The House of Thirteen Doors Part 3
by Daniel XIII
OF CAT EYES ASTRAY AND UNREQUITED LONGING
A simple stone sat at the end of each grave, carved with one of the twelve signs of the zodiac, at the innermost edge of the ring. A wall of that accursed fog shielded the glen, severing any ties with the world beyond. “Why is this entire place such a nightmare? All I wanted was to talk about pretty clothes with pretty people, and what do I get? Why, Dracula’s vacation home, of course?” Joanna thought, errantly strolling along the circumference of the conclave of blackened portals. Every grave had the
same desecrated casket and the same disturbing lack of occupancy. The ghoulishness of the clearing, combined with the brisk chill of the morning caused her to violently shiver. The air was deathly silent. No avian song, no rustling of fire hued autumn leaves, nothing. She spun in the clearing looking for any sign of something living, but came up empty. The fog, previously reticent to enter upon this space, now seemed to reconsider its decision. She began to realize that she had absolutely no idea from what direction she had come, and by default, no idea how to return up the slope that lead to the violated city of the dead. Completely lost and frustrated, she briefly entertained the notion of breaking down into a sobbing wreck. Someone beat her to it.
The mournful din carried on, amplified by the still air like a chorus of pure misery. Joanna’s mouth was agape in confusion. “Who’s there?” she cried out, yet no response was given from the nebulous void. The sobbing continued unabated. “Sister, I know exactly how you feel!” she thought as she cocked her head, trying to ascertain the co-ordinates of the spectral sadness. She pressed on ever deeper into the gloom. Occasionally a corona flash could be gleaned through the thick haze, bobbing to and fro like an azure will-o-the-wisp. The fog was almost palpable now as it brushed against her face with humid tendrils. The terrain began to alter under foot from slick grass, to loose pebbles that skittered and shifted with each footstep. The atmosphere grew ever moister, and began to take on the aroma of the seaside. The curious sound of rolling waves provided the soundtrack for her adventure.
At long last the fog began to dissipate as the sound of the roiling surf grew ever more deafening. She could clearly see that electric spark now, flitting about like a spectral firefly. She found herself on the edge of a verdant cliff, overlooking an ocean under overcast skies. Unlike any sea shore she had frequented before, there were no gulls screaming protest at her presence, nor were there boats on the horizon. The floating luminosity guided her along the cliff’s edge, which curved slightly to the right along an outcrop of mossy stone. Rounding the corner, Joanna witnessed her guide’s final resting place, on the shoulder of an indigo gossamer figure sitting on a small wooden bench overlooking the churning waters.
The figure was near transparent, and seemed to be constructed of blue tinted light projected on a surface fashioned of whisper thin trails of smoke. As illusionary as this figure seemed, Joanna was able to make out sharp details of the specter’s form. The figure was a woman, clad in a dress that would have been in high demand during the end of the Victorian age. Her hair was pinned up, revealing a face of sublime beauty, although marked by pronounced sadness. Her eyes never left the ocean, although what she was looking for was unknown. As Joanna observed the stranger, she began to be overtaken by an intense feeling of loss. She wanted desperately to comfort this wailing apparition, but was reticent to take another step in the vision’s direction lest it be dissipated by the vibration of her footfall. The being would occasionally take a stuttering breath, before continuing in her lament. Tears began to fall from Joanna’s eyes in sympathy for this unearthly mourner. She could be silent no more, she had to attempt a dialogue with this pitiful creature and extend an offer of solace in one way or another. “Hello?” Joanna
said, her voice quivering. The being swung its head in her direction with stunning ferocity, and all pretense of beauty washed away from the apparition.
All loveliness exploded from the creature in a shower of sapphire sparks that took to the air in every direction. Exposed bone, the color of the moon on a humid summer night now made up the largest portion of the horrible countenance, punctuated by ocher teeth, which looked long since past the point of providing any useful function. Strips of ancient cloth, emblazoned with cryptic runes, hung limp from the skull, like a horrible charade of a wig. No eyes or ears were present, yet she could definitely sense Joanna’s location.
The creature’s hands resembled nothing so much as twisted twigs tipped by fingernails the hue of chunks of bleu cheese. The being raised itself from its post of oceanic vigilance, and began walking towards her with labored steps. It spoke as she reached out a gnarled hand. “Jo…ann…a” she rasped. Joanna knew that voice all too well. “K…Katze?” Joanna stammered. The ghoul spoke again. “Jo…ann…a” but it was clear to her now that the word emanated not from the monster’s mouth, but rather somewhere in her neck, although the exact location remained enshrouded in mystery, for her rough hewn black robe kept the knowledge firmly obscure. All the while this thing that should not be crept ever closer, Joanna had one thought in her mind that seemed totally inconceivable given the present circumstances, “Is that a motorcycle?”
She first subconsciously noted the low, mechanical, rumble directly after the wraith had called her name. Now the thunderous audio assault was growing in volume exponentially. Katze had managed to stumble within arm’s reach of Joanna. Her death mask remained eternally unexpressive, but her head was at such an angle that an aura of concern appeared to be playing across her withered frame. Joanna was frozen, the tag team of revulsion and disbelief had left her so paralyzed that she could have passed for a mannequin if not for the quick breaths escaping from her heaving breast. Katze reached for her with a clumsy extension of her right arm.
The horror’s hand felt like crepe paper as it lingered on her cheek, gently wiping the tears that were drying on that silken landscape. Katze brought her moistened fingertips in front of what would’ve been her eyes, if the orbs hadn’t wandered off to parts unknown long ago. Bringing those mummified digits to what could be considered her mouth, her jaw parted with a trembling motion. What issued forth from that horrific aperture was a licorice-black muscle that had once, in another lifetime, been a tongue. As the dark, pulpy mass extended further, a horde of swollen, frenzied crickets exploded from deep within the bowels of the hideous maid. If she noticed this exodus, Katze made no acknowledgment of the fact.
The servant lapped the hot tears from her fingers as if they were a gourmet delicacy. Joanna tasted the bile welling up in her throat in a sour wave of nausea. Throughout this whirling panorama of obscenity, the growling of the unseen engine was now mere feet away. Joanna stepped back to avoid the graveyard touch and stumbled over a small, dew-slicked stone, sending her unceremoniously to the
ground. As Katze lumbered forward, a sleek black motorcycle screeched to a halt between her and the maid.
5 sat atop a jet black motorbike, its chrome engine vibrating angrily. He was clad head to toe in a leather riding outfit, the exact color of blood flowing from a severed artery. He wore no helmet, only his trademark mirrored sunglasses. The only bit of accent the uniform possessed was a black armband, baring the familiar white pentagram sigil.
5 extended a slender leather encased arm towards Joanna’s prone form. She did not hesitate to take her benefactor up on the offer. His grip was as strong as his skin was supple. With a preternatural strength beguiling his lithe frame, he hoisted her to her feet and swung her to the seat of the metal beast with one swift movement. She wrapped her arms around his slim waist in a tight embrace.
5 throttled the engine of his steed, causing it to let loose with a nerve shattering roar. Swinging the bike around in a wide arch, he accelerated with unholy speed sending dirt and debris spraying in every direction. Joanna buried her face into his back, as his colorless hair wrapped around her like ghostly waves on an albino sea. As the cycle raced ahead with hell born speed, she breathed deep, trying to drag some of 5’s calming coolness deep inside of her. She shuttered her eyes tightly and didn’t open them again until she felt the cycle glide into a gentle stop.
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