Short Story Saturday: The Hands That Move

Hands That Move: Short Story Saturday - Photo by Amar Saleem on Pexels
Photo by Amar Saleem on Pexels

Hello everyone! As part of Short Story Saturday, I have posted another short story, this one entitled The Hands That Move. Please enjoy.

Introduction by Harold Koonce, police sergeant, Evergreen, Washington

So a lot of people want me to talk about this story and post it online but to tell you the truth, I don’t find the story all that interesting compared to how we found it. You see, I was just sitting in the station talking to my pal Murphy when suddenly this man busts through the doors like a bat outta hell.

He starts talking about how he and his friend decided to do some exploring over on Douglas Island right off the coast of Evergreen, one of those places that are supposed to be off-limits to everyone by the Douglas Island Natural Area Reserve an account that it is one of the few places that has all those Ximuce trees, though now that I think about it, I’m not sure why that’s sort important. We got plenty of those in mainland Evergreen.

I told him he could get in serious trouble for trespassing but he interrupted me. Told me he had more important matters to discuss. Normally, I would have kicked his ass for that but I was in a good mood.

They found some hole in some fencing and got in and supposedly found, in the middle of the forest, what appeared to be an ancient castle. They decided to go exploring and were able to get inside only to find a bunch of men in robes in the middle of the room praying to an image of some sort of creature or something like that? Whatever, point is, the men in robes got pissed about the trespassing and chased after them. He managed to escape but his friend wasn’t so lucky.

Now, I believe this story as much as I believe ghosts are floating around or a bunch of witches live in amongst us in communities down south. I was just about to tell him so when all of a sudden there was a loud explosion. It took us a second but we figured it out it came in the direction of the island. We decided to investigate. I mean, we kinda had too.

I don’t know if there was a castle there or even whether there was any sort of building. All I know is we found a bunch of wood and rocks in a large, neat pile that the Douglas Island Natural Area Reserve assured us came from a nearby mountain or large hill or something and was caused by natural erosion processes that we were not used to because mankind always interfered or whatever, something like that. I didn’t quite understand their explanation but they seemed to know what they were talking about.

By the way, just to put a kibosh on rumors, yeah, the Douglas Island Natural Area Reserve was there first but they weren’t doing anything suspicious when we got there nor do I think it’s weird. I mean, it’s their jurisdiction after all. I’m not sure what people are thinking, believing it’s a cover-up or whatever. Some idiots even think the Douglas Island Natural Area Reserve is some sort of front for a cult or whatever on account of those dudes in robes. Look, I talked to Douglas people personally, they’re legit.

Anyway, I found a stack of papers in the debris. They were somewhat rotted and torn but easy enough to put together. Everyone seemed to want to read it so I allowed it to be posted on this blog. I think it’s just an elaborate prank but whatever, it was entertaining enough, I guess. Don’t take it seriously, though. I hate to burst your bubble, but none of it is real. Just enjoy it for what it is, an entertaining joke.

It would not be fair to blame my wife for my current predicament even though she was the one who insisted on visiting that antique shop in Spokane. As unintentional of might have been, that simple action triggered a series of events that have led to my demise.

There was something about that decrepit old shop that bothered me. It wasn’t the smell of overly lacquered wood. Nor was it the poor illumination. It wasn’t even the macabre masks whom the elderly clerk insisted were from “Africa” or the “Orient”, “Some strange land at least” hanging behind the main counter near the wooden double doors.

It was the antique grandfather clock that vexed me for I found several of its features to be disquieting. It was large and ominous and loomed over me with the intensity of a disappointed father about to lecture his disobedient son. The wood appeared to be teak but this was difficult to tell due to the impeccable paint job which made it appear that black was the wood’s natural color. Its pendulum was reminiscent of a bony human arm. Even with all that, it was the various images painted upon the clock face that I found the most disturbing.

Against a faded pallid background were the depictions of swirling vortexes and celestial bodies being torn apart. The images were wild as if painted with a manic and incensed hand. Somehow everything seemed out of focus and full of static. It was as if I viewing the scene on an old television set with poor reception and I had forgotten my glasses.

The most prominent and disturbing figure was a scaly, black creature, with putrid brown spots on its chest and head. This being had no eyes and several large, jagged teeth. Claws protruded from each of its six hands. It looked like reminiscent of what I can best describe as an unholy amalgamation of a serpent and toad. Half the monster’s body was obscured as it appeared to be entering the scene through a portal of some sort of swirling spiral.

