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Indie Horror

Phantom Hitchhikers and Vanishing Vagabonds

Phantom hitchhikers, or vanishing hitchhikers are most popular as an urban legend, or ghost story within the continental United States–typically a young woman stranded on the side of the road who desperately needs to get home. This original story based on the phantom hitchhiker legend is a typical account of what is to be expected if you were to pick her up on the side of the road.

Upon a Lonely Road…

Lightning cracked, the electricity streaked across the sky in brilliant resonance, lighting up the dismal drowning mountainous landscape. The rain was suffocating his windshield, even with his wipers at their highest speed, he could barely see the road ahead of him. The man’s hands tightened around the steering wheel and his knuckles blanched as the road began to twist angrily down the lonely mountain road—walking in on his wife in the throws of passion with another man was just the start of his bad luck it seemed, now he felt as if he were going to careen off an icy road into a dark deep ditch. He sighed, his heart ached deeply and the song on the radio mirrored the depth of his pain. He truly didn’t know where he was going tonight, but it was better than where he had come from.

Phantom Hitchhiker on the road

The patter of rain against his windshield was deafening as he rounded another treacherous turn and he flicked on his high beams—it was at that moment he caught sight of a woman walking down the side of the road. His brow furrowed, she was dressed too poorly for the weather and there weren’t any homes that he knew of in the area, he couldn’t imagine the type of luck she had that would land her in the situation that she was clearly in. He slowed his truck to a stop just as he had passed her by, his blinker clicked steadily, matching the beat of the music that droned on in the background. He reached over and opened his door for the woman as she approached the cab, then shivered as the cold air pulled him into its tight embrace. His breath blurred his view of the woman as she stopped in front of him, “are you going towards town?”

“Yeah, I’m in no rush though, where are you headed?” The bedraggled woman slid into his truck and closed the door, her white dress had her soaked to the bone—he turned up the heater for her, then pulled off his own jacket, offering it up to her.

“I live downtown, if you don’t mind, I can give you directions?” The man nodded and she accepted his coat graciously and pushed her wet hair out of her face. He didn’t know if he ought to ask her what had led her to be on the side of the road at this hour, in such awful weather, but he figured that it really wasn’t any of his business, so decided against it. He pulled back onto the road and felt the awkward air that had taken over the entire truck. Her hands twisted uncomfortably in her lap, his coat hung limply over her pathetic and grief-stricken figure. There were no words that could be spoken now, anything he thought of uttering left his mind just as soon as his lips moved to speak the words. The road continued to be treacherous, but she seemed unbothered by anything, his eyes drifted to her face briefly, her lips formed an unconscious pout that drew him in.

He hadn’t noticed when she had gotten in that she possessed such beauty, but he didn’t linger on it long, the road finally evened out as they reached the bottom of the mountain and his mind wandered to other things. The woman maintained her painfully silent demeanor, her exhaustion was apparent and it was clear she wasn’t much of a conversationalist.

They made it downtown without incident, she only spoke briefly to tell him where to turn and finally they made it to their destination—he brought his truck to a stop in front of the house she had indicated and turned it off. He turned to wish her luck, but his eyes landed on an empty, drenched seat. He blinked, dumbfounded, she couldn’t have possibly have left without his notice—but in her place there was a small, damp leather-bound book. He picked up the book, then thumbed through it realizing it was her journal and somehow felt dirty, as if he had stolen her secrets.

The confusion that he felt in that moment would never match his need of an answer for what had happened—how she had suddenly vanished from his company, there had to be a reasonable explanation of what he had experienced. He stepped out of his truck and approached the house, uncertainty was the only thing he knew anymore, but perhaps she had just slipped away without his notice. He found his finger on the door bell and briefly entertained the idea of running from what he might find out here, but before he could follow through, a woman answered the door.

“Hello, can I help you?” The woman looked drained, as if the night had been a long and deeply harrowing experience for her as well.

“I… I just gave a young woman a ride here, she left her journal in my truck?” He handed her the book and saw a change in her expression.

“This must be a mistake… This can’t be,” her voice caught in her throat as she opened the journal’s cover, “perhaps you should come inside, I’ll get my husband.” The man stepped inside the home cautiously, he felt like an imposter, but he needed to know what was going on. The woman led him to their sitting room, where the walls were covered in pictures of what looked like family and friends. Just as he took his seat, his eyes caught a picture of the woman who had answered the door hugging the young woman who he had picked up on the side of the road.

“What’s going on?” He almost knew the answer, but he didn’t dare speak his own truth, “where is she?”

