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HALLS OF DESOLATION
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Halls of Desolation
Copyright © 2013 by Mark Trimeloni
Thank you for downloading this eBook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author and may not be reproduced, scanned, or distributed for any commercial or non-commercial use without permission from the author. Quotes used in reviews are the exception. No alteration of content is allowed. If you enjoyed this book, then encourage your friends to download their own copy.
Your support and respect for the property of this author is appreciated.
This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.
Thank you to my mom and dad. There would be no me without you.
I hope you enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed writing it.
HALLS OF DESOLATION
Meeting the Curator
"You won't find Heaven here," the curator says, marking the wall of the hallway with a red-streak. His fingers glide softly across green, peeling paint. Perhaps, the paint was another color before the ravages of time and mold. The only certainty is the blood.
"Man, that's a little gross don't you think?" The question hangs in the air, waiting for a response.
"Are you really questioning me?" The curator grabs Eli Jackson by the throat. Pale white fingers close the black man's windpipe, making him drop to the ground. The knees of his blue jeans shredding on the splintered wooden planks.
"Please let him go." Barely a whisper from Rachel. The curator looks her in the eye.
"Brown, such a beautiful color in the shadows of this place." He lets the man go. Eli coughs on the way to the floor. "I am intrigued by the subtle features against your pale skin. Armenian?"
"No, not even close," she says, reaching to help Eli up. "My mother was Irish."
"Irish/Armenian then?" The curator strokes Rachel's auburn hair as she pulls hard on her friend's arm. Before she can argue, he walks over weathered boards to a window. Soft light filters down, exposing a dilapidated iron radiator.
Then she sees the woman. A wraith-like figure moving under a flickering fluorescent bulb. The face never fully coming into view.
"What is the matter, my dear?" The curator runs cold fingers along her arm. Rachel screams.
"Why the hell do you keep touching me?"
The curator fiddles with a tarnished brass cross on his lapel. She notices his slender digits inching along black fabric. Each long nail poking into ragged holes. A smell of ether wafts into her nostrils.
"Let me show you why." His voice low.
Rachel follows him to a dark room.
"I can't see," she says, trying to push Eli off her. "Can't you stand on your own?"
The large-black man rocks unsteadily back and forth. The curator pushes him over. A loud thud echoes through the hallway.
"Arotaclies!" The curator's voice rises in the increasing darkness. "Fetch me my lamp."
Moments later, a naked imp bounds out of the shadows. Rachel sees a tail whip in and out of the light. A sharp tip snaps back and forth. The redness of the creature's skin glows with an eerie internal life.
"What the sweet Jesus is that?" Rachel jumps back as if burned. The imp flashes her a gold-toothed smile.
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"That's Arotaclies." The curator makes a cooing sound toward the creature. "I call him my, 'Pimp Imp'."
"Oh my, God." Rachel watches as the curator lifts a sleeve and draws a long, jagged nail across his wrist. Blood flows into the imp's waiting maw, coating the gold-teeth crimson. She feels tiny fingers stroking the back of her neck and jumps. The imp smiles.
"Where's his fucking tail?" Rachel screams.
"Enough!" The curator grabs the tiny lantern from the beast and kicks the creature back down the hall. "Look inside the room."
Rachel peers into the darkness as the light of the lamp radiates a thin yellow glow. She sees a woman's face. Black hair flows over white features. Eyes filmed over with milky cataracts, making her blind. A ghostly finger drawn across sewn lips in a hushing gesture.
"What is she doing in there?" Rachel steps back, almost tripping on Eli.
"She's the watcher," the curator says, offering no further explanation. "Now onto the next room before we lose the light completely."
Rachel feels numb. She shivers from the memory of the horror contained inside the last room.
"I think that woman was…" Her voice trails off as the curator waves her in.
A cold chill runs up Rachel's spine. The flickering lantern revealing two women locked in a kiss.
"I'm not into this kind of thing." Rachel puts her hands up.
"You can't stop it." The curator's voice harsh. "Look at them. Believe that they are not real and see them for what they really are."
Rachel covers her eyes and runs for the door. Her head hits the wall, followed by the rest of her body. Long, bony fingers catch her on the way down. Her face lolls back, and she watches the two lovers draw apart-revealing trails of blood running from crimson lips.
"Why are you showing me all this?" Rachel begs, seeking some release from the visions. "I am not a bad person."
The curator lowers her body to the floor. He softly strokes a tear from her cheek.
"We see the things we want to see. That we need to see." His voice no longer threatening. "What you might think are atrocities are really a symbol of hope. All of this madness has a purpose. It is devotion that keeps them alive."
Rachel shakes her head. "No. None of it is real."
The curator moves her into the hallway. She notices Eli crawling along the splintered wood toward the far end.
"Where does he think he is going?" Rachel moves in a daze toward the next room. The curator swings her around, driving the lantern into the dark.
Rachel opens her eyes slowly. A large man in a white smock covered in pinkish-stains pushes meat into a silver grinder. Rachel watches as line after line of butchered body parts flow from the end onto a flowered plate beneath. Tears flow as she realizes the limbs belong to children. When she turns around, the curator is gone.
What am I supposed to do now? She thinks. The coldness of the place causes tiny pimples to appear on her bare skin. Each breath comes out in wintery gasps. She enters the hallway to find it abandoned. All the doors slam shut at once. Rachel barely notices.
She slumps to the floor.
The faceless woman floats along the broken boards, towards Rachel. In her hand is a butcher knife. The blade covered in thick, red ocher.
"I am the dreamer. The lover of life." The specter recounts in a sing-song voice. "I am lost in these halls. But not forgotten."
Rachel rocks slightly against the wall.
