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Introduction:

This story contains incredibly graphic and horrific content, such as rape, murder, cannibalism, torture, and other soul-scarring events, with the main focus being on the supernatural. If these are not topics that interest you, then for the sake of your sanity, RUN.
I hope you dear readers have therapists on speed dial.



Chapter One

Mist filled the air in twisting fumes while catching the light of the moon like vaporized mercury, thickening the air of this frigid evening. With each step the man took, twigs snapped and autumn leaves crunched beneath his feet, making it exceptionally difficult to keep his footing in the dark forest. Further hindering him were the weights of the can of kerosene hanging in his grip and the tarp-wrapped body he was dragging behind him. The alcohol in his blood and the tears streaming down his face were the icing on the cake, making him trip and fall time and time again.
Through what felt like miles of dense forest and eons of strenuous hiking, he eventually found his way to the spot he had picked several hours earlier. Digging this grave had been like pulling teeth, with the roots of the trees knitted together like sheets of Kevlar, but he had made sure to dig a least a meter down, so as to make sure that this abomination would remain hidden forever. At least he had the daylight back then, he had to rely on the moonlight to return to this place, as he was too afraid of being discovered to carry a flashlight or lantern. His only relief came from the pure radiance shining down from the crescent pearl in the sky, slipping through the barren branches of the trees that stood around him like grotesque skeletons.
Even though it let him see, the light played tricks on his eyes. Every surface was covered in a mosaic of lunar beams from the spindly branches above, turning depth perception into a visual quagmire. Shaking aside his doubt and fear, the man grabbed the rolled up corpse and dropped it into the shallow grave, hoping that this nightmare would finally end. This had been a mistake, it was all a terrible mistake that should have never happened. But here he was, burying the definition of terror and with more blood on his hands than he ever thought possible, blood that would never wash away.
As the corpse hit the cold ground like an elevator with broken cables, the cries of birds began to sound out, cries of fear and anger. Looking around wildly, the man found himself surrounded by a ring of crows, scattered throughout the forest floor with many of them in the branches above. He had not sensed them when he arrived, and they had never even made a peep at his arrival.
Or… could it been that they had been screaming all this time, and he had been too disoriented to hear them?
The scavengers’ beaks glistened with blood, blood from the carcasses of several animals strewn about. Wait… they hadn’t been there before. Rodents, deer, and even a bear were slumped over in the surrounding woods, all in the process of being stripped when the man interrupted the winged scavengers. This pit had only been dug twelve hours ago, yet so many animals lay dead with no reason or logic in their falling. This was now a place of death, poisoned by the man because he had picked it to bear the curse he was trying to hide. Just by coming to that spot with the intention of defiance, he had invoked the wrath of the horror whispering in his ear.
The crows continued to cry out and screech, wordlessly cursing the intruder and the evil he brought with him. Their kind had always been considered ominous and associated with death and despair, but outside of the library, they were natural creatures, each of them horrified by the abomination brought to their presence. This scene of death and bloody feasting was now darkened with the arrival of the tarp-wrapped corpse. Even with dozens of crows screaming at him like murder victims, the man hefted the can of kerosene and removed the cap. He would burn the body while using the pit to keep the flames contained and hidden, then bury any remains of this crime against nature. He emptied the can onto the wrapped corpse, yet this only increased the screaming of the crows. Their cries were so high in volume that the man’s ears ached within his skull and he wanted desperately to cover them.
Reaching into his pocket, he drew a book of matches,
“Go to Hell.” He muttered, lighting the matchbook and dropping it into the pit.
With explosive force, the kerosene was ignited and the grave turned into a miniature volcano. The crows continued to scream in terror and warning while the man stared into the inferno, unable to see through the mantle of flames. Quickly their cries stepped on his last nerve and he sought to scare them off. Picking up a stick to hurl in the direction of a nearby cluster, he stopped.
Silence.
Every crow had simultaneously been muzzled with fear, utterly petrified. The forest was now so quiet that only the beating the man’s heart in his ears confirmed he still had the ability to hear. Sweating so profusely that he was now steaming in the chilly night, and with shivers crawling up his spine with such intensity that they riddled his limbs with muscle spasms, the man slowly turned and looked down. The flames had withered, having run out of fuel after consuming the tarp. With the plastic sheeting incinerated, the body was fully revealed, lacking a single spec of soot and showing no signs of even the slightest burning. The flames had been powerless against it, they could not stand against the darkness within that flesh and blood vessel. Looking at it and again realizing what he had done, the man struggled not to puke.
The cheeks, nose, and eyelids of the face had been removed, with the jaws sewn shut and somehow fixed in a permanent grin. The entire body was shaved bare and had been inscribed with hundreds of symbols in a language no human being could read. The symbols had been carved into the flesh itself and then cauterized to prevent the victim from bleeding to death. Lengths of barbed wire had been threaded through the limbs and torso like worms through an apple and then wrapped around the body similarly to mummification, each one having been placed to avoid the organs and vital blood vessels, while inflicting endless pain onto the victim. The fingers and toes were all broken and with the nails torn off. All signs of a gender had been removed; the genitalia region completely destroyed, the pectoral muscles severed, and the throat cut as if to destroy the Adam’s apple, though the man couldn’t remember what the gender of his victim had been.
But it was not the slitting of the throat that had killed this… person. No, they had been alive up until the very end. Two thick nails of black iron pierced the eyes the eyes. They were what killed the victim, completing the ritual the man had been forced to perform and turning this human into a genderless Homunculus, a symbol of mankind while completely devoid of humanity.
Even with the eyes skewered, the corpse stared at the man, at its creator. Slowly, the twist not in the corner of the mouth that held the stitches tight rotated, coming undone. With each turn of the ends of the wire, the man felt his body drop further in temperature, as if his blood were turning into a frozen slurry. At last, the twist-tie fully split, and even with the wire stitches held taught through the mouth, the jaws slowly began to open. As if friction no longer existed, the stitches completely slackened and the jaw hung open, making it look like the corpse was laughing.
Whether it was real or in his mind, the man did not know, but a whistle as sharp as a razorblade cut through the air and brought him to his knees. His vision flashed with crimson brightness as if the forest was now draped in red Christmas lights, while the symbols he had written on the corpse played in his mind over and over again like a slideshow. Around him, the crows were all falling dead while screaming in agony, unable to stand against the malice now assailing them.
“No! I won’t listen to you anymore!” The man shouted, covering his ears while digging his fingernails into the sides of his scalp.
Freeing one hand, the man tried to pull a layer of dirt over the dead body with a swing of his arm. While the mini rockslide poured over the corpse, not a single grain fell on the face. From his act of defiance, the screaming in his ears only increased in volume, while the bloody symbols in his mind flashed with greater intensity and speed. He could no longer see, the bright red incantations occupied his whole mind and seemed to smash down upon his consciousness with each flash.
He could feel them delving deep into his mind, poisoning every bright light he held dear and driving him mad. In every corner of his mind, his most cherished dreams became twisted nightmares. Friends and family in his memories transformed into grotesque creatures, were ripped apart while screaming in agony in front of Christmas trees, tortured and raped behind birthday cakes, and even went wild and began slaughtering each other on top of Thanksgiving feasts made of human flesh.
Paired with this psychological horror show, waves of physical pain swept through the man, pain so intense that he did not have the strength to scream. Swarms of gnawing fire ants were pouring across his skin like boiling water, bony spiders were sinking their fangs into his organs and making them melt, millipedes were carving openings into his flesh and burrowing into his body, his bones were breaking apart into splinters and tearing apart the surrounding muscles, and his fingernails were being pealed off. He slapped his body desperately, trying to kill the illusionary vermin that his mind projected.
“Ok! I’ll do it!” The man finally shouted.
The pain receded to a dull throbbing, and with just enough strength for a single act of defiance against the whistle, the man ripped his car keys from his coat pocket and stabbed himself in the jugular with all his strength. He pulled the key away, releasing a fountain of gore into the forest. Sprayed into the frigid night air, the hot blood steamed and shined like rubies as it caught the moonlight, before at last splashing down onto the corpse.
The man fell over, the life pouring from his body drop by drop. His death meant nothing, he had not stopped the spread of the evil.

“No one should have to get up this early. This is just barbaric.” Alex cursed as he got out of bed.
Nineteen years old, Alex was in his second year of college, though he lived at home and commuted each day. With September ending, his room had reached that bitter chill that made him question the effort of getting up and putting on clothes when his bed was just so comfy. Knowing that his alarm would never let him stay asleep, he stood up and put on the least-dirty clothes on his floor. Leaving his room, he passed by his younger sister Colleen in the bathroom. A sophomore in high school, she had auburn hair while his was a more dull brown. She got up before anyone else in the house simply to put on her makeup and get her hair perfect.
As per his routine, Alex wished and cursed that he had been able to find classes that started later while he stepped down the cold stairs and made his way to the kitchen. Always keeping his eyes pealed for omens to signal a good or bad day, he filled up a bowl of cereal and began his morning routine.

With the raisin bran from breakfast sitting in his stomach with weight that would last until lunch, Alex rubbed the steering wheel of his car to try and heat it up while waiting for his girlfriend. He and Christi knew each other from high school and lived fairly close to each other, but they only started dating last year when they found out they were both going to the University of Southern Maine. Parked in front of her suburban house, he perked up like a cat hearing the sound of a can’s unsealing as the front door opened and slammed shut.
Wearing a sweatshirt that would be discarded in just a couple hours and a tight skirt, the blond beauty rushed out of her house with a travel mug in her hand and her backpack over her shoulder. As she approached, Alex’s pants became tight from his bulging erection in anticipation of her arrival.
“Hey baby.” She said, climbing into his car and giving him a toothpaste and coffee-flavored kiss.
“Morning.” He hummed, looking in the rearview mirror before backing out of Christi’s driveway. As soon as her house was out of view, he turned to her.
“Well?” He asked with an excited smirk. In reply, she only held up a finger to tell him to be patient while she emptied her travel mug. Drinking every last drop of hot coffee, she then washed it out with a mouthful of water from a bottle in her bag.
“I swear you have absolutely no patience.” She muttered.
Putting the bottle and mug away, she turned to him and unzipped his pants. Alex’s car swerved from side to side as he tried to stay focused, all the while her semi-cold fingers opened his pants, reached into his underwear, and wrapped around his now fully-erect manhood. Pulling it free of its cloth prison, she embraced it with her warm wet mouth. A shudder of euphoria ran through Alex’s whole body the moment her lips touched the head, before proceeding to move down and take the whole thing.
“Well with how well you do it, of course I may be a little over-eager.” He shrugged while her blond head started bobbing up and down like a buoy in the rough sea.
This was a deal they had made, though in a sense, much of the deal was never spoken. Every day that Christi carpooled with Alex, she would give him a hummer for the road as a way of expressing her appreciation. As long as she sucked him off the three days a week they had classes, her car would be spared the millage and gas consumption of an hour’s commute. But for the record, half of that hour was time spent waiting in traffic, maneuvering through the city of Portland, and trying to find a single motherfucking parking spot. With gas at almost four bucks a gallon, this was a small price to pay, especially since she already blew him during sex. Yet they both knew in the back of their minds that if they got into a fight, Alex could call her a whore for it and completely gain the upper hand.
For ten minutes, Christi slathered his cock with the concoction of her saliva and his pre-cum, then slurped it off with the suction of a vacuum cleaner or licked it off with long sweeps of her soft tongue. The whole time he was driving, Alex struggled to keep the car from swerving as shudder after shudder shook him to his core. Just the feeling of Christi’s spit running down his balls nearly sent him into a stroke. At last, his self-control finally broke and a geyser of foamy semen sprayed into Christi’s throat, making her cough and jerk her head back.
“Sorry.” He said sheepishly.
“You really need to work on warning me. That is not the kind of thing I need so early in the morning.” She replied while wiping her lips and drawing her water bottle.
“So what do you want to do on Friday? I’m open for anything.”
Before answering, Christi took a long drink of water and even gargled to remove the sticky cum from her throat.
“Meh, let’s just order a pizza and watch a movie. I can feel the bug that’s going around inching into my body and I want to try and beat it with laziness.”
Good looking, kinky, lazy, and sweet as sugar. That’s what made her so perfect.
“That sounds good to me. I swear, this semester is kicking my ass. I really need to get my shit together.”
“Ugh, that makes two of us. I’m either at work or school all the time and it’s killing me. I’m too much of a sloth for the real world.” Christi pouted while slouching in her seat.
“Let’s just hope that today ends quickly.”

Swears bounced back and forth in Alex’s car as the young couple struggled to find a parking spot in the stuffed campus. No matter how early you arrived, all of the good spots were always taken and you would have to park at the very edge of the universe, that is, if you could even find a place to park. They had made good time getting to the university, having twenty minutes before their classes started. However, the only spot they could find was in the farthest corner of the campus, behind the local bookstore with a dumpster a few cars away.
“Alright, see you at noon for lunch.” Christi said with a stretch.
“Not so fast…” Alex hummed while looking around. The expression on Christi’s face immediately shifted, so clearly portraying her inner thoughts that she might as well have had “you have got to be fucking kidding me” written on her forehead. Ok, so she wasn’t always so sweet in the early morning.
“No.”
“Come on, no one’s around and-”
“No.”
“We have plenty of time, plus-”
“No.”
“You’re wearing a skirt. Not to mention-”
“No.”
“It would really help wake me up and-”
“Damn it Alex, what part of NO do you not understand! We are not having a quickie in the school parking lot!”
“No one will see us! There aren’t any spots nearby for people to park in, I can’t imagine a reason why someone from the book store would come out to the dumpster, and everyone else has already left their cars.”
“What if someone walks by? What if they see us and decide to snap a picture?!”
“They won’t even know who we are! Seriously, how many people do you know at this university? I don’t have a single classmate listed as a facebook friend. What would someone possibly say? ‘Some couple I’ve never seen before and will never recognize were getting it on without any visible nudity in a car so common that I can’t even remember what color it was’? And besides, if you ride on top, you can keep watch.”
“If I ride on top, I can keep watch. Yeah, great way to ask!”
“Please, just five minutes! I love you! I love you! You’re the best girlfriend ever!” He begged. In reply, Christi released a deep throaty sigh, the kind of sigh that voiced unparalleled disgust and annoyance, but also of giving in.
“Fine, but if you don’t make me cum or I end up late for class, you can forget about getting any more morning hummers!”
“Challenge accepted!” Alex countered before throwing himself forward and kissing her.
Resigning herself to the act and coercing her mind into getting into the mood, Christi leaned her seat back while continuing to make out with Alex. Short on time, Alex’s hand passed right over her breasts and burrowed under the waist of her skirt. Slipping into her panties, Alex began tickling the lips of Christi’s slit, soaking them almost immediately in contrast to Christi’s refusal only seconds ago. With their tongues swirling and dancing, Alex moved his fingers faster and faster until his hand was almost a blur. While he used his thumb to play with her clit like the joystick of a game controller, he used his index and pinky fingers to stroke the interior, and his ring and middle fingers to delve deep into her sopping wet interior over and over with frantic speed.
In just a couple minutes, Christi was fully aroused and ripped off her sweatshirt. Now it was her turn to start moving. While Alex reclined his seat back and hefted his again erect cock, Christi pulled off her wet panties and climbed onto his lap. Facing him with her skirt hiding their nudity, she settled herself onto his manhood and gasped as she felt him fully enter her without any difficulty. Holding onto the shoulders of Alex’s seat, she started grinding back and forth on his cock and panting like a dog as it stirred her pussy like a spoon in cookie dough.
Alex just lay back with a content smirk on his face, watching as she rode him like a mechanical bull. Wanting to take it further, he pulled up her skirt to reveal her round jiggling ass, as pale as vanilla but just glorious in its size and shape. Grabbing her ass cheeks, he squeezed them hard to savor the feeling of her soft naked flesh in his hands. With her blushing face showing her skyrocketing arousal, he even dared a few playful smacks to her rear end.
Soon, just shifting back and forth lost its satisfaction and Christi had to advance. With the windows all beginning to fog, she began raising herself up to the point of nearly letting Alex’s cock slip out of her, then slamming herself back down so that her bare ass clapped against his lap and his manhood struck the entrance to her womb. Her panting had now evolved into soft yet shrill moans, and as she bounced on his member, he helped by lifting her up with her arms, using her perfect ass as a handle. Yet no matter how engorged with lust she became, Christi never stopped looking around, scanning the surrounding area for anyone who could see them or already be watching them. The fogging windows made good cover, but they were also a dead giveaway. Plus there was the rocking car…
Pushing his luck, Alex moved his right hand onto the middle of her ass and pressed down on the ring of her anus with his middle finger. He was just about to push the first joint in, but Christi smacked his hand away.
“I told you no ass stuff!” She scolded.
“Sorry, I got carried away.” He said guiltily, hoping he had not killed the mood. Fate was on his side, as Christi was too close to climaxing to stop now, and Alex was about to launch his second load.
“Christi… I think… I’m going… to-” He grunted, only for Christi to cut him off with a yelp of fear.
Lying down on top of him, she confirmed the presence of someone outside. It seemed that one of the employees from the bookstore had come out to smoke. The employee was on the other side of the nearby dumpster with a cigarette in hand and the ear buds of his iphone pumping music into his head. They were well out of his peripheral vision and his music would probably drown out the sound of any creaking of the car, but if Christi sat up, he would be able to see her if he looked in their direction, and if she moaned, she would likely be heard.
But while the fear of discovery had pushed back Alex’s bubbling orgasm, it had not removed it. If he didn’t fire it soon at full blast, he would be steadily leaking semen for the rest of the morning. He had to empty it all into Christi or stuff tissues into his underwear to keep from creaming his pants every time he stood up. Aware of the thin ice he was on, he moved his hands to her thighs and lifted her up.
“What are you doing?” She whispered.
“It’s too late for me to stop now and I still haven’t gotten you off.” He replied before suddenly bucking his hips and forcing himself back into her.
“Ah! Cut it out you jackass! He’ll hear!” She hissed.
“Not it you’re quiet. I just need to finish.”
Ignoring her response, he continued bucking his hips and forcing his cock up into her pussy. Cursing him with a mix of “you idiot”, “we’ll get caught”, “stop it”, and eventually “oh god, keeping going”, she bit down on his collar to contain her moans and even began bouncing her lower body on his lap. She made sure her body was kept low enough to not be seen, but as her falls and his rises dropped out of sync, her peachy ass would bounce up into the view of the outside world. In the corner of his eye, Alex looked to the clock of his sedan. They had just ten minutes to get to their classes, and Christi still had not climaxed. This called for drastic measures.
Knowing this could blow up in his face, he put his hand back on the middle of her ass and pressed down on her anus. Before she could stop him, she forced his middle finger deep into her ass, feeling the hot tender flesh of her rectum. Immediately, Christi gave a gagged cry of both unfamiliar pain and undeniable sexual pleasure. She had never done any ass play, even when she was alone, so this was a completely alien experience and even a bit painful. But she also found herself hornier than ever in her life, confronted with both the possibility of getting caught and having her ass fingered.
Moving the digit in and out of her like he was digging a hole, he fingered her asshole wildly while using it as a hold to lift her up higher and give him more room to maneuver. Continuing to force his cock up into her pussy while fingering her ass, Alex struggled to think of a way that this could get any better.
“Ah! I’m cumming!” Christi hissed, stuffing her mouth with Alex’s collar to keep from being heard.
The sudden tightening around Alex’s cock and finger confirmed her announcement as she experienced a thunderous climax, one so powerful that she could barely contain her scream of ecstasy. Feeling his own body reaching the breaking point, Alex put all of his strength into fingering her asshole into a lasting gape and pumping her hot cunt as if his cock were the head of a jackhammer. Just as he was about to cum, her waist completely dropped down onto his and she became limp, with Alex emptying jet after jet of semen into her dripping wet snatch.
Alex’s finger was pushed out of Christi’s asshole and she slowly moved over back to the passenger seat with foamy cum running down her thigh.
“God, you are such as asshole. I can’t believe you did that.” She muttered, grabbing a handful of tissues from her bag and cleaning herself off.
“Oh come on, it’s always good to try new things. And besides, you know you like it.” He replied, teasingly sucking his finger clean.
“That’s not the point, I told you not to and you just- Oh forget it.” She groaned, angrily pulling her panties back on and storming out of his car with her stuff.
“Damn it.” Alex cursed, knowing that he had gone too far this time.

Alex’s head swung lazily like a tetherball in the breeze, with his eyes feeling like they were as dry as attic dust and holding up the steel shutters that were his eyelids.
‘Ugh, why did I think this would wake me up? I’m even more tired than usual.’ He thought to himself while the history teacher recanted information on the Indus Valley.
World History to 1500, he couldn’t believe his luck when he saw it on the add/drop list. However, the only class he could find was at 9 in the goddamn morning. With an hour to drive to school and his morning routine being far from rapid, he got up at the same time as he did every morning back in high school. He had tried coffee and even 5 Hour Energy, but nothing worked the way he wanted it to.
By all accounts, the history teacher was pretty good at his job. Professor Nelson was a man who appeared to be caught within several ages at once. While clearly advanced in his age and with hair that had long-since turned bright gray, he did not appear as wrinkled and weathered as someone in his sixties. However, his personality was of someone who had just given up on life… no, like someone who had been beaten by life. He was never mean nor happy, enthusiastic nor uncaring, slow nor energetic. The only problem was that he reeked of menthols.
“Mr. Stevens, if you’re going to sleep in my class, at least do so in the back of the room where I don’t have to see you.” The professor sighed, causing Alex to bolt awake after deciding to put his head down for a minute.
“Sorry, late night.” He yawned.

The rest of the day passed with similar exhaustion, and Alex eventually found himself eating lunch alone. It seemed that it would take time for Christi to forgive him, if she did forgive him at least… Her anger was evident, when instead of riding with Alex back home, she took the bus to her dad’s office in the city to get a ride with him. He would have to make things right with her tomorrow or the relationship would be over.

Getting out of his car with a stretch, Alex groaned in happiness to be back home. He didn’t live in the suburbs like Christi, the surrounding land was much more rural. But the houses were close enough together for everyone to know each other. As he retrieved his backpack, he glanced over to his next-door neighbor’s house. Tim Jones lived alone, having lost his wife to cancer a few years back. After his daughter left Maine to attend Harvard University, he hit the bottle hard in his loneliness and Alex’s parents had decided to sever their ties with him due to his ensuing behavior. There was a time when Tim and the Stevens family had been on good terms with each other, Alex had even gone out with Tim’s daughter once, but Alex’s parents had warned him and his sister to stay away from the neighbor now that he seemed drunk 24/7.
But for almost a week, Tim’s driveway had been vacant, his grey pick-up truck nowhere to be seen. Never in the morning, evening, or afternoon had Alex heard it swerve and thunder up Tim’s driveway, and Tim had completely disappeared from sight. With the pile of newspapers and bills overflowing from his mailbox and stacked up by his door, it seemed that Tim really was gone. Come to think of it, Alex did recall hearing a lot of one-sided yelling in the house following Tim’s disappearance. Had he just driven off and abandoned his home? No, no matter how depressed he was, his daughter still came and visited for the holidays, so he would never just run off and leave it behind.
CRASH!
Making Alex momentarily tense up and crouch, a bird swooped down and slammed into the bay window by the front door, smashing through one of the small panes. Alex stood still, wondering if he should do anything. A living bird would wreck havoc in the house and a dead one would stink it up. Plus a broken window was just begging for someone to sneak in and rob the place. On the off-chance Tim was going to come back, it wouldn’t hurt Alex to at least cover the hole with the plywood. Besides, after what he did to Christi, he needed some good karma.
Taking a hammer, nails, and sheet of plywood from his basement, Alex walked through the river of tall grass and onto Tim’s property. Looking through the window, he could see the lifeless bird sprawled out on the living room carpet. It had to be removed.
“Mr. Jones? Mr. Jones, are you there?” He hollered, knocking on the door. With no answer, he slowly turned the nob and let the slab of pine swing open. A putrid bloody odor washed over Alex, nearly making him gag. That was no dead bird.
Hammer in hand in which to defend himself, Alex slowly stepped into the house. Every movement of his feet, every inch he traversed, was like gripping hot metal as fear pumped through his veins like blood. He had seen this situation a thousand times in movies and it always ended bad. His heart was beating wildly in his chest, threatening to break open his ribcage, his body trembled to the point where it was nearly impossible to control, and his stomach felt like it had a noose around it and was bound to the doorframe. While doing so made him want to throw up, he forced his body to overcome the instinct to flee and moved towards the living room and dining room, glancing inside to make sure there was nothing dangerous hidden around each corner.
While there were no dead bodies, the walls were covered in mysterious symbols that he did not understand, as well as graphic phrases that only consisted of a few words but sent shivers down his spine. “ACHIEVE DEATH” “DROWN IN BURNING BLOOD” “SUFFOCATE IN DARKNESS” “ENDLESS SCREAMS” “FEAST UPON THEIR FLESH” “EUPHORIA OF ETERNAL SUFFERING AWAITS US” “LET GORE RAIN FOREVER”. These were but some of the horrible things Alex read, and if they weren’t carved into the drywall, they were written in blood and with shaky hands.
He should have left right then and there, he should have run as fast as he could and called the police, but while he was more terrified than ever in his life, something was drawing him deeper into the house, almost like he was walking downhill. The air seemed thinner in front of him, while weighing heavy on his back and shoulders, as if the air itself would not let him turn back. He felt sick to his stomach, he felt like liquid fear would start streaming from his pores instead of sweat, but he could not leave.
At last, upon reaching the kitchen, he did not feel the hammer slip from his hand or hear it hit the floor with a dull thud. His entire mind was focused on the view before him. The island table that stood in the center of the kitchen was caked in blood, with streams of the hard red crust running down the cabinets underneath like wax from a candle. Ropes had been tied to the four corners of the table, forming makeshift restraints with the table lined with fingernail marks. Coin-sized bits of human flesh covered the ground as if a piñata full of confetti made from skin had been ripped open in the kitchen. There were hundreds, no, THOUSANDS of half-dried peels covering the floor! On the surface of the table, on top of the layer of blood, there were also countless pieces of skin that looked like they had been burned.
On the floor at the end of the table was a pile of hair, shaved off of whoever had clearly died in this room, and sitting atop the mound was a chewed-up dishrag with a sheet of duct tape clinging to it. Most likely it was some kind of gag. On the surrounding counters, various instruments lay strewn about, each one painted with a rusty layer of gore. Butcher knives, pliers, wire, a box cutter, a blowtorch, and even a soldering gun were in full view.
Leaning over, Alex released the contents of his stomach onto the floor, just adding to the gruesome mess. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing, this was beyond horrifying, this was soul-scarring! He had eaten in this very kitchen, he had sat at that island table! He had walked where chunks of human flesh now lay scattered like packing peanuts! But as he raised himself up, something caught his eye. Sitting on one of the stools for the table was a spike of metal. Measuring about four inches long and with four flat sides, the thick nail of black iron stood upright with its point aiming upwards like an Egyptian obelisk.
Staring at the nail, Alex nearly staggered as he felt its image enter his mind, not from looking at it, but as if he were a computer and a picture of the nail had been emailed straight into his brain. The image… it was so vast. He felt like he was standing at the base of the Washington Monument, trying to comprehend the spire’s size while being unable to see anything around it. In his mind, his memories were pushed back to the very fringe of his consciousness as the nail took his full attention and thought. In seconds, he could not look away or think of anything but the nail. With every attempt to shift his mind to another topic or draw up a memory, the image of the nail would appear, foreboding and ominous in ways he could not describe.
Suddenly, a flash popped in his mind and the image disappeared. He shook himself back to reality and looked around. That’s right, he had to call the police.

Alex sat on Tim’s porch with his parents on either side of him. He was shaking like a leaf while forensic investigators streamed in an out, entering with cameras or leaving with filled evidence bags. He had been questioned over and over by the police, grilled on everything he knew about Tim, his daughter, and even his dead wife.
“Alright, you folks can go. But we’ll be in touch.” One of the police officers said as the sun approached the horizon.
“Ok, come on honey.” Alex’s mom said softly, pulling him to his feet and leading him back home. As they walked through the moat of tall grass that separated the two properties, Alex reached into his pocket and rested his hand on the nail. He did not know why he had taken it, it was as if a voice had whispered in his ear.





Chapter Two


“Who’s there?! Who are you?!” Alex shouted, kneeling in an endless sea of darkness. No matter how hard he pressed his hands against his ears, he could not block out the sound of countless voices whispering to him. Half of the voices were completely incomprehensible, the rest repeated the phrases he had seen in Tim Jones’ home, as well as telling him to commit horrible twisted crimes. These voices, he heard them with a depth that he had never before experienced. With normal noise, sounds met the ear and just stopped, but these whispers… it was as if his head was made of water and the whispers were ripples, able to move through every fiber of his being and leave no mental stone unturned.
“Kill them all.”
“Drown the world in blood.”
“Bask in eternal suffering.”
“Tear away your flesh and bleed forever.”
“Drink the tears of innocents.”
“SHUT UP!” Alex screamed, unable to bear the whispers violating the most secretive confines of his soul.
Pushing the whispers aside, a deafening crash like the snapping of a billion bones filled the darkness with such intensity that Alex thought his ears would bleed. At the same time, a bright red light shined overhead like a dying star. With it, blood began to rain from the sky, drenching Alex and the nonexistent landscape around him.
Alex bolted up his bed, soaked in a cold sweat and now hearing the beeping of his alarm. It was Thursday, the day after he had found that grisly scene in his neighbor’s house. It did not surprise him that he suffered a nightmare, but he had never experienced one with such vividness. As he reached out to turn off his alarm, his hand paused over the nail, the nail he had taken from Tim’s home. Four inches long with four flat sides, the spike of black iron looked like the kind of nail that would have been used in crucifixions by the Romans. If his parents knew he had taken something from the crime scene next door, they would freak out. He didn’t even know why he had taken it, but something would not allow him to leave it behind.
Reaching past the nail, he turned off his alarm and retrieved his cell phone. He had left an apologetic message on Christi’s phone and he was hoping she had replied before heading off to work. Being a Thursday, they were both off from classes, but only she had a job. His voicemail box was empty, either Christi had not seen the message (unlikely) or she was ignoring him. Oh well, with the house empty, nowhere to go, and no homework to do, there was nothing left but a relaxing day of lounging.
Wearing the same clothes as yesterday, he left his room and sleepily made his way to the hall. But as he took the first step down the staircase, he realized that there was something in his hand. Gripped tightly in his fingers like a prison shiv was the nail. When had he picked it up? He didn’t remember ever even touching it. Turning back, he returned to his room and set the nail at its resting place on his bedside table. After staring at it a little longer than he should have, he left the room and closed the door, but acting in tandem with the click of the door latch, a dull thump echoed from Alex’s bedroom.
Thinking the nail had fallen off the table, he reopened the door and looked around. No, the nail was right where he had left it. But what if it did fall? What if it slipped behind the table and he couldn’t find it? He would spend the day tearing his room apart in search of it, or accidently step on it and hurt himself… Best to be safe.
With the nail in his pocket, Alex began his morning routine.

Even with the much-needed day off, Alex could not relax. The TV played show after show and he had the limitless possibilities of his laptop computer, but he just couldn’t get comfortable on the couch. Every thought in his mind drifted back to what he had seen the day before and to the nail in his pocket. He continuously adjusted its position, trying to get it to feel right, but no matter what he did, he always felt like he had to grab it and change its position.
Eventually, he found his way back to his familiar stomping grounds: xnxx.com. Scrolling down the front page, he started selecting any movies that piqued his interest. While the movies rolled on mute, Alex’s attention constantly shifted from the porn to the TV, and back again, not quite applying any real focus to either stimulus. Though in time, the graphic images sunk into his psyche and he felt the urge to rub one out. Moving upstairs to his bathroom, he got himself all positioned and ready and looked for a good video to jack off to.
He soon settled on a lesbian bondage video. Manhood in hand, he started the clip and carefully raised the volume to a soft yet audible level, knowing that there was no one home but always afraid of being heard. The scene started with a busty brunette milf secured in handcuffs to a brick wall. Long black hair, thick full thighs, a stomach kept as flat as possible no matter what the cost, colossal tits that were as fake as they were glorious, and a cute face that showed her age. The years had certainly been very kind. She was wearing a purple dress and had a gag in her mouth.
While the victim put up a fake struggle against her restraints, player no. 2 strolled into the frame. Slightly younger and with blond hair, her glistening leather outfit broadcasted the part she was playing. The greeting was played out, the sexy blond leaning over and grabbing the brunette’s face and murmuring how she was going to ruin her. The punishment began with the ripping away of the purple dress, letting her braless tits bounce freely. At the sight of those glorious fun-bags, Alex’s heart rate jumped into a frenzy as he imagined wrapping his tongue around her erect nipples. Goddamn, her skin looked softer than velvet, and imagining his cock resting between her tits, smothered by them, sent a shiver up Alex’s spine.
The brunette rolled her head from side to side, feinting disgust or humiliation as the blond leaned down and fulfilled Alex’s fantasy, wetting the woman’s areolas with her tongue. She licked them both gently, humming to herself while reaching down and releasing the hold of the brunette’s panties. Lowering her head even more, the blond traced her tongue down her toy’s stomach, letting it gently flick the lips of her experienced pussy. The brunette emitted a stifled whine of arousal as her mistress’ tongue rolled around in her interior. Alex couldn’t help but wonder how it tasted, if it was the same as Christi’s or any of his past girlfriends’.
Swinging back to get her goldenrod locks out of her face, the blond smiled and began petting the brunette’s slit with her hand, polishing her fingers with a wet gleam. Biting her lip sadistically, the blond inserted her middle finger up into her slave’s pussy, spreading her lips and making her whine through her gag. Whether it was to cause her pleasure or pain, the blond began forcing her finger into the brunette’s pussy with sadistic speed, moving her hand into a blur while her slave moaned and cried out.
Seeing how roughly she was being treated, how she screamed masochistically through her gag, the movements of Alex’s hand increased in intensity as he watched the brunette’s sexual abuse. After thoroughly loosening up the brunette, the blond retrieved a large vibrator and secured it between the brunette’s legs. Powered by a wall socket, the large bulbous head of the “neck massager” began to buzz with a deep hum. With the hard rubber shaking against the spread lips of her pussy, the brunette released a scream of ecstasy through her gag, while the blond continued to toy with her. As the vibrator worked its magic, the blond stood up and resumed sucking on the brunette’s balloon-like tits, stimulating her perfectly in two different points.
In time, the vibrator and gag were discarded the brunette changed her position. Now secured with her face to the wall, she had her purple dress fully removed, granting the camera a perfect view of her peachy white ass. Again, she made a few pulls at her restraints, trying to make it look like she was being held against her will or some other shtick like that. After about a minute given to the viewer to admire the brunette’s cushioned milf ass, the blond returned to the frame, now with a flayed whip in her hands.
Giggling to herself, the blond delivered a playful slap to the brunette’s rear end, letting the black latex strands lick the woman’s flesh like a hundred thin tongues. At the sting of the whip, the brunette cried out in another mixed bout of pleasure and pain. Again and again the short whip struck her, letting her yelps echo through the set, and while her cries were very sexy, Alex suddenly found himself unsatisfied. He wanted more, he wanted more pain, more cruelty. He didn’t know where this desire came from, but it was ravenous in its intensity.
Clicking the “rough” keyword link in the description, he scrolled down through the results until he saw a familiar video. It was the kind of video that almost everyone on XNXX had seen, Alex had certainly skimmed through it a couple times, though something of this level never aroused him. It consisted of about five guys brutally gangbanging a girl; slapping her around, spitting on her, stepping on her face, etc. The whole time she looked stoned out of her mind or terrified. A lot of people called it rape, but apparently the girl was actually a real porn actress and she did all her movies in this style. As expected, the comment section was a battlefield of
“It’s rape!”
“It’s not rape.”
“This is sick!”
“This is fake.”
“She’s a victim!”
“She’s an actress.”
“You’re all messed up in the head! Shame on you!”
“You’re watching it too.”
“Kik me at blah blah blah.”
“Why do people go to XNXX when there is this great porn site yadayadayada.”
“My girlfriend thought it would cool to cheat on me, check out these pictures I took of her at whatever.”
Unfortunately, the comments sections of almost every video (AND UNFORTUNATELY EVERY STORY) on XNXX had now become the punching bag of pathetic spammers.
Alex only masturbated to girl on girl and only skimmed through regular porn when he was bored, but he found himself watching this video intensely. He was no longer jacking off, he now had his chin resting on his hands with a hungry look in his eye. He imagined himself in that room, taking part in the abuse. Whether the “rape” was real or not, he imagined it as being authentic with him as one of the perpetrators. This was complete out of his character. Sure, what he did to Christi was a sleazy move, but he could never rape anyone or even fantasize about it. Yet here he was, dreaming of the role he would play.
He imagined himself pulling her by her ankles across the filthy wet mattress and forcing his manhood into her gaping anus, hammering her with all of his strength while the other guys took turns forcing her to suck them off until she vomited. He imagined pulling her hair and smacking her makeup-smeared face, calling her a filthy whore and ramming his cock into her mouth. The gargling sounds of choking she would make and the foaming bubbles brought on by her attempts to breathe made his muscles twitch. He imagined watching as the other guys took turns with her, punishing every orifice and humiliating her on camera. In his mind, he pushed aside the guy with the ridiculous beard and took her for himself, ramming her pussy as hard as he could with her hands around her throat.
He dreamed of forcing his manhood into her brutalized body over and over again, dominating her and turning her into a piece of garbage. He fantasized about spitting on her, insulting her, slapping her, and dragging her around by her throat. He imagined fucking her bruised body with his hands around her neck, always around her neck. But as the fantasy progressed, his hold around her neck became a growing choke, with his hands evermore tightening and making her gag and gasp for air. Whenever she was just about to pass out, he would wake her up with several hard smacks to the face, bruising her before stuffing his cock into her mouth while she was disoriented. Then he would sodomize her, holding onto her neck from behind and fucking her asshole in the doggy-style position. Biting his lip, he would move as fast as his body would allow, making her scream and beg for mercy and cry in pain and humiliation. To answer her, he would donkey-punch her repeatedly, shutting her up even though her pitiful cries excited him.
By now, Alex was so deep in the fantasy that he felt like he was standing in that room in real time, as if that were his reality. He was on the bed, shooting load after load into her anus while she cried out. The other guys were gone, there were no cameras, it was just him and the girl in this very real rape. Once he ejaculated, he grabbed her by the hair and pulled her over. Silencing her screams, he forced his cock once again into her mouth, with the head and shaft drenched in his semen and her ass fluid. Once she sucked him clean, he pulled his dick out and rubbed it across her face while spitting on her, further smearing her makeup.
Still not satisfied, he pulled back his fist and punched her square in the face, breaking her nose. She screamed in agony and tried to cover her face, but the resulting stream of blood running down her chest only excited Alex further. Holding her up by her hair, he again punched her, this time in the stomach. She buckled over with the air knocked out of her and Alex continued with another punch to the face, whipping her head back and painting his knuckles red. She fell on her back on the mattress and he was immediately upon her. While beating her senselessly with his left hand, he forced the fingers of his right hand into her bruised pussy. Grabbing ahold of the side of her slit from the inside and outside, he squeezed brutally hard and pulled, tearing her insides with his fingernails and causing her to bleed profusely.
Ripping his hand out of her, he returned to her face and continued beating her savagely. Over and over again his fists struck her face, impacting with animalistic strength and inhuman cruelty. Every time he pulled his fists back to punch her, he would fling his arm and splatter blood across the walls and ceiling, both her blood and his. This no longer had anything to do with sex or rape, it was all about inflicting as much pain as possible and making her suffer. At last she passed out, her face completely unrecognizable. But Alex couldn’t let her go just yet.
Grabbing the sides of her head, he pushed down on her eyes with his thumbs. Quickly the pain woke her back up and she screamed as he steadily pushed harder and harder, grinding his teeth and nearly foaming at the mouth. With a satisfying crunch, he pulverized her eyeballs and gouged them out of her skull. Fountains of blood shot in all directions and her screaming reached new levels of volume. Deciding her agonizing screams were more annoying than exhilarating, Alex reached down and bit into the side of her neck as hard as he could, tearing through muscles and veins with his teeth.
Pulling away, he ripped her jugular vein and a mouthful of flesh out of her neck, and immediately the girl began to bleed out onto the bed. Alex took a few moments to chew on her flesh and savor the taste of the meat and blood, then swallowed and dove back in. This time, he clamped his jaws down around her windpipe and tore it out, robbing her of the ability to breathe. Now suffocating and bleeding to death at the same time, the girl couldn’t stop Alex from assailing her face with his teeth.
KNOCK KNOCK
The hard tap on the bathroom door nearly threw Alex into a heart attack.
“Alex honey, are you in there?” His mom asked.
“Yeah… sorry. I was watching a movie and lost track of time!” He hollered, shaking like a leaf.
Looking down he saw the screen of his laptop had gone dark. He pressed the power button but nothing happened. Were… were the batteries drained? That’s impossible, he had at least three hours of energy when he went to the bathroom! And why was his mom home, she didn’t get off work until… Alex threw himself at the bathroom window, feeling the blood drain from his face as the dropping sun met his view, saying its final goodbye before setting early on this fall evening.
‘How is that possible? How could SIX HOURS pass by without me even being aware of it?!’ He thought to himself. Was it true, had he been sitting on the toilet for six hours, not even aware of the passage of time, completely hypnotized by some twisted fantasy that made him sick to his stomach with guilt and self-loathing?! Never in his life, in his wildest dreams or nightmares, had he even thought of doing something so horrible. Rape, murder, CANNIBALISM?!
“What the fuck is wrong with me?!”

“So how’s Christi doing?” Colleen asked, speaking from across the dinner table. While her right hand was working a forkful of haddock, her left hand was under the table with her thumb tapping methodically on her phone.
“She’s ok I guess. She and I had a fight and she’s been giving me the silent treatment.” Alex replied.
“Why is she mad? Did she find the playboys under your bed?” His sister teased.
“Colleeeeeeen…” Their mom hummed warningly.
“Colleen, it’s 2013. The only people with playboys are those who don’t have access to the Internet or are holding onto them for the future collector value.” Alex shot back.
“Well I hope you two fix everything, I always liked that girl.” His father sighed.
“Dad, all this time you’ve said that she has the personality of plain cherios.”
“Well yeah, when you’re with her. When she’s gone, I see her as the possible mother of my grandchildren. You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” He teased.
“Please tell me you don’t see me that way.” Said Colleen.
“Of course not, if you get pregnant now, I’ll kill you. But once you’re done with college, I want more grandkids than I can count. I want you to start firing them like machine gun.”
“DAD!” Colleen screeched in embarrassment. Before the conversation could continue, Alex’s mom cleared her throat loudly.
“That’s ENOUGH. Let’s talk about something else. Oh, that reminds me, I saw…”
The conversation became muted, at least to Alex. He sat in his chair, chewing slowly with his face focused on his plate. Around him, his parents and sister’s mouths were moving but no words were being spoken. Everything was mute to him, even the food being mashed between his teeth. For some reason he felt very calm, as if he were a car running on cruise control. His body was moving automatically and there were no thoughts in his mind. But in the lowest possible level of his hearing, so quiet that he wasn’t sure it was there or not, he heard something. He could hear a whisper, or even several whispers overlapping each other. He had no idea what they were saying, but as the seconds became minutes, they grew in volume until they filled the void left behind by the silence. Very soon, the whispers dominated his mind, as if he were wearing headphones plugged into a radio set to a static channel.
As this was going on, his hand was in his pocket, gripping the nail he had taken from Tim Jones’ house.

Alex was again on his knees, kneeling in a sea of darkness with a deafening choir of whispers forcing him to cover his ears in utter futility. Was this same dream going to happen every night? Was he going to be suffering nightmares for the rest of his life? This time however, the whispers were clearer. Most of the whispers were just a general mash of commands for him to commit horrible crimes, but several seemed to actually be giving him directions.
“Capture a sacrifice.”
“Destroy the humanity.”
“Teach them despair.”
“Inscribe the horror!”
“Pierce their soul!”
“SPREAD THE CHAOS!”
“SHUT UP!” Alex screamed as the whispers suddenly jumped to an eardrum-rupturing howl. The instructions were repeated over and over again, with the volume increasing with each sentence in the cycle before dropping back down to a whisper.
“Achieve death.”
“Achieve death!”
“ACHIEVE DEATH!”
“Please, just leave me alone!” Alex cried out in the darkness.
Just like in the previous dream, the voices were brushed aside by a new sound, the sound of a cataclysmic crash similar to the snapping of billions of bones. A bright red light flared in the black sky above, hovering as a beacon of both hope and despair. Without a cloud in sight, blood fell from the sky like rain, drenching Alex and the surrounding landscape in gore. Alex sat there, knowing that there was no place to hide and that there was nothing he could do but try and keep it out of his mouth and eyes. However, the intensity of the downpour only increased in power with the passage of time, quickly becoming a thundering deluge that hammered Alex into submission.
Within minutes, the blood had completely blinded Alex and was running down his throat, no matter how tightly he kept his mouth shut. The salty iron taste excited him for some reason that he did not understand, just like when he suddenly went berserk in his fantasy and started beating the girl from the porn video. The blood made him both happy and enraged. It made him want to rape, torture, and murder. It made him want to light the entire world on fire and slaughter every living thing in his path.
But without warning, something in the blood changed. Instead of exciting him, it filled him with absolute terror. He felt like something was standing over him, something abominable and unparalleled in its wrath, like it was staring straight at him and planning its first strike. Kneeling on all fours with his head bowed, Alex shivered as wave after wave of blood broke against his back, waiting to feel some hand grab him or a blade tear through his flesh. He could feel it closing in, wrapping around him like a straightjacket and weighing down upon his soul like his own tombstone. This evil, what in the world was it?!
The whispers now returned, but instead of giving him orders, they were now mocking him and calling him helpless.
“You can’t fight me.”
“You can’t defy me.”
“You will obey my will.”
“You will suffer until the end of time.”
“Your flesh will be pealed from your bones.”
“Your blood will fill the air.”
“Your bones will be crushed into shards.”
“You will drown in the tears of your agony.”
“Darkness will enslave you!”
“Your soul will be devoured for eternity!”
“ACHIEVE DEATH!”
Alex bolted up in his bed, finally awake and free of the nightmare. It was the middle of the night, and just like the night before, he was drenched in a cold sweat and shaking like a heroin addict going through withdrawal. But as he reached up to wipe the sweat from his face, he realized something was in his hand. It was the nail, and he was gripping it so tightly that the edges along the four sides had cut his palm. Putting it down on his bedside table, he rushed from his bedroom and into the bathroom. Momentarily blinded by the activation of the lights, he squinted his way past the shower and to the sink, where he turned on the faucet and held his bleeding hand under the water.
Slowly becoming accustomed to the light shining through his eyelids, he opened his eyes and looked at himself in the mirror. The sight that greeted him was not pretty, and he found himself gasping in disbelief. Blood from his palm had completely plastered his body, as well as scratches and cuts across his torso from holding the nail. Beneath the dried gore, his face was deathly white while his eyes were horribly bloodshot. But as he looked back down at the sink, he found himself staring at the nail standing straight up on its flat head on the counter, still wet with his blood.
No, that was impossible! He knew he had left it in the bathroom!
Alex staggered back in fear, realizing the truth now. These nightmares, these hallucinations… they were all brought on by the nail. That… thing, whatever it was, had to be cursed or something!
Grabbing the nail, he forced open the bathroom window and pulled his arm back, about to chuck the metal spike out into the night. But with the frigid air now nipping his skin, Alex couldn’t move. He was as still as a statue, trying to work up the nerve and the courage to throw the nail and be rid of it. Yet no matter how strong his will, his body would not obey his commands. In fact, with his own body resisting him, fear was building in his heart. This fear was familiar to everyone, the fear of being about to commit a death-defying stunt. This was the fear that held you in place instead of jumping off a cliff or into a lake, the fear that kept you from letting go of the swing as a child and seeing how far you could go, the fear that made you pull your hand away at the sight of a spider or snake. But this fear should not have been ignited at this time, it should have been the driving force in making him dispose of the nail. It was as if his fear was being turned against him, harnessed as a weapon to weaken his resolve.
‘Alright, I won’t get rid of it.’ He thought to himself.
His muscles immediately relaxed and he walked over the window to close it. However, just as his free hand was going to lower the glass pane, he forced his right hand out into the cold with the nail in his grip. Sweat poured from his face as he tried to get his fingers to unravel, but it was as if his hand had turned to stone. This nail was controlling him, it wouldn’t allow him to let go of it!
“What the fuck is going on?!”

