Three Excerpts From “Ghostly Quintet”

Ghostly Quintet

Three excerpts from “The Culling of the Damned” in “Ghostly Quintet: Five Tales of Ghosts, Apparitions, and the Beyond” which can be found here and here.


He set off down the left hand corridor. He only had to go fifty feet or so and he encountered a door on the left side. The smell was coming through the crack underneath it. There was no lock, but he had a hard time opening the door. The wood seemed to be bloated with moisture, and it pressed hard against the jamb on the sides. Pulling outward, he used as much force as he dared at first, and then all the force available to him.

The door gave with a dull crunch, and he saw that it wasn’t just the moisture which had caused it to stick. It had been barred shut from inside. Ahead of him was another stairway.

He wasn’t sure it would be a good idea to go down, the air was so foul. If there were poisonous gasses, like the kind he’d often heard about in the bottom of wells, he could be asphyxiated. He took a few steps down anyway, breathed carefully, and decided it was safe.

Still, inhaling what was obviously putrefying particulate matter couldn’t be good for him. He found a napkin in his pocket and tried to use it as a mask. It didn’t really work well for him, but it made him feel better. Sixty steps down was a landing, and there was an abrupt turn to the left.

In front of him was a very large room.

There was no decoration here. It was simply one large rectangle hollowed out of the ground. It was maybe fifty feet wide and a hundred feet long. He couldn’t tell how deep the it might be because the floor was covered wall to wall with bones and the stairs disappeared into them. An exit on the opposite side of the room was three quarters choked with them.

The bones belonged to animals mostly. He could see the rib cage of what looked like a horse with a horse’s skull nearby. There were also cow bones, chicken bones, bones from lamb. Some bones were still jointed together, but others had been tossed willy-nilly.

There were human bones too, and the scariest thing about some of them was that their ends betrayed the marks of having been boiled, their lengths signs of having been gnawed on.

He had had enough.

Stuffing the napkin back into his pocket, he turned and ran back up the stairs, not caring that he was breathing the toxic and diseased air in such big breaths. Whatever else there was down in these caves and passages, he no longer wanted to know. He would get out, call the police -or maybe even the FBI- and let them deal with it.


“The fact of the matter is, even if you do not believe the premise that demons dwell below, you do believe that I and my former followers were worshiping Satan don’t you?”


“Then it follows that whatever kind of creations are down below -supernatural or man-made- they will be in accord with what I have described. In either case, it will be something evil and dangerous. Do I make myself clear?”


“I am telling you what you will see if you choose to go down. You would do well to believe me. What is down there is as I have described. It exists. It is real.”

Hemlock decided he would try to find the books, but not alone. He would get together a posse of trusted men, and then do it. There was no reason to risk it by himself. He could die down there purely by accident and no one would ever know what became of him. But if he could get together a group of people-


“The books you will be destroying are of the blackest kind. They are scribed on parchment, with covers bound in human skin. Do not even look in them. They give you the names of the demons, tell you how to call them up, and tell you how to cast them into others. Most you will be unable to read. They are written in many different languages, most of them archaic. Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, and Latin. But there are also Egyptian texts written on papyrus, others in Old English and Middle English. There are scrolls and bound bits of work from other cultures too. The people who have collected that information have done so over a period of centuries. They have found data on every demon from every known religion and every known culture possible, past and present. They have found every known rite for calling them, every known spell for casting them, every known spell for using demonic power. If the library I have hidden gets to someone who already holds power, evil will rule unfettered. Get rid of those books, and you may set back the hour of the apocalypse. You will also erase forever, knowledge it is best for man not to have.”


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