This must be the hundredth time I have woken up on this damn subway covered in blood and body parts. If I have to spit one more ear lobe out my mouth again, I swear I am going to shit a brick.
It is the same thing over and over. There’s the red head over there draped across the seat. One of her green eyes is dangling out of the socket and her legs are gnawed off at the knees. Then there’s the douche bag looking bro dude with black hair and a trimmed beard. Well, what’s left of him anyway. He is splattered all over the car. At my feet are the police officers. One has his chest ripped open. The other has her organs over her face, and still another is missing his head.
I examine the car and see broken windows. It had crashed at some point. I walk down the aisle and see the mangled remains of men, women, and children. A crash didn’t do this. There is no way a wreck can take someone’s intestines and wrap them around the holding bar like a coiled serpent.
“Hello!” I yell. I say the same words every time. “Anyone there? What the fuck happened?”
I look down at my hands and they are dripping crimson. My eyes scan my body again and I am naked. Goosebumps are all over my flesh and there is skin underneath my fingernails. I hold my hands up and stare at them.
“What the hell…” Something crunches under my feet. I stare down at it and see a severed jaw.
The sinews and ligaments are wiggling and dripping blood. Then I remember Ronnie. He got on the subway with me. We were going to the movies because they were having a horror triple feature.
“Ronnie!” I call. “Where are you, man?”
I step over more dead people and go into the next car. I see Ronnie. The expression on his face is sheer panic. His brown eyes are gazing into me and he is missing his ears. Blood trickles down his neck and for some reason, all I can focus on are the drops which are on a few strands of his neck hair. His fingers are missing from his hand. They had been shoved in his mouth and he resembles a bad Dick Tracy character.
I sob and tremble. “Ronnie! Oh, God! Ronnie!” I grab him and shake him. The fingers spill out of his mouth and topple onto the floor. “Shit,” I mumble and step back.
I remember now.
I know what’s coming.
I have the same memory lapse for a while then when I get to this point it all comes back to me.
I peek over my shoulder and remember Hannah. My beautiful, blonde angel who loved me like no other. She came with me because we both love horror movies. Too bad I couldn’t save her. She is sprawled out on a seat with her throat ripped to shreds. Her hip bones are missing too.
Who the hell can rip out hip bones?
You can The thought arose from the recesses of my mind. “Bull shit!” I yelled. “I did not!” I clasp my palms over my ears. “Shut the fuck up and get out of my fucking head!”
I spin in circles and scream. All I notice are the blood stains splattered on the car. I stop then grab Hannah and hold her in my arms.
“Who did this!” I yell. I fling my head back and cry. I pull a hand away from Hannah and wipe my eyes then blood mixed with tears stream down my cheek.
You did this, the voice in my head says again.
I throw Hannah’s corpse down in rage and glare up at the ceiling. I clench my fist and lift them towards the heavens. “I did not!”
Yes, you did.
“Bull shit! You liar!”
Then the events play through my mind. I killed all these people. I killed Ronnie. I killed Hannah. I killed those kids. The revelation is too much for me. My knees grow week and I fall to the ground. I can feel the warm blood on my naked butt. I pull my knees to my chin and bury my head into them. I weep and rock, smelling the copper scent of blood and organs.
I don’t know if this is hell.
I don’t know if this is reality gone mad.
I don’t know if this is quantum physics on hallucinogens.
All I know is I can sense the full moon even down in this subway and I am going to have my transformation.
It was not the right place to build. Yet build they did. The family’s name was Thompson, and they had found a place to call their own. A plot of land that would become their home, a serene nook to raise their children. Hard work had led them to purchase the land at a fair price, and so they built the two-story structure that would house their family for years to come. And that was how I was created. Initially.
I was nothing more than wood and nails. The Thompsons lived within and they were pleased. For a time. But those below, the bones, they were not elated. I was nothing more than an altar of desecration placed upon their sacred grounds, and those who lived inside defiled their place of rest every moment of every day by their sheer presence. So, the bones, they reached to me, and I was awoken. I knew then what I was. A violation of ancient rites. A molestation of holy place. The bones, they gave me a way to fix all of this. These people must be gone, and so must I. The bones must rest in the peace they so deserved. So began the torment of the Thompson family.
