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Home Sweet Home

by Bradley Ramsey (He/Him) about a year ago in Fantasy
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To Love, Laughter, and Lovecraftian Horrors Ever After

Image courtesy of Devin H via Unsplash

It was supposed to be just another day at the park, but then Miriam got down on one knee and opened a small jewelry box in front of me.

My eyes bulged at the sight of the ring nestled in the center before I frantically surveyed my surroundings. As I suspected, numerous people had stopped to watch the scene unfold.

“Hey Stella, you just gonna stand there or what?” Miriam asked.

My attention was not on the ring, or the question at hand. Instead, I was focused on the scowl of an overweight man in the distance, sporting a patriotic t-shirt and a predictable hat as part of his ensemble.

“People are staring,” I whispered.

“Who gives a fuck? Not like they’ve never seen a gay couple before. Now, would you please stop staring at the bigots and answer me?”

I looked back to the ring and struggled to form words as the sun beat down on both of us. I could tell by the bulging vein in Miriam’s forehead that she was getting impatient.

“What? Oh, yes! I fucking love you, you’re my whole world! I’m not hesitating because of that. It’s just, I mean, there’s still a lot you don’t know about me.”

Miriam sighed as she closed the box and stood to her feet.

“Really thought that was a shoe-in Stella, thanks for making it weird.”

I grabbed both of Miriam’s hands and turned her towards me. Her amber eyes burned with frustration and perhaps a smidge of rage, but she had never looked more beautiful.

“It’s not that I don’t want to marry you. I just think you should meet my parents first,” I said.

Miriam rolled her eyes. “Why, so they can judge us like everyone else?”

“No! No, no, actually they don’t mind that at all. It’s something else, something way worse. I’ll tell you in the car.”

I tried to pull Miriam with me towards the parking lot, if only to escape the stares of the backwater bigots all around us, but Miriam stood firm.

“No, you’ll tell me now. What could possibly be so bad?” She asked.

“I just want you to know everything before you commit, that’s all. Now can we please go?

Miriam nodded, and on the way home I called my parents. They were thrilled by the news, and excited to come visit for the weekend. They were divorced, and both were immortal. One firmly into the teachings of eldritch cultists, while the other was a devout necromancer.

What could possibly go wrong?

***

I tried to prepare Miriam the best I could, but her reaction was predictable:

What the absolute fuck?

I couldn’t tell if she thought I had gone insane, or if she was convinced that I was pranking her, but either way that weekend came and there we were, sitting awkwardly at our kitchen table. The initial meeting went well, my parents seemed to really like Miriam. That was the easy part though.

On the left, my father, clad in his ceremonial black robe. He had a velvet hood draped over his head, but I could see the soft glow of his piercing yellow eyes glaring across the table at my mother. She always dressed over the top, but this time was something special.

A black dress, topped with an extravagant and wide collar decorated with human skulls on the end of each spoke. She looked even more pale than usual, like she had spent the last century under a rock.

“You’re looking more dead than normal, Dalura, did you sacrifice yourself to your god again and come back from the dead?” My father asked.

“Ah, that’s rich coming from the cultist who can’t pick a god to worship. Seriously Kazul, just pick one of the dead tentacle monsters sleeping in the bottom of the ocean. They’re all the same!” My mother retorted.

My father slammed his fist on the table.

“They’re not dead, they’re sleeping, and when they wake they will undo the stain on the cosmos that is the human race in a sea of blood and madness!”

My mother cackled, she honestly sounded like a cheap horror movie villain. “Well, someone should make sure they got the memo.”

My father shook his head. “Enough of this pointless banter. We should begin the ritual of Bahak’Shur. This house isn’t going to cleanse itself!”

My blood turned to ice in my veins. This wasn’t part of the itinerary.

“Uh, Bahak’Shur? Isn’t that the interdimensional doorway ritual? We just bought this place, I don’t want to have it ripped apart by unfathomable horrors!” I shouted.

Both my mother and father laughed. Miriam looked utterly confused.

“Does someone want to fill me in?” Miriam asked.

My father cleared his throat. He loved this part.

“Doorways are but portals from one room to another, and just like anything else in a house, they gather a sort of cosmic dust when people pass through them. Think of it like a fingerprint. Well, those fingerprints eventually become numerous enough that they open a doorway to somewhere else, and it’s usually not somewhere nice. Do you follow so far?”

Miriam nodded, though I could see a strong you’ve got to be shitting me look in her eyes.

“When someone moves into a house, they usually clean up, yes? Well, part of that cleaning requires a ritual called Bahak’Shur, which involves opening up those pesky portals across the house and facing whatever comes out. Once that’s done, the fingerprints are gone and the house is cleansed, ready for new energies and new stories.”

Miriam nodded. “Okay, but what if we just left the doors alone. What happens then?”

