The Memetic Monster

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: The Horror House

Featured Review on this writing by .michelle.

From the author of Different Vessels comes something completely different. A tale of mystery and horror:

A man in Southern California was thought by police to have killed himself by drilling a hole in his head with a power drill. But they couldn't explain the "tunnels" burrowed through his brain, the explosion his neighbors heard when he died, nor the fact that the corded drill was unplugged. His final note reveals a chilling account of a curious cult observed out in the woods of Thousand Oaks. And something strange they managed to summon...

 

 

I have suffered a number of tragedies in my life, but nothing could quite prepare me for the loss of my friend David. It wasn’t simply the sad story of a man’s life cut tragically short—David was 10 years younger than myself, and someone whom I loved like a younger brother. It was also the details of his death. A death which, to be frank, was as strange as it was horrific.

I must apologize in advance if any of this entry proves to be too graphic or disturbing for anyone. I myself have found this whole tragedy as disturbing as it is sorrowful. Yet I am also motivated by some measure of anger and dismay at this loss—not solely in the general frustration that accompanies any grief, but inside myself I find burns a very specific fury that comes with the suspicion that my friend’s death was ultimately caused in some fashion by someone. An individual or group, I’m really not sure. Not knowing who exactly only furthers my frustration.

I know I am not alone in my bewilderment and fury. I can only imagine what my poor friend’s parents have gone through.

There was a protracted delay before David’s body was released from the medical examiner’s office, and the communications his family received were as cryptic as they were conflicted. David died alone inside a small studio apartment in East Los Angeles. His death was initially ruled a suicide. A fatal experiment with self-trepanation. And while it is true there was some indication my friend had apparently planned something like this—as gruesome as that is—and an electric drill was found near his lifeless body, said drill was clean, the battery was dead, and it was found unplugged.

Furthermore, while the wound in his head could have been characterized as a cavity formed by a drill bit, a careful analysis of said wound cast doubt on that assumption. I will try to spare the reader the somewhat grizzly details, but suffice it to say a number of morphological properties of the wound were apparently more characteristic of some kind of “explosion.” One that burst outward from some point inside. There was also an unexplained series of “channels” crisscrossing through my poor friend’s brain. It was almost as though some parasite was “burrowing” through his head, but none of the usual biological markers were present, apparently.

A lot of these details, and more, only came to light after David’s body was examined by an independent third party medical examiner hired by my friend’s parents. Los Angeles County was reluctant to release the body for some time, but David’s parents were quite persistent, as well as fairly affluent and well-connected. It was on account of his parents’ impassioned advocacy that eventually a homicide investigation was conducted.

It wasn’t long before the investigation hit a number of dead ends. By all accounts, David was alone. He didn’t live in the best part of town, and accordingly the apartment complex where he resided had several surveillance cameras. Also, by some strange stroke of luck—devoid of any of the joviality that might infer—about half a dozen freshman college students happened to be recording a lighthearted video for social media on their phones at the moment of my friend’s tragic death.

It was this video evidence in particular that seemed to cast doubt on anyone else having been present in David’s apartment when he died. In said video, there was an unobstructed view of David’s second story apartment, both its single window and solitary door. The moment of David’s death is made apparent by what indeed sounds like some manner of explosion. An explosion loud enough to startle the young men and women in the recording, replacing their gleeful grins with shocked gasps. A loud sizzling pop is heard, accompanied by two sounds that are as mysterious as they are chilling. One is a bloodcurdling, ghastly scream of a man in agony. A tormented cry that it pains me to acknowledge was probably issued forth from my friend David himself. The second sound heard is the shattering of glass.

A hole approximately half an inch in diameter was found in David’s window. The most obvious intuition that immediately arises is perhaps my friend was shot. The difficulty there is that, like my friend’s head wound, the projectile—whatever kind it was—originated from inside. Shattered glass was scattered across the tiny patio adjoining the apartment’s window. Any hypothetical gun-wielding assassin would have to have been inside David’s apartment.

Yet, aside from the mysterious disappearance of a man who would have had to have snuck past an excited group of teenagers anxiously waiting for police to arrive—along with a growing gaggle of residents milling about in response to the commotion—there were no shell casings. No bullet lodged in my friend’s brain. Nothing but two inexplicable exit holes. One in the window and one in David’s skull.

