The event occurred so long ago that I try to tell myself it wasn’t even real. When asked about it, I say only that the memory is fuzzy, and besides, I’m not even sure if it happened. That’s a lie, though. The memory is seared into my mind so thoroughly that no matter what I try to convince myself or others, I know it’s real. The truth is that I don’t like talking about it. Who would want to relive such an awful moment of their lives?
I am compelled now to write about it only because I cannot bear it any longer. I have to get these images out of my head and let someone know what I saw that evening.
It was a Saturday night and I was planning to meet a couple of my close friends at one of our favorite haunts: Silver Light Coffee House. We usually played board games on the weekends and the coffee house was our favorite meeting spot.
I ordered my drink and made my way to the corner where we usually sat. No one had arrived yet, so I set my things down and organized some of my playing cards. I was a few minutes early, anyways.
I spent the next half hour flipping through my collection, removing cards and placing newer ones in their stead. I didn’t look up, only to my left to check my phone and see if I had any new messages. It was as if my eyes were bidden to remain focused on the table in front of me until the specters were ready. Until they had decided it was time to see.
30 minutes precisely after I sat down, I had a sudden premonition to look up. I wasn’t searching for my friends. I only felt as if it was suddenly the right time to raise my head.
They were ready for me.
Directly in my line of sight there sat a body. Its hands were bound to the arms of the chair on which it sat and nailed firmly in place. Its feet were the same, each fixed in place with a thick metal spike. The body was that of a man, naked and bloody and very much dead. Horrible lashes rent open the skin on both the torso and the back. A small wooden sign hung from the man’s neck, which read, “The sacrifice of the son can never pay for the sins of the father.”
I tried to stand up and scream for help but found myself unable to do so. An invisible vice clamped onto my lips and sealed them. Another urge to move my head took me, and my neck swiveled unbidden to see what was to my left.
At the coffee counter there stood another corpse. It was a woman, her hands stretched above her head and bound at the wrist by a thick rope suspended from the ceiling. She had been sawn in two from top to bottom and where her face had been, there remained only a gaping hole of flesh and bone.
I wanted to get up and run, but I couldn’t. Instead, I snapped my neck back, glancing momentarily again at the man in the chair and then to my right. Three heads and one body. The face of an elderly man, the face of a child, and the third was faceless, like the woman I had just seen. The body was sewn together - a patchwork of various skins. The body was nailed to the wall in the shape of a cross, arms outstretched and legs clasped together.
The horrific images were too much for me to bear. I wanted to scream, I wanted to run, I wanted to do anything but look. I couldn’t move, though. A horrible sickness gripped my belly and I felt the bile rise, but I couldn’t vomit. My actions were not my own. I had no choice in the matter. A voice within me commanded my muscles to move, to turn around and see what was behind me. I didn’t want to, of course. I tried to fight the feeling, to break the invisible bonds and go free, but my body ignored the pleas for help.
I turned around and faced the being who had brought me into this macabre gathering. Upon turning, I realized the being was not a single entity, but a twisted mass of countless tortured souls. I stared at them, overcome with helplessness and utter confusion.
A gaping maw of darkness opened before me, belching forth a thousand shrieking voices and shaking the walls with an agonizing noise born of pain and suffering. The sound overcame me, finally allowing me the mercy of shedding a single tear. The bile rose and spilled from my lips, bubbling out of my mouth and dribbling down my chin. The voices crowded together inside my mind, screaming as one, both begging me to help them, and condemning me for my failure to act.
A figure shrouded in shadows stepped out of the darkness and faced me. It bore no likeness to anything I’ve ever seen. It had no body, no face, nothing even slightly human for which I could compare it to. It only had a voice. Though the sound of torment surrounded me, I could hear it speak. Its voice was shrill and tinged with poison, “See now the price that must be paid.”
It beckoned me to turn and I did as I was commanded. Each of the bodies I had seen before were now animated and had been freed from their bonds.
The faceless woman raised an arm and a gurgling, choking noise erupted from where her mouth should have been. Cold fingers raked across my face. Another choking noise and she pulled tight at my cheeks, trying to rip the flesh from my face.
The man with the sign around his neck joined her, laboriously removing the nail from his left hand and then raising it to me. He drove the nail into my face, through the fragile skin upon my cheek and into my mouth. I knew their pain at that moment. I knew what it was to feel the agony of unthinkable torture and be incapable to stop it. The three-headed horror attacked me while they tore my face from my skull.
I blinked, suddenly dizzy and disoriented. The shop of horrors had disappeared, and in its stead was the Silver Light Coffee House, normal and very much unassuming. I looked up to realize that the barista was staring at me curiously. “I am so sorry,” I said.
I must have made a scene because the other patrons were staring at me. There were only five other people in the shop, whom I had never seen before, but looked all too familiar. Directly in front of me sat a man dressed in coveralls, and holding a newspaper. His hands were shaking slightly and bore scars of some sort of terrible accident.
To my right, there was a family of three. A father and his son both faced me, eyes open wide. The third had their face obscured by a black hood.
Behind me stood a man dressed in a black suit. He was the only one unfazed by my outburst. I saw his eyes and felt the same horrible fear set into me again. It was him. It was them. It was the nightmare. His mouth didn’t open, but when I met his gaze, a tiny whispering voice crawled into my mind. It beckoned me to embrace the visions and become one with them, to leave this reality behind and enter their twisted version of my world.
I broke my gaze with him, suddenly aware that I was in control of my body again. Offering another apology to the barista, I gathered my things and left.
I never returned to the Silver Light Coffee House after that event. The horror of the scene was too much to bear. I cannot fully explain what I saw, but I know that there are terrible evils in this world. There are beings which exist for the sole purpose of purveying terror. There is no way to understand them unless you have seen them, but understand that they are real. They are probably watching me write this with some dark sense of humor, laughing at my inability to comprehend their true power. There is nothing I can do, but share this tale as a sort of warning. If you can feel their presence - and you will know when you feel it - stop whatever it is you’re doing and leave.
Leave and never return.