The Ritual :

I don’t think there’s a college that doesn’t have its share of legends. Stories range from the ghost of the girl who was pregnant with the football coach’s child to the creature that roams a building at night. And everything is said to kill you in the most horrible fashion if you run into it, of course. My school, Miskatonic University, up in Maine, was no exception.
In addition to the obligatory ghost stories of the suicides and murder victims still haunting the grounds, there was a story of an evil creature that liked to torture its victims by scaring them for days on end before killing them. The thing is, you have to call this monster, invite it to hunt you. The monster is called Achildes and it feeds on the terror.
Yeah, that’s brilliant, call up an otherworldly horror to come and torture you.
But there were tons of people who did this and they didn’t die. It was some sort of rite of passage. Frats and Sororities had it as part of their initiation ritual. They would take the new kids out to the old run down building on campus.  Despite its sorry state, it still was usable, there just weren’t any classes being held in it. That wasn’t common knowledge, though. The members would send the pledges in and have them call up Achildes. The pledges would do the ritual in the men’s bathroom and then someone in a mask would jump out and scare the bejesus out of them. Most of the time the kids would run screaming out of the building, sometimes they would go deeper into the building and get lost. Which meant that all the lights would have to be turned on and a search would go on until they were found.
What a great way to get people into your frat, give them heart attacks and/or mental issues.
Then my friend Tiffany told me and my girlfriend, Alexia, that she had found the actual ritual and where it was supposed to be done. I didn’t really want anything to do with it, and neither did Alexia. We told Tiff not to do it, that it’s not a good idea to mess with things that aren’t of this world. Of course, she didn’t listen. I remember when it happened, it was at the end of November…
It was a dark and stormy night…
I was lounging on the couch in the apartment that Alexia and I shared just off campus, playing Mass Effect for the twenty-eighth time. Alexia was sitting at her desk nearby, playing some Facebook games on her laptop.
“Remember that ritual Tiffany told us about?” Alexia asked me,
“Vaguely,” was my muttered reply.
“She has a status saying that her, Mark, Tonya, Steve, and Jeff are going to perform it tonight. That was about 3 hours ago.”
“What time is it now?”
“Wonder if they’re still alive.” I wasn’t taking it seriously.
“Probably not.” She said in a similar tone to mine.
A while later the phone rang. It was right next to me, but I was shooting people, so obviously I couldn’t answer it. I quickly checked the caller id. “It’s Tiff,” I said as I tossed it to Alexia and went back to shooting people, but with the volume down a bit more. I didn’t really pay any attention to the call, I was too busy trying to snipe some mercs, and Alexia had gone into another room. Not sure how long the call lasted but it was long enough for me to get out of that area in the game.
“Find a save point,” Alexia called out to me, “We’ve got to go get ‘em.”
“Why?” I asked, saving and shutting down the system.
“They did the ritual and are scared out of their minds.” She replied as she put her coat on and grabbed her purse.
“Okay, so where are they?” I grabbed my coat and keys.
“The old mental hospital.”
“Why am I not surprised?” We went out to the car and started towards the old mental hospital that was just outside of the warehouse district of the city. Alexia reminded me what Tiffany had told us about the ritual.
The location for the ritual has to be a place where great fear has been felt – the mental hospital was perfect for that – and at night with no lights on. You have to have 27 black candles and, after arranging them in a specific pattern, light them. Then everyone who is participating in the ritual has to stand in the middle of the symbol that the candles form and start chanting a challenge to the demon. And you have to use its actual name, not Achildes, which is the bastardized version of it.  It takes 27 times of saying the chant for it to work. If it works, then the candles are supposed to go out and then you have to run for your life because the creature/demon/entity/thing is now hunting everyone who took part in the ritual.  Supposedly this thing feeds off of the fear that is generated by its hunt and it will try to terrorize you for days before finally killing and eating you, not necessarily in that order either.
From what Tiff told my girlfriend, it succeeded.
I didn’t believe that some creature had been summoned from the ether to wreak terror on these dunderheaded college students; I figured that someone was playing a prank on them. I mean, they posted it on Facebook, for crying out loud!
It didn’t take long to get there, only about 15 minutes and that was due to hitting every – single – stoplight on the way. It was still raining hard when I parked in the old asylum’s lot. No lights were on in the parking lot and the big building was completely dark. The only sources of illumination were the street lights and the occasional flashes of lightning. We got out into the cold rain, using the small umbrellas we kept in the car as protection against the weather. I pulled our flashlights out of the back of the car. A 3 D Cell LED Mag-Lite for Alexia and a big 6 D Cell Mag-Lite (called Bessie) with the ultra-bright Xenon bulb for me. With our flashlights in hand we headed to the building.
