Author's Note: Hi everyone, Jeff here once again. Over the weekend I decided I haven't done much reviewing or creative writing recently, so I started on my reviews for Unemployed and Arkham City. But I didn't get far in them before I decided that I wanted to write a story. This is my best attempt at a horror/ghost story. The game Fatal Frame 2 gave me the initial ideas and I built up from there, making it my own. I would be much ablidged if you read through and said your opinions in the comments. As a wise YouTuber once said, "PEACE OFF!!!! BOOOOOOOOOOP!!!!!" Enjoy!
Crimson Butterfly by Jeff the Fridge
The doe sipped gracefully from the sluggish river, whilst a family of monkeys foraged for nuts and berries below the foliage. The blazing sun beat down on their backs in the lush African forest. Abruptly, three boys barged into the clearing. The doe leapt into the river, slipping and sliding in the current until it made it to the muddy bank, before darting off into the bushes. The monkeys hissed at the intruders before retreating into the trees.
The smallest boy leant against a tree, gasping for breath. He swore at the eldest, then said, “Fat lot of good you’ve done for us, Luke! Now we’ve got the whole bloody militia after us!”
“It’s not my fault!” Luke scowled with heavily accented English, “My sister is only a cook! You didn’t think she could get us through the whole encampment without anyone noticing, did you?” The tallest boy pulled out a map and scratched his head. “Oh great,” he mumbled in his Australian accent, "We’re also bloody lost.”
“Well whose fault is that, then?” The smallest boy looked pointedly at Luke.
“Shut up Zach, no one asked for your opinion!” Luke blurted out, “Let’s get in the trees so we can lose them.” The boys scrambled up the nearest tree and crouched in the leaves at the end of the branches. All was silent for a few minutes; only the boys breathing could be heard. The sound of an engine broke the tranquil silence as a truck roared into the clearing. The soldiers sitting on the side rolled off, switching the safety on their assault rifles off, some poking in the bushes whilst others lit cigarettes.
The side window of the truck rolled down to reveal a black man wearing a beret and black sunglasses, whilst smoking a big, brown cigar. He shouted at the men in harsh French and the people with cigarettes started poking through the foliage with the others. The tallest boy could see Zach crawling along the thin branch until he was directly above the assembled troops. Before anyone could react, Zach leapt from the tree, kicking the nearest soldier in the head as he plummeted to the soft floor.
The soldier spun on his feet and smashed his face on the bonnet of the truck. The soldier sunk to the ground, clutching his broken nose whilst the others levelled their guns on the intruding boy. The man in the sunglasses opened the truck door and stepped out, chuckling loudly. “Now, now Zach,” he said, voice dripping with contempt as the soldiers moved in and roughly kicked Zach to the ground, pulling his arms behind his back, “You knew we would catch up with you eventually.”
Zach spat at the man’s feet in disgust. The man stared at Zach, loathing building up inside him. He pulled his pistol from his belt and aimed it directly at Zach’s skull. The tallest boy closed his eyes, preparing for the worst. He cringed when he heard the crack below him, but he wasn’t prepared for what the man in sunglasses said next. “Well, if it isn’t little Luke Carter. I came here just for this little tyke, but now I can kill two freaks with one bullet.”
It was now Luke’s turn to smile. The air in the clearing turned stale and a low hum rose from Luke's gut. Suddenly, the clearing exploded as lightning sprang from Luke's fingertips. It leapt form one man’s rifle to another, until it reached the black man’s sunglasses. He screeched in pain as the sunglasses melted then fused to his face. Soon all was silent. The tallest boy slipped down from the tree and Zach got shakily to his feet. “Let’s go,” Zach growled, and they headed further into the forest.
Cal stared across the estate’s garden, workers mowing lawns or trimming bushes. He could hear Zach and Luke's argument get louder and he turned away from the window. They were in Cal’s uncle's study, framed newspaper clippings of his exploits hanging in rows on the walls. His uncle had been the great Thunder Fall, lightning powered vigilante for the south part of the Congo - his older brother looked after the north. He was Cal’s uncle on his mother’s side, but she hadn’t developed any powers, except the power to seemingly never notice her son. His lightweight flight costume still hung in a cabinet on the wall. It was a calm blue backdrop with yellow lightning bolts on his chest piece. Unfortunately, the costume was punctured by a blackened bullet hole.
