Uncovering the Secret Cult of Sommerville

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
A strange caravan of robed figures arrives in Sommerville during the annual Corn Carnival. A private eye is put on the case to investigate their origins, intentions, and strange disappearances...


This is a short story, where I try my hand at a more comedic approach to my horror fiction. As always, let me know if you happen to notice any typos. Thank you.

Submitted: August 04, 2015

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Submitted: August 04, 2015

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It was in the progressively hot, humid, stormy month of September when the first of the strange occurences began. The citizens of the quaint village of Sommerville, with its modest population and rolling hills and tranquil rivers, were quite accustomed to living in peace and quiet. They feared no ills nor crimes, and their lifestyle was what one would expect from a small habitation such as theirs. All of this, it seemed, had been shattered in the past months.

Augustus Boon, an unemployed town drunkard (though none of Sommervilles citizens understood how a man with no income source could afford the luxury of being a drunk. It was rumored his aunt's estate had left him with a considerable sum upon her passing) was the first to acknowledge that an ominous presence had befallen the town, casting its overbearing shadow upon the hard working Christians of Sommerville. He was said to haunt the smoke-filled bars and pubs throughout this puritanical town during late nights, when the moon waxed against the starless sky, whispering such lunacies as "sacrifice," and "deamons" and "the old church." The bars' other patrons would laugh and snicker over thier mugs of Guinness, paying the old crow no attention, and then praying for the Lord above to spare his tormented soul.

A month had passed since Boon was last seen at his usual hideaway; Pubkin's Pub. Nobody had bothered to file an official report that he had gone missing, because to say he was missed would be erroneous at best, foolish at worst. The only man who could say with any shred of truth that he missed Boon was Arthur Pubkin, who really only missed his wallet. Life went on in Sommerville much has it always had; children were ushered off to school by eager parents, while local teenagers dropped out of school much to the dissent of their own parents, Minister Davidson gathered his flock every Sunday AND Wednesday since the new church had been erected, and the fair was underway once more.

Ah, yes, the annual Sommerville Corn Carnival. The town's own unabashed holiday is an event as looked forward to as Christmas and Columbus Day. It is a special event which occurs every early autumn, celebrating the rich and plentiful history of the harvest reaped by the first settlers of the region, but that history was mostly washed away in the deluded tide of cheap thrills and even cheaper food. However, many children enjoyed the festivities, and the adults begrudgingly escorted them in an effort to spare their ears from nagging and incessant whining. It is an especially bountiful event for the Westcrook Clown Committee, who donned rubber noses and humiliating clothing in the hopes of earning a fat paycheck. As mentioned before, it is much like Christmas.

The first day's festivities began as usual, under a vibrant blue sky with whisps of marshmallow white clouds topped off with the decadent rays of the sun, already preparing for its winter hibernation. People lined up for a mile outside of Willow Field, eager to enter the festival grounds, as the mayor would later report to local news stations. When questioned about the glum appearance of the patrons, he hastefully detered the question and announced his daughter would be bestowed with the great honor of being this year's Queen of the Harvest, a most magnificent honor. The festivities this year were no different from previous years in many noticeable regards, for tradition was upheld with stern orthodoxy. There was bobbing for corn, corn kernal counting, corn eating contests, and Corny the Clown, chairman of the Westcrook Clown Committee. All was going well, as it had for decades.

The venders from various locations throughout the county brought their wares, as usual. These venders included the strange men in black robes riding atop their ironclad carriage, pulled by a menacing black stallion at alarmingly illegal speeds from the old church on Cemetery Hill. This last event, in fact, was not the norm in the small village of Sommerville. Quite the contrary, it was queer and, frankly, disturbing. What made the event all more peculiar is that the ghastly iron carriage came to a complete stop and did not move for an hour. It was simply left standing, horse and all, in the center of Willow Field for almost an hour.

