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1

I found the memoirs of a long gone man, and I'm happy that I did.

A few hours ago, I saw a dream that will change me forever, and I have to share this with someone. But before I tell you, I need to explain the events beforehand for it to make sense.

I'm a history nerd who spends most of his time reading books in the city library and boasts about it to his only friend who could care less about it. Due to the negligence of my parents during my childhood, I read books in my solitude. I found history books engaging and the information I learned enlightened me. No longer I was a fool who reveled in his misery and found a way to feel superior to others. Call me whatever you want, but I don’t care, I have to cope with something. I picked history to major in university for this reason.

Two days ago, I went to the university as usual, and because of a local holiday, people left the school early. I went to the school's library and found it mostly empty. I woke up the library from its sleep with the echoes from my steps. Even I didn't expect it to be this silent, however. The worker greeted me, and we had a short chat as usual. She had been placing books back in their place since morning, so I didn't want to bother her any further.

I gave back the book I loaned a week ago and strolled into the library to find another book to read. I had to finish one book for a week, I made it a habit since high school, and each time I missed my goal, I'd gnaw my nails from anxiety. I got annoyed after 15 minutes of meandering around in the library and walked upon a random bookshelf. I closed my eyes and grabbed a random book from the shelf.

Excited, I opened my eyes to witness an abnormality on my hands. The pages of this "book" barely held onto each other and I had to be very careful not to spill the pages on the ground. The pages didn't leave a good impression either, it looked like someone dropped the book in a bucket of coffee and left it in their attic for centuries. It didn't have a name or any mark on its cover to guess it without opening it. The pages, however, made my skin crawl.

The smooth texture of the pages gave me the impression that several animals got skinned for it, and I found out why from the first page of the book. The Classical Latin must've been the norm of its time. I paid attention to my classes so I knew a bit of it, but it would take me some time to translate it.

I

“A couple of months passed since I experienced the cold nights of Lugdunum. In his infinite glory, Caesar is mopping up the last rebellious tribes in the north of Gaul. The tales of his heroic deeds warm the soul of his countrymen. Here, we're making sure that the barbarians don't get any weird ideas. It'll take some time before the administration plants its roots here. I don't see us leaving anytime soon. No particular event or person caught my interest as of now other than some senseless and rebellious whispers. I'll stop writing until something interesting happens. The light of civilization will endure, and I'll do my part to ensure its continuation.”

II

“Something particularly bothered me today.

As I was going to my quarter after dinner with the governor, I stumbled upon a mad individual on the town square, agitating the already uneasy residents. I approached him to take a closer look and met with his dismal eyes. In his torn-off clothes and unkempt beard, he resembled a monster more than a human. Flailing and weeping, the man jumped where he stood and pointed at me in the crowd. Fearing the worst, I ordered soldiers to arrest this man and disperse the crowd. If this got out of hand, I would be the one in trouble.

In the meantime, we found a local who understood Latin and asked him to make sense of that lunatic's ravings. He didn't seem to be willing at first, but after I offered him some gold, he told us a harrowing tale. The man used to be the best herdsman in the town, but one day, he disappeared into the mountains to the east. He didn't come back until weeks later, in terrible shape and mood. The situation worsened, he'd disappear once in a while and come back, telling mortifying tales that sent chills down their spine.

That was enough for me, the sun faded long ago and I had to sleep to recollect my senses. I didn't want to believe it at first, but I couldn't think of anything against it either. Who knew what horrors laid beyond the mountains? I've never been the type to venture out of the cities, so these thoughts frightened me even further. I hope they'll send me to Illyria for my next assignment.”

The next page was indescribable, I tried to make sense of the words scattered around the simple yet alluring sketch. A tall, obsidian black statue erected at the top of a mountain, stick figures on their knees and others with their hands in the air. Did he see this in his dream, and try to put it on the paper? Another theory of mine was that he attended a local ritual, which he found amusing, and wanted to immortalize it by drawing it. I assumed I'd find out more about it by reading the memoir, which I did.

III

“The governor informed me of a lost expedition deep into the Helvetian mountains. He expected their arrival at Lugdunum a week ago, but they were yet to return. He sent people to check the nearby settlements in case they went to the wrong place, but that didn't bear fruit either. In desperation, he kindly asked us to enter the deep, lush forests of the east. I had no idea what waited for us beyond the horizon, we had incursions with the Helvetii tribes.

Still, I couldn't refuse a direct request from the governor in a time like this, it'd be a political suicide. Additionally, I hated people running away from duty and didn't wish to be one of those myself. Half-heartedly, I accepted his request and prepared to lead a searching party of sixteen soldiers. They had the insomnia-inducing nightmares like me, but after promising them extra money and unmatched glory, they folded one by one. Our swords unsheathed and shields repaired, we plunged deep into the darkness.”

IV

“We traveled three days and three nights on the overgrown trails of Gallic forests. The wind picked up as we went past small settlements, and climbed up many hills to find a trace of the lost expedition. Our labor yielded no fruit, and we’re getting demoralized for a reason I’m not aware of. Some told me of a tall rock reaching the sky, like the one I saw in my dream, and others told me of beasts lurking in the depths of the alien forest. Even the most sanguine amongst us grew silent, anxious of the possibility that we may have angered the gods of this realm.”

V

“After seven nights of arduous march, we stumbled upon what remained of the expedition. Swords thrusted into trees and armor pieces filled the ground. Strange as it may seem, I realized that we would never find the group as if it swallowed the men whole. My heart pounded against my chest and cold sweat washed my face. Who’s to say it couldn’t happen to us as well? True, nobody could deny that.

It took eight painful minutes to reach that statue, but as I saw it on the horizon, I knew that it was the same stature as my dream. I estimated the figure to be two meters high, and the shining property of it proved to be obsidian. A cloth covered his face, with or without purpose by the sculptors. I could still feel the glare of the towering figure on me, however. As we departed from there, we found more and more of the same statues around the area. In time, it led us to an ancient city of great grandeur. A thick, greenish smog hovers around the city, and although some soldiers took a liking to this ghastly wasteland, I disagree. I didn’t try to think of the abandoned equipment around the area. We’ll spend the night a bit far off the entrance, and return by the morning.”

The next pages didn't help to my rising anxiety. It had ripped off pages or scribbled to the point I couldn't read anything. By this point, a cocktail of intrigue and fear grasped me, not willing to let it go until I quenched the burning desire for knowledge. I had to find what this man found in that forgotten place.

VI

“Exactly seven days passed since that day, I got terrified to the point that I didn't dare to write a single sentence until now. Thanks to the Gods, the governor saw my miserable state and allowed me to meditate for a week, or until I got better. To be frank with you, my dear self, I don't know how you survived that day, but if this isn't proof that men will triumph over evil, then I don't know what is.

As we woke up from our troubled sleep, I noticed the absence of some soldiers. The worst came to my mind, and I felt the intense need to venture into that place. Whatever the cost would be, I would bring those men back. I ordered soldiers to be careful as we didn't know something or someone lived here. We advanced in formation, and to my amusement, found the missing soldiers cowering in fear. They joined the formation, and we analyzed this strange area. The buildings didn’t make sense, their geomery was inconsistent and the ratios of stones seemed to be without order. I also encountered tall stones with faces carved into them. Compared to the statues outside, these looked quite primitive.

We approached what I thought to be the city center, and discovered a massive hole that didn’t seem to have an end. I looked at the abyss with courage, but all it returned was the cold, encompassing darkness. I shrugged and ordered the soldiers to leave this place. I didn't have the means or the mental hardship to scout this place. What I thought to be a simple retreat turned into a calamity.

A tentacle spurred out of the hole and slammed itself into the buildings next to us. We avoided the incoming rocks with their shields, and I quivered from fear. I always thought that monsters only existed in fairy tales, yet one stood in front of me, challenging my understanding of the world. It slammed itself next to us again, catching some of the legionaries off guard. These would be the first casualties of this beast.

Seeing no way other than to fight, as I had no intention of dying here and leaving my soul in limbo forever, I ordered the archers to shoot the tentacle. That worked for a brief moment before they got quashed by the projectiles of a destroyed building, ruining all of my hopes for escape. I peeked at my soldiers and noticed the same devastation in their eyes. Before a total route took place, I came to the front and ordered the soldiers to throw their shields. I knew, somehow, that the next hit would land on us, and told them to hold their sword above their head. If it could somehow immobilize the beast, we would have a chance to escape here.

As it prepared to finish, tears rolled from my eyes, and I thought of my family back at home. I felt at peace for a moment, realizing that I lived a good life despite the hurdles, surrounding myself with people I enjoyed and a family I loved. Then I realized it. I wouldn't die here and let it all go to waste. I closed my eyes and entrusted myself to the Sol and its light. I… no, we would prove to this foul being that it couldn't mess with men like its toys.

I opened my eyes and saw a ray of light piercing through the clouds. It landed on me, basking me in its purity. The monster hit us but got grave injuries, and retreated to where it deserved, the darkness.

I don’t remember the rest of the journey, but my men told me later that I fainted for a day. Even when I was awake, I seemed to be drowning in an ocean of thoughts until we came back. No words can explain the horror and the subsequent relief I felt back there.

Unfortunately, nobody seems to remember what happened there except me. My soldiers deny the tentacle, and the smog-filled city, claiming that I've been seeing things. Tch. Am I the only one who won’t get spared, and bear this burden for the rest of my life? Is this a curse, or a reward? I’ll never know, and it’s better that way.”

With that, I finished the memoir. By the end, I'd been through so many emotions that I couldn't even explain how I felt to myself. I didn't want to leave it here; it didn't belong to me for sure. Yet, in a twisted sense of selfishness, I wanted to explain this unheard account to someone, or at least use it for one of my homework. I slid it into my backpack and left the library as if I hadn't stolen an important piece of history. The sun disappeared beyond the clouds, and I pondered the man who defied his fate. Would a man like that ever come to this world again? Is that monster still here, lurking in the shadows? I got lost in my questions, and almost fell to a puddle.

My guilt became too much to handle, but the library would open in the morning. I put my backpack in a corner, and after a filling dinner, I went to sleep.

In the nightmare, I've been traversing in that same city he walked through. Ghoulish horrors peeked from the corners and the horrid air brought me to my knees. Trying to find an exit as fast as I could, I darted everywhere. Not only did I not find anything, but the city, and everything in it, closed up on me. The buildings leaned on me, and the walls crept up behind my back, defying the laws of physics in this barren realm. Everything felt so real at that moment like I'd never survive there. But the man, the writer, appeared with a shining sword in his right hand and gave me his other hand.

I woke up after crying a river and went to open my bag. I would apologize to the man by hugging his memoir. But the book wasn't there. I put it there with my own hands, though. How could such a thing happen?

So here I am, writing everything that came to my mind. Although I started quite disorganized, I calmed myself down as everything became clear. Even if I told this to my professor, he would laugh at my face, so I decided to write this on the internet. Someone might relate to the bizarre events that fell upon me in the last couple of days. May you be safe, and stand firm against the darkness.

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2024/06/15
21:39 UTC

3

My wife started acting strange about a week ago. Now I'm being charged for her murder.

It all started that night I took Charlie for a walk.

It was just another normal weekend night. I had spent most of the day tending to some much needed yard work, and I capped it off by reshuffling some of the boxes that had been piling up in the garage into a marginally more organized orientation. I was heading back inside to treat myself to a nice glass of cold, strawberry lemonade when I realized Charlie, our six month old German Shepherd, hadn't gone out yet. When I stepped through the interior garage door and into the kitchen, I saw his little ears perked up, his head tilted in a question that his expectant eyes had already answered.

"Wok!?" I said in that high-pitched voice owners use to get their dogs excited.

He wagged his tail and lifted his paw, shoeing it out toward me as if he were saying "yeah, that's the one."

"Alright, let me get your leash." I answered and started toward the front of the house to retrieve it from the hook next to the front door. But when I turned the corner to the adjacent hallway, I saw my wife, Evelyn, had already grabbed it and was halfway down the hall.

"Oh, were you going to walk him?" I asked.

She smiled. I could see she was tired. We had been married for a couple years, so I had a good understanding of her internal clock. She was definitely an early-to-bed, early-to-rise type of person. On the other hand, I couldn't have been more of a night owl. During the week, I'd slide into her schedule because I worked a sales job which required me to be up at the crack of dawn; then, on the weekend, she'd often stay up later with me—during the hours when I felt most active.

In a way, our relationship was like a well oiled machine. We were by no means perfect, and we probably had more differences than most other couples (she was creative and commissioned paintings, while I couldn't so much as draw the room I was sitting in), but we understood each other on a deep level, and our mutual love and commitment cleared the way for us to thrive.

That being said, I could see the stretch of fatigue pulling at her eyes more than usual. She had been working hard for over two weeks on this particular mural for a local dentist's office. It was a bit out of her wheelhouse in terms of subject matter, but she had received an offer she couldn't refuse, and now she was a couple days away from the deadline.

Sensing this, I held out my hand and said, "I got him. You go to bed."

"Are you sure?" She asked, ending the question with a yawn.

"Yes, babe. I could use the fresh air, anyway. And you look like you're about to pass out."

She giggled, and in that subtle moment, I had the thought that she was the most beautiful woman in the whole world. "Okay, you're right," she said and handed me the leash. "But I'm gonna make it up to you tomorrow. I know how much work you've been doing."

I smiled at her, and for a moment I forgot about Charlie, suddenly desiring to rush over and give my wife a big hug; that was, until he barked at me and started jumping up and down on my leg.

"Hey, I know, I know," I said, calming him. I turned back to my wife one more time, and that perfectly-imperfect image of her is still ingrained deep in my mind. Her dirty blond hair tied back in a ponytail, her green eyes half-shut with sleepiness, her genuine smile, the crinkle of her nose, and most of all: the knowledge that this was in fact the woman I married.

Because that would be the last time I ever saw her. The real her.

I started out the garage with Charlie, not thinking to close it. We would just be around the block, after all. The sun had already set, so I was guided by lamplight through our quaint little neighborhood. Charlie was a series marker, so I'd stop with him every other mailbox or so and let him do his thing, then it was on to the next. I remember the sky looked particularly clear. I could actually see the stars overhead. And the summer air was warm, if not a bit too warm. By the end of our walk, Charlie was panting.

I trudged behind him up the graded incline of our driveway and tunnel-visioned through the garage, not thinking twice about the garage lights being on until I flipped the switch to turn them off and the room actually got brighter

It's at this point I should explain how our garage lighting system works. It's actually quite simple. We have a motion-light system installed that activates when anyone or anything passes through the threshold of the garage. The motion lights stay on for a couple minutes to allow a person, say, exiting a vehicle, to see where they're going. The second light system is just your basic switch-activated lights. Nothing fancy there: you flip the switch, they turn on. Flip it again, and off they go.

Well, when I flipped the switch, and they turned on, I had a moment of dim confusion, because I remember seeing the lights on as I walked with Charlie up the driveway. And then a chill worked down my spine as I realized that, no, they weren't on—which means that the lights that were activated were the motion lights.

Which meant someone other than me had entered the garage less than two minutes ago.

My first thought was of Evie's safety, and I nearly booked it into the house. That was, until I heard a shoe slide against the cement floor. I froze in place, the hairs standing up on the back of my neck as if there was an electrical charge in the air. I swallowed dry air, and then in a single motion, I spun around and saw my wife standing beside a pile of boxes near the back of the garage.

"Holy shit!" I yelled and grabbed my heart. "Ev, you scared the shit out of me. What are you doing in here?"

That's when Charlie started to growl. I looked down and noticed he was baring his teeth at my wife. "Hey, boy, what's gotten into you?" I said and gave a couple small tugs on his leash. Then I looked up and noticed that the yellow drawstring hanging down from the pull-down attic stairs was swaying ever so slightly behind Evie's head, as if touched by the evening breeze.

"Ev?" I asked again, realizing she hadn't responded.

Another few seconds passed, and I was beginning to get really freaked out when finally she said something.

"Sorry, honey, I heard a noise down here after you left and came to check it out. It was a raccoon. It had found its way in here and I just managed to shoe it out with that broom." She pointed to the space next to me.

I turned and saw the kitchen broom had indeed been brought into the garage and was now leaning up against the tool cabinet.

"Oh, that makes sense." I said and startled a bit when I looked back and saw her taking a couple steps toward me. Charlie's growls had now become full fledged barks, and I had to pull him back to my feet.

Evie kneeled down and reached out to Charlie. "What's wrong, boy?" she asked. But the only response she got was more barks. Eventually, she stood up and said, "I think he smells the raccoon. That's probably what has him all riled up."

I considered this for a moment. It seemed like a stretch to conclude that the reason he was barking at my wife was because of the scent of some raccoon floating around the garage. But at that point my mind was willing to grasp onto any explanation just to sever the tension that was much more potent than any other scent in the air

"Oh, that must be it," I said and forced a chuckle. I scanned over my wife one last time. She looked exactly as I had seen her only ten minutes ago. Her dirty blond hair was tied back in a ponytail, her skin, mouth, arms, everything was the same shape and color that I remembered. She was wearing the same clothes. But… her eyes. She no longer looked tired. In fact, she looked more awake than I felt. I thought about it for a second and concluded that, well, of course she looks awake. She just fought off a raccoon. Anyone would be awake after something like that. But even with that rationalization, I couldn't shake the eerie feeling that something was off.

"Should we go inside?" asked my wife.

I realized I was still white-knuckle gripping Charlie's collar, even though his hostility had abated somewhat. I released a stale breath, drew a new one, then said, "Yeah, let's go in."

We both readied for bed in the usual manner. I kept a hidden eye on my wife, but she didn't do anything out of the ordinary. After ten minutes or so, her fatigue returned, and she yawned again.

"You know those are contagious, right?" I said and covered my mouth as I let out my own yawn.

She smiled and responded, saying, "You're contagious."

I asked her what that meant, and in response, she walked over to where I was standing at the sink and started making out with me. I'll be honest, I was a little surprised, but not in a bad way. One thing led to another, and let's just say I forgot all about the whole garage incident.

Well, at least for a while.

***

The next morning I woke up and opened my eyes to my wife's smiling face looking down at me. There was a large window directly behind our bed, so her face glimmered enough for me to make out the small freckles dotting her nose and upper cheeks. My first reaction was to tense up. My wife had never sat in front of me, bedside, like that before, and it took a second for me to adjust. But when I did adjust, I noticed a slight, warm pressure on my thighs. I leaned my head up enough to see a tray with powdered sugar dusted waffles, fresh strawberries, and some scrambled eggs.

"Good morning!" My wife greeted, picking up the tray. "I made us breakfast in bed!"

I was still a little groggy, but I smirked, nonetheless. I wasn't used to seeing this cute, diligent side of my wife so early, but I welcomed the change of pace. After all, it was just breakfast.

"Oh, thanks, honey. You didn't have to do all this. I know how busy you are."

"Oh, don't worry about me," she said and started slicing off a piece of the waffle with a fork. "I wanted to do this for you." She poked the powdery delight and started moving it toward my mouth.

"Oh, there's no need to—" but the waffle had already arrived. I opened my mouth and allowed it entry, then chewed what was surprisingly the most delicious waffle I could ever recall tasting. "Wow, there's so much flavor. You did this all yourself?"

"Mhm," Evie replied, pleased with my reaction. "It's a special new recipe."

"Oh?" I said in an inquiring tone. "What's in it? Drugs? It must be, because this is really good."

My wife giggled, her smile still radiant in the late morning light. She cut off another piece, and as she reached for me to try another taste, she said in a seductive tone:

"Something like that."

That was really the beginning of what I at first thought was an innocuous, if not somewhat positive change in my wife's overall disposition. I had mentioned that we were two years married, and things were just starting to round the bend of that much attested to "honeymoon period". I noticed over the past couple months that we were drifting off ever so slowly into our routines, going out on less dates, focusing less on our appearances around one another. It was a change that part of me regretted, but one in which I welcomed as it meant my wife and I were beginning down the long track of true companionship, not merely dopamine induced crushing.

That's not to say we didn't show love to one another as much as before, but the ways we expressed that love changed. We spent more time coordinating our lives, intertwining our work and hobby schedules, leaning into practical gifts and favors.

But now that whole track was flipping.

Every time my wife was in the same room as me, I'd notice her glancing my way, and if I made eye contact with her, she would run over to me (or leap toward me if we were watching something on the couch together) and attack me with hugs, kisses, and compliments about my appearance or just generally how in love with me she was. This also translated to our sex life, which was never bad, but it went from several times a week, to a few times per day that she'd solicit me for action.

Now, you may be wondering what the problem is here. And I felt the same way, too, for about a week. It felt awesome to be getting so much attention. And when it came to cooking or chores, my wife was working overtime to make sure I had to exert minimal effort. It was around Wednesday that I realized I had never asked about her commission. After all, she'd been spending so much time on the house that she must have finished already. When I asked her, she confirmed that she had in fact completed the mural and sent it off to [Redacted] dentist's office. I felt it was a bit odd that she didn't show me before submitting it as she usually did, but she said she was just in a hurry to get it off her plate. I accepted her explanation and shrugged the whole thing off. That was, until Friday evening, when I was taking out the trash with Charlie and happened upon Evie's mural stuffed into the dumpster.

I couldn't really make it out at first because the dumpster was so full and the mural was really pushed in there deep (for reference, our trash collection day is Saturday morning), but I saw Evie's signature on the edge of the rectangular canvas, painted black against the white background. When I pulled it out, I saw that her painting had been almost completely washed over with an assortment of different paint colors resembling a rainbow tie dye. The original mural was only visible through several dry splotches that the splatter paint had failed to cover. One of those spots was the main subject's large teeth, that now were no longer staples of cleanliness, but instead were rotting with toxic plaque.

My first question was why my wife would lie to me about this. But then, even more importantly, why would she do this to her own painting? Especially one she had been commissioned for. I thought all this through while walking back with Charlie. Well, less of walking back, and more of stop-and-go tugging him back. Charlie kept wanting to stop and seemingly curl up to take a nap, which I thought was extremely odd. It was as if someone had shot him full of horse tranquilizer.

And then I realized he had been acting this way all week, I just hadn't really noticed because I was too distracted by my unusually ardent wife.

I mentally traveled back to when the change in her behavior started. That night I left the garage door open. Then I remembered her standing there in the back of the garage, near all those boxes, and Charlie barking at her. I felt that same chill work down my spine.

What happened to my wife?

My heart was beating fast as I hung Charlie's leash on the hook and watched him waddle over to his bed and literally pass out.

"Everything okay?" Evie's voice sang out from the kitchen.

"Uhh, yeah," I muttered back. "I, uh, am not feeling too well, so I'm gonna go to bed early."

"Oh?" Exclaimed my wife. I saw her figure emerge around the kitchen corner. My mouth went dry. "Are you feeling sick?" She asked, holding a wooden stirring spoon in her left hand.

"Uh, maybe, yeah, I think so." I mumbled out.

She watched me for a moment, holding me in place with her eyes. For the first time in our whole relationship, I felt afraid of her. I was worried that she knew what I had found, that she could see it on my face.

"Well, that's too bad. I was just making some creme brulees for us. I guess I'll heat up some soup instead." Her voice went flat.

"No, that's okay." I started, waving my hand. "I mean, there's no need. I'm just gonna get some rest. My head hurts."

There was more silence. Then my wife responded, saying, "Okay, honey, you go to bed. I'll meet you up there soon. I just have to clean this up."

I nearly winced when she said she'd meet me there soon, but I held it back and said, "okay, love you."

"Love you, too!" Evie replied.

***

I couldn't fall asleep. I stayed laying perfectly stiff on my back, with my eyes closed, but no matter what I tried, I couldn't stop thinking about the mural. I considered turning over and waking Evie up to ask her about it multiple times, but I stopped myself. I would just ask her in passing the next day, maybe when I was going out the door. No need to confront her with something like that in the middle of the night. Still, the whole situation filled me with dread, as I considered what it might mean. And what might it mean, Michael? I thought to myself. That, what? She's not your wife? What does that mean? Just look at her, it's definitely her.

Just then, as if in order to confirm it really was her, I turned toward her side of the bed and opened my eyes.

I don't know what scared me more: the fact that my wife was awake and watching me, or that she was so close that I could feel the breath from her open mouth on my face. We stayed there, locked in a mutual gaze, for what felt like a minute before she finally breathed out two words:

"Can't sleep?"

I felt a rubbery ball roll down my throat and lodge itself there. I couldn't speak. And worse, I couldn't move. I felt like I had sleep paralysis. How long had my wife been watching me? Why was she watching me?

"Are you feeling better?" She asked and reached out to touch my arm.

Her touch reactivated something in the motor circuitry of my brain and I recoiled from her hand. My voice was a little trembly, but I continued anyway.

"Why did you throw out the mural?" I asked.

Evie retracted her hand, and for a moment I saw anger seep into the shallow of her facial features, but only for a moment. Then she returned to her playful smile. "Oh, you found that?" She giggled.

"Ev, why would you do that?" I asked.

"Well, I wasn't happy with the first one, so I threw it out and redid it."

"In two days?" I asked incredulously.

Her smile faded. "Yes, don't you think I'm capable?"

"Of course I do," I replied. "But, I mean, you spent all that time on the first one. To just throw it out…"

"Well, it was bad, and I needed to redo it."

The last week had made me unused to her being this pushy, but I continued anyway. "Why was it bad? And did you send the new one in?"

"Of course I sent the new one in. It should be there now, hanging on the wall. I really don't appreciate you treating me like this."

I took a deep breath and tried to fit all the new pieces of the puzzle together. If Evie really had thrown the first mural out and made a new one, then submitted the revised one, then technically she never did lie to me. Although she was withholding a lot of the truth. Just what was it about that first mural that had her so upset? I wanted to ask, but I was getting tired now. The fact that Evie was willing to talk this out at all made me optimistic that we could work through it tomorrow.

"Okay, I'm sorry for raising my voice." I said. "I just didn't know any of that, so it kind of caught me off guard when I saw your mural in the dumpster."

She sighed. "It's okay. I know I should have told you earlier, I was just a little embarrassed is all. Can we talk about it more tomorrow?"

"Sure," I said. And that was the last of our conversation for the night.

But I still didn't get much sleep. Every time I tried to drift off, I pictured my wife next to me, eyes and mouth wide open, watching, waiting, breathing…

***

I got up early and told Evie I was going to get some supplies at the Home Goods store. She protested, saying how my breakfast would get cold, but I assured her I wouldn't be too long and with a little time in the microwave, it would be just fine.

When I got to the store, I didn't go inside. Instead, I stayed in my car and called Evie's mom. We had been close ever since Evie and I started dating, and I figured her insight may prove to be fruitful.

"Hey, Kris!" I answered.

"Oh, hey Michael! How are you? It's pretty early, is everything okay?"

"Yeah, sorry about the hour. I just…well, there's been some things going on with Evie recently and I wanted to pass them by you, if that's alright."

"Of course. Is she okay? Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I mean—I think so. It's just, I was wondering, if it's not too personal, if there's any psychological disorders that run in the family." I sighed. "Sorry, let me tell you what's going on. Last week Evie started acting differently. I mean, not necessarily a bad difference, but she's been super lovey-dovey, like to extreme proportions, and the other night I found one of her murals that she spent over two weeks on in the trash. She never even told me she threw it out. I guess she didn't like the design, so she redid it in two days. And also she's been cooking a lot. And, like, many advanced dishes that I didn't even know she was capable of. It just… it doesn't feel like my Evie, you know what I mean?"

There was a brief silence, and I was afraid I might have offended her. But before I could apologize more, she cut in.

"Yeah, I hear you. In terms of psychological disorders, there's none that I know of that run in the family. From what you're saying, it sounds a little like mania, but I'm no expert. Maybe encourage her to see one of those—an expert, I mean. A psychologist. But as for the mural, I couldn't really say. My mind keeps going back to the one event that kind of haunted her growing up. Not in a direct way, but I could see it bothered her."

"Event?"

"Oh, yes, sorry. Did Evie ever tell you she had a twin?"

"A twin?" I nearly shouted.

"Oh, I was worried that might be the case. Yes, a twin. Identical, actually. Which is kind of funny considering what you've told me, but I don't think there's any cause for alarm. Macy, her twin, died during childbirth. Only Evie survived. I told her around the time she turned eight, and I could tell it had an effect on her heart. That's around the same time she started drawing. Her pictures were always very innocent, but as you know, when she got older they started to take on a darker tone."

"Yeah," I said, remembering all the pictures Evie would show me of shadowy portraits, mired with sad and scary undertones. She drew many things for various groups online, many of which solicited her services via Instagram and Reddit. That's why when she told me about the Dentist painting, I was a little surprised.

"Anyway," Kris continued. "I don't know if that was very helpful, but I do think you should take her to see someone. You know she loves you, Mike. She tells me all the time how lucky she is to have you in her life."

"I know, Kris. And, yes, this was extremely helpful. Thank you."

When I arrived back at home, Evie was vacuuming the living room. It already looked spotless, but apparently some dirt had built up in the carpet during the two days she hadn't tended to it. I nuked the breakfast Evie had left for me and ate it standing at the counter, contemplating how I should broach the idea of therapy, when I noticed Charlie's food bowl. It was nearly full.

"Hey, honey," I called. I heard the vacuum stall out, then turn off.

"Yeah?"

I rounded the corner to the living room. "I think we should take Charlie to see the vet. He's been acting off lately, and he hasn't touched his food."

"Oh," Evie replied. "Sure, yeah, I can take him."

"I think I'll take him in tomorrow, if that's okay."

"No," Evie snapped, and I saw that same angry expression from the prior night. Her nostrils flared, eyebrows bent, and eyes squinted with suspicion. Then it was gone. "I mean, there's no need for you to bother yourself with that. I can do it."

"But I want to take him. He's my dog, too, you know. How about we go together?"

I could see the conflicted expression of Evie's face as she bounced between her normal bubbly self and the angry needs-her-way self. Finally, she gave in. "Okay, fine. We can take him together."

"And while we're at it," I said, not missing a beat, "I think we should see a therapist."

"A what?" Evie said with disgust.

"A therapist. A good one. If you want to go alone, I'm fine with that, but I'm willing to go with you if you'd like."

"What on God's green earth would I need a therapist for?"

I pointed at the carpet. "Babe, you cleaned that carpet literally two days ago. The whole house is spotless. You cook every meal for me, including dessert. You're clearly having some kind of manic episode."

She was fuming now. Her cheeks were filled with blood and looked like she had caked on rouge. "I do not have some kind of mental illness." She stated firmly.

I let her own words hang in the air for a full minute, doing nothing but stand and look at Evie. After a while, her shoulders sank and the heat left her face. "Okay, fine. I see your point. I'll see a therapist."

"You'll see a therapist next week." I added.

"Fine. Next week. I'll set it up on Monday when the offices open."

"Okay," I said and felt a weight lift off my shoulder. "I'm sorry, honey, I just really care about you and want you to be well. Maybe it's nothing, but if it is something , don't you want to nip it in the bud?"

She agreed, albeit reluctantly, and for the rest of the day, she hardly said anything to me.

***

I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound glass shattering in the upstairs studio. I reached over to Evie's side of the bed, but it was empty. I sat up, listening, and heard another crashing sound. This one was a little more blunt, and I could tell that something had been thrown at one of the walls. I got up and entered the hallway. The studio was at the end of the hall. The door was closed, and the only light I could see was a white incandescence seeping out from underneath the studio door. I approached slowly, seeing shadows moving in the light. Then I pressed my ear up against the mahogany frame.

There was complete silence.

I reached down and placed my hand on the knob. My breath was shallow and the tendons in my neck felt like cords. I gave the doorknob a wiggle, and then twisted it open.

On the other side, I saw my wife standing in front of a large canvas, facing away from me. The walls were splattered with paint of all kinds of color, dripping down and infusing the air with the smell of acrylic. My head became nauseous almost immediately. Then, scattered around the walls, I saw broken glass jars and snapped paintbrushes and torn canvases.

"What?" I murmured, almost too quietly to hear my own voice.

The picture of my wife's face when she turned around will stay with me for the rest of my life. It was coated with black, blue, and purple paint. Some of it was dried onto her skin, some of it was wet and bubbling like dark tears or inflamed boils. Her eyes looked especially white against the contrast of her painted face. Her gaze was hard: piercing, even. Paint was dripping off her nose, cheeks, and chin. I watched as her tongue poked through her mouth and licked the bubbling paint off her top lip. She swallowed it, then walked straight past me out of the room.

I didn't breathe until I heard her take the final stop down the stairs. Then I nearly collapsed onto the floor. My head was spinning from the toxic paint fumes, but also from fear. My saliva was hot, and I could tell I was on the precipice of throwing up. Before I ran out of the room, I saw the painting that Evie had been working on. It was the most disturbing thing I think I'd ever seen. It was a portrait of my wife, and of… my wife. There were two of them. The first one was an accurate depiction of what my wife normally looked like. Blond hair, pretty face. The second one looked like some kind of demon. She had dark horns sprouting out from the top of her head, and her face was shadow-like except for a huge, red Joker smile. The scary version of my wife was strangling the first one, and in the background, I could make out a stack of boxes.

Just then, I heard Charlie let out a series of barks. This caught my attention immediately, and I sprinted out of the studio and down the stairs. I was expecting to see Charlie barking at my wife, but she was nowhere to be found. I turned on the lights as I crossed from the living room to the dining room, where Charlie was standing, and scooped him up in my arms.

"Okay, boy, time to go." I said. Then I ran with him through the kitchen and into the garage, tapping on the automatic door opener which reeled back the large garage door. It was at that moment, that I saw the yellow rope leading to the attic above the garage and remembered that it was swaying the night I had left the door open. The night this all started.

Looking back, I should have just ran out of there with Charlie. My car was in the driveway. I should have gotten in and drove off. But… I just had to know. What was in the attic?

I set Charlie down and told him to stay. He had stopped barking, so I figured wherever that thing masquerading as wife was, it wasn't close enough for Charlie to smell it. Then I stepped over a couple small boxes and pulled on the drawstring, retracting the panel and a half-flight of wooden steps leading up to the overhead attic. I pulled the string all the way down so it was stable, then unfolded the stairs so they touched the cement ground. Immediately, I was hit with the pungent odor of decay. It smelled like there was some kind of gas leak up there. I covered my nose with my shirt, then climbed up.