It was biting on something. Seeing what was in its large incisors filled me with a primal fear. Even glancing at it made my stomach churn. There was no doubt. As much as I wanted to think otherwise, I recognized the other celestial bodies, my rudimentary astronomical skills coming quite in handy. In its teeth was a green and blue planet. Our planet. Earth.

I wanted nothing more than to destroy the clock.

Amara, on the other hand, fell in love with the timepiece. As much as the antique disquieted me, it brought her an obscene amount of pleasure. She adores the macabre and the paranormal but not so much because she particularly enjoys such depictions or had an appreciation for the stories and history behind such imagery or really anything about the subject matter itself. Her first and foremost desire is to subvert society’s expectations. She is obsessed with eschewing more traditionally feminine decorations in favor of whatever fits her seemingly arbitrary definition of rebellion. I assume that is why she still wears gothic dresses, dark makeup, pentagram earrings, and fishnets though she is now pushing thirty.

Regardless, my wife wanted the clock and wanted it desperately. I attempted to gently let her know how the clock made me feel. I did not press too hard, though, as I knew better than to get in between her and something she desired lest I feel her wrath.

The shopkeeper expressed a bit of surprise that she was interested in the item as my reaction to it wasn’t wholly unique. He was having difficulty unloading it, especially since not only did the images make people feel uncomfortable, it no longer worked. His several attempts to fix the clock were in vain. The shopkeeper explained quite eloquently, or at least as eloquently as a man wearing overalls and a flannel shirt whose gapped teeth whistled whenever he made a hard “shh” sound could hope, how and why the clock was broken.

The wizened gentleman opened the back of the clock and showed us the insides. He pointed out what gears were missing and explained that finding replacements proved to be an impossible task. No one seemed to own the appropriate mold. It was also missing certain latches, a weight, and a pulley. The clock did not even have a chain. With the damage done to the cable drum retainer, it was likely that even if he had all the parts it still would have been impossible to repair. He jokingly lamented that the clock will, unfortunately, read two minutes until midnight forevermore and laughed heartily at his apparent joke.

None of that mattered to Amara. She figured even if it was no longer was operational, it was still something we could talk about at her macabre dinner parties with her hipster friends and had the potential to be the centerpiece of her grim collection. She managed to bargain down the price from an already reasonable offer. Amara essentially used his honesty about the product against him. Though the woman is only five feet tall give or take an inch, the brunette can be quite pugnacious when she chooses to be and she often chooses to be, as the poor shopkeeper soon learned.

After she made the purchase, I had the fun activity of paying the bitter old man, loading the contraption to the back of my pickup truck and tying it down as tightly as possible. We then embarked on the quite enjoyable and stress-free, three hundred mile, five-hour journey back home to Evergreen. It was still summer so I did not get the pleasure of dealing with the snow. By the time we arrived and placed the timepiece in the middle of the living room after several one-sided deliberations of where to put it that fatigued my arm and my back to no end, it was past the witching hour.  We went to bed exhausted.

I found myself alone in the streets with no recollection of how I got there and why I was no longer asleep. A swirling wind directed my attention toward the sky. The sight nearly made me go mad. A black and mottled brown abomination entered our world through a purple and white vortex. I tried to run but found my legs incapable of movement as I was almost literally frozen with fear. It saw me and reached down. It gripped me with one of its many pointed hands and one of its claws pierced my skull before I had a chance to scream. It then callously tossed me into its mouth where it ground me between its several rows of jagged teeth a rhythmic and ferocious chew.

That is when I woke up.

My body and my sheets were drenched with sweat and my heart raced as I sat in bed. I looked around looking for the creature only to find that everything was as I expected. Amara was sleeping soundly next to me, undisturbed. The moonlight shone brightly from the cloudless sky. Everything was calm, perhaps even a little more so than usual. Though the phantasmagoria of my trouble mind seemed real, it seemed to be nothing more than a dream. I let out a heavy and relieved sigh.

My ears perked. I pinched myself several times to confirm that I was awake. This meant that what I was hearing was not the product of the dream.

It was the sound of grinding gears.