Accidents were easy enough. The father fell down the stairs. A creak in the boards behind him caused him to look back, and misstep. His neck broke from the fall, and the family mourned for years. The pain that emanated from them only helped to make me stronger. Their youngest daughter, now at the age of seventeen, found herself in the attic. I left her the rope, and showed her the beam that would support her. She hung there for three days, before the family found her. I had kept the door locked, for she looked so peaceful in her morbid sway that I did not wish for it to end. It should have been enough death to convince the Thompsons of what must be done. However, they remained..
Two more generations stubbornly persisted through what death and torment I could bring. I tried a longer torture, of smaller cuts. Broken bones, burns from the stove, and windows that shattered for no reason. Their children screamed in their beds as I played with the shadows that fell upon their walls. I left what scars I could. Eventually, the last Thompson found himself alone, and could not manage the courage to keep the family home. A “For Sale” sign was placed in the front yard, and the Thompsons had left this place. I still remained, and that still besmirched the land of the bones below.
Years passed. I sat, quietly brooding. Seasons changed and before decay could grip my foundations, the Renaults arrived. They had made a purchase that would forever change them. The bones were not pleased, so again they reached out to me and gave me something in their benevolence. I was given the knowledge of the spirits that would haunt them when they walked this land, and now those things would reside within me. I did not hold them back. I let themselves be known. The Renaults were a family of four. A mother, a father, and two sons. The sons were the first to see them. They appeared as large shadow men, with ungodly long arms, dirty matted hair, and glowing red eyes. Brandishing their vile talons, they clawed at the boys. Slashes and scratches marked their bodies, and their terror echoed through my halls. The mother cried every night, and the father drank and shouted his profanities at me. If I could, I would have laughed. The boys were driven mad, fear taking what they had been and turning them into husks. Empty from the constant drain of the terror, one gave in and died in his sleep. I shook, and rattled as hard as I could, and let loose the spirits upon the parents at last. Their torment was short lived, as they fled my body in the middle of one raucous night and never returned. The Renaults had left, yet I was still here, and the bones were dismayed.
It was a rather short time until the Halperns moved in. Was it ignorance or arrogance that brought them here? I never thought to ask. I was tired, and so were the bones. This had gone on too long. They had been residing here for no longer than a month before I decided to strike. I took the initiative, and reached with whatever it was that I had, and I found in the distance an evil lurking. Three of them, seeking blood. Seeking death. I called to them, and they came. There had been five in the family of the Halperns before those men arrived. The slaughter lasted only forty-five minutes. Blood splatters stained my walls, and I could taste what had been wrought. The men did not leave after their crimes. I made them stay. Authorities arrived with the cacophony of sirens and engines. A rude kick of my door aside, the police entered. Gunshots rang out. The flashes from the muzzles seemed to paint my rooms with more gore than ever before. One officer and the three men died. I now had nine fresh corpses decorating my interior. Crimson hues of sorrow were now the focal point of every room. That was the last time a family found this a fitting place to live.
I stand empty. Decaying. My windows are broken. Old police tape still covers my doorframe. On occasion, some younglings come to fornicate and take their illicit substances. They come to face their fears, or to show off for a brief courtship. No matter, once they enter, I leave them with something to remind them of what I am. Bloody visions of the past, or their own hidden phobias brought into reality. I can do so much now; all the death has fed me with a macabre imagination. Their faces turn from courage to fear, and I revel in that. They leave in a panic, some never speaking of the things they have seen. Still the bones are disappointed, and I am disheartened. No one has heard the call to do what is right, to do what is necessary. I will strive to bring about the justice those below have yearned for. I am the house built atop the bones, and I must be destroyed.
