's 2019 Horror Write-off:

Auld Lang Syne

Submitted by Thomas Johnson/Titleknown (email)

This must have been the place.

I was invited to a New Years party, a simple piece of cardstock in my mail with an unusual dialect, and given I had not much else to do; and was in town; so I went.

The address took me to a run-down suburb, middle class safety rotting into isolate destitution; shadows between the weeds and the warped timbers looming as the sun set, weak flickering lights in the windows showing life; but barely; and gasping; choking.

I saw the wreck of a truck on one person’s lawn with a half-cracked neon sign in the back. The eye on it was still flickering.
But, I reached the house. Awfully strange of them to have their Halloween decorations still up at this time of year. I knocked on the door. There was no response. But I could hear music in the background. And the window began to flicker as if there were a strobe light somehow. I checked the doorknob. It was unlocked.

And so, here we went, as I stepped in.

This was not a normal house. It was elegant in the way a McMansion pretends to be, it was warped the same way a nightmare is. Colors at once shadowed and garish, and the people... were they people?

No, they were not. A solid percentage had arms; legs; faces, to be sure. But beyond that, I saw... chaos.

I turned around for the door. It was gone. The light and shadows weighed upon me once more. But, they didn’t appear to be attacking me. Violence seemed to be happening to others; to be sure; but none appeared to attack, even as they briefly noticed me and went back to their business.

So, if this were a party, I would simply walk through it to its conclusion, and if I were to die... well I was unlikely to amount to much anyway.

Other creatures flittered in and out of that place, but the crowd that appeared to be staying that first room; with the sickly carrot-orange carpet that was ever so slightly moist and the warped marble columns; was a simple one.

A man moon-faced in both literal and figurative senses appeared at the center; surrounded by what seemed like air filtration machines, for reasons I would rather not think about. There was a humanoid in a biker’s outfit; driving what looked like a segway made of old polygons into a wall; repeatedly. The digital readout on her helmet (?) read [X X] and she held a bottle of malt liquor in her hand.

Neither of them noticed me, though I doubted they would want them to, though the eyeless; toothless slimy sleep-paralysis demon crawling in the corners of the room at one point did. I think she winked at me?

Things and nightmares were making small talk, what appeared to be a grotesquely mummified ray with glass eyes was using the kareoke machine for a terrible performance of multiple Beatles songs, and there was a horrid robotic baby watching television, which seemed to consist of footage of Dick Clark from many years; all ending with Mr Clark dying gruesomely, and then a cheap ghoul puppet popping up to say what I think(?) was basically like fascist shit but spooky and cryptkeeper-y.

Of course, the TV didn’t hold much interest to me. If I wanted to see stuff like that (Which I didn’t) I could have stayed in and watched Youtube. Or Boo-tube, as the host would have almost definitely called it.

Ha. I made a joke.

There was food on the table, with grotesqueries gluttonously devouring what seemed like still-living meats and unnatural flavors; along with the more civilized (?) taking a variety of packaged foods, which seemed to resemble ours, but were... off.

There was no way I would consider eating anything served to me in this place. Though I did take some of the things that were still in packages, which turned out to be one of the the few wise decisions I’d ever made in my life, but that is for another story.

There was a guy on one of the many couches that littered the room; both overly ornate and utilitarian in that ugly 70s sort of way. It was a human-like thing in a bathrobe, grotesquely corpulent with rotten fat dribbling down his body, his eyes and mouth decayed into necrotic holes. He looked friendly enough though, he perked up when he saw me, seemed to want to talk to me. I politely declined because of the ungodly stench, which he seemed very sad about.

But, I heard a crash in another room, which allowed me to egress to the next with a minimum of awkwardness.

The room was a ballroom, a two-leveled one far too large to fit inside a house like the one I had entered. The black and white tile and worm off-white columns clashed with the gaudy glass-jeweled walls of chipping gold paint and bright red curtains.

The sound was the paralysis-demon-woman, who looked like she was standing on the celling, spitting it at a... cat? A human? A hybrid of both. But boy did it look like it was on fire, and boy did I have to dodge a Hummel figurine thrown her way.

I heard a cruel laugh from the mingling crowds at the lower level. It was a man, normal but for a left hand I could not even begin to describe, who bore an odd resemblance to the figure on the couch. He was far more beautiful, for sure, but there was a certain facial resemblance there. But in his eyes; where I saw the necrotic creature’s friendliness I saw in his... nothing, save an ambition and hunger.

Which I suppose is why he grabbed me when I walked down.

