Consigned to Oblivion

The catacomb swallowed him like the throat of a great beast. With kerosene lantern in hand, he crept down long spiral staircases which led deep into the subterranean bowels beneath Hillside Cemetery. Cobwebs clung to his neck and tangled in his hair. He swiped at them with his free hand and shuddered when his fingers brushed against a hairy body. Tiny legs scrambled to escape but it couldn’t move fast enough; he flung the arachnid against the wall. At the bottom of the stairwell, uncovered remnants of the once living slept eternal in their wall crypts. He eyed them as he walked by and wondered how old they might be.

Vastly ancient, he thought. Beyond compare…

A set of piercing eyes appeared in the dark. The lantern revealed a large rat, its fur soaked in filth. It squeaked as it fled his presence and crawled into a crack in the wall.

This place must be crawling with them. I’m probably surrounded. An involuntary shiver shook his body.

The hall led straight as far as the lantern allowed him sight, both walls lined with those laid to rest innumerous centuries ago. He followed its dark stretch with haste, wanting desperately to find the ossuary he’d obsessed over for so long.

He remembered the last thing Horace said before he left. I’m telling you, don’t go down there. That place was forgotten for a reason.

Booker disregarded the warning; it only made his fevered passion burn brighter.

A cold breath of air blew by, ruffling his shirt and swinging his lantern on its handle. He spun on his heels and scanned the dark, heart rattling against his ribs. He took labored breaths and put his hand to his chest.

“Holy shit.” His voice came out weak, stifled, toned down in the ancient stone chamber.

He turned and quickened his steps. The gust of air made him uneasy; he couldn’t fathom where it might have originated and how it reached the depths of isolation he traveled. But he had to continue. So close after years of research, nothing could dissuade him.

He wondered how long it had been since a living being last tread the ground he paced. Difficult to imagine a pre-historic civilization, uncharted and known only to a select few who had extreme enthusiasm about such things. Surprising how they remained absent from art and literature, unclaimed by the scholars of history. But he, Booker Thorn, walked the sacred ground of their forgotten corpses.

An arch stood at the end of the tunnel, behind it, the ossuary he hoped to find.

“I finally found it. It’s real. And here it is right in front of me.”

He made hesitant steps when he heard the scrape of metal against the floor. With no foreknowledge of what the chamber contained, the possibilities both allured and terrified his curious mind. He certainly hadn’t expected movement. But the inconsistent sound of metal dragged against stone told not of treasure and artifacts, but of something possibly much more interesting and rare. Movement indicated life, as impossible as it seemed in the house of death.

He stretched his arm to extend the light by which he could see. It revealed a chain on the floor, but not what it connected to. His eyes followed the links into the ebony shadow that filled the room. The chain moved again, pulled further into the void by an unknown force. The lantern rattled in his hand and he steadied it with effort.

Breath heaved in and out through a raspy throat. Booker listened intently, silencing himself to hear.

Whatever’s in there is alive. But how could that be? How could something live down here for millennia? Did someone beat me to this place?

The breathing quieted and Booker sat still. He waited for the unknown to make a move; he didn’t want to go first.

The chain flew across the chamber with force, scraping the stone blocks on which it rested. The sudden movement sent Booker reeling back. He dropped the lantern and the glass shattered. The light flickered and went out.

Breathing intensified as darkness consumed him. He retrieved a book of matches from his pocket, tore one from the pack and struck it; fire exploded into existence at the tip, lending poor light to the situation. He swallowed hard and crawled along the floor, bringing the flame closer to the coveted chamber.

The chain moved, ran its cold metal over his fingers. He barred his teeth and stifled a cry.

Hot breath descended on his neck, followed by a snort which shot a foul cloud of decay around his head. The contents of his stomach spilled with brutal force.

A strong hand gripped his thigh and lifted him from the floor. He dropped the match, allowing darkness its return. He dangled in the air, trachea closed, unable to scream. No intelligible thought could formulate in his mind—terror decimated reason and ripped primal fear from deep within the psyche.

The unseen hand that held him tightened fingers until bone snapped. Shock spread like fire as he gasped for air involuntarily.

A flare of agony came with a stabbing sensation and ended with the flesh of his leg torn open. Liquid caressed his side, dripped from his head to the floor. The cut ran deep, sliced through fat and muscle, and scraped the broken bone inside.

He heard a crack when the femur was wrenched from his thigh, followed by the wet slap of boneless skin falling against his torso. Eyes opened wide and waves of visceral imagery crashed against his screaming brain.

His twitching body dropped to the floor. He sensed his arm pop from its socket, the flesh torn away, but it felt distant, the pain only a dull throb. His chest hitched in feeble attempts to get air as his ribs snapped one after another.

A sliver of light appeared above, shining down from an opening at the peak of the vaulted chamber.

Light… There’s light…

Skeletal frame extracted, his body sagged into a muddle of human pulp. All thought coalesced. A crunch echoed, crisp and clear. Eyes lolled toward the sound and a glimpse of what occupied the room burned into his final memory.

Long teeth chewed blood soaked bone, shoved into its mouth with thin, curved fingers. Its leathery brown skin pulsed with thick veins and creased in endless folds and wrinkles. Two black discs stared from a misshapen head.

The light dimmed and went out as the opening in the ceiling closed, the underworld of forgotten things again consigned to oblivion.

∼Lee A. Forman

© Copyright 2016 Lee A. Forman. All Rights Reserved.

 

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , ,

About Lee Andrew Forman

Lee Forman is a fiction writer from the Hudson Valley, NY. His fascination with the macabre began in childhood, watching old movies and reading everything he could get his hands on. He’s a third generation horror fanatic, starting with his grandfather who was a fan of the classic Hollywood Monsters. His work has been published in horror magazines, anthologies, and podcasts. In October 2014 he won 3rd place in the Writer’s Carnival Short Story Contest hosted by Sanitarium Magazine. In 2015 he was a competitor in David Wellington’s Fear Project. When he’s not crafting horrifying creatures and tales of terror he spends time playing guitar with his band, Eternity of Sorrow. For more information and a list of publications go to www.leeformanauthor.com

13 responses to “Consigned to Oblivion”

  1. Joseph Pinto says :

    Perfect story this week, Lee! Visceral and downright gruesome! You offered just enough of a glimpse of the creature within the bowels beneath the cemetery to keep my imagination whirling long after poor Booker’s light went dim… Bravo! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Veronica Magenta Nero says :

    well crafted story Lee, great classic horror tale.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. jonolsonauthor says :

    Fantastic tale, Lee! It reminded me of classic, Gothic horror. You gave the reader just enough detail to chew on but left plenty to the imagination. The images I created in my head based on your words were horrific. I loved this one, buddy! Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. jonolsonauthor says :

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    CONSIGNED TO OBLIVION by Pen of the Damned’s Lee Forman

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thomas Brown says :

    Hi Lee, sorry I’m late to the party – this is classic horror and I loved every minute of it. Well-written and dripping with Gothic deliciousness. I like that the creature wasn’t really revealed, even at the end. The reveal always detracts from the horror of the unknown for me, and you preserved that wickedly.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Angel with dirty wings says :

    Bravo that writer! Terrifying storry , the stuff of nightmares! I have only just had a second to read it! (Have I said breakfast with the damned is the bes thing ever!) well written and I love you thought process . 5* from me ! The frenchie says well done !

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Tyr Kieran says :

    Excellent tale, Lee! I loved the dark and unknown atmosphere you laid with detail and mystery. Booker’s death was delightfully gruesome–i loved the bone and flesh rending descriptions! Well done, my Damned friend.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: