Hauling myself out of my earthen tomb I saw I was in a fair sized chamber about sixteen feet high by fifteen with the ceiling and sides reinforced with a timber frame. That was when I realised I’d made a big mistake. Ghouls didn’t build and they always lived in nests. Always. I hadn’t come across any other individuals and it occurred to me that maybe this was the first to enjoy the single life. Not only that, but it was far smarter than it was supposed to be.
Flicking the beam of my torch around the room I saw that death had made its playground here, down among the body parts and scraps of human meat left by a creature whose murderous ambition was larger than its capacity to ever consume. I remembered a shed I’d been in where the spiders clearly ruled and every inch of the walls was covered in webbing and the partially consumed bodies of the insects they’d caught. This was just on a much larger scale.
The ghoul seemed to have a twisted aesthetic sense too, because on one side of the cavern was an earthen wall decorated by still dripping intestines. A dessicated brain had been carefully placed above it complete with two still fresh eyeballs still attached to the nerves. It was almost comical if your taste ran to the grotesque, as though a murderous child had tried to depict a human being using body parts instead of crayon. A primitive but discernable organisation had gone on here judging by the mound of legs separated from an adjacent mound of arms in the far corner of the room and in the other, a carefully constructed hill of skulls built in a rough pyramid.
But the piece de resistance and the sole source of light was the human head at the apex of the pyramid. The skull pan had been roughly sawn open and the brain scooped out to be replaced with a guttering fat yellow candle that I would have be money on was made up of human fat. The fry up I’d had this morning almost came back up to meet me. The head must have been reasonably fresh, because the face still had a leathered flesh, lips shrivelled over gums and the few remaining teeth. The eyes had been hollowed out and the lids sewn shut as though in a parody of sleep.
The smell was so intense that every breath had to be carefully judged so I didn’t vomit up the good Talisker I’d just had. There was no avoiding it, it demanded acknowledgment and that’s what I had to give it to stay on this killing floor. On the wall opposite the intestines, a neat array of human ears had been pinned in a straight line. They were in various stages of decomposition and thin clear coloured gel dripped from them onto the floor. One of the ears had a stud stained with its owners dried blood. It occurred to me the ghoul had tried some interior decorating on for size and uncovered hidden talent. The floor was carpeted with the now familiar mostly pulverised bone and in the middle was a roughly hewn block of wood, roughly the size of a human body complete with restraints and blood stained implements comprising a large curved blade, axe and saw. All were encrusted with dark stains that it didn’t take a genius to figure out what they were.
And then a soft moan that seemed to come from above…