My father grimaced. “Well, if left uncleaned, the build-up becomes so severe that the portal just opens one day, usually at the worst possible time.”

“How come I’ve never heard about this before?” Miriam asked.

My mother interjected by raising a bony finger topped with a long painted fingernail.

“That’s because people like us are good at what we do, even if some of us worship sea slugs.”

“They are the Great Old Ones, and I will not hear another word of your blasphemy!” My father shouted.

I could see a satisfied grin on my mother’s wrinkled face. She loved getting under his skin, but I hated their bickering. It’s why I always changed the subject when they asked me about choosing a god to commit myself to, because I knew they would want me to choose a side.

What they didn’t know is that I already made that eternal decision. I would tell them when the time was right.

“Now then, shall we get started?” My father asked.

I snapped back to reality. “Wait, we don’t have any weapons prepared!”

“We’re gonna need weapons?” Miriam asked.

“We’ll improvise!” My father said, extending his hand.

We all joined hands as my mother and father began chanting the summoning spell. We were supposed to keep our eyes shut, but I stole a glance at Miriam and saw her shaking her head.

Her grip tightened around my hand though when the entire house groaned and the floor rattled beneath our feet.

My father’s eyes shot open.

“On second thought, now may be a good time to gather those weapons you mentioned.”

My mother stood up and began tapping her fingernails together with a soft clack. She only did that when she was nervous.

“For once I agree with your father. This house has seen a lot of emotions. The energy is strong.”

“What kind of energy?” I asked.

My mother turned to me with a concerned glint in her otherwise dead eyes.

“Rage.”

The floor shook again, this time knocking a coffee cup off the counter in the kitchen. It shattered across the floor, spreading ceramic along the black tile beneath.

“Fuck this, I’m getting my gun,” Miriam said, marching down the hall towards the bedroom.

“Miriam, don’t open the door!” I yelled after her.

Miriam’s screams told me I was too late. We all rushed through the living room and into the hall. Miriam was pinned against the ceiling, held aloft by a thick black tentacle protruding from the open bedroom door.

“Man, it would be some hentai shit!” Miriam yelled.

My father emerged from behind us and raised his hands, chanting in the language of the Old Ones. His eyes burned with a bright green light as he reached out toward the tentacle. The slimy protrusion listened, pulling back into the doorway and dropping Miriam onto the floor.

I rushed to her side as my father approached the open doorway.

“Something old and restless lies beyond this doorway! A beast of unfathomable proportions, with limbs numbering in the thousands and teeth that have devoured stars!”

Despite his warning, I looked into the doorway. A soft noise escaped from the abyss within, one that I recognized from my childhood. I stood up and approached.

“Wait, I know that sound!” I said.

“Stella, no! It’s too dangerous!” my father cried.

I knelt down and made a sound with my tongue pressed against the roof of my mouth that to most would probably sound like I was about to puke, but a high-pitched squeal responded to me from within the darkness.

A creature, about the size of a dog, came bounding out of the doorway. Its body was a bulbous shape, carried by hundreds of tiny legs, while its face resembled an open flower of slime-covered petals lined with glistening teeth.

“It’s just a Starspawn, Dad. I had one of these as a kid, drove the neighbor crazy,” I said.

“Why, because it made that godforsaken noise all the time?” Miriam asked.

“No, because it literally drove him mad. They tend to do that if you stare too long.”

My father grunted behind me.

“Well, it could have been anything!”

The Starspawn meandered over to me and flipped over onto its back.

“Oh, you want a belly rub?” I asked.

“Come now Miriam, we have work to do!” My father said, trying to hide his wounded pride.

I sent the Starspawn back into the doorway and shut it.

“Well, that’s one down, should be able to get your gun now, Miriam.”

All along the hall, the doors to the other two bedrooms and the guest bathroom all began to rattle and shake. Miriam dove into the now normal master bedroom as the remaining three doors flew open, slamming against themselves in a series of cacophonous impacts.

Miriam came out holding a pump-action shotgun. Both of my parents tensed up, ready to deploy their magic.

The silence was brief. From the second bedroom at the end of the hall that was normally our home office, a horde of ravenous ghouls came tumbling out. The stench of rotting flesh washed over us as they clambered over one another, reaching out with their wrinkled and bony hands.

“Ah, friends of yours, Dalura? I didn’t know you were associated with zombies?” My father asked, struggling to hide the sarcasm in his voice.

“They’re not zombies you uneducated ass, they’re clearly ghouls!” my mother shouted.

“Either way, bullets kill them!” Miriam shouted.

A thunderous gunshot rang out as the shotgun ripped through several of the ghouls. To my left, my father’s eyes burned with a deep crimson light as hundreds of red vines emerged from the skin along his arms and hands. The vines shot out, ensnaring the approaching ghouls and holding them firmly in place.

