Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Town of the Creature, a Short Story

The Town of the Creature
By Wanda Wright

The master walked slowly through the crowd of minions, his black robe dragging behind him releasing a bloody swishing sound into the pure quiet. Souls he had collected along his long life, one by one over centuries of time, were gathered from his call. Each soul previously selected for their evil heart alone, each had previously pledged loyalty to him.

Before this, before the call to come to the castle, each evil heart did his bidding of evil wherever they were. Their lives dedicated to creating horror, despair, sorrow, jealously, hatred wherever they could in whomever they could. Turning one that was good to an evil heart was especially prized and if one of his minions accomplished that they would be rewarded with increased wealth and power for each soul successfully changed.

No one suspected the master’s control on the evil hearts he had enlisted and gained control over.  No one suspected what his strength had grown to. He had successfully gotten prized minions into positions of political power throughout the world. Those were his favorites. They did his bidding gloriously spreading evil in mass quantities. He made the call so that he could celebrate his best and to motivate his other minions of evil to do more.

He was close to tipping the world balance to evil, so close that when he thought about it he got the taste of a good wine in his mouth. This gathering’s purpose was to finally tip the balance to evil, make it finally happen, his goal finally achieved. His minions just needed that final push.

The villagers living in the town below Ducalar Mountain, where the master’s castle was, saw the hordes come in. Fear rushed through all of them and most wanted to run away or hide. People in the town were already of afraid of what lived in that castle.  Those that caught a glimpse of him on some nights when the moon was full told stories about the creature they had seen. 

Some claimed to have seen a man who looked like a wolf, others claimed he appeared as a large man but his eyes were very large and larger than anyone had ever seen before. Those that saw the eyes, saw them reflecting in the moonlight like a feline with the large eyes of an owl. He always wore a long black robe that covered him mostly from view so everyone only got a glimpse of him and no one felt sure about what they saw except for the fear they felt that told them all to stay away.

He never left the castle and now and then people would come to the castle bringing supplies, but everything was always covered up in wagons. None of the people that did the delivery were ever from town; all of them were always strangers.  They never stopped in the town. They just passed through, and each of them always looked like trouble.

The castle was far at the top of the mountain and there was only one road leading up to it. All the plant life was dead around it so there was no way to approach the castle without being seen. Villagers didn’t go there and he didn’t come to town.

There was a time long ago when town leaders tried to find out what was going on in the castle. But the legend ends badly and no one from that time was alive anymore. Since then no one bothered with what was happening there since he didn’t seem to bother or harm any villagers since that time.

But the hordes traveling through the village made everyone think they may have made a mistake in letting him remain here. The hordes were mostly walking but fine carriages, their passengers concealed, were also coming through and headed to the castle. Every one of these people made everyone in the village afraid, the look of hard and angry was on every face. Children hid behind their parents to watch the parade of his minions arrive.

Some from the village fled to the church to feel protected inside. The priest himself was scared by what he was seeing, not sure what it meant if it meant anything at all. Who this man in the castle was, no one in the village really knew. He too had heard the old folk legend but was certain this could not be the same man as so much time had already passed since it was said to have happened.

He was an older priest and also knew when little was known about someone, wild stories could take the place of fact. Sure the people coming gave everyone the creeps and looked like those you might cross the street to avoid passing them, but as far as he knew they weren’t guilty of anything. He preached to the people his sentiments to try to calm them down and stop thinking an apocalypse was on their immediate horizon.

It worked with some of his flock, while others continued exalting there fears and suspicions to no avail they were all locked in fear and the consequence of it. 

Suddenly a woman burst into the small church, the doors swinging open with the force of an unseen hurricane. Her entrance so explosive everyone turned to look at her. Her hair was recently perfectly done up, in some high living complicated hairdo, but it was a mess now. Her clothes were black and heavy but not heavy enough to hide her perfect figure. Her face was beautiful but her makeup was disheveled as if she had been through something awful. Her face was desperate, and she dropped to her knees as soon as she got through the doors.

The room was quiet and all that could be heard was her whimpering, but everyone hesitated. Everyone was afraid, even the priest. Then the mayor burst in and two men holding pitchforks went to grab the woman.

