Part of Month of the Macabre
click HERE for the content warning and about Month of the Macabre
“The Silenced” – Chapter 1
a short story by Jeremy C Kester (All Rights Reserved)
[note: this is an early draft and may not reflect the final product.]
[another note: this started out as a short story meant for this event, but quickly it has grown to want to be something much bigger. In the end, this will likely be a novella or a novel, but in the spirit of Month of the Macabre, I wanted to still share it here. Enjoy!]
It was raining worse than a typhoon. So much that it was hard to keep the car from sliding around. The wipers struggled to keep the windshield even close to see-through, their rhythm bouncing back and forth like an energetic ping-pong match. And not the college dorm room matches, I’m talking the professional kind.
Any other time it would have been better to stay indoors, somewhere dry, with coffee and research materials. Moisture played hell with the research material. Scrolls, parchments, books, and all tended to respond poorly to water.
A single officer stood in reflective gear as the car pulled forward. It was a brooding, hulk of a man, new from what I remembered, thus given the duty to babysit me out in the rain while they waited to clear the area. It was always like this when one of these events took place. They’d call down to the little department stuffed in the back corner of the basement to drudge one of us up to investigate. Today’s was my lucky pick. Most of them were really. Being the most experienced of the few of us almost warranted that it was always me.
Plus I was the lowest ranking so the easiest to shove out the door in the damn pouring rain. When you’re so focused on things other than promotions… well, let’s just say that promotions don’t manifest out of nowhere.
I made sure that I was all set. Already I had made sure that I was wearing my tall galoshes, my long rain coat, and an emergency poncho for good measure. The poncho was an irritatingly orange plastic material, thicker than one would expect, not torn much. It was large on my small frame, but that only made it better. Last to grab was a small water-proof notebook and its companion pen. The sensitive material, the tools not trustworthy in the rain, they were left in the car.
Water poured in as soon as the door opened. Irritating, but expected. Even driving in it didn’t give the full weight to how much water was coming down. I stepped out as quickly as I could thinking that my waterproof notebook was going to have the toughest test of its life. The door slamming was muffled in the deluge.
I splashed over to the man standing there. He appeared to care little that I was even there. Downtrodden and miserable, he looked completely uninterested in being there. I wondered what he thought of me, a small, weird girl, outranking him and whose mere presence was preventing them from having the site cleaned up already. They could have all been home or at the station doing whatever cops did. I mean, sure I am a cop of sorts, but not like them.
“Where’s the site?”
A finger was brought up, supported by a massive arm, and pointed in a direction. He said nothing. His face looked as though he lost a bet. I definitely was wondering if he hated me right then. That is if there was even a modicum of respect there to start; I doubt there was. Who could respect an upstart like me who seemed to grab attention out of nowhere like I did?
I nodded and thanked him as I went off in the direction he gave. In the dark, even with the few flood lights that had been set up, it was tough to see anything. Light scattered through the trees surrounding the area then again in the rain. Each step was wet, slow, and slippery.
Eventually the site came into view through the trees.
The first thing I saw was the glowing symbol. It was roughly 20 feet in diameter, pulsing between purple and red. Even through the heavy rain, the symbol was clear— unmistakable. I was cautious as I approached, fully aware the danger of it. Just being there was a risk. There was no telling what would come through, or what has.
Time was critical at that point. Everything had to be documented, recorded.
It was then that I noticed what else was there. “Shit,” I blurted as the bodies all came into view. They had been there the whole time, yet focusing on the large symbol in the clearing had almost disguised them, pushed them into the background.
“They’re all like that,” a gruff voice came about. It startled me even as I knew who it was.
Lieutenant Holden was tall— at least as far as I could tell— and frankly he was a good looking man. We had dated on and off for a few months before I was forced upon him by those in power wishing to find an easy way to remove all the strange occurrences building up over the years adding pressure for them to take care of it. Since then, Holden wasn’t keen on continuing our other relationship. I hated him for it; I wondered if he felt the same.
“Huh?” I said like an idiot. I had heard him clearly, I just couldn’t stop my own brain from becoming mush when I heard his voice.
He pointed, “the bodies.”
With that, I took a deep breath, trying to bring myself back to focus. There was a job to do. Couldn’t afford getting distracted.
My eyes gazed for a moment over the scene: a large symbol electrically charged into the ground with over a dozen— make that thirteen bodies knelt around it, their flesh appearing charred, almost a chalky white like they’ve been burned or something like that. If anything, they looked like statues made out of ash and calcium carbonate… shit. I mean chalk. I keep forgetting to keep the technical talk to a minimum. Either way, they all looked as though they had been burned by a flash of intense heat.
