Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and 80’s Italian Cannibal Movies
Poorly written by me.
On the Origins of the Balba
There are quite a few things in the world that are still a mystery to us. I have explored the depths of this world the best way I know how. I have moved enormous amounts of earth in order to peer down in its darkened heart in hopes of finding riches. I’m afraid that what we found, no man or god can explain. Whether or not it’s your god or my god is irrelevant at this point. Evil dwells within the hearts of all of us therefore it should be easily applied so that evil lives within everything. Our earth is no different and I have gained proof of this. Within the confines of our world lives evil in its purest form—the Balba.
Call them monsters, demons or creatures, it doesn’t matter. What we released upon the world is unspeakable and I’m afraid the evil will continue to spread. The local villages call them the Balba. I’m not quite sure what the word means. For the little that I know of their language, Balba is not a common word. Perhaps it’s one of their old words, a word not spoken for many centuries and only brought to the present through old texts. The Balba are small deep underground creatures who bury themselves inside their prey, controlling them like puppets. As I peered deeper down into the pits of the world, I found out there were a lot more than just those scrawny creatures down there.
I first stumbled upon them from a business partner of mine named Tomas Athens. Tomas asked me if I could help oversee his mining expedition on a remote island. You could say that I was a little surprised by the notion of diamonds being mined from an island. Everything that I learned about the trade told me that mining on an island was impossible. Tomas assured me that we would bring back riches, the likes which the world has never seen. Being that I had studied with him as an intern in my early career and benefited, this could prove to be very fruitful for my career, so I accepted. However, I would have to postpone my travels for a week in order to get my affairs in order. Tomas agreed to travel ahead and secure the dig site.
Two days before I was to depart, I received a phone call from him. The call was short and his voice seemed to drift as if his mind wasn’t fully there. Traveling to the same island proved the right thing to do but I would be lying when attempting to call his satellite phone proved discouraging when there was no answer. But I fear that even though I was only six days after him on his arrival, there were no signs of him at the village. Venturing into his hut yielded a few artifacts from the dig site and most importantly his journal. From his pages, I am including all Information that I could piece together pertaining to his trials on the island.
He and his crew arrived to the island just after the peak of storm season. They brought minimal equipment for the dig but the natives were still restless seeing all the foreign machinery. Attempts to hire the local labor proved difficult as many of the natives wouldn’t go anywhere near the dig site. The area chosen was an ancient burial ground that only the ritual men dared to venture. The few natives that were recruited for their services only did so after being richly compensated.
He struck first ground the following day. Digging inside a plot of tribal burial land, one begins to think that nothing they find could be of financial value unless it’s diamonds or gold. The first several hours, the men moved the leftover human remains that the villagers had dumped. Once the land was clear enough, his men began to set up the drill. Around mid-day, the drill was fully operational and turned on. They were about fifteen feet down when the drill became stuck. As is customary, the chief digger was lowered into the hole to see what the issue was. The chief digger never made it out of the hole, for as soon as he was down there, the drill powered itself on and he was crushed when his lowering rope wrapped about the drill. It was a very peculiar series of events since not a single man was at the drill controls when this happened. Tomas concluded at first that it was just a tragic accident and out of respect for the recently dead, stopped work for the day.
The next day, the hired locals refused to go to work. Tomas offered them more compensation but not even the allure of gold or fresh food would get them to budge. Work began later than usual. The typical bright island sun could not be seen that day as gray clouds covered the sky. There was no way one could confuse day for night but Tomas said on that day, it could be forgiven, for even he had trouble seeing without the aid of his flashlight. The villagers dubbed days like this as the dark days. The village spent all day in their homes for fear of what lies within the dark. To spend the day working without the sun at his back was to be a glorious work day for all of Tomas’s crew.
Tomas and his crew, without any of the village workers, set out around eight in the morning to the dig site. Had Tomas known that the dig site might have been a target for mischievous deeds, he would have left a guard. For when the crew reached the dig site, the grounds were littered with the remains of the dead. Strewn across the site were skeletons erected in strange effigies. The effigies were made out of both human and animal bones. They were fashioned into a grotesque image of man-animals and laid out in a circular pattern on the ground. Inside the circle laid the skeletal remains of all the village babies that had died in the past.
To say that Tomas was disturbed would be a vast understatement. This display of the grotesque caused many of his own crew to abandon him. Their reasoning is just and Tomas held no ill will towards them. As the second day came to an end, the natives went about preparing for a festival to honor the island gods.
