The Many Morbid Tales of Spookinite Valley
Written by Benjamin Fouché
I. The Inn
Sheets of rain pound upon the roof of the Gothic structure while lightning brightens the darkening heavens. Thunder rumbles over the vale and the wind whistles through the treetops upon the hillside. Up on the second story of the edifice, through the ghost-like curtains, peers a strange man. He watches while a new visitor hastens through the remorseless rain and moves underneath the porte-cochére. The odd man smiles with such wickedness—and grimly chuckling to himself, he leaves the window, contemplating God-knows-what.
Lightning blazes through the pitiless clouds once more, followed by the thunder. Dusk is, without doubt, descending upon Spookinite Valley: it is the time when wraiths of the night can call out to one another, gesturing to the unwary. This is indeed going to be quite an evening! Something lingers inside the Inn, only waiting to inflict such horror upon the world. The truth is hidden within the forgotten walls and many secrets have been awaiting their revelations for over a century. And now, hurrying inside, the new guest enters through the thick-walnut doors. And sadly, the guest who arrived moments ago does in fact happen to be you, dear reader. Yes, you thought you were safe simply reading this tale. Well, now you understand how wrong you were.
Here you now stand solitarily in the parlor of the Inn. The velvet chairs must have offered comfort long ago, however, now they are coated in cobwebs and dust. Spiders wriggle their legs above you while they suspend themselves from the high ceiling. Candelabra glow from upon the plaster-peeling walls. The dying flames dance upon their wicks as a cold draft sweeps through the room. Following a long carpet, you make your way to the front desk. The caretaker steps out of the doorway and slowly makes his way toward you. The most fitting word that can describe the man’s face is simply corpse-like. He wears a rich-ebon suit with a blood-red waistcoat—and beneath the waistcoat is a formal cravat. He says to you,
“Greetings. My name is Mansfield. And please excuse my dead appearance, for I am a very aberrant man with many aberrant conditions. Nevertheless, may you rest assured that I do not pose harm. Now, please allow me to direct you to your room. I shall guide you up the stairs to the floor above.”
Stepping behind the eccentric gentleman, you push the abandoned works of spiders aside and curiously glance over your shoulders every so often. When you and Mansfield reach the curving stairwell, he stops and faces you with an earnest expression upon his face. He then continues on. Down the hallway, you move beyond more antique and tattered chairs, also mummified in cobwebs and dust. The timeworn sconces hanging from the walls are spaced far apart, making the hallway duskier. While you near the end, Mansfield seizes a key from his waistcoat’s pocket. Handing the silver skeleton key over to you, he peers into your eyes and thereafter grins with every single one of his skeletal teeth. When Mr. Mansfield finishes, he leaves sluggishly—and before he begins his descent down the stairwell, he pulls a candle from a candelabrum. The glow of the flame casts a grim shadow upon the walls. Mr. Mansfield’s manners are all too strange, and there is a baleful sensation developing within your soul.
As it is in every other room of the Inn, a weak flame is the only source of light rendered. However, your bed is made neatly and a small table rests beside it with the candleholder placed atop a book. The gale prolongs its rage over the dale; its howls become even more menacing, prior to your arrival. But all at once, you hear a distinct knock on your bedchamber’s door. Turning your head, you become increasingly hesitant of answering, acknowledging that whoever could stand behind the door is, in all probability, Mr. Mansfield. While you creep over to the chamber’s door, you listen—there is yet another knock.
“Mr. Mansfield?” you ask—yet nobody answers.
You decide that it is best not to open the door, since whoever it was never responded. While you continue listening, you hear footfalls resound down the hall and fade with the dreadful silence. Your unease of this old Inn is strengthening by the hour. You must not return to the parlor until dawn—something is not quite right. Endeavoring to ignore whoever it may have been, you lean against a pillow and two cushions. Lifting the candleholder above the book, you see the word ‘guestbook’ is engraved into the cover. Opening the book, you realize how aged the pages are: all the way through they have yellowed. You begin reading each entry. They are thus:
September 29th, 1832
Since my arrival, here at this sorrowful Inn, I find the caretaker, Mr. Mansfield, to be a quaint character. He acts in a rather unusual manner and his appearance is extraordinarily hideous. One could gaze at him and receive a surge of chills through his nerves. Though it is quite evident that Mr. Mansfield is abnormal, he seems to be up to something worrying. I do not know what exactly, but I can indeed feel fear itself pervade my soul. While I write this entry, the wind is crying outside my window and I can hear the leaves crackling about the surrounding thickets. A sense of darkness is in the autumn air.
You flip several more pages further:
October 30th, 1846
I am unmistakably certain that I am the only one staying here for the evening. But, of course, Mr. Mansfield resides here, yet he does not feel like an actual present, living-soul. I could not help but stare into his sunken eyes while he greeted me at the front desk; it is rather discomforting being around the cadaverous man. After I was led to my bedchamber, I checked my door’s lock twice and shut the curtains too. The flame is flickering rapidly on my candle’s wick while I write this log—an ill-omen perhaps? I shall indeed not rest well tonight. I hope dawn shall break soon.
November 13th, 1864
This Inn is reminiscent of a nightmare I once had. I felt as if I were being stared upon by fixed-eyes when I arrived—and thus, my perception was unerring. Upon entering the parlor, I made my acquaintance with Mr. Mansfield, the caretaker. He grinned towards me with such an unnerving expression upon his face. I pretended that I did not notice and proceeded forward to the desk. He greeted me with kindness, yet acute anxiety lingers within my spirit. After Mr. Mansfield led me to my room, I watched him leave—just to know for certain that the odd man was gone. My sleeping quarters are the same as the antechamber, parlor, stairwell and hallway: dim and dusty.
