Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Into the Darkness


     A long, narrow passageway stretched out in front of her, disappearing into the darkness of the night. She raised her candle higher and slowly shuffled forward, while demonic shadows danced on the walls around her. She hated the flickering flame, but she didn’t have a torch and didn’t dare turn on the lights. The rain lashed down on the crumbling walls outside and the dusty, cracked windowpanes let in flashes of light occasionally as bolts of lightning shot across the otherwise impenetrable black of the night sky. Suddenly, there was a loud, unearthly cawing noise and she jumped back, stumbling into an ancient, musty tapestry hanging on the wall. In her bare feet, she felt something cold and moist on the ground. She looked down to see a dark red pool of blood seeping through the carpet, oozing out from under the tapestry. She turned to look at it, and saw it was richly embroidered with grotesque images of demons, witches and vampires, and the corpses of their prey, but the heavy material was faded with age. Slowly, she raised a trembling hand to pull the material aside, brushing away layers of cobwebs as she did. Behind it was a small wooden door, scratched and faded like the tapestry. It was simple, apart from a large carving of a monstrous demon’s face in the centre, which seemed to be staring straight at her.
     Her hand hesitated for a brief moment, but then recklessness got the better of her and she grasped the heavy, brass doorknob firmly. As her fingers made contact, the eyes of the demonic face glowed a bright, sinister red. She froze, both stunned and terrified at once. She couldn’t move from the spot or take her hand off the handle. She stared up, wide-eyed, at the face for what seemed like hours, when suddenly she heard a high-pitched scream from behind her. She made a snap decision, turned the handle and rushed through the door into the chamber beyond it – and immediately regretted her decision when she heard the door lock itself behind her.
     She took several deep breaths to steady herself, before looking at her surroundings. She was in a narrow stone passageway, which was empty aside from a few burnt-out torch brackets on the wall and cobwebs littering the walls and floor. The flagstones were freezing under her feet, compared to the carpet in the corridor she had been in. Looking down, she could see the passage sloped upwards slightly and a river of blood was running down towards her, where it disappeared under the door. She was trembling with the cold and the fear she felt. She had no idea how to get back to her room, but with the door locked she could only go one way. With another breath, she began to make her way along the passage. Her flickering candle was considerably smaller than it had been, and her heart leapt at the thought of being left in this passage in the dark.
     The passage wasn’t as long as she had expected, and soon she found herself in a large room. However, there didn’t seem to be a door anywhere, and the room was filled with various objects, the likes of which she had never seen before. The walls were ornamented with carvings of faces similar to the one on the door, but these ones were covered in gold leaf and their eyes were glowing jewels. A huge circular carpet lay on the floor, patterned with strange, mystical symbols and images, which could also be seen on the spines of a towering stack of huge, leather-bound, dusty books. A single skylight could be seen in the centre of the ceiling, alerting her to the fact that the storm had let up, as the full moon was directly over the skylight, and bathed the room in a cold, silver light. At the far end of the room was a large, ornately-carved wooden display case, and through the dusty, cracked glass, she could make out dozens of bottles and vials filled with various liquids, although the majority were a rich, dark red. Also attached the walls, were several sets of strong chains, which looked surprisingly well-kept and oiled, and had enormous gold padlocks on them. In the centre of the room, directly under the skylight, was a long rectangular table, which was placed over a rectangle on the carpet, exactly the same size as it. The table had leather straps with large, silver buckles attached to it, but more disturbing were the objects littering the table. Her eyes widened at the sight of dozens of sharp silver tools – knives, hooks, drills, needles and many others she couldn’t find names for – and every last one was dripping with blood. She shivered involuntarily, and her mind ran wild, coming up with dozens of explanations for what she was seeing.
     Before she could do anything else, however, she heard the same unearthly cawing as she had in the corridor, what seemed like hours ago. She leapt in fright and stumbled over on to the edge of the thick carpet. Her candle fell from hand and went out immediately. Trembling all over, she slowly sat up, and in the moonlight she saw that she had dislodged the carpet slightly and part of a trapdoor was now visible. It was, like most things in the room, coated with dust, but she could make out dark red stains in the wood, that could only be one thing. She recoiled in disgust at first, but as she looked around the room again, she realised it may her only way out of this ghastly place she had discovered. Slowly and clumsily, she pulled the carpet out of the way and slid back the large, metal bolts, which were, like the chains, slick and well-oiled. She heaved the door up and carefully leaned over to look down. She gasped in horror – below the door were two scarred and tortured corpses, lying on a bed of hundreds of blood-stained bones and skulls. She glanced up at the table and its terrifying instruments again, before gagging several times as the room swam in front of her eyes. She opened her mouth to scream, but no sound came out as she collapsed on the floor and darkness engulfed the world around her.

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