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Monday, October 16, 2017

WEP_Dark Places_THE KEEP



 Once Again, the WEP gives us a chance 
to answer a prompt.

Why not give it a try?

Here is my attempt.


{1000 Words}

I was alive only because I was a doctor and knew German.   

The Nazis surprised us in the forest.  We gave as good as we got.

Almost.

I was the lone American.  Five Nazis limped behind me.   

Ahead slowly walked their Carpathian guide.  

 In the mists ahead, I could barely make out an ancient structure, a Keep of some kind.   

The guide stopped.

The captain called out, “Why do you stop?”

His voice lingering haltingly over unfamiliar German vowels, the guide said, 

“We must turn back. This place is … evil.”

Swearing under his breath, the bloodied captain limped up to the guide and aimed his Luger at him.    

“That chapel will provide shelter from this damnable rain and a place to make a fire to warm our bones.”

The guide said,  “This is no place of worship.  It is a prison.  To enter is to die.”

The captain shrugged.  “No, peasant.  To deny the Reich is to die.”

 He shot the guide.  I shivered.   

There for a moment in the moonlight, it seemed as if the guide’s face looked relieved.



The captain shoved me towards the Keep.   

Amerikaner, you will make a fire for us and tend our wounds.“

His smile flashed like the strike of a snake.  "Perhaps you may live out this night.“

His promise was as phony as his smile. 

“We need to bury that guide.  Wolves will be drawn to the body.“

He laughed, "Predators need to eat, too.“

All the branches outside were soaked.   

The two privates still able to use both arms broke the rune-etched structure that acted as a barrier to the rest of the huge Keep.

As soon as the strange wall was down, a wind moaned from the darkness.   

Fear was bright in the wide eyes of each Nazi. 

The captain snapped, "Fools!  Are you children to be afraid of the night?“

The night. 

It calls to the frightened child in all of us.   

It seems to welcome the horrors with which we once peopled the darkness.

There's power in the night. There's terror in the darkness.  

The caveman knew.   

There were deadly things in the dark he did not understand.  That caveman awakens when the sun sets.

As a physician, I knew all too well how much science didn’t know about the body, 

why things went wrong with it, and how much Man still had to learn.

I did what I could to staunch the flow of the soldiers’ wounds.  

 My oath did not let me differentiate between ally and enemy.

The captain pointed his Luger at me as he put his back to the Keep’s cave wall and slid to the spot closet to the flickering flames.

“You will continue to feed the fire.  Should it die, I will awaken.”

His smile didn’t reach his eyes.  “Then, you die.”

I nodded and started to pick up the remaining pieces of the shattered barrier.

The captain growled, “What are you doing?”

“Collecting all the pieces now so I won’t awaken you doing it later.”

He grunted, “You grovel well, Herr Doctor.”  He pronounced it däktər.

“I plan to live,” I said truthfully.

I reminded myself that a sneer was the weapon of the weak, but his Luger put the lie to that.   

He fell asleep with the sneer still twisting those thin lips.   

He slept the sleep of the exhausted.

The rain pelted the forest outside.   

With prickling scalp, I saw the rain stopped inches from the Keep’s entrance.   

It could just be a trick of the weather.

The wolves who hungrily eyed the guide’s body but refused to approach it 

(and the Keep entrance) 

made me think otherwise.

I started to piece together the remains of the barrier on the rock floor.   

The two Nazis had been so weak they left huge chunks of it intact.  

 I made a passable mosaic of the barrier between me and the sleeping Nazis.

Maybe they were superstitious, but the two Nazis had not fed any of the wood carved with runes into the fire.

I survived medical school by having a memory for detail.   

I managed to fit all the wood runes in the order I remembered.

I no sooner finished than the wolves started whimpering behind me.  

 I turned on my knees to see the wolves slinking away, their ears down and their tails between their legs.

I turned back around and believed in Evil.


In the gloom, I spotted … something. 

My voice strangled in my throat.  Something was tottering from the darkness beyond.

A strange whistling sank and rose.  There was a low fire behind it.   

I could not see from what source the dim glow came. It seemed to emanate from no central focus.

But I saw a vague figure shambling toward us.

It was made of such blackness as I had not dreamed existed this side of the grave.   

The oily blackness had the musty feel of antiquity to it. 

It looked like a woman, but no human woman ever walked with that skulking gait, 

and no human woman ever had that face of horror, that leering grimace of lunacy.

A part of me wanted to scream at the sight of that face, at the glint of nails in the uplifted claw-like hand. 

Flabby lips turned up in hunger and ecstasy, it bent over the four enlisted men.   