Sleep didn’t come easy that night, his mind was buzzing nonstop about the nail. He should have never taken it from his neighbor’s house. Was this thing the reason why he had gone crazy and killed someone in his kitchen? Were his dreams really tied to this piece of metal? At last he managed to get a couple hours of fitful sleep, and when he woke up, he was convinced that the whole thing was just in his mind. Of course the nail wasn’t cursed, he was just imagining it. The stress of the new semester mixed with his shaky relationship with Christi and the horrible things he had seen in his neighbor’s home were just getting to him and making him irrational. Once he figured everything out with his girlfriend and got his shit together at school, everything would sort itself out.
Yet for a reason he did not understand, he decided to take the nail with him. Of course weapons of all kinds were forbidden from the premises of USM, so if anyone saw the nail they might think it was dangerous. He would just have to keep it hidden and hope that anyone who did somehow see it would not care or believe him when he said it was just a good luck charm.

Alex sat out in front of Christi’s home, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel. If he didn’t leave soon, he would be late for class, but he couldn’t let this go. Christi hadn’t returned any of his calls or texts and her car was still in her parent’s driveway. Unless she had gotten a ride with her dad, she was here, and he would wait for her until she finally came out to ride with him to the university or tell him that it was over and she wanted him off her property.
At last, with clock approaching the minimum time either party would have to get to their classes, Christi’s front door opened up and she stepped outside. Alex stood up out of his car and watched as she approached him with a stoic look on her face.
“So are we going?” He asked, unsure of what else to say.
“I am, but not with you.” She replied.
“Come on Christi, don’t you think you’re overreacting?”
“Overreacting?! There was one thing I told you not to do and you did it, you did it without even asking me and after I had just warned you! And to think you actually had the nerve to pull that stunt when I was being so generous!” She shot back. She was choosing her words carefully, since her family was still inside going through their own routines.
“Look, I’m sorry, ok? I lost control and did something I shouldn’t have. If I could take it back I would, but there is no excuse. But don’t let one incident end our relationship. Never have I lied to you, cheated on you, or mistreated you. Are you really going to break up with me over a single bad move?”
“It wasn’t just a bad move. I’ve been a very easy-going girlfriend and never complained, but you broke my only rule.”
“And I’ll never do it again! I know I crossed a line, and I’m going to spend the rest of my life as far from that line as possible! Please, give me one more chance!” Alex pleaded. Christi bit her lip.
“Fine, come on over tonight, I’ll call and tell you when. But I’m driving to school on my own.”

While fixing his relationship with Christi had certainly raised his spirits, Alex was still unable to stay awake in his first class of the morning. After the rough night he had gone through, a lecture about reincarnation wasn’t exactly firing him up. His notebook before him, Alex struggled not to fall asleep, but he could barely focus, let alone keep his eyes open. He would have given a kidney to just stop time for a couple hours, lay his head down on his desk, and take a much-needed rest.
To the ticking of the clock in the background, Professor Nelson’s lecture melted into a meaningless droning river. Alex’s eyelids were so heavy, he felt like his entire forehead was sliding down his face and enveloping his eyes, like a sheet of snow devouring everything in an avalanche. His body felt warm, warmer than it had been a few seconds ago. His brain was beginning to ignore physical sensations and his muscles were slackening, causing his head to hang with his chin against his chest. All movement ceased, his eyes closed, and all outer stimuli were rejected.
SCREECH!
The sound of chairs moving across the classroom floor shook Alex awake and nearly made him jump. Professor Nelson was hollering about the assignment due next Monday, but all of the students were already busy retrieving their things and walking out the door. Great, another class wasted. With how little learning Alex was able to do, he would be lucky if he didn’t fail this class. Looking down to put away his things, his blood gained an icy chill.
ACHIEVE DEATH
These words had been scribbled onto his notebook over and over again, plastering the opened page with machine-like similarity. Once every line of the page had been used, the words appeared in a much larger font, scrawled diagonally across the paper. Had he really done this? Had he been writing in his sleep, replying the words he was hearing in his dreams?! How was this possible?!
Getting to his feet, Alex hurriedly began stuffing his things into his backpack, only for Professor Nelson stop him. The only two people in the room, the professor approached Alex as the frightened youth crammed his notebook into his backpack.
“Are you alright Mr. Stevens?” The teacher inquired.
“Huh? What? Oh… yeah. I’m ok. I’m just really tired.” Alex said nervously.
“I heard on the news what you found in your neighbor’s house, it’s a real shame that you had to see something so horrible. I heard that the police still haven’t found Mr. Jones or figured out the identity of his victim. Oh well, at least you didn’t have to see the murder itself or the body, right?” Nelson asked, walking around Alex’s desk.
“Uh… yeah… I’m glad I didn’t have to.”
“Though from what I heard about the scene, I don’t know if the presence of a body would even be any more terrifying. I can’t imagine what I would do if I walked in on something like that, though I hope I would be able to make the right decision… whatever that would be.
Would you say you acted wisely?” Nelson continued, walking aimlessly through the rows of half-desks with his back to Alex. Alex stared at him, feeling more and more anxious. What was he getting at?
“Yeah, I would say so. Though I wish I hadn’t thrown up on the floor. But I know I didn’t make any mistakes or do anything stupid.” He shrugged. The professor then turned to him with a very grim look on his face and in his eyes.
“Then you knew not to take anything from the scene, right? You knew not to touch anything or steal anything that could be evidence?”
The question pierced Alex’s heart like an icicle, chilling his blood and filling him with fear only equaled by that time he spent in his neighbor’s house, looking for the source of the smell of blood. Was it possible? Did Nelson know about the nail?! Was he somehow involved in the murder?! Alex shook his head from side to side, momentarily unable to speak from how tight his throat now was.
“No, I didn’t take anything.” He responded. Professor Nelson’s demeanor did not change, but he did turn away from Alex.
“Very well, good to know. Glad you didn’t make a bad mistake. I suggest you get moving before you’re late for your next class.” He sighed.
Once Alex left and the professor became the only person in the room, he drew his cellphone and selected a number on speed-dial.
“It’s Nelson, I think I found the nail. Let’s hope we’re not too late.”





Chapter Three


The headboard to Christi’s bed was slamming against her wall with so much force that paint was chipping off the cracking drywall.
“Oh yes! Oh YES!” Christi screamed, lying on her back and clinging to the corners of the bed.
Sitting on the soles of his feet with his hands on her thighs, Alex was thrusting into her with all the strength in his body. Christi’s parents had gone out to dinner with friends and her brother was out on a date, so they had the house to themselves and Christi was not holding her voice back. Trying desperately to keep up with her sexual hunger, Alex was gasping for air but also hypnotized by the sight of her glorious tits bouncing back and forth in countering circles. No question, makeup sex is the best.
With each thrust into Christi’s velvet sleeve, a deep pulse rattled through Alex’s cock, reverberating it and pushing aside even the slightest hint of softness. Goddamn, her pussy felt as soft as Vaseline-slathered latex crafted by angels. It felt so good to be inside her, Alex almost didn’t want to pull out, but the feeling wouldn’t be nearly as good without movement. To solve this, he was moving as fast as his body would allow, while using her bouncing breasts and the rocking of the bed as a gauge for his speed.
“Oh yes! Harder! Faster!” Christi screamed.
To satisfy her wish, Alex leaned over on all fours and began thrusting into her with his whole body, sacrificing speed for penetration. However, to keep up with her demand, he worked his muscles to the limit, especially the muscles in his stomach. By tomorrow morning, his celiac plexus would be completely unusable, just sitting up in bed would probably kill him. Now bent over her, he ended her screams by sealing her mouth with his and letting her stick her tongue down his throat.
Barely a minute after getting used to this new position, Christi surprised Alex with a sudden shift. Like a ravenous animal, she grabbed him and completely flipped the two of them over so that she was now on top. With a coy smile on her face, Christi pushed Alex down onto his back and began grinding on his manhood.
“So is it safe to say you’ve forgiven me?” He asked. In reply, Christi raised herself so that the shaft of his cock was exposed. Reaching down, she gabbed it with brutal strength. Against her grip, Alex tensed up like a cat with its tail stepped on and tried not to yelp in pain. Christi now had an evil grin.
“Not quite yet. You have to pay for what you did. So tonight, if you cum without me saying you can, I will make your life a living hell.”
Oh shit, the classic self-restraint punishment. One of his old girlfriends had pulled this trick on him and it didn’t end well. He just had to give her a month of daily pedicures back then, but with the mood Christi was in… it might be better to cut his losses and run. As the thought of his escape crossed his mind, Christi let go of his cock and then slammed down onto it, driving it as deep into her womanhood as possible. With no time to recover and grab a hold of his mental bearings, Christi began bouncing up and down on Alex like his dick was a pogo stick. Using the springs in her bed to launch herself higher into the air, Christi was pulling out all the stops to try and make Alex cum. Her tits were bouncing and rolling with such power that they looked like they would fly off at any second, while the cascading fusion of gasps and moans was like music to Alex’ ears.
Feeling her full body weight slam down onto his crotch over and over again while her soft wet pussy tried to coax an orgasm out of him like it was siphoning gas, Alex was barely able to maintain any sense of control. Christi had never been this wild in bed. Sure, she was normally a real firecracker, but now she was truly ruthless. To try and fight the eruption building in the shaft of his semen volcano, Alex was drumming up the most soul-crushing thoughts in his archives. Parents in bathing suits, locker room full of old people, DMV, genocide, c-span, fat people on rascal scooters, monkeys hurling shit, Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, season two of the Walking Dead! SEASON TWO OF THE WALKING DEAD!
Of course it worked, but as usual, not in the way he imagined. With Christi riding him like a succubus on meth, there was no fucking way any thought in his mind could try and diffuse the bomb, but since he had these thoughts in his mind while he was rock-hard, he was so filled with self-loathing and shame that his manhood was feeling too embarrassed to maintain an erection. With Christi’s efforts, the two forces cancelled each other out and he stayed hard as steel but without any chance of an orgasm.
With her thunderous bouncing not achieving the results she desired, Christi changed her tactics. Turning around to give Alex a perfect view of her ass, she leaned over on all fours and began vibrating her whole lower body like she had a martini mixer taped to her tailbone and was trying to shake up a drink that would leave James Bond breathless. Twerking on his manhood with the skill of a goddess, Christi left Alex barely able to think straight. Not only was her whole pussy massaging his cock like a fleshlight lined with vibrating rotors, but the sight of Christi’s perfect ass cheeks bouncing and clapping over and over again could not be topped.
The tightening of all the muscles in his pelvic region signaled his doom.
‘Oh shit, I’m cumming! Come on, hold it! HOLD IT!’ He thought to himself desperately. However, as the building eruption within him churned, he couldn’t help but begin to squirm. Keeping a close watch on him, Christi saw the signs and doubled her effort. Shaking her ass like a wild plasma atom, she finally broke his will and summoned a pulsing white geyser from Alex. Christi clicked her tongue disappointingly.
“Shameful.” She sighed.
“Listen (pant) Christi… (pant) If you (pant) could see it (pant) in your heart (pant) to just forgive me (pant)… I’ll EEEEEEEEIA!” Alex gagged just as Christi reached down and jammed her middle and index finger into his asshole. At that moment, every fiber of his masculinity was torn like a severed Achilles tendon.
“Yeah, not so enjoyable is it?! Now imagine feeling this while your sitting in a car in a stuffed parking lot with your ass completely exposed! Now you know why I’m so pissed off!” She shouted, trying to force a third finger in.
“Hey, I didIIIINT go that fOOOAr! You’re overreacting!” Alex yelped while trying to keep her out.
“One rule! I had one rule! If you break the rule, I’ll break the rule and break you!”
“Well then if you’re breaking the rule, I’ll break the rule!” He shot back, ramming his thumb up her ass and watching as every muscle in her body tensed up and the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. Turning back with a scowl, she pulled her fingers out to the first joint and rammed them back in, making Alex dry-heave and nearly jump out of his flesh. His pride on the line, he forced his other thumb into Christi’s asshole and spread them, letting him stare down into her back corridor.
At that moment, Alex forgot that Christi had her fingers in his ass and realized that he had his fingers in her ass… Goddamn, this was even sexier than that quickie in the car. With that realization running through his mind, his manhood regained its former glory with such power that Christi nearly jumped off his lap. Just like in the car, Alex began bucking his hips with all of his strength, bouncing Christi as if he were trying to buck her off.
“Stop it you bastard! If you keep that up, I’ll-”

“And stay out!” Christi yelled as Alex ran naked out into her front yard, looking for his clothes, which she had thrown out the window. So he had gotten sodomized, so his girlfriend had thrown him out. It was still a victory; he had great sex and Christi couldn’t deny that ass-play really worked for her. She came so hard that she actually squirted. Now there was nothing left to do but go home a champion and wait for Christi to call and say it was water under the bridge. After putting on his clothes with a confident smile, he got in his car and drove off… but not before setting himself down in the seat VERY carefully.

Alex banged his head against the back of his seat over and over, cursing at the sound of police sirens and sight of the red and blue lights flashing in his rearview mirror. Way to end a great night. Pulling over beneath a street light on a forest road, he quickly turned on the overhead light and rolled down the window, waiting with his hands clearly in view on the wheel. Supposedly, keeping your hands in view of the officer while they approached calmed any fears they might have had about an aggressive response and lowered the chance of them giving a ticket. Reaching the car, the officer shined his flashlight straight in Alex’s eyes.
“License and registration.”
Alex quickly did what he was told, trying to avoid doing anything that might make the officer think he was hostile and give him a ticket.
“Have you been drinking tonight sir?” The cop asked, skimming Alex’s license and the car registration.
“Uh… no. I haven’t done any drinking officer.” Alex replied nervously. This could go either way now: he really hadn’t done any drinking, so passing breathalyzer test would be easy, but that thereby made him more responsible for any mistakes he might have made, and those mistakes could cost him.
“Well you were swerving across the road pretty erratically tonight, care to explain?”
“Sorry about that officer, I fell down the stairs this morning and now I can’t sit down without wincing.” He shrugged. That would have to be his lie, it was better than telling the truth and admitting he just received a brutal three-finger prostate exam from a wrathful girlfriend wanting vengeance.
“Sir, step out of the car.” The officer ordered.
Shit.
In his condition, he doubted he could walk a straight line, and he couldn’t imagine how anyone reciting the alphabet backwards, sober or not. He would just have to hope that the officer would skip right to the breathalyzer. The officer stepped back and Alex climbed out of his car, wondering what would happen next. At least now he could see what the cop looked like. Early fifties, portly, and with a thin goatee.
“Now turn around and put your hands on the roof of the vehicle. I have to search you for weapons.”
‘Search me for weapons? Bullshit. This is turning into a bad porno. Never in my life did I think I would be praying to only be sodomized once in one night.’ Alex thought to himself as he did what he was told.
The officer gave him a brief pat-down, checking all of his pockets and even sweeping him with a metal detector. Nothing was found, but then the cop shined his light on the backpack in the passenger seat of Alex’s car. The nail was inside.
“Take out that bag.”
“Hey, you need a warrant to search my car or anything inside it!”
“Take out the bag or I’ll arrest you for DUI right now!” The cop threatened.
Feeling the situation spiraling out of control, Alex retrieved his backpack and handed it to the officer. As he moved his wand over it, the alarm let out a screech right over the pouch that held the nail. Alex’s blood turned to glacial melt as the officer reached into the pouch and snatched the thick iron spike.
“Well now, what do we have here?”
“I do contracting work when I’m not in school, I use that to create straight vertical lines. It’s just missing the string.” Alex quickly spouted out, unable to think of a better lie.
“That’s it, you’re coming with-” A sudden growl of static from the officer’s radio cut him off, hissing so loudly that it nearly made Alex jump. In the squad car nearby, the dash-mounted camera shut off and the small red and green diodes on the metal detector popped like bubble wrap. All of the hair on Alex’s neck stood on end as several whispers emanated from the radio on the officer’s shoulder, incomprehensible to both men.
“Who is this? Identify yourself!” The cop growled, speaking into the radio. The whispers only continued, but the focus of officer and Alex were drawn away as the pool of light they were standing in from the lamp post above began to change in hue and turn red. They looked up, watching as the bulb filled with a crimson liquid, as if it were leaking in from the socket. Blood, the bulb was filling with blood, now bathing the two men in an ominous light. It was exactly like the light from Alex’s dreams, the blood-red sun.
“Oh my god…” The cop gasped, looking up at the crimson light and dropping the nail onto the ground.
High as whistles and as low as dying moans, a choir of blood-curdling screams exploded from the officer’s radio, each terrifying cry as loud as an air horn. The screams were mixed, portraying agonizing pain, traumatizing fear, a desperation to escape or be given death, and evil and wickedness that the human mind just could not comprehend. The screams pierced Alex’s skull like a dozen power drills, making him feel like he had just been hit in the forehead by a load of buckshot. Screaming in agony like the voices on the radio, he crumpled to the ground and fell on his back, staring up at the red light above, burning, almost angrily.
From the light, a symbol flashed in Alex’s eyes, almost as if it had fallen from the street lamp and landed on his face with the weight of a cinderblock. The symbol was simple in its design, a mere diagonal slash with one dot on the upper left side and two dots on the lower left. However, the symbol stamped itself on every memory in Alex’s mind, imprinting itself so that whenever he thought back to a scene from his past, that symbol occupied his full view like a fly on the contact lens of his mind’s eye. The symbol disappeared but a new one took its place, slamming Alex’s mind with the same physical force. A circle with a vertical line joined to the right side. Like the first symbol, it imprinted itself on every memory Alex had. Every time he drew up a mental image, the two symbols stood, the first resized to accommodate the second.
Over and over again, new symbols were branded into his consciousness, forcing so much information into his mind that he felt like his head would explode like an egg in a microwave. A few feet away, the police officer had ripped off his coat and was trying to silence his radio so that he wouldn’t have to suffer the screaming in his ear. Finally throwing it aside, he was about to help Alex when he felt a sharp pain on his right hand. Looking down, he spotted a large spider on the back of his wrist, same body shape as a black widow, but without the red markings.
Feeling his hand beginning to cramp up, he squashed the spider and wiped the remains off on his pants. A second sting on his left elbow signaled the beginning of a panic attack, and as he swatted the spider under his sleeve, he felt three more suddenly appear in his pants and sink their teeth into his flesh. Now yelling in terror and pain, he looked down to kill the arachnids and felt his heart nearly stop at the sight of thousands of spiders skittering across the pavement towards his feet. With their black bodies camouflaged with the black pavement, it almost looked like a river of liquid shadows was running across the ground towards him.
Taking out his can of mace, he sprayed the acrid mist wildly at the ground around him, trying to create a moat that the spiders would not cross. His efforts failed and the spiders swarmed across his shoes and charged up his legs, ducking out of sight under his pants. Scrambling over each other in desperation, they sunk their fangs into his flesh and injected their poison. Feeling his body tighten up from the toxins taking effect, the cop gagged in pain and fell to his hands and knees. He was no longer able to swat at the spiders and they were free to swarm up his arms and cover his entire body.
More terrified than ever in his life, the seasoned officer watched as the abdomens of every spider seemed to melt into a think dark liquid, only for him to realize that each spider was carrying its young on its back. As hungry as their parents, the black specks poured out across any exposed skin and immediately began tearing into him. Like piranhas stripping a cow, the spiders and their young peeled away layer after layer of flesh. The cop was able to give one last scream of agony before the ravenous arachnids forced their way down his throat and began feasting on his eyes.
The officer fell dead to the ground, killed from both the spiders’ poison and the shear amount of blood loss when they dug down deep enough through his flesh to rupture almost every surface vein on his body. Nearby, Alex had passed out, unable to withstand the mental force-feeding. With the nail having achieved its goal, the spiders lost their black shade and immediately abandoned their meal and fled, having regained control of themselves and now forming an expanding puddle in their exodus. Not a single spider or their young even approached Alex or the nail.
Once the spiders were gone, the nail slowly rolled away.

The sound of a beeping heart monitor was the first thing Alex could sense, the next was the feel of bed sheets and the pillow beneath his head, and the last thing he sensed was the cold bite of the metal handcuffs around his right wrist. Opening his eyes, he looked around while trying to figure out the last thing he remembered. He was alone in a hospital room with his wrist handcuffed to the side of the bed and a heart monitor clip on his finger. The air smelled like gauze and cleaning chemicals and the lights were blisteringly bright.
He rubbed his eyes repeatedly, believing his vision to be blurred. Everything he looked at seemed red, but as his eyesight sharpened, other colors came back into view. Instead of being red, every surface in the hospital room was covered in blood-red symbols, the same symbols that had been drilled into his head back on the street. It was as if his eyes were two projectors casting the image of all the symbols onto everything within his view. As if learning it for the first time, he looked at his hand, realizing only now that he was handcuffed.
“What the fuck happened to me?!” He exclaimed.

“What the fuck happened to him?” The police commissioner asked, speaking to the mortician and standing over the carcass of Officer Michaels in the police station morgue.
The body was horribly swollen with the flesh looking like it had been decomposing for a month instead of twelve hours. The officer looked like an effigy of himself made of road-kill by a blind artist. The mortician was pulling off his gloves with shaky hands, trying over and over again to straighten the glasses on his lined face. The commissioner had the same build as the cop, but with gray hair and a clean-shaven face. At the head of the table stood Professor Nelson, taking a drag from a crooked cigarette. Due to the current situation, no one had bothered to tell him that smoking was not allowed in the building, especially in the morgue.
“It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before; I found enough spider venom in his veins to wipe out a quarter of Portland, I don’t know how he managed to survive as long as he did. Look at all the damage to the outer layers of his skin; it’s the result of countless pairs of tiny fangs tearing into him like starving hyenas. Beneath it, the muscles have almost completely melted from the venom of the spiders. It appears to be some sort of neurotoxin.”
“Jesus, I thought we didn’t have any spiders of that caliber in Maine!” The commissioner gasped.
“We don’t, and as far as the records show, no other place has them. I had the venom analyzed, and while many of the key proteins are found in every spider’s arsenal and only in the arsenal of spiders, no spider on earth has this exact form of toxin. To be honest, I can’t rule it a murder because I just can’t for the life of me imagine how a human being could orchestrate this death. Unless the guy you found had just robbed a genetics laboratory and was trying to become Spiderman, he didn’t kill your man. If I had to guess, I’d say your man fainted out horror when he saw… whatever the hell did this.” The mortician sighed. The commissioner turned to Nelson with his face contorted into a snarl.
“This man had a wife and two kids! I knew him for fifteen years! Would you like to explain to me why you sent one of my best cops to his death?!” He yelled. Nelson took another drag from his cigarette and released the smoke in a cloud that shrouded his face.
“Commissioner, if you value your life, your sanity, and your future, you’ll cremate this man before anyone outside of this room can see him, come up with a good lie, and tell it for the rest of your life. The feds have deputized me with full authority for this and even they don’t know what they’re dealing with, except for a very closed-circuit division. Trust me, what caused this man’s death is something that you want to steer clear from. I know you’re feeling like you would give anything to know the truth, but hear me and believe me: the answer will destroy you just like it did me.
Now I need to talk to everyone who came into close proximity with Officer Michaels and Mr. Stevens; the civilian who called 911, the EMTs, the ambulance drivers, the staff at the hospital, and anyone who was on that road tonight. But first, I need to know of Alex Stevens’ condition.”
“He’s awake but he doesn’t remember anything. He keeps saying he can barely see, his vision is messed up.” The commissioner sighed.
“Alright, well if you have him here, I’ll try talking to him. He’s one of my students, I might be able to pull something from his psyche. But I strongly advise that you cremate that body now.” Nelson established. About to exit the morgue, he turned back to the commissioner and mortician.
“Was he wearing gloves?”
“What?” Both men asked.
“Michaels, did he have gloves on when we set him up to pull over Alex Stevens? Did you do as I told you?”
“No gloves were found on his hands or at the scene.” The mortician shrugged.
“It’s a shame, this whole catastrophe could have possibly been avoided.” Nelson muttered as he walked out of the room.

Alex sat in the interrogation room, surrounded on all sides by cinderblock walls with a table bolted to the floor in front of him. The lights above flickered and buzzed repeatedly, and he had a feeling that the airflow to the room had been cut off. Just like in every movie and TV show, a wide two-way mirror occupied the wall in front of him. Was someone watching him? Alex was resting his forehead on the table, trying to remember what had happened the night before and figure out how he had come to this. There was no way he could have killed a police officer, no way! And these symbols, the symbols that covered everything like wrapping paper, it was because of them that his life was spiraling out of control. He even saw them when he closed his eyes, glowing like neon and making sleep almost impossible.
He perked his head up as he heard the flicking of lights nearby. Someone had turned the lights on in the observation room, making the two-way mirror a simple window. At the same time, the only door opened, and of all the people in the world to enter, it was Professor Nelson.
“Professor Nelson? What… what are you doing here?” Alex stammered, having felt his confusion now expand to new limits that he thought otherwise impossible.
Before speaking, Nelson put out his cigarette on the ground and sat down on the other side of the table. Reaching under the table, he checked to make sure the built in tape recorder was deactivated. This conversation had to be kept top secret, and with the lights on in the other room, he would know if someone was outside watching. The professor drew a folded sheet of paper from his coat and laid it out in front of Alex, with dozens of the symbols Alex now saw scribbled on in pen.
“I imagine at this point, you’re now seeing these symbols wherever you look, as if you have a big projector on top of your head that is shining them on every surface. Every time you try to draw up a memory, one of those symbols obscures the mental image. Am I correct?” Nelson shot off. Alex didn’t know what to say, the professor had listed his predicament exactly. But of all people, why was HE here?
“How did you know that?” Alex asked fearfully.
“Because I’m the world’s foremost expert on the Black Stigmata.” The professor said while he held the paper over his cigarette lighter and let the flames destroy the evil written on it.
“The Black… what?”
Nelson took a moment to light up another cigarette.
“Stigmata, they are the wounds one receives when they are crucified. As everyone knows, Jesus, the most famous case of crucifixion in history, had nails driven through his wrists and ankles. The nails of the Black Stigmata have nothing to do with Christ or with crucifixion for that matter, but it’s a fitting name. A Black Stigmata, that’s the cursed relic you found in the home of Tim Jones, the relic that has been haunting you for the past few days.” Nelson said dryly while leaning forward in his chair.
Alex was left breathless, unable to believe that this simple teacher from Portland knew exactly what was plaguing him, when he could barely comprehend it. It also didn’t help that Nelson was now releasing thick clouds of smoke into the room.
“You knew?”
“I had a strong feeling, especially when I saw you writing frantically in your notebook when you were clearly asleep. I hold nothing against you for lying to me, no one in the possession of a Black Stigmata has the willpower to do anything that may result in them losing it.”
“You mean you knew before that?”
“Like I said, I had a strong feeling. Plus, as I mentioned before, I’m an expert. Every time one of those nails surfaces, the government contacts me and sends me information on the file for my consultation.”
“Wait, the GOVERNMENT knows about this?”
“How many times am I going to have to repeat myself? Yes, the government knows about the Black Stigmata, and so too does the UN and Interpol. There is a worldwide division, similar to the CIA, that focuses solely on the finding of these nails. BSC: Black Stigmata Containment. They have a branch in the FBI and every government organization around the globe, but they are kept secret to the public and even the leaders of their respective countries. The American branch keeps me on speed-dial. Now don’t jump to conclusions, this isn’t like the Avengers movie where they fly around in a giant hovering aircraft carrier, the BSC has low funding and low employment.
What was I talking about…? Oh yeah, the BSC has me on speed-dial, and every time a Black Stigmata surfaces in America or there is a case in the world that is similar to a Black Stigmata surfacing but different in nature, I’m asked for a consultation. When the police investigated the Jones’ residence, their report was flagged, sent to BSC, and they in turn sent it back to me. Seeing as how this is happening in my own backyard and to one of my own students, I decided to play a larger role.”
“So if you’re an expert on these nails, do you know just what the fuck they are?”
“I know what they do, but not what they are or where they came from. There are stories and written records about them dating as far back as the Sumerians and throughout every culture. However, in the cave paintings of Europe, Africa, and the Americas, we have found hints of their existence going all the way back to the Stone Age. We have thousands of reported cases before the birth of the modern world.”
“If you have so many cases, then why aren’t they more well-known. Why aren’t they ranked up their with the boogey man in urban legends?”
“Don’t be a smartass. There are three reasons: records are lost over time like every other piece of history, the BSC works to keep all knowledge of them out of the public eye, and the Black Stigmata are skilled at hiding their presence and destroying evidence.”
“Wait, they know how to destroy evidence? You mean they are alive?”
“If anything, they are anti-life, but each nail does have a consciousness of its own and they do seem to share a hive mind. They are incredibly cunning, knowing just when to activate, what psychological buttons to push, how to hide themselves, and how to get what they want. When it comes to their Hosts, they are like puppet masters.”
“What do they want?”
“To spread, to spread themselves and to spread death. There is no fixed number of Black Stigmata in the world because they are able to multiply like cancer cells. The nail you found could have been just a week old.
There is an ancient story from the Middle East, told by a monk who bore witness to the event. Several thousand years ago, a man stumbled out of the desert and into a small village. The desert was considered by many to be impossible to cross, due to its sheer size and lack of any oasis or landmarks, yet he somehow came out of its heart on foot. In his hand, he held a Black Stigmata. The man died as soon as the villagers reached him, and immediately, they were drawn to the nail in his grip.
Sensing death, the monk left the town and hid himself in his home in the outskirts, watching from his rocky crag. Speaking to them, the nail made the villagers believe that it was God, or one his sacred relics at least. It showed them great and terrible things, twisting their minds until they served it fanatically. In the course of one night, it brought the deaths of everyone in the village. By the time the sun rose, the soil was red with blood, bodies were strung up in grotesque forms and ripped to pieces, signs of cannibalistic orgies were prevalent, and countless nails had been born.
The monk abandoned his home and fled to the nearby village to tell everyone what he had seen. When people tried to find the village, the desert had swallowed it up.”
“What do you mean the nails were born?” Alex asked, feeling the story fly right over his head.
“Capture a sacrifice. Destroy the humanity. Teach them despair. Inscribe the horror. Pierce their soul. Spread the chaos. Sound familiar?”
Alex’s face became pale.
“Capture a sacrifice is simple to understand: you find a living person and you kidnap them. Destroy the humanity: if it’s a woman, you rape her repeatedly. If it’s a man, you sever the genitals and force-feed them to him. After that, regardless of gender, you cut off their breasts/pectorals, cauterize the pelvic region to destroy all traces of the genitalia or what genitals HAD been there, and then you slit the throat as if to destroy the Adam’s apple. The slitting of the throat is actually done later. When those steps are performed, you are left with a genderless Homunculus that represents all of humanity and yet has no humanity.
Teach them despair: torture them while trying to leave as much flesh intact as possible. Most often this is the breaking of the digits, the use of water or electricity, sodomy, or damage inflicted to the mouth. Inscribe the horror: shave the victim of all hair and then begin carving the symbols you see onto their body, fully removing the flesh and then cauterizing the wound so that they don’t bleed to death.
Pierce their soul: after you’ve done all that, you then slit the throat as I mentioned before, as if destroying the Adam’s apple, even if your victim is a woman. Then before they can bleed to death, you drive two objects into their eyes. It doesn’t matter what objects you choose, as long as they are remotely pointed and somewhat like a nail. Anything can be used; toothpicks, crayons, knives, pencils, sticks, broken glass, markers, carrots, or anything of the sort. I’ve actually seen one victim with their thumbs severed and shoved into their eye sockets.
Once you do it, watch and be amazed as the objects you chose transform into new nails, just like the one that haunted you and taught you how to do this. You see, in torturing your victim and inscribing the symbols into their body, you are essentially making them into a battery of agony and negative energy. Their souls become so twisted that even those who have been rescued and received medical attention before the ritual has been completed go insane and die.”
“But why the eyes?” Alex asked, having thrown up in his mouth twice already as the ritual was listed off. Nelson flicked aside his cigarette and leaned forward with his clasped clasped in front of his face.
“Two reasons: The first reason is that the existence of two eye sockets allows for more effective multiplication of the nails. The second reason is that the eyes are the windows to the soul. When the objects you choose are jammed into the eyes after the ritual is performed, the toxic mix of suffering and malice bubbling within the victim’s soul pours into those objects. The symbols you carved into their flesh are the encryption for a nail’s mind, like the binary code of a piece of software. The information of those symbols and the horror bubbling within the victim’s soul is imprinted onto the objects, turning them into Black Stigmata. Those nails are then able to cause the same madness and death as the one that forced you to perform the ritual. Once the nails are created, the victim is thus considered a Homunculus, as I mentioned before.
Spread the chaos: the body has to be taken to a place where it will be found or where it can poison the land. Homunculi don’t burn and don’t rot, and any place that bears them becomes completely lifeless. Put a body in the middle of the forest and in less than a year, a crater of lifeless trees will be formed, up to a kilometer in diameter. The body has to be left where someone will find it, so that they will be drawn to take one of the nails.
Once a nail picks a host, that host is unable to give up the nail. It doesn’t matter if they had to scrape the pulverized eyeball off the sides of the nail, they’ll take it and leave without ever telling anyone about the body. Then a second person will eventually come and take the other nail. Afterwards, the body is discovered and taken away by the authorities. While the Homunculus itself is still toxic and causes death, sickness, and dementia to whatever approaches, the removal of the nails takes away its ability to force people to perform the ritual. To date, we have never found a single corpse with the nails remaining in the eyes.
The Host who created the Homunculus must then either continue to create more incubators and nails or leave the original nail for someone else to find so that the madness starts all over again.”
Alex was struggling to breathe, feeling like his brain was melting and dripping out of his ears. How could this possibly be true? How could it be real? How could something like this possibly exist?!
“Am I going to do that to someone?”
“Hopefully not. You’ve been separated from your nail, so unless you are within the range of it or another nail, the progression of your mental decay will slowly be reversed and its hold over you will wane. You will never be fully free of its influence, but you’ll be able to live a mostly normal life. However… if your dementia should continue its growth, you will enter a psychotic stage in which you will black out and end up committing horrible crimes with the Black Stigmata fully controlling you and your actions, preparing you for the ritual. You may wake up in an alley you don’t recognize, finding yourself with a stomach full of the flesh of the woman you just brutally raped and cannibalized only an hour ago without any memory of it.
Either way, you will have to be kept in isolation until the effects can wear off. Only when you no longer see the symbols wherever you look can I allow you to be released. You didn’t kill that police officer, but you’re close to entering that psychotic stage.” Nelson said as he stood up.
“You’re going to hold me prisoner for something I didn’t do?! You can’t do that!”
“What part of “raping and eating a woman” did you not understand? You can’t be allowed to roam free. If you come within MILES of that nail, you could enter the psychotic state. Once the progression is complete, you won’t even need the nail in your immediate possession to perform the ritual, you’ll have the knowledge to do it on your own without the willpower to deny the nail’s orders.
Relax, you should be fine in about a month. At which point a mock trial will be held to cover everything up and you’ll be found innocent in that cop’s death. Until then, I’ll do you a favor and try to get you your schoolwork so that you don’t fail the semester. You’ll need something to distract you if you want to be free of the nail’s influence.”
“So there really is no way out of this?” Alex asked regrettably.
“Consider yourself lucky, we found you before you could advance any further. We would either have had to kill you or the ritual would be complete before we could stop you, at which point the nail would release you. However, there is something I must ask you before anything can be done.”
Professor Nelson then reached across the table with frightful speed and grabbed Alex’s collar.
“Where is the nail?!” He demanded with eyes filled with fear.

Colleen sat in Alex’s car, having been asked by their parents to pick it up from the impound lot and drive it home while they visited him at the police station. She was covering her eyes with her hands and crying in terror for her brother. There was no way Alex would kill a cop, he didn’t have it in him to do something so horrible! As long as she had known him, Alex had been a kind older brother. Sure, there were times when he could be an asshole, but he was never mean and it was not like he would ever hit her. But what if he did do it? What if he wasn’t the kind brother she thought she knew? No, he didn’t do it, she had to believe that no matter what. But what if he was innocent but the jury found him guilty? No, she couldn’t think about that either, it wouldn’t accomplish anything.
After taking several deep breaths to calm herself down, she climbed out of the car and into her driveway. She slammed the door behind her, but the sound of metal on metal told her something was in the way. With a quizzical look on her face, she opened the door to see what was jamming it. There was something sticking out of the base of the car seat. It was a piece of metal, about the size of a magic marker, but with four sides that slanted down to sharp tip. Pulling it out of the car, she stared at it intently.
‘What is this, a nail?’ She thought in confusion.





Chapter Four


Alex was lying on his back, spread eagle and howling in agony. Keeping him pinned to the ground were several strands of barbed wire, burrowing into his hands and feet like earthworms, while repeatedly surfacing only to dive back down. He could feel it all, every tearing slip of the metal blades severing veins and muscle cords, the splitting of his skin as they surfaced and submerged, and every drop of blood spraying from the shredded arteries. He had already lost so much blood, enough to die several times already, yet it still hissed from his ravaged body in steaming fountains. With nothing but darkness in all directions, he was desperately trying to repeat to himself that this was only a dream, yet it did nothing to lessen the horrifying pain being inflicted upon him.
As the wires dug through his flesh to reach his knees and elbows, the hard glass-like ground that he was laying on suddenly became soft and wet, as if he were laying on a bed of oiled latex. He looked around fearfully, wondering what new horror this was. Like in all his dreams, the bright red light shone down from the nonexistent sky above, finally allowing Alex to truly see.
An eye, the ground beneath him had been transformed into a giant human eyeball, with him lying pinned on its pupil. He could see every fiber in the blue iris quiver and tremble as the red light shined down and Alex weighed upon its surface. Without warning, the wires in this body suddenly made one great surge through his flesh, surpassing his knees and elbows and proceeding to now tear apart his thighs and biceps. At the same time, a familiar crash rang out, the sound of a billion bones being snapped at once, each with the volume of a flash-bang grenade.
As if heralded by the crash, crimson symbols appeared in the air around Alex. They were the symbols imprinted into his memories, having been forced into his mind by the nail. Almost materializing in thin air, they formed a cylindrical shape from the sides of the eyeball up to the red light above, making Alex feel like he was lying in the bottom of a well. Staring up at the light, Alex felt a shiver of terror crawl up his spine. From the bloody radiance, a colossal nail was lowered like the formation of a black icicle, all four sides gleaming and bringing with it a chorus of haunting whispers. As long as five school buses and with a head the size of a backyard trampoline, the nail slowly began to descend towards Alex.
Screaming in terror, Alex pulled at the wires that riddled his body, desperately wanting to escape but only worsening the damage inflicted to his limbs. The whole time he thrashed and tugged, his eyes never left the approaching nail, slowly lowering itself towards him like he was a fly caught in the web of a black widow. He could feel it, the immeasurable evil within the nail. It was like staring a sociopath square in the eye, times a million. He knew what it wanted; to bring death, to invoke horror, to cause suffering, to spread, and to drown the world in darkness.
Unable to escape from it, Alex chewed on his lip furiously, watching as the tip of the nail approached his stomach. He hopelessly sucked in his gut, knowing it would spare him only a second of pain. With unchanging speed and weight, the tip of the tail touched down on his navel, then slowly pressed down. Before Alex could truly prepare for it, the tip of the nail pierced his flesh and Alex released a scream of pain as the nail delve deep into his torso, moving slowly, hauntingly. The farther it moved into his gut, the wider it expanded the wound, all the while the corners of the four sides cut his skin like razor blades and blood poured down his sides.
After puncturing his stomach and letting gastric acid and blood flush through his torso cavity, the tip of the nail reached his spine. Without any change in speed, it pushed down on one of his vertebrae and broke it like a small clay pot under a guillotine. The nail severed Alex’s nerves without any issue, sending a bolt of pure, unhindered pain straight to his brain, leaving him in too much agony to even scream. Continuing to drop, the tip of the nail came out of the skin of his lower back and touched the very middle of the pupil of the eye beneath Alex.
Piercing the liquid membrane, the nail triggered the flaring of every blood vessel in the eyeball, with the pupil dilating and shrinking frantically over and over. The nail drove deeper and deeper into they eye, all the while slowly ripping Alex in half with the expanding wound. Even with his nerves severed, he could still feel everything below the wound, from the tearing of his flesh to the barbed wires still riddling his legs. Not only that, but all the damage that the eye was sustaining, his own eyes were sustaining. He could feel it in each eye, a nail being driven deeper and deeper into his pupils, quickly blinding him.
After the nail reached a certain depth, the eye completely ruptured into a shredded marsh of layer upon layer of gelatin. Now, not only was the nail piercing him through and expanding his wound, but it was pushing him down into the foamy mess. Completely blinded and crippled, Alex thrashed with what little strength he had left, trying to keep his head above the surface of the eye fluid. Refusing to let him have that one escape, the nail forced him all the way into the sludgy liquid, leaving him the struggle and slowly drown like a dinosaur in a tar pit.
Alex bolted awake, and in the process fell off his tiny cot and onto the cold cement floor. Never had he been so happy to wake up in prison. Well, that wasn’t quite right. In the week since he had been “arrested” for the death of a cop, he had woken up every stretch of sleep drenched in sweat after suffering more agony than he ever thought possible. Was this what drug withdrawal was like? In his dark 8 by 10 foot cell, Alex tremblingly pulled himself over to the small sink above his toilet and splashed some water in his face.
Seven days in prison were bad enough, he had three more weeks to look forward to, and with the influence of the nail poisoning his mind every single second. Ever since he had come to this place, his nightmares seemed to have worsened in their horror and pain. The nail was no longer with him, but he could feel its malicious will weighing down upon his mind as if he were in a trash compacter. It had gone past the regular nightmares and was providing the instructions that Professor Nelson had listed, the instructions for the ritual of creating new nails. But was it really trying to force him to perform the ritual, or was it perhaps angered that he had been separated from it and was now punishing him?
Oh well, things could be worse. For both his protection and the protection of his fellow inmates, he was kept from the general population and locked in solitary confinement. Since he wasn’t really incarcerated (as far as the public knew), he was allowed outside at times for visits from his family, girlfriend, and Professor Nelson. Whether absence really did make the heart grow fonder or she had finally admitted to herself that she liked ass-play, Christi seemed to have fully forgiven him, though they weren’t able to have conjugal visits.
Plus, with his own private jail cell and nothing but time on his hands, he was finally able to get his act together on his schoolwork. To try and distract himself from the nail’s influence, he read every book he could get his hands on and was way ahead in his classes. Professor Nelson visited him almost every day with missed schoolwork from all his coursess and to check on his recovery. For his cold demeanor, he certainly was not one to ignore someone in pain. Lastly, since he was in solitary confinement, he didn’t have to deal with other inmates. That of course meant not getting raped in the ass, and not getting raped in the ass is always a good thing.
But his life was still hell. The symbols that the nail had imprinted in his mind had not left, he still saw them whether his eyes were open or closed. If he ever managed to fall asleep, it was never for more than an hour or so at a time, and when he did sleep, he always suffered the most horrific and painful nightmares. Even when he was awake, he was not free of the nail’s influence. Throughout the day, he would experience hallucinations and hear the haunting whispers in his ear, telling him to set loose unspeakable horrors onto the world and commit crimes that made him sick. Besides, even though he was able to visit with Christi and his family, he missed the sunlight.

“I had the stabbing dream again, where I’m on top of a giant eye and the nail runs me through. I can feel it ripping me to shreds, even now.” Alex muttered, speaking with Dr. Nelson in the visitation chamber of the prison.
Unlike the TV shows and movies where the inmates were held back by reinforced glass windows and had to speak through phones, this penitentiary had a large cafeteria-like room where inmates and their visitors could speak openly across tables. The room was empty, except for Alex and Professor Nelson. Even the guards were asked to stand outside so that no one could listen in on their conversation.
“The Black Stigmata is trying to strengthen its hold on you. Since you and it are separated by distance, its influence will naturally weaken and it knows this. It’s trying to push you into accomplishing the ritual as soon as you can while it still is able to direct your actions.” Nelson explained while taking a drag on his cigarette.
“Have you found the nail yet?”
“No, the area where I sent the officer to pick you up has been combed repeatedly, but the nail has yet to be found. We’ve also questioned everyone connected to you and the officer, as well as anyone who was on that road after the encounter. Your family is also safe, they have been questioned on the nail but without letting them know of its actual existence. They know absolutely nothing about the Black Stigmata, and I haven’t seen any signs to suggest one of them has become a new host.”
Alex breathed a sigh of relief, glad to know his family wasn’t in danger. He didn’t want to think about what might happen if someone he cared about became a Host for the nail.
“However, things are far from good. Not only is the disappearance of the nail a very deadly loose end, we have found two corpses that have underwent the ritual, both with their nails already removed. That means that at this time, there are at least FIVE Black Stigmata floating around the state, the fifth being the twin to the one you found.”
Nelson then held up a file and laid it out on the table, revealing several pictures from crime scenes, in which people had been raped, murdered, butchered, dissected, and even cannibalized.
“Five, possibly even more Hosts could be active at this very moment, and from the number of murders and rapes we’ve also been seeing, the Hosts are trying to fight against them.”
“What do you mean?”
“Remember that psychotic state I told you about? The one you could enter if exposed to a Black Stigmata in close proximity after the amount of time you’ve spent with it? The length of that state can be extended if the Host tries to defy the nail. The nails themselves cannot perform the ritual for multiplication, even if they possess someone. Their Host must do it under their own free will, even if the nail is forcing them to. If a Host refuses to perform the ritual, then not only will the Black Stigmata become more brutal in the psychological torture that it inflicts, but it also makes do with what it is given and uses the Host to fulfill it’s secondary objective: spread chaos and suffering.
Basically the Host is left with two options: perform the ritual or continue to let the nails torment him/her while their own body is used like a puppet on strings to commit horrible crimes. If the Host doesn’t give into the Black Stigmata’s demands, entire MONTHS can pass by in which they enter the psychotic state over and over again, sometimes killing multiple people each week. The BSC even suspects that many of the most brutal serial killers in history were actually trying to fight back against the control of nails, unknowingly strengthening the hold of the Black Stigmata on their souls and turning them into monsters.
Remember when I said that the BSC sends me updates on every case just in the USA? My email inbox is a mass grave of new bodies every morning.” Nelson said dryly before dropping his cigarette onto the floor and grinding it out.

