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BD 2012 Fall Write-Off - Story 2...

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  • BD 2012 Fall Write-Off - Story 2...

    A Trick To Remember...

    As I write this, it is the 21st of October, 1866. As promised, I'll leave my name out of this, but had you headed my warnings, she would not have been able to steal the original documents and transcripts of our expedition. As is, my worst fears have come true as I said they would, her plan obviously worked. And now she is loose upon the world and your best chance of stopping her is long gone. I may no longer be of sound mind and body as the expression goes, but the things and horrors I saw that quarter century ago are true none the less.

    With the maps I now have, I see that the lake has been given the name L. Victoria, and the credit for its European discovery given to one John Hanning Speke. He may have found it in 1858, but we were there before him in 1841. I ran a small tour company at the port in Damietta, the Eastern, and lesser known outlet of the Nile River into the Mediterranean Sea. While not as prosperous as the port at the Western outlet, competition was almost non-existent when it came to escorting rich European tourists up the Nile for a taste of the ancient world.

    I can't remember the exact date anymore, but it was early March when they came to hire my services. The Indian man seemed to be in charge at first, but as the days went by, this journey was obviously the quest of the Oriental woman I knew only as Ruon. He did all the talking that first day and many of the following. They enlisted my river boats to take us upstream with the provision that we would stop and go the rest of the way on foot at his notice, whenever the time would come. Though an odd request, for why insist on it unless they expected to get off the boats sooner than need be, but they offered more than enough money for my services and all the porters to carry almost 3 months of supplies plus hunters to extend even that food. I told them it would take almost a week to get things ready.

    When we left Damietta several days later, the man from India, Daaruk I believe, had with him four personal porters carrying various supplies in addition to a carved, dark-stained chest that was obviously very heavy. Our guess was that it was filled with gold turned out to be true, but we didn't know that for sure until much later. The woman, Ruon, was dressed much like a man, obviously more practical clothing for the trip at hand than a dress, but the loose white pants and shirt seemed very out of place on her. By the end of the first week, the woman spent nearly all her time up on deck scanning the river banks, or at least it would seem so. She wore a red silk band over her eyes, but it didn't seem to stop her from seeing anything from the way she acted. Her long white hair shimmered in the sun as she stood in the prow of the boat, and it was obvious she could see whatever it was she was looking for as her gaze locked on certain points that we passed from time to time.

    As the first few days passed I began to dread when we'd leave the boats behind, but it was not until after we'd already sent the first two boats back for lack of needing them to carry any of the remaining food and cargo that she then insisted we continue on foot. I'd made arrangements for the boats to come back for us with fresh supplies for our return trip.

    So we set off on foot up the banks of the Nile, Ruon, Daaruk, their four porters, myself, and nearly another 20 hunters and porters. The river seemed like a pleasure cruise compared to the blistering heat of the jungle, the uneven terrain making things even worse as we hacked our way through the brush. From time to time Ruon would rush off from the body of our column, come to a stop and then talk as if there was someone standing right in front of her. On one of these occasions I caught a glint of light at the tips of her fingers as she held her hand out as if giving something to whomever she thought she was talking to. Watching further, I saw that she was taking something from a pouch at her waist to give to the “people” she talked to. She never did return anything to her pouch so it would seem someone was indeed taking whatever it was she was offering them. I should also add that she did all this with her blindfold on. The running, stopping, talking and giving of something that sparkled greatly when sunlight hit it.

    To cut a long story short, I eventually saw that she was filling her pouch from the chest her personal porters were carrying for her, and that it was in fact filled with small gold coins. And given the size of her pouch, the size of the coins, and how often she had to refill it, she was almost certainly giving two gold coins each to whatever phantoms she was stopping to talk to. I didn't yet know who or what she was giving the coins to, but the idea that there were invisible creatures around us that could be in need of gold, or anything else for that matter, sent shivers up my spine. And what purpose would such creatures have to follow the Nile, and were they heading down stream, or going up? And if they were going upstream, they must surely be headed for its head waters. Did Ruon also expect to travel as far as the unexplored head waters of the Nile? She did of course, and find them we did, though this would come later in our journey.

