The Skull Cauldron

After the incipient nights of necromancy, Death incarnate prowled the world like a rotting, rag-covered plague dog, dragging his corroded scythe and leaving the mark of an ever-expanding spiral originating in the terrestrial hell hole at the heart of the city cemetery.

He crept weakly, his tall, thin body nearly parallel to the ground, leaving behind him permanent night and the putrid winds of decay, and when he found his victim—a woman walking home alone, a widower rocking sadly on his porch, a child left momentarily unattended—he killed and feasted, the victim’s raw flesh granting him sufficient vitality to spread the webbed cartilage of his wings and, carrying the carcass in his talons, soar triumphantly across the moonlit sky, back to the cemetery, where his growing horde of undead minions waited, gathering around the skull cauldron.

When he landed on the soft grass, a hush fell over them and they ebbed to make way for him, who had granted them re-life and to whom they owed their soulless but thirsty allegiance. With dull but feverish eyes they watched in silence the spectacle unfold.

Skull cauldron: the once-head of a colossal beast larger and more ancient than any known to man, long ago obscured by the folds of time and now but a fantastic monument arising twenty feet into the air and measuring the same across—a gruesome relic of a time too horrible to remember, and a reminder that while revolutions may eat their children, evolution absolutely devours its bastard freaks.

Death dragged the victim’s carcass up the narrow steps he had chiseled into the cauldron’s occiput, leaving a trail of fresh blood which the minions lapped up greedily with their grey tongues, before depositing the warm meat into a cavity especially prepared for the purpose.

The carcass slid into darkness.

The grinding, crack and pop of calcified gears—

Death embraced the skull cauldron; his wings covered its immensely empty sockets.

The squish—

The hideous stench—

As its mechanisms worked, breaking down and transmogrifying the human raw material, the skull cauldron heated, and the heat caused its massive jaws to inch open, and through that opening crawled the newborn ground-meat worms that Death was sending forth to fertilize the Earth’s soil with pestilence and despair!

The fat pink worms squirmed, bubbling like intestines filled with bloody swamp water.

And the undead minions grabbed at them, shoved them greedily into their mouths, still stupidly following the feeding instinct of the living, and Death watched with amusement as the worms worked their way through the derelict bodies before escaping through some decaying hole or orifice before continuing on their journey.

Death next dismounted the skull cauldron, and with remaining vitality incanted another cohort of minions.

Their limbs burst through the ground—

Then Death rested.

He had again expanded his kingdom. The spiral grew outward, the minions increased in number, the meat worms carried their demonic blight beneath unsuspecting humanity. The process had started, and its result was irrevocable.