Amygdala

Amygdala

A Story by Chaos_Stuff
"

An unexpected situation in a seemingly normal town.

"

14th June 1866 was marked by a war between the two dominant German powers of the kingdom of Prussia and the empire of Austria,  for the over lordship over the several  small, independent German states of Central Europe. A small Austrian town called Schwerzberg had reportedly got a few men conscripted out of it to serve Austria in this war. Out of these men who fought in the war, only a few  them managed to make it back alive.

If I assume the rumours and whispers circulated around Copenhagen to be true, the eight men have displayed strange behavior ever since their arrival. Many have been observed to display extreme introversion which was an inverse of their characters before the war. An exception being one fellow had started constantly muttering random nonsense openly. He would blabber about topics ranging from current political scenario to the colours of the world, from the functioning of a flint-lock rifle to the presence of strange gods. Some of the younger men among them had committed suicide.

Stranger were the things the families of these men claimed to face. Anecdotes and tales ranging from abrupt laughter followed by an immediate extreme sadness and crying to extremely dangerous fits of anger. The more religious families insisted the church to answer these strange behavior and cried demonic possessions and got them exorcized, needless to say, it did not do much to help. The more rational family looked for the aid of a psychologists, and since the town is small, the only psychologist, who also happens to be the head of its hospital, Dr. Johann Hoffman, was pretty pre-occupied for the past few days now(who also was not able to help their condition much). I decided that it would be a worthwhile  as a student of psychology to go and observe his methods and acquire a better understanding of the human mind, specifically after facing trauma.

After some  arrangements and explanation with the institute I worked with, I departed for the journey, and that I would have to report back any worthwhile information I learnt from there with the help of Dr. Hoffman . A  week's stay at Schwerzberg would be enough for this . I would leave Copenhagen tomorrow and through rail reach Berlin , and then to Munich to reach Schwerzberg down South.

After a few days, right before sunset, I reached Schwerzberg. It was quite a peaceful town for what was happening around central Europe. Mountains which projected around them majesty and security and silently reveled in their own glory bordered this town. The weather itself was not as cold as back in Denmark which was a pleasant change. The town itself had a few buildings. There was a hospital opposite to the train station, with small houses, some made of wood, some made with metal around it. In a distance was a church, quite big when compared to the other buildings in its immediate vicinity, with grey walls and black roof with a cross at the extreme anterior position of its rooftops. The dusty road leading up to the church bifurcated mid-way behind the church towards one  the only other hotel of the town. This one was named Hotel Silver. Further down the road of the church were a few more houses and a large two storied , red building of four stories with two green spires around the centre of the roof.  Farmlands held all the other areas which did not already have a building or a house made on them. Beside the town hall was a soldiers bunker, which was quite small, appropriate for the size of this town. In front of this was a bar, which I assume was mostly used by the soldiers, judging its relative position. The majority of the trade of the town seemed to be dependent on farming with some mining going around on the outskirts.

Since it was getting darker, I decided to find a place to sleep. I had to find a place to sleep in the few hotels this town had. Unfortunately, I did not find much luck there either. One hotel which roughly translated to the 'Half-Moon' Hotel in English, which was two storied building and had a fancy built with cozy furniture, an attraction of all the aristocrats of the nation. This hotel was unfortunately filled up, and had no room to spare, though I would be dishonest if I imply my pockets would be able to manage this stay.

Accordingly, I went to the only other hotel left. Hotel Silver, the one I believe I had already mentioned. Behind the church lay this small building. I will state already that I am no man of superstition, yet I could think of the thousand ways this hotel could be an invitation to my doom. I could not pin point any reasoning or logic to justify being in this hotel. For the very building of this hotel itself was quite a strange building . A two storied dark grey building with a small, wooden flight of stairs leading up to its entrance.  Out of the 8 windows which were there in front of it, only two were not broken, and they seemed to  be the only ones with a source of light behind them. The door was made of dark wood and looked ancient, with a golden knob which stuck out oddly from this door and there was a stage symbol fixed into the front of the door. The symbol was made out of silver and was that of a strange creature, one with a nightmarish amount of leg and equally nightmarish amount of tusk like parts emerging from the head like region which was at the bottom of the symbol. It was very reminiscent of a centipede  albeit it looked more disturbing. I doubt whether it can even be called a creature, I hoped it was more a fancy letter from some unknown civilization or mythology lost to the eternal grave that is time.

Inside the hotel itself was not a very attractive either. It was quite opposite to the clean (but quiet) environment of the town and only further my distrust and uneasiness I had towards this place before I even entered. A dimly lit room with what seemed like a reception to my left and an array of tables and chairs towards the right, with a clear path towards a flight of stairs in front of me. Any form of light source, be it candle, lantern, or torches were kept in one side of the room, near the tables and chairs , away from the reception. I could have no sane explanation for this and had a sudden impulse to run. A man, who I presume to be in charge of this hotel, in complete darkness, almost as it was a strange attempt to hide something sinister, be it in material or in intention. A strange pungent odour coming from the tables, which I think was being sent off by the broken bottles of beer  I could see on near the tables.

"Looking for a room?" 

Surprising voice for a rough looking man. From what I could make out from the darkness, he had to be at least 40 years of age. I could visibly see an outline of an uneven beard with uneven growth, which he probably bothered to never cut. He was shorter than me, around 5 feet and perhaps somewhere between 5 to 7 inches

.I had my fear grip me and scream in my ears "Oh why Lussac you fool! Life is  no jest!  Give command, and run far from this place" Oh it is indeed what I would have done. However, I could pick out subtle speech from the upper floors. Its words I could not make out but there were many. I could hear footsteps too. There were quite a number of people in here after all.

I shrugged off the radiating strangeness  of this man. A stomach twisting feeling of regret seemed to grip my abdomen, but this was not as bad as I thought. If there were people, meant there were others who lived here tonight. Indeed my fear had now being silenced, as I could make out the casual conversations reverberating around the walls of this place. Carefully, keeping my distance, I paid the rather cheap price for a room and was told the general direction to the room, I proceeded to go to the room on  the second floor through stairs, oddly though, the man stood still, as if nothing had happened, oblivious to me staring at him, oblivious to anything, just staring at the void of lights like a cold stone statue.

