Tales of Terror

Hell’s Outcasts
by Quentin “Marquis” Chamberlain

I.

  Ron stormed to the far corner of the kitchen where the employee coats were stored.  He grabbed a six-pack of beer and hid it beneath his jacket, which he had draped over his shoulder.  The exit was much less dramatic than he had wished, but it was unwise to cause a commotion while committing a crime. 

 Making his way down the street he could hear voices emanating from Hillsdale Cemetery.  In the light of a nearly full moon he could see the group of teens laughing and carrying on while passing around a bottle.  True to his misanthropic nature, he would attempt to avoid interaction with this bunch.  A difficult task it being a late September night with leaves crunching underfoot with every step.

 Ron followed the outskirts of the cemetery until he reached the opening to a path that ran parallel to a stonewall built some century and a half ago.   He strolled for about ten minutes before the temptation of that first brew became too great.  Hopping up onto the wall and situating himself comfortably, he began drinking away his sorrows.  Thoughts of the dead end job he left behind were not foremost on his mind.  The girlfriend he lived with, the one he once loved and was now desperate to be rid of consumed his soon to be inebriated brain.  She would be at the restaurant two hours from now to pick him up while bleeding more cash from him to support her drug habit.  Anger and dismay welled up inside him. 

  “A normal man would’ve dropped her after Chad,” he remarked aloud while swilling down the last of his fourth German beer.  A painful memory that haunted him; his girlfriend and his only friend locked in a passionate embrace.  As a result, he didn’t trust anyone and withdrew inward, shutting out most people and the society around him.

 Far off he could hear leaves crunching; the sound was getting louder as someone approached.  “Probably some teen that couldn’t hold his liquor,” he postulated aloud, grinning at the thought of some punk kid puking his guts out, heaving his last meal.  Just then he realized that all had fallen silent, except the crunching leaves.  He could no longer hear the jubilant teens.  Taking another drink he looked up to see two dull, yellow eyes staring back at him from a tree.  Ron froze in terror unable to breath.

 The shuffling of leaves was much louder now and at a speedier pace as if someone; no, more than one were running in unison.  Thinking quickly, he reached for a loose stone beside him to use as a weapon, but something from behind grabbed his wrists.  The cold, clammy hands possessed long, sharp nails that were digging into his skin.  Struggling in vein to break loose from his captor’s hold he noticed the yellow-eyed creature had dismounted his perch and was heading toward him.  Fear seized his whole body as his bladder failed.

 At that moment he saw a most frightening sight.  A thing of human size and proportion also possessing dull, yellow eyes and blueish skin was dragging one of the teens by his hair.  Stopping in front of the creature that had seconds before descended from the tree, it held out the unanimated body like an offering. 

 Ron, unable to move, watched in horror.  The demonic-looking, tree-creature leaned in close to the teen.   It spoke in a gasping, guttural voice, “Greetings, oh desolate one.”

 When the carcass that was held before it didn’t respond, verbally or physically, Ron was witness to what nightmares are made of.  The creature pursed its lips back while opening the creaking jaw.  Lowering its head in a swift motion it attacked. With one vicious bite, half the teen’s throat vanished.

 It turned toward Ron.  Blood stained its blue cheeks.  He thought his heart would surely stop while staring into those yellow, lifeless eyes.   As the creature approached he could feel the grip on his wrists grow tighter.

 In the same fashion it drew close, only inches from Ron’s face.  A guttural groan spoke, “Greetings, oh desolate one.”

 Feeling ill from the stale stench of the creature’s breath, he began to sweat.  His mind raced.   Lips began pursing inward as before, revealing gums so decayed they were barely able to hold the jagged teeth in place.

 With nothing to lose, Ron replied, “desolate?” 

 Lips returned to their previous state as the creature turned to the one that held the bleeding teen.  Speaking as if triumphant, “ah, a communicator.”

 Standing upright, the creature spoke “yes, desolate.  It is written that mortals desolate and despairing in their existence may aid those cast out in the gathering.”

 Confused, Ron asked, “what is the gathering; how were you cast out of it?”  There was nothing to lose, he figured by all rights he should have been next to that poor teen bleeding into the fallen leaves.

 “No,” groaned the creature.  “We are a legion of outcasts, banished to this place as punishment; punishment for insufficient service to the master.”

 As he tried to comprehend the words, realization struck.  His wrists were no longer being held.  Turning slowly, he could not see anyone or anything behind him.   He looked back to the creature that had spoke to find its hideous face once again inches from his own.

 “Are you desolate?” whispered the creature.  Once again the lips began curling backward.  “Explain yourself, mortal ” the face with drying blood on the cheeks insisted.

 Thoughts he now voiced never entered his mind during this time.   He muttered endlessly about his hatred of others.  Describing the verbally abusive boss he had, he spoke of intentions that would never be carried out.   Revenge so sweet that only a sadist could derive pleasure from such actions.  The creature listened intently when he stated that his only happiness was derived from sitting alone, drinking himself into blackouts.

 As minutes passed, Ron felt more comfortable.  The one-way conversation seemed almost therapeutic, until he reached Michelle.  He spoke of his two-timing girlfriend describing drug abuse, deception and love turned sour.

 “Enough,” the creature said.  Convinced that Ron was a desolate one of use to him, he excitedly gasped, “You shall bring us the souls of mortals.  In return, you will receive what earthly treasures and comforts we can provide; as well as a minor kingdom in one of the nine regions of hell.”

 “Earthly treasures and comforts,” he questioned the demonic jinni that stood before him.

