(This is an excerpt from a novel in progress)
Setting: After meeting the people on the side of the road, Tazmen and Jessie are shaken up. Things just don’t seem right for either of them. Their school gets closed a couple days after their encounter because of a break in and a very injured Janitor. On the day off from school, Jessie gets a note from a secret admirer inviting her to a bonfire. Thinking it is a crush trying to ask her out; Jessie and Tazmen decide to follow the directions and go. Though the note is not from a boy she knows. Its from Malas who is a man possessed by a demon. This is the same man that they saw on the side of the road. Malas has traveled all around the world preying on beautiful woman and cursing them with an extreme envy of beauty and any sight of it, they will kill it. Malas’ partner I’thika is Tazmen’s grandmother that has been missing four a couple of generations.
When Tazmen and Jessie go to the “bonfire” they realize that Malas now has intentions of taking Jessie to be his newest companion. When it is realized that things are not at all what they seem, Malas takes Jessie and Ithika through a portal to his Old home deep in the swamp. Leaving Tazmen for dead, she makes the choice to follow them and try and save her best friend and newly found Great Grandmother. Once entering the portal, Tazmen finds that this place is nothing short of a night mare and every room is some new terror. The first room, wives of Malas through the ages.
To Grandmothers House We Go
Tazmen was distracted by the willow trees, water and small clumps of pollen that were floating in the air. The sign next to the path was chipped and the violet paint had faded. It read “LeBlanc Manor.” She took a few steps toward the house; mud squished out from under the loose stones.
A low growl from behind Tazmen made her turn around. A dravix was creeping out of the darkness of the tunnel, slowly making its way towards her. A small glob of drool was dripping from its exposed teeth. The missing lips exposed gums that and had been turned black from dirt and whatever its previous meal was. Once it was clear of the tunnel, more emerged from behind it; their leathery hides dripping with sweat and melted snow. Steam wisped off the slick backs of the pack of deranged dogs. The pathway was now blocked, and the only way she had left to go was toward the house.
As she walked backwards, the stone tiles sunk into the thick mud under her weight. Tazmen’s foot slipped and pushed some of the small tiles into the black water below. The heel of her boot kissed the surface of the water. A sizzling noise hissed from her foot until she set it in the mud where the stone had been. She regained her balance and saw the dravix’ had advanced even more. She took a quick glance over her shoulder towards the house. It was roughly forty feet away and with the dogs getting closer she knew she wouldn’t make it no matter how fast she ran.
A deep, cracking noise came from all around. The trees were moving; their trunks groaning with the shifting weight. The branches, like long skeletal hands, spiraled and descended towards the ground. Upon reaching the pathway, they halted. The dravix’ whimpered and lowered their bodies. The branches lay still for a moment, then grabbed and picked up some of the dogs. They cried in terror as the trees took them higher. After a few hollow pops, the dravix’ went silent.
The remaining hounds panicked and tried to run back into the portal. They didn’t get far in the thick mud and sliding stones. Some fell in the water and were immediately thrashed around by something hidden beneath the surface. The water bubbled like hot tar after the last one was dragged below. A fizzing noise could be heard over the creaking of the trees. Seconds later, a few bleached bones floated to the surface.
Tazmen turned and bolted to the house. The trees creaked back into to place; the lifeless dogs hung upside down from their branches. Tazmen skipped the first and second steps, and then slid across the porch. The red brick stairs were coated from top to bottom in a thick opaque gel. The old, oak door groaned as she slammed into it. It steadily opened, as if it were extending an invitation. She scrambled inside on her hands and knees, and pressed herself against the wall.
The inside of the house was dark, and smelled of mold and mildew. The large door closed and screeched on its aged hinges. The room was then silent. Peeking through a nearby window, Tazmen could see the trees looked as they did before and the tiny lily pads returned to their original places on the water. Her heavy breathing slowed and eventually returned to normal. She cradled her head in her hands, and took a few deep breaths, trying to calm herself. After a few moments, she stood up and looked around.