-------

 

As I moved up the stairs through the dark corridors, I found strange placements of lanterns in different areas in random and unexpected places. I decided to pick one of them to guide my  way in this dark building. Occasionally I would hear scattering noises from random places of the dark corridors and an intense fear that something, out of the corner was watching me, that in the dark were such horrors that would make the common man mad. I would hear occasionally voices from behind the doors of the corridor. The light of the lantern revealed some expensive paintings which depicted strange things. Kings  with malformed heads and tentacles for arms and legs, knights getting attacked by tiny monstrosities which looked like the progeny of a frog, a spider and a human molded into one being which rode over clouds  who were assaulting knights who themselves rode even stranger beings which resembled chimeras, some brutal  gore and depictions of torture, of strange beings beyond scale of any human measurement, and loathsome creatures which looked like manifestations of many nightmares combined. I do really hope I do not find any real life inspiration of such beings in this very hotel. With the condition of this place, I would not find any surprise if any hive or nest of some insect is hiding here as well. With that aside, I assured myself that my fears and trepidations were nothing but a product of my imagination. If realistically seen, all I was worried about were not in physical manifestations but instead mental images which I conjured up in my mind.

After what looked like an eternity of walking had finally ended. I stopped in front of the dark wooden door which was my room with letters  'B-17' written in front of it in a wooden in dark letters. I opened the door and into the room. Right in front of me was a lantern ,with its flames struggling to light up the room, kept beside a bed. A large portion of the room was kept in the dark. What little light was there revealed a bed near a broken window, an arching cabinet beside the door and a peculiar lack of smell which contrasted the pungent odour which ran freely throughout this place. I had put my stuff over the rotting chair which I would never in eternity ever trust to put my weight on without breaking.

Then there was the bed was tarnished and it had strange and faint scratches over it. Initially I blamed my imagination, but on closer examination I had noticed that the scratches didn't seem to be that of an animal but the shallowness of the scratches made me believe that it was nothing but a human attempt. In my younger days I had studied such cases of mal-aligned men and women. The implications of this had dawned on me with a sudden trepidation which made me regret my decision of this stay. The voices which I heard before, were they really the voices of people? Physical people in the physical world that is. Unrealistic, I allow my fears to fiddle with my imagination too much.

They had a strange outgrowth of red moss. This growth ran across the walls and onto the roof like an ailment spreading across the body  and it all spread out in the form of a web like arrangement all originating from one crack in the wall. I touched , it was slippery ,almost like a soap. I had seen nothing like this before and I doubt this growth is native to this region. As I was going through this train of thought I heard heavy footsteps of  increasing intensity. Before I had anytime to respond or contemplate on this, my door flung open to reveal the silhouette of a man who was seemingly as tall as me and he spoke with a German twist in fluent Danish "Ask no questions! I require your assistance. Come immediately!"

This strange man left off in a hurry, probably expecting that I will follow through. We both briskly walked along the corridor with me quite far behind me, past the windows and strangely kept lanterns and into the opposite side of the buildings. In the journey I asked this man everything I was curious about and the reason for this strange encounter. He reveals that he himself is Doctor Johann Hoffman, the man for whom I had arrived here in the first place. He proceeds to go on about all the strange events and happenings while working with the soldier. It turns about one of the soldier himself is in this very building, and he had what seemed like a condition which was far from psychological.

The further we walked ahead, the more noticeable did that red moss began. It ran across the walls, across the windows and roof. Hoffman fluctuated from a speech of Danish and German, probably out of panic or forgetfulness that I am comfortable with both languages .  The further we walked, more gradually did the moss get dense.

Finally we reached the dull room at the other end of the building. In the middle of this room was a man tied to a chair and he sat very still. We walked in closer to reveal the full condition of the room. In the glistening moonlight from the dark clouds sat there -dear God- a deformed and corpse of a man once alive just minutes ago. It seemed like the ailment which had struck him also affected everything in his vicinity. Originating from his mouth and running all around the room was a field of red moss. We carefully tread on this moss due to its slippery surface. The closer we got to this person, the more harrowing details we could make out of this man. His flesh had rotten, and his arms revealed his bones. We could hear the humming of flies and smell the deathly odour which was spread across the room, worse than the pungent air which seemed to surround a lot of this place. For someone who was supposed to be a living, talking human half an hour ago, this body seemed to have been dead for weeks, as his flesh had seemed to be eaten away, only leaving minor patches of skin and rotten organs. The head of this poor man was reduced to a skull with cartilage of what was supposed to be a nose. The rib cage of this poor fellow was broken, and inside it was a pair of black lungs and freshly red blood flowing behind the lungs from a heart which seemed as dead as the rest of the body. A dead body which seemed dead for weeks to be described as a living human just a few minutes ago was harrowing and disturbing and I had barely controlled my vomit and had to resort to saving my eyes from such horrors.

"Oh dear, we were too late." Said Dr. Hoffman. 

In the moonlight filling the room I could clearly see his face, and the horror on it. "This did not happen to anyone before." A flood of questions entered and left my mind. I questioned Doctor Hoffman about the condition of this man.  Who was this man? Was he one of those soldiers he had heard of? What physical ailment in this world holds this capability to cause such a harm to such an extent, to be capable to lead to the growth of a  parasitic moss. Parasitic eh? Considering the density  of moss growth was more on the surrounding wood than on the man himself. Regardless, from my knowledge and expertise no psychological illness has been reported to cause such a severe physical growth in such a radical area in such a short time. Even if I tried to understand, chances were it would be like all the birds which above my head regularly.

"Ivansen, I  am afraid this is out of your qualification." Damn right it is " I would advise you to give me some private time to figure out this disaster."

" Hoffman, it would be a great favor if you could......."

