Woe to you, oh law and sea
For the Burnout one sends the beast with wrath…
It was a particularly dreary afternoon in the small town of Lightwood, Ohio. Fall was ending, and the weather started to embrace a chilly atmosphere that started to cripple everyone. Robert Freeman was a successful attorney who, after a few years in the industry, decided he was ready to build his own law firm and become his own boss. Known for his fierceness and extraordinary work-driven attitude, Robert’s firm quickly rose the ranks and became one of the most acclaimed law firms in the state.
Proud, relentless, and driven to achieve the greatest heights, Robert gained notoriety for being a complete workaholic, spending the vast majority of his time in his office. He was not keen on hiring strangers; only a few worked with him, mainly doing maintenance and providing security. It had been 3 years since he started his practice, and while his earnings were substantial, his health was starting to take a turn for the worse.
Working more than 80 hours per week and not sleeping nearly enough, Robert was starting to become increasingly irritated and frustrated with his work, employees, and life in general. It was 7:43 p.m. and as usual, nobody was in the office but Robert, whose trusty big green desk lamp was lighting his desk and endless files. His eyes had a reddish pattern, and his eyelid veins were significantly enlarged due to having been awake for days. Looking through a case file labeled “The Heavy Gavel,” – Robert had trouble focusing his sight on the small printed letters, constantly rubbing his eyes and exclaiming discomforting sounds. Pressing his hands onto his face and blocking his eyesight, he yelled in frustration. The echo traveled through the emptiness of the office, and suddenly, a penetrating silence bathed the firm, and Robert… He opened his eyes and noticed an iridescent red light coming from the hallway.<a
The Daymare Pendulum
Robert slowly walked to the hallway and noticed how the red glare started to drift away; he decided to follow the light. It took 2 turns and reached a doorway that was not familiar to Robert. He rubbed his eyes one more time and read the inscription above the door frame – “Cauldrons Sq.” – the light engulfed the hallway, blinding Robert for a bit. A heavy pounding coming from the other side of the door startled him, and he realized that the light was gone; he couldn’t see anything apart from an orange light slipping through the door knob. Absolutely certain that he was daydreaming, Robert slapped his face, but nothing happened. He just kept hearing the constant mechanical pounding coming from the other side. He reached for the knob and noticed it was very warm; he opened the door and entered the room…
It was some sort of clinical facility, clearly abandoned and in a decaying state. The continuous pounding echoed and mixed with the dripping of some broken pipes and the rattle of rodents running through the wall cracks. He turned around and tried to reach for the door, but it was gone; a concrete-darkened wall had suddenly appeared. His pulse started to gain momentum, and the first signs of fear started to manifest in his psyche. After taking a deep breath and rubbing his eyes frantically, he decided to walk towards an empty hallway where the continuous pounding noise was coming from.
Robert opened another door and entered what seemed to be a massive, dimly lit abandoned courtroom. Gazing in shock and confusion, a couple of swift running footsteps noises startled him. Shadows passed him by, and ghoulish voices started to creep into the courtroom. His heartbeat accelerated, and he decided to turn around and run, but once again, the door was gone. Frightened, he ran towards the jury’s stand, but something made him trip, and Robert fell to the floor. Hurting, he stood up and noticed a horrific scene; the courthouse was full of people, and around 100 zombified Roberts were present. Many of them were eyeless, mouthless, and earless, with disfigured bloody faces.
A soundless scream was heard coming from Robert as he tried to get away from the horrific creatures. He jumped over the small wooden door, toward the high ground in the jury’s chair, but as he landed on the other side, he inexplicably found himself strapped and tied onto the witness chair. The lights changed, and a greenish atmosphere surrounded the courthouse. With his heart almost bursting out of his chest, Robert closed his eyes with all his might and tried to wake up from this obvious nightmare… nothing happened. Suddenly, an incomprehensible monster-like voice engulfed the room; Robert turned and saw another ghoulish version of himself, in the form of a judge. The judge was addressing the court and pointing towards the real Robert in disdain. He smashed his gavel, and a huge pendulum clock materialized in front of him.
The clock kept growing and growing until it reached the ceiling of the courtroom. Robert tried to break his restraints but was unable to. He gazed in horrific awe as the judge yelled a soul-chilling scream and hit the sound block with his skullish gavel. There were no screams; there was time, and the judge had spoken… the clock started to shake and started to tilt towards Robert; it was going to inevitably fall on him. Desperate and trying with all his might to break free, Robert realized it was too late. He closed his eyes as the clock was about to crush him, and then, nothing…
A pitch-black room filled with water started to rumble, and Robert was suddenly propelled from the depths. Landing on a nearby sidewalk and hurting his left leg, Robert was desperately coughing while trying to catch his breath; unsure of what just happened, he looked around and realized he was outside of his office building. The street was desolated, covered in ashes and decay; the sky was gray-tinted and cloudless, and there was not a soul around, except for Robert.
