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You Can't Have a Horror Story without a Cult

You Can’t Have a Cosmic Horror Story without a Cult When Cindy woke up, she had a bag over her head. This nearly caused her to hyperventilate from remembering all the warnings about plastic bags causing suffocation and to not let your children near them etc etc. But shortly after she started moving, the bag was jerked off, catching some of her hair in the process, and she found herself in a small, concrete room. At least, that’s what she thought it probably was, it was a little hard to tell with the bright spotlight shining in her face. Most concerning of all was the fact that Marcell was nowhere to be seen. She was alone. Cindy was just about to see if maybe she could wiggle free from the chair she was tied to, a small bit of fire might be able to burn the rope binding her hands, but then she caught movement out of the corner of her eye. There was someone else in here after all. “Well, well, well. What a pretty little lady we have ourselves here,” they said, voice honey-smooth and low. “Where’s Lucius?” Cindy refused to acknowledge their comments. “What have you done to him?” “You mean your vampire friend? Is that his name? Interesting.” The person, who at this point was little more than a shadow at the edge of her vision, chuckled. “We haven’t done anything to him yet, but if you don’t cooperate, I’ll stick him in my sunroom.” Flinching, Cindy resisted the urge to set this person ablaze. If he didn’t like vampires, odds were that he wouldn’t be too fond of her powers either. “My apologies,” the voice continued, all honey again. “I believe we may have gotten off on the wrong foot.” As he stepped into the light, the voice was proven to be a man, tall and thin, hair greasy, aviator sunglasses covering his eyes. “They call me Anaxagoras, but you can call me Raz.” He tipped his cowboy hat to her, and even through the dark tint of the sunglasses she could tell he was winking. A shiver ran down her spine. This guy was bad news. He laughed as she paused. “And this is usually the part where you tell me your name.” But still, she didn’t say anything. In magic, names had power, you could do harm to someone by knowing their name. If this Raz was a witch, or had any nearby... but she had to give him something. “Cynthia,” she said finally. “Just Cynthia?” he asked. “Just Cynthia.” “Well, alright then, Just Cynthia,” Raz pulled up a chair, which screeched across the concrete floor. “What in the world brought you and your friend to our little community?” “We were taking a road trip and got lost.” “Oh, darling, you don’t know how many times I’ve heard that one,” he laughed, “And I think you’re lying.” But she wasn’t lying, just not telling the whole truth, and she clung to that. “I’m not,” she insisted. “Lucius is terrible at reading maps and we lost the internet. We saw a sign for the town and decided to wait out the sun there.” He stared her down for a silent minute. “Hmph,” he huffed when she didn’t break. “Well, alright then, answer me this: what’s a pretty little lady like you doin’ with a thing like that?” “He’s my boyfriend,” she said, only to wince at how silly it sounded. Raz just laughed again, the sound bouncing harshly off the concrete. “You think it loves you? Oh, honey, those bloodsuckers can’t feel love, it’s just using you to get what it wants. Tell me, how many times has it bitten you, called it love?” “Never.” There was just a split second pause before he recovered. “Well then, he would have soon, mark my words, if I hadn’t saved you.” “And just how do you know that? Who in the hell are you?” Cindy couldn’t contain herself any longer. “Me? I’m a giver of Truth,” the harsh bare bulb above reflected in the lenses of his glasses. “I have seen the Truth of this universe, and I am here to show you the way.” “You’re delusional,” Cindy scoffed. If he’d really seen the Truth, she added to herself, he would know there was no way at all. “Am I?” he asked, grinning. “My many followers don’t seem to think so. Would you like to see?” Why yes, yes she would. The things he was saying struck a chord with her, despite how wrong he was about his own place in the world. But as for the rest, she had heard all of this before. Maybe this was the place they were supposed to find. “Fine,” she said. Taking out a switchblade, he cut the ropes that tied her hands. “If you run,” he warned, “your ‘boyfriend’ will see the light.” He placed a hand on the small of her back and opened the door from the small room. “I don’t think you’ll try to after you see what I’ve created...” Cindy braced herself for any number of horrible possibilities as to what could be waiting for her outside of that door, but she found herself slightly disappointed. “It’s nearly time for the show,” Raz explained as he led her through a ramshackle series of cabins and other buildings under the shade of the massive forest of pine trees. “That’s why it’s so quiet.” She didn’t respond for a minute, taking all of it in. “What exactly is this place?” she asked. “This is the home of the True Unity,” he explained. “Here we live in preparation for the Perfect Unification.” “I have no idea what that means.” “It’s... difficult to explain,” he glanced at her from above his sunglasses. “You’ll see soon enough.” “So, you’re a cult,” Cindy added, somewhat accusingly. He shook his head. “We’re a collective.” “That sounds like something a cult leader would say.” His laughter sent a shiver down her spine. Something about it sounded soulless, callous. “I like you,” he said, patting her on the head. “You’ve got spunk. I sincerely hope that I can show you the way.” Something told Cindy that that wasn’t going to happen. “Are you ready to see?” he asked. “Because here we are...” Cindy looked to where he pointed and was surprised to see a huge structure rising out of the trees. It was round, constructed of a mismatch of rotting planks and bits of metal, and seemed to have an open top. The rabble of a crowd was coming muffled from within. Raz led her over to the side of the building, and into a rudimentary elevator, which rose slowly to the top of the structure. “You’re going to get the premium view tonight,” he grinned, revealing crooked teeth. “Welcome to my private box.” He opened a door that looked like it had been stolen from a Menards somewhere, and gestured her inside. The building, it turned out, was some sort of coliseum. A huge crowd sat, enraptured, on bleachers surrounding a dirt floor. Two dark holes in the sides seemed to lead downwards, perhaps below the building. Cindy and Raz stepped into an open-fronted box, overlooking the whole affair. Thankfully, they weren’t alone. Somewhat worryingly, the other two denizens of the box were both girls. Cindy tried to suppress the sudden feeling of being the newest member of some sort of fucked up harem. The girl sitting in the nearest chair looked up curiously, removing her large combat boots from the armrest when she saw Raz. But Cindy didn’t pay her much attention because just then the other girl turned and Cindy blanked as she met her shiny, round glasses. For it was at that moment she realized that she was sharing a box with Abigail Hodge. ~~ o ~~ It was certainly impressive, this little compound, cult, “collective” as it was called, that Anaxagoras had managed to create, Doug had to admit that. Impressive, but still creepy. The unshakable loyalty that his followers displayed frankly gave him the heebie-jeebies. They weren’t allowed to do what they wanted, strict schedules were employed, which for now, at least, also applied to Doug. There was a certain beauty in chaos, he was beginning to realize. Something that was certainly lacking here. That had become Doug’s job, to bring a little fun, a little chaos, to this otherwise depressing group of individuals. And oddly enough, he seemed to be bringing a little fun to himself, as well. The crowd reacting to his words, the way he could cause silence, or noise. It... amused him. That was the right word. And it had come shockingly naturally to him, something that Kei was unflappable about, as usual. It was almost time. He could tell by the roar of the crowd. He just had to wait for that creepazoid false prophet to speak his gospel, and then it would be time for Doug to speak the true word. The word of chaos. Strange, he’d barely spared Abigail a thought these last few days. Maybe it was because she was so close now, because he could find a way to choke the life out of her at any time. Maybe because soon, with just a word, he’d be able to turn the whole crowd against her. Ah, yes, there they went, dead silent as they listened to the words of Anaxagoras. Doug stepped on the platform as he’d done for the last few days. He started tingling, and it wasn’t from the mercury. He took a deep breath, ready for the performance to take him. It was showtime. ~~ o ~~ Cindy and Abigail stared each other down from across the box, the former with significantly more anger than the latter, who merely smiled pleasantly. The third girl seemed to notice the change in the air, as her bleached hair bobbed as she glanced back and forth between the two, but Raz remained oblivious. “Abigail, Kei, this is Cynthia. You girls ready to go?” “Oh, absolutely,” Abigail smiled. That wasn’t good. If Abigail was excited, then whatever Raz wanted to show her wasn’t going to be a good time. Of course, Cindy only had minimal interaction with the woman, but everything she had seen had been downright nasty. “Then here we go.” The other girls settled in their chairs and Cindy followed suit, while Raz grabbed a microphone dangling from the top of the box and stood in front of the crowd. He didn’t even have to say a word before they all went dead silent. “My brothers and sisters,” his voice boomed across the space as every pair of eyes locked on him, enraptured. “Today we gather to honor the Truth. Everything in the universe is one. We are all made up of bits of everything else. We are all stardust.” There was a small aw from the crowd at the image. Cindy squinted as she happened to see him finger something at his neck. What was it? “This is True Unity. This is what we stand for. But a question for you. All of you...” It flashed between his fingers. A small stone, with something swirling within. A fragment. She recognized it immediately. “If we are all made up of everything, then wouldn’t we want the whole world to be as pure as possible?” The crowd’s voices rose in approval. Cindy happened to glance over and saw that Abigail’s eyes were also locked on the pendant. Try it, bitch, just try, Cindy thought. I’ll destroy that thing long before you manage to get your grubby hands on it. “So tonight we are gathered here to purify,” Raz was still talking, completely oblivious. “To purge. Purge the things that are unnatural, and strange. But before they die, they may as well provide us with some entertainment. And remember friends, I guarantee that this is only the beginning of out ambitions.” He took a small bow, and the crowd cheered incessantly. Then, in the middle of the dirt area, a platform of sorts rose out of the dust. On its metal top stood a man with a microphone, and Cindy’s eyes widened as she realized that she recognized him. His white hair glowed in the wash of the spotlights. Cindy had only met him for a moment, but she would know him anywhere. “Hello, ladies and gentlemen,” he beamed, the microphone shaking slightly in his hand. “Who here is ready for a fight?” Cindy hadn’t really paid attention before, and now she realized her error. Fight? Who was going to fight? She didn’t have to wait long for the answer. The crowd roared in response to Doug Bailey’s question, but that still wasn’t enough for him. “I said ‘who’s ready for a fight’?” The resulting noise nearly made her ears bleed. “Then let’s get right into it!” he winked. “In this corner, we have the five-time champion of the arena, the queen of carnage, and a dog-gone pretty face: here she is!” With a roar, the most enormous wolf that Cindy had ever seen flew through one of the dark entranceways. Its black fur was matted with blood and gore and its yellow eyes were wild. Wait, no that wasn’t a wolf, for as the cheers and boos of the crowd reached its ears, the wolf stood on its hind two legs. Cindy gasped. She’d never seen one in person before. A werewolf. “And in this corner,” Doug continued. “We have a newcomer. He may not look like much, but he’s got a lot of bite. Put your hands together!” From the other entrance, a man stumbled in, looking confused. Cindy couldn’t breathe. No, this couldn’t be happening. Lucius’ shirt was gone, his hair was wild, he looked exhausted. No, no, they wouldn’t, they couldn’t. This... this wasn’t fair. Cindy turned to Raz pleadingly, but he simply raised a hand to silence her. This wasn’t going to be stopped. “Now I don’t know about you,” Doug gestured grandly. “But I’ve always wondered about that eternal question. Who would win in a fight? Werewolf? Or Vampire? Are you all ready to see?” The crowd went ballistic. “Well, alright then. Here we go. Ready?” The whole building held its breath. Cindy pinched herself. This couldn’t be happening. This had to be some sort of fucked-up nightmare. “Fight!”

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