Chapter 1:

The Link


The film's depiction of what happen to the reincarnation of Eve caught the attention of the Vatican.

I stare at this sentence for a while. The empty sounds of this cool Wednesday night perfectly capture my feelings of this sentence. Soon, minutes pass as I watch the words on the computer screen, not feeling anything behind them. I hold the delete key, erasing the lifeless words from existence. I need something with more of a punch. My hands flinch before typing a new sentence.

The Vatican caught wind of the blasphemous movie and began the coordinated protest to stop the film from screening.

My hands run through my hair, digging up any grains of creativity. This is the bane of my night. I am struggling to finish the last article of my online magazine, Dreadstiary. It's a horror zine that I run with my best friend Ben and this article, The 7 Lost Horror Movies, was the star of this issue. My hands push against the desk. I spin away from the stressful situation at my computer. The sight of my messy room rotates around me. The clothes near my bed balled in small mounds, the movies stacked on the drawer next to my couch, my movie shelf sloppily put together since it's messing said movies next to my couch. Tilting my head up brings my sight to a cluster of movie posters above my bed. I put my feet down to slow my desperate spin until I stop in front of 2 posters.

I stare at the 2 movie posters, letting my brain reboot at the sight of beautiful artwork of some of my favorite horror movies. A horrified woman whose silhouette forms a dog's mouth, styled in a haunting oil painting to form the poster for The Howls of a Daughter by Gigori Monti. The poster next to it looked more contemporary in comparison. A view of the Earth from space loomed behind the warping of blue, green, and red that came together to create a nude woman. This made up Cosmic Blood by Aiden Perry, my favorite horror movie of all time.

Staring at both posters, I notice how soothing my heartbeat became. I spin around in my chair before heading back to my computer to finish the article. Suddenly, a Sunii notification pops up on my screen. The screen shows an incoming video call from Ben. I dig around my desk moving Blu-ray cases and notes, trying to find my webcam, so I can accept his call. A few seconds of searching, I notice it peaking out behind a pile of Asian Zombie movies. Setting it up, I accept the call. Ben's face pops on my screen. The monitor light shines bright, illuminating his dark face and curly hair that flows behind his back. He turns his room light on after noticing I answer the call.

“You took some time answering! Almost began to worry.”

Sarcasm drips from Ben as his room came into view. A clutter of monster limbs from our previous adventure fills the background. Creature hands mixed in with dirty clothes mimicking a creature last grasps of life surrounds him. The morbid sight didn't really catch my eye, unlike of The husk of a massive ant head hung behind his own.

“Staring at the new trophy, huh!”

He bends back on his chair, so the husk is in full view. His webcam focuses on it to sharping the details of the ant head. The size of it is as large as a football. There's a visible large crack between feelers of the ant's head and a missing mandible. Guess that's how Ben was able to take it down.

“That ant gave me quite the problem, but I was able to take care of it. Anyway, how is the article coming along?”

“I'm still struggling on the 7 Lost movies article. I finished writing about Curse of the Skull Servant, and now I'm on the Last Rites of Eve, and it's not clicking.”

“Max, you need to chill out for a bit. I read the draft of it, and it was fine.”

“It can't be just fine. It needs to be perfect! We're starting to lose the boost in downloads we got a few months back.”

Ben brings his full attention to me.

“Hmm, that does sound bad.” Ben spins around a bit before centering again. “Sounds like we should bring out the big guns. I've been scouting out some huge monster rats in up in North Anthame. A quick field report page wouldn't hurt.”

He shares his screen showing a map of Northern Anthame. Various locations were circled, including the Gregor power plant. Each circled location has a good chunk of notes next to it. I quickly scan them to check if the content would be enough for an article. Including the map, it would definitely be a good read, but it's missing something.

“Not bad, do you have a picture of the rat?”

“Nope. It's better to not make sudden moments like taking a picture.”

If he has no pictures of the rat, then it wouldn't that good of a field report. The dots start to connect in my head. Then again, it should have been obvious when he mentions the big guns.

“Ah now I see. We're going to use your favorite gun right.”

“Don't say it like that.”

“Right…still going to need a description of it if I'm going to ask Hannah for a drawing.”

Hannah is our best friend with killer art skills. Some comments on the Dreadstiary website say the only download to see if we got a new monster art from Hannah. I quickly pull out my wallet to check my funds for the rest of the week. More than enough to get Hannah to draw a piece for us by Friday.

“Got that covered. Plus an extra secret weapon that might make it our best issue yet.”

Hearing the words extra secret weapon made piqued my interest. I thought the rat report would have been his secret weapon.

“What do you mean extra secret weapon.”

“Let's put a pin with that for now. Don't want to get your hopes up. Just focus on the 7 films and the Rat art as our sure things.”

With that, he ends the call. Suspicious for sure, but I'll have to trust his for now. We've been through too much together. Ben is my closest friend. We have been looking for monsters for almost 10 years now after our dads took us to the movies for a horror movie marathon. Our dads laughed at our excitement about the creature of the film when mines brought up a legend of the central fountain imp. Hearing about a monster here in our town, we darted away on an adventure that would solidify our friendship. I cut my reminiscing short to upload my drafts to a cloud folder. Some sleep will help the ideas solidify in my head. Taking my phone off the dock, I dive on to my bed and tried to get some Zs.

