The Infinite

📅 Published on July 6, 2020

“The Infinite”

Written by J.M. Cennamo
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com 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

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 14 minutes

Rating: 9.20/10. From 5 votes.
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Nestled just off the Appalachian Trail, near the border of Virginia and West Virginia, where forests grew thick and pressed in on all sides, sat a small region known as Dry Branch.  Barely more than a collection of campgrounds, Dry Branch rarely received visitors, save for those taking a short break while hiking the neighboring mountain ranges.  Even the locals in nearby towns would say it was pleasant, yet unremarkable.  However, thanks to years of careful research, Dr. Charles Sutterfield knew better.

Though he was much younger than most of his colleagues, Charles had excelled in his field of study at an early age.  By the time he was twenty-eight, he was already the youngest professor of archaeology the University of William and 6Mary had ever employed.  His students were fond of his lectures and stories from his time spent out in the field on digs and excavations.  Some would go as far as to say that he was just a hat and a whip shy of being an action hero.

Of course, none of this concerned him in the slightest.  So long as his students listened, took their notes, and passed his tests he couldn’t care less what they thought about him.  He had too much on his mind to let popularity contests distract him from his work.  The spring semester had come to an end and he had only one thing on his mind: Dry Branch.  One early June morning, before the sun had crested over the horizon, Charles packed his truck with tools, food, camping gear, hiking equipment, and books and set out on the five-hour drive to the campsite he planned to call home for the next two weeks or so.

The campground was nearly vacant as he pulled his truck up to site # F5.  Save for a solitary red tent a few plots down, he was virtually alone.  He smiled as he stepped out of his pickup and into the clearing.  The tall pines, poplars, and hickories loomed overhead like ancient skyscrapers.  Birds, squirrels, and a plethora of other forest creatures chittered away, adding a serene chorus to the picturesque mountain view.  If he could, he’d stay here forever.  As he finished hammering the last of his tent stakes into the ground, his peaceful solitude was interrupted by an excited voice in the distance.

“Hey, neighbor!”  The voice boomed from the nearby trail, cutting off the ensemble of wildlife that had greeted him on his arrival.  “Need a hand?”  Charles turned to see a young, bearded man walking toward his campsite.  He was dressed as one would expect a hiker to be this time of year: khaki shorts, hiking boots with long socks, a short-sleeve flannel button-up; the works.  Charles waved hello but shook his head.  The young man approached him and extended his hand.  “How’s it going?  I’m Robbie.  I’m at that site over there.”  Robbie pointed to the tent Charles had seen when he first arrived.  Not wanting to seem rude, he stood up, shook Robbie’s hand, and introduced himself.

The two men made friendly conversation as Charles finished unpacking his belongings.  They talked about the weather being ideal for camping, how the relative solitude was a welcome reprieve from their day-to-day lives, and their plans for the next few days.

“I see you brought a lot of books and papers with you.  Does this trip have to do with your paleontology work?” Robbie asked.

“Archaeology,” Charles corrected.  “And no.  I enjoy reading in my spare time and it’s never a bad idea to brush up on the basics.”  With that lie, he bid Robbie farewell and turned his attention to an ancient, leather-bound book he had brought from his collection.  In its pages, it described an antediluvian ritual that would bestow its caster with eternal life.  And, if his research was correct, that same ritual’s last known owner reportedly lived in a cottage not far from Dry Branch.

* * * * * *

Charles waited until Robbie had gone for a hike before he set off on his mission.  He had stayed up late the night before studying old maps, legends, and research notes that would lead him to the spell.  Once he was sure his camp neighbor had gone, he packed what tools and papers he would need, and began the arduous trek off of the well-worn path and into the neighboring woods.

The surrounding forest seemed eldritch when compared to the trees at the campground.  Thick trunks, gnarled branches, and moss-covered stumps of all varieties pressed in on all sides, forming a thick, wooden maze.  As he pushed his way through the woods, the birdsongs lessened and the shadows grew darker.  Fallen trees and jagged, mountain rocks formed barriers and obstacles impeding his journey.

