Sunday, 12 June 2016

Dark Rising

This story was written for the Monthly Short Story Challenge on the Sims 4 Forums.  This month's topic was Balderdash.  We were challenged to use one of a selection of crazy/daft/unusual words.  We did not have to stick religiously to the official meaning of our word, which suited this story just fine!  I have chosen Omphaloskepsis.

Final Word Count - 1475


“What's that?” Jude laughed, seeing his friend Marcus approaching the table.

The cafe was quiet, although the street harboured the indicative hubbub of market day.

“The answer to my prayers.” Marcus placed a carved wooden box on the table and deposited himself in the seat opposite.

“A box?”

Marcus tapped the lid,

“Sooo... hankies?”

Marcus sneered jokingly,

“Mock all you want, I'll get the last laugh when all my troubles are wiped away!”

“I just hope you didn't spend much on it.” Jude looked up, Marcus gave an ask-no-questions look. Jude rolled his eyes and handed the box back.

“So what are we going to get up to? It's our last day here. The catacombs? It was the reason we picked here.”

“Ok” Marcus replied. “But if there are mummies I am out of there!”

The friends stood up.

“Reckon you can outrun a mummy?” Jude smiled.

“I wouldn't have to. Just have to outrun you!” Marcus smirked.


That evening the men sat on the hotel balcony enjoying the last few rays of the sun. Marcus' new purchase sat on the table between them. Jude picked it up.

“So, what do you reckon's in it?” He gave it a shake.

“Beats me.” Marcus said. Jude pulled at the lid.

“The wood must've swollen or something.” He dug his fingernails under the lip and pulled. The lid didn't budge. He pulled harder. His fingers slipped, ripping the nail.

“Plum!!” he cursed, instinctively putting his fingers into his mouth, “Vat pwummin' hurts!”

“I'll get something to wedge underneath.” Marcus said “Hang on.”

He walked into the apartment and returned with a butter knife. Pushing it under the lid, he twisted.

“I think it's moving.” He placed the box on the table and, standing over it, pushed down on the knife.

“I'm not paying for that knife if you damage it.” said Jude, leaning over.

“Get your head out of the way!” Marcus said.

The lid gave. The men looked at each other. Placing the knife aside Marcus lifted the lid slowly. As the men leaned in to see the contents, a small cloud of dust rose up from inside. Coughing slightly they wafted it away.

“Oh come on!” Marcus' voice was raised.

“Well, what did you expect!?” Jude laughed.

“I don't know! Something! Anything! Certainly not nothing!” Marcus turned it upside down.

“You've been had, my friend.” Jude stood, still smiling.

Marcus was still examining the box, “There is literally nothing in it! I deserve a refund!”

“What would you say? 'Hey, you sold me a box with nothing in it after assuring me it contained the answers to life, the universe and everything! I shall have you under the Trade Description Act!'. Just let it go, buddy. It'll make a good holiday tale.” Jude walked inside, leaving Marcus fuming on the balcony.


“He's a mess, Angie.” Jude said, his wife's feelings being expressed in her handling of the tomatoes.

“I get that. But he's been on our couch for three weeks now, and..” she turned, “He's starting to weird me out.”

He knew what she meant but he had no idea what to do about it. Since the friends' return from holiday Marcus' life was slowly falling apart. When they'd reached the airport and had gone to collect Marcus' car there was no record of it ever having been delivered, although both distinctly remembers them dropping it off and getting the shuttle to the airport. How could they be mistaken about that?

When Marcus had gone into his bags all the paperwork from the secure parking company was missing. Marcus had called later that evening to say that he had contacted the police about his missing car and they said there was no record of a Lexus under that registration number or his ownership and after a search he had no paperwork either.

“But he's got nowhere else to go. You know that.”

Angie looked at him.

She sighed, “Yeah, I know. I understand that it's ridiculous, what's happening to him. But this whole thing with that box. Why doesn't he just get rid of it if it's bothering him?”

“After what we learnt about it at the library he's now too scared to let it go in case it makes things worse.” Jude answered.

