It’s ironic that the one piece of advice that my father provided me, was ultimately fulfilled by his untimely death. He had repeated it several times throughout my life and always delivered it with such seriousness, each time stood out like a beacon in my memory.
“Jacob…” he would begin and pause for some time. “There is only one single path to success. One day you will be met with opportunity. And with this will be one simple test. Either you will be willing and able to pursue it or not.”
From here he would proceed into a rather demoralizing diatribe about the futility of hard work, and study. He considered it wasted energy that was better spent in patient preparation for the moment opportunity came. It was disturbing advice, but coming from a man who had spent his life working in local coal mines and was now worth over a hundred million dollars, it demanded careful consideration.
I only became disillusioned when I turned thirty and had very little to show for it. I had squeaked through high school doing only the minimum to pass, which is shockingly little in this day and age. From there I held a number of basic service jobs for short periods of time, mostly out of boredom and self loathing after spending weeks on end gaming at home. I never lasted long. The paychecks were spent before I cashed them. And more and more I worried that my father’s advice had set me on the wrong path.
Five weeks ago he died of an aneurysm in front of his television. And now his little empire is mine. I have no siblings, and mom passed years ago. I am the sole beneficiary. Opportunity has come.
Two days ago I had my ninth meeting with the estate lawyer and received some strange information. It turns out that my father owned another home in our town that was still kept in my mother’s name, or at least under a trust in her name.
He owned real estate all over, but there was no reason that I could think of that would justify owning a two bedroom stand alone only minutes from his rather impressive home. I decided then and there that I must check the place out personally. It was difficult for me to wonder if my father was keeping a mistress. Since my mother passed he had seemed to completely lose interest in the opposite sex and often spoke about another relationship tarnishing what they had had. Little did I know at the time, this was nothing compared to the reality of the situation.
The keys were sent by courier and this afternoon I let myself in. I could see my father’s influence in the house immediately. The dark wood bookcases, the brown leather chairs. This was clearly his place. Beyond the design choices the house just seemed to clean. Too picturesque. The whole place was like a formal sitting room never to be actually used, just there as a display. A face to show the world.
There were no personal photos. No mail. No documents or anything that might shed light on the purpose of the place. I eventually resolved to accept the mystery and move on. On my way out I knocked over my water bottle while grabbing my keys off of the side table. I cursed as I reached down to right the bottle and stem the flow of water spilling onto the hardwood floors.
The water was not pooling on the floor. It was flowing directly under a slit between the wall and the floor. Except the wall was not a wall. Tracing the thin lines in the wallpaper I could make out the distinct shape of a doorway. My hands groped the wall for purchase, as the hairs on the back of my neck screamed for attention. I found an indentation, pressed it at stared silently as the panel fell backwards and slid to the right.
The door led to stairs. The stairs led to a small room in the basement. I proceeded down in a hazy fugue, completely unprepared for what I might find.
The small room was lit by a single bare bulb. While I know now that it contained a small desk and medical instruments, I only had eyes for one thing in the center of the room. Directly under the bulb was a chair. In the chair, under a stained white blanket was the unmistakable shape of a body.
The silence was deafening. The darkness absolute even with the bright light. Mesmerized, I slowly reached out to draw the blanket away and face this horrible truth. The body in the chair was withered and emaciated. His bony limbs were zip-tied in several places. I could see deep scars starting at his shoulders and proceeding against the back of the chair. I fell onto my knees, level with the blanket piled in his lap, and wept.
What had he done. This man that I loved. This kind man who loved his family so. This man who gave so charitably. What had he done.
My weeping subsided over time into complete silence. But there was another sound. Breathing. And not mine. I tore backwards kicking hard against the chair and pulling the blanket with me in my spasm. I stared hard at those bluish white eyes, contrasted against the man’s snow white hair. Seconds later, along with the next breath I saw the almost imperceptible rise and fall of his nearly skeletal chest.
