, can become absorbed, if you will, into the very atoms of an item until they themselves have become a carrier of that lingering response. And that is, my dear friends, what idea had always permeated through my consciousness. That is what called me to this strange fascination of mine; the procurement and preservation of these tainted items.
To me, each one seemed a shard of the ethereal, a souvenir of the metaphysical that exists above human perception, a reminder that the world is something more than what we’ve made it out to be. Above all, that is what pulled me; the allure of something more than this mundane existence that has been hollowed out and filled with factory work, social media sites, and t.v. It was a way to constantly connect myself with what I believed as the truth of the world, the mystical powers that swayed and influenced the hearts of meager men. The eternal darkness that seeps into the very soul, and consumes their minds. It was, in my mind, the tie to the immortal grandeur of greater evils, otherworldly entities.
I say was, however, for a reason. An odd, reason that I hope to fully set in my mind by writing this all down. It’s one that you might not believe, and not one that I fully understand. A reason that started with something simple. It started with an estate sale, a box, and a bad, highly intoxicated, poorly executed decision.
It was the middle of March when I found myself in the Midwest, a hotspot for collectors like myself. The sale had been at an archaic aging farm house that set in the middle of a sprawling estate. The road, which took several minutes to drive down, was private and marked with the usual no trespassing sign that seemed almost redundant for such an exclusive residence. The previous owner, a reclusive (big surprise there) elderly woman had passed, leaving all of her worldly possessions behind for whomever they fell upon. Though the attendant at the door readily offered a back story, I waved him off; I wasn’t interested in such unimportant tidbits.
A whole assortment of eclectic items filled the old house on the day that I entered, among which was the box. Instantly attracted to it, it seemed to stand out from the odd vases and old texts, having an air about it that was most dark. It is these sort of items I am attracted to most, ones with ominous tone such as the macabre marked box, adorned with what could only be described as anti-cherubs at each of the corners. The entire box, including the little grimacing figurines, was made out of some heavy onyx hued wood that had its own way of absorbing yet never reflecting the light. I distinctly remember running my hands over the smooth edges, eager to open the box as I felt the odd scrawled writing twisting and turning under my fingertips. Barely visible, I couldn’t make it out in the dim light of the house. Perhaps the intrigue at finding out what it said was half the reason I bought it though, admittedly the other half I must attribute to the willingness of the bored looking attendant to part with it for a mere thirteen dollars. I collected a few other interesting pieces that day, though it would turn out that the dark container which was no larger than a bread box was my true prize.
It was some days afterwards that I finally was able to make out the illusive inscription that rested just below the lower corner of the box (which I had found, much to my disappointment, to be empty on the inside). I had tried before in all sorts of light, even reducing myself to a jeweler’s eyepiece under the brightest light to figure out the inscription to no avail. It was completely by mistake that, when indulging myself in a rather guilty pleasure of writing only by the light of an oil lap, the inscription became clear. The growing light of the newly adjusted wick had crept across the darkened wood floors until it had found its way up and onto the coffee table where the previously perplexing box was resting. It was only when my mind took in the fact that the color of the flames was actually reflecting off its surface that I slowly rose and made my way over to it. As stark as print, I could make out it. I couldn’t understand it, mind you but at least I could make out the seemingly incoherent words. Stalking back over to my desk, I instantly scrawled it out across my notebook, interrupting my previous literary endeavor.
Patefacio in primo ictu omnes sanctificat et Eva, eo die, diabolus tuus erat.