Again, I must apologize if these details are too macabre or nauseating to ponder. I struggle to make sense of it all. And I fear too little has been done to bring justice for my friend and his family.

David’s parents especially have been treated unfairly since his untimely death. In response to a number of details in David’s last note, Kenneth and Mary initiated civil suits against several local churches in the Simi Valley area. To say that this litigation was premature and less than meritorious would be fair. A fact that Kenneth and Mary have themselves conceded. Nevertheless, their motivation has been more than understandable, and the ensuing rumor campaign that followed in the wake of their actions seems completely indefensible to me.

To anyone not already familiar with this case—especially as I write this, I consider how little of my own audience resides in Southern California—it would be difficult to explain the rationale behind the aforementioned lawsuits. And to those who are already familiar, these actions would seem like grasping at straws. But again, I am inclined to ask: If your child died under such bizarre and inexplicable circumstances, what would you do? It is extremely regrettable that the Wilsons have been outright maligned in certain circles.

But I digress. In addition to struggling to articulate my feelings, I ultimately wanted to share David’s last work of writing. To those who did not know David Wilson—which is a great many people indeed (David was an introvert with some measure of social anxiety who maintained a very narrow circle of friends)–I would say in brief that he was a talented young aspiring writer who expressed himself the most clearly and openly with the written word. It is a shame—a damnable shame—that such a young man never had the opportunity to realize his aspirations, instead being relegated to the tedium of a string of odd jobs he could hardly ever stand.

David had intermittent periods of working in call centers and retail stores, only ever spending six months at most at each. He was only 24 when he died. Again, such a goddamn shame.

I actually met David in a local writer’s group, and while he struck me as fairly shy—as many of us are to some extent or other—he was never shy about sharing his work. Sensitive, intimate bits of poetry. Unfinished short stories. Amusing—if at times naive—essays on politics and religion.

It’s for this reason that I feel David would be comfortable having his last note to the world shared with the world (or the little bit of it that might read my own blog). If it sheds some light on the painful mystery that has sent Kenneth and Mary into such turmoil—or perhaps in some strange twist of fate produces any leads in the curious case of David’s death, it may bring some measure of peace to a dark cruel world where senseless tragedies like this unfold.

Putting my rambling aside, I have transcribed the handful of pages found in David’s apartment. Some words were hard to read, as his notes were less legible than usual, being scrawled in an apparent rush. Nevertheless, I have taken great pains to preserve these words as faithfully as possible. And, again, given his remarkable candor with his other writing, I believe I am honoring his memory by sharing this note—despite how disturbing it may be. I would just bear out that with less haste and obvious distress, the quality of his writing is in my experience greater than this.

It’s a somewhat bizarre account, filled with paranoia and details so strange that it strains credulity. It would be easy enough to dismiss the entire thing as the product of a deranged mind. If the strange channels cut into David’s brain had been there for some time, it would seem like a fair conclusion. Nevertheless, in my personal estimation I can’t help concluding that David’s final words reflect a remarkable lucidity—albeit one assaulted by emotional distress to be sure.

There’s also the disconcerting fact that a number of odd details in this disturbing account have actually been confirmed. Pursuant to the police investigation, it was revealed that there is indeed a secretive group of religious fanatics known as “the Anointed Remnant” who were found in possession of white robes as described—including one soaked in blood. Whether any clergy from the local Baptist and Non-Denominational churches were numbered among them has never been confirmed. There was also the femur bone identified as that of a preteen boy, which was strangely lost or stolen while in police custody. What nefarious events might have transpired in that wilderness beyond Los Robles Trail?

Anyway, I said I was putting my rambling aside, so I’ll make good on that now. Here are David’s final words, may he rest in peace…

 


 

I just want it to end. I don’t know if I have the courage to go through with it, but it has to stop one way or another. As I write this, I honestly don’t know if I’ll be alive or dead by the time anyone reads this. I can only hope that I will be myself. David Foster Wilson. David Foster Wilson. I must not forget. I cannot forget. David Foster Wilson.

Maybe it will help if I write about myself. I am who I am. David Foster Wilson. Yes…

I was born and raised in Thousand Oaks, California in a little posh suburban neighborhood just a little south of Simi Valley. No, okay, just keep writing. Whatever comes out, just keep going. These headaches. My nose keeps bleeding. They tell me my temperature is normal, but I swear it’s a fever.

