Archive for Horror

Review: Outlast 2 (Video Game)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2018 by Lilliandra Winters

Developer: Red Barrel Studios
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Release Date: April 25th, 2017

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Lets take a minute to appreciate how truly fucked up Outlast is. It’s full of some twisted shit and when I thought it couldn’t get worse, they gave us some messed up DLC. Thank fuck that’s over! Outlast 2 was like, hold my beer.

The problem with sequels is that you have an expectation. It isn’t the new, never-seen-before experience of the first one. So keeping this in mind, Outlast 2 seems to have upped the ante. Also giving it an American Horror Story feel the second game, with only subtle nods to the first game, gives it a completely different concept. You are a different character in a different part of the world.

outlast_2_launch_screen_7Blake and Lynn are flying in a helicopter, making their way to investigate a woman that was found wondering down a stretch of highway, barefoot and pregnant. She is later murdered under suspicious circumstances. Your helicopter crashes and bursts into flames. Lynn is missing, but your camera is intact, so you pick it up and start to make your way in the darkness looking for her. You see a man tied to a tree and gutted, you see a town in the distance and make your way towards it.

Outlast 2 jumps into pushing limits. It was really interesting to see what they did to the game after the the demo. They incorporated a lot, but not everything, and there were some distinct differences between the two. The ‘flashbacks’ unlock a story from Black’s past about his friend, Jessica, and what happened to her. It has some correlation to what is currently happening, but why it’s happening is pretty fucked up.

I will warn you, there is a LOT to follow in this game: cults, zealots, STDs, a prophet, murder and your past. That’s just the tip of this disturbing iceberg. It’s a lot of information to keep straight, but completely worth it when you do. Outlast 2 is a wonderful reminder of the depravity that lurks in the dark.

I don’t know why you are still reading this. If you haven’t played Outlast Outlast: Whistle Blower go play then and jump straight into Outlast 2. Here’s hoping you have a strong stomach.

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Review: Malevolent (2018)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2018 by Xander Woolf

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Starring: Florence Pugh, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Scott Chambers, Georgina Bevan & Celia Imrie
Directed by: Olaf de Fleur Johannesson

Netflix is killing it with their original content. Shows, mini-series and movies alike, Netflix knows content and has the budget to do these projects justice. Not the least of which is Malevolent, a horror movie about a young woman that inherited the medium gifts that eventually took her mother’s life.

What’s it about?
Brother and sister duo, Jackson (Lloyd-Hughes) and Angela (Pugh), decide to use their mother’s name to create a side gig for some extra cash. The children of a famous Scottish medium, they set Angela up to be the face who speaks with ghosts, while Jackson gets the gigs and their friends, Elliot (Chambers) and Beth (Bevan), help with the tech. They put on a show for their clients, then make off with the cash before it’s discovered that they didn’t actually do anything.

This all changes when they take on a job a little too big for their britches. Mrs. Green (Imrie) supposedly lives alone on a large estate. She used to run a girls’ school, but tragedy struck and all of the girls ended up dead, their mouths sewn shut. Now, she hears laughter and screaming and she just wants a quiet house. Jackson accepts the job, against Angela’s wishes, and the team heads to this remote estate in the Scottish countryside.

What awaits them, however, are mutilated ghost children and a revelation about what actually happened all those years ago.

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What did I think?
Like with most movies, there are pros and cons to Malevolent. The ambiance is fantastic. The setting is perfect. It’s a very well-made film in general. It actually scared me. Give me Scottish ghosts and I’m putty in your hand.

It’s a fairly typical haunted house movie. The protagonists arrive, thinking none of the stories are real. We start with glimpses of ghosts and mini-jumpscares. Then, all of a sudden, the unknown becomes known and our protags are in very real danger.

While the acting was great, the characters themselves were a little off for me. Angela is quiet and angsty — straight out of a YA novel. Jackson is unfeeling and overconfident, despite his life being in danger after borrowing money from the wrong people. Elliot is the puppy dog that follows Angela around and Beth doesn’t really seem to add much value to the plot. They’re all a little two-dimensional.

Mrs. Green, on the other hand, was phenomenal. With a base need for quiet as her driving force, Mrs. Green is multi-faceted. Celia Imrie really brings her character to life, which is to be expected of such a celebrated and talented British actress.

