By: Teresa VanMeter
Copyright 2017 Teresa Vanmeter
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
Published by: Teresa Vanmeter by Shakespir.
Copyright 2017 Teresa Vanmeter
Chapter 3: Nightmarish…
There is a darkness that hides in the night, like all monstrous things just out of sight. Its just a nightmare you start to shake, still it comes for you asleep or awake. The unnerving words had tumbled right into place.
In the midst of landing on a hard surface. Thinking nothing other than, “Where am I?” And, “What’s going on?” Until the mind settled on its last clear memory. The khadaver dolls. Hadlin screeched, “Noooooooo!” Scrambling to keep the khadaver dolls at bay. Finding he could not move his arms, nor his legs. Panic coursed throughout his body. “What’s going on? Why can’t I move?” During which his eyes shot open. Just barely making out branches carved into a sloping ceiling. The light was dreadful. However he had enough sense to know he was no longer in the land of the lost. It must’ve been a dream. He would’ve much rather been dreaming about something else.
Bam! He looked at the knothole window half expecting to see a panotti. Nevertheless nothing was there. By that time his eyesight had adjusted to the sallow light. He found himself in a semicircle room. His bedroom. It appeared he’d fallen out of bed. His arms and legs wrapped in a blanket. Hadlin sighed with relief, “It was only a nightmare.” Home safe and sound. Bam! He nearly jumped out of his skin again. Turning just in time to see the last khadaver doll hit the floor. In fact the floor was littered with all sorts of debris. Although the falling dolls explained away his nightmare. Nonetheless it didn’t explain how everything ended up on the floor. His eyes grew large asking Eidolon, “What happened?” Scanning the poorly lit room. Hadlins eyes stopped under the bed. As clumps of dust bunnies had collected there. Certain he was safe and sound now. Whispering, “I’m home.” Then he remembered his mother scolding him, “Hadlin get to bed, or the babasova will come spirit you away.” He was self-assured there is no such thing as a babasova. A beast man that takes bad children. Hadlin started to laugh at the thought. Seeing the dust stir up from his breath. Causing something to shift in the darker recesses under the bed. Something larger than a dust bunny. A chill coursed throughout his body. While his mind was shrieking, “What was that?”
Without warning the ground beneath him began to shake. Then the floor tilted to one side. Everything on the surface began sliding in that direction. His mind screaming, “What is going on?” While desperately trying to unwrap his hands. He’d never felt anything like this, except… “Oh no…It can’t be…” His mind refusing to believe it could be an enenra. How else could he explain all this? Still telling himself it was nothing more than a nightmare. All the while the floor kept tilting back and forth. In all the disorder he’d managed to loosen the blanket. Although only enough to grab the leg of his bed. Even as the blanket sandwiched in his palm made it near impossible to keep a hold.
Exactly as something ran from the darkness beneath his bed. Something the size of a rat. However it was no rat. Seeing that it ran on its hind legs. Running towards the curtain covered doorway. As the labored sounds of croaking came from its way. Just as something much larger stepped from out of the darkness. Something half the size of the door. The hairy three foot man stomped on the smaller creature. As the black remains oozed from under its foot. The ooze reassembling into tiny versions of itself. All darting under the curtain. Hadlin couldn’t help but gasp. At that moment the dwarf like man looked in Hadlin’s direction. However Hadlin couldn’t make out any real features. Then just as quickly it too went through the doorway. The billowing curtain the only sign it had been there. Its shadow awkwardly springing out of sight. “What in Canaan was that?” Hadlin could not comprehend what he was seeing.
