I write this under the supervision of a nurse in staff at the institution in which I currently reside. I have willingly entered this place under the conception that I am mad, as I stalwartly refuse to believe that what I have witnessed—what has come to light—is anything but hallucinations caused by a fractured mind, not something which crawled forth from such stygian depths within which had collapsed the house down the lane. I write this as one final confession.
The death of my great aunt came suddenly on an unusually warm March morning, when she fell from the attic ladder. Had it not been for the small Hispanic lady who came to clean the upstairs rooms the first Monday of every month, she wouldn't have been found until April. Why she had been in the attic was, however, a mystery, as her living quarters were on the ground level and had been for the better part of the past ten years and the attic was thought to be empty.
My great aunt had been a serial widow, not of her choice of course, but her husbands had the strange tendency of falling ill. Her fifth and last husband had died fifteen years prior from a stroke, and was from whom she had inherited the grandiose mansion. She was known by her few neighbors as flighty, eccentric, and thoroughly strange, though I had always found her as a second mother to me. I couldn't help but notice her odd peculiarities, such as when she spoke to her late husbands in the middle of the night or her insistence that the cleaning lady never enter the last room on the left of the second floor, but they were never an issue.
I was called that afternoon by the lawyer who had interpreted her short will, which explained that I was to receive all of her assets, and that her "good-for-nothing, spoiled, ne'er-do-good children"—all six of them—never see even a cent of it, for fear they would spend it on alcohol, drugs, and other such novelties. This never proved itself as a problem; I do not believe any of her children know that she died, even now.
I arrived early the next Sunday to attend her memorial and found myself overwhelmed by the number of people who had also flown or drove in—mostly members of her final husband's family. By the time evening clouds began to snuff out the final rays of the sun, I was driving down the narrow dirt road flanked by impenetrable forest towards the mansion, which stood as a mockery to its surroundings with a combination of plantation and Victorian architectural styles—a stark and defiant contrast to the log cabin and modern aesthetics maintained by many of the surrounding homes. It was painted such a blinding, clean white that it seemed that it had never seen weather of any sort.
Upon entering the house, I found that the interior was just as extravagant as the exterior, greeted by a double staircase guarded by mahogany railings, a vaulted ceiling from which a crystal chandelier hung, and clean white marble flooring. Decorations in this room seemed to be sparse but in the adjoining room I could see decorations that would be expected in such a grand mansion.
Between jobs, but with enough accrued through savings, I planned to stay at the mansion and clean it out, fix what I could, put it on the market, and hopefully put myself through some courses come fall—assuming there weren't any major projects that needed professional care. Despite the age of the house, I was confident that such repairs would not arise.
I ascended the stairs and entered the second room on the right—the room I had stayed in during the many times I had spent summers here escaping from whatever slight, imagined or real, from the many stepfathers that came and went with the tide. I found that the room was exactly as I remembered it; an old, wood-frame twin bed guarded by a wall on the left and a nightstand on the right, with a dresser shoved in front of the window. I chuckled at my rather foolhardy attempt as a child to keep boogeymen from crawling in through the window twenty feet above the ground, and threw my meager luggage to the hardwood floor, relieved to finally be alone. Not just in my decrepit apartment where I can hear the people on either side of me and those that walk down the hall and the drone of the street, but truly alone; no one for miles, and washed in such silence that the only sounds I could hear were my own breathing and the ring in my ears.
And the faint hum of cicadas, something that was not only out of season but out of place, and something that lasted only long enough to be recognized instantly on a subconscious level but not long enough to be instantly understood. This marked the first time I heard the cicadas—or what I thought were cicadas—though at the time I had passed it off as merely nerves, something to be expected in a house where two people I had known had met their demise. How I wish that I had heeded this mild warning, for from whence it came or what ancient evil lurked there I had not the slightest notion.
The rest of the evening was a blur, though I do remember ordering food and having to walk out to the end of the lane as the driver refused to enter the heavily wooded area, offhandedly saying that the forest made him uneasy. I also do not remember sleeping much that night—or any following night—woken by strange dreams too surreal to describe, and possibly too frightful for me to transcribe without flying into a fit—often finding myself surrounded by architecture that defied all logic and creatures looking nothing like any creature on earth, chortling and tittering in strange tongues that mimicked the voice of man but sounded inarguably wrong in their tone and timbre.
The first day was spent cataloguing the furniture downstairs—which sofa would be sold or donated, which coffee table would be put up for auction, the sort. It was truly tedious work, trying to gauge what was worth what—though I was sure each was over a thousand. I believe the next day was spent cataloguing all of the decorations—chandeliers, vases, paintings, and sculptures.
