Horror Mystery LGBTQ+

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

tw: gore, non-physical child abuse, body horror, police being terrible, mild transphobia

In the city where Aisal dreams, there are eyes everywhere. Black towers stretch towards the twin suns, mist rolls off the lake, and floating eyeballs watch the citizens go about their day.

Aisal has never minded it. The eyeballs keep a close eye on him as he walks towards a castle so black it looks as if it’s made of shadows, the light not reflecting off it at all.

A bunch of kids come running out of the castle to greet him, and Aisal laughs and picks up the one with a mask on. “There’s my little gremlins.” Aisal grins to all of them. “Where’s your caretaker?”

They all answer at once, but before Aisal can parse an answer, he hears a familiar annoying beeping. A cloaked figure strides out of the castle as mist starts to roll in, and Aisal begins to wake up from his dream. The annoyance Aisal feels at having to wake up just as he gets to see this figure is crippling.

”Well, I’ll have to see you next time, sweetheart.” Aisal sighs to the figure.

The last thing he registers before the dream fades entirely is the amusement of the ever watching eyes.

Aisal slams his hand into his annoying alarm. How badly he wishes he could go back to sleep and go back to that city. But unfortunately, he’s got a job to do today.

Aisal is about ready to punch everyone in the NYPD in the throat. He wishes he never accepted their offer to work on these cases. But money is money, and no one knows this shit like he does. He's earned a name for it. If shit seems unnatural or weird as hell, you call him. If shit might be normal but you’re really not sure, call him anyway, just to be safe. He’s saved a lot of people, doing what he does. Most the time it turns out to be mundane– but sometimes he gets the real stuff.

He’s not sure if this one is real or not but he knows he’s gotta do it– because people are dying and the police department is sitting here twiddling their thumbs as always. It’s a case of a string of arsons– houses suddenly bursting into flames without any explanation or possible source of the fire. People are dying in the fires, but weirdly enough, any kiddos always get out alive without a scratch.

He’s had a few cases like this before– where people die in some kind of way, but the kids are never harmed. He’s solved them all, found out what was causing them and locked it up. But he’s got a hunch that they’re all connected. That’s his other reason for needing to do this case. He’s been looking for the case that’ll connect all this together– his rabbit hole into “Wonderland.” That combined with the cash and his need to save people from harm… He’s gotta do this.

Too bad his PD-assigned “handler” is a megabitch.

“The name’s Aisal Rowland, pleasure to work with you.” He had introduced himself to her.

“Why do the queers have to name themselves such weird shit.” Was the first thing out of Alissa C. D.’s mouth.

It brings them to now, looking through a burnt ruin. Aisal’s eyes are darting through the scene, cataloging every detail. Everything’s charred to cinders– something black is stopping up the kitchen faucet– only thing in tact is the kid’s room and the books on the book shelf– the shelf’s burnt to shit but not the books?

“Why the hell you call yourself that anyway? Aisal?” Alissa asks as Aisal puts on gloves.

“Came to me in a nice dream. Cute kid with a mask called me it, and it felt right.” Aisal replies, pulling on disposable gloves and try to dislodge the sink. Out comes a black hard object– maybe a rock? The color’s weird– light doesn’t reflect off it. It almost looks like a hole, it’s so dark. He puts it in a plastic baggie for further examination.

“You get dreams like that often?”

“Yeah. I’m a– what’s it called– lucid dreamer or whatever. Get dreams of the same place every time. A black castle, a bunch of scholars, dark towers behind the moon, a bunch of kids running around, a handsome big guy taking care of ‘em. Feel more at home there than anywhere else.” He heads to the bookshelf. “Go make yourself useful and see if there’s anything out of the ordinary with the kid’s room.”

“Fuck you.” Alissa snarks, but does as she’s told.

Aisal peruses through the bookshelf. He finds something of interest immediately. All the books are completely unaffected by the fire– except one, that fell on the floor. It’s… real weird. Extremely discolored, singed at the edges, but when he opens it– the words are all completely legible, even though the paper’s burnt to shit. The book’s titled “Η εκδίκηση του Ζαγρέα”. In English: Zagreus’s Revenge. Aisal’s Greek is extremely basic, but he knows a certain irritatingly handsome bibliophile who can translate whatever he can’t. For now, the book gets its own baggie.