Back in the outside world, things weren’t going well for Colleen either. Word had spread that her brother was in jail for supposedly killing a cop and school had become hell. Unless they are total assholes, guys are generally sympathetic to bad things that happen to other guys, unless it was their fault, in which case they fucked up and deserve to be laughed at. But for girls, where popularity destroys friendships and every bang-able chick was aiming to become the school matriarch, anything bad that happened in a girl’s life was turned against her. It was like a presidential election year, made three years longer.
Colleen got up every morning before dawn to make sure her makeup, hair, and outfit were perfect, just to try and protect her social standing. Any flaw that could be noticed, any mistake that could be called out on would give one of her competitors the upper hand. That was all it took, for one of the girls she hated with all her heart to mention that a lock of hair had come undone or her makeup had smeared and that she now looked like she had just been skull-fucked.
From first impressions, it would seem like all the girls in her school were friends, but almost every nice word was fake and every insult was hidden. It was just like the old saying; guys communicate through insults they don’t mean, girls communicate through compliments they don’t mean. With her brother in jail, anyone looking to gain her step on the popularity staircase or eliminate a growing threat would hurl it at her and make it sound like her whole family was crazy.
But it was more than that. She didn’t know what it was, but it seemed like Colleen and everyone around her were always on edge, all with exceptionally thin-skin and no patience for anything from anyone. She was getting into fights with her true friends more and more often, she was getting into real open fights with her competitors (a few times, it almost became physical), her grades were dropping, she couldn’t sleep, nothing made her happy anymore, and she just felt like her luck was in the toilet.
Held without bail, she had been told that her brother’s trial would be in a few weeks, and she just had to hope and pray that he would be found innocent. In her bag, she kept the strange nail she had found in his car. She didn’t know why she carried it with her, it was as if something had whispered in her ear that it was a good luck charm, and that as long as she carried it and had Alex in her thoughts, everything would be fine. So far, it had proved to be some shitty good luck charm, yet she felt compelled to keep it with her.

In the aftermath of a disastrous field hockey practice, Colleen stood in the shower of the girl’s locker room, hoping the hot water pouring down on her would wash away whatever funk was holding her back. She kept herself in the corner, wanting to stay unnoticed as the other girls began the predictable dance of bitching at each other, often with fake smiles to try and portray some kind of air of confidence. Colleen was in no mood to deal with the bullshit.
“Oops! Don’t drop the soap Lindsay!” A girl giggled.
Beth was her name; sixteen years old, long black hair, and c-cup tits. She was talking to one of her friends, Lindsay, a girl with auburn hair like Colleen and slightly larger tits. Fulfilling her skit, a blond by the name of Anna rushed over to her bent over friend, grabbed her by the hips, and began humping her like a dog, slapping her naked thighs against Lindsey’s ass.
“Yeah, welcome to prison bitch!” Anna laughed while her friend gave fake cries of pain.
Beth, Lindsay, and Anna, probably the three girls Colleen hated most in school. Like all girls, they operated in a three-person squad, and her group was always in direct opposition to Colleen’s. There were several routes to popularity; being super hot, being liked by everyone, sleeping around to control the guys, being rich, or such methods. They were sluts, having slept with half of every sports team and supposedly a few teachers. They were even bisexual.
“My brother isn’t getting raped in prison, he’s in solitary confinement.” Colleen muttered.
“I guess that’s to keep him from raping other guys. More than a cop-killer, it sounds to me like he’s a fag and a rapist.” Beth teased.
In Colleen’s bag, the Black Stigmata began to rumble.
“He didn’t kill that cop, he’s not gay, and he’s not a rapist! But if he was, I would set him loose on you!” Colleen said with angry tears in the corners of her eyes. The three girls stiffened at the harsh threat and the rest of the team stared at Colleen. Wishing for them to get raped? Now that was taking it a little far. The whole locker room was now silent, save for the hissing of the showers.
Lindsey gained a smirk.
“I bet you’d like your brother to be that way, then there would finally be a guy willing to fuck you. I bet you spend every night wishing he would come into your room and brutalize you like the dirty little whore you are.” She shot off.
The Black Stigmata continued to rumble, and a deep chanting began to emanate from it, but not in any frequency that could be picked up by the girls in the locker room. The viciousness in the air was resonating with the nail, now there were plenty of psychological buttons for it to push at.
The insinuation hit Colleen like a punch to the gut. She loved her brother, but not in that way. Now they were calling him a killer and a rapist and accusing her of incest.
“Maybe that’s how you all learned how to fuck? Did your daddies love you just a little too much? Or did they not love you enough so you went out to fuck every half-stiff dick you could find as vengeance? With how whorish you are, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone in your families fell into those gaping cum-dumpsters of yours!” Colleen shouted, approaching them by a few steps.
“Aw, looks like the prissy bitch got her feelings hurt. I’m guessing you’re done sucking up to everyone? I’m glad that bullshit is done, but it’s a shame you quit now, you had almost enough brown on your nose that we wouldn’t have to look at that pitbull mug of yours.” Anna scoffed.
In Colleen’s bag, an ominous crimson light shined in the pocket holding the nail, as more and more of its malevolence was released into the environment like a pheromone.
“Colleen, come on, we’re going to miss the bus.” Her friend Liz said, trying to pull her away.
“Stay out of this! If you aren’t going to help me, you can just leave!” Colleen lashed out. Liz scowled.
“Fine, I’m done with this. You’re on your own.” She shrugged. Colleen looked at the rest of the spectators.
“Same for you! If you bitches aren’t on my side, then get the fuck out!” She screamed. Giving the same shrugs and sighs of “whatever, fuck you too”, all the other girls finished getting dressed and stormed out, leaving Colleen, Beth, Lindsay, and Anna, still standing in the showers with droplets of water running down the goose bumps of their exposed bodies.
“Well would you look at that, where did all your friends go? It seems that when it really matters, you’re all alone.” Beth hummed.
“Better I have no friends than friends like you.” Said Colleen, struggling to hold in her anger.
“Better hope your brother doesn’t say that in prison, he’ll have to join the skinheads if he doesn’t want to get stabbed like a bitch.” Said Anna.
No longer able to contain herself, Colleen screamed and tackled Anna, sending the two girls tumbling to the wet tile floor. With their naked bodies intertwined, Colleen managed to get on top of Anna and started beating her wildly with her fists, screaming as she did so. Anna shielded her face from most of the hits, but Colleen was holding nothing back.
Stars, blood, and scream-worthy pain, that was all Colleen remembered when the head of a floor hockey stick slammed into her jaw, breaking almost four teeth and knocking her to the floor. Even without the pain, the pressure unleashed upon her face felt like it was weighing upon her whole body, robbing her of the ability to move. Even with her eyes open, she couldn’t see, and her mind was struggling to stay active. A sudden ice-cold spray of water revived her before she could lose consciousness, and she now found herself at the mercy of the three girls. All humanity and mercy had left their eyes, and they now bore sadistic grins.
“You’re going to pay for that you little cunt. Now you’re our bitch.” Anna laughed.
Before Colleen could do anything, Lindsay grabbed Colleen by the ankles and dragged her out to the middle of the shower area, flipping her over so that she was on her back. Beth got on top of her, kneeling over her head and using her knees to pin down her arms, with her dripping wet slit just inches from her face. Crying in fear, Colleen was about to beg for mercy when she was silenced by Beth fully lowering herself onto her victim’s face. Never before had Colleen even thought about being with a woman, but now the person that she despised more than anyone else was smothering her with her pussy. The feel of the vaginal lips against her own, the weight Beth’s ass cheeks against the sides of her face, the smell of her insides, and the sound of the girls’ cackling made her want to throw up in disgust and shame.
“Come on, lick it like a good bitch!” Beth ordered, ending Colleen’s frantic kicks with a hard punch to the stomach.
The impact forced out what little air Colleen had in her lungs, and for ten brief terrifying seconds, she was unable to breathe. But when her lungs finally became usable again, that fear was reinstated by Beth putting her whole body weight on Colleen, forming an airtight seal with her pussy. Now she NEEDED to breathe, her lungs were crying out and every muscle she had felt like it would tear itself to shreds. She continued kicking, trying to get Beth off her.
“Lick it good and I’ll let you breathe.” Beth growled.
The pain in Colleen’s chest overwhelmed her pride and she became still. Beth raised herself up enough to let Colleen get a few desperate gasps for air, then began grinding her pussy against her victim’s face.
“Lick it you stupid whore!” Beth shouted.
Sobbing in humiliation and anguish, Colleen extended her tongue and moved it back and forth against her captor’s slit. There was no taste to it, at least as far as Colleen could tell, but that was only because her mouth was filled with blood from her busted teeth. Even without any real taste, the knowledge of what she was doing and what was being done to her made her cry harder than ever in her life, crying both out of disgust and self-loathing.
“That’s it, stupid little whores like you should know their place. Hey, are you guys ready yet?” She heard Beth call. Above her, Anna had grabbed her phone and was using it to record what was going on.
“Oh yeah, we’re ready.” She laughed, making sure that Colleen’s whole naked body was in the shot. Lindsay crouched down between Colleen’s legs, holding the floor hockey stick in her hand.
“You’ve had this coming for so long.” Lindsay purred, pressing the head of the handle against the entrance to Colleen’s vagina, about to force it in.
Feeling the wood against her most sensitive spot, Colleen once again began kicking wildly, but Beth made her docile with a second brutal punch to the stomach. Unable to breathe, she tried desperately to beg them for mercy, to tell them that she was still a virgin. Her attempts were fruitless, and before she could reinforce her mind, the handle of the floor hockey stick was thrust inside her. The pain of her first ever penetration, done so brutally and by something so poorly shaped, left Colleen screaming at the top of her lungs in pain. She felt like the handle had completely ripped her open and had skewered all her organs. She had to look, she had to look and see and make sure that her whole lower body hadn’t just been sawed open.
The girls all cackled like banshees as they heard her scream, but not without it being muzzled by Beth sitting on her face. Mixed with her scream was her crying, brought on by the heartless deflowering. Lindsay pulled the stick out, revealing eight inches of bloodstained wood. The sight of the blood made her face light up.
“Look at this! This skank is a virgin! It’s like I said before, she’d be lucky if even her brother wanted to fuck her. But look at all this blood, you got my floor hockey stick dirty. You’re going to pay for that.” She purred.
Chewing on her lip, Lindsay forced the handle back into Colleen, making her cry out again. With the strength in her arms, she began moving the stick back and forth inside Colleen, penetrating her like the sex-machine of a solo porn flick. The thrusts eventually became easier for her, as her body adapted to lessen the damage the stick was inflicting. Against her disgust and hatred, against the pain electrocuting her body every second, her vagina was interpreting the trauma as arousing and lubricating itself.
“My legs are aching. Anna, switch with me.” Beth grunted after the first few minutes, getting up off Colleen and finally letting her breathe fully. Her arms wouldn’t respond to her demands, the force of Beth’s knees on them had cut off all circulation and left her arms completely asleep. As she looked up and saw Beth take the phone from Anna, her heart dropped.
“You’re recording this?” She gasped.
“Yep, and after we blur out our faces and names, we’ll put it up anonymously and let the whole school see it. Looks like you’re finally going to be popular.” Anna said sadistically, taking Beth’s place on top of her, but this time with her back to Lindsay.
“Now I can see your face as you lick me.” She laughed, covering Colleen’s mouth and nose with her pussy. Like with Beth, Colleen wouldn’t be allowed to breathe unless she obeyed, and even with Lindsay fucking her with the stick over and over on camera, she tried to maintain her pride.
“You’re going to do as we say whether you like it or not!” Anna growled, reaching back and grabbing one of Colleen’s breasts with brutal strength.
The pain of Anna’s claw-like fingers strangling her breast made her scream in agony and open her mouth so that Anna could force the lips of her pussy between her own lips. Leaning back, Anna grabbed Colleen’s other breast and squeezed it with the same strength, almost as if she was trying to rip them off. Unable to withstand the pain, Colleen frantically began licking Anna’s pussy with everything she had, trying to appease her captor and lessen her agony. Finding her desperate lapping satisfactory, Anna lessened her hold on Colleen’s breasts and instead began jiggling them and pinching her nipples.
“Yeah, look me in the eyes while you eat me out.” Anna growled as she spat on Colleen’s face.
With tears running down her temples, Colleen looked up into Anna’s grinning face, while her cheeks inflating and contracting with the frenzied movements of her tongue and lips. She could feel the tiny stubbles of pubic hair between Anna’s legs, likely to be shaved away later. Beneath those sharp sand-like stubbles, Anna’s pussy was soft against her lips, as well as incredibly moist. By now, the pain of her deflowering had faded and her body was beginning to respond to the stimulation. Regardless of the throbbing pain in her mouth and the revulsion crushing her soul, Colleen was beginning to feel a sick form of pleasure as the hard wooden stick churned her moistening pussy. As much as she despised it, the taste of Anna’s pussy was resonating and exciting her, as if she could taste the hormones in Anna’s wetness and her own hormones were activating in response.
Arriving with almost instant spontaneity, familiar waves of warmth were rushing from the lips of her deflowered slit. Oh no, she was about to cum! If she ended up climaxing while being raped by three girls, she would never forgive herself. Her legs began squirming as she tried to fight back against the inevitable orgasm, but her attempts caught her captors’ attention. Lindsay increased the strength of her thrusts, working the floor hockey stick as hard and fast in Colleen’s pussy as she could, threatening to tear her open.
MMMMMMMMMMMH!
Colleen’s muffled whine signaled her climax, and with fresh tears of shame pouring from her eyes, she felt tremor after tremor of pleasure rush through her body.
“Oh ho! This little whore really does like it rough. How many times did you cum from getting fucked like a worthless little fleshlight?” Anna teased, getting up off Colleen while Lindsay let go of her ankles. With the bloody hockey stick still in her pussy, Colleen curled up into a ball on the wet tile floor and sobbed harder than ever in her life.
“Oh, we’re not done with you yet. You still haven’t learned your lesson.” Beth cackled. With her back to the group, Colleen tried to block everything out and sink into the farthest recesses of her mind, desperate the escape her pain and humiliation.
“Oh, I haven’t seen that thing since spring break!” She heard Anna giggle shrilly. Colleen shuddered at the sound of her tormentor’s voice, fearing what sort of new horror awaited her.
With cruel strength, Beth grabbed Colleen’s hair and dragged her across the floor, forcing her to unravel from her fetal position. Flipped onto her back, Colleen’s attempts to fight against this new assault failed, for like a snake lunging out for a fatal strike, she felt something large, bulbous, and rubber enter her mouth. It was a purple dildo, the size of a cucumber and secured to a harness that Beth was wearing.
“Yeah, suck on that cock you dirty whore.” Beth growled, pummeling the back of Colleen’s throat with the dildo.
After the damage she had sustained by getting hit in the face by a hockey stick, being orally violated by the large sex toy was the last thing she needed. Every time the rubber monstrosity even entered the half of her mouth where her teeth had been broken, pain capable of leaving her temporarily blind seared her skull and almost threw her into a seizure. Just the feeling of this object made her feel filthy and violated, both due to the shape and the fact that it was obviously used. Laughing at her, Beth pulled the dildo out of her mouth and smeared a mix of blood and saliva across her face, then jammed it back in.
This time, the hard impact of the head of the rubber phallus against her uvula was too great for her to overcome. With strength born from instinct, she pushed Beth off and rolled onto her side, proceeding then to vomit the contents of her stomach onto the floor.
“Disgusting little bitch.” Lindsay hissed, pushing down on Colleen’s head with her foot and rubbing her face in her vomit.
“You sorry excuse for a slut, you aren’t good enough to be fucked by us. Clean yourself off.” Beth said, pulling Colleen to her feet by her hair and then throwing her against the wall.
Banging her head against the hard tile, Colleen feel to her knees and again had to be pulled up. With the rubber dildo bumping between her inner thighs, she screamed as Beth pulled back her head back and turned on the shower above her, keeping it at its coldest setting. As chilling as death, the water poured down on her naked body like a river of broken glass, making every inch of exposed skin feel like it was being cut. Standing just out of the reach of the water, Beth held her in place while Anna and Lindsay continued to laugh and tape it.
“Dirty little whore, you should be lucky if anyone even bothers to hose you off.” Beth hissed, biting Colleen’s ear and rubbing her face to clean off the blood, saliva, and vomit.
Taking it farther, she reached down and smacked Colleen’s pussy as hard as she could, drawing a new scream of pain from her victim and fresh attempts to protect herself. Refusing to let their toy have any sort of power, Lindsay rushed over and helped spread Colleen’s legs so that Beth could continue slapping her vagina as if she were spanking a child. With her skin already crying out from the frigid bite of the water, the pain Colleen felt with each whiplash to her womanhood was excruciating. Under the cold water, Colleen’s nipples had become like gumdrops, and her breasts were just begging to be smacked over and over again by Lindsay.
Taking it even farther, Beth reached down and hooked her fingers in Colleen’s pussy, forcing them all in up to her knuckles and then shaking her hand violently. When Colleen’s desperate whimpers didn’t satisfy her, she increased the cruelty and pulled her hand upwards, lifting Colleen off her feet as if she were trying to rip open her entire pelvic region. After enjoying her victim’s cries bouncing off the walls of the locker room, Beth turned off the water to the shower and forced Colleen to bend over with her face pressed against the cold tile wall.
Giggling and licking her lips, Beth spread Colleen’s legs and rubbed the ribbed shaft of the dildo against her bruised slit, teasing her while Colleen begged for her to stop.
“Please no.” Colleen whimpered as she felt the head spread the lips of her pussy.
With a brutal shove, Beth rammed the dildo deep into Colleen, burying it up to the base while the unwilling recipient cried out in pain.
“Yeah, take it you stupid bitch.” Beth growled, using one hand on Colleen’s neck to keep her bent over and thrusting into her over and over again.
With her movements hinting to her experience with the sex toy, Beth fucked Colleen without a shred of mercy. The toy was reaching in and out of her slender body as if it were punching her womb, all to the sound of Beth’s thighs clapping against Colleen’s ass. The wetness of their naked flesh vocalized the sound of each clap with towering volume, complimenting Colleen’s sobbing. With the cell phone in her hand, Lindsay got in close for the best shots. She zoomed in on Colleen’s face pressed against the cold tile wall, wet with both water from the shower and her tears. Her mouth was always open, sounding out her painful cries, while her eyes showed the humiliation and shame she felt.
Lindsay then got under Colleen so that she could get a close shot on their victim’s pussy, bruised, swollen, and even bloody from the abuse it had sustained. The dildo was being thrust into her body with sadistic speed and strength, forcing open her lips with each deep penetration. Holding aside the phone, Lindsay reached up and began pinching and pulling on Colleen’s nipples with her free hand, then leaned forward and began licking her exposed clitoris. She didn’t know why, but seeing the way Colleen was being tortured and hearing her screams, it made her deflowered slit look very delicious. There was still blood from her torn hymen and the small tears her interior had suffered from the ravaging. The own crimson in her veins boiling, she succulently lapped up every remaining droplet of blood and relished the taste of her orgasmic fluids.
With stimulation to her clit and breasts, as well as the deep vaginal pummeling, Colleen could feel her second unwanted orgasm building. For the sake of her dignity, she fought against it with everything she had, but Beth’s animalistic thrusts broke down her every defense like a wrecking ball. Knowing it would bring about some new torment and throw her even harder against rock bottom, she cried out in excruciating euphoria as a thunderous orgasm rocked her body until her legs buckled.
Without giving her a chance to catch her breath, Beth crouched down and force-fed her the dildo. Even after being forced to perform cunnilingus on two of her rapists, the knowledge and taste of her own wetness made her sick with ignominy.
“You had better get it nice and wet, you’re going to need all the lubrication in the world for what’s coming up.” Beth purred while stroking Colleen’s hair.
Colleen no longer had the strength or will to defy them. It felt like every tendon in her limbs had been cut, and if she tried to fight back in any way, they would just hurt her more. She knew what Beth was going to do, and it filled her with such terror that her stomach threatened to re-release itself onto the floor. But there was nothing that could be done to stop it, they were going to rape her in the ass and she would just have to hope that she would somehow survive.
With only enough energy to cry, Colleen was pulled onto her hands and knees and shuddered as Beth spat on her virgin asshole. She put up every mental defense she had to try and protect her soul from this new trauma, but as if knowing what she thinking, Lindsay laid down on her stomach in front of Colleen. Reaching back with her legs, Lindsay got Colleen in a headlock and pulled her face forward against her ass, with her lips pressed against Lindsay’s anus. About to try and push her off while sealing her mouth against the revolting orifice, Colleen released a whistle-like scream as Beth forced the cucumber-sized dildo into her ass. Due to the size of the toy and lack of proper lubrication, the tightness of Colleen’s body and the friction greatly slowed the sexual assault to a crawl. But without stopping for even a second, Beth managed to work the entire rubber phallus into Colleen’s asshole.
The pain she felt at the insertion was beyond description, both for the physical agony and the stab to her pride and dignity. She felt like her asshole had just been cut open like a ripped bagel, and even if she was being raped, she felt so ashamed of herself that she couldn’t imagine ever being able to look her family in the eye or even at herself in the mirror. Tied with the humiliation she felt at the sodomy was the revulsion she felt as her tongue lathered Lindsay’s asshole. Her scream had forced her mouth open and her tongue out, but having now lost all self-respect, she didn’t bother to pull it back in. They had turned her into a helpless little sex slave, a piece of meat for them to degrade and abuse. Besides, they would probably hurt her if she didn’t put up a good effort.
Colleen’s docility seemed, if anything, to irritate Beth and the other girls. Wanting to see and hear the results of her cruelty and torment, Beth pulled the dildo all the way out and then rammed it back in at full strength, causing a dribble of blood to christen the ring of her anus. Even with her broken will, Colleen gave another scream of pain, feeling as if her asshole was filled with hornets. Cackling like a witch, Beth took up the same rhythm as before, ramming the dildo back and forth in Colleen’s ass with the skill and power of a seasoned male porn star.
After the first few strokes, the long sex toy slid through her without effort, gleaming with her blood and the wetness of her asshole. With each thrust into Colleen, both her and Beth’s breasts would bounce and roll, while in the front of the chain of brutality, Lindsay hummed and licked her lips as she felt Colleen’s tongue roll around in her ass with the diligence of a broken woman resigned to her fate. She was certainly licking every possible corner. And on the sidelines, Anna watched with the phone in her hand, fingering herself to the girl she despised being raped and humiliated.
“How ironic, your brother is in prison but YOU’RE the one taking it up the ass in the showers like a little bitch.” Beth laughed.
The minutes that passed felt like hours as Beth brutalized Colleen without ever having to slow down or stop to catch her breath. If anything, she had more stamina for this than any other woman in the world. She just kept forcing the toy into the deepest recesses of Colleen’s rectum, wishing she actually had a real dick so that she could make Colleen feel the shame of a good deep cream pie from her rapist. However, the raven-haired sadist finally gave in and pulled out of Colleen one last time.
Even with the dildo removed, Colleen’s ass remained wide open like a bottomless pit and she slumped over onto her stomach with silent tears running down her still face.
“I’m tired, one of you take over.” Beth panted as she unfastened the strap-on.
“Count me in.” Anna said with a lick of her lips, exchanging the strap-on for the camera.
“Come on, get up slut! Time for you to know how to ride a stiff cock!” Anna barked, kicking Colleen in the ribs and then laying down on the floor. When Colleen didn’t move, Lindsay pulled her hair until she got up and led her over to Anna. Knowing that she would likely receive an infection, Lindsay forced Colleen down onto the dildo, making sure it went into her pussy. Staring into Colleen’s eyes, Anna reached up and grabbed her throat, as if to strangle her.
“Now bounce, you stupid cunt!” She ordered.
With her face remaining mournfully stoic and her legs feeling like jelly after the anal pounding she had just received, Colleen began riding the dildo, wincing every time the sex toy impacted the entrance to her womb. Colleen had originally thought that she couldn’t sink any lower, but now that she was on top, she realized she was wrong. She finally had an ounce of control in this situation, but her only choice was how hard and fast she wanted to be raped. She had to decide how fast to ride the dildo and how high to raise herself before dropping back down, and she had to work up the effort and exert herself so that she could continue to be raped.
“Damn, it move faster! What kind of lazy whore do you think you are?!” Anna shouted, slapping Colleen hard across the face, using enough strength to leave an immediate black eye.
Wanting to help out, Lindsay came up from behind with the discarded floor hockey stick. Inserting the curled lip at the end into Colleen’s gaping anus, she hooked Colleen like a fish and pulled upwards. Yelping in fresh pain from the hard pull to the already shredded flesh, Colleen raised herself up to try and escape the sharp tugging on her asshole. Just before the dildo could come out of her slave, Lindsay stopped pulling and instead pushed down on Colleen’s head, forcing her back onto the standing phallus. This process was repeated over and over until Colleen was forced to learn that she would have to choose between anal and vaginal suffering. She began acting on her own, bouncing on the dildo with all her strength and raising herself up until only the head remained in her pussy, then dropping down and ramming it back into her.
As she rode the dildo, she once again began to cry. With each movement she made, her tears were flung off her bruised face. With a wide smile on her own face, Anna opened her mouth and tried to catch her liquid suffering as if they were droplets from the fountain of youth. Grinning like her friend, Beth walked over and kneeled over Anna. While Anna raised her head and orally massaged Beth’s dripping wet pussy, Beth focused the camera of the cell phone on Colleen’s face, wanting to catch every glorious tear that dripped from her eyes and every twinge of pain and humiliation that flashed across her visage.
This time, Colleen did nothing to suppress her orgasm. She just let it happen and signaled it with an automatic moan. As if fulfilling a pattern, this told her captors that it was time to change to something new. With Lindsay pulling her hair, Colleen was forced to her feet, turned around, and pushed back down onto the dildo, this time taking it back up the ass. As she resumed bouncing on the rubber phallus while crying and whimpering from the pain of the further brutality to her anus, Beth stood up and walked out in front of her, standing beside Lindsay. The two girls watched her force herself up and down, enduring the crippling pain in her rectum while her breasts bounced like water balloons with each heave she made of her body.
“She certainly looks tired.” Beth giggled, hearing Colleen’s breathing become labored.
“Yeah, I think she could use a drink.” Said Lindsay.
Stepping forward, she stopped Colleen and grabbed her head, rubbing her bruised face against her pussy. Colleen instinctively began licking the wet slit with everything she had, knowing that it was the only way to escape further punishment. However, it was not the case this time. Reaching down, Lindsay pinched Colleen’s nose and forced her to start breathing through her mouth. Then, with her gasping mouth rubbing up against her slit, Lindsay sighed and released her bladder. A thick stream of urine gushed from her pussy and splashed across Colleen’s face and down her chest. With her mouth forced open, Colleen coughed and gagged as Lindsay pissed down her throat, forcing her to drink it.
As soon as Lindsay stepped back, Colleen screamed in disgust and horror. Before she had told herself that she would survive this ordeal, but now she welcomed death. Lindsay then got down on her knees and began rubbing Colleen’s pussy while Anna bucked her hips, forcing her to continue bouncing on the dildo. With the phone still in her hand, Beth got up in Colleen’s face and pissed in her mouth and on her as well, relishing the sight of Colleen’s suffering. Being underneath Colleen, Anna was splashed with both women’s urine, but instead of being disgusted, it only excited her, and she started countering Colleen’s rises and falls with viciously powerful upwards thrusts.
“Yeah, you like that don’t you?! You’re such a dirty little whore, aren’t you!” Beth taunted, getting a close up on Colleen’s face.
“Yes, I’m a dirty little whore!” Colleen cried out, doing everything she could to avoid making them mad.
“Do you like getting raped in the ass?” Lindsay asked.
“Yes, I love getting raped! I love getting fucked in the ass!” She sobbed, feeling another orgasm brewing, her strongest yet.
“Do you like it when we piss on you like the piece of garbage you are? Do you want us to keep doing it?!”
“Yes, please piss on me! Let me drink it all!” By now, Colleen was acting on autopilot, saying whatever they wanted to say and doing whatever they wanted her to do. She had no more pain to feel and no more dignity to lose. She was broken.
“Do you always cum when getting gang-raped?” Lindsay asked, ramming her fingers up inside Colleen’s pussy.
“Yes, I always cum when I’m gang-raped. I love getting raped.” She whimpered.
“How about sending a message out to your brother, we’ll make sure he sees it. Tell him what a whore you are. Tell him what he should do to you.” Beth said, smacking her across the face. With tears streaming down her cheeks, Colleen stared into the camera with dead eyes.
“Alex, I’m a dirty worthless whore that loves to get raped and pissed on like garbage! You should sneak into my room and fuck my slutty pussy and ass! I’m so worthless that I’ll suck my brother’s cock! I IEEEEEEEEE!” Her unwilling confession was interrupted as a thunderous orgasm splashed between her legs, one so overwhelming, that not only did she fall off the dildo, but she squirted like a lawn sprinkler.
As she fell to the floor, gasping for air, the three girls all stood up around her.
“Don’t think we’re done yet, your punishment has just begun.” Beth said sadistically.

Professor Nelson watched as Mr. and Mrs. Steven’s left their daughter’s hospital room, sobbing so hard that they could barely walk. He was surprised that they hadn’t fainted or lost their minds, he certainly wouldn’t have blamed them. Colleen had been raped for so long that she and her tormenters weren’t found until the night janitor came in to clean the locker room. That was probably the only silver lining to her ordeal, since it was the janitor that had saved Colleen and managed to keep the girls from leaving until the police could come and arrest them. Had they gotten away, the taped ordeal would have probably ended up on the Internet. The one and only issue of that horrible video was in police custody and would be used to send those three she-beasts to jail for the rest of their cruel lives.
Nelson had seen (or skimmed through) the video, and while it made him curse, he wished in his heart that he wasn’t so scarred as to be unable to feel anything worse than jaded bitterness at such a sight. This was his fault, he should have paid closer attention to Alex’s family. The Black Stigmata were clever, they knew how to remain unnoticed if they wanted to, but there had to be signs that Nelson had missed. He looked down at his wrist, which was secured in handcuffs. Instead of another cuff at the end of the chain, the chain was welded to what looked like a large metal thermos, but with a keypad on the side. Every time it moved, the sound of something bumping around inside was briefly audible.
With a sigh, Nelson entered Colleen’s hospital room and closed the door behind him, taking a second to look at her and mourning the innocence she had lost. It would be months before she could walk again, and she would never be able to bear children. The damage she had sustained over the course of those long hours, inflicted by just about every object her tormenters could use against her, had left her pelvic region permanently disfigured. She had also suffered deep lacerations across her face and breasts, among other horrible injuries. With a respirator over her face, her mouth stuffed with gauze, and a steady morphine drip, Colleen slowly opened her one good eye, the other one damaged and at risk of being forever unusable.
“Colleen, my name is Professor Chris Nelson. You don’t know me, but I’m a friend of your brother and I’m doing everything I can to help him. Please, I know you’re in pain and I know you’ve gone through unspeakable horrors, but there is one thing I must ask you. This is a matter of life and death, and if I wait any longer, you may not have the willpower to answer. This may be the last time you can answer this question truthfully. Please, for the sake of your brother and yourself, will you answer my question?” He asked softly. Colleen slowly nodded and he carefully approached her, knowing that she was definitely traumatized and could react strongly to any misinterpreted movements on his part. Sitting down in the chair beside her bed, he hesitated for a brief few moments before speaking.
“At any time between your brother’s arrest and this evening, have you come into contact or seen a metal object measuring about five inches long and with four flat sides? It’s like a spike or a large ancient-looking nail.” He inquired. Colleen’s eye immediately widened and the beeping of her heart monitor increased in frequency.
“Colleen, where is the nail?” He asked. With her mouth full of gauze for her broken teeth and the morphine in her blood weakening her by the second, Colleen struggled to speak.
“Bag.” She managed to gasp.
Nelson’s eyes swerved over to the corner of the hospital room, where in the second chair in the room, her purse, backpack, and gym bag were situated. Quickly walking ever, Nelson searched every bag hurriedly, making sure he did so with rubber gloves on his hands. At last, he found the nail in a small pouch on the right strap of her backpack. With a scowl on his face, he examined the nail closely, as if entering a staring contest.
“I got you now.” He muttered.
He placed the nail on the nearby table, and with it, the metal canister chained to his wrist. Typing a six-digit code into the keypad on the side, he opened the top and removed a smaller capsule from inside, about the size of a TV remote. Opening it up, he lowered in the Black Stigmata and sealed it shut, then placed the capsule back into the canister and locked it up tight. Flipping it back on its side, he typed three codes into the keypad. With the first code, a small click was heard in the lid, sealing it shut. With the second, a quick hiss cut through the air. With the third, a whispering mix of a scrape and a tap was barely audible.
This was the only way to safely transport Black Stigmata, and even then, its influence still leaked out with enough power to twist the weak-minded. The interior capsule was filled with water, water being a universal equalizer and powerful energy container. However, it wasn’t normal water. Deuterium oxide, it was a special water isotope with increased density and the ability to trap energy and subatomic particles better than normal water. It was for this reason that “heavy water” had originally been used in the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory in Canada, as was still used in many nuclear reactors. Just like how light would reflect off regular water, heavy water’s greater atomic density allowed it to repel and thereby contain energy. The second the nail had been lowered into the capsule, the heavy water had begun to glow bloody red as the radiating energy of the Black Stigmata was caught by the water particles.
The hissing that had been heard was the result of all the air in the canister being drained, sealing the capsule in a complete vacuum. The tap/scrape was the result of the capsule losing contact with the inside of the canister when electromagnets in the sides were activated, suspending the capsule in the middle of the empty space so that nothing could touch it. Both the capsule and the canister were made with layer upon layer of gold and lead, as well as many other elements that were normally used in containing radiation. While the Black Stigmata weren’t radioactive, these elements did have some affect.
With the evil of the nail sealed away, Professor Nelson turned to Colleen.
“I know you have no reason to believe me after what you went through, but everything is going to be alright. Or if I’m wrong, things are going to get far worse than you could possibly imagine.”





Chapter Five


Alex paced back and forth in his tiny cell, pulling back his hair over and over again and trying to not to throw up for the umpteenth time. He had been told about what Colleen had suffered, how she had been raped for hours on end in her high school by three of her classmates. He had heard about the injuries she had sustained, their severity, and the psychological trauma it had left her with. He wanted so badly to get out of this prison and see her, to comfort her. His little sister… how could this happen to her?! He was supposed to protect her, to watch over her! While he had been locked up in this dingy cell, quarantined like a rabid animal, his baby sister had been brutalized and tortured! He had actually punched Professor Nelson in the face when he admitted that he should have seen the effects of the Black Stigmata in Colleen.
The only silver linings to this were the fact that the nail had been taken from Colleen and was now in possession of the BSC, and that it had not made her a Host, so her mind would not be contaminated like Alex’s. But to be treated so horribly, to suffer so much at the hands of three of her classmates… he couldn’t imagine Colleen ever being able to trust anyone ever again. It would have been bad enough if she had been gang-raped by three men, as horrible as it sounded, it was almost expected in men. But there was supposed to be some kind of protection and understanding between women, some sort of unity that would prevent them from selling each other out to such a fate. Or least, that’s what Alex had hoped, that there was some kind of sisterhood that girls had that would protect them from sexual assault. If it was the girls on her sports team that had done it, would Colleen ever be able to place trust in anyone ever again, man or woman? He just had to wait for her to heal and for the influence of the Black Stigmata to fully leave him.

Christi stood outside Colleen’s hospital room with a look of pained uncertainty on her face. She and Colleen had been good friends since she started dating Alex, Christi had always been there for her and even once tried to hook her up with her younger brother. But now that friendship was struggling to hold itself together, as for every time she tried to go in and comfort her friend, Colleen would freak out and become hysterical. The psychological trauma she had suffered was fully manifesting itself, costing her the ability to recognize Christi and suffer horrendous flashbacks. After all, Christi did resemble Anna, the blonde she-beast and one of the heartless trio that had brutalized her.
Alex was in jail and Colleen had suffered a fate that Christi couldn’t imagine enduring without praying for death. She wished there was something she could do, some way she could help the two of them. It seemed like everything was spiraling out of control and there was nothing she could do to protect the people she cared about.

Professor Nelson took a long drag from his cigarette, accelerating the ember tip to the point where ash was falling off the end like rain. He was standing in the woman’s bathroom at the bus station in the middle of Portland, facing a corpse strung up from the ceiling. Using this corpse, the ritual for the creation of new nails had been completed, and the Black Stigmata were long gone from the pulverized eyeballs. The Homunculus (man or woman, he couldn’t tell) was dangled from a 2x4 in the ceiling by a noose made from the victim’s intestines, painstakingly braded for strength. All the joints in the body were broken, twisted near to the point of tearing open the flesh.
Even to the trained eye, there was no way to tell if the victim was a man or woman. Homunculi were immune to fire or decay and remained eternally like radioactive waste, yet the corpses would show signs of grotesque post-mortem changes. These changes caused the remaining subtle hints of the gender to completely disappear, from the length of the fingers to the size of the pelvis. As for the twisted joints, every Homunculus had some form of unique torture, something to distinguish them from the others as per the nails’ instructions. But with the Black Stigmata not wanting to waste valuable canvas or cause the early death of their victims, Hosts were kept on a short leash and their work often repeated.
A very select few of forensic investigators were examining the scene, one of them a member of the BSC and the other two sworn to secrecy, even against the higher-ups in their departments. The station had been cordoned off and the Homunculus was going to removed and placed in BSC storage. Since Homunculi neither decayed nor burned, destroying them was next to impossible. Even throwing them into a wood chipped just made the toxic influence more spreadable. Like Black Stigmata, Homunculi had to be locked deep underground in vaults built to hold radioactive waste, at least until it was feasible to begin shooting them off into the sun.
Staring at the corpse, Nelson felt a familiar shiver crawl up his spine. The Black Stigmata were growing more powerful, their influence acting with greater speed than before. Barely a week and a half had passed by and more than a dozen bodies had been found. This had reached epidemic levels and now the BSC was sealing off the city of Portland. Under the guise of both a terrorist warning and the arrival of a new virus, public notices were being put out for all citizens to keep alert for suspicious activities. Anyone showing signs of heightened violence or hallucinogenic influence was to be reported.
The time it took for Black Stigmata to multiply always varied, their strength waxing and waning over the course of decades like the economy. Sometimes nails would remain stagnant for months or even years, sometimes they would cling to one host for an extended period and take their time in implanting the directions for the ritual, or sometimes they could incite mass violence in anyone within a kilometer range. But nowhere in his records had Nelson found any sign that this speed had been witnessed before.
Were the Black Stigmata truly growing more powerful? Was their endlessly increasing numbers strengthening their hold on the minds of humans? As this thought passed through Nelson’s mind, the room around him vanished with a splash of black, as if he had been transported to the darkest recesses of space.
‘Great, a hallucination. This ought to be fun.’ He thought to himself as he put out his cigarette.
About to mentally brace himself for the horrors he would likely experience, the darkness was replaced, this time with a scene from a barren wasteland. The sky overhead was as red as blood and the surrounding landscape was the city of Portland, or what remained of it. Every building had been smashed to pieces or stood like skeletons, cars rusted and curled like chips of paint, and a powerful wind blew across the landscape, kicking up razor-sharp dust and smelling like blood. Bodies lay strewn about for as far as the eye could see, immune to the effects of time. They hung from crooked street lamps, were nailed to crumbling brick walls, and lay in twisted heaps in random spots. The blood in their veins had turned to dust ages ago, but not a single body had even been touched by a carrion bird. The bacteria that would have assailed the dead flesh the moment life abandoned them no longer existed, for this Hell was incapable of supporting life itself.
Professor Nelson could not look directly head, for a bright light obscured his view like a curtain hanging in front of his face. He could not even tell how large the apparition was, it was like staring straight into a colossal smelting oven. However, the deathly serenity of the post-apocalyptic world was broken, as with a crash that sounded like the breaking of a billion skeletons, the bright light in front of Nelson vanished, revealing a towering tree made of iron, as dark as volcanic obsidian. Barren of even a single leaf, the branches stretched out like sharpened pikes. Like the foes of Vlad the Impaler, a body hung skewered on the tip of every branch, dangling in the burning wind. The size of the tree was truly unmatched, with the trunk’s diameter equal to a mountain, its highest branches reaching into the vacuum of space, and the branches themselves numbering in the millions, if not billions.
Nelson stared at the tree quizzically, having never witnessed a hallucination like this, nor in any of the reported hallucinations by any Black Stigmata hosts.
“Achieve death…” Nelson muttered without ever knowing why.
“Sir?” The voice of one of the forensic investigators shook him from his delusion, bringing him back to the bus station bathroom.
“Sorry, my mind wandered off there for a little while. How is everything coming along?” He asked while straightening his glasses.
“We’ve found several latent prints on the body and the rope used to hang it. We’ll start checking the database immediately. As for the body itself, the BSC is already sending a containment chamber.” One of the investigators said as she put away her camera.
“Damn it, we’re going to need a new salt mine to dump these things in…” Nelson said to himself as his hand instinctively began grabbing at the pack of cigarettes in his coat pocket.

“ACHIEVE DEATH!”
The people hanging in the air around Alex all screamed this line in unison over and over, forcing him to cover his ears and think of anything that could distract him from their bloodcurdling voices. It was another hallucination, one that was very different from anything he had yet experienced. As always, he was set in a black backdrop, but while there was no actual source of light, he was able to see himself and all the screaming humans clearly. They all looked like they had been nailed to an invisible wall or were dangling from nooses made of rope, barbed wire, and even intestines. Blood gushed from their wounds like popped zits, raining gore down upon Alex and leaving him wanting to throw up.
None of the people were familiar to Alex, yet their identities seemed to change every time he looked away from them. The only thing consistent was that they were all naked and all had sustained some kind of fatal wound. Regardless of the injuries they appeared to bear, every stranger was sporting a euphoric grin from ear to ear and with their eyes as wide as could be. Even with blood pouring from their bodies, they had the expressions of kids running through the parking lot of Disney World. Achieve death, they screamed that line over and over again, yet Alex had no idea what it meant. Normally he would be hearing the instructions for creating new nails, but this ambiguous term was playing in his mind like a broken record.
Once their voices reached a volume where the two words they had been repeating could no longer be understood, the nightmare advanced to its next step. Dripping off their bodies along with their blood, globs of liquefied flesh rained down as if the screaming apparitions were actually wax sculptures over a fire. Layer after layer of skin was peeled away in viscous drops, while in their limbs, their joints twisted and snapped until the bones broke free of their restraints. With melted skin now running down the invisible wall and painting it a sludgy mix of tan and crimson, the next layer of flesh on the apparitions began to fall away.
Like piano strings snapping and lashing out at the nearest surface, strand after strand of muscle was severed and shot off. The muscles cords were peeled away, falling down towards Alex. Pelting the marsh of gore Alex was forced to kneel in, the severed muscle cords squirmed and writhed like worms in sunlight. Swimming through the thick blood and melted flesh, the crawling abominations grew spindly legs like millipedes and began swarming to Alex. Screaming in terror, he tried to swat them away and keep them at a distance, but with insatiable bloodlust, they crawled across his body and ravaged his skin with unseen stingers. While he fought hopelessly against the horde, the people dangling along the walls continued their chant, their voices completely unhindered by their exposed organs turning to ash and the last of their muscles being stripped away.
As the eyes melted from their skulls, a bright red light shone from the depths of their skulls, just like the bloody star Alex saw in every dream. Increasing in intensity with the exposure of each beam, the red light filled the chamber like a gas cloud. Down at the bottom, Alex was still fighting fruitlessly against the stinging crawlers. They had all swarmed on him at once and every inch of skin had now been torn to pieces, yet the tiny horrors refused to let go of him. He felt like his whole body had been lit on fire, while the flames themselves weighed his body down while they devoured him. More and more of these human flesh millipedes crawled onto his body, enveloping him like a sheet, then like a thick winter coat, and finally as just an amorphous pile. Reaching out for something he could grab onto, he watched the crawlers move in front of his eyes, obscuring his vision and leaving the red light outside as the last thing he would ever see.
The banging of a fist against his cell door woke Alex from his delusion, prompting him to immediately throw up into the nearby toilet.
“Stevens, you got a visitor!” The guard outside barked.
Glad that he had someone to talk to and distract him, but also wondering if he had the stamina for a visitation, Alex slowly got up and moved to the door as it was opened. As per routine, he stood as still as a statue in the doorway while the guards secured him in shackles, both for his hands and feet. Even if he wasn’t a real inmate of this prison, he had to follow most of the rules. Real prisoners in solitary confinement would of course never be allowed the luxury of visitations.
Being led down the hallway with his chains rattling and guards on either side, Alex tried to figure out the time. He was never allowed to see a clock unless he was in the visitation room, but it seemed too early in the day for his family, Christi, or Professor Nelson to be visiting him. Either way, he tried to shake off the remaining jetlag-like effects of his nightmare. This was beyond torture, he felt like he was actually dying every time he woke up. If this didn’t end soon or at least get better, he might not even be able to keep from killing himself.
Strangely, the visitation room was empty. It must not have been proper hours. He was probably the only “prisoner” who could meet with someone outside of visiting hours. Being sat down at the round table in the middle of the room, he watched as his visitor was checked behind a wall of reinforced glass. It was a man, portly and with a dark complexion. Hispanic? Alex’s vision still had not recovered enough for him to make out the details, but he knew that this man was a stranger to him. How did he know Alex? How did he know he was here? Why was he visiting him? He certainly wasn’t dressed like a lawyer.
Looking like he had just seen a ghost, the man was let into the visitation room and slowly walked over to Alex’s table, taking small steps.
“You’re Alex Stevens, right?” He asked nervously.
“Yes, do I know you?”
“No, no uh… we haven’t met before. I’m uh… I’m Miguel Hernandez, I’m… Tim Jones’ brother in law… or former brother in law, after my sister’s death.”
“I’m guessing you want to know what happened to him? I’m sorry, I have no idea what he did or where he is.” Said Alex, preparing for an awkward conversation full of lies.
“No… uh… I didn’t come here for that. I was told to come here…” Miguel said shakily as he sat down on the other side of the table.
“Told? Who told you?”
Miguel leaned forward with his head in his hands.
“I don’t know what to do. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I can’t even think straight. This is tearing me apart, I just want it to stop!”
A terrifying shiver snuck up Alex’s spine.
“Who told you to find me?!” He demanded fearfully, preparing to jump out of his chair.
“The whispers… they just don’t stop! They keep telling me to do things and they hurt me if I don’t obey! I’ve fought against them for as long as I can, but I can’t take it anymore!” Miguel shouted. Alex hurried to his feet.
“Guards! Guards! He’s got a weapon! Someone get in here and help me!” Alex yelled at the top of his lungs. Hearing his alarm, prison guards streamed into the room from both the entrance and the exit, charging towards Miguel before he could use whatever weapon they thought he had. Reaching into his pocket, Miguel drew a Black Stigmata, the twin to the one that Tim Jones had found, both men having come across the body that had bore the relics and each one taking a nail.
“WE MUST ALL ACHIEVE DEATH!” Miguel screamed at the top of his lungs, holding the nail high above his head and triggering a blinding flash of red light.