I’m sure you think I’m crazy at this point. Maybe I am. At this point I wish I were. I was? Subjunctive mood. What was it she said about that? Going away. Heh, yeah. My mom. I miss her…

Okay, just keep writing.

So, I guess maybe I should write down how it happened. How it started. Whatever it is. It. Oh god. It!

I have this old friend—had this old friend. David Benson. If anyone’s mad, he must be. Or… was. To be honest, I don’t know what happened to him at this point. I’m not sure I want to know.

Dave and I weren’t terribly close. Although we did spend a fair amount of time with one another. Dave and Dave, heh. He was a bit of a blackhole. A gravity well that would swirl around and suck you in if you let him get too close. Before you knew it, you were off calling old payphones in the middle of the night, rearranging the stock inside of a Ralph’s, or rummaging through dumpsters in the parking lot. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it. I was younger. Dumber. We both were, I guess.

We hadn’t really hung out for close to a year when he showed up at my door by surprise. He violently banged on my door like a damn cop. I was sound asleep at the time. It was close to noon, but I work a late shift. It was my day off that day. So annoying.

Anyways… shit. My head is pounding! I’ve been having these terrible nightmares lately. It’s like children—infants, babies—being smashed against these rocks. Heads torn apart. Makes me want to puke just thinking about it.

Okay, okay, so yeah… Dave. He comes over to my apartment banging on the door loud as hell. I scramble to get dressed, fling open the door, and there he is with this big shit eating grin.

“Dude, what the hell, man?” I ask him. The light outside was so damn bright. Felt like my eyes were getting stabbed.

He was practically hopping up and down with this crazed excitement. Like he was manic or something. Kept saying the same thing over and over again. “You gotta come with me tonight! You gotta come with me tonight!”

So, cut to the chase. I went with him. I wish I never had…

Dave had this obsession with this really out there stuff. Conspiracy stuff like lizard people, hollow earth, freemasonry. Creepy stuff like the ancient Chumash burial grounds around Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley. Places that were supposed to be haunted like the Janns House or just visiting cemeteries at night. He once actually went on a road trip north and got arrested trying to sneak into Bohemian Grove.

He said it was going to be “the real deal.” I tried not to laugh at the time. The “Anointed Remnant” he called them. Some kind of ecumenical secret society of Baptists and Pentecostals or something. He went on and on about it.

When we stopped at the 7-11 on the corner of Wilbur and Moorpark to get some snacks and “supplies,” I seriously had to wonder what I had agreed to. We hung out there for maybe an hour as he told me the whole story about how he found out about this “gathering.”

I’m trying to remember if that was before or after we stopped at Jack in the Box. After, actually, yeah. We did all kinds of dumb random dull things that afternoon. But it seemed like old times. He sucked me in. Again.

Anyways, by the time we hit the south end of the road at the start of the trail, the sun was already starting to set. I’d been out on the trail before. It’s a beautiful hike. I’d even been out at twilight. So, yeah, I wouldn’t have thought much of it normally. But this weirdo religious stuff Dave was going on about made me see everything in a different light. Or rather some kind of different darkness.

In fact, the more I think about it, I think I remember something about the shadows. The long shadows. They were stretching. Yes. Stretching. Like reaching. What was it? Those shadows. Did it happen that way? Was that really…

His face! Oh my god! I just went away for a few minutes and I saw him again. He won’t leave me alone! Out on that patio. Smiling. I swear he looked like he wanted to eat me alive. But I know he’s not outside. He can’t be. Okay, I just have to keep writing this. I have to explain as best I can. As best I can.

So the trail. We only walked on it for about half a mile. We turned left at the fork and went straight south to those water towers or whatever, but kept going straight off the trail. We then climbed up the hill side to the left. There in the growing darkness at the top of the hill. Nestled in a little clearing. Torch light.

At this point I wanted to go. I wanted to go back.

“How do you know this is those people or whatever?” I asked.

“I trust my source.”

“And who’s that again?”

“Just trust me, bro.”

It was something like that. Trust him, heh. I wish I hadn’t.

When we got to the top of the hill and creeped along the bushes beneath the low canopy of those trees, I caught a glimpse of the group. There was at least half dozen or so. Men and women gathered around. But they looked like a bunch of boring old campers. Folding chairs. Jeans and t-shirts. Friendly banter and occasional laughter.