Did it happen in the rain? It wasn’t impossible when talking about the kinds of things that I normally investigated. Knowing that would help me though.
“Fascinating,” I said.
“I didn’t know that they would send you,” Holden said over my shoulder. I wasn’t aware that he had followed me.
“Everyone else is busy,” I say, pointing it out as a matter-of-fact. Didn’t really matter anyway considering there were only three of us and I wasn’t the one in charge of my tiny department. Even being the errand girl, it normally was nice getting to be up front at these sites.
I edged closer to one of the bodies. As best as I could tell looking through the torrential rain mixed with the glowing symbol was that this particular body was the pinochle pawn. It was at the center of the thirteen and looked like it was resting at the highest ordered portion of the symbol.
Traces of the sex of who I was looking at was erased. That also told me things. Many of these rituals required specific things to be done. So many people had to be male or female; the chief sacrifice had to be done in this way; the leader of the ritual had to be this age or that gender. What some might consider mundane or inconsequential could mean the difference of a fun session of kum ba yah or the summoning of cluthulu. Details mattered.
“Any idea what sex this person was?” I asked, hoping that Holden would be willing to do the more invasive ways of determining such things.
That would tell me more, if it was a woman or a man that was either androgynous or had something done to remove the outword appearances. Some demons liked the sacrifice of a man carving off his penis, then doing anything from having the group eat it raw, to burning it, to any number of things. Details mattered.
“I’m not touching it if that’s what your going for,” he snapped.
I sighed. Dammit. That was something I didn’t want to have to do. Especially when I had to disturb a scene. And with all the rain, putting on the gloves was a joke.
For all I knew, the site was still active. The glowing could mean anything, but likely when a symbol or a rune is glowing, it often means that a portal is active or being made to be active. Energy is flowing through it one way or another.
When I pulled out the pair of gloves, Holden laughed. “You really think you can get a pair of them on? This scene is so fucked it won’t even matter. Just don’t say anything and I won’t either.”
Though I heard him, I struggled to shove my hands into the slim nitrile exam gloves. Wet hands are not made to fit in those things. Grunts and cursing didn’t help. Not watching him, I was certain that he was rolling his eyes at me. Finally, the frustration reached its peak and I put them back in the puddle in my pocket. Pulling out my notebook and pen, I made a note to remind myself that I was without gloves. I’d have to be very careful with what I touched.
Rain was a real problem with investigations of any kind. Worse for murder and some other things though, so I guess I had it easy?
First was checking the person’s chest. It was like a poor-man’s gender test. I would find out nothing other than the person having breast tissue, but in my mind it felt like the best start— at least the safest start. Shoving my hand down the person’s soaked cloak to feel for genitals was not my idea of a fun way to examine the scene.
My eyes narrowed though when I placed my hand on the person’s chest. It wasn’t what I was expecting. There was a dry heat coming through the cloth. It startled me. Even more when I felt the chest rise. Was there life still there?
“Holden!” I yelled as I pulled my hand away.
He stepped forward, alarmed. “What’s wrong?”
“They’re alive— I think. Maybe?”
“Impossible,” he said as he pulled out his flashlight. Then, holding it at an angle near the person’s mouth, he stared. It was nearly imperceptible, the air shimmered though as though a shallow breath pushed through the dark rain. “Well fuck,” he said.
I kept my eyes on the person, whoever it was — whatever it was — as Holden stood up and walked away, his steps sloshing through the rain. I wrote a few more notes in my waterproof notebook, amazed that it really seems unaffected by the weather, as was what the branding claimed. Knowing that the people were alive changed a few things. I had no idea how, really. My only concern was with what they were doing and what they might have brought into our world. It would take me months at best to research it. The texts I looked through were much too old, and until recently, too uninteresting to spend the time to digitize.
Humanity was always good to wait until it was too late to prepare for anything.
Plus, it’s not like we were given the resources to do it. My boss spent more money on the office’s new Keureg machine than he did on our archiving budget.
Don’t get me wrong, I do love that coffee machine. And I use it probably more than anyone else.
I heard the wet splashes right as the rain seemed to slow a little. Instead of a typhoon it was now just a monsoon — as if there are that many differences of note in this circumstance. “Called for backup,” Holden said over the rain. “And EMT services to deal with whatever… these things are.” He waved his hands like he was introducing a group.
“I don’t want to move anyone just yet,” I said.
“Relax, it’ll take them some time to get here.”
