In today's society, the advent of science brings an understanding of the world which puts people into a sense of security. We know what the world is made of, the way chemistry, physics, biology, and geology all fit in to the picture. There's not much humanity doesn't understand anymore. But we do not have it all figured out, not entirely. There is still mystery out there, darkness hiding in the cracks between human understandings. Monsters, spirits of nature, artifacts of extreme power, these entities act on the world without our knowing, but every once in a while, perhaps only for a moment, they are perceived, that moment where the blood goes cold and the skin shivers, when we are struck with the realization that there is a reality of things is beyond science and mathematics. Some go insane, the mind broken by its sense of insignificance, or by something so frightening that the brain is thrown into despair so deep it turns over, accepting the new reality by way of erasing every facet of the old one, souring it in a debilitating logic vacuum. In some occasions, the mind is so affected by the supernatural that it becomes twisted, not fearful or stagnant, but psychotic, as if the supernatural unlocks a part of the human brain dormant, where the most twisted thoughts and notions are born. This part of the psyche creates terrors to rival the supernatural, and can cause us to commit unspeakable acts. There is no way to fully understand this part of our brain, but it exists, and the truth of it is a testament to the supernatural, even in the natural confines of the mind. In one case, an artifact of power has had devastating effects on humanity over time, and its nature cannot truly be perceived, unless one completely embraces the dark nature of the artifact itself, thus succumbing to that evil part of the mind, and saturating oneself in eternal darkness. One such artifact is the Mark of Canus, a manifestation of extreme evil in the world which predates man by some time. Many believe the Mark is eternal, it is, always was, and always will be, some others believe it was born of the deepest, darkest sin in some ancient ritual, others believe it was made by Satan, though it predates him as well. The Mark has inspired mass killings, suicide, and various other evils, too disgusting to explain in detail, and it has permeated into civilization for millennia. To some, it is a supernatural artifact which causes insanity, but the truth of it, the unknown, is so much more insidious.
The Mark of Canus is named after Canus Sepius Florius, commander of the Eighth Roman Legion, the man who is attributed to its discovery, and who brought the mark into Civilization. Canus was a bright young commander, very wary of each situation. He served under the Praetor's great army during the defense against Hannibal in the Second Punic War, during which he proved his logic and skill on the battlefield against one of the most proficient strategists of all time. Canus was tasked with following Hannibal's footsteps through the Alps and into Gaul, with the object of understanding the Carthaginian's thinking behind his route, as well as setting up a defense against further potential attacks on Rome from Gaul. He brought with him 450 veteran legionnaires into the mountains, and two weeks later Canus returned, extremely ahead of schedule and completely alone. When asked what happened to his men, he replied "The legionnaires? Yes they returned home, they're sleeping soundly in darkness." This response deeply baffled the consul, and he had Canus taken into custody, for a real answer to the absence of his men. This is the testament of Haran Epiganus, the Roman who questioned Canus:
"As we were led to the chamber I noticed the distracted look of the commander. I thought nothing of it, after his response to the questioning of the consul I felt he had stress. Perhaps he was ambushed by barbarians and they broke his mind. It was only when we were locked in the room that I caught his eyes. They were made of terror, focused and alert, holes to the horrific mind of Hannibal himself. I could not bear to see them. I looked around, but Canus was locked on me. I finally got to the question, 'What happened in the [Alps]? Those men, they are dead?' Canus calmly started, 'They are unto the darkness. May they feed the Mark.' This answer was confusing, so I asked another question, 'Canus, you were attacked?' To which he quickly answered 'May they feed the Mark.' I asked around more, but the answer was the same every time. Then he went dazed, so I gripped his shoulder, then he jumped awake, and his eyes changed again. He took his necklace, a new piece, and threw it on the ground. He was frantic, rambling, I asked what was wrong. He replied, 'The Mark! The Mark! Never let it touch me again, the terrible Mark!' I asked what happened, what this Mark was, and what happened to the legionnaires. He told me he would only recall it once, and then begun, 'We were marching up the [Alps] in Hannibal's footsteps, making excellent progress. We made camp when night came, but I could not find sleep, though I had marched the whole day. I heard whispers, in ancient tongues, calling to me. I was disturbed, no way to sleep, so I went up to investigate. The whispers came from the cave, the unholy cave. I entered like a fool, lit a torch and ventured through the tunnels. The whispers became louder, and I started seeing shadows. Then I wished to turn back, but my legs kept onward, and I felt detached from my body. The feeling became more so, and then the visions stared. I saw visages of a single Mark, this frightening symbol as old as time itself. I do not wish to describe it to you. Then the visions contained blood, and killing, not