Shortly after the strange carriage arrived to the bewilderment of the townsfolk, who tried their best to ignore the strangeness with rigorous trial and error, dark and foreboding clouds rolled in, seemingly from nowhere. The sky grew dark against the dying light and the clouds opened up, sending down a torrent of rain upon the bewildered carnival-goers, causing them to scatter and find any sort of shelter that was available: stalls and pavillions and the ocassional underside of a farm animal.It seemed as if biblical prophecies had come to fruition, and mighty claps of thunder vibrated the ground and rain pelted the observers.

Though the deluge would have dampered (or dampened) the spirits of normal folk, the god-fearing citizens of Sommerville knew that they would soon be delivered in post-haste from the sudden storm. 

Suddenly, the sound of feet plopping through the muddy field overpowered the incessant sound of raindrops pelting the pavillions. Myriad eyes struggled to see through the wall of precipitation to find the source of the splashing footfalls. The level of unease and disquiet rose sharply in the pious souls of the carnival attendees.

The ticket master careened through the storm's increasing ferocity, seemingly fleeing from an unknown danger. He dived like some sort of prized penguin over the counter of a wooden stall selling plush corn cobs, and cowered there without a sound. Then there was an uneasy silence for what seemed to be hours, though it was a mere minutes which transpired. Though all the townsfolk took shelter from the rain, they now suspected, but never fully realized nor gave admittance to, the fact that they hid from an unknown presence; a fear seemed to sap the lively vigour from their faces and drew them pallid and pale against the blackening skies.

Now, above the continuing onslaught of weather, a new and more ominous sound arose and drifted through the moist air; the sound of hooves and creaking wooden wheels splashing through the mud caked earth assaulted their auditory senses. As the sound grew louder, those who bore witness shrunk into themselves. The hooves, the pounding, clapping, heavy hooves drew ever closer. The sound was so deafening, many mistook it for the roar of thunder.

Though the visibility across the field was quite low, all that hid behind stalls and in pavillions and under farm animals could see the dark mass come with terrifying swiftness through the downpour. Large and dark, it was, and it cut like a hot knife as the rain merely glanced off its hide. men gasped and turned their heads, women shrieked and fainted, and children sobbed and wallowed without a full comprehension of the current situation. To everyone's horror, the great ironclad carriage, drawn by four black stallions with flaming eyes, exploded through the translucent air into the center field. It clanked and clattered with a monstrous roar, the horses winnied like slavering beasts.

Seated high upon the wicked coach was a man, clad entirely in black robes and a black hood pulled close around his face, obscuring his features, guiding the reigns. Though his face was hidden through the ebony hood and inclimate weather, the onlookers observed a certain keen madness, a peculiar, wholly pathological fury emanating from the figure. He snapped the reigns violently, doubling the pace of his steeds. The whole spectacle occured without the ghastly silhouette uttering any oral sound.

At last, the thundering of hooves ceased abruptly in the center of the rain-drenched field. The stark madness and ferocious flight ended as soon as it began. The onlookers exchanged glances and platitudes, then a hush fell over them like a blanket. The robed figure sat in stillfull silence, rain still pelting his hood and the coach and horses, though he seemed to not notice or care in the least bit.

According to varying eyewitness testimonies, after a moment of silence and unexciting activity, the figure slid cooly from his seat atop the carriage. His movement was precise and fluid, gliding down to the swampy ground like a phantom would do. All who claim to have witnessed this say his garb was lifted by the breeze, revealing that he had neither visible legs nor torso, like some kind of twisted amputee. Official reports claim this to be the active result of an accute case of hysteria.

The phantom man did not tarry on the ground for long, for he was soon at the back of the coach, unhinging and unclasping the myriad locks which held fast a single iron door. It would appear to most that the intent of the locks and chains was to hold back some ravenous beast; yet two similarly dressed men drifted out from behind the door like somber shadows. One of these men wore a large, seemingly brass key around his neck on a thin chain. The key, as the still baffled fairgoers observed, fit neatly into two keyholes on each ajacent side of the iron carriage.