Soon thereafter he heard a squeak. One squeak right after another. Hadlin could almost picture the dwarf stomping on the small black creatures. Would it do the same to him? He really didn’t want to find out. In spite of his fears he felt his grip slipping away with every tilt of the floor. Certain he would slide right through that curtain if he didn’t keep the hold. Still his vision remained set on those curtains. Set on what was on the other side. As an orange glow sieved through the fabric. Many shadows passed athwart the cloth. Surely as if the objects inside adapted the balance with each tilt. Scores of tiny creatures skittered passed. Much more than he thought might be in there. Suddenly the smaller shadows vanished in all directions. The dwarf chasing after them. “What was it doing? Was it eating them? More importantly did it eat people?” Then the floor beneath him jerked again. Even as the dwarfs shadow seemed to stretch higher and higher. Until it was knocked out of sight in a clamor of beats and bangs. However not before Hadlins mind melded the shadow into the sludge covered creature from his nightmare. “No….” He had trouble breathing. That creature had to be the babasova. “But how could that be?” Hadlin had been so certain it wasn’t real. Trembling from the inside out he prayed that Eidolon would help him. Whispering over and over, “Wake up!” His voice growing louder each time, “Wake up!” Still he could not wake from this new nightmare.
At that point the tremors began twisting the structure faster and harder than before. Even as dust and debris shook loose from every crack and crevice. Hadlin could hold on no longer. Beds and all began to shift with the structure. Positive it had to be an enenra. Helplessly he is tumbled back and forth, back and forth. Almost swearing several of those smaller creatures had scurried back into this room. In the midst of it all he’d rolled from out of the confining blanket. Then was slammed against the wall under his out of place bed. As soon as his hands made contact with the khadaver tree it conjured images of the Hadge. Memories of what once was. Who he happened to be. What he was capable of doing. Just as a multitude of debris crowded in around him. In view of that something white jutted straight into his face. To his surprise it was a bone. A human bone. The debris field was littered with countless bones of all sizes. How did he not see them before? Then the eerie words replayed in his head, “The babasova will spirit you away.” Suddenly he wasn’t so sure this was even Hadlins home. Hadlin or Hadge he was the same person. Even as his eyesight adapted to the dark. Still he knew there had to be more going on than he could remember, but what? The world of Canaan was messed up. “Canaan?” He thought back to a conversation with Churl. “Churl snickered and said, “ Or what?” And dared the divine being, “Kill the key of Canaan?” He was convinced Churl had to be the key of Canaan. What has that evil man done now? Hadlin had the book in his pocket. Now all he needs is Churl.
Hadlin had no more time to think as he rolled back to the middle of the room. At the time being he had to get out of here, but how? Catching a glimpse of the shadows on the curtain. As several of the small creatures darted by. They had to be shades. Children of the night, children of the Lilitu. Lilu Sumerian spirits. However the dwarfish creature he was uncertain of what it might be. Maybe it was the babasova. Still it lingered in the adjoining room. Back and forth Hadlin was tossed. Each time sliding closer to that damnable curtain. With every sway he’d catch a glimpse of the shades under the hem. All the while his sense of fear growing stronger. How could he defeat the unknown? Feeling each breath growing evermore haggard from fighting the tilt. Why hadn’t the enenra just swallowed up the tree by now? Then he wouldn’t have to worry about what was in the next room. Somewhere among the confusion the faintest noise could be heard. It was the sound of crying. He was not the only one trapped here. It sounded like another child. Hadlin too was no more than a nine year old boy. What could that creature be doing to them? Then he recalled all the bones, and the answer was clear. Babasova fed on children. Steadily the cries grew louder. Among the cries an ethereal voice was chanting. It too grew louder. Reminding him of the voices from the book. The edge of darkness. Until the noises churned into words. Repeating a child’s verse, “There is a darkness that hides in the night, like all monstrous things just out of sight. Its just a nightmare you start to shake, still it comes for you asleep or awake. Nowhere to run or hide, from the night monster always at your side.” It was a verse about the babasova. Even having Hadge’s knowledge he could never be certain babasova was real, until now. Then the cries distorted into screams. Chill after chill ran up his spine. As the child’s screams took precedence over everything.
Abruptly the floor took a heavy dip towards the doorway. The same doorway where an enenra had torn chunks out of the walls. Hadlin couldn’t stop. As the floorboards rippled beneath his backside. Conveying him straight through the opening. During which the curtain slid over his body. Disabling his vision up till he was smack dab in the center of the room.