Once again, you turn many more pages—only to find similar entries.
December 26th, 1897
A sensation deeply embedded in my bones urges me to leave this inn tomorrow. I am indeed certain that there is a dark secret hidden within the walls of this structure. Why do I feel that the caretaker, Mansfield, is plotting something? The uneasiness has not diminished since my arrival and I fear that I have accidently put myself in grave danger. Whoever may be reading this entry, you too must do the same, for you do not know that your visit here could indeed be fateful. Goodbye.
These past visitors have all shared the same sentiments that you have felt concerning Mr. Mansfield. Should you attempt to leave tonight, would the ghoulish man confront you? Or is Mansfield a harmless soul with an unusual personality? It might indeed be irrational to secretly make your departure now. Perhaps you should stay here until the morrow rises. Shutting the guestbook, you place it on to the table and set the brass candle holder back atop it. And now, while the long-case pendulum clock tolls ten, you understand that there are only two hours until midnight. Crawling underneath the warm covers, you make a fruitless attempt to rest—but the obstinate uneasiness persists; perhaps there actually is something malign about this place.
Footfalls increase while you try to close your eyes—the sounds continue—almost as if someone is pacing to and fro. But moments after the noises cease, you are finally able to fall into a weak slumber. And yet, you are awoken once again by the disquietude of your surroundings. There are many other sounds, only this time, they come from within the walls: there is knocking, shuffling, and scratching. Sitting erect in bed, you listen more—when quite suddenly—a part of the wall begins to creak ajar. For a few seconds, a silence holds dominion over all, but shortly thereafter, the secretive door begins to open wider—and wider—and widest! In the light of your candle peers Mr. Mansfield from inside the passageway. He leers towards you and says, “You appeared quite peaceful while you slept ever so soundly.”
Hastening out of bed, you charge headlong towards the bedchamber door—but Mansfield clutches your arm with remarkable strength (despite his frail appearance). While attempting to flee out of your sleeping quarters, you strike your elbow into his abdomen. It feels as if you threw your elbow against a skeleton. The ghoul falls to the floor and you are released. But alas, he climbs up and pursues you. Rushing into another bedroom across the hallway, you slam its door shut and lock it. Mansfield rattles the door knob while you stand motionless in the murky darkness. Unaware of which direction you are moving towards, you place your hand on to something unexpected. Your very own hand now holds something cold—almost as if you are touching a cadaver’s stiffened hand. Enshrouded in terror, you stand in the room—no longer alone. The hand releases yours, there is a quick scraping, and then, light. Holding a match and a candlestick, and towering over you, is a very unnatural man: his skin is a dark emerald and his irises are a deep crimson. The being holds the candle up to his face and stares into your eyes for a moment.
Rushing away, you thrust open the bedchamber door and leap outwards—but Mansfield strides out from the shadows ahead and says, “I see that you have become acquainted with my dear friend, Chester. Oh, indeed, how wonderful this night will be!” Impaling his very own sharp, skeletal fingers into his weak skull, Mansfield begins to pull—and this action is followed by the sounds of dried flesh shredding and solid bone cracking. Then, as the severed head coughs, all of the candles are snuffed out. The unsettled shadows begin to envelope your environment. In one hand, Mansfield holds his head by its white, remaining hairs. The head thus declares, “I shall have to do precisely the same to you.” Mansfield’s body now hobbles towards you. Releasing a shriek, you rush through the darkened hallway; where shall you hide now?
You throw yourself into the bedroom at the end of the hall, shutting and locking the door. Mansfield throws his fists against it. Hopefully the door holds for a few moments. Feeling your way through the bedchamber, you accidently open a secret door—similar to the one of which Mansfield used to encroach upon you. Knowing they will soon break in, you enter and shut it. You now stand in a narrow passageway built within the walls. While proceeding forward, something crunches beneath your foot. You take another step into the shadows—and yet again, you feel something splinter underneath your weight. Placing your hands on to the objects lying about the floor, you feel something smooth. One specific piece of the strange material is long and has knob-like formations on both ends. But before you can figure out what the objects are, Mansfield and Chester open the hidden door of the passageway.
Their candles’ light shines upon your surroundings, and indeed, you realize what the strange things on the floor are: bone fragments, skulls, ribcages—they lie beyond the rays of the candlelight. And lurking nearer, Mansfield keeps his candlestick close to his decapitated head, which wriggles in his grip. Stumbling through the bones in terror, you wonder if there could exist an exit. But before you are even aware, you plummet to the bottom of a vertical shaft, shrieking before landing into the remains of past visitors. Both Chester and Mansfield peer below upon where you lie. They grin and hasten off—undoubtedly to leave your suffering soul here eternally. Nevertheless, you are determined to discover a way in which you can escape. While you crawl out of the bones, you see a thin frame of light emanating from a wall. Perhaps it is an exit. Placing your hands against it, you enter what appears to be the parlor. And sparing no time, you proceed into the antechamber.