His uncle had died a few weeks ago, saving innocent civilians form a freak fire in the slums. One ungrateful wretch had shot him in the chest, but the killer hadn’t been found yet. Cal’s uncle had been more of a father to him than his real one, who owned the militia. Many people thought Cal’s dad had killed Thunder Fall, but all who knew him knew he would never to anything like that to his wife's brother. Even though his dad hated his brother-in-law, he grudgingly accepted he was doing more good than bad.
Luke was one of the servants hired by Cal’s family to clean their mansion, but he and Cal had soon become great friends, never far apart. When Cal had private tuition, he begged his parents to let Luke have them as well. They had finally cracked when the tutor said it would be better for both of them because they could have discussions with people the same age. Luke was a fast learner, soon overtaking Cal in Basic English and French, but Cal didn’t mind, because Luke was the only friend his parents allowed him to have.
Zach had arrived a week before, starving and near death. The family doctor had patched him up under Cal’s father's orders, and he had been staying until he recovered. Cal and Luke had stayed with Zach during his time, and somehow he persuaded them that they should run away. Luke didn’t really mind because he was a servant to Cal’s family, but Cal was more indecisive. After his father and mother told him that he was going to go to a private boarding school in Europe, he finally decided that he would run away. They were planning that fateful day in Cal’s uncle’s study because there was no security cameras there, due to the fact that Cal’s uncle’s powers made them short circuit and unable to film.
Cal checked through their bags, making sure everything they needed was there. Sleeping bags, tents and climbing equipment were all there, including simple things such as rations and torches. He heard Luke and Zach go silent and he turned around to look at them. When he walked over, Zach uttered five words that sealed their fate.
“We leave tonight at sundown.”
Zach pushed aside the leaves and stepped into the new clearing. Cal and Luke followed, chatting animatedly. They both stopped when they saw that they were in a village. Small round houses were dotted around the clearing with a large rotten barn closest to them. Cal went to say something but Luke put his finger to his lips to tell him to be quiet, so Cal whispered, “How far away do you think the militia are?” Zach shrugged but Luke was looking at one of the barn windows. The other two boys turned to see what he was looking at. A flight of butterflies was flitting through the barn window and through rotten slits in the walls. The three boys all stepped forwards but Cal pushed the others back. “No, I’ll go.” He whispered, “I’m the tallest, I’ll be able to see if the militia are coming.” The other two nodded and Cal walked into the barn.
Cal pushed the rotten doors open and they creaked ominously. The barn was empty, but still smelled of the animals that once lived there. He walked slowly and purposefully towards the stairs that lead to the upstairs. He poked his head onto the second level and saw the butterflies still by the window. The floorboards creaked as he walked slowly towards the window and looked across the jungle, searching for the telltale signs of smoke, but thankfully, there was no smoke.
He looked at the butterflies and went to stroke one. It didn’t fly away as he went but when he went to stroke it, his fingers passed straight through its body. He tried that with the others and exactly the same thing happened. Suddenly, the barn creaked then snapped, collapsing into a heap. Cal stumbled then fell with the rest of the wood. He looked up dazed and saw the sunlight glowing through the skeleton of the barn. He looked to his left and saw another butterfly landing on his arm. He smiled dizzily then looked back at the sun. The last thing Cal saw was one of the barn struts falling from the roof and slamming into his chest.
Luke clutched Cal’s dead body, tears rolling down his face. Zach stared out across the village, trying to block out Luke's crying. He felt uneasy, like someone was watching him. Finally, Luke lowered Cal’s body, and then turned away. “This reminds me of home,” He sighed. Zach looked at him, confused. “Oh, sorry. You didn’t now. My adoptive parents said they found me on the edge of their village. They thought I was a gift from the gods. I think we should spend the night here.” Zach nodded in agreement, numb from the loss of one of their travelling companions.
But before they could enter any of the round houses, ghostly men emerged. Pale clothes hung to their skeletal bodies as they walked into the evening light. A decomposing shaman shuffled meaningfully towards them, the boys shuffled backwards, stumbling over the ruins of the barn. One of the ethereal beings behind the shaman picked up Cal’s frail form and strung it over its shoulder. Zach tripped over a piece of wood, falling to the dusty floor. Luke ran back to Zach and dragged him up. “C’mon, we can both make it!” shouted Luke as they broke into a run, the strange creatures behind them doing the same.