The events that have transpired over the last two days have made the villagers scared. This is their home and Tomas is surprised they haven’t tried to push him out. Tomas’s notes concerning the festival were mostly erratic in nature and I will do my best to decipher them. The women and the children were the ones responsible for setting up the food and decorations. A triangular tepee structure was set up in the center of the village. Men of the village enter the tepee to pray or chant. The festival was different than what would be suspected of their culture. For instance, once the sun sets, the village becomes quiet as most retire to their huts. There is zero to little activity once the sun sets. So to see the village alive and rowdy at night is a strange sight to see.
The men dance around in animal costumes during the festival. Tomas is worried about the similarity between their costumes and the made up effigies that were at the dig site the previous day. Their speech and chanting made no sense to him but he’s quick to realize that the festival was not for celebration but for warding off the demons of the island; a festival that had not been performed for centuries.
Most of the festivities of the natives during this time weren’t well documented. Tomas seemed very interested in a pregnant native girl named Malah. The young woman appeared to be the centerpiece of the ritual. She was adorned in many furs and animal bones and placed in the middle of the bonfire. Her belly exposed, the native women wrote symbols on it with a paste that is made from a local fruit. As she stood in the center, the natives danced and chanted around her. Thirty minutes into the ritual, the chanting and whooping slowed down. The men, no longer circling her, had now formed a path that led her into the forest. Malah then proceeded to walk into the dark. Tomas was in a state of shock and found himself running into the forest after her. Tomas followed her and found himself at the dig site. Spinning around, looking frantically, Tomas was stumped as to her whereabouts. A scream then echoed as Tomas began to see yellow eyes. The eyes appeared all around him. Animal-like, sharp eyes pierced through the dark and into Tomas. Doing what any sane man would have done, Tomas turned and ran back to the village.
Tomas slept very little. The yellow eyes that dotted the burial ground followed him into his own dreams that night. The tossing and turning made deep sleep near impossible.
The next morning, a commotion outside made him step out from his tent. The villagers were lined in rows and chanting the same chant they did the night before. The pregnant village girl Malah emerged from the forest path. The clothes she wore were bloodstained. She looked disoriented. Her pregnant stomach was now double in size. She walked like she had no idea where she was walking to. The chanting of the villagers stopped and Malah let out a blood curdling scream.
Tomas attempted to talk to the girl later that day. She stayed inside the main village tent with the medicine men calmly and quietly performing a ritual on her. It was when they broke for food that he took his chance to escape into the tent. What he saw, I am sure, is what caused him to do the things that he did.
The girl sat behind the flames of a roaring fire. Her hair and clothes drenched in sweat. Her once beautiful eyes were now hazed over. Tomas walked cautiously over towards her. She didn’t even seem to notice him there. At the sound of his first words, she leapt towards him. He struggled to pull away but only found that she fell with him. Now struggling against his will with the girl clawing at his face, he did the only thing any sane man would have done. Using the weight of his own body, he managed to roll her into the fire pit.
The screams she made sounded other worldly. The metal pole, used to hold meat above the fire, kept her impaled in place. The fire spread rapidly around her body. Her face, or what was left of her human face, died at that moment. All that was left now was a husk of a woman. It was at this time that Tomas saw the creature within her stomach. It tried to wiggle out from her skin, which was beginning to burn rapidly now. It hissed and screamed at Tomas but continued to try and pull itself out. He took from the fire pit, a giant round stone and hit the creature with it repeatedly. It let out one final roar before finally succumbing to the blows. The fire quickly engulfed the creature as well as the girl.
There would be no more journal entries from Tomas after that morning. It would have been another two days until I would arrive to the island had I not bribed a local flier to take me a day early.
When I arrived to the small village all the locals had left or had drifted into the surrounding villages. I made my way through the huts looking for some signs that Tomas was there. The debris scattered on the ground told me that the villagers left in a hurry. Food bowls lay uneaten inside some huts and fires were still smoldering from the night before.
I came across a hut that looked to be a temporary domicile. This must have been for Tomas. Upon entering the hut, I noticed all of Tomas’s belongings were still there. His satchel of clothes lay across an unmade bed. He must have been packing up his belongings and been interrupted. Or perhaps there was a struggle. The rest of his hut was in shambles. A fight must have occurred. His journal, the one I recounted earlier, was on the ground partially ripped.
