The Woman

It calls to me. That accursed realm where despair is eternal and salvation is laughed at. A place where the fibers of the soul are torn asunder by unseen daemons of an offensive reality. A place that drains men of their strength and sanity leaving only trembling husks in its wake. A place where the rules of reality are brushed aside and the only law is that of unutterable chaos. A region I have seen but have not.

It lies beyond what we see, a world of chaos and demented reasoning. Where rivers run crimson red and the skies are perpetually shrouded in storm. Mountains of fire lap at the stained sky in crazed frenzy while sadistic creatures of unholy birth torture the souls of the innocent and damned alike. Where bones of man, woman, and child are bathed in the spilt blood of a thousand martyrs and high above lightening streaks across the sky, its tendrils groping for some unknown entity beyond its reach. The screams of souls echo throughout the valleys and abysses of the realm, seeming to emanate from the nauseating air without cause.

These daemonic beings encompass all that is to see. The smell of these fetid creatures taints all that it touches. Their filth is no better, seeming to infect all manners of life by merely the sight of it. All of these nameless daemons, for it would be sacrilegious to give fiends such an honor, lack a singular form. Their shapes morph between increasingly repulsive and blasphemous figures, with disturbing regularity that seems out of place in the swirling chaos of their world. But one thing is clear; their lust to cause suffering and their need for the blood of others is unquenchable.

Suddenly the world changes, and I find myself standing amidst a raging blizzard. Gazing about, ignoring the icy edge that the rampant winds thrust at my heart, I faintly make out circular pillars. Each pillar, having an archaic character engraved deep into their thick stone, glow a faint red that cuts through the swirling snow about me. Even then I begin to make out the shapes and voices of hooded figures that surround me. Their inarticulate speech becomes a chant, and I soon find myself bewitched by the wicked chords! Those sounds, unlike any that man or woman should ever hear, beat down what little resistance my sanity can muster.

In my left hand I find a crude dagger tightly clenched, and as I gaze at it I feel my body quake in fear. There is a skull grafted to the hilt, too small for that of a man. But it is undeniably that of a human being and in terror I realize that staring up at me, without a tooth in its tiny mouth, is the skull of a new born. My eyes, riveted to the dagger despite my feverish efforts to pry them away, slowly move down to where the bone seems to flow flawlessly into metal. The blade was less than a foot, made of a yellowish ore and tempered into a shape resembling the waves of the sea.

Looking down I see what could only be described as a decrepit altar. Made from some unknown purple stone many ages past, its weathered surface showing the ravages of time. Yet it glowed with a sense of purpose for on top lay the figure of a woman. She was bound to the rock by coarse rope and trembled in fear as I drew near. This woman wore nothing more than a dress of white, such a pure white that I found myself blinded by it. Her skin matched the dress causing the illusion that she was not clothed at all, with only the beckoning call of the dresses hem flailing wildly in the wind betraying the sight. Her long black hair whipped uncontrollably as the gusts picked up, and her beautiful blue eyes shed a single tear.

As her eyes met mine I felt my heart grieve. Against my will, against my judgment, against everything that made me the man I was I raised the dagger. In a single swift motion, before I had time to think, the dagger, propelled by my hands, was thrust into the woman’s chest. Shocked by my actions I slowly release my grip and looked down at my hands stained with her blood. I saw that damned skull atop the hilt of the dagger staring at me, its eyes seemingly glowing red. I tear my eyes from the murderous dagger and find instead the eyes of the woman, which were not filled with pain but that of pity. I fall to my knees in desperation and ask God what has happened to me and why.

Slowly, almost beyond my ability to perceive, the world began to change. I began to see the world of the daemons merge with the snow filled surroundings as the woman’s blood spread across the dress of white. Taken back in horror I notice that the robed figures, whose voices had enchanted me so, had begun to fade away. I soon found myself in an open plain, where the sky was blacked with storm and in the distance a river of blood flowed. As I watched in despair I prayed to be released from the terror that enveloped me. And mercifully I woke.

These are the nightmares that haunt me at night. Mere dreams perhaps but I can feel there is more to them than just the workings of an exhausted mind. I’ve seen these horrors within my mind and hear the robed figures call to me even when I wake! Their calls, of such that no creature of earthen birth can emulate, erode my resolve by the hour. I feel myself drawn to that altar in the snow with every breath I take! I feel the summons of that ghastly dagger and sense the fear of the woman no matter where I go. What do they want from me?

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I wrote this short story a long time ago on a night that I couldn’t sleep.  Originally it had been intended to be just a stand alone story, but I eventually decided to expand on it and see where it went from there.  There are currently two other short stories that continue the theme from this one.  The dagger features prominently in the second, and the man’s disappearance is the centeral plot for the third.

I am as of right now undecided what to do with the stories.  As a whole they are a complete naration I suppose.  The end of the third hinting that everything what is going on is a cycle that has and will always continue.  I’ve also toyed with the idea of making it a plot point for a novel I’m planning.  Also there is a possibilty for more short stories.  If I were to do that though I think I’d end up rewriting them to be a more of a journal style.  Where it ends up depends on my mood and how lazy I really am.