“What has she done? Why are you after her?” the priest asked unsure of their judgment. Some of the villagers in the church became suddenly angry with the woman, convinced by the presence of the mayor and his henchman that she was guilty. Some began speaking out hateful things and within seconds of them doing so they disappeared into a cloud of dark smoke. It took some time before everyone realized what was happening, including the priest.

“Let us stop judging this woman, whatever she has done, that is against God’s will and he is sending us a message of faith,” he said loudly so everyone would hear it, and all were now quiet.

The woman rose up, once the hateful words stopped and transformed before their eyes. Now she was a creature in her true form. The sight of her made them all gasp in shock and fear, some dropping on the floor and praying.

Her face was made of ash and her eyes red and bright, her hair went back to perfect as did everything else about her. The evidence of a whatever struggle appeared before vanished completely.

“Go away now vile one!” the priest shouted at it and the mayor started approaching her as if he was going to attack it all by himself.

He reached for her and she disappeared into ash that blew away all over each of them, covering them head to toe in it. People were coughing and choking and everyone was trying to shake off the ashen soot as quickly as they could.

The priest had his mind reeling over this, but he was sure love and kindness was their only power against this evil. He was sure no one else would go along though because they would want to eradicate it instead.

He also wasn’t sure they weren’t right. He knew there was a war of good against evil but what he just witnessed, the only survivors of this were those that didn’t judge her, didn’t shout out hateful things at her. Before he had time to think about where they all disappeared to, the mayor was talking.

“Okay everyone it seems we have ignored what is going on up there long enough! We need to get the word out to all the villages, as far as we can and let the king know too. So who is volunteering to go ride the messages we need out?” he shouted to everyone.

Some instantly looked down but a few were ready to help the mayor. They were sure this was something they had to do something about. The power of it and numbers meant they needed more people than they had in their village to fight it. Five men of the village, mostly farmers and a blacksmith agreed to ride out to get help. They left the church as soon as they volunteered and the mayor told them where each should go.

The priest decided he would fight this with love and kindness and tell his flock to do the same. “Aggression against our brothers, whoever they are, is not the path,” he preached to those that remained.

The mayor protested, “Priest, that is all well and fine, but did you see what that thing was? Do you think it is a good idea for the villagers to just let those things live on? Ignoring that is not an option priest, you can’t protect your community with flowers and love, it is just not realistic,” the mayor replied feeling he was right on every word that he said.

“What I saw Mayor is that those that didn’t judge her are still here and those that did disappeared. Ignoring that is where you are going wrong on this. Those that go in with aggression will become whatever that is,” the priest said feeling very sure he was right about all he said.

“If you don’t eradicate it, destroy that, eventually, everyone will disappear! The smallest transgression leads to this? None of us could survive that!” the mayor shouted back at him, sure that he was right.

People in the church stayed silent watching and listening to the priest and the mayor not sure who was right about it and feeling afraid. The priest had always been a nice fellow and comforting when they needed it. He never made them feel ashamed for getting that comfort either, whatever the transgression. But the mayor was right, they all had transgressions and if these things were going to be a constant it would all of them would disappear in that cloud of dark smoke eventually.

“Where do they disappear to?’ a woman asked she was old and frail and life was near to its end.

The mayor and the priest looked down, both wanted to talk first and both wanted to be right.

“No one can know that, of course, because they are just poof, gone,” the mayor said sure that it was the right response. The priest agreed and not wanting to appear too overzealous gave his quiet agreement.

“We all know evil is in our world, we talk about it in church all the time,” the priest said after walking to the front to make sure everyone really listened.

“Evil is in our world, but the only response that worked here is not judging,” the priest continued, knowing he was right.

Suddenly the priest started convulsing, his body contorting and everyone was watching frozen in fear. A large dark cloud with electrical currents flowing through it  enveloped the priest.  When it cleared there stood a horrible and fearsome looking creature.

It had a large heavy black robe on that draped its body as if it was alive, moving and shifting as the creature stood motionless leering at them. The creature had two large eyes as large as an owl’s that were yellow and lit up. He had two thin ruby red lips floating in the blackness.

“We have come here to do our work, you will not rise up against us. If you do, you will all die,” it said in a voice so loud and fearsome that even the Mayor lost his courage. A second later it was gone and the priest was lying on the floor unconscious.

