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Drako sniffed the necks of every customer as they walked by. Just as he was about to sink his teeth into an oblivious woman, a loud, slightly angry voiced roared in his ear.
“DRAKO! Get your face off of her neck! How many times do I have to tell you this: You’re not a vampire!” screeched Drako’s boss. “Now get your butt over behind the counter and start ringing up some videos!”
“Start ringing up some videos!” mimicked Drako under his breath. “Psh. Why don’t you ring up your own vidâ€””
Plop. Drako fell over, and was instantly asleep.
“Ohh, Lord Serpent, guide me during this show, so that I may walk with as much fluidity as you slither,” chanted Ophidia, as she readied herself for the Halloween costume fashion show she was modeling in. “Your presence is in me. I become you. I am the snake. I am the snake. Ohhh….”
“Hey! Almost ready?” chirped Ophidia’s assistant as she peeked in the dressing room door.
“Um, yeah! Just- just touching up my makeup!” squeaked Ophidia as she frantically grabbed a random brush and dusted powder across her face.
“Alright! So the show starts in about ten minutes, just be out there with the others in about 5, okay? See ya!”
Ophidia breathed a sigh of relief. Everyone knew of her appreciation of snakes, but no one knew that she worshipped them. It could be very damaging to her career, so she decided a long time ago that no one must ever know.
“Great show everyone!” said the host to the models backstage. “Our costumes look so much better than they did last year. My assistant will hand each of you a Halloween gift bag on your way out, so goodnight, and drive safe!
As Ophidia was about to get a bag from the assistant, a hand pulled her back.
“I’ve got a special gift for you,” said an old lady with one of the gift bags inside her hand.
“Oh, okay, thanks,” said Ophidia as she reached for the bag, but the lady would not let go.
“From my books surcease of sorrowâ€”sorrow for the lost Lenore, for the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenoreâ€”nameless here for evermore,” whispered the lady.
Ophidia looked puzzled. “What? Lenore? Who’s that? Can you please just give me the bag? I have to get going.”
The lady placed the bag in Ophidia’s palm.
“Thanks,” muttered Ophidia as she rushed to leave.
“And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, â€˜Lenore?’ This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, â€˜Lenore!’ Merely this, and nothing more.”
“Um, okay,” said Ophidia as she nervously shuffled out of the door. That was freaky, she thought, and got on the cold floor in the empty parking lot and slithered around like a snake. This ritual always helped her regain focus, because when she did this, she claimed that she could feel the Lord Serpent’s presence in her. That’s better. She got up, got in her car, started the engine, and headed for the video store.
Drako sulked as he reorganized all the movies into their proper categories by order of the alphabet. Why couldn’t people just simply put their movie back where they found it? While he was performing this tedious task, the angry, annoyed shouts of his boss rang in his ears.
This is the 36th time you’ve fallen asleep this week! No, not this month, or this year, but this WEEK! One more time Drako, one more time, and you’re gonna be out on the streets begging for a job at McDonald’s!
Drako sighed as he gathered loose videos for sorting. It’s not his fault he randomly falls asleep at odd times of the day. He can’t help it. Drako was a narcoleptic, and it seemed as if every medication was repellent to him.
He finally stuck every movie back into its designated spot and was going to go clock out for the day when he heard a crack. Oops, stepped on one. He quickly checked the cover for the title.
“Len Ore,” he read out loud. “When did we get this in? Looks interesting.” Drako turned the video case over, when suddenly, a hand was on his shoulder.
“GAHHHH!” yelled Drako.
“Eeep! Ahm, hi. Sorry about that… but I was wondering, do you guys carry any movies about… snakes?”
“Oh, you scared me,” said Drako breathlessly. “Snakes? Um, let me check… hey! Aren’t you that one model? Yeah, I just saw you on T.V. for that Halloween fashion show, or something. Ophidia, am I right? I think you were great. That first costume you wore? That was sick! And the second one? Even better. The third? AWESOME! And how about that purple one?”
Ophidia cleared her throat. “Err… snakes, please?”
“Snakes? Oh, yeah. Nope, we don’t have anything besides episodes from Animal Planet… but I do have this.”
“Len Ore?” Ophidia thought this was a very déjÃ vu moment. She knew she heard this name before, but she wasn’t sure. “Len Ore… Lenore! It’s supposed to read Lenore, isn’t it? Why are the N and O spaced out?”
Drako shrugged his shoulders.
“Well, what’s it about?”
