Chapter 4 - Challange
So the cops were looking for the cannibal. They must have IDed him, or atleast know the previous occupant of this house matched their description. How much longer till they came back with a warrant? Till they burst the door down and found that basement! Found Aiden living here with it!
What’s more, who on earth did that cop see? There was nobody in the house! Aiden searched the house top to bottom, in every spider web filled crack or corner. He was alone. This person, whoever they were had vanished as quickly as they had appeared. What costume was the cop talking about anyway?
Aiden weighed his options. The way he saw it he had two, sleep in the house again or sleep in his car. All logic told Aiden to sleep in his car, but if he started doing that then he would never return to this house. A bed, a fridge now full of food, as much electricity, water and internet access as Aiden could want! Plus, the cops were closing in now. Soon Aiden would have to flee the house anyway, or be caught here with that basement.
Maybe he’d left it far too late to make a decision, distracting himself with more futile searches for his family, but as night came Aiden found himself unrolling his sleeping bag atop that bare matress, blowing into his inflatable pillow, brushing his teeth and settling for sleep.
The bag was warm, the inflatable pillow surpisingly comfortable, but more than that, it was his own bed that he could take anywhere. He breathed deeply as he sank deeper in, letting it envelop him further. The house was freezing at night and Aiden had felt it but tonight his cocoon was paradise. He would have zipped it all the way over his head if not for fear of suffocating. Sleep, the warmest and most comfortable sleep he had known for a long time, soon found him.
Hours slid by.
Lights flickered beyond Aiden’s eyelids. He groaned in his sleep as droplets of snow fluttered and glided to gentle landings atop his sleeping bag. A gust of frozen air stroked his face leaving an icy chill to sink its teeth into his skin as the lights grew brighter. With another grown and wrinkled eyes Aiden awoke, eyelids slowly opening to close again immediately. Coloured lights met his gaze, shimmering below the ceiling, lines of green, red, yellow arcing across the room. It took a moment for Aiden’s semi conscious mind to recognise what he was seeing.
A horn sounded, that horn sounded! That same knelling off-key note thundering out. With a scream Aiden jolted awake, staring up at the arora below the ceiling, the genle snow trickling down inside the room, fading in from some unknowable reality and littering the room.
Aiden wrenched the zip open and rolled from the bed to the floor beside as the whole room glowed with the colours of those spectral Nordic lights. He grabbed his gun, fully loaded, and a torch and in nothing more than his underwear, wrenched open the bedroom door. Nothing was there, save more of the aroura and snow, drenching the carpets with frozen squelching screams under Aiden’s feet as he leapt down the stairs. That horn, whatever it was, had come from there.
As Aiden descended the stairs the horn sounded again.
“What! Where are you!”
Aiden roared, feral, as he swung the gun wildly, shining his torch from room to room. There were more horns, fainter, different notes, sounding as if they were much futher away. Were they out in the streets? They were constant now, the constant droning invisible horns with beating drums to match, drowning out any note of reason. As Aiden grit his teeth in confused anger.
The basement was still locked and Aiden could see the kitchen from here, nobody. He stepped into the living room and everything fell silent. He glanced to the left, to the other entrance to the kitchen, nothing, around the room, to the ancient TV, the couches with cusions as thin as sheet, to the bookshelves caked in inches of dust. There was nothing. The house was still now. Aiden drew a trembling breath.
One blast shot through Aiden’s body. That horn again, louder than he had ever heard, as if it were right infront of him. In one moment every piece of furniture in that room, ancient and heavy, was flung backwards from the centre, from where the invisble horn had blown. The couches were hurled against the walls, the TV shattered, tearing wallpaper and fragments of brick with it.
Aiden recovered, having stepped back and hid his face, and looked again infront of him, to the centre of the room. Nothing, but those droning horns in the distance, complete with drums, had started up again and on the opposite wall Aiden saw clear writing as if it were scratched into the wall with a sword, more of those symbols.
Seeing nothing to shoot, Aiden ciould do nothing but stagger backward out of the room until another sound caught his ear, laughter. It was muffled but it was deep. It was to Aiden’s left. He looked over, the basement door was there but a little further was the kitchen and that safe under the sink!
Aiden spun and ran back upstairs. He stuffed his laptop and charger into his laptop-bag by the bed and grabbed his phone, searching the internet for nearby hotels. It wouldn’t connect. He tried again but there was no internet connection.
Footsteps, loud and heavy thudded from beyond the open door to the bedroom. Aiden turned just in time to see some charging shape ram its knee into his face.
