Read My Crap - The Tombs of Antuinoch

The wind blew cold against my face as I stepped down the little stairs of the bus into the outside world, I had come here as part of a tour group on our way to see some ancient ruins. We all congregated in a little group next to the bus, it wasn't a nice day, the sky was overcast and gray, the wind was blowing just enough to be annoying and stab you with a shot of ice cold every now and then. There were a couple old picnic tables here, the thick rusty iron bar grill from 1947 stuffed with trash, and a pit toilet in the corner that reeked of decades old brown, you know, the usual U.S. Forest Service accoutrements. Up the side ran a small trail that lead into the forest and we all slowly meandered that way.

After a short jaunt under the eerie trees, we came to an old rusty fence with a weathered “No Trespassing” and “You Have Been Warned!” signs plastered all over it. This didn't feel right, the group moved and mumbled anxiously together as our tour guide took out an old key ring and began thumbing through the many keys, he finally found what he was looking to open the lock on the gate. It looked like it might just fall off it was so old, but he was having a hard time getting it open, his hands were shaking.

The old gate waled a deathly groan as it slowly swung open and as soon as it did, you could feel it, the presence of something else, of someone else, something very powerful.
“We now pass the borders of Antioc”, said the tour guide, “Follow close, for we are no longer alone!” and you could feel it, one second you would be having a vision of talking with a guy smoking a cigarette and then next it would turn into a talking skeleton, wave, and then vaporize into the smoke.

The air was so close in these woods. It seemed like an eternal fall, piles of crunchy leaves lay everywhere, browning grasses scattered upon dark black soil, barren trees standing all around us, the skeletal remains of long buried and forgotten summers. The very land seemed to be in a coma, still present, but in an eternal hibernation.

There seemed to be no trace of life here, no birds, no deer, no sound except for the occasional gust of wind and the strange rustling of leaves and naked branches. The hard bare limbs and twigs snap and crack together like the icy applause of Death himself as he watches the final act of your life played out. There is such a strange feeling in the air, its way back there, but it’s there nonetheless. It's an awful eerie feeling. It's like a barely audible sound coming from somewhere in your house, but you just can't seem to pin down where it's actually coming from but now that you've heard it you can't ignore it. I chuckle as I find myself now actively listening for something that isn't even there, "where the hell is that coming from?”, I thought, as it lead us ever onward down into the dark woods.

At this point some of the folks in the tour group have began wearing a creepy little smile on their faces, like they know something you don't. Do they? Then again, some others have a blank fearful look in and about their eyes. There is something strange at work here, then suddenly out of the trees hops a little brown rag doll with black stitching and “X” eyes, it waves hello to us and dives back into a pile of dead leaves. Did that really just happen? No one seemed to really react to it but me. Slowly, we all proceeded down the path, the electricity in the air ever growing, the hair on our bodies began to stand as we were approaching a hill in a clearing, it seemed to be green with life, the only green to be seen anywhere in this cursed forest. At the top of the hill sat many very old stone graves with finely cut white headstones adorned with inscriptions in some ancient forgotten language, but in front of them all sat a much larger stone with a beautifully painted mural on it with carved statues on either side of what resembled little dwarf like pig men. It was all old and very weathered, but still very defined.

It was a picture of a great warrior and medicine man named, Antuinoch. He was tall, dressed in black, and wore a bright blue scarf around his eyes. It was a little odd, he kind of resembled a 1980’s WWF Wrestling character and it made me giggle a little.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, El Zoro Dorko", I giggled aloud as I looked at the guy next to me for agreement. But there was no reaction, he just seemed to stare at it in fear.

Just then, one of the statues on the side of the mural began to move. Its head whipped around and looked right at me as its eyes began to glow a bright blue. Now a wave of fear shot through me like a shotgun blast, as suddenly I realized that I wasn’t supposed to be here.

Oh, no! I've made an awful mistake coming here!

I turned around and darted back down into the forest running as fast as I could down the path. But suddenly the ground became like rubber, the laws of physics vanished and things became all jumbled up, like an old video game with a bad glitch. I felt like a cartoon character running silly on a long rug that's bunching up behind me, and never getting anywhere. In a flash, I'm way up in the trees, the cold air ripping at my face, which is now wet with tears.

I climbed down the trees with all I had and flew towards the gate, but as I grew closer, the gate seemed to just get farther and farther away. Then I heard the laughing, a hearty strong laugh, and suddenly I was back at the grave site.

There he was, Antuinoch himself standing tall and imposing before me. I didn't know why, but I knew I was in deep shit.

“Please, I don’t belong here”, I said in a pleading tone, “Please, this is all just a mistake!”, I cried out again.

Antuinoch just laughed even harder and pointed to one of the graves on the moldy green hill, suddenly I could read the inscription. It was MY grave, right next to the grave of my Uncle Bobby and my Cousin JJ who were suddenly standing awkwardly nearby, but as if in a trance.

Antuinoch spoke in a low growling voice, “You’ve been here all along, you’ve just forgotten where you really belong and who you really are, but let me remind you”, “you have seen your grave, now gaze upon your own bones!”

and the dirt parted on its own, exposing a blackened tortured looking skeleton laying curled in the fetal position. Suddenly I could hear screams of pain, the sound of battle, and the roar of fies. My mind wracked with the sound like a pounding headache and a burning pain now filling my whole body, it was nauseating and I dropped to my knees, blowing my groceries upon the dark soil. But I knew, somehow I knew he was right, them bones are me, and this is where I had been all the time, I had just forgotten. Here I was laid to never rest among the cursed, stuck forever in the dark forest of Antioc.

That's when I realized why the others in the tour group had been so nervous, they couldn't see me, but they could hear me walking and talking amongst them. Then two others emerged from the woods. My Grandma Jule and my Cousin Kelsey, they had come to welcome me back, and they told me that long ago, when we had actually lived, one of our relatives was somehow involved in the killing of Achateesea, the bride of Antuinoch.

No one really was sure how it happened or why, but his anger and vengeance was great, and Antuinoch cursed our entire clan so that forever we will all reside in his graveyard as imprisoned souls. They beckoned me to follow and I walked among them back into the graveyard to take my place amongst the damned, where we would be sucked back into our twisted blackened bones and buried under the dark dead soil, there to remain for all eternity under the watchful eye of the servants of Antuinoch.

That is when I awoke to the arcing of power lines outside my window. I got a little more sleep, but not much more, I had to get up and head to work. But, on my way to work I stopped at a red light as I got off the freeway. I was singing along to my music, thinking about my day, when something caught my eye.

There, leaning against the fence of the overpass was a tall dark man, dressed in all back with a blue scarf wrapped around his eyes!! What the hell? No way! Then upon further inspection it ended up just being a rolled up black tarp with a blue stripe that had blown out of someones truck and up against the fence. But still, that was really strange. What are the odds? It looked just like Antuinoch from the dream and once again, he was laughing at me.

I ain’t no clown, Antuinoch. We got business, you and I.  My bones will not rot under your eternal hellish fall soil!