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Ta'xet

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Deer head

The deer head.

My life has been a rather dull series of events. However, something in particular would herald the beginning of the end: the start of my descent into madness.

I was investigating a homicide in Vancouver in 2005. The murder took place in a small cabin in the middle of a vast forest. Apparently the man’s name was Perry Hammond, and he had rented out the cabin for a solo hunting trip. He was only supposed to stay for two weeks, but three had passed and there was no sign of him as of yet. When a search party was conducted, in the cabin they found his body…or what was left of it, I was told. I was called in to investigate, and the scene was absolutely horrible…the body was crushed and mutated, the muscles and innards turned inside out, ribs sticking out in unnatural positions. It didn’t even look human… it looked like someone just dumped a mass of blood and guts right onto the floor.

The unsettling part was…there were no signs of a struggle. No furniture was overturned, no windows or doors were broken, there wasn’t even any blood or internal organs anywhere else but where the actual body was. Did Hammond just…magically transform into a disfigured blob?

The case had us all completely stumped. There was literally no evidence to start with. Some investigators went as far as to say Hammond had invoked the wrath of Satan. But considering the baffling circumstances, Satan was starting to look like a tangible suspect.

I can’t recall who, but I remember someone had suggested that maybe we should trek through the woods for clues. I said that I would be staying behind so I could investigate further. The rest of the team didn’t argue.

Alone in the cabin, I started to probe around the den, where the murder had taken place. It was relatively empty; only two sofas and a fireplace. I looked inside and under the chairs, in the fireplace, trying to find anything, anything that could put me in the right direction.

Nothing.

The only other object in the room was a mounted deer head that hung over the mantle. The thing was massive; it had to be at least a 12-pointer. It surveyed the room with those lifeless, glassy eyes. I had this crazy idea that someone had taken the head and used the antlers to butcher Hammond…yes, I know it was crazy, but it was worth a shot. As I got close to the head, something about it seemed…off. I couldn’t figure out, but I started to feel very disturbed looking at the head. I stared into its eyes, and then it hit me – it had HUMAN eyes. Not completely black like regular deer; they were white with irises and pupils. I could even make out veins scattered here and there.

I ignored them and examined the antlers. They were clean. Nothing. As I turned around, something caught my eye. I turned back towards the head, and I jumped – the eyes had followed me.

I stifled a scream in my throat. I took deep breaths, trying to calm myself down. I thought it was a motion-activated robot, nothing more than a sick joke. I shuffled to the side. The eyes remained in place.

I heard voices outside the cabin – the team had come back. I quickly exited the room to greet them. They reported nothing out of the ordinary was discovered.

A few hours passed and we were ready to wrap up for the night. I was just about to leave when I realized I’d forgotten my suitcase in the den. I entered the room to, once again, find the head staring at me. I ignored it and grabbed the case. I was just about to leave the room when I heard a thunk.

I whipped around to find the deer head lying on the floor, like it had simply fallen off the wall. I walked over, picked it up, and mounted it back in place. I turned to leave when I heard another thunk. The head had fallen again, but this time it was a few feet further away.

I stared at the head. It stared blankly in the distance. Hesitantly, I went over to pick it up. My hand brushed its fur and I recoiled: the fur was warm and surprisingly soft. It was almost clammy to the touch.

I lifted it from the wooden mount and placed it back on the wall. I took a few steps back and watched it for a moment.

“You’re not going to get to me,” I muttered.

I turned around to pick up my suitcase and leave.

Suddenly a harsh, grating voice bellowed from behind: “Watch me.”

Again I turned around to find that the head had twisted its neck to look at me. The eyes were bugging out, almost out of the sockets. The flesh around the lips had been ripped and contorted into a smile. White foam dripped from its mouth on the floor.

I screamed and bolted out of there as quick as I could. I tripped over something and got turned around to find the head’s eyes glowing yellow in the fading light. I hastily got to my feet and scrambled out the door, where the rest of the team was getting ready to leave.

“In there…head…” I managed to gasp. The team grabbed hold on me, keeping me from running blindly into the forest.

“What are you talking about?” one of them demanded.

“In there…” I choked. “Deer head…in there…”

The investigators exchanged looks of concern.

“The deer head hanging over the mantle?” another said.

