's 2018 Horror Write-off:

Get Lich Quick

Submitted by D. Sierra

In a hard enough streak of bad luck, any way out looks tempting. Over the last three months, my life took a sharp turn in the wrong direction. First my job cut my hours to part-time, meaning my pay went from shit to even less than shit. Then, my boyfriend of nearly three years left me, saying he was sick of being ‘tied down’ and wasn’t ready to be in a relationship at all. Finally, my roommate took a transfer at her job to an office nearly two hours away, six weeks before our lease was up to be renewed. I found myself suddenly minus both the people I’d lived with, and needing to find somewhere I could afford to live on short notice. After three weeks of searching, I finally found one place that was willing to let me live there, despite my low income. So I went from a decent townhouse near a community college to the shittiest apartment I’d ever lived in. The building had such a severe vermin problem that not a day went by where I didn’t see a roach, and the leasing office flat-out told me I shouldn’t go outside at night. I was living off of ramen, hot dogs, and oranges.

It was in that state that I first saw the website. Like anyone else, I get a few spam emails every day. I usually just trash them, like any reasonable person. But I was desperate, and when I got an email titled “need *$MONEY$* now???”, I decided to see what it said. The email just contained a link to a website: “”. I guessed someone had probably just noticed that a website with an adjacent name to ‘rags 2 riches’ was open and had jumped on it, but what was the worst that could happen? So I clicked the link to at least see what it was.

Rather than the 404 error I was expecting, I got a simple black webpage adorned with clipart dollar signs and stock photos of gold and jewels like a hangover from web 1.0. The page’s text was yellow, and read:
RAGS 2 LICHES $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

HELLO my friend!

are YOU in NEED!

want MONEY fast!

TRY this trick!


(follow ‘instructions’ please friends)

Real subtle, whoever put this together. All-caps text obviously spelling out “HELLO YOU NEED MONEY TRY OUR SERVICE” isn’t exactly subliminal messaging. At the bottom of the page were links titled ‘ABOUT’, ‘INSTRUCTIONS’, and ‘TESTIMONIAL’. While it still seemed like a dumb if somewhat confusing scam, I decided to check out the links. The ‘ABOUT’ page seemed to have the same line of text in a few different languages. I checked the first two after the english text in google translate and they were the same, so I figured it was just repeating:

Our great service is sure to bring you riches, try as soon as possible! Notre excellent service est sûr de vous apporter des richesses, essayez le plus vite possible! 우리의 위대한 봉사는 당신에게 재물을 가져오고 가능한 한 빨리 시험에 응합니다 Mūsu lieliskais pakalpojums ir drošs, lai jūs bagātinātu, mēģiniet pēc iespējas ātrāk! μας δίνει άφθονα πλούτη, όλα χαλάζι μαμμον τον βάτραχος τον θεό μας Наш отличный сервис обязательно принесет вам богатство, постарайтесь как можно скорее!

Pretty ambitious to assume your weird get-rich-quick page would be shared enough to warrant being translated into so many languages, but whatever. I checked ‘TESTIMONIAL’ next, because I wanted to save “INSTRUCTIONS’ for last. Not that I was really considering going along with it, more that I was curious to see whether their definitely very real and legitimate “testimonials” were as fake looking as the rest of the site. Most of the page was basically what I was expecting:

“WOW! What an AMAZING service! It really WORKS! No more debt, no more money problems! Thanks, Rags2Liches!” - Bob, a Satisfied Customer “Rags2Liches made me riches! So thanks my friends!” - Kayla V., she Was Poor But Now She’s Rich! “At first I wasn’t sure about this, but once I signed up I’m glad I did! Now I sleep in peace with piles of money! No more poverty for me.” -James Marshall “Everyone should use Rags2Liches this service is so good and so trustworthy follow instructions at once guys” -Andy, teller of truths

So, clearly whoever put together this site either thought people were extremely gullible or only published the sketchiest looking reviews they got. Somehow my money was on the former. But I’ll admit the bottom of the page caught me a little off guard. There were a pair of pictures under the ‘testimonials’. The first was of a person’s hand holding six hundred-dollar bills, with “Thanks Rags2Liches” and the date (from roughly a year ago) written on their hand. The second was a picture of what looked like someone’s kitchen counter, strewn with fifty-dollar bills and what looked like bona fide gold coins, topped with a handwritten note which read once more “Thanks Rags2Liches” and the date (this time from less than a month ago).

You have to understand, I didn’t think it was real. But those pictures introduced a tiny kernel of doubt into me. While the most likely truth was that whoever made this website just took those pictures themselves, but what if they didn’t? What if, somehow, this was legit? That tiny sliver of doubt stuck with me as I clicked over to “INSTRUCTIONS”. A little clipart door sat at the top of the page this time, with the following written underneath:

Yes my friend! So you want the riches? You desire this! Here is all you must do, follow the instructions:

1) Send us a picture of your front door, and tell us “Please come in and make me rich, Rags2Liches!” Use the link below!   2) Wait
There was a form at the bottom of the page consisting of simply a text box, an “upload picture” button, and a “submit” button. That was it. All in all, it seemed like a very weird scam or some kind of in-joke I wasn’t in on. Yeah, the pictures of cash with the handwritten notes made me wonder, but at the very unlikely outside best it was the mostly neglected project of some mercurial rich person. I wasn’t desperate enough to gamble on those odds, much less on the odds of it not being some kind of bizarre scam.

Then my job cut my hours again.

It wasn’t by much, but it was enough. I’d have to go from ramen, hot dogs, and oranges to just ramen. So all of a sudden that weird, sketchy website looked better and better. I thought about it, and decided that at this point I was willing to try anything. And really, what kind of scam could someone even pull with just a picture of my door? So when I got home from work I snapped a hasty picture with my phone, went back to the website, and uploaded it with the message “Please come in and make me rich, Rags2Liches!”. When I hit ‘submit’, I was met with a pop-up which read “CONGRATULATIONS ON MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICE MY FRIEND! MANY THANKS FOR THE INVITATION!!” and started playing what sounded like an old gameboy trying to play organ music. I went to exit the page, only to find my screen was frozen. Stupid cheap knockoff phone. I didn’t want to wait for my phone’s charge to run out while it was playing this 30 second loop of low-def music, so I just took the battery out. That did the trick, the screen going black and the music stopping. I wish I could say it had been an odd occurrence, but honestly my phone was just that crappy.

So now all I had to do (at least according to that INSTRUCTIONS page) was wait. I played video games for a while, but then the next door neighbors started getting loud. I swear there was some kind of domestic abuse situation going on next door, they were always screaming at each other and I’d heard what sounded like dishes being thrown at the wall a few times. It’s almost cliche, I know, but here I was in the shittiest apartment complex for miles with screaming, fighting neighbors, so I turned up the volume on my TV and put on a movie. The rest of the day went on like this, with the neighbors eventually quieting down and me eventually switching from watching a movie to browsing the internet. It was what passed as a normal evening, with no mystery cash suddenly materializing in my living room or whatever. I guess the dumb site didn’t say it would be immediate, even though I still doubted there was anything real to it. Eventually I went to sleep, but I didn’t have work or plans the next day so I figured it would be more of the same.