"Tomorrow morning, meet me at the reception tables, we can discuss this tomorrow. Besides, you would require some rest as of now. "

Without further arguments, I left him to his deeds. Slowly traversing back through the dark corridors, the oddly positioned lanterns, the queer paintings and the dark mountain view through the broken windows and into my room. I sat there on the bed, and pondered upon this encounter while I desperately tried to ignore the strange moss which grew on the wall which stood as a reminder of this horror.

The working man would consider sleep to be the point of the day when one could forget about everything which hampers his life and holds him back and drift away into the void as it was before he was born. Even nightmares bring comfort later as we realize the fine line between dreams and reality. This time however, the line blurred. Moss sprouting from the walls, I could feel the dampness, people looking down at my lifeless body, probably thinking about all the ways my condition could have taken off, burying my lifeless body into casket while my consciousness remained more alive than before. Even after waking up to my sweat soaked body, the point where one finds comfort in the fact that the nightmare cannot be real, I could still feel the horror. It was very real, very possible ailment. The dampness of the moss, I could still feel it, though it is probably the sweat. Part of me wishes to  label out all the happenings of last night as a terrible dream. Turning my head towards the door I could see the relatively clean door, no red moss, no crack for an outgrowth, nothing.

After getting prepared to leave the room and down below,  the paintings became ever more  clearer, even though most did not look much different from what I saw last night. I walked down the stairs and into the floor, hoping not to see Dr. Hoffman. Hoping to get the final sign of relief which would allow me to dismiss yesterday's events as nothing but fabrications of my own mind, which it often used to do at one point.

Pacing around the wooden boxes, dried candles and the few people who were there, was Dr. Hoffman, from whose expression I could make out was finding a way to explain to me of what had happened. A man no taller than me in a sable overcoat and a hat no farther than arm's reach was this worried man desperately seeking for words on his lips. I approached closer, in order to let him know of my presence. He raised his head and with a nervous smile guided me towards a table with two glasses.

I sat there, waiting for an explanation and wondering what this man can conjure up to explain such events. Part of me was telling me that there is a possibility that I had underestimated the hard sciences and that I would not understand it anyway, and it is obvious that such an extraordinary event would require an extraordinary explanation. Or we can rephrase it. Such a mockery of nature and known sciences would require an equal mockery of logic , and obviously sciences.

Hoffman gave away a short sigh before continuing to explain "I know that all these things are not what you came here for. You expected psychological lessons and findings but ended up getting what is basically a physical illness.....a strange and deadly nonetheless."

"So I reckon that there is no use of my presence here?"

"Oh that is not the matter at all! There are a few more patients who suffer from issues who you can research on" He gave out a sigh and continued in  a slower tone "but if things go wrong, another physical ailment, or a psychopathic mad man, in that case, I would be with you the whole time. And if you lack material, I can give you documents of my previous cases and patients which you may find very useful, if you ever desire to leave early.  Now we can discuss the arrangements. At 3 in the afternoon you meet me at the clinic and we will head off to the patient's house. The entire endeavor should be done by night. "

He noticed that I looked concerned before continuing his talk while I silently listened.

"  Aye, cheer up. I know it can be hard for your first time. But trust me, I have seen many deranged fellows in my life and it is something you get used to, especially at this time of war and political excitement. Why don't you pick up the glass and get a drink. It is..."

"Wait!" I cut him off in the middle of his speech. I sensed what he was trying to do. Derail the conversation and away from the epicenter of yesterday's madness. The dead man, the rotting and moss-infested man who was dead there yesterday night. I could feel the air turn from the intention of business to that of distrust. It was probably true that he was trying to save my own sanity by omitting things but curiosity triumphed,  and I had to ask. 

"Before any matter of business of study can be brought, I would say that I need to you to explain what happened to that man last night." I said. I could see him getting more serious than he already was. He looked down at the cup, and into the drink as if he was thinking what to say next, a visage half of confusion and half of frustration. Clearly he has trouble explaining to me what had happened. The anxious part of my mind, part responsible for developing distrust and suspicion towards anyone, was telling me that he was somehow was responsible for yesterday's incident. That is just stupidity, said my rational part, refusing to believe that Hoffman would do something that evil.

"That man was really talkative before he came up to me. From that, I mean very talkative. He would blabber on and on and on about politics, stories, fairy tales, gods, kings and whatnot. Some people would get amused at his strange habit he acquired after the war. Others however, saw him as a mere annoyance. Until the night he went to that bar at the end of Joseph Street......you know...the street with that fancy town hall. Yeah he went to that bar, ranting as usual. But ever since he went out of that bar he was never the same. Some say he was beaten up by some drunk b******s. I do not know what had happened but he was never the same after that. Last night I was talking to him about this when suddenly he seemed to have a fever and started breathing heavily. He also started twitching and had unintelligible speech. I thought he was having a stroke. So I went out to get help when I saw you and thought that you could help me with this. I do not know how he got that infection and from where but I highly suspect it was the bar where something happened. I do not know more than that."

He relaxed as if a great burden has been lifted from his shoulder. He sighed and looked at me in the eye as if asking for conformation. Hoping that I would believe it.  I anxiously thought but quickly dismissed it. For as of now I am dependent on nothing on his words, this is his town and I am but a stranger. So if I were to sooth my curiosity for the truth, I would have to search without his help. After all, the last thing I need to give Hoffman a bad impression of me. Or maybe I am just being too anxious. Reverting conversation back to research seemed to be the better way to sail this boat.

"Very well." I said "Now, about this patient you mentioned. Where did you say I could I could meet him again?"

"

Yes, 3 pm at my clinic. From there we can take our leave. I could tell you important information about this town and this patient."

"Fair enough, but why do not we discuss this now?"

"Well, to give you proper information, I would need to documents. Besides, breakfast is not your top priority it seems or have you already eaten?"

"No, I have not."

"Then I can show you good locations to eat. This inn does not serve much food and I doubt you have a good taste of this place in your mouth. Unfortunately I cannot eat with you as I need to gather up the information and am going to be quite busy."

"That is fair. Now, which one place would you recommend for food?"

