The Red Man is real and I’m going to Stop Him - Chap 3
In the early days of mankind, we struggled to comprehend our existence. So we made up stories about how a raven created the tides, or a black squirrel stole the sun. Then scientists came along and they tried to explain everything in our universe. But there are things beyond understanding, or explanation.
Has the Red Man visited you yet? Maybe he has and you don’t know it. Maybe he gave you that crippling fear of heights, or that panic attack. He feeds off our despair, our sorrow, our depression. But I’ll do what I can to stop him, I promise.
“What are those marks on your arm?” I asked as Emma drove.
“They’re some kind of protection. But don’t ask me what they mean.” Emma kept her foot on the gas. “My dad was a professor. He used to study ancient artifacts, religions, that kind of stuff. He was the one that told me to get them tattooed on my body. Sometimes when I encounter one of those things, it burns off one of the tattoos and leaves a scar.”
“So what happens when they’re all gone?” I wondered.
“No more protection I guess.” Emma replied. “Unless I can figure out what they mean.”
We had been doing research on the doctor who had his eyes scratched out. The one the nurse had pointed to in the photograph. Some of the medical records had survived the fire. Doctor Kline had been treating patients with various disorders, one who had killed several people. He confessed and was convicted, but the bodies were never found. We had decided to track the killer’s last known address.
“Do you think the doctor could be connected to the Red Man somehow?” I asked.
“If we find him, we can ask him.” Emma kept her focus forward. “In the patient’s file, he claimed that the killings weren’t his fault. He said he heard voices talking to him at night, in some language he couldn’t understand. Just like someone we know, right?”
“Is that what’s going to happen to me? The voices are going to drive me insane and I’m going to start murdering people?”
“If it happens, don’t worry. I’ll put you down before you hurt anyone.” Emma was having fun with this.
“Gee thanks.” I answered, sourly.
“No problem.” Emma slammed the brakes. The car came to a sudden stop.
There was a figure standing in the road; it seemed menacing. “Is it him?” I felt my heart race. Had the Red Man come to claim us?
I averted my gaze. I could hear the figure as he walked up to the window. He tapped on the glass. “Hey.” The voice was muted. Emma rolled the window down. “Hey. Are you the ones that called me?”
I turned to find that thankfully this individual was not an entity of unrelenting darkness, but instead just a carpenter with a baseball cap named Brian. He chuckled at the look on my face. “What? Did I scare you?”
“I thought you were someone else.”
“You’re the two who wanted to see the killer’s old house right? It’s my house now, kind of famous. I bought it for a steal after the bank repossessed it.” Brian got a kick from showing people around the place. “My car’s just up there. Follow me.”
At his home, Brian pulled out a three-ring binder with a collection of news articles he had clipped. They were all about the killer and his victims. “You can read all about it here. He was in the hospital for a while until he confessed. Said he was hearing voices. And you know what’s funny? Since I bought the place, sometimes I hear voices too.”
“What kind of voices?” Emma asked.
“Dunnow. They’re in some kind of foreign language. If you wanna hear them, there’s a place where they get louder.” He led us down the hall to a door. He opened the door to reveal a metal hatch. “I found it after I bought the place.”
“So? It leads to the basement, right?” It seemed obvious to Emma.
“Oh no.” Brian shook his head. “See that’s the thing. There is no basement. I checked the plans. This right here is what I call ‘the well.’ It’s just a hole that leads straight down to nowhere. You know the cops never found the bodies of his victims, just pieces of them. Like a finger, or a hand. So maybe this is where he dumped them. Or maybe he kept them prisoner down there.”
“When did the voices start?” Emma asked.
Brian continued. “One night there was an earthquake. And we don’t get many earthquakes around here. It was about four in the morning and I couldn’t sleep after that. So I came down here to check the hatch I heard this kind of like- moaning.”
Brian began to sweat. “For the life of me, I thought I was imagining things. But I heard it again, the next night. When I came in here, something from down there was trying to open the hatch. But it’s not meant to be opened from below. Only from up top. As crazy as it sounds, there is something down there, and it’s trying to get out.”
A clank of metal rang out as Brian unlocked the mechanism that kept the hatch sealed. He opened it to reveal a well that led deep into the earth. There were metal rungs along the side we could use to descend. “Now, I have to tell you. I can’t risk whatever’s in the well from getting out. So if you go down there, I’m going to have to lock the door. You understand? So when you want to get back, just start yelling or something. But if that thing’s chasing you? And if by me opening this door, that would let it out? Then I’m afraid I’ll have to keep it shut. Nothing personal.”
“And what if something happens to you while we’re down there?” I wondered. What if he had a heart attack while we were exploring?
“I’ll be right here.” Brian was certain. But Brian had been hearing the same voices that drove the killer to madness. Had the voices corrupted him? Was this a trap?
We descended down metal rungs until we arrived at floor level. The ground was covered with shallow water. Both of us had flashlights out. I scanned the area, searching for anything unusual. A metal clank rang out as the hatch above was slammed shut.
“How do we know he’s going to let us out when we get back?” Something about the man seemed off.
“Too late now.” Emma was focused. The light from her lamp illuminated a tunnel. “Let’s go.” Emma kept us moving forward. Ok radar guy, where to next? Left, or right?”
“I hate it when you call me that.” I closed my eyes and listened. I could hear something that sounded like a vibration coming from one of the tunnels. “Right… There’s something there. I can feel it.” We took the branching tunnel and kept on. “Why did you start doing this?” I wondered. “Why risk your life looking for monsters?”
Emma explained. “My mother had cancer. By the time the doctors discovered the tumor, it was too late. My dad thought the Red Man might have caused it. So he made it his life’s work to find him. Guess you could say I followed in his footsteps.”
