Malum Interfectorum

📅 Published on May 10, 2021

“Malum Interfectorum”

Written by Micah Edwards
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 9.25/10. From 4 votes.
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I wasn’t sure what I was more surprised to discover: the ragged hole in my backyard, or the man stuck in it. The hole was a crack about eight feet long and maybe two feet thick at its widest point. It looked as if the earth had just pulled apart, separating like a wet paper towel. It had not been there yesterday. I’m certain I would have noticed.

Likewise, I would have noticed a person in my yard, especially one struggling to escape a hole. Not that he was struggling when I found him. By then he was just slumped over, looking resigned to being trapped from the waist down in a hole forever. Honestly, I was a little afraid that he was dead at first, but he lifted his head when he heard my footsteps approaching.

“Hey! Do you need help?” I called. Sort of a stupid opener. What was he going to say, no, I like it fine in this hole, thanks? Obviously he needed help.

“Yeah, I’m kinda stuck,” he said. We were both really nailing it on the scintillating conversation.

“So what happened?” I asked, drawing closer. I eyed the ground warily. I wasn’t sure what had caused the crack, and I didn’t want to be too close to it if it suddenly expanded.

“I was hiking around in the woods.” He waved a hand vaguely in the direction of the forest that backed onto my property. “Got lost, came out here, thought I was saved. Then, bam! Ground fell out from under my feet and I tumbled in here. Must’ve been a sinkhole or something.

“My leg’s twisted and I can’t get any leverage. I yelled for a while, but your house is a pretty good distance off that way. So I was just conserving my energy for a bit, figuring out a new plan.”

He grinned wryly. “Hadn’t really come up with one, so I’m glad you came along.”

He was talking a pretty good game, but I could see from the sweat on his pale skin that he wasn’t doing so well. I thought about going back to the house for some sort of tool, but I wasn’t sure what would work for this. A winch, maybe, but I didn’t have one of those. Maybe just a length of rope? Honestly, I couldn’t think of anything that would work better than just grabbing him under the arms and hauling up.

To do that, though, I was going to have to straddle the hole in the ground. It wasn’t a hard step physically. The crack was slightly less than shoulder width. But I had no idea how deep it went, or when it might spread larger again. It had opened up between one step and the next the first time. What would happen if it shifted again when I had a leg on either side?

I knew exactly what would happen. I’d fall screaming into the darkness below along with my new friend. I could picture it with perfect clarity, and I didn’t care for the image at all.

I could hardly leave the guy stranded in a hole, though, and delaying wasn’t going to help things along. So I took a deep breath, squared my shoulders and stepped across the crack.

“I’m gonna grab you under the shoulders,” I told the stranger, bending down. “I’ll lift up while you push however you—whoo, that’s some stink coming up from there!”

“Oh yeah, that sulfur stink? I finally stopped smelling it. Figure my nose shut down after the first few hours. It’s something else, though. Honestly, I was real worried I was suspended over your septic system or something.”

“Not this far back,” I assured him. “But yeah, there’s sure something down there.” I took shallow breaths to avoid taking in too much of the warm, stench-laden air. “C’mon, let’s get you out of there. On three. One, two, three!”

I pulled as hard as I could. The stranger scrabbled at the broken edges of the dirt with his hands and twisted his hips back and forth, trying to rotate to a position of greater freedom. I was starting to see spots when suddenly, with a cry that was half pain and half relief, the man slid free of the earth’s grasp.

I deposited him none-too-gently on the ground, hopping clear of the hole to make sure I didn’t end up in the predicament I’d just freed him from. “Man, you were really in there? How’re you doing?”

I could see the answer with my own eyes. His right leg was twisted, not fully backward or anything but definitely further than it ought to go. He didn’t seem to be moving either leg as he lay there panting. He reached his hands down to his legs and felt around, as if confirming they were still there.

“Still got feeling,” he said. “Gotta say, I was a bit worried about that. They’ve been kinda folded up in there for a bit.”

He braced himself on his elbows and rolled up to a half-kneeling position. “I think I can…oop!”

His right leg gave out as he tried to put weight on it, spilling him back onto the ground. I hurried to his side and crouched next to him, offering him support and stability.

“Come on, let’s get you back on your pins, see if you can walk this off a bit.”

With my help, he regained his feet. His left leg supported his weight without issue, but I felt him halfway collapse onto me as he tested his right leg again. I looked over to see him gritting his teeth, holding back the pain.

“Hey, it’s all right, lean on me,” I told him. “Come on, we’ll get you back to the house.”