Pushing your hands against both heavy doors, you curse whilst they remain locked from the outside. You thrust with greater strength, yet still—they remain shut. Indeed, it seems that all of your efforts are in vain. Understanding that Mansfield and Chester could indeed return, you move through the parlor, and then through a doorway. Pulling the door shut, you now stand in a dim room. You begin to observe your surroundings, searching for a place from which you may flee. Beside a window is a desk—and on it lies a journal. Next to the journal is the half of a skull that has been crafted into a candle-fixture. The soft flame burning on the wick is motionless. Your curiosity increases while you are mysteriously compelled to open the journal:
October 1st, 1756
For innumerable centuries, we have sprouted within the shadows of this vale, but alas! there is a dream I can no longer endure. I see the moon gleaming high over the meadows. Motionless in the nightly heavens it rests, immense and pumpkin-hued, with such exquisite majesty. Faint, burning lights scuttle through the thousands of cornstalks. Abhorrent creatures rise from underneath the earth. Vines as their arms, with sharp, jagged teeth. A vile, slender grin full of unredeemed wickedness and inexorable rage. Inside them, a hunger strengthens vastly. I see myself releasing a fury upon the temporal realms while my very own kind feasts upon the living. I see fear itself shrouding every corner of the world. A power flows through my black essence. I laugh while I breathe fire and smoke.
You begin turning at least a few hundred more pages, curious:
October 18th, 1834
Merely great desires borne from my yearnings, my visions shall one evening transfigure into a cold and merciless reality. Foolish traveler after foolish traveler, my kin gain more and more. I can sense the Eternal Night; the hour is indeed drawing near. The deplorable souls of mortals are the divine key to beginning a dominion of utter and pure madness. My servants shall join my relentless mirth and my kin shall dine upon the living quite messily. Cauldrons will boil while the enthralling sound of hearts pounding resonates in the cold air. Oh, how joyful these imminent times shall be. The gift which I bestow will be shared throughout all of time.
You then flip the pages to the most recent entry—and your horrid anticipation is only increased further:
October 31st, 1899
Tonight, all shall live—for my age has descended. Prior to the moment at which I write this, a new visitor arrived at our Inn. My dear and trustful servant, Mansfield, perceives our most recent guest to be exceptionally observant. Past visitors could usually perceive our intentions, but this one is more than perceptive—for this lonesome traveler seeks the truth—and indeed, the truth we shall reveal. Thus now, the tempest is only looming—patience; when comes the minute before midnight, time shall cease, and the disturbing amusement begins.
† The Master †
This very year is indeed 1899—and this very evening is indeed October 31st—and the new visitor mentioned in the journal is indeed you. What has been written in the log is all too much for your bemused mind to comprehend—you must leave now—your very own life, soul, and well-being depend on it! After hurrying towards a window, you use a chair to break the thin glass. But alas, before you are able to strike it with the chair, you are confronted by the lord of this demesne. Staring into your troubled eyes and smiling rather sullenly, there before you floats a spirit of pure darkness: The Master. His scowling eyes carved upon his pumpkin-head possess an amber glow. His shadowy fingers stretch outwards like the claws of a creature. The wraith’s shredded, dark-violet hooded cloak ripples. While he begins to speak, a fire within him ignites and black smoke wafts from his skeletal nostrils, “Now then, what matter concerns you so, that one, such as myself, might discover you in here?”
Unable to articulate a single word, you continue to prolong your gaze upon him. He laughs and speaks once more, saying, “I hope you have enjoyed your time reading this, but there is something you must know: you shall perish in this valley tonight.” After he declares this, the candlelight gradually dims. The Master fades with the shadows like a smoke, glaring upon your futile existence. And in an instant, the sound of doors slamming reverberates throughout the whole of the Inn’s interior. Without hesitation, you use the chair to shatter the window’s frail glass and hasten into the horror of Hallowe’en night.
Clouds stretch across the sliver of moon and the dead, wet leaves are scattered by a ghost-like breeze. Branches shake from the towering hemlocks, hickories, maples and oaks. Through the forest is a small trail winding forward: your only freedom. Making haste with the gusts of wind, you hurry onwards into the night. Through the pine-scented woodlands, you advance farther from the Inn—wishing to forsake the nightmares that reside within its shadows. Alas, this evening has only commenced—and there are other nightmares that await you. The words of which The Master spoke resonate with your every heartbeat,
“You shall perish in this valley tonight.”
II. The Rural Hauntings
Uncertain of whether it is behind or beside you, you hurry forward while your instincts whisper that something brooding is near. As the clouds swallow the silky moonlight, shrieks arise over the air. The wet leaves stick underneath your feet while you bolt farther into the unknown. Beyond each tree, the woodlands of this valley stretch unendingly. The premonition then grasps your heart so tightly that you fear it is no longer beating. Farther along through the hollows, you watch as a mist emerges from the surface. Hastening deeper into the shadows, you make your way through the underbrush—when quite suddenly—you stumble on to what you presume to be a mere pumpkin patch. However, something else is very peculiar about this clearing of land.
While you gaze over the massive field, a bonfire is lit in a moment of fury. Rising into the shrouded sky from behind the flames is The Master. Soaring, he causes several iron kettles forming a circle to begin boiling. Grinning in a ghastly manner, The Master hymns an unhallowed carol:
“Entirely conjured from thy grim pumpkins and thy darkest burnings;
“I have summoned thee from my very own grisly desires and horrid yearnings;
“Churning violently, and shaping fearsomely, I willingly share my enduring gloom;
“So thus thy terror cast from thy shadows can malevolently loom.
“And thenceforth, I now declare this temporal realm, thine.”
Thousands of vines squirm beneath the soil while hundreds of snarls thunder. Tearing open one another here and there, the awoken pumpkin-daemons begin to breathe a deathly life. Eyes glare with a fire and mouths with jagged teeth widen. Up in the heavens, the slender moon becomes fuller and orange: The Lunar Cycle has been broken—ushering in the Eternal Night.