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Despite all this though, the relationships between the characters felt real. There were times when tears came to my eyes because the raw emotion that Florence Pugh put forth caught me off guard.

Story-wise, I’m left with more questions than answers, which I’m not a particular fan of. If it was a series and this was the first part, I’d be okay with this, but it’s a standalone movie, with no plans that I can find for a sequel. The haunted house plot wrapped up nicely, but there are questions about Angela that I’d like answered.

Do I recommend it?
Yes. While it has its flaws, this movie pulls from classic horror archetypes and introduces some twists that I didn’t expect. It’s worth a watch, especially since you won’t spend any extra money on it. You can find Malevolent on Netflix.

The Power of Silence: A Quiet Place Review

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on September 7, 2018 by Xander Woolf

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I know, I know, I’m late to the party!

Sometimes it’s difficult or impossible to see a movie when it just comes out. Believe you me, I’ve been trying to see Slenderman for weeks and it’s just not happening yet. But Winters and I finally got to sit down and watch A Quiet Place, thanks to Amazon and their 40% rental discount.

We went into the movie not really knowing what to expect. I know it’s been out awhile, but we were good about staying away from spoilers. We knew that they couldn’t make noise, or else something bad would happen. We knew the oldest daughter was deaf, and so was the actress who played her. We knew that John Krasinski had written it for his lovely wife, Emily Blunt. We knew all that, but we had no idea what the movie was actually about.

Turns out, there are monsters that somehow showed up (per Wikipedia, they’re aliens). They’re blind and they’re covered in a naturally thick hide that serves as armor. They attack noise and wiped out most of humanity in a matter of months.

The Abbott family survived by staying silent and vigilant. They can communicate because they already knew sign language – having a deaf daughter, Regan – and they formulated countless in-case-of-emergency plans.

The movie begins on one of the family’s outings to gather supplies from the abandoned supermarket in town. Their four year old son grabbed a toy rocket from the shelf. As they were headed back, the boy turned on the toy, which became very, very loud. Before Lee (Krasinski) could get to him, one of the creatures grabbed the boy and killed him.

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A year later, the Abbott family is expecting another little one. Evelyn (Blunt) and the two remaining children – Regan (Simmonds) and Marcus (Jupe) – take to soundproofing the basement of their old barn so that mom and baby can recover without attracting the beings. Meanwhile, we are shown exposition as Lee works in the basement of the house on a new hearing aid for Regan.

The plot follows this family’s plight for survival as multiple unexpected things start to happen – as they do when you have a wife about to go into labor and two children who are incapable of seeing the big picture. Over the course of the mostly-silent movie, we are shown the very emotional dynamic of this family. Lee, Evelyn and Regan all constantly blame themselves for the death of the youngest, Beau. Regan believes that Lee blames her for Beau’s death and thus their relationship is strained.

The acting throughout this is phenomenal. Without dialogue, each of them were able to convey exactly what the characters felt and wanted. The emotional connection between these four was palpable and brought tears to my eyes on multiple occasions.

The most powerful part of this movie, however, was the silence. The use of sound – and lack thereof – was my favorite part about this movie. Sure, the beings were terrifying and the CGI was well done. We could easily relate to the family and the amount we could gather without dialogue was fantastic. But the sound. The sound made this movie.

While there is a traditional movie score in this movie – as Krasinski did not want the audience to feel as though they were part of ‘a silence experiment‘ – it is used in such a way that we, as the viewer, can still feel the silence. Every noise was deafening and caused myself and Winters to jump several times.

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Every noise made me genuinely afraid for the well-being of this family. Every single noise evoked some kind of emotion in me, which cultivated in my outright sobbing later on in the movie. But I won’t go into detail about that because I don’t want to spoil anything.

I honestly can’t think of anything bad to say about this movie. I have no suggestions for improvement and no criticism whatsoever. This was masterfully done. The story was captivating, the acting was superb, and the ambiance was enough to keep me at the edge of my seat.

I highly recommend this movie. Let me know what you thought in the comments below!

My Best Friend (Short Story)

Posted in Short Story with tags , , , , , , on November 24, 2017 by Lilliandra Winters

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By Lilliandra Winters

I have a best friend.

