“Ohhh what the fuck?” Dallas spurts as he stumbles backwards and falls on his ass. “Fuck, fuck fuck fuck fuck this is fucking bad, dude, ffuuhhhck…”
“What is it?!” Hilter shouts as he runs over to help Dallas up. Dallas doesn’t take the help, he just keeps crawling backwards away from the shack, his butt tracing along the track left by the dragged body. “Dallas, speak!”
But Dallas doesn’t speak, he just puts more distance between himself and what he saw inside that ratty wooden shack.
Gripping the bottle tightly in his hand, Hilter approaches the shack and throws the door open. He raises the bottle above his head, ready to bring it down on the ski mask burglar like the ski mask burglar brought his gun down on Dallas’s brother Johnny, but the bottle just hangs there in the air for a moment as the reality of the situation is processed. Hilter lets his arm fall to his side and he drops the bottle. It lands on a rock but doesn’t shatter.
The ratty shack is a hoarder’s den, there’s no doubt about that. Miscellaneous knickknacks and mundane decor pieces – all stolen from houses on White Road, Barnstatter Path, and Fricker Drive, no doubt – are stacked up haphazardly in the corners and scattered about the uncovered muddy floor. A few things were even hung from the ceiling by thin brown vines, including a handgun which doesn’t seem to have a magazine loaded into the handle. In the center of the shack is a pillar which stands to the height of Hilter’s hip – likely a sawed section of a log the man found along the trail, because there’s no way he could have chopped it himself; hell, Hilter can’t fathom how the man even managed to build this shack – covered in a red tablecloth. At the base of the pillar lies the ski mask burglar, except he’s not wearing his black ski mask. He’s not wearing anything, unfortunately, but his filthy, bulbous body is slathered in a thick coating of mud, so there’s that.
The man is also missing his head, along with a semi-circle of flesh and bone between his shoulders… so… there’s also that.
“What… what in the name of God…” Hilter whispers under his breath, but he knows the answer. The boy who told him about this shack, Cooper, his name was; Cooper told him there was a monster living in the Wanaque Reservoir, a massive mutant thing he called The Serpent which screams a banshee’s wail. Cooper said he found The Serpent’s egg and he stole it from the nest, that he ran and ran and ran with the egg in his arms, he ran so fast he missed the turn that would have taken him back to Fricker Drive, and he wound up here. And the ski mask burglar stole the egg from him.
And apparently, The Serpent stole it back.
“This must have happened recently,” Hilter says as he walks into the shack, letting the door slap closed behind him. He bends low and touches two fingers to the ragged bite mark – it’s still wet, but of course it is, it’s pouring right now, the air is easily moist enough to bring a flow to stagnant blood. “This either happened last night or early this morning… but I suppose it doesn’t matter.” Hilter cleans his fingers with the cloth draped over the log – the altar, as the man who once wore a ski mask surely considered it – and then stands up.
Then, he sees the stone sitting on top of the altar. It’s shaped almost like an egg, probably measures about half a foot long and half as wide. It’s not just a rock though, it’s a white crystal, a white quartz crystal with a small growth of lichen sprouting from one edge. Hilter can’t take his eyes off it.
The room begins to sway around Hilter Odolf Williamson. All the knickknacks expand and contract in their own independent rhythms as if they were breathing, and a mad rush of lightness and pleasant euphoria sweeps through Hilter’s troubled mind. He feels a pinpoint pressure an inch above the bridge of his nose, as if a finger reached out from the center of his brain and pressed against the inside of his forehead, it feels… it feels like the touch of God. The Universe has been speaking to Hilter Odolf Williamson ever since he bought his first house on Fricker Drive, She has spoken and sang and told him all sorts of tricky riddles, She has brought him here to this ratty wooden shack in the middle of the woods for a reason, an unknowable reason, the understanding of which has eluded Hilter for days and weeks and months, which has haunted his dreams and kept his mind spinning wildly out of control like a tornado. But now, after all the turmoil and cognitive dissonance, now that Hilter is standing here in the ratty wooden shack with the moldy plywood door, he finally understands: he’s meant to take this crystal. He doesn’t know why, but he knows he needs to take the crystal, and so he does, and as he slips it into the right pocket of his wet sweatpants, the hallucinations abruptly cease. Hilter is alone, standing here in a moldy wooden shack with a dead body on the floor and a rock in his pocket. And the rain pours and pours. And the wind continues to blow.
And now that he’s fully aware of the present moment, Hilter notices just how pungent the reek of death is inside this old ratty shack.
But still, he stays inside for a few moments longer. He bends back down to the disgusting headless body of the ski mask burglar, but not to speak to it, not to pay any final respects. Laying in the burglar’s open left hand is a leather sheath attached to a loop so one may dangle it from a belt. Hilter picks the sheath up, then steps over the body and crouches down to the right side of the ski mask burglar’s soulless corpse. Here, clenched tightly in the burglar’s rigor-mortified hand, is a black dagger with a partially serrated blade. The hilt of the weapon is designed to resemble a bat; there’s even a little bat head at the top of the handle. It takes some doing, but Hilter wedges the handle of the dagger out of the man’s hand, then sheaths it. Then he leaves the ratty wooden shack through its moldy plywood door, never to return.
Hello Commons, this has been the eighth subchapter of the fourteenth story from Convenient Incidents, an anthology of fifteen interconnected short stories which revolve around a man by the name of Hilter Odolf Williamson.
Convenient Incidents is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.
Convenient Incidents is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
If you like Convenient Incidents and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy of the book (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here OR you can buy the ebook for even cheaper here.
If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. Be well Commons~