End Evil

Time to Play

By James Smith

It was a dark and stormy Halloween night.

The wind was howling like banshees. Three men huddled around the light of a guttering fire. One of them said, "Igor, tell us a story."

Igor began.

"I was a freshman at a large university. There were many other new students, I dreamed of joining one of the many fraternities on the campus. One of the newer, and most popular, was an organization of scientifically-minded students. The basis of their philosophy was that we should live our lives by knowledge and logic. To this end, they devoted a large part of their time in disproving superstitions and myths. As part of this image, each year they would induct exactly thirteen pledges. I was delighted to be one of the chosen for that year.

As part of our pledge initiation activities we had to demonstrate our disbelief in superstitions by walking under ladders, lighting three on a match, letting black cats cross our paths, and other sophomoric stunts.

Several miles from town, there was an abandoned house, which local legend held to be haunted. Various stories had placed it as being the site of strange phenomena. Our final initiation was to take place at midnight on Halloween, at this ruin. Our fraternity brothers thought this would be the perfect ritual, not only proving our worthiness, but dispelling a local myth at the same time.

We were driven to the house after eleven o'clock Halloween night. Silent and sinister, it loomed ominously in the moonless night. We were told that we must explore the house one at a time with only a small candle to light our way. Ray, the youngest pledge, would go first. I, as the oldest, would go last.

Ray was given a candle, one match, and told to enter each room on both floors before returning to the group. "See you later Ray," I grinned. The bravado was more for myself than him. Ray approached the decrepit door, which had been pried open by the fraternity brothers. The match flared, and then settled into a steady glow as the candle lit. The fitful light marked his progress from room to room. Suddenly, the light went out. "Oh boy, and only one match," whispered one of the pledges. The light reappeared on the second floor. It had been hidden as Ray ascended the stairwell. The pledges released nervous sighs of relief. Mine was not the least of them.

We continued to follow Ray's candle light as he moved about on the second floor. The light vanished again. We waited, more relaxed, for it to reappear. Instead, a terrible, undulating shriek froze the blood to our bones. As it trailed into a long, shuddering scream we were paralyzed with indecision. Run for our lives? Go to his aid? Our frat brothers decided for us by pushing us to the house. "Run! Maybe he fell! He could be hurt."

Someone stuck a flashlight in my hand and pushed me to the front. I fumbled the light on and checked the first room. There was only dust and old, decaying furniture in the first room. As we moved to the stairwell, it occurred to me that this was a trick; an initiation joke by the fraternity. With more confidence, I started up the steps, listening carefully for snickers from the frat brothers. I flicked the light into the first room. No Ray. By now I was certain that he was hiding somewhere, laughing at us. We checked the next two rooms with no more success. Finally, I opened the door to the last room, prepared to calmly accept whatever trick waited for us.

This was no trick. Ray lay face up on the floor. He had been ripped open from neck to navel. Ropy remnants of organs were splattered on the walls, floor, and ceiling. One eye had been gouged out. The other stared blankly up at horrors none of us could imagine. Ray's hands were in his body cavity. One was full of unidentifiable offal, the other reaching for another helping of gore. Somehow, he had done this to himself, tearing at his own body in a destructive frenzy. I fell back against the others. Someone was vomiting. I felt only a chill so deep and intense that I knew I would never be warm again. It was as though a vast, evil presence had passed through my soul.

After the investigations, the fraternity disbanded. We all attempted to return to as near normal lives as we could manage. Not wanting any reminders of our experience, the twelve remaining pledges avoided each other as much as possible. One year later, we received a memento that could not be ignored.

At midnight on the next Halloween, one of the surviving pledges killed himself in the same manner; ripping open his body and flinging his organs from himself as though they were on fire.

Every midnight on Halloween, another of the pledges has done the same. I'm the only one left. Anyone know what time it is?"

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