Another night here in this secluded and heavily secured room. It’s a solitary one, with only the light of the moon to keep me company. I look at the farm buildings outside my window, and all I can do is remember. I remember that night, that place, that… thing. I remember Black, and honestly, I think Black remembers me…
At first glance, the town of Black in Maryland’s Carroll County is a traditional small town. Upon further inspection, however, one notices that there is some intangible quality that makes Black seem distant from what we define as “reality.” As well as this surrealist air, there are no ichthuses nor crosses nor Stars of David nor crescents accented with stars. Nor are there pentagrams nor anything to indicate a faith of the mundane world. There are no religious buildings as well, whether they be churches or cathedrals or synagogues or anything of that nature.
Another thing is that, while the buildings are normal, the flags they bear are not those of America, as would be the case in the mainstream American Small Town. Rather, they bear a black field with a strange white symbol upon it. If you were to show this symbol to an engineer, they might mistake it for a schematic drawing of an unusual circuit, but they would be wrong. When I first laid eyes upon it, it seemed vaguely familiar. I seem to recall that I caught a glimpse of the symbol upon a bookshelf of an eccentric I had interviewed a few days earlier on the Vampire subculture. The symbol itself strikes a number of internal inquiries, ranging from what it is to what future it could bring to the rest of this world.
The most noticeable thing, however, is evident more during the day than at night, for the people of Black are rarely out during the day, but hustle and bustle about at night. It creates a number of questions within the mind of the outsider who passes through the town. However, if said outsider asks the people of Black about this practice, locals will give varied responses, ranging from changing the subject to the denizen requesting the visitor not to worry about it.
That’s what happened when I visited Black. I was sent by Towson University as a study in societies whose circadian rhythms had been reversed due to external reasons. I was in the local diner when I told people this this. Of course, I had to explain what it meant, using the pre-Columbian Pueblo tribe as an example. The waitress to whom I gave the explanation simply replied that she believed that the people of Black just prefer the night over the day. However, I got a suspicious feeling that a mass personal preference wasn’t entirely true. I needed to know the truth for my study, but I had no idea how I was going to get it.
It was after I had paid for my fried chicken and was leaving the diner that I found a method for acquiring the information I needed. A busboy of about 18 years old brushed by me. He murmured to me to meet him outside Donnelly Park after his shift ended at 5am. It seemed a little late to be out, but I decided I needed the truth more than I needed the sleep.
The next few hours were spent wandering through Black, wondering what could be so important that the busboy couldn’t tell me at the Diner. What could be Black’s great secret? I had no idea, nor could I foresee the grave results it would take on my heart, soul, and sanity.
As the appointed hour grew closer, it seemed that people were shutting down their businesses and returning to their homes. The later it got, the more I heard the faint sound of some kind of song coming from the houses of Black. It sounded Tibetan, with what sounded to be throaty chanting with under tones of bells and singing bowls, but I realized there was more to it than that.
When I started into my car to go to Donnelly Park, something told me not to drive there. I had no idea whether it was just a hunch or some greater power at work, but I decided to walk to the park. It was a good thing I did, for as I was about to enter through the wrought iron gate, something pulled me into the bushes with a swift motion.
It was the busboy from the diner, who motioned for me to speak softly. He introduced himself as Nick, and instructed me to follow him, for the others would soon be there. When I inquired what he meant by “the others,” Nick told me there was no time to explain and hurried forward on hushed footsteps.
As we tiptoed through the darkness, it soon became apparent that we were dodging something other than a regular path: We were also dodging headlights. Cars kept pulling up to Donnelly Park. The people who came out were dressed nicely, and seemed to be talking pleasantly with their fellow denizens of this mysterious town while carrying what appeared to be neatly folded robes underneath their arms.
We finally stopped behind an Oak that was big enough to conceal Nick and myself comfortably. He told me that he had to join the other residents for what he called “The Rites.” Before I could ask what he meant, he told me that I could observe “The Rites” until I heard a particular phrase, then I had to turn away, and not look, no matter what I heard. The phrase in question was a quite cryptic one that went like this:
“In a world where all is forgotten, more is yet to be.”
