“In a place darker than a thousand nights, where no soul dares to tread,
The one who listens will take flight; he is the king of the dead.”
My name is Martin Knight. I live in a small town, a few miles from Chicago. I work in a small convenience store. Boring job, but the best I could get. The store is in a high-crime neighborhood, so I always keep a handgun with me when I’m working late hours. Last night I had work until 6 am. Around 3, a tall man in a hooded jacket came up to the counter. I had the gun in a holster on my ankles, and I slowly reached towards it. The man stood in the doorway for a minute, and then walked up to the counter. He placed a note in my hands, and then left. The note read, “RAX HAT.” He must’ve been mad, so I thought nothing of it.
The next day, I drove into the city. I had some money, so I stopped by an old theater. The marquee read, “THE KING OF THE DEAD.” Probably some cheesy old horror movie, but it could be fun. I walked into the theater. It was very large, but not modern. The light bulbs were old and dusty, and there were ornate carvings in the walls. The hardwood floor squeaked as I stepped on it. I walked up to the counter. The person at the ticket booth was an old man, over 90 likely.
“You! How did you get in here!” he yelled at me.
“I-I don’t know, are you closed?”
It seemed the old man realized something, and he calmed down. “Oh… you found this place.”
“What do you mean I found this place, anybody could see it.”
“No- you will realize soon enough. Go in.”
“But don’t I have to pay?”
“No, money is no use to me now.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“Please, don’t say that.”
I entered the old theater room. Unlike the room before, this one looked nothing like a kind of theater I had ever seen. It was small, and there were only two rows of seats. The screen was not a screen, but a small television set. I sat down, and it immediately clicked on. The images it showed seemed to be footage from a security camera. The room the camera was in was a small padded cell, with nothing in it except a tall man wearing a hooded jacket, the man from the store. Except this time, instead of standing silently, he was blabbering like a mad man. Few words made any since, but I could make out one short passage. “I am the speaker, and he is the one who listens. He is kind, kind, so kind. Soon I will be the one who listens.”
The last part of the video was a symbol of some sort. It looked like a trident, except instead of being sharp on the ends it was flattened. The screen went black, and the TV turned off.
I sat there for a little while. The video was very disturbing, but there was something about the symbol. It consumed my mind, and made me fear the shadows. I quickly pulled out the strange note the tall man gave me. Yet instead of reading “RAX HAT” it now read “ARTHAX” I crumpled it up and threw it on the ground. I quickly got up and exited the small room. Yet the room I came out in was not the old theater.
This theater was new, with a tiled floor, massive light displays, and was crowded with people. The small room I was in before was gone. I ran out into the street. The streets were crowded, but among the rushing people I saw the tall man.
He turned around and started walking. I ran after him, pushing through the dense crowd. He walked into an alleyway, and I followed. What I saw down that alleyway ended my life, or at least my sanity. As I walked slowly down the alley way after the odd man, the landscape began to change. First a castle with blood splattered on its walls, then a field of creatures so horrible I couldn’t bear to look at them. Then I was in a hallway, with a door at the end. The tall man was gone now, and now the dead were with me.
Their minds were all one with mine. Some screamed in pain, some wept, some begged for forgiveness for all sorts of crimes, and others seemed to be humbled by my presence. I walked to the doorway, and opened it. What I saw brought me to the ground, writhing in fear. It was the most beautiful thing I ever saw, but the most horrible at the same time. It seemed to emit bright light, but the light did not illuminate darkness. It ate darkness, burned it, destroyed it like a disease, not illuminating it, to just protect me. It seemed to have a face, but nothing like a human’s. It conveyed emotion, never expressing it. It seemed to be proud of me, but angry at others, everybody, except me.