The carpet was very old, and a deep red. At one time it might have been very vibrant, but now it had been worn through in spots and frayed. Small tables supported ancient looking candlesticks and a bowls of rotten fruit chunks floating in water. Tazmen put her hand over her nose and mouth to try and block the putrid smell from entering her nostrils. Wooden chairs looked as if they had been left in the rain for the past few years. The discolored arms and seats were splintered and rough. The old threadbare curtains were held slightly open by the rusted hooks falling off the walls. The curtains were multicolored and hung by small strands of fabric.
What little light came through the dirty windows cast a silver glow onto many of the portraits hanging on the walls. The colors on the old paintings were dull, and hard to make out. Tiny metal name plates below the frames indicated who the subject was supposed to be. She walked around, looking into the eyes of each of the women garmented with paint. The first portrait was of Anne Boleyn; her dark hair was held up by a white and gold band. The face in the picture was very old, and damaged, making it hard to see. The next portrait was of a woman with vermilion hair, and golden eyes. The soft skin of her face looked polished, even in the painting. Farther down the line of portraits was a face that no one would ever forget. The small mole just shy of her upper lip was her trademark. Tazmen stared at Norma Jean, with her candy apple lips and platinum blonde hair. A tear in the canvas ran down into her forehead and bubbled the layer of paint.
The majority of the pictures there would have been considered destroyed. The objects within the frames were severely damaged making it hard to focus on any detail. On the far side of the room, leaned a picture against the wall. It had not been hung up, and looked fairly new. Tazmen went over and picked it up. She turned it over and realized it was I’thikauh; her skin was smooth and undamaged, and her eyes were vibrant green. She pulled the picture of her grandmothers out of her pocket. There was no mistake now that the woman she just met in the woods was her lost grandmother.
She sat down in one of the damaged chairs and cradled the portrait on her lap. Running her fingers over the painting, she memorized every detail, then replaced it to its original position facing the wall. The roughed arm of the chair scraped against her sleeve. At a second glance, Tazmen realized that there was something carved into the wood. “Follow the child,” it read.
A few small drops of water broke her concentration when they fell onto her hand and legs. Looking up, she saw the ceiling had been obscured by a thick cloud. The dark blue vapors were conducting small amounts of light across the room, making it seem like the paparazzi were outside every window. The pulses of light stayed hidden in the cloud and continuously lit up the room for a minute or two, then ceased all together. The water droplets then increased in size and quantity. They pounded the floor, sending a vibration through the structure of the room. The cloud extended to all corners and slowly started slithering down the walls, covering the portraits. Soon, the rain stopped, and the room had been swallowed by blue and white vapors. A slurping noise captured Tazmens’ attention.
Next to one of the tables, was a small figure. A feeble limb reached into the fruit mush and withdrew the soup with a cupped hand. The child sized-character was eating the rotten fruit without hesitation. Small grunts and heavy breathing echoed through the soaked room. Once the bowl was empty, the creature scurried to the next table. Tazmen took a step closer and the floor creaked, alerting whatever it was. It spun around and was now facing her. She realized this was a mistake once she was able to see it in full. Her breath caught in her throat.
It had an oversized skull and with a scar traveling down the center of its face. The eyes were about to pop out of their sockets and were a deep red from hemorrhages. The one hand that protruded from its chest was covered in slime from the fruit mash it devoured. It’s clearly visible ribs encased its entire abdomen except the small soft patch just below where the arm was. Bleached skin only highlighted the veins that snaked through its body and its tiny teeth looked like that of a carnivorous fish.
The creature paused and took in the view of Tazmen. It stared at her for a few moments then belted out a scream and ran away. It raced around the room and was then engulfed by the cloud. Tazmen did not dare to follow the creature but she did need to find Jessie and get out of there. She began to walk around the room, hoping a door would present itself.
She passed where the portrait of Anne Boleyn was when she heard groaning. At first there were only a few noises, but soon there were many. Muffled screams and groans in protest were accompanied by a slight creaking coming from the floor. The cloud that covered the walls was starting to melt away, as if it were being rinsed. As the remaining vapors drained to the floor, Tazmen saw all the pictures had changed, and women were starting to crawl out of them.
