by Frank G. Murdock
The fact that my wife had become possessed by the evil I had mistakenly released was by now quite apparent when Henrietta came after me and attempted to murder me — my own wife. At first I thought it was a mental or physical disorder because of what had happened to her eyes, but I was only fooling myself. I knew what it was.
During my struggle for survival — it was an accident; she was everything to me — Henrietta died. I buried her. I… buried her… in the cellar. God help me, I buried her in the earthen floor of the fruit cellar!
But she did not stay dead for long… or, more accurately, her form did not remain lifeless.
The mental and emotional exhaustion only served to increase the physical toll the experience had brought upon me. Instead of making a hasty exodus from the nightmare I had unleashed upon myself, I rested and soon found myself fast asleep. When I awoke, the day had passed me by. The encroaching night came crashing upon the forest around the cabin like a tsunami of darkness, and that is when my hellish nightmare soon spiraled into a dream terror of unimaginable horror!
The demoniac spirits I had unleashed through the reading of the resurrection passages began their assault. First came the insidious taunting and maniacal laughter at the anguish it bestowed upon me. Then came the animation of items throughout the cabin which attacked me through the hurling of objects and the slamming of doors and cabinet drawers. I thought I would surely lose my mind. But that had only been a prelude to their evil intentions. I believe it was here that I began to break from the sanity that I barely cling to during these final moments of my life.
I had just finished nailing closed the doors of the cabin, the sounds of movement and pounding from outside the cabin having driven me to barricade myself inside the cabin in an instinctive response to preserve my life. I was resting near the fire in a rocker when I heard the creaking of a door behind me; when I turned to face the next assault from my antagonists, I felt a fear like none I had ever experienced before seize my soul as I saw that the door to the fruit cellar had been opened. Frozen in place, I thought I would truly go mad as I heard the voice of my deceased wife come from below.
“Let me out, dear. It’s so cold and dark in here.”
All rationality had left me at that moment. If it hadn’t, I most surely would not have found the strength to break the grip of fear upon me and move towards the impossible.
“Why did you bury me, Raymond? Please help me… free me from this entombment…”
I halted. Something in my gut took hold of me. Call it instinct, or call it the hand of God, but something stopped me in my tracks.
“No. No. I don’t know what you are, but you’re not my Henrietta…” I said nervously.
That’s when a growl emerged from the darkness below. My heart missed a beat before the growl grew louder, and my wife’s corpse burst up from the cellar entrance. I screamed in horror as her bloated and decaying body rose up into the air and looked at me with white glazed eyes. My wife’s possessed corpse spoke to me smiling with gnarled teeth, its arms — rotted and worm infested — extended.
“Come to me. Come to sweet Henrietta!”
At that point the thing flew towards me. I barely dodged its attack as I hit the floor and scurried towards the shotgun I had loaded and placed beside my chair near the fire. As I turned to fire upon the abomination, it once again spoke.
“Yesss-sss-sss… You and I. We shall spend eternity together.”
I fired upon it. Blackish green ichor splashed from the wound and washed across the wall behind the thing that could not be.
The animated corpse of my wife looked at me and grinned wickedly as more of the black fluid ran forth from its mouth and onto her bloody and earth-stained dress.
And then, in a voice that was like that of many, she cackled before uttering, “But first I’ll swallow your soul!” and jumped at me once more.
I screamed as she hit me, and the shotgun flew across the floor and beneath the couch. I don’t know what possessed me, what gave me the strength to shove her clawing and gnashing toothed maw off of me and grasp the wooden handle of the axe I kept beside the door for cutting lumber. But I did, and somehow climbed to my feet and swung, hitting the monstrosity with enough force to sever its head from the body. God! God! I don’t know what came over me as I swung again and again and again and again and again and again… The blackish green ichor! So much of it as the animated and now headless body of my wife spun around grabbing and moving in all directions, her bodiless head laughing in that macabre chorus of demoniac tones while tears fell from my eyes as a flood of anguish escaped from within me.
I won’t go into detail with what happened next, other than to say that I was able to eventually wrestle the flailing form to the ground with a few more well-placed chops and, with great difficulty, brought myself to dismember the loathsome thing before I pushed it back down into the fruit cellar and nailed it in. I must have passed out at some point from exhaustion as I sat up pointing my shotgun at the door in fear, and much to my anguish, I missed my opportunity to escape, as the day had come and gone again during my restless sleep.
So now I sit here with my final bottle of wine in hand. The vessel is nearly empty as I write these last words, my hand never too far from my weapon, and one eye constantly looking back towards the cellar door. Occasionally Henrietta’s voice can be heard coming from below. She pleads to me to release her; sometimes she asks me why I have done that which was necessary for my survival, and other times it is that strange demoniac voice mocking and taunting me as I try to leave this record of my experiences.
It is night, the moon is gibbous and waning, and I hear the thing. The numbness of alcohol is the only thing that keeps me from fully falling apart, the alcohol only granting transient surcease. So now I am to end it all, having written a full account for the information or the contemptuous amusement of my fellow men. Often I ask myself if it could not all have been a pure phantasm, a mere freak of fever as I sit inebriated and paranoid in this chair after those horrific acts which I have recorded herein. This I ask myself, but ever does there come before me a hideously vivid vision in reply.
I cannot think of the dark forest without shuddering at the nameless things that may at this very moment be crawling and shambling on its accursed grounds, laying in wait, plotting their detestable machinations. I dream of a day when they may move beyond the shadows of these insidious hallows to reach out with their reeking talons the remnants of puny, war-exhausted mankind — of a day when the land shall spread its foulness, and the daemonic forces shall ascend amidst universal pandemonium.
The end is near. I hear a noise at the door, as if some immense, slippery body were lumbering against it. The voices in the fruit cellar are taunting me again. They are laughing at me. It shall not find me. The door is cracking and splintering under the pressure of something outside. God, that hand! The shotgun! The shotgun!
The old man closed the book and laid it into his lap. The rain had subsided, and only the rumbling of distant clouds could be heard as the storm moved into the southern skies. He looked at the children in front of him and could see that they had hung onto his every word.
“Well, my precious little boys and ghouls, did you like that tale from the crypt?” he asked with an expectant, wicked grin.
The children sat together with their arms wrapped around one another. The beagle with the flight goggles and red scarf whimpered with his head buried deep into the arms of the ghost with multiple eyeholes. The children nodded frantically with wide eyes.
The old man looked out at the night skies and said, “It looks as if the storm has let up. I’m guessing you might want to go now. I do hope my story did not scare you too much — it’s a long walk home in the dark.”
The children looked out into the night and saw that the old man was right. As they murmured among one another, the sound of the door opening behind them could be heard along with the smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.
“Ah, Gregory!” said the old man, looking into the door. “What have you got there? Treats for our guests?”
The children turned expectantly when they heard the word treats.
Their smiles of anticipation froze on their faces as one three-clawed, leathery, green-scaled foot stepped forth from the shadows beyond the door.
By the time the second foot fell, the children were halfway across the cemetery screaming in stark terror, the beagle with the goggles and red scarf several dozen yards ahead of them all.
It was only as the children made a hasty exodus from the front porch of the old House of Mystery that the seven-foot, rotund, pot-bellied, dragon-like pet gargoyle shifted the entirety of its body into the dim light.
The creature looked at the old man and croaked, “Eep?”
“Maybe I should have told them the tale of the child who waited all night in a pumpkin patch on Halloween…”
The large, lumbering gargoyle cocked its head and grunted inquisitively.
Reaching for a cookie from the creature’s platter, he said, “Oh, well… maybe next year.” And, with a wicked grin, he took a bite of the freshly baked morsel.