The more I read over it, the more it sunk in until distant memories of once studying endings and obscure phrases lit into my mind; it was Latin. Even when being able to distinguish the language, I was still at a loss. Thankfully, for those who cared as little about the ancient language as myself, there was always the ever prevalent second brain; the internet. With little delay, I was able to quickly translate it as meaning
‘Open on the first stroke of All Hallows Eve and, for the day, the devil will be thy company’
A charming little incantation, to be sure. Alluring? Distantly. I took it for something meant for a long lost satanic cult. Things like this were worth a great deal to the right buyer, making the little piece even more invaluable to the little collection of mine. The closest thing I had currently, which paled in comparison, was a badly rusted ceremonial dagger for some unnamed occult sect. It was unique, but it lacked the air of the box. In fact, I hadn’t really taken the time upon first purchasing it to really notice the odd feeling of apprehension it brought but the long, solitary nights had given me plenty of chance to let his feeling soak in. In fact, upon entering the room, there was that immediate calling to cease continuing followed by an almost instant calling of one’s gaze to its placid albeit sinister visage. Now, I had an abstract painting at one time that, when stared at too long, made a queasy feeling in the pit of one’s gut followed successively by a nauseating headache and, at last, followed by the product of nausea, but nothing like this. No, the box was definitely unique and of its own.
Unbeknownst to me at that time, the feeling that I found so thrilling would soon begin to lose its novelty. Throughout the remaining season, I gradually moved the box further and further back into the house until it came to rest within my ‘vault room’; a softer name for the place where I move things I am sick of seeing. However, make no mistake, it wasn’t from my lack of interest in the box, but rather to avoid keeping both I and my solitary roommate, a solid black cat whom I affectionately call Ninny, from the rooms we actually wanted to occupy. I should have realized that the seemingly growing sensor that perfumed the air with apprehension was a sign of things to come. Instead, I let it slowly drift from my thoughts as spring ended and summer began to run its course. A heavy year of traveling in pursuit of my dreams of procurement made the much celebrated season flit by without a passing thought. It was finally late into autumn by the time my cat and I had returned, well on our way to planning our usual thanksgiving dinner tradition of steeling our nerves for the family reunion where she would hide herself under the bed and I in the basement stairway.
Content with being home from the long travels, I began drifting through the house in a comfortable haze, passing the door to my vault as I paced about. Once I crossed the threshold of the door, I felt a wave of anxiety slam into my body, ceasing the movement of my feet as I became solidly planted on the floor. There, in the very back corner at the furthest point in the house, sat the box. I instantly noted that, while all the surrounding items that were cluttered around it had a healthy heap of dust sitting atop of them, the smooth surface with its frightening faces was free of debris. There was something about its state that sent a shiver down my spine, however, the following revelation washed away the shiver as quickly dashed through the house to my computer. I shook the mouse back and forth frantically, the black screen slowly flickering back to life. My shaky hand commanded the cursor down to the right corner, resting over the time display and, as the small date box popped up, I felt my blood run cold; it read Friday, October 28th, 2011. I had just two days before Halloween, and I was unable to shake the dreadful feeling that this wasn’t some great coincidence.
If I said I did the smart thing and up and left for another vacation, I would be lying. Instead, I felt some great need to deny how foolish I was being about the entire thing. Bucking up, I decided to convince myself that the feeling was a mere overflow of the terrible things that happened. That the only touches of the metaphysical left in this world were of influence and emotions. And, above all, I convinced myself that I would, with no exceptions, even think about touching that box. Over the next two days, I kept myself as obstinately occupied as possible. They were filled with mundane things such as dusting the dust off my favorite pieces, rearranging my collection of murder weapons, and other normal tasks. On the day before Halloween, I had even ventured to my mother’s which aroused her suspicion at my unusually willing visit. However, not even the impending doom that the box promised could make me weather the torment of my mother’s unrelenting persecution of my existence; for hell hath no fury like a woman who thinks you’ve done everything in your life just to spite her. I returned late in the afternoon and, unable to keep the strange feeling of apprehension out of myself, I turned to the only thing which I know to steel my nerves and allow me to relax my mind.
It was on my ‘elevbinty-eth’ pitcher of assorted liquor that I sauntered foolishly into the back later that evening. Leaning against the doorway of the vault room, I glared at the box as if I were some silver screened cowboy eyeing down the new trouble maker in town.