The woman whimpered under her breath and once her husband came into the room, she handed him the journal. “This man brought us Heather’s journal,” was all she could get out before she became noticeably upset and walked quickly out of the room.

The man began talking, trying to detail everything that had brought him to their house tonight—he didn’t care how wildly untrue it sounded, or if his crazy story made him seem like he was completely out of his mind. The husband listened intently, his face remained calm and there was an eerie ease that settled the man as he finished his story. “I’m sorry, I know how all of this sounds, I’m just a stranger—I—I can let myself out.”

The husband raised his hand to stop him, “no, please. I know what it sounds like, I know you probably feel like you’re going insane, but… you’re not the first person to try to bring her home.”

The man’s breath caught in his throat, “I—what?”

“Heather has been trying to come home on the anniversary of her murder for the last six years, but we’ve never gotten anything like this before,” the husband’s hands clutched the journal gratefully. “They never found her killer, but… this may give us some closure. I know my wife wasn’t able to say it, but we appreciate your time.”

The man’s heart was beating much too violently in his chest and he couldn’t stand it, he had to get out of here, he had to put some distance between himself and what had happened tonight. There were so many questions that he had, but he knew he could never ask them. The man got the name of the young woman from her mother and father, then made his goodbyes—he knew his next stop would be at the closest dive bar he could find. It would be too much to ask for this to all be a weird dream, but seeking numbness on his own from the bottom of a liquor bottle might make him forget about what he had experienced.

The next morning greeted him with a headache that mimicked the after effects of a concussion—he sat up from his uncomfortable position in his truck and rubbed his eyes to find that he had driven himself to a cemetery after he had left the bar the night before. He was grateful he wasn’t waking up to a tree through his windshield and was about to start his truck up and drive away before something strange caught his eye. His eyes narrowed and he stepped out of his truck, the gloomy, overcast day gave him something to be grateful for, no sun to shine in his eyes between the thumps of his throbbing head. He approached the tombstone that had captured his attention, and realized that what had drawn him there was the fact that his coat was draped so gently over this particular stone. It all came back to him at that moment, the hitchhiker, her parents—the lack of explanation of what had really happened—he picked up his coat and saw her name chiseled into the stone.

Categories
Featured Indie Horror Indie Horror Creation Indie horror writers Short Horror Stories

Phantom War Part 2: The Monsters

For Bethany. You were worth the fight

The deeper into the Valley The Man journeyed the darker it grew. The wind hummed like a locomotive as it pressed against his body. The gust was so powerful it blew and dust into his eyes, further decaying his already obscured vision. He draped his arm over his face and walked with slow, calculated steps. 

The Man wondered what abominations awaited him next. Things were already going against the normal routine of the Valley, and a sense of uneasiness suffocated his heart. He reflected on this so-called “order of the Valley” and came to a startling revelation: order was only an attribute and function of Creator God. The Valley was pure evil, and pure evil was always chaotic. There was no order in the Valley, nor was there an order to which satanic brood would attack next. The Valley was pure and adulterated chaos. In the Valley, chaos was king. 

The wind slowed its breathing and The Man was able to see again. The moon no longer resembled a lantern in the fog but hung in the sky as the ruler of the night. He stared up at the trees atop the Valley. He swore by God he saw them move.

“But there is no more wind,” he mumbled to himself. He assumed he still had dust in his eyes, so he fetched the water pouch at his side and rinsed them. He blinked numerous times until his vision was clear. He set his sight on the other side of the Valley and saw several branches ripple then disappear.

“It must be them,” The Man whispered and recalled the tales of The Monsters. 

These entities were covered in tentacles and there were two types. One species had a spiral body with a black hole in the center. They had no sense of sight but the hole operated as a center for heightened hearing. Their bodies were laced with branch-like tentacles.

The second species had no sight either and the same type of black hole in the center, equipped with the same hyper-sensative hearing. The core of these monsters was shaped like a lily. Their tentacles were more soft and fluid, as string blowing in the wind. 

The goal of The Monsters was to wrap their tentacles around each person’s body parts and rip them off with one, powerful yank. A normal man would be lucky to be maimed by only one. A brave man might make it past them with only missing toes, fingers, and an arm. But this man would soon pass out and die from lack of blood or shock. The Man with Hazel Eyes and Broken White Wings was positive there were two hunting him down. One from the east side of the Valley and one from the west. 