"I have been here a very long time." This last verse only inches from Rachel's face. Rachel looks up to see a sharp edge catching rays of errant light. She reaches in her pocket, bringing out a mirror. The creature recoils, dropping the weapon. Rachel grabs the wrong end of the steel. Blood flows from several missing fingers. The woman disappears down the hallway.
"Oh, my. What have you done?" The imp grabs her hand, spitting fire on the stumps. Rachel smells burning flesh and passes out. When she wakes up, the imp is gone. Still, there is a funny taste in her mouth like someone has taken charcoal fluid and coated the inside. Do we really even need to consider what the possibilities of that is? Her mind asks. She shakes her head. I have to find a way out.
The curator sits, staring at the monitors. He waves the imp into a chair and pours himself a glass of vodka.
"I'm going to get drunk tonight," he says, polishing off the contents of the tumbler.
"You get drunk every night." The imp shuffles onto the table to look in the man's eyes.
"Why did we choose her again?" A fatherly softness to his tone.
"Because we need a replacement for the lady in the hall." Arotaclies removes the bottle and places it back on the shelf. "But I doubt she'll get past the butcher."
"Is he on the move?" The curator's voice soft and lilting.
"He's coming up behind her right now."
Rachel hears heavy footsteps approaching from behind. The smell of blood is thick around her. She rolls seconds before a meat cleaver slams the wall where her head used to be. Grunts of irritation follow the near miss.
"You'd better back off, fat boy," Rachel says, waving the mirror in front of him.
The butcher releases his weapon and grabs for the shiny object. Rachel sidesteps him, heading into the room with the meat grinder. Blue illumination erupts from the walls. She can feel power here. As the butcher enters, Rachel picks up a large rolling pin from the counter. She swings. She misses. The man slaps her across the jaw. Moments later, Rachel is unconscious.
"She's in a lot of trouble. Perhaps, I should help." The imp prepares to leave the room.
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With a steady hand, the curator stops him. "Let her go. I want to see this."
The butcher lifts Rachel onto the chopping block. He delicately removes her shirt, revealing the length of her arm. With huge fingers, he moves her hand to his mouth. Soft puffs of air blow away burnt tissue, revealing fresh meat beneath. A leathery tongue slips from between chapped lips. First, he licks. Then, he sucks each exposed tip. The edges of his mouth curl in a savage grin. Razor sharp teeth poke tentatively at the tender flesh. Rachel moans lost in some far away dream.
From the hallway comes a shriek like baby kittens in a blender. Before the butcher can turn, a knife plunges into the back of his head. The faceless woman drives the blade deeper until the tip protrudes from the man's mouth. Then she pushes one last time.
As the butcher falls to the floor, the woman-of-the-hall takes Rachel's hand and positions it above the meat grinder. She plunges the burnt flesh in up to the wrist-then strokes the handle. With each pulse, the machine shakes harder. An intensity to the rhythm like some wild jungle beat. As the music fades, the specter gives the crank a turn. Rachel's hand sinks deeper into the monster. Fresh blood seeps from the end onto the flowered plate. With moaning delight, she grinds.
Rachel wakes up to a burning feeling below her right wrist. She has a moment to realize what is going on, before the pain hits. Excruciating pain running the length of her arm. Rachel screams. When she pulls her appendage free, the woman is nowhere to be seen. Rachel pulls the knife from the butcher's head and goes into the hallway. Empty. She notes the meat cleaver is missing as well. A ragged hole marking the place where she almost died.
"Where did you go?" Rachel says, making her way down the hall.
"I'm right here." A voice from the next room. Moments later, the woman with sewn lips appears.
"How the hell did you say that?" Rachel stabs the knife like an accusing finger.
"We're all right here." Two voices speaking as one behind her. A twin spray of reddish fluid dots the sides of Rachel's face.
"Oh, God." She knows who is there and wishes nothing was further from the truth. The bloody, double-mint twins laugh in unison. They are on either side of her neck, causing the hairs to rise. A metallic-odor carried on their breath. In front, the stitches on the woman's face stretch to breaking. Rachel drops to the floor a moment before impact.
Sewn-together gets two bites, ripping her neck apart. The twins have seconds to realize their mistake as Rachel rises and slits the first one from ear to ear.
"This is wrong," the second one begins-before Rachel stabs her in the eye. As number two of old double-ugly drops, she makes her way down the hall to a door marked exit. Her right hand is screaming with pain. She doesn't care to look, knowing only a stump remains. With trembling fingers, she grips the knob with her left and turns. Nothing happens. She tries again with no success. The only thing moving is a wispy shape in the darkness. As the light fades, the specter approaches. A heavy cleaver swinging slowly back and forth.
"Hit the emergencies." The curator waves to the imp.
"Yeah, sure whatever," the imp says, moving to the switch. "Who was your slave last year?"
"You were." The curator is too busy to go into more detail. He watches the monitor expectantly.
As the lights rise, the curator's eyes widen. Rachel smiles, sending the sharp metal through a window separating the tiny office from the hallway. The curator pushes his chair back, catching the full hit of the blade. Blood pulses from his chest as cold, dead fingers tap on the leather arm rest.
"Good shot," the imp says, moving closer.
Rachel makes it to the weapon before he does. The imp smiles.
"Now what are we going to do about you?" She says, tapping one of the imp's teeth with her finger.
Four hours earlier an ad appeared in the local paper. "Two people needed to run, 'Mother Horror's House'. Thrills to last a lifetime."
Rachel looked at the man beside her and said, "Who is Mother Horror?"
"Hell, if I know," he said, waving a taxi. "It says applications are being taken in person, today only. You want to share a cab?"
Rachel looked at the man and smiled. "Sure. Sounds like a blast."
Thank you for enjoying my story. For more information about me and my other works, please search my full name Mark Alan Trimeloni.
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