The following is a preview from Domesticated Primate‘s newest release, “The Lonesome Dark: Forgotten Nightmares,” by A.C. Perry, edited by Alexa Catao, with art by Dean Forsythe II. The text includes a publisher’s note, an author’s note, and one of the stories from the collection. The book is available for pre-order at DOMESTICATEDPRIMATE.COM or through emailing the publisher at NICK@DOMESTICATEDPRIMATE.COM.
Please enjoy this chilling read just in time for the Halloween season!
It was through a series of strange coincidences that I first found myself acquainted with the author—or should I say gatherer—of this volume, AC Perry.
Upon our first meeting, he shared with me this collection of stories along with the bulk of research he had done cross-referencing, verifying, and fact checking the information found within them. Not being an expert on the legality of such things, I sought out some advisement from a friend and member of the state bar association who encouraged that we stray from sharing the research and the names as we were unable to contact any of the parties mentioned. So, for this volume, we just stuck to the stories.
That being said, I hope you are as equally compelled as I was when reading through these accounts for the first time. Just don’t let the lonesome dark swallow you…
This book is the first volume in The Lonesome Dark, an annual series by AC Perry.
A NOTE FROM MR. PERRY
The stories that follow in this volume were written by an unknown author (or authors) at an undetermined time. I have taken on the responsibility of organizing these tales so that they may be shared with the public. They are not tales for the squeamish nor do they all end happily. I must admit that they have affected me to a degree, but I share them with you now to lighten this load which I now bare.
My wife and I had just purchased a quaint little cape style house in a quiet part of Massachusetts. We needed more room when our second child was born and the area was ripe with inspiration for my writing. Not long after we settled in, my wife went back to work saving lives at the local hospital–she is a doctor. It gave me plenty of time alone to explore our new place. We were in love with the house, but like any old New England cape, it felt as though it had some secrets to tell. I ignored the feeling, chalking it up to my predilection for Romantic thinking—though, pondering it now, I realize it only came at the times when I was home alone.
It was a chilly October morning when I discovered the scrappy sheaf of papers which have since bred such anxiety and discomfort into my otherwise simple daily life. With our son asleep in his crib, and our daughter at school, I went about cleaning our new home. As I swept the bedroom, a droplet of water dotted my forehead. I looked up to see that ceiling was leaking, presumably from the attic. As I wiped the droplet from my brow, it dawned on me that I had yet to fully investigate said attic. I looked in on my son before pulling down the squealing metal staircase in the hallway.
There was a treasure trove of antiques in the dismal space. Light found its way in from dusty windows at either end. Next to some moth-eaten furniture I heard the dripping. A leak in the roof. Directly next to the puddle that had made its way through the creaky floor and into our bedroom was a box. In the moldering box was a disorganized stack of documents containing these dreaded pages. Three more inches to the left and the manuscripts would have been destroyed by the leak and I would have been spared—as would have you, dear reader.
As I began reading the sloppily hand-inked pages by the hazy attic light, a dread crept into my stomach. I brought them downstairs to read in safety by the fire. Like a child, I hoped the light and warmth would keep at bay whatever ghosts or evil inhabited those pages.
Many of the stories were firsthand accounts and I, of course, believed them to be fictional, ghost stories someone had written down, lost in time, doomed to be forgotten.
Though now, I am not so sure.
While doing some research for my latest book, I stumbled upon some rather shocking news articles. I had spent the day at the library reading old headlines archived on microfilm. I began to notice similarities between the news articles and some of the stories I had read. Reports of strange beings, untimely deaths, a mysterious barn fire—the coincidences were piling up! Initially, I spoke of my findings to no one, not even my wife. I felt as though my sanity was slipping. None of it could be true, things like this didn’t happen in reality, right?
Under the advisement of my publisher, I will not name the town which we had moved to, but I will say that the more research I did, the more I noticed the rumblings of some unspoken and dark whispered history.
That sheaf of crusty papers that I found in the attic on that early October day are now collected in this volume for all to experience. The decision to do so came after I finally let my wife in on my new secret obsession. She had caught me up late by the fire tearing through hundreds of copied pages of microfilm. She urged me to share them with the world, thinking perhaps it may provide me with some relief.
My warning to the reader is this; you open this volume at your own peril. It has provided me with nothing more than a restless and uneasy mind.
The names of people and places have been changed to protect the legacy of those dead and the well-being of those still living.
Take care when reading and make sure to leave a light on. These are the Forgotten Nightmares.
Gore Decker smiled at his work as he finished up the last little gruesome details of the sculpture. The pint-sized monster that sat before him was inspired by vicious nightmares the previous night. Gore always woke from his nightmares panting and sweat-covered, but he felt satisfaction immediately afterwards, like the dull ache of stretching a tight muscle mixed with the nostalgia of seeing an old flame. Nightmares were Gore’s livelihood. Every sneaking creature and every fleeting feeling of horror were poured into the art that he produced.
The little sculpture sat off to the side, forgotten for the moment, and stared at its creator with a multitude of bulbous orb-like eyes. Its python limbs were poised and ready to wrap their prey and fracture bones. Gore mixed a two part silicon with great care. The gooey liquid bubbled and clung to the side of the cup, ready to embrace the sculpture and create a negative mold.