As Nick left, I pondered the phrase a bit, repeating it for both memorization purposes and to comprehend its cryptic meaning and what exactly “The Rites” could entail.
A few hours before dawn, it seemed the whole town had gathered just beyond the tree, outside of a large stone slope that stuck out of the ground like a shark’s dorsal out of the water. Upon its slightly rounded face was the symbol I saw throughout the town of Black, which was also seen on the right side of the robes of the participants in The Rites. At the front of the neatly organized rows of hooded people stood one who, in place of a hood, wore some sort of veiled mask with the insignia to which I had now become accustomed emblazoned in white on the forehead just above the sinister-looking eyeholes. He faced the audience and began The Rites.
He began by explaining of two warring gods. One was a cruel god who created the world and humanity to worship him, and the other a merciful god who eventually led a rebellion and overthrew the first. “The Creator,” as the speaker called the first, was imprisoned in a “torture beyond tortures,” where he felt the pain of criticism, followed by a “multiplication of self,” and the cycle repeated again.
For years, The Creator called out to many, according to the veiled celebrant, finally reaching the Ancestors of what was once a mighty Tribe known as the Aathr’gak. Their shamans were shown a special sign and a ritual that could release The Creator from his Torture Beyond Tortures. In exchange for releasing him, The Creator promised the Aathr’gak treasures beyond measure. The bargain was kept, but The Creator found that once the sun set, he returned to the Torture Beyond Tortures until the next time the Rites were performed. The Aathr’gak also found that they became wide awake at night and tired during the day. However, they found at night that they could see things others can’t, such as creatures that appeared as lights of colors not known to ordinary men, and communion with creatures that, as far as I could surmise, were made of living sound and came only about during high holy days of the Pagan calendar.
When White Men came to the town, they were entranced by the unspeakable power The Creator gave them in exchange for performing The Rites. They began to perform feats like the Aathrgak, and eventually built the town of Black around the sacred site, which was disguised as Donnelly Park. The veiled man then said that they were the descendants of the settlers and carried on The Rites to glorify the Creator.
At this, the audience repeated a chant that I will try my best to write down, for it was not any tongue of man, but rather that of a serpent. The chant sounded like three repetitions of the phrase:
“Heghl’mekh J’vam Ch’pa’’ai!”
Then the veiled celebrant turned to the wall extended his arms and said: “In a world where all is forgotten, more is yet to be.”
I didn’t remember to turn away though, and that fact still haunts me to this day, for the sight was strange beyond all measure. First, as the crowd chanted that unearthly phrase, the sunlight crept unnaturally, as if it was a non-Newtonian fluid pouring onto a substance, but in reverse. Then, as the sunlight touched the lines of that symbol, it began to be filled with something that wasn’t quite light, but wasn’t quite darkness either. As the profane sign began to be filled, the crowd’s chant grew faster and faster, as the sheer brightness and darkness of the energy filling the sign became so bright it took on a sound of its own, growing so loud that the crowd could barely be heard, and as I restrained a scream…
Before the wall stood something I could not recreate in an image, even if I had to, for each time I got a grasp on the shape and color of the floating mass of unknown matter, the shape and color changed to something completely different. I soon found myself screaming aloud at the sheer terror that was “The Creator,” thus drawing the attention of the crowd. They slowly approached me like a horde of nameless ghouls. I could only hear faint murmurs that I couldn’t make out, but sounded like nothing of this plane of reality.
Swiftly, I turned to run only to find the Shapeless Thing known as The Creator facing me. Despite its lack of a mouth, I heard something like a voice speak to me and say a name, its name. It struck such fear into me that I will not put it in this missive, nor will I say it aloud, nor could I, for it was not a word or a sound, but more of a three-dimensional object. It then rose and I left, no longer having the crowd of The Creator’s worshippers follow me.
I left Black immediately and, soon thereafter, wound up here in the mental hospital in Sykesville. I shall soon be ending it all, and I hope this last story gets found and read by someone who can accept what I saw and not be driven mad by it.
Farewell, dear reader!
Send my regards to a Town Called Black!