The Gloaming by Dark Lady


The essence of foliage ablaze on that chilly autumn evening was strong

enough to bring tears to one’s eyes. The time of day, where daylight

mingled with the darkness of night, introducing the brilliant pinks and

blues of a late autumn sky. The gloaming. The most perfect time of day

to be sure.

He only emerged at this time of the day, and this time of year. When he

felt his most comfortable. Raising his eyes to the stratosphere, the

figure cloaked in black walked alone. Fallen leaves crunched under his

boots, the only noise heard for miles around. He knew this place well,

it had become his home since the incident that had forced him to

withdraw from the life he had lived before.

Noticing smoke arising from the mountain top he paused only for a moment

before determining that this was a situation screaming for his

attention. Trespassers on his mountain was a violation that he would

soon remedy. His pace quickened, and it would seem that all of nature

bowed to his command for silence. The leaves had no sound now. No

crackling under his feet, only the eerie silence lingered heavy in the


Tishy and Jeff watched the daylight slip silently into evening. The

past few months had been grueling. They took a much needed and

deserved break, camping in the magnificent splendor of the mountains.

"Do you know what they call this time of day?" Jeff asked.

"Dusk?" Tishy offered back.

"The gloaming. And I have heard that on this mountain, at this time of

year there is a soul that walks alone. He only appears during the autumn

gloaming. Looking for souls to steal. It has been said that he is a

grotesque figure of a man. Huge, with the face of a demon. He preys on

young girls and steals their souls to supply him with youth." Jeff

sat back waiting for Tish’s reply. He loved kidding his lover like this.

She was superstitious by nature, and folk lore scared her to no end.

"Come on baby, don't do this to me. You're joking right?" Tishy curled up

closer to her young lover, taking his hand.

"Of course I'm joking, you think I'd bring you to a place that would

steal your soul? That's best left for me. Bouahahahahaha." The faux

menacing laugh coupled with Jeff holding his arms out Frankenstein

style made her giggle.

"Well, don't do it again. I hate being scared, you know that." Tish

caught the gaze of her dazzling rainbow haired sweetheart, imploring him

with her eyes to stop the teasing.

Seeing the frightened look of his little lover, Jeff’s face grew

serious. "I'm sorry babe I was just kidding. It was a scary story I

heard from the locals when I was buying our supplies. I'll stop now. You

know there is no such thing as the gloaming man." Ruffling her

blonde hair, he leaned in for a quick kiss.

"I'll be right back. I'm going to go and gather some more wood for the

fire. It's going to be a cold night and as warm as you keep me baby, a

fire will keep any animals away from our campsite." As Jeff walked

into the woods he mentally castigated himself for scaring Tish, but it

had just been a joke. Sometimes she could be so, so, baby-like. Oh

well, he thought to himself. That's what I love about her I guess.

The wide brimmed hat the huge man wore hid the icy green eyes

underneath. Those eyes were fueled by hatred and near insanity. A

protective man, he had always kept to himself.

The only job he had ever held was that of the local undertaker. He had

been run off in scandal when there was a rumor started that the bodies

of the dead were never really buried. When bodies were exhumed, those

that were residing in the grave had never been embalmed, yet they were

intact perfectly. There was no sign of decay and if cut, still bled.

Horrified cries of vampire and monster flooded the town. While it was

true that this man had superior skills that allowed the embalming

process to be disregarded, those skills were learned over the years. He

was a genius, not a monster, until now.

When Jeff arrived back at the camp they had made, his love smiled

at him. All thoughts of wild animals and monsters were long since

forgotten, because when Tish smiled at him in that way, nothing else

mattered. Dropping the brushwood on the cold ground before him,

Jeff took his young lover in his arms and led her to the tent they

had set up earlier. Tish had taken the time to sprinkle the sleeping

bags with wild rose petals and as Jeff set her gently on the floor

of the tent, he heard her sigh in contentment.

"Love me baby." Tish whimpered against Jeff's chest. Trailing a

finger over her cheek he whispered back, "It would be my


Thanking God and anyone else who would listen, Jeff was grateful

that they were out in the woods where Tishy’s loud screams would not have

been heard. Cooing and taking her into his arms once again, Jeff

whispered, "I love you baby."

"And I you." Was her reply.

The young couple fell asleep like that, neither of them noticing the

hulking shadow that was cast on the walls of their tent, shaking with

silent fury.

Turning back towards the blackness of the timberland, the Undertaker

realized that if it was the last thing he did, he would get these lovers

to leave his woods. His enraged mind bellowed at him to demand that they

take their leave now. But, he could wait. It would be better that way.

Hearing a slight snapping noise, he turned back towards the camp site.

When Jeff awoke, he looked down at his sweetheart, with a gentle

smile and a cherished memory of last night. Placing a tender kiss on

Tish’s temple, he chuckled when her response was to swat at him in

his sleep, murmuring something almost inaudible about sky diving and

Twinkies. Pulling his pants on Jeff had to wonder what on earth

she was dreaming about now. Sometimes her youthful exuberance was one of the strangest things about her. But it made her

that much sexier in Jeff's eyes.