The Girl with Sunlit Hair and Black wings had heard the roaring of the wind when it rushed through the Valley and wondered how The Man was fairing against the elements. She had heard no screams so she was confident her beloved was still alive and making his way to her. The Girl’s nerves still danced and spun like ballerinas on stage despite her confidence. She knew there was nothing she could do but be patient, so she prayed for The Man to survive and find his way to her. 

The Girl wished her angel still had his wings, then he would not have to journey through the treacherous Valley. Rather, he could have flown, like her, to their Willow Tree. They could now be making love under it as in the days before his wings were destroyed. 

She reflected on the times when his wings were whole. 

“Oh, my angel,” she said. “I remember when you would fly and meet me here and wrap those wings around me. You made me feel so safe.” She reached for a branch on the tree and caressed it with her hand. She slid the leaves between her fingers and felt them tickle her skin. 

“Those were enchanting days, my angel,” she said, staring out over the Valley. “The days of ease. The days before Abaddon came.” 

It was only one week ago before the satanic beast wreaked havoc on their village. She remembered the day with the utmost clarity. She was kissing her beloved in the field outside the city walls when something blacked out the sun.

The two broke their kiss and  gazed upwards. A beast of ungodly size hovered in the sky above them. The thing was as black as total darkness and its wingspan was so wide, it seemed to touch the clouds. Its body was covered in hair and primate-like. It had the head of a goat and the mouth of a dragon. Its horns were long and prominent. 

The Man and The Girl stared in awe at the dragon. Its wings flapped and its mouth let out a deafening, apish roar. The two recoiled at the sound as trepidation found its way into the marrow of their bones. 

The Girl broke their trance and said, “Dear God, it is heading…”

“Towards the village,” The Man finished for her. 

The Man looked at The Girl with wide eyes and grabbed her arm with a firm grip. 

His hazel eyes were the most intense and fearful they had ever been.

“Fly with haste to the village,” he had said. “I will go after the beast.” 

The Girl stood frozen, as if her feet were cemented to the ground and as if her wings were weighted down by bricks. She didn’t think she could find the courage to move. However, she found herself nodding in agreement to his command. By the grace of Creator God, her wings flapped and she took flight. 

The Man watched to make sure the dragon did not turn his attention to The Girl. When he saw she was in the clear, his feet left the ground and he went in pursuit of the beast. 

The speed at which the dragon had flown was like none The Man had ever encountered. Each flap of its wings seemed to thrust it ahead one hundred yards. He clenched his fist, gnashed his teeth, and flew faster. Perspiration soaked his body and his muscles locked in knotted balls. The Man had flown so hard, for the first time in his life, some feathers dislodged from his wings. They swirled around him then made a slow descent to the ground. 

The dragon neared the village.

The Man looked on. His face contorted and his brow furrowed. “Damn these fucking wings,” he had shouted. “Go faster!” He dug down deep into his being to find more power to exert towards his wings but he could not fly any faster. “God damn these useless wings!”

The Man glanced down to see if he could locate The Girl. He didn’t see her anywhere near the village. He tucked his head to look behind him. She trailed The Man by several hundred yards. The Man knew if he did not gain on the beast, there would be no village left to spare. His children were there and so were The Girl’s. 

The dragon picked up seed. The village loomed closer. The Man watched on helpless.

The dragon was now in range of the village. It opened its mouth and flashes of fire exploded forth. The humble stick and hay houses evaporated into flames. Screams from the burning victims ascended into the sky and reached The Man’s ears. 

“Cormac! Doriann!” The Man screamed his children’s names as he drew closer to the village. 

Everything was engulfed in flames. The dragon was gone just as fast as he came, leaving behind him a path of smoke and fire. 

The Man ascended into the chaos. The heat from the fire pressed against his skin like hot irons. The smoke clouded his vision and filled his lungs. He stumbled around in the inferno, calling his children’s names as well as The Girl’s between coughs and gasps of air.

“Cormac! Doriann! Ewing! Duncan!” The Man could not get his bearings and had no idea where in the city he was. He was about to pass out when he felt arms grasp around him. He watched as he ascended from the firestorm and the burning village grew smaller in his sight. 

The Girl had rescued him before he passed out and was consumed by the flames. 

The Girl with Sunlit Hair and Black Wings tried to push the remaining thoughts out of her mind but found herself powerless against their deluge. The next memories broke her heart and brought tears to her eyes.  

She remembered sitting with The Man outside the village as the burning embers still smoked. She watched him rise to his feet and enter the village. She had followed him at a distance, not wanting to see what she knew awaited her–the dead and charcoaled bodies of their children. 

