Monday, October 31, 2011

Necessary Evil

Here's a hastily written, egregiously unoriginal tale for All Hallows E'en.

I was at a crossroad waiting for midnight; not for the first time, not for the last. The sacrifice shivered and whimpered next to me; not for the first time, not for the last.

I'd taken the sacrifice from a summer camp in the usual manner, killing each of her friends by increasingly horrific methods, keeping her captive for a few weeks until the stars were properly aligned, honing her fear, farming her dread, husbanding her terror for the Gatekeeper.

Midnight came. The darkness deepened...deepened. Pitch-dark, sable, raven, ebon, atramentous...then it got really dark. And there were things in it. Squamous, eldritch things. When the sacrifice began to scream, I picked up the duffel and stepped through the gate to the Gate.

The antechamber was lit by fitful torches casting chiaroscuro, treacherous light. The Gatekeeper lurked in the shadows, emanating palpable menace. The sacrifice's fear grew and grew. I waited. The Gatekeeper was very good at this.

Then She loomed out of the darkness, like a shadow come to life, right in front of the sacrifice.

"Hello, Ashley. Did you know that you were going to die today? Happy deathday, Ash."

She always knew their names. The Gatekeeper's voice was like old whiskey and it emanated from a mouthful of venom-dripping shark teeth set between razor-sharp mandibles. Her visage was a heart-stopping mixture of black widow spider and woman. The sacrifice stopped screaming. A dark stain spread across the bottom of the duffel The Gatekeeper snatched the sacrifice up and carried her way into the dark in the blink of an eye.

I moved closer the Gate as the sacrifice's brief, selfless life ended. The Gate had been weakening for months. It barely held tonight. The Elder Gods were hungry and wanted to eat the world, the universe. Their dark joy blasted from it. They were moments from freedom.

The sacrifice's empty, desiccated corpse dropped at my feet. The Gatekeeper's pets emerged from the dark and began to feed on Her leavings. I kicked at them.

"Take it elsewhere, vermin."

The body vanished into the gloom. The Gatekeeper landed soundlessly next to me. A large carapaced leg draped companionably around my shoulder.

"Ready, Hunter?"

"Yeth, Mithreth."

Strengthened by the sacrifice's terrified death, and with my help, the Gatekeeper was at Her most powerful. She took up the chant and we began the ritual. Her beautiful voice made even the Old Tongue sound lovely. I joined, though the horrific words tore at my throat.

The Elder Gods gathered at the Gate in anticipation..and we slammed it shut. Their impotent anger tasted sweet. They would not feed in our domain, on our livestock, not tonight.

You are saved again, prey.

We are monsters. They are much worse.

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