The next stop I would try was the dig site. The path into the forest that lead to the dig site was narrow. It was while walking down the path that I came across the first pair of bodies.
The bodies lay still on the dirt path. The hole in their stomachs showed that something had torn itself free from the inside out. I adverted my gaze and continued my trek towards the dig site. I would be lying if I didn’t fear the worst for my business partner.
Dark Tunnel and the Things Inside
The horror of what I saw next still haunts me to this day. As I rounded the dark recesses of the path into the dig site, I tripped over an unseen obstacle. The jolt of the stumble caused me to displace my senses momentarily.
I landed face first into the body cavity of a villager. This time it was a woman. As I wiped the blood off my face, I noticed that I had stumbled across a different body than the one before. My gaze drifted upwards into the open field of the site. Dozens of bodies littered the ground. All of them suffered from the same torn out stomach. A few of the bodies were partially pulled down into the ground as if something was pulling them down into the cold brown dirt. The horror of the image of the dig site would drive the sanest man crazy if he had to relive it in his dreams every night.
I’m not sure what motivated me to go inside the tunnel. The mound that held the outline of the tunnel was freshly upturned. It was as if Hell had pushed itself up and out onto the surface. I took one step into the crevice and the smells of the fresh earth faded away. The smell of the undisturbed bodies filled my nostrils. Vines and roots hung from the ceiling, hitting my face as I made my way deeper into the ground.
The darkness filled every point of the tunnel. I pulled out a flashlight and hand revolver from the bag I had around my waist. Having never used my gun for anything other than target practice, equipping it nonetheless quells my nerves.
I continued to walk further into the tunnel. Time passed slowly. A solid half hour into the tunnel, I began to feel the walls close in tighter. The slight sound of feet shuffling echoed from further down. The end point of my trek down into the belly of the earth came to a close as I found Tomas. He laid sprawled out face down on the tunnel floor. His clothes were in shreds. A pool of blood sat beneath him. Tomas was dead.
I approached him ever so cautiously. He clenched in his hands a revolver. I leaned down and grabbed the gun from the stiff hands of my friend. It was empty, he had fired every round and the shell casings littered the tunnel floor. I sat down beside him not knowing what to do with his body. Whatever caused the deaths of Tomas and these villagers sent a shiver down my spine.
As I continued to sit beside my fallen friend and contemplate what options I had left, Tomas’s hand grabbed for me. His bloody corpse hand grabbed my shirt and pulled me closer to his face. I dropped the flashlight. The beam of light illuminated the last piece of the tunnel and rolled back pointing at Tomas and I. Tomas, or what was left of Tomas, was now biting towards me. His teeth trying to rip the very flesh from my bones. I knew I shouldn’t have made a sound but it caught me by surprise. I screamed.
It was then when the sound of movement made itself known. Where the light had shined momentarily, a pair of yellow eyes opened up and looked directly at me. Their gaze pierced the dark as their expression went from inquisitive to hateful in a moment. To my shock, it wasn’t alone. More and more eyes began to open. The back end of the tunnel harbored not only the reanimated corpse of my business partner but also hundreds of these vile creatures.
I readied my handgun and fired a round into Tomas. The ear shattering sound of the gun caused my ears to instantly ring. The bullet caught Tomas in the shoulder. It had no effect on him and he continued to claw himself up my legs towards my throat. He continued to bite the air mere inches from my body. No matter how far I tried to scoot myself backwards, his cold body came with me.
As I attempted to drag myself away, Tomas’s body split in half, his upper body fighting ferociously with me as his lower half stayed still. His spinal cord produced a mind numbing scraping sound as it dragged across the floor of the tunnel. With one last kick, Tomas’s upper half rolled violently to the other side. Perched against the tunnel wall, his intestines slowly unraveled and spilled to the ground. This did not stop him as he tried to desperately crawl towards me.
Those beastly yellow eyes in the dark still fixated on me. They moved closer and the creatures snarled nastily at me. The snarl sound riled up even more creatures as they began to move even closer to me at a rapid rate. I took the flashlight from the ground and fired one round into the dark. I believe this did nothing but angered the creatures as they came barreling towards me.
The thirty minutes it took to traverse the underground tunnel was cut to just above ten minutes running back. The footstep sounds of those creatures were still just behind me. I felt the claws of those creatures swiping at my back the whole time. But still I continued to run as if the Devil himself was right behind me. In a sense, I still believe this was the case.
