Skjöldr's Scary Halloween Story

Antonio was just finishing up for the day, staring at the sand between his toes like he’d failed everyone he loved. A group of women lined up before him: Three Tammy’s and a Becky. He wasn’t actually sure of their names. He handed each of them an envelope. It was payment for the four hours spent kissing these women on Venice beach before a rolling camera. His face showed only remorse, however. He was thinking of what he had seen underneath the pier. It had been dark down there, despite the midday sun, and Antonio was mouth-to-mouth with one of the Becky’s at the time. Over her shoulder, Antonio saw the billowing dark shape holding the book, gray hair rippling from its head. Its face was hidden in the shadows, except for two piercing eyes -- tiny white beads honed on him. He knew exactly why it was there in the split second it took for panic to fill his spine and flush his ears with the sound of screaming blood, only to be immediately forgotten and replaced with a salient blast of pure cleansing terror. When Antonio finally pulled enough air into his lungs to scream, the visitor was gone. The girls were frightened. His cameraman gave him a look he’d never seen before. He played it off as a panic attack, apologizing. But he knew it was real. After all, he only screamed because it had spoken inside his head.

“This is only 60, Central Casting said 120.” Tammy barked, snapping Antonio out of it.
“Sorry,” he replied, and pulled three 20’s from his pocket. “Central said you’d be okay with sixty. I’m gonna double check with them after this, okay?” He turned to the rest. “You all heard one twenty?”
The girls looked at each other and nodded. Antonio remembered once more the voice he had heard in his head like a blaring klaxon: GUILTY. GUILTY. GUILTY.

After parking his Tesla Model S in the eighteen car garage below his Beverly Hills bungalow, Antonio turned to the drink. But no matter how much tequila he angrily swigged over his sink, he could not drown out what that thing had sent -- had FIRED into his head from under the pier.


The message burned him. It set his skin aflame. He was not able to shake the fire from his thought. That thing had even pointed at him. Oh God, had he forgotten that on purpose? What was that thing? He didn’t see its face but knew it was pale and ghostly. He knew its fingers were bones. All of these things crawled in his mind like worms. What was written in its book?

That’s when it knocked on his door. A gust of wind filled the bungalow, cold and tinged with the smell of rot.

Antonio cried into his hands, wishing it away. But all the wishes in the world scattered like ashes on this night. The knob turned and the door slowly swung open, guided by a slender hand wrapped in black cloth. Tequila dribbling down his chin, Antonio raised his hands in surrender. The hallway was pitch black. Antonio could only make out those iridescent eyes and its mouth lined with yellowed teeth, grinning in a way that showed no pleasure. Through its melted mouth it uttered: “Stop reposting other peoples content.”

Antonio was still struck with terror, but a new look crept across his face. “Excuse me?”

It repeated once again. “Stop reposting other peoples content, Antonio.” And as it entered the light of the foyer, Antonio could see he was before the great mercy of a United States Federal Judge, a book entitled Digital Copyright Law gripped firmly by hands that were decidedly not at all like bones upon further inspection -- but wrinkled digits of an old man bound to uphold the law. Antonio wobbled away from the intruder, still weak with fear. “What do you want? Why are you following me?!”

“What, you mean at the beach? I was making sure you weren’t actually sexually harassing strangers for your Youtube channel, and that they were all in fact consenting paid actresses. If you weren’t paying those women, what you’re doing would be very ethically questionable in a court of law,” the judge answered as if raising a reaper’s blade above his head. Antonio cowered, screaming “NO!”

“But still, you need to reevaluate what you’re doing with your life. You’re ripping off peoples hard work for money, and using it to pay young women to kiss you. Plus you are severely toeing the line of what is permissible within fair use with these Facebook videos. And from what I can tell you seem like a smart kid. You know, I’d honestly be very… just very surprised if this is all you really wanted to accomplish in your life.” Those were his final words before he disintegrated into a cluster of bats, fluttering past Antonio and through the window behind him, clouding the night’s sky. Antonio collapsed, crying into his knees. He would never recover as he was too weak. Too stubborn. Too unprepared to change his ways. In his mind, he was back at the beach, stepping into the crashing waves, disappearing beneath the surf.