Ask, p.1David Heard
Copyright © David Heard 2012
Cover Art Copyright © AlexanderExorcist
This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously. Your support and respect for the property of this author is appreciated.
Sometimes a thorn in the paw is what gets the lion going, thanks my friend and brother for being the thorn. Much thanks are also due to Mindy, editor par excellence. Any mistakes are mine not hers, seriously. Finally with out the love and support of family and friends this would never have been possible. Love you one and all.
A Darkness Comes
A chill crept through my bones, the cold dread of a man who knows he is no longer alone. My breath frosted the air, making the dingy room appear as if it was the set for "House of Usher" starring the late Vincent Price; the favored movie of a tortured youth. As a child I'd often hide beneath the quilts and watch old black and white movies, greats like "The Tomb of Ligeia", "The Red Masque of Death" and of course "The House of Usher". As if on cue I heard a sound as if fingernails were scritch - scritching across a chalkboard, or perhaps wood.
I damned my voice even as it wavered on the edge of breaking, "Who enters my domain?" Nothing. Silence, I frowned silence in a seedy hotel? Heart hammering I scrambled for the nightstand where chalk impregnated with water of mistletoe under the thirteenth moon lay swaddled in velvet. Quickly I began drawing a circle of protection binding the rune Thurs and invoking the power latent within. As the circle glowed to my altered sight there was a soundless implosion of air, and the faint scent of rot and then nothing. Not taking chances I began strengthening the ward, I had an inkling of what it might be and I wasn't ready to meet her yet.
Shivering I thought about the events of the past several days, almost a week gone, I had hidden outside my sisters brownstone in the nearby alleyway a cord woven from corpse hair in my pocket. I knew what I was about to do was heinous - how could I not? Murder is always a terrible thing. I also knew I had no choice - I needed an answer to a question which had plagued me, it seemed, all my life. When I was very young I suffered from a wracking fever, and in the dream state it evoked, I was stalked by the beast with terrible teeth. Years later I learned the beasts name to some was "Garm". The realm I had tarried, wandering afar from the bonds of flesh was the lands of she who held the right of lordship over those who died. In those moments I became consumed as if by cold flame with one question which would steer the course of my life to this moment and all the moments which would follow.
When my sister arrived home, I followed her using skills I learned in the armed forces along NATO borders. She never stood a chance, and as her throat worked soundlessly I smiled the death's head grin which comes from the exhilaration of the kill. When she was truly slain and lay unmoving at my feet, the stink of death come calling, I put on latex gloves and bathed the body as was proper for the burial of a woman of importance. After dressing her in the burial robes retrieved from the alleyway I locked up behind me as I left.
Days later I didn't have to pretend to grieve, my sister had been my only friend and the one and only person I had trusted. I was almost paralyzed with sorrow but the desire for knowledge drove me, riding me with the frenzy of an eight legged horse on its way to Hel. I had made the ultimate sacrifice, giving up the one thing which meant the most to me in the world, so that I might know.
Looking at the wall clock, hours had passed. Gathering up the few items of consequence I would need I banished the circle with a quick word and headed for the door. With a last glance around, I shrugged there was nothing here I would need, should my path lead elsewhere.
A Short Ride to Nowhere
Many and more were the miles I needed to travel before dawns light. I myself couldn't drive, forbidden by the conditions of my discharge these seven years past. "Catatonia", unfair since at the time I was in the midst of a ride in the dream lands some-where, some-when on the branches of Yggdrasil. I caressed the pouch at my belt, it was worth more than life to me. It contained the keys to the lock I hoped to open tonight. I felt goosebumps rise on already chilled flesh as I contemplated the achievement rising before me. Finally, tonight - this very night I would get the answers to the hellish question which had haunted me for almost twenty-two years.
I stepped on the vacant bus and handed the driver my token. He scratched his grizzled jaw saying, "Up to you boy but no one goes here, damned near a ghost town for middle America." When I didn't answer he jerked his thumb towards the rear and said "Pick a seat, any seat" snorting at some joke only he understood the door closed with a hiss of air and I - I was heading towards destiny. Molasses moved faster than that bus, time seemed to slow as if every tick of the clock took seven times seven longer than normal. An eternity - a hell worse than I had ever visited, and I had visited some places in the abyss which made Dalmer look like a Walmart greeter.
Eventually my time in purgatory ended, and I stepped forth onto a dirty, dusty road ending in the place of my desire. A cemetery.