The next image in her mind? It was The Man rummaging through his home which was nothing more than a pile of ashes. He found Cormac and Doriann, his seven year old boy-girl twins. He scooped their bodies from the ash heap and held them in his arm, one against each shoulder. Their skin was black and flakey and their hair was burned off. He staggered a few yards then fell to his knees in anguish. He plopped their dead bodies to the ground, then lifted his head to the heavens.

“God! Why! They were my babies! They were innocent!” He gazed at the girl. His face was littered with disappointment and confusion. “I..I..couldn’t save them.” He ran his finger through his long brown hair and gripped it tight. Through tears he cried, “Damn these wings! I couldn’t get here in time. If only I was…” His voice faded to a whisper. “…faster…If only…faster.” He locked eyes with The Girl again. “I failed us. I failed them. I failed you.” 

They buried their children outside of the village then flew to the mountain where the Willow Tree sat. The Girl sat next to The Man under the tree. They didn’t speak. She rubbed his back as he breathed heavy breaths. She understood. Her heart broke and she weeped with him over the death of their children and the death of the life they had dreamed about. 

Then the unthinkable happened. The Man jumped to his feet.

“What? Where are you going,” The Girl had asked.

The Man answered her not. He took off running full speed to the rocky side of the mountain. The Girl cringed as The Man slammed his back to the mountain. She heard the bones in one of his wings crunch as he let out a laugh filled with pain and anger. The Girl leaped to her feet.

“Stop! What are you doing,” she had said. 

“Damn!”

Smash.

“These!”

Crunch.

“Mother!”

Snap.

“Fucking!”

Crunch.

“Wings!”

Shatter.

The Man’s wings hung broken and mangled from his back. He reached around in a fit of rage and ripped feathers from his wings.

The Girl sprinted over to him. “Stop this madness,” she had yelled. “What are you doing!”

The Man paused and glared at her. “Step away from me, woman. Do not interfere.” 

The Girl backed away. Her eyes were heavy and her face, fallen. She watched in agony and heartbreak as The Man slammed his back into the side of the mountain until his wings were a featherless mush. 

A shriek jolted her from her memories. “My beloved,” she gasped and eased over closer to the cliff. 

The Man with Hazel Eyes and Broken White Wings saw The Monsters rushing down the side of the mountain towards him. They let out an awful sound as they prepared to attack. Their tentacles stuck like lightning and wrapped around The Man’s legs. They pulled hard and The Man fell on his backside. Sword in hand, he rolled onto his stomach and tried to scurry away. The Monsters yanked with more force each in the opposite direction. They spread his legs and The Man could feel the muscles in his legs and groin being stretched to oblivion.

The Monsters whipped their tentacles and flipped The Man over. Survival instincts took over and The Man hacked away at the tentacles with his steel. Orange blood spewed from the wounds and he axed away at them as if he were chopping down a tree. The tentacles severed and The Monsters withdrew them with howls of pain. 

The Man unwrapped himself from the severed limbs and flung them aside. He leaped to his feet and gripped his sword with both hands. The Monsters circled him and waved their tentacles in the air with wild motions. The Man’s eyes darted back and forth, trying to gauge the motion of each movement. 

Another appendage struck. This one wrapped around his waist. He then felt a tightness around his neck as one began to choke the life from him. There was a snap as one of his ribs broke. His brain was being depleted from oxygen and his vision became blurry. His consciousness was fading and his legs were weak. His strength was being dried out like a potsherd in the desert sun. 

In his mind he saw The Girl. They were standing in a field. Her blonde hair glistened under the summer sun. She wore a white dress and had a crown of flowers in her hair. She was smiling up at him and laughing. He could feel his arms around him, pulling him in for a kiss. As their faces met, hers evaporated. He now stared into the black hole of one of the Monsters. With the last bit of consciousness in his grip, The Man raised his arms and made a thrusting motion with his sword. The blade sank deep into the hole of The Monster.

The relief was immediate. The tentacled loosened from his neck and the bleating screams of the Monster brought him back to reality. He withdrew his blade and was then covered in a shower of orange blood. The Monster’s tentacles went limp and it fell to the ground dead. 

Pain surged through The Man’s middle as the other Monster squeezed tighter. Another rib snapped.

“Shit,” The Man yelled. An appendage was now wrapped around his free hand. He hacked away in fury at both of them. 

The two tentacles bled and pulled back. The Monster paused and The Man took his opportunity. He drew his sword back and sprinted forward. He extended his arms and struck the Monster in its black hole. He twisted the blade back and forth and made a circling motion. Blood seeped from the wound and the Monster twitched. The Man withdrew his steel and the Monster hit the ground. The Man raised his sword over his head to strike but the pain in his ribs stopped him. He decided to let the thing suffer as its life ebbed away. 