Concerning the next chain of events, there is much debate due to the scrupulous nature of those who witnessed it. However, the general consensus is the same, and follows as so: The carriage itself collapsed into a heap of metal, freeing the steeds from their bindage and allowing them to stampede back in the wayward direction of Cemetery Hill.

It seemed as though the strangers collapsed their carriage in the effort to convert it into a sort of stall, selling wares that are ordinarily sold at such events as the Corn Carnival. It is believed that the iron sidings were merely put into effect to prevent any damage to the merchandise that was carried inside. Of course, there are still those who say the iron sidings simply melted away, turned to molten slush which oozed back into Hell itself. Local police have yet to test the veracity of this claim.

Now, the people of Sommerville seemed even more bewildered and uneasy than before, as they watched eagerly from the shadows. Questions arised in their minds, yet none dare speak them aloud, for an unknown fear and tension had its deathgrip on their minds. Had these strange men rode down with such haste from atop Cemetery Hill in order to put on such a glaring spectacle as this and establish their position amongst the merchants? Or, perhaps, were sinsiter forces at work this day? Under any normal circumstances, nobody would have trifled themselves with such quandaries.

The mayor, in his plump splendor and apparent stupification, left the dryness of the table he sheltered under to take to the podium, delivering an unremarkable, dull speech about "acceptance" and other such nonsensical hogwash, seemingly to excite the peevishness of the crowd. He made sure to subliminally add messages about spending money in an effort to be entertained. It was then that the sky suddenly ceased its downpour, and beams of ultraviolet light blasted the drenched field. Captivated, the fairgoers emerged from their shelters and continued the festivities, though slightly less joyfully, beneath an out of place sun.

The day proceeded with life and vitality, as the denizens of Sommerville did not wish for the peculiar occurences and momentary inclimate weather to ruin their day; the mayor certainly did not wish for sales revenue and potential publicity to be impeded upon by the figures in black and their morbid entry.

Those townsfolk who allowed their curiosity to bubble forth like sparkling wine risked a look into the black stall parked center field. They saw nothing particularly macabre, but nothing of any genuine normality, either. In fact, what they saw was, perhaps, a strange blending of the every day with the strange. There was a rather peculiar array of flesh colored, leathery dolls with crude stitchings. They were naked, with price stickers obscuring their genitals. They were seemingly crafted by hand out of some exotic leather, possibly kangaroo. Though not outwardly grissly, they piqued an honest sense of ghastliness.

A certain obese child by the name of William Lord cajoled his poor mother, the widow Cynthia Lord, to purchase one of the repulsive creations. She hesitantly abliged, with a crooked smile, not wishing to upset the boy who had only recently witnessed his father strangle himself with his own necktie. Needless to say, young William was quite enthralled by his new leathery textured gift. The thrill of the cheap carnival toy was further enhanced upon the bizarre discovery of a strange symbol near the doll's lower back; it resembled a dolphin, or some other aquatic animal.

It was at this moment that the widow Lord began to recollect last seeing Augustus Boon during one of his weekly excursions to the bar. She had been quite intoxicated, searching to ease her pain after the uncanny self- strangulation of her husband. She had spent the night with Boon and questioned him on his tattoo: an atlantic salmon riding atop a bottlenosed dolphin. It was apprently acquired during a drunken night in Saipan while serving in the navy. Few had ever been privileged enough to view it, out of Boon's obvious contempt and embarassment for it.

Of course, widow Lord understood that making a scene and carrying on like an old loon would only draw the attention of the cloaked figures, spelling impending doom for her and ger son, so she instead smiled at the vendor and walked away in a hurried manner, nearly dragging young William through the mud. It is rumored that she contacted the sheriff immediately, but to no avail, as the sheriff was currenly out of town.

The following day, the fair resumed in full swing under a cool breeze and overcast sky. Autumn had come to bestow its dead kiss upon the land and clear the way for its brother, winter.