The artist then gently placed the sculpture in a paint splattered wooden box. Next came the silicon folding and diving into itself as it filled the surrounding space.
The monster drowned and spit up a few last bubbles of air. The whole box went into a pressure pot, which was also covered in paint. Gore flipped the compressor on and the chamber did its work, crushing any air pockets that would mar the surface of the mold. These actions had been performed countless times by the artist, with hands that moved automatically. He rarely made mistakes anymore. The second floor studio apartment, which functioned more as an art studio than a living space, was relatively quiet.
The mold would take about six hours to set fully, so Gore pushed himself to fill customer orders in that time. Each of his past creations had slowly gained popularity in the relatively small community of custom toys and collectables. He found himself thinking of hiring an assistant to keep up orders. He had around twenty to package that day. Each figure was delicately wrapped with colorful tissue paper. A thank-you note and stickers that read “Gore Customs” were also thrown in the box. They were then taped up, addressed, and moved to the outgoing pile.
It was a lot of work, but the money that was slowly accumulating in the bank was worth it. The figures being shipped out all stood before him on the table like a hideous army—nightmares brought to life in four-inch figures. The paint jobs had gotten better. Beautifully sleek faces and eyes shone darkly in the light. Gore gazed at his own collection of figures lining the wall as he finished packing up another order. There was a knock at the door that snapped him out of the repetitive task.
As he approached the door, a wrinkled and stained piece of paper was shoved under it. He bent to read the messy words scrawled on it. “Down the fire escape NOW!” Gore stared at it dumbly, not sure if it was some weird joke or prank. He reached for the door handle just as something huge threw itself up against the door. THUMP. Dust fell from frame and wood cracked. The suddenness of the sound caused Gore to recoil. THUMP. More wood creaked and splintered.
The frightened artist went quickly to his lone window. He pulled the screen up as the being-turned-battering-ram threw itself against the door more frantically. He was halfway down the escape when he heard the door explode inward. He didn’t wait to see if whoever or whatever it was followed him to the window. The night swallowed Gore up as he moved into the shadows of the alley. There was an inhuman roar of rage and then silence. The artist, with his back against the cool brick apartment wall, panted and tried to pull himself away from the edge of a panic attack.
He stayed in the blackness and stench of the garbage-filled alley for a long time. There were no sounds, as if the world was dead. Slowly Gore moved back to the fire escape and began to climb hesitantly. He hazarded a glance into his room. It was the same as when he had left it. The door was still shut, the air compressor still hummed, and the monstrous army still stood at the ready on his table. Confusion hit him like a migraine. He had hallucinated. That’s the only explanation that made sense. The clock showed 3:21am. Lack of sleep; that had to be it.
Laughing, the beleaguered artist climbed back into his humble studio and shut the screen again. He made a move to the bathroom to splash some water on his face and he saw that same piece of paper lying on the floor. “Down the fire escape NOW!” He stopped and felt unease creeping underneath the relief. He picked the paper up and turned it over. There was another message. “They’ll be back. They need your nightmares.” This time he did open the door and sprang out into the hallway. His fear fueled an anger that rose in his throat. The building was as quiet as the night outside.
Once back inside, Gore locked the door and continued back to the bathroom. He flicked the light switch and his reflection stared back at him from the mirror. Seeing his bloodshot eyes and dark circles suddenly made him feel very tired. His reflection blinked. He hadn’t blinked.
“Please,” whispered his reflection in a glassy faraway voice not unlike his own, “please leave and don’t come back. They’ll do to you what they did to me. You will be nothingness.”
Gore pounded the mirror with both fists in a tired fearful rage. The glass shattered and his hands bled from tiny shards that fought back on the mirror’s behalf. His reflection stared back with an eerie teeth-bared grimace. What was happening? Gore decided he desperately needed sleep. He suddenly couldn’t remember the last time he had slept. He washed the blood from his hands and did his best to pick glass out from the wounds. Bandaged and washed, the sleep-deprived artist went to his bed.
He didn’t dare turn the lights out. He was afraid of what his mind would manufacture in the darkness. It was one thing to experience nightmares in his subconscious dreams, but it was too much to handle in wakefulness. Sleep would make him feel better and the mold would be done curing by the time he woke up. Eventually, with no more hallucinations manifesting, he fell asleep with a pillow over his head.
Morning came like a violent storm; Gore was soaked with sweat and feeling feverish. He stumbled to the bathroom and turned the shower on. He gazed into the cracked mirror warily as if his reflection would reach right through the compromised barrier. The shower made him feel better, but not much. Maybe what he needed was some fresh air and a coffee. There was a coffee shop not far from his apartment and Gore was a regular. They’d fix him up a sweet caffeine cocktail. He shut the compressor off and pulled his cured mold out. That would be his job for the day; casting some tests with resin. He was looking forward to seeing his otherworldly monster come alive.
