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Halloween Horror Story: The Demon's Curse


Once this story concludes, you will be charged with a terrible burden.
It will be yours to carry for the next ten years.

 

We’ve all heard the old adage: Stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. It’s a somewhat dubious sentiment meant to help children through playground confrontations. But, of course, words can carry weight far greater than mere twigs and pebbles — heavier than whole trees and cinder blocks even. 

I must start by apologizing to you. You are kind enough to sit by this fire with me, and give me your attention as I tell this tale. As such, you don’t deserve the words that you will hear. But trust me: if there were any other way, I would have taken it. 

Before our time, there were Others. Our realm was one of great and terrible magic, one with beings made from fire and from wind. They wielded unfathomable power, and warred with each other. These were not peaceful times, as struggles of power rarely come without a price.

The carnage went on, the Others killed and killed, until there was almost none of them left. The last remaining few — old, powerless, defeated — finally wilted away and died. 

Except for one.

An especially devious being saw the end coming and hid. He slept, as the terror washed the world around him of every living thing.

He slept through millenia. The world turned. Civilizations came and went. Our realm traded hands. Until one day he woke up, and there were humans. 

This being liked humans. They were greedy, and gullible. But the world had turned so much during his slumber that he could no longer exist in his form. He discovered he could possess humans, quite easily, and steal their form instead. All he had to do was tempt them with mighty power, then whisper:

“With these words, I ensnare you in my trap, and now, with your heart and mind open to me, I release myself within you.” 

In this way, the being was able to survive and watch the world turn, again and again. As humans evolved, we found a new word to describe this ancient Other. We called it demon, and became better at recognizing its presence, and warding it off. 

One particular group, tired of the demon’s wanton destruction, banded together. After much research, trial, and tragic error, they found a way to trap the demon within a host. It was not an elegant solution, nor one without extraordinary risk and unspeakable responsibility. But it saved the world. They called this host the Keeper.

Once inside the Keeper, the only way the demon would remain subdued, was by a ritual to be performed on the anniversary of the demon’s possession. The Keeper would spend each year carving an idol out of Selenite — a secret idol for none but his own eyes. For the ritual to work, it needed to be a labour of love and to carry great personal sentiment. Then, on the aforementioned night, The Keeper would take the idol to the place where his soul had been tainted. Once there, he would blindfold himself and sit, cross-legged, holding the idol in his hands. Then he would recite a prayer, to whatever deity, in whatever language. But it had to be a prayer for protection, to ward against evil, and cleanse the soul. 

The Keeper would remain in that position, reciting the prayer over and over. During that awful night, he would hear things around him: the pleading of loved ones, the screams of the innocent, the toothy snarls of monsters, the unrelenting whispers of Doubt and Greed, the growling threat of Death… If he removed the blindfold to look, all would be lost. He had no choice but to remain there in the darkness, stalwart in his endeavour until he felt the first rays of sun kiss his cheeks. Only then was it safe for him to stop, remove the blindfold and stand up. The idol would then be buried in that location, concluding the ritual. Immediately after, the Keeper would acquire another Selenite, and commence his year of work once more. 

The first Keeper did this for ten long years. For a decade he toiled, and resisted, and prayed. But towards the end of this tenure, he was showing such signs of mental and physical exhaustion that the group knew he could not, and would not, carry on. A new Keeper was needed, and was chosen for their bravery and spiritual fortitude. The demon was transferred to this new, younger vessel through the simple rite of storytelling — the magnificent power of words.

To this day, it is the Keeper’s burden. The demon is weak when he first enters the new body. It is unfamiliar territory for him to learn. But as time goes on, and he becomes more comfortable, the demon grows stronger. As he does, he whispers to his host, tempts them with wealth and power beyond life. He says “release me, and we will rule together”. He promises to end the pain. Then after ten long years, the Keeper is weak enough, and the demon strong enough that the ritual can no longer contain him — so strong in fact, that he can make the leap to a new host. Then, and only then, should he be passed to a new Keeper, who must now repeat the process. 

There were some Keepers who tried to destroy him, of course. They tried different methods from different faiths, but only succeeded in destroying themselves, and the demon almost escaped.

I have been a Keeper for the last ten years. They have been dark years, and I almost succumbed to his tempting, delicious whispers. Now that I have told you this story, I feel the demon has finally released me. I expect you will soon sense his presence within you. I wish I could express remorse, but I am just so grateful to be rid of him. You carry him now, and will for the next ten years. You know what must be done. Do not falter, or the demon will consume you and break free. I wish you luck and hope, for your sake and the world’s, that I’ve made the right choice.