Monday, October 6, 2014

Shroudeater

Buried beneath gravely earth
That lay within twilight shadow
Cast by fearfully bewitched crag,
Gustav Schrat failed to find true rest.
Cursed by memories of dark deeds,
Stirred by dread desires unfulfilled,
Roused from death's eternal slumber
By elder powers strong and fell,
Grim wretch rose from untended grave
To trouble kith and kin once more.

As hag-wrought tempest blasted peak
And thunder summoned ancient gods,
Schrat squirmed restlessly in pine box.
Foul corpse opened worm-eaten eyes
Glimmering faintly with embers
Of preternatural malice.
Mouldy mouth consumed winding shroud,
Bloody fingers clawed rocky ground,
Morbidly stiff body dug free
From its musty sepulchral bed.

While grey wolves sang in alpine glen
And black hounds bayed at waning moon
That peered through dying storm cloud veil,
Schrat sought unwholesome nourishment
Drawn from remains of fellow dead
Clawed from neighbouring tumuli.
With beastly hunger barely slaked
By rotting flesh and clotted gore,
Revenant turned smouldering orbs
Toward dwellings of fresher prey.

Endowed with otherworldly traits
Of diabolic sorcery,
Schrat slipped into deep midnight murk
Under guise of lecherous dog,
Upon the wing of death's head moth,
In the likeness of mountain vole.
With loathsome reality cloaked
Fiend roamed high mead and valley vill
To bother beast and man alike
And satisfy sinister thirst.

Trembling peasant barred cottage door
'Gainst devilishly lethal night
While malignant mind spread madness,
Putrescent breath spread pestilence,
Undead wandering spread slow death.
Demon ravaged grieving widow,
Savaged cattle secured in byre,
Stalked darkly haunted countryside
Biting, gnawing, maiming, killing,
Craving ever more pulsing blood.

As monster roved evening pasture,
Lost flocks wandered unprotected.
As unclean thing assailed parish,
Frightened villeins emptied village.
Few doughty souls remained behind
To become food in Schrat's fell feast,
But lone cotter solemnly vowed
To end region's nightly terror.
Armed with holy charm and strong spade
He approached desecrated ground.

Amongst chewed bones of exhumed dead,
Entwined in gnawed burial cloths,
Schrat reclined within open grave.
Dawn's break petrified bloodless limbs,
Quelled infernal diablerie,
But could not curb demonic will.
Voices cried sacrilegious words
Invoking scenes of damnation,
But sudden blow from steel-clad spade
Silenced Hell's terrible chorus.

As sunlight gilded eastern alps,
Man bound menace in hempen cords
Strengthened with rustic spell and prayer.
Brave hero dragged bloated body
Onto deserted central green.
Flint and steel struck lit dry tinder
Igniting purifying blaze.
Monstrous cadaver cursed and screamed
‘Til flames reduced it to mere ash
Blowing in slightest morning breeze.

(Originally published in Hungur, Issue 10, Walpurgisnacht 2010. Also published in Thirsty Are the Damned: A True Vampire Anthology, December 2011, and Night to Dawn 25, April 2014 Issue, February 2014.)

Poem copyright © 2010 Richard H. Fay

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