The crumbling bricks of the fireplace reminded me of some distant memory as I approached, feeling suddenly tired and anxious. Shadows darted and danced within the recess despite the absence of flame. I began to wonder if it was possible to stop myself continuing as my feet dragged ever onward. For a moment I see the dirty smile of the Landcaster’s ghost. It knows me well, yet I cannot remember. It turns around, disappearing somewhere into the charcoal coated emptiness. He is playing.
Once I reached the base of the hearth it seemed that all the sounds around me had ceased. I dared not look behind me and kept my gaze firmly set upon the opening. My heart skipped, and my breath escaped me when I saw skinny little black arms and legs crawling around inside. A sound pushed through the thick blanket of deafness. The ghost was breathing, and it sounded frustrated or hungry.
I started to open my mouth to ask it it’s name, but before I could, the dark figure lunged at me, one hand tightening around my neck and the other pressing its finger to my pale, dry lips. Face to face with a demon, I had to fight for consciousness. With black eyes, lips, and hair, its ashy black skin seemed dusty to the touch. As I stroked its arm, it looked down slowly. A piercing scream injected a venomous fear inside me. The sound felt as though it was echoing through my soul.
As we stood there, its freakishly long arms still holding me, I couldn’t think straight. The ghost smiled that devil smile, long and dripping with tar. I maintained a frightened stare, but made no sound. Finally, it let me go.
I don’t know what I was thinking going there, but it was too late to turn back. I couldn’t turn back. For a moment, I thought I’d won. The ghost shot back into the fireplace shadows, and the normal sounds of life resumed. I thought I’d been released, but as I said, it was playing. In a moment of poor judgement, I closed my eyes to pray. Instantly I felt a stabbing pain in my spine followed by a chill that ran its way up to my brain.
When I opened my eyes again I was within the fireplace looking out at my own body which had fallen on the old wood floor. I reached out with a disembodied hand, but a glass film covered the entrance. A childish chuckle came from somewhere far behind me, yet there was nothing but solid brick covered with soot and the bones of children scattered across the floor. My fate had been sealed.
Over the next few years, I watched as my body gradually decayed and withered until nothing but bone remained. Sometimes the black ghost would visit me, telling me stories of its terrors as it brushed against my shoulder or licked my ear. I wasn’t allowed to speak. Whenever I’d try, that terrible shriek would stop me. So here I sit, wondering if this is truly my fate, to wait here for eternity or until God decides to send this demon back to hell.