With that said we began a long discussion of food items I like and restaurants which could serve my interest. We went outside and he guided me to the proper place. Throughout the conversation, I could see a hint of nervousness in his face, a face which was praying to avoid a certain situation. Maybe he was just odd with strangers, maybe that is how he talks. Or he does not want you to bring up the incident from last night, I thought. I was pretty sure this was grasping at straws to create connections.

When we finally reached a proper place to eat, Hoffman bid his farewell and went to his clinic. From what I could make out of the sun, he headed East. This may seem like a minor detail which I have mentioned for no particular reason, in fact it seems like this is random piece of information.

The strange thing about this restaurant was that everyone seemed to avoid any form of eye contact, not just with me, but everyone avoided eye contact from each other. The staff would try to talk through me in a hurry, often ending up with broken German. No one talked to each other there, it was just an odd silence. Silence which seemed to have been engulfing this town since this morning in the strangest of places. It was as if everyone were afraid of something, that everyone were avoiding something. Until now, streets have been the only place where mouths move and throats sing, but inside any building, be it the various hotels or restaurant would be oddly silent. It seemed like a strange etiquette, I hope. Perhaps this explains why that soldier got himself in trouble that night at the bar.

The moment I exited the building I realized that the path towards his clinic was in fact towards the west yet he went to the east, the other direction. No probably a misunderstanding. Maybe he was been absent minded and went the wrong way but quickly changed his path in the middle and went past when I did not notice. Or he has to attend an emergency affair somewhere.....or...

On my path to the clinic I debated with myself whether to trust Hoffman at all.  Till now I have seen him from an eye of distrust. From the moment I saw the poor dead man to the strange path he took, I have been growing a feeling of distrust towards Hoffman which went on to be amplified the more I thought about him. It is quite easy to grow a feeling of distrust for someone and trap yourself in an illusion of safety. From what my little flick of self awareness would have me know, I have always been too keen on distrusting others, always expecting them to pull me into danger either for their own morbid entertainment or selfish profit. Earlier today he did state a sound theory of the man's condition but what I am very aware of is that he has withheld information from me, something crucial to this whole case. It is entirely possible that I am just being paranoid. I started to recall all the incidents from my life where my suspicion ended me up in trouble. In school, I would always stay away from students I did not know, I was quick to distrust any new person I met. This explains why forming relations is one of the hardest things for me and even after practicing in psychology, I have never managed to get really far in terms of social skills.

Despite all this pondering, one thing is clear to me, Hoffman is not to be trusted completely and I should stay on my toes. It is safer to distrust a trustworthy man than trust a traitor. This sentence has always been on the back of my mind and has always assisted me in various walks of life.

Snapping out of state of contemplation I encountered the clinic in which Hoffman was supposed to be, which was right in front of the train station I came out of just yesterday. I walked towards this large building. It was a two storied building made of white stones with a figure of a black contrasting against the white building near the entrance. Hardly had I lifted my eyes off the statue when Hoffman came out of the building with a few papers and a small green bottle.

"Good afternoon Ivansen, I believe that you did not have much trouble as of now." He said with a forced smile.

"No problem yet. The city is quite peaceful, especially more peaceful than the busy streets of Copenhagen."

We began to walk towards the house of the patient. After a few minutes of silence. Hoffman started to talk, he did seem like a lad who could not stay silent.

"The peace turns into boredom soon. The only moment someone looks up to this town is during a war when the Kaiser wants some fresh sacrifices or Italian and British tourists looking to escape the scorching sun. It is quite recently that there have been some attention paid to this place at all. You will get used to it Ivansen, and you would be longing to leave out of boredom."

"We would see about that. Right now I do not look forwards to be here. The air here was peaceful first but now it gives off a strange feeling almost that of....." I stopped talking, thinking that I am sharing a bit too much now, even though I had barely spoken three sentences.

".....false sense of security?" Hoffman finished for me.

"Yes, something of similar nature"

"It seems everyone who has not been born here thinks that. That the quiet is .....damned..... that there must be going something wrong with this place."

As damned as that accursed hotel, I thought. Hoffman went on to talk about the general view of Schwerzberg held by the neighboring towns and cities. It is apparent that the local townsfolk would rather prefer to avoid any form of businesses from this town as best as they could and even if any trade, merchant, tourist or vagabond ever entered this town, we would have his stay not for more than two days, three days if they are daring. Hence this town was almost completely reliant on its native human resources.

"......and you would notice how you are the only foreigner here. That too as far as Denmark. People of surrounding areas refuse to send any help and I can expect you to leave by tomorrow if you are not already at unease, I doubt you would favor this place by the end of this day."

His words did seem to have weight. I did notice that the strange etiquette of the people here seemed to be indicative of something. Something which I can just ponder about.

Upon walking further we finally encountered the house where this patient of ours was supposed to be. It was a dark grey and gloomy house in a dilapidated condition, the roof of this house was broken and  one could notice the woodworks of this house. With broken windows, this house seemed to tell  a story in and itself, of a family once respected and well known throughout the city but when struck with tragedy, the family remained with nothing but one member who spent his days with hands on face, mourning the dead, waiting for the house to collapse and free him from his miseries.

We knocked on the door which was opened by a maid. When we introduced ourselves, she lead us in the house and discussed the ailments and conditions of this man. After passing the short hallway from the entrance we entered a living room. It was a large room with a large table in the centre and six chairs surrounding it. At the end of the reason which opposed us was a window which gave a view to a small alley which separated this house from that of the neighbors' house. At centre left of this room lay a large arching doorway which lead to another room and towards our right were a flight of stairs which lead to the upper story. This house gave the signs of a once large family but given the strange silence, it was safe to assume that this spacious house was just the last remaining sign of the family Heimer once had.

"Master Heimer lives alone in seclusion." The maid said " Any progeny he had left this place and due to no recent communications, he is as good as abandoned. His wife committed suicide before he came back from the war, leaving him truly alone. I believe he would appreciate company in his old days but now he seems to have been gripped with madness, afraid of even leaving the house, thinking that any living thing can and will kill him. He especially avoid looking at windows, any window. At night you can always hear screaming from this house, which is what I suspect to be shock from the war. If you please, up the stairs and towards the left you will find Heimer's  chamber. "

Hoffman stepped back a little and pulled me aside, telling me in a whisper.

