Dumaguete was a city whose clouds were like grey dirty cotton balls. It was a place where rain was a constant and the city was but a gothic mural in were the only pigments used were black, white and grey. It had no nightlife. The streets were barren and no one dared to go outside. The mighty bell tower that once served as lighthouse back then lords over the city as the tolls of its great bronze bell inviting everyone to the equally ancient St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral, whose construction was argued against by the Pioneer party, but was put into motion when the Conostrados took over.
Our story begins on Kuro-og Street, in the legendary Sagradonni apartments, wherein a quaint law office, whose sign hung from the window facing the street, operated.
In this cramped space lie typewriters, shelves among shelves of books and records, and coffee cups with coffee stains that were as old as the court cases they were previously consumed on. This was the office of Richard Danik Sinco, Attorney at law and Ashton Villaflores, Financial Adviser.
As the Montrose family lawyer, Danik, as he was called, had just opened up a case with his confidant and friend Ashton, who was also the family’s accountant. The family was quite rich indeed if they were able to employ both of them on reserve.
They owned several branches of a popular delicatessen in which their CEO and family patriarch, James Irving Montrose-Maglinte, had just died and left his will along with a fabulous amount of money. The families, of Italian-Filipino decent, were squabbling over his wealth like the imbeciles they were, having been spoiled rotten by him before his death. Even at the funeral, they clawed over the jewelry on his dead body, to the disgust of the then bishop and nonagenarian Bishop Charles Balbuena, who was the celebrant of his requiem.
“I can’t stand people like this…” Ashton remarked, reading through Danik’s court recordings. “These people are nothing but rabid fucking animals!”
“Might I remind you that these ‘rabid fucking animals’ are our employers…” Danik told him.
“Save your chivalry for when we’re facing them…” Ashton told him. “They pay well, that’s the only reason I’m here.”
“Is that it?” Danik asked as he fumbled through his papers.
“Oh, and of course…” Ashton remembered. “To help you!” he said sarcastically, rolling his eyes.
“Save your sarcasm for when I can see you…” Danik chuckled.
The old friends shared in their company as they read the paper attached to Mr. Montrose’s will.
I had just returned from my grandfather’s funeral, both with grief in my heart and a new-found knowledge that I had inherited a large delicatessen from him. He was quite the influential and well-loved figure in this town. His charcuterie was world-renowned, and so was his aspic. His dark chocolate crunch cakes were given out to the children as they all over the neighborhood. My grandfather left me a legacy to continue.
Meat and offal were delivered to me by his old friend. He was gout and silent. His eyes seem to be closed all the time; his skin was pale and his teeth rotting. But he smiled every time he saw me. Grandfather must have made very good connections, I thought-for these cuts of meat where very oddly shaped and very flavorful...”
“Okay....” Danik muttered. “Charcuterie and deli branches…” he said. “What are the insurance claims for that?” he asked, turning to Ashton.
“Danik…” Ashton told him. “Think we might have to read a little longer. “ Ashton told Danik as he pointed his finger at a verse on the will.
But years past by before I realized the odd shape and taste was not from some exotic, high-class pedigree pig or beef. It had all started when I noticed the children back in grandpa's time growing up. I was forty-four back then. It was 1933.
The children that grew up eating the salami and blood cakes of my grandfather would suddenly become ill at the time for no given reason. I, wanting to live up to my grandfather’s standards, went around their houses and gave their mothers free deli items and the kids, the sweet chocolate crunch cookies my grandfather’s friend supplied; the very same one who supplied the meats.
But as I went up to Dr. Carter’s house, who was the town’s only physician back then, he told me to turn back and never come near his house nor his children ever again. It was a rude gesture indeed, but I soon found out why:
It began when I interrogated my grandfather’s friend, whom I later got to know as a man names Arzul. He was old, but firm and not a word would loosen from his mouth.
I had about enough interrogating a man that would not speak when asked. I let him go.
The following day, I had seen old Arzul in the Milk bar that afternoon. He had just debauched in his favorite poison and had blathered out wild stories that nobody in their right minds would believe. This reminded me of a short story I read when I was in my teens. This notion and the fact that he was willing to blabber outlandishly at the taste of alcohol gave me an idea.
I had gone to the convenience store to pick up a bag of cornick to serve as a light snack to nibble on, but as I passed by the liquor section, I happened to glance by a bottle of Empressa Maria. It was a cheap brand of liquor the town imbeciles would give their firstborns for, the prefect liquid crowbar for this old fool’s iron mouth.
I bought one bottle and checked it out privately, not wanting to spoil my dapper and image of temperance and class. I then invited Arzul over for a drink later that night. I was optimistic that the drink would loosen the screws holding his jaws together and he would spew forth eldritch truths that had been waiting for this whole time. I didn’t matter if they were true or false; I just wanted to get a clue or a slip of the tongue on where this godforsaken meat came from!
He slurped down the entire bottle as if it were a juice pack. No words, no exposition; just a drunken old man struggling to say ‘thank you’ as he waltzed out of my kitchen door.
I would not have any of this anymore. I decided to follow him…
‘Hold on, hold on…” Danik said as he handed the will to Ashton and went over to his filing cabinet.
“Did you find anything?” Ashton asked him as he approached the filing cabinet, will at hand.
“I may have…” Danik said as he pulled out a sheet headline ‘City Health Statistics 1810-1940’. “It says here that the rate of prion diseases jolted up by 24 percent by 1816 and continued to rise heavily until…now basically…” Danik read aloud from the record, shocked by his declamation.
