Jack told me that it would be fun, and for him, it probably was, but I wish I’d never listened. He had to pass it on. So do I, but we can do that later, I guess. Let me tell you all the details before you agree to take it on. You’ve probably already heard of it, and you think it sounds fun, but I promise you, it is not what it seems.
Hell’s Hunt. It all starts online. You visit the website. It’s a wordpress link, no domain, like some random person just set it up. I looked at it, and I wasn’t impressed.
It’s almost bare, a weird symbol in the corner and just a few lines of text. As I read through them, I thought that Jack was just messing with me, but now, I know he wasn’t.
“Are you ready to join us for the journey of a lifetime?” It asked. I shrugged, scrolling down to the instructions. There was a lot of vague but hopeful stuff about adventures, and a link to take things further.
I didn’t know what I was getting myself in for, but I was bored, curious and had been promised lots of fun, so I clicked it.
It was a booking form. They asked for my name, email and confirmation that I was ready to go. They had weirdly specific times for when you could request a “trip”. Between three and three minutes past three. It was two minutes to three, and so I typed in my details and watched the clock, wondering what would happen.
The seconds slid away, and then, three am. Without a word, or a second thought, I clicked the button to send my request, and I waited.
Nothing happened. The website thanked me for my response, and I just stared at the screen waiting for a jumpscare or a loud noise, but there was nothing. I felt fine. There was nothing strange going on. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was perhaps the last normal moment of my life.
That last moment passed and I felt hands on my shoulder. They weighed heavy, and as I glanced into the darkened screen of my computer, I saw sharp nails, almost like claws on each side, with long fingers covered in rings. My eyes ran up their arms to find two people behind me… well, almost like people, I suppose.
To the left was a woman, with dark, soulless eyes and a long crown atop her gathered hair. She smiled, glancing to her right as my eyes followed hers, falling upon a creature, almost like a man. He smiled, his mouth wide, and his laughter filling the air as his grip on my shoulder tightened. His hat towered above us all and as he leaned down to meet my face, I shuddered.
“Are you ready to go Mercedes?” They asked, their voices in haunting unison. I didn’t know how they’d appeared, where they planned to take me, or what they were, but I was beginning to regret the whole thing already.
I nodded. I wasn’t sure it was a wise choice, but there didn’t seem to be another. They were in my bedroom. There was no help coming, nobody I could call, and so all I could do was stand from my chair, take their hands and follow them wherever they wanted to go.
The room went black. His laughter rang out and I was alone. A light flickered up ahead, and I glanced around, unable to see much but the dim light before me and the darkness that stood between us. The two of them had vanished, but I could still hear his laughter echoing around the space.
“The prey is waiting for you Mercedes.” Their voices bounced around in the darkness, his laughter lingering as the darkness around me seemed to shake. “Come and enjoy the spoils of the hunt.” I fell against a wall, feeling cold wood against my warm skin. I was suddenly hot. Boiling. My clothes itched and I pulled my dress away from my skin, fanning myself with one hand while I felt along the wall in the dark with the other.
I called out, asking where I was and what was happening but the only answer was another vague invitation to join them.
“Join us on deck Mercedes.” I began to run, my fingers skimming the boards of the wall as I got closer to the light up ahead. My body ached, sore and so warm, and I fell down to the boiling ground, struggling for breath.
“They’re ready for you, Miss Mercedes.” The light beamed in front of me and as my vision cleared, I saw a lantern, held by a skeletal hand above me. “You shouldn’t keep them waiting.” I scrambled up from the ground, staring at the figure. The hand was all that I could see. The rest of it was covered by a dark cloak, and I have to admit, I was grateful not to be greeted by what lay beneath.
The hand gestured to a door up ahead, and as I placed my hand on it, my fingers seared in pain from the heat. I cried out, throwing the door open, my eyes suddenly burning from the bright light that poured through.
I felt skeletal fingers on my shoulders, and with a jolt, the creature that held the lantern shoved me through the doorway, sending me clattering to the cold, wooden floor of a ship.
I blinked back the fading light and took in my surroundings. The old ship seemed sturdy, but weathered, creaking in the cold night’s air. Thunder rang out above me as I got to my feet and walked across the deck.
The woman I’d seen earlier waved from the bow of the ship, beckoning me over with a bright smile. As I walked a little closer, wracked with apprehension, I saw the man, his mouth wide with his laughter as he sipped from a shot glass full of what I unfortunately assumed was blood.
A woman sat in her lap, staring up with starry eyes. She seemed normal, just like a regular woman, but bewitched. She smiled and stared with such wonder at her that I couldn’t help but wonder why she was there, but my questions went unanswered as my hosts snapped their claws, smiling at me and beginning to speak, again in unison.
“King Scratch and Princess Lacey welcome you as our guest to Hell’s Hunt.” They gestured to themselves with a flourish and wide smiles as I listened. “And this is the Princess Consort, Catherine.” Lacey stroked the cheek of the older woman in her lap tenderly as they spoke. “You missed most of the hunt.” I stood motionless, wondering what to do as they approached me. “But you may join us for the feast.”
They strode past, Lacey clutching my hands and pulling me along with her. Her claws burned at my skin, but held so tightly that I couldn’t get free. We ran together down the deck of the boat, the King’s laughter ringing out as we approached a table.
Around it were cloaked creatures, their skeletal hands hovering over a shining silver cover that stretched across most of the table.
“Bon appetit Mercedes.” They cried, pulling back the cover. I clasped my hands over my mouth, falling to my knees, unable to believe my eyes, but certain of what I saw.
My sister stared up at me, struggling against chains that held her down on the table. Her eyes pleaded with me as I gasped, horrified by the bruises and cuts all across her body.
“Hurry Mercedes, a sinner’s meat is best when they’re fresh.” I wanted to run. For a moment, I even tried, but there were too many of them. They held me tightly. Knives and claws tearing her apart as I shut my eyes, sobbing and hoping it was just a dream.
Claws pulled my lips apart, shoving the meat inside. I wretched, kicking and crying as they forced her down my throat.
A dream, or some kind of nightmare. For a moment, I hoped, prayed, and I thought that it could be true. Everything went dark, and as I opened my eyes, I was back at my computer, alone.
A moment passed, and then a minute. I barely slept, uneasy and unable to shake what I had experienced.
Was it a dream? A hallucination? I couldn’t be sure, but what I am sure of is that my sister hasn’t been seen for days. Nobody has heard from her, and no matter what I do, I can’t get the taste of her from my mouth. The website is gone, and Jack won’t answer my calls.
Last night, I got an email, and I discovered the price of my trip.
They need another hunting partner.
It’s a trap. I’ve told you that. You know the whole truth, but if you don’t go, it’s going to be somebody else, and I’ve already told them you’re coming.
They’ve streamlined the system. You don’t even need to book your trip, it’s all taken care of.
I’m sorry. I’m a sinner now. We all are.