I whispered frantically in Amara’s ear stunned by the revelation and though she turned over away from me I then shook her several times until the fifth attempt where she finally awoke. She muttered noises that conveyed anger and annoyance. She pointed at the clock and amongst the various curses she exhaled she also informed me that it was only 2:30 in the morning and that we went to bed late and needed to sleep. I asked whether she heard the grinding sounds. She claimed she heard nothing and made some derogatory remarks toward my sanity before she angrily went back to sleep.

I was incredulous. The noises had crescendoed to the point that they now reverberated against the walls. I wondered how she could sleep through the racket. I made several more attempts to wake my wife and was met with nothing but resistance and ire. I realized that waking her, or at least getting her cognizant of the noises, was a fool’s errand so I left the bedroom to investigate.

My ears led me to the living room where we had left the grandfather clock which meant only one thing though such a thing should have been impossible. Yet there I was, staring at it, mesmerized with the bony arm as it swayed back and forth with the minute hand ticking away. Almost equally as baffling, though I did not realize this until I checked my watch to see how late it had already gotten as I am wont to do, I realized the time on the grandfather clock was correct. Both the clock and my watch read 2:38. It was as if the two timepieces were synchronized.

I opened the back of the clock. It was in the same condition as when we purchased it. I racked my sleep-addled brain and realized that even if the man was wrong and the clock was somehow still operational, neither Amara nor I wound it up or do anything to it to set the time as both of us were quite exhausted. The clock did not even have a chain for either of us to pull so I am unsure how pendulum was swinging.

This was but a mere prelude of what was to come.

The hands of the clock suddenly moved backward.

I mindlessly tapped on the glass furiously to stop them as from somewhere in the recesses of my brain, I was seized with the thought that I needed to get those moving hands to stop, though with a slightly cooler head that I am unsure why I thought tapping would have any effect at all.

The hands moved with increasing rapidity until they became a blur. I stared at them and found myself in a trance. The stucco walls around me crumbled and were replaced walls of wood though quickly they disintegrated as well into more primitive building materials. People appeared before me but only for brief milliseconds, nothing more than a flash. All of them appeared to be moving backward.

Their fashions move from the 1980s to the 1960s, to the 1940s and the 1920s. Soon clothing turns to a 19th-century frontier-style garb and soon to the colonial age. Shortly after, the styles and complexion of the people change to those in the days before Columbus. Without warning, everything stopped with such rapidity and suddenness it took a moment for me to realize that whatever was happening before my eyes had stopped.

I was alone in a sea of green surrounded by Mighty Douglas Firs which was quite a departure from my what I was used to my backyard looking like with its yellow grass and a tiny little apple tree sapling. Chipmunks chattered amongst themselves all around as they moved to and fro to and from the branches of trees. Deer trotted over fallen oaks and other woodland debris. Owls and other nocturnal birds filled the air with their songs. All remnants of my home had disappeared except for the antique clock which stood to my right.

I took another look at it and notice that its pendulum was not currently moving, its second hand no longer ticked, and the time was no longer 2:38. Instead, the hands read two minutes until midnight.

Suddenly, I heard a commotion to my left as various men adorned in feathers, beads, animal furs and skins gathered around a fire which was the only illumination in this pitch-black night. None of them noticed me as they were preoccupied with the ceremony they were performing.

An elderly man stood in the center. He wore the most impressive garb including the group’s largest and most ornate headdress. He required both hands to carry a wooden cane that had an elaborate design on its side. It reminded me of a golden serpent thought it was unlike any snake I had ever seen.

They appeared to be members of the Snoquaximish a native tribe of Evergreen whom I had seen while attending the University of Washington during one of their many visits they made to share their rich history and ancient rituals through sacred ceremonies. However, the language the old man spoke as he thrust his cane with great intensity into the air was completely unfamiliar. It did not match the cadence or the pentameter of the Snoquaxmish language if my memory served correctly.

Their movements were frantic and panicked, though somehow too, deliberate. There was a purpose to what they were doing. This was not a mere exhibition. There was a real gravity to their actions. They moved as though a single incorrect step or hand gesture could mean the end of the world.

Without warning, the woodland chatter ceased giving way to the frantic sounds of creatures scrambling across the forest bed as if they were anticipating a looming danger. In the pits of my stomach, I felt pressure as if a thousand tiny hands were pushing against it.