Stepping outside and inhaling deeply, Jeff noticed that the fire he

had built had burned down to almost nonexistence. A fleeting thought

flashed through his mind. What were the chances that he could get Tish

to go and collect the wood this time? As he thought it, he realized how

laughable it really was. He was expected to be the big strong one in

this relationship and that was just fine by him. Brushing his hair back out of his eyes, he decided the morning was warm enough to go

bare chested. He just needed some shoes and an ax.

When Tish arose from her slumber, she saw a note lying next to her. She

smiled lazily when he saw that Jeff was tending to the firewood

situation. She thought for a moment about making her lover breakfast, but

figured if they needed wood, she couldn't build a fire anyway. Dropping

her head back on the soft pillow, she decided to simply stay right where

she was. Jeff would be back soon enough.

Jeff hummed as he walked. He was feeling so good, he knew this was

the perfect time to bring Tish here. When the two of them got together

and had some alone time it always...Wait....What is that?

Jeff abruptly stopped humming and felt a tingle crawl up his spine,

its icy fingers gripping his voice, rendering him mute. He started

shaking, sweat beading off of his brow. Bones everywhere. Some partial,

some full human skeletons. Few were fully decomposed and the stench of

death lingered in the air as if he were standing in a slaughterhouse.

Hanging from trees, lying on the ground, propped against rocks.

Everywhere he turned there was more carnage to be discovered. Trying to

scream out, he was quickly frustrated and turned to run. Stumbling over

rocks in his path, he felt himself fall towards the rocks and when his

jaw hit, he heard the unmistakable sound of bone breaking. In his pain

he forgot his fear and managed to cry out, "Shit!" Opening his eyes, the

same familiar paralyzing fear rushed back to him in waves when he found

himself face to face with a decaying human skull.

Tish stretched luxuriously, wondering when Jeff was going to

return. She was really starting to get hungry now and she started to pout,

wondering if Jeff was really worth all that she put up with. She

sighed when she thought that if her love was here he would tell Tish that

she was in 'One of her moods' and inform him that perhaps a Midol was in


When Tish decided to see if perhaps there was one last Snapple for her

in the cooler, she didn't bother to put any clothes on. She looked

gorgeous with or without clothes, that's what Jeff told her anyway. She bent over the cooler and fished in the icy water, her hand starting

to numb slightly as she tried in vain to locate a pink lemonade tea. Standing

up, pretty irked by this point, she turned away to go back under the

covers and not come out all day long. That would show Jeff. How

dare he not bring enough supplies? Mumbling something that sounded like,

"Jeff, piece of shit, what am I a cheap whore? The least you could

do after bringing me to this God forsaken place is to have..." The words

stopped quickly and Tish felt her breath catch in her throat. She felt

something behind her. "Jeff? Are you playing with me again?" She asked

in a timid voice.

Tishy’s scream echoed throughout the mountains. Jeff heard it and

was jolted out of his gore induced trance. Jumping to his feet and

running as fast as he could he made it to the campsite in less

than three minutes. He found his beloved Tish sitting next to the long

since dead fire, sobbing. "What happened " He asked. As soon as the

words exited his mouth, he felt the miserable throbbing of his jaw. It

was broken in at least on place maybe, more.

Tishy’s words were nonsensical and her lover gently swept her into his

arms, trying to ignore his own pain as well as fright over what he had

just seen.

"Take a deep breath baby. Hold on a second." Jeff didn't even look

as he dipped a hand into the cooler and pulled out a pink lemonade tea.

"Here baby." He cooed. "This will make you feel better. Now tell me what


Tish stared at the lemonade for a second before looking at her love.

"The gloaming man was here Jeff. He was here baby. He was huge and

evil with dark hair and dark eyes and a really big hat!"

Jeff pondered what Tish had just told him, coupled with what he had

just witnessed himself. Grabbing his jaw when the pain became too much

he said to Tish "Get your things, we're going to get the hell out of

here." He bent over and started to pack. He froze to the spot he was

standing in when he heard a voice ask, "Where are you going?

Leaving already?"

Jeff turned slowly when he heard the voice behind him. Tishy’s

horror was visible as she buried her head in her lovers neck and

whimpered softly, fearing her own demise. Stroking her hair Jeff

bravely raised his own terrified eyes to that of the dark figure half

hidden in the shadows of the golden oak trees.

"We are not intimidated by you, whoever you are." Jeff managed to

announce, horrified when Tish squeaked pitifully and sniffed. Yeah we

look courageous now, the terrified man thought. Thanks babe.

His relief was immediate when he saw the old timer from the quiet

country store he had visited earlier.

"You look as if you've seen a ghost." The old timer observed,

clutching his weathered double-barreled shotgun.

Jeff tried to pry Tish off of him and when he was successful he

smiled at the elderly man and replied, "We have to be going. It's time

to get back to work."

The man nodded knowingly, "Ya saw him, didn't you? You saw the

monster I'm trying to catch."

"I...I saw him mister." Tishy sniffed. "He was big and looked really mean

and then I screamed and he ran back into the woods." Gesturing towards

the mountain range behind them she finished with, "He was taller than

bigfoot, I swear."