The attic was tall enough for me to stand and walk through so long as I bent every now and then to dodge one of the triangular support beams. When I actually emerged at the top, the scent was even worse. It smelled like a butcher had been fermenting high meat all along the walls. I took out my phone and activated the flashlight, then waved it around. The first thing I saw was my wife's paintings. There were loads of them, scattered all around the edges of the wall. I looked closer at a few of them and saw they were dark. Most of them were portraits of some witch-like figure, but occasionally there were ghosts or other spooky things. Just who has been commissioning these?

And then I arrived at the source of the scent. A blue tarp had been thrown over whatever it was, and I could see flies swarming around it. I already knew what I'd find. Part of me wanted to leave it untouched, so that way I wouldn't ever really know, but I couldn't do that. I wanted to know. So I reached down and pinched the tarp, then threw it off my wife's decaying corpse. She was clothed, thank God, and mostly still recognizable except for the maggots which had started eating her eyes. I turned and threw up on the ground next to me. And that's when I saw the Ouija board resting against one of the posts. It was in immaculate condition, and just as I was about to go grab it, I heard Charlie start barking down below me.

Shit.

I turned back to the entrance of the attic, but it was too late. Charlie's barks became whines, and then one final cry before going silent.

"Buddy?" I called down.

No response.

Someone had turned off the lights, so all I could see below was the dim reflection of the moon coming in from the opened garage door and landing on several of the shiny objects. I waited at the top of the aperture, picturing my wife's eyes staring up at me from the garage below. I felt my heart pumping in my neck and ears.

"Ev? You there?" I called, hoping that I could get the thing to give away its position.

More silence.

I tested the first step, and to my dismay, it creaked. I retracted my foot, listening. But there was no reaction. I skipped the first step and stepped down onto the second one. I kept picturing my wife standing just out of sight in the darkness, watching me. But I continued until I was on the ground. I took another step and felt something obstruct my path. It was Charlie. I bent down and rubbed his fur, and although I couldn't see it, I could feel the holes where he'd been stabbed and the blood slicked over my hands.

I took another look around, now imagining her somehow suspended in the upper corner of the ceiling. I eyed the open garage door. Was it really going to be this easy?

I counted down in my head, and when I hit "0", I sprinted out the door, down the driveway, and into my car. Somehow I made it in and clicked on the ignition. Then I was driving away.

I called the cops as I drove to my brother's house (he lived a couple towns away) and told them everything. Mostly they were concerned with the dead body I had mentioned in the attic above my garage. When they heard that, they said they'd be dispatching officers right away. Of course, they wanted me to stick around and answer questions, but I told them there was no way. Not with that thing in my house.

However, after they secured the area, they said they didn't find anyone else in the house. Everything was as I stated, including the body of my deceased wife, but there was no imposter. No "other" version of Evie.

I'm writing this now because charges are being levied against me in the case of my wife's death. My story is obviously unbelievable, and I see now how dumb it was for me to call the cops, but at the time, I just wanted to do the right thing. They think I killed my own wife. My sweet Evelyn. But I didn't. Whatever did kill her is still out there.

What's more is that the next day, while I was getting some supplies out of my trunk, I noticed there were drops of blue and black paint on the floor mat. My stomach dropped as I realized the imposter had been in my car the entire time, using me as a means of escape.

I told my brother, but I don't even know if he believes me. Still, I know what I saw. I know the truth. And I know where that thing likes to live.

I asked my brother if he has any attics in his house, and he said he has two. One above the guest bedroom on the second floor, and one above his garage. I haven't checked them yet, but I'm scared what I'll find if I do.

But I'm even more scared about what'll happen if I don't.

0 Comments
2024/06/15
21:35 UTC

7

Sweet Summer Child

I used to work at this corner pub in a small Minnesota town. More of a bistro, I suppose, but it’s always been called a pub. I mostly handled orders, cleaning, and mixing the occasional drink. I was pretty much the only one working there apart from the two owners; an older couple in their 70’s. I thought about looking for another job, but the owners had made it clear that if I stayed to help out, I’d be first in line to buy the place for cheap once they retired. It was a good deal.

But working in a place like that takes some time getting used to. There are plenty of locals to get to know, and you have to understand who’s who, and who does what. And while most of these people are harmless and quirky, there was that one couple who just rubbed me the wrong way. I want to share my experience with these people. For some, consider this a warning. For others, it might answer a couple of questions you didn’t know you had.

 

Pat and Angela Fisher were a couple of locals who only showed up once per year. They usually kept to themselves. You might spot one of them out shopping for groceries or getting gas for their car, but they weren’t really the socializing type. There’d been a lot of speculation as to what their deal really was. Some thought they were religious nutcases, while others thought they might hold some extreme political views. Personally, I wasn’t sure. They seemed harmless enough.

The Fishers visit our pub once per year. They get dressed up and go out for a bite to eat. Those who’ve lived in this town long enough know that they do have a daughter, Elena, but that she never goes out with them. Not even on nice nights like this. You can see her as you drive by their house sometimes, but most people had no idea they even had a child.

 

I’d worked at that pub for five years when, once again, the Fishers walked in. Pat had dressed up in a brown blazer with a black shirt, while Angela had this plain white summer dress. And as always, Elena wasn’t with them. Still – it seemed to be some kind of special occasion.

I walked up to them and tried making some small talk about being dressed up, and wished them a lovely evening. They gave me nothing to work with. No hint at what they were doing, or why. They just ordered their meal and sat, in silence, looking out the window. I snuck back into the kitchen and mentioned it to the owners. They rolled their eyes at me.

“They’ve done this every year since their girl was born,” the old woman said. “I think it’s a birthday… thing.”

 

I let my curiosity get the better of me. My final interaction with the couple was casually asking them how Elena was doing. Without skipping a beat, Angela answered. She didn’t even look up from the table.

“She’s fine. Everything’s fine.”

And that was that. Discussion over.

 

The Fishers had a simple meal and a glass of red wine each. As soon as they finished, they paid with cash, gave a decent enough tip, and left. They seemed to be in a hurry, so I tried my best not to get in their way. Still, I couldn’t help being curious. Everyone knows there is something strange about the Fishers, but no one really knows what, or why.

As we closed for the night, I cleaned out the booth where the Fishers had been sitting. I noticed something unusual; Angela’s purse. She’d put it aside at the beginning of the meal and must’ve forgotten about it. I was going to return it, obviously, but a part of me couldn’t help but to look a bit closer. Maybe there was a hint as to what their deal was. I’m not proud of it, but I rummaged through that purse.

But there wasn’t much. A written phone number to some guy named ‘Tom’, a couple of loose bills, some makeup, tissues, and a couple of hundred in loose bills. That was pretty much it. No phone.

 

I decided I’d give it back to them that same evening. I was feeling a bit guilty about looking through their personal belongings and figured I’d do something nice. Maybe they were just an odd couple? Maybe I was just being judgmental?

After my shift, I got in my sky-blue Nissan and made my way to the Fisher’s house. I see it every time I go to work; it’s not too far off my route. It was about 10pm when I stopped in their driveway. I figured I’d just be in and out, so I didn’t bother to lock it. I left it in the driveway, along with my take-home leftovers. I left my phone there too – it was charging.

The Fishers had a nice home. A large two-story house with a separate garage and a small guest house out back. I’ve always loved the color of it; a mellow green with white edges. Kinda clashed a bit with the blue sunflowers in their front garden though.

 

The moment I reached their door, I could hear a rumble in the sky. It was shaping up to be a rainy night. I looked for a doorbell, but couldn’t find one, so I knocked on the door. Something in the air shifted. A sudden lack of sound. As if there’d been a noise coming from inside that I only barely registered, which stopped with my knock. Were they talking?

Pat opened the door a bit, but it was stopped by a chain. His eyes went wide. I immediately got the impression that there was some urgency to this.

“Yes?” he said.

“Just here to give back the missus’ purse,” I smiled. “You forgot it at the-“

“Yes, of course,” he interrupted. “Thank you.”

He reached out and grabbed it through the gap in the door. Just as he was about to close the door, I heard the screech of a chair being suddenly moved across the floor. I caught a glimpse of someone. Then the door slammed in my face. I figured that was just Elena in the background, so without thinking too much about it, I blurted out.

“Good to see you, Elena! Have a good one!”

 

I turned to get back to my car before the rain came, but there was a click at the door. Pat threw the door wide open, calling out to me.

“Wait!” he said. “Sorry, I-… I was being rude. I’m sorry about that.”

“No problem,” I shrugged. “Y’all have a good one.”

“No, I can’t accept that,” he chuckled. “Why don’t you come in? We’re having some rhubarb pie.”

“That’s alright, but thank you.”

“I’m sure Elena would appreciate the company.”

I had another look at him, and then back at my car. Every polite bone in my body was screaming at me to just accept, but another part of me just wanted to leave. Even now, I couldn’t help but to think there was something off with the Fishers. Even at the expense of homemade Rhubarb pie.

“Tell her I said hi,” I smiled, and got back in my car.

 

The rain was coming. I saw Pat get back inside the house as I put the keys in and fiddled around with the wipers. I made sure the alarm was off – it can get a bit glitchy at times. Looking straight ahead, I noticed Pat Fisher coming back outside; holding something. Someone was screaming from inside the house.

“Honey, wait! Wait! She didn’t-“

Pat Fisher raised a pump-action shotgun, and my ears were ringing before I saw the muzzle flash.

 

I threw my hands up as a barrage of shotgun slugs blew holes into the hood of my car. Moments later, the car door flew open. I was staring down the barrel of a gun with an anxious Pat Fisher on the other end. He was close enough for me to see the specks of rain on his glasses.

“Out!” he screamed. “Out! Now!”

His wife was standing in the doorway, screaming herself hoarse. I just held my arms over my head, kept my face down, and did as I was told. My ears were screaming. It was as if something inside my ears had been cut by the noise of ripped metal.

“We can’t do this!” Angela screamed. “We can’t do this! It’s too soon!”

“What choice do I have?!” Pat screamed back. “She saw her! She fucking saw her!”

It’s as if my legs had forgotten they could move, so Pat dragged me out by the ponytail. Cold mud soaked into my pants as my knees hit the ground, and I was pulled up. With a gun barrel pressing into my lower back, he pushed me forward. Back towards the house.

 

Now, in the moment, I couldn’t really focus. My mind was running circles around me, trying to figure out what the hell was going on. But looking back at it, there was really nothing to give away just how strange the Fishers really were. There were pictures on the walls, a sign in the kitchen expressing love for the home. Neatly vacuumed carpets, and well-worn wallpaper. They’d lived there for a long time, and it showed – but in the way that makes you think of a proper home. And now, that illusion was shattered. I was pushed to the floor; my muddy jeans staining the flowery hallway carpet.

“We got years left, Pat! Years!” Angela cried. “We can’t do this! Not now!”

“It’s too late, and we’re dealing with it!” Pat screamed back. “If you’d just kept her in the kitchen, we wouldn’t be-“

They both quieted down and looked around. Angela hurried down the back corridor, into the washing room. Moments later, there was a struggle. Someone pleading, and Angela protesting in turn. Pat was anxious to go help, but he couldn’t let me out of his sight. Instead, he just stood there, calling out to his wife.

 

Seconds later, Angela returned. She had wrapped her arms around Elena, who looked to be around… 14, maybe 15 years old. She had shoulder-length brown hair, a black t-shirt and a pair of faded jeans. This was probably the first time I’d seen her up close. Elena was screaming at her mother to let her go, while Angela tried desperately to calm her down; hushing and hugging her. Elena was having none of it.

“There there, sweet summer child,” Angela groaned. “There there.”

 

After a short struggle, Elena realized she was going nowhere. For a moment, we all just stopped. The hallway echoed with struggling breaths as we all looked at one another; Angela still having her arms wrapped around her daughter.

“Upstairs,” said Pat. “One at a time.”

Elena looked at Pat in complete disbelief – then she noticed the shotgun. Her eyes widened. She didn’t say anything as the two of us were slowly lead upstairs. Angela stayed behind her husband, peering over his shoulder.

“We’ll figure this out,” Angela pleaded. “It’ll be okay. Just… just give us a minute, okay? Okay?”

I didn’t say anything. I just looked back at Elena, who seemed as confused as I was.

 

We were pushed into a small guest room on the top floor. I could tell someone had been living there for some time – the air was stale. But most notable were the iron bars welded to the window. They had no intention of letting us out of that room anytime soon. The moment we stepped inside, Angela apologized as the door slammed shut. There was a set of locks on the outside all clicking, one by one.

As the rain outside kicked up, we could hear the wind howling. The house groaned as it withstood the pressure, causing little creaks and cracking in the wall and ceiling. Elena sunk down onto her bed, burying her face in her hands. I reached for my cell phone – only to realize I’d left it charging in the passenger seat, right next to my leftover dinner.

“Do you know these people?” Elena asked.

It took me a moment to register her question. I looked at her, trying to understand.

“Y-yeah,” I said. “Don’t you?”

 

Turns out, this wasn’t Elana Fisher. This was a girl named River. She was 14 years old, and originally came from a small community just north of Phoenix, Arizona. She had only known the Fishers for a couple of weeks. Turns out – she’d been abducted. She had no idea what was going on, but at least she was unharmed.

According to River, there was no one else in the house. There was no ‘Elena’, and she couldn’t understand why everyone was calling her that. She’d tried to get out, but the Fishers had the place on lockdown.

“I have no idea why they’re doing this,” she admitted. “I… I have no idea. They don’t tell me anything.”

“Have they taken anyone else?” I asked. “Anyone but you or me?”

She shook her head.

“But I hear them talking sometimes,” she said. “Look.”

 

She leaned against the far wall, pressing her ear against it. I followed her lead, and I could hear muffled voices from down below. There had to be some sort of ventilation leading past the kitchen, carrying their voices through the walls. Pat and Angela were talking about something being “too soon” and mentioned something about “four years left”.

I tried to piece it together. I looked around the room. It was a repurposed childhood room, it seemed. The wallpaper was still brightly colored butterflies, and there were little notches on the side of the doorframe – the kind you make to check how much someone has grown, year for year.

But the notches stopped after three years. After that – nothing.

 

Considering everything I’d heard about Elena Fisher, she was a pale young girl with shoulder-length brown hair; but that was pretty much the extent of what I knew. River fit that category really well, but so did a lot of girls.

“They said they would let me go,” River explained. “I just have to stay a little longer.”

“Did they say how long?”

“A couple of weeks,” she sighed. “But that was weeks ago.”

“Wait… so you were here all day? While they were out for dinner?”

“They locked me in the bathroom,” she nodded. “They were going to meet someone, and then they were going out. Seemed like a big deal.”

The note in Angela’s purse came to mind. This “Tom” fellow. An accomplice?

 

About half an hour passed. Then, suddenly, there were footsteps coming up the stairs. I could hear Angela pleading, and Pat responding.

“We can’t keep her for four years!” he yelled back down. “We can’t!”

“But we can’t just-“

My head was rushing in three directions at once. I thought about hiding, attacking, rushing past him – but ultimately, I did nothing. River and I just lined up against the wall, as far away from the door as possible. When Pat entered, I could tell he was unstable. His hands were shaking, and he had the finger on the trigger.

“You,” he said, nodding at me. “Out. Now.”

 

Angela stood to the side, her arms crossed. Pat lead me downstairs and out the back door through the washing room. No one said a word. By now, the rain was pouring down. My hair got stuck to my face, stinging my eyes. The ground smelled of wet dirt and some sort of chemical. Maybe ammonia.

The rain was relentless. I could hear Angela calling something out from the house, but I couldn’t hear what. Pat cocked the shotgun and spoke, seemingly to himself.

“We’ve gone too far to stop now,” he said. “We can’t stop now.”

I looked up at him, only to see the gun pointed my way. This was it. He was doing it. In that final moment, my mind was just racing with possibilities and last-second attempts, but I couldn’t bring myself to believe that this was actually happening. I was locked into this role of an onlooker, seeing myself through my own eyes; incapable of believing I was the one on the chopping block.

His eyes locked with mine. He was terrified.

 

Angela called out again, and Pat’s eyes darted to the side. She repeated something. His eyes waivered as he looked back at her.

“What?!”

“He can use her!” she called back. “We can give her to him, and he can use her!”

“Wha-… why?!”

Angela was hurrying outside, covering her head with a jacket. As she ran up to Pat, I tried to get out of the dirt, but he just turned his attention right back to me. I couldn’t provoke him further.

“If… if he can take her, we don’t have to worry. We don’t have to deal with this.”

“And what if he doesn’t?”

“Then we deal with it,” Angela nodded. “But… but if we don’t have to, that’s…”

“Yeah, no, I… yeah,” sighed Pat. “Yeah, that’s… that’s good. We’ll do that.”

 

As the two of them spoke, I looked around. We were in the back yard. At first, I thought it was a garden, but nothing was growing. There were little wooden markers placed in rows of five, for a total of ten. All of them numbered from 4 to 13. I looked down, pressing my hand into the dirt. Not too far to my right was another marker, with a “14” written. The soil there was harder, and there was a shovel resting next to it.

What the hell had they done?

 

I was lead back inside. Angela was standing off to the side, rocking back and forth. I could tell she was stressed out of her mind. She was looking at something on the wall; a wooden mallet. A one-handed wooden mallet, hanging right over the washing machine.

It had ten black notches on the handle. Same number as the markers out back.

“Sweet summer child,” Angela wept. “You’re coming home, sweet summer child…”

 

I was lead back upstairs, and Pat threw a towel at me to dry off with. As I was reunited with River, I couldn’t stop myself from weeping. All that fear that I’d been putting off hit me like a truck, and my entire body felt like it was shutting down. It was just this all-consuming, singular-focused fear. To go from this dissociating mindset to the full realization of what had been about to happen is… unreal.

I told River all I’d seen out there. The markers. The mallet. And taking everything into account, I tried to surmise my thoughts. They were doing something they had done before. Possibly as many as ten times. They were going to do it again, and possibly up to four more times. They had some kind of accomplice. All these bits and pieces were starting to paint a picture.

River was barely paying attention as she looked out the window, shaking her head.

“Don’t you get it?” she said, shakily. “Just look. What does it look like?”

I moved over to the window and looked outside. Neat rows, with five markers each. It could just be one thing.

“Graves,” I said. “It looks like graves.”

 

We had to do something. Anything. And as a bolt of lightning sailed across the sky, River had an idea. We counted down the seconds until we heard the thunderclap. Then, with River as a spotter, we carefully flipped a chair at the far end of the room and got ready.

Timed with the next thunderclap, I broke off one of the chair legs. A makeshift weapon, if anything. River pointed out that the storm was moving too much. We had to skip the next strike, as we couldn’t figure out the timing. But by the third strike, we broke off one more leg.

Leaning against the wall earlier, I realized that it was pretty thin. We took off our shoes and used our chair legs as a sort of chisel. One of the walls was made of gypsum, so there was a chance we might be able to punch a hole into the next room over. But we had to be clever about it. Counting down the seconds, striking at once, and being sure to count every other strike. We had to be slow, methodical, and precise.

 

It took some time, but the storm wasn’t going away anytime soon. We managed to punch a small hole through to the next room; just large enough for River to crawl through. Seconds later, she’d gone around and unlocked the door from the outside. I made my way out, quietly. There was no doubt in my mind that Pat would shoot the two of us if he saw us.

But before I could do anything else, River showed me to the room she’d crawled into. A small storage space. Apart from the occasional piece of furniture, most of the things in there were meant for a small child, or a toddler. I wasn’t surprised, but River was pointing at something specific.

A pile of picture frames. Elena, 1 year old. Elena, 2 years old. Elena, 3  years old.

Then – nothing.

“She didn’t make it to four,” River whispered. “So… what did they…”

We both fell silent. There was more to this, but I couldn’t figure it out. Not yet.

 

We could hear them talking downstairs. Something about a “stranger” showing up in the morning. “Just one more night” Angela pleaded. “ Pat wasn’t convinced, but reluctantly seemed to agree.

As they talked, we considered going through one of the windows. Making our way to the end of the upstairs hallway, we found the Fishers’ bedroom. All neatly organized and clean. We snuck up to the window and cracked it open. Using my arm, I helped River climb out. She had to do a bit of a jump, but it wasn’t all too bad, and she landed in soft soil. But as I turned to climb out, I could hear the conversation downstairs was ending. They were moving around. I pointed at River and waved her off – silently begging her to go get help.

Then I shut the window and hurried back to the room. There was no time.

 

I had to hide. I propped up my jacket and a pillow in the bed in the room to make it look like River was sleeping, and I hid the broken chair behind the door. I figured if I stood far enough to the right, they wouldn’t see the small hole in the wall at ground level. It was a long shot, but it just might work.

But as I got back to the room, there was one thing I hadn’t counted on; the lock. There was no way for me to lock the door from inside. And before I could even begin to figure it out, Angela came through the door.

Angela looked over at the sleeping ‘River’ and put down two plates of something warm, along with two bottles of water. She looked at the door a couple of times, as if trying to make sense of what she was looking at. I think she concluded that Pat must’ve forgotten to lock it, and that we must’ve missed it. After all, why else would I still be in that room?

“It’ll be over by morning,” Angela whispered. “I’m sorry. About all of this.”

I said nothing. I just grabbed one of the plates, poked around at it, and waited for her to leave. She did – making sure to properly lock the door this time.

 

I figured I’d make another escape attempt, but Angela was waiting right outside. I could’ve expanded on the hole in the wall and made my way out, but the storm was moving away and without a clear idea of where they were, I might screw it up. Then again, what choice did I have?

About an hour passed. I’d gone through a hundred plans in my head, but nothing seemed plausible anymore. That I’d gotten River out at all was nothing short of a miracle – one not very likely to be repeated. But there was a sound that snapped me out of my thoughts; a car alarm.

My car alarm.

Did River start it? My keys were still in the ignition, after all.

 

Moments later, there was chaos outside. Someone scrambling up and down the stairs. Shouting. A door slamming. I used the diversion to punch through the hole in the wall to the storage room, making my way out into the hallway.

The path was clear. I decided to head for the back door; I didn’t want to jump from a window and get a sprained ankle unless absolutely necessary. If I had to get away in a hurry, an injury would be a death sentence. Peeking around the corner, the stairs were clear.

I hurried downstairs, through the washing room, and out the back door.

Only to end up face-to-face with Angela Fisher, standing in the rain.

 

For a moment, we just looked at one another. We didn’t know what to do. My instinct was to run; hers was to call for help. But as soon as she opened her mouth, all that came out was this awful crunching noise. I hadn’t noticed River sneaking up on her, wielding the garden shovel.

Angela got the back of her head bashed in. It was like turning off a light, and she just fell, face forward, straight into the dirt. Not too far from the ‘14’ marker. There was no time to think. I grabbed River by the hand and beelined for the woods.

We barely made it to the treeline before I heard this painful death-wail. You never forget that kind of scream; the emotional equivalent of having your heart torn out of your chest.

Pat had found his wife.

 

Holding River by the hand, we made our way through the underbrush, and into the woods. The rain made every branch, root, and rock slippery. Leaves stuck to my face and clothes, but we pressed on. Every now and then, we’d hear a distant scream; sometimes coming closer, other times seeming impossibly far away.

Then, a gunshot.

We threw ourselves to the ground, covering our heads. We crawled to safety behind a large rock, listening intently to where the shot came from. Pat was rambling. Screaming, really, to himself.

“One life for every year, that’s what he wanted!” he cried. “One year until she’d be old enough to care for herself! To care for herself where… where we couldn’t! We’ve made it so far! You can’t take this away from us! You can’t! You can’t!”

River held my arm tight as we listened. We could barely hear anything over the rain, but I could tell the general direction. He was coming our way.

“He comes every year! And every year, we do it right! We’ve done it right! We’ve done everything… EVERYTHING right!”

 

He was getting closer. River and I looked at one another, but there was nowhere left to go. Just getting up would expose us. All we could do was stay down and wait, hoping for Pat, and the storm, to pass.

But we weren’t so lucky. Pat stepped out next to us, panting like an animal. He turned to us, as if knowing exactly where we were hiding. Despite the rain, I could tell he’d been crying.

He raised the shotgun towards us yet again, wailing like a wounded animal.

Click.

 

Nothing. Maybe he forgot to cock it. Maybe he was out of slugs. Either way, our hearts skipped a beat, and I burst into action. I grabbed River’s shovel, got up, and swung for the fences. The shovel connected with Pat’s hand, breaking three fingers.

A moment later, we were in an all-out brawl. Punching, kicking, biting, strangling.

And it wasn’t over until River finished it with a large rock coming down on his head. Only then could I hear the rain again, but my ears kept ringing with Pat’s wailing scream long after he went quiet for the last time.

I can still hear it, if I listen close enough.

 

It was a long walk. A desperate call for help. But by morning, we were safe.

 

Now, I’m sure some of you have heard of this. Maybe it rings a bell. The articles talked about an isolated couple who had no less than 10 bodies buried on their property. A mad way of grieving for a lost child, who never made it to four years old. Most of the articles didn’t mention kidnappings, or how they were killed. I never saw my name, or River’s, thankfully. There was one state-wide newspaper who mentioned two “bystanders” being responsible for bringing this to the authorities’ attention.

Last I heard of River, she was reunited with her family back in Arizona.

I’m still working at the pub. This all took place some time ago, and I’ve done my best not to talk too much about it, or dwell on it. I still get panic attacks thinking about that gun pointed at my face, and I can still hear wailing screams at night. But apart from that, I’m okay. At least physically.

 

But not too long ago, a man walked in. I hadn’t seen him before, but he was impossible to miss. The man was at least 6’7 and wore all black. White hair, and these intense, terrifying, blue eyes. He had lunch, introducing himself as “Tom”, and asked me a couple of brief questions about the Fisher’s.

As he finished up, he smiled at me, leaving me with a final cryptic message.

“Some folks will do anything for their sweet summer child.”

0 Comments
2024/06/15
21:12 UTC

0

Is my bf haunted?

I wish this story wasn't true and I also wish I had the imagination to create something like this. I met my current boyfriend online almost three years ago, he is such a sweet funny guy. We started having a long-distance relationship in 2022 and I was head over heels for him. He is caring, intelligent, and very charismatic. I visited him on our second anniversary it was the first time seeing him in person ( I know it was a long time but at that time I just graduated high school and was working full-time, so I finally had money for a visit).

The visit was amazing with no issues, it went so well that we decided to plan to move in together in the future. When I was back in my home state after our first visit together that was when the experiences started. I have always been sensitive to things such as the paranormal before, my family can recall times when I was a toddler I would say I could see recently deceased family members.

My boyfriend on the other hand believes in spirits but doesn't believe he would ever fall victim to one. The stress of moving across the country had put a strain on me a lot, I had a wicked case of insomnia from anxiety. Every night my boyfriend and I would video chat, as always he was quick to fall asleep as I would stay up thinking about the endless task list with packing.

That night I felt a rush of panic, not from my normal worrying and excessive thinking but I felt as if I was in immediate danger. I tried my best to close my eyes and relax as the night went on it surely reached around 2 am, when I heard the rustle of shifting around from my phone. My boyfriend was rustling around but not the normal he happened to be awake noises.

I could hear him still softly snoring as it sounded from the other end of his room was rummaging noises. I picked up my phone to turn the volume up as I did my boyfriend spoke very loudly and clearly. "SOMETHING IS WRONG" then it was silence again. I was so scared I thought my heart was gonna pound out of my chest. I too scared to speak messaged him "Hey, are you awake? What's wrong???" Thinking a thousand thoughts of the possible danger he was in. Eventually built the courage to yell into my phone to get a response out of him, and he started lecturing me. He went quiet when I told him what he said. He said he was asleep the whole time, and he laughed it off. I would mention stories to mutual friends to get the same reaction as if it were a funny story.

Eventually, I made the move this May, and from the first night, I noticed things. I would have vivid nightmares almost every night since the move. Some as small as worries about my new job to some as brutal and horrific as being trapped with dead bodies in a room. I didn't tell him about these nightmares as I summed it up to being anxious. I was hoping the summer vacation trip would ease some of my anxieties about my new life.

As you would imagine this trip hasn't stopped my experiences but intensified them. The other night we were in bed and he was fast asleep as usual I had a terrifying nightmare. To put this into perspective the closet doors are just for length mirrors that can show the reflection of the whole room we were staying in. I was sleeping towards this mirror on the side closest to the mirror doors. My boyfriend was asleep on the other side closest to the wall. Between the wall and the bed, there was a decent gap that was easily walkable. This particular night I shot awake from fear of a dream I can't remember. As my eyes adjusted I looked into the mirror there I saw a white glowing figure standing tall hovering over my boyfriend.

I swear what I saw looked like wings behind it all white with no facial features just a beam of pure light behind was almost an aura of blue and purple waves gushing out of it. As fast as I saw it faded away until there was nothing but pure darkness again. This entity didn't feel like this evil or fear I felt before, but light. Sense then a few times at night waking up from a nightmare I can never remember I have seen glimpses of this pure white being.

It never stays longer than a few seconds, till it is pure darkness again. As well as this light, I felt another presence something like looming over me, like it was waiting and watching. This presence scares me, before this trip and before the light presence.

I have seen the dark presence and caught it on video. I don't think I am going to share the video here because even watching it scares me. Within the first week of my moving there, my boyfriend got very sick. He was snoring horribly as he slept which caused me to get no sleep. In context, we are staying in a furnished basement room back at the home of his father's and stepmom's house till we find a place of our own.

In this basement was a bed and a living room set. For some more background, his stepsister has warned me they have seen shadows of things and had nightmares before, and right after she told me about it the power went out and took hours to turn back on. That night I was lying on the couch hoping to get away from his snoring, he previously asked me to record his snoring for proof since he doesn't believe he snores. I was doing just that with the lens pointed towards the bed, the TV light illuminated some of the basement but not all of it.

After recording him snoring I shortly fell asleep. The next morning I watched the video and right where should be just a blank white wall was a shadow figure hovering over my bf, I ideally stopped playing it and never watched the video again. I haven't told my boyfriend about any of these experiences I have had, and I hope the rest of this trip goes without any more beings. Shortly we plan to stay with my grandparents in the following week. Do any of you know what to do?? and he has never seen anything paranormal of sorts or had any experiences?

1 Comment
2024/06/15
20:01 UTC

10

I was locked in a 2 man cell with a real life serial killer. My true story

Hello everyone. My name is Minister Kyle. I’m a non-denominational preacher here in Alabama. I haven’t always been a man of God, though. I’ve had my share of ups and downs, as we all have. I always like to say that nobody hits as hard as life, it is merely one big learning experience where we are all forced to endure our mistakes in order to learn and Achieve our God-given potential. Life is one big fight. Life is filled with many battles. One of my many battles took place In August 2016. A battle, that quite frankly, would change my life forever. When I was young, i lost both of my parents tragically. my mother died in a house fire and my father of a heart attack. This caused me to be very rebellious at a young age.

I’m not sure if many of you can relate but growing up without Parents will cause a child to be forced to stay in some pretty sketchy places, surrounded by some pretty sketchy people. It’s almost as if these types of individuals take advantage of the fact that you don’t have a guardian to protect you. And the world is filled with real monsters who pray on the innocence of children, as well as children whose parents have failed to protect them, so to speak. As far as myself, i was forced to experience what I can only describe as a living hell and had been inflicted with a deep rooted trauma, some of which I carry still to this very day.

Anyways, I was 25 years old at this time. I did not have any support at all and began using drugs in order to cope with my trauma and to support my addiction and lifestyle. Honestly, at the time I was a tattoo artist. When you deal with tattoo customers, the majority of them are in the criminal underworld. Criminals just love tattoos. Bikers, gangsters, you get the idea. I was however, smoking marijuana though. And some of my customers were weed dealers. I would trade in tattoos for weed. Sometimes half a pounds or more at a time. I would smoke on it for a couple of months and when I ran out, I would do the same thing. Call the dealer and ask if he was ready to trade some ink.

I couldn’t eat the weed so sometimes I would get rid of some to my close friends. It just so happens that my close friends were the ones to take away my freedom. one evenin, They came over to hang out. we smoked a bunch of weed and we talked as usual. I noticed that they were on edge and when I asked them what was wrong they told me that they were having personal problems at home. I had no reason to suspect them of anything else we had been friends for over two years at this time. Sometime during that evening, they asked me if I would sell them a 20 sack. I was a tattoo artist and piercing professional at the time, and at this time, I was making great money swinging in and I had no reason to deal drugs. But I have always been a really good friend and I have a good heart and in this particular case, it would be my downfall big time.

at the time, I did not realize the length that some departments go through in order to catch a person selling drugs. They will send multiple confidential informants to purchase from you. They use the dirtiest tactics imaginable. They even provide the cash to the informants and wire them up with hidden cameras and devices, stashed and stuff like ink pens, hats, I’ve seen cameras on the buttons of a shirt even.

this particular day, I was out of marijuana. I wanted to smoke and I was going to get a sack anyway. 2 friends of mine came over and asked me if I wanted to smoke with them and if I could get some weed so I called up our weed man. the weed man pulled up and I went outside. I purchased two 20$ bags of weed from him and I came back inside where these two friends of mine were waiting. I put the weed on the table and asked them to pick whichever one they wanted. My friend put the weed in her pocket and went straight towards the door. She was acting so strange. I told her to wait, we could smoke my bag of weed for free. But she was in so much of a hurry that she turned it down and I knew that was strange because nobody’s gonna turn down free weed. Nobody. Lol.

I didn’t recognize the vehicle they came to my house. It was just all wrong. I didn’t recognize all of these signs at the time because you don’t suspect someone that you’ve been loyal to , to betray you so savage anyways, this caused The narcotics squad to have enough as evidence to form a secret, indictment and warrant an arrest.