Only one of them was a child. A little boy. I didn’t think much of it at the time. He was smiling. They all were. That’s when Dave noticed the pastor. I wish I could remember the name. He was like “Hey that’s Jim!” Except it wasn’t Jim. It was something else. I don’t know.

Dave was this on again off again born again Christian. He actually roped me into going to church with him a couple times. Heh, blackhole. So anyways, yeah, whoever the guy was he recognized him from somewhere. Vineyard something or other. The guy was strumming a guitar and people were clapping hands and singing and shit.

I had nearly convinced my friend to turn back when the singing stopped. There was an exchange of nods, and they all walked away somewhere, away from the torch light. It was at that point I noticed the strangely flat stone platform. I thought it was a picnic table or something at first. But it wasn’t. It definitely was not.

The sun was completely down at this point. We waited there in the dark for what seemed like an eternity. I still remember the sound of those torches smoldering in the still air of an evening without wind. Not the slightest breeze on the dark hill. Which, thinking back… I don’t know.

I was pleading with my friend now. Whispering appeals in the dark. I was almost ready to leave without him. Something didn’t seem right about this at all. That platform. That slab of stone. Like an altar. But he insisted. He was more excited than ever at this point.

And he only got more excited when they came back under the torch light. White robes. Some kind of masks. And that boy from before. I couldn’t see if he was bound or drugged or what. But he was being carried by four of them. They set him down on that stone altar.

At this point my friend was literally gripping my arm, refusing to let me go. I wanted to run. I wanted to shout. But I also didn’t want to be discovered.

They started to chant. Some foreign language. I had no idea what they were saying, but I remember a few of the words or whatever to this day. “Rama” and “saw-bock-thani.” That’s what they sounded like. Whatever they meant they kept repeating them amongst other things.

I was more than sure we were about to witness a murder at this point. At the thought of it, my fear turned into anger. They couldn’t get away with it. Whatever they were doing out here. But it was just the two of us. My phone had no signal. Shitty local wireless company. I never should have gone with them.

I tried to start recording, but I wasn’t getting anything in the dark. So that’s when I told Dave we had to get closer. He was a little shocked.

“I thought you wanted to go? You want to get closer?”

“If we can’t stop whatever this is, at least we can’t let them get away with it.”

At that point it was me dragging him along. I should have just left. Or maybe not. I couldn’t. Would it have made any difference? Did it make any difference? It’s in me now. Sorry. Whoever’s reading this, I’m sorry. I just need to… Who knows how much time?

Okay, so, what happened next I know is going to sound absolutely insane. Maybe that’s it. Maybe I went insane. I don’t know. All I know is what I saw. Not that I know what it was that I saw. Describe it.

So they were chanting. Rama, rama. Saw-back-thani. Something, whatever it was. And then it came from the trees beyond the torches. I swear I saw some kind of flash of light. Or not so much a flash. More like a growing light, like a door slowly opening and then closing. But there wasn’t any buildings or campers around. I’m sure of it. I think I’m sure.

And that’s when I saw it. It… Oh god. Just thinking of it. It makes my heart race. I’m sweating. Hard to write. I have to describe it. Yes.

It was some kind of a—some kind of a monster! At first I thought someone was carrying a sheep. A bloody sheep carcass. But it wasn’t being carried. It was the thing—whatever it was. Its body. The top half anyways. I saw its arms move. Sheep arms, head and torso. But the legs were like a big cat’s. A lion maybe. Some kind of half sheep half cat thing. And it was walking on those cat legs. Blood was dripping everywhere.

At this point I started walking towards it. Like I was drawn towards it. In fact, I swear I felt something tugging on my chest, pulling me closer and closer. I felt this strange delirious kind of peace. It makes me sick just thinking of it. Like I was being drugged and dragged towards the thing. Helplessly.

You know, like, what is that disease that cats carry? In their poop. The parasite. Pregnant women are supposed to avoid it. Anyways, I remember that this parasite gets inside your brain and makes you like cats. Because that way if you’re an ant or whatever you’ll get eaten by the cat and the parasite will get back inside the cat.