“I don’t know. Let’s see,” Drako cleared his throat, and began to read. “Three once upon a times, at Camp Lake Milieknowre, there camped three different young ladies, each at a separation time span of 24 years. The first young lady, who went by the name of Lorraine, had an exceptional love for lizards. On the night of October 29, 1935, Lorraine could not fall asleep and decided to take a walk around the beautiful lake of Milieknowre. As she walked, the wind seemed to whisper the name, “Lenore, Lenore, Lenore, Lenore, Lenore, Lenore.” The name would be repeated for six consecutive times, stop, then six consecutive times again. Lorraine tried to block out this whisper. She ran, but could not find a way out. A woman with a thick blood-stained chain dangling around her neck appeared and chanted, “The first of my alphabet, the 5 and the 1, the first to be done, â€˜L’.” Lorraine claimed to have then spotted lizards, hundreds of them, swimming in Lake Milieknowre. Some say she jumped in the lake and the lizards killed her. Others say the woman strangled her with the chain and threw the dead body in the lake. Some say it was a mixture of both. Some say these things, but all say that the woman, using her blood-stained hand, carved into the side of the lake the name: Lorraine.”
“Wow,” whispered Ophidia and Drako in unison.
“Okay… where was I? Oh yes. â€˜Legend has it that for 24 years following the “accident”, the soul of Lorraine haunted the camp of Milieknowre. They say that her body was merged with a lizard’s, producing a half-man, half-lizard creature. Her mouth, they also said, oozed out lizard blood.
There were two victims after Lorraine, Elyse, 48 years ago in 1959, and Nora, 24 years ago, in 1983, each hearing the whispered word “Lenore” one less time than the former. Nora was haunted by Elyse, and Elyse haunted by Lorraine. All three victims suffered the same fate, as will the next three. After all, Lorraine hasn’t finished her alphabet yet.
And so legend has it that the half-man, half-spider soul of Nora, most recent victim of October 29, 1983, has been haunting the grounds of Camp Lake Milieknowre, awaiting for the next victim to arrive. Lenore’s alphabet has not been finished yet. Not quite.’”
Ophidia and Drako sat in silence.
“We have to go there. To Camp Milieknowre,” Drako declared.
“What?? We? Why?! I don’t even know you!” Ophidia exclaimed.
“Oh, come on. Don’t you want to see if this is true? Besides, tomorrow’s October 29… and if you subtract 24 from 2007….”
“…It’d be 1983. The year of Nora… oh, God.” Ophidia covered her face with her hands. “How do you know if it’s real? It’s probably just an urban legend, or an urban myth, even. In fact, I’m positive that this is all just another clever movie written by some world-famous movie writer.”
“Mmm, nope. There’s no credits on this thing anywhere,” said Drako as he examined the case.
Ophidia was silent for a while. Finally, she gave in. “Okay, okay, I’ll go,” she reluctantly said.
“Yes!” Drako scribbled down his phone number and name on a piece of paper. “Meet me here at 6:30 tomorrow morning. It might take us a while to get there. Here’s my number if you have any questions. Be here on time, okay?” Drako quickly got up and dashed for the door.
“Wait, where are you going?” Ophidia called after him.
“I need to ask the Death’s Heaven Society for directions and info about this! They have the answers to everything, don’t worry!” And he was gone.
Death’s Heaven Society? Ophidia shuddered. Why did she agree to go with him? She walked outside, too unnerved to rent a movie, got home, had herself a relaxing 30- minute slithering session, and went to bed.
They arrived just before seven, and it was already dark out. Drako looked up at a rotted sign. “Camp…Milkore…yup. This is it. Some letters have fallen off, but this is it,” he said excitedly.
They cautiously ventured in, ears open to catch every sound made. They passed many decayed trees and what looked like big lumps of rotted wood.
“I guess those were the cabins,” murmured Ophidia.
Drako nodded. They ventured deeper into the camp.
“There it is!” gasped Drako. “The lake!”
Drako and Ophidia started at the sight before them in awe. The once- beautiful lake had spilled over with weeds and other putrid pest-like plants. The nauseating stench of decay that came from the lake was overwhelming. Drako and Ophidia both began to gag.
“Smells like dead fish,” said Ophidia, as she gasped for fresh air.
“Worse. It smells like dead people.”
Ophidia began to twitch nervously.
“This is insane!” Drako exclaimed.
“You’re insane, for dragging me here,” Ophidia said anxiously, and on impulse, dropped to the ground and slithered. She gasped when she realized what she was doing.