“Aren’t prion diseases caused by folded proteins in the DNA?” Ashton pointed out. “…animals usually get this by ingesting meat of their own…kind.”
Their heads turned simultaneously to the paper, paying close attention to every detail of Mr. Montrose’s account religiously.
This elusive old man, though his senses watered down by the cheap liquor, walked and fumbled towards his shed, which must have been under some strange patch of sky. The light on which the shed was under was luminescent and brimming with strange, deathly color that flashed celestially. A ‘demon’s lamp’ as I knew it
I kept my distance and even from that far, I could see that his shed had no fencing to encompass any pigs or cows in which he would have to be slaughtering hundreds of a month to keep my demands in check. My suspicion grew as I walked closer to him, but kept my distance still. I was confident that his peripheral vision had gone along with his soberness.
But before we could get half a kilometer to his shed, he collapses on the dirt road. Not wanting to be the main suspect of the murder of old-man Arzul, I took his body and dragged his thin, flimsy limps and torso to the shed.
It is that this part that I look back a few hours ago. I should have stayed; I should have just taken the produce without question. I should have just stayed quiet.
My curiosity would eventually lead me to insanity, for as I opened the door; I saw the eviscerated carcasses of the deformed and obese. Neither of pig nor cow carcasses as I had hoped; but that of men, women and even children! I had dropped the unconscious but still alive Arzul in shock. The back of his head hit the doorstopper, instantly killing him.
I hadn’t noticed for I was engulfed in a state of catatonic shock. Their ribs were opened wide and their viscera on tubs on the floor. The men were hung by the ankle bone, the women by the armpits and the children by the neck.
If I had not known the human feeling of sympathy that came with the pity for a dead brother, I would have not noticed these as people at all! They were deformed. Men born without lips and jaws and some of them with tumors spouting of their groin areas, women of excruciatingly painful bone malignancies that twisted their figures into unholy and bloody physical abstractions.
The children were the worst. They were multi-limbed, some one-eyed, some with tails like that of a hairless monkey. They were thin and malnourished, suggesting they were kidnapped and kept here.
I looked at Arzul, but as I turned to see him he had already been lying dead for a few minutes. This murderous attitude was contagious I had thought. Then from the corner of my eye, at the far room back door I had seen a figure; a butcher of sorts. I never would’ve thought to be trembling upon meeting someone of my craft.
I peered into it closer and saw that the man with the large cleaver’s actions was far too mechanical and robotic. It seemed as if it was just another corpse. Further peering into what seemed to be an indiscernible backlight of the tinted red and brown of blood and excrement accompanied by the weak, flickering light of a dying bulb above went to prove that the man was indeed dead; no longer alive, but merely controlled like some macabre puppet.
I had not known what came over me; the temptation, in singeth deeply within. I took a few steps, treading over viscera and blood, not minding the child’s arm that I had just snapped like a dry twig.
I was but a few feet from the sight of madness when I saw the puppeteer be an upright dog-like creature, which stood nearly seven feet tall. Its hairy arms and snout was bound with bandages and was draped with a luminously white blanket or some sort of drapery.
As the creature caught sight of me, strings from the upper rafts of the open roof dropped the man’s carcass in front of it. It stared at me, I could not see its eyes, therefore I wasn’t sure whether it was blind and I needed to run from it or if it indeed saw me and running would only aggravate it. The indecision paralyzed me.
Soon, I heard the floor planks behind me creek, as if something heavy was suddenly removed from it. I was far too afraid to turn back if I did and found nothing; that would leave me open to any advances the creature I stood in front of would attempt.
I took my very last eldritch glimpse into the untimely face of unknown fear that night. I turned my head and saw before me, the dead reincarnated: the eviscerated, slaughtered, bloodied corpses on their feet and breathing. Behind all them was Arzul himself.
He began to bleed into the floor until he was nothing but a puddle of blood. That puddle then flowed towards me, maneuvering the reanimated deformed corpses and then maneuvering around me. I turned to the dog-creature and the blood that flowed from Arzul’s pool of blood fill the creature to the brim. Then in there, I saw its cursed, blood-drunk eyes. The eyes of the devil!
Danik dropped the will, shivering coldly. Ashton had vomited slightly into a mug, sickened by the twisted descriptions of the old man’s account.
“This is insanity!” Danik declared. “This will is null! Their Montrose-Maglinte fortune will be dissolved and given of charity!” Danik said furiously.
“Hold on for a minute…” Ashton rebelled. “You’re dissolving the fund because of a short story?” he told him, slowly recovering from his nausea induced vertigo.
“No…” Danik replied. “This is no short story, Ashton…” Danik replied. “The time and date of this seemingly fictitious tale fit statistics and records of missing persons so accurately…” Danik said.
He turned to the phone to ring up the Department of Health branch in their province. A few minutes of inquiry and chitter-chatter ensued, the gaunt, seriousness on Danik’s Face could not be overlooked as it made Ashton quite uncomfortable. After saying goodbye to the person he was conversing with on the phone, he turned to Ashton.
“This not just a story…I know the place.” Danik told Ashton with a familiar, yet seemingly out-of-place and enthusiastic grin on his face.
He went to the door and got his raincoat and biretta. He pulled his cane from the stand and got his car keys.
“Where are you off to?” Ashton asked, tailing close behind with his coat, biretta, and cane.
“Grab your coat, Ashton…” Danik said as he turned the doorknob and opened the door. “We’re going to see Arzul’s shack…” he said.