As the Monster died, the man sliced away on one of the tentacles. He took a piece about two feet long and pierced it through. He grabbed his necklace of heads from the ground and untied it. He placed his sword in its sheath and slipped the tentacle on to add to his trophy. With one hand he held his ribs and with the other dragged the necklace behind him.

“My darling,” The Man called. “I am hurt but I am victorious!” A sharp pain dug into his side as he yelled. He winced and hoped his beloved heard him.

The Girl heard the cry of The Man and her eyes filled with tears of joy. “Oh angel, please take care of yourself. God, please strengthen him in his pain.”

“Abaddon,” The Man whispered. “Your head will be the pendant on my necklace of retribution.”

Categories
Featured Indie Horror Indie Horror Creation Indie horror writers Short Horror Stories

Phantom War Part 3: The Demons

For Bethany. You were worth the fight.

Part Three: The Demons

The Man took deep, heavy breaths and held his ribs. His side screamed with agony and every breath felt as if he was being stabbed with a dagger. His face grimaced in pain yet his heart soared with determination. Each aching step brought him close to Abaddon; closer to vengeance, and closer to The Girl with Sunlit Hair and Black Wings.

The road in the Valley narrowed. Before The Man stood the entrance to a forest. He eased his hand away from his throbbing side and stood erect. He narrowed his eyes and the determination in his heart was expressed on his face.

“The Forest of Lost Hope,” The Man whispered and stared at the trees. The leaves on the branches were no leaves at all. Rather, they were shards of human flesh. A crisp breeze blew through the forest and made the skin dance. Patches of the anthropomorphic coverings dropped to the ground. The Man picked one up and examined it. He recalled a passage from The Book of Abaddon: 

“If a warrior is of skill to have made it to The Forest of Lost Hope, it would bid him well to take heed before entering. It is required that a man make deep examination of his heart and soul before he enters. A pure heart and unwavering faith are required to conquer the dark spirits who lie deep within the forest. The Demons are unmerciful mercenaries of Abaddon who will strike at any weakness. The man of sincere heart who enters this realm should also remember that it would do him well to cover himself with the flesh which hangs on the trees. If his heart is pure, he will absorb the strength of the flesh of those who went before him and none of their weaknesses. However, if he is a double souled man, he will absorb none of their strength and all of their weaknesses, thus assuring himself both defeat and death.” 

The Man knelt at the edge of the forest and fixed his mind on Creator God. “My Lord,” he prayed. “By thine Spirit, search my heart and see if there is any wicked way in me. Cleanse me by Thy blood from my sins. Make me whole in Thine eyes. Let my faith in you soar as on the wings of an eagle and let my doubts be annihilated by the power of Thine right hand. Let not fear enter into my heart but guard it as Thine own.” 

The Man sat in silence as he drew in strength from his God. With assurance in his soul, he rose to his feet. Though she could not hear him, he spoke to The Girl. “My darling, our God has brought us thus far, and He will not fail us now. Into the forest I will go, and victorious I will emerge.” 

The Man reached up and removed a patch of skin from a branch at the edge of the forest. He placed it on his face. Within moments he felt the blood bond to his skin. He proceeded to cover the rest of his face and the exposed portions of his arms and legs. He imagined what he must look like–a patchwork of skin hanging on skin. A brutish amalgamation of human flesh which would give nightmares to young children. But the only nightmares he planned on giving were the ones he would gift to Abaddon. 

Once he reached Abaddon, he planned on making him suffer. He wasn’t going to kill the demigod, oh no. He was going to torture to the point of death; to amputate and dismember, then leave him as an invalid who could do no more harm. Instead, Abaddon would be left  in torment in his body and mind, as he would forever have to live with how he was bested by God’s knight. 

“Abaddon,” The Man said with a snarl. “You picked the wrong man of God to fuck with.” He grabbed his necklace of vengeance in one hand then took his first step into the forest. 

“Abaddon,” he thought. “Your time is coming. But for now, I will slay your henchmen.” 

Once in the forest, the man felt a tingling sensation on his skin. His body was absorbing the strength of the deceased’s warriors’ flesh. The pain in his side subsided and the bones made popping sounds as the ribs were forged back together. His muscles grew stronger and his heart braver. He felt as if he could take down an army of thousands. And indeed he could. 