The environment changed. It was as if the air became thick and tangible. I could feel an almost literal tension. Though it was pitch black, it seemed to somehow grow darker. A moment before the temperature was rather comfortable, neither hot nor cold, just warm and pleasant. Suddenly, it was freezing. A slight breeze blew across my face. After a few moments, the speed of the wind increased. It then circled as it moved toward the middle until it had gathered into a spiral above the old man. With each passing second, it grew more violent and rapid until it was a purple and white vortex. Bolts of electricity exploded from its core.

The trees underneath the portal seemed to quiver with fear and their mighty trunks withered until they were no thicker than my arm. Their green needles swiftly turned into black ash as they crumbled to the forest floor.

A large being emerged from the portal. It was a large pustulous, scaly beast mostly black though it had putrid brown spots on its chest and head. A translucent pallid slime poured from every pore and orifice. Claws protruded from each of its six hands. Its mouth was perpetually agape showing its large, distended teeth along with its large, black fangs. Its large head was almost like a toad’s, though it had no discernable eyes, and it had ears, large and pointed resembling the devil. It was the creature of my dream, an abomination that defied imagination.

I vomited upon the sight. I felt my sanity began to slip. I nearly passed out but the old man’s shouts kept me awake. His congregation repeated every line that the old man bellowed. They raised their arms in unison after, based on the strength of his voice, particularly powerful parts of his speech. Fire ascended from the pit as the old man shouted. The night sky was enflamed.

The creature continued to approach. The vortex was a large as the night sky but the being was only able to fit its head through as well as a few of its arms. I shrieked in horror when the abomination reached down and grabbed one the young man. He struggled mightily to escape but it was in vain as his fidgeting only allowed its claws to more easily penetrate his torso.

The noises he made when he entered the vortex have haunted me every night since. I went down to my knees and cried out in fear. As more and more men were grabbed, the screams only intensified as did too my hysteria.

The remaining men bravely stood steadfast. They continued the ritual despite the growing dire circumstances and dwindling numbers. Their chants swelled into a large cacophony that echoed through the forest. Each word that was spoken along with each gesticulation became more pronounced and more violent. They were wild and primal though somehow, almost contradictory, composed and refined.

With one last shout, their cries filled the air. Flames ascended above the tallest trees into a mushroom cloud that hovered over the forest. The men performed one last sudden movement in unison. Their hands and arms swung around in rapid movements as if their bones had been removed. They finished the chant with raised over their heads.

My head perked when I noticed the winds had changed direction. I lifted my head. The clouds had split open. A xanthic glow shined upon us. Night had turned to day at least in our small section of the woods. It was divine or at least beyond comprehension and could only be attributed to a cosmic miracle.

The creature shrieked an inhuman, ungodly scream. It felt as though my brain had collided with my skull to flee if such a thing is possible. I covered my ears in a vain attempt to block the noise feeling as my throbbing would split open at any moment. Yet my eyes never diverted from the skyward scene. Horror gripped my heart but I felt compelled to continue watching. I needed to know whether the end of the world was near.

An unknown force pushed the creature backward. Its hands and arms, and then its head were thrust behind the vortex until the creature had disappeared. Various hues of purples and whites swirled in the wind. The lightning bolts and thunder returned as another maelstrom commenced.

The portal gradually shrunk until it was nothing more than a memory. The day had returned to night, though it was still brighter than when the beast appeared. The sky returned to normal. Even the clouds seemed to have moved to cover the hole in which the light had emerged. The fire had subsided and now burned at a level that resembled a comfortable campfire. Everything had returned to normal. It was as if nothing had happened. Or so it initially appeared.

I turned my attention back to the men. I was dumbfounded, though looking back, of the things witnessed that night this was perhaps the most mundane. Their flaccid ashen bodies littered the forest looking as if their blood had been drained. They had all aged rapidly with the younger ones’ youthful visages replaced with wrinkled, shriveled faces and their luxuriant flowing black hair replaced with thinning gray strands. The older men fared far worst as they, including the chief, were shriveled into skeletal facsimiles of their former selves with just enough skin for them to be considered a cadaver rather than merely bones.

I could not tell you how long I stared. If I learned that it was just a few seconds or several days, or months, or years, or decades, or centuries, I wouldn’t be surprised. I would believe almost anything now.

I wondered whether any of them were alive, though the scene suggested there was no way, I never had the chance to confirm. By the time I got the courage to assess the scene, the clock’s hands once again moved.

