New Rourke Unmasked

Brosch Park was the name given to the block between Glance St and 48th. The perimeter of the park was lined with huge oak trees whose gnarled branches snaked out wildly, intertwining with their neighbors, forming a natural fence. Inside the fence was an open lot, with grass and the occasional bush, the ground mostly flat except for dipping and rising in a few places. It was a popular picnicking spot, home of the annual kite day hosted by the children’s hospital, and a good place to throw a ball or disc around. When the park was made, or when the name was given, was not common knowledge. That information was probably buried somewhere in city records but there was no real reason for anyone to dispute it.

The park’s perpetual inhabitant was a man whom most people knew as Gorlath. He always sat under one of the trees at the park’s four corners, changing location on a weekly, sometimes daily, rotation. He would sit in the umbrella shade of the tree, running a hand absently through his long, untamed, hair and beard of grey and white. He didn’t bother anyone, and for the most part he was left alone. Occasionally, someone would make a fuss and the police or social services would take him in, but upon release he always found his way back. His possessions were a satchel of clothes, a sleeping bag, a heavy blanket, and a bowl with a lid that snapped on. They meant nothing to him. When he needed to change to some clean clothes, he did. When he was too tired to stay awake, he slept. When there was food, he ate. At all other times, Gorlath watched the park.

Gorlath did not know much, but he remembered.

He remembered the pyramid.

Even to him the details had become fuzzy. He remembered a song playing in his car. He had spent a large sum of money to have the…what was it…8-track installed. He was listening to a group of men sing about someplace far away when the music changed. The men were gone, replaced by the sounds of distant bells and guttural chanting. He was filled with an insistent urge to go somewhere. So he turned his car and started driving in that direction. In not too long, the streets were full, so he drove over the sidewalk. When there was no longer any space the car could fit through, he got out and walked.

There was already a crowd at the pyramid. People were climbing the steps to the archway and going inside. Maybe there had been some of the costumed people fighting each other. That didn’t matter. What mattered was that he needed to keep moving forward.

Inside the portal shimmered. It called to him. When finally he reached the front of the crowd, he gratefully walked through to the other side.

His clearest memory is of what happened next. Teal and gold gloves with red scrolling around the hem wrapped around his chest and pulled him backwards through the portal. He wanted to struggle, but the will to resist had gone out of him.

”How many did you see?” said someone.

”I don’t know.” said another. “Too many.”

”We have to get them back!”

”This place is coming apart and the portal is closing.” said a third. “We need more time!”

”We don’t have it!” said the second. It was a woman’s voice. She was the one holding onto him. “We already lost Dasher to that thing. And my powers aren’t working in here. Grab who you can, and pull them out now!”

As he was dragged away from the pyramid, he watched, unblinking, as it folded up into itself and disappeared.

He felt something sear across his mind then he was suddenly in his car, driving along to the sound of men singing. He turned his car and drove back to where the pyramid had been. Now there was a tree-lined park that had never been there before.

He sat down under the umbrella shade of an oak tree and waited.

* * *

”How are you doing today, Martin?” said a woman leaning down to look him in the eye. She was young and looked Japanese. The soft breeze made her ponytail flick about.

”Gorlath.” he said.

The woman nodded and sat down next to him. She put down a bundle of freshly laundered clothes next to the others then poured a hearty stew from a flask into the bowl and reattached the lid.

They sat together in silence for several minutes watching the park. A man pushed a stroller, along enjoying the mid-afternoon sun.

”It’s been decades.” she said finally breaking the silence, “There haven’t been any signs, yet I can’t help but think it will happen again.”

”Gorlath.” he said.

Again she nodded. “I want to talk about it, but no one else remembers.”

Slowly, as if forming the words was a struggle in itself, he said, “It…was…beautiful.”

”Yes.” she replied. “Yes, it was.”

13 O'Clock: The 2013 Halloween Horrorquest

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