rogue-planet-6521709091261 Rogue Planet

A strange man with a propensity for violence and rituals sets foot in Ecuador during the economic crisis of the 1920s. It is not only known for its cacao but also the bustling trade of shrunken heads. Most of them are fake and lack a spiritual flair, so taking it upon himself, he continues his macabre love of ritual with locally sourced goods. Through the muddy streets of Manta, and to the outskirts where the forests live, a man of many names, and a guilt-free maniac. This psychological horror story is rather graphic, it uses explicit language and descriptions of violence.


Horreur Interdit aux moins de 18 ans.

#thriller #horror #psychological #drama #bleak #gore #slow #evocative #thoughtful #villain #nihilism #evil-protagonist #killer #open-ended
1
655 VUES
Terminé
temps de lecture
AA Partager

Arrival

I arrived in Ecuador for the second time during the fungal outbreak of the 1920s. I’d spent a strong portion of my adulthood here, traveling from city to city, slum to slum. I learned many things about the developing country. I even spent some time in the Amazon, learning about the Jivaro tribes firsthand. The people here were friendly, perhaps overly, and sometimes I wondered if the happiness was all a ruse, just a mask they wore around like I did. There had been harsh rains in the prior months and the wind swept heavily off the coast of Manta, the same port city I arrived in a few weeks prior. While some pray for downpour and form into song and dance, it was the last thing the people here needed, as the winds only assisted in carrying the spores on a quest for plague. Moniliophthora Roreri was the name given to the disease. M. Roreri for short.

Neither rolled off the tongue

The fungi didn’t target people, but instead aimed to obliterate all the Cacao it could imagine, slowly spreading its spores across the surface of Ecuador’s ripe Jewels. More cacao came from this place than nearly any other, and the decade that came marked a turbulent point for the people of Ecuador.

Me? I’m just passing through.

See, I’m a traveling salesman of sorts, but I deal in all things strange, and even more macabre. My crowning obsession was the art of shrinking heads, did I say I get my hands dirty too? I know what one may think, how vile, but I don’t uphold myself to any law but that of my own which I govern. I’m simply looking to peddle my goods and be on my way, all they need to know is I’m not a fake, my goods are genuine and crafted from only the finest noggins, an art which was sorely fading in these times. The Jivaro tribe were the first to practice this ritual I’d grown fond of, they were a warring nation. And it was said that after battle and the heads had been severed from their spine, only then did the process of trapping the soul begin.

  1. Remove the fatty flesh from a portion of the head
  2. Ground a piece of wood into the shape of a ball
  3. Use said ball and place into head to keep form
  4. Make sure you pin the mouth shut to safely harbor soul
  5. Use ash to smother face for texture and darker pigment
  6. Boil water with tannins and place the head in container
  7. Remove the head and begin molding process with hot rocks

Voila! And my work here is done! We’ve created a Tsantsa. The general feeling of satisfaction I get after finishing each piece is unrivaled. I’m sure my methods vary from the tribes and Achuar from the Shuar. But one thing is for certain, my work is leagues above the lifeless trash the commercialism has brought on. When I’m ready to sell to a buyer it is quite difficult for me to muster up the courage to let go of my art, but the want for others to experience such joy outweighs it every time. I used to sell organs during my days in America, but it lacked a specific flair, there was no personal touch that I craved. Oh, how I wish those savages could speak my tongue, or would I have walked out into the jungle myself, slashing vines with a razor-edged machete, fighting off wildebeests just to get first-hand knowledge of their exploits? How could humans turn something so barbaric into such beauty and craftsmanship? Most of the heads you see out there are fake, nothing more than paper mache knockoffs trying to replicate the real thing. I despise the snake oil salesman, whereas, I provide only the most quality and genuine shrunken heads. And the best thing? You never know where my goods were sourced from, I’ve been all over, and I don’t discriminate.