After hiking for several hours, Charles stopped to have a bite to eat and check over his notes.  According to his calculations, he should have reached the cottage by now, but no such structures were in sight.  He checked the time on his phone.  The clock showed it was only 2 PM, but the sky had grown dark and it looked closer to dusk than mid-afternoon.  He returned to his notes:

Immortality spells or spells involving time manipulation can alter more than just the caster.  The more powerful the incantation, the more potent the effect. When regarding Ein Sof, be wary of your surroundings.

Charles read these words and laughed.  He dismissed the darkened sky as a trick of the light from the looming trees and clouds.  This spell had interested him since he began his archeological research, but he never truly believed it was true.  His studies and readings of occult practices had piqued his interest from an early age, but he had never found proof of their powers in all of his years of research.  This investigation would, hopefully, answer his questions.  He returned the papers to his backpack, and continued on his journey.

The sky grew darker as he continued his walk, casting the entire forest in an alien bluish-grey hue. He stumbled over twisted roots and overgrown brambles until he reached a break in the treeline and found himself on a narrow, well-worn path.  The dirt trail cut through the trees, bending and twisting with an unsavory, serpent-like pattern.  The sun had all but set and twilight was closing in on his mission.  He retrieved his flashlight from his pack and cast its beam down the trail.  Charles smiled and cupped a hand over his mouth to prevent disturbing the silence with a burst of triumphant laughter.  There, in the narrow beam of light sat his destination; an old cottage rumored to be the last known location of the ritual known as Ein Sof – The Infinite.

* * * * * *

Charles carefully approached the dwelling and took note of the bizarre scenery caught in the glow of his flashlight.  The cottage was beyond decrepit.  The moldering ruins of what was once a woodland house leaned at absurd angles.  The windows were smashed out, the roof caved in from years of neglect and debris, and the stones were moss-grown and chipping.  However, what made the small clearing truly bizarre was the flora.  Trees of all ages grew near the cabin.  Some looked older than time itself while others were barely saplings.  Stumps of petrified wood stood like stone remnants of a forest long forgotten, yet in their midst were trees still blossoming and bearing fruit.  Much as he tried, Charles could not explain these phenomena and made a quick note of it in his journal.

The door to the cottage gave no impediment and practically fell off its rusted hinges as he made his way inside.  The floorboards were littered with leaves, dirt, and a thick dust that blanketed the entire room.  Torn papers and molding tomes were stacked high on every flat surface and shelf.  While these manuscripts did interest him, Charles only had one book on his mind: In Libro de Vacui (The book of the Void).  In its pages was the storied incantation that would bestow its invoker life everlasting.

Hours passed with no sign of the fabled text, yet the time on his phone only read 5:45 PM.  Charles searched every pile, every shelf, every mess of strewn papers, but to no avail.  He lifted his flashlight, hoping to find some place in this disintegrating house that might contain the volume he had traveled so far to obtain.  As the light tracked across the room, he noticed something that had eluded him while he searched through the piles of books and papers; a small hatch in the floor of the cottage with a round, metal ring for a handle.  He approached the small door and carefully lifted it open.  Excitement filled him forcing a short gasp from his mouth.  Carved on the underside of the door were the words Ein Sof.

The cellar proved to be in worse array than the rest of the building.  Broken wooden furniture, torn papers, shattered glass, and the carcasses of dead rats adorned the room in a hideous display.  The odor of this basement exuded was equally foul; a mixture of long-dead animals coupled with the stench of damp leaves and papers. However, one item sat pristine amongst the decay and destruction; a book in the very center of the room.  Charles quickly descended the ladder and rushed over to the book.  In Libro de Vacui…He had found it.  Without wasting another moment, he opened the book and vigorously turned through the pages until he discovered the Ein Sof incantation and ritual.  His legs grew weak.  His hands trembled.  Sweat seeped out of every pore.  He knew he had to see if it worked.  The discovery of the spell was monumental in its own right, but he had to know.

