It was the Fall of ‘88. The cold air had swept in to send one final wave to the sunny days of Summer, and its clear skies. The roads were filled with rotten leaves, covering the fields of Louisiana with a crunchy blanket. Patrols had become the sweetest thing a detective could hope for with such a beautiful, mesmerising weather; however, I could not help but feel a sudden, unhinged sense of dread whenever I rode alone surrounded by sugar cane fields and the colours of amber everywhere I looked.

I was working on a bad case at the time. Two kids, a boy and a girl, first disappeared and then found together tied up to logs in the bayou, hanged to a branch, the noose tightly around their necks, neatly positioned next to one another. There were old lanterns, giving off a strong, foul smell of the wax burning inside, hanging next to them with totems of inexplicable meaning and deer antlers. In the last moments of their life, they must have tried helping each other, or at least ease the suffering of the death no child should ever go through… rigor mortis had them still holding each other’s hand, to complete the macabre image.

The musky, oozing bayou had always been home of myths, crazed hillbillies and cults that made defying all the laws of God their mission. Barely five months before this case, there had been reports of a young lady disappearing into nothingness; for many, she had been swallowed by the empty void of the bayou or the black gulch of a hungry gator. Her body was never found. Too often cases like these were just written off as “disappearances”, but every good detective that walks and thinks knows that’s plain false.

But this isn’t the story of my investigation, rather what it had led me to find.

The leads I had at the time brought me to one name, a certain Christopher Morales; your classic loner type, always by his own, chain-smoking and downing bottles of Scottish Whiskey like there was no tomorrow. He lived in a shack in the bayou, where only the gators could get him. The only times he appeared in civilised society we saw this scrawny stick-man with messy, dirty hair and a lemmy that nearly got down to his neck; his jumpsuit and boots carried the stench and humidity of the swamps and the alligators. What I remember the most about him were his eyes: a deep blue that would have made any man from Portland Oregon to Maine jealous, lost in black circles of barebones sleep; a gaze perpetually lost in time, always on its last nerve.

He’d come to Louisiana in ‘83, along with a family of sorts, like some Charles Manson wannabe. All of them were gone by ‘87; nobody ever dared asking where they left, or why. Everyone tried to figure out who he was exactly, from a Vietnam veteran to some washed up traumatised ex-cop. To me, he was just an old man who wanted to be alone.

Some fellers I’d talked with said he was not home when the murders happened, so I thought it would have been a good idea to see what his alibi was, even though I had a gut feeling he was not part of this all; if anything, he might have been able to see something.

From the moment I had to leave my car and walk into the swampy grounds, I was overwhelmed by a spiking anxiety, but most of all I was uncomfortable about the silence that polluted my path. Only the wind welcomed me, and Christopher was probably his greatest companion, all he lacked were the words to tell me whether he was home or not. The old man probably preferred it that way. As I made my way through the overgrown vegetation, insects and lizards, I finally had my eyes on the lonely shack in the bayou: Decrepit, shallow, connected to the land only by a wooden bridge that I could only hope was in better conditions than the man’s home.

A sudden, cold breeze brushed at my hair when I took the first step on the bridge; I felt my body freeze, as the quiet allowed me to feel my own heart’s pulsations. One second of hesitation separated the world behind me and the white rabbit’s hole.

I had no way to know what I was about to get into.

The old door stood in front of me like an angry, old hound. I could see from the cracks that the place was relatively empty, so I knocked a couple of times; even if the sound of my knuckles tapping on the sturdy wood resounded across the entire swamp, not even the fishes or the gators desired to respond. I looked up to find no birds, and into the waters to see not even the faintest shadow of any sort of aquatic life. I was the only living thing in a five mile radius, or at least so it felt.

When I grew tired of tapping my knuckles on the door, I decided my boot would have made the trick. Safety doesn’t quite matter when you have a swamp full of animals in the middle of nowhere, does it? Perhaps it was just an oversight on the guy’s part, or he just didn’t care. With hindsight, I should have still spent my time thinking about the door, rather than what I found inside. In mere seconds Morales stopped being “just a guy that wants to be alone”, and the empty suspects list suddenly had one name at the top written in all capital letters.

