[Note: This is the second part of my little writing project called Morthanathos Merry Monsters. If you’re not familiar with part one, I recommend you read it first.]
Morthanathos and his Merry Monsters
Live in the flesh
The most hair-raising creepshow you’ve ever seen
Guaranteed to take your breath away
”Ladies and gentlemen, I bid ye the most macabre welcome!”
Morthanathos had entered the stage. His hooded, black cloak swung around his enormous hooves as he moved, emanating a low, thumping sound. The eyes of the crowd widened at the sight of the half-man. He was tall, taller than any human, and utterly horrifying in his full figure.
”Now, I hope ye all took yer calming pills today.” Morthanathos chuckled playfully, his face hidden underneath the dark hood. ”For what we have to show ye may exceed yer wildest fantasies!”
He suddenly changed his voice from the thundering, dramatic shouts into a laid-back one that reminded of a cheerful salesman.
”And please,” he said, pointing down the hallway, ”if ye wish to vomit, do use the bathroom. It’s down on the right. Thank you!” He nodded. ”Now then. About time for an appetizer, isn’t it? Very well. Let me present to ye – the girl of yer most gruesome nightmares. Ye know of whom I’m talkin’, right?”
Waves of motion were spreading through the crowd, people pushing and shoving each other to get a better view. The excitement was building quickly inside the ragged, makeshift tent that surrounded them.
”Oh, all ye heard is true, I ensure ye.” Morthanathos twisted his fingers secretively. ”Born in 19th century London, she fell to the bubonic plague that claimed millions of souls back then. Lost her sanity to the fever. Lost her dignity to the deformities. Lost her very humanity to the ravaging disease! But now, she’s risen from her hospital bed to give us a show we’ll never forget.”
He turned around. The curtain behind him fell as the lights turned around, pointing at the stage entrance.
“She’s wild! She’s ferocious! She’s a fright to look upon! Now give it up for her!”
The crowd pulled a unison gasp whilst terrified cries broke out. A creature had entered the stage. To some extent it still resembled a young girl, but its movements were more like those of a wild animal. She crawled on all fours, moving across the stage fitfully but incredibly fast. When approaching the crowd, the screams increased in volume, people stumbling into one another in an attempt to get away.
”She’s Lympheta!” yelled Morthanathos. “Survivor of the black plague! Don’t ye get too close. Ye don’t wanna catch what she’s got!”
The creature seemed to enjoy the attention it received from the crowd. She jerked at the front liners playfully, laughing as they flinched and pulled back in terror at her approach. She then stood up on two, allowing everyone’s eyes to witness her full, ghostly apparition. The scabbed hospital dress fell to her knees.
The sight of her truly was repelling. Large sections of the skin seemed to have been ripped off, exposing the pink, flushing muscles beneath. Veins and arteries were pulsating along with her heavy breathing. Her face appeared split in half, half of which was still human, half of which looked molten, decomposed as on an old corpse.
But worst of all was her… rib cage. The skin over her chest had long since been scratched off, it seemed, and one could see her very insides – from the tainted muscles, to the bones, down to her very heart which was, visibly, still beating in it’s cage.
The faces of the crowd were all but green as they followed the creature’s sly movements around the stage. She notably enjoyed herself in her action as she screeched and taunted the crowd with loud, hair raising noises.
Morthanathos turned his head around to the backstage and gave a slight nod.
“Release the rats,” he ordered.
In the next second, the stage was swarming with little rodents. Red eyed devils with tick, greasy fur, their tales slithering behind them as they scurried between his legs. Two of them climbed their way up the girls back, taking seat on her respective shoulders. She giggled and kissed them both on their filthy mouths, whereon she let them go with the others, charging into the terrified crowd. People screamed and moved around to avoid the vermin swarming around their feet, the floor seemed to come alive – turning into a waving ocean of fur.
