Horror Suspense Speculative

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

October 4ᵗʰ, 1921, Turkestan A.S.S.R

We've arrived in the village of Derweze and have been offered a small hut for the evening. Ahmed brought some dates. He tells us it will take four days to procure the camels and provisions for the trek.

Petrov is nervous. He says that the Soviets could come through any day and ask for our permits, or whatever other document they’ll choose to make up on the spot. We’re lucky to have Ahmed as a guide to take us through the old desert routes used by his ancestors.

I've asked some of the locals in the village about the Black Mountain. Many do not wish to speak to me or ignore me completely. The few who did whispered when they spoke, as if the topic was somehow taboo. A common theme was the sudden onset of visions and nightmares and of strange happenings, such as a wailing in wind and a thick fog. They spoke of traders who have claimed to have seen the mountain in different places, and that it spoke to them. I couldn't really make sense of it.

Mariah popped her head in to tell me her and Petrov will be stopping by with a bottle of wine later. Despite the heat and stress, I can always count of those two lovebirds to find a little joy in life. I don't know what I would do without them.

October 9ᵗʰ, 7:46pm

A successful first day on the dunes. We covered much ground and I've recorded every landmark, no matter how small. Petrov has been rather quiet these last couple of days. We're away from the Soviets for now, but he seems shaken, always looking over his shoulder. Mariah says he hasn't been sleeping much. Ahmed says we'll be travelling the desert for about a week. I asked him if he's ever heard of the Cursed Mountain. He laughed and told me to ignore such superstitions.

October 10th, 1:32pm

We found the remnants of a camp. Tents, supplies, and dead camels. No sign of any occupants. I found some old journals, but they’re all in some form of Turkish. Ahmed says he can’t read them.

It’s strange. All their things are here. Nothing has been packed up or put away. Where did they go?

October 11th, 9:47pm

I think the desert heat is getting to me. On multiple occasion I smell an aroma like sulfur, and for a moment I think I see a shape in the distance. It’s blurry, and a nausea climbs up from my stomach. But then I blink and its gone.

I’m worried about Petrov. We catch him dazed, looking out into the distance, whispering to himself. Mariah says he's barely been eating, and claims he'll sometimes suggest killing the camels and eating them raw. Speaking of the camels, they seem to be growing more and more agitated with every passing day. They've almost thrown me off a couple times now, seemingly spooked by something. Probably a scorpion or rodent.

It's almost dusk, and I smell that smell again. I look behind me and see something dark against the sky, only to vanish a moment later. I need rest. I haven’t been sleeping well. I've been having nightmares, but I can't seem to remember what they were.

October 12ᵗʰ, 9:32am

This is terrible. I'm shaking still. I was awoken in the early hours by a terrible scream and cries for help. I rushed over to Petrov and Mariah's tent and found her kneeling next to Petrov, her arms covered in blood. When I got up close, I saw that Petrov's face was sliced open at the cheek, revealing his teeth and jaw muscles. Ahmed came in with the first aid kit and immediately went to work on him, asking me to take Mariah outside.

She was shaking and clearly in shock. She told me that Petrov had been talking in his sleep, but that it wasn't his voice, that he sounded completely different and said things she couldn't understand. She lit the lamp and found him sitting up with scissors in his hand, cutting his right cheek lengthwise from the mouth. She pried the scissors away as she cried for help. She was still holding the scissors. I gently took them from her shaking wet hands.

Petrov and Mariah are two of my closest friends. I've known them for years. It doesn't make any sense. Petrov wouldn’t do this.

October 12th, 10:02am

Ahmed says he's stitched up Petrov's cheek and given him a double dose of laudanum. I asked him what he thought it might be. His reply bothered me. Some people just go crazy in the desert, he said. I find that hard to believe.

We have to wait here until Petrov is good enough to travel, maybe another couple of days. He needs proper medical attention. While my friend's health takes priority over this expedition, I can't help but feel some disappointment. It appears the hunt For the Black Mountain will have to wait.

October 12th, 4:48pm 

Ahmed goes for walks at a distance from the camp. I watch as he lays down a small carpet, kneels down and bows, touching the tips of his Fingers above his head in a triangular pose. I’ve never seen a prayer like that before. He said he was Muslim. He is praying in the opposite direction.

Petrov is still sleeping, and god knows if Mariah is managing any rest at all. I’ve tried to sleep, but I just can’t seem to get there. I swear I hear something on the wind.

October 13ᵗʰ, 6:22am

I have seen many things in my travels. Strange, fantastic, and terrifying things. Yet, none of what I have ever witnessed I would ever claim as impossible.