Further off in the field of baleful harvest, a traveler shrieks while he is eaten alive by the creatures. You implore them all to end their wrath, but alas, this worsens the situation. They all stare towards you and see your helpless position—their hunger is agitated; they smell your scent of fear—their hunger is invoked further; they perceive that you understand how minimal your chance of survival is—their hunger becomes uninhibited. As you make haste back into the brushwood, they shriek. The vile creatures hurl their arms, advancing towards you. Then, out of nowhere lunge more of the hobgoblins. You witness the two groups merge into a horde before hurrying in another direction.
After stumbling farther into the woodlands, you quickly conceal yourself underneath the long limbs of a decaying maple. The wails of other victims reverberate throughout the night. While more of the creatures scavenge around in the leaves, your pounding heartbeat echoes over your very own thoughts. They crawl nearer—and you tremble—understanding that your unmerited death is near. There is a persistent silence that settles over the wilderness—but nothing happens—only the dread is lengthened. Yet lastly, when the quietness is broken, the pumpkin-daemons uncover your place of hiding. Ominously eyeing you, they leer—knowing how flavorsome you are.
You are surrounded and rendered helpless—even so, you are willing to do anything in order to escape this nightmare. Prowling nearer to where you crouch, the creatures open their sharpened jaws—they all are about to dine without proper courtesy. But in desperation, the will to survive possesses your every thought and action. Scurrying over the repugnant beings, you watch as they become disturbed further and scuttle after you. Shrieking, they slash their vine-talons through the air and hiss venomously. Their eyes burn while the gusts of wind moan through the thickets. Ravens perching on branches above caw and ghoulish whines call out over the valley. Out from underneath the arms of the trees, you rush into the moonlit cornfields—the thousands of stalks give the dale an even more unwelcoming feeling—they appear like slender nightstalkers, beckoning all souls to come forth while they sway in the wind. The bitter coldness constricts itself around you while the pumpkin-daemons continue to skulk through the fields. They knock over the cornstalks—and they shriek as they shred even more destructively through the corn.
Several other tormenting screams of victims resound into the air. And in the heavens above rises The Master, who only bestows a scornful laugh and encourages his children to carry forth their mayhem. But quite suddenly, you trip on the root of an oak and fall on to the ground. As you struggle to your feet, many of the pumpkin-daemons approach where you lie. And as you try to hasten off, one seizes your ankle, causing you to collapse for the second time. One bites into your leg. Crying, anguished, you attempt to writhe out of the creature’s bite.
Yet finally, after many fruitless attempts, you are able to thrust the being off from your leg and crush it against the bark of a tree trunk. This causes the creature to splatter into an orange, gory pulp. While you stagger away into the woodlands, the others charge towards you, proving once more to hold no clemency. While hurrying on through a ravine, you hear their loathsome howls. But several yards ahead, there appears to stand a hollowed tree rotting upon a hillside. Knowing it is your only hope, you crouch on to your knees and crawl into the decomposing hickory. Through a smaller hole inside the trunk, you gaze upon the scene of hundreds of pumpkin-daemons lumbering onward into the dead of the Eternal Night.
Thankfully, they have lost your scent—that is, momentarily. Nevertheless, you feel slight relief and begin to admire the light of the moon shining through the shadowing treetops. But although all seems well, you must remain heedful of the other menaces that reside in this haunted place. Crawling out from the safety of the tree, you listen as the noises of the creatures fade into the stillness. But observing your environment further, you catch a glimpse of a weak glow; it hovers beyond the trees—and this glow does not belong to a creature, but a burning flame. And the more you stare towards the dim radiance, the more you realize that the lights belong to lanterns—lanterns held by Mansfield and Chester; the two ghouls are drawing near—you must make haste to get far from them. Thus, you advance into another direction, only further isolating yourself.
Sometimes the woods creak whilst the wind sweeps over the valley. The prideful owls release their ever so quiet carols, hymning to the other nightly songs. The clouds occasionally thin, permitting the stars to gaze upon the autumn countryside. You pray that Chester and Mansfield do not find you, for another confrontation with them would mean certain death. Turning your head, you watch the faint light of their lanterns weaken, until it fades into the gloom. Advancing along a rusted fence-line, you continue to move into the unknown.
You feel such dread hanging over this vale. Intermittently, the orange moon will make attempts to appear, and thereafter reappear, through the clouds. The cold, fall air sweeps over your head, then brushing the tops of the oaks, cedars, maples and hemlocks amongst the hillsides. Eventually, you become weary, and begin seeking a place in which you may rest undisturbed. Several yards ahead, atop a knoll, rests a deserted barn. The arms of a dead hickory slouch upon the tin roof of the structure. One of the old doors slightly hangs open over the hill; perhaps you will find sanctuary within the barn. The pumpkin-daemons are still out there, and perhaps if you were to cross their path again, they would finally devour you in the most torturous manner.
It is indeed best that you take a moment to rest in the barn. Your chances of survival could become greater. Walking over to the door, you hear its wood groan while you pull it open further. And screeching, several small bats flutter down from the hayloft and out the entrance. While stepping into the structure, you feel a sudden breeze shut the door, leaving you alone in the darkness. You step forward while your eyes adjust. A few holes in the roof allow the orange rays of moonlight to beam through. Indeed, as the night continues, the barn mice keep you company while you sleep in the hay. Time passes, and you sleep more. . .
