Darkness Under The Stars

Black and white graveyard, illustration for short horror story

Aleister Stephens flicked off his flashlight and waited for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. The moon slowly shed its blanket of clouds and shivered in the cool, autumn night.

Aleister blinked and rubbed his eyes, the cemetery coming into focus. He crept slowly across the grounds, following the path worn into the grass by countless mourners. He stopped at the foot of an immense, granite crypt. The crypt had been erected a hundred years prior, despite the protest of local churches. It was covered in runes and sigils, the ancient signs of alchemy and dark magic. The man buried there had ordered the engravings, believing that they would protect his soul from the baneful devils that he had called up so often to serve him. Unfortunately for him, the mystical carvings did nothing to stop grave robbers.

Aleister slid the crowbar from under his coat and stepped up to the crypt’s stone door, sliding the crowbar between the door and the frame. A moment of struggle, and the antique lock gave way. Carefully, slowly, he crept down the stone steps, retching at the musky reek of death.

Standing in a beam of moonlight, he saw that the coffin was guarded by two leering, stone gargoyles. A suit of armor stood in the corner, rusting quietly.

Ignoring the gargoyles’ wicked gaze, Aleister attacked the coffin with his crowbar. At last, the seal gave way. Flinging back the lid, he was greeted by the ghastly, grinning skull of the late Willard DeForest. The skeleton was covered in the tattered ruminants of his favorite suit, the one he had been wearing when his heart finally gave out. He had been in the middle of some arcane ritual, his body fallen amid a circle of smoldering candles.

The skeleton’s withered hands grasped a thick book, an esoteric manual of the dark arts, allegedly bound in the skin of his own virgin daughter.

“The Grimoire! At last, its mine! Tonight, the ritual will fill me with the essence of magic, power like a god!” He grabbed the book and shoved it into one of the oversize pockets in his coat. Leaving the crowbar on the ground, he ran up the steps, not slowing until he was blocks from the cemetery.

Back at his apartment, Aleister placed the book on his oak dinner table, in the middle of all the special objects he had collected. He went over the list in his mind:

“The Medallion of the Wind, given to King Arthur by Merlin himself. The eye of a Cyclops, preserved in amber. The egg of a dinosaur, chipped from the rocky walls of a cave in the Rockies. The mummified hand of Simon Magus, the sorcerer enemy of the Apostles… And finally, the Grimoire. At last, I am ready.”

He perched cross-legged on a stool, placed the medallion around his neck and began the ritual.

“The eye of a Cyclops, for wisdom. The egg of a dragon, for the essence of life. The hand of a sorcerer, for power.” Taking a deep breath, he read the ancient Latin spell. “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet…”

The medallion grew warm, black smoke rising from its surface. The demon, trapped inside for centuries, was free at last. Aleister opened his mouth and swallowed the smoke. The unclean spirit entered him, empowering him with the essence of the objects on the table.

Aleister howled in pain and collapsed on the floor.

“At last!” he screamed. “The magicks are mine! I have the power of the forgotten gods!”

A knock at the door. Pulling himself up, he walked across the room, peering out the peephole. George Taylor, the landlord.

“Very well,” thought Aleister, “you shall be the first to experience my arcane powers.”

Aleister unfastened his security chain and opened the door. The stocky man shoved him aside and trudged into the room.

“You’re being too damn loud, you freak,” he snapped. “Keep down the noise or I’ll throw you on the street! And since I’m already up here, where’s the damn rent?”

“Don’t worry, Mr. Taylor. You’ll get what you deserve. But first, I have something to show you. I think you’ll find it quite… interesting.” Aleister reached into his pocket for the red box. He withdrew the objects inside, and thrust them at his foe. “And now,” he demanded, “pick a card, any card.”

Let's keep in touch.

Get my newsletter for the latest posts, book releases, and free stuff!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy at https://dnschmidt.com/privacy-policy for more info.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *