#OnePostADayTheMonthAfterMay Day 7 – The Calling: A Short Story

I was cleaning out some of the clutter on my hard drive when I stumbled across a short story I wrote a few years ago. It’s only tangentially related to roleplaying games at best, being a sort of supernatural horror story set in modern times, but I like it a lot and wanted to share it here. (NOTE: I had trouble with the formatting for some reason, so the paragraph and line spacing may be a little wonky in a few places.)

The Calling

Ellen was excited. She hurried through the door of her new house and up to her bedroom. There was only about an hour or two of daylight left, and she wanted to get her new rosebush into the ground before it got dark. It wasn’t good for the roots to
be trussed up any longer than necessary. Ellen shed her work clothes and donned some blue jeans and an old t-shirt.

Ellen was lucky to have found such a great house at such an affordable price, even if it did need a lot of work. The old lady who had lived here before her had been taken to a home or a hospital or something. According to the realtor, dementia had robbed her of her wits. Ellen was sad that the lady didn’t have any family to leave such a beautiful house to, but she would never have been able to afford the place if it hadn’t been a foreclosure property.

Ellen decided not to think about such things; she had too much other stuff to worry about. The movers should be arriving with the rest of her furniture tomorrow. She needed to call about the cable as well. There was a lot of stuff to do – a lot of stuff. She planned to paint several rooms, the master bedroom needed new carpet; the list seemed to go on and on.

“At least I can get my roses planted today,” Ellen said to herself. She had the perfect spot picked out, too. In the back yard, just beside the old gazebo – that also needed some restoration work done to it – was the perfect spot. The place had practically called out to her the moment she saw it. There, her roses would be able to catch the first rays of sunlight every morning.
With all the care of a mother protecting an infant, Ellen pulled the rosebush from
the backseat of her car and cradled it in her arms. She place the bush in the yard near where she intended to plant it and hurried back to the car to get the gardening spade she had also purchased at the nursery. A slight breeze began to blow as Ellen knelt to dig. This heightened her sense of urgency – she didn’t want to get caught out in the rain. Ellen began to dig in the soft earth, thinking about the rest of her plans for the garden. She would plant azaleas around the perimeter of the gazebo, and maybe some trumpet vines to climb the trellis work at the back of the gazebo. Across from the rosebush, there was a perfect spot for a blood bath.

What? It was the perfect spot for a bird bath. Really, sometimes Ellen didn’t know where her mind went while she was gardening. The wind picked up a little more, and Ellen redoubled her efforts. Rain was coming, and the deep reds and oranges of dusk had begun to play across the horizon. Ellen already had a decent sized pile of dirt beside her, but the hole needed to be wider to fully accommodate the roots of the bush. Deeper too, still not deep enough, Ellen thought as she dug. There was a kind of rhythm to her digging now, and Ellen lost herself in the sound of the spade digging and the earth falling on the pile.

Schick-thud. Schick-thud.

Ellen continued to dig as the reds and oranges of the sky faded to violet. Deeper, she thought. A few drops of rain fell on the small of her back as she leaned into the hole.

Schick-thud, Schick-thud – Ellen repeated the sounds in her mind like a mantra, and soon they began to sound more like words. Sh’ok Th’du. Sh’ok Th’du. The rain drops were getting larger, and were starting to soak their way through Ellen’s shirt, but she hardly noticed as she continued to dig. Wind whistled through the boards of the old gazebo. Deeper, Ellen thought, as she began to use her left hand to dig at the soil while her right hand continued to work the spade.
“Sh’ok Th’du, Sh’ok Th’du,” Ellen chanted as she dug. The hole was past her elbows, but she knew she needed to keep digging. The sound of the wind and her digging filled her head. A puddle had started to form at the bottom of the hole she had made. The soft top soil had given way to clay, but this hardly slowed Ellen’s fevered pace.

“Sh’ok Th’du, Sh’ok Th’du toam razza,” Ellen shouted, though she could barely
hear herself over the sound of the wind. She was soaked, and covered in mud. The fingers of her left hand were bleeding as she clawed at the clay.

Deeper, deeper.
Ellen had to lay down at the lip of the hole she had dug to continue her digging. She kicked the rose bush out of her way so she would have more room to work. The wind howled madly, carrying on it a thousand voices that gibbered and moaned. Most of it sounded like nonsense, but underneath the madness was one steady refrain.
“Sh’ok Th’du toam razza! Sh’ok Th’du toam razza,” Ellen screamed with the wind, as her spade struck something solid. Lightning flashed across the sky, and for a moment Ellen could clearly see the dull iron box that she had unearthed. Even after the sky faded, the archaic runes etched onto the box seemed to glow with an inner light. The box was the size of a large dictionary, and a heavy lock hung from a latch on its side.
Though it looked heavy, Ellen pulled the box from the hole without difficulty. Her long blond hair lay in streaks across her muddy face and her damp shirt hung from her body as she stood, holding the box high above her.

“SH’OK TH’DU TOAM RAZZA!”

Lightning arced from the churning sky, striking the lock and rending it asunder. The force of the impact drove Ellen back to her knees as electricity coursed through her.

“SH’OK TH’DU TOAM RAZZA!”

Lightning split the sky again as Ellen opened the box to reveal the hellish idol that had been bound within it. Ellen grabbed the demonic statue and clutched the smooth obsidian to her bosom.

“SH’OK TH’DU TOAM RAZZA!”

Ellen raised her left arm skyward and lightning leapt to greet her waiting fingers. Shapes began to coalesce in the maelstrom, and a nightmare parade of unthinkable shadow-things rushed from the swirling vortex towards Ellen.

“SH’OK TH’DU TOAM RAZZA!”

The statue burned as Ellen held it to her chest. She closed her eyes and screamed in ecstasy as the blackness of the void filled her. Lightning struck again, and Ellen was hurled backward, crashing through the latticework of her gazebo as consciousness left her.

It was daylight when Ellen opened her eyes. She was sprawled among the splintered timbers that made up what was left of her gazebo. She placed her hand over her abdomen –with all the care of a mother protecting an infant – as she extracted herself from the tangled debris. There was no trace of either the statue or the box, but Ellen knew that didn’t matter. She smiled as she gave her tummy a loving pat.

There was a lot of stuff to do – a lot of stuff.

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