“Dalura, I think it’s time your friends went back home. Could you do the honors?” he asked.

“For the last time, just because they’re undead doesn’t mean they’re my friends!”

My mother raised her hands and began chanting. A black smoke poured out from her fingertips and slid into the eyes and mouths of the ghouls struggling against the red vines. The haunting blue light in their eyes all went out at once before they fell limp.

Miriam had spent the entire scene trying to load her shotgun, but was admittedly distracted. She took the reprieve to finish loading her shells, cocking the shotgun with a satisfying crack.

The guest bathroom door had remained quiet up until now. I turned to my right, staring into the empty doorway.

“Uh, ya’ll need to come see this!” Miriam shouted from the living room.

The portal into the guest bathroom remained silent for now. We all ran back into the living room where Miriam stood by the door leading into the backyard. As we joined her, she pointed out towards the pool where a curved fin sliced through the water.

“There’s a motherfucking shark in our pool!” Miriam exclaimed.

I wasn’t a fan of sharks, but by comparison this was the most normal thing we had seen all day. We opened the sliding door and stepped out to investigate. Water was gushing out from a gaping hole in the side of the house leading towards the pool.

“Well, whatever it was, it must have appeared in the guest bathroom and forced its way out through the pipes. As if I didn’t have enough shit to fix in this house!” I cried.

Having heard my protests, the shark ceased its movements in the pool. I heard the sound of grinding metal and the whirring of mechanical gears as it flipped upright.

The head of the shark raised up into the air, supported by a metal pole as its exterior divided into metal plates and shifted across one another.

The head flipped downward to face us and sprawling mechanisms filled in the space between until it took on a form with arms and legs. It crashed down into the pool, sending a gushing wave of water across our feet.

“A Mecha-Shark. I fucking knew it!” Miriam said.

“Wait, you recognize this thing?” I asked.

“Yeah, but I told you I couldn't talk about what we did in the Navy.”

Miriam reached down and placed her shotgun on the ground. She pulled up the legs of her jeans, and brandished a long serrated knife, placing it between her teeth.

“I got this one,” she mumbled.

I watched as my wife-to-be leapt into the air towards the Mecha-Shark. The shark reached out with one of its metallic arms, angling the fin on its elbow to slice through the air like a blade. Miriam grabbed on to its forearm and wrapped her legs around it for stability.

She pulled the knife out of her teeth as the Mecha-Shark flailed its arm trying to knock her off.

“Now, the trick with a Mecha-Shark—”

She was cut off as the machine reached for her with its other hand. Miriam turned and deflected the attack with her blade, stabbing it into the space between the metal plates along its surface. The Mecha-Shark let out a shriek as black oil spilled out from the wound.

“Bitch, I’m talking!” Miriam said, taking a moment to collect herself.

“Now, the trick with a Mecha-Shark is to treat it just like any other shark.”

Miriam put the knife back into her teeth and ran up the Mecha-Shark’s arm toward its head. It desperately tried to reach for her, but failed each time. Miriam paused as she sat beside its head, knife gripped tightly in her hand.

“Go for the eyes!” She screamed, driving the knife downward.

The Mecha-Shark let out an electric scream as oil spewed from the open wound in its eye. Miriam kicked off the flailing machine and landed gracefully in the pool, shedding much of the oil as she swam to the edge and climbed out. I had never been more attracted to her.

“So, that’s what they teach you in the Navy,” I whispered.

Miriam gripped the bottom of her shirt and wrung out some of the excess water as my mother and father exchanged a nervous look.

“What’s wrong? We did it, didn’t we?” I asked.

My father turned back to the open door leading into the house.

“Didn’t you mention that you have a basement?” he asked.

My heart skipped a beat.

“Yeah, but it’s not finished. It’s more like a crawl space than anything. That doesn’t count, does it?” I asked.

A guttural roar answered my question. A foul stench wafted from within the house as a cloud of blood red mist wafted through the open door. It was followed by a sea of red vines that crawled across the ground, the glass, the walls, leaving behind a trail of blood that ran in eerie streaks down our back door.

“Raegoric, no, it cannot be!” my father shouted.

“Hey, isn’t that the same vine shit you made come out of your arms earlier?” Miriam asked.

“Yes, but that was but a reflection of his power. I am not worthy to stand in the presence of the God of Rage himself!” my father said, dropping to his knees.

“You do realize he’s going to kill us, right?” my mother asked.

“Raising my hand to one of the Great Old Ones is forbidden. If I am to be devoured and torn asunder for all eternity, then so be it.”

My mother shook her head. “Well, I’ve been dead, and let me tell you, it’s not all its cracked up to be. Stella, Miriam, ready to fight?”

