Darkness Within

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Darkness Within

Post by StarsofOrion on Wed Jun 26, 2013 10:21 pm

This is a story that I wrote during my freshman year of high-school.  It's about a shy and meek girl who acquires a strange deck of cards that can foretell the future.  

On a lonely corner it stood; chipped and peeling bricks of a rusty red that had seen it’s life shed the crimson behind after decades of lying idle upon the cold ground.  The once white-washed fences and front door were becoming smudged with the dust and scraped with the marks of an assorted variety of fingernails.  Even though the sign flashed “OPEN” it was overshadowed by the illusion that the plot of land and the shameful excuse for a building was closed, boarded up and for sale.  

Madame Mora’s Mystical Mysteries was open for business and always willing to cater to the daily needs and reckless desirous whims of the customers that were inquisitive of the unknown and the unseen.  The inside, stuffed to the brim with cobwebs and dust, unveiled the treasures that lay within.  Upon the uneven shelves lay spell books promising to surrender the grand powers of gaining anyone’s heart and crushing them beneath blackened yearning and smoky lust, or, showering the users with coppery wealth and aristocratic luxuries.  In bins near the cash register were pristine crystal spheres with the so-called ability to conjure up one’s future through smoke and fog.  The store was riddled with odds and ends of everything imaginable, tarot card, incense sticks and anything for the random dabbler in the occult.  

Very often the mistakes of the customers would catch up to them and leave them in a swirling pit of terror until they returned, begging and pleading for the agony to end which resulted in more and more money for Madame Mora herself.  Nothing pleased her more than seeing a puppy-dog-eyed boy or girl with a demonic parasite latched onto them discover that there were forces beyond the comprehension of the human psyche that should never be tampered with.  There was no greater pleasure than watching them squirm and struggle with horrors that almost shoved over the edge of insanity and collecting their money for it.  Just the thought of making a profit off of their folly drew her thin, dry lips into a curl and produced a small glint of triumph in her crinkled grey eyes.  There was no need to fear intervention by the appropriate authorities, every customer got their money’s worth and were silenced by the threat of ridicule by their friends and families.

The door creaked open, a little bell rang indicating the presence of another well-paying and naïve customer or rather, customers as two figures popped in through the door.  Both figures were teenage girls from the nearby high school.  One was a sixteen girl named Taaro and the other was a pert woman of seventeen named Reese.
Taaro was a frail, often sickly, pale creature with short, shaggy black hair with cobalt streaks and large, sad and innocent eyes the color of the ocean when there was a raging storm.  She had a delicate face and a scrawny, under-developed body, the kind that most men wouldn’t take a second glance at.  She might have been considered beautiful in an off-beat sense if she wore any form of make up besides shadowy grey eyeliner that left one with the impression that she hadn’t caught a decent amount of sleep in years or even centuries.  But she wouldn’t, so she was considered at most as “cute” in a bizarre, androgynous way and as weird looking in the least sense.  Taaro was at the top of her grade, every report card would arrive in a similar fashion, dotted with crimson A’s and filled with kind remarks from her teachers, commenting on how polite and respectful she was but how she needed to find her tongue and speak up more in class.  She had tried speaking up before, only to find her quiet, raspy was drowned out by the constant sharp chatter of her classmates.  She would’ve tried to be someone, to try and compete with the shining stars of her school but there was no need to when she had her best friend, Reese, who was someone, to cling to.

Reese, a strawberry-blonde bombshell with enough charisma and flare as a million of nuclear missiles, would most likely become framed upon the cover of a trendy magazine, printed in bold as a front-page headline and end up as a fold-out poster in a men’s calendar featuring all of the latest eye-candy in revealing costumes that left little to the imagination.  Every man that she batted her thick eyelashes at would chase after her, panting dog-like with lust.  Every girl in the high school was included in her wide circle of friends and servants.  She wore all of the hip apparel and danced to the platinum selling albums, and had an appeal so thunderous that it could bring any rock-star to his knees.  Reese was everything Taaro was not and she preferred to keep it that way, after-all the world could not be a beautiful place unless her best friend was nothing more than a mere servant bowing to her goddess-like qualities and Taaro was so in awe of her that she couldn’t do anything but obey her everything command.

