"Things that go bump in the Night", Chapter Fifteen of the new Sherlock Holmes Baker Street Adventures novel is now posted.
"Things that go bump in the Night"
by John Pirillo
Unloved, ignored as long as he did his chores, and abandoned by the world of real love, he found himself diving deeper and deeper into the dark tomes he had found in the secret paneled room in the attic. Why the Old Hag never found out, he didn't understand at first, until much later on, when he was ready to ascend to his growing power and position in life.
He began his studies on the smaller spells he found. Ways to turn water into various toxic fluids, stones into deadly implements that killed upon touch, and simple gestures and words, which when combined with certain times of the day and night, drew upon the undead, awakening them to his bidding. At first he didn't believe any of the words he read. He just found them fascinating to exist at all. Here was a closet filled with dark secrets that the world would be horrified to know existed and only he and one other person, he presumed, knew of it.
While he didn't believe any of the spells were real at first, he had to believe after he muttered a spell in anger at the Old Hag one night when she was drinking her usual ale while they had dirty well water and old bread. He had cursed her drink to turn into well worms that would burn her tongue. He had thought it a wicked thought to happen to her, even if not likely.
Suddenly, she had clutched at her throat as she drank, her face lighting up as if on fire, and then she had thrown up, spewing these huge red, slimy worms all over the dinner table. The kids around him were shocked at first, and scrambled to get safely away, but as she kept throwing up more worms, her face turning redder and redder, they began to laugh, for she was not well liked or loved by any there.
He couldn't say when it happened exactly, but one moment she was gagging for air, and the next her complexion returned to normal and the worms on the table that had been spoiling their meal vanished as if the sun had suddenly set and taken all light out of the room.
She had risen slowly, the hint of a smile on her cruel lips. A goddess of pain examining her suppliants w ho must be eagerly punished.
And punished they were.
Each of them received twenty lashes by a whip on their backs and behinds. None could sleep that night. He hadn't cared, because he had given up sleeping a long time ago, so absorbed in the reading he had become, that at firs he hadn't noticed his renewed vitality, his vigor and his energy that never seemed to drain away.
Some would call it a miracle, but he called it a relief, for he could bear to give up his precious night hours, when his daytime hours were so filled with pain and darkness
That night he had snuck into the room again, and this time he was interrupted. The door slid open, but not before he was warned by the tramp of heavy feet. He slid under an old sofa in the room, with barely enough room left to breathe and waited as the door slid open. He knew who it was before she came into the room, her raspy breath rattling in her throat.
He had heard once that she had some kind of incurable disease caused by the smoking she did, something that ate the throat and lungs from the inside out. It had sounded horrible when he first heard about it, but once he knew her character and the relentless evil of her ways, he along with many other of the boys had prayed for the condition to take her off the planet, so that they might find one day of peace from her.
She stood in the room and he could tell she was searching it, but not carefully enough. He heard her make a sound of disgust, then exit, closing the hidden door behind her. He had waited until he heard her footsteps vanish.
He knew she would probably search their sleeping quarters, but he had prepared for such an eventuality a long time ago, making sure that his bed, which was in the darkest part of the room always looked as if someone were sleeping there. He had even rigged up a piece of mop so that it looked like his hair straggling out over the covers.
So he waited a bit longer, then crawled back out and went back to his secret reading. He then knew the words were real. That he was learning true magic. It never occurred to him at the time that it was the darkest and foulest of magic, and that one day he would transform into someone he hated as much as he hated the Old Hag.
For even though he grew more and more powerful, he also became more and more disgusted with what he was becoming. He finally decided to go to the last of the books, the ones he sensed from his growing use of magic were the most powerful.
He pulled the largest one down and it stung his hands, as if they were on fire. But he did not let go and he did not cry out. He dared not. The noise would summon the Old Hag and he would know more pain than his body could bear.
This book had a spell that he knew would seal the deal he had made with himself a long time ago. Create a way for him to escape his darkness and become the master of his life. He drew the necessary magical circle, using chalk he had found, then placed candles in the five corners of the pentagram he had drawn inside the circle. He placed a bit of cat's hair, some bat wings, and some dead caterpillars he found in jars in the center of the pentagram as the offering he had come to make.
Then he did a very, very foolish thing. He hadn't read the last passage. He stood inside the pentagram and did the spell.
The interior of the attic secret room lit up as if he had caused it to become lit with the fires of hell. The whole room twisted and turned as if it were no longer substantial. He felt the hair raise on the back of his neck and his body go as dry as a rag after being squeezed over a fireplace. He thought he was going to die.
That wasn't the worst.
The worst was what came next. What rose from the pentagram and stood beside him, looking into his eyes. What hungered for his soul and body, even as he hungered for freedom.