I’d studied whatever I could of the tribe's ways, and at the time, learned from the next best source I could find without going firsthand to witness it myself. When I was much younger, I ran across this German fella in Peru who happened to have a similar interest in the finer details of head shrinking. The light from the open door was the only thing illuminating the dingy old bar we conversed in, and the hours seemed to pass by one another along with my perception of time. He’s the one who first showed me the intricacies of the process and the parts one should not mess up if they wish to contain the soul of man. He’d told me how he’d practiced on animals first, trying to perfect the method and where to make the proper incisions, it didn’t take him long he said.

I knew he was a fake.

“It must be easy if those heathens can do it,” I laughed at that, I was a heathen.

“They’re just savages with a propensity for ritual. Nothing more,” the man stated.

“These rituals take days, it’s not an easy process, I’m learning though,” I replied to the clueless man, did he not believe the tales? How momentous it would be to capture a soul.

“You really believe that nonsense?” How dare he.

He stated as if he knew all. He was merely in it for profit, and my points were missed by him. I’d told him how I was more interested in the act itself, not the money that came after. I could do anything I wished to line my pockets, but I chose this because it makes my heart flutter, I do believe the process works, but I don't just go telling everyone that I believe in magic and strange rituals. A tendency I believe was passed onto me.

Ever since I was a boy, I’ve been obsessed with the otherworldly, ever since my father sat with me at his sick altar of a bed and whispered blasphemy in my ear. He did not skimp on the details when he shaped me for life, his words a crime against faith itself. I hated him, and I hated myself for being a mold of his image. His seed, the same propensity for violence, the same empty eyes. My father died that same year he sat me down in his room, and I can still feel the vomit rising through my throat. The memories are cryptic, but they come back to me with age, with every line on my face. The details of my horrid life my brain has kept hidden from me, a neurological way to protect the host. I didn’t have to ask why my mother left when I was a baby. Deep in my hollow core, I knew, she knew, we all knew.

I took all his morbid curiosities and spirituality with me like an anchor on my adventures, only hoisting it out of the water when I’d taken someone's life for the first time, the feeling was electric, a million thunderous neurons exploding like fireworks in my mind's sky. Every face I remember, every singular limb pulled from its tree. I took sick pleasure in it, and each soul snuffed only seemed to fuel my ego and the fire that was the rage beneath it. Until I discovered my love for heads, I wanted to shrink that one German fella's so badly, it was easy to imagine the golden blonde wig I’d use to adorn his withered scalp. But I simply went on my way, I hated Peru anyway. I much preferred the Ecuadorian whores. They tended to get me right and throbbing, watching them down enough liquor to drown a mule before I saddled them like one, always starting with the neck. They remind me a lot of the negros back home, but they don’t scream like them.

It’s not hard to dispose of a whore, they’re usually frail and meek, which makes stuffing their uneven limbs into a suitcase that much more achievable, though I longed for more than the disreputable wretches I’d become familiar with. I had all different ways of going about my business, but I loved hostels the most, especially those off the beaten path, they were the perfect haven for a traveler of my kind. I spent most of my time on the outskirts of the city, away from the smell of tuna the harbor held deeply. One evening, I found a small two-story hostel on the corner of a dirty street, pop-up shops peddled their goods, and vagrants looking for quick cash moseyed about the cobblestone roads. You could tell the times were hard just by staring in any direction for too long, I loved that the despair was so tangible. It just made it easier to go about my business. I’d planned to sell off a handful of my Tsantsas to a curio store, the trade was booming, unlike the dying Cacao fields that sprawled across the country. It turns out, that parting ways with my heads was a spiritual battle, one I’d never grown adept at, I was a lousy salesman.

Walking in, the bells above the door rang, and strange antiques of all variants lined the dusty shelves. I couldn’t help but stare at the taxidermied spider monkey that hung from the ceiling, swinging from a faux vine. The art of taxidermy reminded me a lot of my craft, preserving nature itself. No touching, the sign read.

“That one's special right there,” the man said in his tongue I’d come to learn.

“Spider monkey, endangered,” he didn’t even let me respond. I hated that.

