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I don't have much time left; he'll return any moment. It's beyond me how I'm still conscious, let alone alive. Even the smallest movement causes indescribable excruciating pain. However, I feel it necessary to push through this agony because everyone desperately needs to be warned of him. It's far too late to save myself. Anyone who attempted to try would be embarking on a suicide mission. This is simply a warning I hope can save others. The fate of meeting this man, this demon, isn't something I would even wish on my worst enemy.

My name is Casey O'Sullivan. The events that lead to my predicament all truly began a long, long time ago. My youngest days, actually. Maybe even before my birth, this fate had been determined for me. The more I think about it, yes. It was inevitable I'd meet my maker at the hands of Julius Doherty. Hopefully, this will all make sense to you by the time you're done reading. I don't know if I'll be able to even finish telling my story before my imminent death. Forgive my rambling, I'm very foggy in the head. I've gotten ahead of myself. Let me get back to where I started.

Ever since I was a little girl, I'd dreamed about my wedding day. In fact, I actually began planning it as a child, going so far as to have my gown picked out by the time I was 8. After seeing a photo of my great, great grandmother on her wedding day, I knew I wanted a replica of the gown. As expected from a photo from 1890, it was rather low quality and unfortunately deteriorating. Every time I touched the image, another bit of ink seemed to fade or blur into nothingness. Despite this, I could still make out most of the details on the gorgeous dress. Given my determination to preserve the treasured image, I didn't look at it all too often. I'd made a great effort to keep the grainy photo from further eroding. Sealing the photo airtight in a Ziploc bag, I'd tucked it into a labeled envelope and kept it locked in my nightstand drawer.

Logan was my high school sweetheart. We've been together ever since he asked me to junior year prom. He's the first and only boyfriend I had. In fact, we'd been close friends since childhood, so much so that both our parents joked about us marrying when we grew up.

It was a lovely day when Logan proposed to me. The location may not have seemed anything special to your average person, simply the gardens of our neighborhood park. However, for us, it was the park we'd played in as children where we'd met nearly two decades ago.

Logan sat me on one of the aged swings that hung on the faded red set, the same swings that were nearly as old as we were. He'd gotten down on a knee in front of me and asked me to marry him, right there in the wood chips. Being the sentimental person I am, and how much thought he'd clearly put into the proposal, he had me in tears of happiness. Of course, I said yes without hesitation.

It was at our engagement party when a tall, strawberry haired, well-dressed man approached me. I felt like I knew him but couldn't quite place the name to his face, which was obscured by a pair of mirrored sunglasses despite being indoors. The scar on his neck stood out though, and I wracked my brain attempting to remember where I recognized him from.

Clack! Clack! Clack!

Interrupting my thoughts and before I even could open my mouth, the man spoke quickly but confidently in a hushed tone, "I heard through the grapevine you wanted an authentic Victorian wedding dress. I know where you'll be able to get the perfect, handmade dress better than you could dream. I was sent by the owner to extend this offer; he says to consider it a personal invitation." He took my hand in his own, pressing a slip of paper into my palm before letting go.

Taken aback by the unexpected and sudden encounter with the stranger, I wasn't sure how to immediately respond. For a moment, I just stared at him and blinked, then glanced down at the paper he'd given to me. On what appeared to be torn from a notebook page, the words 'Doherty's Dress Shop' had been scrawled, accompanied by what I assumed was the address, along with a date and time. It was only a few blocks away from my apartment, yet initially, I couldn't recall ever seeing it.

The man startled me as he suddenly spoke again, "It's the Victorian era styled boutique store," he told me, as if he'd read my thoughts.

Hearing that from him was all it took for me to suddenly remember the place. "Oh, yes! I've always been curious to pop in there and have a look, actually. Unfortunately, the place has always either been closed or I was in too much a hurry when it was open."

The man smiled widely. "Well, you'll finally get the chance to do so. Simply show up on the time I wrote. The owner has it scheduled as a personal appointment for you."

