I remember it had been a hot day, the day of The Party. I was dying in the back of my friend’s car by the time we turned down the narrow country road that the letter had told us we could find the house on. The street was decried as Sodom Avenue by a battered wooden street sign with a bent stake. It was almost invisible in the gloom of the coming twilight, and the tiny wooded roads did not provide for placement of streetlights to light the night. We had been driving for two hours when finally, the house marked "13 Sodom Ave," came into view.
It was a sullen looking thing; tall and well-built but suffering from the passage of time out in the Sticks. Indeed, to the eyes of a 1950's city boy, this whole place seemed very alien and foreboding, not to mention a real drag. The sun had long since set behind the thick canopy of trees that made up the thick woods that surrounded the dark, narrow roads on both sides giving me the feeling of being oddly trapped.
When the old car's labored breathing ceased I stretched out my legs with a yawn and began wondering whether it was really worth the drive or not. I squeezed out of the beater and staggered with cramped legs up the walk the door, a beaten looking thing with a bright ‘NO SOLICITORS’ sign tacked to it. We walked up the ancient steps and rapped on the door, after a moment we were ushered inside by a short, heavy set woman of indecipherable age. Her hair was graying in places but vibrant, shocking red in most. Her eyes twinkled like emeralds, but there was something in her gaze that unnerved me. It was bright and unflinching, and I felt as though those shimmering gems were sizing me up, as one would a piece of meat.
I felt somewhat flattered. As we walked inside I heard the door shut behind me and the various clicks of locks being slid into place. We had entered into an open room, a wood burning stove set in the opposite corner of the room beside the Segway leading into what appeared to be a kitchen. Aside from the stove though, the room was entirely bare, save for what caught my eye next.
Set in the middle of the otherwise spartan room was a large immaculately carved marble pedestal, looking very out of place. I was transfixed upon it, this strange object in the otherwise barren room, the base was inlaid with gold and silver, ending in a slab that appeared to be made of purest crystal. However, my eyes were drawn away from this to rest upon what crowned the gaudy thing. Had I known what I know now, I would've smashed it to pieces were I able to. More likely I would have run screaming from the place. There, set atop the garish pedestal was a shimmering oval arch of some mineral unknown to me. It had the coloring of pure jade, but phantom traces of color were alive within it, darting one way then the next before leaving the arch entirely to dance within the crystal slab.
The colors may have changed, but the shape they formed did not; a perfect circle set in the center of the arch, wide soft edges formed before dissipating before reforming once more. But as I stared at this otherworldly obelisk, something happened that haunts me to this day; it blinked at me. A wave of color descending and rising over an orb of the purest red set at the oval's center. In an instant, the woman who had admitted us to The Party was joined by two others, both with the same fire red hair with gray at the edges and the same piercing emerald eyes. They smiled placatingly, but the way they cast glances between me and the pedestal along with the vice grip taken on my arm gave truth to their thoughts. We were then lead down, into the basement and as we descended I checked my watch and saw that the hour had slipped to 9:30.
As we reached the basement, however, all thoughts of the time and the strange obelisk were banished from my mind. The basement was lavishly painted pearl white and well-furnished in stark contrast to the barren upstairs. At the room’s head a bulky air conditioner fought off the oppressive heat of summer, off to the side was an immaculate wall lining couch, pearl white leather in keeping with the room's color. On the room’s opposite side there was a large T.V. flicking through channels as one of the guests perused the remotes.
On either side of him were bubbling hot tubs and set against the wall there was a sprawling bar complete with a scantily clad attendant bearing the same haunting visage as the women who'd brought us downstairs. As the woman from the door walked us to the couch, she handed each of us a masquerade mask.
Mine was rather ornate, covering both eyes and much of the nose as well. Pristine white, trimmed in gold and lined with sapphires, it was easily the most expensive thing I had ever worn. My friend was given a similar one, black and studded with rubies. We sat on the cushy couch and brandished the honeyed whiskey we had brought for the occasion. Cracking the cap we began taking long, deep draws on the bottle.
The room was crowded almost to capacity with people, some standing, some sitting, some talking, some dancing, some screwing in the hot tubs, some smoking and some even blowing down on the bar counter. With a shrug, we brandished the joint we had brought for the occasion and lit up as well. A moment later, the lights cut out and loud music began booming through the room as heavy footsteps came traipsing down the stairs.
Two more of the fiery haired and jade eyed hosts had joined the ones from upstairs, men wearing little but carrying a great weight on their broad shoulders. They smiled and settled a massive, ornate wine bowl down on the bar counter. It appeared to be carved from the same marble and crystal the Obelisk above was, sporting the same phantom lights that formed otherworldly characters and symbols before disappearing and forming something new.