like on the battlefield, killing from the most violent nightmares. I ventured for hours, farther and farther down into the mountain, until I reached a chamber at the bottom, perfectly round and made of the same stone as the cave walls. No markings anywhere, no furniture, but the chamber seems so perfect yet not man made. In the center, on the ground lay the necklace. A shining piece in sterling silver, no gems, bearing the Mark that persisted in my visions. I heard the whispers rise here, and the rapid beat of drums, the likes of which I had never heard. The sounds rose to a deafening volume, then suddenly dropped out to silence. I then took another look at the necklace, and saw the Mark again, and was filled with a terror so deep it drove into my being. It overcame me swiftly, I released my bladder, and took a step back in fear. Then something took me, seized my body, and gripped my soul. I felt a scraping inside me, all over a sense of wurms in my blood, shivering inside me. It stopped, and I heard a loud whisper, right next to my ear, slave. My mind burst then with images of the Mark, and then the brutalization of my men. It was uncontrollable, part of me released and gripping my mind in fury. The Mark all over everything. I felt a presence inside, one that was not my own. I went to the necklace, put it on, and realized the Mark itself was inside me, and I now lost control. I had to watch as I walked out of the cave, and went back to the camp. I slept in my tent, nightmares the entire night, the disturbing and silent images of the Mark coursing through me. I did not understand it, but I do now. The true terror would warp your mind if I spoke of the Mark in its full evil. It is ancient, beyond the time of men, working with a dark force so much more powerful than the Gods themselves. I woke up, washed over with insanity. I was outside of the person which was me, and I watched in terror as I led the men to a mountain pass, and ordered them to stop. I showed the Mark to them, and it took them all, stopped them in fear. I proceeded to slaughter them all while they stood. I took out the hearts, ate them, then cut off the face. The blood everywhere, I washed in a stream, and made my way back to Rome.' I stood terrified at his testimony. I looked at the necklace and a shiver caught my back. That was all I needed, Canus confessed to killing the legionnaires. I wasn't sure if his story was true however part of me believed it, when I saw the Mark. Either way, it was time to tell the consul "
This chilling story is only the beginning of the Mark in humanity. Haran spread the word of the Mark to Rome, and it became known as Canus' Mark, or the Mark of Canus. They say the Mark can affect anyone. It chooses freely, and you don't need to look directly at it for it to take you. The necklace itself is referred to as the Mark of Canus, but the image itself has power as well. The relationship between image and necklace in terms of power is not entirely known, however it is known that wherever the necklace goes, the evil is always there. It has passed hands from the Romans to the Germans, then the English, then to America. It instills fear where ever it is, and the killings always follow. Many have tried to study the Mark, but its existence is entirely a mystery. Some say Canus did not actually find it, that he made it, others say it is alien in origin, most believe it does not exist, because it cannot be explained. In 1745, the Mark was found on a witch in America. The witch was found out, and the Mark confiscated. The magistrate ordered the Mark destroyed, saying it was of the Devil, but it was taken by one of his own men, Edward Tiller, a Puritan clergy. Edward fled the country by boat, went to Spain with the Mark, and committed suicide there without any excuse. It was said by Tiller's wife that he left, "without any cause or reason, but with such obsession [She] never saw in him before." Most likely the Mark had taken Tiller, as she found pictures of it in his closet, scribbled with chalk.
The Mark's legend was strong by the 1930s, so strong that it sparked the curiosity of one such German leader who had been obsessed with the occult. Adolf Hitler, furor of Nazi Germany, led a campaign throughout the world to collect objects of supernatural significance, and studying their power to weaponize it. Hitler sent Gustav Kerch, an SS official, to Spain to find this Mark of Canus. Kerch was successful, the Mark around his neck when he returned to the furor. He handed the necklace over to the SS, but it didn't matter, the Mark already had him. He then returned to his original post, the administration of the concentration camp Auswitz. He let the Mark control him, and with its darkness he became notoriously cruel, openly killing many prisoners with his bare hands, eating their hearts, and cutting off their faces. One Joshua Dicsh, a Polish Jew held in Auswitz, recounts his brush with Kerch,
