(This story is based off of a dream I had the summer of '03. The main character is me, when I was nine years old. Why I dreamed I was nine when I was clearly fifteen, I can not tell you! Just know that the girl is a nine year old version of myself.
Brief bit of background info before I shut up. My mom studied psychology in college and one thing she really enjoyed and continued to endeavor in, was the interpretation of dreams, so I ran this one by her…
(Clearing my throat)
Mom's official interpretation of the dream that inspired this story: "You're just kind of sick, honey." -Direct Quote from mum (Mrs. Lenore S.S.L.)
The house of Mortifera resides in the most desolate and forsaken corner of the human realm. It is the watch-tower before the gateway into the underworld. The salted black ground is a mixture of dusty gravel and ash from human bones. The trees are wiry skeletons that have not given fruit in an age. I lived in the house of Mortifera for three years.
I am still uncertain how I managed to escape. I owe The Hunter my life, because of the chaos of that night. I, a frightened child, could never have run away alone.
The two of us were an unlikely pair. I was just a naïve girl, barely nine years old. But I was wise enough to know better then to wander in the woods, but perhaps I possessed far too much curiosity, as most children do. The Hunter was a monstrous hulk of a man, eight feet tall and built up with the muscles and strength of an ox. He was feeble minded, and he could neither read nor write. The Hunter had not been lost in the woods, like me. He had been banished from his village for the crime of murder and wandered in need of help until Caedo found him.
Caedo was the crown-prince of the Mortifera house; the man who had held The Hunter and I as captives. We were two out of ten thousand other unfortunate souls.
I am not proud of what I did to survive in that hellish kingdom. The manor of Mortifera is outside the jurisdiction of human sanity and sympathy, and I, being frightened and intimidated by my captors did what I felt was required of me. I only hope that God can forgive this child.
The Mortifera family were a society all their own, in their little palace in the woods. A few dozen assorted members of a family that was once great and fell into ruin. They live in a sort of glamorous, grotesque world of their own. Thinking themselves royalty; no, they think they are gods. They ruled over their captives, as such.
I was lucky, and so was Hunter. The Mortiferas were cannibals, but they would not eat us. They were afraid to eat Hunter because of his deteriorated mental state. They supposed his flesh might be diseased somehow. That perhaps whatever had poisoned his sickly mind had also tainted the rest of him and they dared not make a feast out of the giant.
I was spared because of a behavior oddity, but they do not know that. Since I was very young, I have pulled out my hair. The silky strings against my skin drove me crazy so I would wrench my own hair from my skin. My eyelashes are long and black when left alone, but pitiful and scabbed after I have dealt with them. For years my parents had been trying to help me stop, it was an embarrassing habit, but I kept it up. I reopened the old scabs for months after the Mortiferas found me, because I knew that they would not dare eat me as long as they thought I might carry some horrible plague. I expanded even, stretching and clawing at my skin so I was always a putrid little scabbed thing to look at.
I encouraged them. I told them that I may have caught something from the cows back at my parents farm; they were all sick and dying when I left home.
The family was far too proud to settle for sick flesh. Caedo believed that eating the flesh of his enemies caused him to gain their strength and he despised the idea of sharing my weaknesses.
The Mortiferas were not going to let us go, just because they did not think we would make delicious meals. They needed an executioner and a hunter; they needed a chef.
The two of us were meant to work together. The Hunter killed and butchered people for the family's nightly meal and I marinated and prepared the meat and served them.
I said; I am not proud.
I am lucky.
Before I tell you of how I escaped, I feel it necessary to describe some of the more prominent members of the Mortifera clan.
The house itself was a hidden twisted black mass in the woods. It was a place I had seen in my dreams, hidden in the fog, out of the sight of the innocent eyes of the world; exactly where it belonged. The grounds were deserted of all animal life and the only plants that grew were poisonous vines that traced up through the iron fences and around the misshapen gargoyles that guarded the stone manor. The house was made of more room than I could ever imagine, for I discovered new ones every few weeks that I had never noticed before, even until the day the place was burned. The family all lived in the vast east wing of the gothic castle, while the basement was many levels of iron bared cages that contained the Mortifera victims.
There was no library, save for a cupboard in my kitchen and a small shelf of terrible books I dared not touch in the drawing room beside the main dining room where the family gathered every night. There were no musical instruments, but devices of torture, still stained with blood, shoved unceremoniously between cold, ugly, furniture.
The only art in the house was dreadful stuff, most of it depicting pornographic, gory or violently ugly scenes taking place in the castle itself, that were excruciating for me to look at.
And of course there was the family members themselves.
I spoke before, I believe, of Caedo.