I went to jail on a secret indictment for selling weed. two days after they left my house about 15 vehicles pulled up in the front yard and about 25 narcotic squad officers and the sheriffs department proceeded to kick my doors In. All of them were carrying automatic AR style machine guns. Bulletproof vests. The works. They put my elderly uncle on his face with a gun and began to tear our house to pieces as I sat in the back of a cop car and watched them, proceeded with the search warrant.
In Alabama, on a secret indictment charge, they will give you one chance to turn three other dealers that you know personally over to them on indictments and they will dismiss your case. Because I refused, they had the judge and the district attorney place a bond hold on me during the entirety of my Case. Which was almost almost 2 years. This means I was being held without bond. While I was there, my cellmate was a known serial killer. He was responsible for the death of at least 17 people that they know about. His name was Wilmore Wiggins from Camden Alabama. Although He was responsible for at least 17 murders, they only had enough evidence on one of the murders to actually prove it. This man had been terrorizing our community for years. I mean years. He was a voodoo practitioner, as were the rest of his family members.
One night, after lockdown, I was just staring at the roof of my bunk. He was on the top bunk, and I was on the bottom. We had already been locked down for a few hours. It was so quiet that you could hear the building settling if you listen intently. In jail, you have nothing but time to think. About life. About the direction of your life. About life in general. I was doing just that one night. I did not realize he was still awake. Through the deafening silence I heard a voice ask the question, “hey Big“, which is what they called me by the way, “you ever killed anybody.” I didn’t even have to think about it and responded immediately, “never.” He asked me if I ever thought about killing anyone. I responded, “no sir. Never.” That is when he began confessing one of the mini murders that he committed, one here in my hometown that he was never even charged with. A murder that took place that is now a cold case. A murder that’s never been solved.

First off, as I said before, he practiced voodoo. So he began to describe in detail how he got away with his 17 murders. As I began to squint through the darkness of the cell, I noticed in the mirror above the sink that he was now sitting up on his bed. He was looking for someone to talk to in order to release this burden. I was more than happy to listen as I am not only into true crime, but also I have always been an understanding person. I’m also A really good listener. And this was something that was very intriguing to me at the moment, it even kind of resembled a horror story or something like a scary movie. It had me on the edge of my bunk. I couldn’t move a muscle as I listened with the fullest of intent.
Anyways, as I sat there, listening, He told me that his voodoo allowed him to get away with the crimes. He said that if you want to get away with murder, you should plant a rosebush in front of your house. He said you can go and get a piece of that persons hair, the person you wish to harm, and bury it at the foot of that rosebush. Then you take a piece of sewing thread and he would tie it and run the thread from the stem of one of the roses and tie it to the door knob of his home, which was 15 to 20 feet away. He told me that as long as that thread is in place, he could go out and commit any murder or crime that he wanted, and there would be no retribution. he told me that there was an entity named zombie. This entity would come inside of him and possess him, giving him supernatural knowledge, wisdom, and insight in order to conceal evidence after his murders. Personally, I am an ordained minister now, and I can tell you from experience that not only can God supernaturally empower a person , but also, Satan can as well. The consequences for this is a price that nobody would want to pay. The ones that do I’m sure regret it sorely eventually. Anyways, he told me that as long as that thread is in place the spell remains. He told me that he did this every single time he killed somebody and he got away with over 16 murders.I cannot tell you as a matter of fact, whether this voodoo thing is real or not. All I can tell you that is factual, is that he 100 percent believed in it to his soul.

My community was terrorized by this man for years and years. Everybody in my town literally knew this man was a serial but they could never prove it. Ever. He was just so manipulative and cunn and clever and had the uncanny ability to be able to manipulate evidence to his advantage in order to conceal his crimes. He told me that one in particular he was in the bar room with his girlfriend. After he went to use the bathroom, talking to his girlfriend and it infuriated him. After knowing this man for two years, I can tell you from experience that he’s not the type to fight a man, but he would beat women and he was very abusive to them mentally and spiritually as well as physically. He also had a knife on him at all times while he was in jail. He would not fist fight A man. However, He would not hesitate for even one single moment to stab you to death if you crossed him.
Anyways, he told me that whenever he saw this particular man talking to his woman in the bar, he got enraged. But he did not do anything about it immediately. He waited an entire month until He had the perfect opportunity to exact revenge on this person. During the course of of this time, he had a girl from the neighborhood, get a piece of his hair from his pillow and deliver it to him for $20.
One night, he got the perfect opportunity. The opportunity he had been waiting so patiently for. he told me that he was riding around one night, exactly about a month after the incident. He was riding around town after leaving the bar and he saw that man walking home. He said it was about 1 o’clock in the morning, so he pulled over and asked the man if he needed a ride. The man was cautious at first, he told me, but agreed to except the ride. He got Inside of the vehicle and said hello, then he asked Wilmore, the killer, if he was mad at him for talking to his girlfriend because he heard from the girlfriend that Wilmore wanted to hurt him. Wilmore assured him that everything was OK and that he did not take it personal.

Anyways, he asked him if he would like to go get some whiskey. The man said sure, so Wilmore went and bought A big bottle of whiskey and they proceeded to ride around on dirt roads out here in the country getting drunk. That man drank and drank and drank. They played the radio and had a great time. acdept, Wilmore was only pretending to drink. He proceeded to get the man drunker and drunker until he couldn’t walk.

That’s when he pulled over out in the country and told the man that he needed to urinate. The man said he had to as well so when the man got out of the vehicle, Wilmore grabbed a 2 x 4 out of the backseat, crept up behind the man, and bashed his skull with it.

as he’s explaining this to me, all I can do is listen in horror. I cannot believe my ears. This man is confessing a whole homicide to me in the most intimate detail, I got chills all over my body. I could not believe that I was listening to something that too much resembled to be something like a horror movie to me.

He told me that he hit the man so hard with that board that it knocked him out instantly. Then he told me he bashed the man’s head at least 25 times after he was dead. He threw the board in the trunk of his vehicle and grabbed a hammer and proceeded to bust this man teeth out of his head, one by one with a hammer. Then he shaved all of the man’s hair off of his head, including his beard and eyebrows and put it in a bag. Then he reached down and grab the man by the legs and drug him off into a cow pasture in the middle of the country and left him there.

I was in shock. Utter Disbelief. I almost didn’t even feel real. I felt like I was in a dream hearing this. But I listened intently. People will tell you everything you want to know about them plus more if you could only just close your mouth and open your ears. Most people do not have this ability, but it is a gift that I have been given, in this current situation, it seemed to be a curse, though.

Anyways, This man’s family was looking for him. I was a tattoo artist at the time this happened. I remember it. I was really good friends with the brother of the man who was killed. He used to come and get tattoos from me and he would cry because they could not find his brother anywhere. They looked for this man for months But to no avail.

Here’s the craziest part of all. One night, my friends mother had a dream. God came to her in the dream and told her where to find her son. Like I said, their family literally for search parties with hundreds of people to look for this man and could not find him anywhere anywhere.

Anyways, my friends mom said that God came to her in this dream and told her that her son was in the back of a cow pasture in possum bend. Way out in the middle of nowhere. She got out of a dead sleep, called her entire family and told them to be waiting outside. She drove by their houses one by one and picked them up in a minivan and drove them out to the exact location that God showed her in the dream. he was right there at the tree in the back pasture almost nothing left to his remains. When I say that he beat this man’s skull flat, it’s an understatement. As I said before, I was truly disturbed when I heard this. It still haunts me at night even. He told me about a few other murders that he did that he never got caught for. They are truly disturbing. his final victim, a woman and her baby were burned alive in a trailer.

That’s not the disturbing part though. The woman had been dead a week before she was set on fire, and he actually positioned her sitting upright in his car with the seatbelt on, as he drove around town so they could be seen together as if she was still alive. He was a master at manipulation and confusing times, dates, and locations of the murders he committed. He was also an expert at manipulating evidence and disposing of it perfectly in order to conceal his crimes.

I spent hundreds of hours alone in a dark cell with this creepy psychopath. I’d love to share the details, if anyone is interested in listening. He is still alive and in prison somewhere here in Alabama. he was actually given life without parole after being held in the same jail I was in for almost 4 years. I have most interesting experience to share. During the daytime, we would be released from the cell to move freely throughout the day room, watching TV and taking showers. But at 8 PM each night they would lock both of us in a two-man cell and the door would not be reopened until 8 AM. During this time, we had a lot of free time to talk and it was always dark in the cell at night. The details of some of the crimes he committed are so horrifying and the details are so disturbing that I have to use a nightlight and take sleeping medication in order for me get to sleep, even to this very day.

below is a link with all of the information, including a photo of the man responsible for the crimes that were committed in this story. Unfortunately, this is not fictitious but an actual true story. ttps://www.wsfa.com/story/27391620/man-indicted-in-death-of-girlfriend-found-in-burned-house/

2 Comments
2024/06/15
19:49 UTC

3

I Played an Old Tape on Air, Now I’m Being Haunted

Working the night shift at the local radio station, I’ve grown accustomed to the quiet hum of equipment, the soft glow of dials, and the lonely silence that stretches between broadcasts. My job, while often mundane, has its moments of intrigue, particularly when sifting through old recordings and forgotten archives. One evening, as I was rummaging through a dusty storage room, I stumbled upon a tape marked simply with the date "August 17, 1985."

Curiosity piqued, I dusted off the old cassette and slipped it into the player. A scratchy, low hum filled the studio before the voice of a long-forgotten host emerged, discussing a series of mysterious disappearances in a small town nearby. Intrigued by the chilling nature of the content, I decided to feature the tape on my late-night show, "Mystic Mysteries."

As the clock struck midnight, I introduced the segment, setting the eerie tone for my listeners. "Tonight, we delve into a mystery from the past, a chilling account of vanishings that left a town in terror. This is a broadcast from August 17, 1985, that was never aired…until now."

I pressed play, and the haunting voice of the past host echoed through the studio and out across the airwaves. "The town of Cold Hollow has been plagued by unexplained disappearances. One by one, residents vanish without a trace, leaving behind only whispers of strange sounds and fleeting shadows."

As the tape played, I noticed an odd distortion in the audio, a faint background noise that resembled a mix of static and distant whispers. I adjusted the controls, but the strange sound persisted. Calls started coming in from listeners, all reporting the same thing—unsettling noises and eerie visions that seemed to emanate from their radios.

At first, I dismissed it as collective imagination, perhaps influenced by the spooky content of the broadcast. But then, I saw it myself—a shadowy figure reflected in the studio window, there one moment, gone the next. Panic began to set in as I realized that whatever was on the tape was more than just a recording; it was something alive, something malevolent.

The host on the tape continued, recounting the disappearance of an entire family. "The Johnsons were last seen entering their home, but by morning, they were gone. Neighbors reported hearing strange chanting and seeing flickering lights in the woods behind their house."

I felt a cold chill run down my spine as the lights in the studio began to flicker. Desperate, I tried to stop the tape, but the controls wouldn’t respond. It was as if the equipment had a mind of its own, determined to play the recording to the end. The whispering grew louder, more insistent, and the shadow in the window reappeared, this time closer.

Fighting rising terror, I grabbed the microphone. "If anyone is listening, turn off your radios now. There’s something wrong with this broadcast." But it was too late. My voice was drowned out by a cacophony of whispers and static, and the tape rolled on.

"The town’s priest believed the disappearances were the work of a vengeful spirit, awakened by a desecrated grave. He conducted an exorcism, but the entity only grew stronger, feeding on the fear it created."

The shadow moved through the studio, a shapeless mass of darkness that seemed to pulse with malevolent energy. I could feel it watching me, drawing closer with each passing second. The temperature dropped, and I could see my breath fogging in the cold air.

In a desperate bid to end the broadcast, I yanked the tape from the player, but the whispers continued, now emanating from the very walls of the studio. The shadow loomed over me, a tangible sense of dread pressing down on my chest. It spoke in a voice that was a chorus of agony and despair, "You have opened the door, and now you must pay the price."

My vision blurred, and I felt myself being pulled into the darkness. Summoning all my strength, I managed to grab a metal chair and swung it at the window, shattering the glass. Cold night air rushed in, breaking the hold of the entity for a brief moment. I stumbled out of the studio, the whispers fading as I put distance between myself and the cursed tape.

The radio station was shut down the next day, officially due to "technical difficulties." But I knew the truth. The tape had unleashed something terrible, something that should have remained buried. I left town, abandoning my career in radio, haunted by the knowledge that the spirit might still be out there, waiting for its next victim.

To anyone who finds the tape marked "August 17, 1985," I beg you—destroy it. Don’t listen to the whispers. Don’t let the darkness in. Some mysteries are better left unsolved.

2 Comments
2024/06/15
18:54 UTC

15

My hometown is growing, please help us before we blossom

They didn’t deserve that. They don’t deserve that. I don’t deserve this. No one does. The thing is, I was never close with my parents. I mean I loved them and had no problems hanging out around each other. We just were never close you know? There was always a distance that we never bothered to close.

So, when I moved away to uni, I didn’t look back. There wasn’t even much to look back to. My hometown wasn’t even that. It was just a collection of small houses that had happened to be built at the intersection of two roads. I mean sure our town appeared on the map, but that’s just because they had to put a name there. It was a nowhere place with nothing of worth. Except my family.

University was hard. I mean obviously it was hard academics-wise, but the change from living amongst the same seven families my entire life to a city with hundreds of thousands gave me whiplash. But still, I thrived. I clawed my way up with everything I had to escape from where I had come from. Even though some of my peers doubted me and others whispered “trailer trash” behind my back, I proved them wrong. I was better than them, not through some trust fund, but through my own hard work. I tried at every opportunity to forget my past, including leaving my parents behind.

When summer break came around and I had no other plans, I decided that I would visit home. I don’t know why I decided to go back. It’s not like I had any reason to suspect anything was different. I hadn’t even messaged my folks in the eight months since my mom’s birthday. I just found myself making the long drive back home in the midst of a summer heatwave with nothing but empty fields in every direction. Anyway, I eventually arrived just outside the boundary separating my “town” from the endless farmland and had to slow my car to a halt. There was a concrete barrier blocking the entire road from being used. The only thing indicating that the road stopped so abruptly was a sign posted on the top of the barrier: “Dead End”.

I had to drive into the ditch to get around the blockade, somehow getting my car stuck in the process. I swore to the sky and was reminded how much I hated this place. I should have taken that as a sign to leave, to think that maybe the barrier was there for a reason and that someone knew. Someone had to know. Still, I pressed forward, determined to not let this awful place get the better of me. The town was quiet. Not a single sound other than the windchimes and some faint noise carried by the wind. It had always been quiet but somehow, I knew it was different. There were definitely more trees in the front yards of my neighbours than I remembered. I also noticed that there was what seemed to be an empty ambulance parked in front of a house at the other end of the street. Silently sitting with its doors open and its sirens off.

When I let myself into my old house, the only sound that I could now hear was the static from the old radio my dad used to listen to the news with. The faint aroma of lavender also filled my nostrils. It wasn’t dark in the house, quite the opposite. It was bright. Every curtain was opened, and every light was turned on showing how dusty the house had become. It also meant I could see everything. My father sat in his old reclining chair facing out to the backyard with his back to me. It was almost right out of a greeting card. If not for the shallow wheezing, I could hear from him.

When I rushed over to make sure he was ok, I saw the front half of his body. It looked like his skin had melted in the chair, rooting him in place unable to move. Thin tendrils made of flesh and muscle stretched out of his feet in front of him, covering the carpet in a slick bloody flowerbed. Every inch of the front half of my dad’s body bloomed outward, stretching into the sunlight to try and get as much nutrients as possible. His skin burst open from what looked like boils, unfolding into petals and pistils. Some sprouted out of his orifices, growing and growing and growing. Grasping for the sun outside the window.

I puked and I screamed. I thought my dad had died and I had not even known. I wish. When I looked at where his eyes had been, between the skin leaves and throbbing bulbs, I saw him looking at me. And I saw fear. Those eyes that I had tried to even forget the colour of begged me for help. No matter what had to be done to stop the pain.

I ripped at the flowers and roots, trying to get him free but his flowering skin shuddered and he squelched out a small, muffled moan through a throat full of flowers. It had hurt him. It hurt him to simply be alive. I fumbled to find my phone in my pocket to dial 911 but it didn’t seem to go through. All I heard was the dial tone and the faint sound of windchimes on the other end of the line. I looked around the rest of the house to try and find something to help him. I tried the bleach under the kitchen counter but that only seemed to pleasure the flowers. Searching in the dining room I saw a lighter next to my mother’s birthday cake. Now rotting with small blossoming flies sticking out of the fuzzy frosting.

 It wasn’t long until I found what I assumed was my mother. She was outside in the back garden grimly enough. She had grown into a sprawling tree, her bones splintering into branches that stretched into the sky. Her bark scabbed over, dripping with sap and puss. She resembled a cherry tree, with raw pink wounds budding into flowers. She was also alive, for however much I wish it weren’t true. She managed to even stutter out telling me to kill her.

No one could help. Every one of my neighbours’ houses held the same thing. Now seeing the trees outside for what they really were I rushed past every house I could, hoping and searching for anyone to help me or my parents. There were dozens of flowerbeds littering the lawns, with flowering arms reaching out in the sky asking for help and sunlight. One of the most disturbing sights was the playset that the Evans had owned, now wrapped in vines.

One of my neighbours, who I think was named Ted had it worst. It had taken me a while to find him as he was in his basement at the time. It was dark and fine particles obscured the effects of my phone’s flashlight. Still, through my coughing and blinking to get the dust out of my face, I eventually found what was Ted. What Ted is? He had collapsed into a heap of flesh, nothing being able to take root in the concrete floor of the unfinished basement. The flowers that covered him had wilted and shriveled, gangrene and necrotic tissue covering his entire body. He didn’t even have a face anymore. His eyes unraveled into white lilacs and his tongue uncoiled into something similar to a grapevine. Every part of it blossomed to try and uselessly grasp at the sunlight that was not there. I think it hurt him to be away from the light more than it hurt the others inside it.

I didn’t care, I had come down to Ted’s basement for another reason and I had found it. I snatched the gasoline and ran back to my parent’s house. It took me a while to thoroughly cover the house with enough for me to be certain, using up the entire can and praying that someone else would come along to help my neighbours. Then, I used my candle lighter to set my childhood home on fire, waiting and making sure that my parents were thoroughly burned. The windchimes still rang as I heard the willow tree that we had never planted behind the house weep.

 It was as I started to walk away, certain that the house was thoroughly burning that I tripped over my own foot. When I looked down, I saw that my shoe had split open, with thin tendrils digging into the grass beneath me. I scrambled to try and get up, ripping the thin strands of nerves out of the ground in excruciating pain, but before I could do anything I realized my back was now leeching into the ground as well. Every movement I made to try and get up only pulled on my nervous system, shooting pain worse than anything I’ve ever felt through my body. Even as I coughed up blood and felt my throat expanding, I couldn’t do anything but sit there and cry.

Pustules have started to appear all over my body, eagerly waiting to pop and embrace the sun. It hurts to breathe; the insides of my lungs have bloomed already and scratch at every breath. My throat is full of roots and petals, so I can’t even call for help anymore. I’ve managed to type this though. The roots in my hand may have burrowed into my phone, but it has worked long enough for me to do this. I’m glad I could help my parents. I will soon bloom and smell of lavender. I hope someone comes soon; someone must know. Whether it’s the CDC or the government. Someone has to prune me or I will grow into a meadow.

1 Comment
2024/06/15
17:57 UTC

6

Ali came back with something

It was summer vacation and I was really excited to get some rest from the busy life of the big city. I didn't know how many of my friends had plans to go to even bigger riots like raves, I always refused and, of course, I invited them to spend at least a few days at the country house that I always went to on vacation, even though I knew that none of them would accept, I did my part.

There I was going along an uneven dirt road, breathing the sweet air of flower dew, with my motorcycle and in the company of Ali, my german shepherd, at his 12 years of life. My girlfriend, Brenda, usually came with me all the time, but one of the main reasons I want to spend a whole month in this end of the world is that we broke up. We had been together since elementary school, we had never dated anyone else, it had been a 15 years relationship and we had already planned several steps forward, but we ended up having a lot of differences in the last year — on an issue that doesn't matter now — and we decided that we weren't as compatible as we thought. Although we grew up together, we clearly didn't share all the views, it wouldn't be a big deal, but the arguments were eroding even the friendly relationship that blossomed in childhood. We decided to break up not to lose that, but it hurts a lot to lose who, for me, was the woman of my life, I just wanted to relive our best moments that were at the country house and try, finally, to move on.

Anyway, Ali always felt very comfortable in the countryside, he knew everything more than I did because he had already walked the entire length of the property. I arrived extremely willing to accompany him on his adventures, I didn't want to become depressed and cloistered thinking about Brenda. I promised myself that I would return home without regrets, without sadness, keeping only the good memories.

Unfortunately, it rained a lot all week, I couldn't go out with Ali, but, as usual, he was free to come and go as much as he wishes and he did so. There were days I was very worried about his delay to come home, until a thursday, he didn't come home at all, I waited on the porch, whistling and calling his name until 10 pm, but it was raining a lot and there was no chance of him hearing. It wasn't the first time he disappeared all day, but I never cared because he always comes back.

I decided to go to sleep about midnight, I looked out the window one last time and called his name and right on the horizon, coming out of a pile of bushes, there came Ali completely soaked, I decided I would leave him outside, I went to the kitchen and looked for his bed, a towel to dry him and his water and food. He seemed very agitated, he didn't want to be outside and it was very strange because it wouldn't be the first time. I understood, it was very cold inside, you may imagine outside. So I put him inside, trying to cover as much of the carpet as possible with cloths so he wouldn't touch it.

He was always very obedient, he was trained by my grandfather who worked as a police dog trainer, I mean, he was a dog trained by a professional, he never disobeyed, he never broke rules, it didn't cross my mind that this night, after I entered in my room, all would change.

I couldn't sleep, something was bothering me, Ali's behavior wasn't normal, he howled, cried downstairs, I've never seen him so agitated in my life, he learned that he couldn't make noise at night, he always obeyed, but seemed to have forgotten. When it was half past 2am, I was woken up by a very loud knock right on my door, the second knock came and then the third one, something was hitting the door, I've always been the calm type in the middle of the storm, I calmly got up, walked without making any noise and I looked through the keyhole and there it was, Ali, it was hideous! He had no hair, his jaw looked twice as big, he was bleeding a lot from his head, he had clearly hurt himself by hitting the door. I wanted to cry and go to hug Ali, but I refused to believe that was him.

He went down the stairs at a completely abnormal speed, gave a terrifying scream when reached the bottom and then I heard a huge crash and the sound of glass breaking. I grabbed the only weapon I had, which was a tazer, and went down, avoiding any sudden movements, down there it looked like a slaughterhouse, a mess! there was leather, fur and blood all over the floor and even on the walls. The window had been completely smashed, glass fragments were everywhere, the carpet had scratches that looked like they had been made by a bear or a tiger.

I didn't even know where to start worrying, the only thing I thought was if that thing — which was once Ali — came back, maybe it could break down my door and I would be dead. I couldn't wait. I thought about calling the police, but I hadn't been hurt. I just took my motorcycle and left without even packing my things, I would return the next day with the police. While I crossed the dirt road that connected the property with the avenue, I heard footsteps behind me, the taillights barely illuminated anything and I didn't even know if I wanted to see what it was. The steps came very close to me and I was racing 80KPH (50MPH), I couldn't understand it and I just wanted to get to the light and get out of that absolute darkness where you're very vulnerable.

The steps went silent after about 2 minutes, but I didn't slow down until I entered the city. It was three in the morning, I didn't want to make a fuss and wake everyone up. I simply went to my bedroom and slept very bad. The next day, coincidentally my grandfather, known as Cuba, was at home and I told him everything, he called the entire police battalion and we went there. I didn't understand how he had believed me so easily or why he called so many police officers, it seemed like we were going to war.

Arriving there, the scenery was as I had left it, but as it was night, the details were imperceptible, I finally got really scared as I saw the marks, the scratches, the huge hole that was dug right next to the house and, most importantly, the marks outside my bedroom door. I have to say how lucky I was, whatever had come with Ali was two or three knocks away from breaking down my door and tearing me apart like it did with the couch.

When I was going to the room I heard my grandpa telling to one of the battalion chiefs that he must to report the incident to the State, I giggled a bit and said

"that's an overreaction, isn't it, grandpa? The dog probably got a virus and had an outbreak. Reporting to the State is only in cases of risk to national security" — do you think that a "virulent dog" that in the middle of an "outbreak" does everything you see here, runs at 80km/h and digs a hole 8 meters in diameter and 5 meters deep in minutes is not a risk to national security? — he replied

I never saw Ali again, in fact, I don't think Ali came back that fateful night. What I saw through the keyhole didn't even look like an animal, that void, expressionless look didn't remind me at all a lovely dog that loved the independence of the countryside and playing fetch.

Before leaving, I gathered up the few hairs that had not been taken by the police and decided to make a grave next to the house. When I finished covering the grave, I heard a bark a few meters in front of me, on the other side of the fence, when I raised my head, half of a face, which looked like a dog, was watching me in the middle of the bush. It was Ali, maybe not just him and the same expression of emptiness and hatred that I had seen the night before was there again.

0 Comments
2024/06/15
10:14 UTC

112

I know the real reason behind the closing of the old yellow gas station.

If you're local I'm sure you've noticed the old yellow gas station has been closed for a long while.

They say it was because of low revenue and vandalism but that's a lie. I was there the last night it was open. I know what happened, I know why the doors are chained shut.

If you have driven the mountain loop highway then without a doubt you've seen the run down little station on the corner of 20 and 530. And if you stopped by on a weekday between 5:00 and midnight you would have been served by either myself or Iris.

I was 16 at the time, technically I couldn’t work the hours that I was but the owners were pretty relaxed when it came to certain things. Iris was two years older and in my teenage opinion simply beautiful. She stood equal to my five foot eight, had long dark brown hair that she kept in a ponytail while working and the most mesmerizing blue eyes imaginable.

It was the winter season, the pass over the mountain was closed due to snow. This meant we went from being nearly over run by customers to seeing one or two people an hour. The later hours were even slower, sometimes we would go the entire shift only getting a single customer.

During these times I would wander around bored out of my mind or watch movies that I had downloaded at home. There was no cell service or WiFi so scrolling social media wasn’t an option. Iris preferred to lean back in her chair behind the register and read books. I would try and make conversation occasionally but it would always die quickly.

The night of the incident was like all the rest, the sun had set depressingly early, we hadn't seen a soul in hours. I pulled my phone out of my pocket out of habit, realizing there still wasn't any service I put it away. “What time is it?” I nearly jumped at the sound of her voice. “What?” I asked in confusion. She took her feet off the register and placed her book on it instead, raising an eyebrow she repeated “what time is it?” “Oh it’s” I had to pull my phone out again “it’s 9:45”.

She sighed “we still got another two hours until closing”. I just nodded dumbly. An awkward silence hung in the air for a minute, Iris picked up her book and continued reading.

Feeling the moment slipping away I blurted out “hey you want to do something?” “Like what?” she asked without looking up from her book. “I don’t know, something to help pass the time”. “As in?” I just shrugged. She sighed and put her book down “listen Clyde, we’re paid to keep an eye on things and help people buy stuff. Not to goof off or socialize”. Her rebuke stung a bit, and it must have shown somewhat because she quickly followed with “tell you what, go take the trash out and I’ll check once again if the bathrooms are clean. Then we can inventory the beer cave together”.

I hated taking out the trash but if it meant we could do something together afterwards it was worth it.

Carrying the large black bag over my shoulder I used my free hand to fumble with the bolt on the rear door. The door knob never properly latched so the owners had installed a large gate style locking bolt. It usually required two hands, one to pull the door closer and the other to rotate then slide the bolt back.

Finally working it free I pushed the heavy metal door open. In front of me stretched a gravel driveway that led to the highway, at the end of the driveway was a worn green dumpster. Iris hated taking the trash out for the same reason I did. At night there was a single light above the door, the rest of the walk was in near blackness.

One night I had stupidly bragged about how I didn’t mind taking the trash out, how I kind of liked the fresh air. From then on Iris had let me take it out every night.

Willing myself forward I walked out into the all absorbing darkness. I felt eyes on me, despite knowing it was just my imagination I couldn’t hold back a shiver. I lifted the dumpster lid and swung the bag inside. The lid slammed shut echoing through the night.

I almost didn’t notice the rustling bushes just off the path. I froze, the sound grew closer. I nearly screamed as a figure stood from the blackberry bushes, leaves and twigs sticking out of their hair and clothes they took a step closer.

I let out the breath I was holding, I knew that face. “Jeez Iris you nearly scared me to death. Why are you in the bushes?” she stared at me without blinking. Her eyes were completely void of emotion, she slowly opened her mouth. “to death” she whispered in a voice that was not her own.

Instinctively I took a step back. She matched it with a step forward. “Iris?” She took another step closer. “I Reese?” she whispered, despite her mouth being open too wide to be whispering anything. Fear coursed through my veins, her enunciation was wrong. But even worse it wasn’t her voice, it was mine!

My legs were beginning to shake, there was something wrong with her. Not only was it the way she sounded that freaked me out but she looked incorrect. The color of her hair and skin was just a little off, her dimensions weren’t quite right. It hadn’t been enough to notice at first but the more I looked the more off she felt.

She spoke again drawing closer with each word “Iris, to death, Iris why to death Iris”. The words were flat and emotionless. Each time she spoke she sounded more and more like me. A car happened to drive down the highway, her right eye jerked to the side watching it pass as her left stayed focused on me. I snapped, I turned tail and sprinted for the building.

Bursting through the back door I slammed it shut behind my self and barred it. I slid to the floor with my back planted firmly against the door. I waited for something to happen but the only sound was my ragged breath. Regaining my composure I started to doubt what I had just seen.

I don’t know how she did it but Iris had pulled one hell of a prank. I started to get pissed off, she had made a total fool of me. I could just imagine her out there doubled over in laughter. She probably even had a camera set up!

I stood up ready to throw open the door and give her a piece of my mind when I heard her in the main room. “About time you finished, what were doing out there this whole time?” she asked. Confused I stood up, she couldn’t see me in the back room. How did she know I was back inside?

She spoke again “are you going to come in or just stand outside?” it was then that I heard my voice come from the room she was in “Iris, stand outside Iris”. “Are you ok Clyde?” she asked with obvious concern. I heard her walk towards the front door. The voice that sounded like me encouraged her “come out side Iris”. The inflection was still wrong but it sounded so much like me.

Realizing what was happening I ran out of the back room “Iris wait!” I yelled. She jumped in surprise, spinning around she looked at me in confusion then back to the empty front door. “How did you?” she trailed off. “There’s something outside, I don’t know what it is but there’s something out there”. She looked quite annoyed with me.

“Clyde work isn't the place for pranks, you got me. Now stop goofing off before we get in trouble”. I glared right back “Listen Iris, I’m not doing anything. And unless you were crawling around in the bushes a few minutes ago there’s someone out there messing with both of us”. She didn’t look entirely convinced but apologized anyways. “Sorry, I just assumed since it sounded and looked like you that you were behind it”. “You saw it?” I asked. “Yeah, well you know as best as I could. These windows are so old they distort everything”.

We agreed to hang out together, so long as we could see each other nobody could pull any more pranks. I was actually starting to enjoy the evening, for the first time Iris and I were having actual conversations. I leaned she was paying her way through community college and was an only child. I told her about myself and my plans for after I graduated. We talked about dream vacations and what plans we had for next summer.

It wasn't long before we had both forgotten about the nights previous incidents. Iris stood “I gotta use the bathroom, I’ll be right back”. While she was gone I went over to the soft drink fountain and filled up a cup. Iris walked behind the register, picking up her book she began to read.

“You want something?” I asked holding up my cup. Before she could reply something metallic clattered in the back room. Iris jumped to her feet, we both looked at the door marked EMPLOYEES ONLY with apprehension. “Stay here” she commanded. Before I could protest Iris ran through the door into the dark room.

A panicked cry came from the dark “Clyde!” just as I was about to rush through the doorway a toilet flushed. I froze, behind me the bathroom door opened and Iris walked out. I felt sick, in the darkness of the back room I could make out a figure standing just a few feet away.

Iris noticed something was up “what’s wrong Clyde?” I didn’t take my eyes off the figure in front of me “there’s someone in the back room”. She ran up to me “what?” she demanded “who?” looking through the doorway she gasped “you better leave! We’re calling the cops!” she yelled. The figure stepped farther into the dark disappearing from sight.

“To death Iris” came my voice followed by Iris’ voice “come here Clyde”. There was a pounding of footsteps as the figure charged us! I slammed the door shut just in time, an inhuman scream rang out as the creature slammed into the door. Iris and I held it closed as the door was assaulted over and over again.

We didn’t relax until we heard the back door slam shut. “What the hell was that?” Iris asked. I didn't know what to say, this was too much. Iris jumped to her feet “I’m calling the police, I don't care who or what is out there it just tried to attack us”. I nodded “yeah that's a good idea”. Iris went to the pay phone behind the counter.

She punched in 911 then held the phone to her ear. She hung up and tried again. “Damn it” she muttered, trying a third time without luck she slammed the phone back into the receiver. Clenching her fists Iris groaned in frustration “the phones dead Clyde”. I felt a knot form in my stomach, this wasn’t uncommon. The phone was just as often broken as it was working but it was really bad timing.

“Now what?” I asked stupidly. Iris threw her hands up “how should I know Clyde? This isn't exactly in the employee handbook”. She slumped down in defeat. “Hey iris?” “yes Clyde?” “We don't have an employee handbook”. A small smirk played across her lips “I know we don't smart ass”.

With the mood successfully lifted we went back to our original plan, we would stick together until sunrise. Then we would drive to town and report what happened.

That was until a tattered soft top Fox Body Mustang pulled up to the pump. “Oh shit” muttered Iris. We both cautiously peeked out the window. “Do you think they’re part of the prank?” I asked. Iris bit her lip nervously “I don’t now, I’m not even sure it is a prank”.

An old man slowly climbed out of the car, he was balding and wore thin rimmed glasses. He reminded me of a short portly teacher I had in middle school.

The man fumbled with his wallet completely unaware of us. After swiping his card the man stiffened, he looked over his shoulder at something we couldn’t see.

Iris’ doppelganger came striding into the light. Behind me the real Iris let out a soft gasp. I was frozen in place, I stood there as that thing approached the man.

Suddenly the doppelganger jumped impossibly high and landed on the man’s shoulders, he collapsed to the ground under it’s weight. Iris rushed from behind me to the automatic doors.