With him hanging off of my shoulder, I made my way back across the yard toward my house. I could tell that he was fading as we went, because he kept putting more and more of his weight on me. That was basically fine until about halfway across the yard, when suddenly he got heavy. Not like “leaning a bit harder” heavy. Like “doubled his weight” heavy.

I stumbled, dropping to one knee. Without me to lean on, the stranger fell forward. He was pretty clearly unconscious as he fell past, but that wasn’t what grabbed my attention. I was more focused on how red his skin had gotten, and the two jet black horns jutting out of his forehead. He definitely hadn’t had those before. It’s the kind of thing that catches the eye.

The vision, if that’s what it was, only lasted for the split-second while he was toppling to the ground. As soon as he hit he let out a moan of pain, and just like that he was back to normal.

“Sorry, sorry!” I exclaimed, getting him upright again. His weight was back to normal along with the rest of him. I brushed my hand against his forehead as I was getting his arm settled around my shoulders, and I felt nothing but skin. By all appearances he was a regular person.

I knew what I’d seen, though, impossible though it was. He’d had the visage of a demon.

The rest of the way back to the house, I kept stealing glances at him, trying to see through his disguise again. Try as I might, though, I could see nothing but the human. I could almost believe that he was a person, that I’d imagined it, but it all fit too neatly.

I’d believed his story, odd though it was. I’d accepted that he was just a lost hiker who had happened onto my property just as a surprise sinkhole that stank of sulfur opened beneath him, trapping him. It was a crazy story, but there he was in the hole, and there didn’t seem to be any better explanation since demons weren’t real.

But if demons were real…then it was really straining credulity to ask me to believe that he wasn’t one who had just crawled up from Hell. And what I had seen in that fleeting moment was definitely a demon.

I still walked him into my house, though. I helped him limp up the steps of the back deck. I got him to the guestroom and sat him down on the bed. I told him to make himself comfortable and I went to get him some water while I tried to figure out exactly what on earth I was doing.

On the face of it, inviting a demon into my house seemed like a great way to get my face ripped off. It was pretty hard to picture this guy as a threat, though. One of his legs wasn’t working, and he was absolutely exhausted on top of it. The more I thought about it, the more likely it seemed that the reason his disguise had slipped was that he had passed out on the way to the house. If he couldn’t even walk across the yard, what kind of threat could he really pose?

Anyway, demons weren’t the only thing in Hell. Souls got cast down there on the regular, according to the church crowd. You were supposed to get wings and a halo when you went to Heaven; maybe everyone who went to Hell got horns. It was possible that this was a soul who’d found some way to sneak out.

For that matter, this could all be some kind of divine test. Honestly, the whole thing was starting to open up theological questions that I wasn’t all that keen on thinking about. It had been a lot of years since I’d been to church. Now that I had a demon in my guestroom, that was starting to feel like a questionable decision.

The water glass overflowed, jerking me back to reality. I shut off the faucet and wondered briefly if I could bless the water. Probably you needed a priest for that, but then again, anyone could say grace, so maybe not?

I decided that giving a demon a glass of holy water to drink was uncharitable in any case, so I just brought it in as it was. He accepted it with thanks and drank greedily, emptying the entire glass in one go.

“Need more?” I asked.

“No, but can you do me a favor? I don’t think anything’s broken in my leg, but it’s definitely twisted. I think maybe my knee’s dislocated. Can you help me straighten it out?”

I looked at his leg, which was still at a slightly odd angle. “I don’t know what I’m doing, but I can grip and twist just fine, I guess. Can’t imagine it’s gonna feel good, though.”

“It’ll feel better than leaving it.” He propped his leg up on the bed and gripped his thigh. “Okay, grab it there by the shin. Twist it to my right when I say go. Ready? Go!”

I twisted his leg, and three noises sounded almost simultaneously. The first, by the barest of margins, was his scream. The second was a pop, a thick noise of tendons releasing stress. The third was a heavy groaning from the bed as if it had suddenly taken on an extra load.

My eyes snapped up to the stranger’s face. Sure enough, he was slumped over, having fainted from the pain. His skin was again the mottled red of live embers, and his hair flopped over two dull horns each the length of the first joint of my thumb.

After a moment, he groaned and his eyes fluttered briefly. As they did, his disguise reasserted itself. The horns vanished along with his fiery coloration, and the bed creaked again, relaxing as his full demonic weight was lifted. I averted my eyes back to his leg and pretended that my attention had been there the entire time.

“Wow,” he said. “Okay, that sucked. But I can bend it now.”

He suited action to word, wincing as he did so. “Well, a little bit, anyway.”