“Good to know, got anything better? Something more… human?” I said, trying my best to allude to my desire to see what he had behind a beige curtain on the other side of the counter. I knew these strange shops well, there’s always more

“Ooooh? Interested?” He said suspiciously. I could tell he was a man of the high art when he looked around his shop, out the windows, and back to me. This was for my eyes only.

“Come, come..” the brown man said, his demeanor changing as we both scooted around the counter.

“You speak Spanish well, where’d you learn?” He said, thumbing open the curtain that revealed a small, windowless room full of cabinets and hutches. Locks were on everything.

“Spent a lot of time traveling. Spent time in Mexico City, took the canal to get here. Lots of time to read,” I didn’t like sharing too much about myself if I didn't have to. I’d actually sailed from Veracruz, I felt more comfortable giving him an incorrect answer.

“Ever been? Mexico?” I asked the man, my attempt at small talk.

“No, No. Never,” The man had never left this place.

I could smell a rude stench on him, and I wondered when the last time he showered had been. He walked to one of the cabinets, pulled a small key from his trouser pockets, placed it in the keyhole of one of the cabinets, and rotated. It made a clunking noise as it was unlatched, and upon opening it, the man stepped back to reveal his lovely collection of heads. They were real. I hated fakes.

“You buyin'?" The man's look had turned sinister, almost as if I was inclined to purchase one of his prunes. The look in his eyes is what I imagined mine resembled, right before I closed the distance on a kill.

Perhaps I should’ve spared him his life, we had a lot in common after all, and the spider monkey was neat. It crossed my mind for a moment when I slid the knife I’d hidden under my sleeve right into my palm. He was none the wiser when I thrust it upwards and through the flesh beneath his chin, he whelped like a babe when his blood filled the creases of my hand and pooled onto the floor. It took him a second to react to what had happened, but he did, he pushed me back as hard as he could. I crashed against the cabinets that nearly fell atop me as the man began to turn around, rushing through the curtains. The blood pooled from his chin as he cupped it, trying to hold back the flood that rushed onto the glass counters near the register. The man just moaned like the sad sap he was when I jumped on his back like a spider monkey, finishing the job with a passionate thirty-two stabs that bled the floors around us. Once the adrenaline quickly wore off, I was left in a state of panic. Staring at the work I’d done, I stood up, mouth agape, and the sweat ran from my brows and splashed against the man's puddled fluids I’d successfully spilled out. Luckily, it was late evening, and the shops had closed by now, but the vagrants still loitered in the corners of the setting sun, their eyes everywhere. I found the only sack big enough to hold a few heads. Every part of my being wanted to slide one of the chests right out of there and back to my room at the hostel. I filled the sack with as many heads as it could fit, the bag was bulbous with faces, four to be exact. I picked the smallest plum-sized ones I could find, but I was so worried about getting caught I didn’t get to examine their intricacies. I’d wondered if their souls were even there when I lugged it over my shoulder, made the cash register sing, and headed out the back door leading into the muddy alleyways.

It was almost November here, and the temperature seemed to go from scolding hot by day, and into torrential rain by night. Come sunrise, steam would fill the morning air, warming the smell of mud and shit so the heat rose with it. It culminated into a dreadful sludge that mucked the now unpaved roads as I got further from the heart of the city. It was at the tail end of the worst Cacao season in the country's history, crime was abundant due to a shortage of work, and I merely blended in, as much as a fair-skinned man could, which wasn’t much at all. I tried my best to go unseen when committing my ritualistic acts. Having left the outskirts of Manta, I’d found that the trails along the riverside were an ample place to scope out, and the lack of foot traffic made my job more relaxing. I used to keep a derringer in a strap around my ankle, but I’d found through experience that I’m rather impulsive.

He cheated, he must’ve cheated.

I thought to myself as I walked up behind him while he was smoking a Lucky Strike. By the time the gunshot finished echoing out into the atmosphere, I was on my way to a new city.