"During my time in Auswitz, I saw many horrors. My fellow Jews, working themselves to death, through starvation. The Germans were merciless, but there was one man in particular who was even more disturbed then the worst Nazi, his name was Gustav Kerch. Kerch was the man in charge of Auswitz, and he was more terrifying than the camp itself. He stalked the camp, looking with those eyes, those terrible eyes. They were like pools of the bluest poison, ominous and deep. It was like looking into the eyes of Beelzebub himself. He was insane, often times breaking into fits of rage, scribbling symbols on the walls, and rambling in other languages. The guards said one of them heard him talking to himself in his chambers, in dual tongues. We dared not sleep alone at night, and in the day we worked hardest to keep him satisfied. One morning I was working in the mill with Deter, and Franz making helmets when Kerch walked in to inspect us. He had those eyes again, I could hear whispers around him, as is right out of my nightmares. He looked at Franz' work and smiled his wolfish grin, 'Excellent craftsmanship, Franz. Were it not for your foul Jewish nature you would be a master at your trade. Leave now to work in the yard!' He dismissed Franz, then walked to Deter. "Oh Deter, this is wonderful. Very nice camouflage paint on the sides. The Bolshevik hordes will never see us coming! Now, you may join Franz in the yard. Go now!' Kerch may have been a psychopath, but even he could not ignore superior metal working. He then moved to me, and he changed. The whispers became louder. He looked at my helmet, a ding in the side, the swastika unfinished, and he looked filled with a calm, almost otherworldly anger. 'Joshua, a truly Jewish name. You must have roots in Canaan, don't you? You're filthy, this work is shameful. You're good for nothing, besides to stink up the ground like dirt and mud.' Then his voice changed completely, 'Look at me, child.' I stared into his eyes, and I saw it, the Mark, the terrible Mark! It was hideous, drenched in ancient blood, ungodly and disgusting. I thought it of the devil at first, demonic and Hellish, but as I stared it took on a different quality altogether, something much more terrifying, basing its power in fear itself, rather than torment. I could see the terror on my own face, then I was out of my own body, and I found myself in front of a room, not like any other I had seen. The Mark was all over the walls, and a light shone in the middle of the room. I went towards it, unable to control myself, and when I nearly came upon it, the light disappeared. In its place was Kerch, covered in blood and laughing hysterically. I had begun to weep when he stopped and called to me, he then whispered, but I could hear it as if he were right in my ear, 'slave.' I cried out, 'No, no, no!' I begged, pleaded, but Kerch only continued to laugh as he took out a combat knife, slit his own throat, and watched the blood drain out on the floor. I stood frozen in terror as the blood pooled and Kerch fell to the ground, then gaped as the blood on the floor started spinning, forming a whirlpool in the room. I prayed out loud to the Lord and begged for forgiveness, but then I started to see the scarlet whirlpool change, as if something was stirring inside, it begun to climb out, ever so slightly I noticed a form move from the puddle, then I blacked out. I woke up in my cot, soiled and sweating. The prisoners were cheering, and Franz came to me, told me Kerch was dead, had killed himself in his room. They found his body on the floor, he slit his own throat, but there was no blood anywhere."
Legend has it the Mark itself was cast into the Mediterranean, and washed up somewhere in Africa. The myths were recognized by the US government as fear-inducing propaganda, and all traces of it were wiped from the archives. The reasoning behind this is shrouded in mystery, but the government continues today to deny its existence, and maintains tight internet censorship of the Mark. Most searches for it come up empty, but every once in a while something slips.
The power behind the Mark of Canus is unknown, we cannot imagine its true nature. What we do know, is how it can affect us. The Mark doesn't need to be touched to affect someone, in many cases, merely seeing its likeness can cause it to grip you. Often times, the Mark finds you, as several have claimed to see the Mark clearly where others cannot. This signals its arrival into your mind, and you should be worried. The Mark existed before man's impact on the world, it doesn't need to be where people are. Some have claimed to see it etched in the woods, in deep parts where no one has been. One thing is for sure, if you see the Mark, you are not safe. Efforts have been made to secure the Mark, to contain it in order to protect humanity from its devastating evil. These attempts have all failed, as the Mark can control men, make them do crazy things. Most who see the Mark experience nightmares, hysteria, fever, hyper salivation, dehydration, sometimes blindness or paralysis, and always insanity. The Mark so far has not directly killed anyone, but almost all who see the Mark end up committing suicide, to escape the mind-numbing terror. Attempts to destroy the Mark have also failed, as it seems to be made of an unbreakable metal. People in exposure to the Mark have claimed to experience prophetic dreams or visions, images of the Mark as the creator and destroyer of humanity, and extreme love from the Mark, as it nurtures them. They claim the Mark is sentient, that it watched over everything, that it exists in the deepest oceans, the darkest forests, and in the confines of our minds. They claim the Mark is always there, even when we don't perceive it, that it is fear, and whenever we are afraid the Mark is with us. The creepy part is that they can recite testimonies for events that they should not have known about, places they weren't present. One cop was startled as an "odd-acting" perp once told him about his son's birthday party as if he had been there, when the party happened in a private place over a decade ago. The Mark is all around us, thriving in fear and the unexplained. Some day you may just see it, even for a moment, then it will haunt you for the rest of your life, which may be shorter than you think. Is there something you can do? No, not so far, but you can only hope the Mark passes you by in silence, and you never have to hear that whisper in your ear, "slave."
Credit To - Greg Padrick