You may not think that’s a magnificent thing, but for me it’s rather odd. I never had friends growing up. I’ve always been a bit weird. I tried as hard as I could to make friends, but I never fit in with anyone. Any time I tried too hard, it backfired hard and usually in my face. It left me with a lot of… scars.

For awhile I even stopped being me. I pretended to be whatever people wanted me to be just so we could be friends; just so I could feel what it was like to have a friend. It typically didn’t work, but there were moments in my life where I had a friend… kind of. I can still see their faces clearly in my mind when I close my eyes, but they either used me, didn’t really care or… I dunno. Sometimes it was just a joke. I was bullied, picked on. I was so utterly alone.

I was desperate to be loved.

Desperation can do several things to a person. It can make you stupid, which it did for me. It can also make you bitter. Yeah, bitter. It can make you build up walls high enough and thick enough that it doesn’t matter what they fucking do. Fuck them. Before you get ahead of me, this isn’t some school shooting or revenge story. Just listen.

With my armor of not giving a single fuck, I was finally left alone. I preferred it that way. If people weren’t going to understand me, then they didn’t deserve my time. I would like to say I had better things to do, but that isn’t true. I would hide in my house and play video games, read or listen to music. If you pretend long enough, then it becomes the truth… right?

One day, my life changed. I met her at my stupid, part-time retail job. She pointed at the gaming shirt I was wearing and told me she loved that game. I just kind of stared at her awkwardly and nodded.

‘Cool,’ I said and she walked away.

Right, whatever. I went about my life and didn’t put stock into it. However, the next time we worked together, she asked me what other games I played. Standing in an aisle, at first I looked around thinking she was talking to someone else, but I was the only one there. She had this “yeah, you” look on her face.

I stammered out an answer of my favorite games and what I was currently playing. She had heard of most of them and wanted to play a few. She asked my opinions on a few others and before I realized it we were working and talking at the same time. I even remember smiling. After my shift, I scolded myself.

We don’t make friends and we certainly don’t get our hopes up.

This continued, however, every time we worked together. She would seek me out and we would chat as much as we could get away with. She coaxed my number out of me for texting and connected on social media. I did everything I could to keep that hope at bay, but I started thinking about her when we weren’t talking. I’d share stupid stuff to her that I knew would make her laugh. It was awkward and annoying but it felt so good.

The day she invited me to her house was a shock. I just stared at her and she laughed at the look on my face. Pizza and beers. I could even crash there so I didn’t have to drive home. Before I could think about it my stupid mouth flew open and accepted. My mind swirled about what she could possibly be up to. Was it a prank? What did she have to gain? Maybe hurting people was just amusing?

I showed up, of course. I even brought a bag of overnight stuff, but I left it in the car. She was renting a nice house in the suburb which I found odd but she assured me she got an amazing deal on it. I mean, you can’t beat a nice quiet place… right? It wasn’t what I expected. I expected some trick, but it wasn’t. It was pizza, beer and video games. All night. I even stayed the night in the guest room. It was the best night of my life. I woke up and she made breakfast and coffee and we laughed like we’d known each other forever.

I was this utter whirlwind of emotions. I didn’t want to accept her as a friend, but how could I not? We loved a lot of the same stuff, she loved talking to me about things she loved that I didn’t understand and would do her best to explain it to me in a way that made sense and didn’t make me feel dumb. We spent so much time together, we were practically inseparable. Other people at work even warmed up to me a bit, but I kept them at a distance. She was my best friend… the sister I never had and always wanted. She defended me, stood up for me and loved me for who I really was.

Shut up, we are getting close to the point of the story.

This goes on for months. She invites me over one night and when I show up, I can see that she’s upset. She doesn’t open up about it and I don’t press, but as the night goes on, I finally make her tell me what’s going on. She was near tears and told me that bills were adding up and her raise wasn’t as much as she had hoped on top of the rent going up. She was going to have to move in with family across the country.

I was crushed. I had finally found her and now she was going to leave me. I couldn’t let that happen.

“Well, what if I moved in? …Yeah, this house… hush.”

She was shocked and gave me the biggest hug. I didn’t have much to offer in pay, but it was enough to cover everything. Plus, I needed to get the hell out of my parents’ house. I was sure as shit too old to be living there still, but it’s expensive to be on your own. So, I moved in quickly. Don’t call me an idiot. She wasn’t a stranger. I knew you wouldn’t understand.

