Hollow Masks

Masks.

A magical device meant to ward off evil. Send the unwanted away from your person. Hide yourself from the gaze of the undead. From the gaze of those that would hurt you. Masks, back in the first days of All Hallow’s Eve, were meant to keep you safe. Protect you from the unknowns of this world. From the evil that surely lurked in the shadows, that came out to play on this one night every year.

They were a magic like no other. A warding off of evil. A way to protect yourself.

Masks were a sanctuary that not even the dead could cross. A facade so believable, even the monsters are fooled.

A way to engulf yourself so fully that you’re never found.

I wonder why we think things have changed. Continue reading “Hollow Masks”

When the Warlock Wakes

I knew a genius once. He was my mentor, actually. Taught me, first in high school. Then, once again, when I entered college. And then, again, when I went for my master’s degree. And my doctorate. And again, afterward.

When I became his assistant.

He taught me a lot. A whole awful lot. About tons of things. Theories and science and things you could see.

And things you couldn’t see.

The man I knew was a genius. An absolute genius. It wasn’t his mind that made him that way, or his IQ. No.

It was his determination. His willingness to explore. To find. Discover. He always saw himself as a pioneer. An explorer. Someone who wasn’t afraid of the turning seas. Of never reaching land again.

Because to him, it didn’t matter.

If he could find the unknown, delve into lands unseen…

If he got his answers, then it didn’t matter.

Nothing did.

I’ve only just recently come to that conclusion. That understanding. The man I knew was a genius, yes.

But at what cost? Continue reading “When the Warlock Wakes”

Discussions at Camp

I’ve heard it said that there are two types of stories to help us understand:

What is evil?

Everyone sits around the fireplace, surrounded by other young ones, and they watch and listen to the old man. The wise one. The guy with experience, with understanding. With battle scars. With knowledge. They sit and they listen.

And this is where the story diverges.

In the first version, the old man points into the forest. Into the wild. Into the dark night surrounding the campfire, encroaching on them. He points outward, toward nature. Toward the “other” in the world. Toward the unknowns that plague mankind through the dark.

Evil is out there.

That’s what he’ll tell the kids. He might talk of aliens, of demons, of monsters. He might talk about beasts or the paranormal. Either way, the story ends with them. With that thing. That creature. That entity.

The unknown.

That is what’s evil.

And the second type?

The second sort of story?

The other half of this tale of divergence? Continue reading “Discussions at Camp”

Devil’s Smile

Everyone likes to think evil comes, unannounced, with a voice rising like the darkest pit of hell. That it shows up in black cars with flaming wheels and license plate numbers marked “666”.

But that’s not the case.

In fact.

Usually, it’s the opposite.

Evil doesn’t show up with horns and a tail.

Evil usually shows up with a smile.

And damn.

If you didn’t look like a devil to me. Continue reading “Devil’s Smile”

Fire Bringer

“Is it done?”

“Yes.”

“Good. Let’s get out of here. This place reeks.”

Before we make it out of the building though, I steel myself. Blade in hand, I set to work on opening a new spot on my team.

Not that many would actually want to fill it.

I leave the bleeding man on the ground, his breath sputtering as I walk away.

He’ll probably want an explanation. I feel that, if this were a movie, this would be the moment where I would give him one. But this isn’t a movie.

This is reality.

So I forgo the explanation and make my getaway.

I refuse to be caught. Continue reading “Fire Bringer”

Hero’s End

I can feel it.

I feel the sting in my arm, in my leg. I see the dark red ooze from beneath my fingertips. The pain lances its way all around me, stinging, burning. It spreads liquid fire through my skin, and I know it can only mean one thing.

I’m bleeding.

I feel it in my stomach, against the skin of my forehead, and all around my side. I don’t know how I haven’t come undone yet. Why I haven’t been completely skinned. I certainly ought to have been, with how much pain I’m in. With how much fire I can feel in my body.

But, more than that, I feel this.

I feel you. Continue reading “Hero’s End”

The Monster Machine

I’m not an angel.

Not a demon.

I’m just a man.

Just a man.

And because of that, I know.

One day, I’ll see that other side. I’ll make it across the gap. I’ll walk that bridge on the borderlands. Say goodbye to the things I know, to this life of deceptions and storms. I’ll walk into that other place, find myself On The Other Side.

And what will I find, On The Other Side, I wonder?

Will it be hell that greets me?

Will it be heaven?

Hah. Doubtful.

A man such as myself could never hope to reach so high from such a dark depth. I could never reach heaven. Not from this fathom.

No, hell is much closer. Right on my heels, really.

So, what to do?

Hell isn’t a very pleasant place, you know.

So, what to do?

Ha.

Very simple:

If I can’t reach heaven, then I’ll raise hell.

I’ll raise it up, and up, and up, until the very tips of both touch. Until the guiding light of heaven reaches down into the pits of hell.

And I’ll cross.

Because if you think that I’ll stop myself. Become something I’m not to appease the rules.

You’re mistaken.  Continue reading “The Monster Machine”