    Not much new happened for some time. Only one thing really. It was early one morning. Although I was awake, I was still trying to squeeze in a little more sleep before getting up for the day. I had thought I heard someone moving about, so I decided to go ahead and get up. Blinking my eyes, I spotted Ruon nearby. I'm not sure if she knew I could hear her or would have cared if she knew I could, but I heard her say something to one of her phantoms. At the time, I couldn't tell if she had said just one word or up to five or six since I couldn't speak Japanese. But I began to pay more attention each time she handed out her coins and decided she was saying just two words. I later wrote it down as best I could and had it translated when I got back to England. Assuming I wrote it down well enough, every time she handed a phantom its two coins, she was telling them to “remember me.” It was obviously puzzling at the time, but if you've read the now missing documents, you'll see I must have been right about where we ended our journey and what power she now has.

    It was maybe a week after I first noticed her talking with the phantoms that tragedy struck. As we began to encounter an area with my cliffs and falls, we decided to venture to the west of the Nile for a few days to try and avoid having to keep departing from the side of the river over and over again. It was this going wide around some of these nigh mountainous rocky outcropping that lost us many men. We had made camp for the night and though we had been setting watches, we'd had no trouble from any of the animals we'd seen by day. Until now. At first we only smelled a new odor, some dirty animal, but too distant to bother us. Thinking about it the next day, it sent shivers up my spine as I realized that they had come at us from up wind and not from the other direction to hide their presence at all. The smell got stronger and stronger over time and began to make our eyes water it was so foul. Neither I or anyone else could place the smell, but everyone was soon armed. Even Ruon had drawn some sort of long, barely curved sword from among her belongings.

    They came boldly, whatever they were, spread out in front of us with the wind behind them, their foul stench making us nauseated. Maybe they knew their smell would give them an advantage so they come the way they did on purpose. Judging by their growls they were something dog like, probably hyenas, though I wasn't very familiar with them. One thing I was certain of though was that hyenas didn't have two heads! We spotted their eyes first, glowing red from our fire, many of them seemed to be standing in pairs, but as they got close, we saw that there were some among them with two heads, larger than the smaller one-headed ones. The site of this was most unnerving and even caused one man to turn and run. A few others joined him in an instant and ran off together. They didn't get far though. They were chased and taken down within moments. I found their screams strangely short lived, as if the animals knew how to kill a man quickly instead of just savaging him to death.

    We began moving back to back around the fire as they advanced. When they were close enough to make out their silhouettes, we began to open fire. We could hear their yelps and growls, but it seemed a shot or two wouldn't be enough to take them down. That didn't stop us though, we kept shooting and soon enough some began to fall. One did manage to charge in and leap to tear one man's throat out. But even as it bit down, Ruon swung her sword and cut off the offending head. A wound more than enough to kill any normal beast, but this one just turned and run, albeit howling in pain all the while. I couldn't begin to guess if it would survive to fight another day or not. It wasn't long before their attacks got faster than we could reload and we had to resort to knives or clubbing them with our guns and rifle butts. It was Ruon who then saved the day, killing them outright or wounding them enough that they decided running away was quickly becoming the better part of valor.

    They seemed to be gone for good after that, but we weren't ready to let down our guard completely. We built two more fires, making a triangle and then slept in shifts in the center of them. Come morning, the bodies were all gone, both the men and the strange dogs. The blood trails led south along the river as we followed them, and though the blood trails soon stopped, their footprints still led on, wherever it was we were going, it seemed we'd find their lair there as well.

    We started moving a lot faster after that. Ruon herself had either used all her coins or thought better of taking the time to hand out any more. Just a few days later we came upon Lake Victoria as it's now named; the source of the Nile. In that time we saw no more of the strange dogs. Though we could always smell their foul stench, we knew they were not very far away. With the huge lake laid out before us, Ruon looked to the east and told us through Daaruk the cave we sought would be in the crags over there. I didn't know why she sought some certain cave at the time, but it felt no less strange or more dangerous than the journey had been so far. Walking along the shore, we no longer had any scent of the dogs. I could only hope we'd never see them again. It was an easy few days until we arrived at the edge of the rocks where Ruon was expecting to find her cave. We stopped and made camp there that night. We'd be searching for her cave come morning. We didn't know it then, but that would be the last days ahead for all but two of us.