We’ve been living together for months and it’s been perfect. We adapted to each other pretty quickly. We had our separate spaces and our hang out spaces. I never got tired of her presence, but she would be exhausted from being around people all day at work and needed breaks to recharge. I was never offended. There was nothing to be offended about. People need what they need. You gotta take care of yourself first.

Where was I? Right!

Plus, we didn’t have room in the living room for all my retro gaming stuff, so we put it in the basement. Uh? Yes, this basement. Stop interrupting me. So, we’d lived together happily for months.

It was bliss… but then something weird happened.

It was as normal a night as any, but my stomach was terribly upset so it kept waking me up. I drank some Pepto and came down for some milk and crackers, hoping it would settle but I heard weird noises coming from the basement. I thought maybe she had brought home a guy or something, but then I got paranoid and went down to check on her.

I pushed the door open and my brain couldn’t process what I was seeing. I’ve never seen so much red at once. The blood covered everything. I stumbled backwards and slipped in it. It was so thick and sticky. Hitting the floor was a jolt to the senses and combined with the smell of copper and rancid meat, I threw up, adding to the noxious mixture of odors and gore, but that is when it caught my eye. A glimpse of movement and a wet smacking noise I couldn’t identify right away. It reminded me of the noises I make when I get amazing ribs. I was shivering from the vomit and I could feel the sweat beading as I squinted to see what was happening behind the bar.

She finally stood up and… I can’t even think about it again without shuddering. She was covered in blood and chunks of meat. Her mouth opened impossibly large, filled with rows of the sharpest teeth I’ve ever seen. Her jaw was unhinged down to her chest, slowly moving back up to adjust back to normal. Her stomach was stretched as if she were suddenly 9 months pregnant with twins.

I gawked, her nakedness was the last thing I noticed, well that and her eyes were a haunting yellow before they returned to their traditional blue. If my jaw could have hit the floor, it would have, which seems an odd thing to say given what I saw. Anyway, our location at least made sense. We were surrounded by grandparents whose hearing wasn’t great. Her? Oh she stood there looking normal, well mostly normal. Tears streaming down her face. She never wanted me to see that.

Why are you laughing?

Ohhhh, you think I’ve made this all up.

Hey, don’t laugh to hard… you’ve drank a LOT and I don’t want you puking. You don’t have to believe me if you don’t want to, but I assure you this is 100% true. What do you mean, did I kill her? Look at me, do you think I could have taken her on? Did I escape? Ha ha…. HA HA HA HA HA HA… escape? Oh, that’s good.

Hey did you figure out my name yet? Where you know me from?…. No? You used to bully me in school, you were pretty fucking awful…

Anyway, to answer your question, I didn’t escape. She’s my best friend, my sister. She didn’t want to hurt me, she was just afraid of what I’d think if I knew the truth… You stopped laughing…

She should have known that I’d never run… I love her… by the way… don’t look behind you.

Apocalypse (Short Story)

Posted in Short Story with tags , , , , , , on November 17, 2017 by Xander Woolf

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By Xander Woolf

The day the portal opened, everything changed. The tragedy at the King of Prussia Mall was just the beginning of our end. Hundreds of thousands of people died that day. The marble floors are eternally stained with their blood.

I was there that day, shopping at Uncanny! with my best friend. I was looking for the latest issue of Faith as well as a few more Pop Figures to decorate my desk at work. I remember it all so vividly. The screams still keep me up at night.

I was sorting through the comics. I had the one I wanted under my arm, but I was looking to see if anything else caught my eye. My face was turned downwards and I had no line of sight to the doorway. I quickly glanced behind me to ensure that Mara was still on the other side of the store. She was reading the back of a new board game intently, no doubt trying to determine if it was worth $50.

That’s when I heard the first scream. The heat drained from my face as screams multiplied and amplified. I ran over to Mara as my brain swam with the possibilities of what could be happening outside the store. Terrorist attack, active shooter, someone committing a public suicide. The possibilities were endless.

Before my mind could race much longer, though, I got my answer.