“Hey there, you’re the only human in this dump, the only real one anyway,” He looked slighhtly tipsy, though the clear corked bottle in his hand did not appear to be a flask for drinking per-say.

“You wanna know the secret? The real secret none of these other bozos get at this end of the year shindig?” I nodded, recalcitrantly.

“The secret, the real secret, is ambition. Ambition and knowing who’s gotta die. Cruelty, they call that last one.” He drunkenly bobbed out of the way of a glass poodle being thrown his way, and it whacked me in the nose. His laugh was like a short; cruel bark.

“Of course, you gotta be good at it! Ain’t that right Medicini!!!” He let out another cruel laugh as he shook the flask. I could see things swirling in the green liquid inside, things I did not want to look upon for too long.
“Ignore him,” a voice said, “He’s always only half-right at a quarter-to best.”

The speaker was a figure drinking a glass of what appeared to be a melted clock from a martini glass. I could not quite tell what gender they were, but they looked quite lovely. Aside from the clocks in her eyes, and the body building and un-building itself as it moved, and the ticking sounds they made as they moved, opening up their skull to take out a pocketwatch, and look at it.

I saw what appeared to be a void of sand; gears and numbers inside before the watch reeled back in and they said “You may want to keep your watch on the time, because a watched clock always unwinds. You’ll need to be unwound for when the clock is dined and re-wined, especially for what I see with you.”

Then, she left, and as I avoided what I think was an anime statuette sailed through the air and chipped the thin shell of lacquer over the plaster colimns. Because it was only now I noticed the overabundance of knicknacks on the overabundance of ugly hardwood wardrobes upon the uppermost level.

I picked the first door in front of me and went through.

Turned out, that door was a bathroom. I’m pretty sure it was a bathroom. Albeit, one that looked like an green art-deco Atlantis nightmare. There was a guy in there, mumbling something racist in between saying “All Roads Lead To Rome”. It felt like it was raining for some reason.

I stepped out, and found myself in that first room. Huh, I guess that explains why the carpet was wet.

Most of the guests had left aside from the stragglers. The woman who was previously on the segway was doing doughnuts on the carpet with what looked like a motorcycle made of the same material as the segway, while the guests were chanting, at least I think they were.

There was another entity there, a horrid wooden puppet woman, woozily directing an army of wooden mannequins acting as bullfighters against the woman on the motorcycle.

Boy was the floor looking much bigger than it previously had. The televison was also currently smashed, and the baby appeared to be building a miniaturized tower of Babel out of its own body and the shattered electronics. And, best of luck to them.

Thusly, I walked out, into another door.

Funny thing about the doors there, all of them were gaudy but none of them matched. This time, I walked out into what looked like a wet bar, where bottles were flying, and not just because the fight between the cat and the hollow-headed night-terror had gone in there.

The toasts were wild and raucous, held in hands, pincers and tendrils, the room was both literally and figuratively buzzing, and tongues both literally and figuratively unspeakable were so thick that any possibility of comprehending them was moot. Except for the strange middle-aged woman with her hand around my neck.

“Hey now, hell now stranger, it’s a good night, great night, it’s a bad night to be out, why don’t you come with me, I got ad eal for you.” The woman currently accosting me looked like a carnie barker Tom Waits and smelled like burning sugar as she was currently tugging me.

“My card, your card,” she said as she handed me a card, which I pocketed for later, “I do business services, deals, gambles, gambols, for the broken, the beaten and the darned, and it sure looks to me like you could use something better to come a long, come a long follow me!”

She was pulling more forcefully, and I could see her joints come apart. I think it was bubblegum? I tried to yank her off, but the gum seemed to yank back. Albeit, the way one would yank at a customer; rather than prey.A small reassurance to be sure.

Smaller still, then, when another hand began to tug at me. I turned around. It looked like a used car salesman grotesquely flattened by a steam press. Who began to flap his disgusting lips and talk.

“Hey there, don’t listen to her listen to your heart, you know even as a better new deal is now yours if you say for no money down too!” he said as he also pulled. He felt less like horrible meat taffy and more like a vice grip made of pressed ham.
“Don’t listen, don’t hear his lies and falsehoods to dis-em-power my friend, you gotta onece in a lifetime deal with me and not a chance not a lifetime not even once with his filth and tomfoolerous chicanery!”

Before I could respond by wondering if “tomfoolerous’ was even a real word, the Flat Man responded “No oh hey now you’re here you’re family and if you call in now this is a limited time bargain basement location where someone has a better price drop or we’ll say sold!”