You are awakened by the crying of the pumpkin-daemons. You become as petrified as a cadaver rotting underneath the earth; motionless and feeling utter distress, you tremble. The wood and timbers overhead shudder while the beings knock their vines against the outside of the barn. Indeed, they seem to surround the whole structure. One by one, planks are torn from the sides. The creatures’ vines slither through the cracks of the decaying boards and their eyes peer through the holes. They bite and tear through the wood, all wanting to consume your flesh and bones. Slowly, the barn begins to collapse; beams splinter and the walls lean inwards. This could very well be your final moment. Might an anguishing fate truly await you? Will you indeed perish in this valley tonight, as prophesized by The Master? Perhaps all hope has ceased. The creatures crawl into the barn, but you instinctively rush through them. The pumpkin-daemons graze your flesh with their teeth and gash you with their talons. Nevertheless, you are still alive—the end has not yet come.
They whip their vines upon your back, yet you must continue to endure their wrath if you are to live. Their grim faces gleam in the darkness of the night while they crawl faster. But suddenly, a bellow bursts into the air; however, the sound did not emanate from any of the pumpkin-daemons. They all cease their pursuit. You too begin to increasingly slow your leap while you gaze around the abruptly silenced landscape. There is yet another howl that reverberates. The sound dies with the winds. The hanging clouds part and the glowing moon sluggishly reappears with its deep-pumpkin shade. The murk in the heavens becomes translucent and the faint orange light illuminates the wilderness. The creatures have since departed, for even they fear what is looming.
While you stare into the thickets, something dark silently emerges from the shadows. Enormous arched legs stretch forth. The shape of the thing thereafter becomes more distinctive, having eight legs, broad jaws, and five small, lustrous, ebony eyes. The nightshaded arachnid gazes upon you without making a single noise. The Spidress preserves her impeccable stillness. You too are there, standing inert, helplessly within her watchful sight and attention. And without prior notice, she releases an ear-piercing cry. Raising her front legs, she shrieks again, only this time, louder and deeper. In an instant, she seizes you with her jaws and scuttles away into the woodlands. You wail while The Spidress drags you farther into the duskiness.
Through the woods, you are pulled farther and farther through the wet leaves. Your screams and cries join the other shrieks of unwary victims. Every tree, sapling, root, stone and stump that you desperately clutch on to cannot ward off the strength of The Spidress. Your fingers claw through the leaves and twigs while many thoughts pervade your mind. You will surely perish in this valley tonight: The Master was unerring. And now, you are rendered only fear and death. Why have you inherited this fate? Why must you rot—forgotten by all?
Advancing upon a clearing in the forest, The Spidress releases you upon the scythed corn roots. The black, thin veins in the heavens part from the pumpkin-hued moon. The orange glow thereupon descends while many noises emanate from the arachnid. Raising her front limbs, she shrieks, thereafter hurling herself towards you. Evading The Spidress’s movements, you fall once more upon the earth. Then, hundreds of otherworldly cries resound from afar and yonder. Indeed, the pumpkin-daemons have discovered your whereabouts, and like The Spidress, they too desire to dine upon you. Skulking out from underneath the underbrush, the encircling horde lumbers nearer and nearer—now approaching. The creatures sense your indulging fear—how it enthralls each of them rigorously!
But amid the endless woe, a faith is bestowed upon you. This faith is miraculous. And therefore, you hasten through the multitude of hobgoblins. Behind you, your pursuers wail in the deadness of the night. The murk encloses your surroundings in every direction—yet you must persevere through this treacherous event. The pumpkin-daemons lurk about here and there—and The Spidress’s earsplitting shrieks seem to resound from every direction. The noises clutch your ever so increasing heartbeat. The Spidress and creatures cry, howl, wail and shriek—deep, piercing, low and forbidding—with hunger, passion, violence and thirst—all nasty, loathsome and wicked. You push aside the underbrush, moving farther from the creatures. Ink-like shadows fall—the moonlight is consumed again—and the wind gusts gnaw about your nose and cheeks. And once more, you stumble on to yet another field of pumpkins.
Before you are thousands of seemingly lifeless pumpkins—alas, they are indeed sentient beings. An unseen force quakes beneath the earth and a vine sluggishly slithers through the soil and grips on to your leg. But while you writhe out of the being’s grasp, there suddenly comes forth an understanding that you have entered the gates of an unhallowed domain. The Master glides through the heavens—and pointing his long, shadowy finger to you, he grimly proclaims, “You shall perish in this valley tonight.” Thereafter, in an intense pandemonium, the pumpkins are infused with life. They tear out their innards and transmute into their true forms. But as all hope seems to diminish, you suddenly notice that a long-forgotten mansion rests a few hundred yards across the harvesting patch—it is the only haven you are rendered—you must hurry up to it now!
While you rush towards the abandoned manor, thunderclouds churn about, roaring in the tempest. The claws of the creatures make countless attempts to inch into your skin—wanting to shred it from your bones and devour every portion of your delectable body. Their vines cause you to stumble every few yards. More and more initiate the process from which they inhale the grimness that nourishes them. Indeed, the souls of those who succumbed to the valley’s deceit are embedded within each pumpkin-daemon. The Master continues provoking the creatures with his dark, scorching laughter. Each one that you dash by appears to awaken instantaneously—wrenching itself out from the earth. They plunder through each other, all endeavoring to reach you. You hurry out of the pumpkin patch and find your way up to the front yard of the home through the fence’s archway.
