Unedited, uncensored, unsettling…
The more astute amongst you will have noticed that this Stitched Saturday is a little unorthodox in that;
- It’s not Saturday, and
- it’s also a little late.
However, as the Keeper of the Unholy Grimoire of Stitched Saturday, I bear full responsibility and you can rest assured that, as punishment, Lisa will duly confine me to the dungeon in Stitched Towers for a period of no less than a fortnight. From there, I shall be restricted to a strict diet of uncooked Ramen noodles and unfrozen Calippo lollies.
Anyhoo, ’twas Ezekiel Kincaid who chose last months picture (repeated below for your viewing convenience), and we have three maddening missives for you this month. We start the ball rolling with some awesome cosmic horror (“The Seven Thunders”) from Ezekiel, followed by a poem (“Accidental Sanctuary”) by the ever-brilliant Lance Fling. And, to finish off, have The Blind Dead – a new one from me.
The next prompt will be going up shortly, so keep your eyes out! There are only a few months left to get your stories in to be for the possibility of being included in our October “Best of Stitched Saturday” anthology!
Until next time, #StayStitched!
The Seven Thunders – Ezekiel Kincaid
“And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.’”- Revelation 10:4
Dr. Devin Howard scribbled on the wall of his panic room, then placed an ear to the cold slab. The vibrations. He listened for the vibrations. They spoke to him sometimes. He noticed their patterns and found comfort in them, yet he waited for the sacred ones. The ones which would signal a disturbance- the disturbance.
With his ear still against the wall, he mumbled, counting on his fingers. “Four…six…four…seven…seven…three, two, six…” He glanced at his brown dresser, flung open the drawer, then removed his journal and a red crayon. He stopped using pencils and pens because of the demonic voices. They would get so powerful, telling him to stab out his eyes.
He flipped the pages open, then glanced at his watch. 2:52 am. He scribbled down the time, then recorded the vibrations. He tapped the crayon to his mouth. “No no no. Not it. Intervals of three. It must be intervals of three. Then it ends with seven. Seven seven seven. Seven seals, seven trumpets, seven thunders, seven bowls.”
He plopped himself down on the water stained mattress that laid on the black and white checkered floor. He rummaged back through his journal to see if he miscalculated anything. “No. All here. All waiting.” He looked around at his walls, which he covered in religious graffiti. He had drawn several eyes. The eye. They eye that would appear. He would see it, at least he hoped to see it. The infinite eye. The one which would lead to eternal life.
He leaned over and reached for the bottom drawer of his dresser and retrieved a document. The Seven Thunders as Recorded by John the Apostle. John had obeyed in the moment, but his obedience only went so far. Devin discovered the manuscript while on an excavation in Ephesus with his former university. He and a team of scholars were granted permission to translate the document. It was brief, only one parchment page, but that one page proved long enough to push Devin down a path of enlightenment. They all said he was mad, and the document was a fake. He knew better. The document was real, and he was a perfectly sane man.
Devin recounted the seven thunders. “One. Leviathan deceives. Two. The prophet shall come. Three. The wicked overtake the righteous. Four. Hatred rules. Five. The pit opens. Six. The cylinder crashes to earth. Seven. Ag-Silardi.”
Devin perused the walls again, admiring his artwork. They kicked him out. He lost everything- his job, his family, and the respect of his peers. “We’ll see!” He screamed. “We’ll see who’s mad, won’t we!” He ran back to his mattress and jumped up and down, pulling his knees to his chest and flailing his arms. “We’ll see who’s mad! Yes we will! Yes we will! Yes we will!” He released a high-pitched, mocking squeal and continued to pounce away on his mattress.
After a few more seconds of leaping, he stepped off the mattress, and dragged it to a corner in the room. He rubbed his hands together in giddy delight. He lied down on the mattress, with one ear pressed against the wall so he could listen for the vibrations.
The minutes ticked by, and Devin dozed. He drifted into sleep while counting the vibrations. In those early morning hours, he dreamed. He stood in a white void. He couldn’t make out any floors, ceiling, or walls. The odd landscape caused his equilibrium to fluctuate. He tried to gain his composure. As he did, he noticed a small, black dot in the distance. He stared at it, and the dot increased in size. He couldn’t tell if it was because the dot got closer by spanning a long distance at a rapid pace, or if it sat just within his reach and only expanded in size. So, he reached out his hand. He felt nothing. The dot must be far off.