”Don’t ye worry!” the man on hooves shouted cheerfully. ”The plague is quite curable nowadays. But she?” He pointed at the monstrous girl, shaking his head. ”Nothing we can do for her anymore. Poor bastard’s gone feral. She is, indeed, as heartless as seems!”
Simultaneously as he spoke, the girl behind him performed a hideous action. She dug her nails in between the bones of her chest, trough muscles and flesh which parted with a nasty, wet sound, and cupped her very own heart in her hand. Then with a sharp movement, she pulled it out trough the hole in her chest, and held it out like a trophy for everyone to see.
Watching the slimy, pink muscle still beating in her hand, several more in the crowd fainted. Some even started to run for the exit. Still, the majority of the people followed the happenings on the stage with a burning excitement in their eyes. Fear mixed with awe. They were wondering if this was some sort of trick. A staged act. The effects were, although, horribly lifelike.
”Oh why, don’t ye quit on us now!” the man on hooves called out. ”The show’s only just begun! ”Ladies and gentlemen! I present to ye – Morthanatos and me Merry Monsters!”
With that, the music began to play as more creatures entered the stage. The melody was out of tune, twisted and bone-chilling to the core, no less than the performers themselves.
They were a hideous lot, the stuff of nightmares. Some of them lacked several body parts, others had grown such malformations that they barely resembled human beings. Morthanathos joyfully introduced them one by one.
“Bitterbreath!” A young man with a huge chasm in his face, as if someone ran a knife trough it, splitting his skin from one cheek to the other. The tear bared his few remaining teeth and giving him a deviant grin permanently.
“Autopsy!” A hairless creature with stitches covering its naked body, distorting its features. It may have once been a woman, but there were no telling for sure, since it displayed no gender specific organs whatsoever, much like a mannequin.
“Vargas!” A bewildered looking man who still, despite dirt and scars, seemed quite human. Until he pulled up his shirt and revealed a huge set of mandibles sticking out of his abdomen like a mouth.
“Medousa!” A girl with dozens of slick, human hands growing out of her back, slithering behind her like snakes. They seemed to have a life of their own, waving and pointing their fingers at the crowd, making rude gestures and hints.
“Spawn! Crimson! Behemoth!” The list went on and on, one creature more hideous than the other. Morthanathos observed it all and smirked to himself. Once again they’d pulled off a hell of a show. The people of the village would be talking about it for the coming years – if not decades. And if they ever returned to this place, people would surely pay thrice the money to see it again.
Morthanathos’ smile grew wider. Say what you want about death, but it sure was good business.
After the last of the crowd had left the building, Lympheta finally let her grin drop. She turned around and yawned. She was tired. Oh, so tired.
”Good show tonight, eh?” Crimson said cheerfully as he walked by, holding a big cage in his arms. He put it down to the floor. ”Well, summon your little minions, and quick. Morthanatos want’s us to clear out in ten.”
She nodded and sighed. Then, careful not to break any veins, she put her heart back in her ribcage. It’s familiar beating against her bones felt comforting to her. She whistled upon her rats, who immediately came running, entering the cage on her demand. She kissed her favorite two goodbye lovingly before closing it. A piece of fabric from her skirt got stuck between the bars.
”Damn this dress.” She furiously tore it loose, ripping the cloth in two.
”Blast!” She hated the filthy, slime covered hospital gown. It was too short for her to be comfortable in it. And it itched, too.
”I can’t believe he’s making me wear this,” she muttered. ”If only Morthanathos wasn’t so dramatic.”
”It’s part of the business, I believe,” a dry voice behind her said. She turned around to see Bitterbreath leaning against the wall, a smug smile on his face and a cigarette rolling between his bony fingers.