    Though we had no trouble that night, we did not rest well. For whatever reason, it seemed like a bad day to do anything, just a certain sense of dread in the air. Too bad we didn't heed it and simply head back home, even if Ruon, Daaruk, and their last remaining porter stayed to find their cave anyway. We searched the crags all morning with no luck in finding a cave that lead anywhere. After lunch when we started searching again, we found a cave that was deep enough that we should all go in together for it was likely the one she wanted. Before long, I wasn't sure which way we were facing, but it mattered little since there were no branches; just a single passage of decent height and width winding downwards. After about fives hours, maybe six, we came out into a huge cavern. Although dark, we hardly needed our torches here, there was a dim amber light almost everywhere, it seemed to come from an underground river some distance away and far below us. How the light could be everywhere I couldn't imagine, but the river did seem to have a glow about it. Looking upstream, I could see that the river was coming down in a huge waterfall, no doubt from the lake above. Downstream, I'm not sure where it went. It obviously left the cavern once again, for there was no lake down here that I could see, nor did the river come back around at all to somehow disappear into the distance.

    We stopped to make camp for the night. Ruon said it would be best to be well rested and that we would make our way to the river in the morning. It obviously made sense to get some sleep here, near the walls of the cavern for safety, before exploring any deeper into the cavern. We set watch and went to bed. It seemed peaceful here, but at the same time, it was hard to imagine how such a strange place could be lacking in any danger at all. If only I knew then what I know now. Perhaps I would have killed everyone in their sleep, and then myself for the sake of humanity. But someone obviously had to make their way back to civilization and warn them.

    Morning came without incident, though our last man on watch swore it felt like something dangerous was out there and watching us throughout the night. But there was no smell of the strange dogs, or anything else for that matter. No mustiness, or even water for that matter despite the waterfall we could see in the distance. We broke camp and made our way to the river, to cross it I assumed. But now, I honestly don't know if that was ever part of her plan. There were many boulders all around us, so seeing very far side to side was almost impossible, but seeing downhill towards the river was quite easy. After about an hour or so, the boulders started to thin out, forming something of a grand avenue to the river a thousand feet wide or more. We stopped and surveyed the scene before us when we were still some forty to fifty meters from the river. We saw ahead of us a small dock and a boat of some sort at the end of it. Standing in the boat was a robed man with a pole to ferry himself and any passengers across. We then moved closer and I nearly lost my mind at the sight of him. Standing on the dock as we were, he then turned towards us and lifted his head, but he had no face at all, just a fleshless skull,. He then held out his hand, palm up as if awaiting some offering. His hand was fleshless too, just the bones, and they weren't even connected, but spaced out just as they would be were they held within the flesh of a living man. And then I thought, all those gold coins Ruon was handing out, could she have been giving all those phantoms money for this ferryman?

    Ruon then moved forward, the ferryman's bare skull following her, his hand held out for her fare. But she never paid him. She knelt down and tied a rope around a piling of the dock near the river's bank, and the other end around her waist. She then turned to me, and with a unfriendly grin on her face, said “Domo Arigato” (“Thank You” in Japanese) and just walked off the side of the pier. At that point the ferryman let out some sort of god awful scream, and within seconds we heard the thundering approach of something like an elephant, but soon realized it was something much much bigger. In just moments we could make out its shape. Far beyond the river was a giant dog, at least two meters to the top of its heads. All three of them! The hellish hound came charging at us and simply lept across the river. I dove at once into the boat, not really thinking where I might go to escape in it. But it didn't move at all except to rock under my weight. Looking up, I saw it tear into my friends. Moving its collection of heads side to side, it would pick up a man in one of its mouths and bite down while shaking him to death. Some of them it swallowed whole, others it threw away as I watched in horror as they sailed through the air and out of sight. A few ran, and they survived for a bit, but the huge dog began to track them down, sniffing out their trails among the boulders.

    I didn't see Ruon climb out of the river, but only noticed her after. She was on the far shore of the river untying the rope from around her waist. She was then looking around in confusion. I could only guess for sure. But it seemed as if she had no idea who she was or what she was doing here. Within a minute or two though, figures, who I could only guess were the phantoms she was handing out her coins to on the journey here, began coming up to her and seemed to be whispering in her ears. It didn't seem to help at first, but soon she began nodding and talking back and forth to these semi-transparent ghosts. I believe I figured out later what was going on, which I'll get to, but let me finish the events as they happened at the time.