This time they turned forward. Epochs once again passed before my eyes but the glimpses of human activity this time moved forward. For a moment, I am back home but quicker than a blink of an eye the scene gives way to unfamiliar walls and unusual décor. The style of furniture is nothing like what I’ve seen in the past or even the present.

The hands stopped once again and the pendulum no longer moved. I looked up at the time. Two minutes before midnight.

There was a loud clap of thunder followed by bolts of lightning that lit up the night sky. I grew cognizant of swirling, howling winds. Shades of purple filled the air. I took a glimpse out the window to see quite a storm was brewing outside, or so I initially thought, until I realized that the winds were swirling into a vortex.

I felt myself turn pale. Somehow I managed to push down those feelings of fear and raced outside. What I saw nearly made me vomit and pass out. The abomination was attempting once again to return and his efforts seemed to already be more successful as he was already almost halfway through the portal.

A large mass of people that consisted of men and women of various ages and colors were gathered around a large apple tree and were in front of a massive fire pit whose flames were lighting up the night sky. Each person was dressed in flowing robes of various reds, blues, whites, and blacks. All of them reminded me of wizards especially the wizened, elderly man standing in the center. His garb had an elaborate design on the back. It depicted a gold serpent swallowing a black and mottled brown abomination. It took two hands for him to carry a large wooden cane with a golden serpent inscribed on its side.

Most strikingly, though it took me a minute to grow aware of this as my attention was almost fully on the creature, the man had features incredibly similar to mine. He was a bit darker in complexion and much older but otherwise was what I imagine I would have looked like had I been able to grow old.

He led the rest of the group in a chant while he and his flock performed elaborate movements ritualistic in nature not unlike what I had seen from the native tribesmen before. The words that escaped his lips were very similar to the ones I heard earlier. He was chanting in the same language of unknown origin that I heard earlier and everything they were doing was the same.

Almost.

To my absolute dismay, I noticed something.

When the ritual reached its apex, the men and women joined him in the final movements. As the chant reached its apex, they flailing hands and arms were raised above their hands. They joined him and shouted a cacophony of fierce words that echoed throughout the land and forced flames into the air.

That is where the old man made the mistake.

The last parts of the incantation were said incorrectly.

I wanted to rectify this but I quickly realized that I could not. I did not know the words. I had only heard them briefly, enough for them to be recognizable and notice when there was an error but I did not know the correct ones. Had I known what was going to happen that night, I perhaps would have written them down, but then again, I am not sure how I could have scribed a language that I did not speak and as far I knew no one spoke.

The old man looked up in consternation when he realized that chant and the ritual had not resulted in the desired effect. He trembled as he repeated the incorrect words repeatedly, each time with greater volume and more panic in his voice. As they realized what was happening, his allies panicked. Some pointed to the sky. Tears streamed down many faces. Many shouted curses, blamed each other, blamed the world, and blamed themselves.

None of this mattered to the creature. He continued, undeterred, slowly and gradually, to enter our world. It said nothing yet somehow conveyed contempt toward all of us.

All the men and women attempted to flee. None got very far.

If I had not by this time understood the ramifications of getting the chant wrong, I quickly learned. One-by-one the creature stuck its clawed fingers through the screaming, terrified crowd. It lifted the ones that were not immediately bifurcated up to its mouth. Its victim shrieked in unholy terror as he or she struggled. Blood poured from their torsos or their chests, wherever the creature had stuck its dirty, putrid claws.

Nauseating slurping sounds were made as it placed them in its mouth. It removed them from its fingers like removing food from a skewer. I do not wish to describe further the sound of the bodies as they were ground between its horrific teeth. Nor do I wish to describe the screams of those poor men and women. Nor do I wish to describe how I was up to my ankles in a sea of blood. All I will say is all of them became the abomination’s meal, even the ones the creature split into two were eventually devoured as if they were the remnants of food on a person’s plate. Even in the short time I have left, these memories will haunt me. I can only hope that death offers a respite.

Soon only I remained and the creature set its sights on me. I did not even attempt to flee. I fell to the ground and wept profusely and vomited between sobs. The creature’s claws inched nearer. Each passing second, each millisecond, each microsecond felt like an eternity. I was at my wit’s end. Just before I was penetrated, I passed out.

When I regained consciousness, I found myself back home, quivering underneath the base of the clock. Its hands had stopped, its pendulum was no longer swung, and the time read two minutes before midnight. I was surrounded by familiar-looking walls.