”But boy, do I admire his determination,” he continued. “Turning you from the little wretch you were into this heart-stopping sensation. Pardon the expression,” he added, laughing. “I mean, the whole poor-girl-infested-with-the-plague-now-coming-back-to-haunt-us-thing? You’re really rocking it. No wonder they’re running away from you, because you, my dear, are beyond monstrous. Actually, calling you a monster is an insult to the rest of us. All that flesh… exposed. The way you crawled around on that stage.” He looked at her with distaste. ”You’re an animal. It’s a miracle Morthanatos doesn’t keep you on a leash.”
She turned around furiously and hissed.
”Shut that filthy gum of yours, BitterBreath.”
”Can’t,” he said and pointed at his mouth, where the skin and lips had been ripped off, showing his few remaining teeth. ”See? Impossible.”
”Just get lost.”
“Yeah, knock it off, Bitter,” Vengeance agreed as he passed by, carrying a set of stage lights. The cut-off noose around his badly lacerated neck dangled back and forth with his movements. “We’ve all had a tough week, with Morthanathos making us do double shifts, but this aint helping. Now pack it up so we can get back home.”
He wore an old suit, torn and discolored by time – and quite the amount of dried in blood and mold, too. It was impossible to distinguish its origin. He carried around him a cloud of frowzy odor, an atmosphere of decomposition.
“Oh, great.” BitterBreath turned around and frowned. ”The noble hero’s here to save the damsel, is that it? Whatever you say, Lancelot. I’m outta here anyway. Wouldn’t wanna miss the banquet tonight, eh? I heard Morthanathos has prepared something quite spectacular.” He elongated the last word sarcastically. Then he spat on the floor between his feet and left with sauntering steps.
Lympheta looked after him in disgust.
“I swear he gets worse by every show.”
“He’s just jealous since you took his spot as headliner,” Vengeance said, shrugging his shoulders. “You ask me? You’re a lot better than he ever were.”
“Thanks.” She nervously pulled at the edges of her tainted hospital gown. BitterBreath’s comment made itself reminded in her head and she added: “I didn’t need rescuing. I can handle him on my own.”
“You think I don’t know?” Vengeance asked. “Trust me, you’re the last person I’d consider in need of being rescued.”
Lympheta bit her lip.
“We all were rescued,” she said lowly, then looked down at her feet in shame. She shouldn’t have said that.
”Yeah, but unlike us, he didn’t deserve it.” Vengeance glared at the spot BitterBreath had vanished. ”Whoever ran his face trough with a fillet knife, is my hero.” He gave a dry chuckle.
Lympheta gasped. There was a sudden, sharp sting of pain in her chest as he spoke, and she quickly pressed her hands against it, forcing her traitorous heart to lie still.
Don’t do that.
Morthanathos had rescued her. That much she knew. But apart from that, she had very few memories of her previous life. Every one of them seemed to be pulled from her very last minutes. The unbearable stench. The hospital bed. Her body, slowly falling apart before her eyes. And something more. A tune, a silly jingle that kept repeating.
Ring, ring, ring around the rosies.
“You okay?” Vengeance lifted an eyebrow.
“Look, I need to warn you.” After a moment of silence, Vengeance spoke again. He softly grabbed her shoulder, forcing here to turn around. “I’ve seen you sneaking up to the forbidden section of the castle at night.” His concerned gaze searched for hers. ”I know what you’re looking for. You best hope you don’t find it.”
Lympheta snorted, unwilling to let her uneasiness show.
“And what am I looking for?” she said insolently.
Vengeance’s face wrinkled in pity. He reached out and, before she could react, penetrated the hanging tendons, digging deeper in, and then snapping his fist around her heart. A shiver went trough her body at the intruding touch. He carefully eased it out trough the layers of flesh and held it firmly before her face. She stared at the beating muscle.
“You are strong,” he said lowly. “But your heart is weak. You’d better not let them know.” He gave her a menacing look, then carefully placed the heart back in her rib cage before leaving the room, leaving the scent of blood and mold in the air behind him.
So, it took ages, but I finished this piece. What do you think about the story development? Please let me know if you enjoyed this. Oh, and sorry for any possible grammatical errors.