Her movement snapped me out of my daze and I chased after her. With the opening of the doors we could hear the man yelling out in pain. The doppelganger had long black finger nails that it was using to try and gouge out the man’s eyes.

Before we had even made it out the door the second doppelganger rushed from the dark. It still looked like me but more battered and dirty. It held a large rock above it’s head as it ran towards the man.

Raising the rock higher it brought it down on the man’s skull. Iris turned and blocked my view but I still heard the crunch. It sounded like a watermelon landing on a sidewalk from a great height. Iris shoved me back inside, once the doors closed she locked them.

I chanced a peek outside, the car stood abandoned in the yellow light. All that remained of its owner was a thick red puddle leading into the dark surrounding bushes.

Iris looked at me with tear filled eyes “Clyde I don’t know if we’re getting out of here”. I didn’t know what to say. We just watched someone die, my thoughts were a mess. I hugged her, we stood there holding each other scared to death.

Iris angrily wiped her tears “come on Clyde we need to lock this place down.” We pulled down the security gate and locked it in place hopefully sealing off the front door.

Not that it would do much good if something really wanted to get in, the windows on either side of the door were plenty big enough for someone to crawl through. The back door was locked but for good measure we pushed the baked goods display in front of it.

We both froze at the sounds of footsteps above us, Iris covered her mouth to hold in a gasp. “They’re on the roof!” she whisper shouted. We both looked to access hatch that led to the roof. It was locked but how sturdy was it?

My heart lurched and a scream slipped out of me, at the front window was my face. Blackened and grinning with its eyes open far too wide! No it wasn’t black, from the nose down the face was stained with blood. It had been feasting.

Iris jumped when I screamed, seeing the face she turned me and pulled me into a hug. Wrapping her arms around my head she pulled it against her chest blocking out my view of the thing outside. “Just don’t look at it” she whispered. “don’t acknowledge its existence”.

That didn’t last, the creature wearing my image started tapping the glass. At first lightly, but with each tap the force increased. Soon the old glass pane was flexing under the force. I looked up at Iris, I saw in her eyes that she knew as well as I that the glass wouldn’t hold.

The second creature dropped from above to join the first. Cracks began to appear. I was frozen in place, but Iris sprang into action. She managed to move the display blocking the rear exit all by herself.

The window shattered! The creatures stood there seemingly surprised by the sudden destruction. Iris came from the supply closet, in her hand was the broom we used to sweep the floors at the end of the shift. She snapped the head off leaving a sharp point.

Iris had a look to her, it was as if time its self slowed in respect. She took my numb hand and put her car keys in it, she shoved me towards the back door. I stumbled into the back room, I looked over my shoulder to see her charging across the store, improvised spear held out in front of her. The creatures were coming through the window, their faces twisted with hatred. And hunger in their eyes.

I made it out the back door. I made it to her car.

I made it home that night.

As soon as I had service I called 911, I balled my eyes out as I tried to tell the operator what happened. They heard enough, someone had died at the gas station and someone else was in danger.

The next morning the police came to my door, they cuffed me and drug me out of the house. I spent hours getting brutally interrogated.

Finally I was able to go, from what I picked up the officers arrived to the scene. The body of the mustang owner was mostly consumed and laying next to the store. Inside there was bloodied hand and foot prints everywhere.

Iris was no where to be found. If it wasn’t for the fact that there was no DNA evidence pointing towards me I would probably have taken the blame.

We moved within a week, despite the charges being dropped within a 48 hours the court of public opinion had determined I was guilty of murder. And probably worse when it came to Iris.

It's been seven years now since they closed that station. I drove past it yesterday, I had to take that route for my job. The windows are boarded up and the blackberries have taken over half the building. But it didn’t feel empty as I drove past.

Thank you Iris, you were braver than I could ever hope to be. I hope you can see what I did with my life and are proud. I miss you.

I’ll be taking the long way home, the extra four hours of driving is worth not having to go past that station again.

6 Comments
2024/06/15
07:07 UTC

48

I Hate the Smell of the Color Blue

I met my wife while working as a correctional officer in Davidson County. We always joked and felt it ironic that we met each other in jail. We figured it was better than meeting each other at a bar. More character found in a prison. She was originally from Oklahoma, moved to Nashville hoping to become a famous musician, but like most aspiring artists, she had to settle for a life of mediocrity. She planted her roots down in a neighborhood, considered to be a bad part of town, a place to be avoided at all costs. The house she bought was built in the 30’s, as were all the houses in that neighborhood. They were match-box houses, unable to withstand the smallest of fires. There were four empty lots on her very street, remnants of homes that burned down in no less than thirty minutes, even though the fire department was at the end of the block. Rebuild? No, these homes were uninsured.

I moved in the house at the end of 1999. It was a large home with grey asphalt siding. It had been converted to a duplex and then reconverted to a single-family home. The laundry room was a late addition with vinyl siding slapped up on the interior walls, which were once the exterior walls. The foundation was sinking fast into the earth, the kitchen being the worst, with a noticeable bow in the floor. The high ceilings and bare floors made the winters unbearable. The only way to stay warm was to be fully clothed, even to the point of wearing a light jacket. In the summers, it was an oven of inescapable heat. I never could get comfortable, but the worst of it were all the rats.

We were infested with filthy, hairy, arrogant rats. One late night I saw one in the kitchen. It was too fat to scurry away. It looked over its shoulder, in a nonchalant way, as if to say, “Whatever, come kill me. I don’t care.” It was so big it looked like a small, grotesque pony.

The year 2000 rolled upon us without the anticipated Armagedon commencing. Y2K was a dud. Convinced the world would keep turning, I made the decision to rid us of the rats and to replace that God-awful, damned grey asphalt siding. We chose blue for some odd reason. I hated it as soon as it was put up. Blue siding seemed unique, but in reality, it was tacky and cheap. At the same time, I laid a slew of rat poison around the house. Traps are visibly cruel but the bodies are easy to find and to dispose of. Poison, you don’t see the cruelty, the slow death of an animal in excruciating pain, but neither do you find the body. They crawl off in between the walls and die. Hidden from your sight, but unfathomably present to your sense of smell. I couldn’t see the damn things, but I sure could smell their rotting corpses.

On top of all that, I was diagnosed with throat cancer. Chemotherapy wore me down. My throat burned like Hell and I lost over a hundred pounds. I could chew and taste food, but swallowing… no sir, the pain was too much to bear.

My wife moved me up into the attic to stay warm. Heat rises, and the best place for me, devoid of the natural warmth of body fat, was in the sweltering, collapsing walls at the top of the ugly blue house, which also happened to be painted blue. My wife thought it only made sense to paint the attic blue to match the exterior. Well, why not? Who was I to argue?

The smell of the dead rats was overwhelming. When I tried to eat, I tasted decomposition, dead, filthy rats. The pain of my condition, the lack of sustenance, and the smell of rot must’ve debilitated my mental capacities, for in time I hallucinated. I envisioned an elderly woman with black eyes and yellow teeth sitting at my bedside, in a wooden rocking chair. For the longest time, she didn’t speak, only rocked and stared. I convinced myself that she wasn’t real. Then one day, she introduced herself as the Devil, the King of the Fallen.

“It smells delightful in here,” she said. I closed my eyes, hoping she would fade away.

“Oh child, that doesn’t work. Close your eyes all you want. I have a proposition for you and I’m not leaving until we have an understanding. I know you want to live. You pray to God, but the Devil hears you.”

“Honey, who are you talking to,” my wife called from downstairs. “It’s time to go.”

The old woman smiled and touched my frail arm. “We’ll talk later.”

Another visit, another methodical chipping away at the mass of unwanted biological matter lodged in my throat. When we got home, I told my wife I’d rather stay in our bedroom.

“Yeah, that’s fine, but wouldn’t you be comfortable in the attic?”

“The smell is terrible up there,” I explained.

“Honey, I’d rather you stay upstairs. It’s better for you up there in the warmth.” My wife forcefully escorted me up the stairs and to my makeshift bedroom. For the first time in my life, I realized I didn’t have the strength to defend myself or to exert my will.

She laid me in bed and in a little while I fell asleep, exhausted from the short climb up the stairs to the attic. I was awakened by a touch, a small fragile hand on my shoulder. I opened my eyes in complete darkness. A lamp in the corner of the room switched on, several feet from where I was laying. It was the little old lady, rocking back and forth, enveloped in a small cast of light amidst an infinite expanse of shadow.

“It smells like shit in here. Is that you or the rats?”

The blue of the wall behind her was barely visible, but enough to perturb my soul.

I turned my head and looked up at the ceiling, trying to avoid her gaze. She appeared near the ceiling, smiling, levitating, floating closer to me.

“Your life for your soul. I know, it’s cliched. The Devil and her deals, always searching for souls.”

I closed my eyes and started to pray. I felt the heat of her breath on my face. I refused to open my eyes. I kept praying and she kept negotiating.

“The soul. I want your flesh and essence. I want to devour you… or maybe your wife. Give me something, and I’ll give you life, a long rich life. Just something, her or you. Something. I need it. Give it to me you son of a bitch or I’ll force them dead rats down your cancer-ridden throat.”

“Leave me alone. I won’t.”

“Her, yes her. She doesn’t want to be around you. That’s why your upstairs by yourself. That’s why you’re lying amongst the dead rats in a gawdy blue house! Give her to me.”

“No…. it’s only because it’s warmer up here. She’s doing it for my own good.”

I opened my eyes to see the darkness of her pupils, the emptiness of my own life. Her breath was fouler than the vanished dead rats hiding in my walls. Her demeanor was pale and contorted. She fastened herself to me, digging her arms between my back and the bed, squeezing me into her intense embrace. I felt an immediate loneliness and an abiding hate of myself and my life. It was done; it was finished. I was no more. The fear of death evoked a selfishness I thought impossible of myself.

“Take her. Take my wife!”

I woke up, the sun peering through the attic window. I felt better, still sick and weak, but no longer on the brink of death. For a moment I smelled nothing, until I looked over at the blue walls, and my wife sitting in the rocking chair, smiling with her wide black eyes. The blueness of the room smelled like death.

4 Comments
2024/06/15
05:35 UTC

23

The Loser's swing

How many of you had an imaginary friend when you were young? Do you remember why you made them, and when you finally let them go? Do you know where they came from?

I do. I remember. Not out of nostalgia. I remember out of regret; regret for ever having dreamt him up, for bringing him into my life. Lonely people make poor decisions, and now I’m paying the price for it; only, I’m not the only one. That’s what pains me more than anything else.   

I was a latchkey kid growing up. My father served in the army overseas, and my mother took up a job at home to further support us. My mother didn't return until a good couple of hours after school let out, so I'd be alone for a good while. I was an only child and had trouble making friends, so this compounded my loneliness.

There was a playground about two blocks from my house that I'd frequent after coming home from school. I could get there faster by cutting through a small (but thick) forest clearing behind my house. It depended on how I was feeling whether I'd do so, as the canopy of the tree line made the forest below dark as all get out. Some days I'd cut straight through, and some days it made me far too rattled and anxious to try.

The playground itself was very old. There had been some additions to it over the years, as well as some parts getting replaced for safety reasons. However, I don't think anything short of a full power wash could get all the rust off the swing-set chains and corners of the jungle gym. I overheard kids at my school talking about how creepy the place was now and then. Some even came up with their own urban legends surrounding the place. I never found it that scary though.

To me, the wear was almost comforting. Whenever the playground was empty, I'd imagine all the kids who had played there. I'd imagine them in all the old outfits I saw from vintage photos in history books at school. They'd throw around old slang and lingo amongst each other, and I'd watch from the lone swing set in the corner of the playground.

The Loser's swing.

It was called that due to being a swing set with only one swing. Over time, the second swing's attachment to the chains had degraded in an unrepairable way. So, they detached it. From what I understand, the playground had already been on the chopping block for years. The town didn't want to bother shelling out the cash to replace the whole thing.

So, only one person could swing in it. Instead of being jealous or fighting over the seat, most kids who came there would make fun of whoever was using it. After all, to use the swing was to use it alone. You don't play with anyone else, you just swing. By yourself.

Even with that kind of baggage attached to it, it never dissuaded me from using it. I was pretty used to being by myself, so it wasn't hard to tune everyone else out. Also, I was scared of falling off the jungle gym. I'd seen it happen before, and it looked like it hurt.

After a while, I made up an imaginary friend. I sort of modeled him after one of my dad's friends, because I thought he was cool. Called him Rob. An older guy in his thirties, who seemed to have an answer for everything you asked him, and a story to match. When I used the swing, I'd envision the swing next to me repairing itself, and he'd take the seat. I'd ask him why the sky was blue, and he'd say "Well, 'cause it's God's favorite color!". I'd ask how planes stay in the air, and he'd tell me they had people behind it blowing it forward real hard. I'd ask all the questions kids ask, and he'd always have an answer right away.

Only one question seemed to stump him. I asked, "Why do people die?". He looked at me, tilted his head, and stared for a long while. He seemed to be as confused as I was but tried to come up with an answer. Around that time, my grandfather had passed away, and I was struggling trying to come to terms with it. I was hoping he’d share his wisdom with me once more, and put my mind at ease. 

"Well," he said, clapping his broad hands over denim-clad knees, "Maybe it's just some people's time to go."

Usually, he was funny and reassuring. I remember feeling upset by this answer. It was very apathetic. I was too young to understand what the word "apathy" meant at the time, let alone why his answer upset me. I wanted to feel like there was a reason people died. 

He didn't give me one.

"... why do they have to go?"

"They just have to."

I stopped asking as many questions after that. I'd ask him to tell me stories while we were swinging. As the days went on, though, the playground lost more of its color. The paint was peeling off more and more, and fewer and fewer kids came to play. There were rumors that they were going to completely tear the place down any day now. It was sad for me, but the playground had become less of a comfort over time. I struggled to keep up the conversation with my imaginary friend. I couldn't even maintain the image of all those old kids playing here. It was hard imagining anyone playing here anymore.

I remember the last time I went, though.

I had been getting bullied in school for a while. I don't want to mention him by his real name, so I'll call him John. As far as bullying goes, it wasn't anything too awful. He'd pick on me, sure, but it was just name-calling, or teasing me for not having friends. He never tried to hit me, or anything like that, but he was relentless. One day, he heard that I'd go to the playground after school. So, he decided to come visit it.

I can't remember what he said when he showed up. Some generic teasing, I'm sure. Making fun of me for using the Loser's swing. Again, nothing out of the realm of very basic schoolyard bullying. I tuned it out the best I could and kept swinging, my gaze glued straight ahead. He got mad that I was ignoring him and grabbed the chains mid-swing to stop me.

That's when Rob got up. I remember his face twisting into a terrifying, enraged expression, his face red as a beet. He pointed at John and screamed at him to get away from me, and that he'd beat him half-to-death if he didn't turn tail. I flinched, completely horrified by how angry he was and wanting to shrivel into myself like a snail to hide from it. I don't know what came over him and had never seen him act like that before.

That isn't even what haunts me about it, though.

It’s the fact that John heard him, too.

I remember the shocked expression on his face, like he couldn't believe what he heard. Taking the opportunity, I stumbled off the back of the swing and took off as fast as I could. I cut through the forest, shielding myself with my arms from all the branches and brambles. It felt like the forest stretched into forever as I ran, my heart pounding, and my lungs burning. Even though I knew that I was all alone, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was being chased. That if I didn't make it out of the woods, no one would ever find me again. After running, and stumbling, and picking myself up over and over, I finally saw the light from the other side. I could see my house in the distance. I swear I heard a voice calling to me from behind, telling me to wait. I ignored it and kept pushing until I was clear of the woods and safely past the fence of my backyard.

I ran into my house, locked all the doors and windows, and hid in my closet for hours until I heard my mom come home. I tried my best to act like nothing had happened, but she knew something was up. She was always worried about me. I ate dinner and went to bed early, clutching the blanket to my body like a protective cover the whole night.

That was the last time I ever saw John. I didn't see Rob for a long time, either.

In the following days, they had put up missing posters all over the neighborhood for John. He hadn't come home, and I seemed to be the last person who ever saw him. The police visited our house and asked me some basic questions about it since a few of his friends knew he had come to the playground for me specifically, but didn’t come along with him that day. I gave them a general summary of what happened… without Rob’s part in the story. I just told them he had come to the playground to bully me, and that I ran back home. They seemed to accept what I said and didn't come to question me again after that. After all, there wasn't much more I could tell them. I was just a kid. 

There were rumors about me after that in school. Some of the other kids spoke in hushed whispers that I killed him and hid his body in the woods. As much as it upset me at the time, I can't blame them all that much. We were kids, and I was always distant and anti-social. If I was in their shoes, I might have thought the same thing. For the rest of my school life, I did my best to keep my head down and stay out of trouble. I made a few friends here and there, thankfully. It wasn’t a lot of friends, but they were good ones. Without them, I could have turned into an insane recluse as I got older.

As I mentioned, I didn't see Rob after that. I dropped the "imaginary friends" entirely, too traumatized by what had happened to bother humoring the idea anymore. Not to mention, I had real friends to spend time with now. I didn’t need an imaginary one. Even then, I'd sometimes lay awake in my bed late at night, too terrified to look out the window. I'd envision him looking back at me from the black forest, making that same, twisted expression. The fear faded over time, but it still lingered in the back of my mind now and then. Years passed, and that fear still clung to the back of my mind when life dealt me another terrible hand.

Recently, my mother passed away. My father had died quite a while before that overseas, so she was all I had left in terms of family. The grief broke me. I retreated into myself after the funeral, content to live alone and not form any more connections. The idea of losing anyone close to me again was mortifying, and it was hard to imagine surviving that kind of pain a third time.

That's when Rob came back.

At first, I would catch a shape just out of the corner of my eyes when I looked in the mirror. I accepted it as exhaustion and was more preoccupied with marveling at how shitty I was starting to look from neglecting my needs. It kept happening, though. Sometimes I'd catch a glimpse of him sitting down in one of my chairs, and he'd be gone by the time I'd look back. I'd wake up to the sound of the TV on in the living room, usually on some sports channel. No matter what I did though, I could never catch a full look at him. I started to assume I had finally snapped and completely lost it. I was second-guessing what was real and what was fake at every turn, and the feeling made me isolate myself even more. I started to think I was a potential threat to society, and that I'd be better off either not associating with it, or dead.

In my lowest moment, that's when I heard his voice again for the first time. It was distant and faint. Though, I could swear he said "Pick yourself up, champ!".

I bawled on the floor when I heard it. It was a cocktail of wonderful, horrible emotions. It was a familiar voice, reassuring me. It was like hearing an old voicemail from a long-lost friend. At the same time, it was hard to forget what had happened all those years ago, and why I was scared of him in the first place. Not to mention that hearing voices in my head didn't feel like a great sign.

But at least I didn't feel quite as alone.

It was sort of a wake-up call. I tried putting myself back together. I started sleeping on a more regular schedule and made sure to eat at least three times a day. I tried reaching out to old friends and socializing more. I had grown agoraphobic over the months I had spent locked away inside. So, I did my best to get outside for as long as I could manage each day.

I've gotten a lot better. I feel healthier than I ever have, and I'd like to say I'm "okay" again. I've recovered, at least.

Only, I thought that would make Rob fade away, back into the recesses of my mind.

He hasn't.

I still see him. Whether out of the corners of my eye, in old photos, or even in the distance outside my house. I still see him. Sometimes, at night, I hear his voice muffled outside my window. I try to pick it up on my phone, and the nights I leave it recording are the nights he doesn't talk.

That's not the only thing bothering me, though.

The same time Rob started appearing again, John's case was reopened for investigation.

The playground was torn down decades ago. However, they've recently been clearing the forest behind my old house as well. While they were cutting down trees, part of a tree trunk collapsed when it struck the ground. Inside the debris, they found remains of a child's skeleton. The bones matched some of John's old X-rays. No one knows how they got in there, as the portion the bones were in was toward the very top of the tree.

A few feet below it, words carved into the tree read:

HAD TO GO

They've started finding carvings like this all over the forest, too.

I'm not sure what idea scares me more. Rob being a part of my imagination, or Rob being real.

All I know is that I keep seeing him more and more, and it feels like he's angry at me.

I don't know what to do, and I'm too scared to look at him anymore.

Please, help me.

3 Comments
2024/06/15
02:51 UTC

120

Gross smell near my dorm hall. Went to go check it out.

Hey Reddit. I wanted to share this recent experience I’ve had. I can’t find anything when I search it up, so as usual, Reddit is my last recourse.

For some background, I’m a college student. Not really that social, I don’t go to parties or anything, I get chronic migraines and the music tends to set those off. Campus is pretty nice, it’s decently big and it’s got a lot of trees, so it's not like I'm inside all day. (I’m staying on campus over the summer because I gotta retake organic chemistry, so it’s relevant, I swear.)

The other day, I think Tuesday, I was headed back to my dorm after class. Got unlucky and got saddled with it in the evening, so it was a bit hard to see, but we aren’t an unsafe campus or anything. We have streetlights and all that. I don’t get freaked out walking back because the main danger is cars and I have eyeballs and a brain.

There had been this awful smell by my dorm hall for like two days before this, like somebody dropped a dead rat in the bushes or something. I didn’t really want to go fishing around for a dead rat for obvious reasons, so I just ignored it. Come Tuesday, the smell was the worst it ever was. Smelled like somebody baked the damn thing.

Finally decided I had enough of it around then, because I wasn’t putting up with the smell for another week before campus cleaners got to it. Yogurt cups on the windows are one thing, smelly dead rat is another. I went to my dorm, grabbed a trash bag and a flashlight, and went back outside. I swear to god the smell got worse during the five-ish minutes I was in the hall.

I waded into the bushes, waving my flashlight around looking for whatever died in a hole in there. Nothing. Couldn’t find a thing. I checked the gutters, nothing. Seemed to be coming from a dorm room that was by the bushes, one of the ones on the outside wall where you can basically just look in the window and see everything, so I decided to go knock on their door because I’m not the type of person to resort to calling the RA without trying diplomacy first. Just don’t have it in me.

I tried to go back inside the dorm hall. Buzzer didn’t work. It didn’t register my ID no matter how many times I scanned it. Naturally I’m freaking out by now, I have homework and also all my stuff is in the dorm hall. This was an issue back at the start of the semester, IDs just stopped working for some reason and campus police had to scramble to fix it. Seemed reasonable that they could fix it again, so I decided to pay them a visit.

I turned to head over there and I just see this massive fucking THING. Gotta be at least eight feet tall. It was hunched over like some kinda gremlin thing. I don’t really know how to describe it, it was just…blank. There was nothing. No features beyond being vaguely human shaped, but it was way stretched.

It didn’t have eyes. No mouth. No body features. Didn’t have hands, either, or feet. Didn’t have on any clothes. Nothing to make it clear that this thing even has bones or flesh or anything. Looked like a rock, kinda, except rocks don’t smell like a dead raccoon that’s been left under a trashcan in the sun for five days.

I just kind of stared at it for a while. Can’t tell if it saw me. It eventually started coming my way, and I think I nearly died of a heart attack when it did. But it walked right past me to the dorm room I wanted to check out. Went in through the window, didn’t even open the damned thing, it just squeezed through like it’s made of liquid or some shit.

After that I just kind of stood there for a bit. I didn’t know what to do. How do you even react to that. There’s a big thing that smells like a corpse and then it goes into your dorm hall through somebody’s window. You try reacting to that.

After that I went to campus police. They were completely unhelpful, as expected. ID wasn’t even broken, so I wasted ten minutes of my time for nothing. I went back towards the hall and nearly tripped over some random object in the road.

Reddit, when I tell you I almost threw up, I mean I almost threw up. 

There was an arm. In the road. Just a whole fucking arm, rotting away, worms crawling in it and everything. I almost tripped over an ARM. I accidentally squished one of the worms that had crawled away from the arm when I stumbled, and good lord that thing was full of just. Gross. Grossness. 

That thing was leaning out the window of the dorm hall. Same window it squirmed into the dorm hall through, and it was just there, leaning out with its head pointed at me. I couldn’t move. Couldn’t breathe. Everything smelled like rot. I thought I was going to die.

And then it just went back inside like it was never there. Window was shut the whole time.

So anyway, I’m staying at a hotel now.

I’ve already involved local authorities, so I’m hoping this gets resolved at some point. Still wanna know what the fuck that thing was, but the only thing coming up is those nightcrawler things and it wasn’t one of those. There haven’t been any missing person reports recently, either, which makes things even more confusing, because that arm was still pretty fresh, even though it smelled like a five week old pizza. 

Not sure what to do, and the thought of going back to campus at all makes me want to curl up and die. I figured I’d share this here, since everywhere else is a dead end.

Sorry for the long post and all that. Here’s hoping I don’t die in my sleep or some shit!

5 Comments
2024/06/15
02:39 UTC

23

The Haunting of Whispering Pines

I never believed in the supernatural, let alone ghost stories. Growing up, I was the type who needed concrete evidence to believe in anything. But my experience at Whispering Pines changed all that. This isn't just another campfire story; it's a warning. If you ever hear about Whispering Pines, stay away. Here's my story.

It all started with a road trip. My friends and I had just graduated college and wanted one last adventure before settling into our new lives. The plan was simple: drive through the backroads of New England, explore small towns, and camp under the stars. There were five of us: Jake, the planner; Sarah, the skeptic like me; Mike, the jokester; Liz, who loved all things spooky; and me, Alex.

We had been on the road for a week when we stumbled upon Whispering Pines. We were running low on gas, and our GPS showed a small dot on the map that indicated a town nearby. The road leading to it was overgrown and barely visible, but curiosity got the better of us.

As we drove down the narrow, winding road, we noticed the air getting colder, and an unsettling feeling crept over us. Whispering Pines wasn't on any of our maps or apps. It was as if the place didn't exist, yet here it was, nestled deep in the forest.

The town was eerily quiet, with old, dilapidated buildings and streets overrun with weeds. There were no signs of life, no cars, no people. Just silence. We found a small gas station, remarkably well-preserved compared to the rest of the town. Jake filled the tank while the rest of us explored.

"Look at this place," Liz said, snapping pictures. "It's like a ghost town."

"Probably just abandoned," Sarah replied, though she didn't sound convinced.

We wandered around, checking out the crumbling buildings. The town had a strange charm, frozen in time. An old diner, a general store, and a few houses—all empty, yet filled with an oppressive atmosphere that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

As the sun began to set, we decided to find a place to camp for the night. Just outside of town, we found a clearing with an old, rusty sign that read "Whispering Pines Campground." The place looked like it hadn't been used in decades, but it had a fire pit and a few rotting picnic tables.

"This is perfect," Jake said, unloading the gear. "We'll make a fire, roast some marshmallows, and have a great night."

We set up our tents and got the fire going. The flickering flames provided a small comfort against the growing darkness. We told stories, laughed, and tried to shake off the eerie feeling that clung to the town.

As the night wore on, Liz suggested we explore the woods. "I read somewhere that abandoned places like this often have cool stuff hidden in the forest. Who's in?"

Despite our reservations, we all agreed. Armed with flashlights and a sense of adventure, we ventured into the trees. The forest was thick, and the further we went, the quieter it became. The only sounds were our footsteps and the occasional rustling of leaves.

After about an hour of wandering, we came across an old, decrepit cabin. It looked like it had been abandoned for years, with broken windows and a sagging roof. Naturally, we decided to investigate.

The inside was even creepier. Dust-covered furniture, cobwebs in every corner, and an overwhelming sense of dread. On a table in the center of the room, we found a journal. The leather cover was cracked and worn, the pages yellowed with age.

"Check this out," Mike said, flipping through the pages. "It's a diary or something."

We gathered around as he read aloud. The entries were written by someone named Eliza, who had lived in the town years ago. Her writings spoke of strange happenings—people disappearing, voices in the night, and a sense of being watched.

As we read, a feeling of unease settled over us. The last entry was the most disturbing:

August 13, 1952

The voices are louder now, whispering my name. I see shadows moving in the trees, watching, waiting. Last night, I heard them outside the cabin. I fear I am not alone. If anyone finds this, beware of the woods. They are not what they seem.

"That's enough," Sarah said, her voice shaking. "Let's get out of here."

We agreed and hurried back to the campsite, the oppressive feeling following us. The fire had died down, and we quickly rekindled it, seeking its warmth and light.

As we sat around the fire, trying to shake off the fear, we heard it—a faint whispering, carried on the wind. It was so soft at first, we thought it was our imagination. But it grew louder, more insistent, until we could make out the words.

"Leave this place."

We looked at each other, eyes wide with terror. "Did you hear that?" Jake asked, his voice barely a whisper.

Before we could respond, the whispering grew louder, coming from all directions. Shadows danced at the edge of the firelight, and the air grew colder. Panic set in, and we scrambled to pack our things.

"We need to go, now," Liz said, her voice trembling.

We hurriedly packed up, but as we did, the whispering turned into screams—agonized, blood-curdling screams that echoed through the trees. We ran to the car, the sound chasing us. The engine roared to life, and we sped down the narrow road, not daring to look back.

As we left Whispering Pines, the air grew warmer, and the screaming faded into the distance. We drove in silence, each of us processing what had happened. No one spoke until we were miles away, back on the main road.

"What the hell was that?" Mike finally asked, breaking the silence.

"Ghosts? Spirits? I don't know," Jake replied, his voice shaky. "But we're never going back."

We made it back home, but none of us were the same. The experience had left its mark, and we all struggled to move on. I did some research, trying to find any information about Whispering Pines. There were no records of the town ever existing, no maps, no history—nothing.

It's been years since that night, but I still hear the whispers sometimes, especially when I'm alone. I've tried to forget, but it's impossible. The memory is burned into my mind, a constant reminder of what we encountered.

So, if you ever find yourself on a road trip through New England, and you see a sign for Whispering Pines, turn around. Do not enter the town, do not explore the forest. Some places are meant to be forgotten, left to the shadows and whispers. And remember, curiosity can be deadly.

Stay away from Whispering Pines.

0 Comments
2024/06/15
00:17 UTC

59

There is a Locked Shed in the Middle of the Woods.

For so long through middle school we used to venture out into the woods and one day we came across this oddity. Michael thought it was being used to grow weed, Patrick thought it was just an abandoned hunter’s post, but if it was abandoned than why did it have a padlock on it.

My friend Carlson speculated it was used by human traffickers. We all had wild theories about what may have been behind the doors of that ominous shed in the middle of woods and multiple times we said that we were going to bust in and see what it was for ourselves, and every time we ended up getting cold feet. However, school was ending, summer was approaching, and we would all be going our separate ways as Michael was moving and Carlson Was going to a different school.

We were all trying to decide on what we would do with our last days together and we all had the answer in the back of our minds. We were going to put the mysterious shed behind us and see for ourselves what it was once and for all. After school we grabbed some water and our bikes and rode out for the portion of the woods we usually ride around and play in. It was a noon dismissal, so we had plenty of time to figure out what was in that shed and go about the rest of our last day together.

The journey was…uneasy, I don’t know if it was the sadness of knowing that our friends were going away, the excitement of solving an age-old mystery or if it was something else entirely. I would almost call it a sense of dread, but what was so scary about a creepy tool shed in the middle of the woods? Finally, after about 20 minutes we arrived. The small metal structure stood like a sentinel against the overgrowth that had encroached upon it bearing marks from animals attempting to get in. Carlson took out a pair of plyers to cut the rusted chains around the doors.

“I still can’t believe your dad let you use that.”

“He didn’t let me; he was just too drunk to see me take it.”

With a snap the rusted chains gave way and fell to the ground, the doors began to swing open, and I could almost hear the sound of everyone’s heart pumping in anticipation.

The doors swung open to nothing but a small writing desk and a hatch that led further underground. “Well, this was disappointing.” Patrick blurted out. “Come on guys there has to be something interesting in here, maybe check the drawers for some loss cash.” We looked around and all we found were notes, too time worn to make out any sentences and symbols. We were about to leave when Carlson opened the hatch.

We looked down and saw a ladder that descended onto a concrete stone floor.

“Dude this is getting creepy.”

I shared Michaels sentiment, whatever is down there was something we were never meant to see. “Come on guys we came here to do a job and that’s see what all the hype was about, I’m going down.” Carlson said brave and foolhardy. Upon seeing he didn’t die instantly, his courage became infectious and we all descended downwards into the dark cellar.

It was cold, unnaturally so. None of us had brought our flashlights so we had to waste precious phone battery and use the flashlight apps. A single stone corridor stretched out into an almost infinite hallway with doors on each side of the hall. None of the doors had windows so we couldn’t see what might have been occupying these foreboding chambers.

“Dude this is starting to get creepy maybe we should head up.”

“Head up if you want but this is starting to get interesting.”

Carlson went to open one of the vaults even though we urged him not to. Surprisingly the doors opened, they were not locked or rusted shut. Carlson had nothing to say but stood there silently looking into the room. When we all joined him, we could see what he was staring at. It was a skeleton and it looked to be in the shape of a man but with the skull of a deer, antlers and all.

“Maybe it was a hunter…”

Nobody bought that, whatever we were looking at wasn’t the skeleton of a human, that’s for sure. The other rooms we opened were similar, but some had more than skeletons. Some had dresses made of animal fur that were ruined and writhing with insect larva. Some had fashioned jewelry That looked like it came from rocks and animal bones. The stench of it was becoming unbearable so finally we made it to the final door at the end of the hallway.

As we opened it, we saw that it wasn’t another cell, but a laboratory of sorts, beds with straps and restraints, another writing desk with a human skeleton in the chair and a shelf that still had vials of odd color liquids. Upon further investigation we found a notebook, one that wasn’t so tattered, and we used our flashlights to read through the contents.

13^(th), October 2001

“We had been getting reports of strange sightings in the woods, people report bipedal deer stalking them and reporting the sightings as close to town as the edge of the woods. The police and state park have been notified.”

 

16^(th), October 2001

“A boy went missing in the woods and was found by a collaboration of police and state park rangers, he was found with his insides torn out in a puddle of gore. That’s when we found the animal that had attacked him, a bipedal deer as described by the townsfolk. It took a lot of bullets to kill it and we didn’t know who to call this into, ultimately, we called the CDC for fear it may have been carrying a disease.”

