north americaeurope


amy downum
page 01:04

A bell sounded in the distance, the mists that so shrouded this tiny village lifting ever so slightly, as if anticipating something… At last it came, a murmur of the wind that foretold the events of that dark eve. Haunting did the laughter sound, deep within the bowels of the earth. Cold and sharp it came, until every hollow of every twisted tree was vibrating with the cold cackle.

Lights that had been kept cold in eternal slumber now flickered slowly to life in the cobbled streets, bathing the eerie town in misty pale light. Silence settled upon the land, the laughter dying away.

Then it came again, once more resounding through the stormy atmosphere. The ground trembled, spasming horribly as its surface was ripped open, revealing a fiery pit. From within this pit they came, spilling out like blood from a wound.

They rose, the decayed bodies of people and creatures long dead. Stiffly they walked, but yet with every shuffled step they were renewed, until once more they walked the land as the undead. Once more they donned festive garments, masks and feathers. Some presented their own death, a man with a knife through the back, a child with a missing head. They danced, waving about in an odd and yet captivating ritual that had formed the history of this tiny town buried deep within the remotest mountains.

Long ago had the ordinary folk laid to rest, long ago had the people of Mortanegra drifted to sleep, never to wake again…

Now this surreal spectacle took over the cracked streets, the misty graveyards, the town square. From behind a headstone of polished marble stumbled a ghost, wrists bound by manacles rusted seven years over. Blood oozed from one undead to another, running together in the streets, dripping into the stagnant sewers.

This night the undead of Mortanegra celebrated the most unusual and revered holiday in their history; Carnival de Morta. No carnival in time had ever been so horrible. No celebration sacrificed lives in the appalling ways as did Carnival de Morta, the celebration of the dead.

To this night I know not why I came, nor why I dwell here still, though not easily could I have turned away. Nor does one leave, at least not alive… Those who venture too close are drawn in, horrified and yet captured by what they see. Resistance is futile once you are caught, helpless and alone. Cries for help go unnoticed…

It was on this night, as the undead danced and oozed through the street towards the Town Square, I awakened something that would send the undead scrambling back to their grave.

I abandoned the parade of grotesque figures and dancing zombies and headed down the darkest back alley in sight, my head hooded and hands in my pockets. Hanging lamps I avoided, their eerie black light of no use anyhow. My footsteps echoed dully away from the celebration, my breath rising in mist in the cold air.

A firecracker lit up the sky temporarily, a silvery purple dragon burst forth from the sparks and immediately rotted away. Still I strode on, stumbling on the uneven road.

In these black hills, buried deep in the twisted, gnarled trees and werewolf-infested thickets, was a long forgotten house. This house had proved a valuable asset in surviving in this haunted world. It was my sanctuary when all the world was too morbid, too terrifying that it shrouded my brain.

Creaking softly on its hinges, the rusted spire gate swung open to admit me into the tiny, single-family graveyard. Silent as a shadow I crept across the unkempt lawn, through the array of headstones, and to the porch. Dark eyes I laid upon the deteriorated structure, once a grand hall of an old and wealthy family, now a tattered reminder that the living do not live forever…