He stood motionless. The dot sped towards him, enlarging as it neared. The room shook, and the quake caused the white casing to crumble from the room. Splotches of black appeared where the white shell crumbled. On and on the pieces chipped away until everything turned pitch black. Devin felt his equilibrium shift again. Tiny specs of light twinkled, giving Devin the feeling of floating through space. Then, in a flash, a gargantuan eye emerged from the darkness.
Devin stood just yards from the eye. Its sclera shimmered a dark blue. The iris burned with the color of the sun, and the pupil stared back at him, a black hole threatening to engulf him. Devin reached out to touch the eye, then heard faint vibrations.
The vibrations continued to crescendo. Their force pulling Devin from his sleep. He leaped to his feet and pressed his ear against the wall. “Three…Three…Three…” Devin clamped a hand over his mouth. “Seven! Seven!” Devin pulled off his gown, stripping naked. He threw open his top drawer with such force that if flew to the other side of the room. He ran over and pulled out a tube of red lipstick. For the next several minutes, he drew as many eyes as he could on as many places of his body as he could. He then yelled.
“He’s here! He’s here! Ag-Silardi!”
The door to Devin’s room slammed open. A nurse and two orderlies appeared. “Devin, calm down. It’s time for breakfast.” The nurse scolded.
Devin ran to the back of his room. “No! You will not take me from my panic room!”
“It’s not a panic room, you wacko.” One of the orderlies said. “How many times are we gonna have to go over this.”
Devin shook his head back and forth with fury. “No no no! Ag-Silardi is here. The vibrations, Three, three, three, seven. It fits.”
One of the orderlies stepped out of the room and beat on a door a few yards down.
“Dammit DeLaney, how many times do have to tell you to stop messing with Doc. Stop tapping on the walls!”
A fit of laughing hysterics echoed from DeLaney’s room.
The orderlies approached Devin, put his gown back on, grabbed him by the arms, and gently guided him out. “Come on Doc. Breakfast.” One of the orderlies said.
With reluctance, Devin tip toed out of his room, his entire body shivering. The four walked down the hall to the dining area. Without warning, the entire building shook with an earthquake like force. The walls crumbled, and pandemonium ensued. Doctors, nurses, orderlies, and patients ran and screamed, fearing for their lives. But not Devin.
He stood amidst the chaos and laughed at those in peril.
Something ripped the roof off the small hospital. The floors above crumbled all around Devin as he meandered the rubble, unharmed. Next, a thunder resounded of the likes that had never been heard before. Devin swore the skies ripped opened. He climbed and made his way to the top of the rubble. He stood in delightful awe at the bedlam around him. Buildings collapsed, and people fell into fiery pits opening in the ground below.
Devin looked up at the sky, and some type of massive, stone cylinder descended from the heavens above, touching its base to the ground. Around it swirled storm clouds. Out of the clouds, tentacles emerged. The tentacles grabbed people and ripped them to pieces, flinging their blood and body parts across the wreckage.
Devin stared at his hands. He still held his journal and manuscript. He ripped his gown off, scurried across the rubble and into the streets. He pointed and waved at the people being devoured by the tentacles and rejoiced with a joyous glee. He flailed his journal and manuscript, as his long hair and beard gathered dust from the debris. “I warned you! I warned you all! I told you I was the sounding of the second thunder, but you refused to listen! I told you Ag-Silardi would come as judgment!” He mocked all the people meeting their doom.
Devin knew he completed his task. He dropped the journal and manuscript to the ground. “The seventh thunder has sounded! Ag-Silardi has come! Take me, oh guardian, to see thine eternal eye! The eye of life! The doorway to the infinite. The black hole of perpetual joy!”
Devin felt a tentacle wrap around him and lift him towards the twirling clouds and stone cylinder. He whipped past the pinnacle of the cylinder, meeting an enormous eye in the middle of the cloud. Its sclera shimmered a dark blue. The iris burned with the color of the sun, and the pupil stared back at him, a black hole threatening to engulf him. As the tentacles brought him closer, his entire being sung with serenity.