Deer horns hanging from the ceiling, lanterns, fingers, nails, pictures of fresh corpses; many of them coincided with people that had disappeared across the last five years. My entire life, I had never felt so stupid, blind and horrified at the same time. But the worst had yet to come.

An armchair sitting in front of a television, with a cassette reader. I made my way across the dirty, dusty place, the little bit of furniture that was there and the countless photographs hanging on the walls, the ceiling and resting on the floor in asymmetrical but elaborated orders and shapes. The cassette reader was empty, but the tapes were sitting neatly next to the television; I grabbed one of them, carrying upon it an ominous title.

Happy Birthday, Father Morales

I could not shake off the dreadful thought of just what would make for a birthday present good enough to such a perverted mind. There were enough puzzles pieces my mind could already piece out of what the contents of the tape were, and yet I still dared myself to see, hoping it would be useful.

It bore no greater advice. And I am not going to talk about it.
Nobody should have ever seen those tapes, but I knew they were the evidence I needed to bring him down.

As I searched the house for more evidence, I came across a diary. I held it in my shaking palms, as I imagined what terrible imagery I would find inside the pages of madness. I skimmed through most of the ramblings of a sick man, a self-made prophet of a self-made religion, his delusions and his fantasies, songs of moons and poems of suns, of a world where the dead walk and dreams never end. I felt like the pages would never end, but eventually I found one final message.

This is the end. They have been put in place, and I know she is pleased. After so many sacrifices, she will welcome me, I know. I’ll sit beside the Queen and I shall be spared. The court of Ancamor will see me his strongest child.

None of it made sense to me, and maybe it had no sense at all, but one thing was clear: he was gone, done and dusted. Perhaps in search of Ancamor? At the time, I didn’t think much of it.

The backdoor led to a small patio with a clear view on the empty swamp. It was the only place that hadn’t been invaded Morales’ perversions aside from the front porch. My eyes laid upon an improvised canoe stuck into the roots of one of the trees in the swamp, and the overbearing feeling of curiosity had the best of me. I dropped down into the cold waters, pacing my every step towards the canoe, never more afraid to misstep and sink. Even though I knew of no gators being around I still scanned my surroundings for any hints of those ferocious predators. My terrors were brutally replaced the moment I had come about three feet away from the canoe.

An invisible force grabbed me by my feet and I found myself gasping for air any instant I could get my head out of the green waters; no matter how hard I tried, holding onto the branches and the roots, I kept sinking away into a vortex of unimaginable strength right under the tree, devouring everything it could like a black gulch. I closed my eyes as I gave up my hold and let my entire body be swallowed, every instant of my life flashing by. There was no light to walk towards, though.

When I opened my eyes, I was surprised to find myself still alive, or at least conscious. I looked around my surroundings and I found nothing a living man could call familiar: bones surrounded those sandy mounds, sun-bleached by a blue star that painted the sky dark, carcasses of humans, animals, but also of either cyclopean or small creatures that only the most imaginative or insane of minds could produce. I was surrounded by gargantuan monoliths reeking with stenches that nobody should ever bear, blood flowing down the cracks of what looked more like flesh than stone; I looked down from the bones standing underneath up to the top storing an uncountable mass of impaled bodies. I saw it moving, resonating with life, like an animal’s appendage used to detect prey.

The thought of being dead, in Hell or whatever other kind of damned afterlife, had crossed my mind more than once. But when my ears graced upon the gentle caress of a choir I began wondering what kind of Devil would ever make torture soothing with a song. It embraced me like a warm blanket, but I could not piece out its structure, the meaning of the words that to me sounded like mumbling and muttering; all I knew was that it was everywhere, and towards it was the only direction I could walk.

There was a hill far away, and spires of unimaginable size created a skyline no future human metropolis would ever be capable of producing. Even from miles and miles away I could tell it was a castle of sorts, and the words of Morales’ letter began jumping up and down my skull.

The Queen of Ancamor

That was how he had called this place, or at least I imagine it’s supposed to be this place. Or maybe this is all a coincidence, or an illusion, created by my own mind in its last moments of life; maybe this entire case was a fever dream, but I knew that whatever it was I had to march on to make it end. Whatever Queen or King’s court stood there, waiting, had to hold some guests.