The ceiling above him was oozing in blackness. As long thread like stringers dangled from above. That same blackness stained the papered walls, and railings. Right down to the mismatched floorboards. Shades vanished into every dark space. Oddly the furnishings had ran back into place too. There was a huge fireplace opposite the curtained door. The crackling glow from the embers lighting the room orange. While something was cooking in an enormous pot. Two shelves stood on either side of the fireplace. Each filled with jars of eyes, tongues, black ooze and other terrible things. More shelves set on either side of the curtained doorway. A table sat close to the fireplace. It was covered in books, melted candles, and more black ooze. To his left the front door. Then to his right stood a coat rack. The same coat rack from the witch’s home on Elysium. What are the odds of two similar coat racks? He could almost bet Churl caused it all.
Hadlin had scrambled upright against the tilt. Curious where the child had gone. Just as the shadowy furniture settled into their places. However there was no sign of the babasova, or Churl for that matter. Where had the thing gone? Hadlins eyes halted on the front door. It was the only thing that resembled his home. Coming to the conclusion that the monster must’ve gone out the door. Deep down he wasn’t quite so sure of that. Even as his mind couldn’t help but echo what he’d just seen, “The furniture had feet.” He was amazed, “They were running.” They had to be made of magical khadver trees. Though in all his lifetimes he’d never seen anything made of khadaver wood move on its own. How could this be? The floor began to tilt him back in the direction from which he’d come. While the table and shelves tilted on their legs. Keeping a perfect balance. Never spilling or knocking any jars to the floor.
Hadlin stumbled against the wall next to the curtained door. As the floral patterns transfigured into hands. The Hands grabbed him. Each hand passing him to the next one over. Hadlin pulled at one of the hands. The hand turned to goo in his palm. Then another hand took its place. What are they? How are they growing back? Then he tried to use his inner light, but nothing happened. What was wrong with him? Why couldn’t he use the light? He was helpless to do much of anything. As the hands pulled him towards the shelf. Maybe he could use something on the shelf to combat the hands. Hadlin reached out to grab a jar from the shelf. Just as a hand came out of the wall, and slapped his hand away. Then the shelf took several steps away from the wall. Allowing the hands to continue pulling him towards the wall with the coat rack. Pulling him towards a dark corner. Why is it pulling me here?
That’s when he sees shades dragging themselves from out of the cracks in the floorboards. Each one wriggling around like a newborn calf. All seeming to be searching for something. The floor tilted hard once more. Just as something shifted in the darkness. It was hanging by one of the stringers from the ceiling. It was a body strung by the neck. The bodily fluids dripping right where the shades were growing. Even as something larger fell from the body. Every shade ran for the fallen object. One snatches it up, and takes a bite out of it. Then it was apparent what the object in fact was. A dried up finger. Forthwith knowing why he was being pulled towards this dark corner. Hadlin frantically struggled against the hands. He had no plans on going in that corner. Soon after a stringer snaked its way from the ceiling. Coiling its way above him. Horror raced through his brain. How would he escape this? Praying Eidolon would help him.
At some point the sounds of a commotion doffed his horrorstricken body. What? Where? The sounds were coming from the coat rack. Just as a boy screamed, “Emme!” Hadlin thought it odd, because it was the name of the girl from his dreams. Straightaway the stringer above moved to the coat rack. Joining several other stringers. Hadlin saw that now was his chance to escape. Redoubling his efforts against the hands. At last they released him. Though he landed squarely amid a pile of children’s shoes. Now hearing screams coming from the coat rack. Even as several of the stringers were probing the inside of the mirror. Within seconds the stringers were pulling a child out by his foot. The red haired boy was kicking and screaming. He couldn’t have been no more than six or seven. The boy burst into tears. Thereupon childlike laughter came from around the room. Hadlin gave the room a once over, hissing, “Who’s there?” Demanding, “Come out where I can see you.” There was no answer. The only things seeming out of place were the khadaver dolls. Two of them were sitting on the table covered in black ooze. Eerily the dolls were grinning. Nervously Hadlin wondered if they were like the dolls in his dream? Despite his worries the dolls didn’t move.