A moment of recollection came through as he said that. Of the few times that we dated, I was paged for one of these event. Well— no. It actually happened at every date that we ever tried to have. One of the reasons why it wasn’t working. You’d think that because he was a lieutenant that he would be called in more than me.
As he spoke, I copied more and more of what I observed. I drew the symbol, careful to make the necessary markings that would close it. I looked at my watch and timed the pulses of color. Once I got everything I could, it was time for pictures.
Why I couldn’t have the crime scene investigation team there to help me was always a point of contention.
The camera was a small, digital, waterproof model. There was a better one back at the station… it wasn’t waterproof. The waterproof one would work though.
“What do you think they are trying to do?”
“Summon something,” I said plainly.
He licked his lips. “I mean, I know that…”
“Don’t try to make small talk, Holden.”
“You know I was supposed to go home. My shift ended an hour ago.”
“So?” I started snapping pictures. As I moved around, he followed. It was annoying, but whatever.
“I requested to come here.”
“Why? Thought you hated this stuff?”
“I’m not here because I am interested in this stuff.”
Trying to get the symbol in one shot was annoying. The rain was problematic. Plus it felt like he was shouting at me. Trying to take pictures with that man’s voice behind me was trouble enough. His yelling was another matter. “Wait— what?”
Holden stepped closer to me. Close enough that he didn’t have to yell as loud. “I knew they would send you out — or fuck, you’d volunteer or something anyway. That’s how you are.”
I sighed as I pushed the button again. Another file loaded into the camera. “I’m trying to work, Holden,” I said as I pulled up the image. Taking pictures of supernatural gates, of the runes and symbols, was iffy. Sometimes they would not show up the same way they seen. Either they would show more than the human eye could see on its own. Small screens were hard to see anything more than if the photo took or not. I had a large monitor (one I bought with my own money, for that matter) that I used to make deeper scans of the images later.
“I wanted to talk,” he said as I resumed taking pictures. I bit my lip as I concentrated.
Even with the rain, or should I say in spite of the rain, I was able to collect a bunch of good images of the scene. All the while he followed me. Over the sound of the rain I could hear him. Or maybe I sensed him there. Either way, he was behind me. It was both annoying and comforting.
All the while, the symbol on the ground continued to glow. “I want to get some measurements,” I said as I put the camera into my pocket. Water from having it out in the rain so long soaked easily through my pants. Should’ve worn better clothes.
“What do you make of this glowing?” he asked. Understandably, he knew I wasn’t going to give in right then on anything about our relationship. Shit. At that moment I realized that he wanted to talk about our relationship. Timing was great. Anyway, he shifted his approach, asking me about the crime scene. He knew that I would get excited and talk to him.
Dammit it worked too.
“Hard to tell really,” I said, letting the knowledge of paranormal dimensions and the summoning of demons and deities take over. “My best guess is that a portal is active—”
“Doesn’t that mean something came through or is going to?”
I shrugged — then realized he couldn’t see that under the poncho. “Maybe. It could have passed through already or it might have to wait. I mean, I haven’t even taking note of the positions of the stars yet.”
“Stars mean something too? Always thought that was just astrology bullshit. The think of psychics and wack jobs.”
“Yes, the stars can mean something. Portals sometimes have to tie to a celestial event to mean anything. Isn’t always important, but some deities are picky. At least that’s the best way I have to describe them. Portals to their dimensions and whatever place in space-time that it might be connected to might require certain astrological alignments with our planet to connect.”
“It’s not an exact science, Holden.”
“Didn’t think it was science.”
I poked him with my tape measure. I had held it out long enough that he should get the hint. Instead, he would rather keep talking about one of the things he avoided talking with me about. Then again, don’t blame him much. I am that weird girl into weird things. Doesn’t matter if they think I am attractive or dopey or whatever — just that weird girl in that department that no one wants to acknowledge is becoming more important each day. Why would anyone want to acknowledge that they were wrong?
Except for Holden. Dammit.
“Oh, sorry,” he said as he grabbed the end of the tape measure and started pulling.
Over the rain I yelled to him: “don’t step on the symbol! We don’t have any idea what might happen if you do!”
He gave a thumbs up right as he about stepped right on it. With a hop, he managed to get out of the way of it as he moved around. My heart skipped a beat when he did that. People have gotten possessed or disappeared altogether after landing on top of one of those things. Each record has something different. My hypothesis was that it depended on the symbol and the energies that were used to activate it. Unfortunately it was a difficult hypothesis to test on my own.
