“The man who does ill must suffer ill.”
Rheinhold faded back in from his waking dream as he heard another thump from underneath him. He wasn’t five years old anymore, and he hadn’t seen his father since then, yet he was afraid. He flipped the switch on the desk lamp, and heard a muffled ‘pop’ as the light bulb sparked and then burned out. He knew that he should leave, but something told him that he had to see what was making the thumping noise under the floor.
He fumbled around momentarily in the dark and then found the penlight that he kept on the desk in his work area and clicked it on. The penlight shed a relatively meager amount of light onto the wooden floor.
Rheinhold knew that the Nazis often kept hidden storage areas underneath their meeting places for storing weapons caches and documents. In fact, he found some very interesting military plans in the hidden rat-hole that ran below the last building that he had inventoried. Still, a couple of new Nazi maps, or an old grenade or two definitely should not have been enough enticement to overcome the fear that crept into his empty stomach as he sat in the dark with only a penlight. He clicked off the light and sat momentarily on the hardwood floor. The faint odor of urine from his piss soaked pants brought Rheinhold back to reality. He clicked the penlight back on, and stood up to leave.
As he passed his desk, Rheinhold heard a faint shuffling from underneath the floor. It sounded like it was closer than the bumps he had heard before. A sinking feeling started to crawl from his guts up into his throat as he stood listening. Then he heard a sound from deeper below the floorboards. “What the fuck?!”, he whispered to himself.
Then he heard it again. It sounded like a woman laughing. As a matter of fact, it sounded eerily like the voice of the dominatrix from his favorite porn site. Rheinhold relaxed somewhat when he heard the feminine voice. The image that he had conjured up of the spirit of some unnamed Nazi soldier with chains on his arms and legs haunting the crawlspace under the building didn’t seem as scary after hearing the sexy woman’s laughter. He still could not imagine a situation that would lead to the woman of his wet dreams actually hiding out underneath the Nazi building, but he figured that maybe he would find out for himself.
He trained the fading beam from the penlight onto the floor beneath his desk, and traced each gap between the floorboards back to the far wall. A glint of metal between the third and fourth boards caught his eye. Looking straight down the gap, he saw two hinges set below the level of the floor. He huffed with effort as he slid his ancient hardwood desk against the far wall. “I’ll be damned!” He thought as he blew the dust off of the outline of a small square that had been cut into the planks.
As he scanned his office for something to pry up the trap door with, he heard what sounded like another female voice moaning from below. “Hold on, ladies, I’m coming,” Rheinhold whispered. He felt something stirring in his wet boxer shorts. “Easy boy..” He said with a smile.
He grabbed the large metal scissors from the cup on his desk and wedged the blade between the planks of the floor. The metal blade bent slightly as the trap door lifted out of place with a loud creak. A smell of undisturbed dirt escaped from the crack in the floor, and a wisp of dust danced in the dim beam of the penlight. There was another smell, too. Unfortunately for Rheinhold, the faint smell of death from below didn’t register, as he was too busy fantasizing about the possibilities of a rendezvous with two whores in the dungeon-like area below.
He held the penlight in his mouth as he put both hands under the lip of the trap door and lifted with everything he had. The door flew open and Rheinhold’s heart leapt in his chest as it crashed onto the floor behind the hinges. He caught his breath as he shone the penlight into the blackness below. He saw nothing but more swirling dust under the trap door.
Removing the seal from the ancient tomb caused a cold draft to emerge from the dark tunnel into Rheinhold’s office. He felt a chill under his wet pant legs as he dangled them below the trap door, and then slowly lowered himself down through the opening. He felt his loafers brush the dirt floor of the tunnel as he hung from the floor of the office, and he looked down with the penlight in his mouth. Then, he let go and dropped into the pitch blackness of the tunnel.
A shuffling sound came from the dark, some distance below him. He pointed his penlight at the noise, but the fading beam only extended about ten meters into the stifling murkiness. Rheinhold briefly wondered what two beautiful porn actresses would be doing in this God-forsaken hole, then he smiled as several different scenarios came to mind. All of them he imagined were appealing. Yes, they were indeed!
With renewed vigor, he followed the penlight’s beam, descending slowly down the dark tunnel toward his impending doom. As he approached the chamber at the end of the tunnel, Rheinhold noticed that the beam from his ten year old flashlight was quickly fading. Had he changed the batteries since he bought it at the gas station in 1999? He didn’t think so. ‘Oh well’, he thought. ‘I have ladies waiting.’
He kept his left hand on the wall for balance, and continued forward as the light died. He hoped he’d be able to find the women in the complete darkness. Actually, it might be better this way, he thought. He wasn’t the most handsome of men to start with, and there was also that dark stain in the crotch of his pants, which he didn’t imagine most porn princesses would find attractive. And, to be honest, Rheinhold didn’t intend to give the sluts the opportunity to deny him the pleasure he deserved. If they didn’t put out immediately, he would just take what he needed. Who the hell was going to know down here anyway? He smiled at the thought.
As Rheinhold crept slowly past the entrance to the chamber, he heard something rub against the rock wall behind him. He froze as he tried to determine exactly where the noise came from so that he could make his move and pounce on his prey.
There was no sound whatsoever. He held his breath and listened. As his ears attuned themselves to the lack of audible sensation, he was able to make out a faint raspy breathing. In and out, in and out. The breathing definitely did not belong to a hot and bothered woman. Instead, it sounded more like the labored wheezing of his neighbor’s twelve-year old pit bull, usually just before the damned thing freaked out and tried to latch onto anybody that got within twenty feet of the sidewalk going by its house.
