This personalized short horror story is for Decker. I hope this is dark enough for you, brother.
Father gathered the children close around the fire. It was village tradition to tell all children the story of the mountain demon once they reached the age of twelve. It was always done at night and around a fire, since the light of the fire was rumored to keep the demon at bay so long as it lit their faces.
“Children.” my father began. “You are now of age, your souls vulnerable to the one who’s name we cannot say. If you believe you know his name, through rumor or stories, never speak it again. He couldn’t hear you before but you will breathe life into him now, if you speak it.”
I share a birthday with three others in our community, two boys and a girl. The four of us were celebrating our twelfth birthday the very next day. The warning must be delivered before we were twelve and able to summon him, or all would be lost. As such, we were now gathered in the dark with only a roaring fire to protect us.
“Many centuries ago, there lived a man alone on our mountain. He enjoyed the solitude and kept mostly to himself, only coming down to gather supplies twice a year. Our village was young then, only a few dozen had settled into the valley.” Father paused, staring into the fire as if he longed for the story to take a different path. Finish with a different ending, if it were at all possible. But it wasn’t.
“All was well for many years until our village grew in size. Some of our ancestors became wary of the strange man from the mountain. People began to refuse trade with him. At first, he tried to show his good nature by giving gifts. Some took kindly to this but the Elders thought it best to cast out the man. They didn’t trust him because he didn’t participate in their traditions. One of the villagers that treated him kindly was a woman by the name of Kira. She would smuggle food and supplies to him past the village boundaries, so as not to be seen. Except, she was seen. On several occasions, in fact. The villagers brought her before the Elders who warned her not to interfere with their decision to cast him out. She argued and lost the trust of her own people. Rumors began to spread that she was a witch and he was her demon lover. Whispers around the village grew louder until she was again caught taking supplies to the edge of their land. A trial was held and she was found guilty of witchcraft through a series of terrible tests. Tests which, it is believed, the man watched from high up on his mountain.”
Father paused again. He looked exhausted from merely speaking the story to us. My mind raced as we all sat waiting for him to continue, knowing this story wouldn’t end well at all. Most of us had already heard versions of this tale from older kids in town, trying to scare us into our parents’ beds at night. Those stories, of course, were much more gory and embellished. However, the truth of this story now seemed so much more frightening than their versions had ever been.
“With each trial Kira was subjected to, the man grew more and more outraged. At the end of it all, the village people began to march Kira to the stake they’d prepared for her. Bursting from the woods, the man shouted and cursed at the people. Several men held him back as Kira was tied to the stake, kindling stacked at her feet. She wept while her fellow townsfolk jeered and shouted, both at her and the man.” Tears formed in my father’s eyes as he continued. “No one cared that Kira plead for her life or that the man begged them to take his instead. A flame was struck and the dry kindling burst into flame as quickly as an arrow launches from a bow. Kira’s screams were great but even that couldn’t drown out the shouting coming from the enraged man. ‘I will see you all in hell’ he shouted at them. He was howling his own name at the top of his lungs. ‘Breathe my name and I’ll find you.’ he promised them that day.”
Fear overtook Father’s tired expression now. If you’ve ever seen the true look of fear in a man’s eyes, the sight of it will never leave you. I saw that look in my father’s eyes that night, reflected by the fire flickering on his terrified face.
“Even as the shouts of blasphemy continued from his mouth, the villagers shoved him into Kira’s fire, which had already silenced her moments earlier. He clasped onto her burning body and vowed revenge with his last steaming breath. ‘Those who speak my name will never speak it again.’ he’d promised them as the fire choked out the last of his voice.”
Now visibly shaking, my father stood from the stump of wood he’d been seated upon and spoke very softly. “Who here believes they know his name?” he asked us. The boy directly to my right raised his hand and opened his mouth as if to speak.
“Do not speak it!” my father shouted, startling us all off our own log seats. The boy squeaked a yelp in reply and threw his raised hand over his mouth. The girl of our group cautiously spoke up.
“I thought you said we couldn’t summon him until we were 12? None of us are yet. Our birthday is tomorrow.” she reminded him.