Everything throbbed with cold, cramped stillness. The book loomed over, it’s cover a perfect blackness, no shine of material or faded patches. It almost looked like an open doorway with no light beyond. Aiden saw it there floating in the void before him and as he looked into its darkness, he couldn’t mistake the feeling as if the dark itself was a face, its gaze scrutinising his very being.
He woke on the bedroom floor, lying on his back by his home and laptop bags, phone on the floor beneath him, gun in his hand, a stiff back and, surprisingly, no pain in his head. The aroura below the ceiling was gone and melted snow droplets still littered the room as the bright morning sun trickled in through the window, attempting to dry the sodden carpet.
Aiden sat up and listened. Nothing. He flicked the safety back on his gun and picked up his phone. The webpage was still trying to load. Could something be stopping it? Could that book?
Aiden’s stomach lurched at the thought of that book. Had he just been dreaming about it?
He began to stand up and stopped halfway on hearing hushed whispers. They stopped as he stopped to listen. It was silent. It was around seven in the morning now, Aiden was starving.
With phone in one hand and gun in the other Aiden braved the stairs. The entire house felt cold and damp, or maybe that was due to the fact that he still wasn’t dressed. He caught a glinting light out of the corner of his eye and looked to the bathroom, the bathroom mirror, the only one in the house, was shattered into a million tiny fragments. How brittle was that thing? Aiden continued on. With every step he was sure that he could still hear that whispering, but there was only silence.
Downstairs was a mess. The livingroom furniture was in bits, slammed against the walls, one small couch had even destroyed the kitchen table, books littered the floor and those infernal, angular, jarring symbols stood gashed into the wall, open wounds. Aiden almost considered it interesting to know what they meant, almost.
He reached what was left of the kitchen and got some breakfast, sliglty amazed that the fridge was still in place and working as he retrieved the milk. He sat, in his underwear, on one of the few dining chairs not destroyed, a lone island in the wreckage of the kitchen, gun and phone on his lap with his cereal bowl and spoon in his hands, in complete silence.
That whispering was there. He couldn’t hear it but he knew it was there, gnawing at the back of his head. He refused, focussing all his attention on the food. He would eat, he would shower and dress, and he would leave. His mind was made up, yet wth each passing bite the gnawing became that much stronger. He knew where it was coming from.
With a third of his bowl left Aiden grit his teeth, exhaling deeply through his nose and closing his eyes for a moment. The gnawing wouldn’t let up. He cursed loudly, throwing the bowl and spoon to the ground. He stood up, phone and gun back in his hands, and strode over to the basement door. He unlocked it and went back down.
The altar sat there as it always did. Those bodies lay there as they always did and that stench had grown worse as it always did. There were, however, three differences. That daggar, the one the cannibal had used to cut the nurse’s throat, the one that went missing in the fight, had reappeared back on the Altar by the bowl of rot. The second was that the altar candles that Aiden had blown out days ago were now lit. The third was that that black book was now open.
The gnawing in Aiden’s head had subsided as he cast a nervous glance around the room before approaching the Altar. His jaw dropped at the sight of it. The book was in English! He turned the page only to see more of those odd symbols, but this one page was English. Had this one always been English? He hadn’t seen it before, not that he gave it much attention. Why was this one page open? In fact, why would this one random page in the middle of the book be English?
Aiden took a deep breath as he began to read.
Ghosts or Spirits – Disembodied Souls.
All living things have a soul. Upon death, the moment whereat the body becomes broken beyond use or repair, the soul will be unable to remain and so falls free. Hereafter countless possibilities are present as the soul will no longer be bound to the physical plane. Masters may collect, the soul may wander. Beware that countless deities, petty mortals and everything in between jealously collect souls for various reasons.
A soul is immortal, they cannot be destroyed. They can be damaged, consumed, reduced to smaller forms but never annihilated completely. As such they represent an infinite potential.
A soul which wanders may soon find itself drifing from its home place and plane, out into the ether creating their own small realm of existence through their understanding and awareness, or lack there of, of what has become of them. Souls which have lost touch on the reality around them grow only more confused as time goes on. They are considered ‘lost’ and are often worthless. Souls that maintain some understanding and awareness of their surroundings can traverse the endless horizons and infitine planes of the ether with impunity, so long any masters of thiers allow them, yet with such freedom comes obvious risks, as it would in life. Who knows what wolves await in the next forest?
A disembodied soul which has remained on, returned to or even manintained a connection to the material plane may, with practice and training or even simple intense effort, be able to interact. These cases are often referred to by the living as ‘Ghosts’ or ‘Spirits’. There are countless instances of witches or psychics communing with souls to gain knowledge, with little finesse…
The book went on into various more complex talk of summoning and communing with spirits, different kinds of spirits, banishing and cleansing areas of both ‘good and bad’ ones and endless other madness.