The front entrance wasn’t locked so we stepped inside to the lobby. Alexia tried to call Tiffany but the reception was horrible. The only thing that she could make out was, “It’s coming for me.”
After hanging up, Alexia looked at me and asked, “Time to search, shall we split up?”
“Sure,” was my reply, “That way it can eat us easier.”
“Good,” She said. We both looked around, “I feel like I’m walking into a horror story. Shall we skip to the end and just go down to the basement and-”
A scream from upstairs cut her off. We both headed up the stairs that were in the main lobby of the asylum. There was another scream, one filled with even more terror than the first one. It sounded like it was on the third floor, so we ran that direction. It took a moment on the third floor landing for us to catch our breath. Neither one of us was in good enough shape to really run, much less run up 3 flights of stairs. As my girlfriend and I were wheezing on the landing, my light hit something big and odd looking, but it vanished just as quickly as I saw it.
Tiffany was on the floor against the wall right next to where I saw whatever it was. Alexia went over to her as quickly as she could. Tiff grabbed Alexia and sobbed against her. I continued looking around; keeping an eye out for whatever it was that had run off.  Finally after a few moments, Tiffany regained some composure.
“What was that thing?” I asked,
“It was Arke…” Tiffany started to say but was cut off by Alexia.
“Don’t say its name!” She said to Tiff.
Tiffany nodded and continued, “It was the creature that’s summoned by the ritual.” She managed to finally stammer out. I looked at Alexia and she had a very concerned expression.
She looked up spoke in the tone that she uses that I knew better than to argue with, “We need to leave, now!”
“Got to find the others.” I stated. “No way we can leave ‘em here.” We both helped Tiffany to her feet, “Alright, we stick together and search for the others.”
We began searching, Alexia staying right next to Tiff. The beast already knew we were there so there was no need to remain quiet. We moved through the halls of the 3rd Floor calling for our friends.
We heard the sound of someone running from down the hall; I shined my light and hit Steve right in the eyes with the bright beam. His face had no color and his shirt was covered in blood. I caught him as he reached us and practically collapsed.
“It got Mark,” He stammered out between breaths. “Ripped him in half.” Steve grabbed me and started screaming, “WE’VE GOT TO GET OUT OF HERE!”
“We’ve got to find Tonya and Jeff.” I told him, “Calm down, we’ll get them and then get out of here.” I tried speaking to him in a calming tone.
“They’re probably dead already!” Steve shouted, “Let’s just go!”
“We’ll be fine if we stick to-” Alexia started saying but was interrupted by a blood curling scream that came from below us. “That’s Tonya!”
I was already starting to run towards the stairs when Steve grabbed me, “NO, IT’LL KILL YOU!”
“We have to get Tonya!”
“SHE’S AS GOOD AS DEAD!” Steve shrieked in my face. Then we heard Tonya scream again. I grabbed Steve’s arm and started dragging him along with me as I began the decent down the stairs.
“If we stick together we’ll be fine!” I told him. Steve tried to fight against me, but I’ve got quite a bit more muscle than he does, so I was able to drag him down the stairs. I let him go when Tonya came into my light. She was still screaming and was trying to get up from the floor, which was covered in blood, as was she. She managed to get to her feet when I saw her, but a leg came out of the darkness and slammed into her legs causing her to fall back to the floor. I noticed that the leg wasn’t attached to anything. I managed to run over to Tonya and shine my light down the hall where I saw it.
It stood over 7 feet tall and its skin was dark and shiny. The thing’s mouth was large and vile looking. Its eyes held a terrible presence, burning terror into my very being. In one of its grotesque hands was Mark’s body, what was left of it, and its other hand pulled the last limb, an arm, and threw it at us. I ducked under the arm and grabbed Tonya, hauling her to her feet.
“RUN!” I shouted at the top of my lungs, shoving Tonya toward the stairs. I heard the thing laugh as we ran down the stairs to the first floor. The exit, we just needed to get out of the building.
I was the last in line as we hit the first floor. Steve was first to the door and tried to open it, it wouldn’t move. Alexia shined her light on it revealing a glob of black goo stuck to the doors, preventing them from being opened.