The Man journey further into The Forest of Lost Hope. The moon’s rays were cut by the tree branches, leaving slices of light to guide his way. The woods smelled of depression and despair. It was the scent of loneliness. A smell only one who has breathed it in could identify. And The Man could. It was what he felt when his children were taken from him. The forest tried to bring these disparaging memories up, but the power of the Spirit of God and the power of the warrior’s flesh kept The Man’s mind sound. 

The Man paused. He gripped the hilt of his steel and attuned his ears to the forest. 

A howl bellowed forth in the distance followed by deep, maniacal laughter. The sounds came north of The Man. He drew his blade and journeyed towards the noise. The forest became more dense and the darkness grew as the light of the moon was no more. The Man was now practically blind. He was not going to be able to rely on his physical sight to defeat The Demons. Rather, he was going to have to rely on his psychic ability to emerge victorious. 

The Girl had taught him how to enhance the abilities of his mind. He had the gift since childhood, but never knew how to develop it. The Girl had trained the sight of her third eye into near perfection. The townspeople had considered her a witch because of her uncanny ability and at one point, had tried to set her on fire. The Man intervened and rescued her. He scorned the villagers for their ignorance and saved The Girl from certain death. 

The people had listened to The Man because they considered him a prophet sent from Creator God. Well, almost all the people. The Man’s former wife grew jealous of his stature in the city and of his friendship with The Girl. She conspired with the husband of The Girl to put The Man to death. One night, the two of them attacked The Man in his sleep. They had gathered rocks to stone him. The Man awoke to a throbbing pain in his face after his wife clobbered him with a stone. He was able to fend them off. The commotion awoke the villagers. They saw what was happening, and because they considered The Man a prophet, they took his wife and The Girl’s husband out into the streets and stoned them with the very rocks they tried to use on The Man. Because of their heresy, their bodies were dragged outside the city gates and left for the birds. They would be a reminder of what happens to the ones who attack the anointed of God. 

Since then, the relationship of The Man and The Girl flourished into love. She taught him how to use his third eye and he taught her the ways of Creator God more clearly. Now, in The Forest of Lost Hope, The Man was going to have to rely on his gifting and his God.

“Creator God,” The Man prayed. “Please enrich the sight of my third eye. Let me see my foes in my mind. Let me know their moves before they do. Give me foresight and precognition.”

The Lord answered The Man’s prayer.

In his mind he saw the entire forest, down to the last details. He saw the grooves in every tree, the high and low spots of the ground, and the location of every Demon. It was as if the woods were now illuminated by the sun. 

The Demons were a nasty sight. They had the body of a humans. Their skin was red and their faces and arms were covered in black markings. They had no jaw. Instead their mouth connected with their neck, leaving an open cavity revealing their tongue and rows of sharp teeth. 

The Man drew his sword and his precognition guided him. The first Demon would make a zig zag motion through the trees and then attack to his left. The second Demon would be close behind the first and leap at him. The third would sneak him from behind. 

The Man dropped his Necklace of Vengeance, held his sword with both hands, and waited on The Demons to make their move.

It happened just as The Man predicted. He timed his counter attack with perfection. He turned to his left and swung his sword. The blade connected in the space between The Demon’s mouth and neck. The blow severed his head and a blue geyser of blood spewed from the wound. 

The Man was ready for the next Demon coming to his front. He thrust his sword into The Demon’s chest, ran it through, then tossed it over his head. The Man pinned The Demon down to the ground. The Demon convulsed then melted around his blade and onto the forest floor where it evaporated. 

The Man stood to his feet and turned with a thrust. His sword entered the gaping chest cavity of the third Demon. The Demon hissed then placed its hands around the blade and tried to free itself. The Man twisted the blade and The Demon released it then melted just like the other. 

“What the hell,” The Man said as he watched The Demon squander away. He caught his breath then prepared for the next onslaught.

The Demons were a crafty lot and not unaware of The Man’s ability. But they knew something The Man hadn’t discovered yet. His precognitive ability only reached as far as being able to predict up to three attacks. This time, The Forest would send five Demons after him. 

The Man saw his next three assailants in his mind. One would travel to the tree tops then drop on him. The second would appear from behind the same tree and the third would flank him on his right.

The Man raised his sword above his head and the first Demon lunged to its death. He met the second Demon with a swing and the blade sliced open its midsection, disemboweling it. Blood and guts sloshed to the ground. The Man turned and brought his blade down on the shoulder of the third Demon. It howled, staggered backwards, and fell to the forest floor. The Man drove his steel through the heart of The Demon and it died like the others. 