The next morning, I slosh through the heavy downpour on my way to school. It is a struggle to walk through as I barely got any sleep last night. After laying down on my bed, I couldn't fall asleep, so I decided to put on a horror movie to help me fall asleep. It took a couple of low budget demonic 70s, but I did end up catching some sleep, but I guess. My thoughts cut off as I slip on the concrete, going head first into a nearby tree. Scrambling to get myself upright, I fix my hoodie and start rubbing my face to numb the throbbing pain. I need a pick me up.

I start sliding along the concrete, carefully drifting along the slick surface until I stop at the halfway point on my journey, The Sigil Saloon, a popular milk bar that opened last year. Strolling into the place to see only an old man in a suit reading the newspaper. Next to him on the table was a large mug filled with a chocolate shake with a healthy head of whipped cream. Guess people never grow out of wanting some sugar in the morning. The saloon has light purple walls, with black paint that looks spatter on. I make my way around the small tables to reach the mahogany bar where the cashier, a guy in his early 20s wearing a hoodie with chains etch into it, was standing.

“Can I get a strong Cinnamon Coffee Milkshake. Medium.”

“That'll be $7.50 or .75 YXUL if you want to liberate yourself from fiat.”

The cashier points to a tablet with a qr code ready with the price of .75 YXUL on it. I fight against the awkward atmosphere to pull out the exact change from my wallet, placing it on the Bar.

“Your lost. Sick Pumpkin Patch shirt, by the way!”

The cashier broken into a smile as he admires the artwork of the shirt. Standing with a bloody knife was the main killer, Joshua, his head elongated and eyes blood-red as he wears a ghoulish smile. His signature outfit is torn to shreds as his body hunches over his spine protruding from the brown corduroy jacket. With his arms bent back, he holds a large harvesting knife as he is surrounded by an assortment of different size pumpkins. Each pumpkin contains crudely carved signs of black magic, which leak blood from each individual marking. It is a masterful shirt design.

“Thanks. This was pretty hard to get.”

“I could imagine!”

The cashier turns around to grab my order from his coworker, a younger guy wearing a green shirt and pants, who began working on my order. The guy gestures his phone to the cashier amidst the roaring of the blender. The cashier holds the phone steady, then jumps up in excitement. They share an intimate hug with each other, only letting go when the blender signals that my shake is done.

“You're a master degen, bro!”

The cashier takes my shake, which was poured into a glass mug, then turns his attention back to me. Placing my order on the counter before trying to spark up a conversation with me.

“Did you heard that the next Pumpkin Patch movie is going to be in Space?”

My phone vibrates, showing a new Sunii message from Ben. I take my order and make my way to a table near the Saloon entrance. A small circular table that was next to a small window that gave a good view of the outside.

“The Pumpkin Patch in space movie has been in development hell since the 90s. It's never going to get made.”

“Never say never, Bro!”

I take a sip of my shake. The strong blending of both cinnamon and their own coffee blend perks me up. I continue to drink my shake as I open the Sunii app to see what Ben has sent me.


Okay, my extra secret weapon was legit!

I got a link to the one and only.

Curse of the Skull Servant!

I nearly spit out my shake. I force the shake down while pounding my chest to make sure I don't choke.

“Ha, the coffee too strong for you?”

The cashier voices his concern, seeing me try not to die from my shock. Waving the glass mug up, I take a good swig of my shake to signal that I'm alright. There's no way he was able to get that!

Who conned you with that?


No con.

It's legit.

I watched it last night.

No way! Now I get why it's the extra secret weapon. A review of that would be huge for the next issue. Especially with the article on the Lost 7 horror movies. Together, both articles would be huge for the issue.

Where did you steal it from?


Not stolen.

It was a reward!

Is this how you view me?

I helped out some kids dealing with a monster slime last week and the older brother gave me the link.

How are there still monster slime running around?

Thought Hannah killed the queen last year.


Still mad about that!

This one was different.

A slime/ant hybrid.

You should have seen the amount of green ooze there!

Ruined my Arcade of the Living Dead shirt.

Anyway, bet you want to do the review for it?

Of course! Send the link.

Finishing my shake, I look out the window to enjoy the scenery. The heavy rain grays the surrounding shops, turning them into a scene golden age horror movie set. Bright lights from the shop accent the businessmen and teens rushing to get to their destinations like the mob trying to catch Frankenstein's Monster. A picture perfect gloomy day for South Anthame.

Suddenly, a girl walks into frame. Her pale skin pops out against the gray backdrop. She had on a black and white shirt with a black skirt and leggings. She is holding on to a bright pink umbrella that clashes with the cold demeanor she exudes.

“Wow, She out pretty early.”

I hastily get up from my seat and rush towards the bar to make another order.

“Let me get a Malt Mint Shake to go. Extra Malt and can you make it quick?”

“Maybe I could if you don't use fiat!”

The cashier sings the words while gesturing to the tablet again. I almost considered it until I hear a mixture of laughter and the blender going off.

“Relax, I'm just joshing you! It's almost done right, Marc.”

“Right. Right. It'll be a little thick, tho.”

Marc the coworker pours the shake in to a plastic cup, handing it off to the cashier. I retrieve the shake and change, then make my way to the door. Before I exit the saloon, I open Sunii to send a message to Ben.

Make sure you send the description of the Monster Rat too, along with the link!