Minion the Bogfire Spook
Legacy Name: Atrox
The Nightmare Serpenth
Age: 6 years, 7 months, 3 weeks
Born: December 15th, 2013
Adopted: 7 months, 1 week, 1 day ago
Adopted: January 2nd, 2020
- Level: 97
- Strength: 100
- Defense: 100
- Speed: 100
- Health: 100
- HP: 100/100
- Intelligence: 66
- Books Read: 66
- Food Eaten: 64
- Job: Unemployed
A slight chill is your only warning. If it wakes you, there's still a chance you may live. Snuggle further into the blankets and you'll assuredly keep Father Applegame in business.
He's the only person alive to encounter Atrox in a dream and live — if one can call dumpster diving and preaching on the side of the road living.
His journey to madness started at the head of a tiny congregation in a town now buried under a five thousand car parking lot. The location is irrelevant. Suffice it to say, it was a tight-knit community where the church wives got together to bake up a ham and some scalloped potatoes whenever somebody died. The markers in the cemetery all seemed to bear the same dozen names. There was a single stoplight hung on a wire that short-circuited nearly as often as it worked.
A forgotten town full of lonely wisps with a foot in each world. Prime real estate for a wandering ghost.
Hal was the first. When he wasn't falling-down drunk or moaning about his ulcer, he was a decent enough sort. He owned his own ice cream parlour for thirty-seven years. He'd throw sprinkles on every child's sundae for free. He'd sneak an extra glop of whipped cream on the banana boats for those girls stood up by a cruel boyfriend. He'd even set out a scoop of peanut butter when he saw a stray wandering around. He was no professor but he was an all-around decent guy.
Then the place went out of business and Hal began his nightly wanderings.
His sleep-walking might have been humorous if he didn't always end up under the stoplight screaming his fool head off. He'd mutter about a monster well into the daylight hours. Billowing black rags, hideous and bloody fangs, the whole nine yards.
It was the booze, the locals said. The local PD (a whopping force of one sheriff and two deputies) took to collaring him as soon as he came out of the bar. ALcohol consumption went way down in that little town. Nobody wanted to spend a night in the drunk tank with Howling Hal.
Deputy Arnold was trying valiantly not to doze off by reading an Outdoor Living from 1979 when the first sighting occurred. His sleepy eyes flew wide open. A massive shadow skulked the length of the prison block, fangs bared, tongue lolling and edges rippling slightly like the disturbed surface of a pond. The deputy took a firm grip on his pistol and stepped around the corner to check on the inmates.
They were sleeping peacefully, all except Howling Hal. The old nuisance had fallen out of his bunk. Deputy Arnold could see his striped red and white shorts.
No answer. Deputy Arnold frowned. Hal would take up a line of chatter on his deathbed.
The deputy found the man under his charge lying in a pool of his own blood. There was no evidence of foul play. The county doctor called it an accident. There was a large bump on the back of Hal's head. He must've struck it on the metal edge of the cot. Tragic, but hardly worth the bother of an investigation.
Farther Applegame was young and idealistic. He believed in a proper burial for all. He didn't just volunteer to do pauper funerals, he sought them out.
He was the only one that squinted and studied the shape of Hal's bump a little closer.
It looked like a serpent with two eyes and curled tongue, each in the shape of the number "6".
"Did you really think false holy relics would keep me waiting like a bridegroom in the night, Darling? The sea and the sky are patient. I am not."
Gwendolyn Glump had never missed a single Sunday of church. At 87 years old, she didn't have much else to look forward to. Her house was a fortress of miniature statues depicting blessed figures and paintings themed around stories in the Bible. She said her rosary every night before bed and gave a little of her meager pension to the poor once a week.
She'd given up the idea of taking a lover into her arms when she was only 8 years old. She knew already that she wanted to be a nun, to put her beautiful singing voice to good use and spend her days in a community of fellowship. It was the nuns of the orphanage that gave her and all the other girls sweets and promised them eternal paradise if they would humble themselves before the Lord.
She'd retired two years back, taking a cottage in a small community that welcomed such a sweet-tempered choir director. They welcomed her with open arms and she returned that goodwill by bringing tears to their eyes when she sat down to play the organ.