    I then heard the three-headed dog coming back, everyone that ran must have now been dead. When it saw Ruon, it charged and lept back across the river. It bit down on her at once, but it did her no harm that I could tell. I watched for a bit, even saw her draw her sword and try to fight back. Knowing what I know now, I'm sure it was just a matter of time until she escaped from the dog or defeated it. In any case, I took the opportunity to make my escape while the giant hound was fighting with Ruon. I climbed out of the boat and ran right past the ferryman and made my best speed for the tunnel that lead us into this cursed cavern. I can scarcely remember my flight, but woke up on the shore of Lake Victoria. I had some food on me, and used it sparely until I could catch something to eat as I made my way back down the river. After several days, or a few weeks perhaps (don't ask me for any better a number than that) I stumbled upon the boats that had come back and were waiting for us. I told them I was the only survivor, and I certainly looked the part, ragged as I now was. I said nothing of Ruon, not knowing if she still lived, and even doubted the story as I knew it regardless.

    We made our way back to Damietta where I rested for many days. Though still shaken, my sanity had returned as much as it was ever going to. I stayed no more than that in Africa, but made my way back to England. In time, I began to research what I had seen and heard on that journey and put it in to the original report which has now been stolen as you say. The river we found must have been the Styx. Hard to believe, but it could be nothing else. Her bathing in it had obviously made her invincible, just like it did Achilles according to legend. The fact that the giant dog could not harm her is proof enough to me. And then there's the dog, no natural beast I'm sure, but none other than the three-headed hell hound that guards the gates to Hades. Putting those two facts together, Ruon must have been giving out gold coins to the phantoms along the way, making sure they could pay their fair across the river to Charon, the Ferryman. In their gratitude, they must have told her who she was as she had asked of them, restoring her memory.

    I can't be sure why she took so long to come to England, but she's no doubt tying up loose ends given that she's stolen my original report. Will she eventually come for me? I imagine she will, so I'm thankful for the guards you've given me. But I'm doubtful they can do much to stop an invincible woman. I expect I'll live only so long as my location remains secret. I'm not sure what more help I can be, but to beg you to believe what I've told you and to devise some means to capture her before I die. I'm the only bait you'll ever have, should I otherwise die of old age or am killed by her, I can't imagine what could be used to lure her into any trap.

    I'll end this here. My new nurse should be here soon with my dinner...

    Yours truly, name withheld as per your request.
    Last edited by Erebus Dirge; 10-23-2012, 03:37 AM.

    " The world is indeed comic, but the joke is on mankind. " - H.P. Lovecraft

    Read latest fiction " The Closet by rhill10" in DEMETIONS at

  • #2
    Okay that's the second story now posted. Both great stories so far. Another two will be posted tomorrow reading and voting begins now folks...

    " The world is indeed comic, but the joke is on mankind. " - H.P. Lovecraft

    Read latest fiction " The Closet by rhill10" in DEMETIONS at


    • #3
      I'm just ganna put these here for my own sake, i always forget the categories as i go.

      Readability: Is it easy to read, does it sound like good grammar or how someone would actually speak? Did you have to go back and reread or stop to figure out what was going on? (Spelling and grammar count, but to say it hurts the story isn't always true.) It's up to you how readable it was.

      Concept: Is it fresh or familiar. Is it a good take or rendition on the idea. Was it a great presentation, or too familiar? Character developement fits here too (tho yeah, seems odd due to the heading of "concept") But how well presented are the characters? Are they fleshed out, do we understand or sympathize with them?

      Atmosphere: Dread, horror, creepiness, ambiance, mood, immersion etc. How well does the story draw you in? Do you feel the danger, the distress of the world? Are you glad you're not in their shoes? Do you feel for the characters, the world, and/or the situation. If this were a movie, how happy were you watching it unfold? Does the atmosphere suck you in, or like a bad movie, are you checking your watch to see how much is left?
      All things horror: Splatter Shack and like us on Facebook


      • #4
        Im ganna try a new format for my grading where i discuss then just give a grade, cause i find it cumbersome to try and put my comments into a particular category ( though i know we were never told we had to review one way or the other).

        I liked the story and overall it was really well written. There were a few repetitive word choices, but considering the length, they were few and far between. I think that it was an interesting take on the River Styx and Achilles legend and i like the description of the ferry man and also the 2 headed dogs ( although I would have liked to see a bit more carnage when the narrator battled with them). At the beginning of the story the narrator stated that he had lost his mind, but the narration seemed aside from the obvious pretty sane, and given that everything he had told was true would he still believe he was insane? Also character Roun is seen to be the bad girl, and while he did have some creepy characterizations, i didnt feel like she was particularly threatening. I know bad guys dont always walk around going "Grrr im a bad guy!" But perhaps if she was a bit more dispassionate about her porters dying or something to the like...

