Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Peony Lantern Part 2

The front entrance was warped and bulged at the black wrought iron hinges. The heavy oak door was not locked. It opened silently, which was wrong, thought the old man. A door so bent out of shape such as this one should creek and moan at the touch. It should fight not to be opened. No this door wanted me to come inside. He pushed the door opened wide and looked down the long narrow hallway ahead.
“ I will not be fearful, I will not be fearful, I will not be fearful”, he chanted to himself, but it began to sound like the babbling of a madman to his ears, so he stopped. Taking a large breath the old man said a silent prayer. He took off his shoes and stepped over the threshold. The house felt warm inside. Not unpleasantly so, but warmer by degrees then it was just outside the still open door. There was an odor here as well. A feminine smell, a perfume perhaps, mixed with something else that the old man could not name.
The hallway was before him and it seemed to him much longer in just the moonlight than he had remembered but he knew that it ran the length of the house, with entrances to all four rooms downstairs. At the end he should find a small staircase leading to two more rooms upstairs. But he should not need to go that far. The glow was coming from the first room. He felt his way with one hand along the wood paneled wall. He held the other hand out in front of him to ward off the unseen wall, or piece of furnture. He would not allow himself to think of what else that hand might brush against in the dark. Would it be that soft silken something that perfumed the house? He began to think of his wife when they were first married. In those days they could not bear to be separated from one another for even a few moments. When after making love she would lay on her stomach with her long hair flowing down her back like a river in the snow. She was never lovelier to him then.
The hallway suddenly turned sharply left and became very narrow. The old man did not remember a turn of any kind. He placed both hands along the walls and walked forward. “ Have I forgotten this… can it be that I am lost? Soon the old man had to turn sideways to continue forward, placing his bare feet side by side to take a shuffled step to move forward.
perhaps he should not go on he thought. The walls were feeling too warm to his touch and seemed to be getting warmer. Or was it the air was hotter. Or was it simply running out all together. The old man turned to leave feeling that he could take no more. His wife would forgive him, he would forgive himself. But it was then that he saw that there was no hallway behind him anymore. Only the same wood paneled wall that he felt on the other three. His mouth flashed with the taste of metal, and his legs felt like they might give out. He rested his forehead against the warm wall in front of him. The wall almost seemed to give under the pressure of his head. The old man then pressed his hands against the wall and they did indeed give in to the push of his fingers. He stood as far back as the cramped space would allow. These walls were no longer walls, but some kind of living skin that moved and breathed. That underlining odor that the old man could not at first name was now the very pungent smell of sweat and decay.
He panicked. Trapped between the walls of this thing. His mind raced. The blood rushed in his ears and he was certain that his heart would explode in his chest. Then what if he did not die but was instead trapped for an eternity within the walls of this house, just as the samurai must have been? Then the old man thought if he could just breathe. One full breath. And so the old man did. He followed that by another, then another and tried to calm himself just enough to think. He was a good and just man. Evil was chaos. If he was thoughtful and present of mind he could over come this thing. Breath.
“I have two choices', he thought quickly to himself. "I can wait here and be swallowed up whole, or I can go forward. The first may be cowardness or an act of defiance to stay and play a waiting game. It just may be that this demon wants to lead me down this path to aid it in some plot to more evil doings.” In the end the old man decided that he could not bear to wait in that small space, that it would be better to act and move forward in the hopes that he would have the opportunity to fight better ahead.
The old man resolved to keep moving forward. At one point he was forced to hunch his shoulders in and duck his head to make it through the ever-shrinking passage.
When the hallway then became almost too small he thought he might have to give up and let the house win after all, he saw in front of him for a moment, the glow of a lantern. He moved forward like a withered spider until he saw a glimpse of that light again. Finally he pushed his way forward through the impossibly narrow end of the room with such force that he fell onto the floor of the hallway as it had always been. The way the old man had remembered building it. Moonlight shone through the shoji screen windows all around him. Except for the room in front of him. That was the Samurai’s room. From it emitted an warm orange glow from a lantern of some kind. The old man picked himself up from the floor. He stood out side the door and listened.
Within the room he could hear the soft moans of a man. But it was obvious that these were not sounds of pain. They were followed by his gentle laughter and whispered talking. The old man waited. Soon the sounds of the mans love making became louder. And then he was silent. The old man saw the morning sun begin to light the shoji screen windows and that was when he made his move to enter the room.
Slowly the old man pulled back the screen door and looked into the room. His mouth hung open as he dropped to his knees.
There on his futon lay the once great samurai now half starved lying naked in the loving embrace of a moldering skeleton. It’s long black tangled hair wrapped around the warrior’s fingers and still attached in places to its putrefied skull. There in the corner patiently sat another skeleton wrapped in a simple peach colored kimono. Still holding a bamboo rod with a brightly painted peony lantern attached.

Coming Part 3 The End of The Peony Lantern


Ana said...

Necrophilia! I love it! This is so good! I love the fleshy walls and the transmorgrification of wall to flesh, flesh to bone. Brilliant! Eagerly awaiting the next installment! (Thank you for not making us wait too long!)

Chet Of The Undead said...


If I knew you were bringing Necrophillia I would've brought donuts to your blog...or...uhh...maybe a large...uhh...BUNDT CAKE...or something!


Beverly Hamilton Wenham said...

A dead bundt cake?

aishoka said...

uber creepy...

Rerun said...

I'm sorry Bev for not commenting on part one. I read both parts at the same time. Looks like you've been busy. I'm looking forward to ending and thanks for keeping me interested. I loved both parts.

Eva said...

Ooh!.... Now that is definitely a cross between Stephen King and Lovecraft... I LOVE it!

(sorry it took me so long to comment!)

Beverly Hamilton Wenham said...

I will always wait to hear from you, buddy!