Charles marveled at the aged, scrawled words before him and ghastly etchings of unearthly beings, dismembered corpses, and pelagic monstrosities that bordered the pages containing the ritual.  In the center of the page was a drawing of some formless entity; riddled with eyes, tendrils, teeth, and suckers.  He quickly referred back to his notes:

The Zohar believed Ein Sof to mean “The Nameless Being”.  Numerous scholars consider this a reference to the Hebrew God before The Creation Story in Genesis.  However, some maintain “The Nameless Being” was a deity older than any known Judeo-Christian God that abandoned its own plane of existence to rest in The Void that preceded our universe.

He placed the open book on the floor in front of him and prepared to perform the ritual.  With the symbols drawn in a circle on the floor around him and the candles lit, Charles was ready to begin.  He produced a sharp hunting knife from his pocket and sliced a long cut into his left palm, letting the blood trickle down his forearm for a moment.  He held his bleeding hand over the center candle and let the blood drip onto the flame causing it to flicker, but not extinguish.

“I divorce this blood so its flow may no longer sustain me.”  He then lifted his blood-soaked hand to his mouth, and forced his index finger down his throat until he wretched and vomited the remnants of his lunch into the center of the circle.  Heaving and gasping, he uttered the next line of the incantation. “I divorce this food so its bounty may no longer sustain me.”  The surrounding candle flames flickered and swayed as if blown by an unfelt wind.  He held his wounded hand over the center flame letting the fire lick the wound until his hand burnt and the bleeding stopped.  Tears flowed from his eyes as he choked out the next verse.  “I divorce this flesh so it may never wrinkle with time.”  At this utterance, all of the candle flames died, casting the dank cellar into complete darkness.

The shadows swirled and danced before him.  The decaying smell of the cottage was washed away by the sickening combination of candle smoke, vomit, and burnt flesh.  He felt weak and faint, but knew he had to see it through to the end.  Hesitating no longer, he reached into his bag and retrieved a pair of pliers.  With one quick motion, he placed the tool in his mouth and jerked one of his bottom teeth out, root and all.  Blood and saliva filled his mouth as his trembling hand placed the tooth at the base of the candle.  “I divorce this bone so its structure may no longer be my support…”  Charles’s words trailed off.  The room felt like it was spinning. He tried to maintain his composure, but as he attempted to stand, his knees gave way, his eyes rolled back in his head, and he fell unconscious into the middle of the circle.

* * * * * *

In his comatose state, Charles dreamt of the horrors portrayed on the pages of the ritual he had performed.  Terrible, unearthly vistas and galleries adorned with pagan statues, human flesh, ancient tombs, and etchings of the dreadful being he now believed to be Ein Sof.  Try as he might, he could not wake himself from the nightmares that now surrounded him.  The damnable beings crept closer to his paralyzed form and he feared that this dream would be his mortal end.  As the grotesque limbs and gnashing teeth fell upon him, he was jolted awake by a very real noise in the cellar.

The sound that had rescued him from his nightmare and plunged him into a waking terror was laughter.  Not a hearty, jubilant laughter like those of his colleagues and students. No, this was a shallow, hoarse chuckle that made a sound akin to gravel crunching under tires.  Charles quickly backed away from the source of the noise, pressing himself in the far corner of the cellar.

“Who is it!? Who’s there?” Charles begged, praying there would be no response.  His questions were met with the sound of weak shuffling and labored breathing.  After a moment, the laugh’s owner replied.

“The book,” the stranger said in a scratchy whisper.  “You found my book.  It was mine…years ago.  You read it didn’t you?  Then I am too late.  You have to give it to me.  We have to destroy it!”

Charles mustered the courage to retrieve his flashlight from the floor.  He quickly turned it on and aimed the light at the stranger.  The horror that sat crouched across from him shook him to his very core, causing his flashlight to fall from his hand and break on the hard stone floor.  In the brief moments before his light had died, Charles saw a man, or what was once a man.  A nearly skeletal being now shared this cramped, subterranean room. Eyes sunken in with an unearthly glow, skin stretched tight over an aged frame, hair long and stringy with the appearance of spider silk.  This thing looked to be hundreds of years old.