Ashton went over to Danik as he put on his coat. He treaded over the will as he walked over to him. They soon got out a rushed down to Danik’s car and drove south of the city into the barren glen over the outskirt to see Arzul’s shack. They failed to read the last page of the will, which read:
I was forgiven of my trespass and was set free; under one circumstance, however: I shall take over Arzul’s place. And that is to capture, murder, drain, and eviscerate the disabled and weak and feed their organs to the dog-creature that controlled me. My disobedience would result in facing the very same fate as old-man Arzul did as my blood would be drained out of me and be assimilated in what I have now concluded to be an unholy amalgamation of murderers before me and Arzul.
I shouldn’t call it that. It had told me its name as it caressed my chin with its deformed, bloody claw: Harhil’gnur, it uttered.
Let I will be that the unholy shack is burned to the ground along with my empire and the wealth I had garnered from my crimes and indiscretions.
As the will lay there, a pool of blood began to spill out between the wooden cracks of the door. It engulfed the will until the paper was soaked and the typewriter ink was smudged. The only words you could read before the papers were completely engulfed were the technical legal measures to the will; ‘As stipulated by James Montrose.’
An old sedan had pulled up to the clearing in where the town’s cantankerous old-man, Arzul, had once lived. The house was barren by all accounts and that in itself, troubled Danik very deeply.
He unlocked the car door but hesitated to open it all the way through. He just sat there paralyzed. Probably paralyzed by a former fear so traumatic; gazing unto the place where it all happened was as horrifying as staring at the very monster which Danik has come to associate both this place and his nightmares with.
“Ehem...” Ashton interrupted, trying to get his friend’s attention. “You drove us all the way here for what?”
“You talk like I’m crazy, but you’ll see…” he said as he threw the door open. “You’ll see…” he told him as defiance to the mocking bravados of his partner.
They soon got out and stepped into the glen. It had been late at night when they had taken off from their office on Kuro-og Street and had already arrived there at dusk. Ashton looked at his watch, an old bronze thing, as it read ‘1:32 AM’.
“A little late to go ghost hunting, eh Danik?” Ashton said as he fumbled his hands back into his coat to protect them from the raging wind.
Danik pulled out a butterfly knife, albeit, a rather dull and dingy one with the screw hinging in and out. “Quite you…”
Danik then treaded up a small bump and unto a road that leads to the alleged shack in Mr. James Montrose’s will. The dirty, wooden structure was of sturdy build. It had been situated on stone foundations and one can tell that the outside was lacquered once had the inhabitants, in this case; old-man Arzul, had taken care of it better. Truly a wondrous shack, should those conditions have been met. But now in its decrepit state, this place inspires and eldritch fear into Danik, the same cold, demonic hands that grasped the sides of James Montrose the first time he saw the shack, forty years ago.
“Wait to hold on.” Ashton held Danik back before he could take another step. “You’re not going in that thing?” he said.
“And so skeptic Ashton melts away…” Danik leered, feigning bravery. “Now do you feel the horror?”
“Absolutely not!” Ashton said, trying to keep on his façade of bravados. “But have you not read any of Poe’s poems or Lovecraft’s lore when we went to America?” Ashton asked him, trying to jam at least a trite bit of sense into his friend with the reference.
“What of these American writers?” Danik asked him, trying to seem stoic and straight-faced.
“The mysterious shack in the middle of nowhere!” Ashton screeched onto his face. “A trope so common; even illiterate toddlers could recognize it!” he told Danik.
“Nonetheless! If the wealth accumulated by the Montrose family turns out to be from illegal sources…” Danik built up. “The entire inheritance shall be void!”
“True, true…” Ashton agreed. “Should their source of income become void, it shall be given away or ceased by the government!” he continued. “But how did you know that?”
“I told you at the office…” Danik said. “I know this place…” Ashton is not from Dumaguete, but from the nearby town of Bogj’Cjan, the town next to the City Limit.
“Look, I’m not going to question your experiences, but what in particular did you see here?” Ashton asked.
At first, he was hesitant. Danik was the quaint, dark type who thought mystery and being just an absolute block was a likable quality. It took some firm nudges from Ashton, who himself was a member of the intellectual elite and an outstandingly annoying debutante who excelled in his irksome attempts towards his best friend.
“Please…” Ashton squeaked for the seventh time.
“Well, since no one’s around to hear…” he relented. “I guess I’ll tell you…”
They took a seat on two odd-shaped, but smooth, stones in the tall grass facing the side of the road. They began to confide in each other. The night had slowly begun to give way. The moon was getting ready to take her children, the stars, to bed.
“This place is called Canal Nag’id.” He introduced. “I grew up here…”
Ashton turned around and saw no houses or neighborhoods. Just miles upon miles of grass and obelisk-like stones that jotted out of the ground like spires that skewered the plains.
“I know, I know…” Danik said, noticing his friend’s well-meaning confusion. “But I swear there were houses here before, not anymore. For you see, I grew up here. My grandparents who live in the city told my parents that this was a dangerous place for a child to grow up in. I was far too young to know otherwise.
‘Every day, upon walking to and from school, I would wave at a man named Raymond Elmer St. Carol. Elmo or Uncle Ray, as the townsfolk called him. He was at his eighties and his nephews were Guiles, Anna, and James Montrose, whose dad they lost when they were young and whose grandfather they had just recently lost to pneumonia…” Danik told.
“Hold on, the James Montrose?” Ashton asked. “Are you saying there is a connection to this meat business of his?” Ashton followed up.
“Indeed.” He responded. ‘I knew there was something familiar with that name. “He continued. “And the dates line perfectly: James Montrose was around his late twenties at the time his grandfather died. It was also around those times when his brother Guiles Montrose, was sent to Busimillier Covx to die…”
“Okay, I’m getting lost…” Ashton commented. “Why was he sent to die?”
“Guiles Montrose was just a teenager when he killed his sister, Anna Montrose and his uncle, Raymond Elmer St. Carol on July 30, 1924. I didn’t know it then, but I soon realized that Uncle Ray was nowhere to be seen. Guiles died on August 4, 1924, by hanging. The eeriest reports given by the warden and a few executioners were that in the entire process; Guiles was completely catatonic. He didn’t move, he wouldn’t blink nor would he talk to anyone. They said that the once expressive and extroverted Guiles Montrose, aged seventeen, had become a husk of sorts ever since the incident.
‘A few weeks after his hanging, multiple murders would happen as bodies would keep on ending up on the very same shack that Uncle Ray once owned; the very shack that would later be abandoned and soon inhabited by old-man Arzul. The perpetrators of the crimes would always turn themselves in and beg for the death penalty. They would act the same as Guiles did when he was sent to die and after a few weeks, a new murderer with even higher death scores than that of the last one would surface and turn themselves in…
‘I don’t know, maybe the fanciful stories of Mr. James wasn’t so fanciful after all. Who knows that the creature he describes might be real, that ha...Hagnu…Hagnur…”
Before he could completely recall the name of this ghastly monster Mr. Montrose described in the will they read earlier, Ashton quickly put his hand over Danik’s mouth and told him to hush up as he made hissing noises through his teeth.
“Idiot, do you not read horror?” Ashton scolded him so. “Never mention a malevolent entity’s name!” he warned. “You might summon it.” He foretold. “And god knows what a malevolent entity does to those who dare call for it.”
“But I do see where you’re getting at…” Ashton sympathized. “It does ring back to the legend of the Aranganal.’ He referenced.
“Go on…” Danik said.
“It’s an old myth that the spirits of murderers that were denied access to heaven coalesce and amalgamate into an evil spirit that would feed off human deaths and even go as far to possess those weak of mind and use them as vessel, or ‘puppets’ as Mr. Montrose puts it, to hunt down and massacre hordes of people.” Ashton put it.
The air must have been electrically charged with accursed bile and terror. Ashton, whose voice cheery and intoxicated-sounding, went down an entire octave as he told the chilling tale. The terrors that take root early on will always have a place in the back of our minds.
“Well, no use listening to superstitions…” Danik squared up as his he seized his testicles and stretched his machismo to its very greatest. “We have a job to do!”
They both went up to the shack and as they neared it, closer inspection revealed a reddish-yellow light from beyond the gapped wood boards. Their palms shook and their sweat ran cold as they reached for the brass knob that stood between them and the evanescent horror that would be or would not to be behind that acacia door.
As they opened the door, it creaked with the teeth-grinding din of old metal hinges. Not over a thirty degrees open and the insides revealed stains on the walls. Red stains, stains that were indeed still wet and fresh with the scent that proves, without a shadow of a doubt, that it was in fact blood. The door opened up more at fifty degrees. It showed the single swaying light bulb, dying and flickering from age. The door then suddenly creaked as it slammed wide open and there, on the floorboard stood, Mr. James Montrose; as he lived and breathed.
He stood with an almost wax-figure like stiffness. His body was white and pale, yet he stood with the rigor of a young man. He had been dressed in his funeral clothes.
Further, into the city, word got out that a body had been snatched from the morgue and had been replaced with a banana tree stalk.
His face was laden with the most terrifying details. It looked as if for a while, he was resurrected from the dead in his coffin and pulled forcefully out. He was then killed, and frozen there on his face, his last scream; his final cry for help.
As the two gawked at Mr. James’ body, he began to bleed through the pristine white funeral suite he was clad in. It was a truly gut-wrenching and disgusting sight! A human melting like a candle, as it dissolved, his viscera fell out and assimilated into the reddish sanguine pool on the floor. The smell was foul and evil, enough to knock flies out of the air.
The pool then began to trickle down unto a back room that was dimmed beyond sight. The pool slowly flowed unto that spot and as the puddle had been slurped clean, red glowing eyes suddenly pierce through the dark part of that room.
The legends were true. The will was not just a story, but records of a truth that concealed an ocean of innocent and guilty blood alike!
None could tell how the night would transpire, except for and eldritch howl that would soon fill the air and cause the nesting birds to flee from the trees they perched on. This howl would resonate through and beyond the great narra woods on yonder. It was a sound of an ancient evil taking its first breaths after decades of solitude; it was a din that would etch its sound waves into the minds of those unfortunate enough to hear it: it was the cacophony of the forest…
Of one of the more disturbing instances of these spontaneous murders was the case of Guiles Montrose. As a child, Guiles was known to have aspired to be a playwright. This fact was to become grimly ironic, for the short story guiles authored below was written weeks before he had killed his fifty-seven-year-old Uncle, Raymond Elmer St. Carol and his seventeen-year-old sister Anna Montrose.
He reenacted his own short story, this short story was indeed a testament to the illness that had taken over Guile’s young feeble mind.
It was Sunday morning. The old ladies ran up to the church to get the prime seats and as I put on my Sunday clothes, my sister Anna calls me from downstairs.
