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When you bring the bottle up to your mouth, you catch a glimpse the whiskey is thirty-five years old. You wonder how you’re drinking something older than the group approaching.
Four of them come toward the park bench. All of them are Latino and they’re under the age of twenty. Their leader has a bandana around his forehead like a headband.
He goes, “How ‘bout it, Homes. Share a lil’ ?”
You smile, hold out the bottle, and say, “By all means.”
The leader takes it and sits beside you, the others take seats around the bench, sitting on the grass. One of them perches over the leader’s right shoulder by sitting on the backing.
The leader says, “Whatch’ you doin’ all by yosself in the middle of the night, in our park, Homes ?”
You go, “Didn’t know this park belonged to you, fellas. I’ll just be on my way,” You hold your hand out for the whiskey. The leader looks at you, his group looks at him, and then he smiles.
“Naw, Homes. Is cool. We just share this here fine drink witcha as a fee. Sound cool ?”
“Of course,” You say. You smile back. You break out a pack of cigarettes, light one, and hand the pack to the gangbanger at your feet. He passes it around. “Wanna hear a story ?”
The leader chuckles. The group follows. He says, “Izz that what’cho do, Homes ? You a storyteller ?”
You smile and go, “And then some.”
The leader smiles back. He says something in Spanish to the lot. They laugh back, then he goes, “Why not, Homes. Better be a good one, though.”
“It’s a horror story. Scares everyone that hears it. Guys like being scared ?”
The one sitting at your feet goes, “Toroucos ain’t scared of shit.” Everybody slaps hands. You smile, inhale your cigarette, and say, “My name is Nick Friar,” You open your mouth, the smoke floats out, thickening and descending onto the group as you start to speak.
…it begins with a young woman. She’s beautiful in that simple way, long black hair and blue eyes.Tthe girl next door. She was a senior in high school, straight-A student that had dreams of going to college. She wanted to major in Photography.
Her photos hung all over her room, pictures in black and white of serene lakes, people in action, and beautiful bodies. She wanted to be the next Ansel Adams. (He was a famous black and white photographer since I know you guys never heard of him before…) The camera she used belonged to her dead grandfather. It was an old Pentax that her father had given her for her birthday.
But despite how good her life was, or was going to be, this girl had a secret.
She was haunted.
Every night she would scream and cry, the afterimages of the terrors she dreamed still on her eyes. Still tormenting her brain.
The nightmares were about demons. Four of them.
They had come from the other side, the underside, the hellish side. And they came to wreck her every night. She kept them to herself, never believing that anyone would take her seriously. And every day she would try and pretend that nothing was hurting. Everyday she would smile and smile, but behind it was a cracked person, a being split into shards, terrified and alone. Her skin was too pale, her limbs too thin, her hair too greasy, unkempt. Her appetite vanished, and she all but disappeared from her friends and family.
When her parents noticed, they confronted her, and being the loving daughter that she was, told them about the nightmares. She told them that in her dreams she saw four demons. They were hideous, with diamond shaped heads, violet eyes, and rows and rows of razors for teeth.
And they would jump her. They’d hold her down.
She’d watch as one of them pulled open her mouth with its long fingers, sealed his own jagged one over hers, and used its pointed tongue to pull hers out of her mouth. It then closed its jaw, severing it from her throat, her blood coating its teeth
She’d watch as they slowly tore her to shreds, ate her flesh, slurped her blood, snapped her bones for the marrow.
She’d watch as they healed her, re-growing her skin and body parts back to new, then tear her clothes off and torture and brutally rape her.
She’d watch as it continued over and over again in a vicious and disgusting loop all night. She told them it had been happening for two months.
They took her to a head doctor. She told him about the dreams, describing them in great detail with her parents in the room. Her mother had to leave because she didn’t want to vomit all over the doctor’s office.
The doctor hypnotized her and they went back to the dreams. The doctor told her that she needed to fight them off. She needed to protect herself, to stand up to the demons and to push them back and away.
He told the parents that the dreams were past trauma. They were repressed memories changed into demons. The girl’s father asked if there was anything that could be done, and he told him the only thing they could do is to find out the source of her trauma. What caused such a painful memory and vision to her every night. For now the doctor prescribed something for sleep and told both the parents that it should help, but that it was only temporary.
But the father suspected it was something more. You see, the father had experience with things like demons before, and he was convinced that the ones in his daughters head were real, haunting her for her soul.
So one night in his office, he casts a spell, no joke, a real spell. Uses chalk to draw a symbol on the floor, lights candles, and summons a demon known as a Crone. It looked like an old lady, but the father knew how powerful she really was, and how dangerous she was. He asked her about his daughter’s demons and she told him what they were and where to find them. He banished her, and then went directly to where she told him they would be. The young lady’s father destroyed them, sending them to hell, where they would rot for eternity…
When you finish the story, you see the gang leader shaking the empty bottle at his mouth. The four of them have finished the entire whiskey.
The leader says, “That’s it, Homes ? Thas shit, man.”
Another banger goes, “Yeah, blanco. You couldn’t come up with a better endin’ than dat ?”
You smile. The lights in the nearby baseball field fade away suddenly. All of you in darkness. The bangers look around. The smoke floating around us turns cold. You feel the leader shiver.
Imagine re-living your worst fear in less than two seconds.
One of them says, “What the fuck, homes ?”
You’re saying the spell in your head and you go, “The thing about Crones is they never lie. You have to dig around for the truth....”
The gangbangers turn pale. They’re scratching at their legs, smoothing out their jeans, one of them bites their nails.
You say, “Spells need components, things you need to complete a casting. Like the whiskey…”
The gangleader drops the bottle, it plunks on the grass. Two of them have dark stains on their crotches. There’s a foul shit smell floating around.
You continue, “…all those components help to facilitate it. After that, casting a spell is in how much you believe in it.” You finish the last bit of it in your head and say, “Have fun boys…”
You pull back into the darkness. It swallows you, and in your place are four demons with diamond shaped heads, violet eyes, and shark teeth. They attack.
Imagine sitting on the floor of an abattoir.
Imagine watching a dolphin show of blood, spraying you in the face and clothes.
The sounds of screams carry through the park. You stand in the darkness and watch.
You watch bones snapping, flesh being eaten.
You watch blood soaking the grass into a dark black.
You watch as ribbons of intestine, and ligaments, and sinew are pulled every which way like string.
The screams echo.
And the darkness is gone and you’re standing in the middle of four intact bodies, writhing and screaming. Their eyes are open, glazed over, and shifting from left to right rapidly.
There’s no blood, no sinew, no flesh torn.
Imagine watching your daughter’s rapists as they experience hell’s worst terrors.
Imagine what it would be like to have that for the rest of their lives.
There are sirens in the distance. You light a cigarette. You put your hands in your pockets, and start going home. The night is beautiful.