 

19^(th), October 2001

“The CDC has passed this case down to an unnamed government branch who wants to set up surveillance in the woods, we aren’t being told anything however as a Wildlife ranger, they wanted me with them to help chart the area. I Have a bad feeling about this.”

 

25^(th), October 2001

“They began construction on an underground facility, well when I saw begun, I mean they took an old bomb shelter that belonged to a John Doe and converted it into a laboratory. We have named these creatures “The Voracious” probably a play on the fact these creatures seem entirely driven by the need to feed. What gets me is how human they look and the fact they seem to possess some language, but we don’t know what it means, nor do we have references in any known language."

 

1^(st), November 2001

“I had to sign an NDA about everything that happens in my time here, they finally let me into the laboratory they had set up, where they were doing horrific experiments upon the voracious. Their teeth are razor sharp and we have no idea how many there are in the woods but speculate that they have been here for a long time, a very long time."

Our phones’ batteries were getting low, and the lights were starting to flicker, we all decided to go back up. The run down the hallway was terrifying seeing as how I was expecting a door the fly open, and those monsters to pop out at me at any moment. We all made it to the surface and bolted out of that shed as fast as possible. Even though it was broad daylight I still felt like we were being watched from every angle. The treetops, the thickets; I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of those woods.

We reached our houses and made a silent vow to never talk about what we found in the shed. I, however, kept the book and continued to read through the notes. They were unremarkable, only detailing the ranger’s ascension of authority the more he worked on this case. Until I reached the Final entry.

1^(st), December 2001

“We heard gunfire and screaming coming from the grounds outside, they have us surrounded there must be dozens of them! Where did they all come from? I hope whoever finds this journal can help spread the truth that there is something evil in these woods, cannibalistic fiends they are. Fire is their only known weakness; I can hear them clawing at the shed above.” The rest of the text is ineligible from water stains, probably from tears.

I am in high school now and to this day I still refuse to go into the woods, I still set my own curfew before sundown, and I still hear stories about people who go into the woods and never come back. And some nights, when I look out my window into the dark woods, bloodshot eyes stare back at me.

3 Comments
2024/06/14
23:25 UTC

13

Do Dreams Have Power? [Part 1]

Thunk. Thunk. Screech. I tried to focus on the sounds of my morning commute and avoid touching the people packed in the subway around me. I glanced upwards, bleary eyed, to avoid making eye contact with anyone around me. I try not to do that anymore. Not after I zoned out for three stops while staring at a woman's face. I didn't realize I had been doing it until she practically flew off the train. I have the sneaking suspicion it wasn't even her stop. She probably just waited for the next one.

I've got the male equivalent of a resting bitch face. Which I guess is just resting bitch face. I glanced up at the endless litany of advertisements. Car dealership here, four depression clinical studies there, something about Jesus. And then in bold blue lettering on a lemon yellow background: trouble sleeping?

I don't make a personal habit of calling the numbers on signs that I see. So I didn't. 

I went to work. My boss harangued me for being six minutes late. She never congratulates me for showing up twenty minutes early, something that happens with equal frequency to being slightly tardy, on account of public transit. But I was too tired to care. 

I probably made small talk with my coworkers. They all laugh too much when they're talking to me. I can't tell if they think I'm impaired in some way. Or maybe I'm the butt of some long running joke. It's all very unclear. I don't even know what their names are. One of them is Sarah, but whether it's the blond or the brunette woman I don't know and I'm too afraid to ask after all this time. Or in a real upset, maybe it's the man's name. But I'm pretty sure he's a Brian.

I mostly work in the back office. That day I was stuffing flyers into a mailer. We were sending out our own mailers but there were a handful of magazine-print advertisements going in the envelopes which I assume covered the price of postage. And there it was again, the bright yellow background printed in bold, round letters: trouble sleeping? Not that I cared. I shuffled them into the envelopes.

My eyes sting all the time. When I shut them they water too much to overcompensate for some fundamental dryness. An ex-girlfriend left an eye cream at my place, either by mistake or as a quiet passive-aggressive jab. I dab it on when I want to look presentable. I'm not sure it does much. My swollen capillaries make me look like a goddamn racoon. It's why they keep me in the back office. 

I like doing menial tasks like mailers anyway. My brain shuts off and I enter a meditative state that's sleep-adjacent. My coworker, the blonde one - maybe Sarah - was standing in front of me. She was talking.

“Huh?” I asked. I wiped my mouth with the back of my sleeve. I wasn't sleeping but I suppose it never hurts to make sure you aren't drooling. 

“Mary wants you out front.”

“What for?”

“She's ‘running errands.’ She needs someone to man her desk.” Sarah rolled her eyes. “Must be nice to not have a real job.” She smiled, inviting me in on the joke, which was that our manager was banging the FedEx guy every chance she got.

Mary wasn't too pleased when she saw me. “What took you so long?” she asked impatiently, pulling her coat on. “I've got to run to the bank. Don’t give away any free stuff, I don’t care how upset the customer is. No returns.”

I told myself to stay focused and pulled out my phone. I hoped reading would keep me alert. I came to and the phone was ringing. Shit. Who knows how many rings. Sometimes Mary calls to make sure we're doing all right. And to make sure I'm doing my job. I've only missed her call once, thankfully, and I told her I was in the bathroom. She didn't really buy it but it wasn't quite enough to write me up.

I snatched the receiver and gave the full thirty second spiel about the store, location, and how happy we are to be of service. It was a spam call. Mary came back after about an hour or so. Her hair was in a ponytail now. It had been down earlier. 

“Have fun?” I asked. 

“What?” She asked me sharply.

“At the bank,” I said.

“Oh. No. There was a bit of a line.”

Anyway, the rest of the day was uneventful. And a bit of a blur, to be honest. Most of my days are a blur.

I was on the subway and headed home when I saw another one of those ads. I copied the number into my phone from one of the similar placards inside the car. 

I do have trouble sleeping. I have insomnia. And even when I do sleep I have strange dreams. There's never any people or color. Just shifting monochrome shapes that are vaguely unsettling. 

I got home, microwaved a frozen dinner, and watched some Netflix. Then it was time for bed. I maintain good sleep hygiene, out of habit now more than anything. A relic from more hopeful times. I watch TV in the living room only. No screens in the bedroom. I drink herbal tea, no caffeine after noon. When you’re as tired as I am it doesn’t make much of a difference anyway.

When I closed my eyes I could see shapes dancing behind my eyelids. I tried counting to 100. That never works. Then I rolled over and opened my eyes, staring into the blackness of the room. I have heavy blinds so once the lights are out, it's dark in there. It’s hard to tell the difference between my eyes being open or closed when it's that dark, except having my eyes open seems to reinforce how tired I am. I thought about how heavy my eyelids were, and how badly they wanted to close. I think I dozed off for a bit but the shapes dancing in the static were... distracting. When I cheated and checked my phone it had only been an hour.

Much of the night passed that way. Most nights passed that way. I tried Ambien once but it only made the shapes worse. I slept through the night even with the shapes, but then I started seeing them during the day too, which was worse.

Some days I get my best sleeping done right as the sun is rising. But not that day. The view that morning was spectacular. Gold, blood orange, and crimson. I kept my eye on it as I made coffee in the kitchen. I stood in the window and watched the color bloom over the horizon, the day creeping forward and the clouds like finger shaped bruises in the distance. I stared at them as they moved slowly and changed shape almost imperceptibly, driven onward by the wind. The shapes of them, shifting, ever shifting. 

I burned my foot. I came to after I spilled some coffee on the floor. It wasn't a bad burn, but it worried me. I zone out often. I'm not blacked out, I'm just not totally with it. Like I said, I don't usually see the shapes during the day. I mopped up the spill and decided my foot didn't hurt that badly. I hopped in the shower, changed into work clothes, and got ready to go. 

I was about two hours early. I sat and skimmed a few news articles on my phone. The banner on one of the websites was another one of those ads. Big blue letters on a lemon yellow background. I sighed, and pinched the bridge of my nose. I'd tried a slew of things over the years. One more wouldn't help. But it wouldn't hurt, either.

I didn't click on the link, because I'm morally opposed to web ads, but I did dial the number.

A cheerful sounding man answered the phone. “Good morning! Trouble sleeping last night?”

I laughed, a tired, rasping, worn out sound. “Try every night,” I said.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” the man replied. “This is a clinical study. If you pass the screening we will pay you $500 per night, if you'll come in and do some sleep studies with us.”

I perked up at that.

“May I ask your symptoms?”

“Insomnia, mostly. But I have trouble staying asleep.”

“I see. Do you ever have racing, intrusive thoughts when trying to sleep?”

“No.”

“How about sensory experiences? Sensation of falling, twitching limbs, inexplicable loud noises?”

“No.”

“Bad dreams?”

“Well -” I said. I wasn't sure how to describe it.

“Do you dream?”

“Yes, always.”

“What are your dreams like? Do they recur or are they different?”

“They're all pretty similar. I see these shapes - patterns - sort of like a kaleidoscope. They're always folding in on themselves and reforming. It's sort of uncomfortable to watch. It usually wakes me up if I stare at them for too long.”

“Are you in these dreams, then?”

“Well, I mean I’m watching them. But I don’t do anything. I’m kind of like a camera that’s just there viewing.”

“No other people?”

“No.”

“Do you ever have thoughts, in these dreams? Do you move around? Do anything besides watch?”

“No.”

“Ever get night terrors? Sleep paralysis?”

“No.”

“Have you been to a doctor to treat your insomnia?” 

“I've tried every treatment there is,” I said. “None of them helped.”

“Well I'm happy to inform you, you've passed our initial screen. Our study is for atypical forms of insomnia that are resistant to treatment. We try to rule out anxiety disorders, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, things of that nature. We'd like to have you in for a more in-depth screening before we proceed to the sleep study. The doctor will want to examine you and he can explain a bit more about what the study entails. He can also tell you how many sleep studies to expect. Usually patients do three, minimum, but it can go up to eight.”

“Okay,” I said. “Can we do lunchtime? I go on break at 12:00. So I can be there by 12:30.”

“Perfect. And what day works for you? Today would be great. Or I can do Friday, or let's see...”

“Today is fine,” I said. What was Mary going to do? Fire me? From my low paying, unskilled job? The horror. 

He gave me their address, the Behavioral Science building at the nearby university, and the name of the head researcher. I googled and it was all on the up and up. The school has a decent BS unit (ha ha, very funny, I know). The head researcher was a real person with some published papers on things I didn't understand, but sounded legitimate.

At 11:30 I made a point of checking my phone. “Oh shit,” I said. “I forgot I had a doctor's appointment. Could you cover for me?” Sarah agreed. Mary took off for her nooner and I left right afterwards. With luck I would be back before her and she wouldn’t know I was gone. 

I got to the clinic a bit early. I was surprised; it was a real clinic. It looked more like a hospital than a college. I wandered up to the receptionist and he pointed me in the right direction. I took a narrow beige corridor to a bank of elevators. Just three, actually, but even that seemed like a lot. The building wasn't huge.

I got off on the fifth floor and followed some crude word art signs with arrows that said “Sleep Study.”

I made it to the office. There was a small lobby area with several doors. It looked like a mix of offices and exam rooms. A bell chimed as I entered through the heavy glass door. I was ushered into an exam room by what I suspect was an undergraduate student. She vanished before I could ask anything. There was only one real chair so I sat tentatively on the battered exam table. 

The doctor swept in after a brief wait, tablet in hand. “You're early,” he said, extending a hand with a smile. “Doctor Smith.” 

“Michael,” I replied.

He was tall, and had the kind of face people would describe as patrician, or my sister would describe as a silver fox. He had his hair neatly combed back and his streaks of gray formed crisp waves.

He sat down in the chair across from me and leaned back. “Let me tell you a little bit about the study. My research is primarily based on neurons. Synapses, the neurotransmitters that travel between them, that kind of thing. If you remember your high school biology classes, the brain is basically an organic computer. Your thoughts are made up of billions of neurons firing electro-chemical signals to communicate with other neurons. The synapses are the links between the neurons. They're the circuits on the circuit board.

“What we've found in some of our studies are certain markers of a certain kind of abnormal brain activity. As far as I know, it's never been documented before. So we’re exploring it. The people who exhibit this type of abnormal brain activity experience it when they sleep. It disrupts their sleep, in fact. They usually suffer from what we are calling treatment-resistant insomnia.

“Medications like Ambien will force you to ‘sleep.’ They flood your system with the shut-down neurotransmitters. It's like a hard power cycle, so to speak. Your body powers down. But we've found it doesn't affect the abnormal brain activity. That continues. It disrupts the other functions your body is supposed to perform, so even when you are unconscious, you're not truly sleeping, and you do not feel refreshed.

“Our funding for the initial research is to determine what the abnormal brain function is. However, we've found that attempting to measure and record this brain activity actually tends to improve patients’ symptoms.

“Think of it this way. We give you an agent that binds to your neurons. It lets all the normal signals through, but not the abnormal signals. It absorbs those signals, and they activate the agent. They light up like Christmas lights, showing which neurons are being sent a signal. We can monitor them and start to piece together a picture.

“The cure for your insomnia is for us actually just a side effect of the research. However we've found that it is quite effective - in people with this specific disorder. There are other kinds of treatment resistant insomnia that unfortunately are not responsive to this treatment, since it is very specific. 

“But that brings us to you. You're here today so I can determine if you have the kind of insomnia that we are looking for. Sound good?”

“Yeah,” I said. I followed about half of what he said, but he sounded smart. “Are there side effects?”

“Well, patients who respond to treatment report a total cessation of dreaming. The agent itself is harmless. If you have this type of insomnia, we will be able to measure it. If you don't, nothing will happen. The possible side effects are nausea and vertigo, usually seen within the first few days. Occasionally nighttime headaches. But those are rare and subside. In my experience, most patients have no side effects whatsoever. I should also mention, it is permanent. The effects cannot easily be reversed. They may wear off over time, but we haven't had enough long range studies to know.”

“Okay,” I said. “Where do I sign?”

He laughed. “Let's do the screening,” he said. “You scored highly on the initial questionnaire. Non-narrative dreams, trouble staying asleep, resistance to other treatments. And the... shapes, as you call them.”

“Yep.”

He unlocked his tablet screen and started scrolling through it. He asked me a fairly exhaustive list of questions, starting with my medical history, my family's medical history, and then moving on to the specifics of my sleeping habits. He seemed excited about the MRI I had for my concussion when I was 19. My poor reaction to Ambien. And the sleep studies I'd had done, though I told him they were unhelpful for me. “All data points,” he said cheerfully. “We're trying to build a profile for sufferers of this condition. Old medical records will help.”

He then asked me a series of questions about my dreams. He wanted to know all about the shapes, whether they had ‘auras’ or ‘intentions.’ He talked about them like they were people, almost. He asked how I felt when I looked at them, how I felt about them, what I thought they were. 

It kind of stumped me, to be honest. I had never really thought about what they were. “They're just... They've always been there,” I said. “It's like seeing a floater in your eye. It's not anything. They're distracting but just white noise.”

“But you describe feeling upset when you look at them.”

“I mean, not, like, upset upset,” I said. “It's like in the movies, how acid trips look. Just off kilter and not how shapes are supposed to look.”

He was writing on the tablet with his stylus.

“Look, that sounds stupid,” I said. “I wish you could see them. You'd understand what I meant.”

“Let me show you something,” Dr. Smith said. He tapped on his tablet. “Hold on one moment please.”

He held up the screen and the fucking shapes were on it, in some video. “Where the fuck did you get that?” I asked. I turned my head but kept my eyes on the screen. I wanted to look away but couldn't. There was something mesmerizing about the gentle undulating shapes, a monochromatic shimmer that made me think of an oil slick somehow. A dark rainbow. I could almost feel my brain puckering and twisting, trying to grasp the strange rhythm of the thing. It was dizzying. I clutched the edges of the table. 

“What do you see?” he asked.

“You know,” I said. “The fucking shapes.”

“And how do you feel?”

“Just turn it off, okay? Bad. I feel bad. Turn the damn screen off.”

He obliged, glancing down and hitting the pause button as if he didn't see what was wrong with the infernal things. He opened his notes back up. “I'm writing down that you are distressed,” he said.

“Fine.”

He checked my vital signs and my pupils. “Consistent with a stress reaction,” he said. “Elevated pulse, pupils dilated. Sorry about that.”

“How did you get that video?” I asked.

“We got that from another patient,” he said.

“How? An artist recreation?” I asked.

“Actually, it's created from the measurements we take. Before the sleep studies we're going to need to do another assessment. It's a fairly intensive brain mapping exercise. Cutting-edge stuff, really. We can map the way your brain reacts to stimuli, and later, when you're sleeping, track which neurons are lighting up in your brain. Some of our graduate students wrote a really ingenious little program that can translate between your brain mapping results and the data we get from your dreams.”

“And you can make a video of it? Just like that?”

“More or less.”

“That’s incredible! It’s like science fiction or something!”

“The technology has been in development for several years now. A researcher in Japan did some groundbreaking work a few years ago and the team here has really refined the methods. It's not perfect and it doesn't seem to work as well in other applications, but in settings with only small amounts of sensory input, when your brain is not otherwise engaged in complex processes, we've had… results.”

“Results?”

“It's hard to say whether they're good or bad. You're an unusual case. Most people can't see the phenomenon - the shapes. And if they can, they can't recall them for long after waking. They all, however, seem to have the same aversion to the video I just showed you. It's unclear why. The research team and I can't see anything when we watch it. It's just static. But our test subjects all have a similar reaction to what you are seeing.”

“Why? Why does it look different to me than it does to you?”

“Have you ever seen one of those magic eye pictures?”

“Of course.”

“There's a subset of the population who can't see them. They see the colors and the shapes of the flat image, of course, but they cannot see the hidden three dimensional image. I'm not talking about the people who don’t know how to cross their eyes, either. There is a subset of the population for whom stereopsis - depth perception - never developed. Their individual eyes work just fine. But their brain doesn't know how to process the information it receives, to translate it into depth. Their brain never learned to coordinate the input of both eyes.” 

“I… don't have any problems with depth perception.”

“Of course you don't. I do.”

I rubbed my eyes. It's tough to follow conversations when you're working on about two hours of sleep. The doctor didn't seem to mind. I got the feeling he really liked talking about this subject. 

“In this metaphor, you can see the extra dimension. Space. Depth. Whatever you want to call it. Your brain possesses the function to calculate it. You developed the skill at a critical age. Or, possibly, you possess some fundamentally different brain structure from me, in a subtle way that we have yet to recognize. But the fact remains, I cannot see the Magic Eye. For some reason, I, and most people, lack the capacity. Does that make sense?”

“Oh. I guess so,” I said. “My brain invented a magic eye.”

He smiled. “It's all a hypothesis, of course. That's how we got our funding. To test it. It’s an interesting phenomenon, really because it raises so many more questions about what we can and cannot see. As a species, and as individuals. But don’t get me started, I’ll go on for hours.” He waved a hand and stood. “Do you have any questions for me?”

“So how does this all..work? I mean, the brain mapping and the sleep studies and stuff.” I was fairly excited, to be honest. This guy sounded like he knew what was wrong with me. And like he could fix it. This was completely different from the  many doctors I'd seen before, who shuffled me from specialist to specialist and ordered the same battery of tests over and over again.

“Well, we’re going to want to have you in to do the brain mapping first. Unfortunately that is time consuming and you have to be awake. We’ll need two roughly eight hour sessions, though you’ll have breaks during them. It’s $400 per session.” He crossed his arms, tablet tucked into his armpit. “After that we’ll start with the sleep studies. We will do once a week for as many follow ups as we deem necessary - and as long as you’re willing to participate, of course. Some people we have all the data we need after the first three. Some people take a little longer. We compensate those $500 per session plus travel, with a $250 bonus at the end for completing all the sessions in the full course, as determined by me and the other clinicians. Where do you work? Near here?”

“About twenty minutes, I took an uber here.”

“Keep your receipts for the travel next time and we can submit them for reimbursement.”

“And the...mapping. What is that?”

“Well, we’re going to put you in an fMRI machine and measure your responses to things. Colors, images, things like that. We’ll map which parts of your brain light up when you’re thinking about a particular subject. 

“Let’s say we want to isolate the color red. We’ll say ‘red’ and see what happens. But there is so much context your brain carries around with it all the time. So it helps to try it a bunch of different ways. We’ll say, ‘tomato,’ and ‘rainbow,’ and other words that relate to colors to try and pinpoint the ‘red’ brainwaves. So if someone says ‘fire truck,’ a hundred parts of your brain might light up, but we should be able to positively identify the red center is one of them. In theory, anyway. We’ve found this works in simple cases and laboratory settings. Not as well in complex ones.

“We’re primarily interested in the visual cortex so we’ll be showing you a lot of images.” He must have seen the look on my face because he added quickly, “Not that video. We actually want to show you everything but that. We want to map what you see when you sleep, not what we’ve already shown you. The goal is to see if your brainwaves can create an identical video.” He glanced at his watch. “I'm happy to answer any questions you have, but I have another appointment in a few minutes. Can we get you started on the paperwork?”

“Sure.”

He handed me his card. “I'll always answer my cell. You can email me too, of course, but if you have any side effects during the study and want to call me up, please do. Someone will be in shortly to go over all the release forms with you,” he said. “It was a pleasure to meet you.” He shook my hand and left. 

A different undergraduate (or maybe graduate) student than the one I saw before came to get me. “If you'll step into this office here,” she said, gesturing. I caught a glimpse of another person in one of the occupied offices. He was working on his computer and I had the sneaking suspicion he had a shape on his monitor but I looked away before I could be sure.

The office was cluttered. The woman apologized for the mess and laid out several packets of forms. 

She walked me through the medical release forms, the payment terms, and the NDA. Her voice rolled on in a soothing accent I didn't recognize. She gathered up my signatures and put them in a file folder. She produced one last sheet of paper, with another line at the bottom for my name and the date. It simply stated that the research team/university owned all of the data collected from my brain and that they were allowed to use it for research purposes. I touched the pen to the page but before I could sign, she put a hand on my wrist. I looked up. Her eyes were hazel. They had little flecks of green in them which I noticed because she was trying to bore a hole in me with her stare.

“You understand this means we will own your dreams,” she said. 

I laughed, but she didn’t join in. 

“That’s a strange way to put it,” I said. 

“But not wrong. They put the receptors in your brain. We intercept the signal. It never reaches you. It’s like someone taking your mail out of your mailbox before you ever get to see it.”

“If it means I never have to see another one of those goddamn things again, I don’t care. Hell, I’d pay you to take them. The money is really just extra.”

She looked down at the page, and took her hand off my wrist. “Do you believe that dreams have power, Michael?” she asked. The emphasis was on the wrong syllable of my name.

“No,” I said. “Is there something about this study you’re not telling me?”

She shook her head. “The doctor dresses it up and makes it sound clinical. I just want to make sure you understand exactly what you’re signing up for when you do this. Many cultures have special beliefs about dreams. It’s not too late to back out, if you feel uncomfortable. If you don’t sign this form, we won’t treat you.”

“Are there any bad side effects I don’t know about? Bad reactions?”

“No. We have nearly a 100% success rate. We think that people who don’t respond to the treatment may not have the kind of dreams you have, despite making it through the screening. Though we can’t be completely sure. As the doctor said, the main side effect is no dreams. This is the first study of its kind, so we can’t guarantee long term effects. The drug itself is safe, but you may acclimate and start dreaming again. We don’t know.”

“Why are you working here? It seems like you don’t want me to participate in this study.”

“If I leave, they replace me, with someone less concerned about getting your informed consent. I don’t think helping you sleep is a bad thing. But my mother would be furious if I didn’t at least explain to you. She was very spiritual. She believed in dreams. I do too, but in a different way. That’s why I’m here.”

She looked like she was about to say something else, but I signed my name and pushed the paper towards her. She spun it around to look at my signature for a moment, her fingertips pressed to the paper in a gesture that reminded me of a salute, before slipping it into the manilla folder with the rest. 

“Okay, Michael,” she said. “That’s all for today.”

I was cheerful at work when I got back. In a stroke of luck Mary wasn’t back yet. So I’m not going to lie to you, I put a normal half hour lunch break on my timecard and figured what she didn’t know didn’t hurt her.

Saturday rolled around and I headed back to the clinic. I had to answer another impossibly long questionnaire about my medical history before they would put me in the fMRI machine. The brain mapping itself was actually quite boring. They would flash an image of a square on the screen for a few seconds. Then a circle. Then a triangle. They would ask me to say out loud the name of every shape. We did colors, weird squiggly lines, simple patterns, things like that. They let me take a break every hour or so. I made it quick though, sipped some water or ate a complimentary bag of chips and then hopped back in. I was anxious to get through it and on to the main event. Both days were uneventful. 

Over lunch I got to chatting with one of the tech guys. I was asking him about the study and he shook his head. “Weird stuff, man.”

“What do you mean?” I asked. 

“Well, I’m not as involved on the research side of things,” he said. “I really just run a lot of the equipment. But the stuff they’re doing... I mean I’m sure it’s all fine,” he said, realizing who he was talking to. “I just wouldn’t want people poking around my dreams, you know? I’ve had too many about Scarlett Johansson.”

We laughed, but I was starting to feel a little uncomfortable. Was it so wrong of me to want to get rid of my dreams? Maybe they were a part of me, after all. Some crucial, subconscious part. I did some googling about what dreams are. Turns out people have guesses but no one actually knows. 

But then again, I reasoned, people get parts of them removed all the time. All kinds of amputations and -ectomies. I was just having a dream-ectomy. They go in and literally slice up your brain if you’re epileptic. Taking a pill to divert some chemicals is pretty tame in comparison to that.

I asked the doctor when I saw him what they were going to do with the data they were collecting. The videos. 

“We’re not sure yet,” he said. “A couple of the students here want to base their thesis on interpreting the things. If you recall the release form you signed, it was designating your data for this purpose. We’re all taking cracks at it. The person who can come up with some kind of explanation for this may end up being the next Freud.” He laughed. “Well, as famous, but hopefully not as infamous.”

“Can I - could I see them when you’re done?” I asked. “The videos, I mean. Not the dissertations or whatever. I assume those take a while.”

“Of course,” Dr. Smith said.

The brain mapping went off without a hitch. It was a week between the brain mapping and the first appointment, to give them time to set up the program that would interpret my dream.

The days sped by. The shapes were no less unsettling or distracting, though I wondered often what it would be like if they disappeared. I wasn’t sure what I would be like. Would I have a lot of energy? A better mood? A better complexion? I wondered about this better version of Michael. He had never seemed more possible.

I took the drug the morning before the sleep study, as instructed. I went to work like normal. The day was, like so many others, unpleasant but uneventful. After work I went to the clinic. I had laughed when they asked me to come in around my normal bedtime. “I’m an insomniac,” I said. “I fall asleep at four in the morning.” They scheduled me for 9 p.m.

They hooked me up to a bunch of sensors. Head electrodes and a bunch of other stuff. I was laying on a hospital bed in a small pink room with what I assume was a one way mirror. They had said they would be monitoring me throughout the night. 

I was just as tired as I always was. The nurse prepped me and left the room. She turned the lights off on the way out. I lay in the dark and let the red static of my eyelids play across my eyes. I thought about how one way mirror and two way mirror mean the same thing, kind of like flammable and inflammable. 

And when I opened my eyes again, it was because a different nurse was shaking my shoulder. 

“What?” I asked groggily.

“It's six a.m.” she said. “Time to get up.”

I sat bolt upright, startling her backwards. “What?” I said again, in shock. I started ripping things off of me and swung my legs off the bed. 

“Please don't do that, let me help you,” she said, reaching for my arm. But I tore every electrode and pulse monitor off my body and was storming towards the door.

“I need to speak with the doctor.”

I slammed the door open and he was there, in the brightly lit hallway, looking alarmed and holding out his hands to placate me. “Look, Michael, please-”

I wrapped him in a bear hug. And then I cried like a baby. He patted my back awkwardly and after a moment, peeled me off of him. “Karen, could you...?” 

The nurse sighed. “Please, Michael, let's sit you down,” she said. 

Dr. Smith said he would be back shortly and the nurse guided me back to the cot. I was still crying a little. “I haven't slept in years,” I said. I felt wonderful. I guess that's how most people feel all the time.

“I know,” she said, not unsympathetically. She handed me some tissues and didn't interrupt as I spoke at length about how awake I felt. She simply gathered up the discarded medical equipment and arranged it precisely in order. When Dr. Smith came back she left with it.

He handed me a steaming cup of coffee. It smelled bitter. It was crappy hospital coffee. “I don't need it,” I said. 

He shrugged. “I'll leave it here. Years of caffeine addiction isn't going to go away overnight,” he said. 

I don't know,” I replied. “You might be a miracle worker.”

“I have to do your status evaluation now,” he said. “You feel good? Rested?” 

I laughed. 

“When did you fall asleep?”

“Right away,” I said. Couldn't have been more than a few minutes.”

“Any dreams?”

“None.”

“No shapes?”

“Not a goddamn one.”

“Good, good.”

“It's too early to have anything definitive but the data we pulled looks promising. Your brain was lighting up like Times Square. I think this will be quite useful in my research.”

“Glad to help,” I said.

They ushered me to the showers to get ready for work. When I got out I headed to the sink to brush my teeth. I slicked back my wet hair and smiled. The bags under my eyes were still there, but I fancied they looked less pronounced. I didn't have much time to admire myself because I was interrupted by a noise in one of the stalls.

“You okay?” I asked. It was clearly someone crying. I only said something because it seemed weirder to let them keep crying if they hadn't heard me come in. 

The door creaked open and a young man came out. His dark eyes were bloodshot. His skin was dark enough that he didn't have obvious racoon eyes like me, but I imagined if he was as pale as I was he could have given me a run for my money. 

“Hey man,” I said. 

“Hey,” he said hoarsely. 

“You okay?”

“I'm fine,” he said. “Just trouble sleeping.”

“Oh, are you in the study?” I asked. 

He laughed; a rasping, unamused sound that I knew all too well. “No. I work here.”

I realized he had a badge on. His name was Darrell Wilkins. “You work for Dr. Smith?”

“Yep. I'll be watching your dreams in a couple hours. We need to have some idea of the direction to take our research soon. So that we have time to analyze all the data.”

“Ironic, isn't it?”

“What?” He was splashing water on his face.

“Well, you're losing sleep over helping other people get to sleep.”

“Yeah,” he said. He didn't sound amused.

“Well, thanks for your work,” I said.

“Yeah, sure,” he mumbled, examining his eyes.

The rest of the day was uneventful. I got to work and was happy to be there for the first time. It was the same old shit but I had energy. I paced around and whistled. I didn't make any mistakes, which was new for me. 

Night rolled around and I went in for the second sleep study. I was out like a light as soon as I closed my eyes. Next thing I knew they had pulled the bed out from the machine and a nurse was shaking me awake.

Dr. Smith took me aside and showed me my video. The one they made from my dream. It was me and a couple of grad students crowded around a monitor. The shapes started moving when they hit play. The strange pattern within a pattern began to undulate, folding in on itself like a sentient wormhole and my skin started to crawl.

The grad students seemed mesmerized, leaning it to get a closer look. “Do you guys see the shapes?” I asked.

Darrell was there, and he said, “I can almost make out something,” he said. “It's like a pattern in the static...” He trailed off. 

“I can't see a thing,” a woman declared.

Another woman said, “Well, we don't have to be able to understand them to compare them. I'm going to have Steven do a statistical analysis between these and the other subjects to see if there are any similarities in the frequency of...”

Dr. Smith ushered me out as they began arguing. Darrell stared at the screen, pensive.

The third sleep study started off fine. I fell asleep quickly and awoke to a hand on my shoulder.

“Morning already?” I asked. I opened my eyes. It was still dark in the room but I could tell the bed had been pulled out from the belly of the machine. There was a man standing by my bedside.

“Hey, don't you usually turn the lights on?” I moved to sit but his hand was pressing down on my shoulder.

I rolled sideways and grabbed his arm. “What the fuck, man?” As soon as I laid a hand on him, his other hand slammed down on my chest, pushing me down into the bed. He found my neck and started choking me. I started flailing, scratching at his arms. I hit his face and my palm came back wet. Something was dripping on me. 

He was screaming, “I can see them. I can see them. They're here for you. Take them.” His voice sounded strange. Like a man who wasn't accustomed to yelling. Or maybe who had been yelling too much. It was hoarse and crackling.

A nurse burst into the room, flicked the lights on and pulled him off me. It was Darrell. He was a pretty fit dude but this 5'3" nurse was an absolute champion. She dragged him backwards while screaming colors, and names, and for security. It was a losing battle; she had got his hands off my neck through sheer surprise but he elbowed her in the face and lunged at me again. He fell onto me, hands on my chest, when two more nurses sprinted in and came to restrain him. The first nurse regained her footing and helped them. He was still screaming. Security arrived shortly after. The guard tazed him and he went down. He and the male nurse dragged him out of the room and closed the door. The remaining nurse examined the first nurse's face. "Broken nose," she said. "Better get down to the first floor." The first nurse sighed and pressed a paper hospital gown to her face to staunch the blood. She left. 

The nurse turned to me. "I want to say you're lucky Carmen was about to check up on you when she was, but I guess it's not lucky that one of the researchers had a psychotic break. So it's probably a wash." She was examining my neck. "Any sharp pains? Tenderness?"

She continued to palpate my bruised neck, but found nothing out of the ordinary - besides what you would from a failed murder attempt, I suppose.

The rest of the day was a blur - not a sleep-induced blur, but a series of hectic new situations. I had to give a statement to the police, the university strong-armed me into being thoroughly checked out and getting some scans (at their expense), and I had to sit through a confusing meeting with a bunch of administrative staff and Dr. Smith where they discussed the implications of me remaining in the study.

For better or for worse I waived most of my legal rights. I didn't want to sue the university; not after their research program had cured me. Not like I had the money to sue anyway. I heard that Darrell got admitted to the psych ward. I and several other witnesses attested to the fact that he was a nice enough, not-psycho dude, without ulterior motives - when he wasn't, you know, trying to murder me. They said it was probably stress induced, possibly the onset of a mental disorder. He was in his late twenties which the doctor said is about the right age for that.