Many returning townsfolk were rather perplexed and shocked to see more of the dark carriages and stalls, and even more of the seemingly villainous cloaked apparitions manning them. The stalls and pavillions were lined up across the field to form an opaque semi-circle which nearly cut the field in half. It was as if they formed a perturbing caravan, selling dolls, strange trinkets made of animal bones, and extremely dry, leathery jerky. When questioned, the vendor declared in his raspy drawl that it was from platypus. It was, however, a huge success once word got around of its unique flavoring and its strange semblance to veal. All other items were deemed by many too gruesome to even lay a finger on, unless one's sensibilities be truly wounded.

The mayor had been keeping a close eye on the shadowy figures, and saw how some of the simpler folk would shudder dimly as they passed by, and others would grow pallid at hearing those grave-dry voices speak shrill words with no vitality. Many patrons even left the fairgrounds to spare themselves and their families from having to pass the black caravan which sat like a stain on a clean easel.

The mayor's discontent and morbid curiosity was evoked, so he hired a private investigator to engage the strangers and gather any useful information concerning their motives. Subtlety and espionage are two talents the P.I in question had an abundance of.

The investigator arrived later that afternoon in the smoke filled office of the mayor. He was tall, gangly and mean faced, with not much to flaunt in the department of muscular index. He wore a pair of sunglasses inside the dimly lit office, which the mayor found peculiar. He sported a mustache, but some claim him to be clean shaven, and his hair was slicked back with grease that gave off a pungent odor and attracted gnats. His button down suit was crisp and sleek like black velvet, with not a spot or crease in site; it was finely fitted by a tailor from the tri-state area. He commanded an allover aura of respect and dilligence.

The mayor greeted him eagerly, clasping his big, sweaty hand around the investigator's (whose name nobody seemed to remember. For the sake of diminishing confusion, he will be refered to as Mr. Reed). He was filled in on the situation, exacerbating key details to really stress the deviant behavior at work within Sommerville. Mr. Reed plucked a cigarette from his jacket pocket and placed it between his thin lips. He lit a match, put it to the cigarette and took a drag, listening to the mayor's strange story intently. Mr. Reed had seen his fair share of crazies and zealots in his days working as a private investigator, but something about this case seemed more eerie, more sickening; he empathized with the mayor's anxiety and believed there were insidious forces at work in the quaint village of Sommerville.

At the end of the chilling tale, Mr. Reed leaned back in his chair and flicked the cigarette butt to the floor. He informed the mayor he would begin his investigation post-haste, and make his way by foot to the old church atop the delapidated and derelict Cemetery Hill. Of course, he would need paid in advance. He called it "motivation."

Mr. Reed decided before venturing to Cemetery Hill, he had better stake out the fair grounds for any evidence of supernatural, diabolical, or otherwise strange activity. He set up his point of observation in the information booth which he borrowed while the atendee was on his lunch break. He had an hour, tops.

Armed with a cheap pair of binoculars and a pad of paper and pen, like the kind detectives in movies carry in their jackets. He had a clear view across the emptiness to the neat, tidy row of sinister looking black stalls, each selling their macabre surplus to unsuspecting customers. He jotted a few notes from his position concerning the limited business the robed men seemed to be receiving, which was a positive affirmation to him. Limited casualties in these situations is always a plus, though he was sure he was on some sort of economic mission to dig dirt on the mayor's rivals.

The sky overhead was dimming, casting the last dying embers of light across the horizon like specks of paint. The day was ending, which sent venders and clowns and patrons packing and heading for their abodes until tomorrow's final day of festivities. Mr. Reed, having moved his base of operations to a lone oak tree in center field (offering him a great height advantage, though it was slightly farther away from his targets), waited silently and patiently until at last, the dark figures slunk away in single file towards Cemetery Hill. When he was sure they were gone, not to be returning for some time, Mr. Reed dropped from the tree, nearly shattering his ankle, and stole through the night towards the dark caravan, which was still parked menacingly against a near waning moon.