“Guiles!” she called my attention. “Get ready for church!” she told me. I tied up my black bowtie and went down the stairs and on to breakfast.
“Guiles, can you take this plate to….”
“Nope.” I immediately hesitated, averting my attention elsewhere. “Why is he still with us?” I asked.
“You can’t choose family Guiles….” That was her reasoning.
It always was. I knew she hated him too, but her reputation would crumble if she manifested that fact. Good, Sunday Christian woman with morals as intact as her hymen. No trace of blasphemy crosses her lips, but if she had the chance, the lips of another man would suffice for she too hid adulterous fantasies.
“Well, I’ll go do it…” she said. “Just clean up and get ready before I get back….”
She was taking a plate of ham and eggs to our deadbeat ‘uncle’ who shacked up nearby. In the pristine white picket fence lines and suburban houses, his wooden shack was a real eyesore. The fucking mongrel he was.
After the church was a Sunday luncheon that Father Charles would throw and everyone would be invited. The ingredients were donated and so everyone pitched in by helping with the cooking or bringing in whatever they had.
This week, I had brought in some pre-sliced. My father was a butcher back when he was still alive, so I was very lucky to have studied under him, however little time we had left together.
“Guiles!” Father Charles said in an open embrace. “What do you have for us this week?” he asked cordially.
“Around forty-five kilos of beef, Father...” I said proudly, wheelbarrow at hand and a messy half tied apron hanging from my neck.
“I’m sure your father would have been proud!” the priest said, picking up a steak. “…for both your skill and generosity!”
“Anything for the community, Father…”
“Though I have some concern regarding the meat…” Father Charles asked, rather worriedly as he took a closer look at it.
My face was immediately flustered. A cold sweat ran down my back.
“If you’re giving this much meat…” he asked. “Well…I’m just worried this is something your shop could have profited off, no?”
I sighed in relief. “Father…” I said, catching my breath. “If it’s all okay with you, a donation is meant to be without any reservations of the intent,” I said intellectually.
Father Charles let out a radiant smile, one where the corners of his mouth touched his crow’s feet wrinkles. He quickly took the wheelbarrow and wheeled it in the makeshift outdoor kitchen.
The luncheon had started and the whole congregation came in to enjoy their meal. Everyone came and everyone had a share. Father Charles was at the helm of the front, ladling out bowls of broth and rice.
I sat down, not touching my food. I did not feel hungry at noon. Then, soon enough, I felt Anna’s hand touch my shoulder. I quickly turned around to address her concerns.
“Anna?” I asked, turning around to face her.
“Guiles…” she said. “Have you seen Uncle Ray?” she inquired.
‘Haven’t heard of him all day…” I replied. “But he’s probably in his shed, passed out on the floor again.”
“Well, I’ll have to find him…” she said. “He never misses Sunday Luncheon…”
“I wonder why…”
She quickly scurried home. I went to the kitchen and met Sister Marie. She had just been cutting up some onions and I asked if I could help her with anything.
“Such a gentleman for asking!” she said. “Why don’t you tenderize the beef over on the counter, there’s a mallet next to the cutting board.
I was first hesitant in doing so, but after taking a few swings and hearing the crushing sound it made was gratifying. After a few swings, I had just realized a dent in my near-perfect plan. I took off, mallet still at hand, but n0ot without taking a few last swings.
I quickly drove on back to the house and ran through the backyard gate. From a distance, I could see my sister running. The scandalous whore found me out and that ungrateful bitch was planning to snitch on me.
I hid behind the tree and waited for her to cross. As she passed, I took her by the arm and wasted no time crushing in her skull with the mallet I had just swiped from the Sunday luncheon. Our neighbors, the mailman; everyone was at the luncheon. Nobody saw, nobody knew.
I had cut up her body as soon as Uncle Ray was completely consumed. Then I sell Anna’s body parts by the pound at the shop. The blood I drained and mixed with flour, chocolate, and eggs that I baked in an oven. It made for tasty treats that I shared with my neighbors and the clergy, including father Charles. Anna’s fattier bits I boiled down with seven kilos of lye and a bottle of perfume, which made for the most excellent soap. Her leaner bits made for choice cuts, her innards, and offal I boiled and made into aspic and her brain and eyes, a wonderful head cheese.
“You were there too, officer?” the young man said in an interrogation room. “...the Sunday Luncheon? Everybody was there.”
“Yeah?” he said worriedly. “What of it?” he asked ever so stoically.
“Did you enjoy the beef consommé with rice?” he asked.
The officer’s stoic bravados then melted into the horror of realization. He gagged on his spit at the sickening aspect. It couldn’t be, I couldn’t have, but he did.
“I did on good thing though…” Guiles admitted. “Uncle ray always wanted to remember…” he said. “And what better way to do so than to have a little bit of him inside us all?”
It wouldn’t be that insane to assume that it was Guiles’ unfathomable evil, one so horrifying even hell denied him access, that influenced his brother from the grave. Maybe Guiles himself was influenced by a far greater and more ancient evil; the very first of his kind, the very first to hold a blade in hatred.
Only in the most frantic and life-threatening of scenarios would ensue wherein a car, of perfect upkeep, fails to start ignition. This spine-tingling scenario only the most foolish of paranoid people would prepare for was fully realized when Danik tried to start his car. It would wheeze and start-up, only to die after a few seconds of torque.