The contents were an almost luminescent pink with slices of strange red fruit floating inside. For a moment, I thought I could see a trace of that same eye that topped the obelisk upstairs before vanishing. As they'd set the wine bowl down, a massive bed spread descended from the hitherto bare wall to the right and the red haired women and men were suddenly very nude and prostrate upon it, beckoning to all in sight with a hungry smile on their full lips.
Whereas the other guests flocked to the wine and the orgy bed, I was content to nurse the bottle we had brought, already feeling a strong, heady buzz coming on between the whiskey and weed. Besides that, something in those lusty smiles and overeager eyes banished all thoughts of sex from my mind. My friend tapped me on the shoulder and passed what was left of our joint before jumping to his feet to make his way over to the bar counter, the fishbowl-wine and the mass of lusty people leaping upon the bed to join their hosts.
I might have joined him were it not for the fact that earlier in the week I had ended a particularly difficult relationship and for the time being I was happy enough to pass on the carnal pleasures offered at The Party in favor of the intoxicating ones. Subconsciously, those hosting The Party filled me with a strange sense of dread, something in the way they gazed at me and doted on the guest's every desire filled me with a fear and suspicion that only a scorned lover could feel. Another glance at my watch revealed that time had slurred together into a hazy blur and that the hour now stood at twenty minutes to midnight. As the J burned down I took another long pull on the honeyed whiskey, taking solace in the burn within my throat and the fire in my stomach.
Not long afterward the sounds and smells of fervent love making began to overtake that of the weed and the music, and I felt vastly uncomfortable. That along with an urgency in my bladder made me rise and ascend the stairs to the house.
As I tried the door, I found that what had appeared to be wood was actually just paneled steel and that it was locked. Try as I might to open it, the door was heavy and unyielding until the sound of a heavy bolt being thrown echoed from the other side. The door scraped in a way belying its weight, and I was then face to face with one of our gracious hosts. She too was nude and her eyes were full of a particular kind of want as she ran a hand down my chest and to my nether regions.
“Bathroom.” I managed to mutter, doing my best to keep my arousal in check; I felt very unnerved by what was happening here. It all seemed too... perfect, too placating, too much an embodiment of hedonism for my sensibilities to be at ease. I had been raised in a home of hard workers, and the one lesson they had always hammered into me was that there was never any such thing as a 'free lunch'. This lesson, above all others, would be what saved my life. Or however much is left of it. She stepped back with a frown and pointed at a door beside the kitchen before descending to The Party Below. Nodding, I staggered inside and unzipped my fly but as my bladder drained into the dingy porcelain throne I felt uneasy and very much wanted to leave.
However, since my ride was busy downstairs indulging in all the things The Party had to offer, I resigned to smoke a cigarette and contemplate the bizarre Obelisk in the other room. It had changed, markedly, from when we had arrived; the formerly clear crystal had taken on a dark, red hue, as had the jade arch that crowned it. No more colors danced within, only a murky blackness that shifted and whorled. The inlays that crept up the marble base were actually hieroglyphic characters, glyphs, and pictograms of some long forgotten language. They glowed with a faint red hue, and I was compelled to lay a hand upon the thing.
As my hand descended, my watch clicked several times, informing me that midnight had struck. Suddenly, the obelisk flared with some eldritch energy, and the eye I'd seen before appeared, no longer a faint light but a massive orb, crackling with untold powers.
I felt its presence in my mind before images flashed through my conscious, dropping me to my knees. I saw untold eons pass in moments. Civilizations rose and fell, men and their gods came and went. But whatever resided within that Obelisk and Crystal offering bowl remained, as it always had and as it always would. I saw people flock to it over the ages, offering up sacrifices of live stock at first until that was no longer enough. Then they began offering it the blood of travelers and vagabonds, each sacrifice making them stronger, more beautiful, bestowing fiery red hair and piercing green eyes upon them along with inhuman longevity. But with each taste of blood, the Obelisk's thirst grew and grew, until a single passerby or vagrant was no longer enough to slake its thirst.
I bore witness to the growing of offerings until such a time when full-on wars and massacres were fought to appease whatever foul thing dwelt within. Then came the Purge, the rooting out and killing of its followers until few remained, and those that did were harried to the point of endangering their Idol and whatever eldritch horror resided there. It was then that they became more clever. No more could they hunt their prey so openly. They became quiet then, waiting for enough time to pass so as to be considered no more than legends. This was when they hosted the first of their parties.