“More of the same” didn’t last long. The next day when I went to eat my breakfast, I bit into an orange and felt something hard. When I spit it out, there was a dime in the half-chewed pulp. I cut the rest of the orange and found five more dimes, just stuffed inside the orange. There had been no puncture marks on the peel, and when I first peeled it I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. It was pretty weird, but I wasn’t willing to chalk this up to that website. I figured it for a weird prank by someone at the grocery store, even if I wasn’t sure how they’d done it. Throughout the day, I noticed a strange smell crop up every so often, like unripe tomatoes and mildew. My assumption was that the air vents were blowing the weird smell up from one of the other apartments. Around five or six, when the neighbors started screaming, I decided to stop watching netflix and go take a shower. But when I turned on the water in the tub, only a tiny trickle came out of the faucet at first. After a couple seconds, a wet wad of paper fell out of the faucet. After my initial shock and my making sure it wasn’t a dead mouse or something, I reached in to pick it up. It was a wad of money, several bills just crumpled together into a ball. Thirty six dollars american and a one pound note, which on further inspection was dated to the year 1915. Odder still, each bill had a word scrawled on it across the bottom, not washing off in the water. At first they seemed like a nonsensical jumble ‘Riches’ ‘You’ ‘Bring’ ‘Let’ ‘Liches’ ‘These’, but then I arranged the bills from the lowest denomination to the highest:

“Let These Liches Bring You Riches”

So. Thirty six (seven?) bucks stuck inside my shower drain. While I wasn’t very impressed by the amount, it was enough to help me buy real food for a week or two. So hey, the weird website did end up helping me, it seemed. I quietly wished it had been more money, but at least I got something. I took my shower, and spent the rest of the evening on the ‘free to play’ section on Steam. I had work from 9-2 the next day, so I went to bed around midnight.

A loud thump jolted me awake. The room was still pitch-black, and I found I couldn’t turn my head to look at my clock. I couldn’t move at all, actually. Sleep paralysis. Great. I hadn’t had to deal with this since I was five. There was another thump, and this time I felt my bed move. There was a sudden weight on my left leg, and the dread in me grew to terror. With a titanic effort, I forced one of my eyes open a tiny bit, so I would see there was nothing there. A thin, withered arm extended from beneath my bed, grabbing my leg. With another thump, it pulled, and to my horror the rest of the thing came up onto the bed with me. If you’ve ever seen what mummies look like beneath their wrappings, you’ll have a good idea of what was pulling itself towards me. Its body was wrapped in a tattered, grey shroud which did nothing to disguise its morbid state, and it was visibly missing its legs. After its ribcage it ended abruptly, as though something had torn it in half, the nub of its spine still sticking through its desiccated skin. I tried to move, I tried to scream, but nothing. I could just watch, just feel, as it pulled itself up my body. It put its face up to mine, and I could hear it murmuring in some language I didn’t speak, its voice a thin, sickly whisper. My panic mounted as it stroked my cheek with one bony hand, and pulled on my chin, forcing my mouth open. Its body convulsed, and it spewed coins and dead, dried-out insects into my mouth. It tasted horrific, it felt awful, and I wanted desperately to vomit but to no avail. Twice more it heaved a mixture of coins and dead bugs into my mouth, and then it was all just too much for me and I passed out.

I woke with a shriek, the light of dawn pouring through my small window. For a brief, beautiful moment, I thought what I was remembering was a night terror brought on by sleep paralysis. Then I noticed the awful, metal-and-bitter taste in my mouth, and saw the small pile of gold coins and insect husks next to my pillow. I ran to the bathroom and immediately threw up, a few small coins and some insect limbs mixed in with the stomach acid. I couldn’t brush my teeth enough after that. It turned out I’d woken up around 6:45, a full hour before my alarm was set to go off. I was still panicking, terrified after the events of the night. But I had to calm down, I had to get myself to work somehow. I put on the gentlest, most soothing cartoons I could find on netflix and squeezed out some of the oranges into a glass. Threw in some sugar, poured in some water, and I had fresh-squeezed orange juice, broke person style. Obviously I wasn’t gonna drink it right after brushing my teeth, so I had a ramen first.