Gore’s footfalls were distant thuds in his feverish head. He felt strange and there was something about the world around him that was a little bit off. He stopped and appraised the swaying trees across the street. His anxiety grew when he realized how still the air was. The trees were swaying, independent of any wind or breeze. He averted his eyes and kept walking towards the coffee shop at a quicker pace. At the door he glanced behind him. The trees were still swaying. The door opened to admit him into the safe little shop.
The windows of the coffee place were covered and the lighting was dim, creating a moody atmosphere. The place was devoid of people. The barista wasn’t behind the counter. Perhaps they were in back? What time was it? Gore approached the counter and leaned over it, trying to view the back room area. There was slight movement back there. A subtle sound like cloth rubbing cloth was steadily rising. Gore called out. “Hello?”
The subtle sound stopped and a different more unnerving sound began. Like the tearing of flesh. Someone or something began crashing through the kitchen towards the front of the shop. Gore froze. Around the corner appeared a gigantic bulbous creature, multiple limbs and multiple eyes all moving in different ways. Somewhere within the thing came a guttural call like a bull gargling water. Gore screamed and fled from the monstrous thing. The thing pulled itself over the counter, knocking the register and cups all over the place. It stood to its full height, almost touching the ceiling. Gore gagged on the thing’s stench.
Outside the trees still swayed and somewhere behind the sprinting toymaker, the door to the coffee shop exploded, birthing the otherworldly being into the universe. He ran screaming for help. Nothing living existed besides the waving trees, Gore, and the monster. Then there was a whisper in his ear.
“I told you to leave.” It was his own voice.
“Who are you?!”
There was no response. Gore was back at his apartment. He exploded into his studio and slammed the door behind him. He crouched by the window, heart beating and lungs sucking air. The street was empty. The trees waved. There was a deadly quiet in the world and then the horrific flesh ripping sound of the impossible being as it went lumbering by Gore’s apartment. It had lost him and let out that guttural gurgling roar once more.
He carefully picked up his phone with the thought of calling the police. There was no dial tone. What was going on? The toymaker sat at the window, defeated. Had he gone insane? He got up slowly and went to the fridge. Despite the insanity of the morning, he was hungry. The refrigerator door opened up to a humid menagerie of mold and insects covering the entire inside. There were no recognizable food items among the purple, blue, black, and green molds. The smell assaulted his nose and stomach and he slammed the door before any of it could escape.
Gore laughed. It was the laugh of a man cracking up. He reached over to the sink and twisted the faucet on, hoping for at least a drink of water. There was a bang in the pipes somewhere below and a grotesque fat centipede dropped out of the tap. It scuttled up and over the edge of the sink before disappearing under the microwave. Gore wasn’t even surprised in his broken, defeated state.
“Steal my nightmares? They made them real.” He went to his kitchen table and sat in front of the wooden box that held the sculpture in the now-cured mold. The mold came apart easily revealing the details of his recent sculpture. It wasn’t too far off from the thing that had chased him. He put it back together and began to mix up a two part resin that had a five minute cure time. He poured the liquid into the mold, minding the heat it produced from its chemical reaction. Five minutes later he pulled the mold apart, and a marvelous white miniature of the beast from the coffee shop sat before him.
Gore moved to the window with the still warm and slightly pliable figure in his hand. He clutched it to his chest like a protective talisman. Upon reaching the window, he saw the insane beast standing in the middle of the street staring up at him silently. Something within him urged him out onto the fire escape. The monster didn’t move from its position, almost waiting obediently for orders from its creator. Gore realized he had created the thing. It was the sculpture he had crafted and birthed into reality.
He continued with purpose and descended the fire escape. The whisper sounded in his ear again. “They were afraid of your nightmares. They were afraid of your power to create.” He moved closer to the monster and its ominous stink. It made no sound and made no moves towards the artist. Gore laughed as he began to touch the thing. It was warm and slippery. He held the white miniature aloft while touching the creature.
Gore dashed the miniature on the ground, shattering it into hundreds of resin slivers. The being screamed out, gurgling and growling as it fell backwards. Gore backed up as it thrashed. The trees no longer swayed and Gore could begin to hear sounds of the city of in the distance. The thing dragged itself with the last of its strength into the darkened alley before dying. The monster’s body splashed onto the ground and rapidly drained away like the remnants of a quick summer rainstorm. The artist cackled maniacally. He had created that thing somehow.
A car drove around him and honked, trying to scare him out of the street. To be sure the insanity was over, Gore headed quickly to the coffee shop. He found it bright and full of people talking, laughing, and quietly reading. He ordered his usual coffee and the barista asked about his health, with a look of genuine concern. He was fine. Finally fine. He laughed and paid and headed out of the coffee shop.
A few weeks later, after some noise complaints and a steadily ripening smell of decay, the cops were led to Gore’s apartment. They found his dead body curled up on the floor in a fetal position, his hands clasped around his ears. Around his body and littering the house, they found hundreds of grotesque resin figures. Yet the autopsy revealed no apparent cause of death. Gore Decker had just died. They were unaware of Gore’s newest creation, however. Had they seen it as the toymaker had seen it (in the flesh), they would have likely suffered a similar miserable, screaming death as Gore Decker.