PANDORA IS PRESENT by GK Murphy
Jacob Rosebud had never taken to booze due to its effect on his personality, his interaction with others, and his everyday social life. Alcohol proved an odd beast and often served to change him, some might have said for the worse, much to the 21-year-old’s detriment every time he sampled the damned stuff.
On this night in November 2017, Halloween was spent and all that was left in terms of celebration was Christmas, and his birthday in January.
More alcohol—such shindigs demanded it!
He reflected on the evening as he took the short detour through Blast Gates Graveyard on the east side of town, making his way home through the darkness, drunkenly, feeling like he was going to retch. It was what might be one particularly tumultuous journey home after a night on the tiles.
Blast Gates had a reputation. Yes—people were dying to get in here!
It had a history of haunting. Well, what place of burial didn’t have such a reputation?
It was “dead centre” of town.
In Jacob’s mind, as well as for anybody reading into his thoughts, the jokes seemed to worsen!
There was more…
No, not now, (cut the humour crap) not at all—places like these here consecrated grounds were highly solemn and deserved more respect. You didn’t want to distress any wayward spirit or phantom of the woods lurking hereabouts. Lurking, yes, in these darkened enclaves and hollows in and around the barely-visited Blast Gates, at least two to three miles away from the council estate in West Cumbria (in the North of England, no less) where Jacob lived with his parents. Man, why didn’t you just take the road and go along the Main Street, and why did you have to be lazy and cut across the fields just to save ten minutes…and also—dummy—why did you do it in the frigging dark, at 2am in the morning, with a skin-full of beer and Jack Daniels?
Halfway across the site, he recalled an old story about this place.
Apparently, it was once a druid place of black celebration and sacrifice, and the hill it sat atop once ran with the blood of murdered, mutilated virgins and innocent children butchered as an offering to the druids’ futile lords in the heavens.
The North had a curious history. Cumbria and The Lake District was considered by many to be a Black Magic and Satanist hotspot. This proved the most opportune subject matter to explore, locally and nationally, as acquainted by many a foreign tourist as well, or for those of us who liked to share topics regarding witchcraft and bloodshed.
He paused on top of a burial plot and his eyes widened. He was not alone here. There was a presence nearby, silent yet inexorably there, however invisible.
Dumbly, Jacob looked down and, in his torment, sighed, slurring, “I’m sorry for this. I know I’m trespassing and that doesn’t bode well with all you dead guys…but it’s late and I need to get home, if anything to use the toilet!”
Jacob chuckled at his derisive sense of acidic humour.
A voice, perhaps a few yards away, seemed to whisper, “…No bother, son.”
Eyes widening further, Jacob felt himself shivering like a shitting dog as he scanned the vicinity. His eyes searched every nook and cranny nervously for the slightest movement… an emerging monster (the ghost of a disturbed druid, perhaps), maybe a prowler or pervert, a fellow drunk perhaps…a hobo or homeless person, perhaps—some cold inebriated tramp looking to rest his head somewhere quiet for the night.
“I know you’re there, Pandora!” Jacob screeched like an adolescent, spooked girl, like in a scene from a movie.
Everybody in this vicinity knew Blast Gates was haunted by the spirit of a prostitute named Pandora Riley, who years ago brought her clients here and seduced them, before she sacrificed them horribly. She mutilated her male clients and then devoured their flesh. The lady was young when she died—twenty-three perhaps—yet many would have sworn that youthful, flame-haired and pretty Pandora had a much older head on her shoulders. In the daylight hours, from week to week, Ms Riley travelled the lengths of the country to appear in porno shoots and nude fashion modelling, and yes, was quite a beauty to behold, with a bubbly personality to match—which only served to make her case more sad and unfortunate.
A voice from the dark, a male voice, whispered, “Pandora has been waiting for you. She has wonders to show you. She has places to take you. All you do is pay ten pounds and she’s your slave…she’ll do anything for ten pounds!”