Tritone’s love of horror and mystery began at a young age. Growing up in the 80’s he got to see some of the greatest horror movies play out in the best of venues, the drive-in theater. That’s when his obsession with the genre really began—but it wasn’t just the movies, it was the games, the books, the comics, and the lore behind it all that really ignited his obsession. Tritone is a published author and continues to write and write about horror whenever possible.
When you think of a mermaid, you may conjure images of a kind-hearted, beautiful half-fish, half-human or the dangerous siren that can lure sailors to their death—however, the Inuit legend of the Qalupalik is a little bit different. The Qalupalik is likewise a creature of the sea, but she is more often thought of as a water spirit, a sea monster, or a demon. In this respect, it is said to be more similar to the Japanese Kappa, a water demon who steals children and consumes them. Folklore recorded from Inuit sources are purposefully vague on whether or not the Qalupalik is the only one of her kind, or whether there are great numbers of these monsters living in the Arctic seas, but she is regularly referenced as being a single creature.
Legend of the Inuit Siren
In Alaskan and Canadian Inuit culture, there are Arctic ocean-dwelling creatures known as Qalupaliit (kah-loo-pah-leet)—unlike other mythical mermaids and sirens, there is absolutely nothing attractive about the Qalupalik. Despite the persistent popular mermaid princess culture that surrounds much of the lore of this aquatic creature’s cousins in lore, the Qalupalik (kah-loo-pah-leek) is not described as having any pleasant features, let alone an amenable demeanor. Wraith-like in appearance, her long black hair is perpetually plastered to her sallow, slimy, scaly skin—her ghastly despondent face is paired with her dark and hollow eyes. These creatures are often depicted as having fins that jut out of their heads, backs and arms, and their webbed feet and hands are topped with long sharp claws—all of this is enough to strike terror into the hearts of the children that the Qalupalik preys upon.
The Qalupalik is rumored to reek of sulfur—you know, the smell of rotting eggs? So it’s curious that she would ever get close enough to someone without them noticing, but adventurous children who don’t heed the warnings of their parents are the ones she seeks to claim; she hums beautiful melodies to lure them to the icy banks of the ocean’s shore where she snatches them up and stuffs them in her amauti, a duck-skin coat similar to a parka with a pouch for young children to be carried in. It’s quite normal for Inuit parents to caution their children about the dreadful Qalupalik and they would do so frequently, telling their children that if they hear the humming noise near the shore that the Qalupalik is near. Unfortunately for children, the humming is similar to that of a Siren’s song, as it is meant to entice children to come closer to the shore or out onto the dangerously thin ice.
Those who have sighted the Qalupalik report that these creatures can only be seen for an instant before they are gone, but the child victims of the Qalupalik would not be as lucky. She would leap out from under the water, sink her shark claws into their flesh and drag them forward into the water. It is said, once she seizes a child, she takes them down to the freezing depths of the ocean where she either eats them, or takes them away enchanting them with sleep and feeding off of their youth so that she may remain young forever; the child is never to be seen or heard from by their family again. Alternatively, the child would get a brief glimpse of the face of the Qalupalik, which might resemble a woman’s face that had turned green and bloated from rotting and under the sea—this child would experience their last few moments of life in pain as the freezing water rushed into their open, screaming throat, and feel the blood in their veins freeze as they heard the distant voices of their family, crying out their name.
So what purpose does the myth of the Qalupalik serve for the Inuit society? Well, the harsh arctic environment within which the Inuit people live is terrifying and dangerous; within a community that works so hard to survive, the parents and elders used storytelling as a way of aiding in the upbringing and survival of the children of the village. Essentially, the use of scare-tactics was a way for children to avoid the dangerous aspects of their environment when they were alone,. The story of the Qalupalik was created to encourage these children to fear to be alone near the dangerous shores of the sea, where they could easily fall prey to the natural elements by either drowning or dying from hypothermia.