One of the riders who left to bring help came bursting into the church. “The village next door almost everyone is gone, there is no one really left except a few people praying and afraid,” he said.

Looking around the room he could see how many were lost here as well and he put his head in his hands, wishing it was over. The mayor was still in shock and a few were gathered around the priest trying to revive him but it was no use. He was still alive but he couldn’t help them now.

“He took away the priest because he was right!” the old woman said and everyone looked at her, considering what she had said.

“Why are you alive Mayor? I mean you were running after her, so why didn’t you disappear?” a teenager in the church said his parents trying to keep him from saying anything as he said it.

“Yah Mayor, how is it you are still alive?” the old woman asked her hand on her hip now.

“I’m alive because I was doing the right thing you numbskulls! If it is sin that makes you disappear, running her down and trying to stop her was the right thing,” the Mayor said knowing he was right.

“Okay well looks like we are going to have to wait for some other village and if we get really lucky the king’s army will come and save us all,” the Mayor said knowing what they had left could not defeat the hordes that were still arriving and had been for days, nonstop and constantly.

They were running low on supplies and they were taking turns running out to get more while they waited for help. No one knew if the king’s army or anyone would come and help fight this.

After a few days, the priest came to again and had no recollection of anything after his few words to his flock. They told him about what had happened and gave him food and water before they expected him to lead them again. 

When the priest heard that they had wiped out most of the people in the village next to them and that it had been days and no help had come, he became very concerned that none of them would survive unless they did something.

He decided that he should put on his special robes, like he wore for Easter and they should all join together and sing prayer hymns like they all sang at Sunday church. They would stand in front of the church, arm in arm. They would see if there was any effect on these things, if it helped them in some way to fight it. But he warned them all to keep love in their hearts.

Not everyone agreed and neither did the Mayor, they thought they were all crazy and that all their lives were being risked foolishly. The Mayor and others tried to stop the group the priest convinced, but it was no use. The decided to use the hymns in their books and follow them one by one in perfect order.

When they opened the doors they were all shocked at what they saw. The priest encouraged them to stand together arm in arm as they inched outside. The road was filled with people that looked only evil and now there were many that weren’t even human they were loathsome looking creatures. There was some silky stuff all over the ground as if a monstrous spider spun its web everywhere. The sky was dark and ominous with lightening crackling and thunder drumming its warning.

The priest started singing nudging those he was holding onto until a second later they were all singing, soft at first because they were afraid.  The priest elevated them all by elevating his own voice and they followed his lead. The people and creatures passed by them, as if they couldn’t see them. They sang on and still nothing until suddenly the dark cloud of electrical current reappeared and the priest dropped and the owl-eyed creature in blackness was there again.

“I said not to resist, and you have disobeyed your master!” it screamed at them and the remaining flock stood motionless.

The Mayor burst out of the door and slammed into the creature and it tumbled onto the floor.

“Kill it, Kill It! Don’t just stand there!” he said trying to get up, having fallen in the force of it, seeing the rest frozen and acting helpless.

The small flock not knowing what to do, all at once, and all together jumped on top of the fallen creature and started singing their hymns as loud as they could  holding onto it while his robe fought to swallow them up. Tentacles appeared and started strangling them. The flock didn’t quit they just kept singing even as they were being strangled, trying to win and they thought they were.

The mayor came up having gotten back on his feet and saw a pitchfork and started trying to stab the creature and not hit the flock, but his aim was poor and he began killing them. The Mayor became frenzied the blood flowing over him until finally he had killed them all. He fell to his knees crying realizing what he had done.

The creature rose up, grabbed the Mayor by the throat, and said,” You owe your allegiance to me now and forever. Go to the castle and you will find out what you need to do for me,” it said and the Mayor got up, covered in blood and joined the hordes walking towards the castle.

The priest woke up again and gathered his remaining small flock together to pray. Everyone tried to keep their heart pure every second so they would not become the slave to the creature.

Months later when the small flock that was left was sure that they were doomed the kings’ army arrived and for months they fought a bloody war against the evil in the castle until finally the creature was dead.

After that the town never ignored creatures moving in again and tried hard to always keep their hearts pure.

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