By the time I had to leave for work, I was at least calmed down enough to pretend I was ok. Coin-puking ghouls or no, I couldn’t afford to get fired or miss work. While I was at work, listening to the dozenth customer rant about how their suffering was unparalleled because a five-percent off coupon had expired, I started thinking about the coins. It was perverse, but I couldn’t help feeling a little cheated. If this was in fact some kind of money ghoul, why couldn’t it puke up currency that worked in this country? Gold coins were neat and all, but if I was gonna pay bills with them I’d have to take them to a pawn shop or something. I found myself darkly hoping that if it came back, it would puke hundred-dollar bills instead.

I came home to my apartment smelling overwhelmingly of unripe tomatoes and mildew. I called the leasing office, told them the vents were emitting a “horrible stonk”, and they told me they’d send someone to look into it in six to ten days. So I took the febreze out of the bathroom and sprayed the whole apartment, and opened the windows for as long as I dared in the cold January air. That ended up being about ten minutes, but after that the place smelled mostly tolerable so I took that for good enough and returned the windows and blinds to their normal, closed state. So what was I going to do about my current predicament? Who do you even call about having signed up for some kind of cursed money website? And would that thing even show up again tonight? I decided tonight I would try to sleep on the couch, with all the lights on. It wasn’t much, but it was worth a shot. Around six, as usual, the neighbors started screaming again, and so help me for the first time I yelled at them through the wall. Just “Cut that shit out!” at the top of my lungs.

Seconds later, there was a series of strange noises. First, a clattering, scritching sort of noise like a pet’s claws on the floor over the sound of silverware dropping into a sink. Then a loud thump, and the screams of anger became screams of terror. Another, quieter thump, and the clattering noise began again, first getting softer, then getting louder in the hall right outside my apartment. This was accompanied by the sound of something heavy being dragged across the floor. I swear I could hear muffled laughter now. Whatever this was, I wanted no part in it. Then the knocking at my door started. A rhythm of two single knocks followed by two sets of two quick raps. ‘Knock knock knock-knock knock-knock’ It repeated this four times, and then to my horror and amazement, I watched the locks on my door just undo themselves.

The door flew open, and I braced myself for that mummified torso-thing again. Not this time. What strode in was an honest-to-god walking skeleton. There were a few scraps of rotting flesh still stubbornly stuck to it in places, and it wore a jeweled golden chain around its neck. A single, crazed looking eyeball was improbably stuck in its socket on long-calcified optic nerves. Its hands were bloody, and it was dragging the body of one of my neighbors. It was emitting a high-pitched, manic giggle, and it walked in with what I could swear was unbridled glee, shutting the door behind it and making a beeline to me. I wanted to run. I swear I did. But my feet were rooted to the spot.

The giggling, bloodied skeleton threw my neighbor’s body at my feet. Turning its head towards me and fixing me with its mad, rolling eye, it took my hand with surprising gentleness. With its other hand, it shook its necklace until one of the jewels fell out, leaving it on my floor. It shook with laughter at this, and pointed my hand at the jewel. But somehow all I could think was no dammit, not more cryptic treasure I can’t pay my rent with. I tried to articulate that, but what came out was “No… money. need dollar bills... can’t use uhhh... gems”. I panicked, what can I say. Show me someone who thinks they’d be perfectly articulate to a laughing skeleton and I’ll show you a liar. The skeleton held a single wet, crimson finger to my lips, and giggled to itself more. It reached into its ribcage and, unbelievably, pulled out a small golden statue. Now normally I would wonder things like ‘where did it get that’, ‘where was it hiding that its a skeleton skeletons don’t have pockets’ and the such, but honestly I was well past that.