The Man was not prepared for the fourth and fifth attack. He heard a snarl behind him but it was too late. The Demon grabbed him by his long hair and tried to drag him deeper into the forest. The Man sensed an odd sensation in his back, as if his skin was stretching and being pulled off.

The Man dropped his sword and latched on to The Demon’s wrist. He was able to look over his shoulder. He stood bewildered at what he saw. An arm was extended from his scapula. 

What The Man couldn’t see was the full profile of another warrior protruding from his back. The warrior gripped The Demon’s tongue with both hands and yanked, hard. The Demon’s tongue separated from its mouth and a river of blue blood poured out. The tongue flapped in the warrior’s hand then he proceeded to beat The Demon with it. 

The fifth attack came from The Man’s right. A Demon leaped from the foliage and brought the Man to the ground. He planted face first. His head spun and he tried to regain his wits. He felt the odd sensation in his back again. 

Warrior after warrior expanded from The Man’s back, covered in his skin like a flesh cloak. HIs skin continued to stretch and the warriors stayed attached by strands which stayed connected like ropes. 

The warriors now encircled him. The Forest let loose the Demon horde. The Man closed his eyes and buried his face on the ground, letting his army of encased warriors fight for him. Demon after met their demise at the hands of The Man’s protectors. He could hear the squealing of The Demons as their bodies were dismembered and annihilated by the warriors. 

The floor of the forest ran blue with the blood of the Demons. When the last one evaporated, The Man’s body absorbed the warriors and he was left alone on the ground. He pushed himself up and sat. “Thank you God,” The Man prayed. “Thank you.” He stood to his feet and returned his steel to its sheath. He picked up his necklace of vengeance and held it in his hand. He then heard a crackling and popping sound. 

The forest erupted into flames. A sense of haste and alarm filled The Man. He was worried he would be burned alive in the inferno. He then heard the voice of his God.

“When you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Now travel ahead.” 

The Man believed the promise of God and stepped forward. The blazing trees surrounded him yet he could not feel their heat. He reached out his hand and stuck it into one of the flames. Nothing. He left it there for several seconds then removed it. His skin was unmarked by the fire. The Man smirked, then traveled through the fire unharmed and said, “The same God who protected Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the furnace of Nebuchadnezzer now protects me.” 

The Girl with Sunlit Hair and Black Wings saw the blazing forest. Her heart sanke and her mouth went dry. There was a churning in her stomach and she grew ill. All the strength left her body and she sat on the ground and wept. She knew there was no way her beloved could survive such a fire. 

“My love,” she cried. “My precious angel, how will I go on without you.” She wept until the point of despair. She lied down under neath their tree and waited to die.

The Man felt the anguish of The Girl. He had been so focused on using his energy to fight the entities of the Valley he had not yet used The Reach to contact his beloved. The Reach was a psychic bond the couple discovered in the early days of their relationship. It was a type of astral projection each could use to project their energy to the other and communicate thoughts and feelings. 

The Man paused amidst the fire and reached for The Girl. 

Underneath the tree, The Girl felt the presence of her beloved. She sat up and exclaimed, “It’s you!” She could sense The Man as if he were around her and inside her. She heard his voice in her head.

“It is me,” The Man said. “I am very much alive. The power of Creator God is with me and He is protecting me from the heat of the flames.” 

The Girl reached back and said, “Oh, my angel. I was so worried.”

The Man felt her and heard her voice in his soul. “I know, my darling. But rest assured I am alive and well.”

“Where will my angel go next?”

“I do not know….” The Man’s voice was cut off.

“Wait,” The Girl said. “Where did you go?”

The Man was now focused on what was before him. The forest had burned away and in front of him was a cave. The Man now knew where he stood. It was the lair of Abaddon. A cage of iron bars was over the entrance and a demonic guard stood watch. It was tall and muscular and human bones as armor adorned it from head to toe. The guard held a giant ax in its hands. It’s face was full of eyes and its mouth was a long, pointed beak. 

The Man sensed The Girl reaching. 

“My love,” he said.

The Girl was relieved. “Yes?”

“I’m here.”

“Where is ‘here’?”

“The lair of Abaddon,” The Man said. 

“Please be careful,” The Girl warned. “I have a bad feeling.”

“Sit at ease, my darling,” The Man said. “I will add the fingers of Abaddon’s right hand to my necklace.”

Categories
Featured Horror Mystery and Lore Indie Horror

Punishment for Grave Robbing Epitomized in Short Horror Film, Toe (2020)

The culture of robbing graves isn’t as big of a topic these days as it probably should be, but there is something about the entire topic that is just strangely unsettling. Robbing graves has been and is still a problem that plagues every culture–from the Pharaohs who attempted to take their earthly possessions with them into the next life, to ghost marriages in Chinese culture, there always seems to be a reason why certain people want to disturb the dead, but are there any common themes?

