Thomas Creeper and the Purple Corpse
Prologue: "I Want to Show You . . .”
He could sense the figure’s presence before the sound of footsteps.
Ever since Eddie had awakened in the dank underground room reeking of rot and brine, all days and nights had formed an unbroken circle. Only the horrifying ritual—if that was what it could be called—separated any passage of time.
It always began the same way: the sense of someone else in the room, watching from some dark, invulnerable corner, muffling their breath; then came the crunch of footsteps, crossing the piles of broken things obscured by the darkness; finally, right when Eddie feared his heart might burst from terror—the bright orange spurt of a match—revealing the palest hand, a claw of black and splintered fingernails.
In the radius of that match-light that gave little warmth the mask would appear, floating forward, the silver turning a wavy amber. As the mask drew closer, Eddie could see the blank bar of a mouth, neither smiling nor frowning, cut into the bright metal. Only the eyes—wet, twinkling—peering out from two moon-slivered slats, revealed a curiosity almost feral.
“Tomorrow, Eddie Jones,” the throaty voice would whisper, the cruel black eyes never blinking. “Tomorrow.”
Before he could scream, or even move—his body had been tied to the chair with a greasy black rope thick as his wrist, the chair bolted to the floor—there would come the prick in his arm, like the sting of a yellow jacket, followed by the sickening slump out of consciousness.
My name is Eddie Jones, he would repeat over and over, whenever he woke to find himself still alive. Whatever he’d been drugged with made his thoughts stretch until they felt thin and diluted, like drops of ink in a giant glass of water. He had to get it right. He had to remember what to say to the police when they found him. My name is Eddie Jones. I live in apartment 3C at Tide’s End Apartments on Weiland Avenue. I’m a line cook at Sappy’s Diner. My name is Eddie Jones . . .
But this time, waking from inner to outer darkness, he heard another voice crying out behind the damp walls:
Por favor! Ayúdame! Tienes que sacarme de aquí! Por favor!
Invisible gears. Churning in the reverberating chasm above his head. And the scream behind the walls dying to an inaudible nothing. Hours—days?—passing. The gears again, this time as loud as the churn of his empty stomach.
Then, all at once, the ceiling was on fire.
A piercing halo of light—a chandelier—ringed with candles, lowering down, illuminating the slick walls covered with mold and furry-looking moss. The light coming closer, blinding him like the sun, but not warm like the sun, not enough to stop the chattering of his teeth.
The chandelier stopping . . . a few feet from his head. The searing wax splattering down, scalding his forehead and eyebrows. His eyes adjusting, away from the pain of the light and the wax, to the ground, to the piles and piles of white things splattered with dark liquid. Not bones! Shells! A mountain of shells spilling all around him . . .
“Y-y-you don’t have to do this! I can get you money! Please! I-I’ll get you anything! Anything you want!”
A thin rod, poking out of the darkness, dripping with something.
And the cruel voice, no longer a whisper:
“Today, Eddie Jones! I want to show you my kingdom . . . my kingdom of forever!”
CONTINUE THE ADVENTURE AND PREORDER NOW!
Arriving in your mailbox around 6/15/23 via Black Rose Writing. Available on other outlets (Amazon, Apple Books, Google Reads, etc) a week later.