"Ivansen, I believe you can do a little bit of talking with Heimer before I accompany you." Hoffman suggested " I would have a little.......talk with this lady."

Trying to be clever, eh?

"If I will be completely honest, I believe you are beyond the age of wooing women."

"Ah Ivansen, you and your filthy mind. Anyway I am in no mood of jest. We need to get to know our patient better. So I advise you to walk up the stairs and give our dear mister Heimer company while I come."

I did not have a very positive opinion of Hoffman trying to 'talk' with this maid,  she already had enough to worry, though she might already be used to such people.

Leaving the two onto their business, I ascended up the stairs. The stairs were made of fine quality and I internally praised the craftsmanship.  The stairs twisted towards the left towards a room with a door which stood there ajar. I slowly opened the door and entered the room. Two windows faced me at the opposite end of the room . Near me was a large bed, large enough to accommodate two people. The sheets over the bed were torn apart, like a rabid cat had leapt over it and was too keen to display the art of its claws. At the edge of this bed sat an old man. This I assume was Mr. Heimer. He was an aged man with a small beard. If I were to guess , this man was of the age 40 at least. His forehead displayed a set of prominent wrinkles and a square face.

He sat there, staring at the void, indifferent to my presence, indifferent to anything in his surrounding in fact, probably lost in thousand fragments of memories and drowning in the nostalgia of once pleasant day. Slowly, very slowly, he turned his head towards me. He stood up and paced towards the centre, maintaining an eye contact with me.

"Mr. Heimer." I said " I...."

"You are not Hoffman." He cut me off " and I am aware of that.  You are the Danish doctor I have being hearing about. No need to be surprised,  words spread around quickly in such towns, not something you must be used to in Copenhagen."

"I have to stay, for a grief stricken man, you do speak very calmly."

"Oh I will have you know, for the previous few decades my letters have been nothing but a new reason to descend into melancholy. Obviously, I was already mentally down when the war started. Ironically, I found my sanity during the war."

He looked at me, realizing the skeptical face I now had possessed. He continued -

"Oh they will tell you that I am mad, that is what they want you to believe that. You believe I am a patient who is deluded in his ways but let me tell you, the grand stage that happens to be this world has you as nothing but a puppet to the puppeteers. Listen to me, you are hearing my last words......and my death is near. You have to leave this place as soon as possible after my death, which would be any minute now....."

I hear the ramblings of this mad man and am indeed fascinated by the calmness and the profound way he is expressing it. All my sane means tells me that this man is not to be trusted, but the same means tell me that at this point there is no one to trusted as of now. Hoffman has been hiding information from me and the strangeness of this town which itself was acknowledged by Hoffman himself, some force which drove foreigners away from this place. For now I let the man keep speaking.

"The disease that killed that man last night. That was the work of Steiner, the man who owns hotel Silber...."

"Steiner?"

"The man who is blind in one eye. He has that morbid, fleshy beard. It seems like a bunch of hair made of skin. He only comes out at night, as positions lanterns, candles, any light source in such a way that much of his beard is not revealed. I believe you made that observation of the strange light placement at that hotel last night."

I nodded. His descriptions explain some oddities of the hotel last time, but it was still too much of a stretch to believe whatever he said. A common case of hallucination I suppose. I could not even say if he was talking about that man who I met at that hotel. He did had a strange silhouette of a beard....but a beard made of flesh? Outlandish.  He continued.

" He runs these goons under his iron fist. He acquired this strange power from that thing....that Amygdala, that embodiment of fear." He started breathing heavily, eyes wide and sweat dripping from his head.

"Amygdala?" I said in confusion.

"That thing which is around ..... oh your mind is not tainted enough  to realize their existence. Oh and you hope you do not."

What are you doing Ivansen? Listening to the elaborate fabricated tales of a madman? Taking obvious cases of hallucinations and giving them an equal stand with that of sane words?  

"And provide me with a reason why I should not dismiss you as just another mad man?" I asked. "Listen, you we can help you with your situation. If you can just let us....."

"You do not believe? Very well. Given that you have been in this town for almost a day, I will ask you, have you heard the church bells ring yet?"

As these words escaped his mouth, a strange sound like the flow of a fluid started seeming prominent, like the flowing of a river just very faint. The sound grew very slightly louder and the both of started looking around in confusion. In one of the small cracks of the world, a small shine of a red moss sprang up. We stared at this for a few second. I started looking around the room for more signs of this. It seemed like this small shimmering moss started growing out of all the cracks and holes of this room. Shortly afterward, it grew in numbers. Scattered tiny parts turned into clusters and the clusters started covering more and more of the area around them and spreading on all sides. The brown, wooden ceiling and the grey walls started getting covered in red. It was a blight spreading around the room, and slowly tried to cover the entire room. Little masses of moss spawned at the corners. They seemed to not do anything to the pieces of furniture of the room but if my observation of last night were correct, we were going to have the same fate as that soldier last night. That part was not to be debated. Heimer looked at me at frantically went on with a raised voice- "Now you see! This town is not normal, nothing about this normal. Listen, Hoffman and Steiner lead a cult worshipping this Amygdala, and anyone outsider is directly or indirectly driven out. If any townsman here gets to know the truth of their business, they end up killing them. We eight were such unfortunate minds who got to know too much. Many were driven mad and then slowly killed and I am the last......"

The sea of the red moss now covered the entire ceiling and was close to engulfing the adjacent walls. The floor was mostly intact barring a corner. I started slowly walking towards the door in trepidation, though Heimer seemed to be in a calm and composed state(almost accepting his death). I was trying to process and interpret whatever words this man was flinging at me. I believed some of it, but having Hoffman seem to take a stance against me seemed a bit much. After all , if he did want me out of here wouldn't he have already driven me out of this town? Heimer oddly seemed to be relaxed about this, maybe he already accepted his fate, or just cannot move by some curse cast upon him. Anxiety turned to fear when suddenly.....