Blood, Alex could taste blood, and a lot of it at that. He couldn’t close his mouth, something was stuffed into his cheeks. Gum? No, it was softer than gum. His stomach also felt full. Had he been bleeding into his stomach? Was he wounded? Forcing his eyes open, he stared up at the ceiling of the visitation chamber. He could hear something… something wet and squishy… as well as… laughter. Pushing himself up, he looked around to try and figure out what was going on. The tables and chairs in the auditorium had all been pulverized, and only one guard of the original swarm remained. He was busy painting the walls red with blood, using sundered body parts of his former coworkers as paintbrushes. He laughed as he smeared the torn muscle and flesh against the beige drywall, having completely lost his mind. It was obvious that the guards had all died horribly, probably in a large psychotic brawl.
Looking around, Alex paled as his eyes fell on Miguel, laying just a few feet away with his face torn off and his throat completely destroyed. It looked as if a wild animal had torn into him… or a possessed human. Rolling his tongue around in his mouth, Alex summed up the taste of the man’s blood and immediately vomited onto the floor. Spurt after spurt of human blood and chewed up flesh poured out onto the white tile, with Alex mentally begging for any god that may exist for it to not really be from Miguel. He didn’t know if he could live with himself, live with the knowledge that he had not only killed, but EATEN a person. Coughing several times on something bulbous in his throat, he was forced to face reality when one of Miguel’s eye dropped out of his mouth, still with the stalk clinging to it like a strand of spaghetti wrapped around a meatball.
Realizing what he had done, realizing what had been in his body, Alex screamed at the top of his lungs, shouting at the messy floor until the veins in his scalp bulged and his face became beat-red. Hearing his screams, the deranged guard stopped what he was doing and turned to him. Having clearly gone mad, the man limped towards him with his club in hand, the end broken into a sharp tip. Now facing Alex, the wounds he had sustained while fighting his coworkers were visible, such as several broken fingers, a piece of one of the metal chair legs in his shin, multiple deep lacerations across his face, and a chunk bitten out of his arm.
Hobbling over with one leg barely able to hold his weight, the guard laughed as he raised his nightstick above his head, about to plunge the broken end straight into Alex’s chest or simply beat him to death. Fueled by adrenalin and acting on instinct, Alex kicked the protruding spike of metal in the man’s leg, forcing it all the way through and sending him toppling to the floor. With crippling pain temporarily breaking the hold of the Black Stigmata, the man was wide open. Having learned to stop hoping everything would turn out to be a bad dream, Alex quickly crawled over and wrapped his chains around the guard’s throat. His teeth bared, his lips pulled back, and red foam dripping from the corners of his mouth, Alex pulled on the chain as hard as he could, kneeling on the guard’s back to keep him pinned. The man struggled against him, but his attempts only strengthened Alex’s fear and thereby increased his strength.
After several seconds of his heart beating in his ears like a war drum, Alex finally felt the guard go limp, dead by his hands. Shaking all over, Alex looked around with new eyes and ears. He could hear sirens, gunshots, explosions, and countless screams of agony both in and outside the prison. Was there a riot going on? Had the Black Stigmata triggered a revolt with that flash of red light? This place was no longer safe, he had to get out!
‘Wait, the Black Stigmata… Where is it?’ He thought to himself.
He looked around, trying to find the nail that Miguel had brought in. He wasn’t holding it (he had learned to check), they weren’t in his pockets, and a quick search of the room brought no results. Had someone come in and stolen it? No matter, it was better that he didn’t have it. Just being around it could cause him to do… what he did to Miguel.
With so much adrenalin in his veins that he felt like he would suffer a heart attack, he checked the dead guards for the keys to his chains. After all the nightmares he had experienced from the Black Stigmata, no corpse and no amount of blood could scare him. Jammed into the mouth of one of the guards, he found a ring of keys and managed to finally free himself. After a second search of the corpses, he retrieved a few cans of pepper spray and a pair of bloody clubs. With a baton in each hand and enough mental stability to know that he looked like a clueless idiot with a baton in each hand, he ran out of the visitation room in search of an exit. From the way that guard had acted, it was clear that this riot was the work of the Black Stigmata, and that meant that he was essentially trapped in a giant box of metal and concrete with a pack of rabid dogs. He had to escape if he were to have any chance of survival.
Leaving the visitation chamber, he ran down the hallway leading towards the scanning area, where visitors to the prison were searched for weapons. Somehow, Miguel had managed to sneak the nail in past the guards. Perhaps the Black Stigmata as a whole had learned that metal detectors could lead to separation from their Hosts… The hallway was stained with blood, all of it still wet or at least gelatinized. Reaching the first checkpoint door, he grabbed the metal bars and shook them wildly, trying to overpower the electronic lock. Beside him was the window to the small office holding the controls for the door, reinforced so that prisoners like Alex couldn’t just force their way out. Lockdown was in affect, so there certainly wouldn’t be any doors open to him. Cursing his luck, he doubled back and returned to the visitation room. There had to be another way out of this place, THINK!
‘The yard…’ Alex realized.
He had seen the prison yard when he first arrived, an expansive field of sparse grass and sand surrounded by wire fences. Like all prisoners, this yard was secured by guard towers, armed with sniper rifles. But with the Black Stigmata screwing with the minds of everyone in the prison, there was a strong possibility that the towers would be abandoned or that the guards would be too crazy to even aim at him properly. It would just be a matter of climbing the fence. But that meant… crossing the entire prison.
So he had two options: hide and wait for help to arrive in a prison full of possessed killers, or cross said prison and try to escape. No, he had to get out of there, if not out of fear from the other inmates, then to get away from the Black Stigmata before it could push him into the same psychotic stage as everyone else. Taking a deep breath, he walked over to the twin doors leading to the rest of the prison and opened them wide.

Alex ran as fast as he could down the corridor of the first cellblock, hoping to be unnoticed in the carnage. Every inch of the floor was slick with blood, the air was heavy with smoke and tear gas, and a choir of screams and laughs alike served as an endless soundtrack. The corridor was three stories in height with cells lining each side and two levels of catwalks for the second and third levels. Possessed by the Black Stigmata and robbed of what little humanity they had left, the prisoners were torturing, raping, killing, and devouring each other. They weren’t alone, guards were also taking part in the bloody riot, having completely lost their minds. Most often, the victims of the group assaults were the few inmates who seemed mostly immune to the affects of the Black Stigmata, but that only allowed them to suffer with more clarity.
In one cell he passed, several inmates were ganging up on a single prisoner, using shivs to carve holes in his torso through which to sexually assault him, all while he howled in agony and begged for someone to help him, Alex could see the prisoner’s hand reaching out between the bodies of the men piled on top of him, desperately trying to grab something that would let him escape or someone that would help him. His fingers twisted and curled with his screams, projecting every particular bout of agony.
In another cell, Alex found several possessed inmates brawling with shivs in their hands, completely unaware of the injuries they were sustaining and focusing only on harming each other. The more they slashed and stabbed each other, the more of their blood was splattered across their walls and ceiling. Like the guard Alex had killed, they laughed as they attacked each other, and laughed even harder when they themselves were hurt. They seemed completely immune to their injuries, continuing to fight even when their organs were stabbed, their throats were slashed, or their eyes were gouged out.
On the other side of the hallway, guards and prisoners alike were feeding on each other, resembling a pack of zombies around their victims. Tearing into the guts of their coworkers or fellow inmates, they slurped up intestines like lengths of spaghetti, squeezed severed limbs like oranges to drain the blood into their throats, chewed on brains, eyes, and the toughest cartilage like gum, and ate until they would throw up, then resume eating. Their attention would sporadically change and they would attack each other, as if bored with devouring corpses and wanting to once again taste the flesh of the living.
From the railways of the catwalks, prisoners hung from nooses made of bed sheets or even human intestines. Many of the lynching recievers kicked and fought with the “ropes” around their neck, while spectators cheered beneath them. Those that weren’t left to suffocate were lit on fire, turning into dangling torches after being doused with prison-made alcohol or flammable chemicals and then ignited with lighters or prison matches.
Turning a corner onto the next cellblock, Alex found himself facing a mixed group of prisoners and guards. They were all holding makeshift spears made of anything from mops and brooms to the frames of cots. They were holding their spears high above their heads, laughing at the skewered corpses dangling atop them. With each jostle, the corpses’ blood rained down onto the killers and was ravenously licked up and swallowed. Fearing that they would turn their attention to him, Alex ducked into a nearby cell.
Trying to think up his next move, Alex nearly shit his pants at the sound of automatic fire just outside. At the other end of the corridor, SWAT officers were mowing down the crazed guards and inmates, but they did so with bloodshot eyes and sadistic smiles behind their transparent helmets. As the butchered carcasses hit the floor with smoking bullet wounds, the officers turned on each other, emptying their clips into their comrades or beating each other with the stocks of their rifles.
‘Prison guards aren’t allowed to carry guns, even the riot control guards! Were they from outside?’ Alex thought to himself, slowly crawling out from under the cot of the cell and returning to the hallway.
Casting aside the batons he had taken, he sprinted over to the corpses of the SWAT officers and searched them for weapons. They had used up all the ammo for their automatic weapons, but he was able to take two sidearms and a few spare magazines. Thinking back to movies and TV and feeling more like an idiot than a badass, he checked each pistol for a chambered round and moved on to the cafeteria.
Much like the visitation chamber, the cafeteria consisted of a large auditorium with dozens of round tables and a counter across one side of the room where the food was given out. Like the rest of the prison, the cafeteria was filled with both inmates and guards, slaughtering each other in the most brutal and bloody ways possible. Screams emanated from the kitchen as the chefs dissected and butchered captured victims, burned their faces off on the grills, or drowned them in the boiling grease tubs.
Hearing a laugh, Alex turned to the entrance of the kitchen, finding himself staring at a blood-soaked chef, scrawny and with a tan complexion. There was a wicked grin on his face and a carving knife in his hand.
“Stay back!” Alex fearfully shouted, aiming both pistols at the man with trembling hands as he saw the chef raise the knife.
“We will all achieve death!” The chef cackled.
Swinging his arm, he stabbed himself in the throat with the handle protruding just above his collarbone and the tip of the blade being deflected off his spinal column. Already in the process of bleeding to the death, the chef pushed down on the knife with all his strength, cutting down through his chest and torso. Maneuvering the blade around his sternum, he sawed through his ribcage, shredded his heart, cleaved through his entrails, and pulled the knife out just above his pelvis. With his dying strength, he pulled the flaps of his torso open, letting Alex see his insides while his torn organs poured out onto the floor.
As the chef fell to the floor, one of the guards in the process of ripping the face of his coworker with his teeth stood up. Pointing at Alex, he released a bloodcurdling screech, alerting the other killers in the room. Unsure of how many bullets he had in each magazine, he raised both guns and took aim at the approaching psychos. He had never shot a gun in his life, but considering the fact that he had just strangled a guard to death… this wouldn’t likely traumatize him.
Pulling the trigger of the pistol in his right hand, he managed to graze the temple of the guard that had screamed. The impact was light, but held just enough strength to chip away a piece of his cranium and send him tumbling from loss of balance. While Alex had already been flooded with adrenalin, the recoil of the gun in his hand, the sound of the bullet being expelled with explosive force, the smell of gunpowder and blood, and the sight of the opponent falling due to an action on his part both excited him more while also applying a form of focus. The situation was indeed dire, but with these guns and plenty of bullets, he finally had some control since the Black Stigmata had ruined his life. He had to fight his way out of this hellhole and work to ensure his survival, but that just meant his life was at last in his own hands.
With inmates and guards charging, Alex replayed all of the gunfights he had seen on TV. Forcing himself to breathe slowly, he picked his targets and began firing one bullet after another. As the slides of the two pistols jerked back over and over, smoking shell cases were flicked out like cigarette butts and bounced off the bloody floor. Many of Alex’s shots missed, but the majority of his rounds hit their targets, striking either the torsos or he heads of his opponents. While his aim wasn’t always reliable for headshots, they seemed like the only surefire way to kill the monsters charging towards him. Even after taking a round straight through the heart, the inmates and guards continued their run, at least for ten or more steps.
Once his enemies reached a certain proximity, Alex ejected the two empty magazines from his pistols and reloaded them. While pulling back the slides to chamber two rounds, he bolted for the side of the cafeteria, running with the wall to his shoulder and causing the swarm of ravenous killers to twist on itself like a large wave fumbling as it hit the coastline. Reaching the double doors on the other side of the cafeteria, he relinquished control of one of his guns by holding it in his mouth and used his free hand to grab a severed arm messily ripped from the corpse of an inmate. With the orange jumpsuit sleeve now deep red, he jammed the arm into the handles of the two doors, after rolling through the exit and shutting it to the oncoming horde. As soon as he pulled the arm through, the inmates and guards threw themselves against the doors, bending the arm near to the point of snapping the bones.
Having bought himself seconds at the most, Alex sprinted down the hallway as fast as his legs would carry him, while trying to calculate how many bullets he had left.
“Die!”
He heard the voice before he heard the tiles break in the ceiling above his head. Having been hiding in the ceiling like a spider waiting for a fly to fall into its web, an inmate dropped out from above the tiles and landed on Alex, forcing him to the ground. His face already bloody from a previous kill and his body more than twice Alex’s size, the baldheaded criminal pinned him down with ease and managed to sink his teeth into Alex’s arm. Feeling all the courage he had burned with just seconds ago vanish at the sight of his blood, Alex screamed in pain as the inmate’s teeth cut through his flesh. Wiggling his right arm free, he put one of his pistols to the man’s temple and squeezed the trigger, drilling a hole straight through his skull and splattering brains and blood across the nearby wall.
Bleeding profusely but knowing he had only seconds before the killers from the cafeteria caught up to him, he pushed the body of his attacker to the side and got back to his feet. Feeling like his strength was waning with every drop of blood he lost, he ran down the corridor with a look of terror on his face. He had to get out!
Momentarily smothering his terror, the sound of an earth-quaking explosion thundered through the corridors of the prison, while the building itself trembled from a mysterious force. With curiosity filling him, Alex allowed himself a brief detour and followed the smell of fresh smoke. The explosion had originated in the prison infirmary; he could smell overturned bottles of hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol. The infirmary itself lay on the very edge of the prison with an exit to the yard nearby. At the end of the corridor, the double doors leading to the yard stood, locked and resolute. Along the right side, a row of reinforced windows granted a view of a wide room filled with beds lined against the wall. Small windows were set up along the wall, letting sunlight stream in and shine on the cabinets of medical supplies, all locked tightly.
The infirmary itself was a sea of black smoke, billowing from the helicopter that had smashed through the wall. All of the cots were on fire, the blade had carved through the medicine cabinets on the far wall, and the pilot and whoever might have been with him had either escaped or burned to death in the cabin-turned-crematorium. Alex couldn’t tell if it had been a news helicopter or police helicopter, but it did reinforce his fear of the Black Stigmata if its influence was so powerful that it could drive a helicopter pilot to plummet out of the sky.
Moving over to the exit, he pushed and pulled unsuccessfully against the doors, but the locks held with untested resistance. He even emptied his second to last clip into the lock, trying to break it loose. The mechanism, even while scrambled with pulverized bullets, would not give in. That meant that there was only one way out…
With a single pistol and only one magazine left, Alex filled his lungs with all the fresh air he could gather and pushed open the door to the infirmary. The smoke that met him burned his skin like scalding steam and left him nearly blind. The black vapors were so thick, charging into the infirmary felt more like wading through hot quicksand. Holding his breath with his heart beating in his ears like the pounding of sledgehammer, he rushed over the helicopter and struggled to climb on top of it. The nose and windshield were designed to deflect air, making it next to impossible to climb on top, yet with the cabin burning like the pits of hell, any opening he could use for a handhold would burn his fingers clean off.
With his lungs now aching, he threw himself up onto the nose of the aircraft, finally managing to grab onto the creases along the edges of the windshield. The windshield itself looked like the surface of a lava lamp, as the flames inside churned furiously in search of oxygen and streamed out of any crack and opening. If the windshield broke while Alex was on top of it and he fell in… it would be the end of him. Cutting his hands in the process, he fully climbed up onto the nose of the helicopter and grabbed the edge of the chopper’s blade like a lifeline. There was just enough space above the helicopter for Alex to squeeze through the hole it had broken in the wall.
Careful to avoid putting his weight on the windshield, Alex’s heart seemingly stopped as he heard frantic thudding. Looking down, he saw hands beating against the underside of the windshield. Whoever was inside of the chopper, they were still alive but were beyond saving. Alex could see it, the flesh melting off their hands and sticking to the windshield like caramel. He could see the exposed muscle in their palms and fingers as they beat against the tempered glass. There seemed to be only two inhabitants, and leaning forward, they at last became visible. With flames streaming up around them like foaming water, they screamed in agony and beat their foreheads against the windows. The flesh of their faces had already been burned away, their eyes were charred coals within their sockets, and their cheeks were melting off and revealing their teeth.
Trying to hold back tears of loathing for the horrors he was being forced to bear, Alex realized that there was nothing he could do to help the people inside and made his escape. Climbing over the top of the helicopter, he gasped for his life at the first wisp of relatively clean air that brushed against his face. Tumbling to the ground, he allowed himself a minute to enjoy the feeling of grass against his skin after almost half a month of being trapped within a concrete cell.
SMASH!
The sound of the nearby doors creaking robbed Alex of any and all relief he had managed to find. They had found him, the inmates and guards from the cafeteria had followed him. Hearing the horde of possessed men throw themselves at the door a second time, Alex forced himself to his feet and began to run. He could see an opening in the fence in the distance, made when a SWAT van had lost control and crashed into the barrier. Similar vans and police cars were scattered around the perimeter of the prison to try and keep anyone from escaping, though he didn’t see any officers gathered around the broken fence. This was his chance!
It felt like he had just ran only ten or so paces when he heard the dreadful noise of the locks on the exit finally give way and the steel doors swinging open. Screaming, laughing, or even just swearing, a horde of guards, inmates, and SWAT officers streamed out of the prison like Demons pouring out of Hell, each of them drenched in the blood of their victims. Turning back while he ran, Alex emptied his last magazine into the tsunami of killers, though this was nothing more than a foolish mistake. Not only was he wasting his bullets on an unstoppable swarm, but looking back and seeing how many monsters were chasing him only terrified him further. Close to a hundred men were running after him and their numbers were growing! They had spread out into a wide tidal wave rolling across the prison yard, while simultaneously converging on Alex. This was more than just the crowd he had seen in the cafeteria, was the entire prison chasing after him?!
With the sickly green grass beneath him, the bleak grey sky above him, the army of possessed cannibals chasing him, and the prison burning like a bonfire behind him, Alex ran as fast and hard as he could. Tears were streaming down his face as he repeatedly told himself how much he didn’t want to die, and how much he cursed destiny for letting this happen to him. The opening in the fence was so close and yet so far away, he felt like he had been running for miles and still had miles to go before he would have his freedom. He could hear the men behind him, screaming in their mindless bloodlust and their insatiable hunger for human flesh. They were shouting for him to be disemboweled, to be torn to pieces, to be raped to death, to be butchered and eaten, and other similarly gruesome fates.
He didn’t know how close they were behind him, but he didn’t dare look. He could almost feel them closing in, feel the movement of the air on the back of his head as they swung at him, could feel the heat of their breath and the thumping of their feet. He was so tired, being grateful that he wasn’t fat but realizing just how out of shape he was. The air in his lungs felt more like hot embers, every tendon and muscle cord in his legs felt like a piano wire about to snap, his heart was struggling to keep up with the demand of his exertion, and his body was becoming numb as it was deprived of oxygen. He was truly running for his life.
“Oh my god…” Alex gasped, his attention drawn to a mechanical whine above his head.
Punching through the grey cloud cover like Pai Mei through a wooden board, a passenger plane from the Portland jetport screamed as it plummeted out of the sky, on a collision course with the prison. Was this the true power of the Black Stigmata?! Could it really manipulate people or possibly even technology from miles away?! This couldn’t be possible! This was madness! Looking up to the falling plane, Alex increased his speed to his maximum, running for his life as the aircraft dropped lower and lower. In the back of his mind, he wondered what was going on in the cabin. Were the passengers killing and eating each other in an inhuman psychotic mess like the prisoners, or were they cowering in their chairs, fearful of what they knew was about to happen?
Finally reaching the outward-leaning section of the fence that had been bent over by the SWAT van, Alex jumped as high as he could onto it and gripped the wires like a lifeline. With the SWAT van beneath him, he scrambled up the inclined plane with what little strength he had left, counting the seconds as they ticked by. Tearing himself up on the barbed wire, he pulled himself over the top of the fence and landed on the roof of the SWAT van. Rolling off the vehicle and hitting the ground with a painful thud, he had just enough strength to push himself up and dare a look at the prison. Had he waited even a couple seconds more, he would have missed the show.
Like the lead Star Destroyer plunging into the Death Star in Return of the Jedi, the plane struck the heart of the prison and erupted into a fiery mushroom cloud. The plane had to have just taken off with full fuel tanks, because the tidal wave of fire that surged out in all directions made the flames of 9/11 look like a firecracker. While most of the energy of the explosion was released upwards in the mentioned mushroom cloud, a large portion was set off in all directions in a burning shockwave, traveling across the ground like a flash flood. In a single gargantuan upheaval, the entire prison complex around the impact point was lifted into the air as the shockwave tore through the foundations of every building like a flaming sword. For maybe a millisecond, the buildings hung suspended before crumbling in the burning tempest rising up from the blast.
The shockwave continued expanding with the blade of fire crawling across the ground with unstoppable speed. Shooting through the yard, the fire enveloped every guard and prisoner, killing most of them instantly and ripping their bodies apart, but simply lighting the rest on fire. With their deaths guaranteed, the survivors staggered as living funeral pyres. They eventually gave in to the flames and burned to death, or had the life beaten out of their flame-ridden bodies when the wreckage and debris of the prison began to rain back down like a storm of mortar rounds. The explosion lost most of its energy by the time it reached the edge of the yard, and any remaining flames or pressure were deflected by the SWAT van, finally giving Alex a lucky break.
Getting to his feet, Alex looked out at the sea of flames before him, wondering how many people had died. About to turn around and begin running away in case there were any crazed survivors, he was brought to his knees by a familiar crashing sound boxing his ears, the same crash he heard in all of his nightmares.
“No, not now!” Alex cursed, gripping his skull as a red miasma stifled his vision like a layer of blood across his eyes.

Alex shuffled down the dark Portland street, each breath carrying an animalistic hiss to it. He was no longer in control of his body or aware of his surroundings, his mind was in the possession of the Black Stigmata. Now serving as an unwilling tool of the relic’s inhuman will, his eyes swiveled back and forth as he looked for someone to victimize. The whites of his eyes had now become scarlet from the swelling and inflammation of the veins just below the surface, his arm had stopped bleeding but was covered in a thick black crust, and even with the frigid chill in the air, his breath would not fog. All sense of who he was had been taken, he no longer knew his name or had any memories. He was filled only with the desire to torture and kill.
The street was empty on this night and no cars were driving around. Word had spread of the prison riot in the distance and the possible escapees, so the citizens of Portland were in hiding. Looking ahead, he saw a woman step out into the night. Early to mid twenties, black hair tied back in a messy bun, and tight workout clothes, she had just stepped out of the gym and was locking the door behind her. An owner? The sight of this woman made Alex’s stomach rumble and his throat tremor with unbearable thirst. But he had to be careful, he had to stalk his prey before she could become his meal.
Keeping his distance but never letting her leave his sight, he followed her down the lamp-lit street. There were ear-buds in her ears and she showed no sense of alertness or alarm, probably meaning she had not heard about the prison. Regardless, Alex made sure his steps were silent and there was always covering nearby for him to duck behind. He watched her like a hawk, feeling his desires intensify as his eyes fed on every succulent detail. In her tight black yoga pants, her skinny legs steadily thickened to a taught rear end, heavily toned with muscles earned from hours of working out. Even from a hundred feet back and with only the light of the streetlamps, he could see the outline of her thong nestled between her iron-hard ass cheeks, and he could see the waistband just barely coming out above her pants. He hadn’t been able to tell how large her breasts were when she stepped outside, they had looked moderate at most. Hopefully they were large enough to sink his teeth into. Her body was so lean and taut, while showing just a few remaining pockets of delicious fat. If she hadn’t heard about the prison, then she likely had been at the gym all day, working out obsessively. Perfect, she would have no strength to fight against him.
Reaching into her purse, the woman drew her car keys and clicked the alarm. Down the street, her hand-me-down Subaru beeped and lit up as all the locks were released. Now was the time! Seeing the woman approaching the car, Alex increased his speed, running silently towards her and hoping his prey wouldn’t look back and see him. Just as the pretty piece of meat was about to step down off the sidewalk and into the street, Alex reached her and punched her in the face with all of his strength. The force of the impact popped all of Alex’s knuckles out of place, but so too did it succeed in knocking the woman out and sending her tumbling to the cold pavement without so much as a yelp.
While his knuckles popped back into place without him even having to acknowledge the injury, Alex grabbed the woman and threw her into the passenger seat of the car, proceeding then to tie her up with the seatbelt and stuff a sock from her gym bag into her mouth to gag her. His prey now captured, he took the woman’s keys and climbed into the driver’s seat. He drove off with a screech, laughing to himself in anticipation.

The woman opened her eyes and immediately began to struggle as soon as her mind perceived the sensation of rope around her wrists. Though technically, it was the passenger seatbelt from her car. She was laid out on the hood of her car, feeling the warm metal against her back. The air was cold and smelled like low tide, and sparse trees could be seen around her location. The sky was bright enough for her to at least see silhouettes, but that was only due to the light pollution of Portland, of which the outskirts she was in.
Her eyes were fixed on Alex, lying on top of her with a savage grin on his face. It wasn’t the situation that terrified her most, it was the fact that his eyes were glowing red like two hot coals, clearly visible in the dark evening. Seeing her eyes open, Alex began to laugh. With the Black Stigmata still possessing his mind with unchallenged power, he had been waiting for her to wake up. Torturing her brought no joy if he couldn’t see her pain. The woman began to writhe and struggle desperately, wanting more than anything to get out from under Alex and run away as fast as she could.
Moving his hand up, Alex cupped one of her breasts, chilled from the evening exposure. Her nipples were both fully erect in these temperatures, poking up through both her bra and pink tank top. Tears streamed down the woman’s eyes as he fondled her, knowing what awaited her if this man wasn’t stopped. With malicious strength, Alex tore away her shirt and bra, leaving the woman with nothing to cover her breasts with but her bound arms. Grabbing her wrists, he forced her arms up over her head and held them pinned against the top of the Subaru windshield. Through the sock stuffed in her mouth, the woman whimpered and tried to beg for Alex to spare her, but continuing to laugh, he leaned forward and licked the tears off her face.
As a puppet of the Black Stigmata, her whimpers were music to his ears and the taste of her tears filled him with a heroine-like euphoria. Moving downwards, he ran his tongue down her smooth face, her soft throat, and across her chest. The woman shuddered with disgust as his tongue flicked her nipples over and over again, playing with them as if only to taunt her. As he worked his tongue across her chest, he moved his other hand between her legs, feeling the lips of her pussy through the thin fabric of her yoga pants. Under the circumstances, she was dry as a bone, but eventually her body would betray her and she would loosen up.
Feeling no need to wait, Alex used his legs to pin the woman down and pulled off her pants and thong with his freed hands, yanking away the woman’s last form of defense and cover. Completely naked and with the cold air brushing up against her skin like a swarm of wet serpents, fresh tears streamed down the woman’s face and she fought with everything she had to shape a single word of her desperation. With what little strength she had, she pulled her bound wrists out from under Alex and began beating them against his back, trying to knock him off or at least hurt him. Her hits had no affect, and to punish her, Alex reached back and broke her nose with a quick punch, causing her to whine in pain as blood streamed down her face.
Alex ignored her pathetic whimpers and continued to fondle her slit, staring straight into her eyes as he did so and lapping up her blood hungrily. His breathing was quick, frantic even, like a feral dog baring its fangs. Against his hand, the woman kicked desperately, even after the pain she had just endured. Her attempts did not anger Alex, they excited him, adding some extra fun to the situation. But that didn’t mean that her fighting him wouldn’t get in his way.
Moving both hands back to her wrists and again pinning them above her head, Alex brought his face just inches from the woman. With a wide grin on his face, his body began to convulse with deep tremors whiplashing his spine. He slowly opened his mouth, all while the convulsions increased in violence. Now adjusted to the darkness, the girl’s eyes widened in terror as a metal spike slid out onto Alex’s tongue, somehow brought forth from his gut. With a needle-sharp point and four blade-like edges running down the sides, the relic terrified her as her mind twisted to figure out what he was going to do with it.
Taking the nail out of his mouth, Alex reacquired his sadistic grin. Reaching back in a single fluid-like movement, he raised the nail and plunged it straight into her left kneecap. Feeling the metal spike shred her flesh and force aside her bones, the woman screamed in agony while blood poured from the wound. It was not a serious injury, it would clot long before she could bleed to death. Besides, now it told her what he would do if she continued to resist him. Sobbing from the pain in her leg, the woman resigned herself to her fate and let her body grow limp.
Free to do whatever he wanted, Alex held the nail between his teeth and used his free hand to ram his fingers up into her pussy. The brutal penetration drew a muffled scream from his victim, making him shudder in happiness. Even while gagged, he could hear it in her voice; her pain, her fear, her humiliation, and her dread. She still had some hope that she would be rescued or that someone would find her, or perhaps she would even have a chance to incapacitate him and make her escape, even though she couldn’t walk… Oh well, he would just have to break her.
Listening to the sounds of her painful whimpers like his favorite song on the radio, Alex worked his fingers in her snatch downright violently, prying them apart and forcing his digits in up to his knuckles. His hand was vibrating inside her with terrifying power, pounding her insides more than any man ever had. This wasn’t to get her “warmed up” or even for Alex’s sexual gratification, it was to hurt and humiliate her as much as possible. But in the minutes that passed, the woman became used to the torment and her writhing stopped.
Annoyed now by her complete docility, Alex pushed the envelope even farther. Withdrawing his index and ring finger from her pussy, he jammed them deep into her anus using the wetness from her slit as lubricant. With his fingers in her ass, he used his thumb to continue stimulating her snatch. Having never before tried any sort of ass-play, the woman cried out and instinctively curled up like a dead spider, trying to tighten all the muscles in her anus and keep Alex locked out. Regardless of her attempts, the strength in his hand was beyond her ability to defy.
Her asshole was so tight, even the juices from her pussy weren’t enough for Alex’s fingers, but it was also so soft that that the friction was more than tolerable. Often times, when he pushed his fingers and thumb inside her, he would clamp down on her insides in a huge pinch. Grabbing a hold of her, he shook her insides wildly and painfully, drawing stream after stream of fresh tears from the agony of sexual humiliation. The torment continued on for what felt like an hour, until at last, Alex pulled his hand away to revealed his fingers coated in a thin sheen of blood, brought on by the internal trauma he had inflicted.
After sucking his fingers clean, he took a moment to lean down and run his tongue through her violated slit. The taste of her blood and juices was ecstasy for Alex, especially since both were rich with suffering. The woman’s body was trembling in pain and exhaustion. She had no more strength left, Alex’s brutality had robbed her of that, as well as her pride. Regardless, she knew that the worst was yet to come. Forcing her legs apart, Alex opened his pants and revealed his thunderous erection. His manhood looked strange, trembling with each powerful pulse of his heart. The surface appeared almost… reptilian, or like the cock of a xenomorph from the Alien movies.
Continuing to laugh, Alex forced himself into the woman, in a single brutal shove. The ferocity in which he entered her gave the woman just enough energy to writhe in pain, but before a whimper or whine could be heard, Alex had already pulled out and forced himself back in. With inhuman speed and strength, Alex began raping her like a dildo bolted to a jackhammer. Not only was the pain of his thrusts downright paralyzing, but the woman was left in awe by Alex’ abilities. She had screwed around plenty of times in her life, but never before had she been penetrated so quickly and so deeply. Alex was an Average Joe in the length department, yet it felt like he was driving so deep into her that he was punching her stomach.
Like when he violated her with his fingers, Alex fucked his victim while staring straight into her eyes. He was moving so quickly that the rocking car couldn’t even establish a rhythm, and simply shook on its tires. With each thrust, a wet squishing sound was emitted as the head of his cock punched the woman’s punished insides. But the longer he violated her, the easier it became. Regardless of the pain and damage suffered, as well as the psychological factor, the woman’s body was reacting to his pushes and was lubricating itself, as well as drawing some semblance of pleasure with each deep penetration.
Suddenly looking up, Alex gave an animalistic snarl as he achieved his first orgasm. The woman shuddered from both the physical sensation and embarrassment as she felt her rapist’s seed flood her womanhood, spraying all the way up into her womb.
‘Please! Please let him be done!’ The woman mentally begged.
Her silent prayers were answered by new grin crossing Alex’s face. Dropping the nail back into his hand, he raised it above his head and plunged it into the woman’s throat. The sharp tip penetrated her soft flesh with ease and drove straight down into her like she was made of Jell-O. For the first ten seconds, the woman awaited death to claim her, but when he pulled the nail free and a modest splash of blood poured out, she realized that he had somehow avoided all major arteries, but she was struggling to breath with the hole now drilled into her throat. Alex then reached into her mouth and yanked out the sock he had gagged her with. Upon the removal if the cotton stuffing, the woman tried to scream and draw the attention of anyone in the area, but she realized with incomprehensible horror that she was unable to produce any noise.
She tried as hard as she could to speak, but even while she formed the words with her lips, no noise passed them. Instead of severing any nerves or veins with the stab, Alex had punctured her larynx, essentially destroying her voice box and leaving her mute. But even if she weren’t robbed of her voice, she would have been unable to scream, not when Alex pulled her to the ground and forced his cock into her mouth, condemning her to suck off the mixture of her blood and his semen. With his fingers wrapped in her hair, he skull-fucked his tearful victim as if she were a blow-up doll, filling the silent evening with a gargling-squashing sound. With a hole in her throat, the woman was unable to work up any suction on his cock, so Alex merely smeared it around the inside of her mouth like he was brushing her teeth.
‘Please! Please stop! You’ve done enough!’ The woman thought, praying Alex would finally decide to let her go. Yet in her heart, she knew that more horrors awaited her at this monster’s hands.
Fulfilling and even exceeding her expectations, Alex leaned down and sank his teeth into her right breast. Biting down at full force, he tore through the soft flesh and fat and pulled upwards, ripping the entire orb from her chest. The woman’s face contorted into a silent scream of indescribable agony and she thrashed wildly as pain swept through her veins like battery acid. Standing over her, Alex ripped her breasts into chewable strips with his hands and teeth, feasting on her delectably soft flesh in utter jubilation. Her areola tasted particularly delicious, or perhaps it was just the texture as he grinded them into a meaty past between his jaws?
Leaning down, Alex did the same to her left breast, completely ripping it off her chest with a single tearing bite. As he ravenously devoured the mound of flesh like a piece of KFC, the woman covered her destroyed chest with her bound arms, trying to lessen the agony radiating from the two bleeding pits that her breasts had formerly occupied, as well as sobbing in misery from what this abomination had reduced her to. There was no way that he was a regular human, he had to be some sort of Demon coughed up from Hell. Nobody could be this cruel!
Grabbing her by the back of the neck, he pulled her to her feet and then threw her against the hood of her car, now lying on her stomach with her back to him. Joyfully listening to her sobs, Alex spread the cheeks of her taut ass and rubbed his manhood between them. Lowering his head, he spat out a large glob of blood and saliva into her asscrack, using the mixture as lubrication as he grinded his cock against her anus.
With the hood of the car painted red with blood from her destroyed chest, the woman silently sobbed as she felt Alex penetrate her anus, sodomizing her without a shred of mercy or humanity. His cock felt so massive inside her, she had never let any man do this to her and her first time was against her will, by someone that was nothing short of pure evil. She was suffering so much, she was in so much pain and crushed under the weight of humiliation that surpassed her most horrid nightmares. At this point, she wished Alex would just kill her, but she knew that wouldn’t happen until he was done with her. She would just have to let him do whatever he wanted and pray he would kill her afterwards.
Resigned to her fate, the woman writhed only due to automatic reflex as Alex began moving back and forth in her tight virgin anus. Just like before, his speed and power was entirely superhuman, as well as his cruelty. He was moving so rapidly that the Subaru’s brakes were creaking as it rocked forwards and backwards with each shove he made into his victim. He had his hands on her hips and was thrusting into her like a horny stallion, laughing as he did so. As her blood ran down the sheet metal of the car hood and pained it scarlet, the woman looked at the windshield of her car, able to see her reflection in the tempered glass. She was a wreck, and the sight of his stranger sodomizing her so cruelly made her want to throw up and disgust. And that wasn’t even mentioning the pain she was feeling in her anus. The friction of his movements was so intense, she was fairly certain she was bleeding internally. Her assumption was right, as every time Alex pulled out of her, blood from her brutalized sphincter would splash off his cock and land on the ground, as well as the blood dripping off the Subaru.
She didn’t know how long he sodomized her, it felt like he had hours worth of stamina and energy, all of which he was pouring into his torment of her. But what she did know was that her greatest fear was coming to fruition. The waves of pleasure she had begun to experience when he was raping her vaginally had returned and they were increasing in intensity with each thrust. Was it possible? Was her final orgasm going to be brought on by anal rape? As if reading her mind, Alex’s did the impossible and somehow increased the speed and strength of his thrusts, sodomizing her so brutally that she thought it would honestly kill her.
Every time his manhood entered her, she drew closer and closer to that climactic threshold. At last, her whole body convulsed in hot muscle spasms and euphoria flushed through her veins. At the same time, Alex unleashed every last drop of semen into her rectum, stuffing her to the point of overflowing. His load spent, Alex leaned back, pulling out of her and finally losing his erection. With the plug removed, blood and sperm poured out of her anus like a miniature waterfall.
‘Please just kill me! I just want to die! I just want-‘
The woman’s inner monologue was interrupted, as in one final act of cruelty, Alex got down onto his knees and tore into her left ass cheek with his teeth. Locking on to the tough muscle from hours of kegal routines, Alex pulled away and ripped free a long strip of flesh from her rear end. Not even bothering to chew or swallow, he spat out the strip and assailed her again like a rabid animal. Over and over, he tore into her warm flesh with his teeth, stripping her muscles while an endless river of blood flowed down his throat and into his stomach.
Once all the most succulent cuts had been removed, Alex stood up and leaned over the woman. In his first and last merciful act, he pulled her head back and bit her neck, using his teeth to sever her jugular vein and release a fountain of blood. The woman’s eyes rolled back into her head as she awaited death to arrive and rescue her, no longer caring or even feeling the flesh being ripped from her body.

The sun had risen and Alex was on his knees, staring at his victim with tears running down his face and a pile of vomit at his side. He had woken up less than a minute ago, passed out on the ground and painted in blood. He couldn’t remember anything from the previous night, but the horrifying corpse told him everything he needed to know.
“Oh god! This can’t be real! THIS IS HELL!” Alex screamed, gripping his scalp and pressing his forehead against the cold face of his victim.





Chapter Six


Professor Nelson watched as debris and bodies were hauled away from the ruins of the prison. Rain was pouring from the early morning sky, yet the flames from the chaotic scene burned unhindered. They curled up around concrete and steel, reaching desperately for the sky in their insatiable hunger for air. The entire landscape had been essentially leveled, all grass and vegetation replaced with charred soil or blood-splattered rubble. It was around dawn, yet the black clouds held back the rising sun’s light and warmth. The clean up crews had been working for twelve hours, yet the scene was just as hellish as the minutes after the plane crash. It was as if there was a toxic force in the area, a malevolent energy that kept the flames burning like thermite. So far, no survivors had been found, and the number of relatively intact corpses could be counted on one hand. Even with dental and DNA records, identifying even half the victims would be a true challenge.
It was being considered one of the most horrible tragedies in state, national, and aviation history. A prison riot, ended only by a plane crash-landing into the prison itself? Events like these were the stuff of nightmares, and Nelson feared that this was only the beginning. Even worse, the original police and SWAT officers that had arrived to contain the prison riot had been drawn in to the Black Stigmata’s influence and went mad. Forensics showed the original perimeter set up around the prison had been generally unscathed from the explosion, meaning that every cop that had arrived at the scene had either gone in and gotten killed, or had run off and was now MIA. People would be asking questions, asking how this was possible. The BSC would have a very hard time concealing this.
This was like the village from the Middle East all over again, but on an even grimmer scale. Were cataclysms like these going to be occurring more and more frequently? Public shootings were already in the news seemingly every week, would massive riots and acts of cannibalism become daily front page? Alex Stevens was likely in that mess somewhere, killed by the other inmates, falling rubble, flames, or simple suffocation. Might as well chalk up one more on the list of Black Stigmata Hosts to have their lives ruined…
Looking up at the sky and feeling the rain tap his glasses, Nelson wished the weather would clear up enough to let him smoke, or that he at least had an umbrella. Deciding that simply standing in the rain and staring into the sea of burning rubble wouldn’t purge him of his guilt, he turned around and walked away. Might as well go home and grade papers… Reaching the new established perimeter set up by the state police, he drew his BSC credentials to be released, For scenes like this, everyone going in or out had to be cleared. As the guard gave him permission to leave, a conversation between a nearby cop and police sergeant caught his attention.
“I think a prisoner might have escaped, we just got word of a car fire out in the woods. There were human remains inside.”

Alex stood in front of Christi’s front door, shaking like a leaf and wondering if this was a good idea. Considering the fact that his prison uniform was soaked in blood, he was rather doubtful. He knew she was here, alone. Her car was in the driveway, the only one. It had been a nightmare getting here, he at least wanted to see her one last time. Slowly, he reached out and pressed the doorbell, hearing it ding throughout the house. Moments later, Christi’s footsteps echoed through the halls and the doors opened. The moment she saw him, Christi threw herself forward and wrapped her arms around his neck, crying fresh tears that ran from her already puffy eyes.
“Oh god! I heard about the prison on the news! I thought you were dead! I’ve been sobbing all night!” She whimpered, holding him so tightly that Alex could barely breathe. He returned the hug only lightly, hesitant to raise his arms.
“I can’t stay Christi, I have to go… I just came to say goodbye.” He murmured.
“What are you talking about? If you turn yourself in, it will prove your innocence in the death of that cop! If you run, you’ll just look guilty!”
“I am guilty Christi… I didn’t kill that cop, but I… I did something horrible. I did something unspeakable and they’ll lock me up forever if they find me. Besides, it’s not safe for you or anyone else if I stay, I have to get out of the state for your sake.”
Christi pulled away, only now aware of the blood that coated his face and uniform. Fear brushed up against her like a cold draft after stepping out of the shower, but she pushed that fear aside. She had known Alex most of her life, she knew that he wasn’t capable of something as horrible as he was talking about.
“Listen, just come inside, clean yourself off, get something to eat, and let’s talk about this!” She pleaded, trying to pull him inside. Alex sighed, having known that this wouldn’t be a quick goodbye like he wanted.
“Alright.”

