Quatrain: A Tale of Terror

He tried the knob…again and again;

It wouldn’t budge no matter hard he pulled and tugged and tried to force his way out of the old church. He had come to simply take a few quick photos of this strange and quaint little church before it was cleared away from the land he had inherited.

It was small, and dilapidated; barely standing, but what was inside had proven maddeningly hard to explain or to understand and he had to document it before it was gone forever.

He found it while surveying the back 40 acres of the land his grandfather had owned and that had been in the family for hundreds of years. Originally, the land had been used for wheat and barley, but there had been a tremendously devastating fire ten years ago and because of it’s effects; the land was completely barren and unable to yield anymore. The cause of the fire had never been determined but it had apparently started very close to where the old church now stood.

When he discovered the church, there had been no marker; no sign as to what kind of denomination it had been or if it had been a primitive local church or a small chapel just used for family weddings or funerals. The only word he had been able to find anywhere was at the top of the entryway and was almost completely worn away. From what he could tell it once said something like “A…stor”; or something to that effect.

What was most surprising, though, was what he found inside the church itself. Most small churches he had seen, in his experience, had pews and a pulpit and a place for a choir to stand and sing. This church just seemed to be a single, rounded room with no chairs and just a large hinged door in the floor surrounded by stained glass panes embedded in the floor itself, not on the walls. It was the lack of stained glass windows that were visible from the outside of the building that had led him originally think that this had only been a storage shed, and not a church, or something like it.

The glass floor planes were strange as well. There were nine of them; ringing the massive door and each one had a variation of what looked like a spider or some sort of crawling creature bearing a single eye on each pane–and nothing else. He had looked around a great deal at the rest of the building but had found nothing else of note except for a small piece of paper that had been stuck to the back of the door and on which read, again, strangely…

“The door thus knocked

remains in flame

Until the cock doth

crow his name.”

This made absolutely no sense to him at all. And that was fine, he thought, because he enjoyed a good mystery as well as the fact that, as an amateur explorer and photographer had just never seen anything like it in all his travels. He had entertained the idea of putting time and effort into restoring the old church but had decided against it after finding no records at the Records Department at City Hall supporting it’s existence nor it’s original design. He would salvage what he could, especially the glass panels, and then demolish the rest so progress could be moved forward on his plans for the land.

He finished his photography and turned to leave when he saw a small spider by the door. Nothing uncommon there of course, it was the country, and spiders are everywhere. This one was bright blue with navy stripes and a bright yellow cluster of eyes. It was quite beautiful in it’s own way really. Even when he stamped on it. He hated spiders more than anything.

As he left, he couldnt help but feel he was being watched. But that wasn’t possible as he was literally in the middle of nowhere and no one was around for miles and miles. “Oh well,” he said to himself–“Nerves”.

The next day he came back with tools to start removing the glass panels and a special glass truck to haul them off for preservation. They would fetch a pretty penny indeed he thought as they were not only unique but particularly beautiful if not so damn weird. He unloaded the truck and dragged the bag of crowbars and levers through the door and stopped dead in his tracks. The glass panels all stood open. Like windows in a hurricane…and underneath them; a river of black muck flowed, stinking like hell and undulating like it had some sort of driving intelligence; like it was alive…he decided he did no longer wish to stay and the panes could go to hell.

He turned and ran out to the truck but just as he reached it he tripped on a crowbar that had fallen from his bag and hit head-first into the door of the truck. He went down hard and felt himself slip away into the darkness….

Pain. Searing, gripping, thudding pain in his head slowly brought him back. He found himself inside the church again and it had to be night because the door was open and the night sky shone through the holes in the ceiling. He sat up, and his head screamed again in pain…he must have really hurt himself this time; but how did he end up in here? That’s when he noticed the drag marks along the floor from the outside and realized he had been brought into the church. But…by who; and when?

It was then he heard the noises….first, a scratching, chittering, screeching din of high frequency sounds followed by a deep and resonous chanting that swam in his head and made his stomach feel the bile swimming inside him. He saw that the glass panes were now showing an odd, glowing illumination to them, almost bluish, in a way that did not look normal and the noises grew louder with each passing moment, especially the chittering…Then, he saw them.

Nine figures, clothed from head to toe in robes as blue as deoxygenated blood appeared from out of the darkness and joined hands around the glass panes, and him as well, as he now saw he was laying right by the massive round door. The chittering grew louder and louder and then, like a bolt of thunder from a dying man’s last curse, a figure reached down and knocked on the door three times….BOOM. BOOM.BOOM.

After waiting a moment that seemed like an eternity he felt the heat; slow and warm at first, almost pleasant, then rapidly expanding to an inferno that felt like the skin was being baked from his frame….and he screamed; for off in the distance, over the chittering and the chanting he heard a crow…a cock’s crow…and it sounded like “Alastor! …Alastor!” and he remembered in his addled and white hot mind the worn out words on the front of the church and the old tales he heard from years ago in his travles…barely conscious now he remembered the name “Alastor…King of Spiders and Prince of Vengenance”…a demon; a fallen angel….a Prince of Hell.

The chittering grew and grew more around his baking body and in his final vision before his eyes were gone he beheld the massive door swing open and six huge, bright blue legs shoot out and up from the gate, lifting an enormous, arachnid body which stared at him through it’s huge golden cluster of eyes; and he heard it speak aloud in his mind..”feed my sons”….”feed well”

And as millions of the sons of Alastor swarmed from the depths of black muck now turned to flaming fury, they were on him and crawling inside him. He shrieked and screamed as he was covered by them ; being devoured in small bites and tears and snips for hours and endless hours until nothing was left. Then all was quiet.

As the sun rose; the truck stood outside the old church. The glass panes, now fully back in their proper place and the massive door shut yet again looked as if nothing had ever happened. A man drove up in a long, dark blue sedan; stopped and got out. He stepped out of the car, crushed out a nearly exhausted Pall Mall cigarette and adjusted the waist of his pants and strode towards the church. He took off his hat, very respectively–almost reverently, and entered; kissing his hand and gently touching the name on the entryway.

“Great and Horrible Alastor”, he said…”Honor us with your love and protection from your children for the coming year. we shall always yield unto you an new sacrifice that will satiate thy needs as promised” . The man bowed, turned, and backed out of the church…where low chittering still sounded deep in the depths under the floor.

The man’s cell rang. He answered, wiping the sweat from his neck; “Hello?, Yes this is Jimmy Farkham…Yes, I’m the agent–uh huh? Yes? That’s great! The land won’t be available for another year but we an get that all arranged whenever you’re ready!”. He thanked the caller and hung up; smiling and humming quietly to himself, while a little blue spider stood on his shoulder in the sun.

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