Her heart dropped when she saw the entire collection of women from the portraits standing around her. Their bodies were tortured by decay, bones and tendons revealed. Their pallid skin was greasy from an excessive amount of natural oils. Clothes were hanging by shreds of fabric and did little to cover the rot that consumed them. They slowly started towards Tazmen; their joints grinding and popping unnaturally. She stared at them, unable to move. The eyes of all these women looked as if they were made of glass and had not aged a day.
A hand suddenly rested on her shoulder; the skin was peeled back from the finger tips and dried blood traced the remaining skin and nails. She jerked away and felt a something tap her back. The hand was still resting on her shoulder, then slowly slid off. Without any warning, she doubled over and vomited what little dinner she’d had. She felt sweat start to run down her back and neck and stood up slightly. Her eyes fell on more women in the room. Some were crawling towards her, half their bodies missing. Their entrails dragged across the floor, leaving a trail of thickened gastric juices behind them. They were not clothed, and some were missing limbs. Many of the women in the back of the crowd were holding sickles and axes. Some did not look like they were even grasping the weapons, but the implements had been absorbed by the decomposition and were now a part of their bodies.
Tazmen started breathing heavily, and her heart felt as if it would beat through her rib cage. She grabbed a tall candlestick and swung it at the woman closest to her. It connected with the side of her face and a gush of black slime and curdled blood exited the rubbery skin. The woman’s head tilted at an awkward angle, then toppled off its perch. The body fell to the floor and a pair of women, attached at the shoulder, crawled over the corpse. Tazmen slammed the candlestick down onto the back of one of the crawlers. The blow broke through the spine and the exceeded pressure caused both arms to break at the elbow joints. The woman collapsed to the floor, then proceeded to crawl forward now on it’s broken stubs.
The group of women began to surround Tazmen and with every swipe of the candle stick, more brittle bodies collapsed. As she prepared to strike another woman, a set of hands grabbed the candle stick. Tazmen turned to see the famous Marilyn Monroe. Half of her face had been cleaned of any skin or tendons. The only surviving tissue was an eye that was still resting in its socket. The hole where her ear would have been was dripping a thick, pink solution. A smile crested half of her face before she shoved Tazmen into the crowd of hungry women.
Grabbing at her, the women found anything to hold. She started shoving her way through the rotting bodies. Her hand pushed into a ribcage, and she felt the mush that lay where the heart used to be. She dry heaved and her mouth began to salivate. The smell was unbearable. A hand tangled itself in Tazmen’s hair and with a sharp tug, pulled a chunk out.
Grotesque hands drowned Tazmen, and shoved her to the floor. The soaked carpet saturated Tazmen’s pants and jacket. More feet and hands were trying to hold her down but she was thrashing around too much for them to hold her firmly there. Tazmen raised her head enough to see a door was in crawling distance. The gold handle shimmered, and she knew this was her only chance for escape.
She tried to stand up, but was shoved back down. After a multiple tries and more squirming, she got to her hands and knees. A scraping noise to her right caused her to look up. She saw that some of the women holding weapons were walking towards her, their implements running into whatever objects were in the way. Using all the strength she had, Tazmen crawled to the door. The hands that held her back got a tighter grip and slowed her down slightly. She was only a couple feet away from the door, when a sickle slammed into the floor next to her hand. The carpet split open, and revealed the dark wood that lay beneath it. It splintered, and held the sickle in its place. The deformed woman that was holding it was the lady with the gold eyes. Her cheek looked as if mice had been chewing on it and her throat had been ripped open to reveal her esophagus and some small strands of muscle. She tried to pull her sickle out of the floor but her hand slipped off of it, leaving what was left of her skin on the handle.
Tazmen was at the door now, and reached up to the knob. Praying that it was not locked, she twisted the knob and heard a click. The door cracked open as a surge of light flooded the room. All the women retreated and started squealing. Moving clumsily away from the door, they trampled a few of their own. With this small moment of freedom, Tazmen dragged herself through the door and slammed it behind her.