The tape spread out, collecting water as we went on. Slowly, the rain was lessening, but it was still there. Less of a torrent of rain yet still a deluge. (Or is it the other way around? Describing weather patterns isn’t my strong suit.)
Once it was taught, I yelled over. “Are you on the edge?!”
“About three inches off!”
“Are you sure?! Be exact!”
There was a small motion. He looked like he was concentrating as he hovered the tape a few feet over the symbol. Stupid I thought. I should deactivate it before I do this stuff. I was being too risky. Too brash. Dammit. It was Holden that was distracting me from being—
“Shit!” he yelled as the tape went loose.
The edge of the tape vanished. Then the tape started to pull violently from me. I yelped and let it go, watching as the whole of it disappear before our eyes. The symbol flashed a bright orange as it did so, bright enough that it illuminated the land around it even with the sheets of rain attempting to shroud the area.
“Well I guess that’s one way to test my hypothesis,” I said as my heart slowed back down to a normal pace. I watched as the symbol returned back to its prior alternating glows.
“What?!” Holden yelled.
I simply waved back, rather than try to yell it over. Having him know about this and the thinking that went through my mind right then wasn’t worth it. It was hard enough to hear someone standing right next to us.
He walked back around the symbol to me. “I have some tape measure in my car. You want me to go get it?”
I nodded as I took notes on what we had just observed. The color change, how the tape responded, the air and how I remembered for a second that it seemed to grow cold for a moment as my tape measure disappeared. What I didn’t record was the disappointment, the annoyance I felt in losing it. That would mean more money out of my pocket since I am sure the department would deny my request at reimbursement. But any one of the normal officers so much as scuff their car and they immediately would get a new cruiser without even needing to file a report.
Splashes later, he ran off to his cruiser. Maybe I could get him to “lose” his own so that I could get a good replacement.
As time moved on (even though they were mere seconds and minutes), it seemed that the rain slowed more and more. Either that or I was just so saturated that it was like the rain was just a part of our being. Like my ears accepted all the background noise and could listen past it.
Off in the distance I saw more lights coming nearer to the scene. Red and blue flashes lit up the sky over to the area I walked in from. The calvary had arrived for the thirteen souls that somehow were alive. Only a few minutes at best remained for me to investigate them before they were taken away. As best I could, I wrote down the details we found them in. Then I pulled back out the camera to take photos more close up. Already I had zoomed out perspectives, but I realized that I was missing a lot of the details.
When I got up close to one of them again, I noticed that their bodies were dry. Even in all the rain, their ash-like skin that looked as though it had been incinerated with no signs of dampness. I noted that to my book, the waterproof notebook and pen performing admirably. Technology could be wonderful when it worked properly.
The other detail of note was their eyes. They were the same color as the rest of their skin. I had assumed because of this that the eyes were closed. They were open—
A hand reached up and grabbed me. I tried to lurch back, but its grip was like a steel trap. “Lord Thryuttazoth awaits the sacrifices. The silenced will give voice to the end of time.”
I felt my bone ready to break under that grip. I looked around in a panic as the rest of the bodies stood. Panic took over. Where was Holden? Where was everyone else? I had to think of something. Fast. It was going to be me that was sacrificed.
Right then, I also heard something. I couldn’t tell what it was. It was a noise like a roar or a low, guttural growl that sounded also like machinery. Scared, I didn’t want to look. Instead, my curiosity took over to look back. Whatever it was, it was enormous. It looked like tentacles attached to what looked like arms. Yet it looked like eyes, maybe? All over the flesh of these things that looked like arms were eyes. Dark, menacing, evil looking eyes.
Breaking the symbol would do it. I had to break it to stop whatever was coming through. It was only a few feet behind me. It was more complicated than just throwing dirt on it as it was carved into the Earth — spiritually, yes. But more so, symbols of that size had to be carved first and foremost.
I dug my heal into the mud and then pushed back, using the grip that locked me in so tight as leverage. Then I pushed my foot back through the mud as hard as I could.
Suddenly everything went into chaos. Whatever had been holding onto her let go. She fell to the ground as all thirteen of whatever they were, people or whatever, screamed falling to the ground writhing in apparent agony. Then the thing that was moving through the gate that the symbol created vanished. A metallic, grinding roar sounded in my head and shook the very ground everything was on. I looked up at the people. They glowed hot orange and red as they seemed to burn away.
The symbol was broken. Whatever had happened was over.
Story written and owned exclusively by Jeremy C Kester. Do not reprint, copy, or anything other than sharing direct links to this page without written permission from there author.