  “We can discuss mortal issues later,” the creature replied.  “First, are you interested in a kingdom after you’ve left your mortal coil?”  Intrigued, Ron just shook his head affirmatively.

 For the next few minutes the creature unveiled a tale almost too fantastic for Ron to believe.  It described hell as being divided into nine major regions.  Each region was further subdivided into major and minor kingdoms.  Mortals could attain a minor kingdom for themselves with service in the earthly plane.  Once duty was completed, the minor kingdom was set-aside for them. 

 In order to complete the service, each legion needed to collect 666 souls.  Upon completion, legion members were allowed back to their respective regions of hell with all previous powers and form restored.  Immediately following the receipt of soul 666, the mortal’s kingdom was reserved.

 “Bring to us the one you call Michelle,” it insistently gasped. 

 “Michelle,” he repeated. 

 “Michelle,” the creature reiterated, “when shall we expect her?”

 “But what of the earthly treasures,” he probed. 

 “That will be explained later at the sealing of our covenant, but first you must acquire for us a soul,” it groaned.

 He looked at his watch.  Michelle would be in the restaurant parking lot to pick him up from work within a few minutes.  “I can present her to you within the hour,” shuddering as he responded feeling a mixture of fear and glee.

 He lowered himself from the wall preparing to fetch his first soul for his newfound, evil friends.  “Mortal,” it commanded.  Turning slowly he saw the creature’s outstretched arm, the hand held his last beer.  He heard the creature laughingly, “you may have need of this.”

 II.

 As he walked toward Benevento’s Restaurant, he wondered how he could convince Michelle to follow him to the cemetery.  He stopped midway to his destination, opened the beer and poured it all down the front of his pants.  A chill ran through him now that it had grown colder, but he had to cover the fact that he had soiled himself to avoid her questions.  Arriving in the parking lot, he hid behind a dumpster and waited.

 As he heard the familiar engine, he strode directly to the car as she parked.  “Come with me, I need to show you something,” he said in his most convincing voice.

  “You’re all wet,” she huffed getting out of the car.

 “Where are we going; do you have any cash cause I really need some stuff?” she interrogated him caring more about the answers than about the man.  

 “On break, I took a stroll to have a smoke and I think I found someone’s stash of pot plants” lying convincingly, knowing her weakness.  

 “Really!” she breathed.

 As they walked she droned on about the bad day she had and how stressed out she felt.  He couldn’t help but think that she would use any excuse for a fix.  “ I got a fix for you, a high you’ll never fall from” he thought to himself.

 Even now, leading Michelle to certain death he had reservations.   At one time, just being with her was his comfort and treasure.  Then the drugs took over, resulting in a cold, monotonous relationship devoid of the love they previously shared.  Dismayed, he wondered what would happen to her.  These creatures would surely end her earthly existence, but it stated that they were collecting souls.   “What would happen to her soul?” he chillingly thought, now considering making a break for it to escape their clutches and Michelle’s eternal damnation.

 When they reached the wall she complained of being tired and wanted to go get some stuff.  He grabbed her from behind, cupping his right hand over her mouth attempting to silence her.  She writhed in his grasp reaching to pull his hair.  He could hear the leaves shuffling close by; they would be here soon.  It was too late, the choice had been made and her fate was sealed.

 Michelle lost all muscle control for the brief moment she gazed into those yellow eyes. No greeting this time, it wasn’t necessary.  The legion had their mortal servant.  Half her throat was torn from her body while Ron held her, hand still over mouth.

 “You’ve done well,” it supportively stated.  “Come with us, there is much to discuss and plan.”

 Ron followed behind the creature’s lumbering stride.   He cautiously inquired, “What becomes of those souls collected?” 

 It stopped suddenly, turning to him it despicably replied, “They feed the fires; it is beyond the reach of your comprehension, mortal.”  

 As they reached the end of the wall, another of the creatures stood grasping a large mound of earth, intact.  A staircase cut of soil and rock led down beneath the wall.  Descending, he could see by the yellow glow of the walls.  “Just like the eyes,” he thought to himself.  He was led to a room by one of the legion and told to wait.

 This gave Ron time to think. He wondered how many legions of outcasts there were at one time, leading to entrepreneurial thoughts.  After what seemed an eternity, the legion’s leader arrived.   He turned and asked, “ when I have completed my work for you, is it possible for me help other legions and increase my kingdom?”

 “So desolate in this life, so greedy in the next,” the creature roared with hellish laughter.  “ I do believe so, there is nothing that forbids such,” it replied as if approvingly.

 Just then another stood at the entranceway, beckoning the leader.  He could only hear the guttural, groaning voices, but couldn’t make out a word of the Latin-style language.  It didn’t matter being deep in thoughts of finding another legion when his work was complete.  “I gotta find out about these earthly treasures and comforts that were mentioned,” he thought with avarice.

 “A unique and pleasant turn of events,” it gasped while lumbering toward him. “A count has been taken, we have achieved 665 souls with the addition you brought,” it stated contently.

 Ron was quick with this train of thought and the guilt he felt over Michelle’s demise diminished rapidly.  “You’ll need one more.  My employer may still be at the restaurant.  Let me bring you the 666th.”

 The creature put its hands on Ron’s shoulders reassuringly.  It smiled, pursing back its lips, laughingly answering, “you already have.”

 Ron Cossi’s final scream didn’t last long and ended in a blood-gurgling moan.  “I never liked relying on mortals,” the creature spoke to the twitching carcass one last time before being whisked back to hell.

 Copyright 2000 Quentin “Marquis” Chamberlain

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