Jeff informed the others of what she had witnessed in the woods

as well. He noticed the old gents eyes narrow with anger. "You saw

skulls ? And skeletons?"

When Jeff nodded in affirmation the old man bustled past them and

indicated that they should follow.

"I'm sorry to say this but I don't think it's safe for you to

leave now. I'll put you up in my cottage until the coast is clear. That

maniac will not get out alive."

Gratefully Tish and Jeff gathered up their gear and accompanied the

man to his abode.

"You stay here. Eat anything you want, make yourselves at home.

I'll be back when I can." As he left out the front door Jeff heard

the loud click of the door being locked and thanked God that this man

was here to help protect them.

“Baby, are you ok?" He asked.

Tish stood looking around the darkened room. There was no electric wired

to the cottage and the entire dwelling was covered in an inch of dust.

"Rainbow I can't see anything, don't we have some candles or anything?"

Tishy beseeched her lover.

"Don't worry baby, I'll take care of it." Jeff fumbled in his bag,

searching for the lantern he always brought with him on camping trips.

When he found it he felt relief for a moment as the illumination filled

the room.

The Undertaker sat alone near a stream. His mind was clouded with

thoughts of the boy he had seen by the mountain. A young boy who

reminded him of his assistant back in his home town. The town had

incarcerated the boy after he had fled. The only crime that the lad had

committed was loyalty to him, he would not reveal Taker's forensic

secrets or his whereabouts. His eyes narrowed to slits. That boy on the

mountain was not his lad, he was an intruder, and Taker needed to get

him off of his mountain. Throwing a pebble into the stream, Taker sat

back and watched the ripples flow throughout the water. The crystalline

waves mesmerized him, lulling him into a state of tranquility for just

a moment. A sudden searing pain ripped through his head rendering him

immobile for a moment. There was big trouble on his mountain, and he

needed to remedy the situation at once.

Jeff stiffened at what he saw when he looked around him. Staring

back at him were the heads of many animals obviously killed in the hunt.

From their perch on the walls where they had been mounted, they stared

back at him with detached disdain. Holding his throbbing jaw, he

tried to reason with himself. At least these weren't human skulls, like

he had seen on the woods. People hunted, that was ok by him. He didn't

choose to do it, but many people did and he needed to stop freaking out.

Tish wasn't quite so sure.

"Rainbow, there are dead animals heads all over the walls. This is just

scary, let's go home baby, and snuggle."

"It's ok baby, it's ok. The old coot is a hunter, that's no biggie. Just

sit here by me and we'll hold each other until he gets back."

Tish and Jeff sat grasping each other close. The feeling of having

someone near made the fright reduce just a tad. An eerie squeak

announced door being opened and Jeff and Tishy jumped apart.

As they saw the 7 foot monster in the doorway the horror was paralyzing.

He walked in slowly, his gait a bit off step as his heavy boots hit the

ground with a dull thud.

"You need to leave this place." The man in black commanded taking one

more menacing step forward. "There is evil here...." Taker never

finished his sentence as a heavy object crushed his skull. He dropped to

the ground with blood seeping from a gaping wound near his left temple.

The old timer stood behind the gloaming man, his face a mask of pure

unadulterated abhorrence. In his hands was the shotgun, the butt of

which perpetrated the assault on Taker's head.

The alleviation of fear in Jeff's heart was short lived as the old

man cocked the hammers of the shot gun with a menacing click, pointing

it at the two young lovers.

"Sit." He ordered them. Wordlessly he tied them back to back on two

chairs. Tishy grabbed Jeff’s hand behind his back trying to

desperately not to cry. Rubbing his lover's hand for comfort, Jeff

looked defiantly at the old man.

"Why are you doing this to us? We mean you no harm. Our only wish is to

leave here." He hoped he sounded braver than he felt. Looking around

Jeff finally figured it out. All of the heads on the wall were mere

trophies to this man, humans being the final and most perfect reward his

demented soul could ever desire.

"The skulls in the woods. They are all from you." Jeff said


"They are and now with yours, my collection will be complete." The old

man replied, his eyes cold and menacing. Stroking Jeff's colored hair he

finished, "I'll need to find a way to keep this hair intact after death

however. This plume will be the...."

Crawling out of a puddle of his own blood the Undertaker's retaliation

was swift and brutal. He staggered to his feet and grabbed the man by

the neck, snapping it as if it were a dried up twig. Just another

casualty of the autumn gloaming. The old man fell to the dirt floor of

the cottage, comparable to a limp rag doll.

Untying the two he managed to mumble, "Leave now and don't return."

Lunging out the door of the cabin, he was never to be seen again.


"Jeff, do you ever think about the gloaming man and what he did to

help us out?" Tish asked as she was sifting through her dried fall leaf


"I do, sometimes I feel like helping us made him feel more human, ya

know?" Jeff answered, smiling at his sweetheart.

The old timer’s death was the talk of the town for the next year. All

talk of the gloaming man had ceased, his secrets buried with the corpse

of the demented soul that had collected skulls of the unfortunate.

The Undertaker sat beside his favorite stream. It was his favorite time

of day and year. It was the autumn gloaming.