That night, I debated whether to go to the shop, ultimately deciding to. Despite the odd invitation, it easily could be explained. Likely one of my sisters or close girl friends, all of whom would be bridesmaids, had gone to the shop to surprise me. Yes, that had to be it, given how many times I remembered bringing up the place and my curiosity of it. As for the unnamed stranger who'd given me the invite, I gave up trying to remember where I recognized him, reason being he was obviously an employee of the shop he'd invited me to.

Upon entering the store the following Saturday, I was greeted by a tall, flamboyant man who I assumed to be the owner.

Clack! Clack! Clack!

The heels of the leather boots he wore clacked loudly, giving audio to his already striking appearance. Dressed in a button-down shirt with shiny gold and blue stripes, it had an oddly pleasing clash with the dark yet bright purplish hair that framed his face, which reminded me of a porcelain doll. On his right cheek bone, a small, black heart had been tattooed beneath his eye.

With a soft, almost harmonic voice, he spoke to me, "I see you accepted my invitation, how wonderful to meet you, ma'am!" The man smiled gently, "and congratulations as well, on the engagement."

Offering my hand out to shake, I said, "Nice to meet you. I've been looking forward to our appointment!"

He didn't take my hand, instead crossing his arms in a manner that felt a bit intimidating. However, the relaxed smile on his dollish face kept me at ease. "As have I! Your sister is acquainted with an employee of mine and happened to mention your wedding to him."

"Oh, yes, that would explain how you knew." Though it hadn't been exactly what I'd assumed previously, it made even more sense and calmed the bit of remaining anxiety I held.

"Mhm," the purple haired man nodded at me "I heard you had something specific in mind?"

"Yes, my great, great grandmother's dress," I reached into my purse to get the treasured photo, "I have a picture I brought with, in fact!"

The tall male wordlessly uncrossed his arms and held out a rather delicate hand. His long, slender fingers were manicured better than my own. I hesitated upon noticing how sharp his glossy, black nails appeared to be.

"Well?" he raised an eyebrow, "I can't read minds, you know," the tone of the man's voice was playful and friendly. Once again, my worries were put at rest, and I proceeded to hand him the photo.

Snatching it out of my hand, the man studied the photo in silence with a blank face for well over a minute. I figured the faded and smudged ink of it was causing him to struggle to figure out whether he'd be able to replicate it accurately.

When he finally looked up at me again, the soft smile had returned to his face. "I can most certainly do that for you," he spoke enthusiastically. "We'll make sure this dress both meets and exceeds your expectations. You must have a perfect dress for the big day. After all, weddings are always something to celebrate to the fullest extent. How about a lovely pair of white, leather ankle boots to match?"

I beamed, the idea sounding perfect. "Yes, absolutely! Thank you so much!" I agreed without a second thought.

The photograph was handed back to me. I looked down to inspect the old picture in my hand, expecting to see another mark of wear. Oddly enough, not only was it in the condition it had been previously, but the ink actually appeared less faded than before and the wrinkles not as noticeable. I would have thought more about the weird predicament of the photo, if it hadn't only then occurred to me, "What's your name, I don't think I caught it?"

However, by the time I looked back, the dark-haired male had disappeared. Shuffling through my bag, I took out the appointment card which I'd received at the engagement shower. Though I didn't remember any name being on it before, I was surprised to find it had been scrawled on the bottom: Julius Doherty. The name rang a distant bell in my mind, though I couldn't place it.

Tilting my head back up to look for the man who had seemed to vanish in thin air, I was startled to find he now stood directly in front of me.

"Do you believe in God, Casey?" Julius asked softly. His icy blue eyes locked on my own, catching me in a stare down I couldn't escape from.

I blinked at the question, confused at not only the seemingly instantaneous, silent way he'd moved but also baffled at the sudden curiosity in my faith. "Yes," I answered carefully.

"You believe in heaven and hell?" Julius asked in a manner that felt a bit more like an interrogation.

Nodding, I answered, "of course."

