As moonlight cast haunting shadows upon the frayed edges of the journal, I could almost envision the young author, their sanity slowly unraveling, as they chronicled the sinister events that unfolded, blurring the lines between reality and nightmare in a dance of malevolent intrigue. The very act of transcribing their experiences onto paper appeared to invoke an ancient evil, one that lingered between the lines, eager to claw its way into our realm once more…

A ninth entry awaits…


A Stray Souls Story

Journal Entry #9 - ``A Dark Ritual``

Undated, 2002

I have to get this all down on paper; nothing else seems to work. The malevolence that haunted my previous apartment has somehow followed me here, and I can’t endure it any longer. Regardless of my past, I’m only human, and I can’t allow this torment to persist.

Once upon a time, I was devoted to the tenets of the Society. I knew nothing beyond its beliefs and considered anyone outside it either misguided or simply wrong. I even pitied those not “on the right side.”

My entire education centered around the Society’s doctrines, closely monitored by the Inner Circle. Let me explain: Aspen Falls and the Society of Unified Silence operated more like a religious military than a conventional church. Every facet of life, both within the faith and the town, was controlled by the Inner Circle, who served as the City Council and ministers of the faith.

Daily existence followed a hierarchy that was subtly woven into every aspect but remained inconspicuous to outsiders. There were Primaries who answered to Leaders, who, in turn, reported to specific Inner Circle members. Duties were assigned based on family lineage, and one’s responsibilities remained within their family’s domain.

In my case, I belonged to the Mason bloodline, tasked with upholding the town’s physical infrastructure. Mason family members worked jobs like construction and plumbing, real blue-collar work according to the outside world.

Within each family, a structured system prevailed where older siblings supervised younger ones, helping with their duties and education. The chain extended upwards until a Primary, typically the eldest 17-year-old in the family, took charge.

I held the position of a Primary. I’d grown up knowing this role and its responsibilities would eventually become mine, and I prepared for it every day of my life. I executed my daily tasks ruthlessly and adhered to the “law” with unwavering precision. This meant I became quite adept at getting other kids in trouble and even better at silencing those who dared question our faith.

All of this changed when a new kid was transferred to my group. He’d been causing disruptions, and someone high up decided that he deserved punishment, which translated to being sent to my group. By the end of his first day, I couldn’t help but wonder if the punishment was intended for him or for me.

To clarify, he hailed from the Davidson group, sitting atop the Aspen Falls hierarchy with more privileged lives than the rest of us. My family line, on the other hand, occupied the lowest rung, living lives reflecting our position – grueling, sun-up to sundown work.

But the significance of his addition to our group became clear as I began to see past his rebellious facade. He was a gentle soul, hiding his true feelings behind a veneer of defiance. He despised the Society and, more intensely, the Inner Circle. He pointed out inconsistencies in their message, which even made me begin to doubt my faith.

Then came “the day.” A short while before each Primary’s birthday, we gathered for our ascension. It marked our transition into the “adult” tiers of the town hierarchy. The ceremony’s details were shrouded in secrecy, and on “that day,” I discovered why.

Individually, all the Primaries were led into an office at the Town Hall building. I was extraordinarily nervous, watching others disappear through a door, unable to warn us waiting in line.

Finally, my turn came. I entered the room, seeing two more doors. One led to a staircase going down. A Leader, familiar from the Gillespie group, stood by the staircase, motioning for me to proceed. So, I descended the stairs.

At the bottom, another door led to a massive chamber. The Inner Circle members gathered around a stone altar. When they saw me, they spread out.

It took me a moment to grasp what was happening. Someone was bound to the altar, and it was none other than the kid – the one who’d been transferred to my group a few months prior.

Realization hit me like a tidal wave, and I knew what was coming even before the chanting started.

“A life without faith is no life at all…”

“We offer this sacrifice to affirm our faith…”

As the chants grew louder, I felt my stomach churn, but I couldn’t let it show. Then, an eerie sensation took over. It was as if I had been gently pushed aside from the driver’s seat of my own body.

I watched myself approach the altar, powerless to stop. The chants faded into the distance as I reached the altar and looked down at the terrified boy. He recognized me, and his eyes widened, but I was no longer in control, and I couldn’t offer him any comfort.

A knife lay beside his head, and I saw my hand reach for it. The kid started struggling against his restraints as I raised the knife in front of him.

Then, a profound silence fell over me, and within that silence, I heard a voice.

“Do it now…”

The knife descended. Blood flowed. I blacked out.

When I regained consciousness, I was in my own bed at home. My parents’ hushed voices drifted up from downstairs. I couldn’t catch everything, but some phrases reached me.

“…this hasn’t happened before!”

“…we’ll have to take him to Judith…”

Quietly, I slipped out of bed, avoiding the creaky spots on my bedroom floor. I grabbed as many clothes as I could stuff into my backpack, along with a few personal items and my secret savings stash. I crawled out of my window and descended through the storm drain.

I knew I’d have to traverse Waukeega Forest on foot to reach the nearest town with a bus station, but I didn’t care. I just needed to run as far away as possible. The thought of “seeing Judith” terrified me.

I tried to make sense of what had occurred. I assumed that all the other Primaries had made their sacrifices, and I was the odd one who fainted during the “ceremony.”

I reached the bus station, purchasing a ticket southward. I hopped off the bus occasionally to change destinations, always heading south. Gradually, my desperation subsided, so I disembarked from the last bus, and…

Well, the rest of my journey, I’ve already recorded.

I hope this explanation helps. It’s somewhat of a confession to a terrible crime, but I swear I had no control over my actions. Knowing what I’ve done breaks my heart.

Seeing that kid there… it only confirmed the legitimacy of all the questions he had. It was a grim validation of his suspicions and the end of his rebellious acts.


That’s all for today! Thanks for joining us for an inside peek at Stray Souls!

As always, if you have any content to share or questions for the team, please feel free to reach out. You can stay in touch with me and the rest of the Versus Evil team by joining our Discord and following us on our various social media channels.

~ VS | Renee
Stray Souls Community Manager