“Are you seriously telling me is that there’s a house you used to live in which acts as some sort of magical barrier? A house. Is the foundation made of vibranium or something?”

“You know that vibranium isn’t real, right? It’s from a com-” Nathan’s voice trailed off as Angelié fixed him with a cold stare.

“I know, you idiot. And while I acknowledge that there are things in this world which are not easily explained by science or reason, it doesn’t make much sense to craft a shield out of something which could just be burned down, there has to be more to it. Though, it might be a place to start and it would take care of my immediate problem of how to dispatch my co-workers. I hoped to be able to use them a little longer but it’s become obvious that Sam has an agenda and Shooter has turned out to be disappointingly sentimental. I prefer a hands on approach but two birds with one stone works too.”

“So, no fire?”

Angelié turned to Blane.
“Can you punch him or something? Can ghosts touch each other? Is that a thing? It seems as though you already have an afterlife circle jerk of sorts happening, so what’s a little dust up between bros?”

“First of all, I don’t recall being on your payroll, sweetheart.” Blane stretched the word out in a way to ensure it wasn’t intended as an endearment. “And second, what is the point of burning down the cabin? If this elder whosits is so powerful, how come it needs you and numbnuts here to bring it food? It seems like a lot of work for morsels. At the rate you two have been offering sacrifices, it’ll take another century or six to get anywhere. Too bad I’m not on your payroll. In my heyday I was a force to be reckoned with. These woods are filled with bodies from my sprees.”

“Yeah, that’s the trouble. Your approach might have racked up the numbers but it lacked any sort of focus. I am ramping up my internet presence because eventually it will reach the point where people will show up to sacrifice themselves and I won’t have to to anything except reap the benefits of service.”

“Yeah, that might be all well and good for you, but I’m no one’s slave. I’m my own man.”

“That’s lovely, dickhead, but first, you’re not a man, you’re dead and therefore useless, and second, I won’t be a slave, I’ll be a queen. You think this is the only place on earth which has some sort of connection to ancient beings? I’ve been following the whispers for a long time now. I have minions all over the place, investigating, researching, even experimenting with ritual and ceremony to see if we can move things along faster. The only reason I’ve had to step up my campaign of gaining followers, and come out here myself, is because for some reason this spot has proven more problematic than expected. I knew there was some sinister activity out here and thought I might be able to capitalize on it, but you turned out to be a selfish asshole, just in it for the fun. How pointless. I was hopeful that this one,” she gestured to Nathan, “would manage to make a dent, and spent an unbelievable amount of time feeding him info but that was obviously futile. Well, I suppose if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.”

“What do you mean, had hopes for me? I’m the one who told you about this place.” Nathan was utterly confused.

“Oh, that’s cute. You think you had an original thought. You got played, you idiot. She was using you. Let me guess, someone saw that you commented on some edgy topic and got in touch. They told you about, well, me, because people love a monster.” Blane smirked at Angelié, who rolled  her eyes and crossed her arms with a huff. “They gave you a bunch of info on where to find me, how to connect with the dark parts of your psyche, maybe recommended some websites or goth bands or whatever. Maybe you even changed your user name to reflect your new personality. And then one day a newcomer was on the site, spam posting all over the place about how much she loved bad boys and their malefic tendencies. I would bet you’re not the only idiot who fell for her deceit, don’t feel too bad. The internet is full of fuckwits. Does that about cover it, sweetheart?” Angelié’s eyes narrowed while Nathan’s grew wider. His head dropped.

“Fuck.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought. Classic blunder, dude.”

“Both you, shut up. I’m not even going to get into how and why you know so much about the internet, considering you’ve been living like a country bumpkin probably since the days of dial-up…”

“Two reasons, I wasn’t here 24/7 and I’m not an idiot.”

Angelié frowned.
“That remains to be seen. What makes you think the house is the barrier?”

“Well, I’m not completely sure it’s the house specifically. But there seems to be something about it which isn’t totally normal. For one thing, it’s in the middle of the forest, but the trees keep their distance. And if you leave the cabin and head north, you wind up back at the cabin without any sense of having been turned around. There is a barrier of some kind, I don’t know exactly what it is, but I know it’s there.”

“Alright, well, I’m going to film a couple of segments and post them to upload whenever a signal shows up. The sooner I get people interested in coming up here, the better. I wish the main house was a little more run down, it’s more Aspen than atmospheric.”

Blane tilted his head and pursed his lips, lost in thought. He turned to face her.
“I guess you’ve seen that all the cabins this side of the lake were never finished, but there is one around the other side which might be just what you’re looking for.” She looked at him askance.

“What makes you think you know what I’m looking for?”

Blane shrugged.
‘I don’t much care either way. Do what you like. If you want to use those ramshackle, half-built death traps, that’s fine with me. The ones on the other side are furnished and look way more haunted, honestly. But, whatever.” He turned to go.

“How furnished?” The slow smile which crawled across his face at her words had disappeared by the time he turned around.

“As though someone was living there in rustic comfort when they met a sudden and unfortunate end.”

“Did they?”

“Does it matter?”

Angelié let out a hmph and turned on her toe, heading back toward the dock and the sunshine, to Shooter and Sam. When she was back in earshot she called out to them to bring the gear over to the other side of the lake. Nathan came and stood next to Blane.

“Well that was unexpected.”

“What?”

“You helping her with her mission to feed souls to the darkness.”

“Who says I’m helping?” He turned and walked away, back up into the woods. Nathan was torn on who to follow. On the one hand, Blane wasn’t all that fun to hang out with, but it stung to discover that Angelié had played him so thoroughly. He’d gone to a lot of effort to prove his darkness and all he’d got was a head full of elder god, madness, and death. So unfair. He still had trouble sorting out which thoughts were his and which were planted there.
Curiosity got the better of him, and eventually he plodded…drifted? He wasn’t sure…after Angelié. He’d never really been into camfluencing himself, but it might be interesting to watch. And there was always the chance that more tourists showing up to sacrifice themselves for the greater bad would result in some company who wasn’t as overtly mean as Blane. It’s not like he expected to live deliciously or anything, given that he was dead, but it didn’t have to be all bad, did it?

 

 

Photo by Thomas Griedback on Unsplash