As they rummaged through the store, Reese knocking things over for Taaro to tidy up, Madame Mora cursed the day that wretched high school was built and cursed the day when teenagers were allowed to be public without the watchful stare of their parents.  At the same time, however, she pitied the girl with the black hair and the eager-to-please-attitude.
Crash!  A shadow of humiliation spread across Taaro’s face.  In her haste to check out the store and satisfy her nosiness, Reese had unintentionally knocked over a crystal ball in display.  It was the finest and most expense crystal in the store as the glass was crafted from fuchsia stained glass and the base was constructed from pewter.  Taaro frantically hurried to the shattered glass and began carefully scooping up the broken shards.  She was always paying for things that Reese had broken.  This would’ve been no different but there was sick feeling of dread and forebode in her stomach, as if her friend had committed a terrible sin against the world and that she, Taaro would have to suffer for it eternally.
“God, you’re like so clumsier than usual today, Taaro!  This isn’t like a flea market, you can’t just wander around and run into things and expect not to get caught.”  Reese scolded and winked at her friend.  She flipped back her silky hair and waited for Taaro to finish cleaning up the shards.  Her lips curled mockingly into a smirk, daring her to run crying to the shopkeeper about who really broke the crystal ball.  Reese knew, of course that she wouldn’t because it would be a bitter end to Taaro’s social reputation and she could make things extremely gruesome for her.  “Oh yeah and like don’t forget to pay for all of the shit that you caused, seriously I don’t want to have to have the rest of the posse find out about this!”  Reese muttered and rolled her eyes.
Taaro blushed and dug her hand into her pocket, searching for her wallet which lately these days seemed like it was on the borderline of empty.  She finally found it and unearthed a ten-dollar bill.  To her surprise, Madame Mora wouldn’t accept it.  Taaro tried in vain to explain that it was her fault that such a valuable piece of merchandise was damaged but it was no use.

Madame Mora pointed her long, scraggly finger at the blonde who was now looking at them with a look of half-confusion and half-annoyance and snarled that she didn’t want payment from someone who was only taking the blame of the actual culprit.  Fiery anger burned in her ancient eyes as she snarled at Reese and told her leave her store and never to return unless she wanted to experience the wrath of hellfire and brimstone.  Her voice grew in volume as Reese flipped both her and Taaro and sauntered out, ranting about how some people just weren’t worthy enough to be her best friend.

Trying desperately not to bury her face in her arms and sob, Taaro watched her idol leave without her.  Tears threatened to gush from her blue eyes and a nagging ache tugged forcefully at her heart.  It was her fault for not being more careful about concealing Reese’s actions as her own and for not being a better friend.  She had known Reese since the first day of middle school, it was one of the most memorable days in her memory bank, and her other friends were so mediocre compared to her that like ghosts, they simply faded away until only imprints of their names and faces remained on her brain.  There was no one else that she could call a friend and by society’s standards, this was a very bad thing.

A sharp and dirty fingernail poked Taaro’s petite hand and immediately she was snapped away from her thoughts and back into reality.  Taaro looked up and gazed into the knowing eyes of Madame Mora.  “You young ones must consider my wrinkles to be a mark of senility, but, my wits are still as sharp as they were forty years ago, in fact they have been enhanced!  So you follow around that hussy as if she was holding a leash and you were at the end of it?  You’re wretched and pitiful yet I commend you on your loyalty.”  She croaked, rows and rows of yellowed teeth showing.  Then she reached into a bin behind the counter and slid a package of playing cards across to Taaro.  “This is not your average deck of playing cards which you lose at poker with, these can harness the powers of the other side for casual fun or important business, don’t look at me so strange, child!  You are a lonely creature in search of friends well these little buggers can allow you communicate with any spirit that you seek and they can foretell events and decipher destiny as well.”  Madame Mora rasped and tossed Taaro’s ten-dollar bill aside “I am not asking for any payment, child, I will soon get enough out of your enjoyment.  Good bye, child and come by again!” With these words said, Taaro thanked the old woman meekly, pocketed the cards and walked out the door to her home.  Madame Mora grinned internally, she knew Taaro would be back or that blonde would come to her.  They always came back in the end and that was how it always has been.

Along the path to her house, Taaro walked among the freshly-fallen leaves.  Hints of crimson, gold and flaming orange waltzed in the wind, softly whipping in her face.  The brisk air’s cold breath struck her as autumn graciously wrapped her in it’s quilt of harsh beauty.  She wasn’t sure if she believed what the old woman had told her but it wasn’t often that a complete stranger was generous towards her.  Even if the cards were ordinary the thought of finally finding someone or something to converse whenever she desired was a thought as sweet and comforting as the warm scent of pumpkin pie straight out of the oven.

