At first glance the cavernous hall looks empty. But if you keep looking, you’ll see souls emanating from the stone walls, dancing with the sunbeams streaming down from holes in the cathedral-like roof.Ancient ghosts linger in the shadows silently weeping about their cruel deaths.
If you look closely at the rafters, you’ll see sleeping bats storing up their energy to hunt in the night. Their droppings foul the granite floor, creating a stench that wafts through the hall with every breeze that filters through the shattered front door and the gaping holes in the wall.If you have the time and the will, I will tell you a story about this accursed building.
Historians date this ruin back to the 13th century. But the building’s history is still a mystery. You probably noticed that this building is almost entirely overgrown with blackberry vines and dense foliage that disguises its outward profile. Local families have been passing down dark stories about the decrepit ruins for centuries. I’m going to share with you the most enduring tale among them.
DANCING WITH DEMONS
Once upon a time the building was the home of a pagan cult that practiced black magic. The priests, as they styled themselves, lived in the nearby villages and congregated there to perform dark rituals and human sacrifices. I suspect they were Druids, but I have no way to prove that despite the whispers we heard at the Inn.
The priests always gathered on full moons. There were exceptions, but I’ll get back to them later.On those nights people were tortured and killed during a mass celebration that lasted until the early morning hours. Screams of pain and horror mingled with raucous laughter and heathen drums throughout the little valley on those terrible nights.
What made this cult so special was its initiation ceremoniesfor new converts.The applicant had to dance with demons throughout the night. If they survived, they became members proudly describing the demons as their gods.Most of the time the supplicants didn’t make it through the test with the hell spawn and their bodies were rent into little pieces that the members quickly ate in a gruesome feast before the sun rose.
I hope I wasn’t boring you. You look tired. Was it the walk over here from the Inn? No. You’re sure you’re, okay?Did the well-trod trail here give you pause? I only say this because I see a glimmer of fear in your eyes.You seem uncomfortable.
For good reason.
To resume the story… the cult never died out. I’m brother Judas and it’s my pleasure to invite you to dance with demons this very night. We’ve had a hard time attracting converts in these modern times, so we had to adjust. Now we take whoever visits our valley to dance with the demons (who must be satisfied after all) and if they survive, we increase our ranks. If they don’t our secret lives on. By the way your tiredness isn’t from walking. Remember the beers we had at the Inn? I gave you something to relax. You have a big night ahead.
Somewhere between heaven and hell, demons live among us. You can’t tell they’re demons. They don’t wear signs proclaiming “I’m a demon,” or have horns on their heads for all to see.
You could be sitting next to one right now. In a theatre. On the subway. On a plane. You’d never guess by their appearance. You might even have a friend whose a demon. They play their cards close to the chest and do their best not to stand out in any setting. They may be in positions of power. Or Hollywood celebrities. They can be found in gangs, and in prisons.
Teddy Stackhouse Jr. was only 24-years old when he went to prison. He ran over a mother and daughter in a crosswalk while going 100 mph in a street race. It wasn’t his first speeding ticket. He had been driving on a suspended license when he snuffed out the lives of Lily and Julie Satarson. He also had numerous run-ins with the law (dating back to when he was 13 years-old), but always got bailed out by his wealthy parents. But the two deaths finally became the straw that broke the camel’s back. He was sentenced to 30 years in a state prison.
I think Teddy’s parents knew he was a demon. I also think they were relieved when he was sent to prison. When I came by to interview them for the local newspaper they both seemed unperturbed by the fact their only child was going to spend most of his adult life behind bars. They almost seemed jovial as they answered my questions. Before I left they gave me a recent photo of Teddy to add to the article. It was all a bit odd and my instincts told me there was a lot more to the story than a spoiled rich kid who really screwed up so badly even his permissive parents couldn’t save him. As I got into my car I wondered why Teddy’s story was clinging to my brain. I studied his photo. He was a handsome guy. Dark curly hair and big blue doe-like eyes with thick lashes that must have driven more than one female to lust for him. He had an aristocratic nose that narrowed into tiny nostrils. He was tall and slender with the hands of a pianist. No doubt about it. He was a handsome devil I conceded, and was probably going to end up a plaything among the brutes he was going to live with for the next 30 years.
