The old cypress tree cut the moon into a patchwork of light. The open field behind the church had been a favorite of Joey and his pals for as long as he could remember holding his first joint. He could see it from his hideout among the bushes, the old town church. A stained roof over brittle brickwork, quite a few dents and flaws in the paint job. On top of that, it was ill-illuminated and damp, giving it a sinister aspect in the autumn darkness. The little light that it emanated came from two large searchlights in front of it. The dust that obfuscated the big lamps did nothing to attenuate the atmosphere seen from the tree.
Joey winced when he heard a creaking noise from the dark church. It was the middle of the night, an hour not usually assumed as a priest’s waking hour. Light from within bathed the wet grass behind the church, framing the silhouette of a waking creature. From the distance, the figure looked like a hunchback with a strange protuberance coming out of its shoulders and dropping until halfway down its waist. Joey was perplexed by the silhouette, his mind working to fill the parts his eyes couldn’t make out. Tightening his body to carefully hide behind the cypress, Joey clutched his hand beneath the other and felt the cold transpiration come out. The smell of his own urine made him use his wet hands to protect his nose and cover his mouth, afraid to alert the dark beast to his whereabouts.
The creature walked with cumbersome laziness, trying to find its way to the church’s main door. Now, seeing it from the side, it looked to be a quadruped, two pairs of legs divided by an elongated torso, like a small equine. But where a horse’s tail would be, there was a protuberance, upwards, like a centaur of myth with two parallel human body’s, one at the front and one at the back. That weed was past its expiration date, thought Joey’s slow mind.
Another light was turned on inside the belfry, casting form on the grotesque mass. Joey stifled a laugh, aimed at his own hallucination. The mythological being was nothing but two men, carrying the body of a third between them. An unconscious one. In the middle of the night. Sweat drenched his chest and armpits. Afraid that the silver necklace could be struck by the light of the church and make him easily spotted, he hid it under his shirt. He was not supposed to see this.
The men knocked gently on the church’s door, a knock only audible for the muteness of the woods. As the door was opened, by the frail hands of the priest, the light hit the men’s faces and Joey felt he recognized them. Was that his old teacher and physician, Dr. Tuttle? The man certainly had the broad shoulders and small stature, the air of expectation and fidgety demeanor. He wore a tweed jacket and his glasses seemed askew, but he carried the unknown man as if it wasn’t the first time. The other was with his back to Joey and he couldn’t make out who the tall man was.
Curiosity was eating away at Joey’s fright, and he thought about approaching the windows of the belfry. But that would be risky and, furthermore, he was already taking too long to go back to Jim and Patricia, after having excused himself to take a leak. But if he returned and told them what he had seen, his best friend and girlfriend would likely want to join them in investigating and they would be easier to spot. Joey wanted to see what they would do to the body, he would steal a glance and run back, just to prove to himself there was no real evil going on.
The door to the church was closed again, and Joey tried to make no sound as he made his way around the building, looking for a window that would show him what he sought. The voices came before the sight and he knew he was close. The window was affixed to the side of the building, closer to the ground, and opened to a slanted room underneath the belfry. Joey laid on the wet grass and listened intently, fighting the impulse to look through the slats.
The three men conversed of incomprehensible things, of schemes and rituals and appeasement. Of specific tools and mutilation, but, most of all, of doubts. Through the slatted shutter, Joey heard the hoarse voice of the tall man and finally could place him. It was the judge of town, Mr. Bostrom, a man Joey knew better than he’d like. Bostrom was a rigid man, a man whose traditionalist principles governed the community. To see him here meant things were not what they seemed, but before that it meant he had nowhere to turn to, no one to intervene in whatever sick happenings were about to unfold.
The judge made clear his uncertainty, saying he was unsure that this was what the professor wanted. The others disagreed and said this was the only way, according to the old scriptures, and the professor, whoever he was, was a scholar of the old texts. The name of the man they so avidly idolized was easy to remember, but Joey knew of none by that name in town. The judge’s over-the-top pronunciation, that made him take a few seconds longer than required to say the Rs in Joey’s last name whenever they met in opposite sides of court, made sure to drill the man’s name in his skull.
But who was Professor Strömberg?
A movement at the edge of his vision made him tense up. He rolled on the grass to get a better view and saw his pal Jim and his sweetheart Patsy looking for him at the end of the woods. If he stayed there, they could come closer and alert the men inside. But he wanted to see, at least one time, what they were doing to the body of the dead man. As calmly as he could muster, he approached the window and saw through the slats a metal table with a naked corpse on top, his chest cut in the middle and his innards showered with an weird black oil. In a wooden table next to the vicious sight, an assortment of knives and metal devices and a leather-bound book with grotesque illustrations and hand-written instructions. Candle-lit and incense-filled, the room had an oppressive and sickening quality. Joey could but force himself not to vomit. He tried to go back out slowly, but his necklace escaped his shirt and stuck to the slat, producing a loud noise.
He yanked at it and was free as he heard the inhuman screams and the frantic shuffling of the men below. His feet could hardly hold him and his legs and throat burned, but he kept running, trying to find his friends. Half way to the woods, his stomach couldn’t hold itself anymore. His sick came out in streams as he ran, dirtying his clothes and the field beyond the church. As he reached the first tree, he saw his friends come towards him, utter worry on each face. He tried to mouth the words, but couldn’t. He tried to scream, but couldn’t. He looked back and saw three silhouettes, now the grotesque not just a product of the mind, bursting through the door and looking for him. The screams came unheeded.
As the three kids fled the place, guided by Joey’s mute gesticulations, their simultaneous goosebumps made them realize they’d have to learn to be braver friends now than they had ever been, to endure the coming times.
The light from the moon seemed to cut up the world in tiny pieces, a patchwork of fear. But soon, no light would shine.
I’ve always wanted to try and take funny/bizarre videos or ideas and see how I could work them. This is what I came up with in two moments of boredom - one moment, several years ago, when I first saw the video, and one moment now, as I try to diminish the numerical difference between my drafts and my posts.
I hope you did laugh, I hope you did thrill, I hope you did indeed shudder as you read this.