I was in a bit of a daze but when I awoke, I realized that the clock must have returned me home.

I do not remember anything else about that night.

Amara claimed that I simply went to bed shortly after checking on the noise in the living room. I woke up normally in the morning and joined her for breakfast in the kitchen as I did every morning for the past ten years.

I have no recollection of this.

Somewhere in the corners of my mind, I do recall her asking me what I had heard and why I was out of bed so long but the memory is blurred and was perhaps merely a dream. I vaguely do recall looking into her eyes and seeing so much love and so much worry with her usual perkiness was supplanted with distress. I loved her as much then as I do now. If only I had never seen those terrible visions of the future. Now I know what ignorance is bliss truly means.

I can kind of remember her telling me it was just a nightmare and there was no need to worry and that I’d snap out of it if I just stopped thinking about it. Whether she truly said this or was just a mere fantasy, it does not matter.

I was shown these events for a reason. I do not know what sort of arcane magic it possessed. All I know is whatever enchantment it was given was done with a purpose. The clock wanted me to witness the creature’s attempts to enter our world.  Such knowledge weighed on me intensely.

My emotions were dominated by nothing but fear. It was not for myself for the abomination would not be around for at least another two centuries if my agrarian skills were correct and I had properly assumed the tree’s age. I would be long gone by then.

No, I feared for the future generations that would have to fight this enemy knowing full well that they would be unsuccessful in their efforts to recite the chant. From that day forward, I couldn’t live a normal life. No longer could I express joy. No longer could I express my love to my wife, not even when she announced a week after that fateful night that she was pregnant with our first and what turned out to be our only child.

There were more pressing matters at hand. I had so many questions and so little answers. I had to learn more about that creature. I had to know more about that ritual. I had to know whether there was anything I could do to prevent the apocalypse.

The pursuit of knowledge eroded my marriage. Communication was essentially off the table as I could not bear to tell Amara the truth and spread the curse unto the most important woman in my life. There was no other way to satisfactorily explain my obsession, though, so I must have looked like a madman researching ancient history neglecting all other parts of my life including her and my future son.

Amara tried to find me help but I refused. I even left her before she had the chance to have someone lock me “for my own good”. In a way, she was right. It would have been better for me personally had I been incarcerated, but I do not believe it would have been better for the world.

I spent the next three years trying to find answers. Though I knew where to look, uncovering information proved difficult. I was met with extreme resistance. Many claimed I was mad but the apprehensive looks on their faces as well as the skittish nature they exhibited when they evaded my questions proved to me that I was on the right track.

I spent many nights on the street, outside reservations, and outside restricted areas as I searched the globe to find the right people to talk to, the right wheels to grease, the right people to bribe, and the right people to blackmail if all else failed. Eventually, I found people where the supposedly “hallucinatory delusions” of an alleged “maniac” were not met with scorn or derision but instead interest, knowledge, and assistance.

I am afraid that I have not found all the answers and it looks like my journey is about to come to an end.

That is not to say that my hunt has been completely fruitless. Though the skeptics, the naysayers, those that would call me a lunatic have far outnumbered the friendlier or at least less hostile faces, there were still many, as I alluded to earlier, that had heard similar tales of the abomination, especially amongst those on the tribal reservations, that were willing to help. Tales of such a creature was not unheard of amongst the tribes of the Pacific Northwest. The ancient Snoquaximish called the abomination something that roughly translates to The Creature with No Eyes and Many Fangs.

Very little is known about this beast. Some believe that it was an entity created by the gods. There were stories that the creature was some sort of malevolent entity similar to the devil that would torture evil souls for eternity. Some say it belongs in a celestial plane outside of our dimension, making some reference to the veil. All tales seem to agree that its entry into our world is a harbinger of the apocalypse. It is a clear sign that life on earth was about to end. Quite a number of religions have formed devoted to this creature. Most are of Native American origin and based mostly out of fear, though a couple, in particular, stuck in my mind.

One emerged during the time of Lewis and Clark when settlers first explored the Pacific Northwest. These men and women learned of the creature from the natives and formed a cult devoted to it. Their goal is vague. There are some references to love but it is unclear whether they love the creature, think the creature needs love, or whether it needs loved ones sacrificed to it. Supposedly, this cult had found a way to open the portal to offer the abomination a sacrifice, though it is unclear whether it is done out of a desire to bring it back fully or to appease it in hopes that it would be kept at bay.

