This is a horror for the Halloween contest.
| The Eye Of Lucifer
London October 1st 1848 6:48pm
The door squeaked shut, as Ned Atkins closed his shop for the day. There was a cold drizzle falling as it had done all day. Damn rain, he thought, terrible for business. He pulled his collar up as he strode across the cobble stone street, to the tavern. Johnny, the bartender, saw Ned come in.
"Not a fit night, hey Ned?' Johnny said, "How about a nice hot toddy to warm you up?"
"It's not only, not a fit night, it's not a fit day." Ned said. "No one's going to be out looking for oddities on a day like this, and make that a pint of ale, thank you."
Oddities, that's what Ned called them. Strange and rare items from all over the world. Mysterious objects that certain people wanted to possess, and Ned had. Ned, a crotchety man of about sixty, with wrinkled sun baked skin, which looked like a crinkled late autumn leaf, had traveled far and wide to find these oddities. Now he let others find them for him. He was to old to be traipsing around anymore.
"Johnny, you seen Wesley Arcroft?" Ned asked. "He was supposed to get back from Romania sometime close to now."
Wesley Arcroft was one of Ned's scavengers. He was a much younger man than Ned, with blue eyes that sparkled, when he spoke of his adventures. He had brought Ned many fine items, over the years they had been working together.
Just then a carriage clamored to a stop outside the tavern. In walks Wesley in his weather worn duster. Shaking it, to get the rain off. He looked battered , weary and unshaven. His rucksack was dirty, and worn.
"Find anything good?" Johnny asked.
"You mind if I get something to drink first, said Wesley?" "I've been traveling for the last two weeks to get back here. I just need to relax for a spell."
"Sure thing," said Johnny . "How about a nice brandy? That will relax you."
"That sounds great," Wesley said. "Have you got anything I could eat? A nice hot bowl of your wife's soup, would be good about now."
" I'll see if the missus has any ready," Johnny said. "I know she had something cooking back there."
"Well, what did you find me?" asked Ned. "I know you didn't travel all that way to come back empty handed, some magic trinket or obelisk maybe?"
"Maybe something better," Wesley said as he pulled something from his sack.
It was a smokey colored stone, and at it's core was something glowing like a hot ember.
Suddenly a cold wind blew through the tavern, like a breath of evil.
"What's it supposed to be?" asked Ned.
"It's the Eye of Lucifer," says Wesley. "I found it in the castle of Dracule. It's supposed to give immortality to anyone who possesses it." "The tale goes that Antwone Dracule summoned it from the netherworld." "He had lived for thousands of years, and then one day disappeared, never to be seen again."
"Antwone Dracule, I've never heard of him," Ned said. "Who was he?"
" He was, the Dark Lord of Romania," said Wesley. "Before it was Romania. It's said he was in league with the devil, and ruled with fear and dark powers. No one could oust him from his throne. His darkness covered the land, but then one day, he was gone, like a bad dream. When word of his absence, spread throughout the land, the people rejoiced."
"So why pray tell did you bring it here?" asked Ned. "Isn't there some sort of curse or something?"
"Ah, it's just folklore from some superstitious, ignorant, gypsies," Wesley said. "It's just got a good story behind it, that's all. I think it would be a great addition to your shop, especially with All Hallows Eve coming up. You should be able to make a small fortune on it. You know the kind of people that buy your stuff. They'll eat it up."
Johnny returns with Wesley's soup.
"So what did you bring back Wes?" Asked Johnny.
"You don't want to know," said Ned. "I'm sure you'll find out sooner or later."
For the rest of the evening not much was said. A darkness had fallen over the tavern. Wesley finished his soup, and he and Ned left.
The next day the sun had come back out. It was a beautiful fall day. Ned had decided that maybe, Wesley was right, it was just some superstitious folklore. So he found a little pedestal, to put the stone on, and penned the story, to put with it. Soon word had got out about the stone. Curiosity seekers came to look at it. Religious people said that it should be destroyed. Either way Ned's shop was busy and he liked that. Even if people didn't want the stone, they found other things to buy. All in all, the stone seemed like a good thing, to Ned. He was happy that Wesley had brought it back.