“Probably ought to have a doctor look at that,” I told him.

He waved his hand dismissively. “Nah, I should be able to walk it off. The bad bit’s done now.”

“Give it the evening to rest at least. You have anyone waiting for you?”

“No.” He shook his head ruefully. “Wouldn’t have been hiking alone if I did.”

“Well, you can stay here tonight, and we’ll figure out getting you back to your car tomorrow if your leg’s better.”

“Oh, yeah, that’s way on the other side of the woods. I’ll have to figure out where I parked it. It was a little gravel lot on the side of the highway, not much more than a wide spot by the trailhead.”

“Got the address in your phone or anything?”

“Phone was in my backpack. I managed to knock that into the hole while I was trying to get free.”

I nodded as if this made sense. “Well, we’ll figure it out.”

There was an awkward silence for a moment. I made my excuses and left him alone, retreating to the safety of my basement game room to gather my thoughts.

I knocked pool balls around the table as I tried to figure out what his plan was. Escape from Hell, sure. Rural nowhere wasn’t much of a place to invade, though, and obviously things hadn’t gone quite according to plan. He’d been pretty solidly stuck when I found him. Maybe something had tried to close the exit on him to prevent him from getting out?

If so, that favored the theory that he was a damned soul escaping and not a demon invading. That didn’t necessarily mean he was any better, or I was any safer. Humans do some horrible stuff. It felt better if he was human, though. It made his disguise more honest, and I felt I could understand his motivations better. If I were in Hell and found a way out, I’d take it, too. And I probably wouldn’t tell the truth to whoever found me, because I wouldn’t want to get locked up in the nuthouse immediately after escaping from Hell.

Of course, there was always still the outside chance that he was actually a hiker and that I was having some sort of hallucination. I was certain that this wasn’t the case, but crazy people always think they’re sane, so I couldn’t fully discount it.

A thought occurred to me: if there actually was a backpack in the hole, that would show that he had been telling the truth. It would be easy enough to check on. Bring out a flashlight, check the bottom of the hole, see if there was a backpack there. If there was one, I was crazy and he was just a hiker with absurdly bad luck.

I laughed as I considered it. Imagine getting totally lost in the woods, then finding your way out only to have the ground crack open under you. Then being rescued…by a crazy person who thought you were a demon. That kind of luck could give you whiplash.

Above me, I heard the bed groan and the floor creak as if a heavy weight had just settled. I frowned for a second, then realized that my visitor had likely just fallen asleep and settled back into his demonic form. Hellish form, I corrected myself. Not a demon. Probably.

I ascended the stairs as quietly as I could, then sneaked down the hallway. I eased open the door to the guest room and peeked inside. My guest was asleep with his back to the door and the comforter pulled over himself, but the mattress was sagging under his weight and one red, clawed foot was sticking out from beneath the covers.

I closed the door with barely a click. After liberating a flashlight from the hall closet I made my way out of the house, listening the whole time for that telltale creak to let me know that he was awake again. It never came, though, and once I was outside I began to breathe easily again.

The hole looked no different from how I had left it just a short while before. I got down on my stomach and crawled the last half-dozen feet or so, just in case anything else was inclined to give way. Nothing did, however, and shortly I found myself peering into a deep black chasm. The sulfurous smell hit me again, and I leaned away to take a deep breath before moving back to see what was inside.

The flashlight illuminated the rocky walls and some occasional small ledges, but no clear bottom. The crack seemed to grow wider as it descended, as if I were looking down through the top of a great empty pyramid. It was not a particularly comfortable sensation.

I shone the light around, but saw no backpack or even any place where one might have come to rest. I wanted to be thorough, though. Obviously the lack of a backpack didn’t necessarily mean that my guest was lying, but the presence of one would definitely exonerate him. So I wanted to be sure that I had checked as carefully as possible.

I stuck my arm into the hole, searching the walls for a snagged pack or even just a scrap of fabric. I found nothing but torn earth. After a moment, I concluded that there was no backpack to be seen and pulled my arm back. That was when something brushed against my hand.

There’s no sugarcoating it. I screamed. It was high-pitched and embarrassing.

I yanked my hand back, banging the knuckles on the rocky wall hard enough to jar my fingers open. The flashlight tumbled from my grip. It spiraled away into the pit, flashing end over end until the light was too distant to see. As far as I could tell, it never reached a bottom.

I skittered backward and sat there on my knees for a minute, holding my bruised hand and staring at the pit. After a minute had passed and nothing had risen up to attack me, I moved slowly forward again and risked a look inside.