Thud

....I heard the door close behind me. I ran up to it in an effort to close it but it seems to have been locked from the outside. Immediately the realization dawned upon me. The b******s want me dead too. I struggled with opening the door, turned the knob in all sorts of crazy directions only to be met with failure. Heimer's ramblings may be amazing creations of his mind but one thing is obvious is that I have to find a way to get out of here.

"Oh dear, seems like they want to get rid of you too." Heimer remarked. Of course they do and after listening to Heimer's ramblings, it is probably solidified by now that I "know too much".  "Where was I? Ah yes....listen, you have to get out of this town now. " He turned towards the window and quickly pointed towards it. The red blight now was slowly spreading from the corners of the floor to the "I need you to jump out of the window, the sloping roof shall help you land safely and the ground is muddy enough for you to gain a soft landing."

The moss now covered the entire wall. Now I could see nothing but a mass of red moss. It would not be long until it started creeping across the floor to get to us too.

"What about you?"

"I would go with you  but at this point, there is nothing left with me to live for. My wife has died, my sons have gone to Italy and are completely unheard of ever since, these creatures which I see in this town.....all tell me that I should get to rest at last. You on the other hand seem to love your life and seem to have value as of now. Follow my advice, jump through the window and run to the station and get aboard a train which leads you to anywhere, any place in the world but here. These people do not have any power outside of here."

The red blight now started spreading through the floor where we stood, I could not allow them to touch me lest I suffer the same fate as that man. I started walking towards the window in order to ensure the red moss does not cover the path.

"All the luck to you my friend, stay safe." Heimer wished, which seem sincere. If it can be assumed that delusions gripped this man, than death may be a preferable option for him. Regardless, in the panic I decided there was no point in arguing with him about his survival. I quickly answered him back.

"Rest in peace, old man" I replied and with a smile, I still held my doubts against him about the other things but I was sure convinced that escaping from this town was the best possible course of action. The moss seemed to not be able to get a grip over glass.

I started walking briskly and right then it turned into a dash as I sprinted across the room and bashed into the window. Glass shards flew around me as I violently hit the sloping portico. I could feel the sharp pain in on my hand and body. I rolled down the slope and onto the warm and muddy Earth right on my side. I could see blood on my right hand and brown and red glass shards spread around me. I could feel sharp pain near my stomach, right hand and a slight discomfort in my left leg. The world was nothing but a blur of dark clouds and pain until I regained my consciousness of what had just happened. I do not recall for how long did I end up on the ground but I believe it was enough for the red blight, that curse from hell, to get to Heimer. Soon I heard a screaming from the room, oddly that of a woman.

I regained my consciousness, stood up and bolted for the shortest possible distance towards the town station as fast as I could. I believe Hoffman already knew of my depart and the events which had just unfolded. That b*****d is not to be trusted, this town is not to be trusted. The study and research can burn in fire for all I care, I just want to escape this accursed town. The pain, the numbness of my arm and feet, the very possibility of a misunderstanding did not occur to me. Escape this town, anywhere but this town is what I intended and all I asked for.




----------

Did I just let a man die a horrible death?

Irrationality often possesses  our mind to ensue survival in desperate situations. It hits us like a bullet after we are safe and sound to realize what and who we had to sacrifice. I could have easily taken that man with me outside and we both could have easily escaped. Of course the madness he was gripped with prevented him from wanting to live. But I could have given him a new life, and new beginning and new happiness. Yet my mind was too self centered to think about my decisions, the fear of the red moss, the cruel fate was too much so much so that I allowed another man to die in vain.

Perhaps it was his destiny? Perhaps he had accepted. Perhaps he had faced worst already. Heimer was barely clinging to his last fragments of sanity (albeit he did a good job in not showing). In the end of the day what is worse? Forcing a man to through his sufferings telling yourself that he would lead a better life or agreeing to his demands and not even considering the lack of rationality of a person who requests his own demise?


Have you heard the church-bell ring yet?

His words rang in my memory. The more I thought about that town the more things started to fall into pieces. The church bells never rang, not at day and not at noon. Nor had I notice any activity going in or out of that place despite supposed to be a functional one and had no sign of abandonment.

Or the people are just quite irreligious here?

Seems like a probable explanation. But chances seem very bleak. No time here was like that. No entire town is completely indifferent. Yet, that building stood there.

The most probable explanation would be that a guise was being setup. This town which masqueraded like a completely normal place was in fact an infestation of insanity and I feel like am losing myself too.

In reality, I had no idea who do I trust. Hoffman or Steiner had locked me in leaving me to my demise. I feel there is no way that they were doing anything for my own favor. Heimer was a mad man but the sincerity with which he spoke was very convincing. He was mad and delusional, oh sure, but in that moment of panic and irrationality, it seems like I had trusted him more than anyone else in there. Strange days.

When I had reached the railway station, it seemed like there were no trains available to take me anywhere. A little bit of desperate wandering led me to a travelling horse carriage. A modest fee was required to let me hitch a ride to the nearest cities and towns. They agreed to take me to the city of Feldkirch which was quite near to the Schwerzberg but would take a few hours to reach. By the time the sun set and the cloudy skies held orange apertures, I was all aboard and away from this cursed town. As the dark fell, we were already far from the town. Now all I could hope was that this man himself was not himself involved with the Steiner, else my entire plan would be messed up.

I sat and sighed in relief. I looked out at a dark forest which we were passing and the dark clouds which hid to light of the moon. It was a really dark night indeed, but a calming one. Even in this darkness I could make out a few creatures of the night like goats, bears , wolves etc. The carriage driver did not question my bloody arm and abdomen nor dress smeared in mud. My arm and leg still hurt to move but I had to tolerate it at this point. My dress gave off an odd stink. My driver did question my situation and asked what had happened to which I had given a rather embarrassing story of how I had jumped out of a window while being drunk. I don't know if he believed it, but my actual story would be as unbelievable.

