A black horror story, not for the faint-hearted. Even bargains with devils can go wrong.
|A muffled midnight bell mourns another tortured soul. For me, though, it sings joyfully of All Hallows Day and the time that I, too, can depart. Now I can join those who have gone before me, leave this mouldering world and the spectres of the past who haunt me. So many grey, weary years, so long a wait.
Now it is time to redeem my soul from the bargain made with a demon in thrall to Asmodeus. This demon must have been both naïve and inexperienced because it had no concept of the reality of “eternity”. I was able to persuade it that eternity was numbered as one thousand years, and that as an alternative to taking my soul, I would do a penance in a purgatory of his choosing for one thousand years, which it took to be “eternity”. Now is the time to be free from that eternal damnation for I have done my penance and can seek the blessed release of death.
Let me explain. I was born into pain, my body twisted and deformed in my mother’s womb. My parents despised me for the physical weakling that I was and my three siblings joined in the torment of their misshapen brother. I soon learned to hate them with a fierce throbbing flame, but it was not until my grandmother’s death that I learned the joy of pain. She had been even more condemning of me than my immediate family, but as she howled in her death throes (this was aeons before the introduction of the curse of analgesia), I rejoiced in her screams of agony. A tormentor had met a deserved fate.
It was then that I realised that I wanted more of this; the power to inflict pain and generate such sensually delightful screams. Power is fleeting and lasts while it lasts. Riches bring nothing but greed and envy. Beautiful women fade and die. But to inflict and control pain is an exquisite blessing, so bountifully bestowed on me and for which I pledged my soul.
By dint of much intensive study, of dusty volumes hidden in unlikely places and consulting alchemists, most of whom the orthodox world deemed to be insane, I was able to contact the legions of the devil and his acolytes. In exchange for my soul, I had unlimited power, especially the power to cause pain. I had no interest in blood; that is simply an expression of life. No, I sought the agonised screams of those suffering through their various forms of torture, and this I refined to a notorious but infamous degree.
I signed the contract with my blood to give me that power for five hundred years, and I determined to make the most of it. As an extra clause, I had my parents and siblings confined to the lowest circle of hell until it were to freeze over. Then, not entirely to my surprise, I was visited by Asmodeus himself, trying to persuade me that the contract was flawed and that I should sign a waiver of the ‘penance for one thousand years’ clause. I laughed; always a dangerous process in the face of a dark angel and his roar of fury seemed enough to tear the earth apart. With that expression of frustration, he departed in a cloud of sulphurous smoke.
So I started my journey of seeking the screams of victims selected for my pleasure. Memory draws me back to the women I enslaved for the beauty of their screams and the men who howled and shrieked in their agony. Such beauty is addictive and those who fed my needs could be numbered in their thousands. Was their death such a price to pay for my pleasure?
I was denied access to children on the grounds that they cannot understand what is happening to them. A specious argument, I thought, but a condition that I had no option but to accept.
I was married many times, but my wives betrayed me. Why did they do so? How could they not accept the purity of pain, the joy of agony? Not all of them, of course, not all. My dear, sweet little Lisa; how prettily she screamed and begged for mercy. How much I enjoyed her torments and her tears. She is with me yet in my mind, but as I retained her corpse, it became silent, shrivelled and contorted in her final death throes. I miss her so much and would give anything to once more hear her agonised screams. Ah me, such are the tribulations of this half-life.
Not Delyse, though. That harridan swore and cursed amid her screams, showing no respect for me, her husband as I punished her for her for her sins and transgressions. Her anguish had no delight for me, and I will torture her soul when I pass over.
My sons abandoned me for the ephemeral desires of an unreal world, but each bears the mark of Cain that I placed upon them. They are cursed to wander the earth and be reviled by all men; they will never find peace this side of the gates of hell. My daughters were all seduced by the promises of depraved young men, preferring the lusts of the flesh to their father's needs and eternal gifts. All but one was barren and dwelled in the courts of loneliness and insanity for their wilfulness. The one who was fertile brought forth a demon that tore her soul from her and left her contaminated forever.
Now they are all, wives, sons and daughters, just empty spaces, less real than the shadows that beckon to me. Now I can go to meet my master, death, whose cool serenity offers me the peace that a corrupt world has denied me and to which my penance entitles me. The door of time, locked and sealed for so long can stop me no more, and freed from the vaulted depths of what has seemed to be my eternal prison, I can find a final rest. It has been so long since life had any meaning or purpose, if, indeed, it ever did have. No-one can know; no-one neither cares nor needs to.
Now is the time for the door to open at my command. I speak the words of power and, heavy and scarred by neglect, but both forbidding and inviting, no more can it conceal the promised delights of the tomb. Stiff, the door screams in torment, a sound so reminiscent of my lovely Lisa, and a rush of dead air pours out. The steps are unworn, even after so many years and for light, the dim rush lamp is all I care for. Down into the cool peaceful beauty of the flickering shadows and there, in the centre, open and inviting, waits my final sleep. The rush light goes out, but I can go to my eternal peace, safe from light and the life that it promises. My final resting place beckons and at last I can be forever protected from the farce of life. Where are you, my friends, where are you? Talk to me and speak of the never-ending joys of the grave.
But wait, what is this? Who dares to bar my way? The voice of death itself resounds through the chamber like the sound of the end of time, “NO! YOUR SINS ARE IRREDEEMABLE. EVEN GOD CANNOT PARDON YOU. YOU WILL REMAIN HERE FOREVER UNTIL THE WORLD SHALL END.”
My screams resonate through the hall of death as I am forced back to the antechamber. I am condemned to stay in this purgatory for ever; it will never end and I shall never find peace. …. no …. No …. NO.