It was something like that. But really extreme. I just wanted to go towards him. Him? It. I don’t know. Whatever that thing was. Oh god…

Whatever it was, it couldn’t have been of this world. Of this planet. Maybe that wool or fur or whatever was something else. I don’t know. But the head was the most disturbing part. I remember it distinctly. Rows of eyes. Not exactly like an insect. Spread out eyes, all around its head. Two on one side. Two on the other. Three in the middle. And it had just as many horns all around its head.

I swear it was smiling. Smiling at me. Blood pouring from its mouth. But yet it was alive. And then it spoke. And I could understand the words. At first I couldn’t. It was something like that strange chanting language at first. But then I could understand.

“Come unto me,” it kept saying. “I will give you rest.” Just over and over, words like these. And that voice. It’s hard to describe. But something like water. Like the sea. Just waves of trembling terrible rushing thunderous sound.

And then the monster called out with a snarl “Now I shall fill you, and you shall fill the world! Go forth!”

At that point I discovered in shock and horror that I was standing in the middle of the clearing right next to the altar. So was my friend. It was like something snapped. I heard several gasps from the other robed figures. It was like they were seeing me and my friend for the first time.

But it was too late. The monster disappeared. How or where I’m not sure. But there was this orb of light. And the orb seemed to shatter and shoot out. One came right to my face. I fell down. I think we all did.

And when I stood up, there was the boy. The boy I thought they were going to murder. He was sitting upright on the stone altar. And he was staring at me. Staring with a smile. The monstrous smile of a beast seeking to devour me. That same smile I see almost every night now.

“This vessel shall be first, for a boy must lead them all!” the boy shouted. I remember those words very distinctly. They were the last words I would hear him say. And the voice in which they were said sent shivers down my spine. The voice of the roaring sea coming through his lips.

And that’s when it happened. His little head. It just seemed to explode. Blood and brain matter. And something like light. It was like that orb got into his head and now made its way back out.

I froze in place in shock. Someone was dragging me away. It was my friend. My ears were ringing.

“RUN!” he yelled. “RUN RUN RUN!!”

When I came out of my daze, I realized we were running. My legs seeming to work on their own as we scattered into the night, the robed figures in hot pursuit.

I don’t know how we got out of there alive to be honest. Part of me wonders if we weren’t let go. Whatever the case, something hasn’t let go of me.

It’s been over a year now. For close to a month, we stayed close in touch. When we would meet, it was somber. We both were debating whether or not to go to the police. The video I managed to record was dodgy at best.

Less than a month later, Dave disappeared. And that’s when I started seeing him. It was in my dreams at first. And then he started to appear outside my window. Mostly at night. Occasionally during the day. His visits unexpected as they are disturbing.

Always smiling. That hideous carnivorous smile. He looks like he wants to consume me. But then he acts like he just wants to frighten me, since he shows up at the most unexpected times. He bares his little teeth at me, his head dipped down staring at me from the top of his eyes. His head is usually level with my own somehow or other, despite his apparent height.

The little boy. The one who I’m sure who died in that most bizarre gruesome manner. He visits me. Always smiling. Sometimes laughing. A crackling thunderous laughter of many waters.

I wish he would go away. But he won’t. And it’s only recently that I realized the truth. He won’t go away, because he’s inside of me. Or inside with me. Whatever is inside of me now. For months I’ve had these headaches. My nose bleeds, and my heart pounds. I shiver and ache. I’ve gone to urgent care. Nothing’s wrong with me. I tell them I swear I have some kind of flu, but my temperature’s normal. They gave me some pain meds. And it’s always a struggle getting the prescription renewed.

I’ve tried so many things over the months. I even told my parents. At least the little I could. If I told them the account I’ve written here, they would have me committed I know. Well, at least my dad would. My mother is too busy with her new boyfriend. I…

Well, anyways. I know what I have to do. I just need the courage to do it. I just hope now I

 


 

At this point, my friend’s manuscript abruptly ends. There is one last page, segregated from the others both in the position it was found and the manner in which it was written. The police performed handwriting analysis on it, and it became a matter of debate whether it was written by David’s hand or not. Accordingly, I hesitate to include it at all, and I’m honestly not sure what to make of it.

Given the blood spatter pattern across it and the other pages, it would appear it was with David when he died. Accordingly, we can at least be sure it was written prior to his untimely passing. The page simply contained this single sentence…

All will bend the knee, and then I will be all in all, you in me, and me in you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Submitted: October 15, 2021

© Copyright 2022 Jonathan E. Lee. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Eraser

Terrific story! You built up the suspense masterfully.