In his panic, Charles swallowed hard and attempted to converse with this living corpse.

“You…you performed the ritual too?”

“And I undid it!”  the creature growled.  “All of my years and sin returned to me in a wave of decrepitness!  I do not know how much longer I have until this form fails me, but the book must be destroyed!”  Charles could hear the creaking and snapping of the man’s bones as he shuffled toward him in the dark.  In a panic, he grabbed his book of matches and struck them, casting the cellar in an orange, hellish glow.

“I won’t let you destroy it,” Charles cried out.  “It is too valuable to my work.”  His protest had fallen on deaf ears for the cadaverous man was already upon him.  Jerking and wrenching at his hand, the creature wrestled the lit book of matches from him and cast them onto the dry, brittle pages of In Libro de Vacui. Before he could even attempt to extinguish the flames, Charles watched in terror as the man lifted the book into his arms, cackling as the flames ignited his tattered clothes and leathery skin as quickly as they had the book.  The pillar of laughing fire stood bright in the center of the cellar until it choked out its last breath, and fell into a smoldering heap in the center of the ritual circle.  Charles fell to his knees in a mixture of shock and despair.  All of his work, all of his research that had led him to this tome, now gone forever.

* * * * * *

For decades Charles searched for another copy of In Libro de Vacui.  The spell had indeed worked, but presented new problems to his life.  He had to eat or at least pretend to so as not to draw suspicion when in polite company.  He had to dye his hair, beard, and eyebrows grey to give the appearance of aging.  Most troublesome were the time lapses that followed him.  Clocks visibly stopped in his presence, time jumped ahead like a needle skipping on a record, and random rifts in space-time only he could see tore into his waking reality.  These tears in the fabric of reality showed him past events and murky visions of things that he had never witnessed.  Immortality spells or spells involving time manipulation can alter more than just the caster.  The more powerful the incantation, the more potent the effect. When regarding Ein Sof, be wary of your surroundings.  These words proved as true as the ritual’s potency.

After a while, he quit his job at the University so no one would catch on to what he really was.  Immortal, retired, friendless he left America and continued his search around the globe, hoping to find a copy of the book that had both extended and ruined his life.

Nearly two hundred years after he escaped the cellar near Dry Branch, while conversing with a shopkeeper in Tel Aviv, Charles heard rumor of a fabled spell that was said to grant its reader immortality located in an unmarked tomb just south of Jerusalem near Ein Bokek.  This had to be it.  Charles paid the shopkeeper for some supplies he would need and asked for his service as a guide into this unknown resting place.  The man gave him the supplies, but refused to accompany him.  He claimed the place was cursed by the unholy text that resided somewhere deep within.  As Charles made his way to the exit, he was approached by a young shop clerk that had listened to his conversation while stocking shelves.

“Excuse me, sir.  If you are willing to pay me the same, I would be more than happy to assist you.”  Charles gave the young man a quizzical look.

“You aren’t afraid of the curse your boss had mentioned?”

“No, sir,” the clerk began.  “I am afraid of not being able to provide for my family.  I may not know much, but I’m strong and good at following instructions.”  Charles patted him on the shoulder.

“What’s your name, kid?” he asked.

“Haran. My name is Haran.”  With their brief introduction finished, Charles told him where he was staying and instructed him to be there at the crack of dawn.

* * * * * *

The next morning the two men arrived at a crumbling cemetery just outside of Ein Bokek.  Haran had proved invaluable to Charles’ mission.  He was a great travel companion, spoke the local dialect, hauled his fair share of equipment, and made Charles’ presence in the area seem less suspicious.  After following the shopkeeper’s description and instructions, they found themselves standing before an enormous ancient crypt.  Its stone doors stood sentinel-like against the stone hewed edifice.  Charles pressed his hand against the door and suddenly fell to his knees.  A time rift had taken over his vision.  In place of the graveyard, he saw the cottage cellar from centuries passed and the cadaverous being that had destroyed his work.  Haran rushed to his side.