You gaze upon the house’s imposing four columns guarding the entrance. The crooked shutters swing open and shut in the gusts of wind. Indeed, a strange fancy is luring you inside. But without warning, reality returns: the odious beings have surrounded the entire structure. And leading them merrily, The Master grins. The bellows and shrieks of the pumpkin-daemons become louder and louder. The mansion is your only sanctum—you must enter before you are feasted upon. Heaving open the two, sturdy doors, you move into the mysterious home. And as the two doors slam shut from behind, all hope of escaping this unpitying night gradually dies within. It is after you bolt the doors that you know there is a terrible presence inhabiting the depths of this dwelling.
III. The Spookinite House
You have endured this everlasting night. A secret you discovered at the Inn has awoken something of a malevolent nature. And now, it has left you here, alone, standing among the shadows of this mansion. Nonetheless, you are, by no means whatsoever, alone—for there are many presences lingering in these halls. They whisper to one another, lying in wait. Their desires are quite malign—you must remain watchful at all times. While you walk through a doorway, an oppressive sensation hangs over you. A musty draft passes through while the sound of heavy shoes descends a stairwell. Perhaps the occupants are aware of your arrival.
Hurrying out of the foyer, you set foot into the house’s melancholy parlor. The wood creaks beneath your feet and it is dim in this room; a candle resting on an antique table emits a subdued glow. In the feeble, wavering light, you notice a coffin leaning against the corner of the chamber. But the lid is wide open and unsettled dust drifts away from the interior in the candlelight. Perhaps a body was reposing inside it a few moments prior to you entering the abode. This very thought troubles you. Only the most grotesque corners of your mind can bestow upon you the appearance of this latent, undead fiend.
While you approach the coffin, more footfalls resound throughout the manor. Someone is, without doubt, lurking about within this shadowed residence. Advancing over to another corner in the parlor, you crouch behind a chair to hide yourself—and during the same moment, a figure enters the room. The shape walks over to the coffin with a mournful gait. He thereafter faces the table beside it. He wears a tenebrous coat from head to toe—a finely polished top hat rests atop his skeletal head. Pinching the wick with his fingers, he brings death to the flickering flame. And there, in the orange moonlight filtering through the foyer’s windows, he grins. The shape then takes something out from his coat pocket and lays it on the table: a needle and a spool of thread. After this, the man vanishes out of the room.
Imaginably, he will return—you must leave this room before the ghoul carries on with undertaking God-knows-what. As you advance through another towering doorway, the wind gusts wail louder and several knocks echo—they originate from every direction. Farther on, down the vast and cold hall, you finally reach a stairwell; it curves up into the mysterious unknown. Well aware of the ghoul that is prowling about on this floor, you decide it is wisest to explore the second story. As you make your ascent, you perceive something is terribly wrong. When you step on to the upper floor, the feeling pervades your spirit. Near the very end of this hall, directly to the left, is a door ajar; the weak and fading glow of long-burning candlelight gleams out from the crack of the door’s opening.
Moving forward, you become nearer and nearer to the curious door. Your very own heartbeat increases profoundly; it pounds against your chest with such force that you fear it will splinter your ribcage. Upon pushing the door open and entering the room, you stop: there are fifty or fifty-five chairs scattered about the room, and withered cadavers lie in them in unnatural positions. Some are even wearing dark, hooded gowns, and others wrapped in dark, shredded cloaks. In their ashen hands are dying candles—with wax, long melted and hardened on to their fingers. While you take backward steps, you tremble. But quite suddenly, as if the circumstance could not have become any more disturbing, you sense an unwanted presence from behind. It is Mansfield.
“It is indeed pitiable that you chose to leave me at the Inn. You see, my amusement had merely begun, but of course, you had to disrupt my joy by departing without even bidding a farewell. And for this, I am maddened. In consequence of your discourtesy, I shall have to decapitate you and use your splendid head for ornamental purposes,” says Mr. Mansfield.
While you shriek, Mansfield chuckles. Rushing away through the room, you come across another doorway and enter. While you push aside what feel to be strips of fabric dangling all about, Mansfield follows. Advancing farther on, you stumble upon something else: suspended from the ceiling is an upside-down, hollowed-out corpse with bat-like wings crafted from dried skin and crispy bones. You release a cry. Hastening away from the unhallowed relic, you discover another stairwell and dart down its uneven steps, only to find yourself back in the parlor at another dismaying scene: the ghoul seen earlier has swapped the arms and legs of a shriveled corpse lying upon a table. He now sews the opposite parts back on to the body. This Coffin Keeper then places his most recent masterpiece back into the coffin, seeming amused with himself. He then gazes up towards you. Turning around to escape, you realize that the stairwell is quite impassible, for Mansfield begins to make his decent. Screaming, you attempt to move past him; but he snatches you. You cry out as you are dragged over to a coffin that was prepared precisely for you. Both fiends shove you inside and slam the lid shut . . .
—You have awoken in a rather unusual position. Your arms are crossed, but what horrifies you the most is that you seem to be lying in something quite narrow and enclosed. The darkness is black as pitch—you cannot see anything. You begin to hear something fall above you—it crumbles. As this process endures, you understand what is actually occurring: you are in a coffin being buried—being buried quite prematurely. Quickly, you writhe, but your hands feel different—they are abnormally cold and dry. Panicking, you push upwards and the lid opens—the surrounding dirt spilling inwards. Above, gazing down upon you, are the Coffin Keeper and Mansfield. And oh! how charming your misery is to them both! In the moonlight, you stare upon your hands; however, they are no longer the hands you once knew. They are gray and mangled. The skin is so thin and tight that the bones and joints underneath are quite visible.