Ashton looked behind them as Danik tried to start the car again. The engine hummed to life as the backlights shone to reveal the bloodied and bandaged upright dog creature a few hundred meters away from the car. The car was to die again, only to hum back to life. As the backlight shone again, the creature had appeared to have come closer.
“Hurry up!” Ashton would yell into Danik’s ear, fearing what that eldritch abomination could do to them if it were able to reach them.
As the backlight flickered faster, so did the bloody creature in its approach. The car then died; its engine, as quiet as the night. Danik froze in fear. He took the key off and pushed it in again as he began to turn quietly. Not even in his frantic mania would Ashton dare to make a faint squeak. He had hoped that the creature was deaf and would leave them to be if they were to stay silent.
As Danik started the car up and the headlights flared, he saw on his side mirror the visage of the accursed Harhil’gnur staring back at him. His pupils dilated as he choked on his saliva. At that moment, the car burst into a coughing and wheezing hum. He stepped on the accelerator and turned it up a gear for good measure as they skid off the glens to escape the monster of the shack.
“What was that thing?” Danik screamed in frantic fear.
“It was aranganal,” Ashton said. “Our nightmares are manifesting! Are we going insane, Danik? Ashton asked.
“I’m not sure…” Danik told Ashton. “I hope we are…because if that thing wasn’t an illusion, I’d never sleep again!”
They soon made their way to Dumaguete, they parked their car on the street side and ran as quickly as they could up their apartment. Tucking their figurative manhood between their legs, they slammed the door behind them as they breathed heavily as they leaned on the flimsy plastic door.
They locked the latch and sunk into their swiveling chairs. The fear that consumed the shack on Calindangan, the modern name for Canal Nagid, had leached unto the soil and is ready to leak on all of Dumaguete. Danik turned to his left where his lopsided shelves stood. They were old and termite-infested and the structure was yet to give way. It held almanacs spanning from the Great Peninsular Wars up to the present day. Dumaguete was known to harbor this knowledge in all corners. It was a town where learning institutions would mushroom; a new school every two years and a new daycare center every six months.
Danik took a thicker almanac from the pile, taking it out as if playing Jenga to stop the shelf from losing equilibrium. He read it aloud to Ashton; who was asphyxiating himself with his asthma but was all ears nonetheless.
“Ashton, I think you might want to take a gander at this!’ Danik told him.
“What is it?” Ashton inquired, rising from his seat and walking towards Danik.
“These murders were so frequent and regular, that the farmer’s Almanac documented it from 1889 to the late 1940’s!” Danik said as he flipped through the pages. “It says here for ‘farmers to beware leading their water carabaos to drink from the stream there at night, lest they are the next to disappear and be found dead at the shack’!”
“This goes back that far?” Ashton said in amazement. “What was the first recorded case?” Ashton asked.
“I think the records are on your side,” Danik said. “Hang on, why are the murder cases on your side.” He asked.
“Insurance...” Ashton replied.
Danik pursed his lips and nodded his head sidewards in agreement. Ashton scurried through his folders and found the first murder of the year 1889.
December 2, 1889
The corpses of 2 years old [REDACTED] and 22 years old [REDACTED], father and daughter, were found dead inside a shack at Port Kuratan’g Laayo in Calindangan at around 4:16 in the afternoon by an old woman. Police reports say that the 2-year-old infant, [REDACTED] was nailed to a wood board after being --------------------- and --------------, the ------------------being wrapped around her neck. Further investigations found large traces of anesthetic with the infant’s bloodstream and, along with distinctions and irregularities in the lacerations, revealed that the infant was still alive when -------------- we're pulled out as she was choked to death with them before being ------------- completely.
Her father, 22-year-old [REDACTED], had his -------------------- removed after being hung on a meat hook. His wrists were cut open diagonally and thin ------------------------------------------ blood, police suspected. The skin on his ----------------- was detached from the flesh and was -------------- to cover the scalp.
The crime was suspected to be perpetrated by a doctor or surgeon due to the accurate incisions and professional use of anesthetics. The perpetrator is yet to be found.
“No human capable of feeling can ever do this!” Ashton said in disbelief. “Whatever they did, whatever it was; just not to an infant!”
“It’s a sad truth that these monsters roam around uncaught, but I believe the perpetrator was indeed caught,” Danik informed.
“By the way, Danik…” Ashton said. “Why were the details snuffed out?” Ashton inquired.
“As a lawyer, the only thing you need to know is the date, time and the crime…” he professed. “No use groaning over details.”
Ashton listened as he looked over some files. As he did, he was able to fish out some photographs of the bodies and the suspect report. It was attached with a news column trimming with the headline ‘NAGID KILLER CAUGHT!’ dancing theatrically on the cover of the Diary Dumaguetenio, the city’s premier publication.
The photos showcased the man’s body after being put on a whiteboard to be examined and photographed. The man’s head appeared to have had been reshaped to look like the underside of the bowl. It was clear that the man had brown, curly hair and gapped teeth. Half of his face from the nose up was no longer covered as his facial tissue and collagen were exposed to the elements. This was clear, for even if the photo was in black and white, the rot and decay was still visible. One can see in the full-body photos, his posture was bent beyond that of which is humanly normal.
Apart from being bent, his whole upper torso was improperly laid on the white canvas, and appeared snake-like, as if something fundamental to the foundation of the human skeleton had been removed.
Next was the picture of the female infant. Of all things unholy and evil, the treatment of such a young and innocent child was that of wretched-disheartened incarnate who pines for the fire that which singeth everlasting down in suffering-at-eternity; Imperio.
