The creature lived long enough to tell me what was in the casks.
I found the thing skulking by the door when I entered the cavernous room, and it ran when it saw me. Two quick shots from my Colt blew out its knees and sent it sprawling across the concrete floor.
As it tried to crawl away from me, I gazed at the casks and saw each bore a name.
Timothy Waite aged 8 years.
Marcus Hendrickson aged 12 years.
The casks were huge, reminding me of those used in France and Germany in the vineyards.
“What do you store in these?” I asked it.
The creature, which was gray with filmy white eyes, leered at me. “I store nothing.”
Squatting down beside it, I took out my Bowie knife and removed a finger.
“What do you store in these?” I asked again.
It swore at me, so I stuffed its finger into its mouth. Once it had choked its own digit down, it felt the need to speak.
“This is the Keeper’s wine,” it hissed at me.
“Tell me why there are names upon them.”
It tried to distance itself from me, but I hooked a finger into its mouth, caught hold of its cheek and tugged it back to me. “I’ll tear your damned cheek from your face if you don’t speak.”
It nodded in understanding, and I let it go.
“We put a boy in the cask,” the creature explained, “and we drown him in wine. He ferments. The wine gets sweeter. When we break open a cask, the Keeper, she feeds upon the wine-soaked flesh and drinks the wine. Her hunger is great. Her thirst is mighty.”
“How many have you put in here?” I asked, my voice shaking with rage.
The creature seemed not to notice my fury. “After one hundred, I stopped counting. Too boring. The screams too much the same. And the Keeper never gives me the slights morsel. I must scrape them from the casks.”
The raven on my shoulder shifted his weight. “This one,” Grimnir told me, “should not die quickly.”
I agreed and made certain it did not.
#horror #monsters #supernatural #death