It let go of my hand, and knelt down to my neighbor’s body. It rolled him onto his back, and I could see a deep gash in his forehead (presumably from the skeleton). I could also see his chest moving up and down. He was still alive! The skeleton placed the little golden statue on his chest, and turned its head to face me again. It beckoned me down to it, and I was in no position to refuse. I knelt down as well, and in doing so got a better look at the tiny statue. It looked sort of like a fat golden frog, with weird squiggly front legs. The skeleton took my neighbor’s head in both hands, and held his mouth open. It stared up at me, still giggling, and then let go with one hand. Staring at me, with its free hand it pantomimed reaching out and grabbing. It did the gesture again, laying its arm flat across my neighbor’s throat and chest. Then it quickly wrenched his mouth open again and stared up at me expectantly. My stomach sank when I realized what it wanted me to do. But… I didn’t want to make the skeleton mad. Maybe if I did this, I would be allowed to sleep unhindered tonight? And I thought about my neighbor. My neighbor who I heard beating his wife, breaking things, making all kinds of threats. My resolve hardened and I reached into his open mouth. The skeleton’s snickering grew louder as I reached down his throat. I felt soft tissue tear, blood beginning to leak out around my arm, and then I felt something that wasn’t flesh. I grabbed that mass and pulled, yanking my bloody hand from the man’s throat. As he choked on his own blood, I opened my hand to admire the roll of fifty-dollar bills I was now holding. They were bloody, sure, but that could be washed off. The skeleton stood up, bowed, and walked to my kitchen, still giggling. It opened my refrigerator, and seemed to fold itself inside. The giggling got louder and louder as it closed the door on itself, finally becoming mad shrieking laughter easily audible through the refrigerator. And all of a sudden, there was silence. I opened the fridge and sure enough there was no trace of the skeleton.

But back in the living room, there was sure still a trace of my now dead neighbor. I had no idea what to do about the rapidly cooling corpse, so I rolled it onto some trash bags and decided I would deal with it in a little while. First I had blood to clean off, both of myself and of the money. After a rinse and a change of clothes, I was officially six hundred dollars richer. Some quick googling led me to believe the best way to get rid of a body was as several smaller pieces, so I resolved to go buy a saw. Unfortunately, as soon as I opened the front door, I saw the trail of blood leading from my neighbor’s door to mine. Well shit. Luckily other than them and me, there’s only one other person who lives on my floor, and sometimes he isn’t home for days at a time. So I ran to grab my mop and as quick as I could I mopped away the blood trail. It wasn’t exactly a professional job, but it did the trick. Then it was off to the hardware store for a power saw and some heavy-duty trash bags. I also made a quick stop at the grocery store, and bought myself a steak. Not a super-expensive one mind you, just a nice eight-dollar strip steak. And a nice package of cantaloupe slices. I was gonna eat better than I had in months.

You might start thinking ‘hey wait you just killed a guy, how the hell do you have any appetite?!’ or, at least in my view, more accurately ‘you’re being stalked by the undead and you still want food?!’ but listen. It was weird to me too, but I wasn’t feeling queasy or anything. The more it went on, the less the horrible stuff bothered me. More and more, all I could really think about was the money it was bringing me. So anyway, I got back and dragged the body to the bathtub. It wasn’t easy, and basically involved a makeshift garbage-bag sled, but it worked out. I won’t bore you with the details but with an electric saw, getting through limbs is manageable. It made a racket but in all honesty I’d heard people do things that were just as noisy, much later in the night. So eight garbage bags and a blood-drenched shower curtain, bathtub, and wall later, it was done. I triple-bagged each with heavy-duty bags, and figured I could dig some holes in the nearby forest tomorrow. I used to hike around there, and I knew a pretty secluded area. Especially in the middle of the week.

So I put the body bags in a closet and got to cleaning up my bathtub. The shower curtain was ruined, but somehow I had a really hard time mustering the capacity to care about that. After a couple hours of cleaning, it looked good enough for me and I threw my bloody clothing in a final heavy duty bag and rinsed off. Then I threw the shower curtain in the bag and popped that steak in the oven. It was the best steak I’d ever tasted, and the cantaloupe went with it superbly. Although I was certain now that the skeleton had been pleased with me, I didn’t want to abandon my plan of sleeping on the couch, with the room well-lit. Ghouls showing up while I was awake was one thing, but showing up while I was afflicted with sleep paralysis was still a no-go. Besides, no work tomorrow, so it wasn’t like I had to be up by some time. So I put on the netflix reboot of Magic School Bus at low volume and drifted off to sleep.