“Yes…” I said.

He looked at the cabin and went over to enter.

“NO! Don’t go in there!” I yelled.

“Calm down, man,” another guy said.

For several tense moments, there was complete silence.

Then he walked out of the cabin, confused.

“There’s nothing wrong with the deer head,” he told me.

As the cabin door swung closed, I could have sworn I saw the head wink at me.

We had to leave in five minutes stat, but I couldn’t. I had to face this demon and figure out what was going on. I lobbied to stay and look for more clues.

“If you say so,” one of them said with a shrug. One of the men, Emilio, stepped forward.

“I’ll stay with you,” he told me.

I didn’t argue with him.

As the sunset faded, we entered the cabin again, flashlights at hand. We scoured the place for anything. Just one thing that could help us understand.

I kept shining my light in the den. The deer head remained in place.

“It’s a beautiful buck,” Emilio said.

“Yeah,” I muttered, still watching it. It didn’t move.

“Let’s sweep the den again,” Emilio said, pushing past me. Reluctantly, I followed him.

Our lights surveyed the room. Still, nothing.

I walked by the couch and my hand brushed it.

I stopped.

Something wasn’t right.

I peered at where I touched the couch and prodded it again. The fabric moved, as if it wasn’t completely attached to the rest of it. Hesitantly, I reached inside. I felt around, and realized it was a wooden compartment, built right into the couch. I touched something cold and dusty. I groped around for it, grabbed it, and brought it out. It was an old diary. The leather on the outside was decrepit and moldy, and the pages were wrinkled and yellowing.

I opened the book and started reading. “April 15th, 1949: got two bucks and a black bear today.” I realized it was a communal logbook for hunting trips. I flipped through the pages, skimming more and more, until I found one entry for October 28th, 2001: “I shouldn’t have shot it.”

I turned the page. Nothing. I kept turning the pages. The rest of them were completely blank.

I turned the book around to examine the backside when something fell out of it – it was a white, clean scrap of paper, obviously much more recent than the rest of the book. I picked it up and read it.

“It watches me. PH.”

My heart skipped a beat.

I shined my light towards the deer head.

It was gone.

“Emilio…” I said, shining it towards him. He was completely still, his light on the ceiling. His eyes were wide with shock. I looked up.

The head was mounted on the ceiling. It had the same bugged eyes and twisted smile. It stared right at Emilio.

Its mouth opened – and when I mean opened, its entire lower jaw kept ripping apart at the hinges until it was a flap running down its neck. A set of human molars clustered the edges.

I screamed bloody murder and fell over, my light erratically flying around the room. The head started to laugh: one loud, baritone “HA!” that kept repeating and echoing. Its eyes started spinning in various directions. Something slithered out of its deformed mouth. It was a tendril: a dark red appendage that dropped down onto Emilio.

Despite my state of shock, I ran over to help him, but it was too late: the thing wrapped around Emilio, branching more tendrils, wrapping him up in a spiderweb. I tried to hold on, but the head reeled Emilio back up to its mouth and started chomping on his legs. He was yelling in pain, his screams mingling with the sound of crunching bones and sloshing blood. The deer kept on chewing up his body, as chunks of Emilio fell onto the floor into a sizzling heap.

Eventually the entire body was obliterated, leaving a huge pile of gore where Emilio stood thirty seconds earlier.

Still chewing, still emitting that ghoulish laugh, the head’s eyes swiveled around to look at me.

I ran out of that place as quick as I could. A tentacle tried to wrap around my ankle, but I shook it off. I burst through the door and ran wildly into the woods, crashing into trees and bushes, desperate to get away from that cabin as quick as I could.

I don’t recall the events that followed, but according to a report a search party found me staggering deep in the forest, breathing heavily, and babbling something about a head. Emilio was found dead in the same fashion as Perry Hammond, crushed and butchered. The investigation led to a possible culprit being me, but further investigation revealed that there was no evidence pointing towards me. I was clean.

The local people said someone had angered Ta’xet, the Native American deity of violent death. I wasn’t so sure. There were no such things as Native American gods.

But as I was haunted by dreams of zombified men shuffling towards me with deer heads in my later life, I paused and dared to ask the question: who is invoking the spirits now?

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