Hadlins attention was drawn back to the boy. He was dangling in front of the huge fireplace. Whilst the table scuttled out of the way. In it place shades began to gather. All lingering under the dangling boy. What were they waiting for? Then the boy was slowly being lowered amid the tiny dark creatures. The child started screaming to the top of his lungs. Even as more and more shades gathered below him. Surely as if they were awaiting some feast. “Oh no!” Hadlin was horrified. This can’t be happening. He tried to reach the boy before he was lowered to the floor. However the floor tilted in the opposing direction. Preventing him from making it in time. Hadlin could only watch as the shades attack the screaming child. “NO!” Hadlin screamed to the top of his lungs, “Get away from him!” Before long the screams began to die away. Then the floor tilted towards the boy once again. Seeing that Hadlin was there in a matter of seconds. The shades scattered off, but surely not gone. Still the shades kept trying to attack. Hadlin kept driving them away one right after another. Sadly not soon enough for the red haired boy. Hadlin had gathered the boy in his arms. He cried out loud to Eidolon, “Save him!” That’s when he heard a muffled sound. The sound came from the child. He wasn’t dead. Hadlin leaned closer. He could hear the muffled warning, “It comes for you asleep or awake.” Hadlin surprised to hear a line from the verse, “What?” Asking, “What’s coming?” At first he couldn’t make out the muted words, “…………at your side.” Hadlin fretfully glanced at his shadow on the floor. As he was asking again, “What’s at my side?” Hearing the faint word, “Monster…” Seeing an even larger shade standing in his shadow. Horrified he kicked the beast hard. Just as it scattered into numerous tiny fragments. Then all the fragments got up and ran back at him. “NOoooooo!” Hadlin shrieked. Kicking furiously at the monsters. Scarcely noticing the bluish light escaping the boy. A light no bigger than a pebble. Hadlin knew exactly what the light was. It was a soul. Then the boys body exhaled into death.
Thereupon the light fell to the floor. Just as the floor tilted once more. The light was caught fully in the tilt, and rolled under the coat rack. Hadlin had leapt out to catch it, but it was too late. He too skidded across the floor on his stomach. His hand halting under the coat rack. Gathering a handful of lint along with the boys soul. Even as a ethereal voice came from his hand. It was repeating the child’s verse, “There is a darkness that hides in the night, like all monstrous things just out of sight. Its just a nightmare you start to shake, still it comes for you asleep or awake. Nowhere to run or hide, from the night monster always at your side.” Hadlin couldn’t believe what he was hearing, “What?” Jerking his hand out from the dark space. Slowly revealing the ball of fuzz infused with the boys soul. It had one red fiber across its head, and black beady eyes. The dust bunny trembled in his hand. Incredibly the dust bunny was alive. But how? This whole room was filled with anomalies. Only Eidolon can give life. Even knowing that, this creature was alive in his hand. Hadlin whispered, “Don’t be afraid.” He stroked the dust bunny and started to say, “Whatsit…” Realizing he didn’t know the boys name, “You need a name.” The fuzz ball still looked worried. Hadlin tried to laugh it off, uttering incoherently, “What?..not.” Then repeated it faster, “Whatnot.” That was a suitable name. “I will call you Whatnot.”
Without warning something hit the floor hard. Hadlin looked up from Whatnot. All he could see were the ghostly amber sparks wafting about the room. Just like in his dream. He half expected babasova to be standing at the door covered in ooze. However the body hanging in the corner rapt his attention. What in the world? It wasn’t shifting with the tilting floor. Some other force was making it move. Certain it had to be shades. What else could it be? Meanwhile Whatnot wildly yanked at his fingers. The dust bunny acting as if he were afraid. Hadlin tried to assure him, “Its o…k.” When another tilt of the floor reeled him towards the hanged man. As he tried to keep Whatnot from any further harm. Hadlin landed on his knees with one arm extended outward. Almost too fearful to look at the body. However he had to know what was there. Nearly holding his breath as he looked into the dark space. Something stirred in the shadows. It was half hidden behind the body. Something about the height of that dwarf. Although this was unquestionably no dwarf. Hadlin found he couldn’t even move. His mind entranced with the monstrous thing. This had to be the elusive babasova. A gray skinned monster. Wearing blackened old dirty clothes. Babasova shifted to get a better look at Hadlin. Its twisted face set with bulbous eyes. Then it gave him an almost sinister lopsided grin. Hadlin started to turn and run. Nonetheless a stringer descended from the ceiling above him. At that point the babasova stepped out into sight. Its body growing taller with each passing second. Much like a bellow expanding with air. Hadlin had heard stories of the babasova. Each story described the monster rather different. However several features remained the same. It was always tall and dark. Hadlin yanked at the stringer close to his neck with one hand. Then squeezed Whatnot tighter in the other. Hearing Whatnot’s voice clamor for him to run. Unsure if he should be more afraid of the stringer, or the babasova. At that very moment the monster reached for him. Hadlin wasn’t going quietly. Even as he wrapped the stringer around the monsters arm.