Mansfield speaks to you, saying, “Unfortunately, you have once again ruined my exquisite bliss and struck an ill-nerve. Therefore, I now must rip apart your every limb—bone from bone, morsel by morsel. Do you understand?”
Yelling, you climb out of your premature grave, pulling yourself out from below the soil. Indeed, the insanity has not ceased its wrath. Both ghouls peruse you with smiles upon their faces. Yet a wrought iron fence seals the yard; tall, black, sharpened rods sentineling every inch. Amongst the mists are hundreds of decaying trees with their limbs hanging below the underbrush. Unfortunately, the house that you loathe is still your only haven, for the fierce pumpkin-daemons continue to stalk the wilderness of the vale. There must exist a place of hiding within the mansion. You quickly advance inside the house’s dead interior once again and lock both doors. As you part the curtains, you watch Mansfield and the Coffin Keeper hasten through the ghostly fog.
Pulling together the draperies of the window, you step away and hurry up a stairwell. Both fiends knock upon the back door, endeavoring to force it open. And as you reach the second floor, the doors thud open. Mansfield heads in one direction while the Coffin Keeper ascends the stairwell. You silently—and observantly—crawl behind a wooden chair and watch through the gaps between the spindles: one of the ghouls passes through a doorway. Thereafter, there is absolute silence—a silence that rings. Crawling out from your place of hiding, you take a few moments to gain your bearings. Indeed, the whereabouts of Mansfield and the Coffin Keeper are now unknown. You must remain wary. While you move through another doorway, a quietness settles over the whole house and the radiance of the moonlight penetrates several windows; the tattered drapes cast wraith-like shadows upon the floor. A draft then causes the silky material to sway back and forth. As you enter another room, you notice a wardrobe in the corner. However, there seems to be something quite enigmatic about the piece of furniture—perhaps something has been locked away within it for decades.
Walking over to the wardrobe, you clutch both silver knobs and open the doors—they groan. Within the old cabinet is a disfigured stiff, helplessly hanging upside down by a rope knotted around its thin ankle. Something very bad has been happening in this house for a long time; you must stay vigilant while you continue about, for you could indeed end up similar to this unfortunate cadaver. Precisely as you move through a doorway, you feel something brush against the back of your legs.
Turning towards the being that made contact, you discover a small, deeply black-hued cat perching before your existence. He looks upon you with his hypnotizing, golden eyes. Purring gracefully, he then crawls alongside you and brushes his furry and spine-bare back against your legs. The kingly feline thereafter stares towards the doorway from which you came and yowls. Loud footsteps resonate here and there. Your attention is seized by this sudden commotion, but when you return your attention back towards the cat, you realize that he has departed without a trace. The ebon cat was an ill-omen, and thus now, something ghastly is imminent—you must quickly advance into the adjoining room before either Mansfield or the Coffin Keeper find you.
Hurrying into the neighboring chamber, you begin to observe your surroundings; you recognize that this particular room appears to be a library—through the darkness, you distinguish several rows of bookshelves that stretch across the wood flooring. The scent of mildew also pervades your nostrils while you hasten forward into the room. The footfalls start up once more—becoming nearer by the second. You must hurry farther on; one of the unforgivable ghouls is scrutinizing his domain. While you hurry towards the end of the library, the sound of feet heavily pressing against the floorboards resonates in every corner. Dashing through a narrow doorway, you quicken your pace down a hallway. To the right is a door widely open. Well aware of the fiend that stalks you, you move into the chamber.
You can slightly discern a tall bed in the corner. Crawling underneath the large bedframe, you conceal yourself as one of the fiends nears the room; and alas, Mansfield is indeed standing in the doorway. Grinning with such a wretched expression upon his face, he quietly walks towards the bedside—slowly—slower—and slowest. His sharp, obsidian shoes are protruding beneath the bedframe, inches from your eyes. You struggle to breathe silently; imprisoning within your chest your every gasp. Mansfield remains motionless, until all at once, he kneels upon the floor there before you. His cold, cadaverous hands clutch your own skeletal hands—the ruby and jade eyes in his hollowed sockets peer into your very own eyes—and he smiles.
“It appears as if I have found you,” he says. In an instant, you are dragged out from under the bed. “How reprehensible it is for you to suppose that I am a mere fool.” You begin shrieking while you understand your attempts to rid yourself of Mansfield’s grasp are fruitless. “Shhhhhh. Hush my dear friend.” He pauses for a brief moment, leering at you. “I must compare my fingers to your very own. You see, I am in earnest need of new ones. During this moment, I am not fond of my own. And your fingers are undoubtedly perfect for my hands. Thus, I shall have to try them on, if you do not mind. It will indeed be of no surprise to me if your fingers were predestined for my hands since the commencement of time.” Immediately, the marrow in your bones runs cold while Mansfield carries on with explaining his nonsense. “From the knuckle, past the joint, to the end.” Pausing for a second, he continues to observe your hand. “Yes, yes. This will do.”
You cry out, thrusting and writhing. In an instant, Mansfield presses you against the old floor, beginning to violently pull away at your fingers, stretching them out as he does. He begins to separate them from your hand—you scream and yell—your poor fingers crack and crunch many times, and before your awareness returns, the dried flesh departs, making a distinct shredding noise. You shriek and implore, watching what he does to you in uttermost horror. Mansfield continues his vile deed with great pleasure, “Forgive me, but you simply must understand my confounding needs. It is only fair that this happens—that, I can assure you.” You shriek louder, yet the reign of dread overcomes your desperately pleading spirit. Gradually, while your consciousness ceases, Mansfield’s appalling face is the last sight your vision beholds . . .