Alex was kneeling naked with a towel around his waist in front of the toilet, vomiting like it was Mardi Gras. In his hand was a bottle of mouthwash, with half a liter of rubbing alcohol poured in. Over and over again, he chugged the acid mixture and then forced himself to vomit it back out. He couldn’t stand it, the knowledge that the flesh and blood of two people that he had murdered and cannibalized—one of them brutally raped first—was in his body. That wasn’t even counting all of the possessed people from the prison that he had murdered. It made him want to slit his wrists in guilt and disgust. This seemed like the only way he could clean out his mouth and stomach, and if it weren’t for the fact that it would kill him in the process, he would have mixed in some bleach.
He had already spent the last hour showering with scalding hot water, trying to rub off every flake of blood and flesh that clung to him like glue, as well as scrub the sin off his soul.
“Alex, I got some of my brother’s and dad’s clothes that should fit you. Though I just don’t have it in me to let you use their underwear.” Christi said from the other side of the locked door, adding the last part to try and ease the tension between them.
“Just a second.” Alex grumbled, washing his mouth out one last time to get rid of the taste of vomit.
Getting up, he tightened the towel around his waist and looked at himself in the mirror. The symbols that the Black Stigmata had implanted in his brain were glowing with reinforced radiance. They had finally begun to wane when the prison riot happened. Oh well, if there was a silver lining, it was that they had helped him shoot attackers when he was making his escape. With a grid of stationary symbols spread out across his field of vision, he had been able to use many of the symbols as crosshairs, or even laser scopes. Damn, he had shot a lot of guards and prisoners… He couldn’t even remember how many people he had killed… What had he become? Turning his attention back to Christi, he opened the door and graciously accepted the clothes.
“Come on downstairs, you look like you could use a good home-cooked meal.” She said sweetly. Alex tried to smile, but his lips just twisted.
“I can’t, I need to leave. If anyone knew I was here, you would be arrested for harboring a criminal. Besides, it would be safer for everyone if I just disappeared.” He said sadly, stepping back into the bathroom.
“Aren’t you going to talk to your parents or your sister?” Christi asked, moving past the door and cornering him.
“If my parents knew I was alive, they would never stop worrying about me, and it would only endanger them. Besides… I don’t want my last memory of Colleen to be seeing her in the hospital, unable to walk and still recovering from being brutally gang-raped. I would rather never get a final goodbye than have to see her in that state.”
“Alex, what is going on? What happened? What did you do? I know there is something you’re not telling me! Just tell the truth!”
Alex’s mouth opened and closed several times as he tried to figure out what he should tell her. He wanted to tell the truth to someone, to verbally explain why it wasn’t his fault and be believed and even forgiven. But would Christi even listen to him? He didn’t want to leave her with the knowledge that the man she loved had just raped and eaten a woman. And if he started talking about the Black Stigmata, it would just put her in danger, not to mention she would assume he was lying or he was crazy. Wait… crazy!
“Christi, I… I’ve… Christi, I’ve been losing my mind for the past month. I’m going insane and it just gets worse and worse every day. I’m hallucinating, I’m hearing voices, I’m having horrible nightmares that won’t let me sleep, and I’m blacking out and doing things that I don’t remember doing, or remember them only too late. I might even have killed that cop. Christi, I… I murdered someone last night, without knowing it. I woke up this morning next to their bloody corpse.” He stammered, feeling tears of guilt budding from his eyes as he thought back to the woman.
He was starting to remember now, what he had done specifically to her. Bits and pieces of the previous night were flashing across his mind’s eye like a flipbook with most of its pages missing. He remembered stabbing her in the knee and throat, he remembered groping her and brutalizing her insides with his fingers, he remembered forcing himself on her and staring into her eyes as his cock skewered her pussy again and again, he remember sodomizing her tight asshole as her blood ran down the hood of her car, and he remembered… tearing the flesh off her body with his teeth and making her scream in agony. He remembered the taste and even the toughness of the meat, from her soft breasts to her firm ass.
Christi’s face turned to marble in a concoction of fear and disbelief, terrified by the very idea that Alex had actually killed someone, and that he may kill again without even being able to control himself. But she could see it in Alex’s face, how much it truly haunted him and how much he was cursing himself. Was it true? Did he really have some sort of mental disease? She had never heard of any kind of psychological condition striking so suddenly.
Rushing over, Christi again wrapped her arms tightly around Alex and buried her face in his chest.
“If you’re sick, then all you need is medication and you’ll be fine! You don’t have to go to jail for this! I don’t know why you feel the need to punish yourself when you haven’t done anything wrong!”.
“Christi…”
At the mentioning of her name, Christi looked up and joined her lips with Alex’s, with their deep breathing instantly degenerating into rapid pants. The more and more their lips touched, the more energized their bodies became. They hadn’t been able to have sex in weeks (not counting Alex’s possession the previous night), and the two of them could barely even think straight from the lust that had been building up during their separation. Separating from Christi, Alex moved his lips up and down her neck over and over, heralding the transition from simply kissing.
Pulling Alex back, Christi sat up on the sink counter and pulled off her shirt. Alex continued kissing her while fumbling with the clasp of her bra, all while Christi kept her legs wrapped tightly around his waist. His hands shaky from excitement (and the amount of throwing up he had just endured), he finally managed to release the clasp and let Christi’s c-cup breasts spring forth from their cloth prison. Upon their release, Alex took her right nipple in his mouth, sucking on her areola ravenously while massaging her left breast in his hand.
Moaning from the sensation of being touched so intimately, Christi pulled off her sweat pants and panties and kicked them aside, then hungrily clawed at the makeshift knot holding the towel around Alex’s waste. With the two of them naked, Christi once against wrapped her legs around Alex and moved forward, letting Alex penetrate her with his trembling erection. So hot that Christi felt like it would burn her, she moaned and panted as the head of Alex’s cock forced open the soft lips of her pussy and worked its way deep inside her body.
Upon fully inserting himself, Alex moved his hands to Christi’s thighs and picked her up, making her yelp in surprise before he pushed her against the wall. Using his arms to hold her off the ground and the friction of her bare back against the drywall, Alex began swinging his pelvis like a pendulum, driving up into her with all his strength while grinding his cock against the very back of her velvet sleeve. Terrified of falling, Christi wrapped her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist and held on for dear life. However, with how hard Alex was ramming her slit and how deep the head of his cock was delving, it was difficult for her to even maintain control of her muscles.
True, Alex had always been pretty energetic in bed and with good stamina, but he was fucking her now as if he was angry, like he was taking his frustrations out on her. She sure as hell didn’t mind, this was already some of the best sex they had ever had. Every time he thrust into her, she could feel his dick violently kissing the entrance to her womb. More than moaning, it was making her bite her lip and growl like an animal.
“Harder, faster!” She demanded while chewing on his ear.
Happy to obey, he lowered her to her feet, pulled out of her, and spun her around. Pushing her back against the wall, he returned his right hand to her thigh and used it to lift her leg and grant him access. Alex resumed fucking her, driving his cock deep into her luscious body with deep brutal shoves. This new angle left Christi moaning with happiness, as she felt his cock stir up whole new corners of her pussy like he was mashing potatoes. With each shove he made, her whole body tingled with bliss and her tits bounced as if she were jogging topless. While Alex worked, she pushed against the wall with one arm and used her free hand to frantically rub her clit.
Alex was just as enthusiastic, having missed her body horribly while in prison. He hadn’t even masturbated since before he was arrested, it was just too creepy to jack off in that dark cell. Even though he had ejaculated several times the previous night while under the nail’s control, he felt like his balls would explode if he didn’t cum soon. He had missed the feeling of wearing Christi like a condom, missed the taste and feel of her soft skin, and missed just being with her.
“Oh yes, OH YES!” Christi screamed, experiencing her first climax while Alex used his left hand to pull on her hair.
Still brimming with energy and with the fluid of Christi’s orgasm running down his scrotum, Alex leaned back while pulling Christi with him, then moved both hands to the backs of her knees and again picked her up, this time with her leaning against him. Her knees were bent, her legs spread wide open, and she was completely at Alex’s mercy.
“Oh Jesus!” Christi yelped, having seen this position maybe once or twice online but never thinking she would ever experience it herself. Holy shit this was painful!! She was not flexible enough to have her legs spread so far!
Having stayed inside her the whole time, Alex began bucking his hips while leaning back, once again using only his lower body to drive up into her as fast as he could. Christi was screaming in pleasure, but also in pain. The tendons around her pelvis felt like they were about to snap, and with Alex’s cock driving into her like a wedge, fear of being split open like a piece of firewood filled her.
“Oh god! You’re being too rough!” She moaned.
“Then how about we try something else?” He grunted in return.
Still holding Christi up, he moved in front of the mirror, letting her see herself as he pulled out of her sopping wet pussy.
“Don’t do that! It’s too embarrassing!” She yelped, having never seen herself in the mirror while getting fucked.
Lifting her up higher, he moved his cock between her ass cheeks.
“Put it in for me, you know you want it.” He growled while kissing her neck.
“No way! I’ve only had a couple fingers in there! You’ll tear me apart!”
“Trust me.”
Biting her lip, Christi slowly reached down between her spread legs and grasped Alex’s cock, still slick with her juices. Momentarily holding it out, she leaned her head forward and spat a glob of saliva on the tip for some extra lubrication. She would certainly need it. With her saliva and pussy juice coating Alex’s cock, she guided the purple head to her tight virgin anus. Feeling it pressed against the tip, Alex lowered Christi down onto it. As soon as the head began to spread the ring of her asshole, Christi began to pant and wince like she was getting a tattoo.
Even with the mix of saliva and pussy juice on the head of his cock, squeezing in Christi was trying to penetrate a clenched fist. After the first quarter-inch, the protective skin gave way to soft wet flesh, and while intense friction remained, Alex was able to slowly insert his whole manhood into her.
“Oh god, it’s too big! You’re going to break me!” Christi screamed, unable to take her eyes off the mirror and watching as she lost her backdoor virginity.
Slowly, Alex lowered her all the way down, burying his cock in her tight asshole up to the base. He gave Christi a few moments to get used to the huge mass inside her. Once her breathing calmed and her expression showed less pain, he raised her up and watched as she winced from the near removal of his cock. Keeping the head in, he lowered back down and listened her whine, noting the pleasure mixed with the pain.
“How do you like it?” He asked, repeating the process over again and using his arms to slowly raise and drop her over and over again.
“Ah! Ah! AAAHHH!” She screamed in reply, blushing from the building arousal.
As he picked up speed, Alex noticed an immediate change in Christi’s behavior. Originally, her arms had out behind her in an attempt to hold onto him in case his hands slipped. Now she was using one hand to massage her breasts and her other hand to finger herself. Her screams of pain had transformed into moans of euphoria and her face was flushed with arousal.
“You look so slutty right now.” Alex laughed while running his tongue along her neck.
“I can’t help it, it feels so good!” She cried without taking her eyes off the mirror.
It was as if she was gaining more pleasure through watching herself getting sodomized than feeling the sodomy itself. Alex was the opposite, he was using the mirror for Christi’s sake, but he was focusing solely on the physical sensations. Her asshole was clutching his manhood so tightly, that each time he pulled out, it was like trying to win a tug of war. But goddamn, she was so soft and wet inside! Of course her pussy could be described the same way, but this was a completely different sensation! Yet no matter how good it felt, the building fatigue in his arms could not be ignored.
Trying to lessen the strain and last longer, he brought her legs together and crossed his arms under the back of her knees. At the same time, he divided his movement into two subdivisions; using his arms to move Christi, and swinging his body to drive into her. Every time he lifted her up, he would pull his pelvis back, and every time he brought her down, he thrust into her loosening anus.
“Christi… My arms… I can’t keep up.” He grunted, feeling like he was about to give out.
“Don’t stop! Oh god, it feels so good! Keep fucking me, please!” She begged.
“Relax, we just have to change positions.” He laughed.
Using the last few drops of strength in his arms, he lowered her to the ground and immediately bent her over the sink. His arms may have been dead, but the rest of his body was still rearing to go. However, deciding to give his body just a slight break, he got down on his knees and spread Christi’s ass. Her anus was so loose from the pounding it had just taken that it was practically still gaping. Leaning forward, he hungrily inserted his tongue into her anus. He wouldn’t be able to do this after he came inside her, so he might as well go down on her while he still could.
Christi’s original booming voice mellowed to a soft cooing as she felt Alex’s wet tongue slither through her asshole like an oiled tentacle. After being fucked for the first time and so hard at that, getting penetrated by Alex’s tongue felt like eating a bowl of ice cream after an extra spicy dinner. Christi’s ass tasted different from what Alex had been expecting. Specifically, there was no taste, other than perhaps the taste of soap. It seemed that since he was locked up, she had been preparing herself for this.
Once the aching in his arms eased, Alex stood up and entered her. Feeling Alex mount her like a dog, Christi’s moans of happiness restarted with his resumed thrusts into her. As soon as he was inside her, Alex began thrusting at full strength, slamming against her so that her ass clapped and jiggled against his thighs. He was trying to get as deep into her as possible and pulverize her ass with his manhood. One hand was on her shoulder and his other hand was pulling on her hair, ensuring a good hold on her while he brutalized her asshole like his own personal fleshlight, all to her groans of happiness.
Now that she was bent over the sink, Christi had a much closer view of herself in the mirror. Sure, she couldn’t see Alex’s throbbing cock violating her, but she was able to watch her mouth open and close with each pant, the tremors of her pupils as sexual bliss twisted her mind like a drug, and the bouncing of her firm tits every time her body was propelled forward and pulled back.
“So how do you like it?” Alex panted, throwing his full body weight against her with each thrust.
“I love it! I love getting fucked in my ass!” She moaned while she reached down and resumed fingering herself.
“I told you that you would like it. Was I right?” He continued, pulling her back so that only her forehead rested on the edge of the counter and her bouncing breasts knocked against her chin.
“Oh god! You were so right! It feels so good! Please, fuck me harder!” She pleaded.
Alex did as he was told, moving as fast as physically possible. At the speed he was driving into her, what stamina he had left was being rapidly depleted. At the same time, he could sense the ‘dam’ holding back his reservoirs beginning to crack. He had to outlast her! Just a little bit longer!
“Oh god! Oh god! OH GOOOOOD!” Christi screamed, feeling her second orgasm approaching like an oncoming train.
Just a little more! Alex was thrusting into her with everything he had, forcing every muscle to work near to the point of exploding!
“I’M CUMMINGGGGGGG!” Christi finally screeched, while her asshole tightened around Alex’s cock like a Chinese finger trap.
Just like the last time they had sex, her orgasm was so overwhelmingly powerful that splashes of pussy juice sprayed from between her legs. With a puddle forming beneath her, Christi’s body became limp. No longer able to contain himself, Alex gave five more exhausted thrusts before every drop of semen in his body was unleashed into her anus. Immediately losing all hardness, Alex pulled out of Christi and watched as a tiny waterfall of cum dripped out of her asshole.
Dropping to the floor and looking like she was about to pass out, Christi instinctively leaned over and took his flaccid penis in her mouth, sucking him off and cleaning him of his semen and the wetness from her ass.
“Definitely the best sex we’ve ever had.” Alex panted as Christi silently sucked every glob of semen out of his cock like she was drinking through a straw.
DING-DONG
The ringing of the doorbell sent waves of terror through the two lovers’ spines, terror so intense that Christi nearly bit down on Alex’s cock.
“Oh shit! Oh shit! Ohshitohshitohshitohshitohshit!” Christi squealed while frantically pulling on her clothes. Jumping through the hallway on one foot, she put her leg through her panties and sweat pants and struggled to maneuver through her tank top.
DING-DONG
The chime was heard as Christi ran down the stairs with Alex chasing her, struggling into the clothes she had given him. Reaching the door, she pulled it open and found herself facing Professor Nelson.
“Christi Langford I presume? I’ve heard a lot about you.” He asked while giving her a quick look up and down.
“Yes… uh… can I help you?”
“Is Alex decent? I need to talk to him.”
Much like with Alex’s confession of murder, Christi’s face became deathly pale.
“Excuse me?”
“I know he’s here. The fact that there is semen on your chin proves that there is someone with you and that he doesn’t have a car.”
Christi’s white face was instantly red from embarrassment and she scrubbed her chin to remove Alex’s seed. Alex appeared behind her and she stepped back.
“Professor Nelson?” He asked in surprise.
“Care to explain to me what you’re doing? In your condition, your girlfriend is the last person you should be around. Do you want there to be ANOTHER death at your hands?” Nelson growled. Christi turned to Alex fearfully.
“You knew?” Alex asked.
“Oh course I knew. You did well to destroy any traces of your DNA from the scene and the body, but you forgot to clean up the area itself. There were scraps of that woman on the ground around her car. Blood is one thing, but only someone in the psychotic stage of the Black Stigmata would leave behind bits of flesh with teeth marks.” The professor muttered while drawing a cigarette from the pocket of his coat. Christi turned to Alex with a look of pure horror on her face. Bits of flesh… with TEETH MARKS?!
“What did you do?!” She exclaimed, staggering back fearfully.
“Relax young lady, this idiot here had absolutely no control over himself. He was possessed by an evil artifact, which due to your boyfriend’s incredible stupidity, I now have to explain to you. So please, if you could brew a pot of coffee, we can get this started…”
Christi stood as still as statue, switching her gaze from Alex to the professor.
“Ms. Langford, the coffee? I am in no mood to explain anything without some black brew in my system. Run along now.” Nelson reminded her.
“Uh… sure… ok.” She said nervously, walking off to the kitchen. Nelson turned back to Alex.
“Are you fucking retarded? You escape from a prison riot, kill a woman while under possession, and instead of trying to make contact with me, you come here and screw your girlfriend? You actually brought a nail into this woman’s home?” Nelson scolded, reaching out and smacking Alex in the back of the head.
“I don’t have a nail!” Alex defended, shirking away to avoid the repeating smacks.
“You expect me to believe that?! The only way a prison riot could start and be stopped by a FUCKMOTHERING PLANE CRASHING INTO THE PRISON is if someone brought in a Black Stigmata! Someone brought the nail into the prison, and there is no way in Hell you left without it!”
“Yes, I had it when I left, but I buried it with the car!”
The professor stopped and looked at him quizzically.
“What do you mean you buried it with the car?”
“When I woke up this morning, I put that woman’s body in her car and set it on fire to destroy the evidence. Then before I left, I took the Black Stigmata and I buried it so only I knew where it was!”
“You were able to leave it behind? You mean it didn’t stop you and force you to bring it with you?”
“This morning it was silent! Apparently I had it in my stomach when I escaped from the prison, but this morning, it was in my hands and I didn’t hear anything from it didn’t stop me or anything! I just figured that it had spent so much energy with the riot and then possessing me that it had to sleep or something! I don’t know! All I did know was that I finally had a chance to get it away from me!” He exclaimed.
“Spent so much energy that it had to sleep… Ah Hell, why not? Well as long as the nail is still there, we should be fine. As for you, hopefully there is still a chance for you to recover from the Black Stigmata’s control. Considering you’ve gone into the psychotic stage… your chances of full rehabilitation are very slim.”
“Forget recovery, I’ll be in jail for the rest of my life! I killed people, why should I care about getting well only to be sane in a prison cell?!”
“Oh stop being such a drama queen. You won’t go to jail. Hosts of the Black Stigmata are given some legal immunity for cases like these. It’s not like- Oh, hold on. I hear a coffee pot being filled with black gold and I refuse to say another word until it is running through my veins.” Nelson said, walking past Alex into Christi’s house.

Professor Nelson leaned against the kitchen sink, holding the coffee pot in his hand. Christi and Alex both had steaming mugs, but Nelson refused to drink out of anything smaller than the pot itself. Christi was sitting behind a protruding counter table that separated the kitchen from the dining room, keeping her distance from Alex, who was standing by the fridge. Strange that she would decide now to maintain an open space, considering that her panties were continuously moistening from the semen dripping out of her asshole.
“Ah, nectar of the gods…” Nelson muttered before chugging the black brew out of the pot like a frat boy drinking beer from a mug.
“So could either of you please explain to me what is going on?” Christi asked impatiently. Still drinking, Nelson held up his index finger to ask her to wait for a moment. With the pot more than half-empty, Nelson finally took a deep breath and turned to her. She couldn’t see his eyes, the steam from the coffee had fogged up his glasses beyond recognition.
“Whether you heard it from the news or Mr. Prison Break over here, a man named Tim Jones killed someone a few weeks ago. He was under the control of a relic known as the Black Stigmata. The Black Stigmata is a nail possessing a mind of its own with completely inhuman malice and evil. However, there is more than one Black Stigmata in the world. In all likelihood, there could be millions, tens of millions perhaps. These nails have two and only two goals: to spread as much pain, suffering, and horror as possible, and to multiply like a virus.
They achieve this goal through finding a host that they can latch onto and twisting into unwilling servants to fulfill its commands. Your boyfriend is one such host. Alex, how many people have you killed? I know about the woman from last night, but I also know you couldn’t have killed that police officer.”
“I don’t know… maybe twenty? One of them was Miguel Hernandez, another host. He was the one who brought the nail into the prison. It was the twin of the nail I had. The rest were guards and prisoners who went blood-drunk in the riot. Oh god, I’m going to get the death penalty for this!” Alex exclaimed, inadvertently frightening Christi.
“What did I tell you about being a drama queen? Hosts of the Black Stigmata are victims and they gain certain legal leeway. You only killed that woman because you were possessed, am I right? You weren’t in control of your actions, that’s beyond committing a crime under simple duress. It’s not like you got drunk and ran her over, you can’t be held responsible for something that you had absolutely no control over. A cover story is already underway for her and Mr…. Hernandez? You said that was his name, right? As for the guards and prisoners, you killed them out of self-defense. Not only that, but they would just had died when the plane hit. You might has well have shot them on the days of their executions.”
“But you said that some of the most notorious mass murderers were likely hosts.”
“That’s true, but they were only arrested because they had killed too many people for a cover-up to be made, as well as to give some kind of consolation to the victims. Every death is of course a tragedy, but like I said, you can’t be held responsible.” He shrugged. He then turned back to Christi.
“Not convinced? Then let me tell you this: Colleen Stevens had a Black Stigmata with her when she was attacked. It manipulated the emotions and thought processes of everyone in that room, escalating a simple argument into a brutal sexual assault. Think of it as like pumping a psychosis-inducing gas into a room full of people who already hate each other.”
“Oh my god…” Christi gasped, realizing that everything she was being told was true. No wonder Colleen always freaked out and mistook her for one of her attackers, her mind had been completely screwed up by this cursed nail!
“So what now?” Alex asked.
“We find a new place to put you until you recover. Unfortunately, with there no longer being prisoners in which to take up the courts’ time, we can’t continue the excuse that we’re waiting for you to go to “trial” for the death of that cop. However, you appear to be the only survivor of the prison riot, so the BSC will use that to their advantage. We’ll make it sound like you are suspected in being the instigator of the riot while an investigation into the incident is performed. You’ll be “detained” in another facility, until the investigation is complete, in which you’ll be found innocent in both cases.”
“How long is this thing going to run my life?” Alex cursed. Professor Nelson shot him an icy stare.
“Consider yourself lucky.”

Alex stood in the doorway of Colleen’s hospital room, looking at her with his hands trembling at his sides. She did not know he was there; she was looking out the window like a mindless zombie. He was allowed to finally see her before restarting his rehabilitation, but while he had known it would be difficult, he had never expected it to be this brutal. The scars on her face were so clear that a hot knife might as well have branded them on her. Mixed with her saline solution IV, a heavy dose of morphine was entering her blood drop by drop. She was on a strict antibiotic regiment, both two prevent the infections she had sustained during her rape when she was sodomized and then vaginally penetrated, as well as prevent contamination as her lower body healed. She would likely need to see a plastic surgeon in order to make everything look right or even function.
“Colleen…” Alex murmured, knocking on her open door. She turned to him, her eyes widening and with tears immediately streaming down her face.
“Alex…” She cried.
Slowly he walked over and sat down in the chair beside her bed, but she tried to roll away from him. She could only look off back to the window, as her pelvic region was still too damaged for her to even lie on her side.
“Don’t look at me, I’m disgusting.”
“No, you’re not disgusting. You’re my little sister and you’re a victim, but in no way are you disgusting.” Alex said, reaching out and clutching her hand. She looked back at him.
“You don’t know what they did to me. They recorded the whole thing and made me say what I wanted done to me. It hurt so much, I was in so much pain… yet I was completely honest. I said that you should rape me and I meant it, because it was what I deserved. They broke me. I’m nothing but a revolting little whore. You might as well just skull-fuck me right now and be on your way. Go ahead, take out your cock and I’ll suck it like the little slut I am. I’ll drink every drop of your cum. You should punish me for being so shameful.” She pleaded.
Colleen’s words sliced across Alex like a barrage of razor blades, making him feel like every vein had been severed and his warm blood was filled instead with the frigid air outside the window. He had known when he came here that she would be traumatized by her experience, but he never imagined it would be this bad. Her mind had been twisted into an unrecognizable mess of pain and degradation. Was there any chance that she would recover from this? Would she spend the rest of her life punishing herself and putting herself down for cruelty that she never deserved in the first place?
“Colleen, this is my fault, this happened to you because of me. I exposed you to danger and hid in a prison cell when I should have been looking out for you. You didn’t mean anything you said, you were forced to lie for the sake of humiliation. You aren’t a whore or slut, you’re just a girl who was treated horribly by three monsters in humans’ skin.” He cried, pressing his forehead against the back of her hand.
Colleen didn’t reply, she only watched as the tears fell from his eyes and streamed down her wrist.
“I have to go away for a while longer, but I will be back. Just please get better in that time, go back to your old self.” He begged.
Again, Colleen was silent, but the look in her eyes terrified Alex. With a sigh, he leaned forward and kissed her on the forehead, then left.

Professor Nelson sat on a street bench in front of the hospital. This certainly was a frigid day, he couldn’t tell the difference between the smoke from his cigarette and his steaming breath. He looked over as Alex stepped out of the front doors of the building.
“It’s my fault, it’s all my fault. This happened to her because of me.” Alex said softly as he walked over and sat down beside the professor.
“Stop it, it wasn’t your fault. Tthe Black Stigmata did this. There was nothing you could have done.”
“That look in Colleen’s eyes… I’ve seen it before. Last night… When I finished raping that woman… She looked up at me with those same eyes. They were the eyes of someone who would never recover, never heal. I remembered that moment when I was with my sister. I think the most merciful thing I did last night… was leaning down and ripping out that woman’s throat. What I saw in that hospital room was the woman I tortured, but forced to endure the pain and shame instead of dying quickly.”
Alex then turned to Professor Nelson.
“And it’s the same look I always see in your eyes.”
“That was the gayest thing I ever heard.” Nelson scoffed as he stood up. Taking a few steps from the bench, he dropped his cigarette on the ground and crushed it.
“I handed my resignation into USM, I’m no longer your teacher.”
“What will you do for money?”
“I’m always paid for my consultation work to the BSC. To be honest, I just became a teacher because I needed to get out of the house. I figure I’ll get the same fresh air if I just work for the BSC full time. Besides, let’s just say that I don’t see a very bright future ahead of me… or anyone.”
“So the BSC… is there a recruitment program?” Alex asked hesitantly. Nelson turned to him.
“Not to someone in your condition. Consider yourself lucky that you’re even out on the streets.”
“You just said that you don’t see a very bright future, well neither do I. I realized it yesterday in the prison, when I watched that plane strike the earth like a flaming hammer. I know in my gut that things are only going to escalate, and I don’t want to spend that time sitting in a jail cell, waiting for my sanity to return. I want to do something to prevent other people from becoming like my sister… or that woman from last night. There is no way out of this for me, so I might as well go deeper.”
At the declaration, Nelson gave a dry cackle.
“How nostalgic to hear those words. Fine, I’ll see if the BSC will let you tag along with me. Just let me give you a little advice: when in the deepest and darkest caves, the sound of wind doesn’t mean you’re near the surface, it means the cave goes even deeper into the bowels of the underworld.”





Chapter Seven


“Since you won’t listen the reason and just sit quietly in a cell for a month or two, we have to go with Plan B.” Professor Nelson stated, for once lacking his character cigarette.
“And what part of me being in a rehab clinic could possibly pertain to this legendary and awe-invoking Plan B?” Alex asked, pulling at the straps securing him to the bed in the small, white, padded room. With him were a heart monitor and an IV rack, with sunlight streaming through the tiny window above and a red light blinking from the security camera up in the corner.
“Because—you little smartass—this is the one place where you can scream until your larynx bleeds without bothering anyone, but of course being safely monitored. And trust me, you’re going to be doing a LOT of screaming.” The professor chuckled, using his choice of words to get some vengeance for Alex’s comment.
“Ok, so what is the plan?”
“Tell me Alex, how do you kill a cancer?”
“Uh… chemo and radiation?”
“In essence?”
“You poison yourself and kill the cancer itself before the cure can kill you. It’s a biological game of chicken.”
“A biological game of chicken, very well put. That’s essentially what we’re going to do with you in regards to the Black Stigmata. We are going to twist and poison your mind so badly that the Black Stigmata’s influence will be shaken off you like a cowboy bucked off a rodeo bull.”
“How do we do that?”
Professor Nelson held up an IV bag.
“This is lysergic acid diethylamide, psilocybin, psilocin, and a dozen other extremely concentrated hallucinogens mixed in with a saline solution and a high-strength tranquilizer. It’s essentially LSD and shrooms with chloroform. I’m going to put you in a medically induced coma and let your mind run wild for the next 48 hours. Of course, being unconscious, you know what will happen…”
“I’ll be caught in a Black Stigmata nightmare the whole time, unable to wake up.” Alex cursed while immediately becoming drenched in a cold sweat.
“Not only that, but the LSD will further heighten the vividness of your dreams. The Black Stigmata can already stimulate pain receptors with pinpoint accuracy when you are asleep, making the pain you suffer in your nightmares just as potent as any injuries you might suffer in real life. The LSD will augment that pain or even make you feel like it is affecting more areas. The Black Stigmata can show you the most horrible images imaginable and even twist your memories. As you know, it can rob you of control of your body. It can torture you and coerce you into doing things that you would rather die than commit. It can even twist you through trauma and psychological poking and turn you into raving lunatic, painting the walls in blood and laughing to yourself, while still being in control.
If you haven’t figured it out, the one bastion you have during a Black Stigmata nightmare is that you maintain your sanity. You are fully aware and can rationalize. That’s why a bad drug trip can be one of the worst experiences imaginable: Your mind is incapable of anything but fear or pain and you are a victim to your delusions in every sense of the word. The Black Stigmata thrive on invoking madness, the insane are the most easily manipulated.
However, the Black Stigmata cannot directly manipulate your thought processes the way drugs can, because the usage of drugs means the introduction of outside forces into the equation. The nails’ influence stretches only as far as your biology and the chemicals in your brain. Drugs are a whole new ball game, it’s a way to fight back. Essentially, the Black Stigmata’s insanity has to fight the drug’s insanity over control of your soul.
If you do this, you’ll suffer for 48 hours, robbed of your only mental foundations and caught in a war between a drug trip and an inhuman will of unparalleled evil. There are no words to describe the pain you will endure, because no human mind can even begin to comprehend what you’ll experience. Even while in a drug-induced coma, you will likely experience so much pain that you will scream and thrash. That’s not even counting the chances of success. Based on trials by the BSC, you have a 17% chance of coming out of this alive and unscathed, a 41% chance of becoming an eternal slave to the will of the Black Stigmata, a 20% chance of just ending up a vegetable for the rest of your life, and 22% chance of dying.
Now, are you sure you don’t want to just go back to a cell and sit quietly for a month or two?”
Alex bit his lip, turning his mind over and over again in this precarious decision.
“While I was sitting quietly in a cell, my baby sister came into contact with my Black Stigmata. Because of it, she was brutally raped by three other women. She can never have children and it will be a long time before she is even able to walk. Her mind is an unrecognizable mess in which she begs me to rape her because she thinks she deserves it and needs to be punished for being a disgusting whore. If I had taken this route before, I could have maybe reacquired the nail from her so that she would never have suffered. She was getting raped while I was sitting on a prison cot, doing homework because I was unsafe to be out in the public.
If I hide again and something bad happens, I’ll never be able to forgive myself. Oh who am I kidding? I already can’t forgive myself for all the things I’ve done. No matter what you say about me not being responsible for what I did while possessed by the Black Stigmata, that doesn’t change the fact that my body was used to torture, rape, and kill. If I should die because of this, then that will just have to be my penitence.”
“Alright, but don’t say I didn’t warn you…” Nelson sighed as he walked over and hooked the IV bag to the rack beside Alex’s bed, then plugged the needle into his arm.
“Oh, and open your mouth.” Nelson said, reaching into his pocket and drawing a small half-circle case. Opening up, he revealed a rubber mouth guard.
“This will prevent you from actually biting off your tongue. Boy, the BSC sure learned THAT the hard way.” He chuckled. Fearful, Alex opened his mouth and Nelson dropped it between his teeth. As the concoction began to drip into Alex’s bloodstream, Nelson walked out.
“Good luck.” He said. As soon as the doors closed, Alex’s eyes were forced shut and his mind drifted off into the delirium.

With Alex now taken care of, Nelson had work to attend to. He was no longer a teacher: in fact, he was more like a student, because now, he had a mountain of studying and research to mine through. In that bus station bathroom, he had experienced a Black Stigmata nightmare, the likes of which he had never before encountered. A god-like tree made entirely of iron, each sharp spindly branch tipped with a Homunculus. Normally the hallucinations of the Black Stigmata consisted of simple torture, the listing of the steps to create nails, or orders for horrible deeds to perform. But that brief trance… it seemed more like a direct message from the inhuman will of the Black Stigmata.
Sitting at his desk in his dark home-office, Nelson’s computer was shining its pale light on his face and the stacks of books on either side of him. Drawing his cellphone, he dialed in a thirteen-digit number.
“This is Chris Nelson, chief consultant in Section 8. My ID number is 8362F9IT7M4.” He read off with his credentials in hand.
“Welcome to the office of the BSC Professor, how may I help you?” A woman on the other end recited, speaking with a computer-like tone.
“I need to see the synopsizes for all recorded host nightmares. I have the proper clearance level.”
“This information has a 24 hour viewing limit. Please log in to the BSC server and release all privacy settings. Until we can remotely wipe your computer, you will not have access to any information.”
“I’m already logged on.”
“Very well sir, I will begin uploading.”
“Thank you.” Nelson mumbled as he turned off his phone.
In the bottom-left corner of his browser window, a downloading icon appeared. The computer he was using was closely monitored by the BSC. At any moment, they could see who he was talking too, what sites he was on, what information was entering and leaving his system, and completely wipe the hard drive of every bit of data in an instant. He couldn’t even use a USB flashdrive or take a screenshot without them knowing. Though that wasn’t to say he didn’t have privacy. This was simply the only computer in which he could access BSC data from, he was free to get his own for personal use.
It took several hours for the download to complete, but considering the size of the file, it was a real testament to Nelson’s Internet speed. Over the decades, tens of millions of detailed statements by hosts had been recorded as to the nightmares and hallucinations they suffered due to the Black Stigmata. The BSC was always in search of clues or hints that might be found in the minds of the hosts, information that might lead to actual understanding of the nails. Cases like Alex Stevens were very common, and most often, nails could be recovered before the ritual for replication could be performed, but only as long as the hosts did something that got them arrested and their symptoms could raise flags.
Upon opening up the gargantuan PDF, Nelson gave a slight grunt of annoyance. Something had gone wrong in the transfer and all the files were out of order chronologically. Pushing aside the thoughts of the brief obstacle, he clicked on the word-search application and typed in “tree”, “root”, and “branch”. Immediately, several points were highlighted. The first file mentioned was July 15th, 1945, reported by a Brazilian host under BSC custody. Actually that was one of the earliest records for the BSC. The division itself was founded in WWII originally to fight Hitler, due to rumors that he was trying to harness the occult and supernatural for his desire to achieve world domination. It later branched off to become an international agency like Interpol. The host in Brazil said he saw tentacles of fire reach out across the sky and scorch the earth, as if a colossal burning tree were trying to block out the sun.
“July 15th, 1945…” Nelson hummed as he lit a cigarette.
Moving over to his browser window, he brought up Google and typed in the date. Nothing really important happened on that date, aside from Italy’s spat with Japan during WWII. Though that didn’t seem like the kind of thing that would correlate with the Black Stigmata… Nelson then checked the day before that, and as expected, the only events were the usual goings on of the World War 2. But if the dream wasn’t happening after something…
The Trinity testing, that was the first result of the Google search for July 15th, 1945. That was the day that mankind truly entered the nuclear age by setting off the first atomic bomb. Was it possible that the host’s dream of flaming tree branches blocking out the sun was actually a cross between the iron tree that Nelson had seen and the possibility of a nuclear holocaust that was born on that fateful day? Was the Black Stigmata attempting to predict the future?
“I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds…” Nelson muttered.
The next date in the unorganized list was August 7th, 1969. Bound in a straight jacket, the woman in Ontario claimed she saw a tree drenched in blood with claw marks carved into the side. The event that followed the next night were the Tate murders by the Manson family, with the claw marks referring to the Black Panther symbols painted on the walls in the victims’ blood. These killings shocked the nation, both in their brutality and their reasoning. It was the birth of a new threat: the cult.
“Helter Skelter… the apocalyptic race war…”
Nelson continued looking through the dates, each nightmare preceding some kind of horrific event that caught national or even worldwide attention. Genocides, famines, the discovery of AIDS, civil wars, riots… Was it possible that the Black Stigmata had played a part in all of them? No, the work required for many of these events was far too controlled and complex for the madness of the Black Stigmata. True, it was impossible for the presence of nails to not be involved in at least some of these events, but these were all brought on by acts of mankind. So what was the correlation between the iron tree and these events? Nothing big had happened the day after Nelson received his vision, but he knew in his gut that the image of a tree in each of these events was important.

Alex was plummeting through a bottomless chasm, made solely of scarlet clouds. He was wrapped in barbed wire like a gothic mummy and his eyelids were pulled back to keep him from blinking. Over and over again, black lightning cracked across his consciousness with deafening volume. With each strike, pure unhindered fear rushed through his blood like snake venom. The fear was of no force or object in particular, it was simply potent dread and paranoia, like after consuming too many energy drinks.
He did not know how long he had been falling; seconds felt like years and years felt like seconds. After a measure of time that had no name, he at last burst out of the cloud cover. He was high up above a hellish landscape, filled with mountains and lakes of fire. Burning 747s and bolts of black lightning plummeted out of the bloody clouds, while in the distance, cities melted as if they were made of ice. The mountains were blanketed with people, all torturing and eating each other. The mountain closest to him was literally the scene of a gargantuan brutal orgy, with thousands of men and women all getting raped while simultaneously raping each other.
Looking around as he fell, Alex screamed in terror as a skeletal pterodactyl dropped out of the clouds above, swooping towards him and laughing like Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies. Its body was devoid of flesh and muscles, but instead of feet, it had a long serpentine tail made of braided hair, the end of which was tied into a noose. Shooting past him, the undead beast looped the end of its tail around Alex’ throat, and upon the instant whiplash, the taste of death filled Alex’s mouth. It was like gurgling the blood of old road-kill mixed with the dust of an ashtray.
With the pterodactyl pulling him across the sky, Alex watched in terror as the world below him began to shake with biblical strength, as if nuclear bombs were being set off in the planet’s crust. With a roar like that of a waterfall, a fissure cut across the landscape and sliced through the mountains themselves, throwing the insane masses into the air and casting them down into darkness. From the sides of the fissure, gargantuan sheets of bedrock were heaved into the air and pulled aside, as if the planet itself was having an autopsy performed and the rib cage had just been busted open.
From the depths of the earth, a creature rose up with a godless snarl. Tens of miles long, a Japanese dragon revealed itself with the light of the scarlet clouds glistening on its obsidian scales. Its antlers burned with hellfire and thick tar poured from every building-sized tooth. Reaching out, it slammed its hands down onto the tops of the mountains, crushing them like plastic cups beneath its talons. Turning to Alex, the dragon released a roar of such volume that it instantly made him deaf with blood pouring from his ears. He could feel the sound waves pounding his body like a thousand sledgehammers. Like hurricane winds heavy with broken glass, the vibrations washed over Alex and tore away at his flesh, sending strips of skin and coagulated blobs of gore flying off behind him in a gruesome storm.
Seconds after its roar began, the dragon was rendered silent. Closing its jaws, it began to lurch forward with a repeating dry-heave, like a dog that had been eating from the compost pile. Reopening its mouth, the dragon revealed an inflamed eyeball pushing itself out from its throat. Tearing itself on the monster’s back teeth, the orb of swollen blood vessels squeezed its way in between the monster’s jaws. Its pupil trembling and skirting around in all directions, the eye looked across the landscape with a hungry tinge to its bloody hue. With the eye in place, the dragon leaned back like a cobra about to strike, raising itself up until its head hung just below the cloud cover. From its back, two wings burst out in foaming eruptions of blood, each membrane sail large enough to eclipse the sun and live a city in darkness.
Just as the monster was about to release another roar of fury, a thunderclap echoed across the landscape and the scarlet clouds were pushed aside. Like the meteor that killed the dinosaurs, a Black Stigmata nail broke through the cloud cover, hurtling across the sky so fast that it was cloaked in fire from the friction of the air. Larger than the Chrysler Building, the colossal nail struck the dragon in the head with pinpoint accuracy. Skewering the eyeball between its jaws, the nail left the dragon moaning in agony, while the life poured from its body by the truckload. Collapsing, the dragon was nailed to the earth by three more Black Stigmata, each one striking its body like a lawn dart.
Falling over dead, the dragon’s flaming antlers expanded and consumed its whole body like a phoenix cremating itself. Giving off more heat than ten erupting volcanoes, the dragon’s body burned like a mountain range of pure powdered thermite. Having recovered from his earlier wounds, Alex’s eyes stung from the intensity and brightness of the flames, as if he had just put in contact lenses soaked in lemon juice.
Having been originally been pushed back to the farthest corners of the horizon by the falling Black Stigmata, the scarlet clouds returned to dominate the sky, now being fed by the thick acrid smoke of the burning dragon. Answering the flames like a sprinkler system, the clouds unleashed their payload in the form of a downpour of blood, more intense than any natural rainstorm. Alex spat over and over again as the waterfall of blood assailed him, getting into every orifice and hitting him like waves on the stormy sea.
In minutes, the landscape was flooded like in the story of Noah’s Ark. Even the tallest mountains hung deep below the churning red surface. Had the entire planet been consumed by an ocean of blood?!
But just as that thought crossed Alex’s mind, a Black Stigmata nail, large enough to reach into the vacuum of space, burst straight up from the surface like a shark catching a seal and then dropped back down. As if it had poked a hole in the planet itself, the retraction of the nail brought with it the formation of an epic maelstrom, stretching across the horizon and boasting a size equal to that of the state of Maine. The swirling waves were so intense that they looked like they could obliterate mountains and sweep continents off the face of the earth, while the eye of the torrent seemed to lead to the deepest and darkest crevasses of the underworld.
Having only seconds to stare with a hanging jaw at the godlike whirlpool, Alex’s stomach dropped as the pterodactyl carrying him reached down with its long beak and severed its tail, letting Alex plummet out of the sky like a duck during hunting season. Shouting in terror, Alex struggled against his barbed wire restraints with new vigor, succeeding only in tearing up his flesh as he fell. Hitting the blood on his side, Alex felt all of his bones simultaneously shatter as if he had landed on concrete, than reform instantly. He didn’t know if the breaking or the repairing hurt more, but he was in too much agony to scream.
Sinking down below the blood, the barbed wire seemingly melted away, and the pins holding his eyes open disappeared. At last able to blink and move, Alex scrambled for the surface, drinking more than a liter of blood in the process. Breaking free of the heavy waves, he took a few grateful gasps of air and pulled off the noose around his neck. The power of the current was unbelievable! Just staying above the surface was like trying to swim through gasoline with a pair of concrete shoes.
“Holy shit!” Alex exclaimed as he felt a hand snap around his ankle. Kicking off whatever had grabbed him, he turned around wildly at the sound of a splash.
One of the people he had seen earlier had surfaced and was grabbing at him. He couldn’t tell if it was a man or woman, its body was horribly emaciated and jet black, while the flesh itself was molten and decomposed. The fingernails were elongated and discolored like an elderly smoker’s, the teeth were twisted and split up, and the eyes were replaced with two fist-sized craters in the skull. With an inhuman scream, the ghoul grabbed onto Alex and sank its teeth into his flesh. Yelping in pain, Alex lashed out and punched the creature in the face as hard as he could.
Falling back into the red torrent, the ghoul was replaced by two others, screaming and clawing at Alex desperately. Hysterical with terror, he beat them off with all of his strength, but each foe that was repelled only triggered the arrival of reinforcements. In less than a minute, he was surrounded on all sides by more than a dozen ghouls and his lacerated flesh attested to their ferocity and the sharpness of their teeth and claws. Feeling the current around him only increase as he and his opponents approached the eye of the whirlpool, Alex yelped as he was dragged down below the surface by a hand around his ankle.
As dark and viscous as the blood was, Alex could see what lay below him. All clambering over each other, a pyramid of hundreds or even a thousand ghouls were all reaching towards him. Their fingers curling, their teeth barred! Struggling against them, his mouth opened and blood poured down his throat. The bitter iron taste made him want to throw up, but his stomach didn’t have the force to expel anything that wouldn’t just get forced back in. As soon as his stomach was filled, his lungs were next, and he began to drown.
Unable to fight back, Alex was pulled into the ghouls’ midst. Over and over again, they clawed at him and sank their teeth into his flesh. He could feel it so clearly; the skin being ripped from his body, his muscles being severed cord by cord, his veins being pulled out him like shoelaces, and soon his organs turning into scratching posts for their jagged nails. He couldn’t scream, he was incapable of releasing even a single bubble of air or create the tiniest decibel of noise. Somehow, no matter how much he blood he lost or how long he drowned, he was incapable of dying. He could only suffer.
As a crude finger dug into his left eye socket and pulled the gelatin sphere from its hold, the blood around him disappeared and the hands fell away. Looking around, he found himself cast out of the torrent and into the air above the eye, straight above the chasm of blood formed through centrifugal force. It was beyond massive, able to swallow Mt. Everest without a single pebble or speck of ice touching the sides of the maelstrom. Falling deeper and deeper into the darkness, he was able to utter a single scream of terror as a massive ghoul lunged out of the very heart of the lowest level of the eye. Roaring as it threw itself upwards, the ghoul opened its jaws and Alex dropped down into its dark gullet.