"Where would you rather go?" the man asked in a tone that filled me with dread despite the gentleness of his voice.

"Heaven, of course," I told him.

Julius chuckled, shaking his head to himself as if I'd said some joke and motioned me to follow. "Very well, let's go measure you for your gown now, dear. We must make sure it's just perfect!"

As odd as the man's behavior was, I foolishly wrote it off, chalking it all up to his obvious eccentric and rather quirky personality. Julius was odd, certainly, but as he began to casually chat with me about life and the latest celebrity gossip, the strange aspects of him were forgotten. As our lighthearted conversation flowed while he'd taken my measurements, he began to feel like an old friend. Julius was friendly, sweet and kind, even. He decided to make the veil for my wedding gown free of charge and when I pushed back, he insisted.

Once we'd finished covering all the bases for my wedding attire and scheduled my next appointment, Julius saw me out. He walked me to the door and held it for me, a real gentleman.

"You get home safe, now, Casey," he'd told me, opening the door into what I only now realized was early night. I could have sworn I'd been there no longer than two hours at most.

"I will, thank you again, really! Just gotta give Logan a call and let him know I'm alright. He must be worried," I reached to take my phone out. 8:30pm. How the heck had it been over eight hours?!

"You can just blame me," Julius chuckled lightheartedly. "I shouldn't have kept you so long chatting. Time is an odd thing."

I didn't understand exactly what he meant by the last part, so I just agreed, as I was running late already and didn't have the time to ask for an explanation. "It is. Alright, I must be going now. I'll see you in a month for the fitting appointment, Julius!" I smiled and gave a wave goodbye. Julius returned the gesture before disappearing into the shop, while I began my trip home.

The appointment for the fitting of my gown had been scheduled for exactly one month later. Today. I woke up this morning thrilled, clueless to the hell, quite literally, I would be walking into.

It was raining, and despite leaving a bit early, the weather caused me to run late, albeit only by a few minutes. I was half soaked once I made it into the shop, which seemed to be scented by fresh roses.

"You're late," Julius's voice alerted me to his presence. His tone was flat and he appeared to be rather unpleased by my tardiness.

"My apologies, Mr. Doherty, I left early actually. I'm excited for today!" I held my hand out to shake with an apologetic smile.

Upon hearing me, a small smile spread across Julius's face, though it appeared very forced. Rather than returning the offered handshake, the tall male simply crossed his arms across his chest as he'd done our previous meeting. "I, as well, have been looking forward to showing you the dress I've made for you." He turned on the heel of his boot, walking towards the back of his shop and motioning me to follow. "No need for such formalities between us, yes? It's just fine for you to address me as Julius."

"Alright, then, Julius," I agreed, following along, admiring the dresses and various accessories that the shop was packed with.

"Every customer of mine is special to me and means a great deal," he told me as he walked over to a curtain hung in a circle, obscuring whatever was behind it from view.

"You're a kind man," I chuckled.

"Oh, you're far too sweet, my dear," he laughed lightly.

For some reason, his reaction made a pit of dread form in my stomach. However, I didn't have more than a second to register it. At the same moment, he whipped open the curtain to reveal the mannequin that modeled what would be my wedding wear.

What immediately caught my attention was how life-like the mannequin appeared to be. A woman, strikingly similar to Julius's own appearance, down to the doll-like face. However, her eyes were ocean blue instead of the near white, icy blue of the dressmaker's.

"Do you like it?" Julius's voice cut through my distraction.

I looked at the gown finally and was taken aback by just how perfect it was. The attention to detail was stunning. Each bead and sequin was placed flawlessly in a manner that could have only been done by hand. The dress successfully made me forget about the oddness of the mannequin that wore it.

"Yes!" I nodded, blinking back tears of joy, "I love it! It's-"

"-perfection." Julius cut me off, finishing my sentence for me. The man smiled proudly at my reaction to his hard work.

"Beyond perfection, thank you, Julius," I beamed at him.