Caedo is a young man and though the whole family was remarkably attractive I would say he had an exceptional sort of deceptively angelic beauty. Tall and lean with a piercing gaze, his hair was as dark as his skin was sallow. He frightened me, perhaps not as much as the king of the family, who I will speak of later. But Caedo's face will haunt my nightmares, I expect, until the day I can rest in my grave and sleep no more. He was unnaturally malicious, to those belonging to his own family and also to me.
What I did to ever deserve the cruelty I received at his hands, I can only guess. He was the one of them I had the most contact with and the one I would most sorely like to forget. He was the one, I recall, who shoved a dirty clothe in my mouth to keep me from screaming, while he hand-carved a crudely shaped skull on my back. The scar was meant to remind me that I was a slave to him alone.
The youngest member of the family was a boy no older than myself called Falsus. He was very like Caedo and I learned in a few short days that if I happened to spy him thorough my daily chores, I had better run then risk letting him close enough to me that he could get his teeth near my skin.
The women of the family were like horrible identical porcelain dolls, their white skin and expressionless faces also looked the same, made-up to be the same. Their hair in curls and their silk finery were surely meant to make them appear like beautiful princesses, but I always thought they looked like pale snakes in frocks. They had no compassion or will to gain any. During my captivity I saw a few of them grow fat from pregnancy but I never asked what became of the babies.
The head of the family, I saw only once every night for the whole duration of my imprisonment, when I brought him his nightly fest. He could not leave his room. He was an enormous blob of a man. His extremities had grown frail as he stopped using them. Sometimes, I thought I could see his toes poking out from under the many folds of greasy fat. Morbidly obese, seems to hardly begin to explain this creature; all he did all day long was eat the flesh of his fellow man and he had grown massive from their meat and drunk from their blood. His face seemed to have swallowed every feature save for his mouth which fit his body almost perfectly in size, each of his teeth were the size of my fist. I wonder now, as I did many times, if he was truly a man, or perhaps some gruesome demon brought to life.
Though he could not stand, he could still manage to raise a whip over his head. He was as cruel as Caedo, but far too lazy to pursue his interests in sadism, he preferred to sleep most of the day and call for entertainment when he felt the need to inflict pain.
For three years I helped to desecrate and destroy my fellow human beings until I thought I would loose my mind from the madness of it and often I prayed that I had; that my whole life was just an illusion. It would be far better if I was the evil dreamer. A child with a sick brain and keen imagination, for the world could simply not tolerate this travesty; these horrific creatures could not possibly be allowed to exist, by all the laws of nature I found no trace of goodness in them. This place was a mausoleum without peace, the dead held no rest and the walls were stained with innocent blood.
I could have run away but they would have come after me. I was still no less lost in the woods then I had been the day Caedo found and kidnapped me.
Besides, it seemed terrible to leave them alive. If I was going to escape, I had to destroy the abomination, before I had my freedom. It came to a point where I was desperate. The family had depleted their supply of prisoners and resorted to sending The Hunter out into the woods to look for more lost travelers. The Hunter came back empty handed for a whole week while the family starved or ate each other. I saw the way Caedo looked at me and knew that he soon would not care about the imagined disease my flesh would give him.
My saving grace was a collective family trait of arsonphobia. The whole family was deathly afraid of fire.
There were no matches in the house, no flit, no candles, no fireplaces, no ovens, not even for my kitchen. This was why they ate all their food raw. I prayed for an opportunity to use their fear to my advantage and one night God gave me an answer.
There was a lightning storm outside in the woods. The whole family cowered inside, too afraid to even go to the windows. A blackened tree just outside the ground was set fire and it spread. The fire would never have reached the house if The Hunter and I had not escaped into the night together and gathered what wood we could find for torches, to set the place on fire.
The family ran in terror as their Castle began to burn.
I was almost killed by Caedo when he caught me. He was furious that I was succeeding in my long planned plot to destroy his home. I ran into the burning house to escape him; thinking he would not dare brave past the fire, but I was wrong.
The house was so massive that I was sure I could sprint to the section the east wing that was not burning yet and escape through the window. I could find a way over the fence and into the woods beyond.
Caedo's rage suppressed his fear and he came after me.
Before the house collapsed, I found myself cornered by Caedo in the master bedroom with the king of the Mortiferas who had been left by his subjects to die.
They would have slaughtered me but The Hunter arrived, broke Caedo's neck and left him to be devoured by the king while we fled the burning house.
The manor collapsed as we escaped. I could hear the family tearing each other apart from fear and rage.
The Hunter was hurt badly during our escape. The two of us have wandered in the woods ever since. It took us three days to leave the barren, sick land that surrounded the Mortifera manor.
It has been a month now since we escaped. I am writing this in the unused diary of an ill-fated traveler we encountered a few hours ago.
It seems after three years of having nothing to eat but leftover scraps from the Mortifera family's table; The Hunter and I cannot seem to keep anything down but raw human flesh.
So this is our fate; we have escaped our enemies, only to become just like them.