“Th- that was just an exercise! It… it helpsâ€”” Ophidia stopped, and relief flooded over her.
Drako had fallen dead asleep.
Crunch. Crunch. She turned around. Where did that come from? A voice whispered in the air, “Lenore, Lenore, Lenore.” The name was whispered three consecutive times, stopped, and three consecutive times again. Ophidia frantically ran over to the still-asleep Drako.
“DRAKO! DRAKO!” she screeched, shaking Drako with all her might. “DRAKO! She’s coming after me! NORA’S COMING AFTER ME!!”
The hollow clank of chains sounded nearer. Then, all was still.
Ophidia held her breath and turned around. A woman’s head appeared before her, with hair as black as ebony, skin as white as a sheet of paper, and hollowed-out eyes. On her long, skinny neck dangled a thick metal chain encrusted with dried blood.
The woman shrieked a loud, blood-curdling shrill as a black substance oozed from out of her mouth. She had not two legs, but eightâ€”that of a spider’s.
Ophidia’s eyes grew wide with sheer terror. Fear set in, and she sprinted with all the energy she had deep into the woods.
Ophidia could not stop shaking. She tried to clear the terrifying picture of Nora out of her mind when she saw a silhouette in the distance. Her heart pounded.
“Ophidia?” came a familiar voice. “Ophidia, are you there?”
“Drako?” Ophidia strained her eyes to see who it was. “Drako, is that you?”
“Ophidia!” said Drako as he ran to her side. “I’ve been looking everywhere for you! What are you doing here hiding in the dark, anyways?”
“Drako! Oh my goodness, I thought you were a goner!” exclaimed Ophidia as she squeezed him tight.
“A goner? No, I just fell asleep! Oh yeah, I kinda forgot to tell you this… but I’m narcoleptic.”
“It doesn’t matter. Listen, Drako, we have to get out of here, now.”
“Why? Man, this place sucks. Nothing has happened, and we’ve been here for like what, three hours already? I guess you were right, it’s just a stupid myth. But hey, maybe if we stay longer, do you think the thing will show up?”
Ophidia’s tone got serious. “Drako, we have to go. Something has happened. I saw her.” She started shaking again. “I saw Nora. She was here. She came when you were asleep. I’m not kidding, Drako. We have toâ€”” She had no time to finish her sentence. Nora appeared on a tree behind Drako, black ooze dripping everywhere.
He spun around, and Nora sank her spider-blood infested teeth into Drako’s neck. He let out a piercing cry.
Ophidia turned and ran, sprinting past everything: the decayed trees, the rotten cabins, and finally stopped at the moldy sign at the front of the camp. She leaned against the fungus-infested pole and tried to catch her breath. From the corner of her eye she spotted a figure. Her eyes lit up. There was Drako, with his back turned to her, standing a few yards away from her.
“Drako! You’re alive! I thought for sure this time you’d be gone! Okay, we have to get out of here, fast. Nora’s alreadyâ€””
Drako turned around, and Ophidia gasped. He had no eyes, and his mouth gushed out a black liquidâ€”spider blood. “Lenore, Lenore, Lenore,” he whispered. Ophidia screamed in horror. She stumbled backwards and tripped.
“HELP!” she screeched. “Somebody help me!!!”
She pulled herself up just in time and ran. Then suddenly, before her eyes, she saw the Lord Serpent slithering around in the lake. She jumped in the lake, unable to resist the temptation. Ophidia scrambled to the Lord Serpent but, as she got closer and closer, the devilish face of Nora appeared. Ophidia cried out in horror. Nora whipped a thick chain around Ophidia’s neck.
“The fate of you is the fate of me. The fourth of her alphabet, twice of the three, two more to go, â€˜O’.”
Nora pushed Ophidia underwater, and gurgled screams could be heard. Ophidia desperately thrashed around, trying to free herself from the strangling chain. A bloody, pale white hand crawled slowly to the wall and, under three other names, carved out seven letters: O-P-H-I-D-I-A.
Then all was silent.
It was October 29, 2031. After an exciting day at the annual Rat Lovers Convention, Rebecca took a nice, relaxing walk in Milieknowre Park. She sat down on a bench and gazed out at the beautiful lake. She opened her bag, and took out a book a random old lady had given to her at the convention.
“Leno Re,” read Rebecca. “Interesting title. I wonder what it’s about.”
She opened the book and flipped to the first page.
A voice whispered in the air.