The creature that crawled into the store was the most terrifying thing I’d ever seen in my life. She had to stand at least eight feet tall. The skin of her humanoid torso was a translucent blue. Her hair was jet black and hung down past her navel. Her eyes were three times the size of a human’s eyes and completely black. Her mouth was impossibly large with what looked like hundreds of sharp teeth. There were pincers where her hands should have been.

Her torso gave way to one of my worst nightmares, the body of a black widow spider. She was as long as she was wide and took up the entire entrance to the store.

I stood as still as I could as the creature crept forward. She grabbed the closest person to her, an unfortunate employee who hadn’t hid well enough, and crushed his body in an instant before feasting on his head. Mara reached for my wrist and pulled me into a dressing room left over from when the space was a clothing store. We looked at each other, wide-eyed, as she placed a finger at her mouth to warn me not to make any noise.

The screams were muffled in this dark space, but they still rang in my ears. We heard crash after crash in the store beyond the door and we knew the spider lady was destroying the place looking for everyone and anyone who might be in there.

I pulled out my phone and sent a frantic text to 9-1-1, detailing, “Attack at KoP mall, send help.” I didn’t receive a bounce back message, so I could only assume it went through.
I could have sworn I heard gun shots at one point, but couldn’t be sure.

It was hours before the screaming stopped.

I looked at my phone to find that it was nearly midnight. Mara and I looked at each other and nodded. We couldn’t stay here forever. We’d make a run for the car and get as far away as possible. We both pushed ourselves up off the bench; my body was stiff from keeping still for so long. Mara made sure I stayed behind her as she carefully opened the door and peaked out. Once she determined the coast was clear, we crept out of the room to see the destruction laid before us.

I clasped my hand over my mouth to keep myself from screaming.

Blood had sprayed everywhere. I forced down a gag at the smell of sticky iron. At our feet laid the half-eaten bodies of people Mara and I had gotten to know over the years of coming to this store. Mara pulled me along with her as tears started to stream down my face. We exited the store to find half eaten bodies everywhere. The scene was more gruesome than I could have ever imagined. There was more red than I ever wanted to see again.

We proceeded through the mall slowly, so we wouldn’t make too much noise. Our shoes stuck to the ground with every step. We passed two demon spider lady corpses. They were both slumped on the ground, riddled with bullet holes.

We made it out of the mall without drawing any attention to ourselves and began to run once we hit the parking lot. I fumbled for my car keys and dropped them as I tripped over some uneven ground. I hit the ground hard and immediately started feeling around for them in the dark.

As my hand landed on my keys, I looked up to see a demon spider lady staring right at me from back where we’d just come. She looked just like the one in the comic store, but she was covered in blood.

I grasped the keys and forced myself up. I broke into a run once more and caught up to Mara, who was almost at the car. We jumped in and I turned the key as hard as I could.

Without looking, I backed up out of the spot. The car smashed into something large, but it didn’t sound like another car. I didn’t dare to look as I put the car in gear and sped away.

We got back to our apartment without any incident. We packed only essentials. Mara grabbed the bow and arrows that she always said she’d teach me how to use. I grabbed every blade – decorative or not – that we kept in the house. We packed the car and never looked back.

Today we’re still in hiding, but the majority of the human race has been enslaved by the demons.

Sea of Love (Short Story)

Posted in Short Story with tags , , , , , on November 10, 2017 by Lilliandra Winters

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By Lilliandra Winters

It didn’t immediately occur to me what was happening.

I stood there staring at him for what seemed like days but were only seconds. In that time, I could feel my very soul stir in such a way as I’d never known. His eyes so bright, full of joy; a smile that could light up a room; a laugh like a warm blanket.

You’d think my heart would flutter, but my soul moved first, not because I was falling in love with him, but because he was slowly draining the life from me.

I could feel my soul rip and tear apart, shifting into where his fingers met my skin. I wanted to scream, to cry, but I was in some sort of trance that kept the motions of us dancing happily on the dance floor. Couples around us giggled and twirled as my life drained away.

His visage never changed; not even a devious glimmer danced across his expression. What felt like hours took only moments and I crumpled at his feet.

I could hear the panicked cries and shouts. Someone begged for 911 as he knelt next to my form, holding me tightly, weeping. His act of confusion and distraught was perfect. Were I not dying on the floor, I would have bought it. I heard someone scream, “Heart attack!” and I want to laugh.