I want to tell you about an experience I had that this sort of reminded me of. I parked my car in the driveway near the street. One day I looked out and the rearview windows was smashed to pieces. There were some guys across the street grinding a stump. I assumed it was them but when I looked in the car, I couldn't find any evidence of a projectile. I looked around the yard and couldn't find anything that could have shattered the window. The guys swore it wasn't them, as I would have expected them to do. So, what caused it? Maybe the little boy was inside the car :).

I look forward to reading more.

- E

Fri, October 15th, 2021 6:48pm

Author
Reply

Thank you for the kind feedback. This is my first experiment with writing horror after reading a good chunk of H. P. Lovecraft lately. It's encouraging to hear that someone found it suitably suspenseful :)

Sun, October 17th, 2021 1:06pm

Jake J. Harrison

Entertaining story! Creepy.

Sat, October 23rd, 2021 1:04am

Ann Sepino

I love Cult Horror like this. It gives stories an extra edge since rituals dedicated to dark entities do exist in real life. I also love this 'story within a story' format and how you handled it. The switch between narrative voices and POVs is flawless. An enjoyable read!

Tue, November 2nd, 2021 12:48pm

Author
Reply

Thanks! I was actually raised in a religious high control group. What always seems the creepiest to me is something that makes it seems all about good and light with something very dark lurking beneath. That's what inspired the Christian campsite outing with the subsequent white robes. The fact that the monster turns out to be the "lamb of God" from Revelation 5:6 is intended to be the climax of said dark satire.

Fri, November 5th, 2021 8:48am

FromBlackToViloet

I came Across your short story. I got to say you did a really great job! The horror and imagery with the way you described the horrors of the murders and death was spooky. I think what sort of creeped out was how indifferent the main character was. Just the way he described to us how the person died and I can clearly see it in my head. And his odd times of dark sense of humor that came in at times. Like I could tell the main character was scared, since he was writing the entry to help out his own inner demons. However, Kind of gave you like something ain’t right here. I like how you showed with your descriptions, but still told it in a way cause it was like an entry journal. The story flowed very well and I always like me some horror. Like I feel like the dialogue didn’t drag and moved at a good pace to keep the tension to the end. The little boy, shiver, creepy as hell. I picture like Stephen king it the clown for the little boy. That is just creepy. You had really good similes and methaphors to paint the picture of your scenes and the inner thoughts of the characters. Marvelous job!:)

Fri, November 5th, 2021 3:54am

Author
Reply

Thank you for your kind words. I think the "odd times of dark sense of humor" was probably just my own sensibilities coming out since I do tend to have a dark sense of humor, lol. I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

Fri, November 5th, 2021 8:42am

Poetshri

Reading this story, I remembered a horror movie which I watched when I was young. It was an Italian movie I guess. In that movie, there was a demonic thing like you have described here. Are there really christian cults in US, as Hollywood shows? The story telling technique is unique here. That was really a sad ending for David. The story flow was smooth. I could feel the anxiety, fear and a little bit of curiosity in David, as went on reading the story. 'Curiosity killed the cat'; how true isn't it? :) Another thing is, I learnt the difference between crept and creeped. :D

Fri, November 19th, 2021 10:40am

Author
Reply

Depending upon how one defines "christian cults" there certainly are in the US, yes. Many would say I was raised in one myself: "Jehovah's Witnesses." That being said, "cult" is a bit of a nebulous term at this point and it could mean one of a number of different things:

1. Many Christians, especially apologists, like to refer to any fringe sect of perceived "heresy" as a cult on occasion.
2. People in general use "cult" to refer to a religious high control group (or even a secular one when used more broadly).
3. The original sense of "cult" in the historic anthropological sense refers to any unique form of devotion, such as the "cult of Isis."

In the case of "Jehovah's Witnesses" it would easily fit into all of these senses, although the third one is hardly used to refer to contemporary sects today. If it were, it could be used to refer to the whole of Christianity--at least in its beginnings as a minority devotion.

