The view through the peephole in the door revealed a middle-aged man with a gaunt, wrinkled face wearing a look of barely-contained irritation. He was wearing a costume, ill-fitting and quite dirty, and it seemed to be something one of those crazy Civil War reenactors would wear. Not a soldier's uniform, mind you. But something of the 1800s for sure. He shifted his weight nervously from one foot to the other as he waited for me to answer the door. In one hand he clutched what looked to be a bundle of sticks tied with a narrow strip of cloth. His eyes stared straight ahead as he waited - only the annoyed smirk on his face betrayed his thoughts at all.
Part of me knew I should be scared. I should be on my cellphone with the sheriff's office right now. Or in my car headed as far away from here as I could go. But I wasn't. Instead I was sitting on the edge of my bed holding this strange wooden mask in my hands. Admiring the detail and fine workmanship. Wondering about it's purpose. Wondering why the blank serene features on the mask looked familiar somehow. Why the sight of it had a calming effect on my nerves rather than frightening me out of my wits.
Then it came to me. The man at the door. The one who had given me the mask.
The face on the mask looked very much like his. Not identical. But quite similar. As though it was made to depict a close relative like a father or brother of the man that had delivered it. Features that, disturbingly, also resembled my own in some ways.
Black Rock Road was where I ended up, though that was not where I intended to go. Quite by accident I found myself sitting in my car on the side of the road. As I picked up the bag on the front seat and reached for the door handle it occurred to me exactly where I was. The very spot where Josh had parked his car. Not a bad omen at all, right?
I arrived there without even thinking about it, as if my feet knew exactly where to take me. I donned the mask as soon as I saw the gathering of six black-robed figures holding bright torches and wearing masks similar to mine. They had gathered in a large clearing deep in the forest - a circular patch of ground devoid of grass, weeds, or anything other living thing. The bare ground looked strangely dark; it could have been a trick of the torchlight that made the exposed soil appear blackened and lifeless. They all turned to look at me as I approached, the light of the torches lending hellish reflections to the eyes behind the masks. The figures silently moved aside as I drew near; they seemed to be making a spot for me to stand among them.
I entered the middle and kneeled before the overseer. He held in his hand a knife, an old knife with that stick man symbol in it on the one side.
"Hello my Brothers and Sisters, Today is a glorious day for we have gained a new member. His name is David Dellbrook. In 1996, he was visited by our wood witch Elizabeth Kedward and let her mark upon him. Today we give him entrance into our circle. Brother Gregory, bring forth the sacrificial lamb."
Out of the darkness, a small child, no older than five perhaps, was brought forth and set before me. The knife was presented.
"This knife was given to our first overseer Leroy Kreegan by The Wood Witch herself. It has been used in many a sacrifice. Do you take held of your destiny and join us?"
Paralysis gripped me then, preventing both movement and speech. I could only stand there helplessly, my eyes locked with those of the overseer. They seemed like bottomless pools of blackness and reflected torchlight, hypnotic and malevolent. My benumbed mind could feel his will extending itself toward mine - dark thoughts attempting to overpower my own and force my frozen muscles into action. Strangely, a part of me wanted to do what he asked - to do the unspeakable. Take the offered blade and shed innocent blood here in this sacred place. Fulfill my destiny. Take my place as one of Kedward's children.
And yet I could not. The rest of me - that part of my mind the overseer could not touch - resisted. It wasn't fear that I felt. Something different. Stronger. The overseer sensed it, I think, for he ceased his efforts to control me then. He turned from me and spoke to the others in low whispers. I still could not speak or run away. But my eyes followed the overseer and his shiny knife. The child was gone. Vanished. Perhaps it was an illusion? Maybe I'm dreaming and all of this is some nightmare that I will wake from any moment now?
If that is the truth, I'd better wake up soon. Before my sanity leaves me for good.
"do you take this blade and fulfill your destiny?" He asked again, this time wrath in his voice, almost inhuman wrath of that was possible. His poiret was growing as the child grew fearful of its destiny........