The first was held in archaic Greece, pandering to the aristocracy under the guise of worshiping Dionysus, god of wine and lust. Then on to Rome, Egypt, Gallic France, Britannia, they moved silently through history. Adding much more cautiously to their numbers and victims, all the while gorging their Idol with the blood it craved. I saw centuries flit by like the passing of sand in an hourglass, all the while the Parties continued, the pattern of reaping the unsuspecting fools who had attended and partaken of the many vices offered by their red haired hosts continuing unbroken.
Then came the Inquisition, and once more they were hunted and harrowed until they fled across the Sea to the New World, beginning in New Amsterdam. This time, they were far more cautious, avoiding crowded cityscapes and the attention that would bring.
I saw... everything. All the thousands upon thousands of Parties... But I also saw what horrors laid behind the beauty of our hosts, what lurked just behind the facade of those burning emerald eyes. And with that, it all went black.
When I again woke, my watch told me it was past one in the morning. I picked myself up slowly and for a few moments, I could not recall what had happened. But then it all came rushing back to me, the visions that had flashed before me, the countless Parties and the brutal end of those attending. Whatever had been inhabiting the Obelisk had left its vessel, the crystal and Jade transparent and inert. I turned to flee, but as I came upon the door, I remembered my friend, and perhaps more importantly, the keys to his car he still had on his person. But I had seen in the visions what horrors awaited me down in the basement, and fear stilled my body. Summoning up a courage I had not known I possessed, I steeled my resolve, undid the heavy lock... and descended into hell.
The room was utterly dark, the smell of free flowing blood and liquor mingled with that of cigarette smoke and sweat forming a fetid and grotesque aroma of death as I cleared the stairs and entered the room. The lights were still out, and several moments passed before my eyes adjusted to the darkness. I very much wish they hadn't for the grisly scene still haunts me; The floor was littered with the party goers, all splayed out on the ground as though they had all suddenly just collapsed where they stood. I saw that most of the inert partyers had the paper cups distributed with the strange wine gripped tight in their numb fingers. But the visions had already shown me what was contained within the great crystal offering bowl, and the macabre source of the strange 'fruit' floating within.
Words do no justice to the sounds I heard, the rending of flesh and cracking of bone. Though the darkness that hung in the room prevented me from seeing, the visions had already shown me what lurked there, just beyond sight. I moved to step forward, calling my friend’s name in a hoarse whisper when I stepped on something and heard a slight murmur. A glance down showed that I had trampled on someone.
A young blonde. Though her body and features were still, her eyes were wide with panic and fear. She worked feverishly to try to make some kind of sound with her paralyzed vocal cords and face but all that emanated from her frozen mouth was a series of grunts and moans. Reaching down, I took her arm and tried to heave her out from the sprawl of bodies splayed about the floor, but her leg was tangled in something at the edge of vision. Grimacing, I pulled harder, and harder, until she gave a muted moan of pain. Her eyes seemed like they were trying to force themselves free of their sockets as her numb lips worked to form in a horrified scream. It was then that I became aware of the low growl and the movement that had begun emanating from the darkness. I froze and with a numb feeling, I became aware that my hands were shaking violently. As I trembled, the thing that clutched at her edge forward to this very day what showed itself in that brief instant I see every time I close my eyes.
Two great, glittering emerald eyes above a set of massive, bloodied fangs twinkling murderously in the darkness. The girl was torn from my grasp with a blood-curdling roar before being dragged rapidly out of the range of my light. As she slid across the linoleum floor, she looked up at me, at the light I held. Though her voice was frozen, her eyes had been screaming louder than her throat could ever have as she slipped behind the veil of darkness. There came the horrific sound of flesh and bone being parted as a spray of blood blanketed the TV screen.
Panic seized me then, but I couldn't run, not until I'd gotten the keys and a means of escaping this nightmare. I said a prayer to whatever might've been listening before beginning to pick my way around the bodies of the fallen partyers. The visions told me that the creatures would be more focused on feeding and offering up their prey to their Idol than me so long as I was quick and drew no attention to my presence. I passed more inert party goers, all of them pleading desperately with their eyes, but I passed them by, coward that I was I dare not risk discovery for their lives as I already had.
But search as I might, my friend was nowhere to be seen, and I refused to draw any closer to the sounds of feeding than I already had. I resolved to rummage through the pockets of the fallen, ignoring their groaned pleas for help as I ransacked them. Eventually, I came upon a man with a set of keys. But he had imbibed less of the poison than others, and he raised his voice at me, begging for me to save him from the things lurking in the darkness. I tried to silence him but this only seemed to give his voice further strength so I turned to leave as quick as I could. That's when he grabbed my ankle. I stumbled and butted into the wall, my shoulder heaving up the switch of the track lighting that ran the length of the room, the blood-spattered lights giving the room a pinkish hue.