I wouldn’t need a gun today, not today. I sat against a tree not far from the path and packed my pipe full of tobacco I’d bought back when I arrived at the port. It was harsh and drier than a popcorn fart, I suspected he gave me his worst stash and charged me extra. Waiting for a passerby, I hit my corncob pipe in intervals and wrote some chicken scratch in my grimoire.

There are some Tsantas I just can’t bear to part with, so I bring them with me everywhere as my tiny keepsakes, always by my side like a rabbit's foot. Even when I was hard on cash one year, I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of my Alejandra. Such a pretty name she had. She was a Chilean girl I’d taken a liking to during my stay in Santiago, it was a short stay, so I had to make it last for the both of us. I often think about what limbo must be like, how it must be worse than hell to feel absolutely nothing. Am I a poor sport for praying on the weak and the penurious? I wager it’s more about practicality than anything. I had to be smart with my undertakings, even in the far corners of the world. Lynch mobs are universal.

It felt like I was daydreaming for hours when a woman finally appeared at the intersection of the trail, she paid no notice to me and headed up the opposite way carrying a basket atop her charcoaled hair. She knew I was there, but she just kept whistling a tune as the river sang along and lapped over the rocks in rhythm with her melody. The trees that lined the forest emanated a strong green that was unlike anything I’d seen up north, they flourished full of life in the dead of autumn. Her feet made a slapping noise against her sandals like a drummer keeping time, I could see the whites of her soles as she walked with her ankles exposed, her calves were chiseled and used to labor. And as the wind gathered strength, it swept the fringes of her white dress upwards just long enough for me to capture a mental picture of her thighs, and then down again it went. Her dress was woven with every color the rainbow had to offer, and it only seemed to make the pigments of her skin all the more radiant.

I was in love, if not just for a moment as I followed her further down the trail, the smell of her sweat had me excited. I didn’t know if it made me sick or hard, maybe it was a combination of both knowing she had no idea what was about to bestow her. The great things I had planned. I always carried my tools with me in a satchel that hung around my shoulder. The contents of the bag were, a hand saw, some rope, a small knife, and of course, Alejandra. The stench she once left behind had faded. For a brief fleeting moment, as I pulled my folding knife out of the bag, I thought about my father in the room. The things he did to me wove an ever-evolving tapestry that bound me to the grotesque, the smell of incense burning, the iron in the blood. Unfolding the blade as I walked, I tucked it into my sleeve, getting closer and closer to her shadow, and I wondered if she could feel my warm breath against the flesh of her neck when I drove the knife into it.

The trees in the forest seemed to break out into a song and dance when I'd finished, and the lush greenery seemed to close in around us, concealing the morbid scene that had taken place. The first cut had been swift when it sliced through the air with vigor and intent, but the second drove halfway through her forearm as she screamed for God. It took a second for the blood to rise to the surface of the deep cuts that had forcefully formed. I’d cupped her mouth as best I could with my hand, but the echoes of her voice still resounded through the cracks of my makeshift muzzle and off the walls of the forest. Which only served to worry me. Nobody came, for now.

I reveled in the moments after a hunt, I felt like one of the Jivaros, out in the depths of the jungle with nothing but the rags against my cock and the blood of my enemies smeared across my cheeks. Of course, I didn’t wear rags, but the blood had been smeared, and another soul had been trapped. It was liberating, refusing someone the gift of afterlife, no meeting with the judges. Whatever heaven they subscribed to, it didn’t matter to me, they wouldn’t arrive at their destination.

I’d hid the body in the dense thickets of the riverbank, wading across to the other side of its shallow waters to make sure her corpse wasn’t near the road. Just to be safe in my endeavors, I’d even made sure to go a mile or so into the woods. I wasn’t the strongest of men, rather lanky in my stature, so lugging her husky body was more a task than taking her life force. I couldn’t believe how sweaty I was when I finally dumped her against a mossy log. The animals of the forest made a cacophony of noises, chirping, squawking, and squealing in the distance as I trudged away back into town with blood on my shirt. supplies were needed. A ceremony awaited.