I woke and it was light out. I didn’t feel exactly well-rested, but I remembered that I had a task at hand today. I would need to go buy a light shovel. On a whim, I went to the closet to make sure everything I remembered had really happened. The results were mixed. It had definitely happened, because there were still bags there. On the other hand, some of the bags were missing. A quick check told me that the bags containing the neighbor’s head, both arm bags, and upper and lower torso bags were all gone. The only bags remaining contained his legs and the remnants of cleaning all the blood. Well. On the plus side I could probably bury what was left of him in one trip.

So it was off to the hardware store again for that shovel. Once that was in my hands, I headed back home to get ready to bury this guy. Or at least to bury his legs. Somehow, I was still surprised when I came home to that thick stench of overripe tomatoes and mildew. I couldn’t even smell blood anymore under it. I couldn’t really blame it on the air vents this time, though. Sitting against the wall of my living room was a much larger version of that little frog statue, maybe around three feet tall and as wide as an armchair. Placed at its base were little cones of burning incense among stacks of gold coins and dusky purple flowers. I shut the door behind me quickly, looking for the legless mummy or the skeleton. I was certain the ghouls had done this. And sure enough, the closet doors in the hall leading from the living room opened, and a nightmarish figure walked out.

This new macabre visitor was perhaps the most horrific-looking so far. A muscular figure dressed in what was once an expensive suit, every exposed bit of skin on it was horribly burned. My legs were struck by that same immobility as yesterday, but this time I wasn’t even sure I wanted to move. It was dragging one of the body-bags. It walked purposefully to the statue, removing the dismembered leg from the bag and placing it almost reverently among the incense, coins, and flowers at the statue’s base. The burnt revenant turned to me and spoke in a deep, wet wheeze. “You. Kneel.” I could see the charred tendons in its face moving as it spoke. It’s strange, but I was almost relieved this one spoke the same language as me. It gestured to the statue, and my legs came under my volition once more. As with the skeleton, I didn’t want to risk making this frightful visitor upset. More to the point, I wanted more money. Every ghoul so far had given me more and more valuables, so why would this one be any different?

I took a few short steps to the statue, then knelt. Now that I was looking directly at it, I got a much better idea of what I was looking at. It superficially resembled a bloated frog, but in place of front legs it had four thick octopus arms. These arms each ended in a hand with two thumbs. There was a thorny circlet somewhere between a tiara and a crown upon its head, and it had the enormous compound eyes of a fly. Carved into the surface it sat on was an intricate linear symbol, and the statue’s base held the inscription “μαμμον ο βάτραχος ο θεός μας”. Not that I had any idea what that meant. The burned apparition standing beside me pointed at the severed leg, and simply said “Take.” I grabbed it, somewhat fumblingly, and looked up at the undead creature. What now? It reached a scorched hand into one of the pockets of its suit, and produced a small, golden knife. The blade had a hooklike curve, and the hilt was studded with what I can only assume were diamonds. It handed the knife to me, waved at the leg, and said “Eat.”

I looked at it incredulously for a moment. This time I didn’t panic when I spoke to it. “Ok seriously, that leg’s been sitting in my closet since yesterday. Cannibalism aside, I don’t think I want to eat that.” The dead thing made a gurgling, growling noise, and said “You come. This far. And stop?” It seemed to have trouble getting out more than a couple syllables at once. It also had a point. I’d already done what the skeleton said and pretty much killed my neighbor. Was this really any worse? I didn’t get sick from those awful dead bugs the torso made me eat, maybe the things these ghouls were doing were just so far removed from mundane reality that disease couldn’t really latch on. And besides, so far I got more money with every action the zombies took. So I took the knife, cut a chunk of flesh from the leg, and wolfed it down. It felt awful and tasted worse, but you do what you have to do. The charred apparition drew a line in the air with a finger, motioned at the leg, and said “Cut. Along.”