Taaro lifted the latch of her house and walked in, setting her book bag down and hanging up her coat.  Her parents would be home from work in three hours and those three precious hours needed to spent wisely and carefully.  She scooped up her cat, whom she had bought several weeks ago and headed upstairs to her room.
Her room was almost identical to her personality, meticulous, innocent and blue.  There was a bed with a grey comforter and dark blue pillows in one corner, a bookshelf in another and a white desk with homework and other various papers stacked neatly.  On the wall hung several posters covered with images of celebrities and music groups that Reese liked because to have it any other way would result in ridicule and taunting laughter.
Peeling off the packaging of the cards, Taaro examined the deck.  The deck, handsome and Victorian with a combination of burgundy and gold had a complete and extensive instruction manual on contacting the other side and the consequences both positive and negative that resulted from it.  She arranged the face cards, ace, king, queen and jack into some sort of diamond formation like the manual instructed and thoroughly shuffled the remainder of the deck.  Drawing a card with black numbering would indicate that question asked received “Yes” as an answer and drawing red would indicate the reverse.

There was something a little more than out of the ordinary about these cards, however.  Out of the corner of her eye, Taaro noticed that a single card out of the deck was decreased in size compared to the rest.  She realized that she could manipulate the size, shape and number of cards in the deck and for an entire hour she did just so.  It was an amazing experience, being able to control and configure an inanimate object that never before had seemed so alive.  

After an hour of enjoying her new-found power, Taaro realized why she had accepted the deck in the first place.  She sat down cross-legged and grabbed her deck.  “Are there any spirits present with me tonight?”  She asked, anticipating what she could conjure with an average deck of not-so-average playing cards.  Drawing a red, she asked again with increased force and desperation in her voice. Still a red, still a no.  Several more times she asked in vain and received no answer.  Out of desperation, Taaro snatched the instruction manual, scanning for any information relating to troubles with communicating with spirits.  There was none, just a disclaimer in fine print claiming that patience was key in successfully becoming apt at communing with the dead and that the first time wasn’t always successful.  Patience was something that Taaro did not have at that moment, she finally had a chance at leaving her isolation and grief of losing her best friend behind and she was not going to wait forever.  How many times would she have that didn’t end in success?  How many times would her hope fade into failure until her soul was transformed in a numb and bottomless void?  But there was something she could do while waiting, foretelling the future.

Taaro knew vaguely that spirits lay in her near future and still she wanted to know everything besides that, so she could be the keeper of her own fate and so she could carve out her own definition of destiny, that’s all there was to it.  She seized the deck once again, and asked “What will happen to me tomorrow?”  Taaro flipped up another card and gasped at the words written in black ink on the card, laminated into the paper as if they had always been imprinted there.  Her eyes read each letter twice.  Mass Murder at Stony Hedge High, it read, No Survivors.

Terror and shock racked Taaro’s body but it soon dissipated into nervous bursts of laughter.  The old woman was wicked, incredibly wicked to play such a cruel and mean joke on her, to maliciously take advantage of her and her lonely state of mind.  She despises teenagers and pulls all sorts of shit on them to get even, I’m just another one of her targeted victims, Taaro thought with a tremendous amount of relief.  She was just another step in the fulfillment of a grudge against the young and rude kids that ran amok in her town, she wouldn’t be hacked to bloody bits of flesh and limbs by some crazed lunatic that belonged in a state penitentiary or insane asylum.  Her small town was nothing but a marker in the middle of nowhere and it certainly wouldn’t have appealed to anyone with an appetite for murder.  Taaro finished chortling over these thoughts, went downstairs to her parents, ate dinner and returned hours later to her bed, maybe she would have a chance at convincing Reese not to be so hateful at school tomorrow, just maybe.

That night, with the darkness of night swirling around her mind and the light of the moon providing not an illumination to her dreams but an ominous glow augmenting the sinister evils lurking in the nightmare she was imprisoned within, a nightmare filled with cards, demons with hollow eyes and the faces of Madame Mora and Reese tormenting her with hideously twisted grins.  Taaro spent the night hopelessly trying to flee her pursuers until the golden brilliance of the morning sun shocked her awake. Taaro stumbled out of bed, she was late for school.  The faithful beep of the alarm clock usually lulled her into consciousness but she had forgotten to turn it on the night before.  It was ten in the morning, she was three hours late for class and that meant three hours of being stuck in the dull detention hall writing on sheets of notebook paper an explanation of why she had chosen to not be punctual and disrupt the class.  It was most likely an inevitable fate but she had a choice in whether or not to worsen her fate.