Abruptly the room stopped tilting. Then the front door burst open. Hadlins first thoughts were to make a run for it. Still and all his mind was changed in an instance. That instance arrived on the doorstep with two more babasova’s. Of course there had to be more than one. Each of the monsters looked rather different. One male, one female. Thank Eidolon that he didn’t run straight into those monsters. Hadlin nearly forgot the monster next to him. Even as he made a run for it. All three monsters were after him. He dove under the table, and ended up on the other side. Standing in front of the fireplace. The glow from the fireplace casting eerie shadows of the beings on the opposite wall. Each shadow looking no different than the other. Nevertheless the monsters evidently had to be singular creatures. The two creatures from the door blocked his escape outside. That’s when Hadlin remembered the coat rack. It was an exit to another place. Who knows where. Should he dare take the risk? Oddly it was as if the third monster had read his mind. Blocking his way to the coat rack. Then it gave him that weird lopsided grin. In that moment one of the other creatures at the door ran at him. Queerly the monster blocking the coat rack ran at the same time. Hadlin darted back under the table. Watching the two monsters run into each other. All at once the room began to tilt again. The tremor sent both monsters towards the fire. Hadlin had used the table to keep from rolling. Seeing his chance for escape. Hadlin crawled across towards the front door. Unmindful of the third monster. It was standing between him and the door. Then another tremor tilted all towards the door. Even as two of the creatures were pulling at his arms in a tug of war. He was screaming, “NOOOooooo!” While the third creature came at him with that sinister grin. Its mouth stretching wider and wider the closer it got. He was going to be eaten. Hadlin’s thoughts pleaded to Eidolon. However he couldn’t help shrieking, “AAAHhhhhh!”
Everything happened so fast. The monster swallowed him, and the darkness devoured what was left. Hadlin was terrified. Could he survive this? Doubtful… How would he breathe? Maybe he would get digested first. He tried hitting and screaming the monster from the inside over and over. Strangely the beast was being bounced around. Hadlin guessed what was happening by the trauma he felt to his own body. Could his inside attacks truly affect the monster? Or maybe the other two babasova’s were attacking it? It didn’t matter either way. Just as long as the beast pays for eating him. So he continued his assault from within. Yelling with each and every strike, “Take this!” Then the monster hit the floor hard. Expelling him from the monsters mouth.
He rolled several feet away. Thanking Eidolon for this second chance. His body stopping right in a puddle. Hadlin blearily looked out into the endless night before him. They were somehow outside. Seeing the stunned monster next to a rock. Which it now had shrunk back to its smaller size. If that wasn’t odd the next thing was beyond a doubt downright bizarre. A house nestled in the arms of a large twisted tree. The roots of the tree shambled like an octopus across the ocean floor. Hurrying off into the dark cover of the woods. The Canaan before him was in a perpetual darkness. That darkness glistened with tiny specks of color. As if the real Canaan were trying to bleed through the veil of darkness.
Hadlin pushed onto his knees in the puddle. Checking if Whatnot was alright. The fuzz ball made a garbled sound. That’s when Hadlin noticed a pale glow in the puddle. He glanced down at his reflection. The light was coming from inside him. However that light beheld many more truths than he wanted to know. Why he couldn’t use his divine powers? As horrifying words replayed in his head, “Oh shit kid you’re not even real.” Seeing the wooden face of a khadaver doll staring back at him.
He was the doll.