“Dr. Charles, are you okay?”  This question snapped him back to the present.

“I’m fine, Haran,” he replied regaining his composure.  “This is it. It’s close.”  With his companion’s help, the two men pried the massive door open.  A foul air wafted from the entryway. Before them sat a stone carved stairway that plunged downward, flanked by alcoves filled with urns and skeletal remains.  Flashlights readied, they proceeded down the narrow stairs into the abyss.

The innards of the tomb were vast.  A labyrinth of corridors, rooms, and passageways spread under the ancient cemetery like a necropolis.  Haran was visibly frightened and feared they would become lost in this maze of decay.  Charles, however, seemed sure he was going in the right direction.  Some preternatural sense was guiding him along through twists and turns until, finally, he stopped.  There, in a bone strewn antechamber, was an archway leading into a circular room.  He recognized the archway almost instantly, for its carvings were the same as the etchings that bordered the pages of the Ein Sof ritual.

Charles raced into the room, Haran trailing behind not wanting to be left alone in this horrific place.  In the center of the room sat a flat, stone altar with a pedestal behind it.  There, on the pedestal sat a second copy of In Libro de Vacui.  Excitement and joy filled him as he rushed over to confirm his find.  Without thinking, Charles lifted the prized tome off of its perch.  Before he could relish in his long-awaited find, the tomb quaked and trembled, sending stone debris down around them.  A trap had been set in place to ensure the book was never disturbed.  The two men watched in horror as their only means of escape was sealed shut by a large stone slab.  Try as they might, the stone would not budge and they lacked the proper equipment to destroy it.

Tears filled Haran’s eyes as he slumped down onto the altar.  Defeat and hopelessness engulfed him as he thought of never seeing his wife and child again.  Charles began to flip through the book that he had searched for so long.  He once again found the ritual of immortality.  The spell that had brought him more trouble and grief than living a mortal life ever could.  As he turned through the pages he discovered something he had hoped would exist: De reditu exponentia – The Spell of Return.  He carefully read the ritual and was relieved.  Ein Sof could be undone and the spell would make him mortal again.  He could be free of this curse instead of being doomed to spend eternity imprisoned in this place.

“I am so sorry, my friend,” he said in a calm, determined voice.  “But, you’re as good as dead anyway, and the spell demands a sacrifice.”  Before Haran could even make sense of these words, Charles plunged a knife deep into the side of his neck and gently lowered him onto the altar to begin the ritual.  “I expel this life so that mortality may find me!  For I have lived many lives, I give one more so that I may return!  Return to how things were!  May his fragility come to me! May I return to once I was!”

As the last breaths of life escaped Haran’s lips, a rift opened in the sealed room and pulled Charles into a starlit void.  He watched in astonishment as time and space wrapped and bent around him with scenes of his life’s journey.  The vistas of the past hurtled him backward as his body aged in contrast.  Time and decay had found him.  His skin wrinkled and grew thin.  His hair grew long and stringy and fell out in clumps.  His teeth rotted and fell loose from his laughing maw.  His voice cracked and broke becoming nothing more than hoarse cacophony.  The rift closed, time halted, and the spell ended.

Old and brittle, he prayed death would find him immediately, but something was wrong.   The Spell of Return had worked.  It had restored his mortality, but it had also delivered him to the time and place the curse had first taken hold; the cellar in Dry Branch.  Decaying and emaciated, he surveyed his surroundings.  There, on the floor across from him lied the unconscious form of his younger self, the remnants of the Ein Sof ritual surrounding him.  At this sight, his sanity splintered and he began to laugh in his dry, gravelly voice.

“Who is it!?” his younger self screamed.  “Who’s there?”

Rating: 9.20/10. From 5 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by J.M. Cennamo
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: J.M. Cennamo


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com 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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