Catacombs of Paris. Photo in Public Domain
Due to the intense subject matter and adult themes. This story is recommended for ages 13 and up.
Roger was sitting in his rotting apartment, upon his rotting chair, as his body and mind rotted away. The cracked grey walls leaked putrid water, and bugs and the occasional rats snatched off food from his kitchen floor under the dim lights. The wiring of the lights were bad, causing them to flicker. But he didn’t care. Come what may, he didn’t care. All he was good for was spending his days at home, slowly wasting away.
It was this day during his despondency that she came, the lady in black. She didn’t bother to ring his doorbell, – it was broken anyway – nor did she take the time to knock on his door. She glided into Roger’s living room, a specter in a dress as dark as night. Her hair was as black as a raven’s feathers and her skin was ghostly white, accentuating her colorless pupils. The lady in black should have scared Roger, but she had the opposite effect. He found her calming, a morphine to sooth his nerves.
“Who are you?” Roger inquired of her in a voice of reverence.
“Who I am does not matter, except that I am your rescuer,” the lady in black comforted him. “Come with me,” she reached out a hand, invitingly. “And we’ll leave behind this world of pain, this prison of sorrow, and you can rest in sweet bliss.”
Roger took her hand and she whisked him away out of the house, allowing him to pass through the door as though he were a gust of wind. He flew with her through the old city, the rain pouring down like tears from the dead above. He swooshed with her past old puddles and through darkened alleyways. They glided through the city like shadows, until they came to an old dilapidated building that lay wedged in an alley between two taller buildings. A large wooden door on old rusty hinges creaked from the wind and the rain.
“Come with me,” the lady in black embraced Roger.
“What’s down there?” Roger asked.
The lady in black swirled gently around him. “Peace, serenity, no more pain. Down there we will live together, always in a tender embrace.”
Her words were sweet, like honey flowing into Roger’s ears. Her hands and fingers, which were now brushing and stroking against his chest, were light like feathers brushing away the worries of his heart. Her lips were red like wine and passion against her white skin. She was strikingly beautiful.
“Follow me and behind this closed door we will make love,” she spoke the words seductively.
Roger desired to follow her, but in his heart he faltered once again. Behind that door lay a vast mystery, one impenetrable and unfathomable. The lock wasn’t on the door itself, but in Roger’s mind, and the only way that he could remove that lock to find the mysteries that awaited within the building was to turn his own key, thus casting off the shackles of fear.
“It may look scary, but I promise you that it’s not,” the lady in black reassured him. “Trust me. Inside I will give myself wholly to you. We shall become as one.” When Roger continued to stall, the lady in black reached out her hand to him. “Do you trust me?”
“Yes,” said Roger, after much hesitation. “I trust you.”
This time they didn’t float through the door, but the door swung open, and Roger followed her down a stairway of gold and silver, with silk banners of purple and pink, and paintings of cupids and Aphrodites. Roger found himself at ease even before he reached the bottom of the stairs. When he did reach the bottom, an even greater surprise awaited him.
What could have been either a ballroom or a spacious bedroom spread out like a sea of pleasure before him. A marble fountain was in the middle, with marble sea nymphs lying around it, their eyes closed and mouths open in a state of ecstasy. Upon the top of the fountain stood Venus, pouring out water from a vase. Huge pillars, likewise carved from marble and tinged a pale pink, held up the ceiling. A huge mural covered the ceiling, one showing the heavens and the gods and goddesses living in merriment, free of pain and sorrow. Near the back of the room were flower beds and trees, miraculously forming a garden underground, without any visible sunlight. The only light that shone was from a large crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling. Beds, red in color with gold sheets, lined the sidewalls under little alcoves. Aside from the garden, this was the most unique feature of the room’s surroundings. There had to be hundreds of beds spread across both walls within alcoves.
“Come,” said the lady in black, never having let go of Roger’s hand. “I will take away your pain.”
Roger was lead over to one of the lower alcoves where a bed was waiting for the both of them.
“Lie down,” said the lady in black.
He did so. And she slipped off her dress. He fell asleep in her arms.
Frigid and dead air hung stale in an almost consuming darkness when Roger awoke upon the bed. Except he didn’t awaken on the bed, at least not the same bed he had crawled into with the lady in black. The bed was hard and it was made of stone. The only light that was now given were by the flicker of small candles. Panicked over this change of surroundings, Roger looked over to ask the lady in black what was going on. Instead he saw the grey face of a skull smiling deviously at him.
Roger screamed but the earth around him swallowed his voice up. He nearly tripped while getting out of the alcove. Though he could hardly see, he could see enough to know that all the alcoves contained stone beds where skeletons slept. He struggled in the darkness, trying to let the little bit of the light from the candles guide him. But he kept tripping. It dawned on him that he’d have to take one of the candles out of the holders on the wall to use. Ignoring the hot wax, he grabbed one of the candles and crouched on the ground to get a look on the ground to what was tripping him. What he saw were numerous pelvic bones, rib cages, arm and leg joints, and skulls frozen in hideous grins. There was an ocean of bones, forming frozen waves of the dead.
Terrified, Roger dropped his candle, the cold bones extinguishing the light. He had to get out. On his hands and knees he struggled up one of the larger hills of bones. When he was over it, he could see four other candles within metal candle holders forming a square around the fountain. But it wasn’t the same fountain as before, with the charming mermaids and the Venus. The fountain was even devoid of water. Instead it was full of skulls. Upon the pedestal where Venus once stood, stood the imposing form of Death, the Grim Reaper, holding aloft in both bony hands high above his head, his scepter, triumphant over the souls he had harvested. Even more horrifying was the stone cold look the Grim Reaper was giving Roger. It was a look that said that Roger’s soul would be cut down under the scythe.
Roger ran, not caring if he tripped. He had to escape from this prison. He slid down the pile off bones, only to nearly bump into the lady in black.
“Why is it you run?” she asked softly.
“I have to get out of here,” Roger pleaded. “Please let me go.”
“Did I not promise your mind comfort?” the lady in black looked at him. “Did I not promise you an escape from the world of turmoil?”
Before Roger could answer, he found her lips locked onto his, and try as he might, he couldn’t release them. Suddenly, something warm was wiggling in his mouth, and it wasn’t the lady in black’s tongue. Roger finally released himself, or rather she released him, and he found himself coughing up maggots and worms. Another cough, stronger than the previous ones, released a swarm of flies from his mouth.
“Don’t you love me?” asked the lady in black, brushing her pale white hand against his cheek.
“No! I don’t love you! I want to be free of you!”
Roger awoke back in his apartment. There were no bones. No tombs. No Grim Reaper statue looking over him. No lady in black. Only a rotting apartment remained, as well as himself, rotting from the inside and the outside.
Slowly Roger made his way to the blinds. Pulling them open he welcomed the sun. It had sense stopped raining. He absorbed the sunlight as much as he could, inhaling it into his body, into his heart, letting it warm him. He cried. He cried harder than he had ever cried before. Years of suppressed emotion flooded through him. It was like welcoming back an old friend.
Strengthened from the sunlight, with a newfound sense of resolve kindled within him, he took out his cell phone. He dialed a number. “Hello, I need help,” he said.
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