by Mike Leonard
You don’t have to believe the stories on my blog, you can dismiss them as good hallucinations or bad fiction if you want to but they’re all true. The darkness was never empty, there are things that wait for the innocent and unwary to turn their backs. What is it you think I’m talking about here? Ghosts? Vampires? Ghouls? If only it were that simple. The creatures of the night are still out there but they’re not shadowing your every footstep. They just check your status updates from the comfort of their tombs.
All I ever wanted was to be a Do-It-Yourself style reporter but more often than I like I find myself becoming part of my stories. It turns out gods and monsters don’t like their secrets getting out any more than your standard politician or celebrity. We all know how this is going to turn out in the end; I’m already long overdue for jail, the looney bin or a guest of honor spot at a monster buffet but until that fateful day I’m not going to back down or give up.
My name is Brian Foster and some people call me The Night Blogger.
But I wish they wouldn’t it’s kinda cheesy.
by S.A. Hunt
Prologue: Personal Journal Entry #1
Episode One: The Ripper
Episode Two: Personal Journal Entry#19
Episode Three: The Zombie
Episode Four: Personal Journal Entry#25
Episode Five: They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be
Episode Six: Personal Journal Entry#39
Episode Seven: The Vampire
Episode Eight: Personal Journal Entry#52
Episode Nine: The Werewolf
Episode Ten: Personal Journal Entry #83
Episode Eleven: Firefall
Episode Twelve: Personal Journal Entry #106
Episode Thirteen: The Devil’s Platform
Episode Fourteen: Personal Journal Entry #125
Episode Fifteen: Bad Medicine
Episode Sixteen: Personal Journal Entry#156
Episode Seventeen: The Spanish Moss Murders
Episode Eighteen: Personal Journal Entry #161
Episode Nineteen: The Energy Eater
Episode Twenty: Personal Journal Entry #184
Episode Twenty-One: Horror In The Heights
Episode Twenty-Two: Personal Journal Entry #211
Episode Twenty-Three: Mr RING
Episode Twenty-Four: Personal Journal Entry #254
Episode Twenty-Five: Primal Scream
Episode Twenty-Six: Personal Journal Entry #255
The bad news was that Chloe Tree and I were trapped almost a hundred feet below the Earth in the base of operations of a cult determined to set the human race back millions of years.
The good news was that I could cross ‘bitten by a neanderthal’ off my bucket list.
Well pseudo-neanderthal really, but I think that still counts.
The pseudo -neanderthals, the man-animals as I have taken to calling them, would have killed us if not for the timely arrival of a robed and red-haired man. He ordered that ordered them to stop in a voice that was patient and authoritative. The man-animals forgot about us fawned and groveled at the man’s feet.
I glanced at Chloe, “Are you Ok?”
Dirt and bruises contrasted with her pale, albino skin, “Morceau de merde stole my rucksack…”
I was clutching at the wound on my shoulder. There was so much blood. My hand looked like I was wearing a single red glove. Direct pressure. I told myself, Apply direct pressure.
The stranger sent the man-animals scurrying with a snap of his fingers. He had a tall forehead, frizzy hair and an almost nonexistent chin. His voice was haughty and nasal, “We meet again Ms. Tree.”
“Mr. Volsung,” Chloe said his name like a curse.
“‘We meet again?’” I said woozily, “Who the Hell says that in real life?”
He glared at me, “I just did.”
It was at that moment I realized I was on my knees, I tried to stand up but my legs weren’t having it, “Are you really going to release a killer virus and destroy the world?”
Mr. Volsung turned his attention back to Chloe, “Who is this idiot?”
“He’s a fellow investigator.”
“Is this fellow investigator aware that he will soon be reborn as a Beast of Valhalla?”
“Is that bad?” I asked, “Because it sounds bad.”
Mr. Volsung’s reaction was a roll of the eyes, Chloe’s expression became pained. In other words it wasn’t as bad as it sounded, it was worse. I was infected, I was on a one way trip to Troglodyte Town.
