This is an excerpt from my short story "The Whispering Dark", a story of loss, madness, obsession and greed. I will be publishing the full story on here sometime within the coming weeks after a few more edits. Criticism welcome and encourage. If you interpret any of my themes as being prejudices of my own, I will take this as a compliment to my story telling skills. If you intend to distribute, please, at the very least, link back to my Blogger page. A heads up would also be nice, but not necessary. Hit the jump break to read the first part of "The Whispering Dark".
"There is a thin line between dedication and obsession." -Unknown There were twelve. At least, twelve that we know about. Their names forever locked in the dusty confines of a newspaper archive. Forever seared into my brain. Haunting me during my happiest waking moments, and in my darkest nightmares. I'm writing now so there is at least some record of what I found, of the eldritch horrors I have unearthed over the last six months. If you are reading this now it's unlikely you'll ever believe a word of this. You'll label me insane; disregard my words as the work of a madman. Am I insane? It's possible. I'm not even sure anymore. My only hope is that, some day, someone will read this and be able to exact the sort of justice that I cannot. That those twelve souls will be avenged. Nothing I say is a willing lie.Without truth, justice is empty.
The events started long before I ever moved to this area, a move based purely on frantic necessity. The earliest I can find dates back to seventeen years ago. A young man named Jacob Russell, 19 years old and a local, a student at the University. His relatives have long since left the area. I don't blame them. During the height of the summer of that year, poor Jacob was discovered under the pier by a group of students from his class. The police reports from the time, that I could procure, are poor at best. But having seen it for myself I can make a well educated guess. His body was found, naked, save for his underwear, his flesh a network of cuts of varying depth and severity. Arms, torso, neck and legs were more injury than skin. From what the coroner could determine, the cuts were self inflicted. The boy had starting carving into his own flesh in a most grotesque way, and did not stop until he had passed out. It had taken him hours, but persistence conquered. He bled to death. I say that Jacob's cuts were self-inflicted, but this is not wholly true. There were two cuts performed post-mortem. His face was clear apart from one cut to each cheek, his face torn open in a perpetual grim mockery of a smile. It was in this state that he was found. The investigation was short and half-hearted. His death was declared a suicide. There was no obvious enquiry into the mutilation to his face and the details were kept out of the papers. Whether the detectives were incompetent or simply uncaring is something that I fear we will never know for sure. The town returned to its usual drunken reverie. Eventually, people forgot. The world went quiet for three years. In that year it resurfaced again. A man and his… partner vanished in the same area. Daniel Hawkins and a male prostitute, Richard Bendinelli, were missing for three months in total. They were found side by side on the promenade. An almost mirror image of the scene from years before, skin flayed to shreds and their faces sliced in the same way. Only this time people took notice. The manner and circumstance of the deaths screamed foul play and the press erupted. Every outlet in the district carried it and it took on a life of its own. Rumour and superstition spread like wildfire among the younger, and especially more imaginative, population. Stories of a mysterious stranger stalking the streets and punishing those he found to be unworthy of life. As with anything these tales were completely unfounded, borrowing heavily from popular stories of the time, but nonetheless is gripped the residents of the area. And it didn't take long for their fears to be realised. Not six months later, death revisited in its grim fashion. Try as hard as I might I could not find a pattern, some were found a few months apart, others a few years, and all of different races, creeds, genders and sexualities. From my research I have found nine more since then. All disappearing in the same area of the town, all found in the same horrible way. The most recent barely a month ago, and now my time is swiftly running out. Seven months ago I secured for myself a position at the local coroner's office. Not as exciting as it sounds, a purely administrative role for meagre pay, but having recently lost that which is most precious to me I was more than a little bit desperate. I took up residence in a small apartment not far from the coast, a small journey away from the town centre and an area of mindless excess which I am ashamed to say I got caught up in during my attempts to purge the wretched past from my memory. The apartment was a small studio with the basic amenities needed to survive day to day; the cheapest I could possibly find but still barely within my budget. It was neither glamorous, nor was it particularly comfortable, but it served its purpose while I picked up the pieces and tried to find my direction in life. It was through living in this area that I was first exposed to the horrible situation. The man, Steve Millar, his body had been recovered a few weeks past. I recall hearing about it at the time and not quite believing it. I passed it off as another insane act by a world that had totally lost its will to survive. The murder had reopened the wound, and the stories once again spilled forth from the inebriated minds and mouths of the townspeople. From facts to fiction, over the course of a few weeks I had it explained to me. The more I heard, the more I disbelieved. I considered myself above the station of these people who could believe in such nonsense. And then I met her. I met her in a local bar on one of my frequent binges. Her name was Jenny Turner; she was a waitress at one of the many public houses. She was beautiful, in her own way. I'll never forget her as long as I live. We started a casual relationship, both of us looking for something neither could provide but clinging to the false hope that there was something in our empty, inebriated actions. We had been seeing each other for merely a few weeks before she vanished as well, only to resurface the following week; her body torn to shreds and her beautiful face marred by that gruesome smile that would come to be so familiar to me. Once again the rumour mill churned into life and the theories came by the dozen. Delving more deeply into alcohol and other substances I began to believe the tales that were spinning wildly around me. Though we had not known each other for long, a part of me felt a responsibility to do everything in my power to uncover what had truly happened. Using my connections at work, and through an acquaintance at the local constabulary's records department, I started to uncover the facts about what was going on. With each passing day more details would emerge, another name or place to add to an ever-growing list of names, dates, places and offences. Jacob Russell, Daniel Hawkins, Richard Bendinelli, Hayden O'Neill, Louise Hopley, Frank Curtis, Graham Brown, Vanessa Cox, Tina Newbury, Steve Millar and Jenny Turner. It seemed that, as my list grew, my sanity began to shrink accordingly. For a time I felt separate not only from those close to me, from myself also; floating between worlds, watching myself carry out my menial tasks during the day and at night descending into the insane world of darkness that had come to haunt the town. I came to feel like a shadow of myself, fruitlessly chasing the grim spectre of death before it could claim another.