Wesley had fallen ill, all of a sudden, and was coughing up blood, and some sort of black substance. Ned got the doctor, but the doctor shook his head and said he couldn't help Wesley. He's too far gone. Wesley tried to hang on, but died three weeks later.
"He never had looked that good, when he came back," thought Ned.
Although he missed his good friend, and wished he hadn't died, he figured it was probably just a coincidence. He had just caught something on his trip.
On the eve of All Hallows Eve a stranger walked into Ned's shop. The stranger was a tall man, lean with sunken eyes. He had a wide brimmed black hat on, and a cape. He almost looked like death himself.
"I understand that you have the Eye Of Lucifer," he said.
Ned looked the man up and down, and did not like what he saw.
"I do, but it's not for sale," Ned said.
"My money's as good as the next man's," the stranger growled, and threw down a bag of gold pieces, which scattered across the counter. "Bring it to me now."
Ned, being fearful for his life went, and got the stone.
The stranger grabbed it, and put it in his pocket. Then he stormed out of the shop. Ned was so shaken, he closed the shop for the day.
Ned spoke to the constable the next day, but there was nothing he could do. The man did pay for the stone, even though Ned felt threatened. Besides the stranger left town immediately. That night of All Hallows Eve things, began to happen. People found a dog, in the middle of the street, with it's entrails removed, and blood, and green puss oozing from with in. Thunder crashed shaking the ground, and buildings collapsed. Bats swooped down on the townspeople as they scattered, some were bitten, and some were trampled by horses, loosed from their stables. A woman fell to her knees in prayer, only to be struck by lightning, and turned to smoldering ash. Blood was dripping from Ned's shop door, marking it as the devil's. People were screaming and running for safety, not knowing what was going on. Some thought it was the end of the world.
A mob went to Ned's house, with torches and firearms.
"You brought this on us Ned Atkins," they said. "You brought this evil on our town. Now what are you going to do about it?"
The constable saw this going on, and he and his officers drove off the crowd. In his house, Ned was sobbing uncontrollably.
"What have I done," he wailed. "I'm just a simple shop owner, I didn't want this to happen."
The next day even the constable and his officers could not hold off the mob, They wanted to kill Ned. They were pounding on the doors and walls. "Come out Ned Atkins, come out so we can kill you" They screamed.
The throbbing of the walls and glass exploding from the windows, had Ned hiding, in the cellar. His only chance for escape was through a small window. Fires had sprung up outside. The furor of the crowd had grown intense. He wasn't sure he could make it, but he squeezed himself through the small window, and escaped. Crawling across the rain soaked ground, he reached his stable, just as his house caught fire. Flames and smoke reached high into the sky. The mob was filled with madness screaming his name. Ned saddled his horse, and rode away, watching the mob, from over his shoulder, dancing with bloodthirsty glee. He was sure they would catch him and kill him. These were the same people that used to be his neighbors, turned to savages. He rode his horse hard, tears streaming from his eyes.
Finally he slowed his horse. No one seemed to be following him. He stopped to rest, and water his horse. A tall, young, handsome man, rode up to join him. The man was wearing a cape and a wide brimmed hat, not unlike the stranger's.
"What's going on back in town?" he asked. "From what I heard, there was a lynch mob after some poor shop owner."
Ned lied and said, "I don't know. I just got out of there while the clamor was going on.I think it was about an evil stone, or something."
"You mean the Eye Of Lucifer?" The man asked with a smile.
"H-how do you know about that?" Ned asked.
"I'm the one who bought it," the man said.
"You can't be," said Ned. "He was old and looked like death. Your young and handsome."
"Exactly," said the man, "and I will live forever now, thanks to you. Why don't you come with me, and I'll buy you a drink, in the next town?"
"I don't think so," Ned said.
"No really," the man said. "We'll go to the next town, I'll buy you a new shop, and we'll become partners. I know where to find all kinds of odd and wonderful things." "Just call me Antwone."