One of her most distinguishable features was the large mole on her left chest. From the most suggestive of the female regions, the perpetrator starts his incision, continuing up and stopping, only to eviscerate the longest of the organs and use it to draw out every and any vestige of breath from the infant until every last alveolus in its tiny lungs started rupturing. The murdered then continued with his incision; hacking upwards at the breast bone that was still soft and underdeveloped. It was clear that the demonic surgeon had lost grip, for the weapon flew and landed a few feet away according to police findings. This was supported by the large gash on the infant’s face and throat that came from the same angle of the initial incisions.
Danik and Ashton wished they had not seen these pictures. They were photos that were to haunt their minds unto the grave and beyond oblivion; for these photos are testaments to the dark eldritch excesses we are so unwarily capable of.
This is why a demon of insanity is far more dangerous than a demon of pestilence. Pestilence only kills its victims, but insanity employs its victims to kill others before killing itself.
These eldritch happenings have a cause. Although not scientific, it was indeed the first lead to an otherwise leadless case.
Ashton and Danik see the sunrise over the mountains beyond Valencia. They take to their cupboards, which they replenish out of their own pockets if work deprives them of talking meals at home. They quickly mix in a mixture of powdered milk, rolled oats, a chalky biscuit that dissolves easily in water; all combined with hot water. They clink their mugs to a good case and gulp it down.
They grabbed the photos and records and shoved them in a folder as they race down the rickety stairs; disregarding the possibility that their loud footsteps could awaken their neighbors who might still be sleeping. There, the landlady Mdme. La’Croan, who was out to walk her dog, came to stop them.
“And where are you gentlemen going at this hour?” the stern old woman said as her old St. Bernard tugs on its leash.
“Legal business, Madame…” Danik said as he fixed his shoe. “We are heading for the archives!”
“Yes!” Ashton responded. “…very, very important legal business!”
Madame nodded and told them to get lost, figuratively speaking. She then tied her St. Bernard, Arnold, to the stair post as she went up the stairs to wake up the tenants. She passed by Ashton and Danik’s office and thought the pigsty needed some cleaning out.
They rushed through the apartment streets and quickly drove off to the capitol. The drive was quick and direct without the need for detours. It was early morn. The morning rush does not usually start until six-thirty.
They reached the capital, the municipal building which houses the archives. They clumsily fumble over the stairs leading to the Central Archives, under the Department of Public education. There, they check in to Ms. Marcela Jean Abalateson, the librarian.
“Ms. Jean is an orphan if I do remember correctly…” Danik asked Ashton if his memory served him correct.
“Yes.” Ashton replied, mouthing the cigarette he had decided at the last moment not to light. “as a small child, her father and siblings were murdered and her mother-unknown…”
“A lot of that going around, lately” Danik commented. “She looks so familiar, though” he added. “It’s as if I’ve seen her old withered face and semblance every morning as I go downstairs.”
They look unto each other, Ashton and Danik, no words were exchanged between them, but at that moment they shared a sudden and short conclusion. “Nah…” they both said in unison, agreeing to disregard yet another complication and prevent the already complex case from fogging up even more. They entered the Archives and Ashton put his cigarette back in the pack.
“Gentlemen!” Ms. Abaleteson looked at their haggard, sweaty constitutions in surprise. “What brings the both of you here so early?” she asked.
“Ms. Abaleteson…” Ashton said trying to catch his breath. “We require full reign over your faculties.”
“What?” She said in surprise. The two men thought nothing of it, but imagine yourself in the shoes of a lonely public servant being approached by two suspicious men asking if they could have ‘full reign over your faculties’.
Danik, getting tired and eager said: “we need the library to ourselves.”
Relieved, the librarian silently opened the velvet rope and allowed them access to the region’s most expansive library. It employs archivists that have been cataloging the region’s happenings ever since the first journal the “Georgian Almanac”.
Ashton and Danik searched through the library. Starting with almanacs and leaflets; they slowly escalate into thicker and thicker materials such as codices and encyclopedias about a foot and a half thick, scaling arithmetically with age.
They soon stumbled upon a small odd page, probably from that of a notebook, judging by its blue and red lines that strike horizontally across the pages. Danik took the page and read it. It was the handwriting of a grown man in blue ink, for no child was capable of quick, legible American shorthand. The squiggling was a sign of uneasiness and fear. Every stroke was driven by a racing pulse from an imminent danger that grew closer towards him.
“What is it?” Ashton inquired, looking over Danik’s shoulder and on to the page.
“I’ve been asking myself the same question,” Danik replied, rubbing his forefinger and thumb against the paper’s edge. “Probably the reason why you would die if you got a prescription note from an American doctor…”
“Emilia, I am so sorry… I hope you can forgive me, please Emilia! I’m sorry it took her out. I'm sorry I didn’t make much time for you. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…
--- [INDISCERNABLE WRITING] ---
She keeps on crying. She wants her mama. Where are you? I’m sorry. I’m at Nkanit (Naganid?)
--- [INDISCERNABLE WRITING] ---
I’m going to die, but I promise I will make sure baby Lina and
--- [INDISCERNABLE WRITING] ---
. Take care of baby Emille.
--- [INDISCERNALBLE WRITING]---
--- [END] ---
There was a blot next to the end of the letter that was very hard to read. It was the kind of shorthand writing that suggested the literal meaning of ‘shorthand’: that the writer was short of a hand.
