by R.T. Allenson

My childhood friends have been given the grace, a gift so to speak – they no longer bear with them the burdens of memory. They lack what I retain and in turn, they are spared a slow life to death brought by madness and fear.

It is strange how quickly time passes when fear takes a hold of you. It is a hidden, if not, unnecessary loophole in our lives which we can overcome the dreary travails of the world. But the price we pay is often too high for us to even wager, let alone barter with our sanity. I have…we have, me and my friends done such a thing and looking back I cannot fathom what inspired us to wager our lives like that. It is a foolish thing, to deal with things we cannot comprehend fully. But it is even more foolish to try and deal with something you cannot even appease.

It happened in the misty and darkened hour, a few minutes shy from 11:00pm. The three of us: Gregor, Joe and myself had decided beforehand to summon the devil in an attempt to free us from the oppression of our bullying schoolmates, teachers and parents. We took a book from a local practitioner of divination an ancient scroll that contained the necessary rituals by which we could summon a demon. We each craved revenge, and it is a foolish thought to claim such fury especially with such fallow purposes. In hindsight, we could have simply done away with the ritual and just went on living and growing strong. Instead, we were untimely thrust to our state, mentally and psychologically; an irreparable strain that only death can remedy.

Our anger was minute compared to what we incurred.

Gregor took the first slice, offered his blood to the covenant we three had laid before the pentagram. It was a crude symbol, but we thought it would suffice. His blood fell and the symbol seemed to lap at it eagerly, tasting his warm blood for its richness. I was disturbed; the sigil had moved slightly, even emanated light but it seemed that I was the only one who noticed. Joe went next, offering his blood diluted with tears as the scriptures demanded.  This he placed in the middle of the pentagram like a statue amidst an ancient field, and he bowed several times clasping his heart and reciting heathen verses that chilled me to the bone. We bided our time somewhat, hesitating maybe as each of us was quite afraid of what could come out of our foolishness. I knew what to do next, however but again I was unsure even then if what I was going to do was right.

Either way, my time came. The offering I was to sacrifice was worth more than Gregor and Joe’s. Carefully unraveling the swaddle of cloth, I presented to the pentagram my infant brother. He was just three weeks old; I had convinced my mother that I can take care of him for the night though back then, I knew they were searching the whole countryside for my brother and me.

Tony, I’m sorry.

The handle of the blade felt cool in my grasp; my brother, half-asleep was laid at the base of the demonic sigil. The room was heavy with the mist of the night and it was, for some reason, a bit overbearing. Both Gregor and Joe eyed me with suspicion and anticipation – it was my duty but they knew how grave it was for me to do such a thing. Either way, I’d rather myself would do it, instead of a stranger. But oh, my brother! How innocent you were and how cruelly you were played with by the demonic machines of evil fate, chance and the gulf between. I could not bear guilt nor hesitation and in a moment of misplaced courage, I plunged the knife deep into my brother’s heart. His cry was silenced, his breath soft and longing. He never even got to see the world or the brother who wronged him. My sweet Abel, I will see you soon.

The clock struck 11:01pm, an hour we found strange and baleful. My companions were too preoccupied with a sudden noise that came from beside our room to notice that our damnable sigil had vanished, along with the blood, tears and my brother’s corpse. I was the only one to witness the maddening transfiguration of air and space, blindly caressing the tangents of reality from beyond the corners of the room and devouring the color from my sight; a blanket of mist, fearfully rushed past my face and escaped into the very floorboards. I knew that our summoning was successful but as I gazed in horror at the figure standing before me, and staring at my dumbfounded companions, I knew that we did something wrong; missed a detail perhaps.

The thing bellowed an almost mournful cry yet it was powerful enough to knock us back against the wall. It was then that my friends were given the grace of not remembering what transpired, for in the fulminating shock they were knocked unconscious by the force of the thing. I was of sturdier build and in horror, I scrambled to my feet and tore at the floor as I ran screaming away from the damnable thing. I didn’t even dare to return my gaze back; the second I saw it form from the dark, I knew I was dead. By some miracle however, I managed to elude the sprawling beast and finally made my through countless corridors and rooms and into the great hallway of our boarding house. There, I immediately ran towards the nearest exist but found that the door had been locked by the prefect. I cursed his name, but I didn’t dare say it out loud as I feared for what I might summon by noise.

Slowly, I made my way back towards the stairs that lead up to our common rooms. The chill of the night was there but was absent from me, only the heated fear and of terrible anxiety that only succeeded in fueling my terror even more. My eyes were watery and tired, but I knew then that my night was far from over. The mist that hung heavily amidst the night like a curtain was gone now, replaced by the staleness of reality that torched my face like a candle. I held my spirit steadily, or at least tried to; there was much I still didn’t know about what was happening and even if I could easily go to the infirmary to seek refuge, the blood of my innocent brother was painted into my very palms. It was then that I realized that I had left a trail of blood and perspiration where I passed and I grew increasingly paranoid with very second they persisted in not vanishing as I tried cleaning them from the floor. I would only realize, after the night had passed and asked the night-cleaner that there was no blood at all, and it was only an illusion born from fear and guilt of my deed.

Carefully, I made my way through the rooms and came to rest on the corridor leading to our room. It was evilly quiet and far different. Add to that was the stench of blood, wickedly permeating about through the walls of the hallways. The color returned from my sight and I noticed then, that a velvet mist indistinct from evaporating blood seemingly draped the hallway. Again, my thoughts returned to the blood I had spilled. I grew increasingly paranoid and mad with despair and slowly, I felt that my very mind would tear itself apart. I was sweating profusely and could no longer bear the chagrin. I had to go back to the room.

I was halfway through the corridor when suddenly, it appeared guarding the door – the thing we had beseeched and for all our sacrifice, we could not control. It stood there, bearing fangs towards me with utter malice and with alien countenance made me tremble with fear. It did not pursue me or shamble towards me; it simply stood there, waiting for my movement but even had I moved, it would remain there. I could not move at all and my gaze could not be torn away from the horrid thing. It seemed to go on forever and I just stood there and then, gazing with fear at the abysmal daemon that seemed to lobotomize me and devour my mind with just a stare from its unnatural eyes. I felt intense fear overcome me, not true fear as you may describe but something else that seemed to draw me into the darkness of its eyes. By mercy of whatever providence, I lost consciousness after I saw the monster finally lurch towards me in a gauntly fashion. The last thing I thought I saw before my descent into the darkness was my brother’s bloody, infant face fastened upon a tentacle protruding from chest of the incomprehensible beast.

I always said that my childhood friends were given the grace of forgetting the event that caused us to mature far beyond our time. After our night summoning, we never spoke to each other and of what transpired that night. I suppose by sheer fear, they have forgotten the truth of the matter of the blood, tears and innocence. It is a virtue of God, if ever he deems us worthy of his mercy. But by the same providence, why does he allow us to so foolishly summon damnable creatures not even he can destroy? I fear that there are far higher planes, far viler powers than what we have come to know but I confess I am far too old to be chasing after nightmares and harbingers.

For I know that whatever we summoned was far beyond heaven or hell, but even then it was merely a messenger! An envoy not even puissant enough to face its master! A mere imp of reality that filled me with fear and assaulted me with unrelenting fury! I pray that death be kind and grant me a quiet transition from here and there, far from the monsters that live in-between who dance in the courts and planes far darker than shadow and even more fulminating than light! But the accursed number says otherwise, though I try to resist, my soul is now in their hands.