One common theme is the fact that these grave robbers are invading the space of the dead, either to acquire an object that belonged to the deceased or the body of the deceased. Indeed there are varying reasons why a grave robber might disturb those laying in their eternal rest. One strange reason can be credited to the extreme fringe practitioners of Santería, where the corpses of deceased babies and still-born fetuses are excavated and used in ritual magic. While it’s not a common practice, it has reportedly been a problem in regions where the practice of the religion is prevalent.

Curse of the Pharaohs

The tombs inside of the Pyramids have a history of causing people to be uneasy, whether it’s due to the legend of the Curse of the Pharaohs, or the simple fact that it’s a tomb and tombs are just pretty creepy in general. It seems there are many movies about mummies but in the case of ancient Egyptian horror, the true story is often more frightening than the movies have captured.

Cursed be those that disturb the rest of Pharaoh. They that shall break the seal of this tomb shall meet death by a disease which no doctor can diagnose.

Inscription reported to have been carved on an Egyptian royal tomb

There is a lot of history attached to the tombs of the Pharaohs and there is a lot of legend surrounding the so-called curses that befall those who disturb the tombs of these mummified kings of the past. While a curse may seem like a mystical and superstitious method to keep looters and thieves at bay, the Egyptians were famous for placing warnings of curses to ward off these would-be intruders. Those who did not heed the warnings would live a short while to regret their actions.

Ghost Brides Within Chinese Culture

While the practice of trading corpses to use for ritual spirit marriage has been outlawed since 2006 within China, it has led to the uptick of graves being robbed. These robberies aren’t an attempt to find some valuable possession left with the deceased, but to steal the corpse of the deceased itself. In 2015 it was reported that fourteen female corpses had been stolen from their graves to be sold as ghost brides for the ritual ghost marriage practice that is still practiced by some families to this day. For this reason, families of individuals who pass away while single will encase the coffin with cement to make it more difficult or impossible to steal their loved ones from their graves. These robberies continue to plague families of single women who have passed, whose corpses are worth at least $3,000 to the family of a single man who has passed.

ALTER Presents Toe (2020)

One thing that you should do, if you’re a horror lover, is take a look at the animated horror short films that are available on YouTube–they’re not as prevalent as the regular live-action ones, but they’re often spookier and elicit a deeper sense of fear. We highly suggest you take a look at this stop-motion animated short film entitled, Toe which came out a little earlier this month.

This horror short warns us that even starving children are not immune to the punishments that come to those who disturb the graves of the dead.

Categories
Featured Horror Mystery and Lore Indie Horror Indie Horror Creation Lifestyle Short Horror Stories

Puzzle Box Horror Presents – Atlas of Lore #1 Oregon.

Atlas of Lore #1 Oregon cover
Atlas of Lore #1 Oregon

We’re happy to announce we are done with our first publication “Atlas of Lore – Oregon.” In this issue, we have 5 original short horror stories based on Oregon’s haunted lore. We are also including the legends behind the stories in the issue along with original art, photography, articles, and a re-release of an H.P Lovecraft classic short story. If you love ghost stories, lore, and great horror art this is for you. See the trailer below to get an idea of what you are in for.

5 Original Stories From Horror Authors World Wide

Slice – A haunted pizza joint gets terrifying.
When The Bandage Man Finds You – A haunted coastal highway horror story
Anna Byrne Chronicles Chapters 1 and 2 – Anna learns a bit about her father’s paranormal discoveries and encounters her first haunting.
The Haunting of The White Eagle – A tale of paranormal investigators finding what they thought they were looking for.
Rose (graphic short) – Origin story of a famous ghost in a downtown Portland hotel.

Oregon’s Supernatural Lore

The White Eagle Hotel, Heceta Head Lighthouse, Maulers Butte, The Bandage Man of Cannon Beach, UFO’s and many other haunted locations and folklore tales related to Oregon’s supernatural lore.

Re-release of H.P. Lovecraft’s “Nameless City”

Join our email list to get updates on the release and other haunted articles. Order now from our store.

Stories by:

Mary Farnstrom
Tritone

Jon Richter
Tyson Strong
Felipe Kroll

Art and photography by:

Mary Farnstrom
Felipe Kroll
Tritone
MJD

Trailer for the magazine.

Trailer for upcoming publication “Atlas of Lore”

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