Accidental Sanctuary – Lance Fling
At first, I came to warn them,
the unthinkable has come.
As I saw with my own eyes,
the craft block out the sun.
And when the hatch was opened,
the creatures screeched and spread.
Everywhere their footsteps traced
rendered the frail earth dead.
Their razor claws and clicking sounds
made all intentions clear,
as in my gut I felt the glut
of naked, primal fear.
The sheriff wouldn’t listen,
she said I’d gone insane.
They stripped me down and locked me up
in heavy metal chains.
Marched me out before the judge,
declaring me unhinged.
It was he who then compelled the tests
that locked me in the fringe.
Not quite under charges,
but not quite fit to free
I’m locked inside this concrete room
with no chance left to flee.
But I hear them in the corridor,
clicking razor claws.
Tearing through my keeper’s flesh
as blood spills in the halls.
The invasion’s come to town,
just as I predicted.
I hear the screaming all around
of victims unprotected.
I’m thankful now I’m locked away-
just me, the bed, and clock.
Every time I hear a scream,
I draw one more cross in chalk.
The Blind Dead – David Court
We are all creatures of habit. I have spent the majority of my life studying the human brain, learning how to dissect every facet of mania, identify every phobia, analyse every compulsion. Despite our pretensions as a species and our delusions that we are creatures of free will, we are all, in our own way, guided by our patterns of activity.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a term that’s bandied around too often for my liking, especially as we are all prone to it to some degrees. In reality, obsessive-compulsive thinking is completely normal, and how our brains are designed to operate. The complex organ known as the human brain is constantly at work, so it’s not unusual for some of our thoughts to be unorthodox. The trick is to not act on the harmful ones.
I’ve come to identify many of my own habits. Before going to sleep in the evening, I will lay out my clothes for the next day, the colour and hue of said suit determined by the type of day I’ve just had. A darker shade if I’ve had a good day, a lighter shade for a bad or unproductive one. Performing a little self-analysis, it may be some subconscious means of trying to achieve balance.
The next morning I will fill the kettle for my morning cup of coffee – no milk and two sugars (the only sugared coffee I’ll have in the day). I will start the kettle boiling, and begin to clean my teeth, not stopping brushing until the kettle fully boils and clicks off.
These are merely two of the habits I’ve fallen into over the years. If given time, I could give you a dozen more. Little tics and foibles that are as much a part of myself as my hair or eye colour.
My drive to the hospital is a little less structured; sometimes I’m in the mood for music (current preferences: Pre-1991 Bruce Hornsby and the Range or anything from Philip Glass), sometimes I prefer to listen to the news and at others, silence. I have not identified a distinguishable pattern for this choice, so there may well not be one.
However, upon my arrival in my office, I revert back to a predictable pattern. The perusal of new case files is accompanied by a cup of coffee (black, sans sugar for the rest of the day now). Dependent on the level of detail and complexity of the particular case file, this may extend to two coffees.
Theobald Peters is that most unusual of things, a four-coffee read.
Theobald was brought to my place of work, the Wingard Insitute, in the early hours of this morning. Had I elected to listen to the news this morning and not the first three songs from the seminal Bruce Hornsby album Scenes from the Southside, I would have learnt of the overnight arrest of this notorious criminal. It – and the following events – will dominate all news networks, local and regional, for most of the next fortnight.
This is a town of little import – any news from within its boundaries is rarely considered important enough for the national news, but even you may have heard of this case. You won’t recognise the name Theobald Peters, but you may recognise the name of his murderous pseudonym, such has been his notoriety over his killing spree of the past four months.
Theobald Peters is better known to the press as the Sightseer Killer.
This nom de plume was coined by a journalist some while back, and, despite not really making any kind of sense, stuck fast.
Many of the gory details of his killings have been plastered across the news for some time, but his case file – including, as it does, police details not revealed to the press – provides a greater level of detail still.
There appear to be no pattern to the victims; young, old, black, white, male, female, rich, poor. The sightseer killer for all his faults, I joke to myself, appears to be completely without prejudice. The killings have taken place across a variety of locations in the city – some were left to die in dirty back alleys, some killed within the apparent security of their own homes.