Going into town, I sang tunes to keep my mind off the body in the woods, I kept hoping some strange animal hadn’t taken my prize as its own. Leave the head if you must. I had no need for the rest of the corpse when my fun had been had, it got old quickly, but the heads stayed forever once they’d been shrunken down to a prune. “Something wrong?” One of the shopkeepers peddling fruit said as I held a naranjilla in my palm. At first, I wondered why he said that, maybe his English was shit, but looking down, I’d realize there was a tiny bit of the woman's blood on the armpit of my forearm. He never inquired more, maybe he passed it on. I simply continued about my way, looking for a place to purchase a tent.

I’d experimented many times with trying to shrink a head to the size of my liking, but when exposed to boiling water for mere minutes, if you’re not careful, they’re liable to turn into mush. The process didn’t take long, no more than an hour, it was the act of sealing the soul that was laborious. When I first started, I wasn’t sure if I was on board with the several hours it takes. I suppose I was doubting the validity of their ritual, as any sane man would. But even then, I still lit the fire, sat by the flame, and made my offerings to Pachamama. Placing seeds, fruits, as well as herbs I’d bought or gathered on my way back from town. As I wafted the smoke from herbs I held in my hand, I could feel the rumbling of the forest, and my offerings had called upon the spirits of the animals that lingered, seeking their assistance in the trapping of the soul. If they were to help me succeed, the body was to be theirs. My own flair.

At first, it felt weird to break into song and dance, alone, amid the forest, but over time, I’d grown as a one-man band. I played the drums particularly well, keeping rhythm as I whistled the songs and let out the guttural chants. I always imagined what one might think if they ran across me, assuredly they would bolt right back the way they came, telling all their friends and family they saw a mystical man in the woods, sitting crisscrossed around a fire opposite of a headless corpse. The blood around its neckline now congealed and solidified. They’d call them crazy, tell them to go back to bed, sleep it off, it’ll be fine in the morning.

A week in the woods had set out on making me go insane, and this was to be my one-hundredth trophy I’d taken in my years, but that didn’t make it any easier. The sound of the forest at night was both soothing and simultaneously disturbing. Sometimes I feel as if I'm floating in space, and the sound around me is sent into a vacuum with my thoughts.

The mornings are loud, I’m reminded of who I am. I take walks back to town trying my best to be discreet, I listen for whispers of a missing woman, I hear things. The rain falls softly today, and the mud builds gradually against my feet as I walk back to camp to begin the rituals.

Everything went fine, the corpse is gone, but the smell remains. A trail of intestines belonging to the woman stretches like a cable uncoiled into the woods. The smell of feces hangs in the air. I try to smoke my cigarettes but the surface of my matchbook is damp and worn. I fear going into town too often, so I suffer. After more rituals, I doze off into a stupor of sleep, blinking myself awake every so often. The trail of intestines is gone.

My dreams are that of labyrinths holding puzzles with no solutions. I walk and I walk, the passageways only take me further from my mom and into the arms of my father. I’m afraid. It's dark but there are glimpses of something. I close my eyes, the phosphenes warp into a dark pit of loneliness. He’s nowhere to be found, only me, and his room.

I spent another day without smoking, the anxiousness went away, and it came back. I hadn’t gone without them since a child, my dad got me hooked. I stoke the fire as it billows heavily in the morning air. The animals are quiet, the leaves of the trees still, I’m scared to sleep. The ritual continues.

The seances grow longer, the shadows seem to dance in tandem with me, and I hear the voice of a mother I’d never met. I close my eyes. I create the sounds. I imagine her face. The tone is soft, it's soothing, but it distorts. I hear my father. He beckons from his bed.

The final morning was quiet, but it only added to the eerie feeling I felt as I packed my things up and held the woman's shriveled head in my hand. The spirits that lingered in my dreams had scurried off to aid another shaman in their plight. Staring at the Tsantsa, I had half an urge to toss it into the woods like a baseball into a tree, her soul shooting off into the sky like a ball of light. But I needed money, and soon the walls would close in on me. I’d spent a few years of my life in the clink for an assortment of petty crimes, thank Christ they didn’t know about my darker proclivity for corpses, Not in Ecuador at least. Just a few more, I thought to myself. Though my time here had seemed to be overstaying its welcome.