I had to call out sick from work to deal with the whole mess. The university said they would take care of the lost wages. They also promised to get me ten counseling sessions to process the trauma of nearly being murdered in my sleep. By the end of the day I was feeling strangely calm. None of it mattered; not really. I felt well-rested and clear headed. Even my tiredness had the sharp, pressing sensation of something new. It was different from the persistent, dull ache I had lived with for well over a decade. I went home for the night and when I lay down to go to sleep, I fell asleep almost immediately. I did not dream.

2 Comments
2024/06/14
22:34 UTC

1

The Shadow of Sarcoville

Welcome to Sarcoville, said the sign at the entrance to my small once-hometown. I moved there when I turned eighteen to get away from my family's financial troubles. I wanted a fresh start and a job opportunity at a local meat farm presented itself. Sarcoville was a tiny community and the locals were incredibly welcoming. The rent was dirt cheap and my flat had a bomb shelter! Never thought I'd need to use it though, being basically in the middle of Nowhere, America.

Everything was going swimmingly until one morning a high-pitched scream pierced through my window, waking me up. The rude awakening pushed me into high alert as I peeled myself from my bed, anxiously facing the window. A small crowd was gathering around the source of the almost inhuman noise. At its center stood Jack Smith, screaming bloody murder.

His body; deeply sunburnt red, flailed about in a mad dance as he shrieked until his voice cracked. Flaps of clothing bloodied, fell from his body onto the ground with a sickening, wet slap.

A crowd around him stood paralyzed, gasping in simultaneous awe and disgust.

His body; deeply sunburnt red, flailed about in a mad dance as he shrieked until his voice cracked. Flaps of clothing bloodied, fell from his body onto the ground with a sickening, wet slap. a red thread from a crimson mask. Seeing poor Jack’s body dissolve into a pile of wailing mucus and flesh forced yesterday’s dinner upward.

I threw up all over the carpet, and while I was emptying my stomach, the screaming magnified, intensified, and multiplied…

Looking up again, I saw a crowd of bystanders consumed by the remains of Jack’s body. Clothes, skin, muscles, tendons, and bone – liquifying and slipping from downward into a soup of human matter.

A cacophony of agonized cries was the soundtrack to the scenery of inhuman body horror that forced me to hide under my blanket like a child once again. While waiting for the demise of the almost alien noises, I nearly pissed myself with fear.

Once it was quiet again, it was eerily silent all around. In that moment of dead silence, I dared peek my head from below the covers, drenched and on the cusp of hyperventilating with dread.

A dark red liquid stared at me from every inch of my room.

Its eyeless gaze - predatory and longing.

I pulled my blanket over my head again instinctually.

The moment I covered my head, a rain of fire fell on me.

A rain I couldn’t escape.

A rain of unrelenting pain.

The pain fried every neuron in my body, every cell, every atom.

Burning until there was nothing but a sea of heat, nothing but acidic phlegm in the throat of a fallen god.

The pain was so intense it turned into an orgasmic, out-of-body experience.

I had lost all sensation within my agony until I began to fall in love with it.

I was losing myself in ego death. My being began finding its place in the universe. My purpose laid bare before me, as a piece of a carcinogenic mass.

In a singular moment, however, as soon as it came, so it had stopped. The pain, the heat, the joy… Everything had vanished, only to be replaced with a primal fear. The sarcophagal mass must've been distracted by someone else leaving me with nothing but a sense of all-consuming terror.

My instincts forced me to run to the bomb shelter, as I ran, I could hear the neighbor's newborn daughter crying.

By the time I locked myself in the bomb shelter, the crying died out and before I could even catch my breath the amalgam of predatory humanity was already pounding with full force across against the door.

Occasionally crying in a myriad of distorted voices.

beckoning me to join strangers, acquaintances, neighbors, friends, lovers, and relatives.

Calling me to find unity in them and be as one forever.

Promising a life without boundaries or barriers.

A part of me wanted to give in and become entangled in this orgy of molten yet living humanity.

I had to resist the urge to join this singular living human fabric.

I was about to break after hours of relentless psychological torment but then, it just stopped and the world fell dead silent again. It took me a few long minutes before I dared open the door ever so slightly. Creating only a tiny opening while being almost paralyzed by dread. The whole time I was worried sick this thing would be smart enough to fool me with a momentary silence.

At that moment it seemed like there was nothing there. Too exhausted to think rationally at this point, and armed with a sense of false security, I shoved the door open. My heart nearly went to a cardiac arrest as I fell on my ass.

A disgusting formation of sinew and muscle tissue stood towering over me. Numerous tentacles and appendages shot out in all directions. Tentacles and faces jutting out of every conceivable corner of this thing. It just stood there, looming, unmoving, statuesque.

Even after I screamed my lungs out in fear, the horror remained stationary, not moving an inch of its gargantuan form.

Thankfully, my legs thought faster than my brain and I ran, I ran as fast as I could toward my car. I drove away without looking back. I drove like a maniac until I was back at my parents. To explain my return, I made up a story about a murderer on the loose. I guess being dressed in my pajamas and showing up as pale as a ghost helped my case.

Sometime later, I moved away again, this time, to a less secluded place and the years had gone by. It took me a long time to forget about Sarcoville but eventually, I did. At first, I couldn't even handle the sound of toddlers crying without being drawn back to that awful place. Nor could I look at raw meat the same. I still can't. I have been vegan for the last decade. Time does, however, heal some wounds it seems, and eventually, I was able to move on.

One night, not too long ago, while I was driving, to visit relatives on the West Coast. I passed by some inauspicious town that seemed abandoned at first glance. Other than the ghastly emptiness and the unusually bumpy roads the town seemed pretty standard for a lifeless desert ghost town. I've passed a few of those that evening and thought nothing of it.

Cursing under my breath, I kept on driving as my car almost bounced about on top of the dilapidated road, until I caught a glimpse of a sign that said "You are leaving Sarcoville."

My heart sank.

Mental floodgates broke down.

Visions from that day flashed before my eyes.

Memories.

Nightmares.

The car nearly flipped over.

Losing control, I swerved before bringing the car to a screeching halt.

An indescribable force dug into my brain, forcing me to get out of the car and take in the scenery all around me.

No matter how hard I tried to resist, I couldn't, my body moved on its own accord. My arms wouldn't stop, my legs wouldn't stop, my eyes wouldn’t close.

I was a flesh puppet forced to witness the conglomeration of carnage infesting the town I called home for a brief time. Every single inch, infected with the frozen parasitic cancerous growth.

A poor imitation of the human form stood around in different poses, looking eyelessly in different directions.

The structures, the buildings, the trees, a flesh cat or a dog or some other sort of animal just stood there too.

Even the road… The concrete and the earth below it… Every last thing in there was but an adhesive string in a monolithic parasitic spider web of molten hominid matter.

I just stood there, slowly devouring the dread that this evil infection inspired in me. Its invisible claws penetrated deep into my psyche, into me. It took hold of me, almost as if to tell me that even though I was the sole survivor of its onslaught in Sarcoville, it could still do with me as it pleased.

Even when immobilized by the night, it still managed to pull me into its grasp.

To leave a gruesome reminder of its place in my life.

To torment me as it pleased.

And once it was satisfied with the pain it had inflicted upon me it just tossed me to the side of the road, like a road kill.

A rotten piece of meat.

With its spell on me broken as suddenly as it was cast, I was able to drive away from Sarcoville. That said, the disease has embedded itself deep within my mind. I haven't slept right for the last month.

Every time I close my eyes, a labyrinthine construct of pulsating viscera envelops my dreams.

The pulp withers expanding and contracting in on itself as it keeps calling my name…

An acapella of longing echoes beckon me to return home…

To return to Sarcoville.

2 Comments
2024/06/14
21:53 UTC

17

Someone offered to let me keep an ancient artefact, but only if I killed them with it.

I kicked at a stone that caught the light well. I grunted, bent, picked it up, wiped some dirt away with my thumb. It was brown, with hints of red. Chert. I tossed it aside and pressed palms into the small of my back. Around me were wheat fields. Some hedges and ditches. Brambles. Nettles. A solitary oak tree. I ran a hand over my shaven head that came away damp. Is it true that you can sweat out alcohol from the night before? I might’ve searched for the answer on my phone, but I’d smashed the thing against a wall.

I walked further along the footpath, eyes down and scanning for anything shiny or with a ghost-like imprint that might betray a fossil. Something unique. I inspected some more chert and a curiously round chunk of granite, then decided I ought to widen the radius of my search to beneath the eaves of the wheat plants. Around the stems, the soil was less cracked and parched, and more loamy. As I went, the land’s natural camber and undulation put me in the way of a sudden breeze. The crops roiled and waved. It made me wonder if they were an effective windbreak, or whether the wind just scythed around them. Part of me wanted to lie down in the field to find out. I couldn’t see anyone around, so I urinated downwind, aiming for the dirt fissure of the pathway.

Maybe the best way to find a valuable item isn’t to judge it by face value. What about a more random sampling technique? I squatted and freed a dull, grey stone from the soil. There in my hand, I couldn’t see anything remotely interesting about it. What if it was a geode, though? I picked up a larger rock and bashed at it a couple of times to see if I could crack it open. An edge of the rock jabbed into my thumb as I bludgeoned the stone, and I cursed. I got to my feet and hurled them both deep into the wheat. A starling emerged and fluttered through the air towards the hedgerow ahead. I followed, sucking on my thumb and scowling. 

Here was the border between two fields. A brook flowed under an arch of bracken, blackthorn bushes and stunted trees, roughly north to south. I planted my boots on the wooden beams of a footbridge. Who had built this? How old was it? Victorian era, maybe? I spied a rusted plough that the hedge had claimed for itself, and walked over. I touched it. Once cherished, now abandoned. This was pre-Victorian, perhaps. I pictured a leathery-skinned man urging on a horse from atop the plough. For some reason, he wore a flatcap. He wanted to finish up and get back home. There was no electricity, and it was getting dark. People had other concerns back then. Everything was different. Time had eddied over these fields like an estuary over a sandbar, I knew. 

Beyond the plough was a gap where I assumed the stream could be accessed. I crouched and dipped through to investigate, heedless of the brambles tugging on my clothes. It was more spacious than I expected. I found myself in a small, sheltered hollow beside a pool. Roots twisted through the muddy banks and I saw stones embedded in there too. This was good. Who knew how long they had been in there being squeezed out laterally? They were surely much older than what I’d been finding on the dusty pathway between the wheat crops. The first thing I found was a bottlecap by my foot. Then I prized a few clods of earth out and sifted through them, finding nothing of note. I dropped close to the pool’s edge and washed my hands in it. As I did, my hand brushed something beneath the surface. Something noticeably cold. I pulled it out from the sludge. 

In my hand was a beautiful weapon. A dagger, dull gold in colour. Droplets of muddy water ran down my forearm to drip off my elbow as I stared at it, frozen. It was more than old- it was ancient. Roman? Celtic? I dipped it back into the water and carefully rubbed away the mud. A thumbnail-sized sapphire gleamed at the base of the pommel, flashing prisms of light all around. And I saw that glyphs had been wrought into the blade’s crossguard. Spiral shapes. Triangles. Hands. I tried the tip and found it sharp. I smiled, admiring the treasure that would surely unlock me a fortune. 

As I marvelled at the dagger, a chill crept up my spine. The air around me grew dense and gooseflesh erupted on my skin. Birds remained perched on branches, visible above and around me, but they’d stopped singing. The warm light of the hollow darkened slightly. 

“You found my dagger, then.”

I turned to see a shape, human-sized, blocking the entrance. My heart began to pound, my head throbbed, and I squeezed the dagger’s handle tight.

“Your dagger?”

“Aye, it’s about time I passed it on.”

The stranger stepped forward. He was a short man. His hair was long and grey, and his face was broad. Kind. Sympathetic. Knowing eyes beneath bushy brows. He wore green corduroy trousers and a faded shirt, open at the neck where white hairs sprouted through.

“Are you the farmer? Is this your land?”

“You needn’t worry about that, lad. It doesn’t matter who I am or where I came from, but I would ask you to listen to me now, and listen carefully. You can keep that if you kill me with it.”

He shrugged. I stared.

“Pardon.” I said.

“The dagger. You want it. I can tell.”

“Yeah... look, I ought to get going. If you’ll excuse me.”

I climbed toward the hollow’s entryway and went to pass this strange man, who stood smiling and was perfectly affable in posture. Then, quick as a snake, he grabbed my shoulders and pushed me down the short slope. I flew backwards and landed hard in the shallows of the pool. I blinked and choked, winded and blinded by grit. Then I saw his broad, weathered face loom over me, eyes wild and lips pursed. He grabbed me by the collar and dragged me further into the pool, pushing me down. I fought and kicked. Spat, spluttered and swallowed water. Convulsed and drowned. Unthinking, my right hand slammed the tip of the dagger through his shirt and under his rib cage once, twice, three, four times. The strength in his rod-like arms failed and he fell forward. I splashed out from under him and crawled to the bank, panting and retching. Over my shoulder, I saw the grey-haired man floating face-down in the pool, a cloud of crimson dissipating from the wounds I’d given him. I lurched to my feet and waded out. Spinning him over, I saw the blank stare of a dead man and a row of yellow teeth as taut facial muscles dragged the corners of his mouth upward.

I shoved the dagger down the back of my waistband and ran home. Trembling, and with numb fingers, I unlocked the door. My brain was still offline as I buzzed around the shadowed rooms. I put the knife in a kitchen cupboard and slumped against a wall, rocking and crying and murmuring. Eventually, I fell unconscious on the hardwood floor.

I woke to a persistent whispering, despite being alone. Around the curtain’s edge, the red light of evening shone. Red like the blood of the man I’d killed. Did that happen, or was it drunken delirium? I rose and timidly opened the cupboard to see the cold twinkle of a sapphire in the pommel of a dagger whose blade was dirtied by somebody’s lifeblood. I let the cupboard door softly close. It’s tied to me now, or I’m tied to it. I wondered at the dead man’s smile as he floated in the pool. He’d seemed relieved. Freed. I heard another whisper. There, and gone just as quick.

2 Comments
2024/06/14
21:07 UTC

58

I don't know where I am, but I know I am not supposed to be here.

I think I died, maybe. I don't know. I was simply walking back home from school, last day and whatnot, I will not lie to you I really wasn't paying much attention to my surroundings, a car came, or a truck, a van? I'm not sure, it's getting quite hazy, but it hit me, I think. No it definitely hit me, because I felt a large thud hitting my side, and a screeching of brakes, and the smell of gasoline and pipe exhaust overwhelmed my senses, then it all stopped. I'm not sure how long I was out, but it couldn't have been more than a few minutes. When I awoke, a woman was standing above me and my head was laying in the lap of another.

"She's awake." The woman above me said, her eyes were full of concern, her hair was blonde and she had pink bows wrapped around two delicate strands framing her face, she looked kind. That isn't quite important, anyway, I got up and looked around searching for my phone, not saying a word to either of the women. Not on purpose, I'm a polite girl, I greet and I acknowledge, but greeting and acknowledging two strangers was the least of my worries when I had just gotten hit by a car. I need you to stay with me, because this is the part where things get crazy. Whether you believe me or not it's up to you, but this is my last hope.

I finally found my phone and picked it up, the screen is cracked, but it's nothing unfixable, I flipped it around to check the back, and there it is, in the clear phonecase lies a picture of a woman I have never seen before, lyrics of a song I'd never heard. Not my phone, can't be.

"Um, excuse me, I think we switched phones, by accident" My voice came out scratchy and hoarse. The two women are just staring at me, they look at each other for a split second, then back at me.

"N-no, um honey, are you okay? I called an ambulance, it should be here soon just rest, sit down, I'll bring you a water, are you hurt?"

"I'm fine, but I need my phone, I need to call my mom."

"Honey, you have your phone, it's in your hand."

"What's your name?" The other woman speaks, I take a good look at her, brunette, tall, thin, mean looking. Kind voice.

"Just please, I- I need my phone, I don't need an ambulance I'm fine, I want to go home."

"Your phone is in your hand."

"This isn't my phone, our phones must have gotten switched in the chaos of the whole thing, I just... my phone please."

A concerned look grazes the blonde woman's face, she tilts her head to the side.

"That is your phone. Open it, you'll see."

"Our phones are still in the car, no way they got switched, plus, neither of us are all that into Taylor Swift."

"Who?"

"Taylor Swift?" The brunette points to the picture in the back of the phone.

"I think you have a concussion." The blonde says.

I say nothing.

An hour passes, two, three. I'm in the hospital at this point, the phone clutched in my hand. I did try unlocking it. It unlocked with my fingerprint. I don't know how, because that is not my phone. A doctor walks into the room they put me in after what feels like forever.

"Your parents are here." He says.

"OH! Thank God you're okay!" I hear a woman near shriek.

"Mom!" I bounce of the bed and into my mother's arms.

"Oh my baby, what happened?" She says, as she strokes my hair.

I look up at her, wanting to tell her what happened, abiut the car and the phone and the mean looking brunette and the blonde with bows in her hair, but I am taken aback.

"When did you dye your hair?" I ask

"What?"

"Your hair, I know you said you were gonna but I thiught you were too scared."

"Honey, are you okay?"

"Mrs Mondrich, come with me please." The doctor says. He walks over to my freshly red-headed mother and leads her out of the room.

What is happening. ‐----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My room is not my room. There are posters on the walls of artists I've never heard of, and Polaroids of me with people I've never met, I don't know what is happening, there is a dog that is not mine, homework splayed around that I did not solve. This is a life that is not mine, it was the last day if school for God's sake how did I get here.

This is my only hope to find out whats happening. There is nothing on the internet about my predicament, I have searched. My mother will not speak to me when I try to tell her about it, my father shuts me down whenever i talk to him and every corner of the room is taken up by faces I do not recognize.

This sounds insane but I think I universe jumped. Either that or I died and this is some twisted form of resurrection. But if I did universe jump, what happened to this universe me? Did I kill her?

If anybody knows anything at all about this matter, I beg you, please help me.

5 Comments
2024/06/14
17:59 UTC

122

My Father Started To Smell Weird, So One Day I Decided To Follow Him.

My Dad was my hero, I idolized that man growing up. No matter what got him down or problems he was struggling with he always had a smile on his face for me. I think that’s the reason why what happened doesn’t make any sense to me.

My mom was also great. At heart, I was a complete mommy's boy, and always have been. I would do anything to make sure she was happy. One day something changed in her. She seemed withdrawn as if something was troubling her. I overheard her one night talking to my Nan on the phone. I’m sure she suspected my Dad of cheating on her, something I think would be unforgivable. She complained to my Nan about a strange odour coming from his clothes. I didn’t want to believe it, maybe he was just working harder than usual.

I decided it would be best if I confronted him. Maybe I thought I could handle the truth better than my mother could. I think I just needed to know for myself.

My mom was cooking dinner, while I sat at the table, waiting. My Dad who was normally never late for dinner was now over an hour late. As we ate, I could see my mom glance over at the empty plate where my Dad would sit and then glance up at the clock. I kept my mouth shut about it because I didn't want to embarrass my Mom by telling her I knew what was going on.

He was over two hours late before he finally snuck in the back door. As I went to get up from the table he glanced at me with a nervous smile before he disappeared down into the basement. This wasn’t something my Dad did, and now I was sure something wasn’t right.

As I made my way down the narrow steps into the basement I began to get that unusual smell I heard my mother talk about. It was hard to describe, it smelt like the crusty, old sock behind my bed that my Mom was scared to touch and the musty odour that only comes from an old-folks home.

As I slowly made my way down the stairs I could hear my Dad on the phone, crying uncontrollably, begging someone for forgiveness. I made it to the last step forgetting that it made a loud creak. When it alerted my Dad to my presence the usual bright smile he kept for me was replaced with a hate-filled glare. He bore his teeth at me like a rabid dog before he made a lunge for me. He was too quick for me to react and caught me by the scruff of my jumper. The anger on his face terrified me to my core. I didn’t recognize my father at that moment, but the look of fear on my face snapped him back to his senses and he wrapped his arms around me as if ashamed of what just happened.

As he held me, he looked down at the phone in his other hand. I could swear I could hear someone laughing loudly on the other end, and without warning, my dad stopped hugging me before slithering back into the dark corner of the basement, sobbing down the down.

The next day I followed my Dad to work. I sat in the coffee shop across from the building he worked in waiting for him to finish. As I sat there I prayed my Dad was cheating. I prayed that whatever the reason for my Dad's behaviour was something that made sense.

I sat and watched as he left for home. He was on the phone with that same disturbed look he had down the basement. He would glance down at his watch as he went in the opposite direction of home. I knew I had to keep following him, but I was terrified of what I was going to discover.

He was on the phone the whole time I followed. I followed for about 20 minutes until he came to a run-down, dilapidated house. All I could think about was my distraught mother at home wondering about her husband as he walked up the steps to the house.

I watched as my father let himself into the house. I walked nervously up to the steps of the house. It was now or never and I was determined to get to the bottom of this. If I had to, I was going to catch him in the act. I wasn’t going to give him the chance to talk himself out of it.

I walked up to the door and banged on the knocker as hard and angrily as I could. I stood there for what felt like hours waiting for someone to open the door before I decided to move around to the back of the house. As I passed one of the windows around the back something glanced my eye in one of the downstairs windows.

To my complete horror, it was my Dad sitting on a chair in an empty room. He looked terrified and was crying uncontrollably. I banged on the window trying to get his attention, but he completely ignored me.

I could see him looking at something and whatever it was he looked horrified. I couldn’t understand why he didn’t get up and run. He wasn’t tied to the chair or bound in any way and for some reason he was in his bare feet.

As I screamed for him to move I suddenly saw what my Dad was looking at. Whatever it was, it crawled towards him. It moved unnaturally as it dragged itself slowly across the floor. The thing almost looked human, but with long hair that covered parts of its skeletal, naked body.

It kept moving towards my dad. He looked so scared as it edged itself closer to him. The closer it got, the more my dad cried. I tried breaking the window, but the rocks just bounced off it.

My dad seemed resigned to his fate as it inched closer. The creature sniffed the ground as if it was trying to find something, but stopped when it got to my Dad's feet. My Dad didn’t look scared anymore as the creature started licking his feet. He laughed uncontrollably, as the creature's long, slimy, snake-like tongue slithered all over my Dad's feet.

The more the creature licked my Dad's feet the more he laughed. He laughed so much he began pissing himself as it got too much for him. I was sure my Dad was going to laugh himself to death.

As I stood there helplessly, I noticed someone else in the room. They looked small like a child, but old and creepy at the same time. They seemed to be telling whatever was on the floor what to do and got into a manic frenzy the more the creature licked my Dad’s feet.

I couldn’t hear what was going on, but suddenly an old-looking woman walked into the room. The old, creepy-looking child seemed physically scared of the old woman and backed away into the corner of the room. She walked over to my Dad and began collecting his tears in a small glass vile. It was killing me seeing my father like this and I didn’t understand why he didn’t just get up and run.

I was trying to think of a plan to get my Dad from the house when suddenly I got that same smell I got from my Dad in the basement. Before I could turn to see where the smell was coming from something hit me in the head and my lights went out. When I finally came too it was dark out and the house seemed empty. I made my way home hoping to find my Dad there and maybe everything I had witnessed was just some horrible dream.

When I made it home I was surprised to see the light on in the kitchen. As I opened the kitchen door I was hit with that horrible smell again. The smell was pungent, but this time it wasn't my Dad. It was my mother and she was huddled under the table with the same distraught look on her face my father had.

She was on the phone crying hysterically and apologizing down the phone to someone. I quickly grabbed the phone from her hand and demanded whoever was on the other end to tell me who it was. They began to laugh maniacally down the phone. As I begged them to leave us alone the phone suddenly went quiet

“Your mother's tears are going to taste so much sweeter than your father’s”

11 Comments
2024/06/14
17:53 UTC

19

Solder's Things

From my first day at the scrapyard, I had formed a friendship with Crenshaw. Perhaps it was because he found in me a kindred spirit; he had known the horrors of war, and I had my own terrors to bear. It was obvious that he had once been a muscular man, but time and circumstance had softened his physique and left his posture bent. His nose showed signs of having been broken more than once, and the skin of his clean-shaven head revealed a deep surgical scar that must have been decades old.

While our working days left us too tired to do more than go home and rest, Crenshaw and I frequently spent our Friday nights and take-home pay in the Town's lone tavern.

We would talk about one thing or another—sometimes, it was to laugh over some misadventure in the scrapyard; other times, it was to mourn the death of one of the stray dogs that had made its home there. We rarely touched on our personal lives and never discussed our pasts.

One day during work, Crenshaw approached me to ask for my help. He asked to see me when our shifts ended. When my day ended, I stopped by the trailer part to change into a fresh shirt and speak to Muriel, but she was busy with a client. So I shrugged and began the long walk to the northern side of Town. Crenshaw lived on the third floor of an old hotel that had been converted into low-rent dwellings.

I found his apartment easily—the third floor, the first door on the left. When I knocked, he answered immediately. The apartment's windows were closed, and the chemical aroma of paint that filled the room was dizzying. My friend was wearing his ordinary street clothes, and it was evident from the sight of them that he had been working for some time, but he had been doing so with far more speed than care. I stepped inside and saw a chaos of red, black, and green spread across the wall. Still, beneath those streaks of pigment, I could see garish wallpaper with a stylized jungle pattern.

I asked him the meaning of this, he explained, his eyes wild and frightened, "That damn wallpaper. I can't take it anymore."

"What's wrong with the wallpaper?"

"It's in the trees," he said, "you can see them sometimes. They think they're just out of sight, but I can tell. I could always tell; that's why they put me out on point."

Rather than question any further, I started helping him cover the walls, coats of one color after another, one color after another, until the wallpaper was completely obscured. When we finished, it was past one in the morning. With nothing better to do, we sat on the floor and shared some beers.

I asked, "How long has the wallpaper bothered you?"

"Ever since I moved here, but I can't afford anything like the boarding house you live in. My medicines cost too much," he looked around at the garishly colored walls, "...my squad used to go over the border into Cambodia. We weren't supposed to, but those were our orders. We were fighting kids. We were kids too, but they were younger than us, twelve years old and ready to kill."

There was nothing I could do but nod with understanding and help myself to another drink.

"We did things in the jungle, sometimes to survive and sometimes just because we could..." He stood, grabbed a drying brush, and began dabbing at the bits of wallpaper visible near the edge of the floor. "The things I did..."

"Why don't you just tear the wallpaper down?" I said.

The look he gave me was one of horror, "No. No. No!"

With that, I steered our conversation to pleasant and mundane matters. For instance, there was a new waitress at the diner who had just dropped out of high school and the new junkyard manager who happened to be the owner's son. Both of them were equally inept at their positions. From there, we moved on to world events, local crimes, and corruption, large and small. After that, we talked about hopes for the future. I talked about my plans to finish my degree, and he spoke about wanting to buy a van to make his way to California and see his long-lost son.

Then we were silent, both of us aware that neither of those dreams could ever come true. Neither of us had the means or courage to make even the smallest of our dreams come true. In the long, despairing silence, we finished the last of the beer.

It was four AM when I bid Crenshaw farewell and boozily made my way home. The Town was utterly silent that night, the only sound coming from my uneven footsteps on the cracked sidewalk. My thoughts were consumed with my friend's story and the desperation that seemed to permeate every aspect of his life. Everyone I had met in this Town had similar stories to tell. Was it true for everyone else? How many were quietly suffering and struggling to survive?

By the time I reached my apartment, exhaustion had set in. I considered knocking on Muriel's door to see if she wanted some company, but in the end, I went to my own trailer and fumbled with the keys until I could let myself inside. As soon as I closed the door behind me, I collapsed onto my lumpy bed and immediately fell asleep.

When I woke up three hours later, it was already past noon. My head throbbed from too much alcohol and not enough rest. Groaning, I dragged myself out of bed and shuffled into the bathroom to splash water on my face. For a moment, I felt like I was going to feel better, only to throw up in the sink without warning.

After taking some aspirin to ease my headache, I went to work. Much to the manager's annoyance, Crenshaw never showed up. I assumed he felt just as bad as I did, but after his second day of not showing up, I was ordered to go to his home to tell him he had been fired.

I walked directly to his apartment at the end of his shift, feeling guilty about having to deliver the news. Jobs were few and far between for a man of Crenshaw's age and temperament. With each step I took, thoughts about his future consumed my mind.

That was the cruelest of ironies.

The door of his apartment was unlocked. The chemical-like odor was still strong, but a meaty butcher shop smell was beneath it. I fearfully pushed the door open and found Crenshaw dead. He had been slit open from throat to belly. The expression on his face was a silent shriek of horror. The scene suggested suicide, but the knife in his hand was bloodless.

I looked from his body to the apartment wall and saw that the weight of the many layers of paint had caused a wide swath of the wallpaper to peel away, revealing the exposed underside. The jungle pattern on the back was the same as on the front, but its colors were vibrant and fresh.

The vibrant greens and blues of the jungle scene appeared to shift before my eyes, revealing new details with each glance. It almost seemed to come alive in the dim room. Gradually, a sound filled my ears—a cacophony of chirping insects blending with distant calls of exotic birds. Rustling leaves hinted at unseen movements of tiny creatures, while occasional snaps of twigs underfoot suggested larger animals prowling nearby. In the background, a rhythmic chorus of croaking frogs added to the symphony, a constant reminder of the teeming life hidden within the dense foliage.

Then, small dark eyes peered out from the depths of the jungle scene, causing my stomach to lurch. Vigilant and alert, those eyes were undeniably human. A heartbeat later the eyes vanished, and the sounds dwindled. This must be shock, I told myself. After one last look at Crenshaw, I turned to leave, leaving the door open, my attention drawn to the payphone at the end of the hallway.

A sudden movement caught my eye, freezing me in place. There it was—a crouched shadow darting across the room and out the open window. My rational mind suggested someone had been hiding unnoticed in a corner and fled when my back was turned. Yet deep down, I sensed I was alone in there. Just as I sensed, the small shape had emerged from the wall itself.

Now, days later, as I sit alone in my room with a drink in hand, I ponder whether what I witnessed was a horror that Crenshaw had brought home from the war or if it had always lurked patiently in that room, awaiting the right man burdened with the right damnation within him.

1 Comment
2024/06/14
17:10 UTC

28

A Puzzle Tried To Kill Me

I found the pieces in a little plastic bag at an antique shop. The shop was just down the street from the building I used to live in. The owner of the shop was a nice old man, with a really long gray beard. I didn't talk to him, but he struck me as a sort of failed artist. He sold a lot of art, or at least tried, other than the usual vintage junk. I think most of it was actually his.

I was actually looking for a bedside lamp to help me on my night reads, but as it always happens when you look for something in these places, you end up with something entirely different. I had just moved into my apartment, and I was so broke that even Ikea products felt like a luxury.

The shop had a couple of nice lamps, but none looked like what I was looking for. It took me very little to understand the place didn't have anything that interested me, so before heading out I looked around a little. I wasn't in a rush anyway, and the place was somewhat cozy.

A painting caught my attention. It was kind of an abstract vase of flowers, I thought it would fit very nicely in the living room with all of my fake plants. But as I was looking at it and figuring out on what wall it would go on, in the corner of my eye I saw something move on the other side of the shop.

I thought it'd be the owner but it wasn't him as he was dusting some stuff on a bookshelf by my side. It was a little plastic bag. It sat on a shelf with some old plates. Even in this mess of a shop, it felt out of place.

When I sat eyes on it it looked like it moved again. Just a slight movement, like it had roaches inside it scurrying around the pieces. I moved closer to inspect it. Reflecting on it now as I write this, it's weird how nothing seemed weird to me at the moment. I guess it was having an effect on me even before I started assembling it.

There was no box, no image to go off of, and the pieces inside looked all the same. Every single piece of the puzzle was of a dark color and I could barely recognize any part of a drawing. As I picked up the bag I noticed something else just slightly wrong. Its weight was just a little off from what I expected. Just a little heavier than it should be.

I never believed in anything supernatural, or in any religion, or luck or karma, and maybe that's why I was so drawn to this little puzzle. From the first moment I saw it, I knew this thing was simply put, cursed.

I knew it was something that could potentially hurt me in some way. And for as much as I'm writing this to "complain" about what's been happening to me, I know this is my fault.

Even though I felt it had some power over me from the first moment I came across it, it wasn't that strong to force me to take it. The reason I took it was because I knew it would make me feel something, even if it would end up badly for me.

I bought the painting and the puzzle and went home. Anya, my cat, greeted me and I noticed she was very curious about what I brought home. I moved to the couch, opened the bag, and laid all the pieces of the puzzle on the coffee table. Anya came to check it out, took one sniff, then scurried away. She wasn't scared, but she didn't trust it the same way she treats a stranger when they come visit.

The last puzzle I ever assembled was probably the Barbie one my Aunt Meredith gifted me for my 7th birthday. Not the greatest gift I ever received but I remember it keeping me occupied for a boring summer afternoon. I also remember breaking it up and putting it back in its box after I was done with it since I didn't really know what to do with a puzzle at the time.

I honestly still don't know what you do with it. I guess you put it in a frame and hang it somewhere? I decided that's what I was going to do with this one. But I had to assemble it first to find out its size before buying the right frame since there was no box for it.

Pieces weren't that many, so it shouldn't have been that big, and yet, after a couple of hours of putting pieces together I ran out of space on my coffee table. Did I say I laid all the pieces on the table? Well, that's what I thought, but somehow I kept finding more and more in the bag.

When it looked like I used up almost all of the pieces, more kept showing up. It kept happening again and again, and yeah, I thought it was strange but it also made some sense? It felt like some sort of dream logic. I say dream because the nightmare hadn't started yet.

It was midnight at one point. Don't know how I didn't see it coming. I even skipped dinner and forgot to feed Anya. I even missed my usual evening call I have with my mother. I noticed the missed calls on my phone and texted an apology to my mother saying my afternoon nap got out of control. It was in character for me.

I did my night routine and checked the house one last time before going to bed. When I came to check it again, the puzzle had somewhat shrunk. It was subtle but still noticeable. Only one piece was missing.

I checked the bag for it but for the first time all day it was empty.

I looked under the table and the couch but had no luck. I went to bed before this little inconvenience could drive me crazy like these things usually do, and told myself I'd check better in the morning.