We heard the laughter of the creature. It was on the stairs, coming for us. Steve took off down one of the hallways that went off of lobby and the rest of us followed. I looked back behind me and shined my light; the creature was following us, scuttling on the walls.
That was not what I wanted to see.
I turned back to make sure I didn’t get separated from everyone else, but I knew that this thing was going to catch us soon if we didn’t manage to get outside. Steve ducked down yet another hallway, continuing to run at a breakneck speed with Tiff, Tonya, and Alexia right behind him, and I was at an ever increasing distance behind them. I heard Steve hit something before I rounded the corner, a door leading outside!
“It’s locked!” Steve wailed, franticly trying to get the door open. “I can’t get it open!” The girls caught up to him and started trying to help get the thing open. The door had a window in it, one with the metal netting in it to keep people from breaking in, or out. Somehow we had made a few turns and I could see into the parking lot, our cars were just a little ways away. Salvation was just one door away.
I skidded to a halt as I reached them and looked back behind us; the monster was nowhere to be seen. “I don’t see the thing.” I called out.
“Maybe we lost it?” Tiff sounded hopeful, almost pleading.
“No, it knows where we are.” Alexia replied. I took up a position to be able to keep a look out as they worked on getting the door open.
The door was at the end of a short hallway, with rooms to both sides and the crossing hallway a little ways away, so I knew that it only had one way to come to get us. I stood, shaking with fear, watching for this thing to come for us.
Mark’s head rolled into the intersection and stopped, his lifeless eyes looking at me, his face frozen in an expression of sheer terror.
I screamed.
So did everyone else.
I heard Tonya and Tiff start sobbing, Alexia was whispering something, and Steve just started pounding on the door.
As I stared at Mark’s head the bulb on my flashlight popped, plunging the intersection into darkness. Looking back I saw that Tiff and Tonya had dropped to the floor and were holding each other, crying uncontrollably. Steve had stopped pounding on the door and also went to the ground, curling up in a ball. Alexia was staring at me with wide eyes, her flashlight still on.
“LOOK OUT!” she yelled.
My gaze returned to the intersection and no more than 8 feet away from me was the creature, illuminated by Alexia’s flashlight. It was unlike anything I had seen before. Seeing it from a distance had spared me the full view of this thing’s horrific features, but this time I saw the whole thing in detail. The creature’s shiny black skin was stretched taunt over its skull and its mouth was full of vicious looking teeth.  I could smell its breath, the scent of death.  Its arms were misshapen, unnaturally long, and too thin for its size, with large claws at their ends.
But its eyes were the worst, vile dark pools of malevolence. I stared at them and saw what this monster was going to do to us; I could see the horrors it was going to inflict dancing in them.
I screamed in terror and it screamed in joyous laughter. It stepped towards me, its tongue sliding over its thin lips, dripping sickly green bile. Fear shot through my entire body and my mind no longer worked. I was so filled with terror that I could no longer think and this creature knew it, its evil grin broadened.
Then its head violently snapped back.
The creature brought its face back down level with mine and I could see that it was angry. I shrieked again as sheer horror filled me. This time the beast was struck down as my nonworking flashlight slammed into its forehead. It reeled backwards from the blow and came at me, trying to rake me with one of its large claws, and it fixed me with its terrifying gaze again. Terror flooded me again, causing my mind to step out of the way one more time and let my body take over. Ducking under the misshapen limb, I smashed its wrist with Bessie, and grabbed the creature with my free hand. Kicking thing’s leg out from underneath it, I took the monster to the ground.
That was when the terror turned into rage.
This time when its eyes met mine, I saw fear and confusion in them. I’m sure it saw the rage in mine. I brought Bessie down onto the beast’s shoulder and Alexia smashed the thing’s knee. Repeatedly, we pummeled the thing, using our flashlights as clubs, until I brought Bessie down onto its skull one final time, cracking it open like an egg.
I don’t know how long we stood there, but when I finally regained my senses the police were there. All of us were questioned and I know they didn’t believe our story. A group of Federal agents arrived and took over the investigation. They convinced the police that it was an emaciated gorilla that we had killed and I wasn’t going to argue. Heck, Steve, Tiffany, and Tonya actually believed the story after a bit. Only Alexia and I remembered what happened. They found Jeff; he had been strapped down in one of the electroshock therapy rooms. Guess the thing was going to save him as a snack for later.
Alexia and I were given the option of assisting this Federal agency. I can’t go into the details, but we said yes.


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