Victor dug his walking stick into the dirt as the approached the entrance to the cave. Well, here it is. Faceless Cave. He thought to himself as he brushed the sweat off his brow with his wrist. He turned to look back down the trek he made up to the cave. The winding path lead down a heavily forested mountain with cliffs and rivers that he had to navigate over or around. Victor plopped himself down on the dirt, pulling off one of his boots to shake out a pebble that had been pestering him for the last mile. A groaning sound, similar to what you would hear from a sickly patient in a hospital echoed out of the cave behind him. Victor glanced over his shoulder, staring into the dark opening of the cave. Victor wasn’t sure how true the stories were, but one thing was true, people definitely were going missing. Men, women, and even children were vanishing. Mostly people from Tarrey Town at the bottom of the mountain were going missing, and supposedly they all went disappeared in Faceless Cave.
Faceless Cave used to just be an ordinary cave. Now though, it got its name Faceless Cave because there have been reports of people without faces being seen around the cave. Some people say those that enter the cave lose their face and are bound to roam the cavern for eternity, while some say that there is an evil spirit inside the cave that steals their faces. However, the main reason why people even venture into the cave is because of the original rumor of a creature that can grant wishes for you if you reach the end.
Victor stood up brushing the dirt off his knees. He turned to face the dark entrance of the cave and hoisted his bag further up his back, pulling the straps up by his hands. He unclipped the lantern hanging from the bottom strap of his bag, flicked on the switch, and held the lantern out in front of him. He lit up the entrance of the cave a bit, nothing seemed to be lingering in the darkness. He drew in a breath, exhaled long out his nose and plunged into the darkness.
Each step he took deeper into the darkness, the more damp and stagnant the air was. The smell of musty water engulfed his nose, water dripped from the ceiling of the cave onto him, his feet sloshed around into a steep puddle every few feet, and multiple pairs of glowing eyes stared at him that were hanging from the ceiling with their winged bodies. Holding up his lantern, Victor came to a fork in the cavern. Both paths dripped with stale water and both were pitch black, however, the entrance on the left had a groaning sound echoing from it. The sound of a sickly woman, almost in as if in pain was steadily getting louder. Victor held up his lantern down the path to the left and he could vaguely make out a dark figure that was walking towards him. Victor froze, partially in fear, but partially because of curiosity of what the figure was. As the figure stepped into the light, Victor realized it was a woman in tattered clothes. She was approaching slowly as if with a limp, and her ragged dark dress dragged along the floor of the cave. As she approached, Victor realized she was walking aimlessly, and she walked right passed him without the slightest glance. Victor wasn’t even sure if she could glance at him, because the woman had no face. She had just blank skin and long dirty hair, and she staggered right passed him as if he didn’t even exist.
Victor looked at the back of the woman, her ripped dress showing her the dirty skin on her shoulders as she slowly walked out of the light. Victor turned back toward the fork in the cave, and he pressed on down the pathway to the left. As he held up his lantern in front of his body, more groaning figures appeared. Men, women, and even little ones that looked like no larger than toddlers were wandering around paying no attention to Victor, all of them with no face. Victor passed a child with a bloody forehead that was repeatedly walking into the wall. As he passed the child, a faceless man bumped into his shoulder, stumbled passed him and continued walking heedlessly around with no direction. After passing what seemed like well over 50 faceless people, Victor came to a dead end. Victor brushed his hand along the wall at the end, the wet mildew sliding down his fingers to his forearm. Just as Victor was about to turn back, a deep voice seemed to hum from the wall.
“Ahh, a newcomer has come to the masquerade I see.”
Victor backed away from the wall and looked around to find the source of the voice. “Where are you?”
“I’m right in front of you.” A face emerged from the dead end, and a pitch black body walked out of the wall. The body was the shape of a human that was as dark as coal, but with the face of a pale bearded man. Standing in front of Victor, the figure held up his arms palms up. “So, what brings you here? To be honest I haven’t had a visitor in quite some time now.”
“What are you?”
“What am I? Well, no need to be rude. Let’s start with this. My name is Facade? Et vous?”
“Yes Victor, well to answer your question. I’m a demon.”
“What not what you were expecting from a demon? Not all demons are monsters running around and, well, demonizing everything they see. Some are actually good, some are evil, but most like myself are, well, neutral I guess.” Facade’s face twisted around on his neck like an owl and was replaced by a woman’s face.
“I heard you can grant wishes, I want something back that you stole.”
“That I stole?”
“Somebody close to me. She came here to get a wish from you.”
“I don’t understand where people are getting this idea from that I can grant wishes. I can do many things, and that is not one of them.”
“I want her back.”
“Well, first. I never steal anything. Sure I have all these faces,” Facade’s face turned to a young boy with freckles scattered across his face. “But, all these people were given a choice, they could have left just as easily as they walked in.”
“Regardless, I want Evelyn back.”
“Evelyn hmm?” Facade placed his arms behind his back and starting pacing in front of Victor. “You mean the young pretty blonde girl?”
“She’s my sister, I want her back.”
“You mean this Evelyn?” Facade’s head twisted behind him with the boy face and was replaced with a young woman.
“Give. Her. Back,” Victor clenched his teeth.
“Well yes she is out there partying somewhere, why don’t you take a quick look for her?” Facade gestured behind Victor.
Victor turned to look behind him. Shoulder to shoulder, from one end of the cave to the other end were faceless figures standing there. They formed a wall, not allowing an inch of space to move. Hundreds of faceless bodies gridlocked the only exit for Victor.
“Tell you what Victor. If you can guess which body holds the precious soul of your sister’s, you and your sister can leave. If not though, that handsome little face of yours is mine forever.”
“So if I can tell which one my sister is, out of all of these bodies, we are free to go?”
“I’ll even narrow it down for you. You have ten minutes to decide.” Facade motioned his fingers towards him as if telling somebody to come to him. The crowd of faceless bodies warped as some figures moved to the front. Five faceless women with long blonde hair stepped passed the front of the line into the light of Victor’s lantern. Victor scanned the five women, looking at their tattered clothes, their hair, their skin, Victor examined them all intently for a few minutes.
“Tick tock, tick tock, Victor.”
“You must take me for a fool.”
“She isn’t any of them.”
“Ah.. very perceptive of you Victor. I wonder where she is then Victor?” Facade hummed, as he stared at Victor with Evelyn’s face.
“You have her. All of these bodies are shells. They’re empty. You asked me who holds her soul. You have it.”
“Hm.. it’s been quite some time since somebody has solved one of my riddles. Very well then, I must be getting lackadaisical with my work. You can have your sister.”
The faceless bodies all turned their backs to Victor and scattered back into the cavern. All except for one body, with long blonde hair which approached Victor. Facade put his hand up to where he was displaying Evelyn’s face and plucked it from his head. Underneath Evelyn’s face was nothing but darkness, a blank black emptiness displayed on Facade’s head. Facade then approached Evelyn’s body and placed her face back onto her body. Evelyn sucked in a large breath and her eyes went wide at the sight of her brother standing there with a lantern. “Victor?” she gasped.
Facade backed away into the dead end and melded back into the wall. His voice echoed out throughout the cavern, “Now get out of here, before I change my mind Victor.”