Pins and Needles

The figure strode through the deserted streets, barely flinching as icy rain pounded against her long black robes. The hood shrouded her face in shadows, an ominous mask of darkness over her face. Terrified faces peered hesitantly out of their windows, but she wasn’t here for them. It was the day of a significant ritual in her group, the initiation of a new member into the clan. She stormed down to the beach, the sea churning and gurgling malevolently, waves crashing against the platform as she ascended to the pier. A small, battered hut stood mysteriously at the end of the wooden platform.

Years and years ago, she had been part of the revolution against the demons controlling their land. Soon, everyone forgot, and rumours were spread, stories twisted. She was now the demon, a gruesome murderer, with insane ideas about the past, and leader of a sinister cult that met up on the secluded pier leading out from the beach.

She removed her cloak as she stepped inside, and pulled the hood further over her scarred, worn features. She smiled at the circle of eight other cloaked figures, each with a badge sewn over their robe, but one. She gestured to him calmly, but she could sense the young man’s fear as he stepped forward. She handed him a pin.

It was engraved with intricate designs, surrounding some jagged runes, cut harshly into the metal spike. The man knew what they meant. Once you had been initiated there was no turning back. The table before him had a wooden sculpture placed on top. A demon, painted with jagged teeth, vicious claws, and a hideous smile. It had eight pins protruding out of it, one of them her own. The man lifted his and brought it down on the wood, whispering the words, “Demons shall perish…”

Underneath her hood, she smiled. Then, she turned swiftly, and left, without a word.

A young boy was selling newspapers the next day. A photograph was printed on the front page of a man lying dead on the ground. She thought nothing of it until she looked closer and realised that he was the same young man who had just yesterday been initiated to the clan. He was lying face down in a pool of blood, a pin through his heart.

She strode out onto the sand, swallowing her fear. Stepping onto the platform once again, she noticed a figure drifting in the water. Another colleague of hers, face down in the waves, her pin embedded in her back. A loss of two members was… unusual at this time. The demons had been abolished for years, and only when there were complications in their spells and rituals had a member been killed. She approached the battered hut and knocked rapidly on the door. It opened. The circle of members awaited her once again, but this time two were missing, their places in the circle stood empty.

It was the ritual of the full moon, to be performed at midnight. She gestured, and the other cloaked figures began slowly pacing around the carved demon. Each stopped when they reached her place in the circle, and started singing a strange, distorted melody to chase away the malicious energy lingering in the moonlight. Each then took a pair of black gloves, slid them onto their hands, and placed a hemlock leaf behind the statue.

The leader’s words were like a shard of glass, and the room went silent. “Demons shall perish.”

When she came the next day, she arrived to a horrific sight. Five bodies hung from the rafters, suspended like gruesome puppets, each with a slit in their throat… and a pin through their heart.

Panic pounded through her veins as she turned and glanced around at the room, eyes wild. The statue was gone for its place on the table, leaving only dust and cobwebs behind. Something stirred in the darkness.

A strange distorted figure stepped into the light and she bit back a scream. It looked strangely humanoid, with gruesome scars and puncture marks across its body. As soon as she saw the pin in its vicious grasp, she knew what would happen before it did.

The creature whispered, “Pins and needles…” and stabbed her through the heart.

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