The two boys ran blindly through the forest, tree branches and roots seemingly lashing out at them. Soon Luke tripped over on one root and Zach turned around to see him on the floor. Luke looked pleadingly at Zach, not noticing the oncoming horde. Zach turned at the inviting safety of the trees then back at Luke. Zach finally made up his mind then yelled “Everyman for himself!” at Luke then sprinted into the forest. Luke screamed every obscenity at Zach as the creatures swarmed over him, a cold chill clasping his soul, dragging it to oblivion.
Zach had never lived a good life. He’d never known his father, living with his thirteen brothers and sisters in a small shack in the middle of the slums. His mother sometimes was visited by their uncle, who had somehow made lots of money and got out of the slums. Nearly every day, Zach had to work in the local factory, working for hours on end, making dolls to be shipped off to America. No one in the slums knew why, but workers in the factory were called elves, and the supervisor was called Santa, even though his real name was Taylor.
One day, he decided he’d had enough and decided to run away. Before he left, he stole a pistol from his older brother who worked in the militia and set fire to his house. He had fled through the burning houses with a feeling of freedom in his chest. Suddenly, someone grabbed him by the waist and dragged him out of the inferno. When he looked to his saviour, he saw his uncle in some strange fancy dress. He had started to ask what happened when Zach pulled out the pistol. He shot his uncle in the chest and he sank to his knees. Zach looked at the man in disgust. Throwing his pistol away, he started to run again.
After what felt like hours of running through the forest, Zach finally saw light. He burst out of the tree line and ran towards the tall metal walls. He smashed his fist against the corrugated steel yelling at the guards in the watchtowers. Eventually, they opened the door a crack and Zach squeezed in. He saw a bottle of water on the floor and dived for it. He popped off the cap and gulped down the contents. He looked up to see the black man, still smoking a cigar, staring down at him. Zach gulped and the black man kicked him in the jaw. Zach flew back and smashed into the side of a tent. “You shouldn’t have come back, Zach.” The man said menacingly, “Where are your two friends then? “
“Dead...” Zach mumbled, blood dripping from his split lip.
“Same place as your family then? Oh yes, I know what you did. I was in the slums at the time looking for more soldiers. You know, it’s too bad. You should have joined when you had the chance instead of trying to kill me...”
Many years ago, when Zach was much younger, the black man had come through the slums, looking for recruits. His mother had gone up to him, and then kissed him passionately. They split apart, and the black man said, “I should never have left you and the kids alone.” Zach didn’t know what he meant, but smiled nonetheless. The man had then walked up to Zach, face full of warmth. “Hello Zach, long times no see. Ever wanted to join the militia?” The man went to pat Zach on the shoulder. Zach hated people touching him. He’d dived out of the way and grabbed a knife from their one table. He stabbed it into the man’s out stretched hand, cutting through the flesh like butter. His mother screamed in horror whilst the black man screamed in pain. Zach ran. That was the first time he ran away...
Zach spat blood out of his mouth as the man advanced. Zach finally got a look at the man’s face. The bridge of his nose was cut open from where the sunglasses had been melted in and his eyes were full of pure hate for Zach. “I’m gonna do what I should have done in that clearing yesterday.” He growled, pulling out his pistol and once again aiming it at Zach’s head. Just before he pulled the trigger, a blood red butterfly landed on the sight of his gun. He smiled drunkenly at the butterfly, before a glowing blue tomahawk flew out of the forest and landed in his skull.
Zach scrambled away as the abominations threw the gates open and ran into camp. Zach ran as ethereal spears and axes flew behind him, embedding themselves into the dazzled soldiers who were trying to retaliate. The camp was in chaos as men dropped left and right from the ghastly weapons. Zach crawled into an upturned truck, closed his eyes and started to count to a hundred. Soon all was quiet and Zach opened one eye. The cries of the dying stopped and gunfire ceased. Zach breathed a sigh of relief and started to laugh. Then he turned to his right and saw the crimson butterfly on his shoulder...