Alissa comes into the main room like her tail’s on fire. “I’m calling backup. I think someone’s watching.”

“Hey now, hold on, what are you talking about? Like a normal being watched, or did you see someone?” Aisal asked, concerned.

“What do you mean ‘a normal being watched’?!”

“I dunno, by God, I guess? Doesn’t it always feel like someone’s watching over you?” Aisal shrugged, weirded out that she doesn’t know what he’s talking about. “Like a protective spirit or a guardian angel or some shit.”

“The hell is wrong with you?! It’s not normal to feel watched! Did you feel this way the whole time?!” Alissa swears.

“I always feel that way. I’m pretty damn sure everyone does. Stop freaking out about nothing. If it makes you feel better to have your piggie friends here, then fine. I’m going to the kid’s room.” Aisal rolls his eyes.

He enters the room. The first thing he notices is that it’s completely barren. Not in the way like the family cleared it out– like it doesn’t have anything in it that an eight year old might want in it. It’s decrepit, too. The furniture’s not burned but it’s falling apart, and none of it is damage from the fire. Bedsprings are poking out of the mattress slightly. There’s no TV or toys or games or even something as simple as stickers on a dresser. Your room says a lot about you, or rather about your living situation. This kid was not loved, that much is obvious.

Aisal hears footsteps.

“Aisal Rowland, you’re under arrest as a suspect for the recent string of arson.” Alissa speaks sternly. “You say you investigate the supernatural, but you’re pretty weird yourself. You speak of recurring supernatural dreams and speak of being watched positively– Whatever’s causing this, we believe you’re an agent of it.”

Aisal sighs deeply. This is why he fucking hates cops. Always coming to wild and idiotic conclusions based on mere hearsay. “What’s your proof?”

“We don’t need proof. Boys, get the evidence off him.” She huffs.

Aisal gets a sinking feeling in his stomach. He gets that feeling a lot, usually right before something really bad happens. Lots of times there’s nothing that logically indicates it, but he’s always right. He doesn’t have any solid evidence that a disaster’s about to strike, but he feels it deep in his gut, like it’s carved into his stomach lining. It’s always accompanied by the feeling that someone is watching particularly closely— a protector of some sort. “Hey, let’s calm down. I don’t think you touching this stuff is a good idea. Let’s just talk this out–”

The pigs don’t listen, and one snatches the baggies out of his coat pocket.

The moment the book is in the police officer's hand, it begins to happen. The man begins to scream at the top of his lungs, but nothing seems wrong– until smoke begins pouring out of his mouth. His skin begins to discolor and distort, and then, like burning wood, he starts caving in on himself, breaking into mere cinders and chars of burnt meat, until he breaks to the ground in pieces. But he keeps burning, keeps immolating from the inside out, until he’s nothing but a pile of pure carbon on the ground.

Aisal gags, but steels himself and swallows his bile. He takes a second to breathe. “Alright. Seems we’ve proven that not listening to me is a bad idea. Now, we’re going to talk this out peacefully so I can solve this case before anyone else dies like that guy. Is that clear?”

Alissa, shaking heavily, can only nod.

October 08, 2023 19:13

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Michał Przywara
21:37 Nov 10, 2023

An interesting story, which ends far too soon :) It leaves us with so many questions. What's the dream? Who's watching over him? How's it relate to the case? It's got a strong Lovecraftian horror vibe, just set in modern times. I do wonder though, if Alissa isn't on to something. There is something sinister about Aisal's dreams/patron. Of course, it could be one supernatural entity using a human to work against another supernatural entity - that's a possibility too. It's an interesting twist on such horror though, because our protagonist i...


Luciano Cortese
01:04 Nov 11, 2023

Glad you think this is lovecraftian because that’s exactly what I was going for!! Aisal’s patron is definitely not purest of evil with no redeemable qualities but by human standards I definitely wouldn’t call them benevolent.


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Shirley Medhurst
21:40 Nov 09, 2023

Woah - like it! You definitely seem to have the makings of a much longer story in your mind hammering to get out… Keep at it, Luciano!


Luciano Cortese
01:46 Nov 14, 2023

Fun fact, Detective Aisal and his unfortunate ass of a handler are indeed part of a bigger story. This was just a fun detour or side story because I love writing this total weirdo detective who is deadset convinced he’s normal.


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