I guessed its meaning clearly enough, and cut a long line down the leg. Beside me, I heard the ghoul speak a few words I couldn’t understand. The lights in the apartment seemed to dim, or become obscured by some shadowy force. To my lessening surprise, red sand began to spill from the cut, and the flesh of the leg began to crinkle and char like burning paper. I dropped it quickly, so as not to get burnt by whatever was happening. The ghoul was still speaking, or rather I now noticed it was chanting. A slow repetition of the same few words, which sounded oddly flat and hollow, lacking any reverberation. The smell of burnt flesh (oddly absent from the apparition!) mingled with that bitter tomatoes and mildew smell from the incense. When the leg was nothing but ash and sand, the seared figure waved a hand at what remained and said “Yours.” It then walked unceremoniously back into the closet it had come from, before I could say another word. I dug through the sand and ash to find that as usual, some sort of riches awaited me. This time it was a pair of golden rings, several loose diamonds, and eight rolls of silver dollars arranged in the shape of arm and hand.

I know it’s silly, but I felt a little cheated. The skeleton had given me six hundred bucks, the burnt guy gave me two hundred and weird little treasures which I would have to sell to get any value out of. Like yeah ok diamonds and gold are cool and all but I can’t go buy a new car with diamonds and gold. And you might think ‘well can’t you sell them?’ but first off that’s a ton of effort and second how am I supposed to respond to anyone asking where I got them? “Oh you see, a magic zombie broke into my house and used a hex to transubstantiate them from my neighbor’s corpse.” No thanks. I don’t need that to deal with.

On the plus side, I only had one leg to bury now. So I popped that garbage bag into a backpack, grabbed the shovel, and headed out the door. Yeah, I heard the police sirens at this point, but honestly I live in such a shitty neighborhood I didn’t figure they were for me. I stepped out of the building to see my other neighbor (the wife of the guy that the skeleton and I killed) talking to a group of police officers. She had a hell of a black eye and a livid bruise around her throat, but if I’m being totally honest that was pretty much how she usually looked. Unfortunately, she looked up and me, pointed, and said something to the police officer.

So yes, I panicked a little. I turned around and went right back inside, straight up to my apartment. Less than a minute later came the loud knocking, and the phrase “Police, open up!” I didn’t open the door at first. I wasn’t sure what to do. I had a severed leg in a backpack and a huge altar to some monster frog thing still sitting in my living room. I looked through the peephole, and saw that it was just one police officer. The knocking came again, this time accompanied by “Please open up, we just need to ask you a few questions!”

Quickly, I formed a plan. I opened the door just a little, putting on my best and most innocent face. Luckily, from this angle, the door blocked any view of the frog statue. And of the metal shovel I was holding. The officer looked relieved that I’d actually opened the door and said “Thank you, I just need to ask if you’ve seen this man or know anything about him.” He held up a picture of the neighbor whose leg I had eaten part of. “Why no officer, I don’t think so, but please do come in for a moment and I’ll see if I can help.” He walked in and I shut the door behind him before he could really take in the statue. I think he started to say something about it, but I’ll never know because I bashed him over the head with the shovel. He tried to cry out, so I bashed his head again. And again. Until he wasn’t moving or making noise anymore.

Desperate, I dragged his body to the base of the statue. I wasn’t sure how to do it, but I needed to make the ghouls come back. If there’s just a pile of cash instead of a body, everything will work out for me. No arrest, no getting hurt by the cops, and a big pile of money to top it off. First I tried praying to them, but that seemed really silly, a feeling not helped by putting my hands together and whispering “Please oh mighty moneyghouls, come aid me in my time of need”. The I tried just knocking the various closets in the apartment, which didn’t do it either. Finally, I got the idea to take the officer’s blood and rub it on the weird symbol under the frog. It seemed like the kind of thing that would make spooks appear in a horror movie, and I needed these spooks ASAP.