In fact, one of the only common links between all of the killings is the manner of murder. The bodies were found with their throats slit and their eyes removed and taken away.
Up until now I’d – not unreasonably – suspected that the eyes were removed after death. It’s only through the police forensic reports in the case file that I discover that the eyes were taken away first, carefully and precisely with medical precision, as to avoid killing their previous owners. The blinded victims were killed afterwards.
With a fifth cup of coffee, I walk into the secure room. The padded walls distort the sound in the room, the harsh click of my brogues on the tiled floor levelled out to a dull thud.
Peters has been prepared for me, restrained to a chair in the centre of the room. One thing I’ve observed in all my years of doing this is that however you expect them to be, odds are you’re wrong.
He’s in a straitjacket, fastened with thick leather straps to a chair that’s been bolted to the floor. He’s shorter than I expected, and looks about as non-distinct as you can expect. The kind of generic face you’ve forgotten within moments of encountering.
He smiled at me.
“Good morning, Mr Peters.” I say, spreading the notes out on a table in the corner of the room. “I’m here to ascertain whether you’re insane or not, so your case can proceed.”
He smiles at me, his thin lips parting to reveal a set of yellowing poorly maintained teeth.
“I’ve removed the eyes of and killed twenty-eight people, Doctor,” he smirks, “That hardly strikes me as the behaviour of somebody sane.”
“Just like Tic-tacs, mental illnesses comes in all flavours and strengths, Peters. My job is just to determine whether you’re sane enough to go to trial.”
I pull up a chair and sit in front of him, leaning forward to study him closer. He raises an eyebrow and stares back, looking at me with the detached manner with which a lepidopterist might study a butterfly he’s just pinned to a board.
“Why did you do it?” I ask, straight to the point. It’s a gambit that works on occasion, some murderers being only too eager to divulge the grim details to give themselves some perverse sense of self-satisfaction. Sometimes they do it to try and upset or offend me, but it disappoints them when they realise that I’ve heard it all.
He looks about the room, as though wary of something in the shadows.
“Can I trust you?” he asked, an expression of genuine concern on his sweat-beaded face.
“I do it to spare them, Doctor.”
I’ve seen this before. Many murderers justify their killings with religion, that they’re doing it for some greater good, for some higher cause. He sounds convinced, so I’ll go along with it.
“Spare them from what, Peters?”
“Spare them from seeing – what comes after. The blind remain blind in death, Doctor. It’s the only way to keep them safe.”
# # #
We talk for an hour. He talks in great detail about the complexities of blinding people without killing them, and how many times he’d gotten it wrong before perfecting it. Despite the fact that he mentions the afterlife on occasion, he laughs mockingly whenever I dare mention God. He is completely convinced that whatever he is doing, he is doing out of a sense of compassion. He doesn’t refer to them as his victims, but the saved or the spared. As though to see what lies in the great beyond after we die is something he would not wish on anybody, and that it is something to be avoided at all costs.
My smart watch buzzes, an alarm reminding me of another appointment.
“But what don’t you want them to see?” I ask, genuinely convinced that this will solve the conundrum that is Theobald Peters.
“Lean closer,” he says, glancing around at the shadows. “They mustn’t hear.”
I lean in closer, and he whispers to me.
# # #
It’s a relatively simple matter to cancel my next appointment, which gives us a window of a little under two hours. I know how to undo his restraints, and it’s a simple matter to bring him a scalpel. He convinces me he can do the necessary on himself before he’s discovered. I hope so, for his sake.
By the time they unlock the cell, I’ll be long gone. It’s important that I get as far away as possible, even overseas if possible, just so I don’t leave any patterns.
Theobald Peters wasn’t the first Sightseer killer – perhaps the first to bear that name, but definitely not the first with the same cause. The secret was passed on to him, as it was passed on to the one before him.
And now it’s been passed on to me.
I have my blades, and I have my medical expertise. I’ll be even more careful than my predecessors in not following any predictable patterns as I carry out my work.
I hope that when my time comes – as I accept that it invariably will, regardless of my skill – I can find some way to take my sight before they either take my life, or take the opportunity to do so away from me.
I shudder when I think of the alternative.