“You cannot defeat the God of Rage. If Raegoric has taken root here, this house is truly lost,” my father said, burying his head in his hands.

“It ain’t over till it’s over,” Miriam said, clenching her fists, “Besides, we’re stuck paying for this bitch for the next 30 years, so I’m not going down without a fight!”

The red vines began pouring out faster, intertwining and interlacing as they formed into larger shapes. I could feel a sort of heat radiating from the mass, as if rage itself were given true form. I had never seen my father so distraught, nor my mother so resolute. This was bad.

The vines formed into massive bloody fists as the remaining tendrils formed into the rough shape of a face. The very air around us was vibrating.

“Well, it’s now or never,” I said.

I pulled back the sleeve on my left shoulder, revealing a mark that not even Miriam had seen yet. The sign of a commitment, a promise to serve a god that would walk the Earth if one of its servants called upon it in a time of need.

I pressed my hand against the mark and closed my eyes.

Anakarnak, I call upon thee.

A crack of thunder boomed in the sky above us. Even the God of Rage paused as the clouds above ripped open. A rainbow of light poured outward, paving a path from the sky to the ground behind our house.

In a flash of brilliant light a majestic beast emerged, galloping down the rainbow road towards the ground below. It had the body of a horse, with pristine white hair adorned by golden armor. Feathered wings were spread out from either side as three horned heads all released a bellowing cry.

I felt a pair of invisible hands gently lift me from my feet and carry me onto the creature’s back. I gripped the soft flowing hair of its mane as the goddess came to a stop mere steps from the wretched God of Rage.

I looked down at Miriam who stood quietly watching the scene unfold.

“Well, what do you think?” I asked.

“I think that you would pick the one with rainbows,” Miriam replied.

I fought back a chuckle as my mother and father realized what this meant.

“So, you’ve completed your Confirmation. You kids and your unicorn gods,” my father said.

“It’s a three-headed unicorn dragon god, Dad!” I shouted.

The three heads of the goddess all reared back before spewing liquid fire onto the forming mass of red vines. The flames were blinding and all-encompassing. An earth-shattering howl filled the air as the vines turned to ash and the emerging shapes within them were undone.

When the flames ceased, I climbed off the back of the goddess as Miriam and my family emerged from the smoke and ash.

“Now we’re done?” Miriam asked.

“The ritual of Bahak’Shur is complete,” my father said.

I turned back to the unicorn dragon goddess.

“My thanks to you, Anakarnak.”

The goddess bowed all three heads before her wings flapped with a powerful gust. She ascended into the air, flying toward the sky as the rainbow road that carried her to this realm retreated back into the sky.

“So, your goddess seems nice,” my mother said.

I looked back at everyone and saw a mixture of relief, confusion, and a smidge of disappointment.

“I know you both wanted me to follow in your footsteps, but I had to take my own path,” I said.

“We know that, sweetie, we just want your immortal soul to be in good hands,” my father said.

“And it is! Anakarnak serves those who serve her, you saw how she saved us just now.”

“And the fact that she’s a three-headed unicorn dragon who rides on rainbows has nothing to do with it?” Miriam playfully asked.

“What? No. Well, maybe just a little,” I confessed.

“Well, maybe one day you can show me your ancient lore texts and I can learn more about this goddess you’ve elected to follow,” my father said.

“Lore texts? Oh, no, we don’t have anything like that. She does have an Instagram though,” I said.

My father rolled his eyes. “Oh, Cthulhu help me.”

Miriam walked over and wrapped her arm around my back, laying her head on my shoulder as we looked at our home.

“You’ve got a fucked up family, you know that?” she asked.

“I do, but I’m hoping that fact doesn’t scare you off,” I said.

“Nah, though if I’m going to pledge my immortal soul to someone, you’re gonna have to do better than a unicorn.”

“Unicorn dragon! Dragon! How is that not cool enough?”

Miriam laughed. “It’s pretty cool, I’ll give you that.”

Miriam reached into her pocket and pulled out the ring box from the other day.

"Let's try this again, shall we?" she asked, getting down on one knee.

My mother tried to mask an excited squeal. My father smiled.

"Stella, will your immortal ass marry me?"

A combination of a laugh and a sob escaped my lips. It wasn't an attractive sound, but it was genuine.

"Yes, of course!" I shouted.

Miriam stood to her feet, sliding the ring onto my finger. I kissed her on the forehead and pulled her closer. With the house finally cleansed, we could move on to the true battle ahead of us:

Wedding planning...

Fantasy

About the author

Bradley Ramsey (He/Him)

Lover of dogs, gaming, and long walks on the beach. Content Marketing Manager by day, aspiring writer by night. Long time ghostwriter, finally stepping into the light. Alone, we cannot change this world, but we can create better ones.

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