Down the stairs she went, just barely remembering to grab her homework from the night before.  Taaro frantically dashed to the door and with one wrong movement of her foot, she swerved, falling face first into the floor and turning on the remote.  The television, once blank was now flashing in her eyes, flickering images of dripping crimson blood and the tear-stained faces of family members of the cut-down and brutally mangled bodies that lay idly upon the screen.  A serial killer had escaped the state insane asylum and embarked on a rampage at the local high school, leaving nothing but death, misery and no survivors in his wake.  Watching the reporters harass the various people who were cursing and condemning the man and pining each other as the vile scapegoat, Taaro shrieked with realization and shock that the cards had successfully predicted the events to come in the future.  She reached for her coat and sprinted out the door, towards her high school and hoped, prayed that there was still someone among the wreckage that hadn’t been harmed.

As Taaro reached the high school, the stench of rotting and mutilated flesh enveloped her nostrils, she almost thought she was going to vomit but choked back the bile rising in her throat.  She wandered through the swarm of sobbing people and into the building itself, plugging her nose and clamping her hand to her mouth every few seconds to muffle her shrieks.  The steel lockers had been stained vermillion, dim light bulbs flickered off and on, leaving her in the dangerous blackness for minutes at a time.  Still, Taaro marched on, it was imperative, she had to know.

All around her, were scattered pieces of wood from former desks from former students who now were sealed away in white body bags.  The people she had once conversed with and even the people she had once seen walk down these very halls were gone, permanently erased from physical existence.  Taaro clutched at her head and squeezed her eyes shut, she had been shown that this was going to happen, she could’ve chosen to warn everyone of the impending danger but she had passed it off as a harmless prank by a senile old woman.  She thought of this and wished she could turn back time and do it over again and then she found what she had been searching for.

In front of her, illuminated occasionally by the constant flickering of the bulbs lay the corpse of her beloved idol, Reese.  Her wavy, strawberry-blonde hair was flayed out on all sides of her head, flecks of blood beginning to dry.  The once beautiful and alluring face was now a lifeless shell of what it had been, devoid of all emotion without a trace that a soul with a zest for life had inhabited her body.  A white cloth was tightly bound around her eyes, the cloth that had mercifully had allowed her no sight of her fate as her life was ruthlessly torn from her body.

Taaro shrieked and collapsed onto the floor, sobbing.  It was horrible enough existing forever with the knowledge that the deaths of others had been caused by you but it was even more soul-shattering existing knowing that you had let your best friend die and face those last final seconds of life alone.  She heard could hear people calling her name, searching for her.  How strange, they had never noticed her before so why did they care about her now?

Shots rang out in the hallway, shadows darted in between the lockers in the hallway, heading straight towards her.  Taaro tried to run, to escape the darkness that she had unleashed.  She rushed into a classroom and slammed the door behind her, falling to the floor gasping for breath.  Scratching sounds could be heard on the door, clawing away at the wood until the door crumbled into a heap of splinters.  The horror stood in front of her, black and impenetrable with hollow eyes, a horror so vile, so real and yet at the same time, so unreal.  Taaro gasped, as the faceless being morphed into the familiar ancient hag that had given her those accursed.  The old woman simply gazed at her, toothy mouth curved in a sinister smile and in her hands was an ax…She slowly turned and pointed at one of the lockers, and on it, messily written in blood, were the words “Taaro Did It”  

Taaro shoved her hands against her eyes, shrieks echoing off the walls in the dimly-lit hallway, the dimly-lit hallway were her world and the darkness lurking within every person’s heart collided.
Suddenly another transformation took place, human flesh crinkled and dripped off, once again revealing the horrible black mist.  It was all Taaro could do, to blink her tear-filled azure eyes one last time before the evil rushed at her, and the steely cold blade of the ax slammed hard into her back.

When they finally carried Taaro out, her tiny and delicate body pulsating with fright, they found the body of the escaped serial killer beside her.  Her eyes were frozen from fear, a fear that only the few unlucky unfortunates had the privilege had to experience.  She had been the sole survivor in bloody massacre that made headlines and shocked the world and there, eternally immortalized on the cover of a magazine was Taaro’s face, and the world wondered how someone with a face so pure and delicate could have been caught up in a tragedy so immoral.
Behind the counter of her occult shop, Madame Mora sipped her coffee and slowly flipped through the Sunday newspaper.  Reporters and movie directors had been sniffing around the rural town for weeks and now there were plans to release a film, blood-stained and sensationalized to the point of where it was sure to be a summer blockbuster hit.  Madame Mora’s Mystical Mysteries had more business than ever before, with customers crammed into the musty door, hoping to find their very own little piece of Hell.  And soon, each and everyone of would learn the bitter truth of the awful temptations that ran rampant in their mind and soon, they would be back, clawing at the door and asking…no…begging her to lift the curses off of them.  Madame Mora smiled to herself, they would be back and that was how it had always been.

Last edited by StarsofOrion on Wed Jun 26, 2013 10:25 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : forgot to add spaces between paragraphs)


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