The woman's decapitated body was with the woods now, and I couldn’t tell if it served to comfort me, or only served to unease. Most likely, the boars had gotten to her while I slept, though I never heard them squeal. The nights blended together that week, even when my eyes were open it felt like a waking dream. I had to get out of there, the isolation had consumed me once more.

It took a stay back in town for me to try and clear my mind. I checked in at the old hostel and headed to the dingy bar to think things over. Warm spirits would do me, they always helped soothe the stomach after venturing where few go. Civilization felt like a welcome home, even if I happened to be in the dredges of a slum. A few shots of whatever was cheap, and a few whores to warm my groin would have to do. A man outside was smoking his cigarette when he saw me waltz on past him and through the doors to the bar. A fresh pack sat in my pocket. The sun was out in all its burning glory today, but the dark of shelter seemed to give me a moment of reprieve. I’d hidden her head in a bag and stored it in my room along with the others I’d collected on my trip. I tried to pawn them off as soon as I could, alas, a head in a bag isn’t the greatest of looks. Especially when it’s locally sourced.

Sitting at one of the stools that lined the bar, a group of people were whispering and chatting with each other. Eavesdropping, I could hear them mention a woman found in the woods, not but a few miles from the trails I’d previously ventured on. Her limbs were torn from their sockets, and her body clearly mauled by animals.

“The strange part?” One of them said,

“Her head was cut clean off. No way it was a knife they say.”

“God help us, the devil is out there.”

Their conversation was shocking at first, but it was only a matter of time before someone caught onto my activities, cutting my stay short. I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride when they whispered my presence. The devil, they said. The devil.

My palms had begun to sweat, so I nervously lit my cigarette, a failed attempt to calm my body. It simply agitated me more, the heat was sweltering, and the humidity only seemed to increase when I came to grips with my situation. Time to go. The devil.

I left that shit hole as nonchalantly as I could, leaving dust in my wake when I stepped up from the rickety stool, out the door, and into the sunlight. The group of men that had been whispering of the disemboweled woman watched me as I did so

No doubt, I’m their man.

I took in a deep breath of the Ecuadorian air that augured my end of the line. Stomping out my unfilling cigarette, I walked a few blocks towards where I’d been staying, I paced as quickly as my feet would allow, my footwork was apt, and I glided across the mud. I knew they were onto me, but I’d eluded capture in three countries, and I wasn’t about to lay down and die like my pig fucking father. I had a few more rotations of the sun left in me, a few more years of terror, I knew I did.

Those dreams flickered out the moment I laid my dead eyes on the men in gray standing near the hostel, badges on their chests, revolvers holstered at their hips. At least their uniforms appeared gray, my vision was playing sour tricks on me, it was all black and white now. I stood near the precipice, not one hundred feet from them when they turned their broad shoulders to greet me with their stern, assertive faces.

One of the men walked like a stiff board towards me, his arm extended, his palm out, and his hands softly against the grip of his revolver. I played coy, and the expression I gave him was that of. Who, Me? But I knew I’d been made, I stood out like a sore thumb, surely they’d found the headless woman, surely they’d found the butchered curio man surrounded by his stuffed toys. Suddenly, I felt inadequate and pondered the potential of a successful escape. I’d hit the mud before I took two steps backward, they asked questions last in this vast chunk of nowhere, and they’d probably dump me in a lonely grave right after they rifle through my pockets and have their way with my Alejandra.
I have so much more to do.

28 Février 2024 03:56 0 Rapport Incorporer Suivre l’histoire
1
Lire le chapitre suivant Take Me Home

Commentez quelque chose

Publier!
Il n’y a aucun commentaire pour le moment. Soyez le premier à donner votre avis!
~

Comment se passe votre lecture?

Il reste encore 2 chapitres restants de cette histoire.
Pour continuer votre lecture, veuillez vous connecter ou créer un compte. Gratuit!