I walked for miles, and miles, hours, underestimating just how far this castle of dreams was. The closer I got, the more I wondered how tall those spires were; with no clouds, the only thing they could have scraped were the stars. The madness and death that surrounded me only grew worse, as the temperature of the atmosphere grew warmer. I took off my jacket first, then I unbuttoned my shirt, but nothing relieved the heat: if I wasn’t dreaming, then I might have been victim of the most realistic mirages you could not imagine. The appendages raising from the ground started becoming shorter and smaller in size the more I walked towards my destination; eventually, they were not there to grant me neither torment nor shadow.

That was when an open field stood between me and the castle, an open field of corpses, carcasses, fresh or decades old. The structure and the architecture of the building was nothing ever replicated on Earth, although it bore an eerie similarity to Levantine ancient constructions, every spire its own Tower of Babel; every angle of that otherworldly palace glowed of the sun’s blue light. The same smell I had been tortured with grew more poignant, as did the song grow clearer and sweeter, if not slightly unnerving and incomprehensible. The sun was not setting yet, maybe it never did there, wherever it was.

Eventually, I had reached my destination. The palace’s gates were built for something so big its size could never be sustained by Earth’s physics, and the engraved images upon it bore no sense to my memory, their nature eluded my mind: slithering things, with flailing appendages standing side by side in a shining field of walking, disfigured entities, even humans. When I looked up to what I could only recognise as some kind of staircase, I saw a man, completely naked; I immediately reached for my gun, but just as I did the ground below my feet trembled with enough strength to carry a New York skyscraper down. I was knocked off my balance, as the song now pierced my skull and a silhouette became visible through the gate; the naked man run down the staircase screaming, and a good look on his face revealed to me his identity.

In spite of the tremors, I was able to bring myself back on my feet, as Morales walked into the field of dead bodies. I bumped into him and all the rage I could muster concentrated itself into one fist into his face. He was so weak, scrawny and tired he opposed no resistance. The gratification stopped soon enough, when I had a better look at just what was about to cross the palace’s gate. I did not scream, but for about ten seconds time slowed down and every thought I ever had was replaced by the void.

I was staring into immensity, a creature that nature refused to allow to me understand, or perhaps it was the thing’s own volition that demanded I did not comprehend: the same appendages I saw in the inscriptions, blue tatters across its entire body, forming a hood where would stand a visage, and the voice of an Angel from Hell.

When the gravity of the danger before me became clear, I dropped down into the piles of bodies, as Miles muttered one word in his decrepit, crazed state.

Queen Maehlya. He called it Queen Maehlya.

Her singing turned into a sting into my brain, capable of giving me the worst of migraines. The pain made my eyes heavy, and I soon found myself unconscious. When I woke up, the criminal was laying on the floor of his shack besides me. The entire place was as I had left it.

As my mind tried to process what had just occurred, I comprehended just how vivid my experience was. I realised that everything that had occurred was real, all of it. Unexplainable, unbelievable, unbearable, but real. I rushed outside to the patio again to see if anything had changed, and it wasn’t just one thing: natured flourished again, fishes jumped out of the water as gators peeked their eyes out to search for easy prey.

And the birds sang.

As far as the case went, I was able to close it. I had dragged - I suppose - Morales out of that pit and now I had someone to arrest, and the proof to send him into prison for the rest of his life. But what he had done to me, directly or not, has never left me.

I have to numb the memories with alcohol and cigarette after cigarette, just so I can make the recollection of her song bearable. I have littered my house with incoherent drawings of the things I saw, of the Queen and the King of Ancamor, and the dead. Every second I do not occupy my mind is a second spent thinking about that day. I have tried telling others about this: my wife, my closest friends. None could believe it, and for good reason. No matter how hard I ignore it I can’t stay away. My family has left me, thinking me insane, and all those I knew have ostracised me like some insane cultist.

I work in a bar now, and I spend my days in isolation, drinking and chain-smoking. Writing this is the only way I can give this story some closure, to try and leave it all behind, but there is no catharsis: it never goes away, and only death will undo this. The evil that man do is but a grain of sand compared to the horror that this universe hides, and I pray that no one will ever have to witness it.

The Queen’s song, the Song of the Moons, will never give me peace.




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