“AAAAAAAARGH!” Alex shouted out, feeling the sharp stone pierce his torso and shatter his spine.
His body had once again been restored, and the only damage now was the large triangular stone that had broken through his torso. The hole it had punched in his body was a foot in diameter, nearly splitting him in half. Cold, the air was so cold. His body was still retaining its heat, but he could feel the warmth bleeding away against the powerful breeze against him. The stone that had run him through felt like it was made of ice that was incapable of melting, and outstretched around him, his arms and legs were laying in snow.
He was atop a mountain, having fallen and impaled himself on the knife-like summit. The sky was dark, the wind was brutally strong, and there was nothing around him but similarly lifeless mountains. Lying on his back, he looked around for something to use. He had to get off this stone. His fingers already numb from cold, he managed to pull a sharp rock out of a nearby pile of snow. Taking a deep breath, he raised the stone high and slammed the edge down onto his side. The impact bloodied his hand and tore his flesh, drawing a cry of agony from him. Swinging again, he struck his side a second time, tearing through the soft tissue and inching closer to the fat pike that had run him through. Two more strikes were all it took, and with a shift of his body weight, he managed to tear himself free of the stone edge.
Shit, he should have looked where he was falling…
With his entire lower body clinging to him only by the side of his gut, he tumbled and rolled down the steep mountainside. Over and over again, he hit snow, rock, and ice, falling at a 70º angle. It took only a few impacts for his lower body to be fully torn away for Alex to be reduced to just a ribcage with a head and arms. Every time he landed, he felt a bone break, and often, it was more than one fracture per pone. Over and over again, his body was beaten and battered with every bone being crushed into powder and his organs popping like water balloons. At last, he came to a stop atop a rocky outcropping. He would have breathed a sigh of relief, if his lungs were intact. Yet in the blink of an eye, his body was restored.
Cold, he was so cold. Every square inch of his body felt like it was being stabbed with an icicle, while his reformed muscles ached and throbbed from falling down the mountainside. Cold, he was so cold. Cursing himself and wishing for this all to end, he slowly pushed himself to his feet and stood up. The wind howled against him with a cruel chill, both numbing his skin and making it feel like he was being sliced into confetti. His ears and fingers felt like they were being gnawed on by rats. Suffice to say, his testicles had practically retracted into his body and he was now hung like a hamster.
Cold, he was so cold. His eyes stung, blinking became difficult. He rubbed them over and over again, but even without touching them, he could feel their surfaces hardening with the freezing of the fluid inside. Cold, he was so cold. With his eyesight failing, he looked at his hand and cursed as he saw the flesh turn from pale tan, to sickly white, to deathly blue. Terror filled him as he struggled to move his fingers, and shouting swears over and over again, he rubbed his palms together to try and get some warmth back into his skin. Cold, he was so cold.
“Shit. Shit! SHIT!” He screamed, losing the ability to control any of his fingers and possessing only the sensation of endless pain, as if he were giving a cactus a hand job.
Cold, he was so cold. He tried to continue swearing, but every time he spoke, his words were scrambled into an agonizing bloody cough, sprinkling his blue skin and the surrounding snow with frozen beads of blood. The insides of his lungs were freezing from the frigid air, the dryness of his mouth was the first indication. Every time he breathed in, cold air filled his lungs and solidified the fluid into expanding ice crystals, and every time he breathed out, those crystals broke and further lacerated the insides of his lungs. Cold, he was so cold.
At last, Alex watched in horror as the skin on his hands and arms solidified like a frozen steak. The chill was moving deeper into his body, hardening the muscles and veins and freezing them solid. Cold, he was so cold. At the same time, his legs transformed into two slender pillars of ice, incapable of movement. His torso and neck froze solid, robbing him of even the ability to turn. With each second that passed, more of his flesh solidified while retaining full sensory awareness. Cold, he was so cold, and in so much pain. He was now nothing more than an ice sculpture of himself, with every vein and muscle shredded by the ice crystals that had formed in his blood. He could do nothing but stare at his hand, but with his eyes frozen, that was like looking through a car windshield on an icy morning.
Up above him, a deep crack echoed throughout the mountain range and the ground beneath Alex’s feet began to tremble.
‘Oh please no.’ Alex though to himself as small bits of snow began to roll past him.
Unable to turn around, he couldn’t have seen the avalanche rushing towards him from the mountain summit. But even without his eyes, he could feel its approach. It was shaking the whole mountain and sending powerful vibrations through his entire body. Moving so fast that he could not prepare himself for it, the tidal wave of snow slammed into him like a semi hitting him on the freeway. In a single millisecond, his entire body shattered like a glass vase, with each crack ripping across his mind with pain so great, he might as well have been divided piece by piece with a band saw.
Even while scattered into over a million tiny fragments, he could feel every jarring impact as if the shards were connected by a metaphysical net of nerves. One of the pieces of his leg, originally the surface of the kneecap and now only the size of a misshapen marble, crashed against a jutting stone. The impact was as painful as an axe strike, and Alex would have screamed if he had the ability. One of his fingers was being tossed through the water-like snow. In actuality, it was one of the largest pieces of his body. As it was tossed into the air for the umpteenth time, a piece of ice collided with it and snapped it in half at the second knuckle. For Alex, he might as well have been back in the real world, cutting off the finger himself with a pair of pliers.
After several minutes of this indescribable agony, all the pieces came together and reformed him like he was the Iron Giant, and he was cast out of the avalanche and onto a flat plane of snow. How many times had he been resurrected like this? Falling through the scarlet clouds had certainly not been the beginning of this nightmare. He had lost track of how many times be had been killed, he simply stopped counting when it reached the triple digits.
“Oh God… Please, just let this stop.” He murmured with his face buried in the snow.
“Alex honey, are you ok?”
Hearing the familiar voice, he looked up at his mom’s smiling face. She was certainly Colleen’s mother; she looked like his sister’s future self with the same height and auburn hair.
“Mom?”
“What are you doing out here in the snow with just your clothes? Come inside before you catch a cold!” She warned, extending her hand to help him up.
About to take her hand, Alex watched in horror as his mom was pulled into the air with her limbs outstretched around her. She was able to release a single scream before being ripped apart limb by limb in an eruption of gore. Alex had long since lost the ability to tell dream from reality. Everything he was experiencing was real to him. Refusing to believe what he had just witnessed, he picked up two handfuls of the crimson snow around him and screamed at the top of his lungs.
“Alex, what’s going on over here?”
Looking back, he saw his father approaching, sporting the same wavy brown hair that had been passed down to Alex.
“Dad…” Alex gasped.
Trudging through the snow, his father reached out towards Alex, but before their hands could touch, his father stopped. A scream escaped from his father’s contorting face as his outstretched hand suddenly twisted around like an owl’s head. The fingers all snapped back and the wrist split open, revealing the broken bones inside. His father staggered back, his arm now snapping at the elbow and twisting until the jagged bones broke free of their fleshy prison. After his father’s shoulder dislocated itself, the hex moved to his other arm, snapping all of the fingers like they were twigs before moving into the wrist. Alex could only stand by and watch as his father’s hand twisted until it was held onto the body only by a single strip of flesh. Like with his right arm, the destruction moved up to the elbow and shoulder, first breaking the joints and then twisting them until the bones broke free and the limbs hung like sausage links.
Continuing to scream, Alex’s father fell over in the snow, both feet twisting all the way around until both Achilles tendons snapped like old rubber bands. Next came the knees, with both limbs cracking over the kneecaps before being spun around. Seconds later, his hips broke free and twisted themselves beyond recognition. Continuing to scream, Alex’ father fell over and writhed in the snow. Utterly petrified, Alex watched as his father’s lower body began to turn, the spine itself being rotated. Once the pelvis went past the 90ª mark, his father’s torso split open from the tension and his organs poured out on the snow, melting it as his entire lower body continued to twist. His father was finally silenced when his lower jaw ripped itself from his skull and his neck snapped all the way around.
Having just witnessed the deaths of his parents, Alex staggered back and into the warm arms of Christi.
“Hey baby, what’s up?” She giggled.
Turning around, he looked into her smiling face and immediately broke down into tears, embracing her with all of his strength and crying into her long blond hair.
“Please, just let this end.” He muttered.
“Sorry baby, but the fun is just beginning.”
As the words were spoken, Christi’s skin seemed to molt under his touch, changing from as soft as a peach to as rough as a gravel road. And it seemed to be… moving? Stepping back, Alex’s eyes widened in terror as the woman he was holding ceased to exist. In her place was a humanoid effigy, made solely of crimson fire ants all crawling over each other. With gaping pits in place of eyes, the entity gave a demonic laugh and lunged forwards, wrapping its arms around Alex and erupting into an amorphous swarm that rode him to the ground. Writhing in the snow, he screamed as he felt the tiny insects sink their teeth ravenously into every millimeter of exposed skin.
“I JUST WANT THIS ALL TO STOP!” He screamed as the ants poured into his mouth.
As soon as the words were spoken, the snow beneath him and the ants swarming him vanished. As if teleporting, the mountain area disappeared and Alex was set on his feet with the warm air welcoming him. Opening his eyes, he looked around and found himself in Colleen’s hospital room. Basking in the autumn sunlight, his sister rolled over in her bed and looked at him.
“Are you going to rape me now?” She murmured without a single sign of emotion in her face.
He didn’t know why, but Alex nodded and slowly walked over. He knew Colleen was his sister, he knew she was badly injured and not in the right state of mind, and he knew that this was wrong in every sense of the word, yet nothing stopped him or even slowed his steps. He was aware of these factors, but they had no hold over him. That tiny voice in the back of his mind that told him not to do things had been rendered silent. He was acting solely on physical desire.
Standing by his little sister’s bed, he watched as she reached out and placed her hand on the crotch of his rehab pants. Feeling her hand pet his manhood like it was an animal, he became fully erect and his pants tightened. Unfastening his pants and pulling his underwear back, he let his cock spring free in front of Colleen’s face. He could see it reflected in her wide eyes as she stared at it, compelled to use it as tool in her self-destruction. Leaning forward, she wrapped her lips around the head and took the whole mass in her mouth. Her warm wet mouth felt so good around his pulsating erection, and she moved her head back and forth vigorously. Having learned from her tormentors that unsatisfactory effort led to pain, she did everything she could to please whoever was using her. Or perhaps it was just the fact that she was his baby sister that made it feel so good.
As she sucked him off, he reached down and slipped his hand into her panties. He pushed aside the gauze and his hands touched the stitches used to close the tears around the entrance she had suffered. Ignoring her resulting whimpers of pain, he began to stroke the swollen pudgy lips of her snatch, agitating the wounded tissue. Even in her condition, the stimulation triggered a rise in body temperature and the moistening of her slit.
“Ah! Please don’t!” She cried as he inserted his middle finger and stirred it around her insides.
He could feel them, all the mending cuts and contusions inflicted on her by her experience in the bathroom. She was so loose, those girls had really done a number on her cunt. As he added his index finger to the equation, she again begged him to stop. She was playing both roles, desiring to be raped and brutalized while also deeply terrified of such pain and abuse. She wanted more than anything to never experience that horror again, but her twisted soul compelled her to victimize herself. It was these conflicting desires that truly aroused her.
After her third desperate plea, he used his free hand to grab her hair and hold her head still while he forced his cock back in her mouth. Immediately becoming docile, Colleen let her jaw hang slack so that Alex could skull-fuck her. Saliva dripped from the corner of her mouth as he punched the back of her throat over and over again, and not for one second did she break eye contact with him, even when her vagina began to bleed from the agitated wounds. Pulling his cock out of her mouth, he fully undressed and climbed up onto the bed. Without ever losing his poker face, he grabbed her hospital gown and ripped it open, followed by her bra. Had her tits always been this big? Even with the healing lacerations defacing them, her breasts were beautiful, with her nipples fully erect from her horniness.
Colleen blushed in embarrassment as he stared at her breasts, but gave no resistance when he used her bra to tie her hands to the edge of the bed.
“Do it, rape me like the disgusting little whore I am. Brutalize me with your cock; that’s all your little sister is good for.” She murmured.
The words had no affect on Alex. He was not in the psychotic stage of the Black Stigmata, but he was truly compelled to violate her. He wasn’t the cruel monster the nail had made him when he attacked that woman, he was more like a machine, programmed to mindlessly obey its programming. Forcing open her legs, he did not hesitate in ramming his cock deep into her pussy in a single shove. She screamed from the heartless penetration, feeling Alex’s dick rip open several interior wounds. Her little sister’s pussy hugged his manhood tightly, soaking it in her juices as if she were trying to drown it.
Sitting up on the soles of his feet and pulling out, Alex revealed a liquid sleeve of blood encasing his cock, as if he had just ruptured his sister’s long-gone hymen. As soon as he was out, he forced himself back, causing another painful scream from Colleen. Remaining perpendicular to his sister, he took the pace carved into his body by millions of years of reproductive instinct, ramming Colleen’s torn pussy over and over again. Every time he entered her, she would release another scream, feeling her wounds reopening and enlarging. With how fast and powerfully he was ramming her snatch, the hospital bed was rocking back and forth with a loud creak and Colleen’s breasts bounced and rolled like two water balloons.
His body moving like rapid-fire trebuchet, Alex remained without the slightest expression on his face or any hint of a raised heart rate. He was breathing as calmly as a monk in meditation, while his eyes lay focused on Colleen, from the bouncing of her tits to the look of pain on her screaming face. Her pussy felt so good, like he was fucking a hot fleshlight smeared with Vaseline. He didn’t even mind the puddle of blood forming beneath the two of them. After only a few minutes, Colleen’s pussy began to quiver and tighten around his cock, and with a raspy voice like that of a crow, she cried out in tandem with her orgasm.
Pulling out of her, Alex immediately flipped her over and spread her ass cheeks, taking a moment to study the stitches and sealed wounds around the ring of her anus.
“Please, no more.” Colleen whispered.
Ignoring her begging, Alex spat on her asshole for lubrication and penetrated her with his bloody cock, immediately opening up every healed tear and causing fresh shrieks of agony from his sister. Lying on top of her, he forced her face into the pillow and thrust downwards with his body. The hospital bed didn’t have mattress springs to help him lift himself upwards, but he was able to move with general ease. Each time he entered her, he threw his entire body weight down onto her ass, driving as deep into her as was possible. Her anus was certainly loose, it seemed that the sodomy she had suffered at the hands of those three girls had left her with a permanent gape. But still, her ass felt just like Christi’s and hugged his manhood with great strength.
Biting down on her pillow, Colleen sobbed in agony as Alex brutally violated her, using her wounded asshole as his own personal fuck toy. He held nothing back in his deep thrusts, and each time he pulled out, blood would splash across the bed sheets. He had his chin resting on her shoulder, listening to her pained whimpers over the sound of their bodies clapping together. For several minutes, the incestuous anal rape proceeded without reprieve or even slowing down. Over and over again, Alex violated his younger sister, but no matter how much it hurt, she never fought back against him or did anything by lie docile, invitingly even.
At last, Alex grew tired of his sister’s anus. Sitting up on his knees, he pulled Colleen up on all fours. Though technically, with her hands bound at the head of the bed, it was more like up on all threes. Her ass and inner thighs were caked in blood and her legs struggled to support her weight, but nothing could stop Alex from skewering her womanhood with his erect cock. Having never even bothered to clean it after exploring her asshole, he mounted Colleen and put himself back in her, forcing the lips of her pussy to spread and accept him.
With his hands on her hips, Alex resumed thrusting into her, paying no heed to her painful screams and focusing instead on the sound of her soft ass cheeks clapping against his thighs with each powerful shove. Colleen had her neck bent, watching herself upside-down. She watched closely as her breasts swung each time her brother rammed her pussy, as his scrotum slapped her clit every time he buried himself inside her, and as her blood trickled out of her drop by slow drop, falling freely every time he pulled out.
Changing the placement of his hands after releasing her from her cloth handcuffs, Alex grabbed his sister’s hair with his left and reached around and cupped one of her breasts with his right. Pulling her back, he forced her to ride him with her body parallel to his own, putting her in control of how much pain she felt. Though actually, he was only doing this because he could feel an orgasm stirring deep inside him and he couldn’t hold it back and continue fucking her. After several minutes of her euphorically throwing her body against his, Alex could feel his self-control wavering. At last, he pulled out of her, flipped her over onto her back, and released stream after stream of thick semen across his sister’s chest and face.

Colleen opened her eyes with a trembling gasp, waking up from one of the most vivid dreams in recent memory. She had dreamed that her brother had appeared and raped her, violating both her vagina and her anus until she bled out, and finishing by ejaculating all over her. To her, it was both a terrifying and euphoric experience, and surprisingly, her mind seemed much clearer than it had been before she experienced this haunting vision. No longer did she see herself as the pathetic whore for her brother that her tormentors had forced her to confess as. It was like she had been cursed with a song stuck in her head, and after hearing it from start to finish, she could stop obsessing over it. She had gotten what she wanted, now she could move on. She felt… calm. She felt sane. She felt like she was finally healing.
Wincing in pain, she rolled over in her hospital bed and felt something perplexing. Reaching down beneath the blankets, she probed between her legs. The gauze panties she was wearing were completely soaked, and her pussy was trembling with the aftershocks of an orgasm. Damn, that really was a vivid dream.

“So how’s he doing? Still alive I hope?” Professor Nelson asked, speaking to a nurse of the rehab clinic while signing the visitation roster.
“He’s ok. He finally stopped screaming a few hours ago but his heart monitor is still reading healthy vitals. Damn, I’ve never seen or heard someone go cold turkey so violently.” The woman mused.
“You have no idea.” Nelson said under his breath.
Arriving at Alex’s cell, Nelson unlocked the door and stepped inside. Alex was sitting in the corner of the room, the heart monitor still hooked up to him. Beside him lay the mouth guard Nelson had given him, chewed up like an old dog toy.
“Is this real?” Alex asked, speaking with a raspy voice while turning to the professor.
Nelson saw it immediately, the change that had occurred in his former student. Alex no longer looked like some clueless nineteen-year-old that was out of his element. He looked utterly traumatized, like a veteran with severe PTSD. But there was also a sense of maturity to his eyes. He had experienced the wraths of Hell, the likes of which no one could possibly comprehend. It had broken him, yet it also made him stronger. Suffice to say, the trials of the real world could never even hold a candle to everything that had just happened in his mind. It would be a while before he could ever experience happiness, but it looked like his suffering had made a man out of him.
“What were you expecting?” Nelson asked, walking over and sitting on the bed nearby.
“I’ve woken up several times already, or at least I thought I did. You were always there, sometimes with my family or with Christi. Then, just when I’d think I was finally free, my hopes would be crushed. The last time I thought I had woken up, you were here with Christi. She was so happy to see me, and just when she was about to lean over and kiss me, you drew a pistol and blew her brains across the wall. Then you picked up a can of kerosene and used it to light me on fire.” His voice was barely audible, but it came as no surprise. He had just spent more than forty hours screaming in his sleep. Reaching into his coat pocket, Nelson drew a flask and handed it to Alex.
“Well the head nurse confiscated my lighter when I tried to smoke, so setting you on fire would be pretty difficult, even with kerosene. Here, drink this. It’s a mixture of honey, maple and cough syrup, brandy, and a fair amount of morphine, everything someone in your condition would need after screaming.”
Nelson watched as Alex emptied the flask in a single gulp.
“I’m surprised to see you like this, normally a patient has to be woken up chemically. I’m REALLY surprised you were able to get out of your restraints. How do you feel? Are you free of the Black Stigmata?”
“To be honest, I feel like shit. I feel a lot fucking better than I did while I was dreaming, but its like my body is remembering all the pain I had suffered. It’s like getting a wound and the endorphins wear off. But I have good news: I no longer see the red symbols and I don’t hear any whispers. Over forty hours of LSD clashing with the Black Stigmata… Damn it, my normal nightmares were just a few minutes… I now know what Hell looks like, better than any priest or any Satanist.
So what now?”
“Now you recover. You’ve gotten over the disease, now you need to get over the cure. Afterwards, we start looking for answers.”
“What answers could we possibly uncover that the BSC doesn’t already know?”
“Answers that the Black Stigmata wanted us to find.”





Chapter Eight


The sun shined brightly on the rocky crag, warming the pale sandstone that sustained the form of Australia. Ducking and weaving through the bushes and trees, two children chased after each other in an ever-changing game of tag. The older sister, nine, easily caught her younger brother, seven, each and every time she was “it”. Being in the global south, Australia was on the verge of entering summer, the temperate spine of southern Australia was experiencing a growing warmth. Just a stone’s throw away, Antarctica was beginning to sweat like a transsexual in prison.
“Wait up Jess!” The boy shouted, wishing his legs were as long as his sister’s. At his height, trying to catch up to Jess was like trying to beat her in a bike race with him on a tiny tricycle and she on an old fashion British bicycle with the towering front wheel. Black hair swinging behind her with each step, Jess laughed as she watched her brother scramble after her.
“Better hurry up Isaac, babies that fall behind never last long in the wild!” She cackled as she ran up the side of the mountain.
“That’s not funny!” He cried out, watching as the shallow stone slope brought her high above the trees. The face of the mountain was solid stone and had resisted weathering and erosion for over a billion of years, never allowing anything larger than shrubbery to gain a foothold.
Sitting down on the warm rock surface, Jess watched her brother sprint out of the forest with fear in his eyes, as if being chased by imaginary animals. He scurried up the mountainside and settled down beside her.
“Mom said you’re not supposed to leave me alone.”
“You were alone for thirty seconds. If something bad could happen to you in the thirty seconds I turn my back, then you DESERVE to have it happen to you.”
“Well you don’t have to be mean.” Isaac pouted.
“Oh grow up.” His sister scoffed before getting up and walking higher along the side of the mountain.
“Jess, wait!” He whined, stumbling after her and she ducked behind a protruding stone jetty, reaching out of the mountainside like the cliff from the Lion King.
She found her sister on the other side of the protrusion, crouched over what appeared to be a manhole of hard-packed soil set into the stone at an angle. It almost looked like a pit carved into the mountain, about the size of a car door but only a few inches deep.
“What is it Jess?” Her brother asked, wondering what had caught her attention.
“That big storm last night washed this out and caused a lot of the dirt to melt away. Look at the sides of this pit, it’s chiseled.”
“So?”
Jess turned to him with a grin.
“Someone carved this out, which means it may go deeper. In fact, someone may have buried something in here.”
“You mean like pirates?!” Her brother exclaimed with his face lighting up like a Christmas tree.
“Maybe! Let’s see how deep it goes!”

Alex sat on a bench in the rehab facility courtyard, staring down at the shed leaves that smothered the yard. Above him, the barren fingers of the trees swayed ever so gently in the breeze, having lost their sails to the inevitable chill. It was halfway through November and the temperature was just above freezing, yet Alex sat with only a button-down shirt as an secondary layer for his chest. The expression on his face was like that of a self-loathing drug addict sitting in a damp alley. The only emotion on his face was one of despair, and it was that expression alone that projected his presence in the world of the living.
Wearing a dense blue coat from LL Bean, Christi approached and sat down beside him, looking across the fenced-in yard and up at the grey sky.
“Aren’t you cold?” She asked, unsure of what else she could say.
“This is nothing. I know how it feels to freeze to death, and compared to that, this is nothing more than looking into a refrigerator.”
“Alex, you didn’t freeze to death. You’re still here, that proves that everything that you saw wasn’t real.” She murmured.
“It was real. The monsters I saw, the horrors I encountered, and the hallucinations I suffered may have been fake… But the pain I experienced was all too real. I lost track of the number of times I had my eyes gouged out, my muscles ripped from my bones, my flesh sawed to pulp, and my skeleton crushed into powder. What I went through was truly Hell.”
“Alex…” Christi leaned over and clutched his hand. His bloodshot eyes swiveled to her.
“I watched you die so many times… You were butchered, eaten, set on fire, skinned alive, and even raped to death. I heard your dying screams, I stared into your eyes as you died, I was showered in your blood… Even now, I’m expecting you to spontaneously combust and for my hallucination to continue. It may not have been real, but the pain of watching someone you love die in the most horrific ways is still as haunting as if they happened in this world.”
Christi bit her lip, having gained a sudden chill from Alex’s description. She imagined herself experiencing those deaths, tried to imagine what it would feel like to endure them and to endure watching someone she cared about suffer as well. If she had gone through the same pain as Alex had, watched him die the same way he had watched her… wouldn’t she be in the same state?
Christi slowly got up and walked over to the entrance to the courtyard, where Nelson was waiting.
“I thought you said that you made him better! He’s a wreck!” She hissed.
“I never said I made him better, I said I freed him of the Black Stigmata’s influence. Now he won’t enter the psychotic stage and go on rampages, and unless he comes within close proximity to a nail, the chances of him ever suffering a hallucination are zero. Believe it or not, he is actually inoculated now against the Black Stigmata. Not only has his brain learned to recognize it, but the damage inflicted to his psyche by the drugs have turned him into an unsuitable Host.”
Christi looked back at Alex, her face lined with worry and her eyes trembling as if she were about to cry.
“I just can’t believe this happened to him. I can’t believe something like actually could happen to him. I never thought these things were possible. Is there anything I can do to help him?”
“Just stay with him. Try and cheer him up. He’ll recover before too long, he just needs time to let his mind rest and pull itself together. We’ve been relatively lucky so far, hopefully he’ll return to his old self. Just remember that even though everything he experienced was in his mind, it was no less painful. For all we know, his perception of time may have been warped while he was under. The 48 hours he experienced while he was unconscious could have been 48 years for him, in which he was tortured and killed over and over again without reprieve.”
The ringing of Professor Nelson’s phone broke the conversation.
“Excuse me.” He mumbled as he revealed the ringing device. Turning his back to Christi, he began speaking while she switched her attention between him and Alex, with her focus quickly being drawn to the one-sided diaglogue.
“Hello. This is. Mr. Chairman? I certainly haven’t heard from you for a while. What’s the occasion? Wait, what?”
Several silent moments passed by, with the tension of Nelson’s phone call practically radiating from him like body heat.
“Have they dated it? You can’t be serious! There is no way, that is just not possible!” Nelson exclaimed. Christi stepped back, surprised by this sudden burst of shock in the professor. Even Alex turned his head in attention, having never seen Nelson get so worked up.
“Ok, when is the next flight? Perfect.”
Nelson then hung up his phone and slumped to the ground with his hand over one side of his face.
“Professor? What’s wrong?” Christi asked while Alex approached with a concerned look on his face.
“They just found something in Australia… buried in a mountain. If… if this is authentic, then everything we known about the development of mankind could be wrong. Everything we thought we knew about prehistory could be a lie!”
“Professor, what did they find?!” Alex demanded, getting down on one knee and grabbing Nelson by the shoulders. Nelson stared him with blank eyes.
“The oldest mentioning of the Black Stigmata, written by humans 65 million years ago.”
“But humans weren’t around 65 millions years ago. 65 thousand? Maybe.” Alex argued.
“It seems we were wrong. Oh god, we were so wrong. Alex, you said you wanted to help me, well now’s your chance. You’re not going home just yet, tomorrow you’re coming with me to Australia.”

“This is the last thing you need right now! You should be at home resting!” Christi nagged, chasing after Alex through the airport terminal.
Slung over his shoulder was a duffle bag containing a few extra pairs of clothes and other essentials that could all be found in the airport gift shops. After seeing the condition his Black Stigmata-LSD Blitzkrieg had left him in, she wanted him to be at home and in bed, yet it seemed like hearing about this cave in Australia had accelerated his recovery. His light-heartedness had yet to return and a smile had never once crossed his face since waking up, but he definitely seemed more alert and active now. No longer could he just be placed somewhere to stand or sit motionlessly for hours on end like a display mannequin, he was once again aware of his surroundings and responsive. In fact, he was downright dedicated and stubborn.
For all intensive purposes, the charges against him in the death of the cop from earlier were dropped and anything on his record was wiped clean. Due to his mental condition and the reasoning behind his incarceration in the institute, he was diagnosed with severe PTSD, brought on by his escape from the prison during the riot and narrowly avoiding death when the plane crashed. As far as anyone knew, he was still institutionalized.
“I spent the worst two days of my life tied to a bed, I don’t want to spend another two days in the same position.” Alex grunted without even turning to her.
“But what about your family, don’t you want to see them?”
“I told Nelson that I didn’t want to waste anymore time waiting for things to get better. I do want to go home, I can’t tell you how badly I want to see my parents and Colleen… but I have to do everything I can to fight this before I allow myself time to relax. Besides, after what I went through, I’ll go stir crazy if I’m not active.”
Christi reached out and grasped his hand, forcing him to stop and face her.
“Please Alex, don’t let this take over your life. I don’t want you to become a chain-smoking shell of your former self like Nelson. One day, just go home for one day. Hug your parents, talk to your sister, watch some porn for all I care! Just please do something that will actually make you smile! Don’t let this consume you!” She begged.
Alex stepped closer to Christi and surprised her by lifting her chin and softly kissing her.
“I won’t, I promise.”

Considering latitude and longitude, it was not an exaggeration to say that Alex and Professor Nelson were traveling to the opposite side of the globe. More than forty hours were spent in uncomfortable chairs with little legroom and poor air circulation. The vast majority of that time was spent with dead silence between the two men, both because neither of them were the talkative types and anything pertaining to the Black Stigmata was taboo when in public. Luckily Alex had notebooks and records of the BSC on hand for him to read through, to let him familiarize himself with the organization he was trying to get into.

“You must be Professor Chris Nelson, I’ve heard a lot about you.”
With a beard and gut that made him look like Santa Claus but a surprising Scottish accent, the archeologist shook Nelson’s hand as soon as the former teacher stepped out of his rented jeep. He and Alex had reached the dig site, and both men were eager to see the cave.
“Professor James Titus, the BSC’s chief archeologist. I’m glad we finally meet.”
The oversized dwarf then turned to Alex.
“And you are…?” He asked, shaking his hand.
“Alex Stevens, consider him a new intern.” Nelson interrupted while stomping out the butt of his cigarette.
“So tell me, is it true?”
“Without a doubt. We’ve been able to carbon-date the remains of animal fat used for lanterns, and they support the initial findings. We’ve had teams of geologists in there putting their degrees to work, and they all attest to its age! 65 million years old, it’s astounding!” Titus said giddily.
Looking up at the small sandstone mountain, Nelson felt his heart rate rise.
“And you say it was written in Sumerian?” Alex asked, following the two professors up the side of the mountain towards the excavation site.
“Yes, in probably the rarest dialect we’ve ever seen.” Titus panted.
“For a language to last 65 million years is truly astounding. The only possible explanation I can think of is that it was lost for eons and then rediscovered by the Sumerians through time capsules like this one.” Said Nelson.
It took a while for the trio to make the short hike up the mountainside. For a field man, Titus was anything but fit, and Nelson’s chain smoking was coming back to bite him. Alex constantly had to stop and wait for them, praying that he would age more gracefully than they had.
“Have you ever heard of the Cambodian Stegosaurus?” Nelson asked, trying to pass the time.
“I do recall that name, but nothing else.”
“In an ancient Cambodian temple, there is a depiction of what many people consider to be a stegosaurus in the wild. Even I’ll admit it looks genuine. It’s one of the most popular arguments for the Young Earth Creationists. They claim it to be proof that humans and dinosaurs coexisted like something out of the Flintstones.”
“And to think, men like us would laugh at them!” Titus boomed.
“Meh, we can still laugh. If this site is truly authentic, then they’re wrong about the age of the planet. Humans and dinosaurs may have coexisted, but they did so tens of millions of years ago.”
Upon finally reaching the entrance to the narrow cavern, Titus offered the first entrance to Nelson. Lantern in hand, he slowly lowered himself down the 35º shaft, moving in an awkward crab walk with Alex following him and then Titus. The sides of the shaft were still lined with dirt, but much of it had been cleaned away to reveal the chiseled sandstone. No cracks or seams could be found in the rock, the mountain was a single unbroken bump of the earth.
Thirty feet down into the mountain, the passage finally opened up into a chamber the size of a stream-line trailer, with lights already set up to shine on the cavern walls. The walls themselves had been meticulously cleaned, with the dirt removed without damaging the stone. With the soil removed, black symbols stood out on the wall as if written in ink, due to the lights on the ground shining up onto the engravings. Like the Hammurabi Column, vast lines of ancient Sumerian had been written into the stone with perfect skill and precise detail. At the far end of the chamber was a depiction of a Black Stigmata nail as large as Nelson’s arm, with a human eye beneath it like the dot of an exclamation point.
“Looking at this, I can’t help but wonder if these goddamn nails are as old as the earth itself…” Said Titus as Nelson and Alex stared at the walls, completely awestuck.
“No… it couldn’t be…” Nelson muttered, crouching down and holding his glasses out like a magnifier to increase the size of the symbols on the wall.
“Professor?”
“These letters aren’t just Sumerian. Symbols of the Black Stigmata are incorporated into these lines. And look, there’s some Latin, Egyptian, Archaic Chinese, and symbols from countless other ancient languages. ”
“Exactly, that was our first sign of a mentioning of the nails.” Titus boasted.
“You mean it’s a combination of the Black Stigmata and other languages into a single language?” Asked Alex.
“Precisely. Whether he had decoded it himself or already knew it, the man who made this tunnel understood the language of the Black Stigmata. Or perhaps the symbols of the Black Stigmata were once used for a language, after being adopted by early humans. These lines are an intermediary stage of the evolution of the Black Stigmata language turning into Sumerian and countless other languages, like the birth of Spanglish in North America. After 65 million years, I doubt ancient Sumerian has anything in common with this dialect. But if we can compare them and hopefully find a link between them, then we may be able to find the same meaning in the symbols as they originally had. For all we know, the Black Stigmata may be manmade, with the symbols being an actual human language, perhaps the first language in the history of the world.”
“We have a camp set up nearby with detailed scans of every surface of this cave. We’ll have everything you need to decode it.” Titus said excitedly.
“We have no time to lose. Let’s get going.”
About the follow Alex and Titus back up the tunnel, Nelson stopped and shined his light down at the ground. Under the end of his shoe was a stone the size of his hand, gleaming from the illumination of his light. His brow furrowed in curious agitation, he reached down and examined the rock.
“Professor?” Titus called out, watching as Nelson turned his attention to the walls and ceiling of the cave.
“This rock doesn’t belong here. It’s not sandstone and there aren’t any mineral veins in here that it could have broken off from. Plus it’s too weathered to have not come from outside. It’s not hard enough for sharpening and not sharp enough for carving. I doubt it fell down here, considering the composition of the mountain… This was placed here. But why?”
The three men were locked in silent contemplation.
“Göbekli Tepe.”
Both professors turned to Alex.
“Excuse me?” Asked Titus.
“What, I figured you two of all people would know about Göbekli Tepe. Don’t you watch Ancient Aliens?”
“First of all, of course we know about Göbekli Tepe. We’re not talking about some indi-rock band. Second, I sure as hell don’t watch that drivel and I hope for the sake of the entire field of archeology that Professor Titus doesn’t either. We’re historians, not schizophrenic scientologists.”
“Ancient Aliens is a very informative show and you know it! You just have to look past the personal opinions and theories of the experts!” Alex shot back.
“Experts, right. It’s the FOX News of lunatics who believe that Big Foot was a genetic experiment and the Loch Ness Monster is telepathic. It’s hard to listen to show when the spokesman has the hair of a gigolo from the 70’s.”
“You’re just jealous that your hair isn’t that good.”
“Can we PLEASE get back to the matter at hand?!” Titus interrupted. Alex looked back at Nelson.
“This isn’t over.” He growled.
“Oh shut up and get on with it.” Nelson sighed.
“Alright. On Ancient Aliens, they said that only way a temple complex as old as Göbekli Tepe could remain in such good condition is if it was buried intentionally after its creation. Think about it: even in this cave, these carvings are not safe from the elements. Water, wind, temperature changes, animals, and vegetation could all reduce these engravings to nothing more than rugged stone if left alone for 65 millions years. This cave is man-made right? It’s chiseled?”
“Yes, that is correct.” Titus answered.
“Why would someone spend all that time and energy carving out a tunnel when there were probably thousands of other caves within walking distance that nature had already formed? It’s because that tunnel would be far more stable and solid than any opening naturally created through fissures or running water. The maker carved a tunnel into the very center of a solid mountain and then filled it with dirt and rocks to prevent the carvings from being damaged. This mountain wasn’t simply a canvas for him to write on, the mountain itself is being used to protect the engravings like bubble wrap. He wanted these engravings to stand the test of time and be rediscovered.”
“If that’s true, then whoever formed this tunnel would have a strong knowledge of geology and would understand the changes that occur in the earth over the course of millions of years. He picked this solid mountain specifically because it was guaranteed to survive earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, shifting of plate tectonics, changing coastlines, and everything else that would destroy historical records. It’s like America burying radioactive waste deep in salt mines where it can do no harm, except the maker wanted this chamber to be rediscovered long after his death. He wanted people to find it and learn the truth and was planning millions or even billions of years ahead.” Nelson hummed.
“But what could this information be that is so important to deserve such protection?” Titus inquired.
“The maker of this cave wanted this information to be found… He wanted it to remain intact at all costs. He wanted it to exist long after his death, to be here… when mankind could finally use it. He knew that the Black Stigmata could not be stopped by someone from his period in time, so he left this knowledge as a time capsule, waiting for it to be rediscovered by people who could put it to good use. This information has a beneficial purpose, it has a meaning, it has a use… This cave may tell us how to stop the Black Stigmata once and for all.” Said Nelson.

The BSC camp was a town of tents and trailers, filled with people from the organization brought together to help investigate the scene. The job was split up into two divisions: translating the text on the walls from their numerous languages, and figuring out the meaning in the Black Stigmata symbols depending on their placement in the words seen. Because of the age of the engravings, it would be a miracle if the message could be deciphered. 65 million years, the very idea of human society being around that long made people’s heads spin. If even half of the languages used in the engravings still existed after so long, there was still the issue of syntax and vocabulary. Words could have easily changed their meaning or even ceased to be used by the time the Sumerians came along. Ancient Hindi was already considered a lost language, incapable of translation, so the translation team was truly blessed to have as much leeway as they did.
Having originally hoped to be on the front lines in deciphering this message from the past, Alex found himself instead as everyone’s errand boy. Coffee, books, scans, x-rays, and notes were always in his hands, about to be delivered to someone much more important than him. Oh well, Nelson had said that he was essentially just an intern, he should have expected this. Besides, considering how badly he failed Latin class in high school and Spanish in middle school, he couldn’t imagine being anything but a nuisance if he actually tried to work alongside these skilled linguists and historians. He was just some dopey college student from Maine who didn’t even know what he was majoring in. He was happy for the work though, he finally felt like he was being at least slightly useful.
After the first few days of work, when all possible information could be gleaned from the cavern, the investigation was moved into the nearby town and an office building was rented for BSC use.

Alex tossed and turned on his small cot, stuck in a half-asleep state. Memories from his coma were returning, very specific memories. What he had endured while comatose was not like when he entered the psychotic stage of the Black Stigmata, his memories of what happened to him were all too clear. As soon as he had woken up, he had been assailed with memories of all the ways he had suffered and died. But there were times when what he saw and experienced overwhelmed him and left him unable to remember. Every time he slept, his mind managed to uncover a few of these memories, lying at the very bottom of the toxic stew of pain and suffering from his coma. Almost every night, the same memory played after a montage of new memories were revealed: the scene in the hospital.
“Colleen!” He exclaimed, waking up and falling off his cot in the process.
He lay there for several seconds on the rough carpet, feeling the woven threads rub against his skin like hair stubbles. He was drenched in sweat, his mind playing the memory over and over again. He remembered what he had done to her, his own sister. Unbeknownst to Alex, what he thought had been a simple dream of raping his sister was actually the power of the Black Stigmata allowing his hallucinations to reach out and brush against Colleen’s dreams, for their minds to join and let them fulfill the twisted act of incest.
Mentally twisted beyond repair, his sister had asked him to rape her, and as a broken man under the influence of drugs and abominable evil that would put the devil to shame, he had taken advantage of her and brutalized her. He remembered her screams and blood as he took advantage of a heavily wounded and mentally unstable girl. It was not like when the Black Stigmata used him as a puppet to rape that woman, he had simply had his inhibitions stripped away to the point where he acted on some form of malicious instinct and raw sexual drive. But whether his sister had been just a figment of his imagination or was really there, it didn’t matter. To him, what he did was real. Some part of his soul had wanted to use and abuse his little sister, it existed somewhere deep inside him, as real as the blood in his veins.
Overwhelmed with guilt and disgust, he pushed himself to his feet and started walking down the halls of the office building. He wasn’t the only person sleeping on a tiny cot in this building, many of the staff had to camp out here for the brief times they were allowed to sleep. Most of the crew had been put up in nearby hotels, but the BSC budget left much to be desired. Due to him being an unofficial intern, Alex was at the bottom of the barrel in terms of amenities. But he had a bed in an empty office, access to bathrooms with showers, and got to eat the food that the BSC ordered in. It was certainly far from glamorous, but it kept him busy, and he needed that now more than ever.
Staggering like a zombie, he soon found himself in the office that Professor Nelson was working in. It was a quarter to 3, but the professor was working tirelessly at his desk. The floor was covered in food wrappers and half-eaten meals, stacks of books weighed down on his desk, the trashcan was half-full of cigarette butts and empty cartons, and the professor’s face was finally starting to show his age. Alex honestly didn’t know if the professor had slept for a single hour since arriving in Australia.
“Can’t sleep?” Nelson asked, not taking his eyes off his work.
“I don’t know if I want to.”
“It’ll get better, just wait.”
Alex looked up at the ceiling, chuckling to himself as he saw the greasy smoke stains worn into the white tiles by all of Nelson’s cigarettes. Truth be told, the room reeked unbearably of cigarettes, and would probably never smell nice ever again.
“You were a host, weren’t you?” Alex finally asked. Once again, Nelson spoke without looking up from his work.
“I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you’ve been waiting for a long time to ask me that, instead of JUST NOW figuring it out.”
“I kind of knew it when you showed up in that interrogation room back in Maine. You always talk about hosts, not as an observer or “expert” on them, but as a first-hand experiencer. How did it happen? Were you exposed to a nail while working for the BSC? Were you a host first and then devoted yourself to studying the nails?”
“The second one.”
“How far did you get through the steps?”
Nelson finally leaned back in his chair and looked at Alex, taking a moment to light up a fresh cigarette.
“I had just finished creating two more nails when I was arrested and put in BSC custody.” He answered after expelling his first puff of smoke. Alex’s eyes widened as he imagined the professor performing the ritual.
“You mean you actually went through all the steps?”
“Not all of them. I didn’t have time to place the body in a location where it would be found and the nails would find new hosts. But it doesn’t matter, the damage was already done. Every time I close my eyes, I see her face.”
“The victim?” Alex hesitantly asked. Nelson had never been this open. Had sleep-deprivation broken through the silent shell he normally kept around himself?
The professor sighed.
“She was my neighbor’s daughter, eight years old. I believe I told you how a host must destroy the humanity of a female victim. I knew her well, she looked up to me like I was a member of her family. The whole time the Black Stigmata was forcing me to rape her, to torture her, and make her a suitable incubator for new nails, she wouldn’t stop crying. She begged me to stop, asked me why I was doing it, why I was hurting her. She apologized over and over again, thinking she had done something to make me angry with her. I wanted to stop more than you could possibly imagine, but to defy the Black Stigmata when its hold over you is that strong is like standing in a suit of red-hot armor: Just the slightest movement burns you.”
Pulling away his glasses, Nelson revealed two tear streaks running from his bloodshot eyes.
“A pen and pencil, I drove them into her eyes to end her life and create more nails. By that time, I had been sobbing for so hard and so long that I could barely see and my eyes were bloody. I had thrown up so many times that my stomach was shriveled up. I was so glad to have finally killed her, twisted as that may sound. When you perform the ritual, every moment is spent thinking on how long it would take her to recover if something interrupted you. If cops stormed in, if the Black Stigmata suddenly lost its hold, if the ceiling above your head spontaneously caved in and ended your life. You think about the time it would take for her wounds to heal, for doctors to repair the damage to her genital region, for therapists to bring her back from the brink, for her to be able to get better and live a normal life.
But there comes a time in the ritual when you realize that there is no recovery from this. What you’re doing to her will never be something as simple as a painful memory. You’ve broken her, you’ve destroyed her innocence, you’ve made it so that life can be nothing but a hellish nightmare, even if she did somehow escape and survive. You realize that she would be better off dead. But you can’t grant her that mercy, the Black Stigmata won’t allow you to stop the ritual. It forces you to continue torturing her, carving out bits of her flesh for each symbol. Soon you’re begging to be allowed to kill her, to end her young life and spare her more pain.
After the BSC captured me, I underwent the LSD treatment and started working for them. After all the damage I had done, I decided I would do everything I could to prevent the creation of more hosts and victims. I studied accounts of the Black Stigmata long into the nights and hardened my heart so that those damned nails would never make me their puppet again.”
“What happened to the girl’s family?” Alex asked after several silent moments passed.
“They were told that the girl had been kidnapped and murdered, they never knew it was me and they weren’t allowed to see the body. The last thing I heard about them was their suicides.”

Standing behind the cash register at LL Bean, Christi spared a moment to turn away from the line of customers in front of her her and watch multiple police cars scream by through the windows at her back. It seemed like every day, the police were being called out to answer someone going berserk or recover a grotesque body found in a public place. Professor Nelson had told her that this would happen, that the Black Stigmata was increasing its activity and spreading its influence with unusual force. Portland and all surrounding towns and cities were decaying into a hellish mess with mass murders daily. There had already been three public shootings in crowded locations with multiple victims and corpses were being littered throughout the state like the professor’s cigarette butts.
“Excuse me.” Said the woman at the front of the line, putting her shopping bag up on the counter and shaking Christi from her thoughts.
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
Christi hurriedly began scanning the woman’s items, trying to move the line along and make up for her daydreaming.
The sounds of gunfire rang out through the store without warning, sending everyone tumbling to the ground in paralyzing fear. Screams of pain echoed and the smell of blood filled the air. Christi could see him, the man with the gun. He was standing by the entrance with a crazed look in his eye but an expression of hatred for what he was doing. There was nothing in particular about his appearance; he fit the definition of generic. He was just a regular guy, made an unwilling puppet of the Black Stigmata. Bodies lay strewn about, a few people twitching but most of them still, completely unmoving in the growing pools of gore. At the edges of the field of death, loved ones of the dead and wounded screamed in fear, desperately wanting to rush over to the people they cared about.
Ejecting his empty magazine, the man reloaded and immediately began firing again, killing everyone who had not yet fled and soaking the racks of clothes and camping gear with blood. Men, women, and children; all were cut down without hesitation or mercy. Crouched behind the counter, Christi rocked back and forth on her heels, praying for this to be a bad dream and to survive this horrible ordeal.
“Die, you son of a bitch!” Christi heard, recognizing the voice.
Daring a look, she saw the manager of the gun store, Ted, appear from the hunting section with a shotgun in hand, still tagged from the rack. An old man with thinning white hair, Christi knew him as a very kind person, loved by everyone. Now he was foaming at the mouth, blinded by rage. Chambering a round, Ted squeezed the trigger and sent the deer slug flying across the store and into the gunman’s shoulder, delivering enough destructive power to cleave off his arm with an eruption of blood.
Paying no attention to the severed limb lying at his feet, the gunman raised his pistol and delivered a bullet straight to Ted’s forehead, blowing a stream of gore and brains out of the back of his skull. Grabbing the shotgun, a young man of about Christi’s age stood up and ejected the empty shell casing. Relying on experience from watching action movies, the untrained customer fired and blew a fist-sized hole straight into the gunman’s stomach. Several inches to the right of the spine, the lead thumb left only shreds in place of the gunman’s kidney.
Once again, the man showed no hesitation in ending the novice hero’s life with a single bullet, even with blood pouring from his body by the liter. To everyone’s relief, the sounds of police sirens screeched from outside as a line of cop cars was formed in front of the store. Wasting no time, they charged towards the entrance with their guns raised. Looking over to them, the half-dead murder raised his pistol to his temple.
“We will all achieve death!” He screamed before pulling the trigger.

“You know, I can’t get over how much this changes human history. I mean… I thought humans originated in Africa and migrated eastward, but if we were really around back during the time of Pangaea, then that whole theory goes right out the window. How were we so wrong?” Alex muttered, spinning in a chair in the office that Nelson was using. This was one of the few times that he was able to actually stop and rest, the BSC had him working like a dog almost nonstop. Goddamn, he knew he was doing this so that he could be of use, but these people had better be paying him or at least giving him something for all this work. He certainly couldn’t put this on a resume.
“Unfortunately, history is not an exact science. Contrary to what people think when it comes to dinosaur bones, skeletons do not last forever. There is a cave in Belize called Actun Tunichil Muknal, where Mayan children were ritualistically sacrificed. They’ve been there for so long that their skeletons have actually fused with the cave and become one with the stone. Considering their conditions, it’s no surprise that we rarely find a human skeleton older than a few tens of thousands of years.” Said Nelson, leaning back in his own chair with a wet rag over his eyes. He had been working nonstop since arriving to Australia, but he had barely made any headway. His eyesight had degenerated to the point where he could barely navigate the office building.
“But when you consider the fact that archeologists have found skeletons of Neanderthals and early humanoids that are maybe one or two hundred-thousand years old, you can’t help but wonder what the hell the person who made this cave was like. Was he some kind of lizard man? Was he an alien? Could he have been some kind of time traveler?”
“You’ve been watching Ancient Aliens again, haven’t you? Well it is very possible that there was a humanoid species long before humanity’s supposed migration out of Africa. Humans are merely one evolutionary path, so that path could have been repeated.
Listen Alex, I want you to go back home.” Said the professor, taking the rag off his eyes.
“What?! I can’t leave this!” Alex exclaimed as he jumped from his seat.
“We’ve barely made any progress on figuring out that text, and at the rate we’re going, you’ll be delivering coffee until Groundhog’s Day. Go home, spend some time with your family. You’ve certainly been away from them for too long.”
“But what about when you do manage to decode it?”
“Then we’ll fly you back here if you’re that desperate. Your plane leaves tomorrow, no arguing. Go home.”
“But I-“
“Your girlfriend just survived a brutal mass shooting. She’s unhurt, but I think she needs you more than we do.”

Running out of the loading bay and into the terminal in the Portland airport, Alex was nearly brought to the ground by Christi’s tackle and the tight hold of her arms around his neck. Lifting her off her feet, he embraced her with all of his strength, breathing in the sweet aroma of her hair.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry I wasn’t here for you.”
“It’s ok. Even if you hadn’t left, there was no way you could have known what would happen. It’s not your fault, don’t blame yourself.”
“Are you sure you’re ok? Were you hurt anywhere?” Alex asked, separating from Christi and giving her a brief look from head to toe.
“No, I’m fine, I was hiding behind the counter. Don’t worry, I’m not hurt. But it was the scariest thing that ever happened to me, and I can’t say I’ve been sleeping well since then.”
“Well I’m here to stay this time. Christi, you wouldn’t believe what we found in Australia! It’s mind-blowing! Unfortunately, it will take a while for the BSC to fully decode everything, so I was sent back here.”
“I’m so glad, welcome home.” She said gratefully as she embraced him again.
“Yeah… home…” He mumbled, losing his smile.

It was that afternoon when Alex stepped out of the front door of the rehab facility, with Christi clinging to his arm and checking to make sure he was ok at every minute that passed. He had to keep up the belief that he had never left the facility so that his parents wouldn’t ask questions. As far as they knew, he had been institutionalized since his escape from prison. But it was strange, Alex felt like his old self again… Well, more like he had just woken up from his coma. Flying to Australia had distracted him from the trauma of his hallucinations and had coaxed his subconscious into repairing itself. But now that he was back home, he felt,,, sick. He felt like the progress he had made in his recovery was crumbling away, like he was returning to his broken self.
Walking past rows of trees and the manicured lawn, the frigid breeze that kicked up the leaves around his feet was incapable of drawing so much as a shiver from him. Parked in front of the large white Victorian-style building, his parents’ car rested. Both with wet eyes, his mother and father rushed over and embraced him, glad to finally have their son returned to them. After everything that had happened since the start of autumn, for Alex to return home safe and sound was nothing short of a miracle.
Seated in a wheelchair, her auburn bangs trembling in the breeze, Colleen looked at him with a warm smile on her face. His visitation with her before his institutionalization had been made a secret, so to keep their parents from suspecting anything, they both had to act like this was the first time they were seeing each other since she was attacked. But in a way, it was. Colleen had regained her mental stability, having come full circle when the power of the Black Stigmata allowed Alex’s hallucinations to brush up against her own dreams. Neither of them knew it, but what they had experienced and done to each other was in a sense real. Alex’s mind was now a bit screwy, but she was once again sane, and they both had just enough mental health to enjoy the reunion.
Moving past his parents, Alex got down on one knee in front of Colleen and clutched her hands, warming them against the chilly air. They were both silent, Colleen with her smile but Alex with a look of guilty despair. Christi and their parents watched as Alex leaned forward and hugged her his sister, holding her tightly with his head in her lap. While she stroked his hair, he silently cried in guilt and self-loathing.
He had been so terrified of seeing her after waking from his coma, being here now made him sick. He had long-since regained him memories of what he did to her in his dreams, and suffice to say, his inability to face her was the real reason why he had fled to Australia instead of coming home. Being with her again after causing so much harm to her and countless others… he did not know if he even deserved to look upon her.
“It’s ok, everything will be fine.” She hummed.

“I can’t believe how long it’s been since I ate a real meal.” Alex grunted, stuffing his face with chicken and buttered noodles as if he had just been rescued from a concentration camp.
“So what are you going to do now that you’re out?” Colleen asked, sitting across the dinner table.
“Well it’s far too late for me to simply go back to class, the semester is almost over. I guess there is nothing I can do but try and find a job until the spring semester.”
“I’m in a same boat. LL Bean has been closed due to the shooting, probably permanently. I’m out of the job.” Said Christi, sitting to Alex’s left.
“Well Christi, I believe the pharmacy downtown is hiring, but Alex honey, I think you should take some time off. After everything you’ve been through, you need time to recover.” His mom sighed as she passed the salad bowl over to Colleen.
‘You have no idea.’ Alex thought to himself.
The conversation continued on throughout the family, but Alex remained silent. It was clear that his parents were trying to make everything seem as normal as could be, as if Alex’s incarceration and Colleen’s attack had never happened. It was hard for any feeling of lightheartedness to sustain itself. Even Colleen’s normally sunny disposition had yet to fully return. With Alex, Colleen, and Christi all recovering from their traumas and the world around them essentially burning, it was hard for normality to take hold.