I did not catch my eye at first, but I started observing that my carriage driver had slowly started to have his skin rot into a disgusting dark red coloration. As soon as I expected it to start to stink, it disappeared. Whatever had just happened, there had been tricks being played against me or there is a possibility that I am hallucinating due to hunger and tiredness. It seemed possible but I did not know what to believe at this point. Yes, must be the lack of rest. Out of hope I had convinced myself that this was a result of tiredness, as much as I did not believe it.  I gave in to my heavy eye lids.

----------

When my rather uncomfortable slumber and a bit of reminding myself all the series of events which led me here . It was a confused state of recollection, all the incident, oddities and questions in my mind which all returned in a few seconds. After clearing my mind, I walked out of the carriage to analyze the situation myself.

I looked around and could not find the driver anywhere close. The horses seem to be in distress due to what was in front of them. A giant, black log was blocking the path. I could not make out a distinct beginning or end of this log and both just seemed to mix into the darkness. It seemed to be thicker at the edge towards my left than the right. So I could guess that it originated from my left and ended at my right. From what I could make out of the light of the lantern I held and the moonlight(which now shone  like the sun now that the skies seemed to have cleared), this log was very thick. Had to be at least 10 meters in diameter. The fact that trees like this even existed in a region like this seemed to be  impossible and I could do nothing but wonder what brought this titan down. Even more fascinating was the thought of how thick this would be at the base.

The log itself seemed to have taken no damage of anything. No sign of any harm done, it looked very smooth with some tiny hair-like particles. There were no sign of any leaves around it. It was quite a peculiar one indeed. It did not resemble anything from here. Almost alien.

I shifted my attention from the log towards the condition of the carriage. The horses were distressed and were trying to back away, my carriage driver himself had disappeared with no sign. I could not recall how long I had slept , how long had we been waiting here or how far we came from Schwerzberg at all. It was a confusing state and I am here abandoned in the middle of nowhere. I started thinking of all the possibilities and theories of what could have happened.

Perhaps he had robbed me off my valuables while I was asleep and ran away. No. My stuff was with me, and his were left in the carriage. Seemingly he went away for help or to find a place to stay.

I waited for minutes, which turned into hours and the clock kept on ticking the angles of moonlight became vertical and slowly started to get more and more slant as time went on. How the sun did not rise yet already was beyond my comprehension. I was convinced no soul is coming. That I am now left alone with the horse and the carriage. Occasionally I would see shadows moving at the bushes, sometimes resembling animals, sometimes humanoid shapes, but they did not do anything, other than just be a sight. At times they would disappear into the thin air, at times they would appear out of thin air.

The horse seemed to get more and more distressed as time passed on. I could sense the trepidation in its breath and its neighs. It seemed to want to back away, away from the log. The log. Oh how I had not thought much about it.

After what seemed like eternity, the log started to move. It seemed like it was being dragged towards the direction of the forest. It was as if the titan was slithering towards the forest like a snake slithering back into its burrow. Its speed kept increasing until it reached unnatural velocities and kept going on and on and on and did not seemed to not end at all. After a lot of time, the log got removed, only to reveal another log of similar size behind it moving at the same speed and seemed to never end. Another log was behind it of the same description. Another one behind, another one. Any further logs were faded into the darkness, though I still could sense their presence and speed. Slowly the logs kept getting removed.

With horror I realized that these things were not logs at all, not anything resembling a tree, neither a part of a tree nor anything related to Botany at all. I looked up at the sky and saw these things 'fold' halfway through. These logs turned vertical and were held down, which sent out a shockwave which had almost made me fall. I could not make out a lot of details, but against the moonlit sky I could make out the shadows their movements, which stood pitch black against the pale blue moonlit sky. And there were millions of them. Or so I thought, I was too frozen to count them all but they all stood as mountains.

These things in erratic coordination turned parallel to my parallel to my field of view. They still stood as tall as mountains, but I could not as easily make out their numbers as I could before. And the creature to which they committed......

They moved forward, again erratically, still being able to move forwards. My imagination started taking the worst of me, trepidation filled my body and I could feel my body get colder and colder as I stood there helpless. The horses started getting more and more tensed, stomping their foot. Ah yes, the horses. I had no idea what had gotten in my mind but the safety of the carriage was greater than anything the outside wilderness had to offer.

I ran into the carriage, and sat there hoping that this was just a bad nightmare. I still had no idea what that thing was, but it was definitely not something I wanted to be near to. I looked out of the carriage window, the trees started getting blown towards me in what seemed like a really strong wind. At one point even the carriage seemed like it would blow with the wind. Then silence fell.

Mustering up my last ounce of courage, I looked out of the window. There was nothing among the trees but that was for only a brief moment. The bushes and shrubs twisted and turned to unnatural shapes only to show the head of a massive abomination (hopefully) not of this world. I could see the movements of the million mandibles which this thing possessed and strong wind which was blown towards this carriage.

It's just a nightmare or you are hallucinating again, wake up.



The abomination came closer, its vast landscape of skin and appendages which moved and snapped into a horrible other-worldly dance of terrific speed so loud the earth shook beneath my feet. It came closer and closer inducing stomach twisting fear. The mandible gave way to reveal a rotten world of morbid corruption with various life forms of unimaginable shape, size and colour. Laws of nature which governed us were twisted and mocked as this beast moved through the grass and towards the carriage.

This cannot be real. No, not at all. Impossible. Please.....oh please wake up. WAKE UP!!


 

Horrible memories recollected in my mind. I could feel them mend into terrifying visions so disturbing I wanted to stab my mind and shut it down. I could not control it and my mind was filled with twisted recollections and it seemed so alien to me.

I am as good as dead now. Don't I?



The horses took off. I had not noticed that the road had cleared. These horses took off in lightning speed down the road. Waves of relief flushed me while I simultaneously tried to take control of my mind. I could hear the snapping behind me and it got louder and louder. I turned around and looked through the black window. It did not walk, it did not crawl with its mountainous legs, it did not fly, it glided. Through the trees, the rocks and mountains. As if space meant nothing to them, our limitations were not its'.

I sat back down, doing silent prayers, hoping for this to end.

But there was no end.