This tug of war went on for several minutes, with similar levels of comprehensibility, to the point where I noticed a moving chalk drawing on the wall. Right before it burst open onto a lush patio of tacky fountains where a monstrous robot (?) like an airplane with meat burst through grappling with a car with a novelty car in the shape of a triceratops that appeared to be driving on its own.

The rowdy patrons moved over to the apeture in the wall to hoot and holler at the spectacle; that flat dealer included. The chalk drawing appeared to have moved over and began taking money from the spectators.

The other taffy-satan-woman previously accosting me was currently occupied running up to the car and saying “No no no, don’t you dare, don’t you dream about ruining this for some extra, extreme extra- ordinary bullshit with your ex! You stupid jalopy colossus get back here, dice-dammit, get back here!”

I, wisely, made my egress through another door. Which appeared to go onto the same patio. Albeit, with a different crowd of rowdy guests. At one point a hooded humanoid in a gas mask tried to jump out and itnervene in the fight (Or maybe it was a tryst? Or both) and for its trouble got smacked back by... God I hope that was just a weird metal bit.

I saw a giant inflatable horse with a clock in its eye there, for some reason. The person with the clocks in their eyes was standing atop and looking right at me. They were too far to see, but I knew they were mouthing the words “Two...”
I left through another door, trying not to think about it.

The room I entered looked like a mixture between a courtroom and an auditorium, with the puppet from, the television in the central seat in over a firey griddle.

I was confused until I looked at the sign. Oh. Hah. It was a roast . The Roast With The Most. And the puppet was very animated.

At the front seat in what appeared to be the witness’ chair (?) there was a sheep. Man. A cartoom sheep man. With seven eyes and a slit throat. A baffling sight in this place. As was the fact he sounded like a children’s show host when he was verbally (And at one point semi-literally with a cold poker) skewering the puppet.

“Oh, but certainly, you’re famous now! You got on Youtube, and not in one of those “3 Hours snuff films to own the libs” way you always did! Because life is for the losers, except for when they are not you!”

I tried to creep past them, though it was hard to blend in when the walls were covered in black velvet painted with gaudy neon flames.

“But, you didn’t let your celebrity stop you from building sub-par small businesses! Because when it comes to preying on the sub-par, you never fail to match them! Speaking of which, how’s Killtown coming?”

With that, the crowd of monsters roared in laughter. I could hear the puppet laugh with them, an insincere, screeching laugh. The puppet was a crude affair, a leering ghoulish “mask” in a red cloak with yellow gloves. But something told me that he would kill everyone in this room if he could. Best to slip out before that happened.

The black door, the one simple one in this entire house, lead out to another green. Well, unless you count the rainbow of blood from the faceless humanoids on the metal spikes jutting out from it. That was not very green at all. Nor was the white light in the sky everyone was staring at.

But, that man with the strange hand was there, opening up what appeared to be the largest of the homunculi (?) on the spikes, and drew out something glowing. Pulsing.

“Finally, the last triumph, the final trump! Within the lion’s den I have found the alkahest of my ambitions!”

He began to glow with impossible might, raising up into the air as the winds swirled around him until somebody tackled him off the top of the flesh-man. It was the rotten humanoid who looked a lot like him. Huh, must’ve had a grudge.

They appeared to be punching and punching and punching each other like Keith David and Roddy Piper in They Live. So I walked off to leave them be. I did notice, however, the other creatures still looking up at the sky as they walked over to the spectacle, never looking down as the money changed hands as they placed bets.

I noticed this so much that I did not notice the time person until I had walked into them. They picked me up and looked into my eyes, like they would have a watch.

“It’s almost time now.” they said, and handed me a bottle. Not drinking from it until later proved to be one of the other few good decisions I had made in my life. Not that I noticed that now.

I could see the white light dropping, as more and more creatures flooded out of the... house? Was it a house at this point? Looking at it from here, it was impossible to tell where it ended and the sky began.

The creatures were all holding drinks. Even the ones without hands. And as I looked into the sky, as the light dropped, I saw a face. It was like looking into the face of madness. It was like looking into the face of the divine. It was the most hideous thing I had ever seen. It was the most beautiful hope I had ever realized. It was the destruction of all that was here. It was the beginning of something else.

All the creatures held up their glasses, as it blazed brighter and brighter, and said “The world is dying, the new world is to be reborn! Now is the time for gods! Now is the time for monsters! Now is the time for us!”

And there was a toast and a cheer, and the light blazed down to the earth as the spears of metal reached their claws towards the light and...

...And like that, everything was gone. I was alone. But, you won’t believe what happened next...