“Mister! Mister are you ok?” I frantically shouted as I searched for a tool to sever his binds. All the while underneath my action thinking over and over again “This is impossible”. It had been well over a month since my father died. This man was immobile. There was no sign of food or water anywhere. How could he be alive after all this time without at least water to sustain him?
Regardless of my shouting and activity, man did not respond in any way. He sat. He stared with those dead white eyes, and he breathed in utter defiance to reason.
I found a scalpel on the desk in the corner and turned to begin to free the man from the zip ties holding him in place. I stopped dead when trying to free his legs. The man had no genitalia. His crotch was a smooth hairless mass of skin. There were no scars ofr evidence of injury, just a simple and utter lack of reproductive organs.
I stepped back to see his mouth begin to open and intent coming back into his eyes.This is the last thing I remember. I want to say that he screamed, but I honestly have no recollection of any sound coming from him before darkness took over.
When I awoke on that hard cold floor, the scene remained as it had been. I quietly retreated upstairs, closed the panel door and drove home to think. I have no idea what I am dealing with here. The one thing I do know is that I cannot free this man until I know more. He’s not…. He’s something “other”.
Please, if you are reading this I need help. If anyone has any understanding of what is happening here, or any advice on how I can get more information, please let me know immediately. I cannot free him, but I cannot leave him there to die either.
Let me fill you in on what has transpired today. My situation seems to have worsened and once again I am hoping that the community can offer me some advice.
I had a good idea of what I wanted to accomplish this morning. I packed a go-bag and headed back to the property. I was as cautious heading down to the basement as I had been the first time around. It was as if the moment I stepped into the house proper, the atmosphere changed. I could feel pressure build in my ears. It felt as though they would pop at some point but the pressure remained. The house seemed darker today. Fuller, and thick with tension.
The room was the same as it had been and my inherited “guest” was as he ever was. Silent, and empty eyed. I tried my best to get his attention and to attempt to get him to drink some water. I verbalized the offer while waving my glass water bottle before his empty white eyes. I begged him to drink, and even placed my hand on his knee to get his attention. I had no luck. I did however start to notice something very strange.
My water bottle quickly began to feel warm, and then hot in my hands. Before dropping it and avoiding the imminent burns I became dazed by a flickering light inside the bottle. A butterfly made entirely of tiny wisps of lightening fluttered inside the bottle. As it fell, my heart sank. My mouth gaped in shock and horror as the container shattered on the concrete and the beauty and perfection inside it flickered to nothing. The fall destroyed me. There was nothing of beauty left.
It was just me and this living corpse in front of me. But the corpse was animating again. I literally watched as clouds moved from his eyes revealing ice blue color and patterns beyond recognition. His head dipped in the same path that the bottle had fallen with the same desperation in his face that I had felt.
Suddenly his limbs tensed as if he was attempting to get out of his chair for the first time. He looked frantic as he turned to me and opened his mouth to speak. Without thinking I reached out and covered his mouth begging him not to speak. The last time a sound had come from him it had knocked me unconscious instantly.
He seemed to understand as I turned and frantically pulled open drawers in the desk. I located a small pad and a pen, as well as scissors. I cut the man’s arms free and handed him the writing implements. He leaned forward scribbling and I took the opportunity to examine his back as I had previously planned. Confirming the opinions of some commenters, I saw that there were two long, deep, and wide scars spanning from his shoulders to his lower back. I could also see some rather unusual bone structures around his shoulder blades. The evidence was clear. This poor creature had had his wings clipped, and had been reduced to what I saw in front of me.
My mind wandered to images of my father. The man who had always cooked me breakfast in the morning no matter how late he returned home the night before. The man who had once found money in the street outside our house only to post an ad in the local paper to find its owner. The man who had nothing less than a generous smile for any person he had come across. I pictured him tearing the wings from this “man”. Tying him down and doing God knows what else to him in this basement. In this unknown and unacknowledged house. In the dark. My mental image expanded and my gut turned in place. I searched for some logical explanation in which he was not involved with what had happened here, without success.