Its' unnatural snapping got so loud I thought I had deaf for a minute, the horses could not maintain their speed. The carriage crashed and tossed me around, until my head hit the window so hard my vision had consisted of nothing but an eternal sea of darkness, relieving me of this torture while I silently wished for death.

-------

It was a chaotic sleep. It was certainly not a peaceful one and I could feel myself getting tired and drained of energy. Nightmares flashing before my eyes as I tried to get a hold of my mind again. It was a conflict I had trouble winning, but soon I had been able to calm myself down in my sleep, revert those nightmares. The horrible memories which I had gotten from the profane incident were now somewhat tamed, but I had trouble with recollecting any pleasant memories , I could sense them at the back of my mind but could not recollect them.

I sensed light around me, and people. Now I could hear people talking , mostly in anger. Slowly, I could hear the voices more clearly, and make out the subject of the matter-

"......required to end his miseries." I could identify the voice. It was a gentle one, yet had the twist from an aged man. The same which had greeted me at that hotel. It was Steiner.

"It is not about him, it is about his institute." Hoffman, that same voice, energetic yet but now cold and cruel. Oh how now I am at the mercy of those who I intended to run from. Those who would have given me horrible death and here I am still living under their care. Those b******s' tricks had caused this, they had caused this all my ailments, my troubles, not just mine, but this whole towns' and whoever came close to it. "If we were to kill him, we would surely be questioned and researched. And trust me old man, you do not want more blood on your hands as you already have. We were lucky he was gullible enough to believe that man."

I was too tired, too much in pain to move. I could feel  that all my injuries from the fall through that glass window had been stitched. There was not a lot of pain as before, but still enough to not allow me turn my head properly without discomfort. I felt that I could still see it, the maddening land, the dancer of dread, that abomination.

The room itself was a strange place beyond any location I had known in my memory. It was strange combination of colours the ceiling had, which frequently changed themselves from time to time. I moved my head around and could see Hoffman and Steiner warping their shapes in irregular time intervals. It was a strange sight to see indeed. Immediately my attention came back to the greater danger of the red death which would crawl to me......eventually.

"So what is it that  you....."

"You....." I interrupted Steiner. "You did that.......that creature......you"  But as I said that, I could see flashes of that creature in front of my eyes, even referring to it was enough to distract my mind. Oh I cannot hold the sudden on rush of emotions I had. A deformed, malformed voice straight out of hell seemed to ring through my mind, like an old man shouting at a hollow cavern.

Kill them, use your bare hands, slay those b******s


Many such vibrations with varying meaning ran through my head.

I could hear Heimer talking to me, the only man I could have ever trusted. The man who lost his life to his goons. Your death shall not go unpunished my friend. I shall punish these wild men....

"Creature? Ah, he saw the Amydala!" I heard Steiner exclaim despite the buzz going through my head.

 

"So that is what caused that accident. I have to say, poor man has his mind destroyed now. What do we say to the institute now?"Hoffman asked. This man dares to think about their reputation, this man dares to care only about their image. Such selfishness and unnecessary cruelty!

"Hello Ivansen." I heard Heimer say, standing at the corner of the room, staring at me with dead eyes."Enjoying, eh?"

At the window did I see those pale, texture-less legs of that creature in front of the window. More intense the visions of the creature, more flashes of all types of horrible images were seen by me. And slowly, fear gripped me, as I realized their intention. Oh heavens! What was this sickness? Had I not been sick enough already? Had I not suffered from more hallucination in youth and now am seeing them again before me? What sacrilege had I committed to suffer this fate?

Hoffman and Steiner talked on about what to do with me, about my condition. I could see a red moss blooming from the ceiling, slowly multiplying, and spreading around, slowly everywhere. Ready to have me dead. I had escaped death twice, I am going to escape it again.

Immediately I jumped from the bed, every part of my body aching and head throbbing. I tried to control the images of that..."Amygdala"....which kept on flashing before me. But I controlled it. Now it was up to me to put these hounds down. If I do not, no one will, and if no one does, more people die. They shall not walk around alive again. "Amygdala", the embodiment of fear, that which strides in nightmares of man. He who keeps children awake, and fills trepidation upon many. "Amygdala"......that which caused all this.

I immediately pounced on Hoffman, he did have a satisfyingly surprised face. I choked him more and more, him struggling under my grip. It was for a second or two, but it was the most satisfying couple of seconds I had ever had. Steiner's rough hands grabbed me and threw me off of Hoffman. Before I could stand up again, the last thing I saw was the cold blow to my head by Steiner's boot.

-------

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3rd August, 1866

 

To the President,

University of Copenhagen,

Copenhagen, Denmark

 

Subject - Mental condition  of Mr. Luccas Ivansen            

Sir,

                The day before yesterday from when this letter, we have had the pleasure to meet one of  your enthusiastic students by the name of Luccas Ivansen. However, we are extremely disappointed to inform you that Mr. Ivansen cannot make it back to Copenhagen back alone.

                On his last day in this town, Mr. Ivansen had gotten himself in conflict  with the locals for unknown reasons and had sustained minor injuries. By sunset, he had departed off via carriage(due to unavailability of trains)to the nearest major city. Unfortunately, it seems like the carriage had faced a dangerous accident in which he had sustained several injuries and a possible almost lethal blow to the head. The driver of the carriage remains missing. Ever since, he has been showing violent tendencies towards everyone he meets, claims to be conversing with people either long dead or completely fictional, frequent screaming and delusions. Henceforth, we would request you to arrange a family member or an acquaintance to assist Mr. Ivansen in his journey back to Copenhagen as soon as possible.

Thanking you,

Yours faithfully,

Dr. Johann Hoffman,

Chief Doctor and Psychologist of Schwerzberg Hospital                  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2019 Chaos_Stuff


Author's Note

Chaos_Stuff
First time I have completed a full short story. Apologies for any spelling or grammatical error which slipped by me.

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Added on November 4, 2019
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Chaos_Stuff
Chaos_Stuff

About
Young dude hoping to hone his skills in writting. Mainly concerned with Horror and will probably hop on to fantasy one day. Main inspirations being Lovecraft and Poe. more..