Monday, October 29, 2007

Sugar and Brimstone ~ Part Four

Tulah wanted to scream. She wanted to bolt out of her bed and run as fast as she could, but in that moment she was in the strange paralysis that happens between waking and sleeping. She stared through wide, fear-stricken eyes at Tarn.

His skin seemed to bubble in the phantom flames as the slowly consumed him. His hair floated around him like a silver halo with a flame edge. His lips were drawn back from his teeth in a grimace of horror. He reached out his hands to her and she saw that the flesh on the tips of his fingers had burned off leaving blackened bone. Yet, still they moved.

“Come with me, little girl.” He said, his voice croaking out through his destroyed lips. “You promised you’d follow me anywhere, didn’t you?”

Tulah stared in shock at his hideous form and realized she smelled the odor of cooking pork. It took her a moment to realize it was Tarn’s skin and flesh burning in the ghastly fire.

“No!” She screamed, finally finding her voice. “You’re wrong. I thought that but I never said that to you. I didn’t!”

The burning man grinned in a rictus of bubbling skin, his nose nearly gone.

“Oh, but that don’t matter none…you wished it in your heart of hearts. It was your soul’s desire, and now you are mine! Follow me into the flames of eternity, little girl. Follow me like you promised!”

Tulah bounded out of bed, finding that she now could finally move, and ran screaming, “No, no, no!”

She ran out of the house and into the darkness of the wood. She ran, blindly, and as fast as her feet could take her. She felt the hem of her long gown catching on briers and tearing. She barely noticed the branches whipping past her face as she ran or the mud of the wet spring she crossed squishing between her toes.

She ran for a long time, and when she stopped she realized she was in a part of the wood she did not recognize. There, tucked away in the woods was a small abandoned church. It was in a lonely spot and she didn’t remember seeing it before. It had a bell tower and dark swathes of vines grew up the walls in unruly tangles. Tulah looked and saw a glow coming from the door that was inset into a small hallway. A dim glow came from the windows that were barely visible beneath the matted vegetation. It seemed as if the church was occupied at this odd hour.

She drew closer and tentatively climbed the steps that went up to the small vestibule. She heard fiddle music that kept playing the same odd few bars over and over. It wasn’t a tune or hymn she’d ever heard before. Light streamed through the keyhole and the crack in the door. Tulah slowly pressed her eye to the narrow bar of light where the two doors met and peered inside.

A man with golden hair dressed in a white suit was inside. He rested a silver fiddle on his shoulder and played intently. Around him danced small figures that Tulah tried to see, but for some reason she couldn’t make out who or what they were. She thought he was the most handsome man she’d ever seen ever. Light seemed to glow out of him and she could make out the strong line of his jaw as he held it firmly on the fiddle with his eyes cast down on the strings. She wondered if he was the preacher here at this little church and she wondered why she had never seen him. Surely, she would remember such a beautiful man.

Suddenly, a ring of fire rose up around the golden haired man and his playing became more frenzied. The figures dancing around the edge of the circle began to take form and Tulah saw that they were strange combinations of animals. There was a sow with a possum’s head that gaped her sharp teeth and instead of a regular pig’s tail, she had the possum’s slick scaly rat’s tail. There was a weasel with a viper’s head. A bear with the body of a raccoon. Tulah recoiled at the unnatural beasts. She seemed to recognize that there was something evil about them.

Into the ring of fire appeared the ghostly form of Tarn Rickson. He stood with his head down, shaking.

The golden haired man put down his fiddle and said, “ Did you not bring me anyone? That was the deal, wasn’t it?”

Tulah heard his voice as a soft musical sound. It was sweet, but sweet like something you knew would make you sick if you ate it.

“I need more time!” Pleaded Tarn. “Just give me a day or too. I can bring you someone…I knows I can. Just please…more time!”

The beautiful man said coldly, “There is no more time for you, Tarn.”

He snapped his fingers and a chainsaw chain with rusty edges appeared around Tarn’s neck. Tarn screamed as the beast imps leapt upon him. One began sawing Tarn’s neck with the chainsaw chain and while blood ran freely from his neck and he screamed most pitifully, the saw chain never seemed to cut through his neck. The Sow/Possum cackled with laughter. The Viper/Weasel produced a length of barbed wire and began beating Tarn with it, shredding his flesh down to the bone. The screams were dreadful and even more horrible than the scrams he had made earlier that night while he was burning to death. These were the screams of eternal torment.

The beautiful man snapped his fingers again and the ring of flame closed in and flared up, consuming the imps and Tarn Rickson. They seemed to disappear into the floor.

The man with the golden hair dusted his hands off on each other then picked up his fiddle and bow. Then he turned to where Tulah stood watching behind the door. It was the first time she had seen his face full on. His eyes glowed red.

And he said in his beautiful, sweet voice, “You aren’t mine yet, little girl.”

He grinned a wolfish grin, flashing perfectly white teeth.

“But you could be. Oh, yes…you could be.”

And with that, he disappeared into nothing and Tulah knew she had seen the Devil himself.

She woke up soaked with sweat in her own bed, trembling, and breathed a long deep sigh of relief when she realized it had all been a dream. She sat up and put her face in her hands. Surely it was the tea she drank to sleep that had given her such disturbing dreams.

She pulled her legs from underneath the pile of quilts on her bed and put her feet on the floor. She knew she needed to get out of her sweat soaked nightgown. She stood up on the cold plank floor and looked down.

The hem of her nightgown was dirty and torn and her bare feet were caked with mud.

The End


  1. Leeuna said...
    Wow! Rosie this was incredible! This is what horror movies are made of. You are an amazing, talented writer. Like I said, make the book a looooong one. :-)
    Thanks for sharing this with us. I have enjoyed the stories so much. I look forward to reading the conclusion of "Stir with a knife".

    Hope you're feeling well. Happy Halloween.

    Love ya
    Sky said...
    that story was one of those that you don't want to stop reading... and talk about a thriller.. every word!

    Thank you.
    Mary said...
    Great ending. Sorry I didn't get over to read it before. I've been looking for it and must have missed it. You write fabulous stories.

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