He stood up and started to limp due to his leg injury. Unaware of where to go or what to do, Robert tried to reach out for his cell phone, but it was crushed. There were no payphones in the area, and electricity seemed to be nonexistent. Desperate to “wake up,” he closed his eyes and tried to imagine a more pleasant environment. Unluckily, his vision only showed himself in the past, rejecting people who offered him assistance or wanted to work with him. Unaware of why he was reliving those memories, Robert started walking towards the local police station, hoping to find a way out of this nightmare.
Wandering through town, Robert was starting to feel the cold slipping through his bones, the pain in his left leg growing, as well as the irritation in his eyes. Suddenly, a chariot pulled by two black horses materialized, along with its driver, an old woman with small sunglasses and a black beret. She pointed at Robert and made a head movement, suggesting he should get in; skeptical, Robert was sure it would only lead to more hellish endeavors, so he slowly backed down a few steps. The woman and the horses stood still for a moment until the woman grinned a disappointed smile and disappeared into the fog above.
The police station was only a few more blocks away, and Robert kept limping towards it. The pain in his eyes was starting to overwhelm him. He leaned onto a window glass, trying to endure the pain; suddenly, the glass shattered, and he felt cutting his right hand and his face. He screamed in agony for a few minutes until he had no choice but to try to stand up and keep going. Badly wounded, Robert slowly made his way one more block, and he was able to gaze at the police station just a couple blocks away.
Robert looked at his right hand and noticed it was bleeding. He ripped one of his sleeves, and as he was trying to bandage it, he heard a monstrous roar from afar. Looking above, he noticed a man-shaped hairy figure at the top of the police station. Robert’s eyes were not deceiving him; it was definitely a werewolf. His eyes were yellow, covered in thick black fur. The creature stood up and, with another mighty roar, spread its wings from its back, made out of bones. Swiftly descending upon Robert, who couldn’t move due to the horror and shock. The creature landed in front of him and looked at Robert with a predatorial look but did nothing. Robert was certain it was only a matter of time before the creature attacked him, but surprisingly, the creature turned around, bent over, stood on its four legs, and, spreading his wings, stood motionless.
Unsure of what to do, Robert tried to walk away from the beast, who was not moving. As soon as he passed the creature, he heard a growl and turned around; the beast was noticeably upset but still was not moving. Robert tried to walk as fast as he could toward the police station; it was now only a block away. His heart almost exploded when he saw the creature landing violently in front of him one more time. Robert wondered if the beast wanted him to climb onto his back, but being the wary person he has always been, he was sure it was a trap, and the beast probably was luring him to lower his guard and be devoured.
Once again, he walked past the beast and towards the police station. It was so close… immediately the beast roared once again, but this time, it flew away and stood at the top of a large building. Robert felt relieved as he was once again on his own. He kept limping; the pain in his hand, leg, and eyes was starting to become unbearable, but the station was just a few 39 steps away… Abruptly, a rumbling shook the earth; Robert fell down and landed on his hurt hand and leg. Screaming in agony, he quickly noticed a horrendous view; a wildfire was consuming the town.
Embers and blazes engulfed everything in their path; the rapid movement of the fire was inexplicable. At its current rate, it will reach Robert’s location in less than a minute. Horrified, he tried to crawl towards the station, but the pain wouldn’t allow him to move. Desperate, he heard another growl from the beast, and he noticed how it was looking down at him with its glowing yellow eyes. Realizing the beast was actually offering him rescue from the imminent fire, Robert fell into ultimate despair and frustration as he remembered the lady with the horses, who could have probably saved him as well. Reluctantly accepting his fate, he stared at the incoming waves of fire as they were about to reach him. Closing his bloody eyes, he braced for impact. The wall of fire reached him, and everything turned red and black…
Light Up The Night
Robert woke up in his office, covered in sweat, hyperventilating, and in shock. After a few minutes, he regained control of himself and quickly looked at his body; his leg and hand were fine, but his eyes were still burning from the inside. He stood up and went to his office bathroom and washed his face and eyes. Looking into the mirror, remembering the nightmare vividly, he realized it was time for a change.
A knock on the door was heard, and his security guard entered the room, asking if he was okay, telling Robert it was the fourth night in a row he had spent in his office and that maybe he should get some rest. Robert looked at the endless piles of paperwork in his office and, for the first time in his life, uttered the words no one would think possible… “I’m not ok. It’s time to hire more personnel, and I guess it’s time for a vacation”. The security guard smiled and turned around, closing the door, as his eyes glared in a yellow familiar light…
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