“Wehlll,” I slurred, “it’s just youh and meh, tough ghuy.” I slowly made my way over to the box. For a moment I stared looking down at it before I turned my gaze to my half full stein in my right hand. Jostling it a bit to judge its weight, I placed my opposite hand on the box. Slowly sliding the mug down next to the box, I quickly placed it down just as I picked it up, pulling a cliché movie tactic; Better safe than sorry. Whoever said in wine there was truth also forgot to caveat it with ‘and in hard liquor there a good chance of pure idiocy’.
Pleased with myself, and feeling rather smug, I meandered back into the fire lit living room with an idiotic grin slapped across my face. The drink had done its work and I was feeling somehow superior to the box and its ominous waves of tension. Giving a deep chuckle to myself, I glanced upwards at the wall clock. Eleven fifty eight; how convenient. I scoffed at the ticking arms, crossing my own over my chest as I returned my gaze to the shady container. An entire minute passed by as I was in my state of superiority, only being pulled out of the drink induced dominance by the tenth chime of the grandfather clock in the foyer. Without a thought, as is often the case when one has consumed that much alcohol, I lunged forwards and quickly placed my hand on the box. The eleventh chime sounded. With as much finess as I could muster, I ceased the lid and flipped it open. The twelfth chime reverberated off the walls, assaulting the silence before slowly drifting away until the still that had been before returned to the house once again.
In front of me sat the box, empty just as before.
Unwilling to admit even to the nothingness around me that I was relived; I gave a triumphant chuckle that was quickly interrupted by a rapid serious of hiccups. Well, at least the moment had been mine. Taking in a deep breath, I reached down and flipped the box closed, the clack of the lid being so loud I startled myself. However, the sound didn’t stop there as a clacking came from behind. I spun around as fast as uncoordinated motor skills would allow and turned to face the source of the sound.
There are those things that, at first, the brain wants to deny but ultimately not even the shock can turn away from and, what sight I met was one of those very things. There he stood in front of me, as tall as timbers compared to my own short statue. His face was elongated like an animal, reminding me of some mutated, dingy sheep. Large, twice curling black horns glinted in the flickering light of the fire spanning out on either side of his thin face, accented perfectly by pale pointed ears. The large, unruly mane of thick, mattered fur tapered its way into a ridge that followed down his spin in shades of dingy grey like some feral hog. A tattered leather satchel hung across his bare man-like chest, coming to rest atop the thick fur that adorned him from the waist down, furring out his muscular, powerful legs that came to culminating cracked and yellowed cloven hooves.
With narrow, coal rimmed yellow eyes he gazed about the room, his horizontal pupils dilated impossibly large. Thin lips curled back into a wide spanning grin that seemed to distort his face into some hellish semblance of a Venetian comedy mask.
“Tea time for-,” came a gruff, cracked voice. He paused in his speech eye ceasing their searching, gaze falling directly to me. My knees went weak. “Well, you’re certainly not Mary,” he continued. “Where is the old goat?” The devil cooed affectionately as he looked around. With no answer coming from my trembling lips, it seemed to dawn upon the demon after a moment of silence. “Oh, she came over didn’t she? Well, I suppose I’ll just have to look her up when I get back, won’t I?”
I had no idea who Mary was at that moment, but my mind in its frantic attempt to latch onto something real, something familiar, instantly began searching through its memory banks. Quite quickly, I vaguely recalled the name of the previous owner as M. Matine. The grip on reality quickly slipped away again, however, as it locked on his last phrase of ‘getting back’. Where exactly did she go that something as ghastly as him would be able to ‘look her up’ when he returned?
“Now, let me see. Family? Friend?” He pondered, looking at me before around. “No. I recall what she said about her family….hmmm. Ah, antique collector! I should have known. Haven’t dealt with one of you in centuries. You’re great fun!” He chimed as he tilted his head, giving a small chuckle. He came forwards, cloven hooves scraping nosily across the floor. I recoiled back over to the top of the table, shamelessly scaling it and placing it between me and the nightmare that stood looming in the dim light. He merely grinned wider, obviously taking delight in my reaction. Carefully looking me over, he leaned forwards and sniffed the air before chuckling. “Ah, cowards courage! Good vintage, too!” Turning away, he suddenly began stalking off as he huffed the air, nostrils flaying as he began scenting his way through my house.
