II.  The Rural Hauntings

Written and Illustrated by Benjamin Andrew Fouché

Uncertain of whether he is behind, or beside you, your instincts whisper ethereally that The Master is indeed near. As the darkening hazes swallow the silky moonlight, unnatural shrieks arise into the air, disrupting the stillness of the nightly landscape. The autumnal, shriveled leaves crunch underneath your weary feet, while a remarkably similar sound follows from behind––resounding perpetually. Beyond each sullen tree, the murky and dull timber of this valley unendingly stretches across the remorseless land. The increasingly immense premonition grasps your fearful heart so tightly, that you greatly fear it is no longer beating. Further on, through the gloomy hollows, a chilling and condensed mist emerges from the surface. Hastening deeper into the inexorable shadows, you thrust your way through the thorn-like underbrush, when quite suddenly, you stumble onto what you presume to be a mere pumpkin patch. However, something else is extraordinarily peculiar about this knoll-strewn clearing of land.

While you gaze over the massive and darkened field, instantly, in a moment of such fury and aggression, a bonfire is lit. Thus uncannily rising into the shrouded sky from behind the flames is The Master. Soaring while he whickers deeply, in a malignant rhythm, several iron kettles, which have been scattered throughout, forming a circle, begin to boil. Grinning in an exceedingly ghastly manner, The Master hymns such an unhallowed and formidable 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 realm, thine.” He pauses for a brief moment and then finishes, “The abundant darkness has been let loose upon the deplorable and temporal realms.”

Thousands of vigorous vines squirm beneath the rich soil, while hundreds of backbiting snarls thunder with an apocalyptic vehemence. Wrathfully tearing open one another, here and there, the grittily natured creatures begin to breathe a deathly life. Raging eyes glare with a burning gleam, and mouths with jaggedly gnarled teeth widen acutely; the Dark Sickness has commenced. And several yards away in the field of baleful harvest, a futilely vulnerable traveler shrieks agonizingly while he is mercilessly eaten alive by the relentless creatures borne from wickedness. You imploringly cry for them all to end their pitiless wrath, but alas, this merely worsens the unendurable situation. They all stare fixedly, towards where you are standing––they see your helpless position––their hunger is agitated––they smell your every scent of malodorous fear––their hunger is invoked further––they perceive that you understand precisely how minimal your chance of survival is––their hunger becomes uninhibited. As you make haste, back into the shadowed brushwood, their vile and unworldly shrieks call out. The wretched creatures aggressively hurl their rough, vine-like arms, advancing towards you in an animal-like fashion. But in a rather sudden and unforeseen moment, out of nowhere lunge more of the demented hobgoblins. Rushing off into another direction, the two groups merge into a horrendous horde.

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Harvest of Deceit by Midnight Syndicate

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