Their wet screams were cut short as their writhing bodies blurred into mist …

 and were absorbed into the black Something.

The captain started awake, his eyes wild with terror.   
 He emptied the Luger into the thing that shambled for him.

It snared his wrist and kissed him as he gagged.

It shambled towards me but paused as it glared at my makeshift barrier.

I scrambled out of the Keep and into the freezing rain, taking my chances with the wolves.

The captain screamed after me as the Something dragged him back into the darkness.

“Don’t leave me!”

I called back, “Remember? Predators need to eat, too."

31 comments:

  1. Yet another excellent piece of nastiness Roland. I am glad to read this in the light of day.

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    1. I wrote it at midnight, so I can only blame myself for the shivers! Thank you for liking my small tale. :-)

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  2. Hi Roland - excellent and fun to read - well interesting definitely. Fascinating ... more story lines here. "Remember? Predators need to eat, too". wonderful phrasing ... 'leering grimace of lunacy' ... horror at its best - cheers Hilary

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    1. Cheers back at you, Hilary. I am so pleased you liked my Halloween tale. I cannot recall ... do you celebrate Halloween in England?

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    2. No ... we have the gunpowder plot a few days later ... November the 5th and all that ... when Parliament was nearly blown up ... enough fireworks in week, I'd have thought for us ... but no - dead souls are being brought over to celebrate Halloween with us!! Such is life ... cheers Hilary

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  3. I love how this ended. A happy ending to a tale of horror is unusual and very welcome. Your entries to the WEP challenges always have a pleasant surprise. Thank you, Roland!

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    1. The horror tales or movies I enjoy the most are the ones where the protagonist escapes ... if only barely! :-) You liking this story is a real boost to my day.

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  4. Good enough for him! I enjoyed this a lot.

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    1. I just love sticking it to bullies and thugs in my stories. Nazis make the best foils for my heroes. :-) I am so happy you enjoyed this, David.

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  5. My vote for the best this month!!! Loved this - and loved the karma. ;)

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    1. You just made my and Midnight's day with your vote. Hey, Midnight talks to the ghost of Lovecraft (he calls him Love Drafts), so he's good to have happy with you!! :-)

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  6. I like it that the Nazis were the ones to suffer. They deserve it, especially their nasty officer.

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    1. So many helpless and innocents suffered and died at the hands of the Nazis. I just wanted those human monsters to run into a real one! :-)

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  7. Glad the doctor got away. The end line was superb!

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    1. The first and end lines are so important in a story. Yes, evil wins too often in the real world!

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  8. Hello Roland,
    You have written a wonderful story. The reason I like it so much is because your story express hope. Good overcomes evil and justice prevails.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat Garcia

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    1. In most horror stories and movies these days, evil too often wins or the survivor escapes by being a bit monstrous her or himself. The doctor insisted on being a good man even to his captors. Still, the captain was guilty of murder in the doctor's eyes ... hence his parting words. It makes me happy you liked this little tale of mine. :-)

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  9. Good last line. The runes cast a protective spell. It is good when the good guys win.

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    1. They don't so much in real life, but I try to equalize it a bit in my fiction and still keep it "realistic". :-)

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  10. Last line brought a good chuckle! I love Halloween, it's always been my favourite festival, there's something joyful in the chaos. Although I shall never miss carving out a turnip lantern with a spoon - I'm glad we adopted the pumpkin!

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    1. I guess turnips were easier to grow and part with than big pumpkins! :-)

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  11. This is great, love that last line!

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  12. Poor soldiers. That was something to avoid for sure. So glad the doctor made it out. And of course, I love your writing.
    Nancy

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    1. Thanks so much, Nancy. Work is keeping so busy lately!!

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  13. Hi Roland. I'm still in the Twilight Zone as I've been trippin' around Europe for 5 weeks and haven't re-calibrated my body clock.

    So, you wrote this at midnight. It shows. If only all of us could be as good as the doctor. Glad he survived.

    No, we don't celebrate Halloween in Australia, something I'm glad about after reading a lot of these Dark Places entries...poisoned candy, rip-their-guts-out revenge, benevolent (I'm kidding) ghosts.

    Great to have you on board, Roland.

    Denise :-)

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    1. I always try to join in the fun. :-) Have fun in the Twilight Zone. It seems lately that I live there!!!

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  14. The stuff of nightmares, Roland! One lesson learned: keep your wits about you, and never fall asleep in a haunted place. If it feels unsafe, listen to one's intuition and don't go there, so a policeman once told me. Well done, as usual.

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    1. Your unconscious mind warns you of things your conscious mind sees and dismisses. :-) Keeping your wits about you is the main key in surviving most crises, right?

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