When my mind’s eye subsided in it’s macabre dance I saw that the man had completed his writing. I returned into position and knelt before him,reaching out and gently taking the page from his withered fingers.
I don’t really know what I was expecting. Perhaps an explanation, perhaps an admonition to release him. The page contained none of that. In fact, aside from the sketch there was only one single word on the page. “Wormwood” written in large perfectly formed capital letters.
Below this single confounding word was a sketch of a landscape, intricate in detail and frankly quite beautiful. In it was a steep hill, and behind it, two tall towers pouring smoke into the sky. At the midpoint of the hill was a small black hole. In the hole was a small white star shape that reminded me of the light fluttering in my water bottle before it had expired.
The thing that truly struck me though is that with the incredible detail in the drawing, I recognized the location. The smokestacks were located about thirty miles west of here and the hill pictured was known as “Job’s Bane”. It had been called that because of some old folktale about a man who had died on the hill over a century ago. I tried to remember the details of the legend without success.
I looked up from the page to see him once again open his mouth. Before I could stop him, the whisper left his mouth and fell upon my ears. It also fell upon my heart, my soul and inflamed my mind.
I understood immediately. I cannot explain what it felt like when this happened. It was is if that whispered word had become vapor and entered my pores. I could almost feel the word be picked up in my bloodstream and course through my body until it reached my brain. I felt that I was something more than I used to be, simply for having heard it. And it echoed. It echoed meaning, explanations, descriptions and understanding in my mind. Where there was only confusion previous, now there was understanding. Understanding of something so much bigger than myself.
Something was coming. Something beautiful, but also horrifying. Something that should not be on the earth, had fallen to it. It signalled the end. I didn’t understand why or how, I just understood the communication I was receiving. I simply knew that it needed protection at all costs. It needed purity and protection. And if it was not held, protected and cherished it meant the end. The end of everything. Wormwood has fallen, and only I know it. I must do something.
The man nodded his head at me, clearly seeing that I understood. Without a second thought I clipped the remaining ties that bound this creature, and flew from the house. I stopped at a local diner half an hour ago to write this post, but I am headed immediately to Job’s Bane. I am needed. I know it. The fear of what this means is nothing compared to the understanding that suddenly, out of nowhere, I have the opportunity to do something important. Something of substance and meaning.
I will update you with what I find as soon as possible.
I am completely losing it here. I haven’t slept in days, I have no idea what’s happening and frankly I just want it all to end. I can’t do this anymore, I feel like my mind has been stretched to its limits and it will snap. It will. And soon. Please forgive me. I know that some have followed what has been happening to me. I just don’t know if I can continue to share clearly. The events, the timeline, everything is just so mixed up in my head at this point. I don’t even know if I can make anyone understand, or be clear, or not…. Just not rave like a crazy person.
That voice, that fucing voice. It just keeps going and I have to try. It’s so important. Don’t ask me why because I do not know. I just hear it over and over. Like some drill sergeant pushing me. Like I’m the last soldier, like the mission means everything. Yes ,everything. It’s more than me and I’m responsible for it. I cannot break. I cannot end myself. It’s just too important, too large, too much on my shoulders.
I’ll try to start where I left off. I’ll do my best to be clear but I feel like I’m going a hundred miles an hour and running out of fuel.
I left the house, with my backpack and drove to the location I found on the man’s (being’s?) drawing. By the time I got there the sun was setting over the hills. The area was uninhibited, with no signs of life, or light, or anything. I parked my jeep just off of the one road that cascaded those hilltops maybe a few hundred feet from the hill in the sketch. There was no doubt in my mind that once I reached it, I would find what was outlined in my detailed map. I did find it, fairly easily.
