Art of the Supernatural


The Final Words of Austen A. Pickering

Posted on August 6, 2011 at 12:55 AM

In the midst of the night's dark vault, when it seems that the the fabric of the world is at its most tenebrous, when the mist that will fall into morning dew is just rising and it is hard to beleive that there was ever any such thing as daylight or people. This is the Witching Hour.

The things that walk the earth at these times are not for the eyes of mortal men. They are as shadows that stride through the blackest vaults of eternity, less corporeal than the spaces between atoms, grander in scope than than the whole of the cosmos. Their exquisite nothingness graces our trifling mortality only breifly and leaves no trace behind.

I know this because I haave seen them. I tell you I have seen these things that make dieties into parodies and stride across untold realities with every step. Their aspect is...maddening, to say the least. That I have survived this encounter is nothing short of a miracle, though I often wish that I had not. As to my sanity, well, I shall let you judge for yourselves; far safer that you disbeleive, dismiss my claims as the folly of a madman for, should you choose to beleive, the only recourse is madness...madness and exquisite gnawing emptiness.

It was on a sultry night in August as a quirky summer storm discharged its fury ineptly upon the ancient timbers of an Appalachian farmhouse where my colleague and I found ourselves trapped by the sudden downpour. And, having no intention of braving the aeons shadowed roads that wound thence through unwholesome forests of those ancient mountains, availed ourselves with brandy of which the house was in good supply. We had come to seek residence in the shadow of the epoch weathered hills as the unwanted result of recent business in which the inn where we were currently staying would have been insufficient.

When the storm had spent itself in the early hours around one, we judged that it was safe to depart. However, as the August heat reclaimed the earth the rain rose once more in a thick fog which, once again, stymied our progress. We decided at length to pull over to the side of the road where a makeshift turnabout offered seclusion from the traffic of those better equipped than we to navigate the fog, though we had seen no other vehicles since our departure. It was as if we were the only two people left in the world and the others all had vanished somewhere or perhaps had never existed at all. I needn't tell you that our circumstances put us a bit on edge having been stranded in this alien landscape with no means to return to our previous shelter and no chance of continuing forward.

How I wish that I could attribute what happene next to nerves or some trick of the brandy or the mist.

It was two o' five exactly when it appeared, I know this because of my poor associates watch which fell into the stream and stopped forever, the same watch which you gentlemen recovered, the same watch I now hold here in my hand as you prepare to throw the switch that will flood my synapses with electricity and end my wretched existence. I wish that doing so would also end the horrors which I have experienced, am yet to experience, but it is not to be.

I can only tell you next what I beheld in confidence that sane and wholesome minds such as yours must instinctively doubt the truth of it, pray now that your instincts do not fail you.

Just before two I perceived a slight darkening of the sky overhead, slight though it was this gave the appearence of complete and utter darkness. In my fear and paranoia heightened state this sent deep gutteral chills throughout my being and I could not look away. Next I perceived, among us a singular presence which moved slowly and had shape only in voids between the mist. I felt that each and every hair on my body pricked up and stood on end.

Unable or unwilling to move I looked out of the corner of my eye at my colleague; I must again pause here to warn you that you should disbeleive what I am about to disclose at all costs. I looked to my colleage and saw that he turned his head and was changed by a look of monstrous transfiguring horror that came over his face. I could see that he ws looking at something just over my left shoulder but my constitution would not allow me to move a muscle. I think that that alone saved me because almost as soon as he turned the thing was upon him and I perceived, though no actual sound was made or else it was beyond human hearing, but a sensation of sound like broken glass being ground against slate. I never saw exactly what happened to my poor colleague for the thing did its work too fast and I dare not even speculate on it for my sanity could not take it. But his body vanished, and not in the wholesome, theatrical way magicians use to thrill audiences, his body had vanished but still standing beside me for only a moment before crumpling to the ground his CLOTHES AND HAT AND SPECTACLES! And worse still when they TURNED, one last time to look at me with spectacles BEHIND WHICH LAY NO FACE!

The rest you may read of in my files or hear tell in the streets, for it was well talked about. I regained consciousness in a hospital and after feverishly divulging my account was commited to a sanitarium, later charged with the murder of my colleague and now here before you.

They wait for me now, I cannot escape them. Things that devour and dissolve. I mourne the fate of my esteemed colleague which will soon be my own. But oh, if just for one blessed moment I could purge that horrible sound from my head! THAT CRUNCHING AND KEENING SCREECH HE MADE AS HE WAS CONSUMED BY THOSE HORRIBLE THINGS!

Categories: Short Stories

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