Then, as we tried to word out the blotted signage; a familiar, grandmotherly voice spoke behind us. It was the creaking and cracking voice of an old woman; and old woman that has seen things that only surviving through time’s current can afford. It was Mdme. Elsie La’Croan as she said: ‘Love, Eddie.’
“Madame!” Danik exclaimed, turning to the octogenarian behind them as she read the letter word for word along with them. “How did you find us?”
“I was cleaning your filthy room…” Madame started.
The two blushed for two reasons. For one; their landlady had witnessed the clutter in their decaying room. And the second; the first woman to enter their office in years was the godforsaken landlady.
“And then I went around looking for information on my husband’s disappearance in your office…” she said. “And I thought you could help me…” she said.
“Your husbands…disappearance?” Danik asked her.
“…and my daughters…” Madame La’Croan added. “He went missing with my daughters, they were still babies than when I and Emille were in our early twenties.” She said in detail.
“Emille?” Ashton worded out with his lips, as he turned to Danik.
Madame noticed the movements and gestures and turned to Ashton, optimism leaking out of her wrinkles as she smiled, hoping that he knew something of their fate. Ashton did, he knew everything. Every incision, every mind twistingly grim atrocity that befell the father and daughter; Ashton have had them burned into his mind the eldritch artwork of this demon virtuoso. But the man did not have the heart to tell this hopeful woman, keeping up a face of poignant reassurance as he hides the photos and files of their true and gruesome end behind him.
“I'm sorry, Madame.” He told her. “We have not found anything,” Ashton said. It was far better for her health to lie, after all.
“Ashton!” Danik called his attention. “We need to go, now!” Danik told him.
Ashton and Danik soon raced out of the library. Danik had found several newspaper clippings following patterns on where the last murders would occur before the suspects were found in their usual catatonic, soulless states. They happened at Dab’Nail, Gableitun, Portal West and Calindangan. By piecing together the regular patterns that showed up on the numerous murders that stayed the same amount for every new murderer, Danik predicted the last murder for this ‘season’ was on Calindangan; where it had all started.
They jumped out into the streets, nearly falling headfirst down the stairs. They then jumped into their sedan and drove off unto Calindangan. Halfway into the drive, Ashton had forgotten his files and the photos. The next day, the Sagradonni Apartment on Kuro-og Street was the scene of a riot consisting of newspaper reporters and photographers being held back by the police as they surround the body of the building’s owner as she lies dead on the street above her room balcony facing that very street. She was taken to the morgue, but when the embalmer had come to see her a few hours later, she was no were to be found.
Danik and Ashton arrive at the spot, but they were already too late. The long grass stalks have been folded and crushed under the weight of footsteps as their path was slightly drizzled with blood from a messily bagged body. The perpetrator was still dragging the body to the very shack of horrors that had served as the prime setting of Mr. Montrose’s horror.
“I’m not going back in there again…” Danik said as he turned to leave. Ashton held his shoulder.
“We don’t have to!” he reasoned out. “The shmuck’s still outside! We can get him!” Ashton told Danik.
They ran up to him to apprehend the man and put a stop, for at least a while as they had understood, to the murders. They ran up to him, but the like a lake of cement, the grass melted into sludge as it caught their legs in some sort of cursed limbo. Their physical bodies have ceased to function, but their consciousness remains; remaining to witness a phenomenon of terror.
The clouds had stopped moving and the entire scene is now completely black and white. The murderer stopped in his tracks. He melted like a flaming candle. He dribbled into a clear and pungent pool of blood and other bodily liquid coalesced into a soup of gross morbidity. It was repulsive, burning through Danik and Ashton’s mortal nostrils and constricting their breathing for they stood merely a few meters away when their legs failed to come any closer.
The blood flowed like tiny river stream upwards unto the shack. The reddish-orange light seemed to shine luminescently from the cracks and openings of the shack, a growling sound could be heard from the unknown center within this accursed abode of pure evil and horror. The plastic wrapping melted of the body, for anything seemed to be possible in this black and white realm of abstract fear. It was like a tear through a dimension that could not be explained. The melting plastic bag revealed the crushed ribs and snapped spine of their landlady, Mdme. La’Croan.
As the plastic melted off, the shack door slammed open. Despite the glowing light emanating from the cracks, the farthest part of the hack seemed like the dark peering heart of an endless tunnel. From that very vantaesque darkness grew a long, thin and winding arm that dragged the landlady’s body towards the shack. As the body entered, the shack, the door slammed shut and the lights went off.
The silence was completely and utterly maddening. For these things to transpire and not even a burst of madness to sequel it was as unbearably unnerving as the fright itself. But upon the entity of this very thought into the two minds, the shack ruptured into infinite nothingness and before them stood, Harhil’gnur.
In its truest and most eldritch form, the two men close their eyes and plead to all the deities they have ever known and read about for their intercession to their safety. Safety for their sake, safety against the unnamable vicar of the devil and the indescribable violence and terror it is unknowingly capable of. Its hair writhed in strands that floated almost ethereally from its head. Its mouth dripped with the blood of all that ever lost their knife to the sharpened metal edge.
Its bandages unfurled to reveal its beating heart; the corpse of the first murderer, alive and sustained by the blood of all those who followed in his footsteps. The blood flowed from the veins and arteries beating in blood from the beast’s claws and viscera. It let out a screech that signified the great massacre that would ensue. Behold! Harhil’gnur: Duke over the Massacre.
Danik closed his eyes, like any sane human who faces the gaze of the devil, but Ashton, unfortunately, opened his…