He turned in the direction of the old monastery on Cemetery Hill as he slinked forth like a thief in the night. He could barely see it silhouetted against the moon, and he could see the specks of the robed figures retreating back to their home. The ground was soggy as he ran, and it sucked and bubbled with each step, often gurgling and sending forth echoes into the otherwise silent night. The air was chilled and calm and the sky was clear, revealing dazzling stars which had been unseen before.

As he reached the caravan, he felt an ominous presence push back against his powerful strides; it was as if he were being pushed back by a sort of physical barrier. He powered through, nonetheless, calming his nerves and catching his breath. He decided to search the interiors of each of the stalls individually, determined to dig up as much dirt as possible, possibly earning him some bonus cash and increasing the general public's positive image of him.

Rummaging through lock boxes and crates, his search turned up fruitless; only leathery dolls, caches of jerky (which tasted like veal, as he discovered), and a mere 10 dollars cash, which he pocketed without second thought or punishing guilt. Something seemed amiss, however, as he sensed this was all just a facade for a more dubious work, something more profane. And that is when he found it. Scanning the dark boxes and heaps of trash in the last stall, he found it lying amongst the dolls and bones and platypus jerky. It was a small scrap of pink paper. He retrieved his pocket flashlight and read over it carefully, discovering that it couldn't be more cliche if its author had contrived it so. It read thus:

"Meeting tonight at 12:00. My brothers, let us pay ultimate homage to our Lord and Master, Satan."

The note was signed S.J Bartholomew in blue ink pen.

Mr. Reed stared dully at the scrawled note, stupified. Then, stuffing it into his breast pocket between his cigarette pack and a box of matches, he siged and arose slowly. He headed through the starlit night and frosty air towards the darkness surrounding Cemetery Hill.

...

Gaining access to the worm- eaten dilapidation was not the most arduous task Mr. Reed had undertaken in his career. No, gathering a semen sample from Clint Eastwood proved more of a challenge, though this is a story reserved for a rainy day.

Mr. Reed had come across a ladder propped up against the rear of the church, leading to a high, lofty window. The ladder, placed conspicuously enough, must have been used by the shadowy figures to gain access, he thought. It was made obvious as he tried the front door, finding it had been cemented over entirely, seemingly some years ago as there was grass and other foliage ascending through the cracks. Mr. Reed had no choice but to risk the high climb to the upper window, a climb no sane man could ever make, given its sheer height; Mr. Reed assured himself that his sanity need not be considered.

The ladder lead the climber to what appeared to be the bell tower, a perfect place for viewing the lower sanctum of the church for eavesdropping. It creaked and groaned as if every step wracked it with agonizing pain. The breeze picked up, rocking Mr. Reed slightly and causing him to fear falling to the hard ground below. The climb was slow, for he had not had much exercise lately, and was nowhere near peak condition for such physically demanding tasks.

At last, he reached the small, circular window at the top of the ladder; the climb seemed to have taken hours. He could barely shimmy his body through the opening, he had gained some weight, indeed, and suffered a small tear in the shoulder of his silk jacket from a jutting piece of rotten wood. Cursing under his breath, he entered the upper bell tower of the church, collapsing head first onto the floor and rattling his brain.

He stood up, groaning, and took note of his surroundings.He stood upon a sort of high rise platform, a balcony of sorts approximately twelve feet off the ground. Below was a single room which seemed to be where services were held when the church was operational. The entire church was in dire need of renovations: livewire dangled from open sockets, cracks decorated the drywall and plaster, dust clung to every surface as if an organism hung on for dear life, and pews and other furnishings were upturned or missing altogether. It was a dark, dingy place, perfect for a heretical cult to take roost in their blasphemous worship of The Beast.

Below, several candles were lit, casting dim shadows upon the balcony which flickered like monsterous creatures. Inching closer, being exceptionally careful to not make any sound while treading on the ancient wood, Mr. Reed spotted a row of the strange men sitting in the first line of pews. A low chorus began to rise through the air as the figures started to chant in a garbled tongue. It grew in its intensity, and the figures all raised their arms to the sky and began to sway like dead tree limbs in the wind. A chill went through Mr. Reed's spine as this menacing sight.