I strode east to where the grave lay, past others interred here forever in wormy earth. I wondered fleetingly if their souls lay bound to rotting bones or if they too could be found in the dead land I had once found. There before me lay a plainly carved stone atop newly turned earth. I couldn't make out the name carved there, then again I didn't need to, for here I had stood just three days past. Spitting to moisten lips cracked in the nights cooling air. Hollow, and out of tune like a broken harp I began speaking the words to revive a corpse. Quickly I carved the stave upon fresh nightshade and blooded it with my own fluids. I had no fear of being discovered nor of the dead, for here trod no man and the dead was my own dear departed sister.
Slowly, reluctantly she rose to stand moldering before me, "Was it not enough you slew me these several days past? What more could you possibly want or need from me brother?" Sadly I smiled and said fondly "Sister mine, I slew you it is true, but I beseech thee understand my dire need. I slew you entirely because I needed answers from one I could trust and there is none I trust more than you." Dead eyes once emerald in color gazed upon me for several moments before she lifted her elegant hand, dirt cascading from her once favorite shawl as if to say - whatever "Ask then, but beware brother the answers I am compelled to provide are mine to give as I choose."
I sat upon the headstone and offered her the first gift, a small sip of hand brewed Haitian rum mixed with the blood of nine innocent men wrongly slain. Color returning to her cheeks from the elixir provided "Oh, so now you woo me as if we were lover's? What ever we were it was never that - what dire need drives you thus? Speak!!" I spoke long on the trials I felt were before me and of those who might impede my progress before asking the only question I desired an answer to. Long did she ponder, and several times as she swayed I made to speak only to stop at her raised hand or twitch of moss encrusted finger.
"My dear brother, ere long things will become clear. You will know the fullest measure of woe -yet be prepared, the doom that comes is unlooked for even in this very hour." I grimaced, the dead did hold grudges. My sister in life had been strong, both in will and deed. Apparently her demise had only strengthened those qualities, and while this was good for me, I would need to press my suit a bit more strongly.
From my jacket pocket I pulled nati
Again I spoke, once more upon the possible ills I could foresee in the future both near and far and as the sound of my voice fell still and lifeless in the thickening air she smiled black, rot falling from her lips. "Of this thing even the dead do not speak and yet I am sweetly compelled so I will say merely in words you yourself might use. It will be as it will be and all your hurry up and worry will not change it" I was heartily dismayed but kept my face smooth, demeanor strong yet I wanted to rage. Damn, damn the dead and the games they play. I felt like howling but I could not, there was proper propriety to observe.
Once more from the pouch at my waist I pulled the last item I had procured at great expense and the loss of some sanity. I hoped this powerful item might win me a straight answer. A sliver, the merest splinter of wood from Yggdrasil, the world tree from whence all worlds originally flowed. A gleam sparked in graying eyes as she held out a wrist smeared with mold. I pierced her wrist and felt the false warmth of life enter cold limbs. My heart hurt, tumbling slowly as something akin to grace entered her stumbling gait. "Aaahhhhh." she cried head thrown back to the sky, "Aasssskk!! be done with this brother. I am gone, and wish to return to lands whence I came. Ask and let this be forever more." She wept and I was wroth with myself for this thing I had done, as well as the many things I had left unsaid between us.
For the third time I spoke. Impassioned my words rang like bells staving off damnation in the solid air their tune one of vanishing surety. The darkness of the longest night was beginning to fray at its solemn edges when I finished. Her sigh soft like the death of leaves wafted through the stones. "Brother, brother I swear by these things the dead know, peace, endless sleep, and darkness what you want of me, of the dead you already know. Hear me, I forgive thee your trespass. Go, go now and ask no more. I beg thee, ask no more." Then she was silent and would speak nary a word no matter how much I cajoled.
Up I jumped, and swore to the heavens above I could not and asked what would be near to my final words, "What then sister dearest? What price? If you will not be compelled by the love I bear for thee, what price would the dead have of me to tell me this thing you swear I already know?" She smiled a wormy smile then and held open once lovely arms in welcome and spoke once more, "Come then and embrace me brother, love me as you always have. Do this and I will speak for you that which you desire." I swallowed, pushing down unmanly fear at the sight of wriggling worms and took my sister, she whom I loved - had always loved and had slain in a deep embrace.
As I hugged her tight I felt her arms tighten around my back in a lovers caress and as her legs twined around mine she spoke softly in a voice only the dead and I alone could hear "Today."
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Ask by David Heard / Horror have rating 2.5 out of 5 / Based on15 votes