        Readability: 3

        Concept: 2.5

        Atmosphere: 2.5
        All things horror: Splatter Shack and like us on Facebook


        • #5
          Readability- It was mostly a fun read, this tale of nether regions that snake to Hell in twisted caverns below the Dark Continent. There were a few grammatical errors that kind of shook me off course, but for the most part l enjoyed the ride. My only real complaint is that some of the text feels kind of clinical, with an almost distant narrator- perhaps because he writes through a fog of madness, but l'm not sure. - 3

          Concept- l honestly thought l knew where this was going and then it veered hard to the left. lt was a good surprise. l liked the mythological references, and how they are intertwined here with the craggy, dark corners of uncivilized earth. The unknown narrator could have used more fleshing out. He had a rich descriptive background when introduced at the beginning, but then becomes almost one-dimensional. - 3

          Atmosphere- The story sort of fails for me here. When in Africa, l want vivid descriptions of glistening jungles and hoary caves, of the fear of danger that exists in the deep unexplored wilds. The story forfeits color and style for a more impersonal approach, and the narrator's last testament is presented in a sort of monotone voice. - 1
          Last edited by Yoxodo; 10-26-2012, 08:19 PM.


          • #6
            Readability: Easy read, Made to be written account, it stayed true to that without breaking the fourth wall of that context, it worked for the most part, but also limits how you can depict your story. You put yourself in a box, but worked it pretty well none the less - 3.5

            Concept: Pretty neat putting the River Styx at the other end of the Nile, the cradle of life, makes sense it could be there in the real world if it could be on this plane at all. And then the spirits of the dead walking there, and still in need of coins for Charon...

            Then you got Ruon, pretty neat someone figured out where the Styx was and came up with a plan to be invincible, but she was still very underdeveloped. Her only real menace was an unfriendly grin to our protagonist. Chances are you were coming up short on time, but some fleshing out of sinister plans or motives on her part would have gone a long way. 3.5

            Atmosphere: Some of what I said about the concept fits here too. There's some sense of the writers madness, but it's more broth then meat in taste. The experience is supposed to have unhinged him at the very least, and he's been under care for some 25 years, but he doesn't really come across as much the worse for wear. 3.0

            Nicely done, but underdeveloped for what could have been.

            Overall: 3.33
            I met her, fifteen years ago; I was told there was nothing left; no reason, no conscience, no understanding; and not even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, of good or evil, right or wrong. I met this cow, with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes... the devil's eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach her, and then another seven trying to keep her locked up because I realized that what was living behind that cow's eyes was purely and simply... evil.


            • #7
              Readability - Takes a little while in getting started but picks up pace well about half way through, kind of reminded me a little of Kipling in that sense.. 3.0

              Concept - I got an almost pulp-adventure/Indiana Jones kind of feel at times.I love the idea of the River Styx flowing through the physical world and connecting with that which lies beyond. More could have maybe been done with the Ruon character, felt somehow that she could've been even more of a bitch. - 3.5

              Atmosphere - I like the idea of a statement from a madman. Though I feel that maybe that "coming undone" sensation could maybe be a little bit more acute especially after what he experienced - 2.5

              Overall - a good old school horror/pulp-adventure - 3.5

              " The world is indeed comic, but the joke is on mankind. " - H.P. Lovecraft

              Read latest fiction " The Closet by rhill10" in DEMETIONS at


              • #8
                Readability: It flowed well; I never got lost. - 3.0

                Concept: It was a very surreal story, but believable. I enjoyed Ruon outfoxing the men, refreshing for the time period it was set in; I enjoyed the descriptions given of this character and would have loved to see her more fleshed out.-3.0

                Atmosphere: Great setting, but again, I'd love more description. -3.0



                • #9
                  A Trick to Remember by Willowfang
                  R: 3.00 C: 3.00 A:2.25 Total: 2.75

                  Can read my review above. I defiantly was short on atmosphere, and Ruon should have been made more villainous. I could have wished for more love, but the scores were accurate none the less.
                  I met her, fifteen years ago; I was told there was nothing left; no reason, no conscience, no understanding; and not even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, of good or evil, right or wrong. I met this cow, with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes... the devil's eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach her, and then another seven trying to keep her locked up because I realized that what was living behind that cow's eyes was purely and simply... evil.