“The Book will test you!”
That voice again. Aiden shot a look behind him but nobody was there. That voice had come from right behind his ear!
He looked back to the altar as an impossible wind swirled around the sealed basement, and the flames of each of the altar’s candles bent in the twisting gusts and each, from their different positions, blew toward that daggar.
Aiden cursed and slammed the book closed, his eyes too as he took in a deep breath.
Minutes later the shower handle was wrenched so violently Aiden nearly pulled it off. The pipes groaned again and scalding water trickled out for Aiden to step into. He wasted no time, quicly washing and dressing before paking everything back into his home and laptop bags and throwing them into the back seat of his car.
He took one last look around the house, leaving the front door open and the basement locked. He had left nothing, save a fridge filled with food but who cared?
He turned from the kitchen and began to walk to the front door. A man stood there, shilouetted by the bright sunlight behind. Aiden froze.
In an instant, that shining sunlight had vanished, leaving midnight blackness outside, and with a roar a pale, bald headed, blue eyed, thickly blond bearded deeply scarred and filthy face leapt forward, centimetres from Aiden’s own.
“Face me!” it bellowed.
Aiden jumped back, pushing hard on the man’s chest with his left and yanking his gun from the back of his trousers with his right. In a swift, reflex motion Aiden fired with one hand. His left hand had pushed on a truly solid man’s chest but the bullet passed straight through. Had Aiden missed?
The man stood snarling, clenched rotten teeth, some missing, beneath a thick, long, dull blond beard. This was not the cannibal, this was somebody else! The snow had reappeared, trickling throughout the house, passing through the ceiling as if it were cloud. Aiden could see the same Aurora coloured light shining over the stairs from the upper floor and now the carpet below was tall thick grass, and once again those distant horns rang out their constant drone.
The man reached to his back and grasped with two hands a huge greatsword, legs spread and feet shoulder width apart to take the weight. Aiden quickly glanced over the strange clothing the man wore. Some kind of very thick yet baggy cotton shirt with strings hanging from the collar, if it could be called that, neck hole maybe, covered most of his body with similar baggy material for trousers above hard boots with what looked like a wolf or dog pelt draped over him and bits of rings on his fingers. His bare bald scalp seemed completely unfased by the snow resting on it and his eyes, blue and bloodshot, more feral than any he had ever seen beneath his vicious ruffled frown.
This man must have stood six and a half feet tall by four feet wide with pure muscle, an icy contrast to Aiden’s scrawny frame.
Evidently this ‘viking’ was tired of standing and snarling. He roared again, deep and wild as he stepped forwards and swung his mighty sword.
Aiden leapt backward. His only escape was into the basement door, so he did. The viking’s sword crashed straight through the thin plaster wall, burying itself in the doorframe as Aiden toppled and fell tumbling down the basement stairs.
With a groan Aiden recovered to his feet as the sword was wrenched free, to the sound of more plaster wall clumbling to the kitchen floor. Those horns, would they ever shut up!
Looking about himself for anything that could be of use. The only light was the again re-lit candles around the book.
Fine, I’ll play it your way.
Aiden thought back to what he had read. In the madness, something stuck out. He ran to the altar and looked underneath, there were countless ingredients tucked away. Aiden found one box marked “White Sage” and opened it onto the altar. A single footstep behind him.
Without having descended the stairs, this ‘Viking Ghost’ was now standing at the foot of them. Aiden grabbed the plant from the altar, dropping his gun on it as he did. The plant was wrapped up into some strange stick, but it was dry! Pefect!
In his other hand Aiden grabbed his lighter from his pocket, flicked open the lid and lit the dry bundled leaves.
For a moment nothing happened. The viking stepped forwards. Aiden dropped the stupid plant to the floor and scrambled to pick up his gun from the altar as the Viking charged, sword raised and ready, his frenzied howl throwing Aiden into a panic.
Aiden finally grabbed his gun, but the Viking was steps away. That huge terrible sword game flying down as Aiden closed his eyes and grit his teeth in anticipation.
Aiden opened his eyes and, with a slight scream, thrust the gun forwards. There was nothing. The viking was gone, so were the horns, and the room felt normal again as the smoke of the burning White Sage plant filled and cleansed the air.
Aiden grabbed the book. He needed to read if that will have done it, if that was enough! The pages, none of them were English, not a one. They had all reverted back to that weird symbol language.
I guess this thing was effected too?
He closed the book and took a deep breath as he looked around again. Only one thing had changed. New symbols, written in blood this time, the same as the rest in here, had appeared on the wall. Aiden still didn’t know what a single one meant but it didn’t matter.
Everything was in his car outside and now so was Aiden. That engine screaming into life had never sounded so good.