It wasn’t immediate, and I almost gave up on them appearing. But after around two minutes, my oven began to rattle. The couch shook, and there was a solid thud from inside the hall closet. Mad giggling came from within the oven, even as the withered torso creature pulled itself from under the couch. The closet doors slid open smoothly, almost businesslike, as the laughter from the oven got louder and louder, and the burnt revenant walked slowly from the closet. Finally, the oven flew open with a bang and the giggling skeleton came tumbling, galloping towards me. Here were all three of the ghouls, all at once. The legless mummy seemed to ignore me, dragging itself to the base of statue and putting its hands together as if in prayer. The skeleton looked to the corpse, and back to me, then back to the corpse and began clapping its hands together in a clattering ruckus. The burnt man walked to me and said “It accepts. Your offering.”

I would be lying if I tried to pretend that I didn’t get at this point that the big golden toad was the “it” that accepted the offering. But why wasn’t the corpse turning into money yet? No point in not asking. “So are you guys gonna money-ify that body for me? I really need it gone and more cash would be a real big help.” The burnt thing shook its head slowly. “Your choice.” It gurgled. “With them.” Pointing to my window, where the flashing lights of the police were visible. “With us.” it spread its arms, and the skeleton took my hands. It made a series of rhythmic motions which I quickly gathered were some sort of little dance, before letting go. I still wasn’t quite sure what the ghouls meant. “What do you mean, with them with us? Are you not going to take care of the dead body?” The scorched revenant shook its head again. “You have. Taken. Com-munion. Gold. And husks. Blood. And flesh. You could. Join us. No earthly. Worries. Again.” This statement put a newfound fear in me. Join them? Didn’t that mean dying? Could you really even consider what they were ‘dead’?

I considered my choice carefully. I thought about my life, about how everything had fallen apart and how nothing I did to try to fix it ended up mattering. I thought about the friends I lost when my boyfriend left, about the ‘friends’ who stopped talking to me when I had to move into a bad neighborhood. And if I did walk out of here, chances were it would be in handcuffs and into a life sentence. That’s a death in and of itself. Life in prison after a life gone to shit, or becoming an undead, immortal creature?

What the hell. I didn’t like my life anyway.

“I accept your offer.” I told them. And with that, the lights dimmed once more under that same unseen force I had experienced earlier. The skeleton and the burnt man stood to either side of me. The burnt man held out the hooked knife it had earlier, but the skeleton did something much stranger. It reached into its ribcage and pulled out an ornate, silver goblet. Then it removed its own skull, shook it vigorously, and poured forth a dark liquid from its empty eye socket into the goblet. They both held out an item, and the burnt man said “This too. Is your. Choice.” As they held out the knife and the goblet, the torso pulled itself onto the statue, its eye sockets dripping with a thin golden light.

I chose the goblet. It tasted awful, but I was getting used to the whole ‘unripe tomatoes and mildew’ thing. As my heartbeat slowed and my vision blurred, the last thing I saw was the skeleton bowing. I was blue when they found me. It’s a fascinating thing, watching in that strange, projected dream-state as the police examine your corpse. Once I was unseen for a moment, I came to and was spirited away by my new friends. I met Mammon, the Toad our God, and found my beautiful, gilded mausoleum in that place between the dead and the never-lived. It’s nicer than my apartment ever was, and fun fact: you can still stream netflix in the underworld. The heady nightshade blooms smell much better once you’re undead (the living just can’t appreciate their full scent profile) and I haven’t been hungry in years now. I regret nothing. At no juncture would I act differently, knowing what I do now. So if you’re in a rough patch and need some cash, just remember: Rags 2 Liches brings you Riches. We’re waiting for your message. All you have to do is invite us in.

We can stop whenever you want.