The Soot Man :
“Come here and try this with us!”
You awake to your friends gathered around the coffee table in front of you. That’s right… You had a small party while your parents were out of town for the weekend. Well, if you could call it that. Only four people showed up, after all.
The couch you slept on has a bit of dribble from your drooling habits, but you manage to wipe the spit from the corner of your mouth with your sleeve as you sit up to see what all the yelling was about.
In the middle of the table is a brownish board covered in letters and words. It seems to be made out of wood, but closer examination reveals it’s a cheap plastic sheet. The words “Hello” and “Goodbye” line the bottom in gothic text, and a “Yes” and “No” are located at the top. The edges of the board seem to be burnt or darkened, but it’s probably just painted that way…
“A wedgee board? Really, guys?” you mutter.
“Hey, I never got to screw around with one of these when I was a kid,” says a black shirted guy. This was Ron, your typical guy. He was holding the small, monocle-like object used on wedgee boards. What were those called?
“Haha, that’s ’cause your life sucks, man…” This was said by 20-year-old Beck, one of the local stoners. He was already baked, as you could tell by his bloodshot eyes.
“Dude, are we gonna do this or what?” And Jeremy, the skater that wore the same hoodie every day, rain or shine.
But there was one person who stood out among the rest, although they spent the entire evening huddled in the corner. It was a kid from school who you’ve seen in the halls before, but never got around to talking to. She had a short, black emo haircut with a generous amount of eyeshadow. She had a tiny, frail figure covered with dark clothing. What was her name again? Alison? You don’t remember inviting her, but then again, it’s nice to have at least one girl in this sausage fest.
“I really don’t want to be around if you guys are doing this…” she whispers. “It’s really not a good idea….”
“Well then go somewhere else, you little weirdo. Haha!” teases Beck.
You get ready to make a remark to him about being a bit nicer to her, but for some reason, you catch a glare from her that says “Don’t get involved”. You decide to go ahead and sit next to her in the corner while they continue to be dumbasses…
“Hey…” you say calmly, trying to match her aura without seeming too desperate.
“Hi…” she replies. Her eyes are fixed on the wedgee board and the young men playing around with it, asking nonsensical questions like “What color is my underwear?” and “Why is the sky blue?”
“Sorry, your name is Alison, right?” you ask.
What a short answer… She seems to be impossible to talk to. Maybe you should try prying her for more information… But then again, she already seems slightly annoyed by the fact that you moved next to her. You decide to just sit back and watch the show going on in the middle of the room. They seem to be having fun, but you didn’t hear the last question they asked…
“S-O-O-T-M-A-N? What the hell is a Soot Man?” scoffs Jeremy.
You hear Alison gasp, but that’s not what grasps your attention first. Did the air suddenly get thicker in here? A horrible smell, like that of rotten eggs, wafts under your nose. Even the guys stopped laughing and were awestruck, staring directly down at the wedgee board. You strain to see what’s so captivating, but your eyes start to burn.
“You… stop them…” Alison suddenly gasps for air, as if she’s being choked. Her hands immediately raise to her throat as she doubles over in pain. “….stop….he will…” Her eyes roll back into her head and her body goes limp.
“Alison? Alison?!” you yell as you try to shake her awake. It seems like she’s gone… Her small figure is that of a ragdoll.
“Guys! Come here, quick! It’s Alison! She’s-!” But your sentence is cut short by what you see next; a tall, lean man is rising out of the table in the middle of the room. He is completely naked, except for a thick layer of soot that made his skin look completely black. His pure, piercing white eyes gaze straight into your soul, and you feel that he is reading your entire life’s story in a single second. Every misdeed you’ve committed, every mistake you’ve made. His yellowed teeth are visible due to the fact that his lips appeared to be torn away, leaving nothing but a gnashing hole. But the most frightening of all is the darkness that literally poured from his body. It’s as if the light in the room doesn’t want to get anywhere near him.
Before you can get another word out, the man dashes, so fast that he appears to teleport, behind Ron and snaps his neck. Ron’s head is misplaced so harshly and viciously that his spine punctures upward through his skin in a crimson explosion. As his body hits the floor, you stumble to your feet, scraping Alison off of the floor. It’s a lot harder than it looks, considering the fact that the sulfur filling the air is poisoning your lungs. She’s turns out to be surprisingly light, though, and you carry her in both arms.
Jeremy is the next one gone. The black man reaches a clawed hand forward and grabs him by the throat, lifting him off his feet into the air. You can barely hear his gurgled screams, though. The lack of pure oxygen is starting to make your ears ring. Suddenly, you notice a clear path out of the room, directly beyond Beck. You decide to take it.
With all of your strength, you grasp Alison tight and sprint towards the clearing. Without looking back, you run past Beck, his eyes still locked on the man, his entire body paralyzed. As you reach your bedroom, you hear a faint, sickening crunching sound, which you can only imagine to be Jeremy’s entire neck concaving. The screaming stops as you hide in your closet with the girl. The air seems to be clearer here, and you can breathe easier. It gets eerily quiet, save for the sound of Beck’s footsteps running down the hall.
You hear him open the back door of your house in a desperate attempt to escape. Then you hear him close it. Then you hear it open again. The man is after him now.
It closes once more.
“Thank goodness…” you whisper. You’re safe for now, although you do feel sorrowful for Beck and your friends. But just in case, you stay in the closet.
Suddenly, the girl in your lap awakens and takes a huge gasp. It startles you enough to make you jump. Her eyes glance around the interior of your closet, and she wears a panicked expression on her face.
“He’s here, isn’t he…?” she inquires.
She knew this would happen? This thought crosses your mind, but you just respond with a dumbfounded “Yes…”
“No… no. No. No. No…” she repeats as she sits up. “I wanted to warn you… about him…” She seems to be flustered as she scoots to the deepest corner of the closet.
“Don’t worry, I think he’s gone…” you say, placing your hand on her shoulder.
All of a sudden, you hear the back door open again. You pray that it’s Beck, returning victorious from his scuffle with the man. Heavy, weighted footsteps diminish your hopes as you hear them draw closer. Alison whimpers in the back of the closet, and you put your finger to your lips to silence her. Who knows how good this thing’s hearing is…? A thick cloud of soot rolls under the closet door as the man stomps into your bedroom. This is it, you think. You can only imagine those pale, lifeless eyes scanning the entire room. You can even hear his heavy breathing and the dripping of black liquid out of his mouth.
And then it stops.
You hold your breath, trying to listen out for him, but there is absolutely no noise at all. Not even the sound of Alison’s breathing. You look back to see if she’s okay. She has her hands cupped over her mouth, tears streaming down her face. You scoot towards the closet door and grab the knob slowly. You cautiously pull it open just enough to get a glimpse of your room. The light seems to be brighter. The room seems to be empty.
You breathe a sigh of relief, glad that the impending doom was apparently not directed at you. But one thing does bother you, though…
“Alison, you knew about that thing, didn’t you?” you ask, still gazing through the slit between the door and its frame, “I assume that it’s gone now that it’s killed the ones who summoned it?”
You here Alison scooting forward behind you.
“It’s not gone. There’s only one way to stop it…”
As soon as you ask the question, you wish you didn’t…
“It requires the souls of the ones who summoned it… and one sacrifice.” she says, her voice growing deeper with each passing word.
You swivel around to face her…
And meet a pair of pure white eyes.