It was close to midnight and Alex and Christi were both sitting in the living room, enjoying a crackling fire in the fireplace. Christi was sitting on the couch and Alex was sitting in a nearby rocking chair. A coffee table stood between them with the warmth of the fire seeping away through the cold glass of the numerous windows. There were two doors on either side of the fireplace, both closed. There weren’t any bedrooms above the living room, so they might as well have had their own personal little cabin.
“And I just sat there thinking ‘is this really what Alex had to endure’? I couldn’t believe what was happening, I thought that man was going to kill everyone in the store one at a time. I saw him take two shotgun blasts and it did nothing to him.” Christi whispered with her lips barely moving, recounting the events in the LL Bean store.
“I know how it felt for you, I really do. I know how that terror strangles you and makes you sick, how you keep expecting everything to end and for you to wake up like it’s just a nightmare.” Said Alex.
“I just felt so helpless. There was nothing I could do to save myself or anyone else. If he had slowly walked over to the counter, I doubt I would have even been able to run. I was completely paralyzed. How did you do it? How did you get out of that prison? You never told me exactly how you escaped.”
Alex opened his mouth several times and closed it, unsure of how to begin. He hadn’t told anyone about what happened in the prison, not even Nelson. Rubbing his sweating palms on his jeans, he finally began to speak.
“Not gracefully, I can tell you that. I was simply acting on instinct and trying to do what the heroes in action movies did. I did a lot more running and hiding than actual fighting. I woke up in the visitation room, the guy who had brought in the nail was dead beside me. All but one of the guards had been murdered in some huge brawl that occurred when I blacked out. He came at me with a broken baton, so I tripped him and strangled him with my chains.
After I managed to unlock my restraints, I gathered what weapons I could and began making my way through the prison. Christi, it was a true hell in there. Men were killing, raping, and eating each other. There were corpses strung up from the catwalks, burning like torches. The floors were slick with blood and littered with strips of flesh and entrails. Convicts and guards alike were laughing as the tortured each other.
The smell… my god, I never smelled so much blood in my entire life. I felt like I was snorting a line of pennies crushed into dust. And they weren’t all crazy, there were some people who were in control of themselves. They were sane enough to feel pure fear and agony. I can’t help but wonder if the Black Stigmata left them alone just so that they would suffer more, or so that the rest of the prison could hunt them down like wolves after sheep.
I remember ducking into an empty cell when some SWAT guys showed up. They gunned down a line of prisoners and then turned their weapons on each other, laughing as they did so. At least from their corpses I was able to retrieve some pistols and few magazines. From the cellblocks, I moved on to the cafeteria. It was filled with people eating each other. Prisoners and guards were just tearing into their victims like the zombies from World War Z. You told me the gunman said something like “we will all achieve death”, right? One of the cooks from the kitchen turned to me and said that, then used a knife to cut open his torso.
After that, all of the guards and prisoners became aware of me. I killed as many as I could and made my escape. I managed to reach the yard by crawling through a hole blown into the wall by a crashed helicopter, but just as I felt the grass against my skin, those monsters found me. I sprinted across the yard as fast as my legs would carry me, being chased by a tidal wave of screaming mouths and grabbing hands. I fired what bullets I had into the horde, never even slowed them down. It was like trying to put out a forest fire with a squirt pistol. I think I was so scared that I even started sobbing while I ran. Tch, pathetic.
I found an overturned fence and ran towards it. Sprinting as fast as I could across the yard, I heard the plane. I could see it falling out of the sky like a beacon of despair. It was like watching the White House go up in flames or the dropping of an atom bomb. I realized just how powerful the Black Stigmata is and how it could not be defied. It was a force of nature, stronger than anyone who had ever lived or ever would live.
At last I managed to climb over the fence and hit the ground, just soon enough to watch the fireworks. It’s funny, but in that second before the plane crashed, I was suddenly overwhelmed with curiosity as to what was happening in the prison. I thought about the other people like me, the ones who weren’t driven mad by the Black Stigmata and were cursed with fear and dread. I imagined that handful of guards and prisoners and pictured them trying to think up a survival plan. I imagined a small group fighting off the horde as they looked for a place to hide, I imagined prisoners like me running desperately for an escape route, I imagined guards cowering in cells or offices, clutching pictures of loved ones while the raving swarm yanked at the doors. I even imagined what other strange scenes of brutality were taking place throughout the prison. How people were dying in the laundry room, in the basement, in the guard towers, and just about every place that I had not already witnessed.
Realizing what was about to happen, I couldn’t help but wonder about the stories coming to a close, with nobody to read the final chapters. No one would ever know of their last minutes of desperation, of their fight for survival, of their flight from the pawns of the Black Stigmata. Their deaths would go unrecorded in a hellish pit of blood, concrete, and fire, and I shivered at the thought of dying as they did. To die… in a way where your body would never be found and the cause of death never known, and the memories people had of you would forever be incomplete, like a book without a final chapter.
The plane struck the prison and it was like the Black Stigmata itself had pierced the earth and was bleeding its fiery heart dry. It was a single instant, but it felt like several minutes, in which a wave of death reached out in all directions and cut down all in its way like a colossal lawnmower with flaming blades. The burning shockwave hit my pursuers with such force that they exploded into clouds of ash, due to their jettisoned blood instantly being incinerated.
The shockwave washed over me and I survived unscathed. After that… the Black Stigmata took over my mind.”
The longer he had spoken, the dryer his voice became. When he had started, he was animated in his movements, be they swings of his hand or just the slightest shrug. But as the story went on, he became more and more still, his mouth forming the words with less movement and his lips becoming like that of a ventriloquist. He was facing Christi but looking past her like she wasn’t even there. His expression told her that he was back at the prison yard, watching that plane strike like the hammer of a wrathful god. To him, his living room was gone, and he was instead watching a hundred prisoners and inmates spontaneously combust in the burning pulse of the plane crash, their heads bursting like confetti party poppers.
Sitting there, Christi was forced to accept the change that had taken place in the heart of the man she loved. His trials had not broken him, at least not beyond repair, but she knew that these memories would haunt him until the day he died. She could do nothing but stay by his side, but after everything that had happened, she had come to realize how happy it made her to have that privilege.
Smiling she reached out and clasped his hands.
“Come take a seat over here.” She said with a smile.
“Why?” He asked, still caught in the flashback.
“Because you need the consolation that only a woman can give.”
Shaken back to reality, Alex smiled and moved over to the couch, only for Christi to stand up. Slowly moving her hips to the rhythm of soft hum, she licked her lips and began unfastening her blouse one button at a time. Thinking back to the last time they had had sex, Alex smiled and felt his manhood become engorged with blood from anticipation. Slipping out of the blouse, Christi grasped the hems of the white tank top underneath and slowly pulled it up. The cotton fabric slowly rose, revealing her navel in the center of her smooth flat belly, lightly framed by the muscles earned at the college gym.
Pulling it up above her head, she revealed the tan lingerie keeping her breasts in place, the two cups struggling to hold in her bountiful breasts. Running her hands down her chest, she slipped her fingers into the waist of her jeans, unfastening the button and zipper and slowly pushing it down her curvaceous rear. A pale red thong greeted Alex’s eyes, clearly a choice made in anticipation of this evening. The thin fabric betrayed her, broadcasting the shape of the vertical lips between her legs.
Continuing to hum, Christi turned around while gyrating her hips. Letting Alex gaze upon her voluptuous rear end, she grasped the sides of her thong and pulled them up tight, sinking the narrow stretch of fabric between her smooth ass cheeks.
‘Goddamn, I wish I was her thong right now.’ Alex thought to himself as Christi bent over and spread her legs, teasing Alex with the barely-covered front and rear entrances of her delicious body.
“Would you like to have the honors?” Christi purred, standing up and pulling her long blond hair forward.
Hands shaking in eagerness, Alex reached out and released the clasp of her bra, watching and licking his lips as Christi removed the article of lingerie. Again, she leaned over and spread her legs, letting Alex slowly pull her thong down between her soft cushions. As the skimpy fabric moved across her smooth skin like a windshield wiper on a dry day, Alex kissed her taut rear end over and over again, savoring taste of her sweet skin. Once her underwear sat down around her ankles, Christi helped Alex spread her ass cheeks and he immediately sodomized her with his tongue like he was sucking on a whisk covered in batter. Just like the first time he had gone down on her asshole, there was absolutely no taste other the latent hints of soap. Christi rarely showed any initiative or effort in her life, but when it came to maintaining the front and back doors of the sex temple that was her body, she was like a germaphobe with OCD.
Christi giggled as she felt his tongue penetrate the tight ring of her anus over and over again. Her giggles were mixed with soft coos of pleasure as he reached up and began stirring his thumb up and down against the entrance to her gates of paradise. She added her fingers into the midst, stroking the lips of her pussy with his thumb shaking between them a vibrator.
After a minute or so to let Alex indulge himself, Christi turned around and began to straddle his lap. Grinding herself against his denim-sealed erection, she joined her lips with his and used her tongue the way Alex had used his. Moving his hand, Alex cupped her voluptuous ass cheeks and squeezed them lovingly, even daring a few playful smacks. As her grinding increased in aggression, Alex felt no hesitation in inserting his middle finger in Christi’s ass. The sudden penetration drew a sudden yelp, but Christi showed absolutely no contempt to his finger inside her. In fact, she only kissed him with more aggression.
Her leaning back told Alex that Christi was ready to move to the next stage. He pulled his finger from her ass and was about to lick it clean, but she grasped his wrist and stopped him. Giggling, she lowered her head and sucked on his finger like the bottom of a birthday candle after pulled out of a cake. Right then and there, Alex came, right then and there. Technically it was pre-cum, but it still felt like a wet dog had just slobbered on his underwear.
Removing his finger from her mouth with a pop, Christi stood up and Alex quickly pulled off his sweatshirt and t-shirt. About to pull off his pants and underwear, he raised an eyebrow at the puddle in the crotch of his jeans. That wasn’t his pre-cum, that was Christi’s “anticipation”. Pulling his pants and underwear down to his ankles, Alex revealed his sprawled-out cock, glistening with pre-cum. Grasping the shaft, Christi stood it up and spared a few seconds to lick off every succulent molecule. Returning to his lap, she settled herself down onto it, purring as it entered her slippery pussy.
Once Alex’s manhood was fully submerged in her wet interior, Christi began to heave her erotic frame up into the air without ever letting Alex’s cock leave her body. Her mouth was open, whimpering gasps passing her red lips, Christi churned herself on Alex’s cock, skewering her body with his muscular phallus. Watching her glorious tits jump with each thrust of her body, Alex couldn’t stop himself from scrubbing her nipples with his tongue like they were covered in chocolate syrup.
“Oh god, your cock feels so good!” Christi whined.
“I could say the same about your pussy. It’s like it’s sucking me in! I can’t get over how amazing it is!” He grunted.
“How about a taste then?” She hummed, slipping her tongue into his mouth.
As if communicating telepathically, Christi stood up and Alex laid back across the couch. Returning, Christi supported herself on all fours on top of Alex, taking his cock into her mouth and succulently licking off her pussy juice. At the same time, Alex had his face buried in her sweet slit, sending his tongue as deep into her velvet sleeve as possible. Having already loosened her up with his cock, Christi’s pussy easily gave up its addicting flavor. Her smooth thighs on the sides of his face nearly made him climax, but it was the sounds that triggered it. Beyond the sound of Christi’s hums of pleasure from the movements of his tongue, it was the sound of her mouth slurping on his cock and then releasing over and over like she was drinking the syrup of a rapidly-melting popsicle.
That sound, like gum being chewed, it was almost as perfect as the feeling of her tongue and lips massaging his dick with splash after splash of saliva. The perfect taste of her cunt, the sound of Christi’s euphoria and her effort to gargle on his cock, and the wet softness of her mouth broke Alex’s threshold of control, leaving him with just enough time to warn Christi.
Instead of pulling her head back, Christi lowered it until the head of his cock was against the back of her throat. With the inch of exposed shaft at the base of his penis, she stroked him into a full frothy eruption, shooting two weeks of pent up semen into her throat. Sucking up every drop like the antidote to a poison, she left him with nothing but a sparse reserve load. Immediately he began to deflate, but she continued to blow him, playing around with his flaccid cock in her mouth as if for some kind of childish amusement.
After a few minutes, he returned to full-mast, much to Christi’s delight. Moving forward, she sat down on his lap and began grinding her pussy against the shaft of his cock. Reaching back, she spread her ass cheeks, letting Alex stare straight at her brown eye.
“You want this?” She teased.
“You know I do.” Alex said with a smile.
Alex placed his hand on his cock and pushed it forward, bending it towards Christi. Licking her lips, she pushed her ass back and let it penetrate her, entering her body seamlessly and producing a breathtaking view. Holding herself up on her hands and knees, Christi slid back and forth on Alex’s cock, moaning from the huge mass in her anus and the friction she had to overcome. Deciding to help her, Alex grabbed her hips and pulled her back hard, making her yelp from the sudden rough penetration. Taking the lead, he began thrusting into her from his laid-down position, ignoring the friction gripping him and instead just driving into her hot body as hard and fast as he could. His aggression heightened Christi’s moans of euphoria, and she even leaned back in a crab walk.
“Oh god, your cock feels so good in my ass! I’m cumming! I’m cumming so hard!” She cried, thrusting her body up and then slamming herself down on Alex’s dick, trying to violate the deepest recesses of her body.
Alex began thrusting his body upwards to match her thrusts, having finally gotten lubed up enough to move freely inside her. To try and control Christi’s rhythm, he sat up and groped her breasts, barely able to hold them in his grip. Christi certainly fit the definition of the perfect body. With big tits and a tight ass, it made her easy-going personality even more lovable.
In the minutes that passed, Alex’s back began to ache from the awkward angle he was holding himself up at. He needed to change position. Putting his hands under her knees, he lifted her up and shifted sideways, sitting against back of the couch like he had originally been. Without dropping Christi’s legs, he resumed thrusting up into her like a madman, while she laid across his chest with her legs in the air, moaning in ecstasy while rubbing the swollen lips of her cunt like she was trying to put out a fire.
‘We should do this position again but record it. I really want to see how we look from the font.’ Alex thought to himself as he felt all the muscles in his pelvic region begin tighten up.
His core muscles already burning from the strain, Alex put all of his strength into ten more thrusts and gave one final grunt as every last milligram of seed was fired into Christi’s rectum. Alex dropped Christi’s legs, having lost all of his strength and once again flaccid. Giggling, Christi got down on the floor and began slurping up any last little sperm and her body’s lubrication, wrapping her tongue around the boneless thumb that his manhood had become.
“I love you Christi, you know I love you, right?” He asked, suddenly feeling sentimental. A tender smile on her face, Christi climbed up onto his lap.
“I know you do, and I love you as well.” She hummed, giving him the softest kiss.

Three months, it was three months before Alex received acknowledgement from Nelson. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s passed by without so much as a text message. In time, Alex nearly forgot about the Black Stigmata and began thinking about returning to his normal life. But on a bitter Sunday morning in February, the buzzing of his cellphone woke him up.
“Hello?” He yawned, trying to imagine who would be calling him before noon. It sure as hell wasn’t Christi, she would be passed out like him.
“It’s Nelson. I’ve booked you a flight path for tomorrow morning.”
Alex jumped out of bed.
“You decoded it?!” He exclaimed.
“Yes, and you aren’t flying to Australia. You’re meeting me in Antarctica.”

“Huh, this isn’t half bad.” Said Alex, standing at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole airport, in the very heart of Antarctica.
The heart of the station was a massive metal-plated building up on stilts, boasting 80,000 square feet of space, equal to a strip mall. It was neighbored by the former base, a dome that led underground. He had been pleasantly surprised when he looked up the weather in Antarctica, finding that February was actually late-summer. The temperature had to be in the high fifties, barely deserving of a fleece compared to the winter cold in Maine. It was a good thing he was in the center of Antarctica, the ocean breeze kept the coastal stations below freezing.
Damn, he was actually in Antarctica, the cold white basement of the earth! It was hard to believe he had traveled so far. He had been flying nonstop for a week, but this was definitely worth it.
Walking away from the plane, he was approached by Nelson, chewing on a cigarette as always. He had been standing by a black helicopter, already manned by a pilot.
“Welcome to Antarctica, you’ll get sick of it soon enough.” The professor muttered.
“Endless daylight with continuous weather in the high fifties? I may buy a winter home out here.”
“Well then I hope you like wet socks. Come on, there is something you need to see and hear.” He said, walking back to the helicopter. Readjusting his duffle bag over his shoulder, Alex walked with a slight spring in his step, excited for the answers he was about to receive. Plus, he would be riding in a helicopter for the first time in his life. Though to be honest, he would have preferred to stay on solid ground for a while.

It was a two-hour flight to whatever location it was that Nelson wanted Alex to see. Not a single word was spoken the entire flight, though Alex frequently asked the professor questions on what he had found, only to be denied an answer. Nelson seemed even more tense than usual and refused to give up any secrets. Accepting that he would have to be patient, Alex resigned himself to the view outside. Fields of glistening platinum under the deep blue sky, Antarctica was truly an awe-inspiring place. Alex just wished he could have come in winter and seen the Aurora Borealis. Or, as one of his fellow passengers had corrected him on the flight from South Africa, the Aurora Australis.
The flight ended when the helicopter reached an isolated camp out in the middle of nowhere. It was situated not on the geographic North Pole, but in the center of the largest unbroken stretch of open land. Tents, trailers, and mobile offices were littered around a single metal shack, but the camp was clearly under the possession and jurisdiction of the BSC. Experts in all fields of study from paleontology to geology were rushing back and forth throughout the camp like frightened ants, clearly excited over some source of information.
“Come with me.” Nelson grunted, climbing out of the helicopter and walking over a trailer stationed by the metal shack. Alex followed him inside, finding rows of lockers along the walls. Opening up a pair of lockers, Nelson revealed two airtight suits with glass face panels. They actually looked like repurposed space suits, complete with oxygen tanks.
“Put this on, you’re about to see the coldest, darkest place on earth.”

“I feel like Neil Armstrong in this thing. Seriously, if this were night and the gravity was weaker, I would swear I was on the moon.” Said Alex, walking out of the trailer and back out into the camp. The suit he was wearing was snug and had been difficult to put on. Already he was overheating and had to keep the glass face panel of his helmet open to prevent fogging.
“Get all the jokes out now, because our radios won’t work once we go down and our helmets will have to be sealed.”
“Go down where?”
“Down there.” Nelson answered, pointing to the metal shack in the center of the camp, just as two people in similar suits stepped out. Next to the tiny building, Alex spotted a large humming generator and saw that the door was actually watched by two armed guards. Approaching the guards, Nelson held up his credentials.
“Professor Chris Nelson, my ID number is 8362F9IT7M4. This is Alex Stevens. He’s not in the system yet, but I have him set up with the proper clearance.” He announced. His badge was scanned and he and Alex were allowed access to the shack.
Measuring twelve by twelve feet, the sole purpose of the shack was to hold a large cast-iron elevator, mechanically controlled by a winch hooked up to the generator outside. With open sides and a dingy exterior, it looked like a relic from an old coal mine, and in the back of his mind, Alex wondered if it was really safe.
“Grab me a canister from that box over there.” Said Nelson, pointing to a metal crate set in the corner. Opening the lid, Alex stared at a line of metal cylinders, each about the size of a soup thermos.
“What are these?” Alex asked, handing one of the strange crafts to Nelson and climbing into the elevator.
“It’s a special kind of flare, the only kind we use down here.” Said Nelson, pressing a button on a control panel on the side of the door. The winch gave a soft whine and the elevator began to descend, dropping below the surface.
“I’m surprised you people use this shaft. It’s summer, isn’t it? We’re in a tunnel made of ice. Doesn’t it seem like a bad idea when the temperature outside is almost double the freezing temperature?” Alex asked.
“Don’t worry, this ice doesn’t melt, at least under normal circumstances.” Nelson replied. His tone was strange, devoid of the bad mood Alex had detected before. When he spoke, it was in a calm matter-of-fact way. Pressing the control panel in the elevator door, he turned on an overhead light in the skeletal frame.
“Doesn’t melt? What are you talking about?”
“To put it simply, energy is forbidden from entering this space. That law strengthens the farther down you go, so drilling this tunnel became slower and slower as we descended. You’ll sense it soon, the dropping temperature in the air. Look at the ice around you, notice anything?”
Alex glanced around at the smooth ice shooting up past them.
“It’s not disappearing, no matter how deep we go. We’re already well below sea level but there is no bedrock.” Nelson answered for him.
“How is that possible?”
“It’s possible because Antarctica is not frozen due of its geographic location, and neither is the North Pole. There is an axis running through this planet, an abomination that defies all logic and science. It manifests itself in arctic temperatures at the highest and lowest points of the planet. That axis was left behind by something. Think of it as like a vacuum.”
“Damn it, will you please just make sense and tell me what you found in Australia? Why the hell did you bring me here?”
“We found the answer to the origin of the Black Stigmata. We know where it came from.”
“And it came from Antarctica?” Alex stammered, shocked by the revelation he knew was imminent.
“In a manner of speaking. Tell me, do you know about the World Tree mythology?”
“I must have skipped that class.”
“It’s probably the most ancient mythology in human history, and unlike other myths and religions, it has been found in all corners of the globe, believed by ancient peoples who were incapable of worldwide contact. The legend speaks of a tree that holds this world together, binding heaven and earth, as well as binding every living thing within creation, acting as both the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life.”
“Tree of Knowledge? You mean like in the story of Adam and Eve?”
Nelson cracked a grin.
“While it was been greatly changed over the eons, that story is quite true. 65 million years ago, dinosaurs walked the earth simultaneously with humans. The “humans” weren’t Homo Sapiens of course, but everything is relative. They lived peacefully with all life, a far cry from the way we destroy anything that crosses our path in the name of progress. Anyway, at this time, all of the continents of the globe were joined together to create Pangaea, the single landmass that stretched between the north and south poles. Humans had spread to all corners of Pangaea, united in their worship for the World Tree, which manifested itself in the north and south poles.
The World Tree was the origin of all life, the entity from which the first primordial organisms came into existence. It ruled the world as a mindless yet divine force, commanding the respect and adoration of all living things within its domain. Every creature big and small knew never to hurt the tree… or to eat its fruit. It was a law engraved in the DNA of every organism and was an instinct as powerful as the will to live. But as everyone knows, the very definition of being human is the ability to defy one’s primal instincts.
Whether it was a man or woman, we do not know, we could not get an accurate translation. We got a slightly masculine description at one point, so we refer to it as a man, who we named Adam. According to the inscriptions in the Australian cave, Adam was a being of unparalleled evil. He was a sadistic sociopath who would kill anyone who got in his way and did whatever it took to get what he wanted. He was the embodiment of the Seven Deadly Sins. I’m paraphrasing of course.
Believing that it would grant him immortality, Adam harmed the World Tree by plucking one of its fruits, and defiled it by consuming its flesh. In the biblical story of Adam and Eve, the Apple of Knowledge gave mankind awareness of immorality and original sin, thereby corrupting them. The truth is that the opposite occurred… Whether it was the blackness of the man’s heart or just the darkness of such a blasphemous act, he corrupted the World Tree when he consumed its sacred fruit. Imagine the biggest and most powerful computer in the world and then give it the most crippling computer virus capable of being written.
The knowledge within the tree was eternally corrupted and became the essence of sin. The World Tree, which had originally been the beacon and symbol of all life, transformed into the omen of eternal death and horror. The most destructive traits in the human soul contaminated the tree and brought about a cataclysmic event, the likes of which the earth had never seen. The volcanoes of the world vomited liquid flames, tsunamis washed across the landscape, toxic gas and ash blocked out the sun, Pangaea was split open like a skull struck with an axe, and plagues of unholy wrath eclipsed the world in rotting despair.
The wrath of the World Tree was set loose upon the world in its act of self-destruction. At the polar ends of the earth, the World Tree sunk into the bedrock and encased itself in a demonic chill, draining the very energy from the environment so that everything around it would be bleak and empty. You’ll see what I mean soon enough. We’ve developed a nickname for the event: Ragnarök, referring to the apocalypse of Norse mythology.
As for the person who started it all, he received a deserving fate. Having been nibbled down to a slender core, the fruit of the World Tree that he had consumed became the first Black Stigmata nail, transforming into a spike of unholy and lifeless iron and containing all of the knowledge of the World Tree after its corruption by Adam. Now knowing nothing but wrath, death, suffering, and horror, the power of the World Tree that he had coveted turned on him. It forced Adam to perform the ritual on himself, ending his life and making him both the first Host and the first Homunculus of the Black Stigmata. Then from that nail and the two he had created, it spread.
After Ragnarök, mankind was driven near to the brink of extinction, and the earth was barely able to recover. It took a long time for mankind to come back from the edge. Considering it took 65 million years for extinction to no longer be a fear, I’d say humanity was cursed by the Black Stigmata and had to suffer on the fringes of existence. It’s likely that the endless creation for new nails continuously whittled down their numbers until there were only enough to keep the species alive.”
By the time he was finished speaking, the elevator had descended several miles below sea level before finally coming to a stop. A passageway had been carved into the ice in front of the elevator door, but looking down through the metal grate floor, Alex saw that the vertical shaft still went much deeper.
“Why aren’t we going further down?” He asked.
“We made that mistake the first time. Trust me, you need to keep the elevator at a safe distance.” Said Nelson as he activated a light on the top of his helmet.
“From this point forward, keep your suit shut and make sure you’re getting oxygen. We won’t be able to communicate and our vision will be severely limited. Just a head’s up.” He further instructed, sealing his own faceplate and turning the nozzle on the air tank on his back.
Mirroring the same steps, Alex sealed himself up in his suit and followed Nelson into the narrow ice corridor, trying the control his breathing while his heartbeat thundered in his ears. The distance was only about fifty feet and it went around a slight turn, but Alex was brought to a dead stop with the sweat seemingly freezing to him at the sight. It was not a door, he knew that much. Nor was it a tarp, barricade, window, or any kind of hard surface. It was black, black as the coldest recesses of space. The corridor was suddenly cut off with this darkness blocking the way like a curtain. The lights of their helmets shined on it like solid material, unable to pass through it but also seeming… rejected by it. It was not like it was reflecting off something, more like the light was unable to pass by. A metal rod had been secured into the ice wall by the entrance to the abyss.
This darkness was unnatural; it was unwholesome. It weighed down on Alex’s mind with indescribable dread, the same dread he had felt when he watched that plane plummet from the sky before striking the prison. They should not be there. They had to leave! They had to get out of there now! Turning to Alex, Nelson unhooked the end of a spool of wire hitched to his belt and secured it to Alex’s, then locked the spool with a length of ten feet.
“Watch your step and do as I do. But first, secure your wire to that rod.” The professor instructed, speaking through a radio in his suit.
Alex nodded, and with the metal canister under his arm, Nelson approached the vertical field of darkness. About to enter the threshold, he got down on his hands and knees and moved into it backwards, with his lower body instantly dropping as if he were hanging from a cliff. As he lowered himself down, any part of his body that passed that black field became completely invisible to Alex, as if Professor Nelson were entering a portal from a sci-fi movie. Giving Alex one final nod, he lowered himself all the way into the darkness, with his light immediately disappearing as if he were passing through a waterfall.
The tightening of the wire told Alex he had to follow, even though every fiber of his being was telling him to run. Taking several deep gulps of oxygen and checking to make sure the wire from his belt was tied securely to the metal bar, he did as Nelson had done and lowered himself into the darkness backwards, feet first. As his feet passed through, he felt the ground beneath them vanish. Even more terrifying; a deathly chill seemed to saturate every cell that had passed the barrier, as if he had submerged his bare foot in liquid nitrogen. He wanted to pull his foot back out, but three tugs on the wire told him that Nelson was getting impatient.
He slowly pushed himself in, wincing and gaging as the unnatural cold passed through his suit and assailed him. Actually, it wasn’t quite the cold entering him, but the warmth leaving him, essentially being ripped away like layers of flesh. He had felt this cold before, back when he was on that mountain in his dream. He couldn’t go through that again, he couldn’t! He would rather die than experience that!
Deciding that he needed some “positive reinforcement”, Nelson’s hand shot out of the darkness and grabbed onto the back of Alex’s suit and he yanked Alex into the abyss. Hitting the solid ground, Alex felt the indescribable cold rip the air from his lungs. He couldn’t see anything, there was only total blackness. Even the dim lighting from the corridor had vanished. It was as if he had been cast into an empty dimension devoid of even a single photon.
He felt Nelson give him a rude kick, as if to say,
“What are you waiting for, your slippers and a cup of hot coffee? Get off your ass!”
Alex got to his feet, but struggled on the slanted ground. His blindness certainly didn’t help. But as he stood up, a bright light suddenly ignited high up in the distance. It was the flare he had taken from the shack, launched from its metal canister. Shooting through the air, the bright ball of light struggled to remain lit, looking more like a candle in a persistent breeze. What was going on with it? Regardless of its struggle, the sphere was able to light up the environment, leaving Alex breathless.
He was standing in a tunnel five hundred feet in diameter, stretching onwards into eternity. In one direction, the tunnel seemed to expand, while in the other direction, it seemed to fork out into smaller tunnels. It was… breathtaking. But as he looked down at the ground, he noticed something that chilled his blood more than it already was. Every square inch of ice, otherwise smooth as glass, was inscribed with a symbol from the Black Stigmata. With the days he had spent, forced to see those goddamn symbols glowing in front of him like neon lights, he would recognize them anywhere. There had to be trillions of them in this cavern alone! Hundreds of trillions!
Up above, the light further dimmed, and Nelson grasped Alex’s shoulder and guided him back to the exit. Pulling on the wire he had secured outside, he pulled himself up out of the ice cavern and back into the corridor. Upon leaving the darkness, the deathly chill left his body so quickly that he actually began to overheat. Glad to be out of the abyss, he got to his feet and pulled on Nelson’s outreached arm, helping him climb back into the light. Without speaking, he and Nelson walked back to the elevator and began the trip back up to the surface.
“So that tunnel, that was…”
“A cavity left behind by one of the branches of the World Tree before it completely destroyed itself. I believe you saw all the symbols in the ice?”
“Do you have any idea what those symbols are now?”
“Ideas have been tossed back and forth. Some think it is the language of some ancient alien race that placed the tree here. Don’t you even fucking start. Others suggest that the symbols are a form of Feng Shui, used by the tree and the Black Stigmata to manipulate energy for their own purposes, sort of like antenna for receiving and transmitting power. Personally I find that idea to be the work of drunk theoretical physicists, but I can’t deny that it makes the most sense out of all of them.”
“So what was the deal with that flare?”
“In any other situation, that flare would have blinded you if you looked at it, even from a distance. It was made from phosphorus, thermite, and other gifts from the baby Jesus to produce the most volatile and energetic burn. I told you, energy is essentially forbidden in that zone, so we have to make every reaction ten times more powerful to get at least one tenth of the normal result. Going completely overboard with that flare was the only way to provide any sort of illumination. No other light sources work down there. Why do you think we have to wear these suits? They’re to try and keep us from bleeding to death of the energy of our bodies.”
“So what do we do now?”
“Well we’re still working on figuring out the actual meaning of the symbols. We’re certain that the humans who lived before Ragnarök understood the language of the World Tree. Using the information we’ve gained so far from the cave in Australia, we’re able to begin decoding the sequence of symbols needed to turn victims into viable incubators for new nails. Once we understand the code, there is no telling what we’ll be able to accomplish.”
“But what should I do?”
“Go back home and try to keep an eye out. Having been a Host, you’ll know what signs to look for in people. You’ll know how to confront them. You may be able to get your hands on a few nails before they cause any damage. How is the situation back home?”
“Everything is going to hell. Mass shootings and murders are becoming daily problems and everyone is losing their minds.”
“It doesn’t surprise me, I had a feeling things would get worse while I was gone. I don’t know why, but the entire Portland area and all the surrounding towns are serving as breeding grounds for the Black Stigmata’s influence. More than that, this same effect is being seen around the globe. The Black Stigmata is growing in strength and I don’t see anything good on the horizon.
When we get back to the surface, we’ll take your picture.”
“For what?”
“For your BSC credentials. If you are going to be doing anything in regards to the Black Stigmata, you’ll need the proper clearance and resources, including information.”
“So what, am I going to some super secret spy school for BSC agents?” Alex kidded.
“No you idiot. Do you really think anyone in the BSC goes through any kind of boot camp? I know only a handful of people who could run a mile… You’re going to get your intern credentials—basically a learners permit—a booklet of information, and a number to call if you find a host or a nail. A large percentage of the people in the BSC were Hosts at one time, and like me, it’s how they got involve in the organization. Former Hosts have to go through less training than the non-Hosts, because they understand the Black Stigmata better and know how to confront other hosts.”
“So I’m really in the BSC?” Alex asked with excitement.
“Settle down intern, you sure as well won’t command any authority. But yes, welcome to the BSC.”





Chapter Nine


Stopping his car at the end of his driveway, Alex got out and checked the mailbox. Inside, he found a heavy cardboard cylinder and a manila envelope. Returning to his car at the end of the long dirt lane, he opened up the packages. Having finally returned home after his trip to Antarctica, he was doing everything he could to buy himself time before he would have to confront his family. He had been gone for two weeks and he didn’t really leave a good reason or excuse. He had just written a note that said that there was something he had to do and he would be gone for a while. He hadn’t answered any of his parents’ calls or told them where he was going.
Inside the manila envelope, he found a book of BSC information and protocols, as well as a smaller envelope containing his BSC credentials. Nineteen years old and he was an intern for a secret international organization with ties to every government. Damn. As much as he wished that the Black Stigmata had never found him, looking at the laminated ID and the training manual filled him with a strange sense of pride. Finally he could do something, he could help out and prevent tragedies from occurring. He had already read through a lot of information on BSC rules and tactics when he flew with Nelson to Australia, but the manual was the real solid information he would need in order to do good.
Inside the cylinder, he found a large metal canister. It was somewhat similar to the flare launcher he had seen at the Antarctic base, but with a keypad on the side. Nelson had told him about these things before they parted ways in Antarctica. Canisters like these were used to trap the Black Stigmata, and should he actually get his hands on a nail (and only while wearing gloves), he had to immediately seal the artifact in the canister and call up the BSC superiors in the area. They would take his canister and give him a new one, as well as take the host into protective custody.
“This is real…” He murmured to himself.
He looked back at his house, past a row of trees in the curve of the unpaved driveway, about five hundred meters from the road. Maybe he could rent a motel room for the night until he figured out what he would tell his family… No, no, he had to do this. Damn, this was the real downside of being nineteen: it’s even more unbelievable to say you work for the government than anyone else. If he told his parents what he was doing, what he had done, and what he was going to do, they would think he was pulling a prank on them or had fallen for some spam mail joke and just wasted all of his money on a fake ID card and pimped out soup thermos.
‘Nothing left to do…’ He thought to himself, shifting hid car back into drive and moving up the dirt driveway. It was late in the afternoon on the weekend, so of course his parents were home. Great.
Coming to a stop in front of the house, he got out with his duffle bag over his shoulder and his BSC tools in his hands. Taking one deep breath after another, he moved up the cold stone steps, climbed onto the creaky paint-stripped porch, and pushed open the door.
“Mom, dad, I’m home!”
In a measure of time so small that he could not think up a word for it, his mom appeared before him a like a genie from its lamp and smacked him so hard that he was knocked to the ground.
“WHERE THE FUCK HAVE YOU BEEN YOU INCONSIDERATE LITTLE SHIT?! TWO WEEKS WITHOUT A SINGLE PHONE CALL! I’VE BEEN WORRIED SICK ABOUT YOU!” She screeched like pterodactyl.
“I’m sorry! There was something I had to do and I couldn’t tell anyone! I didn’t even know how to explain it!” Alex exclaimed, shielding himself from his mother’s smacks.
Like a shark lunging out of the water to catch a seal, his dad’s hair-backed hand came into view and clamped around his collar. He was dragged to his feet and pulled through the house like a bag of garbage. He was then thrown at the kitchen table, banging the side of his stomach on the corner with enough force to leave an immediate bruise. By tomorrow morning, it would be jet-black and stretch up from his hip to his armpit. Head spinning, he looked around and saw his parents standing over him, while behind them, Colleen stood with a pair of crutches under her arms and a look of both concern and anger on her face.
“Start talking.” His dad ordered without his teeth ever separating.
Sighing, Alex placed the containment canister on the dinner table. At the sight of the metal item, Colleen gasped with her face as white as the ground outside.
“Is this about that nail? The one I found in your car?” She murmured, thinking back to when she met Professor Nelson in the hospital. She had been under anesthesia with only one working eye, but she remembered that meeting clearly and what had happened. The canister was exactly like the one Nelson had used to lock up that strange nail. Both teens’ parents shifted their gaze back and forth between them, wondering what Colleen was talking about.
“Colleen, did you know about this?” Her mom asked.
“i… uh… not really. When I was in the hospital, some guy named Nelson came into my room and asked me if I had found a nail since Alex was arrested. He said that it was a matter of life and death and that he was trying to help Alex. I told him the nail was in my bag and he took it and put it in a cylinder like that one.” She shrugged, unsure of what else to say.
“I wish I could have gone without telling all of you, but it seems like that option flew out the window. The man you met was my history teacher, Professor Nelson. He’s also one of the chief consultants for an international organization that operates similar to the UN and Interpol. It’s called the BSC. Colleen, that nail…” Alex trailed off, unable to look at her. Shifting his gaze to the ground with his hands clenched into trembling fists, he resumed speaking.
“It’s because you found that nail that you were attacked. That nail is called the Black Stigmata and there are millions or even billions more out there. They’re cursed, they’re pure fucking evil. Anyone who gets close to one has their life ruined.”
“What is this bullshit?” His father asked impatiently while his mother went to console Colleen, who was beginning to hyperventilate as she thought back to the nail and her rape.
“It’s what drove Tim Jones mad!” Alex shouted, shocking everyone so deeply that Colleen’s panic attack was smothered with fear.
“It was in his house, I found it when I went inside. It twisted my mind as soon as I laid eyes on it and I was compelled to take it! Ever since then, it has tormented me with nightmares and hallucinations. It has been trying to make me commit the same crimes that Tim had; that’s what it does. It latches onto someone like a parasite and makes them suffer or forces them to make others suffer.
That night when I went to Christi’s place, when I was pulled over…. The nail killed that cop because he got in its way and tried to take it from me. Nelson came and helped me, he arranged for me to be kept in solitary confinement because it was the only way to cure me of the nail’s influence. Because I was gone, Colleen found the nail. In that locker room, it stripped those three girls of their inhibitions and their humanity and turned them into sadists.”
“You have got a lot of nerve if you think a story that bad will cover your ass.” His dad growled.
“It was a Black Stigmata nail that triggered the prison riot and brought down that plane, I saw the nail itself and spoke with the man who brought it in. This is why I never told anyone about how I escaped, because I wanted to keep it a secret. That nail drove everyone in the prison insane and caused them to commit the most brutal acts of torture on each other. I’m not talking about just prisoners, guards were going insane and butchering each other. I had to kill almost twenty people in order to escape, using guns I stole from some SWAT officers who slaughtered each other.
Dad… I saw people in the hallways eating each other. I saw guards peel away strips of flesh from corpses and chew on it like a raw steak. I saw men stabbed over and over again so that they could be raped in the stab wounds. I saw lynched bodies burning. I saw guards and prisoners alike holding makeshift spears with corpses skewered on the end, showering blood by the liter with every shake. I saw a man… bury a kitchen knife in his throat, carve open his chest down to his pelvis, pull open the sides, and let his organs spill out onto the floor before dying. I saw over a hundred people chase me like rabid dogs, screaming at the top of their lungs and covered in blood, knowing that they would kill me in the most brutal way possible. I saw a plane fall out of the sky and crash into the prison like salt being poured onto a wound in my very soul.”
The way Alex spoke, with that dry zombie-like tone and dead eyes that stared off into the distance, was unlike anything his parents or his sister had ever seen. Alex had always been a skilled liar, but this… this was real trauma.
“I told Christi all about it and she can back me up. After I escaped, I went to see Christi and Nelson found me, then he let me visit Colleen.” He then added. Their parents’ eyes shifted to her.
“It’s true, he visited me and said he would be gone for a while.” She admitted.
“I asked if I could become a member of the BSC and he said only after I managed to fully break free of the Black Stigmata’s control. I was sent to that rehabilitation clinic, not for PTSD or just to keep me locked up until my fake trial. I was there so that I could undergo a cold-turkey cleansing process to free myself. Using drugs to forever scar my mind, I endured the most brutal 48 hours anyone this side of Purgatory can imagine.
After that, Nelson and I went to Australia, where we found something that told us the whole story of the Black Stigmata. I was there for a week, helping the BSC any way I could. The reason why I left again was because they finally finished decoding it and Nelson wanted me to know the truth. While I was there, I got my picture taken, filled out all the proper paperwork, and became an employee of the BSC. Actually, I’m just an intern…” As he spoke, he handed his laminated ID to his father,
“You want to know why the state is going to Hell? It’s because the Black Stigmata are multiplying like rabbits and driving everyone insane. My job as a BSC employee is to help identify hosts and acquire nails before they can do any harm, using this canister. Think of it as like a miniature nuclear flask. Now if you’ll excuse me, I am SEVERELY jetlagged and I am going to bed.”

“So how did your parents take it?” Christi asked, speaking to Alex through their cell phones. He was sitting in a snowy parking lot in Portland, having just filled out his fifth job application. In front of him now was a McDonalds application. Damn, his parents had always told him to study hard and get into a good college so that he would never have to flip burgers. Thanks a lot Black Stigmata. He had been briefly working before, but he was fired when he left for Antarctica.
“I can’t really say, I went to bed as soon as I got home and left before anyone else got up. Actually, I just hid in my room and read through the manual until I finally fell asleep. You should have seen my mom when I stepped through that door. She was like the old woman from Legion but taller and younger. Luckily, my story was so outlandish and unbelievable that they couldn’t even continue yelling.”
As he spoke, he blew into his hands for the umpteenth time. He would have to start up the engine and turn the heat on for a couple minutes before the car became an icebox. He missed Antarctica…
“I can’t blame them, I still can’t believe it’s all true. So will you please tell me what you found or where you went?”
“Nelson was already pissed off at himself for saying we were leaving for Australia in front of you. I shouldn’t have even told my family about the Black Stigmata and the BSC. If I tell anyone anything, he’ll rip off the top of my cranium and use it as an ashtray. Those were his exact words. Listen, I will tell you someday. Let’s just say that what we found will revolutionize everything. We may finally able to stop the Black Stigmata or at least fight back.”
“I sure hope so, I don’t feel safe leaving the house anymore.”
“I can’t say I blame you. Listen, I’m going to keep looking around for any places hiring then, I’ll head over.”
“That might be a bad idea, then you’ll have to explain to MY parents where you were.”
“Well I’ll just tell them that I had a very vivid dream of a music festival somewhere and I felt that I HAD to attend. I’ll say it had something to do with my PTSD.”
“Why didn’t you say that to your parents?”
“Even if I tried to milk the PTSD thing, they still would have beaten the shit out of me. Colleen wouldn’t be the only one in a wheelchair.”
“If you say so. I’ll see you later.”
“Bye.” Alex said with a small smile before hanging up the phone.
After turning on his car for a brief few minutes to enjoy the warmth of the heater, he finished the last of his job applications and put aside his pen with an achy hand. He had been sitting in his car for more than an hour and he wanted to get up and move, even if meant walking through the February weather.
Still bearing some heightened endurance to cold from his coma, he got out of his car and started walking with the job application forms held tightly under his arm. If he remembered correctly, the bookstore was closest to his position. Trekking through the falling snow on the filthy sidewalk, he noted the absence of people out in the streets. It seemed that Christi wasn’t the only person afraid of leaving their home. With all the chaos going on, there were probably more cops and BSC agents than civilians outside at the moment.
But it could also have been the weather keeping everyone inside. It was frigid outside and the snowy wind did not make it any better. So much sand and salt had been laid out to fight the endless layers of snow that the lines on the road and even the bricks in the sidewalk were no longer visible. The snow was certainly beautiful as it fell, but even Mainers get sick of winter.
As he turned his attention away from the first car to drive by in over five minutes, he spotted a piece of paper stuck to the ground with something written on it in pen. Normally not drawn to pieces of garbage, he felt compelled to see the scribbles. It was a receipt, probably dropped earlier that day or the day before, listing for two coffees and a bag of cinnamon rolls from Dunkin Donuts. Drawn on the back in pen was a line of symbols from the Black Stigmata. This was clearly the work of a Host. Alex had always felt a nearly overwhelming urge to write down the symbols of the Black Stigmata when he was in his prison cell.
Pulling out his cellphone and his wallet, he checked his BSC ID card and typed in the number on the back.
“Operator.” A woman on the other end of the line announced. He had read this in his instruction manual, BSC receptionists did this to make sure that the person calling was a fellow employee, and not someone who had made a mistake or were just messing around on their phone. Funny, it reminded him of The Matrix.
“This is Alex Stevens, intern in Section 8. My ID number is 6347H2I9Q2.” He read off with a smug sense of professionalism lifting his spirits.
“Welcome to the office of the BSC. How may I direct your call?”
“I’ve identified a possible host in or around the Portland area in Maine. The name is Michele Donovan, that’s all I know. From what I understand, she’s starting to see the symbols.” He answered, squinting at her name on the receipt.
“A search is now underway, thank you for the information.”
“Happy to help.”
Alex then turned off his phone and stowed it, his wallet, and the receipt in his pocket.
‘I wonder how long it will be before I get a promotion…’ He pondered.

“So what would you say are your best qualities?” The man asked, sitting across his desk from Alex in the medium-sized office. Having returned to the bookstore to return his application form, he was lucky to be called right in to the manager’s office for an interview. The manager was a scrawny man with pale skin and thinning hair. He seemed very tired and sported distinct bags under his eyes.
“Well I consider myself quite charismatic and I hard worker. I also work very well with others.” He replied, being in a good mood after making his first report to the BSC.
“And what kind of position are you looking for?” The manager asked, skimming through Alex’s application while yawning frequently.
“I will take anything you can give me. I’ll work cashier, I’ll stock the shelves, I’ll mop the floors, I’ll clean the toilets, and I’ll even shine your shoes and bring you your coffee. Just sign my paycheck and I’m all yours.”
“And how open is your schedule?”
“I have very little going for me right now but there may be times when I will have to leave for business. Times like those should be rare, so other than that, I can work any possible shift.” As he spoke, he watched the manager roll a pen around in his hand. The tip was poking against his thumb, which already had a blister on it. Alex remembered doing the same thing in jail when he was doing homework. He still had the small round scar on his thumb to prove it. Was this guy…?
“Alright, once I review the other applications I’ve received, I’ll call you if you get the job. But from what I’ve heard, you seem like the best candidate.” The manager said with a yawn as he stood up and extended his arm to shake Alex’s hand. Grasping the manager’s hand Alex decided to test his hypothesis.
“Trouble sleeping?” He asked while he shook the manager’s hand.
“What? Oh… uh, yeah.” The man shrugged.
“Yeah, I had that same problem. Bad dreams?”
“You could say that. They keep waking me up.”
“I know what you mean. I would always be surrounded in darkness with voices screaming in my ears and a bright red light overhead.”
The manager’s hand came to a dead stop and he pulled it free from Alex’s grip.
“Huh… that sounds… pretty creepy.” He muttered, unable to make eye contact with Alex.
“What are your dreams like?” Alex further inquired.
“What? Oh, I never remember them. Now if you would please excuse me, I have work to do.”
“Oh course, of course.” Said Alex, turning to the exit. About to grasp the doorknob, he stopped.
“Oh, before I go, there is something I want to ask you…”
He then reached into his pocket and drew the receipt he had found out in the street.
“This is some kind of puzzle I saw, and supposedly there is a hidden image or message only certain people will see. Can you just take a quick glance at it and tell me if you see anything? I’ve been staring at it all day and can’t figure it out.”
He handed the receipt to the manager, and as soon as his eyes swerved across the scribbled symbols, the paleness in his face became like that of a frozen corpse and he began to tremble. He took a step back, nearly losing his balance as he stared at the symbols. Bingo.
“Do you have it with you?” Alex asked, dropped the façade.
“Have what?” The man asked defensively.
“The nail. Do you have the nail with you?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” The man stammered.
‘It’s just like Nelson said; Hosts are compelled to lie in order to protect their possession of the nails. I lied because I took the nail as evidence, but he’s lying because it’s twisting his soul like Gollum and the One Ring.’
“Achieve death. Do those words mean anything to you?” The words struck the manager like a slap and he staggered back his face eclipsed with fear.
“Who are you?! Have you been watching me?! Are you some kind of spy?!” He demanded, almost foaming at the mouth.
“No, I haven’t been watching you. Until this meeting, I had no idea you even existed. But I am probably the best person for you to meet today. Listen, you aren’t the only person with a nail like that, but if you hold onto it, you will meet a horrible fate like them! That nail will ruin your life!”
“Stay away form me!” The manager screamed, jumping over the desk and shoving Alex aside. Ripping open the office door, he sprinted down the back corridors with Alex chasing after him. Mentally scolding himself for not yet setting it on speed-dial, Alex typed in the number on the back of his ID card into his cell phone.
“This is Alex Stevens, intern in Section 8. My ID number is 6347H2I9Q2.” He panted, running through the halls and seeing the back door close as he rounded a corner.
“Welcome to the office of the BSC. How may I direct your call?” The receptionist asked as Alex sprinted through the dirty back alley, following the manager’s footprints in the fresh snow.
“I’m in pursuit of a host on Congress Street. He’s a skinny white guy with thinning hair, early to mid forties. His name is Michael Roy.”
“Mr. Stevens, stop what you are doing right now.” The woman said sternly. Alex skidded through the snow with the phone still pressed against his ear.
“What, why?!” He demanded.
“Chasing him down now will only draw attention to the two of you, and unless you have received proper training, you will be unable to defend yourself if he turns violent.”
“But I can catch him! I can stop him!”
“You’ll just get in the way. You’ve identified him and that’s more than enough. It’s time for you to stand down.”
“There has to be something I can do!”
“You’ve already done all you are capable of. We will freeze his assets, put lookouts at his home and friends’ homes, and send his image to the media and local police. Your job is done, now let us do ours.”
Alex sighed.
“Very well.”
As he turned off his phone, a thought entered his mind. Was it possible? Returning to the bookstore, he entered through the front door and walked right past the cashiers, ignoring their questions as he strolled into the back of the building and found the manager’s office. After pulling out and putting on a pair of surgical gloves, he searched through the manager’s desk for the nail. Receiving no promising results, he turned his attention to the manager’s coat, hanging from the back of his chair.
Reaching into the right pocket, his blood became like cold mud in his veins as his fingers brushed up against the solid iron of the Black Stigmata nail. Even with latex separating him from the smooth surface, Alex felt like the nail was fusing to his fingers. He gripped his skull and cursed, feeling the Black Stigmata’s will weighing down on his mind like a lead collar. The Black Stigmata was trying to re-establish its hold on him, but the damage his mind had received in the coma had left him as an unsuitable Host and given him some immunity. Regardless, Alex now felt like he had just reached into the den of a Black Mamba and its tail was writhing against his fingers.
Taking a deep breath, he drew the nail from the coat pocket and examined it in the light. Its appearance was exactly like the nail he had found in his neighbor’s home and the nail that had triggered the prison riot. Regardless of age and regardless of their existence as separate objects, these nails shared a hive mind that transcended the logical realm. In his hands, he was holding the very same force that had ruined his life. He was holding the nail that had killed that cop, that had raped his sister, and had forced him to torture and eat an innocent woman. He felt like a child holding the knife used to murder his parents.
Shaking aside these troubling thoughts, he quickly left the bookstore and walked back to his car. Once inside, he opened up his sealing canister, submerged the nail in the interior water-filled capsule, and secured it in a hovering vacuum, thereby locking away its influence. Once again, Alex drew his cellphone and typed in the thirteen digit number,
“This is Alex Stevens, intern in Section 8. My ID number is 6347H2I9Q2.”
“Welcome to the office of the BSC. How may I direct your call?” A woman asked.
“I have found a Black Stigmata nail. I’ve locked it up in my canister and now I just need someone to pick it up.”