A pressure in my stomach woke me up. Nausea followed and built up quickly, so quickly I couldn't get to the bathroom in time, and puked on my bed.

I felt slightly relieved right after. I massaged my throat as I felt something had scratched it. When I looked down at the mess I made I saw what did it. It was the puzzle piece.

I don't know how it got there, it just did, and again I had that feeling that all of it made sense somehow. I cleaned myself up and put the bed sheets in the washers. I then washed the puzzle piece. It was a little mushy but it wasn't ruined so I went to complete the puzzle. It was exactly the centerpiece.

When completed the art of the puzzle finally revealed itself. It was very dark, like a black void of some sort, but you could make out a little object in the center. A hand.

"Did I waste a whole day just for this?" I asked myself. So I kept looking to understand if it meant something, or maybe just to justify this waste of time.

But the more I looked, the more the hand got bigger. It was subtle at first but it increasingly got bigger faster and faster.

Then, it shot out of the puzzle and grabbed my head.

Its palm crushed my face and its finger wrapped around the back of my head. With a tight cold grip it tried to drag me down.

I grabbed the edges of the coffee table and tried to resist. I tried to scream but the palm pressed too tight over my mouth, no words could come out.

I tried to bite and push away but nothing could free me.

I started to feel dizzy. My head pulsed while I strained my neck to prevent myself from being dragged away.

My skull felt like it was about to crush under the pressure of the hand gripping my head tighter and tighter.

I couldn't take it anymore. I grabbed the coffee table from underneath and flipped it. The hand flipped with it too but never let go of my head, it threw me to the other side of the room and I blacked out.

The morning sun helped me come to my senses. I stood up and walked up to the coffee table. I put it back in its place and started picking up the pieces of the puzzle.

My intentions at first were to throw it all away, but with each piece I picked up a feeling slowly creeped up inside me. A fear.

So here I am, just a few moments later after I finished assembling the puzzle once again.

This time it was a normal puzzle, it took a normal amount of time to assemble, and no pieces kept showing up from thin air or in my stomach.

But my fear has been confirmed.

There's nothing inside it.

Whatever it was, it got out.

5 Comments
2024/06/14
14:11 UTC

68

I took a high-paying job pressing a single button...

Hi everyone, I’ve decided to share my story here because I don’t know where else to turn. The events I will describe have been haunting my life, and I’m at a loss for what to do next. But i was desperate and bills were piling up, and my savings were almost depleted. As a single parent to a seven-year-old, finding a steady job that pays well and allows me to be home for my child was a challenge. The weight of financial hardship had become a constant companion, whispering doubts and fears into my ear. I spent countless nights staring at the ceiling, worrying about how I would keep a roof over our heads.

Then one late night, as I was scrolling through Indeed, a job listing caught my eye. “Easy job! Just press a button when the person on camera falls asleep. High pay, immediate start.” The pay was astronomical for such a low-effort task. It seemed too good to be true, but at that moment, I was willing to consider anything. After a moment's hesitation, I clicked “Apply” and filled out the application form, hoping for the best but expecting nothing.

To my surprise, I received an email within minutes. The company, named "Meganave Solutions," wanted to schedule an interview the next day. They provided an address and a time. The email was brief and formal, but the speed of their response added to my growing sense of unease. Despite my reservations, I decided to go. The promise of upfront payment was too tempting to pass up.

The next morning, I dropped my daughter off at school and headed to the address provided. It was a small, nondescript office building sandwiched between a pawn shop and a vacant lot. The entrance was unremarkable, and the interior was just as bland. The receptionist, a pale woman with a vacant smile, directed me to a small interview room.

A man in a suit greeted me, introducing himself as Mr. Gray. His demeanor was calm, almost too calm, which did nothing to ease my nerves. He explained the job: I would be monitoring a live camera feed of a person sleeping. My only task was to press a button the moment the person fell asleep. The job paid $2,000 per night, and I would be paid after each shift.

"Why is the pay so high?" I asked, unable to hide my suspicion.

"Let’s just say we value accuracy and discretion," Mr. Gray replied with a smile that didn’t reach his eyes.

I started that night. The office where I was to work was in the same building, down a narrow hallway that seemed to stretch longer than it should. The room itself was small, dimly lit, with a single chair facing a large monitor. On the screen was a live feed of a bedroom. The camera was fixed, showing a bed, a nightstand, and a person lying under the covers. The person, a middle-aged man, was already in bed, his eyes closed.

Next to the monitor was a single button. I sat down, trying to shake off the creeping unease that had settled over me. The man on the screen remained motionless, and the room around me was silent save for the faint hum of the monitor.

Hours passed, and my nerves began to fray. I found myself leaning closer to the screen, scrutinizing every detail. The man occasionally shifted, but never opened his eyes. Each movement made my heart race, my finger hovering over the button.

Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the man’s breathing slowed, and his body relaxed completely. It was the signal I had been waiting for. With a trembling hand, I pressed the button. Nothing happened—no sound, no indication that my action had been acknowledged.

I sat back, exhaling a breath I didn’t realize I had been holding. The clock on the wall showed that my shift was over. I gathered my things, leaving the strange office with a sense of relief.

The next day, I received my payment as promised. The money was real, tangible proof that the job, strange as it was, was legitimate. I tried to put the oddness of the experience out of my mind. But that night, I returned to the office for my second shift.

As I settled into the chair, I noticed something peculiar. The man on the screen was in the same position as the night before, wearing the same clothes, with the same serene expression on his face. A chill ran down my spine. I brushed it off as a coincidence, convincing myself that it was normal for someone to have similar nightly routines.

Hours ticked by, and the unsettling feeling grew. The room seemed to close in around me, the silence becoming oppressive. Suddenly, the screen flickered, and for a split second, I saw something that made my blood run cold—a shadowy figure standing at the foot of the man’s bed. The image was gone as quickly as it appeared, leaving me questioning my sanity.

Was it a trick of the light? A glitch in the feed? I didn’t know, but my heart pounded in my chest, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was terribly wrong. I pressed the button when the man finally fell asleep, my hand shaking more than before.

Over the next few shifts, the oddities continued. I started receiving cryptic messages from my employer, instructions that seemed nonsensical but carried an undertone of urgency. "Do not look away from the screen," one message read. "Keep your focus," said another. The man on the screen remained unchanged, but the shadows around him seemed to move of their own accord.

My sleep was plagued by vivid, disturbing dreams. In one, the man on the screen was staring directly at me, his eyes empty and lifeless. In another, I was in his room, unable to move as the shadowy figure loomed closer. I woke up each time drenched in sweat, the details of the dreams etched into my mind.

One night, I decided to look into the company—Meganave Solutions. There was almost no information available. No website, no reviews, nothing. It was as if the company didn’t exist outside of the job listing. My unease grew, but the money was too good to walk away from. I had to endure it, at least until I could find something else.

The sense of dread continued to build, and the line between reality and my dreams began to blur. The cryptic messages, the eerie stillness of the man on the screen, and the shadows that seemed to move with a life of their own—all of it was driving me to the edge. Each night, I questioned my sanity a little more, wondering if I was caught in some elaborate nightmare.

But as the financial burden eased, I couldn’t ignore the growing suspicion that I was part of something far more sinister than I had initially believed. And that realization was terrifying.

Night after night, I returned to that dimly lit office, each shift dragging me deeper into a state of unease. The man on the screen remained a constant, an unmoving figure whose serene expression belied the growing horror I felt. It wasn't just the repetitiveness that unnerved me; it was the sense that I was being watched, that something or someone was aware of my every move.

The cryptic messages from my employer continued, becoming more frequent and more disturbing. "Stay focused," one message read. "Do not turn around," said another. These messages would pop up randomly on my screen, making me jump every time. I couldn't shake the feeling that they were meant to keep me on edge, to keep me scared.

One night, as I sat in the small, claustrophobic room, the silence was broken by a faint tapping sound. At first, I thought it was just my imagination, a product of my frayed nerves. But as the tapping grew louder and more insistent, I realized it was coming from somewhere inside the office. My heart raced as I scanned the room, but there was nothing out of place.

The screen flickered again, and this time, the shadowy figure at the foot of the man's bed lingered longer. It was darker than the shadows around it, its form vaguely humanoid but indistinct. I felt a chill run down my spine as the figure seemed to turn its head, almost as if it were looking directly at me. Then, just as suddenly as it had appeared, it vanished.

My nights were no longer just about pressing a button when the man fell asleep. They had become a test of endurance, a battle against the creeping paranoia that threatened to overwhelm me. I began to notice other oddities: the room seemed to grow colder as the night wore on, and sometimes, I could swear I heard whispering voices, too faint to make out but always present, like a constant murmur in the back of my mind.

One night, while I was on my way to the office, I ran into a man who claimed to have worked for Meganave Solutions. He was disheveled, his eyes wild and filled with fear. He grabbed my arm and whispered urgently, "Leave while you still can. They’re watching us. They’re always watching." Before I could ask him any questions, he hurried away, leaving me standing in the street, more confused and terrified than ever.

I tried to find out more about Meganave Solutions, but every attempt led to dead ends. It was as if the company was a ghost, existing only in shadows and whispers. The cryptic messages I received began to include instructions that made no sense: "When you see it, stay still," and "The shadows know your name." Each message seemed designed to heighten my paranoia, to push me closer to the brink.

One evening, Mr. Gray contacted me with a new task. He wanted me to monitor the feed overnight. The pay for this task was double the usual amount, but it came with strict instructions. "Do not leave the room. Do not look away from the screen. Press the button as soon as he falls asleep."

I arrived at the office earlier than usual, my anxiety already at a fever pitch. The room felt different, more oppressive, as if the very air was thick with foreboding. I sat down and focused on the screen, determined to see the night through.

As the hours passed, the strange occurrences intensified. The shadowy figure appeared more frequently, its form becoming clearer each time. It was tall and thin, with long, spindly limbs that seemed to stretch unnaturally. The whispering voices grew louder, filling the room with a chorus of unintelligible murmurs.

Around midnight, the power flickered, and the room was plunged into darkness. My heart pounded in my chest as I fumbled for my phone to use its light. When the power returned, the screen showed the man on the bed sitting up, his eyes wide open and staring directly at the camera. It was the first time I had seen him move, and it filled me with a deep sense of dread.

I pressed the button instinctively, but nothing happened. The man continued to stare, his eyes unblinking and filled with a silent plea. I was paralyzed with fear, unable to look away, unable to do anything but watch. The shadowy figure reappeared, standing behind the man, its long arms reaching out as if to envelop him.

The screen flickered again, and the image was replaced with a message: "Do not look away." I was trembling, my breath coming in short, panicked gasps. The figure moved closer to the man, its form becoming more defined, more terrifying. It leaned down, and the man’s mouth opened in a silent scream.

I couldn't take it anymore. I tore my eyes away from the screen, breaking the one rule I had been given. The room around me seemed to come alive, the shadows deepening, and the whispering voices growing louder. I felt something cold and intangible brush against my skin, and I realized that whatever was on the screen was now in the room with me.

I couldn’t breathe. The cold presence in the room was palpable, wrapping around me like a vice. I clung to the hope that I was imagining it, that this was some elaborate trick my mind was playing on me. But deep down, I knew that whatever was happening was real.

The screen flickered again, and the message “Do not look away” was replaced by “Stay still.” I forced myself to remain motionless, though every instinct screamed at me to run. The whispering voices seemed to grow louder, more insistent, and the shadows danced around the edges of my vision.

I could hear my own breathing, ragged and uneven, mingling with the eerie whispers. I tried to focus on the screen, but my eyes kept drifting to the corners of the room, where the darkness seemed to pulse with a life of its own. The man on the screen had returned to his lying position, his eyes now closed, his body once again at peace. The shadowy figure had vanished, leaving only the oppressive silence behind.

I stayed that way for what felt like hours, my body rigid, my mind racing. Eventually, the whispers faded, and the room grew still. I exhaled a shaky breath, my muscles aching from the tension. The clock on the wall showed that my shift was nearly over. With great effort, I forced myself to stand and leave the office.

The following day, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being watched. Every shadow seemed to hide something sinister, every whisper of wind sounded like the hushed voices from the night before. My daughter noticed my unease and asked if I was okay. I forced a smile and assured her that everything was fine, but inside, I was falling apart.

That night, I returned to the office, dreading what awaited me. The instructions were the same: monitor the feed, press the button when the man fell asleep, and most importantly, do not look away. As I sat down and the screen flickered to life, I braced myself for the horrors to come.

The man on the screen seemed agitated, his movements more restless than before. The shadowy figure appeared almost immediately, its presence now a familiar source of dread. This time, the figure didn’t just stand at the foot of the bed; it moved closer, its spindly arms reaching out towards the man.

I pressed the button, hoping to end the nightmare, but the man didn’t fall asleep. Instead, he sat up and turned to face the camera, his eyes wide and filled with terror. “Help me,” he mouthed, his voice silent but desperate.

My heart raced as I watched, unable to tear my eyes away. The shadowy figure loomed over the man, its form growing darker, more menacing. The screen flickered, and a new message appeared: “Do not speak.”

The figure’s arms enveloped the man, and for a moment, it seemed to merge with him, its darkness seeping into his very being. The man’s face twisted in agony, his silent screams echoing in my mind. I wanted to scream too, but the command on the screen kept me silent.

As the figure merged completely with the man, the shadows in the room around me grew thicker, more oppressive. The whispers returned, louder and more coherent. They spoke my name, repeating it over and over, a sinister chant that filled me with dread.

Suddenly, the screen went black, and the room was plunged into darkness. I could feel the presence of the shadowy figure, its cold, intangible touch brushing against my skin. I fought the urge to run, to scream, to do anything that might break the spell.

The screen flickered back to life, showing the man lying peacefully once more. The message “Do not move” appeared, and I obeyed, too terrified to do otherwise. The figure had vanished, but I could still feel its presence, lurking just beyond the edge of my vision.

As the night dragged on, the figure reappeared several times, each time more menacing than the last. It no longer stayed confined to the screen; it seemed to bleed into my reality, the boundaries between the two worlds blurring. My fear reached a fever pitch, every moment a struggle to maintain my sanity.

I began to notice changes in my surroundings. Objects in the room seemed to shift when I wasn’t looking, subtle but undeniable. The air grew colder, and the whispers became a constant background noise, like a sinister lullaby that never ceased.

The final hours of my shift were a waking nightmare. I could feel the figure’s presence growing stronger, its influence seeping into every corner of the room. The man on the screen seemed to mirror my own terror, his eyes wide and unblinking, his body tense and rigid.

When the clock finally signaled the end of my shift, I fled the office, my mind a whirlwind of fear and confusion. I knew that whatever was happening wasn’t confined to the office; it had followed me home, invading my life and my mind.

The decision to leave the job was not an easy one, but after that final night, I knew I couldn’t continue. The terror I felt wasn’t worth any amount of money. I called Mr. Gray the next morning, my voice shaking as I told him I was quitting. He didn’t seem surprised or upset; he simply said, “We understand. Your final payment will be transferred today.” There was a cold finality to his words that chilled me to the bone.

I tried to return to normal life, focusing on my daughter and trying to shake off the lingering sense of dread. But the experience had left a mark, a shadow that clung to my every thought. The house felt different, as if the darkness from the office had followed me home.

The first sign that something was wrong came a few nights later. I woke up to find my daughter standing at the foot of my bed, staring at me with wide, unblinking eyes. It was the same expression the man on the screen had worn. My heart pounded in my chest as I gently called her name. She blinked, then turned and walked back to her room without a word.

The next day, she began to draw strange pictures. They were crude but unsettling—screens with buttons, shadowy figures, and messages like “Don’t move” and “Don’t speak” scrawled in her childish handwriting. I asked her where she had seen these things, but she just shrugged and said she didn’t know.

The drawings became more frequent, each one more disturbing than the last. She started sleeping in the same position as the man from the screen, her body rigid and her eyes closed in a semblance of peace that was anything but restful. Some nights, I would find her staring at me from her bed, her eyes wide and filled with an unnatural awareness.

My nights were filled with sleepless terror as I watched over my daughter, my mind replaying the horrors I had witnessed in that office. The whispers I had heard there seemed to follow me home, now faint but ever-present, like a sinister background noise that I couldn’t escape.

I took her to see a doctor, but they found nothing wrong. They attributed her behavior to stress or an overactive imagination. I wanted to believe them, but deep down, I knew the truth. Whatever darkness I had encountered in that job had latched onto my daughter, using her innocence as a conduit for its malevolence.

I tried to burn the drawings, but more appeared, almost as if she were compelled to create them. Each new picture drove another nail into the coffin of my sanity, the images haunting my every waking moment. I felt like a prisoner in my own home, trapped by an unseen force that I couldn’t fight.

One night, as I was tucking her in, she looked at me with those same wide, unblinking eyes and said, “They’re watching us, Mommy. They’re always watching.” The words sent a chill down my spine, the same phrase the man in the street had told me.

I barely slept that night, my mind racing with fear and helplessness. When I finally drifted off, I dreamt of the man on the screen, his face twisted in agony as the shadowy figure enveloped him. I woke up drenched in sweat, the whispers louder than ever.

In the weeks that followed, the situation only worsened. My daughter began to speak in her sleep, repeating the commands I had seen on the screen: “Do not move,” “Do not speak.” She would sit up in bed and stare at the wall, her eyes vacant and distant. I could see the shadow of the figure in her drawings, growing darker and more defined with each passing day.

One morning, I found a new drawing taped to her bedroom wall. It was a perfect depiction of the room I had worked in, down to the smallest detail. In the center of the drawing was a figure, hunched over a monitor, with a dark shadow looming behind it. Below it were the words: “Don’t look away.”

I knew then that the nightmare was far from over. The darkness that had seeped into my life wasn’t something I could escape or ignore. It had taken root, and its influence was growing stronger, feeding off my fear and my daughter’s innocence.

As I watched her sleep, lying in that same eerie position, I felt a shiver of dread. Her eyes fluttered open, and she looked at me with that haunting stare. “Mommy,” she whispered, her voice barely audible, “they’re here.”

The realization hit me with the force of a tidal wave. The shadowy figure, the whispers, the commands—they weren’t confined to the office. They were here, in my home, in my daughter’s mind, and they weren’t going to leave.


I’m reaching out to this community in hopes that someone might have experienced something similar or can offer advice. Has anyone encountered a company called Meganave Solutions, or dealt with anything remotely like this? The shadowy figure, the whispers, the commands—they’re destroying our lives, and I’m terrified for my daughter’s safety.

Please, if you have any information or can point me in the direction of someone who might be able to help, let me know. I’m desperate to protect my daughter and reclaim our lives from this living nightmare.

I will try to keep you posted on any developments. Thank you for reading and for your support.

3 Comments
2024/06/14
10:36 UTC

1

The Haunting of Ethan's Mansion Unearthing Darkness

Hey Reddit, remember my story about the freaky elevator incident yesterday?Click here for See Part 1 Well, this one takes place exactly a month before that whole mess. As I was piecing together the events leading up to the elevator, I realized there was another story begging to be told. The story of how we, with a mix of curiosity and maybe a touch of recklessness, ended up in the hidden room beneath the mansion. With my friends' permission (and a healthy dose of their own experiences), I'm going to share how we stumbled upon the whispers in the dark.

The air hung heavy with the scent of dust and forgotten memories as we, Evelyn, Sarah, Ethan, and Ben, explored Ethan's newly acquired mansion. The place was a sprawling labyrinth of creaking floorboards and cobweb-draped portraits. Ethan, ever the enthusiastic host, promised a weekend of spooky charm and untold stories within the mansion's ancient walls.

After a dinner of questionable origin (courtesy of a dusty cookbook Evelyn found in the kitchen), laughter echoed through the cavernous living room as we all rummaged through dusty cabinets. The promise of a classic game night fueled our determination. "Board games!" Sarah declared, triumphantly pulling out a cobweb-laden Monopoly box. "Prepare to be crushed, losers!" Ethan, ever the one-upmanship king, chimed in. "Actually, folks, I believe the real treasure trove of games lies forgotten in the basement.

That's where the good stuff gets banished when new fads come along." With phone flashlights illuminating the dusty path, we descended the creaking basement stairs. The air grew colder, the silence broken only by the rhythmic drip of unseen water. Cobwebs brushed against our faces as we navigated the dusty expanse. Shelves overflowed with forgotten relics, and a thick sheet shrouded a hulking object in the center of the room.

Suddenly, Ben's phone, unfortunately dead from the previous night's gaming marathon, sputtered its last, plunging him into darkness. "Ugh, my phone died," he grumbled, fumbling for a charger in his backpack. Ethan, ever resourceful, pulled out his own phone and switched on the flashlight. "Looks like I'm the official light source for this expedition," he declared with a grin. A hidden doorway, illuminated by Ethan's phone beam, emerged from the shadows tucked into a shadowy corner. The air around it seemed to crackle with an unseen energy.

"Whoa, is that a new door?" Ben exclaimed, his voice echoing in the vast space. Ethan, his eyes sparkling with a thrill-seeker's glee, nudged the heavy door open with a groan. A gust of stale air rushed out, carrying the faint scent of something metallic and old. "Looks like the real games are down here," Ethan said with a mischievous grin. He and Ben, their path illuminated by Ethan's sole phone light, stepped through the threshold together.

The heavy door swung shut with a resounding thud, plunging the hidden room behind it into darkness. A heavy silence descended upon us, Evelyn, and Sarah, punctuated only by the frantic pounding of our hearts. We looked at each other, a cold dread settling in our stomachs. Ethan and Ben had vanished into the unknown, leaving us with a single, terrifying question hanging in the thick air: What had they found? Panic slammed into me like a tidal wave as the heavy oak door slammed shut. I lunged for the immovable barrier, a primal scream caught in my throat.

My desperate shouts for Ben and Ethan echoed through the hallway, met only by a muffled curse from within. Then, silence. But a new sound, chilling to the bone, slithered into our minds: a whisper, faint at first, like wind rustling through forgotten tombs. It filled us with a primal fear that resonated deep within us all. Sarah, ever the resourceful one, rummaged through her backpack, determined to find another way in. I scanned the hallway, my eyes landing on a dusty tapestry hanging beside the door. It felt different, the fabric slightly cooler to the touch.

A hesitant tug revealed a hidden alcove behind it, a narrow passage barely wide enough for one person. Driven by the terrified pleas from behind the door, I volunteered to venture through the cramped passage. The stale air hung heavy with the scent of mildew as I navigated the darkness until I finally emerged into a small, dusty chamber. The room beyond the locked door stood open, illuminated by an eerie, ethereal glow that emanated from within. A cold dread washed over me. I saw no sign of Ben or Ethan, only an unsettling emptiness.

Suddenly, a guttural voice echoed from the room, a sound that seemed to claw at my sanity. The whispers from before morphed into a chilling chorus, their words twisting into promises of madness and despair. Panic threatened to consume me, but I forced myself back. I needed a plan. Back in the hallway, Sarah, resourceful as ever, held up a crowbar she'd found in a basement workshop. Together, Evelyn and I used it to pry the heavy door open wider. The whispers grew louder, urging me to step inside. But I hesitated, the air thick with an unseen menace. It was then I noticed intricate symbols etched onto the floor leading into the room.

Remembering an old book I'd read about forgotten rituals, a flicker of hope sparked within me. Maybe the symbols were a key, a way to navigate the darkness within. A desperate plan formed in my mind. Taking a deep breath, I stepped onto the first symbol, the whispers momentarily faltering. I glanced back at Evelyn and Sarah, their faces etched with terror and determination. One by one, we carefully followed the symbols, Evelyn beside me, the air growing colder with each step. Just as we reached the center of the room, the whispers culminated in a deafening roar. Then, silence. The ethereal glow vanished, replaced by the dim light filtering in from the hallway. Ben and Ethan stumbled out, their eyes wide with shock.

I rushed to them, relief washing over me in a wave. They were disoriented, muttering about unseen horrors, but they were alive. The source of the whispers remained a mystery, but one thing was clear. The playful exploration had turned into a terrifying encounter with some dark power residing within the mansion.

As we huddled together, the silence seemed heavy with unspoken questions. What had they witnessed in the darkness? What was the meaning of the symbols? And most importantly, were we truly safe, or was the entity simply biding its time for another opportunity? As we turned to leave, a faint, almost imperceptible glow emanated from the very first symbol I stepped on. A cold sweat prickled my skin. Had I truly banished the entity, or had I merely awakened it? The weight of the unknown settled heavily upon us as we exited the mansion, the playful weekend forever tainted by the chilling whispers in the dark.

0 Comments
2024/06/14
06:45 UTC

31

Goodnight Hotel

I check in early as I always do when traveling. The walls are old and yellowed. It’s evidently an older hotel than I thought. At first I don’t mind. There’s something satisfying about having an actual key to your room, rather than a keycard. Makes me feel like I’m living in a simpler time.

As I finish checking in, I turn around to head to my room. I see a woman sitting on the weathered bench, sobbing profusely. I ponder whether I should say something to her, but I decide against it.

I make it to my room. It’s dimly lit with ancient light fixtures. All wood furnishings make up the room. Again, it’s old, but I kind of enjoy it. Yellow curtains line the window, the neon glow of the hotel sign gleans in through them. I unpack my things and call it a night.

That morning I awake before the sun rises, ready for my early morning run. I exit my room and head down the poorly lit stairs. As I round the corner, I jump in fright. Hanging from the window is a woman in a bright red dress. Her black hair covers most of her face, but it’s still a ghastly sight. My head swirls with anxiety. I feel like I may pass out.

I dart down the rest of the steps, shielding my eyes as I run past the poor woman’s body. I make it to the front desk, frightened and out of breath. There’s no one at the desk, so I ring the bell. Anxiously, I wait. No one shows up. Ringing the bell over and over now, I’m growing impatient. I call out to see if anyone is working. They must be, yes, it’s early, but this is a hotel. Don’t they usually have something at the front desk at all hours?

I left my phone in the room, so I decide to walk to a police station. I head for the door, only to find it won’t open. No matter how hard I try, it won’t budge. Pondering what to do, I decide to head back to my room and call the police on my phone. It takes a long time, but I work up the courage to walk back up those stairs.

As I reach that dreaded corner, she’s gone. The woman is no longer there. A chill runs down my spine. I sprint back to my room, locking the door behind me. I grab my phone and dial 911, but the call won’t go through.

I open the door. The woman stands in the hallway before me, her black hair still covering her ghastly face. Her dress is now white. She meanders towards me. I scream and shut the door. The door bangs and a horrific growl comes from the other side. I stand and stare at the door in horror.

The noises slowly fade away, but I’m still on edge. I wrap myself in my covers, on full alert. My eyes don’t blink for hours. A knock at the door makes me nearly jump out of my skin.

“Room service.”

Still scared and unsure, I approach the door. Hesitantly, I crack it open. Sure enough, a short older lady stands there with a cart of towels and bedsheets. I run past her into the hallway. She shoots me a judging glance. I sprint my way down the now empty stairs. Approaching the front desk once again, I try to open my mouth to explain what I’d seen, but nothing comes out. The woman at the front desk stares at me.

I turn around and head for the door. Grabbing the handle, it’s locked. I turn around.

“You can’t leave, sir.”

“What?”

She smiles.

I fear I may have to make my way up those stairs once more, and that dreaded woman may very well be waiting for me.

Frantic, I ponder how to escape, but the door won’t budge. I pick up a chair and smash it on the window, crawling out of it, making my way outside. It’s now dark outside, even though only seconds ago it was sunny.

I wander about alongside the silent, grassy riverbank. A horrible noise breaks up the silence. Coming from the other side of the river is a horrible scream. Though I cannot see where the noise originates from because of the tall grass. I’m frozen in fear as the scream only grows louder, and then abruptly stops.

Following this, I hear a thump and then something rolling down the grassy hill, followed by a splash. It’s fallen into the river. Stunned, I stare ahead, not knowing what to do. Then more splashing follows, closer and closer. Something or someone is swimming towards me.

I jet off in the opposite direction. I must have run for three hours straight. When I finally stop, I look up, only to see I’m back at the hotel. Wet footsteps steadily grow louder behind me, so I have no choice but to enter the hotel once more.

0 Comments
2024/06/14
06:30 UTC

520

I finally met the thing in the closet

Starting from the time I was born, I grew up in a small room on the third floor of my family’s country estate. In most ways the room was ordinary, painted in a pale pink color that I loved (until I didn’t) and tastefully furnished with a double bed, a white writing desk and ample shelves to display my beloved collection of stuffed rabbits.

The only unusual feature of the room was the closet. Featuring a door of glass and painted concrete, the closet was locked at all times. The door itself was large, perhaps a foot taller than a standard one and twice as wide. Though the glass looked fairly new, parts of the door looked old. Perhaps they weren’t concrete at all but rather carved stone. Inset into the rock were strange symbols that looked like arrows and birds, the line all straight, chiseled. 

When I asked what was inside, my father told me it contained dangerous electrical wiring that would kill me in an instant if I ever touched it. 

For the first few years of my life, I supposed I believed all of that, just as I believed in Santa Claus and angels and other nonsense. Then, one day when I was four or five, trying to sleep at night, I heard something from the closet: a muffled cough. It almost sounded far away, though the closet was no more than five feet from my bed. At first, I dismissed it as my imagination. Then, more certainly this time, I heard it again. Two coughs in a row, muffled as if behind a very thick wall. 

My heart raced. My bladder emptied. I called for my mother as loud as I could. She and my father both ran up the stairs in an instant. Their movements were quick and methodical. My mother turned on the light, and my father edged toward the window. It was only after my eyes adjusted to the light that I realized he was carrying a gun.

“Not the window,” I said. “The closet.”

My parents exchanged a glance, and my mother gave an audible sigh of relief. 

“There’s nothing in the closet,” she said, stroking my hair. “Now, let’s change these sheets and pajamas and get you back to bed.”

As time went on, I noticed other strange things about the room. Once, when my parents refused to let me visit town for the 100th time, I angrily tossed a chair at my bedroom window, sure it would smash into a million pieces. It did not. Instead the chair bounced harmlessly off of the glass and ended up clocking me in the face, giving me a nasty cut.

Later, I looked more closely at the glass and realized it was thick. So was the glass on the windows downstairs and even the car (though we rarely traveled.) In fact, it was only on rare occasions that we left the estate. Instead of school, I was treated to a series of private tutors, who educated me in Latin, Greek, and mathematics. On every visit, my father searched these men thoroughly, turning out pockets and looking about their mouths with a tongue depressor and a flashlight.

Once, I asked my Latin tutor about the symbols on my closet. He spent a bit of time examining them, looking perplexed. 

“What are they?” I asked. “Hieroglyphics?”

“No,” he said. “I’d say Cuneiform… except that I only recognize about half of the symbols. The others are different than any I’ve seen.”

“How familiar are you with Cuneiform though?” I asked.

“Very.”

On the way out of the house that day, I saw the scholar talking with my father. My father kept his face stoney but glanced at me once or twice, nodding his head. 

The next week, a new tutor arrived.

I was allowed ample television time. I knew that my situation was different than most. Indeed, I was being treated more like a Renaissance princess than a modern day girl. 

“Am I sick,” I asked my father at dinner one day when I was nine, and he and my mother exchanged a look. “Are you worried the tutors are contagious?”

“Of course not,” said my father. 

“Am I a vampire then? A witch? A monster of some sort?”

“Not even a bit!” said my mother, laughing a bit now.

“Am I a princess?” I asked. “A countess? A lady of some sort.”

My parents exchanged a look.

“You are not,” my father finally said. “We just want to keep you safe.”

Beneath the table, my fists curled into balls.

“And am I meant to be kept as a prisoner forever?” I asked. 

I expected my father to roll his eyes, to dismiss my question as he always did. Instead, he simply said, “no,” and returned to cutting his pork chop into tiny pieces.

My parents were an unbreakable vault of secrets. My tutors refused to speak of anything but their assigned subjects. I had no playmates. And so I began to talk to whoever lived in my closet. I knew someone was there.

“I wonder if you’re a man or a woman,” I began to speak into the dark one day. “Or perhaps you’re not just one person. Perhaps there are many of you. Or perhaps you’re not a person at all. Perhaps you’re a pack of monsters trapped in there by a witch’s curse. Perhaps you’re a ghost haunting me.”

The closet did not respond. But I kept talking anyway. 

“It’s okay if you can’t say anything. I suppose we’re all bound by rules of some kind. But I know you’re there. I heard you cough. I think I heard a sneeze once too. My ears are pretty good, you know. Sometimes, I think I hear you breathing.”

I went on like that for hours, some nights, treating the thing in the closet like my personal diary. It was a good listener, after all. I suppose, over time, it became my closest friend.

Then one night I woke to the sound of an explosion, followed by my mother screaming from far away. Then came the rapid staccato of gunfire and en eerie silence. I looked outside to see three black vans parked outside and half a dozen men pointing guns at my window. 

Then came the thwack of bullets against the glass. At first, they had no effect. Then the first crack formed. 

I was about to scream when I turned to see my closet door opening. 

Something big came out. It might have been a person, except that it was three to four times the size of my father. Through the dark of the room, I could tell that it was dressed in some kind of skintight suit all made of black scales that seemed to shimmer in the moonlight. The suit seemed to cover every inch, even his face. He had no hair as far as I could tell, and above his eyebrows was a ring of protrusions that might have been horns.

“Get in the closet,” it said, its voice lower than any man’s. His hands began to tense, and his fingers seemed to lengthen into knives. “Don’t open the door for anyone but me.”

Just then, the window exploded, and quicker than I would have thought possible, the thing threw its body between me and the breaking glass. Without another word, it hoisted me into the closet as if I were a sack of flour and then slammed the door behind me.

The first thing I noticed from inside the closet was that the mirror was one-way. I could see out perfectly though the glass. It occurred to me that the thing had been watching me every night of my life since I was a baby. 

The second thing I noticed was a man–a normal-sized man–in some kind of military uniform running up the stairs, his gun already firing. A pair of bullets caught the creature in the gut, but it barely winced. 

“Paz on sight! Holy fuck I’ve never seen one this–”

Before the man could utter another word, the thing charged at the man, swinging its long fingers, slicing him in half at the waist. 

The man’s walkie talkie buzzed over his corpse: “Cowboy? You still there? What age Paz we talking? What size? Cowboy?”