I watched him disappear into the next room, the sound of his dragging hoof steps being the only link to reality that I had at the moment. Numb in my confusion and disbelief, he returned shortly after, the empty mug in hand as he continued lapping at the rim.
“Replica,” he said suddenly, voice half muffled by the glass. “That one too. No good. Someone got cheated,” he chuckled, moving to run his hand over one of my prized samurai sword. “Hah, not even a good fake! You should do more research, my boy!”
The devil continued to look over all my prize pieces with a scrutinizing gaze, pointing out two more imposters in my midst before turning back to look at me, tossing the mug behind him. As it shattered on the wall, I jumped back a few feet.
“Alright, that was for free. Now, what have we to eat?”
‘Not me’ was the first thing that came to my mind, but I finally managed to push out a questioning, “E-eat?,” with an embarrassing prepubescent squeak.
“You freed me, you feed me. Them’s the rules.” He turned away from me, jutting his neck out once again as he noisily snorted at the air. “Common, boy, time’s a wastin.” He began to stalk off towards the kitchen, beckoning me with one wave of his hand.
I followed in sort of a stupor, watching as he reached out at a passing shelf, un-centering one piece and knocking another over from their carefully planned out places. He stopped for one moment, taking the time to huff towards one of the spotless glass cases, spattering its cover with wet flecks before walking off, dragging one hand against its partner, leaving long greasy streaks across its surface.
His hooves cut into the white tile floor of the kitchen while he paused in the door way, hands going to his wide hips as he gave a few appeased nods of his large, shaggy head before continuing forwards. He began instantly rummaging through cabinets, leaving them half open or all the way as he began his search for substance, my mind flickering to what would actually tickle his fancy. He found the storage for the plates, taking out a two. Holding one in each hand, he looked over his shoulder at me, eyes gleaming before he turned quickly, running his sandpaper like purple tongue against each. As it dragged across the finely crafted surface, it left long gouging streaks. I thought it some show of how he could easily use that gangly appendage to rip flesh from the bone.
He let the plates fall carelessly to the counter top and I grimaced at the small chips that fell beside them as they were a one of a kind set. He, however, seemed unaffected as he clacked over to the sink, turning on the water, leaning down to take a few messy gulps before turning back to his quest, leaving the faucet running at full blast as the hot tendrils of steam began to wisp their way through the air. The numb began to slowly fade away as he made it to the fridge, throwing it open as half his torso disappeared inside. The disapproving grunts continued as he began rummaging through its contents.
“Such fatty foods! I’d be watching that waistband if I were you!” One long arm came back, holding a half eaten confectionary delight that many middle aged women would have gladly fought to the death for. He suddenly let his hold go, allowing it to go crashing to the ground. The half chuckle and snort sounded, being instantly followed with a sarcastic, “You’ll thank me later!”
As I watched him lean back, taking a few bites out of a peach before returning it to its place, my mind began to slowly realize the entirety of the situation. My knees gave way as I leaned back against the counter, suddenly feeling the color rush away from my face. One large ear swiveled backwards, as if able to hear my manliness screaming away like a frightened school girl. He turned to look over his shoulder, lips smacking as he ate all but a spoonful of the remaining granola.
“Looks like we got a fainter,” he laughed with a sneer, lips curling back to reveal an entire row of well sharpened, pointed teeth.
The image of his smile, which seemed far from that at the time, was the last thing I remember right before the ceiling. Then, everything had gone black.
So there’s part of my first story published to the public. Well, that’s not true. A former version of this story was put into a flimsy little notebook at my college, but this one is a complete re-write of that one and I doubt anyone even gazed at it. Now, even though it is a re-write, this is about a second draft after I’ve combed through it for errors and such. Still a work in progress, but one I thought people might enjoy. Come back next Weds for the second part of He’s In The Details to see how this plays out. (Also, any critiques or comments would be absolutely loved and appreciated)