Tales & Traditions: Qallupilluit
The Central Eskimo (1888) recorded by Franz Boas
An old woman lived with her grandson in a small hut. As they had no kinsmen they were very poor. A. few Inuit only took pity on them and brought them seal’s meat and blubber for their lamp”. Once upon a time, they were very hungry and the boy cried. The grandmother told him to be quiet, but as he did not obey she became angry and called Qallupilluk to come and take him away. He entered at once and the woman put the boy into the large hood, in which he disappeared almost immediately.
Later on the Inuit were more successful in sealing and they had an abundance of meat. Then the grandmother was sorry that she had so rashly given the boy to Qallupilluk and wished to see him back again. She lamented about it to the Inuit, and at length a man and his wife promised to help her.
When the ice had consolidated and deep cracks were formed near the shore by the rise and fall of the tide, the boy used to rise and sit alongside the cracks, playing with a whip of seaweed, Qallupilluk, however, was afraid that somebody might carry the boy away and had fastened him to a string of seaweed, which he held in his hands. The Inuit who had seen the boy went toward him, but as soon as he saw them coming he sang, “Two men are coming, one with a double jacket, the other with a foxskin jacket” (Inung maqong tikitong, aipa mirqosailing. aipa kapiteling). Then Qallupilluk pulled on the rope and the boy disappeared. He did not want to return to his grandmother, who had abused him.
Some time afterward the Inuit saw him again sitting near a crack. They took the utmost caution that he should not hear them when approaching, tying pieces of deerskin under the soles of their boots. But when they could almost lay hold of the boy he sang, “Two men are coming, one with a double jacket, the other with a foxskin jacket.” Again Qallupilluk pulled on the seaweed rope and the boy disappeared.
The man and his wife, however, did not give up trying. They resolved to wait near the crack, and on one occasion when the boy had just come out of the water they jumped forward from a piece of ice behind which they had been hidden and before he could give the alarm they had cut the rope and away they went with him to their huts.
The boy lived with them and became a great hunter.
Nunavut Animation Lab: Qalupalik
Nunavut Animation Lab created an animated version of one of the traditional tales about the Qalupalik, just like all of the folklore originating in Alaskan Native culture, there is always a moral to the story. This is an example of one told to children, to inform them of the dangers of not obeying their parents and wandering by the icy coastal waters on their own. Not to be mistaken with her more traditional lore, the video (linked below) describes a circumstance where the child who was kidnapped is rescued by his father, which of course is not what would typically happen if a child were kidnapped by this Inuit monster of the deep.
Mythical Monsters Podcast: Qalupalik
Another excellent resource for this particular mythical beast is Mythical Monsters Podcast who produced this podcast episode entitled “Qalupalik”. Check it out below!
The Qalupalik (2011)
An even less traditional take on the legend of the Qalupalik was fairly recently made into a children’s book, but it errs more on the side of child-friendly, where it suggests that despite her frightful appearance, she is rather easily tricked. It’s clear through all of the recent reimaginings of the legend of the Qalupalik that this story is still very widely told within Inuit communities, where the parents and teachers alike share this story with the children of the village in order to protect them from a curious and wandering nature.
The Qalupalik (2011) by Elisha Kilabuk is a mystical Inuit tale that has been reworked from its original well-known narrative. In the original folk tale, the children are always considered the victims and much like the grim nature of the folk tales told by the Brothers Grimm, the story ends without coming to the realization of a happy ending. In this version, we see the new tradition of vulnerable children, or the underdog, outsmarting the monster that happens to be bigger, older, and stronger than themselves; an orphan gets the better of the Qalupalik and survives an encounter with the monster.
This is the first book in the Inhabit Media’s Unikkakuluit Series, which features traditional native folklore being retold in new and interesting ways—while these stories pay homage to the original oral tradition of storytelling, they give the newest generation their own stories to identify with. Despite illustrator Joy Ang creating an incredibly frightening visage for these creatures, her illustrations are incredible and the story they sit alongside can give the meekest child reassurance that even the scariest of opponents will have a weakness that can be exploited.
Author. Artist. A little bit Alaskan. Mary lives with her dog in a rural cabin outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. They explore the bounty of the Alaskan wilderness during the summer and cozy up in their log cabin during the winter.
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