Tag Archives: The Dark Creature Passes

The Dark Creature Passes, Part V

SPECIAL NOTE – This is horror. If you don’t like horror, turn back now. As you are turning back, notice the guy in the dark, voluminous cape. Walk toward that guy.

Part V: A Tortured Soul

By Karen R. Sanderson

I can’t breathe – the putrid smoke from the other souls is wafting over me. My bruised and bloodied neck aches where the chains hold me, pinned. I’m waiting for my turn – the old man with the wooden matches is coming my way. My arms are pinned to my sides; I am contained like a statue in this wooden box. It is too close, cloying, like a coffin. 

Moments ago I was freezing from the cold, my extremities tingling with frostbite, my body in fits of violent shivers. I turn my head and can see the old man at the container next to me. He’s crouched in front of the box, putting a match to the timbers and hay along its bottom. The air is getting hotter and more humid; I can hear human fluids popping and boiling. 

I cannot abide the screeching and wailing and screaming from the other souls! And the stench of burning flesh feels as if it is melting into my eyeballs, into my nostrils, settling its dust on my tongue. I start to choke on oily smoke, gagging silently as it fills my lungs. My throat tightens involuntarily. I can hear the crackling of wood and the snapping of bones.  

The old man is now standing in front of my box. I can see the top of his head and his wool-covered shoulders. The heat is so intense. The flames lick along and in between my toes; I can feel the fire making its way up my legs. And the incessant screaming! It is me – I am screaming. And the old man is grinning, orange flames reflected against his yellowed teeth. 


Filed under Horror, Personal Articles

The Dark Creature Passes, Part II

SPECIAL NOTE – This is horror. If you don’t like horror, turn back now. As you are turning back, notice the guy in the dark, voluminous cape. Walk toward that guy.

The Dark Creature Ruminates

By Karen R. Sanderson


I think of my 200-plus years, coming to an end. I’ve left Cruckshank at the barn to deal with my collection of souls. He has no idea this was my last trip. I’m retiring, perhaps to the South of France or Tuscany. Or Portland, Maine! Any place without the putrid smell of brimstone would serve me well. How I have come to detest that ghastly stink. 

Once tonight’s souls are dealt with, Cruckshank will join me in the darkened library. We will repose in front of a roiling, hearty fire for a warm brandy and the discourse of the evening’s events. How he loves to listen to the tales of my night’s wanderings and soul-gathering.

I was distressed to see how the old sot appeared this evening. From outside the muted glow of the barn light, I could see him huddled with a rotted blanket pulled around his shoulders. He’s gotten old; I think he must be nearly 80 now. Coming to me as a young man of 17, he was full of vigor and intensity. His face reflects each year with a crinkle and crease. His hands have become knotted like twisted branches, his posture now bowed. 

The approval on my retirement has been delivered, and tonight I need to tell ole Cruck he’s done as Despatcher of Souls. I am sad that I must tell him this, sad that we will no longer share these affable nights together. I will retire, and he will replace me among the Collectors. His mind and his body will be reborn. He will be young again, and young for as long as he wishes. He will have endless days of rest, and endless nights, as each collection and his memories will line up like rail carriages attached to a locomotive. 

My time as a Collector is done, as is my time as an immortal. I’m giving it up. I wonder if Cruck will be pleased at his promotion. Does he imagine immortality, the perks of superior health and vitality? Has he ever considered such an empyrean existence? 

I ruminate on the humans, the souls amassed at their end – they get to their final days and ask for more time, more time! I, who have had an overabundance of time, have grown fatigued by it. And eventually, I too will pass on, and my soul will be collected. 


Filed under Horror, Personal Articles

The Dark Creature Passes, Part I

SPECIAL NOTE – This is horror. If you don’t like horror, turn back now. As you are turning back, notice the guy in the dark, voluminous cape. Walk toward that guy. 

Cruckshank’s Greeting

by Karen R. Sanderson

My old bones ache and feel as if they are frozen into the depths of their marrow. Adjusting my rump on the bale of hay, I try to settle. I pull the moth-bitten horse blanket tighter around me, my shoulder blades sticking out like two tiny wings. The breeze picks up again and disturbs the gray hair around my ears, and I shiver. Adjusting my cap, I wait.

I observe the night sky, as I have done every evening for decades. The darkness is quite complete – there are no stars in this part of the world. No twinkly gases or planets. No vaporous clouds. There is no moon. 

Long ago, in another world, I gazed upon twinkling galaxies spread with glistening paints across a blue-black canopy, listening to hooting owls and the lonely yowls of night creatures. Then…the voice of my mother…calling me home.  

I hear a clattering of hooves and that scraping, dragging sound – the souls he pulls behind him. I stand up and stretch, joints snapping. I do not know the how of it – how much longer I can endure the physical strain of this employment. But it is certainly preferred over the alternative of death. 

I see the horse’s snorting breath first – glowing red and stinking. Then the rider and his mount appear in my field of vision. The Friesian horse is sleek ebony, and the leather he wears is all black, gleaming with a high gloss and squeaking from liberal saddle soap. A most beautiful animal in an occupation most distasteful. 

The rider’s smirking countenance comes into view – a productive night, I imagine. He throws his leg jauntily over the neck of the horse, his black boot glistening with spit and polish. He floats to the ground with his cape spread like bat wings. A blanketing wave of the velvety fabric, and he is gone. The chains that are attached to the catch of the day fall clattering to the dirt.

I drag the chained souls into an immense barn, large enough to produce an echo if there were such a thing as an echo in this vacuous blackness. The granite floor flaunts an occasional scorch mark from previous burnings. Coffin-shaped boxes are lined up, waiting for their cargo. 

I consign each of the souls to a private wood-slat container. And then the burning. Their pleading voices, the crying, the screeching. Oh, if I were able to get that jangle and clank out of my head! Their cries and begging and wheeling-dealing make no difference. They are extinguished with efficient dispatch. 


Filed under Horror, Special Events