Stock-still and close to tears, Jacob stammered, “First thing I’m going to do is call the cops on this…you don’t scare me. Show yourself like a real man and we’ll sort it out with our fists, one on one…or are you a coward?”
The spiritually gruff voice croaked from the escalating, and claustrophobic, atmosphere, “…The planet is a ruinous blackened pit due to mankind’s fighting and violence and you are a product of such an environment. Our little Pandora will sort you out…Pandora will tackle your sense of violence WITH MORE VIOLENCE!”
Mocking and cocky now, Jacob forced a laugh, “I know about Pandora the Cannibal…she’s a diseased whore and a slut, and a killer that met her end in similar fashion!”
Pandora Riley was buried somewhere in Blast Gates Graveyard, in an unmarked plot. She had always been the town’s biggest source of shame, an ugly figure of disgust—despite her beauty and elegant grace, this girl “turned bad”.
“…I’m here, Jacob…behind you!”
Jacob yelped and spun around, feeling the cold palm rest on his right shoulder.
The ghost of Pandora Riley was a vision to behold. She reared her brightly-colourful, plasma-enhanced flank off the ground, above the head of her prey, so that her ghost hovered above the crooked lines of tombs flanked by tall pines, and the unkempt, scruffy plots. The phantom swam and shimmered in its lacy neon trills.
Jacob was enchanted and bedazzled by Pandora’s luscious flowing red locks and pale skin, yet most of all, the glacier-blue eyes that glowed like jewels in a crown fit for King or Queen, set in a pure white marble face. It was sheer, glowing majesty, which incited sharp, icy shivers along his spinal-cord, yet also filled him with a deep sense of desire and sexual longing.
None of this would be happening if he had not trespassed on these consecrated grounds and disturbed those at rest.
“I’m sorry, Pandora…” Jacob stuttered, and laughed weakly, “…you’re not going to eat me, are you?”
There was a brief pause. He smiled as he recognized something cheeky in her expression.
Pandora’s lips curled. “Which part of you would you like me to eat first, Jacob?”
“You know my name?”
“I like your name, Jacob. I know it like you know mine. Oh, nothing is secret around here. And yet…there are so many secrets.” Seriously she continued, “All you men are the same. You use women as sex objects and things to abuse. I ate you men because you damned well deserved it, all of you, yummy yum…I ask—will you ever know how those pigs treated me in those movie-studios in London and Manchester, when they used me, when they abused me…” There was a brief pause as her eyes widened and she scowled, “…Revenge against so many of my enemies and foes was very sweet!”
Jacob said, “But I’m not like that. I mean you no harm. I just need to go home…I desperately need to piss!”
Her tone softened and so did her marble mask. “But you’re going to stay here with me and all my friends. Take a look around.”
Dumbly, Jacob looked around. He said, “I see nobody, just you.”
As the graveyard started to come to life, Jacob began to weep and moan as he recognised his fate would be a grisly one. Also, to his dismay and horror, he realised there was no way of backing out of this dead-end situation. He wanted to beg for mercy and for Pandora to take his measly uneventful existence, rather than just waste him—and devour his flesh—like all those other poor bastards she lured here in the dark dead of night, butchering them in the cold chill.
The shimmering phantoms, one by one, two by two, emerged from the plots, ghostly likenesses of how they once looked as mortals, some young, some old. They were bright like white or colourful neon as they slithered free of their confines underground and gradually ascended above Jacob’s head.
Soon, Blast Gates was crowded by swirling, darting ghosts. Pandora smiled gently.
Bowing his head, Jacob muttered, “I’ve seen enough. Take me and be on your way. I guess it’s my destiny to join you here, like so many others before me—like those present here now. I’m no better than them…do your worse, Pandora!”
Suddenly, as if prompted by his words, a gust of ice cold wind almost lifted Jacob off his feet. Blinded by the glow of Pandora’s advancing spirit, he gasped when her face was against his face—face to face, snouts an inch apart and nearly touching.
Pandora entered Jacob and started to devour the innards of his body morsel by morsel.
All around, the graveyard was swirling neon, mere ghostly onlookers.