I’d only wanted to find my soul mate, to give someone my heart, but this was more than I bargained for.

The world slowed. I slowed.

His fingertips continued to drain what was left of me, but as the noise around me quieted something else grows much louder. A hum, almost, maybe a chatter. I could see everything around me fade until I could see me. The thought of floating above my body came to mind, but this was different. I was looking down at myself, but then I started to move. Some bystander with medical knowledge was attempting to help, a doctor maybe? I moved back to give him room from my body? I don’t understand.

He looked up to me and shook his head slowly, looking distraught and sympathetic. His fingers moved from my neck and he checked his watch. I turned and began walking to the bathroom. How could I be moving? Wait, this was the Men’s room. As I turned, I looked into the mirror. There, staring back at me was him, my date, my killer.

He smirked. Now we can be together forever and I can live longer. His voice came from everywhere and nowhere.

I try to speak but I have no mouth. Confusion takes over.

Shhhh, I know you have so many questions but I promise you, you will understand. We are one now, we all are. Don’t worry, you’ll never be lonely again.

His lips never moved, were these his thoughts? What was happening?

Just as he turned to walk away, that hum continued to build louder and louder until I realized it was a sea of voices trapped with me, all speaking, screaming, sobbing at the same time.

He walked down the street to hail a cab, away from my dead body. I screamed as loud as I could… with no noise. There was no one to hear me except the sea of voices.

The Urn (Short Story)

Posted in Short Story with tags , , , , , , , on October 25, 2017 by Xander Woolf

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By Xander Woolf

The unusual stillness of the night set in me an eerie calm. My bedroom was dark but for the moon beams that flowed in through the curtainless window. I could not sleep. In fact, I sat upright in a hard wooden chair next to the closed window. My vision was fixed on a single red star in the sky. I could not look away until, several hours later, my cat knocked a book off of my desk, jarring me out of my trance.

I placed the book back on the desk and gave Salem a gentle pat on the head. My room was fairly mundane but tonight it felt ethereal, almost magical. The air felt so delightful on my skin that I decided to pull off my pajamas and crawl into bed naked. I fell into a dream-filled sleep almost immediately.

The cave in which I found myself was damp and dreary. I descended into the depths without so much as a second thought. My eyes strained to see in the darkness, but my feet were sure of each step they took. I could hear waves crashing on a distant shore. The stench of saltwater was so strong, it stung my nostrils. I did not know where I was, but I did know I was meant to be here. I was destined to find whatever lay below the surface.

I walked along for what felt like minutes, but could have been hours based on the ache in my legs. The air changed from humid and warm to crisp and chilly. As I descended, the sound of waves was replaced by a low snarl that could have been breathing or snoring. I shivered with excitement.

After the last few steps, I found myself in a massive cavern, lit by torches of blue fire. I continued forward, still unsure of where the snarling came from. It echoed off the walls, filling my ears at an alarming volume, but no creature was to be seen. It was at its loudest near the middle of the cavern, where there stood a pedestal holding a single clay urn decorated with foreign symbols. The urn was smooth to the touch, but seemed to vibrate beneath my fingertips.

A warmth ran up my arm and I was overtaken by the urge to break the urn open to see what was inside. Out of nowhere, there were whispers in my ear. The language was unknown to me, but I knew the whispers coaxed me on. I felt calm as I picked it up. The cavern grew deathly silent as I lifted the urn over my head, anticipating my next move. Without a second thought, I threw the urn to the ground.

The shatter was deafening. My world began to shake. The air grew hot. A deep and menacing laugh filled the cavern as the ground began to open beneath my feet. I lost my footing and began to fall, the first inkling of terror entering my chest.

I awoke in my bed with a start. I looked down at my naked form to see that I was covered in mud. Salem began to growl and hiss. My eye was drawn to the corner of my bedroom. A dark figure loomed there, unmoving. My heart jumped into my throat as I cowered against the headboard.

“What are you?” I managed to whisper. The shadows moved with it as it glided forward.

“I am death,” it whispered back. It’s voice was not a voice so much as it was a rumble that I could feel in my bones. “I am destruction.”

It stopped at the edge of my bed.

“With your body,” it continued, “I will finally destroy this world.”

I let out a piercing scream as slime-coated black tentacles reached out and encircled my body.