Anyhow, before I get too sidetracked are they any "cults" like one sees in "Hollywood shows?" I guess that depends on which shows in question. "Apostasy" was a fairly accurate dramatic depiction of the JW "cult" to which I can attest based on my own experiences. By all accounts the film "The Master" is very similar to Scientology, despite not being about it precisely. (The Church of Scientology is notably litigious.)

Meanwhile, in terms of aesthetics and depiction, these groups are really more about business suits and windowless office rooms than they are robes in the middle of the night. The aesthetic I was going for was really intentionally very pagan. The offhanded reference to the Bohemian Grove was intentional in that regard. World leaders really do gather in a forest in northern California, and there really is a "cremation of care" ceremony that begins the festivities there where figures in white robes offer up a human effigy--sometimes purported to be about the size of a child--to be burned on the altar of a giant stone owl. Conspiracy nuts like Alex Jones have a field day with this kind of thing of course.

What I wanted to do was to take this kind of aesthetic and apply it to the very people most prone to fear it. The Evangelicals who whip up "Satanic panic" and sympathize with folks like Alex Jones. Psychological projection runs rampant amongst them owing to all manner of repression (e.g. all the anti-gay pastors that turn out to be involved with secret homosexual affairs themselves).

And so actually I was thinking of the Knights of Columbus, a fraternal order of Catholics with their own secret rituals known only to their own leadership and the Vatican. What if there were an Evangelical equivalent to this? Sure the Knights of Columbus is already very much inspired by Freemasonry (which is banned by Catholicism), and Freemasonry has been historically popular amongst mainline denominations especially Presbyterians. Yet your more bible-beating Baptists and Pentecostals would be very much opposed to all of it.

So, again, given the principle of projection, I figured it would be a clandestine group of folks who feel they have some special insight. An explicitly divine mission in some perceived apocalyptic scenario wherein they're looking to usher in the end of the world. And where the story gets really wild, of course, is that they actually manage to summon some manner of Lovecraftian cosmic horror that turns out to match one of the beasts of Revelation. The irony here, of course, is that the beast they summon is none other than the "lamb of God" in Revelation 5:4.

To me the creepiest thing one can imagine--based a lot on my own experience of course--is something presented as holy and good that turns out to be twisted and evil. The fact that the monster gets into the child's head is an allegory on the "memetic" nature of ideology and how it can be used to manipulate children to their detriment, as well as an allusion to the child abuse that plagues many religious institutions--minority "cults" or otherwise.

Anyhow, thanks for reading :)

Fri, November 19th, 2021 9:10am

.michelle.

Wow... this is great! I love horror stories, and on this site this is the best by far that I have read.

Fri, January 14th, 2022 11:09am

Author
Reply

Thanks! It's my first horror story. I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

Fri, January 14th, 2022 9:03am

Harris Proctor

Hi Jonathan,

Great story! I love the Christian imagery woven into this piece of cosmic horror. I suppose the lamb isn't entirely indifferent, so maybe cosmicism doesn't quite apply. I think your pacing is good and you execute 2 different narrative voices very effectively. The frame story takes the "unreliable narrator" chestnut off the table. Was it in there before? The toxoplasmosis reference seems curiously suggestive of it. It's a fascinating phenomenon. I use it in a piece of my own :)
I definitely see how this could be expanded. Novella or novel. Maybe add further layers/voices for an epistolary horror noir? I think there could be room to tie David, the meme and the lamb together? It feels like the wrong-place-wrong-time slant, while effective for a short piece, could be reworked into something more resonant with David's story. Why does he see this? Sensitive writer with a conspiracy-happy friend? I suppose he has his Pandora moment when he approaches (is pulled toward) a horrible reality. But do you think there's a better set-up that makes the epiphany more tragic? And the idea of a mimetic entity burrowing around in his head feels like it needs to be fleshed out. Pun intended. Just some thoughts.
It's excellently written and gripping. I grew up in a very Catholic household. the imagery really works for me. Thanks for sharing!

Cheers,

H.P.

Sun, January 16th, 2022 10:54pm

HMQuanstrom

I've enjoyed your suspenseful story about a night gone wrong in the woods. I think your human touches (the jack in the box, talking about how people met) lent a good deal of realism and attachment to the scenes. I especially liked the first half; it had a bit of a noir vibe to it.

Sun, April 17th, 2022 12:01am

Author
Reply

Thank you for the feedback. I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

Sun, April 17th, 2022 6:34am

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