Finally common sense started to leak into Rheinhold’s frayed mind, as he realized that whatever was at the far end of the black hole was now coming towards him, and it probably was not going to be pleasant when it got there. He could not help but flash back to his childhood again, when he had been helpless with terror in the cellar of his cottage, with some unknown monsters approaching in the dark to eat him.
This was different though. He was a grown man now, and noises in the dark shouldn’t scare him. Yet, he knew that the object that was coming toward him was much larger than a raccoon this time. He listened helplessly as it steadily approached – one heavy step, followed by a sliding noise, as if the other leg was dragging slightly on the rock floor. The thing’s breathing was also getting louder and faster as it neared.
Rheinhold silently turned around in the pitch dark and tried to find the wooden pillars that he had seen at the entrance to the room while his penlight still worked. He could feel cold sweat emerging from his forehead as he furiously slid his hands along the rock wall. He had to get out there!
He could not find anything besides the rough stone walls of the chamber. Tears started to roll down his face as he whipped back around to listen for whatever was coming for him. He cowered back against the hard wall of the chamber and started to sob as he realized that now it was directly in front of him. He still couldn’t see it, but the breathing sounded like a freight train. The thing had to be huge!
In his mind’s eye, he could almost sense the immenseness of the beast. In a last ditch effort, Rheinhold clicked the switch on the penlight again and slammed it against the rock wall. It flicked on just long enough for Rheinhold to catch a glimpse of the monster, and it was much worse than anything he could have imagined. The thing looked like it was possibly once a man, which made it even more terrifying than a make-believe monster. This was real, and it was coming to kill him.
The image of the giant was etched into his brain like the red dots one sees after looking straight into a camera flashbulb. He could think of nothing else as his legs turned to jelly and he slid down the wall, landing on his ass on the stone floor. His mouth opened and shut in the darkness, but nothing came out. He felt a voiceless scream leave his lungs as he felt two incredibly huge hands painfully latch onto his shoulders and effortlessly lift him off of the ground. He felt his feet dangle in the air briefly, and then one of the hands left his shoulder, grabbed him by the throat, and slammed him backward into the rock wall. He saw thousands of swirling stars appear in the blackness as his head slammed against the stone.
The smell of decaying flesh brought him back several seconds later. His eyes slowly refocused, and he realized that the giant’s gruesome face was only inches from his.
He shook in terror as the beast’s beady yellow eyes pierced his own eyes, and seemingly bored right into his brain. The thing raised his other hand and lifted a lantern up to its hideous face. Rheinhold could see the flame from the lantern reflected in the eyes of the monster.
He knew that if he wasn’t able to overcome the bowel-locking fear that gripped his whole body, he would be slammed against the wall one more time, and that would be it. He had to do something, yet he knew that he had no hope of physically overtaking the huge being. He had to outsmart him. It made him tremble even harder than before, but Rheinhold knew that he had to take a better look at the beast, and see exactly what he was dealing with.
It looked to Rheinhold as if the man-beast had been underground for an extended period of time – its skin was drawn and pasty white. Its body frame was immense, with very broad shoulders and thick sinewy arms. Its hands were huge as well, he noticed as he looked toward the lantern. Thick black hair seemed to shoot out of the rags that looked to be a child’s private school uniform top, and ran all the way down his arm to the tips of his Wilt Chamberlain-sized fingers. The knuckles were enlarged, and thick yellow claw-like nails dug into his frying pan sized palm.
Rheinhold’s mind raced as he mustered up all his gall and looked into the hideous face of the beast. He relaxed momentarily as he realized that it didn’t appear to be pissed off, or insane. Instead, it looked almost bored, like it was reading an instruction manual or a textbook that contained only information that he already knew. Maybe Rheinhold had a chance after all!
As he dangled limply from the outstretched arms of the beast, Rheinhold tried desperately to free his own vapor-locked brain. He didn’t even know if the thing could talk. It looked human. Well.. sort of human. Maybe it had been underground for so long it wouldn’t be able to understand him. Maybe…
YOU WERE GOING TO ASK ME SOMETHING?
Rheinhold gasped. His eyes flew open in surprise as the voice he heard echoed between his ears. He looked down in horror, and made sure the thing’s mouth wasn’t moving. It wasn’t. The voice had come from inside his own head. He closed his eyes again, and mustered all of his courage. “Wh- Who are y-you? What d-d-do you want with me?”
Rheinhold felt the hand around his throat tighten uncomfortably, then loosen.
YOU ARE RIGHT TO FEAR ME. I AM FEAR ITSELF, SENT HERE TO RID THE WORLD OF HUMAN SIN. I HAVE ALREADY TAKEN WHAT I WANTED FROM YOU, WORM.
Rheinhold felt a trickle of warm blood start from his left ear, and ooze slowly down the side of his cheek. He felt the beast lift him even higher off of the ground, and as the bald spot on the top of his head brushed the coarse stone ceiling, he knew he was about to die. He looked down and saw the beast looking back up at him, with an evil grin on his face. Rheinhold shook in terror as he hoarsely uttered his final words in German – “Der zorn Tuefel… der zorn teufel…..”.
Rheinhold was suddenly cast downward with tremendous force. The beast laughed as he slammed the German face first onto the stone floor and heard a satisfying crackling noise as the weakling’s backbone broke in several places. A large pool of dark red blood instantly appeared beneath Rheinhold’s broken skull. He twitched one last time, then lay still.
As he stood watching the crimson lake grow, the beast mulled over Rheinhold’s last words. “Hmm.. Der zorn teufel. The Devil’s fury. Zorn…Zorn. I like that!” He lifted the lantern up as it began to sputter, and as both the lantern’s flame and Rheinhold’s life faded into darkness, Zorn walked up the tunnel, pulled himself up through the hole in the floor, and entered into the unsuspecting world of the twenty-first century.