It was a cloudy day when I came upon a small village in the forest. I had been walking for weeks on my journey to see the wonders of the world, though I was yet to find much wonder.
My feet were sore, my leather shoes worn. The pack on my back had become such a heavy burden. I was happy to find a place to put it down.
The Ramshackle, which was aptly named, was a run down inn by the stream that ran through town.
It was all I could afford and even then I had to make up for my lack of funds by mucking out stables.
It wasn't the best of livings but I planned to stay for a month or so to rest my travel weary self.
After a few days I started to feel uncomfortable. The desperate need for rest had worn off and I started to notice oddities in the town. The market held nothing fresh.
Every day the vendors would bring in carts of food that was all at least a day old. No one smiled, even the children.
I put this down to the season but I couldn't shake a growing niggle that told me something was not quite right.
The largest home in town was a great mansion.
The strangest thing about it was it's cleanliness compared to the rest of the buildings in town and that it was connected to the towns water wheel. A wheel house turned mansion.
I found it strange but didn't pay it too much mind. That was in the first few days.
After a few weeks I started to gather my belongings, ready to head off on the road once more. I had stayed long enough in what I now realised was a place for the damned.
The clouds never cleared, the food was never fresh, in fact, it had taken on an almost rotting taste.
The water now appeared cloudy and still I had not heard a single chime of laughter from any of the village folk.
The horses I tended were weak nags of things, barely able to pull the small carts of the locals.
The only thing I had become drawn to was the wheel house. I never saw anyone come or go from it's gates. Never saw food delivered.
Over these dreary, harsh weeks my curiosity had stirred and I made plans on visiting the great house before I left.
I had expected to find a stuck up duke or duchess within it's walls, leeching all the wealth from the poor who serviced the town. If only I had been so lucky.
I collected my things from the Ramshackle and started the walk through town. Passersby eyed my pack hungrily. They seemed to cry for escape, their eyes expressing a longing to join me.
I wondered why they didn't just leave this place themselves.
As I reached the gates of the mansion I put the villagers out of my mind. The gates were iron, very well made and painted white.
There were no guards so I gently pushed the bars and, to my surprise they opened. I walked in to the beautiful manicured gardens.
The hedges were trimmed to perfection, the roses in bloom cast a perfume unlike anything I had ever smelled and the colours were over saturated hues of green, pink and yellow.
I had walked into paradise and yet as I continued my walk to the enormous double doors I couldn't shake that niggle. Something was not right here but I couldn't stop walking.
The pull to the door was getting stronger and stronger and I tried to turn from it as my panic started to rise.
Something unnatural was happening to me, like I was in a waking trance unable to escape the grips of whatever evil was pulling me closer and closer to the doors.
As I tried to fight it I noticed the doors. They were gilded with gold and from afar looked beautiful but the images depicted were those of a nightmare.
The stunning craftsmanship showed war and death and violence in a degree I had never seen. I started to hear screaming all around me, growing louder the closer I got to those doors.
My feet hit the stairs and carried themselves up to the door. My hand raised itself of it's own accord to push open the golden entryway and still the screams grew louder and louder.
The horrendous pain and anguish I could hear from inside this house made my heart bleed and tears welled in my eyes and began pouring down my face.
The fear inside me was something I had never known and have never known since except on my recollection of that day. The door opened.
The screaming stopped. A sudden silence. A marble foyer with a grand staircase.
I stood in shock and looked around at my surroundings, so unlike the pulling, the screaming, the terror I had just experienced.
Light shone through the windows as if the sun was shining outside, though I knew that not to be true. The house smelled of the roses in the garden.
The rug that ran up the stairs was plush and vibrant.
A noise came from my left. I turned and saw a door. It sounded like water on the other side and I followed it. Perhaps there was someone who could help me or explain this godforsaken town.
I pushed open the door.
And the pull began again but this time it was in my mind, sucking at my thoughts and my sanity.
Before me, inside the room, was a great half wine barrel with a pale, fat, naked giant sitting within. His head had been caved open, his brain exposed on one side of his head.
The gaping wound bled into the bath water in the barrel. As he turned to face me with dead, white eyes, he picked up a huge ladle.
He scooped up some of the water in the bath and as he poured it over his exposed brain I realised it was not water at all but milk.
With a great rumbling voice he began repeating the words "milk on the brain" over and over as he ladled more and more milk onto the hole in his head.
The pull on my brain grew stronger and stronger and all I could hear was the words and the splashing of milk and blood.
The world around me, began to grow black and I embraced it wholeheartedly as I fell to the floor.
I woke up on a path outside town. I felt as though something in my mind was missing but I remembered all that had happened. Had it been days? Weeks? I had no idea. I continued on my travels.
In the next town I tried to tell my story and now here I sit as an old man in this asylum, never having left it. My brain is still missing something. And I am forever craving milk.