Jude remembered the research trip to the library Marcus had convinced him to take. The room smelled musty. The librarian hadn't been much help but suggested they look under mythology. Jude and Marcus were there for well over three hours.

Marcus had been all but ready to give up the search when it was Jude himself that had found the passage that had made them think twice about the box.

Jude still remembered the passage,

“... translations suggest that the box contained a powerful entity named Omphaloskepsis. A priest who aided those seeking enlightenment. But upon seeing the corruption and lies in the world, Omphaloskepsis despaired and began cleansing the world itself.....once caught he was killed and his spirit was imprisoned.”

After finding that they had found other stories suggesting the box had been opened previously and before it could be sealed again strange things had begun happening in the lives of those present at the opening.  From possessions disappearing to friends and relations denying knowledge of the affected.

In the sitting room Marcus was still shouting into his phone.  Angie watched him,

“How could things get much worse for him? His life is being erased!  And anyway, you were there and your life is fine.”

Jude shrugged. "I don't know how to help him.  Oh, by the way, did you get that card for Lucy? I am the worst brother ever!”

“Who?” Angie didn't look up.

“My sister?”

“I'm sorry, I don't know....”

Marcus hung up.

“Well, that's it.  There is no record of me, the landlord denies it all and the new 'owners' have 'proof' they've been there for six years. Of course, all proof I had was in the apartment, which, of course I can't get into but, by the sounds of it, there's nothing there anyway.” Marcus looked at Jude. “I mean, What. The. Actual. Plum?!”

“I don't know what to say?”

“Nothing to say. Guess my life is being cleansed.” he snorted, looking out of the window.

“Man, it's dark tonight. The street lights out?” Jude glanced out. Marcus was right, the night seemed almost heavy.

 “Yeah, it's like the world's been blacked out.”

 “I know how it feels.” sighed Marcus.


Jude awoke. In his peripheral vision something moved. The darkness itself seemed to retreat at his gaze. He knew it was his mind playing tricks.  He rolled over reaching for Angie.  His hand plunged into a blackness which violently shrank away across the empty bed and onto the floor.

He sat, watching as it raced away across the room and retreated under the door. He got up and cautiously followed.

Everything appeared normal.

He went to the top of the stairs and looked down into the stairwell.

He wished he hadn't.  Dark fingers, gripping the bottom step, holding on, pulling forward. As they reached the top of the stairs he began back down the hall.

He heard a noise in the bathroom.

“Angie let me in!”  Nothing.  “Angie, let me in. There's... something out here. I don't know if Marcus is ok. I know this sounds crazy but ...”

“Listen! I don't know who you are or what happened to your friend but I am warning you, get out of my house!”

Jude stared blankly at the door.

“Angie? It's me, Jude. Let me in!”

“I'm not letting you in and if I were you I would get out of here, I have my mobile and have already called the police!” Jude was stunned.

He looked down, the darkness reached out.

He turned and ran to the bedroom, slamming the door.

The dark slid effortlessly under the door and began coating the room as it drew closer.

It washed over the end of the bed and behind him it poured down the walls from the ceiling.

He wondered if anyone would even remember him in order to realise he had gone. 
Tendrils crept over his body.

The last thing he felt was a feeling that he should remember something.  Anything.  But there was nothing.

Then there was darkness.


  1. Pretty intense ending :) Loved the special effects!

  2. Woah... that was really unsettling! The use of imagery there at the end... O_O

    This really reminds me of the actual Balderdash game, where everyone makes up bluff definitions to the words that come up in the game as well! (I'm sure I would've voted for "a terrifying world-cleansing entity that belongs in a Lovecraftian novel" for Omphaloskepsis, heh. I bet he goes bowling with Cthulu every Friday, as well.)

  3. Wow! That was exciting and gripping!

  4. Wowza! This was rather frightening. Reminds me just a tad bit of an old Twiligjt Zone episode where life as this guy knew it started to disappear around him. Nobody remembered him or knew he'd even existed. Eventually, he disappeared out of existence.

    Great story and love your creativity. :)

  5. Thanks for all the comments! I'm glad you all enjoyed the story. It was a lot of fun to write and I had a blast making the sets for my actors too! :)