by Quentin Marquis Chamberlain
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
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 wouldve
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 didnt 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 couldnt 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 captors 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 didnt 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 teens throat
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 Rons face. A guttural
groan spoke, Greetings, oh desolate one.
Feeling ill from the stale stench of
the creatures 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,
Lips returned to their previous state
as the creature turned to the one that held the bleeding teen. Speaking as if triumphant, ah, a
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
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
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
Earthly treasures and
comforts, he questioned the demonic jinni that stood before him.
can discuss mortal issues later, the creature replied. First, are you interested in a kingdom after
youve 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 mortals 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 creatures
outstretched arm, the hand held his last beer. He
heard the creature laughingly, you may have need of this.
As he walked toward Beneventos
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.
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 someones 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
couldnt help but think that she would use any excuse for a fix. I got a fix for you, a high youll
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
Michelles 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 wasnt
necessary. The legion had their mortal
servant. Half her throat was torn from her
body while Ron held her, hand still over mouth.
Youve done well, it
supportively stated. Come with us,
there is much to discuss and plan.
Ron followed behind the
creatures 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
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
legions 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 couldnt make out a word of the
Latin-style language. It didnt 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 Michelles demise diminished rapidly. Youll need one more. My employer may still be at the restaurant. Let me bring you the 666th.
The creature put its hands on
Rons shoulders reassuringly. It smiled,
pursing back its lips, laughingly answering, you already have.
Ron Cossis final scream
didnt 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