Candace Willis sat in the rear of the courtroom. She had come to see Teddy Stackhouse Jr. after seeing his photo in the newspaper. She fell instantly in love with his eyes and hair. She watched his every move and when she didn’t think anyone was looking at her, she took photos with her cell phone. After the hearing was over she went to the park across the street from the courthouse and sat down on a bench. Soon she was posting Teddy on her TikTok account, her Twitter account, and her Facebook page. She had to share how handsome he was and made comments like, “He’s just too cute to lock up, and “They should give him another chance.” It didn’t take long until all three of her social media platforms were buzzing about Teddy. The buzz went on all day. And the next. It never stopped. Candance was amazed as she gained millions of new followers as the days turned to weeks. The fascination over Teddy’s good looks and story seemed endless.
It wasn’t long before hashtags like #FreeTeddy sprung up in the Twitterverse. People even starting fundraising so that Teddy could get another trial. Right-wing podcasters and cable stations called for Teddy to be set free. That he’d been unfairly treated by libtards in the court system.
I picked up Teddy’s story again about a year after he was sent up to the big house. My cousin Dennis was a guard at the prison where he lived. The first thing he told me was a shock. None of the prisoners messed with Teddy. I was sure he’d be fresh meat for the animals that awaited him. Not so. Even Dennis couldn’t explain why. Even more odd, the other prisoners feared him. The guards were stunned by all the letters Teddy got every day. All from women. From California to Florida. The stacks built up in his cell until there was no longer room for them and they were transferred to a secure locker in the complex.
Dennis arranged the interview. I was, after all, the hometown reporter who wrote about Teddy’s capture and court hearing. It didn’t take long. I only had three days to study my notes before we’d meet. In my research I came across Candace Willis’s Twitter account purely by accident. At least I thought that at the time. Discovering Teddy Stackhouse Jr. was a social media star was a revelation – a window – into the mysterious power he wielded over women. Looks are one thing, but after reading what women posted on Teddy’s accounts (to no one’s surprise his parents had arranged for him to use a computer one hour a day under the watchful eye of a guard) it was obvious he’d become a cult leader.
Women worshiped him. Pledged their lives to him. Yearned for his guidance. Offered their bodies if he should ever be set free. He was an online celebrity when I interviewed him.
We sat on plastic benches separated by a clear plastic table. He wasn’t handcuffed and looked relaxed. It was a tiny room surrounded by windows.
“I looked forward to hearing from you Jake the moment Dennis brought it up,” Teddy told me with a broad smile.
It slightly unnerved me the way his pale blue eyes studied me like a specimen to be dissected. I tried not to let it show.
“I’m doing a one-year follow up story on your case and was hoping you’d share how your life’s been and if you still have no regrets about killing Lily and Julie Satarson with your reckless driving.“
It was a leading question designed to throw him off balance with rudeness instead of fawning respect. I saw a brief twinkle in his eyes (Amusement? Anger?) as he yawned loudly, exaggerating the sound.
“Listen to me Jake. Why would I have any regrets killing them? They were my awakening. To be clear, the clown who use to live inside this body was cast out when I took over the car that night. You can call me a demon if you must. My name is Xerse and I came straight from hell to land this gig. I haven’t had this much fun in 2,000 years. There’s nothing quite like messing with human’s minds and their bodies.”
His response momentarily left me speechless with a sliver of drool on one side of my mouth. The guy was crazy. Why wasn’t he in a mental institution for the criminally insane? My brain was spinning as I sought a reply to his claim.
“Don’t get too excited Jake boy. You’ll burst an artery and havea brain bleed. The answer to you question is there’s been no reason to put me away in a nut house. I haven’t caused a stir here. As a matter of fact things have been pretty peaceful. And yes, I can read your mind.”
So, if you’re a demon why stay in prison?” I blurted out
“It’s all part of the masterplan. Don’t worry your bald little head about it. Today is your lucky day Jake. I think you have a sense of adventure that may be useful to me. My prison time is ending in six months after all my followers successfully sue to free me. Take my word. It’s a given. Are you okay? Your drooling from both sides of your mouth.“
I managed an idiotic smile and nodded that I was just fine.
“You, Jake my friend, are going to be my road manager. We’re going to tour the country together. Lot’s of curses and spells. Wild men and women. And lots of souls to harvest.”
In the chronicles of Narmer the first King to unite the Upper and Lower Nile, a strange thing happened one night when a brilliant light streaked across the desert sky…
the light, which was actually a meteorite, hit a site near a Hittite temple hundreds of miles away, glowing where it lay, night and day, with a mysterious inner fire that attracted followers by the day…
who listened to the priests gathered there to pray to the meteorite, creating rites and calling it a god for lost souls seeking their way to eternity, a powerful entity that soon inspired a new prosperous Hittite city…
The inevitable clash of nations happened within a century, as the dark gods of both civilizations clashed, like opposing meteorites created by ideologies that couldn’t survive future centuries.