Peering further over the banister of the rotted balcony, hanging on as tightly as he could so not to fall or give away his bird's eye position, he saw it. What he saw nearly made him vomit up the several corn cobs he had previously consumed a few hours prior. There, on an altar which was previously unseen, lied several bloodied, skinned, contorted bodies. Recalling the missing persons reports and other such accounts given to him by the mayor, Reed realized they were the corpses of those missing people whom were never found! Never found until now, that is, he thought.

The bodies and other less describable things were positioned in such a way that they produced a grim pentagram of gore. The robed figures rose from their seats and closed in a circle around the altar, chanting and hissing in their sinister voices which seemed to be less and less human. The air around the interior of the church grew hot and oppressive, and piercing red light surged up from the floor, and the old wood smell became the fetid smell of rotting flesh and sulphur. Mr. Reed decided he had enough of the horrid spectacle, for it was all much too archaic for his taste.

Figuring he would need photographic evidence to add more credibility to his case, he retrieved his pocket camera, and raising it to his eye to focus his view, snapped a picture. The dim lit room flashed in a supernova of fluorescent light; Mr. Reed had forgotten to turn his flash off, much to his dismay.

He uttered a slew of obscenities as a dozen or more hooded heads snapped in unison to the source of the explosion of light, spotting the intrepid investigator kneeling low in the dank rafters, mouth agape and camera clattering to the floor as his hands went numb with terror and relinquished their death grasp. The figures exploded from their seats and scrambled from the shadows towards a latter in the corner of the room, which Mr. Reed had failed to take note of upon his stealthy entrance.

He knew he hadn't much time, and spun around, leaving his camera, and leaped head first through the jagged, broken window which had allowed him access to the inner bowels of the building. Yet, quite unfortunately, his pants caught a protruding piece of wood during his head first plummet to alleged safety, resulting in a humiliating affair: Mr. Reed dangled by the leg of his pants, which had remarkably stayed in tact, upside down like a frightened, flesh covered pinata. His resistance was short lived as the robed figures amassed behind him, bearing knives and menacing wooden clubs.

Early that next morning, as the restless sun extended its warm reach across the towns and fields of the western hemisphere, and the cocks called out in the fashion of organic alarm clocks, and the townsfolk awoke to wipe sleep from their eyes, a paper boy made a morbid discovery in a roadside gutter only a few feet from the church while out making his rounds before the conclusion of the Corn Carnival.

In the gutter, as police would later report, was found the bloodied, nude corpse of our friend and, at one point, seemingly indomitable investigator, Mr. Reed. His body had been blugeoned and desicrated, and repeatedly stabbed by long daggers. The skin on his arms and torso had been peeled off by some unknown means, and his eyes were plucked out. One of his business cards, so painstakingly crafted, was inserted within the depths of his rectal cavity. A pretentious young detective of little acclaim declared the body was quite simply picked clean by carrion birds.

The Sommerville residents, no matter how base they may be, sensed a higher level of deviance was at work. Afterall, the farmers who had toiled the land for generations knew not of any variety of bird that would consume the limbs of a large mammal so voraciously.

As for the bodies Mr. Reed saw within those decrepit walls of the church; none were found, and the missing persons reports discontinued shortly after the conclusion of the Sommerville fair. And as for the camera which contained such condemning photos of occult practice, it was found outside of the church in a briar patch. It has been reported that the camera had but a single picture on its roll; the dark interior of the old church atop Cemetery Hill, devod entirely of man or animal. It is also speculated, but widely believed, that Mr. Reed's untimely demise was ultimately the result of an attempt at getting a closer view of the town's only existing historical monument (for nobody dared investigate further, and the timid mayor feared to step forward with the limited knowledge he had).

Though men shuddered to think it, his death was determined to be nothing unusual or out of the ordinary, simply a freak accident on a dark autumn night.


© Copyright 2020 Claudias Samnite. All rights reserved.

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