"Shall we get you in the gown to make sure it fits properly, then?" Julius began unbuttoning the gown to remove it from the mannequin, leaving it in a plain underdress slip.

"That sounds wonderful!" I agreed.

Julius showed me over to the dressing room. I changed into the dress in privacy, emerging only once I was ready for him to help button up the back and tie the corset for me.

Clack! Clack! Clack!

Bringing me over to a mirror, Julius helped me on a small platform.

"You remind me so much of my sister," Julius hummed to me in his soft voice, "you look just like she did on her wedding day."

He did up the buttons of the dress.

"Oh, you have a sister?" I asked while admiring myself in the gorgeous, hand-crafted gown. It was so flawlessly made that it may as well have been a true Victorian era vintage dress.

The corset was laced and tightened to the extent I could hardly breathe.

"I did," the man sighed, placing the lace veil upon my head. Julius stood behind as he adjusted it, while I watched both our reflections in the mirror.

"Did?"

A sad smile on the dressmaker's face was visible. "Yes," Julius spoke, "but she's dead now." There was something about the way sweetness dripped from the words that made my stomach twist.

"I'm sorry to hear," I turned my head to look him in the eyes while expressing my condolences.

"Don't be," Julius's voice grew softer and sickeningly sweet, "she was a real bitch." To my horror, his sad smile warped into a demented grin, showing razor sharp teeth that were inhuman.

"Excuse me?!" I attempted to back away but didn't get very far as I stumbled on the long gown.

Clack! Clack! Clack!

The sound Julius's boots made was deafening as he stepped forward, grabbing my wrist and digging, what I realized in terror were claws, into my flesh. Julius's expression grew unsettlingly gentle again as he spoke, "just as I said, she was exactly like you. No worries, though, my dear Casey! I'll turn you perfect just as I did for her!"

Those words made it click why the mannequin which had modelled my  dress resembled the man, the demon, in front of me. That…had been his sister.

I yanked my arm out of his grip in disgust and fear, adrenaline helping me ignore the pain of his claws ripping through my skin. Julius just stood there, watching me with icy, dead eyes and an unreadable expression as I backed up, clutching my injured arm to my chest.

"You…you fucking monster!" I spat.

Clack! Clack! Clack!

I'd made him angry, furious. He reached a clawed hand out towards me again but I managed to just escape it, making a mad dash towards the door.

Clack! Clack! Clack!

I tried the handle but it was stuck, locked. I was trapped.

Clack! Clack! Clack!

I felt my stomach drop as outside the glass, the world blurred and faded until it was nothing but black. It was surreal to witness, as if suddenly everything had been drowned in the darkest ink. There was truly nothing beyond the window panes of the shop.

Clack! Clack! Clack!

"Unfortunately, heaven was never an option for you," Julius hummed.

Clack! Clack Clack!

He was right behind me now. "You're in Hell, Casey."

"Let me go!" I screamed, turning to face my capture.

Julius didn't respond. He simply raised a hand and struck me across the face with enough force that I fell to the ground. Something heavy hit my head, there was a searing pain, and then my own vision faded to black just as the world outside the shop had.

I awoke strapped down on a surgery table in the most severe pain of my life. The stench of blood was mixed with the overpowering sweet scent of rotting roses. Looking down at my body, I realized to my horror, I was missing multiple patches of skin. Though I was still dressed in the gown, the fabric had simply been removed along with my flesh beneath. The amount of anguish my body was in prevented me from being able to tell if I was dreaming or not. I was still groggily coming back to reality when I heard the unmistakable sound.

Clack! Clack! Clack!

The clacking of the dressmaker's heels alerted me to his presence. My vision was blurry from pain but I could make out he carried a large pair of old, rusting, seemingly jagged scissors. The blood covering him confirmed that he indeed had skinned me.

Clack! Clack! Clack!

Julius leaned over me while threading a long needle. He almost was singing as he softly spoke, "Pain is perfection…and you'll be perfect forever…here, with me…in Hell."