There, tucked up into a small crevice beneath the lip of the hole and almost impossible to see, was a leather pack. A cord dangled from the side. It was this that had touched my arm.

So he is just a hiker, then, I thought, pulling the pack out of the hole to examine it. Doubts immediately began to creep back in. It was far too heavy, and didn’t look much like a hiking backpack. It was just a folded-over roll made of some pale leather and tied shut with a braided cord of the same material.

I untied the pack and let the leather flop open. Inside were several pieces of gleaming bronze armor, but I barely saw them. I was staring raptly at the sword.

It was beautiful and terrifying. Its blade was translucent and almost glowing, like the tail of a comet. It was feather-light when I picked it up. I knew it had to be razor-sharp. Nothing this perfect could ever fail at such a basic aspect of its being.

Two words were carved into the hilt: malum interfectorum. I knew that this meant Doomslayer, just as I knew that this was the sword’s name and its purpose for being. To hold it was to know these things. It ached to be wielded. It longed to be put to use.

I could not imagine such a stunning weapon being trapped in Hell. It had to have been stolen from the angels, to have languished there until the man I had found—the demon, the soul, whatever—had stolen it once more. Perhaps it had even led him out. A blade such as this would always know the way free from such confines.

I was startled from my reverie by a voice from behind.

“So,” said my visitor. “You have found my armor.”

I turned and beheld him in his demonic visage. The idea that he might have been a trapped soul fled. I had previously caught only glimpses of his form, and had lied to myself that there was humanity beneath it. The thing that stood before me had nothing in common with a man. It was sharp, ageless and cruel.

Still, it had rescued this sword from the pits of Hell. It must have something within it that could be moved by truth and beauty.

“Step away from my possessions,” it said, “and I will not play with you before I kill you.”

I took an uncertain step back. The sword seemed to pull against my motion, resisting retreat.

“Why did you come here?” I asked.

“To destroy,” the demon said matter-of-factly. “To spread despair, blight and ruin. To mix among you and make you think less of each other, to cause you to resent your lives and those around you. To make you suffer as I have suffered.”

“You escaped from Hell only to create it again?”

It set its mouth into a grim line. “I can never escape. I was sent, as were so many others. Legions of us disguised as mortals to fool the unwary, to add bitterness and hatred and overcrowding. I am only one among millions, a soldier with a mission to undertake.

“Now, hand over the Malum that I may begin.”

“But this sword,” I pressed, desperate to understand. “It could never work for you. Surely you could tell that. Why did you steal it?”

“Steal it?” The demon grinned. “It was made for me when I was an angel.”

It saw the horrified expression on my face. Its smile widened. “We have been together for millennia, the Malum and I. Everything I have done, it has seen. It was there when I fell. It did not care. A sword knows only blood.”

I shook my head, denying the obvious falsehood of its words. Seeing me distracted, the demon charged. It was frighteningly fast, closing the distance between us in an eyeblink.

The sword in my hand was faster. It flashed upward as if it were responding to my thoughts. I thrust wildly outward and the Malum slid gracefully into the demon’s chest, slicing apart boiled-leather skin to cut through vital parts within.

The demon sagged at my feet, impaled almost to the hilt. Its clawed hands reached up weakly, scraping at my forearms before falling away. Its body teetered and collapsed, sliding free of the sword. It hit the ground at the edge of the pit, slid backward and tumbled away into the darkness.

Orange ichor dripped briefly from the Malum’s blade. Moments later, it was free of the filth and once again clean and bright. It rejected the demon’s blood as completely as I knew it must have rejected the demon itself.

I regarded the sword, marveling at its purity. The demon had been lying, of course. One such as he could never have wielded a blade such as this. It would have twisted in his grip, refused to do his work. It was made to slay things like him, not to serve them.

An idea began to grow in my head. Millions, the demon had said. Millions like him, sent here to divide and destroy us. All blending in.

With the Malum Interfectorum, I could stop them. I could find and kill those who had come to ruin our world. Once they were dead, surely all would be able to see them for the demons they had always been. And even if not, I knew I had the power of rightness on my side. The Malum would let me do no wrong.

I picked up the demon’s armor and began to put it on. It fit like it had been made for me.

I strode back to the house, feeling invincible in my enemy’s armor. Tomorrow, I would begin my quest. Tomorrow I would start to cleanse the world.

Rating: 9.25/10. From 4 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Micah Edwards
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Micah Edwards

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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2 years ago

10/10, one of my favorite pastas

Creepypasta eater
Creepypasta eater
2 years ago


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