The tunnel darkness began to give way to more and more light the closer I came to breaching back onto the surface. The soft moans of Tomas were replaced with the snarls of those vile creatures. The end of the tunnel was near. The blinding light made a harsh straight line. One of the creatures leapt from the side of the tunnel and onto my back. Its claws digging into my shoulders and back. I pierced into the light and made it to the surface.
The others creatures stopped at the foot of the tunnel, too scared of the sunlight to follow me any further. The creature that had latched onto me continued to claw. It maneuvered me onto my back and slashed violently at my stomach. To my horror, the vile thing was trying bury itself into my flesh! I held onto its dark scaled skin, trying my hardest to not let it advance any further into my stomach. With a sudden burst of flames, the creature combusted and shrieked in pain. It fell to the ground and let out one final convulsion before it finally stopped, its body still burning.
The shriek it let out must have alerted the very demons in hell. The dead bodies in the dig site began to move. With a slight twitch here and there, fingers began to move. The partially buried corpses started tearing back onto the surface. The dry jungle heat caused their flesh to harden on their bodies. The one closest to me reached its hands towards me. A piece of its flesh slid down its face and hit the ground below him. In unison, the dead stood up and started to move towards me, their arms outstretched to get a taste of my flesh!
I ran back down the path to the village. The moans from the dead were coming right for me. They were slow. They moved no faster than a shuffle but with so many it sounded as if they were right behind me. Their feet shuffled and kicked up dust as they shambled down the path after me. I took refuge in the main work shed.
The few bare boards that were left over from building the drill platform were nailed to the front door. There were, however, two entrances. I made a make-shift barricade in the form of table propped against the door with the end buried into the ground. This would not hold for long but I hoped that it would at least survive the night. The number of dead numbered at least a dozen and I am unsure how strong they can be. If they attacked the work shed together, they could easily overcome the strength of the doors. Night fall would be in a few hours. I had to come up with a different plan before those creatures would be able to roam the village unchecked.
Assault on the Work Shed
The options I had at my disposal for defense were limited. I had, at my side, the handgun which I brought along with me on the trip. If only I had been smart enough to bring the extra ammo box. Bullets have proved useless with Tomas but perhaps a well place shot will stop them. The rest of the work shed consisted of only shovels, pickaxes and a wood boat suspended from the tin roof. Tomas had one of the villagers patching the wood boat to be used to transport the diamonds down the river. At least the shovels and pickaxes could prove useful in a pinch.
The dead weren’t fooled by my hiding in the woodshed. I’m not sure if they could smell my blood, or my sweat drenched clothes. I hoped that they would forget about me soon enough. The wood walls of the building were brittle in some places. Light came through the holes where the wall had already crumbled and fallen off. I sat in the middle of the shed, praying that they would grow tired and would go away. I would have no such luck.
An hour had passed and the knocks on the doors and walls still continued. Patches of dirt and wood shrapnel fell from the wall. The shed would not last much longer. To make matters worse, dusk was rapidly approaching and the creatures from the tunnel would soon ascend upon me. A crash of the door and the dead broke into the building. The first two fell forward from the momentum of the swinging door while the others began to pile in behind them.
I took my handgun and sent the first shot into the chest cavity of one of them. The force of the shot caused blood to squirt upwards into the air. The second shot traveled further and struck a dead villager girl in the eye, causing the back of her skull to blow out backwards. It caused her to fall over and she ceased to move. I then knew to hit them in the head. The last three bullets went into the heads of three others. They fell over dead – again. Out of bullets, I took a pickaxe and slashed violently towards their direction, trying hard to get them to push back. The dead that fell caused a gap in the crowd and I took my chance and ran through it.
I reached the shores of the river. Pushing a boat into the water, the dead coming down onto the shore, I jumped into the boat and drifted down the river into the sea. It would be the last time I would set foot on this island. It would not be the last time that I saw the dead or those vile creatures again.
The last thing I remembered before falling asleep was thumbing through Tomas’s journal. I kept re-reading different passages and imagining all the great horrors he must have gone through before his death. Stuck in the back of the book, folded in half, was a shipping receipt. The receipt showed that the day before all the events occurred, he had shipped one crate to his brother in California. The contents of the crate were labeled only as artifacts. I feared that Tomas may have accidently released the horrors of the island on the whole world.