It was the third day when I decided to attempt to open the last door on the left on the second floor. At first, the door refused to move, even when I threw the entirety of my weight against it—bruising my shoulder in the process. When I returned late that evening, I found the door wide open. My first thought was that someone had entered the house—how I wish that had been the case! I had been prepared for an intruder, I had brought my father's pistol, but weapons can't save you from something that does not exist in this mortal plane but in shadows!
Against the sirens raging in my skull, I entered the room. The colors were different in this room—the carpet was a dingy, mottled grey stained rust with that which I dare not think about, and the walls were painted a matte black. Even the window had been painted, though the setting sun cast through the thin flaking coat bright lines which stretched across the discolored flooring. But it was not the flooring and the walls which sent me fleeing from the house into the early night…
It was that which sat upon the only table in the room—a tall, ornately decorated, dark colored workbench covered in papers of unknown origin and age upon which was written strange hieroglyphs which, though I had never seen them, I knew that they represented the foul mockery of speech I had heard in my dreams. Nearly burned-out black and red candles sat upon tall gold or silver candlesticks coated in wax, framing the cursed centerpiece which verified what should never be verified—such a blasphemous, horrendous thing that it was! Upon the table, flanked by the papers and candles, sat the grinning skull, gleaming white and clean, of one of the creatures that I had seen in my dreams!
I stopped running when I realized that I had reached the highway, with just barely enough cognition to cease my blind sprint before I attempted to cross the busy road. I tried to remain hidden in the foliage, which the scratches to my arms and legs told me I had ran through at some point. Keeled over, coughing and sputtering and trying to remember the way back to that house, I was only vaguely aware of someone approaching. A hand grasped my shoulder firmly, and I jumped and shrank back, pivoting to stare into the concerned face of an officer. He expressed his concern for my well-being, having apparently seen or heard me tearing through the trees while he was writing a ticket.
I believe I told him that I was fine, just spooked by some noises I had heard in my aunt's house, and he offered to check the house, which I declined. I've not the slightest notion as to why I did not permit his entering of the house, though I was glad to have the company down the dirt road to the still swinging front door. Once inside, I collapsed in the embrace of an armchair and succumbed to shock.
That night I had a dream unlike the others; I was on the dirt road, but I wasn't myself—I was a shadow following the officer. He seemed to be walking rather briskly, startled by hearing something strange, a clicking or a chirping in the forest that seemed inherently wrong. He started to jog, but the road was without end, and then something jumped from within the dark and dragged him into the forest. There were screams and horrible tearing sounds before I awoke in a cold sweat, still covered in dirt and scratches. I fixed a pot or two of coffee and did not sleep for the rest of the night—opting to pace the downstairs rooms and watch some of my aunt's collection of B-monster movies on a VHS player I was surprised to find still worked, if with a little persuasion.
Late the next afternoon, I was startled from a caffeine-induced half-slumber by a loud pounding on the door. I discovered it was another officer—not the one from the night before. His face was very solemn, but his demeanor betrayed his nervousness—a tick here, a scratch there, restless legs and wrung hands. He asked about the cop from the night before, if I had seen him later that night, or heard anything suspicious throughout the night. When I asked why, he told me that the officer had been found dead in the forest when he hadn't responded to calls when his shift had ended and his car had been found abandoned; he was mutilated, severed, destroyed almost beyond recognition if not for the preservation of his badge. They think it may have been an animal, but the autopsy had not discerned much more than what was already known.
He asked if he could search the house, just to make sure—I knew that I was a suspect so I didn't argue. It took almost all of my self-control not to scream and run again when we trekked upstairs and I saw that the last door on the left was closed again. He checked all of the rooms before it—reminding me I had yet to catalogue any of them—before reaching the accursed door, where he hesitated with his hand hovering over the knob for a second, before attempting to open the door. It did not give, even when he threw his body weight into the door. I told him that I had been unable to open it since I had entered the house—not a technically a lie.
As we walked back down the hall, I heard the unmistakable sound of a latch and the screech of old hinges as the door opened. I closed my eyes and nearly sobbed, gritting my teeth and clenching my fists as I heard the creak of the floorboards behind me; I did not want to see what blood-drenched creature lurched from the room, but even with my eyes closed I could still see it as it crept closer, snarling and gurgling and CLICKING though the ruddy foam that dripped from its mouth and down its throat. When it was so close that I could feel and hear its breath down my neck, it started to scream—a terrible shrieking sound not unlike metal on concrete, underneath which there was still that damned mockery of language clicking and tittering at the same volume as ever though unbearably loud.
As soon as the shrieking stopped, I heard the door slam and latch; the black room beyond the port was yet again inaccessible. Upon reopening my eyes, I found the officer was no longer next to me as he had been, and for a moment feared that the creature had taken him, but the sound of a car starting and tearing down the road calmed that specific fear. I remained rooted in the center of the hall for several minutes, unwilling or unable to move.