I wrongfully interpreted this as him possibly wanting company, a friend. "I'll stay, be your friend even! Just don't kill me like this! Please!" I begged, "we can forget about all this and just chat and gossip and-"

Suddenly enraged, Julius cut me off with a smack across the face, snapping loudly, "what in the damn world would make you think I want your friendship, you worthless slut?! You'll be perfect company for me, once you're dead and cannot speak!"

Shocked and in even more pain, I didn't have a chance to respond, as he instantly switched back to a calm and relaxed demeanor.

"Why are you doing this?!" I finally managed to ask between tortured screams.

"Oh, I'm simply making you your wedding dress, my dear." Julius's voice dripped with sickening sweetness. The gentle smile on his lips contrasted with the pure maliciousness in his cold, dead eyes was enough to make bile rise in my throat.

I forced down a gag, choking out, "what?!"

"Skin is such a lovely fabric," Julius hummed the words with a content sigh, stepping next to the stepping shift surgery table I was tied to.

The man stared down at me silently for a good minute before slowly lifting his hand which held the scissors into the air. As if to put on a display, he used his index finger and thumb to hold up the large, worn, but sharp scissors. He smiled for a brief moment before his expression changed into one of focus, with pure evil intentions.

Without waiting another second, the demon took the scissors to my skin, cutting in effortlessly. He seemed deaf to my screams of pain, like he'd tuned me out while going about his slow, torturous work. I thought I was going to pass out from the pain as the old, razor-sharp scissors unceremoniously tore into my flesh repeatedly. My vision blackened again, and everything spun. For a brief moment, I thought I'd be spared from any further agony before my death.

Then, just as my eyes drifted shut and everything faded, I heard his voice. "Oh Casey, wakey wakey!" followed by a painful jab of a large needle into my arm. A sudden, searing pain shot into my body followed by an intense wave of energy and euphoria. I looked over, becoming even more disturbed upon realizing his actions. It was a large syringe that he'd stabbed into my arm, obviously to inject some sort of drug into me.

"We can't let our bride fall asleep on her special day!" Julius sneered in the most gut wrenching sugar sweet voice.

"What the fuck is wrong with you, demon?!" I spat, energized by whatever concoction he'd given me enough to ignore the pain a bit.

"Nothing is wrong with me, my dear," Julius spoke softly in a tone that sounded like he genuinely believed the words. "The only problem here is you, in fact." He talked while continuing to cut into both my dress and skin.

My throat was raw from screaming in agony. The pain had become so blinding I was not sure whether I was beginning to fail to register it completely or if it simply encapsulated my entire existence.

"You see," Julius kept talking. When I didn't look at him, he smacked me across the face with a bloody, clawed hand, "hey! You look at me when I speak, goddamn worthless bitch!" The demon dug his claws into my cheeks, making me turn my head towards him. Shockingly, he appeared rather calm. "That's better." Julius patted my cheek then returned to cutting my body. "As I was saying, to make sure your dress is actually perfect and fits flawlessly, I have a trick."

"Oh lemme guess? You sew it right on me?" I managed the sarcastic comment through my misery. My brain ran at warp speed, fueled by whatever amphetamines had been given to me.

"That's exactly right!" Julius responded, delighted. "No need for new hair, so we won't have to scalp you," he smiled, "that's always a very painful process, no one has lived through that. You've actually lived much, much longer than most. I must say, I am impressed, Casey."

"Fuck you!" I spat.

"Such rude language," he responded as if he hadn't been throwing around curses moments ago. "And to think, in response to compliments? A 'thank you, Julius,' would be much more appropriate." He punctuated his words by cutting into my waistline.

"Stop!" I screamed, thrashing about in the restraints.

"Got to make your waist smaller if we want perfection, dear," he patted my cheek again with a blood soaked hand. "No worries, though, we'll get you right stitched up, we will!" A large needle pierced into my skin and I could feel the thread tugging my body into the shape he desired.