Alex arrived home just before midnight, happy with the knowledge that his family had gone to bed. In the fridge, he found a plate of leftovers from dinner, but no note or anything. It seemed like his parents weren’t even comfortable with one-way communication. He ate the food cold and went upstairs. His evening with Christi hadn’t been as restful as he had hoped, he had been unable to take his mind of the escaped bookstore manager. As he entered the bathroom to brush his teeth, the activation of the light shined down the hallway and passed through Colleen’s open door.
Awoken by the fluorescent beam, she rubbed the tiredness from her eyes and checked the time. Alex must have come back. She hadn’t seen him since his arrival home the day before, and he had left her with more questions than answers. Every moment since his arrival had been spent wondering if he was telling the truth. Now was the best time she would have to confront him. Still unable to fully walk on her own, she pulled herself out of bed and balanced herself on her crutches. By the time she was up on her feet, Alex had left the bathroom and gone to his room.
Wanting to avoid waking her parents, Colleen moved down the hall as silently as she could, approaching Alex’s door. It was open just enough for her to poke her head through and see Alex sitting on his bed. His alarm clock and the moonlit window shades were the only sources of illumination. Sitting there, Alex was unable to keep his mind away from that man. What had happened to him? Had he escaped? Had he been found? Was he still trapped in the Black Stigmata’s web? Had he even degenerated into the psychotic stage or possibly begun performing the steps to create new nails? Would Alex have done the same thing if he had possessed his nail any longer? Would he have freaked out when the cop tried to take it from him? He had found a nail and identified two Hosts… but he felt hollow.
About to make her presence known, Colleen hesitated when Alex’s phone began to ring. It was Nelson.
“Professor?”
“I heard you had a busy first day.”
“It’s not like you to be so concerned.”
“I’m not, I’m calling to scold you. I heard that a receptionist had to talk you down from a Die Hard adrenalin rush? You were supposed to have read that manual front to back more than five times before even SPEAKING to a host.”
“It wasn’t like that! I just didn’t want him to get away! He was in my sight, I could have caught him, I could have stopped him! I was right there! And I did read the manual, I was up all night studying every page over and over again!” Alex shot back as he stood up and turned to the window.
“Well what could you have done then Alex? What could you have done? Would you have taken him down with some fancy martial arts like Jason Bourne? Would you have shot him like Raylan Givens? What could you have possibly done other than get in the way and get yourself hurt or killed?”
“I could have done SOMETHING! I could have actually made a difference! I got his nail but I didn’t get him! For all I know, he could be out there killing people because I couldn’t catch him!” He barked, barely able to contain his voice.
“Learn your place and learn your role. It’s far too early for you to confront Hosts, let alone chase them down. Crazed targets have killed better members of the BSC than you, you wouldn’t last a minute if you tried to go out on your own without weapons and training. Give it time, you’ll get the proper training and experience soon enough.”
“Damn it Nelson, there isn’t time! How can you expect me to wait when the people around me are slowly burning in this Hell on earth?! I don’t care if I get hurt, I don’t care if I die! I just want to protect people from the same cursed life you and I have been forced to live, and save them from being victimized like my sister! The people of this state can’t afford to wait for me to slowly figure this out over time! I’ve been selfish and indifferent my whole life, and now I’ve finally found something to give my life for. If I died tomorrow, I would be happy, as long as I died knowing that I had saved someone from this curse instead of just standing on the sidelines as some useless intern.” He said with a strong yet trembling voice.
Colleen watched him standing by the window with her heart racing. Ever since Alex had come back from the rehabilitation center, he had been far quieter and more stoic than his usual self. He never joked, he rarely laughed, and he always seemed like he was skeptical that the world around him was real. When he had first walked towards her on that cold autumn day, she had seen something but never really gave it much thought, even in the months that passed. But now, seeing him with his back to her, she finally realized that his shoulders were much broader than before and his build was like that of an actual man and not some dopey college student.
With a smile, she turned away from his door and slowly and silently made her way back to her room. Her questions could wait, and now she had a new question: when did her big brother suddenly become so grown up?

“Stubborn punk.” Nelson muttered as he jammed his phone back into his coat pocket.
“Ready?” The guard beside him asked.
“I’m ready.”
With another two guards behind him, Nelson walked down the sterile white hallway with a roll of papers under his arm, similar to an architect’s blueprints. The facility he was currently in was one of a BSC jurisdiction and had been established in Siberia. While every surface of the corridor was bleach-white, the guards wore dark-grey uniforms with BSC stitched onto the chest pockets and IDs hanging on their shoulders. Walking past the endless line of heavy locked doors, Nelson strained his ears to hear the prisoners inside. Their mutterings were incessant and consisted of all the world’s languages.
This building was a cross between a mental health facility and a prison. The inmates? Hosts who had undergone the drug treatment but failed to break free of the Black Stigmata’s control. When someone underwent the treatment, those who survived were divided into three categories: successful subjects like Nelson and Alex who now had free minds, brain-dead vegetables who would spend the rest of their lives drooling, and Hosts who would forever be slaves to the Black Stigmata. It was a probable ending to the treatment, in which the drugs and the Black Stigmata shatter the will of the recipient, and the Black Stigmata, which would normally be shaken off like a rodeo cowboy, instead secures a hold so deep in the Host’s psyche that they will never be free. They could be a thousand miles from the nearest nail but still act as though one were lodged in their frontal lobe.
For Hosts that fell into that last category, this building would forever be their home and their grave. Once someone was considered a failure, they were forever locked up in this frozen wasteland, kept away from the general public. Had Nelson or Alex failed, they would have ended up in padded cells with their limbs locked in straightjackets or tied down to their cots. Most of the subjects were forever in the psychotic stage, always gnashing their teeth and cursing, having to be tied down and fed through an IV while catheters took care of their bowls and bladder.
The rest had the tiniest semblance of sanity, but were obsessed with the Black Stigmata. Without their straightjackets, they would scribble the symbols onto the walls of the cell in their own blood, over and over again until every surface was covered in a thick red paste. They weren’t even allowed to use toilets, many inmates had drowned themselves in the water or cracked their skulls open. They just crapped on the floor and the cell would be hosed out with a drain in the corner to channel away the waste. Nelson often wondered why the BSC bothered taking care of these people. They might as well just be put down like sick animals. In the back of his mind, he wondered if the real reason why the inmates weren’t allowed to ever use their hands was because it was just easier than having to clean up the blood.
Coming to a stop, the guard leading Nelson unlocked the cell door in front of him. Inside the padded chamber, a bald man sat on the floor with his back to the wall, rocking back and forth while pulling at his straightjacket ceaselessly.
“Antoine Jacques?” Nelson asked.
“Who wants to know?” The Canadian replied, speaking in French.
“Someone who needs your help.” Said Nelson, switching to the same language. Antoine turned back to him.
“I smell death on you. I smell blood.” He giggled.
“No, that’s just the smell of cigarettes.”
“What do you want? What’s in it for me?”
“You want to write, don’t you? You want to write the symbols?”
Antoine looked away.
“They’re screaming at me, begging to be written! I must see them written! I must create them and fulfill them! Just one finger, if I could use a single finger!” He exclaimed, pulling ravenously at his restraints.
“Well then, you will be able to write to your heart’s content. However, only under the condition that you do THIS.”
The professor then unrolled the large modern-day scroll and held it out in front of Antoine. Even with the only light source coming from behind Nelson, Antoine stared at it with wide eyes, as if gazing at the blueprints for a time machine made by both God and the Devil.
“What is this? How can this be possible?!” Antoine stammered, having both no idea what he was looking at but also feeling crushed under the weight of its meaning.
“It’s your instruction manual.”

Alex stared down the barrel of the gun with a straight face, his heart beating not in fear of what was happening, but excitement for what was about to happen. With every muscle in his body acting simultaneously, he ducked his face down as if to bow, reached up and grabbed the woman’s hands, and kicked her just above the kneecap. Trying to stay on her feet, the strength in her arms wavered enough for Alex to force the gun into her stomach and then yank it from her grip. Taking a step back, he aimed the gun at her and smiled as the teacher began to clap.
He was in a Krav Maga class, having signed up for the earliest course from independent teachers and instructors in Portland. In actuality, he was signed up for many self-defense courses throughout the day, all with different teachers and classes. There was one window to the studio and it was open, fighting the radiating heat of all the students. One wall of the room was lined solely with mirrors and the floor was covered with protective mats. Alex was not the only student here, countless people of all ages had come to learn self-defense moves in order to protect themselves in the growing chaos gripping the state.
The gun he was holding was of course fake, as well as the other guns his fellow students were using for practice. As per the teacher’s instructions, he moved over to the woman he was partnered with and held up the gun to her face, as if in the process of mugging her. As he had done, she ducked down out of the line of fire, pushed the gun upwards, and kicked Alex in the thigh. The hard impact to the already bruised muscle nearly made him gag, so the woman had no trouble in prying the weapon from his grip.
The woman had a tight body with black hair tied back into a ponytail. She reminded him of the woman he had killed, and it was this mental torture that was driving him to continue throughout the day.

Keeping his head low, Alex blocked the oncoming swing with his arm, making sure that both his armpit and elbow were bent at 90º angles and his partner’s punch was being blocked with the lower portion of his forearm, in order to preserve his leverage. Knowing that to pull back his arm for a counter-punch would take up too much time, he used his free hand to grab his partner’s collar and pull him downwards just enough for him to slam him in the stomach with his shin. His instructor had told him that if he were in a real fight, he would instead finish with a kick to the groin. He could certainly understand why all of his teachers avoided that impact site when practicing. Even though he and all the other men were wearing athletic cups, it would only take a few hits to bring them down and make it a very short class.

Alex reached out and grabbed his teacher’s wrist, watching intently for her reaction. With auburn hair cut short and sporting a pink workout bra, she grabbed his hand and twisted his arm around, bending his wrist in the process. The moment both his wrist and elbow were bent to 90º, she pushed down with elegant force and a bolt of electricity shot through his nerves. Wincing in pain, he was given a second to shake the aches from his joints. Now on the offensive, she reached out and grabbed his wrist. Wanting to match her speed, he grasped her hand, twisted her arm around, and bent her wrist while pushing down until she let go.
‘I can use this…’ He thought to himself.

Three classes were done, and he had three hours until his next lesson. Wanting to give his body a break, he ate lunch and then spent some time at the local gun range to practice his shooting. With a pair of earmuffs to cancel out the sound of gunfire and safety glasses shielding his eyes, he pumped round after round into the paper targets. He used a variety of different firearms; from revolvers, to semiautomatic pistols, to hunting rifles, to shotguns. Half of the time, he aimed for the head and heart, and for the other half, he focused on the limbs. He wanted to be prepared for any situation, whether he was facing a swarm of cannibalistic puppets like in the prison, or simply trying to subdue a crazed Host.

This continued on for a weak, with Alex pouring his life savings into his lessons. No matter how bruised or beaten he became, he attended every possible class and worked his body to the limit. He needed to master these tools of information as soon as he could. He didn’t know what it was, but he could sense something on the horizon, something bad. If he was going to survive, he needed to be ready.

Having finished his last class of the day, Alex drove over to the University of Southern Maine to pick up Christi. He had decided against signing up for spring classes, something that his parents didn’t understand at the time and didn’t agree with, but kept their mouths shut about. Anyway, at least now that he was once again spending his days in the city, he and Christi could go back to their usual “routine”.
“Hey, long day?” Christi asked with a smile as she climbed into his car and kissed him on the cheek.
“Eh, it’s been alright. My body is adapting to the stress, but damn, I hit the bed each night like I just worked an eighteen hour shift.” He sighed with a smile while pulling out of the campus parking lot. He then raised his eyebrows in surprise as she felt Christi’s hand move onto his thigh.
“What’s the occasion?” He chuckled, trying to keep his focus on the road.
“Oh come on, you should know how a woman’s mind works. You’ve always been neither buff, nor fat, nor scrawny. Always so normal. Well I can really see the muscle you’ve been putting on and I must say, I really want to see them in the bedroom.” She purred as she leaned down while unzipping his pants.
“Right now? Are you sure? I haven’t showered yet and I’m all sweaty.”
“What girl wouldn’t want to jump her man when he’s literally dripping with testosterone?” She purred.
Alex smiled and fought to keep from looking down. Maneuvering the Portland streets, he squirmed in his seat as Christi’s hand drew his manhood from his pants and stroked it into a throbbing tower of muscle. True, Alex had spent the whole day working his body to its limit, but that was one area that would never tire. Giggling, she held it up straight and ran her tongue up the shaft slowly, licking off the salt like it was a giant pretzel.
Coming to a stop at his fourth or fifth stoplight, Alex scanned the area to make sure nobody could see into his car. All the while, Christi moved back and forth across the shaft with her warm wet tongue, teasing him deliberately. Fruitlessly brushing back her long blond hair, she brought her tongue to the mauve head of his hammer. Running her tongue through the slit, she took pleasure in the sight and feeling of him jerking in his seat, even though he was driving in a crowded city where pedestrians had the right of way and could jaywalk for some fucking reason he would never understand. She continued toying with him, trying to push her tongue into the slit as far as she could without using her hands.
When Alex finally turned onto the highway out of the city, she began running her tongue around the head itself, licking it like she was trying to reach the core of a tootsie pop. Once she had licked the head clean, she took the whole mass in her warm mouth and thoroughly soaked it. She didn’t move her head, she simply lowered herself down onto it all the way and held herself with the head pressed against the very back of her throat. She tried to maintain that position as long as she could, but it was agitating her throat and one of his pubes was tickling her nose.
At last she pulled her head back, gasping for air with a thick wet sheen coating Alex’s prick. Once again brushing her hair out of the way, she returned to the grindstone and resumed sucking him off. Deciding to pay her back, Alex risked holding onto the wheel with his left hand and used his right hand to reach over and slip his fingers into Christi’s pants. Knowing what he was going for, she unbuttoned her slim-fit jeans and his fingers found her vertical lips. With his middle finger skimming the very interior, he used his index and ring finger to stroke the luscious plump lips.
With Alex knowing just how to direct his fingers, Christi writhed and squirmed in her seat, trying to find a way to lie on her back in the cramped space. Forcing herself to contend with the parking brake under her back and the gearshift jammed into her shoulder, she curled herself up in her seat so that her head rested on Alex’s lap while her feet were pressed against the ceiling. Damn, it’s a good thing they weren’t doing this in the city…
With her body now curled up like a shrimp and her ass basically sticking up in the air, Alex was able to finally dig deeper into her wetness with his fingers. As his probing became more aggressive, she sucked on his cock harder and harder, working up such a powerful vacuum that it was as if she were trying to draw out his semen like poison from a snakebite. When Alex leaned back in his chair to let her get a better angle, she saw a way to tease him further. Reaching down and around, she jammed her finger into his asshole and nearly made him swerve off the road.
“Damn it Christi, I’m doing 70 right now!” He cursed, jerking as she felt her finger wiggling in his sphincter like a bony eel.
Deciding to pay her back, he replaced his fingers in her slit with his thumb, and forced the wet digits into her own asshole, all three at once. As her finger wiggled in his ass, his fingers plunged back and forth into hers, and the harder she sucked his cock, the harder he worked his thumb in her cunt.
“Oh god Alex, I can’t stand it anymore! I need you to fuck me!” She begged.
“Ok, hold on a minute.”
Getting off at the next exit, Alex drove into the nearest large parking lot and looked for the most obscure and isolated spot. Parking at the very fringe of a Wal Mart lot, he set his seat back in recline while she washed off her finger outside with her water bottle and scrubbed it with some hand sanitizer from her purse. As soon as she was ready to go, her jeans and panties came off in the blink of an eye and she was in his lap, bouncing on his cock like she had just taken a hit of ecstasy.
Having spent all of his energy working out all day, Alex didn’t have the strength to do anything but lie there. Christi didn’t seem to mind, she was slamming her luscious ass down onto his lap without a care in the world, all while sticking her tongue down his throat. Every time her body fully lowered, her thighs would clap against his and the sound of wet flesh rubbing against wet flesh would ring out like gum being chewed.
The longer they fucked, the hotter and wetter Christi’s pussy became. As the minutes passed, her body turned into a furnace burning with eroticism while she drowned Alex’s cock in her juices. The windows of the car soon fogged up, and in time, Alex’s strength returned. Once he had a spark of energy, he grabbed Christi’s ass and began slamming her down on his lap with all of his strength, brutally fucking her while she moaned in bliss from the rapid and brutal penetrations into the deepest recesses of her body.
“Oh yes, just like that! Harder! Faster!” She begged as her body went limp on top of Alex. Taking over, he began bucking his hips and thrusting up into her with enough strength to almost toss her into the air, only for him to slam her back down as hard as he could. With each impact, her ass jiggled and shook, prompting Alex to resume fingering her tight asshole and using it almost as a handle.
“Oh god, I’m cumming!” Christi screamed.
As her body shook like a vibrator turned inside-out, Alex emptied his reserves into her without hesitation or control, using her womanhood as a blank canvas to wildly splash with his paint. With semen dripping out of her slit and running down her thigh, Christi rolled off him and back into the passenger seat.
“Goddamn, you’re an animal.” Alex panted as she sucked him off.
“I’ll take that as a compliment.” She replied once finished.
“Goddamn right it’s a compliment.”
“What are you doing?” She asked as he opened the door.
“I need to stretch my legs. I feel like my muscles are tied in knots.” He replied while stowing his deflated manhood back in his genes.
With how warm and stuffy the air in the car had become, the chill outside hit him like the paint can trap from Home Alone. He walked around for a minute, letting the cramps in his legs ease themselves out. That was the problem with car sex, he couldn’t move his legs when his muscles started to burn. Goddamn he was tired, he could barely keep his eyes open. Maybe it would be better for Christi to drive… After a quick but thorough stretch, he placed his hand on the handle of the driver-side door, only for his attention to immediately be taken.
A man was shuffling towards him from the edge of the parking lot, pale complexion with an unshaven face and a hood protecting him from the cold. From the moment Alex laid eyes on him, his blood became as frigid as the pavement beneath his feet. He could sense it, that malicious intent.
“Stay where you are.” Alex ordered, getting between the approaching man and the car.
Still slowly lurching forward like a zombie, the man cracked a grin of dementia and began to laugh.
“You can’t run from it. You can’t hide. The world will drown in blood and tears and be crushed under the weight of pure sin.” He cackled with his eyes darting from side to side within their sockets.
‘He’s definitely in the psychotic stage, no doubt about it. He’ll murder me and rape Christi without any hesitation.’ Alex thought to himself.
“Alex, what’s going on?” Christi asked, poking her head out of the car.
“Christi, stay in the car and lock the doors. Turn on the engine and shift out of park. If I tell you to, you drive away from here as fast as you can.” Alex instructed with a calm but commanding tone. Reaching into his pocket, the man drew a Black Stigmata nail.
“We’re all going to burn within the horrors of eternal death!” The man laughed, stepping towards Alex.
Reaching into his own pockets, Alex took out a pair of surgical gloves. He always made sure to carry a few pairs with him at all times. Even though he was no longer a viable host, he could still get trapped in a nightmare if he made contact with the nail. Widening his stance, Alex prepared himself for the confrontation. A minute ago, he had been barely able to stand, but now he felt like he had the strength to take down a squad of Spartans. In his mind, he was replaying every lesson on Krav Maga and other forms of martial arts that he had attended. All those hours spent getting pummeled had been leading to this very situation. Watching from the car, Christi stared at Alex intently. Even without being able to see his face or his eyes, she could sense a massive change overtaking him. He looked calm and focused, but also brimming with the will to win.
Laughing like a madman, the possessed Host lunged towards Alex with the nail in his hand, aimed for Alex’s face. Raising his hand, he deflected the attack while making sure that his joints were at right angles and the lower part of his forearm was bearing the pressure. Without missing a beat, he grabbed the host’s collar and pulled him down, then finished with a knee to the groin. Such an attack would have brought down any regular person, but just as Alex had seen in the prison, the host only staggered back with some slight decrease in his speed.
He came again with the same bloodlust, trying to deliver another stab but this time towards Alex’s gut. Instead of trying to grab the man’s wrist, Alex jerked his hips back while again deflecting the attack with his forearm. Now with leverage, Alex used the position of his hand to wrap it around the man’s wrist, then use his other hand to pull downwards on the back of the man’s neck and thereby completely twist his arm until it could no longer be used. Before the man could counter with his other arm, Alex slammed his knee into the man’s chest until he finally let go of the nail.
The man pulled free of Alex’s hold and lunged to retrieve the nail, but Alex stopped him with a solid strike to the nose with his palm, shattering the bridge and disoriented him without any harm to Alex’s knuckles. Before he could take a step back, Alex continued with a hard slap to the side of the head, sending a high-pressure burst of air straight into the ear canal and immediately rupturing the eardrum. Barely able to stand up, the man was about to crumble. Wanting to make sure he stayed down, Alex grabbed the man by the collar and pulled him straight into a hard swing against his elbow, succeeding in completely knocking him out.
Once the man fell to the ground, Alex sat on him to make sure he wouldn’t wake up and try anything. His heart beating wildly, he took out his cellphone and dialed the number for their office.
“This is Alex Stevens, intern in Section 8. My ID number is 6347H2I9Q2. I have just apprehended a Host and now have him and his nail in my custody. I request immediate pickup. I’m in the Wal Mart parking lot on Forrest Avenue.”
“We’re on our way. Please keep the host restrained and the nail kept in isolation until we arrive.” The receptionist replied.
“I will.”
After hanging up, he checked to make sure the man was still unconscious and looked over to the nail, seeing it right where he had left it on the ground.
“Hey Christi, can you get the canister out of the back seat of my car? Christi?” He looked back at the car and saw Christi staring at him through the driver’s window, her eyes as wide as dinner plates.
“Alex, get back in this car and fuck me! I am so horny right now!”

The sky was burning like a pool of lit gasoline while an acrid breeze blew across the landscape. The crumbling remains of a city lay strewn across the landscape like severed grass blades on a mowed lawn. All color and nutrients had been bleached from the soil, making it look like the surface of Mars. Bodies had been scattered in all directions like seeds, each one completely untouched by bacteria. Decay did not exist in this world, there wasn’t even enough life to support the recycling of death. These corpses would remain until the sun devoured the planet, forever etched with grins of demented sadism or shrieks of horrific agony.
Alex stood with his whole body trembling, staring at the towering structure before him. Reaching up into the vacuum of space and with a base as wide as a mountain, a spindly tree of black iron dominated the horizon. Its needle-like branches reached out to every spot where the barren landscape met the burning sky, and skewered on the tip of each pike was a human used for the creation of nails.
“What is this? What the fuck is this?! I’m supposed to be free of you!” He swore, feeling more terror at this very moment than at any other time in his life, even all the other times when the Black Stigmata had reared its ugly head. Just as he had heard it time and time again, a crashing sound like the pulverization of a billion skeletons rocked Alex’s ears, seemingly coming from the tree itself.
Alex bolted up in his bed, drenched in sweat. What the fuck had that been? How was it possible for the Black Stigmata to still give him nightmares!? Could it have been the nail from the parking lot? Did he make contact with it without knowing? Had his mind somehow been contaminated? What he didn’t know was that every single Host across the planet had just experienced the same vision. Cured, active, or subjugated, they had all just witnessed the same nightmare. Those who had been awake at the time simply passed out where they had been standing or sitting. In Siberia, at the host detention center, the inmates were screaming like wild apes, shouting curses and prayers to the Black Stigmata.
Having just gotten off his flight in Los Angeles, Nelson was approaching his next boarding terminal when he passed out. Once he regained consciousness, he found himself being examined by a medical crew in the terminal. Considering his appearance, they had probably assumed the worse.
“I’m fine, I’m fine.” He grunted, waving them off. Reaching into his coat pocket, he took out a cigarette and cracked a grin.
‘To think that something as pure as the World Tree could be corrupted by a single soul… We really are out of our league.’ He thought to himself just a split second before airport security pulled the cigarette out of his mouth.
“No smoking in the building. And it looks to me that smoking put you in your condition.” The short woman nagged.


The sun reached its highest point in this unusually warm March day, lighting up Portland and beginning the war against the snow that encrusted the hemisphere. After a freezing winter, people were looking for any reason to go outside and enjoy the warm rays like cats in windowsills.

Sitting between a morbidly obese man in what wouldn’t surprise him to be a diabetic coma and teenage girl on her ipad, Nelson stared at his watch intently, counting the seconds. The plane would be landing in Portland in a few hours.

With no classes on Thursday for Christi and Alex deciding to take a break from his self-defense lessons, the two young lovers were roaming the city with nowhere in particular to go but both having a strong desire to get as much sunlight as they could. They were happy, smiling, and glad to have such a beautiful day.

The woman sobbed as she carved the symbols into her neighbor’s flesh. The forty-three year old woman had her unwanted victim tied to her table, trying to scream through the stitches holding his lips together and the layer of duct tape covering his mouth. With a steak knife to cut away at the flesh and a butter knife heated with a candle to cauterize the wounds, she begged for forgiveness as she was forced to turn his body into a canvas for the Black Stigmata.

The sun was halfway to the horizon, but its warmth remained unflinching. Picking the sunniest spot, Alex and Christi were having lunch at a table out front of a popular deli. Christi was nibbling on a ham sandwich on white rye, while Alex was gorging himself on a platter of different animals stuffed between two huge slices of wheat bread. The stack of meat was so large that he felt like his jaw would dislocate every time he tried to bite into it.

Nelson could see the ground below the plane beginning to magnify. The flight had passed the halfway point and now the stuffy vessel was beginning its steady decline. Taking out his phone, he began texting the BSC.
“This is Nelson, fill up a cement truck and have it ready in the city.”

In her apartment building over Congress Street in the center of Portland, the woman continued to sob as she carved symbol after symbol into her neighbor’s flesh. With each completed mark, a slip of skin fell down to the floor like a red slug. She had known this man for years, but now the Black Stigmata was forcing her to torture him. Every scratch and cut with the steak knife was perfect, as if she were a puppet on strings. But while the Black Stigmata steadied her movements to ensure there were no flaws, the exertion and effort were all her own, made in order to avoid the psychological wrath of the nail. She was almost done, soon the incantations would be complete.

The sun was touching the horizon as softly as a balloon sinking to the floor days after its inflation. The warmth was gone and the people of Portland had gotten their fill. Now all that was left to do was finish the work they had procrastinated all day against and go home.

Nelson rushed through the Portland jetport, drawing looks of curiosity and shock from the people he passed by. When he wasn’t looking to the exit, he was looking at his watch. He was running out of time!

Alex and Christi strode out of the movie theater with uncomfortable expressions on their faces. With the warmth of the sun gone in the late afternoon, they had decided to see the new Indiana Jones movie that had just come out, the fifth of the series. (That’s right dear readers, this is still a horror story.) Suffice to say, they should have just quit while they were ahead. It was time for them to go home.

The sun had almost completely sunk below the horizon, with just the thinnest bar of light shining through the apartment window. The woman stood over her creation, trembling and unable to produce any more tears. She had just finished the last symbol and had slit her neighbor’s throat, destroying his Adam’s apple. She had seconds to act until he bled to death, and the Black Stigmata was screaming in her brain to add the last piece of the puzzle. Contemplating her fate in Hell, she raised the steak knife and butter knife she had used earlier and plunged them both into the man’s eyes. The knives disappeared into his head at the exact same moment the sun fully disappeared. The sound of the two blades sliding effortlessly through gelatin and flesh was the last sensation the woman experienced.
In a single instant, a two-dimensional shockwave erupted from the woman’s building like a ripple in a pond. Her apartment was reduced to dust simply through its proximity, but the damage didn’t end there; it couldn’t. Like a samurai’s blade, the shockwave sheered through every building three stories high or above. It spread out across Portland without anything stopping it or holding back, and not a single structure in its path survived without being bifurcated like road-kill. On the ground around her building, every car in the street junction was sent skyward as their gas tanks spontaneously combusted.
Having been driving down Congress Street, Alex crashed into a parked car and dived to protect Christi as the top floor of the nearby building poured down into the street like an avalanche. Throughout the city, buildings were falling apart like houses of cards and filling the street with rubble. At the very epicenter, just down the road, a bright red light was shining within a cloud of dust with the newest incubator of the Black Stigmata hovering in its center. In the sky above, storm clouds as dark as onyx were stirring and expanding, slowly consuming the heavens in a black maelstrom.
“Christi, are you hurt?” Alex asked, coughing through the dust.
“No, I’m fine. Thank you for saving me.” She replied as he looked around. His car was covered in bricks and cinderblocks, but they certainly weren’t buried.
“Come on, let’s get out of here.” He said, pushing open his door and helping her outside. People stood like statues on the road and sidewalk, staring out across the open space of the converging streets. Their eyes were fixated on the crimson light, hypnotized by it.
“What’s going on?” Christi asked, looking around fearfully.
Alex was just about to respond when he felt a drop land on his nose. Wiping it away, he stared at the smear of blood on his fingers.
“Oh my god.” He gasped as more and more drops began to fall, each one a liquid ruby made of human DNA.
“Blood… It’s blood…” Christi murmured, staring up into the sky as drops of red pelted her face.
The rate of the downpour increased by the second, with a thunderous downpour soon washing Portland in liquid horrors. Soaked in gore, the citizens began screaming, but it wasn’t in fear or disgust. All those who had stared at the red light broke out into savage violence, having been twisted by the crimson aura. Screaming without end, men and woman began beating, stabbing, and even shooting each other like it was the end of the world. But in the back of his mind, Alex had a feeling it was.
“Christ, get in the car and lay down on the floor. Keep the doors locked and don’t open them for anyone!” Alex ordered.
“I’m not going anywhere without you!” She argued. Alex took one glimpse into her eyes and decided against trying to change her mind.
“Very well, but stay close and don’t look into the light.”
With their hands locked tightly together, Alex and Christi ran through the street towards the source of the madness. With every stop, hundreds of drops of blood showered upon them, with Christi having to stop more than once to throw up. After everything he had been through, a mouthful of blood didn’t bother Alex in the slightest. But they had to be careful, for the chaos that had been born around the red light was spreading like a wildfire. Those initially infected swarmed outwards in all directions, destroying everything in their path and killing everyone they found. Those who survived the onslaught or simply hid as the mindless lunatics rioted were not immune. By simply being within the general area of those infected, the citizens of Portland became contaminated by the Black Stigmata like a zombie virus spreading telepathically.
Reaching Ground Zero, Alex stood in awe at the flameless bonfire before him. The crimson light shining from the dead Homunculus wasn’t just glowing like the radiance light bulb, there was an actual atmosphere of bloody plasma around the twisted carcass. A thick membrane of condensed light swirled around the corpse, forming an undulating prism as large as the building it had replaced. Christi did as Alex told her and kept her back turned to the light, but Alex could not take his eyes off it. He would not allow the Black Stigmata to send him into the psychotic stage, but it was certainly trying. The inhuman dementia was weighing on his consciousness like a bloated corpse, pushing his mind and his immunity to their limits. He wanted to join the mindless creatures flooding the city, he wanted to take part in vandalism, arson, rape, and murder. But as long as he was able to control himself and make the choice for himself, he would never fall to that depth ever again.
“What the hell is going on?” Alex cursed. He didn’t know what he should do or what he even could do. Who was he supposed to call? Could the BSC even handle a situation like this?
The roaring of a diesel engine broke him free from the Black Stigmata’s spell. Looking south, he saw a cement truck thundering down the street towards him, knocking aside burning cars and running over rubble without hesitation. Reaching the wide-open heart of the city, the truck finally came to a stop, and out of the cab appeared Professor Nelson. But his appearance was strange, his head and hands were completely wrapped in bandages. From the looks of it, his whole body was bandaged beneath his clothes.
“Professor, care to explain what the fuck is going on?!”
“Quite simply, it is the end of the world.” He replied calmly, leaving the cement truck to continue spinning its mixer while he walked over with a cigarette between his lips.
“What do you mean?” Christi asked.
“I know it was confidential, but Alex, I hope you broke the rules and told your girlfriend about the World Tree, because I do NOT have the patience to retell the story. Don’t get me wrong, we have plenty of time, but I hate repeating myself.”
“Yeah, he told me.” She muttered.
“Well then I can skip right ahead. Right now, the World Tree is in the process of recreating itself. When Adam ate the fruit of the World Tree, he forever corrupted it with the darkness in his soul. His malicious will contaminated all the knowledge of the tree and caused it to essentially self-destruct, leaving behind only a single part of it. As you know, that part was the original Black Stigmata nail, which transformed from the core of the fruit Adam ate.
For 65 million years, the World Tree has been trying to reclaim its former strength, feeding on the misery of the world and the souls of people used to create new nails. Every time a nail is created, the Black Stigmata’s power grows. Quite simply, it has now amassed enough energy and created enough nails to begin reconstructing itself. Think of that poor soul up there as like the trillionth customer of a store. In this case, a trillion could actually be an understatement.
When the World Tree originally stood, its root system engrossed the entire planet, from the surface to the core. Those roots may be gone but the cavities remain, and the World Tree is going to use this resurrection to access those cavities and give birth to itself. Think of it as like Jesus Christ using his own corpse as a catalyst to trigger his revival. Once that is done, it will recreate the world in its own image. Originally, the World Tree was the avatar of life for this planet, so it reached out to turn planet earth into an Eden. Now that it has been corrupted into an omen of horror, it will turn this planet into a lifeless husk of bleak destruction.
This is the origin of the phrase “achieve death” and why it was always listed with the steps to create new nails. The Black Stigmata was giving us orders to create new nails and then telling us what would happen afterwards. Achieving death means the extinction of all life on earth.”
“Did you learn this from the cave?” Asked Alex.
“Nah, never believe predictions painted on a cave wall. We figured it out by completely decoding the language of the Black Stigmata. Along with equations for the creation of new nails, this prophecy is written into the bodies of every human incubator. Now watch, the show is about to begin…”

In Antarctica and its northern twin, the polar ice caps erupted like Mt. Vesuvius, hurling millions of tons of ice into the air while whiplashing strands of black lightning sprayed forth from the ancient cavities of the World Tree like geysers of oil. Like the storm over Portland, swirling black clouds spread out from the North and South Pole, powered by the ominous cracks of light shooting endlessly from the depths of the planet.
In repurposed mines and toxic waste depositories, vaults and nuclear flasks were ripped open and their cargo set loose. Guarded mountains exploded into mushroom clouds as storms of cursed nails and Homunculi flew through the air like possessed comets. Around the globe, Black Stigmata nails over sixty million years in age were being pulled up from their hiding places, while the quarantined Homunculi were set loose from the ancient pits they had been locked away in by early humans. Bodies that had been butchered and unsuccessfully cremated to try and dispel their evil flew across the sky in pieces, reforming and joining together into the original carcasses. Not a single Homunculus had aged a day, they had all been perfectly preserved by the malicious will of the Black Stigmata forever imprinted into their bodies.
High in the atmosphere above the city of Portland, the nails collided with each other and began to fuse into a solid mass while pushing away the bloody storm that had heralded it. Even after 65 million years, there were not enough nails to fully recreate the World Tree, but there didn’t need to be. As more and more nails joined the morphing metal conglomerate, raw iron was materializing out of the thin air and allowing the mass to grow. It was as if the nails were made of cells, all multiplying to increase their numbers. As the tree began to reach its full size, the Homunculi were skewered onto the tips of its branches, decorating it like a Christmas pine without a single branch or corpse left out.
At last, the transformation stopped, with the final touch being the absence of roots. The very bottom of the tree was instead a long four-sided spike, exactly like the original nails but with the very tip missing. The god-like tree hung over the planet likethe sword of Damocles but on a cosmic scale. There was only one piece left out: the corpse that had triggered it. The man whose body had been used to trigger the tree’s resurrection hovered still in his womb of red light, the nails in his eyes failing to move even a millimeter.
Slowly, the tree began to descend, and as its tip dropped below the cloud cover, the corpse twisted and jerked. With a disgusting chorus of squishing and crunching, the body was crushed in midair by a physical force. The limbs were crammed into the torso and the head was sucked in with the nails fully absorbed into the skull. With the force of a black hole, the body was compacted into a solid mass of indescribable density, while measuring the size of an apple. Upon its completion, the flesh of the apple was burned away, revealing it’s core: a nail of no material known to man, but one so dark that light could not escape it. The red light that had originally driven the people of Portland insane could no longer exist around it. It hovered directly in the path of the descending tree, about a foot off the ground.
“The nail, the iron tree, and the cavity from the old tree: these three forces form an unholy trinity that will beckon the end of the world. The cavity represents the World Tree’s body; specifically, it’s corpse. The iron tree represents its mind, and all the knowledge it’s gained since it began its war with mankind. The nail represents its soul, and the unparalleled evil contained within it. In truth, the evil of Adam was nothing compared to this monstrosity. But when he consumed the World Tree’s fruit, he committed the ultimate sin, and the tree transformed to become pure sin. Its reason for existing is simple: to be the horrific end to everything on this planet. It’s like a computer, programmed with an insidious will that knows only its own purpose.
Once that nail joins up with that tree, the only thing stopping it from resurrecting are the layers of earth between us and whatever root cavity lies deep beneath our feet. It will pierce the earth like a nail through an eyeball. You know, in BSC records, you’ll find that at least one host has had a vision of a tree similar to this before each and every tragic event since WWII. At first I thought it was a sign that the Black Stigmata was playing a role in these events, but I realized it was something much simpler: it predicted the horrors about to be set loose and became excited. Every nightmare hosts had about trees was simply the Black Stigmata being as giddy as a schoolgirl. Considering the frequency that this tree was envisioned, it’s clear that the Black Stigmata was simply excited about its own resurrection.
It’s fitting that it picks today to recreate itself. This is the Spring Equinox and spring is the time of rebirth,”
“Damn it Nelson, Isn’t there any way to stop this? Anything that can be done to save this world?” Alex demanded angrily, infuriated by how little the professor seemed to care about the situation.
“Anything you can do? Hell no. But there is something I can do…” He hummed as he walked over to the nail hovering over the ground. As he approached it, he pulled away the bandages covering his head and left Christi and Alex awestruck. His head had been shaved bare and every square inch of skin had been inscribed with the symbols of the Black Stigmata. But they were… out of order?
“What did you do to yourself?” Alex gasped. With his back to Alex, the professor answered.
“With the language of the Black Stigmata decoded, rewriting the equations for new nails was easy. I rearranged the symbols and had a Host cut them into me. The original equations were for replicating the Black Stigmata, but these new equations are for sealing it.”
“You don’t mean…”
“I do. I’ll seal the Black Stigmata within my body, the entire sentience. This is my penitence.” He then turned to Alex and Christi with a sad smile on his face.
“I never told you, did I? When I was a Host, I tried to defy the Black Stigmata’s order to create new nails. As punishment, it sent me into the psychotic stage and I ended up butchering my wife and son. I wanted to kill myself as soon I realized what I had done, but the Black Stigmata would not let me end my life until I fulfilled its desire. Every time I sleep, I’m haunted with either the faces of my family or that poor girl.
I know I always told you that what you did while under the nail’s control was not your fault. To be honest, I was saying that more to myself than I was to you. Whether or not I am guilty for my actions, this body of mine was still used to torture and kill my wife and son and an innocent child. I can never forgive myself for the crimes that this body performed. I guess that was the reason why I underwent the procedure without anesthesia.”
With the flat tip of the tree just a hundred feet above his head, Nelson picked up the nail hovering at his feet.
“It’s time for humanity to be freed of this “original sin” and be given a clean slate.” He hummed as he took off his glasses. Before Alex could stop him, the professor swung his arm and buried the nail in his right eye. Immediately he released a cry of agony and blood poured down his face, but he refused to stop and instead pushed it all the way in.
Upon the nail’s insertion, a deafening scream filled the air, forcing Alex and Christi to their knees with their hands over their ears. Throughout the city, every piece of glass was shattered by the ungodly whistle, while in the North and South Poles, the crackling ribbons of black lighting curled back on each other and twisted themselves in loops like snakes being assailed by driver ants. In a thunderous clap, the iron tree overhead exploded like the Death Star and a blinding curtain of light engulfed the entire city, freeing people of their madness. The light eventually faded and Alex looked up at the professor. He stood with five inches of unholy matter piercing his brain, yet he remained on his feet with haggard breathing.
“How ironic. Adam ate the fruit of the World Tree because he wanted immortality, but all he had to do was write sealing incantations on his body. It seems that by trapping my own soul in my body with the Black Stigmata, I’m incapable of dying. No matter how broken an battered my body will become, my soul and the Black Stigmata will never be able to break free of it.” He chuckled.
“So… is it over?” Alex dared to ask.
“No, not yet. I weakened the Black Stigmata but I can feel it regaining its strength and clawing at the inside of my head. I can maybe hold it back for a couple minutes before it completely takes over and my body becomes its newest puppet. That’s why I brought the cement truck, I’ll seal myself up in the mud inside, and once it dries, both it and my body will forever be this curse’s prison. I got the viscosity perfect so it will immediately start to harden as soon as the mixer is deactivated.
After that, the BSC has arranged with the American government to re-open the space program and hurl me out into the cosmic vacuum in the direction of the sun. Hopefully gravity will take affect and I can drag this unholy evil into the nuclear pyre and free mankind forever. Now come over here and help me.” He said with his hand over his face, sounding like he was suffering form a bad hangover.
His whole body shaking, Alex walked alongside the professor to the cement truck and watched as he climbed up onto the back of the cab.
“Turn that lever when I say so.” He instructed, pointing to a control panel. He then gave the order and Alex pulled the designated lever, stopping the mixer when the side hatch was rolled up to the top.
“Ok, be honest. You’ve been using me as a surrogate for your son, haven’t you?” Alex asked, deciding to be a smartass one more time. Crawling across the tank of cement, the professor opened up the hatch and sat down on the edge.
“What are you, high? If my son was even half as stupid and thickheaded as you, I would have disowned him.” Nelson scoffed with complete honesty. But then reached into his pocket and drew a cigarette and his lighter. Lighting the end, he took a long puff and looked up at the sky. When he looked back down at Alex, even with blood running down his face from the huge nail skewering his brain, he had the most authentic smile Alex had ever seen on him.
“But even though you spent half my classes with your head on your desk and a puddle of drool soaking your notebook, I’ll admit… you weren’t a half-bad student.” He chuckled. Nelson and Alex gave each other one final nod of farewell and then the professor dropped himself down into the thick concrete, letting it envelope him and become his tomb and the Black Stigmata’s prison.

One month later:
Alex and Christi were sitting in Alex’s living room, watching the news. It was a live broadcast of the newest shuttle launch for the temporarily-opened space program. As far as the public knew, it was just a quick mission to repair a number of satellites that had supposedly been damaged in the “meteor shower” that bombarded the North and South Poles. A stray rock was even being blamed for the damage to Portland, since nobody at Ground Zero could remember what really happened. What only Alex, Christi, and the BSC knew was that in the back of the shuttle, a car-sized block of concrete sat, waiting for eviction from planet earth.
“Do you think he’s aware of what’s going on?” Christi asked.
“I doubt it. He may be immortal, but oxygen and water deprivation has to have left him in a coma. I just hope his soul isn’t rattling around in his head and serving as the Black Stigmata’s punching bag.” Alex sighed.
They were both silent as the rocket thrusters ignited, sending out thick clouds of smoke moments before the metal craft launched itself into the sky.
“Goodbye.” Alex said under his breath.
“Huh?” Christi asked.
“Nothing.”
In the next room, he heard the front door open and close and his sister walked into view without the slightest limp.
“Alex, you got mail.” She said, handing him one of many envelopes and moving into the kitchen.
“Thanks.” He said, waiting for her to leave before opening.
“Who is it from?” Asked Christi.
“The BSC. Since the Black Stigmata is no longer a danger, I was told that the remainder of their budget would be divided up into severance payments for all employees. I didn’t do much work for them, but since I was Nelson’s sidekick, they told me I would be paid handsomely.” He said as he pulled out the check. As soon as his eyes fell onto the line of zeros, his jaw hung slack.
“Holy shit! You could pay for the rest of your college education and still come out well set!” Christi exclaimed, reading it over her shoulder.
“Yeah, there’s enough here even for… maybe a wedding?” He shrugged. Christi stared at him with wide eyes, and in a single powerful movement, she pounced on him with enough force to send him tumbling to the floor. Alex tried to laugh, but it was hard with Christi sticking her tongue down his throat. They kissed for several minutes before Christi finally stopped and held herself over him with a tender look on her beautiful face.
“I love you.” She murmured.
“I love you too.” He replied.
They resumed kissing, while up in the sky, Nelson’s shuttle became little more than a fading twinkle of light in the clear blue sky.
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