“Come,” Mr. Volsung gestured to Chloe Tree, “we have matters to discuss that are not for lesser ears.”
“Oh no.” I said, “I’m a part of this, I want some answers.”
Mr. Volsung snapped his fingers and the man-animals swarmed me. They lifted me up and carried me away…
Personal Journal Entry #255
…my name is Chloe Tree and it has fallen upon me to tell this part of the story. Please understand that this is not the whole story, there are facts that must be obscured for the sake of humanity but I respect Brian Foster and what he has tried to accomplish.
Know then that the man called Volsung is an old adversary of my family and the world. He is the last and least of a bloodline as arrogant as it is ugly. Let it be known however that Volsung is the last and least of that lineage, he labors alone like a mad scientist of old in the finical and scientific ruins of his betters. The mighty had fallen I just didn’t know how far.
“Come,” he said to me, “we have matters to discuss that are not for lesser ears.”
“Oh no.” Brian’s voice was desperate, “I’m a part of this, I want some answers.”
All it took was a snap of Volsung’s fingers for the pseudo-neanderthals, the creatures some called the Beasts of Valhalla, to fall upon Brian. There was a moment of terror when I was certain they would tear him limb from limb, but why would the beasts do that when he would be one of them soon enough?
They lifted him up and carried him away deep into the heart of this fungus choked monument to one man’s hubris. “How?” I asked, “How do you make them obey you like that?”
“All in good time,” there was a tremor in his voice that seemed to spread through his entire body. He began to walk away knowing I would follow.
Brian’s straw fedora had fallen to the ground, I tossed my own hat off my head and put his on in its instead. Even now I am not sure what my motivation was for doing so. You might think it was so he could be with me in spirit, but I don’t believe in spirits, or monsters or gods. There are only mysteries that have yet to be solved.
It was sentiment I suppose.
“Does your adoptive father know you’re here?” Volsung asked.
“He’s none of your business.”
The path he led me along sloped downward. The white fungus became thicker and thicker as we progressed, it popped and hissed underfoot like a carpet of bubble paper. The air it released was foul and choked with spores.
“What is this?” I asked.
“It was the only thing to survive when the facility descended into chaos. It spread from hydroponics to contaminate everything.” He ran a hand along the veins of soft, whiteness, “From foodstuff to conquerer in less than a generation. Impressive no?”
This was getting nowhere, I changed the subject, “What about Brian?”
“What about him?”
“There must be some kind of cure, some way to help him.”
“No. The infection is incurable and for all but 2% of the population.”
“2%? Which 2%?”
“For some reason it does not impact individuals with a mutation of the MC1R protein. Speaking of mutations,” Volsung paused in mid stride and glanced back at me, “I was sorry to hear about your ‘uncle’ but I suppose he lived longer than someone with his genetic setbacks should have.”
I said nothing
“Did he ever consider,” he began walking again, “That perhaps his encounter with the Valhalla virus was the source of his prolonged lifespan? It can have different effects on different subjects.”
“He…” I took a moment to compose myself. This is the curse of an atheist; a religious person finds solace in the knowledge they will be reunited with their loved ones in an afterlife. Atheists know better, dead is dead and gone is gone- we only live on in memory and even that is fleeting. “He would have wanted me to try and appeal to your sense of reason.”
Volsung chuckled, “My sense of reason doesn’t come into it.”
“This strain of the virus is flawed, it could never do what you want because it is only passed through bodily fluids. All you’re going to do is create human misery.”
“Look around you Ms. Tree, we’re already in a world of human misery. Better to begin again or never to have been at all.” The door to hydroponics had fallen from it’s hinges, the ultraviolet lights dangled by half rotted fixtures and wires. The fungus was everywhere, it surrounded us on all sides, a thick mound of it festered in the center of the room. “If it is to survive Humanity must stop warring with itself. It must become one mind, one soul.”
That brought a question to mind, “Is that how are you able to control the beasts?”
“One mind,” His robes and voice trembled again. He approached the mound and caressed it, “One soul.”
An ugly suspicion took hold of my thoughts, “Whose mind?” I asked, “Whose soul?”
His expression became sly, he undid the belt of his robe and let it fall open to reveal corruption. The same fungus that had run riot over the complex had grown fat on his flesh. It pulsed in time with his heartbeat. “It has such tranquility to share,” he said, “It will forgive your trespasses.”
I dropped to my knees, he liked that. I asked, “What does this have to do with saving humanity?”
“Livestock survives. Livestock endures.”
“You’re insane!” I reached down “Think what you’re saying.”
“Don’t you see?” Volsung spread his arms wide in a gesture of welcome, “Every flock needs shepherds. We. Have. Been. Chosen.”
One of my father’s old friends had given me the pistol and the ankle holster I drew it from. I fired twice, both shots hitting him in the face. There was less blood than I expected. Thick tendrils quivered and lashed at the air before becoming still. He didn’t fall, he just stood there like a toy with batteries that had run down.
The mound of fungus in the center of the room began to quiver, I imagined it erupting like a boil and filling the room with spores and tendrils. It was time to get out of here, but first I had to find Brian…
…aside from a few disconnected images I can’t remember what happened.
I know the man-animals carried me away to what might have an auditorium. There were TV screens on every wall, some hissed static others played old newsreel footage from World War II. The man-animals sat me down in the first row of seats. Just before I blacked out I realized one of the man-animals had stolen my pants.
Then gunfire. Chloe Tree came charging in to the room like, if you’ll pardon a bit of alliteration, an albino avenging angel. When she grabbed the arm attached to my wounded shoulder she got my attention. She dragged me to my feet and pulled me out of the room. The man-animals started to give chase but a few shots over their heads scattered them.
She practically carried me through the complex. All around us the white fungus was pulsing angrily.
Somehow we got back to where we had come in. How the Hell did she get me back up that rope? The Serious Men in Serious Suits waiting for us at the top of the shaft must have had something to do with it. There was construction equipment everywhere in the decrepit textile mill, cement mixers to be specific. The oldest of the Serious Men knew Chloe, I wish I could remember, it didn’t take long for them to start arguing about me, something about me not leaving here alive.
At that point I wanted to say something but I was too busy blacking out again.
Days later I woke up in the most sterile-looking hospital room I had ever seen. There were no windows, the bed was standard prison issue; the door was locked and there was no TV. My shoulder had been patched up and there were needle and IV tracks up and down my arms. Either I was being held prisoner by a shadowy government agency, or Albany Med had a terrifying new way of dealing with uninsured patients.
Thankfully it was the former and after a few more days of observation and tests they let me go with a warning never to tell my story to anyone.
But come on, what did they think I was gonna do?
By the time I got out Chloe Tree had already gone back to France but she had kindly emailed me the file I posted above so you could know what I missed.
Item: If you recall Volsung mentioned that people with a mutation of the MC1R protein are immune to the virus. The protein in question is the one that makes you a ginger. You don’t actually have to be a ginger to have that genetic marker, it’s recessive but just having it is enough to save you.
Item: I only have one picture of my absentee grandpa but if you haven’t guessed already he had bright red hair.
Item: In the two weeks I was gone Jasper Moradi and Mrs. Vinchenzo were going out of their mind’s with worry, now that I’m back they’re furious with me.
Item: Eight days ago my car was towed, that is a lot of storage fees. I’m going to need help paying for it and am open to donations.
Item: At least I got my straw fedora back.
Item: You won’t find anything beneath the textile mill anymore, nothing but eighty-plus feet of fresh concrete, and pretty soon you won’t even find the mill itself. The city of Troy has decided to knock it all down and build a community playground.
I wonder if there’ll be monkey bars…