Jeremy Eddings awoke to the dread carol
still ringing in his head. It was the scariest
Christmas carol he'd ever heard. This was the fifth time he'd had the cursed dream. He didn't know how much more he could take. Covered in a cold,
slimy, sweat, he shook himself in a vain attempt to free himself of the nightmare's clutches and reached with a shaking hand for the bottle of liquid
comfort sitting on his night stand. He chugged down a few fingers of the burning liquid and picked up the book that started it all. He held it and
studied its hideous cover while he unwillingly remembered his dream.
It starts in a vast, snow covered field surrounded by dead trees. He hears several voices
chanting in a dead tongue. It rings out in the
distance. Much against his will, his feet carry him to the source of the sound.
He comes to the opening of a cave. He enters. The cave expands to a great underground cavern after about twenty yards in. It is illuminated by
torchlight and strange noisome fungi.
Hooded figures surround a blood stained altar. A woman is laying on it, writhing in ecstasy. One of the hooded forms steps forward and raises a
strange looking dagger high above his head. Torchlight glints on the blade. He plunges the blade down into the writhing form. Blood gushes over the
pitted stone altar. The chants reach a crescendo as a foul inhuman form materializes from the shadows.
The dream was the same every night. Only the face of the woman was different each time. In the first one she had the face of his mother. On the second
occasion it was his sister. Then the writhing form was his fiancee (who he hadn't seen since this horror began). Tonight the sacrificial victim was
his sister in law. While the face of the woman changed every night, the visage of the hooded figure holding the dagger was always the same from dream
to dream. It was his own.
He looked down at the book. It felt disgusting and seemed to move in his hands. If he didn't look at it too closely the cover looked like old leather.
Closer inspection, however, showed that it was crafted from a human face.
He'd gotten the book five nights ago. He and his friend Randy had gone on an adventure. It had been Randy's idea. Randy was always coming up with
weird ideas. He had a way of talking Jeremy into doing the damnedest things. Jeremy didn't know how Randy could consistently talk him into doing
stuff. He was by no means weak willed. He told himself that he just went along for the ride to keep Randy out of trouble. A deeper, darker part of
himself knew that the truth of it was that he loved the insanity as much as Randy did.
Once he talked him into going to a red light district. Another time, they went cow tipping. They were almost shot by an enraged farmer on that
occasion. On this outing, Randy had the bright idea of trespassing on an abandoned cemetery that he'd found deep in the woods a few miles outside of
They'd met at Randy's house at a little after eleven PM. They piled their supplies (a couple of battered camp lanterns, some rope, and a case of beer)
into the back of Randy's rust bucket Chevy and headed out. The drive (accompanied by blaring rock & roll and dirty jokes) didn't take long. They soon
arrived at their destination.
The place took up a half acre of land. How Randy had found it, Jeremy wasn't sure. Randy had claimed that he'd stumbled upon it while out hunting.
Jeremy didn't believe it. For one, Randy hadn't hunted a day in his life. For another, Randy wasn't the outdoors type at all and wouldn't be caught
dead in the woods.
The graveyard was what he'd expected, crumbling tombstones and a riot of weeds. There was a decrepit mausoleum in the center of the cemetery. Jeremy
had felt himself drawn to it immediately once he caught sight of it. Randy seemed to feel the strange pull, too, because he set of toward it at a
brisk walk. Jeremy found himself trotting just to keep up.
The door opened with the screech of rusty hinges. Stygian darkness lay within. They held their lanterns up and entered. At the back of the mausoleum
was a stone slab. Randy got to messing with it and found that it slid aside. Steps led down into the ground. A sense of foreboding gripped Jeremy for
an instant but wasn't enough to stop him from following Randy down into the underground
The air was fetid and heavy. Dirt gritted under their feet when they reached the landing. They shined their lanterns around, illuminating growth
covered, sweating walls. Tunnels branched out into the darkness. They followed the one straight ahead and soon came to an alcove. A stone podium
surrounded unlit by candles was set up in it. The book sat atop the podium. Jeremy's hand reached out to it with a will of its own and lifted it up. A
echoed in his head for a moment
when his hand came in contact with it. The book seemed to ripple and writhe in his grip. He cried out in revulsion and dropped the book. Well, he
thought that he did. When he looked back at his hand, he was still holding it.
Just then, they heard a rustling sound off in the blackness. The sound was so loud in the silence that they jumped. Despite Jeremy's pleas not to,
Randy went to investigate. Things got crazy after that. He heard Randy cry out in surprise, followed by bellowed curses and screams. The last thing he
heard from Randy was a warning to run, to get out as fast as he could. At first, he thought that it was just typical Randy BS, messing around to freak
him out. Then he saw the shambling forms coming out of the gloom toward him and Randy's crumpled form on the ground. He broke and ran then. He raced
up the stairs and to the car. He didn't realize that he still had the book until he was back home.
Now, five nights later, he shuddered at the memory and felt his mind slip a little more. He didn't know what became of Randy. For all he knew, he was
down there in the darkness or resting in
pieces in those creatures' stomachs. So far nobody had noticed that Randy was missing. It was only a matter of time before the police came asking
questions. He didn't know what he would tell them. Lie, maybe. They'd never believe the truth.
He'd tried to get rid of the book over and over again. It wouldn't burn, no matter how much gasoline he used. He'd thrown it in the river, only to see
it on his night stand when he got home. He didn't know what he would do with it but he couldn't seem to put it down. He had the overpowering urge to
open it and read from it. He knew that would be a very bad idea.
[to be continued]
edit on 4-12-2016 by Skid Mark because: (no reason given)