Above me was the entrance to the attic; I was standing where she had fallen. I wondered briefly if the creature had rushed her as it had rushed me, if the creature had killed her not the fall from the ladder. There was only one way to prove this belief. I returned downstairs to grab a flashlight and take a long sip of something strong to steady my hands before pulling down the ladder to the attic and climbing up it. I hesitated at the top, taking a deep breath and exhaling, readying myself as best I could. The trapdoor opened with the shriek of oxidizing metal as I pushed it upwards until it crashed into the unfinished wood slats behind it. A preliminary glance with the flashlight showed nothing of interest, though as I climbed into the attic and my eyes adjusted to the gloom, I began to see what it had to offer.
Along the western most wall were shelves upon shelves housing what at first appeared to be dark jars, but as I approached them I found that they were dingy glass jars containing horrific specimens preserved in fluid—small misshapen limbs severed with acute precision, mice and other rodents stripped bare of their skin, and severely malformed fetuses of what defied all nature. I shrank back from them, suddenly aware of a malodorous fetor that permeated the attic. Shoved in a corner was a similar workbench to the one in the black room, though it was much larger, almost three feet deep and six in length. Upon it were parchments of indiscernible antiquity, covered in the same damned hieroglyphs; it horrified me to know that the longer I stared at them, the more I was able to connect to certain tittering sounds that I had heard in my dreams. I rifled through them and found one letter of relatively recent age and addressed to my great aunt. Though I could not read all of it as the ink was damaged by water and the penmanship was near indiscernible regardless, I was able to read one section, which I will attempt to transcribe in its entirety:
Cease all attempts at culling them! They are not bound by earthly laws, the shaydes heed no mind to that which could control them here. You must leave immediately.
Cleanse it with fire and oyl and leave!
The trapdoor slammed shut behind me and I was suddenly acutely aware that I was no longer alone, but the presence of the creature from the black room did not appear to be the cause. I felt surrounded, and kept hearing vague speech just out of my hearing range but undeniably close to me, as if someone was whispering unintelligibly. Something small barreled into the backs of my knees, knocking me to the floor and crashing my head into the hardwood of the workbench. Grasping at the bench, dizzy and on the brink of unconsciousness, I watched as my flashlight rolled from me and was then dragged further away by something I could not focus on. Steeling myself as much as my lightheadedness would permit, I leaned forward and began crawling in the direction of the trapdoor. I believe I was almost at the handle when something pressed down into my back with such force to expel the air from my lungs and crack several of my ribs as my chest connected with the floor. The thing above me leaned over me until I could feel its skin and breath against my ear, sending me into a desperate frenzy to escape, digging grooves into the wood floor with my nails until they bent back and were sheared from my fingers. The sounds it began to make were almost like a laugh, though they morphed into the profane speech from the dreams and the hieroglyphs and were echoed by the multitude of creatures stalking around the attic. In the corner of my eye, I could see teeth like needles, teeth so large that they shouldn't have fit in the mouth they were contained in, teeth stained dark and surrounded by ruddy foam which dripped onto my shoulder and neck and burned the skin it touched.
The sound like a laugh came again, and I watched as it opened its mouth to the point that its cheeks split. Despite the open wounds on my fingers, my attempts to escape became more desperate and I believe I began screaming.
This is when I thank the relative fragility of the human mind when faced with that which horrifies us, as I blacked out completely and did not wake until late the next day, when I found myself deep in the surrounding forest. Almost in a stupor, I found my way back to the house, where I collected my belongings and threw them in my car. I ignored the ache in my chest and my fingers and my shoulder as I grabbed an axe from the work-shed and began to hack at every piece of furniture consisted of wood and piled it at the base of the stairs. I managed to find lighter fluid and emptied the entire bottle onto the pile before setting it ablaze and stepping back to watch and admire the red and orange tongues that consumed the staircase and licked up the walls as lovers.
The fire crew showed up within an hour, I told them that it was an arsonist, that I had been assaulted and dragged out into the woods and left to die. They took me to the hospital, and I was released within the week.
They never found anything in the rubble, nothing like the parchment or the jars or the skull. They simply cleared it away and are building on top of it, as if nothing happened there, because they don't know what happened there.
I still see the creatures in my dreams. They laugh and titter and click their tongues behind their needle teeth as they scurry in and out of the shadows and feast on that which the Maker brings.
The Maker lives in the skull in the black room which still exists though the house does not. IT will return and IT and ITs kin will consume the earth and all who inhabit it and they will rip the heavens asunder. IT cannot be killed on this plane because it does not exist here but in Shaydes.
I fear greatly for what is to come.