“Do you really want to tempt fate, child?” my father scolded. “How certain are you that your birthday was correctly recorded? How certain are you that you were born just after midnight and not just before it?” I knew exactly where this line of questioning was coming from. My father had an older sister. She turned twelve two years before he did. She was always a brave one, so I’m told. Another boy dared her to say the name the night before her birthday, after they’d been told the story. Thinking she was safe and not really believing the story, she’d said his name. Although my father didn’t talk about what exactly happened to her, she and two others in our village perished because of her transgression. No one talked about it, actually, except to say that her birthday had been recorded ever so slightly off. She’d spoken his name shortly after the time that she’d been born twelve years earlier. My grandmother blamed herself so heavily that she walked off into the woods and was never heard from again. I guess that makes four people who died due to the demon’s name being uttered. No one has made the mistake again since.
Now, with the light of the fire flashing across our faces, my father stared angrily at us. “You’ve been told the story and been warned of the consequences, should you choose to speak his name. If he sheds blood, it will lie solely on your hands.” Father stood and walked solemnly away as we all stood and stared at the fire and then at each other.
I imagine twelve year olds are not normally supposed to have such heavy responsibilities laid at their feet so young but that’s the way of our people. I’ve told you all of this so you will understand the next part of my story. The dark, twisted truth of exactly what happens when you exhale the name Deh’Kar. Yes. I know I’ve just said his name. It no longer matters. The name has been said already and death has followed, as it always does. Now, I have no other task than to wait. I may as well continue the story, to pass the time. It won’t be long now.
Many years after the menacing tale was detailed over a roaring fire to mere children, I found myself in the unenviable position of retelling the famed warning. The task was passed down through families who’d been entangled with the demon. We are expected to pass down the warning to future generations as a penance of sorts. A way to prevent further destruction and death. Besides, who better to preach the dangers than a family who has endured the consequences of saying that name?
I began much like my father did before me. He’d passed away a few years earlier, a great relief to him even if he didn’t know it at the time. He wouldn’t have wanted to see Deh’Kar wreaking havoc on our village this way. The kids hung on my every word, shivering every now and then. It was a chilly night so the fire was not just protection but a welcomed escape from the nip in the air. As it turns out, that fire is not nearly as protective as we’d been led to believe but we’ll get to that.
I told the kids every gory detail of the story I’d been told, leaving nothing out but the dreaded name, itself. We always hoped the name would die off if no one ever spoke it but kids were always writing it and then daring each other to say it the day before their twelfth birthday. It had become a kind of right of passage. A very dark and dangerous right of passage.
I finished telling the macabre story and the kids sat as stone cold silent as my friends and I had been all those years ago. Except… One boy who’d stared at the fire throughout our time together was now crying silently, eyes bloodshot and cheeks red from the heat of the flames. He spoke quite abruptly, just after I’d noticed his tears as if he knew that I knew.
“Sir. I’ve made a mistake. I spoke to Deh’Kar today.” the boy said to the horror of everyone within earshot. Gasps escaped every child’s lips and I stuttered a “No!” at the sound of that name. He continued to calmly cry while he spoke, a contradiction of emotions that seemed oddly appropriate.
“I thought my birthday was tomorrow. I was curious. No one dared me. I just wanted to speak to him. To ask him why he still hunts us.” the boy explained. “As soon as I whispered his name, I felt a pulse. Sort of like a wave that came from me instead of at me. Then, an hour or so later, I heard a voice. It was deep and smooth in my ears. It said ‘I have you now.’ What does that mean?” The boy still didn’t move his eyes from the red glow in front of him and I suddenly understood why. I’d told the kids the fire would protect them so long as the light touched their faces. A lie, of course. This child was so scared that he dared not look away from the flames, no matter how the heat hurt his reddening eyes. I shuddered at the thought of what the fire really meant to our people. And what it meant to Deh’Kar. This boy was crying. He was mournful. He was still a boy, right? The demon couldn’t really have him if he was crying, I reasoned to myself.
“Go home, everyone but you.” I commanded of the kids. They scattered like frightened rabbits, moving swiftly in every direction. The boy, our demon whisperer, didn’t flinch. I moved towards him cautiously.
“How do you feel right now?” I asked.