“Can he do that?” I was shocked at the idea that the Red Man could make us sick.
“It’s one theory.” Emma led us on through the darkness. “Or maybe my dad was just looking for a reason.”
Just then the earth shook. “Hold on.” I yelled. If you’ve never been in an earthquake, it is sudden, jarring. It felt like the walls were about to collapse and I was helpless to stop it. Finally the shaking subsided.
A moan echoed in the darkness. “There’s something down here with us.”
“What is this place?” I asked, and the truth revealed itself. We came out into a shaft, where several rusted tools had been discarded. Wooden beams that had been built to shore up the roof were splintering and rotting. There was a rail that ran down the tunnel.
“This must be an old mine.” Emma scanned the walls. “Look.” She pointed to several strange markings. As she ran her hands along the surface, trying to decipher them, the walls of the mine groaned. “Watch out!” Emma grabbed me.
I looked back. I had nearly stumbled over a precipice. “How far down do you think it goes?” I wondered.
“Far enough.” Emma had an idea. “If this is a mine, that means there’s a way out.” A clatter.
Something in the shadows crossed our path behind Emma. But I didn’t tell her.
“Did you see something?” She turned at the noise.
“No.” I lied. “Let’s keep moving, ok?” I pulled Emma forward.
We came to an open room with a narrow gap. “This way.” Emma squeezed into the opening; she was smaller than I was. She made it look easy.
I felt a clatter and a moan. And then I saw it. At the entrance to the room was a thing with red eyes. It was sudden, volatile, surprising. And it was approaching.
I held my breath. I was shocked at the shape of it. It didn’t have a form, as much as no form at all. It began to stalk forward, clattering. And it came up to me. It was so close I could reach out and touch it. It was then I realized the creature was blind. As long as I didn’t make a noise, it couldn’t find me. So I felt like I had a chance. That was before it reached out with its tendrils.
Black fibers emerged from the creature. They began to unfold and stretch. They reached and grasped. I backed up slowly, until my back was against the wall. As the demon lunged, I dove. I went for the gap in the wall. But I was physically larger than Emma. Squeezing through was almost impossible. I struggled to get through, as the demon charged forward.
I discarded my backpack, and made my way to the other side. Just in time.
“You made it.” Emma greeted me on the other side. “What was that noise?”
“I saw something.” My heart was racing after the encounter. “It was terrible.”
“Maybe it’s causing the voices?” Emma wondered. “You think it’s what made that man kill all those people?”
“I don’t know.” I couldn’t say for sure. “But whatever’s down here, it is very pissed off.”
A shaft of light illuminated the room we were in. Emma looked up to find a pile of boulders. “Well… I think we found the exit.” The only tunnel leading out of this place had collapsed. “Looks like the only way out is back.”
We went back through the gap, carefully. We made sure to listen for the demon, but when we returned it had vanished.
“We’ve seen enough.” Emma was feeling anxious. “Let’s go back.”
A scream rang out. It was guttural, chilling. “Oh shit.” Emma felt anxious. “That’s bad, isn’t it?”
“Hurry!” I yelled. We ran through the tunnels. We turned left at the branch. We found ourselves at the entryway. And we climbed while the screams and roars approached.
We yelled. I pounded on the hatch. “Let us out!”
The demon was getting closer. We yelled and yelled but it seemed like Brian had forgotten about us. Or maybe he had been corrupted by the voices. There was a ripple in the waters, and the demon appeared below us. “Brian please!”
The hatch swung open. We lifted ourselves into the room, where Brian was waiting with an axe. “Get back!” He yelled. Demon tendrils reached up. They grabbed the hatch. They grabbed the walls. Brian swung his axe at them, chopping off pieces. “Ahah! I got it!” Brian cried out, victorious. He slammed the hatch shut.
We all took a moment to recover. “What in the hell was that thing?” Brian wondered.
“Something bad.” Emma replied. “And if it gets out? A lot of people are going to get hurt.”
“Ok.” Brian nodded. “I think I have an idea.” Brian took us to the shed out back where he opened a case of dynamite. “Let’s make sure that thing never sees the light of day, you hear me?”
Down below, Emma and I watched, as Brian prepared the explosives. “Hurry.” I was getting nervous.
“Ok, it’s ready.” Brian turned. He grinned, holding the trigger. “We are gonna blast that thing to kingdom come.” Something moved in the shadows behind him.
The demon reached out. It embraced Brian. It pulled the man back into the darkness. The detonation trigger went tumbling. Emma grabbed the trigger.
I searched for Brian. “We have to save him.”
“There is nothing we can do.” The voices were getting louder. They were chanting in some foreign tongue. “It’s coming back!”
We ran for the ladder. We climbed as fast as we could. That red-eyed demon was just behind us. Its tendrils reached out. “Emma! Now!”
Emma hit the trigger. A shockwave blasted rock walls and turned them to rubble. Rocks rained down, burying the demon in the pit.
In the aftermath of our adventure, I did some research. I found out an interesting fact about the mine we had explored. Many years ago, the land for the mine had been stolen from the tribe who lived there. They didn’t just lose their land; they were massacred. The mine produced so much wealth that the owners and all their descendants became rich. But a spirit of vengeance awoke in those tunnels. It corrupted the mind of the man who lived in that house. The spirit turned an innocent man into a killer.
I doubt the explosion killed the red-eyed demon. It’s just trapped in those tunnels, waiting. And one day somebody exploring is going to find it.
Our world is filled with greed, avarice, war, and suffering. He feeds off it, don’t you understand? That’s why we’re to blame, all of us.
Whatever you do, don’t feed the Red Man. You’ll just make him stronger.