Sunday, September 22, 2013

Halloween Stories: Part VII

We received a lot of stories for our Halloween Hunt Writing Contest, and from September 16th we're publishing one each day until October 6th - when the Winner's story opens as a hunt!

Read them all and stay curious.. whose story got turned into the hunt?

The stories released are unedited and pasted as submitted to us.
- Kiana -





Today's story is by Hakeber Resident
and it is called   
John Samson


John Samson sat in his cell, staring at the construction going on below, the buildings rising up on top of the graves of all the countless men who had come before him, the only grave marker they would ever receive. He patted the wall, feeling the course stone and aged grime, each stain an old friend.

He was the last. The last prisoner, the last reminder of the blood drenched history of the island. Rockwood Island, the last destination for the worst the city had to offer. Then again, worst was relative. To John, his actions were art, living art carefully chosen and frozen in time, forever cast in the bronze of shared suffering.

But the world didn’t see it that way. They just saw bodies, giving him the crass title of murder, like he was just some two-bit maniac with a knife. It didn’t matter that he had been caught, as that was part of the plan, the end performance to elevate his actions to true art. He just wished more people were appreciative of all his hard work.

The island was a work of art in of itself. The whole island housed nothing but a prison, Rockwood Penitentiary, built brick by brick by the very first inmates housed inside. The prison was built to house only those sentenced to death. The very first inmates executed were the same ones who had built the prison, hanged on Rockwood’s opening day, a macabre version of smashing a bottle of champagne on the side of a ship.

The prison lasted for a hundred and fifty years, hanging and then electrocuting so many people that the island’s nickname, Death Row Island, became official. By the time John had come, the prison was crumbling, with only a handful of prisoners waiting their final day. He was a little disappointed that he missed the prison’s heyday, but it was still the best place for an artist such as himself to be laid to rest, his own last moments merging with those who had come before, his pain the final brushstroke of his masterpiece.

Then the developers came, with their suits and notebooks, mapping out the island and talking in excited, chirpy voices that blighted the atmosphere of the island. He heard snippets of conversation from inside his cell, things like “The timetable’s been moved up,” and “This will be a destination.”

One day, the warden marched all the prisoners into the prison cafeteria, where all the suit wearing strangers stood, holding clipboards and smiling nervously at the fifteen shackled prisoners in front of them. A short, balding man stepped forward, holding his clipboard like a shield.

“H…Hello,” he said, his voice as soft and mushy as his body. “My name is Vick Reynolds and I’m here to talk to you guys about the future of this prison.”

John and the other prisoners met his words with smoldering glares, while someone from the middle of said, “How fast can you run?”

The warden frowned and motioned the guards to step in closer, while Vick swallowed and continued.

“As you know, uh, the prison’s getting old and is pretty much on its last legs. You men are going to be the last executed before it’s torn down.”

John couldn’t help himself and shouted out “What?” and Vick turn to face him. He took one look at John and paled, which made John smile to know that his reputation still had such an impact, as all good art should, but the smile was brief, and his shock over Vick’s words returned.

“You can’t tear this prison down,” he said, his voice echoing slightly in the large room. “It has history! It’s art!”

“We, uh, know that Mr. Samson,” Vick said, his voice trembling and even softer and mushier than before. “And we are not going to let that history die. Once the prison’s gone, this will become a destination for the curious, a village filled with history and-“

“You’re turning Death Row Island into a tourist trap?” John yelled, as he stepped forward, but stopped when the guards moved their guns towards him. A hail of bullets was not an artistic way to die.

“A banal bit of nothing, where slack jawed gawkers come to trample our bones and buy silly little souvenirs? A quaint little village for quaint little people who want a quaint little way to remember the grand death of this place? A safe little bit of danger to chew on and spit out, with no substance, no flavor, nothing real?”

Vick sputtered a few times and the warden quickly escorted John and the other prisoners back to their cells. John continued to rant for hours, but no one listened, not even the other prisoners. He was powerless to do anything but wait and watch as the island slowly turned into a museum, with tacky displays of death replacing the blood tinged reality, as the art of the place was slowly chipped away with each new building.

The day they walked John to the chair, he cried, not for his life, but for the death of the wonderful beauty all around him and how his death would be turned into something mundane, his art forever splashed with lurid colors, his masterpiece ruined.

“Do you have any last words?” the warden asked as they strapped him down.

“Yes,” John said. “This isn’t over. You can’t take a place of death, a place of beauty and turn it into a farce. Art always wins.”

----

John woke up, floating above his beloved island, watching as everything it was crumbled away over the years, until nothing remained but commercial pain, sanitized death with no artistic value. People came and went, some staying to make a home and Death Row Island became just another summer vacation spot.

His anger grew, bubbling and boiling his very soul, until it could no longer be contained. It spilled out over the island, calling the souls of the dead, drawing them to him like moths to a flame. The dead surrounded him and John felt a power, something darker than he had ever felt in life flow through him and out towards the others, linking them to him, hundreds of paintbrushes to paint the island as he wished.

He spread the darkness out over the island, twisting it into his own canvas, twisting each building and object into the death and pain that preceded it and tore down the Death Row Island museum, rebuilding the prison over it, stone by stone, bringing it back to its former glory and beyond. He chased the people, just like he used to do, pulling them body and soul into the prison, trapping them inside with all the pain that had accumulated within its walls, where he and his brothers could pay them back for their insult to their memory.

“Art always wins,” he said, as watched over the prison, his canvas, and all the people that were his to torment and turn into permanent fixture within its walls.

---

No one knew what happened to Death Row Island, only that one day a darkness fell over it, turning day into night, and the island transformed into… something. A few brave people ventured ashore, only to find it completely abandoned, with all the buildings somehow changed and twisted and the old prison once again looming over the island.

A single sheet of paper had been left on the dock, with a note written on it.

Please, you have to stop him. Find a way to destroy John Samson and his darkness before it’s too late. And find us. Help us. For god’s sake, help us!

Underneath the words was a message scrawled in blood. It started with an old children’s rhyme about legendary murderer John Samson.

Samson paints with a big old knife,

And carves away your life.

He’ll take your skin and hide your eyes,

And smile at your tortured cries.


There’s nothing you can do. Turn back and maybe I’ll make your death quick when the time comes.

John Samson.


Some people left, but others stayed, wondering if they could solve the mystery of what happened and rescue the island and possibly the world from darkness. John watched it all and smiled as they trudged through the town and into the prison, more pieces of art waiting his practiced hand.

1 comment:

  1. Cool! I enjoyed reading this story. It is really creepy. Looking forward for your next story. Keep posting!


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