The opening to the cave in that hillside was surrounded by sparse but deceptive bushes. There was little growth in the area, but behind that cluster of flora I found that I was looking for. It was a hole, an entrance, a portal. I had explored several caves as a child and was familiar with the varieties. This one was different. I cannot explain how. It was just….. It was meant to be there. It felt placed, setup. It was just too perfect and clean. Too defined and welcoming, to me personally. It took me in. The moment I looked at it I knew…. Fuck. I guess I knew it was there for me, specifically. Here we are again, this is what I was worried about. I’m losing my mind…. I can see it even more clearly as I write this but I have no other option. I’ve started this to share my experience and get help from all of you. It was there for me, dammit. That opening was meant for me.
I’m going to stop apologizing now. I’m going to stop making excuses. Maybe I’m fucked up and losing myself. Maybe I’m having a schizophrenic break. I’ll leave it to you all, and just try to express these events without worrying about how I come off.
Me walking into that cave, it was automatic. It wasn’t a thought, a question, nothing. There was no thought at all. I knew those bushes protected it, because it was mine. I knew that the opening was welcoming me home. It was a place for me. I robotically pulled my flashlight and entered the opening. It was not large. It was not magnificent. Not filled with crystals or light or beauty. It lead to a ten foot by ten opening of stone. Objectively it was cold and base. But what I felt, who I was in that space…. Was something different. It WAS home. It was where I was meant to be, and what I found was overwhelming. Sitting on a singular stalagmite in the center of the “room” sat a light. I quickly drew near to it as if I had done it thousands of times. It was so similar to the “butterfly” constructed of light that I had seen in my water bottle before it was destroyed. But it was much, much more. I want to say that it was alive, but it was so much more than simply living. I can’t…. I don’t know how…..
Facts. Basic clear, defined facts. Sitting on top of the stone was a clear, glass cylinder. It was tapered at the ends as if some glass blower have started and sealed the creation in one fell swoop. Inside the cylinder was clear water, or some similar liquid. Inside the liquid, sat, moved, breathed and swam this small flower of light. Appendages twisting and flowing, it’s core glowing, it’s warmth felt from several feet away.
It was mine. Mine to protect. Mine to hold. I took the capsule and I left forthwith.
It started once I exited that cave. The thing that has ruined me, that has haunted me, that has kept me from sleeping for the past two days started there. I cleared the bushes which were hiding the entrance and felt it. I felt eyes upon me. But it was more than that. We’ve all felt watched or seen at one point or another when we’re alone. This was like the whole world was watching me. Like all of the beauty and darkness that ever could be were upon me. And I saw the watcher.
I turned, startled by the intense feeling and saw it. It was easily nine feet tall hidden by dark robes, the face entirely obscured. He stood there. On top of the hill I had just exited, facing me. But he had no face. Only the outline was clear, the semi-human figure towered over me on the hilltop, staring, concentrating, watching.
I fell to the ground under his gaze. My legs gave up and my mind was seized with fear. This was too much, his look, that focus…. It was as if I had entered a pressurized environment and it beat down on me in a way I cannot comprehend. My chest felt like I had been buried miles and miles underground. My breath was questioned, as if I had no impetus reason to breathe. The eyes screamed, yet I could see no eyes.
This is what broke me. This is what started this new hellish reality in which I live. Those eyes that were no eyes at all, that look without a face, that thing….. watching. Just fucking watching.
It did not stop, it has not stopped. In my car, tearing toward home, I saw it. Standing on the roofs of buildings. Standing on the tops of highway signs, standing at the side of the road as I passed. He was everywhere… everything. No matter where I was, how fast I traveled, what room I locked myself in he was there. If I looked, he was there, somewhere.
It’s been this way for days. I’m typing this out in some vain hope that someone can help me, sitting in a coffee shop downtown. But he is there. He is always there. Right now as these little pointless, madenning letters cascade across my screen I see him. He stands across the street in the doorway of a defunct church. His black silhouette facing me so clearly, so intently. The watcher is with me everywhere I go.
I want to smash it, but I know I can’t. It’s in my bag right here. I could trod upon it right here and now and end this, but I know…… It would end everything. Not just me, my pain, it would end everything, everyone.
It is the curse. It is the answer. It is mine. And all the while, the watcher…… continues watching.