Perhaps they believed that appeasing the creature would somehow lead them to paradise. There were plenty of accounts that they had built several artifacts and icons devoted to it which gives this hypothesis some credibility.

Whatever became of them is unknown. Most believe that their beliefs failed to really latch on and gain any sort of prominence. Instead of dying due to persecution, it is believed the sect died simply due to a lack of interest. You will still find the odd scholar or two who believe that the cult still exists in some form as their clandestine nature would put the masons to shame.

Another religion followed by certain ancient native tribes believed the creature was an entity sent by the gods to test humanity’s resolve. Every two millennia the gods would send the creature through a vortex. The wisest and strongest men were sent to confront the being where they would perform a sacred ritual to keep the creature from devouring the earth at the cost of their lives. Everything must be done and said exactly lest the proceeding fail which would mean the end of the world.

Doubtlessly, this must have been what I had witnessed. Regardless of whether the creature was sent by the gods or any sort of entity, malevolent or otherwise, this information explained what I had seen and provided a solution.

There was still much more to learn. There are so many answers yet to be discovered. Regretfully, I was never able to find them all but I must have been close. I must have been so very close, for you see, this wouldn’t have happened if I was on the wrong trail, if I were crazy as so many had claimed.

For you see, I was captured.

By whom, I am not sure.

I was exploring the outskirts of the Snoquaximish National Park, far outside where visitors are typically permitted in the deepest, darkest parts of the forests when I was assailed by several men in gray hoods with a black fanged creature inscribed on the back. They bounded my hands and blindfolded me before throwing me into the back of what I assume was a van.

Hours must have passed, perhaps even days. My perception of time was thrown completely for a loop. At some point I could have sworn we were at sea though I never left the vehicle.

Eventually, we arrived here though I’m not sure where. The walls are damp, black, and moldy. A putrid smell reminiscent of rotting bodies, a smell I was not familiar with until my sojourn, emanates everywhere. Chains decorate the wall. It is mostly dark. Only the dim moonlight through a small window above provides any sort of illumination and allows me to write my tale.

I assume, naturally, that this is some sort of ancient prison but where such a place exists in Washington I am unsure. Others are imprisoned here. I have not seen them but I can hear their moans even through these thick walls.

A sympathetic guard snuck in several sheets of papers and a pencil that I’ve worn down to a nub writing this tale. I told him I wanted to write letters to my family. He warned me there was no point as even doing that much was punishable by death if he was caught. Sending them was completely out of the question. I told him that it would help keep my sanity. He was young and naïve, way too kind to be associating with such animals. Perhaps he did not know the true nature of the cult until it was too late.

They tried to find out what I know. They tried to starve it out of me. They gave me just enough water to survive and nothing more. The young guard took pity. He snuck in an adequate amount of food and water. I believe he was doing the same for the other prisoners as well. They caught him helping us several days ago. His screams stopped only a few minutes ago.

I will hide these papers under a loose rock under my bed. Hopefully, someone will find them before it is too late. Before I go, I must tell you! There is so much to say, but, I cannot so just know the ceremony, the ritual, the movements, most of the incantation I trust you’ll be able to find as they are well documented if you know where to look. Talk to the Snoquaximish, talk to them all, they will know! They will know!

But they won’t know the most crucial part of the chant. I’ve found them, though! Just before they caught me, I found them in an ancient longhouse on the reservation! They’ve probably destroyed it by now! They’ll claim that it has been rubble for hundreds of years but do not trust them! They lie! They lie!

You, who is reading this, tell them, tell them to listen! Force them if you must! Tell them until they listen! Then keep telling them and tell everyone until it becomes so commonplace that school children know of these words. Whoever must confront the creature will know exactly what to say! I cannot emphasize this enough! These words must be said exactly! The fate of the planet depends on it!

Tele k’oh roh dae lae mont
Ch’I kai loh no te rae lont
Toko no yi pe de goshe
Moto tae qap oae hee tee ka roe
Ga’e re bo d’oh ber ae nae soe

This is all I can do. I must rely on you, whoever you are, to do believe me and do exactly as I say. I beg you to listen! Please for all that is good in the world! For the sake of all! I hear their footsteps! They approach my cell! They approach! I must hide this before it’s too late, but I beseech you to listen! I beseech you! Dear God! I don’t want to die!

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