But this. This is impossible.

I was awoken by Mariah. Her face was ghost white. Petrov and Ahmed are gone. Furthermore, there was something else. We found the mountain. Or should I say, the mountain found us. It is

approximately five kilometers away, it's base covered in a dense fog, with only it's onyx summit visible. Two sets of tracks lead from our camp to the mountain. Mariah is preparing the bags. We're leaving shortly. I cannot stop looking at it, like it's pulling my eyes out from their sockets, For the first time in a long time, I cannot explain what is happening.

October 12th, 8:01am 

We’ve arrived at the edge of the fog. It’s dense, almost like smoke. There is a hint of sulfur in its odor. Mariah and I have walked for 30 minutes through the fog, but we've yet to reach the mountain's base.

October 12th, time unknown 

Mariah is gone. She chased after something in the fog, and I lost her. She is not answering my calls. It's like this fog is choking my words.

My watch isn't working.

October 12th, 

I've finally found the base of the mountain. The rock is of the deepest black. It is also warm, as if radiating heat. I followed the base to a small opening. Mariah's scarf is here. I'll have to leave my bag behind. When I look into the hole, it's as if something is looking back at me.


I am inside. It is impossibly dark. The light from my torch barely illuminates the walls around me, as if they do not wish to be seen. I've been here for hours, I cannot find the way out, even though I've only gone in a straight line. Where's the exit?


There are rooms and passageways, leading to more rooms and passageways. I’ve found artifacts, things that simply don’t make sense. A pistol from the 1600’s, swords that appear medieval, and even snow, still cold to the touch. There are also things I cannot explain, items which glow and make strange sounds.

I need to get out of here.


I do not know how long I have been here, hiding in this small alcove. A day, maybe two? I dare not move. There is something in here. Its form is indescribable. It moved through the narrow halls using it’s many limbs to propel itself. It had a long worm-like body, the tip of which was what I can only describe as a gapping maw of teeth. Its growl was that of nightmares.


This is a dream. Please, for the love of God, let this be a dream.

I found Mariah. She was standing in the center of a large circular room. The room was lit by strange globes of orange light, floating motionless in a circle above her. In her hands outstretched hands, she held her eyeballs. She was laughing.

Wake up. Wake up. WakeupWakeupWakeupWakeupWakeupWakeupWakeup!


They stood in a circle around an orb of what I can only describe as black light. They wear ivory-colored robes. Their faces are slim, eyeless and noseless, only a mouth like a slit down the middle. They see me. They see my soul. They want to open me. I want to open.

Open me.


I’m changing…I’m becoming…new.

What’s that? No Petrov, I don’t know how to skip rope. Why do you make fun of me when the cordbells come to roost? Don’t you know we’re already deeeaaaad?


This is insane this is insane this is insane this is sane in sane this is sane sane sane in the sane we are in…sane…


There's a song in the land of the lily…

Each sweetheart has heard with a sigh

Over high garden walls this sweet echo falls

As a soldier boy whispers goodbye…

Smile the while you kiss me sad adieu…

When the clouds roll by I'll come to you

Then the skies will seem more blue…

Down in Lover's Lane, my dearie

Wedding bells will ring so merrily…

Ev'ry tear will be a memory

So wait and pray each night for me…

Till we meet again


Date unknown.

To whomever reads this, fear not. You are not dead. Though, perhaps, you wish you could be.

You are never going home. And if you remain, you can never die. But pain…. oh, yes. Pain will forever remain.

My name was Professor Callum Sterling. I came from England to the Soviet controlled territory of the Turkestan in search of a legend. The Black Mountain. Perhaps that is what you were searching for too, hmmm?

Well, congratulations. You found it. Along with all the other poor souls who either came looking for it or were sucked in by it involuntarily.

This is not merely a mountain. It is a passage, a hub of sorts. It is an intersection between worlds. It connects places. And I can tell you now, if you wish to escape, all you need to do is will it. Place the desire in your mind, and the way will open. It is what they told me. It is the only truth I have been told in this forsaken place.

Maybe – if you’re lucky – you’ll end up back on earth. Or perhaps you will enter a new world. And if you thought this place was hell…well. Maybe I’ll let you figure it out.

I wish you the best of luck. Oh, I almost forgot. If you meet a man named Ahmed…



Professor Callum Sterling

April 26, 2024 19:45

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Trudy Jas
20:13 Apr 26, 2024

Compelling. Scary. Indianan Jones and the Mummy and a few others all rolled into one.


Show 0 replies
Luca King Greek
20:46 Apr 30, 2024

Good dark story. I liked the verse too.


Show 0 replies

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.