“I’m scared. And I feel dark. Sad. Angry.” His voice deepened as he spoke each word and I knew it was too late for him. I mumbled something about him staying while I fetched help as I backed away from him. The fear I felt towards this meager, normally mild mannered boy was unreal. Running to our village Elder’s house felt like an eternity but was probably only about two minutes in actuality. I was so out of breath that I couldn’t fully form the sentence I needed but he’d known what I was meant to do that night so he knew something must’ve gone wrong. It did go wrong. It went as wrong as is humanly possible.
“Where is the inflicted now?” he asked before I could fully explain the situation.
“By the fire. On the edge of town.” I gasped.
“Is anyone with them?” Our head Elder asked. I confirmed he was alone when I left him.
“You shouldn’t have left him. He must be pushed into the fire immediately. You know this.” The Elder’s words hit me in the chest like a targeted blow to the heart. “Your hesitation to end the demon swiftly has damned us all.” he said with great condemnation in his voice. I stood with my mouth gaped open while the Elder pushed past me and ran towards the fire’s flickering light.
“Come with me.” he shouted back at me. “I’ll need help if he’s still there. I’ll need even more help if he’s not.” he warned. We ran at a good pace until we came within fifty yards of the fire. The head Elder, followed by several more village men who’d heard the news, and myself slowed and quieted our steps. As soon as we could see that no one was by the fire, we spread out and searched for the possessed boy who’s life would be ending just as soon as we could find him. A tragic situation that I was still struggling with.
From a few blocks over, we heard one of the men yell for help. “He’s over here!” was followed by “No! What are you doing?” The first thing I saw as I rounded the corner was the original boy whispering feverishly into another child’s ear while the child stared straight ahead, wide eyed and blank. The child, who couldn’t have been more than eight years of age, then stated “Deh’Kar” loudly and bluntly. The whites of her eyes instantly turned black and her once blank stare snapped fiercely to the man nearest to them. She glared at him, almost hungrily, and picked up a stick that lay on the ground as she walked towards him. He turned and bolted at the fire still roaring in the distance, hoping to get to it before she got to him. He did indeed reach the fire just as the little girl threw the stick so straight and with such force that it went clean through the man and landed in the fire in front of him. He lurched forward with the force of it and fell into the fire face first.
All of this unfolded in front of me, frozen with fear. I looked away just as she was approaching the fire, drawn by a strange gurgling sound to my left. Another child with black eyes stood over one of the men, blood running down his face while the man lay drowning in his own blood on the ground. This little boy had bitten and ripped the man’s neck right out and now stared at a woman who’d come out to find her daughter, the same daughter who now hovered near the fire. She didn’t understand that her daughter was lost already. She would’ve tried to save her if she’d had the chance. The blood soaked boy didn’t give her the opportunity.
It was at this point that I ran. I’m not proud of it. Not at all. But there was nothing I could do. Black eyed children were seemingly everywhere and I would be of no use to anyone dead so I ran. Into the bushes while no one was looking, I was hoping to hide there until morning and then make my escape by following the river as far away from this valley as I could get. But, I can see now that those plans will never come to fruition. The children grew too numerous and I needed better protection. I formed a large ring of branches and dried brush. Lighting a stick in the fire the man was now burning in, I stood in the middle of my makeshift protection and lit the ring ablaze.
That is why I now say, it doesn’t matter if I say his name or not. Deh’Kar now surrounds my fire ring in the bodies of so many children from our village, dripping with the blood of my friends and family. Carnage is everywhere the eye can see and I realize the error in my desperate grasp at protection. I cannot replenish the wood burning around me. Once the fire fades, Deh’Kar will enter. If only I’d pushed the boy into the flames. I couldn’t. I still saw the boy, not the demon.
The children circle tighter around my fire as I hear a faint voice, not with my ears so much as in my head. “I have you now.”
Thank you for your interesting answers to my story prompt questions, Decker! I had a lot of fun writing this dark and twisted story for my brother! I make sure to craft every personalized story to the person I’m writing it for.
If you, too, are interested in your very own Cynthia Seer personalized short horror story, email us at Cynthia@TrueHauntings.com for more information on package options and prices.
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Spook ya later….