Though I knew what awaited me in the Stygian abyss of the basement, seeing it in person froze my blood and the scream that fought to rise in my throat. I saw... them. The servants of the horror that dwelled within the Obelisk as they fed and gave up offerings. The Crystal bowl was half way filled with blood and that great eye dwelt within, swiveling too and fro with a macabre glee... but then it settled upon me where I stood frozen. Slowly, its servants lifted their heads to settle gleaming emerald eyes upon where I stood.
Their bodies had been twisted into horrid mockeries of the human form, sleek and trim, but possessing bulging muscles in the arms and legs that had been bent and reshaped to better suit their murderous purpose. Massive claws jutted from the mangled flesh that used to be hands and feet. Their skin was stretched taut with abrupt angles of broken and reformed bones jutting out at insane angles. Blood caked their sinewy bodies but by far the most horrific aspect of their features was the face. For beneath the glowing green orbs that now turned up to glare at me were the twisted and ravaged faces and visages of the women and men that had been our hosts. Among their numbers, I recognized several of the partiers as well... along with my friend.
Saber-like fangs jutted from their gaping jaws as the foul creatures peeled back their lips to loose blood-curdling shrieks at me. The air froze in my lungs, barring the shriek that formed in my throat as I spun and darted for the stairs. My blood curdled as I heard the voice of the thing that used to be my friend calling my name, beckoning me, his voice distorted and hideous as his body. Leaping up the stairs two at a time I could feel the heat of the creature’s breath on my neck, hear the scrabble of claws on wood as the monstrosities gave chase up the stairs. I felt a searing heat in my back but slowed not a fraction, throwing myself over the threshold and kicking the door shut behind me. But one of the creatures had managed to snake a claw between door and lock before it could close.
Frantically, I slammed the heavy steel repeatedly until I was rewarded with the sound of bones shattering and the monstrous limb retreated with a shriek that will haunt me to my dying breath. Gasping for air, I threw the heavy bolt and set my back against the door, fighting to catch my breath. But I would receive no respite, for just as soon as the lock had been set the door was rocked with a blow that sent me toppling to the ground and dented the thick steel outward. Cursing and screaming I tore off through the house, and upon finding the front door secured with a heavy padlock, and all the windows similarly secured, I slumped upon the ground, resigned to my fate.
That was when my eyes fell once more upon the Obelisk. As the pounding on the door reached a fever pitch, I was transfixed upon the jade and crystal, which once more seemed to be possessed by whatever force compelled these abominations. It was then that I seized upon it, and with great effort, I sent it toppling to the ground. Within my mind there came a screeching agony the likes of which no earthly force could reproduce as the delicate crystal shattered upon the ground.
The pain intensified, and once more visions flashed before my stricken eyes. A cacophony of hellish shrieks from below cleared the visions from my mind, and sent me staggering forwards, towards the kitchen. Within were hundreds of bottles of alcohol, and with single minded purpose, I began emptying them all through the house, pouring it beneath the doorway and upon the beasts raging within. With that, I walked back to the fire place and retrieved a roaring log with a poker, hurling it upon the floor. The liquor took to flame and suddenly the entirety of the house was alight with leaping flames. The air was filled with pained screeches as the battering of the door suddenly ceased. With strength born of desperation, I sundered the padlock securing the front door with several swings of the iron fire poker and ran off into the night.
For a long period of time afterward I questioned my sanity as any sane person would after experiencing what I had. But the blood on my shoes was real, as was the long, vicious slash across my back from where the creatures had raked me with their claws.
No matter how many times I told myself it was just a bad trip or a nightmare, the damn blood on my sneakers stared back at me, telling me the eldritch horror I had borne witness to was all too real. I know now that the creatures I encountered that night are not content to let me be. Whether those that I encountered that night perished in the inferno or not, I know I am not safe; for the visions that flashed through my mind as the Obelisk and its crystal shattered upon the floor showed me the truth. That there was not one...but hundreds of Obelisks, all strewn across a world that believed that there was nothing lurking in the darkness, each with multitudes of nightmarish creatures in its thrall. And now, I am known to them. I know their secrets and that makes me a threat.
I fled my friends and family soon after that night, to the far flung corners of the Earth... But I see them when I go out. People with piercing stares and glittering emerald eyes appearing out of a crowd. They follow me, always just a few steps behind, in another crowd, riding in a passing taxi. They don’t dare attack me out in the open but I fear the day is coming soon when there will be nowhere left to run, and there will come a knock at my door at some late hour, or a savage shriek coming from my home or work and there, in the dead of night, will be those glowing green eyes and blood stained fangs... and know that they have finally come for me, to collect what I escaped with all those years ago, at that God forsaken party….