"For the love of God, stop, please!" I begged as tears streamed freely down my face.

"There's no God here, Casey, you're in Hell," he repeated his earlier words as he finished stitching me. The other side of my waist was given the same treatment, though I could tell he purposely was taking his time. His expression gave away how much he enjoyed my suffering.

Finally, once Julius was finished, he straightened up right. The noise of his boots could be heard as he backed away.

Clack! Clack! Clack!

"Time to put your boots on you!" Julius declared, moving to the foot of the table.

"Huh?!"

With a grin, the man held up a hatchet for me to see before raising it into the air, preparing to deliver a strike.

"Don't, please-" I never got a chance to finish my sentence.

In one, brutal but clean blow, the limb was severed. I didn't even realize I'd been screaming until I felt a hot iron press against the stump to cauterize it. That feeling was what caused me to screech so loud my vocal cords blew out.

Julius spoke as took his large needle and thread back up, "finally, you've shut the fuck up, thank goodness." With quick yet small pristine stitches, he sewed a white boot over the injury to replace where my foot had been.

I glared the best I could through the torture and my tears, ignoring excruciating misery I was in to give him the middle finger.

Julius simply rolled his eyes and stretched his shoulders before giving my other foot the same treatment as the first. This time he seemed to work quicker, almost in a rush. I couldn't scream but I didn't even want to anymore. Instead, I silently wept and accepted my fate.

…Clack! …Clack! …Clack!

He backed away again, covered in my blood. Julius wiped his face down with a cloth then told me, "Usually I prefer to do all my work in one go," he told me as he stared, seemingly admiring what he'd done to me. "However, I have a matter I must attend to briefly."

I must have given him the most baffled expression because he grinned and patted my cheek. "Oh, I'll be back Casey, don't you worry about that." Julius undid the one of the cuffs which had restrained my wrists down. The man took my hand in his own, placing what I realized was my phone in it. "Go ahead and amuse yourself while I'm gone, there is WiFi in Hell." And with that he turned on his heel and walked away.

CLACK! CLACK! CLACK! BANG!

Julius had left the room, slamming the heavy door behind himself in what seemed like a rage.

That leads me to where I am now, typing this out, trying to finish in time before he returns. It's been well over an hour.

Before I began writing this, I spent a brief bit of time searching up his name. After browsing various results, I discovered something that disturbed me deeply. His sister…Annabella O'Sullivan, she's my great, great grandmother. And she…she killed him, back in 1898. Behind his shop, she murdered Julius with a single bullet to the face. Which I realized is right where his heart tattoo now sat. It was only a few weeks later that Annabella disappeared under mysterious circumstances, along with her husband, my great, great grandfather. Their children had been left orphaned, which explains why I'm here today.

What led her to kill him remains a mystery to me. Maybe he'd hurt her…or maybe, just maybe, could she have done something that warranted her to meet the same ending which I soon will?

These questions will never be something I'll find the answer to. I don't have much time left. Once Julius returns, it's inevitable my death will come swiftly. I'm already bleeding out. My vision is turning hazy and I'm beginning to no longer be able to think straight.

I'm no longer afraid. Telling my story has come to set me at ease with my fate. The pain has faded to numbness. I'm already at peace, knowing this will all be over shortly.

One final time, I must beg of you: do not fall for this demon's tricks and trap. Don't fall for his disguise as harmless, he's anything but that. Should you be invited to a place by a tall man with a scarred neck, don't speak to him and run away as fast as you can. I figured out once you engage, these monsters can plant false memories. I never knew this shop, in fact, it never was here before I was invited. And if you fall for their ticks… then may Lord have mercy on your soul. I met the Dressmaker from Hell, I hope you never do.

Clack! Clack! Clack!

Please, tell my family, friends and fiancé, Logan, that I love them all, so very much.

Clack! Clack! Clack!

Sincerely,

Casey O'Sullivan

…Clack! …Clack! …Clack! …BANG!



Written by SanityisforLosers
Content is available under CC BY-SA

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