—You cannot recollect the particular details of what occurred, but a few horrific memories become vaguely familiar. Each time you strain your thoughts, there is an understanding that returns—and yet each time, the conception fades into your mind’s abyss. From the few remembrances that linger, you recall the face of Mansfield; what did he do? Your bodily strength is very low, and your surroundings appear distorted. During this moment, you are being lugged by Chester. Your frail arms drag against the cold earth, but something worries you gravely about them: they are twisted, and their positions appear to have been interchanged. As you endeavor to glance over your shoulders, it is during this moment that you become aware of what has truly happened. Your limbs are no longer of much concern, but your head certainly is.
Without care, you are thrown and forsaken at the foot of a decaying tree. And while you gaze upon Chester, he vanishes into the shadows. Why has Chester chosen to abandon you here? Perhaps you were placed by this tree to rot forevermore? Your melancholy soul aches while you watch the heavens shift between various shades of darkness. Then, an odious shriek cries out—and immediately, you stand to your feet by clutching on to the rotting tree’s trunk. The position that your mangled, corpse-like body is in feels uncomfortable; you make many attempts to rid yourself of the excruciating sensation, but at length, the discomfort persists. Your very own head has undoubtedly been sewn on backwards. Thankfully, however, your legs have been inverted as well, which means that you are still able to take mere strides.
Wandering through the duskiness, you weep. Indeed, you have been desiccated and disfigured into a hideous corpse—and the worst aspect of this predicament is that you are still alive, and furthermore, can move—of course, only with the most dreadful of paces. Through the cemetery, you stumble upon innumerable rows of gray, dull, and crumbling headstones with names and dates long eroded—forgotten by all. The gravestones stand together over and beyond the hill upon which you walk; all in one deathly union. Peering ahead, you see the wrought-iron gate that surrounds the cemetery. Then, quivering, you lie down in despair and wonder if you will have to forever haunt this churchyard.
But once more, there is another sequence of howls over the landscape, followed by an eerily whistling gale—stirring the long-deceased leaves which have rested over the graves of many for countless decades. The grim, orange radiance of the moon descends while a cloud streaks across it, casting a shadow upon the boneyard. You pull yourself up from the ground by grasping the top of a tombstone. Slowly advancing through an aisle of uneven graves, you try to quicken your movements. But out of nowhere, soaring down from above plummets a winged, skeletal beast of pure fury. Your soul becomes quite dead while the fearsome being grimaces upon you.
An orange light burns within The Vampyre Beast’s hollowed, empty eyes—and while he inhales and exhales, his broad, ribbed chest rises. His spiny, bat-like wings raise upwards while he delivers a thunderous roar. The weight of his monstrous stature causes his boney feet to press into the soft, cemetery soil. His head lowers while his hands clench—and his wings flap, stirring the air. The Vampyre Beast continues to flap his wings, snarling as he does. He slashes his claws into your chest while you shriek. With swift movements, he grasps you with his jagged fingers and ascends into the heavens. You struggle immensely to unshackle yourself from The Vampyre Beast’s clutch. While you writhe in his hold, his unworldly voice cries.
He glides in the nightly winds, but while you carry forth your ineffective fight, he bites into your thin arm and tears the weak limb from its socket. Many pieces of your mutilated arm fall through his jagged ribcage. However, before he is able to consume you further, a low, deep, and formidable voice thunders throughout the heavens.
“It has indeed been finished; I plead with you to bring our guest forth, to me.”
Descending ungracefully to the earth, The Vampyre Beast releases you—and thus, you lie upon the grounds before The Master. He peers into your eyes. His phantasmal, violet shroud flows in the winds, and his long, emaciated fingers stretch. A brooding grin opens upon his pumpkin-head, and flaming sparks fall from his mouth while he frees his laughter. “The end has come now, my misfortunate friend. I shall swallow the Earth, and all of the Heavens. I greatly fear that there is no ceasing what has begun. But you—you shall indeed face The Darkness and see its magnificence.”
Suddenly, thousands of the ravenous pumpkin-daemons surround you. They all advance nearer, shrieking. Their greatest desires are to feast tonight—and indeed, they shall.
“You shall perish in this valley tonight,” says The Master. His words resonate in your mind. You beg him to spare your spirit—but all that he offers is a scornful mirth. He glares upon you and thereafter smiles morbidly. One of the pumpkin-daemons leaps forth and bites into your leg. Another lunges out of the restless horde and digs its sharpened teeth into your shoulder, grinding the bone and desiccated tissue. You scream while a third—and a fourth—and a fifth begin chewing into your flesh. Before you are aware, all of the creatures are devouring you alive. You watch in horror as ribs are torn from your sternum and shriveled muscle is pulled. Darkly, The Master laughs while he observes your pitiable state—the final sight you behold is the pumpkin moon becoming engulfed by the blackening hazes above. All vision is shadowed and your soul is released. Regrettably, however, you are forever imprisoned, and thus reincarnated into one of the pumpkin-daemons. You roam forth and commence your hunt for another hapless mortal; The Dark Sickness holds dominion over all for eternity.
- - - The End - - -
© Spookinite.com - All text, music and photographs by Benjamin A. Fouché