From somewhere behind me rang out a half-dozen shots, followed by the smell of gunpowder. The unseen bullets passed close enough to me to move my clothing but none of them struck me. The robed figures on either side of me, however, dropped to the ground like marionettes whose stings had been cut. I saw the Overseer turn and flee into the woods, casting a burning stare in my direction before vanishing into the trees. Then two burly men in brown shirts pushed past me, nearly knocking me down. The law had arrived. Sheriff's deputies most likely. Somebody must have called 9-1-1 about the strange goings-on in the woods tonight.
I looked down at my feet and saw the ceremonial knife lying there, its blade gleaming in the pale moonlight. Without thinking I reached down and picked it up. The handle was warm. I could feel the symbol on it against my palm. I stood there looking at the weapon, turning it this way and that. The police officers had reached the trees now. I heard angry shouting and saw the bobbing of flashlights amongst the trees.
The Overseer had gotten away. So had the other cultists, except for the two that were dead beside me.
In the night all I could think on was the fact that he had gotten away. It scared me to think that I could be next. The police had watch over my house...
The next morning there was an envelope on my floor. All it read was "AUDITE" crudely scrawled on the front. Inside was a letter...
You ought to know that no matter who you trust with your safety, resistance is futile. Our ranks extend all over this town and further than your eyes can see. We see further than you...we will find you where you hide and will assimilate you to her. Either stand by our side or join the others...your choice...
For the next three days I was wide awake. Every time I closed my eyes I had hellish visions - of a sky filled with orange flames and a sea of boiling blood and a pair of dead empty eyes watching me from beyond it all. Eyes black as the bottomless pit. A cold and terrible intelligence was in those eyes. There was a terrible rage there. Pain. Hunger. And on the third night... the whispering began. A woman's voice. Very faint. Almost inaudible. But I knew who it was. I had heard those words before. As a child. Long ago.
Elly Kedward. The Blair Witch. SHE was here.
She was tired of waiting. Now she was coming for me.
I tried to block them out with vodka and other alcoholic goodies but the voices only grew worse...by night 6, i was a terrible mess, both frightened and incoherently drunk and running on zero sleep.
Then there was a knocking at my door. Looking through the peep hole, i saw that carved face and darkness behind the eyes. I didn't answer but the knocks grew to pounds as he slammed his fist against the door.
I moved to the door, intent on blocking the entry of the unknown intruder and locking it, but I sprang into action too late. I saw a tall figure in dark clothing, felt something hard strike me violently on the left temple, and then I pitched forward onto the floor bleeding and unconcious.
When I awoke, I was in the woods, I was tied it up and gagged as The Overseer (still very much alive) stood before me. An evil presence was thick in the air and before I realized anything....I was on Coffin Rock
I knew what was to happen now. I brought this on myself. I refused to give Elly the blood she demanded, and now it would be mine that would be offered. The Overseer was smiling now; his eyes were gleaming alternately with madness and terror. His soul was also on the line here. Should he fail in his duty a second time, the Blair Witch would no doubt claim his soul right along with mine. I struggled against the cruel ropes that held me, but I knew that it was hopeless. The end was coming. And then the true suffering would begin. Dying was just the beginning. Elly would take much more than just my life. She demands everything. And she will not be denied.
The world was spinning around me and fast. Suddenly a light erupted and all I could see was a ghostly shape of an older woman. As it grew closer, I realized it was something dead ready to pull me in...
The woman's voice. It was in my head. And in my ears. I could hear nothing else. And the white light blinded me to everything - the rock I was bound upon - the Overseer and his cruel knife - the creek and the nearby woods. The voice boomed like thunder, the words rolling over me in monsterous black waves. The language was unfamiliar; sharp, halting words delivered with ancient malice and hatred. The Blair Witch was speaking. To me. Directly. And I knew what she wanted. What she was demanding of me. I tried to answer, but my mouth had gone dry and I knew my small voice would not be heard over the cacophony of Elly's black speech. I could feel my sanity slipping away. Was my soul leaving my body? Is this what it feels like? Has my end finally come?
I felt my body almost obliterating from the powers of darkness. Soon I would be no more.
The noise stopped and when I opened my eyes I felt like i was something much greater. I felt others with me, as if I weren't alone. I was part of her now....I was part of something much greater than anything I could even comprehend.
I could finally laugh now....i could finally laugh...