They bundled their resources to bring in a doctor for Gwen when she started waking the neighbors with her terrified cries. It was Marty Goldkratz that reached her first, giving her the reassurance of a comforting hand as she sat and cried.
"I don't need a doctor. Get me Father Applegame!"
By then, half the women of the church were there, doing their best to soothe her and get her to lie down. A collective shudder went through the room shortly after she fell into a doze. Doris (the self-proclaimed Queen of Shuffleboard) was the one startled by the fast-moving shadow of some kind of animal. She didn't quite turn around fast enough to get a glimpse but she would later swear something needed to be done about those blasted stray mutts wandering through peoples' yards.
The priest arrived just in time to read her last rights. He waited until everyone else had left to take a closer look at the bruising on her neck. It had been three years since he'd seen that ominous mark.
Father Applegame made the sign of the cross, speaking under his breath.
A cold breeze blew through the open window. He rose to close it, shuddering and hurrying from the room. He met the doctor in the hallway, passing on the sad news. The man rolled his eyes.
Father Applegame shook his head at the man's callousness. Didn't people realize that by turning away from their humanity, they were inviting a malevolent force to move in and take the empty space?
There were half a dozen cases in the next year, all within a ten-mile radius of the first. One of the rag papers ran an article regarding "Father AppleGhost". The well-meaning priest made the mistake of trying to take his story to the popular media. He got attention, all right. Along with a month under observation for concerns about his mental health.
It was in a cell painted a nice, soothing mint shade where he grappled with the forces of darkness that he had so long sworn to protect his sheep against.
The dream started simply in the desert. He wandered until his thin leather sandals were reduced to scrap. The tender skin on his feet blistered and bled but he could not rest. There was something up ahead, something he had to see. He didn't have a choice This frightened him fiercely. The Lord always gives people a choice. The fact that he was moving against his will only left one logical conclusion.
He was in the other one's domain.
The palace sprang into being from nothing. A puff of black smoke and it was there, a super-fortress built from chunks of marble red as blood. Two enormous oil bowls burned to either side of the door.
"You seek to undermine my grip on this insignificant town, Priest."
"As I should. As I must. I know you, Atrox. You and the one you serve."
"You're no saint. You want to know how I do it. You're dying to know."
"I have bathed in holy water and prayed the sacred lines of protection. You shall not harm me."
Atrox hissed. "We shall see." His long, black tongue slithered out of his mouth, leaving a trail of acidic slime on his chin. A few tiny holes melted into the floor at the impact of each droplet. "People are naturally drawn to their weaker natures. So were they made, so must they behave. When I walk in their dreams, I offer them everything they've ever desired... Love, money, fame. The deepest wishes of the hearts of humans grow boring in short order. Once they are dazzled, they feel the brush of my cloak, shaped from the ashes of a thousand warriors slain in your Crusades. They want to run away then, to deny what I am and what is about to happen. My shadow hound manifests on the physical plane, sniffing out any last struggle for breath. When I hear his call, I know it is safe for me to complete the feeding. Some struggle. They have already given me their souls though they may not accept it readily. I looove the ones that struggle. It enhances the flavor..."
Atrox shrunk back with a muted roar. The priest's weapons were more potent than he had let on. The end of the demon's tongue smoldered with a painfully bright light.
Father Applegame wiped frantically at his lips. A sickly sweetness seemed to fill his mouth, threatening to rob him of his senses. The protections he had in place could only stretch their powers so far.
He woke in his hospital bed, drenched in sweat and breathing hard. The nurse who came in to check on him later in the night was alarmed by the blisters on his lips. They checked every square inch of his room but couldn't determine the poison he must have tried to take. All their tests came back negative. He remained quiet and cooperative. It was the only way to convince them to let him leave and return to his work.
His name faded even from the covers of the rags. He traveled the world, desperate to find any leads on the foul creature that had robbed him of youth and hope.
It was not until many years later that he made it back to what had once been his town and home. He stood in the center of the Kwik Mart parking lot and wept as the last of the day's shoppers drove away, casting alarmed looks in the direction of the scrawny priest with black lips.
Yet another community lost to avarice and lack of unity. Yet another victory in humanity's losing battle.
The streetlamps came on overhead. Father Applegame watched in horror as the random movements of the fireflies took on a deeper meaning. Their shadows came together to form a pattern of three digits, each in the shape of the number "6".