More bullets cut through the room. The thing descended the stairs. I heard another scream. Whatever soundproofing existed in the room seemed to also work one way. Scream after scream carried their way to my ears along with bursts of gunfire. I watched bullets cut through my mattress, sending bursts of feathers into the air.

I’m not sure how long it went on like that. Perhaps ten minutes. Perhaps an hour. I shook with fear. I cried. At least I didn’t wet myself this time. 

Then, finally, it was over. I heard the heavy thud of footsteps coming up the stairs, and the creature appeared. It held its hand to the door, which opened automatically at its touch.

“More will come,” he said after a few minutes. A bit of blood was dripping from his sharp teeth. I wasn’t sure if it was his or someone else’s. “Come.”

Then it reached for me and I collapsed into its arms. The last thing I saw before I passed out were two black wings unfolding from its back.

I woke the next day in a bedroom that was completely unfamiliar. Odd sculptures of men with elongated faces lined an entire wall of the room, staring at me with contorted grins. Before long, a woman I recognized as a distant aunt entered holding a tray of dates and tea. I looked at them suspiciously, but I was starving, and I figured if she meant to kill me, I’d be dead.

“My parents–” 

“Your legal guardians will be missed,” she said.

“Why did this happen?”

“There are some things that you are better off not knowing. I suppose the most I can say is that we come from a very old family. Maybe the oldest family, one whose roots go back to the dawn of human history. From time to time, a question of succession arises. The rules are rather arcane, but it’s not strictly father to son, mother to daughter. More important are the number of surviving cousins, brothers and sisters, that sort of thing.” 

I was trying to take in everything she was saying, but in truth, I was nervously glancing around the room. There was no closet here. No protector. I had never felt so alone.

My aunt continued, “Often, there is bloodshed. Sometimes, a bloodbath. For years, the families lie in wait, knowing the moment of bloodletting will eventually arrive. And then everyone moves at once until things are sorted out. It’s the reason we employ certain protectors.”

My heart was beating fast again.

“For many years you were seventh in line. Then, for a moment, you were fifth. Then third. Then… well, something terrible happened to several families, and now, here we are, with a new queen already selected and a hundred people ahead of you to be next in line after her. Lucky you, I suppose.”

I couldn’t stop crying. Couldn’t stop shaking.

“Where is then closet?” I asked.

“Your protector has been reassigned,” she explained. “You don’t need him anymore.”

The years that followed were hard. I went to live with unfamiliar relatives who knew little of my previous life. My new room was smaller, with barely room for a small desk and a dresser. I had no closet. Suddenly, I was middle-class, treated like a normal child. 

My new family had been told that I’d been through some sort of trauma but struggled to understand why I shied away from windows. When I tried to speak with other children, I came off like an encyclopedia, spouting occasional phrases in dead languages and facts about the emperors of Rome.

I aged, growing into a teenager, getting swept up into the world. 

The adjustment was difficult at first but also thrilling. I still remember the first day I was allowed to walk on my own to school. I reached a major intersection and didn’t even cross when the signal came on. I was so enthralled looking in all four directions, knowing that I could walk any way I chose, off into the seemingly infinite world.

By the time I reached college, my early childhood had almost started to feel like a distant dream. I had adapted, or at least, learned to put on the facade of a normal person. I hadn’t had a boyfriend yet, and my friendships were awkward and surface-level, but it seemed I was on track to eventually integrate into the world. 

One day, my sophomore year, I borrowed a friend’s most revealing outfit and walked through the biting cold to a holiday party. The lightly falling snow immediately summoned goosebumps on my bare skin, but I pressed on, eager to be part of the world.

At the party, I drank far too much and ended up sharing my first kiss with an older guy, a senior with a bad reputation. I looked for my friends but couldn’t find them. The boy kept offering me drinks, and before too long, he was walking me home, his hand already playing with the backstraps of my dress.

We practically fell into my place–a little cottage my family had rented near campus. The boy had something upsetting by that point, and I wanted him to go, but he wasn’t really listening. 

“You owe me,” he kept saying. “You invited me here. Just a little something. Just a little.”

I tried to push him away, but he was twice my size. He had me on the floor, wrists pinned.

“Huh,” he said, suddenly noticing something in the corner of the room. “What’s that?”

I turned, and there it was. Just as I remembered it: the closet. It hadn’t been there that morning. Now, suddenly, it was back, just as if it had been there all along.

“You should go,” I said. I wasn’t afraid anymore. Suddenly, the boy seemed small. 

“I don’t think so,” he said, tightening his grip.

“You’re hurting me,” I said, but I wasn’t really talking to him anymore. 

“Only a little bit,” he said, smiling.

“Last chance,” I said, and he let one of my arms go, but it was only to start unbuckling his belt. I heard the clank of his buckle hitting the floor. 

Then the creak of a closet door.

It was the last sound he ever heard.

34 Comments
2024/06/14
05:12 UTC

395

I’ve always had a suspicion that the restaurant across from my apartment building was a money laundering front. But it turned out to be something much worse.

I’m almost sure you’ve seen one. They’re there in pretty much every major city. Those small, dingy establishments that you hardly ever see anybody going into. It could be a barber shop, or a nail salon. But more often than not, they tend to be restaurants. Some place with a generic name, an unenticing exterior, almost as if they couldn’t care less about attracting any customers.

Because, well, they probably don’t.

Now I’m not saying that every place fitting this description is being used to wash drug money or something. There’s hardly a good way to know for sure. At least none that wouldn’t involve putting yourself in danger trying to find out. But for the longest time, I had been absolutely convinced that was the case for the small Mexican restaurant sitting right across the street from where I lived.

It’s a tiny building tucked in between an equally sketchy pawn shop and a liquor store. Yeah, I don’t live in the best part of town. The advertising for the place consisted of a plain white sign with the words “Taste of Mexico” plastered across it in plain, yellow font. The words were accompanied by two cartoon sombreros sitting at either end.

During the eleven months that I’ve lived in this apartment complex, I can count on two hands the number of different people that I’ve seen going in there. Watching the place had become something of a pseudo-hobby for me. I don’t know how to explain it but it almost felt… dangerous. As if it were something that I wasn’t meant to stick my nose into.

I’ll go ahead and describe some of the more “interesting” observations that I’ve made over the months.

First of all, I was exaggerating a bit when I said that I could count the amount of different people that have gone into the place with two hands alone. Realistically it’s been more than that. Still not a lot. Maybe like thirty to forty different customers in total, mostly consisting of what appear to be drunk young people going in late at night.

But with that said, there’s only ever been a few people I’ve seen going in there more than once. One of them is this dude that’s always wearing sunglasses and a suit. He’s tall, lanky. Tattoos covering his hands. I’ve seen him maybe about a dozen times, always between 10 and 11 PM on a Thursday.

And here’s the weird thing about him. He’s never in there for more than a few minutes, and he always comes out empty-handed. So not quite sure what’s going on there. It’s hard to even speculate.

There’s another guy who I assume to be the cook based on the fact that he always come out wearing an apron, one that’s usually stained a deep red. I estimate that he’s about two-hundred and fifty pounds, most of which is muscle. He usually comes out during night, usually to smoke a cigarette or two.

And then there’s the strangest one out of the bunch. A plain-looking guy who’s maybe in his early twenties who’s always wearing a green windbreaker and jeans. I think I’ve seen him going in there close to a hundred times. The most frequent customer by far. Now the freaky part about this guy is that I have never seen him leaving. It’s not like I’m watching this place for hours at a time. But it still doesn’t quite track. I know what you’re thinking. He’s probably going out the back door. And I thought that might’ve been the case as well.

So I decided to run an experiment of sorts. One involving two video cameras. One I had lying around, the other borrowed from my sister.

I left the first one recording on my windowsill, facing the street. The other was well hidden inside a bush in the parking behind the restaurant, facing the back door.

I set both of them to start recording on a Friday morning, the one day out of the week that the rain jacket guy almost always shows up.

I went about my day and then I picked them up twenty-four hours later. To my relief the camera in the bush was still there and still recording.

Once back in my apartment, I began fast-forwarding through the footage from the windowsill camera and sure enough, rain jacket guy goes into the restaurant at 2:45 PM. Then I took the camera from the bush and I began fast-forwarding through that one, pausing any time somebody would come out from the door.

There were a few that did. But not one of them was the guy in the jacket. I continued scrubbing through the footage, feeling a pit forming in my stomach as I got to the 9 PM mark.

The guy in the jacket was back. Entering the restaurant without ever having left it. Of course I refrained from drawing any drastic conclusions just yet. It could have been two people who looked extremely similar. Right?

I exported the footage from both cameras to my laptop and then watched them back in separate windows. One playing from 2:45 PM and the other from 9 PM. At first I thought the footage must have gotten corrupted somehow. Not only was it absolutely the same guy… his first and second entrances looked just about identical. The same walk, same path, same mannerisms down to the minute details. As if the same footage had been cut and pasted into separate parts of a movie.

I rewatched it about fifty times, trying to analyze it, to find any difference at all. But there were none.

And this wasn’t the only fucked up thing that I saw. At around 2AM, the chef came out the back door. He tossed some trash bags into the dumpster and then sat on the steps, smoking a cigarette. Given how dark it was, it took some time for me to make out the details of his face. But eventually I was able to. And it looked like he was staring right at the camera. I mean I can’t tell for sure. But that’s what it fucking looked like.

So after he’s done smoking the cigarette he goes over to a car parked off frame. I can hear some indistinct noises, some rustling. He walks back carrying a duffle back and there’s something moving around inside of it. But not like a human. Or even an animal. I don’t know how to explain it. It was fucking weird.

Right before he opens the door and goes back inside, he suddenly turns around, standing still and staying that way for nearly three full minutes. I couldn’t see his face at all, but I could guess well enough what he was looking at.

Eventually he turned back around and closed the door shut behind him.

The remainder of the footage revealed nothing of note. But what I’d already seen was more than enough to make me feel as if I should drop any further investigation.

But even so, I couldn’t help but continue watching the place, that morbid curiosity refusing to fade.

There was one surefire way to satisfy it. By simply going inside.

I could feel my sensible side starting to take over and so I prepared myself. I texted one of my friends, told him where I was going and that if I didn’t text him back by midnight I was probably in some deep shit and to send the cops over there.

A bit drastic, I know. But there was something telling me that it wouldn’t be a bad idea.

It took a bit of convincing but he seemed to tentatively agree and at around noon I left my apartment and made my way down the stairs, through the lobby, out onto the strangely empty streets. Begin walking at a snail’s pace towards the place and as I cross the street I realize this is the closest I’ve ever been to it.

The paint looks old, chipped off in some parts. The building doesn’t look too bad. Also old but relatively well-maintained. At least not bad enough to invite any government intervention. I took a few deep breaths before pushing open the door and walking inside.

Upon first glance I was almost relieved. It was similar enough to most other Mexican restaurants I’d been to, which was strangely comforting in a way. It was clean, also well-maintained. It was nearly empty save for an impatient-looking man in a dress shirt sitting at one of the tables. The only other person I could see was a young woman sitting behind the bar. Once I stepped in, she walked over to me slowly.

“One?” she asked.

I nodded.

She gestured to one of the booths and I sat down. She gave me the menu, poured me some water and there had been nothing strange about the experience up to this point.

She turned to walk away and I could see the man in the dress shirt trying to get her attention. But she completely ignored him. The man seemed understandably taken aback and he looked over at me as if trying to validate his frustration.

I just shrugged as if to indicate to him yeah, that was a bit strange.

I continued sitting there, looking around the place when I realized that I couldn’t actually smell any food. The only scent detectable was an extremely faint ammonia.

A few minutes later, the woman stood up and walked over to the door beside the bar, one that I had assumed led down to the kitchen. She opened it up and disappeared inside, leaving the door about halfway open.

I tilted my head to get a look inside. It wasn’t the kitchen. It was a set of stairs. But given the fact that it was unlit, there wasn’t much to see beyond the first few steps.

The man, completely pissed off at this point, threw his hands into the air.

“The fuck? I’ve been here for thirty-five minutes,” he shouted. “What the fuck is this?”

He stood up, stomping towards the door and opening it up all the way. I could see him shaking his head before turning to look at me.

“Dude, you seeing this? What the hell is this place?”

I got up and walked towards him. The two of us stared down into the darkness and it was absolute, impossible to tell how far it extended.

“Where the fuck did she go?” the man asked out loud.

And then he yelled down into it. “Hello?”

At this point he’s more amused than angry, evidenced by the huge grin on his face. He took out his phone, using it as a flashlight as he began walking down the steps.

I called after him. “Hey man, you sure this a good idea?”

He paused for a moment, seeming to consider it. “Maybe not,” he said. “But this is gonna get some crazy fucking views.”

And then he continued on down into the dark. Extremely paranoid at this point, I backed away from the stairs and began looking around the restaurant. That comforting vibe has completely faded and I get this sense that there’s somebody else close by. That I’m being watched. It’s hard for me to put a finger on why I’m feeling that way until I start focusing on the hallway leading to the bathrooms. It’s also extremely dark but I can see that the one of the doors is open. At first I could see nothing beyond the glints of his bulging eyes. But as my vision adjusted, I began to make out the rest of him.

It was the cook. Standing perfectly still in the darkness of the bathroom. Staring. Smiling.

I could feel myself becoming light-headed and I get the fuck out of there, nearly tripping on the sidewalk as I burst out the front door. I ran back towards my apartment, my heart still beating against my chest, my senses completely wired. I’m pacing around the living room, trying to reconcile what the hell had just happened when I start thinking about the man in the dress shirt.

I could feel the guilt beginning to creep in but there was absolutely no way I was going back in there to look for him. And I wasn’t too keen on calling the cops just yet either.

Instead I began watching the place, hoping to eventually see the guy coming out. Eventually I did see him. But he wasn’t coming out. He was going inside. Same hair, same clothes, same build. He was the same fucking man.

I turned away and I could feel my heart racing, regret and anxiety seeping into my bones. I should’ve never gone inside, I thought. Now they knew what I looked like.

For the next few days I avoided that place like the plague. I used the back door to leave my building for work, changed my route home so I wouldn’t have to cross paths with it on the way back. I kept my curtains closed, ensuring that at no point I could ever see it.

But about a week later I caved, sneaking a peak at the streets. What I saw was unexpected. The restaurant’s sign had been stripped, and it looked as if it were in the process of being repainted, as if some other business was set to take its place.

Of course my immediate reaction was that of relief. Whatever the hell was going on in that place, I wouldn’t have to deal with. My curiosity had yielded no consequences and I could continue living my life in peace.

A few days later, I was leaving for work and saw that the sign for the coffee shop attached to the ground floor of my apartment building had been stripped away and that the place appeared to be going through renovations. I didn’t think too much of it until I was coming back from work and saw what it was being replaced with.

“Taste of Mexico.”

I stared at the sign for a long time, but there was no way to rationalize it. Eventually I looked away and I could see somebody walking towards me from down the street. Somebody familiar.

The man in the dress shirt. No difference in appearance at all from the last time I’d seen him. He slowed his pace as he got closer before stopping no more than ten feet away. He looked up and directly at me, his face expressionless at first before a hint of a smile began to bleed through.

And then he went inside.

 

24 Comments
2024/06/14
04:27 UTC

200

Something is knocking on the wall of my dorm room.

Scrubbing blood from any surface is harder than you expect. It gets under your nails before you realize it, and the smell hangs in the air, poisoning the room. I remember going through the motions in shock the morning after all of this happened, methodically scraping away at the floor and walls until everything was clean.

At the same time, it’s also easy, in an unsettling way. Generic bleach cleaner and dish soap works perfectly fine. I had to put the sheets into the garbage, though – there was no salvaging those. I ended up sitting alone in my spotless bedroom, surrounded by a heap of bloody rags while trying to make sense of what I had seen the night before.

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.

I met my freshman year roommate for the first time the weekend before classes started. We’d found each other on Instagram. I’m Emma and you’re Jemma, isn’t that cool? We were both math majors and read the same books, so I figured I might as well take my chances compared to a random assignment. It made sense that choosing someone with common interests was statistically less likely to end in disaster.

Jemma was half a head taller than me, with elegant features and perfect blond hair that fell down her back in waves. She had a cold sense to her, with a resting face sullen enough that it looked like a permanent glare at first glance. But when she smiled, it softened her angles into something more approachable. Everything about her made me a little envious and a bit self-conscious, and I wished I could carry the same gravity with me when I walked into a room.

The first week of classes passed without incident, and I tried to force myself out of my shell, talking to as many people as possible and trying fruitlessly to remember all their names. Jemma and I didn’t spend as much time together as we had over the first weekend, but we still hung out and watched TV together at night. 

It was strange being away from home, but I fell into the routine, taking comfort in wrapping myself in blankets and drifting to sleep at the end of each day. Chatter from the hallway leaked through the thin walls late into the night, but I was tired enough that it didn’t matter. My bed was in the corner of the room, and the presence of a wall right next to me gave me an odd sense of security.

At least, until Saturday.

I thought I was getting into the swing of things. Jemma had been staying out later than I had the few nights before, and I trusted her to be quiet when she came into the room. I went ahead and crawled into bed, hearing her enter minutes later. I tossed and turned as she went to sleep, her breathing evening out and falling into a steady rhythm.

It was then that I heard it. A knock, coming from the other side of my wall, a few feet above my head. I jerked up, turning to see if Jemma had heard it. She was still fast asleep, the noise too soft to hear across the room. The sound came again, two clear taps. Knock, knock. It sent chills down my spine, and I curled into my pillow, wondering if I should check the peephole. Maybe it was someone I knew.

But the knock was on the wall, not the door. I was sure of it. And there was no more chatter in the hallway. 

Eventually, the exhaustion of the day caught up to me. I woke up with my blankets twisted around me, my shirt sticking to my skin with sweat. A sense of unease remained in my mind, and I couldn’t pinpoint what caused it. At that point, the knocking seemed like a faint dream, and I didn’t believe it was real until I heard it again the next night. 

Knock, knock. I lay perfectly still, Jemma’s inhale-exhale on loop anchoring me to reality. The night before, I had brushed it off as my brain imagining things, but the tapping continued, repeating over and over. Knock, knock. Knock, knock.

I was fed up. I threw the covers off me and peered through the peephole, not seeing anyone outside. The knocking was fainter when it wasn’t next to the wall, but I could still hear it. Maybe whoever it was was just out of my field of vision. As soon as the door creaked open, the sound stopped. I craned my head past the doorway, taking in the expanse of the hall. It was completely empty. 

I gave up and went back to bed. The sound started up again immediately, moving down the wall until it was right next to my head. I shoved all my pillows between me and the wall and clapped my hands over my ears, curling into a ball and staying there until sleep overtook me.

When it kept happening, I tried talking to Jemma about it.

“I keep hearing a knocking on the wall at night,” I brought up hesitantly one afternoon. She looked at me strangely. 

“That’s weird,” she said. “I didn’t notice anything like that.” I didn’t know what else to do, so I just nodded awkwardly and walked away. We got along fine, but we weren’t close enough that I could ask to swap beds for a night or something similar. 

I tried waking her up one night when it became too loud for me to sleep. When I walked over to her side of the room, tiptoeing to avoid tripping over my feet in the dark, I could still hear the sound, although fainter.

“Hey,” I whispered. “Wake up for a second, can you hear that?” She opened an eye blearily and glared at me, trying to concentrate. After a moment, she shook her head.

“I can’t hear anything. Stop bothering me.” She pulled the covers over her head and turned away. I cursed under my breath, convinced that the knocking had stopped on purpose as soon as I brought it up with her. 

I felt guilty about it the next morning, so I tried to make sure she wasn’t upset about it.

“Sorry about last night,” I said sheepishly. “I hope I didn’t mess up your sleep.”

“It’s fine,” she shrugged. “I didn’t hear anything, though.”

Time passed quickly, and before I knew it, half the semester was over. The knocking continued nightly, although at this point it had become routine to me. I tried to assuage my spiraling thoughts that something would jump out and attack me. 

Even if there is a monster on the other side, Jemma’s intimidating enough that it’ll probably be scared off by her before it can attack us. I laughed about it to myself, back then. I wish it would have stayed a joke.

I felt a sense of unease around me as the weather started getting colder. Jemma talked to me less and less, and stopped smiling completely. I didn’t know what I could have done wrong. Once, I asked her how her day was, and she ignored me, walking out of the room minutes later while muttering under her breath. We started avoiding each other, and I tensed up every time she entered the room, brusque and angry with her lips always pulled into a frown, hostility permeating the air even though she hadn’t done anything to make me afraid.

It was just really, really awkward. She seemed to pretend I didn’t exist, turning on the TV before I was awake and almost making me fall out of the bed with how loud it was. She’d blast music too, enough that it could be heard through the door and halfway down the hallway. Her frosty demeanor almost made me scared to be in the room, but there weren’t any friends I was close enough to that I could camp out with them every evening.

I tried to convince myself that I was overreacting. She was just a person, and all that her chilly attitude was doing was making my college experience a little uncomfortable. 

Through all of this, the knocking kept appearing without fail every night. Eventually, I was fed up enough to try investigating. 

Someone is knocking on the wall, and then disappearing. Whenever I check the peephole, it’s empty, and there aren’t any footsteps, either. I had the horrible thought that something could be in the wall, but chased it out of my head. The frame was only a few inches across. There was no way anything living could fit inside of it.

The same day, as I was getting ready for bed, Jemma opened the closet door right into my face. It hit me square in the nose and I cried out, stinging pain prickling around my eyes and forehead. She continued as if nothing had happened, and I was so frustrated I could have screamed.

Jemma didn’t come back to the room that night, and I felt lonelier than ever, sad and angry enough to act foolishly. I knocked back. 

When the tapping started, I reached up to the wall and rapped it gently, echoing the sound. The knocking stopped abruptly, and I was left in complete silence for a second before it accelerated, so fast it seemed like something was excited

Knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock. 

I woke up in the morning blinking hazy images from my memories, dreams of being pulled into a dark void, an endless array of limbs wrapping around me and dragging me further into the black. I was terrified that somehow, I had opened a door, and whatever was inside my walls knew that I was on the other side, soft and vulnerable. 

I didn’t see Jemma around much anymore. Usually, we would run into each other a couple times in the afternoons and evenings, but at this point it was a surprise to me if I saw her before I went to sleep. Whenever she came inside, she was brusque and perpetually furious, and her demeanor set my heart on edge. 

Finals were approaching quickly, and I tried to reach out to every acquaintance I had made over the course of a few weeks, hoping I could pull myself out of my funk and finish the semester strong. I had to remind myself every night that there was no reason to be afraid, and my thoughts cycled between various lines of reasoning.

Often, I would respond to whatever was on the other side of my wall like it was a friend, only to receive indecipherable knocks in return. Other times–

If something’s living in there, I hope it goes for Jemma first.

I still feel guilty about that one. 

Fast forward to last week, when it all came to a head. I woke up in the middle of the night covered in sweat, my hair sticking to the back of my shirt uncomfortably. 

Next to me, the knocking was louder than it had ever been before, which was strange, because it tended to be quiet if I ever woke up in the middle of the night. I looked over to my bedside table, fumbling for my glasses for a second before giving up and squinting at the clock. 3:03 am. I glanced up.

Jemma was standing over me, a knife poised over my chest. Her lips were pulled into either a smile or a grimace, but it was too blurry to tell. I screamed and rolled off the bed, and the blade caught the edge of my shirt, slicing into my shoulder. I couldn’t see the wound very clearly, but warmth trickled down my skin, adrenaline distracting me from the pain.

She lunged at me again, and I dodged, colliding with the side of the bed and stumbling. I ran for the door fruitlessly, hoping to swipe at the light switch, but she grabbed me by the back of my shirt, throwing me against the wall. 

I gasped out something along the lines of, “why are you doing this? What’s gotten into you?” She didn’t bother with a response, moving once again to drive the knife into my heart. I flailed and twisted a doorknob open, diving into my closet and holding the door closed with every ounce of strength I had. 

The doorframe rattled as she attempted to wrench it open, and I could only watch in fear as the hopeless tug of war slid in her favor. I let go, aiming for the door to fly open and knock her back, but she must have been anticipating it, digging the blade into my side as I ran into the room and dragging it backwards.

I clutched my hand to my waist, trying to staunch the bleeding as my side erupted in fire, the pain finally overpowering the endorphins. Jemma’s movements were erratic, and she swung the knife in wild arcs through the air. I saw an opportunity and drove my fist into her stomach. There was a clatter as the knife dropped to the floor, and I kicked it away, planning to make a beeline for the door and call for help while she was distracted.

It was no use. Jemma was taller and stronger than me, and I regretted staying curled up on my bed the entire semester instead of working out as her hands wrapped around my throat and started to squeeze. I slapped my hands uselessly against her chest and face, but it didn’t faze her, and spots appeared in my field of vision.

The rest is a twisted blur to me. Somehow, I could hear the knocking again. That’s not right, I thought as my life was slowly ripped from my lungs. That’s too loud. Shouldn’t be possible. 

An explosion of noise. A massive, overwhelming tearing. A whirlwind of limbs and eyes and teeth burst out of the wall, pulling Jemma off of me as if she were a piece of paper. 

I couldn’t quite comprehend what I was seeing. It was tall, taller than the room, bending in odd angles and wrapping too many arms around her thrashing form. Dots of light that could have been eyes and jagged seams with teeth poking out lined it from head to toe. It tore into her, a blur of gory red. 

Jemma fell limp. The creature retreated back into the wall and pulled her in with it, leaving me frozen to the floor in shock. I sat there for hours, unmoving, until exhaustion took over and I collapsed to the ground. 

I woke up a few hours later to see the wall intact, with no indication that some inexplicable being had made its home inside. Thankfully, I hadn’t bled out, and the jagged wounds on my waist and shoulders were mostly clotted shut. I cleaned up all of the blood and showered, going about my day on autopilot. 

The knocking was still there, the next couple nights, though it was softer. Are you still there? It seemed to be asking. I was too scared to respond at first, but I gave in on the last time I slept in that room, tapping twice. 

Thank you.

I hope it understood me.

My room change form went through for the following semester, much to my relief. The police did come by after finals, with Jemma’s absence from every exam being suspicious enough to declare her missing. I denied seeing her, and they didn’t inquire any further.

I still don’t know what the creature was, or where it came from. It might still be there. Maybe there are more, an array of inhuman beings taking up in-between spaces, listening for a friendly voice. Or, maybe it was entirely random, and I had just as much of a chance of being taken as she did.

Either way, I’m praying that my mind is playing tricks on me. It’s been two weeks since this semester started, and I swear I heard knocking again the other night. The thing is, my new room is a single.

Wish me luck.

23 Comments
2024/06/13
23:53 UTC

52

They found me lying in the middle of the snow, they’re still searching for my friend.

I’m so glad to finally be out of the cold. I can see the snow falling from the bedside window and it would almost be comforting if it weren’t for the constant whirring and beeping of all the medical equipment driving me insane. The doctor’s certainly think I am or at least that’s their explanation for what happened. They’re saying that the stress and hypothermia caused some sort of hallucination or psychotic break. Screw them, they didn’t see with their own two eyes what I did! I’m not insane. It’s not even the worst part.

“Right now it’s best to focus on your recovery, I’m sure they’ll have your friend home by Christmas .”

“Oh you poor thing, I can’t imagine how you must feel but you know the whole town is looking for your friend, she wouldn’t want you to worry.”

“Don’t worry Miss, it won't take long for us to find your friend, just sit tight.”

I wish they’d all just shut up! They don’t fucking understand. I saw her get snatched with my own two eyes but I guess that doesn’t matter to them. They’re all out there looking for her but they don’t know the first thing about her. I’m the only one who knows! I’m the only one who really cares! Her name was Malarie and she was more than just my friend.

I was sitting in the front row in class the day she strolled in. On what should’ve been an unassuming monday I found myself annoyed. Annoyed at the little girl blocking the doorway because she was too afraid to let go of her grandma’s hand. Annoyed at the amount of time the teacher took up trying to introduce her to the class before recess. Annoyed at how pathetic her sobbing was after my friend Vicky took her pretty red amulet. At first I found it a little funny but after the millionth time it too just became annoying so much so I couldn't ignore it anymore.

“Stop crying already!” All she did was look up at me and continued to wail harder. In hindsight that wasn’t the best move. Awkwardly I tried to make up for my sudden appearance by lending out my hand to hers.

“Sigh, hurry up and stop crying or else I’ll… um just, just stop crying okay!”

Sniffle “Ok-okay.”

“Now come on, go get your necklace back.”

“It's an amulet…”

“I don’t care, just go get it back.” I practically had to drag her to where Vicky was on the swings. The whole way she cowered behind me clenching my hand so hard I thought she was going to break it.

“Kate, why'd you bring this loooser over here?”

“She has something to say to you.” I nudged Malarie forward and at first I thought she was about to cry again but then she spoke.

“Th-that amulet doesn’t belong to you , it's my grandmothers so give it back! Pl-please…” For however cute she was Vicky paid no mind as she flashed her amulet in her face.

“You want it back, go on and take it from me then weirdo!” As she stood there trembling Vicky wasted no time in laughing and pushing her to the ground. It was pathetic.

“Ugh really!” In quick motion I pushed Vicky back and as she fell I grabbed her amulet.

“Kate what the heck! I’m telling the teacher! Mrs. Springfield!”

“Th-thank you…”

“Don’t thank me, you should’ve done it yourself.” Seeing the tears start to form again I didn’t really know what else to say.

“Wah don’t cry! We're in the 5th grade, crying’s for babies! Look, my name's Katelyn, what's yours?”

“Malarie.” Suddenly she wrapped her arms around me tight.

“Wha- what are you doing!?” We stood there for a moment, not wanting to hear her cry again. I ended up awkwardly hugging her back.

“Gosh if you’re gonna be so weak everyone’s gonna pick on you, I can only help you so much.”

“Sorry.”

She clung to me like the plague and ended up following me around a lot. It didn’t help that we lived so close to each other. At first it was annoying but eventually I actually started to enjoy her company, for a while actually we hung out a lot so after a shitty day she was my go to.

“This shit is so fucking stupid!! How do people not understand the only reason he’s saying all this shit is because I stood his bitch ass up!”

“Look, just take a deep breath, it’s already winter break so everyone’s going to forget besides who cares what they actually think.”

“It’s not just that, I thought we were cool but he just had to go and ruin it. I never even wanted to agree on a date in the first place but he brought all his stupid ass friends and it was so embarrassing I just said yes without thinking! Ugh! This is why I hate men!”

I was fully prepared to continue ranting and raving for another couple of hours before Malarie put her hand on mine. I almost pulled away but her hands were so soft and it reminded me of why I was really there.

“Shit, my bad Malarie I’m okay now I think.”

“It’s alright, we won’t have to see any of them for a while anyways besides we’ll be too busy on our own!”

“What does that mean?”

“Last summer you said you’d let me plan out our next little adventure after you dragged me around all summer, remember?”

“Ah shit I guess I did, well what did you think up for us to do anyways?”

“We’re going Camping!” As she kept up she excitedly pointed at the endless forested mountain range off in the distance. A pure white landscape only interrupted by the thick greenery of the pine trees. For as beautiful as it looked from afar nature’s a mean bitch and I really didn’t want to be in her way.

“But it’s going to be hella cold, no way I’m going up there!”

“Huh?, but you promised!”

“Well I guess I’m a liar then, sorry.”

“ Hmph, Fine but I’m going up there with or without you.”

“Awww seriously, can’t we just have like a super long sleepover? It's been ages since we’ve had one.” She looked away, most definitely pouting. I tried my best not to play her game because I always lose when we do but she’s just too good.

“Well I’m going regardless.”

“Sigh, I liked you better when you would just listen to me.”

“So is that a yes!”

“Finnneeee.”

“Yaay! Okay we’re going to need to prep well so make sure that you bring…”

Malarie took no time in celebration. With a quick hug and skip away she knew she’d won again. It was nice though, regrettably I haven’t been able to hang out with Malarie for a while and I could tell by how she kept rambling about things we’d need to pack that she missed having me around too.

“… I’ll be up to get you early in the morning so you better wake up for me!”

“Hey! You’re the one who’s been sleeping through all my phone calls dummy.”

She stopped in her tracks looking down before she spoke again.

“I know… sorry.”

“Hey it’s okay… I know you’ve been… sick a lot and I promise I don’t want to pry but your eyes, you haven’t been sleeping well have you?”

“I’ll be just fine.”

I knew her too well. As I hugged her she practically crushed me hugging back and as I brushed my fingers through her wavy brown hair she looked up at me.

“I promise I’ll be there this time no matter what, ‘Kay.”

“ ‘Kay.” With that she practically skipped all the way home with that stupid smile on her face.

The sun wasn’t even fully up yet when Malarie came calling. I really wish she had text but regardless I got changed for my ‘vacation’ up the mountains. The drive was a long one not that I was complaining, with the heater chasing away the cold and wrapped under a nice blanket I easily fell asleep as Malarie’s brisk pace made drives with her pretty enjoyable.

Screeeech

I hit the back of my head on the headrest pretty hard so when I first saw it I thought it was just my mind playing tricks on me. Looking out into the vast sea of snow I noticed something out of place. It filled my stomach with dread and my head seemed to fill with static. I only saw it for a moment before Malarie grabbed me by the shoulders and stared deep into my eyes. It was only later that I’d find out what exactly that thing was.

“Ugh… What happened.”

“I’m sorry! There was… a bunny rabbit passing by and I didn’t want to hit it!”

“Haha, seriously? I’m surprised you could even see it, don’t they turn white in the winter or something.”

“Oh yeah… sorry. Um you can go back to bed if you want. I’ll be more careful this time.”

“Nah we’re almost there anyways just don’t kill us, I hit my head so hard I was seeing spots in my vision.”

“… Kate?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you believe in ghosts?” It was an innocent enough question but Malarie asked with so much sincerity it made me giggle.

“Hehe, no way. Did you watch a scary movie without me or something?”

“Nooo, ok maybe one, but that’s not why…. It’s just how you would react if you were to see one.”

“I donna know, probably run away or something but I wouldn’t hide behind my best friend's back that’s for sure.”

“Hey!, you’re just comfortable is all.” Malarie seemed to ease her grip on the steering wheel and as we peacefully strolled alone we eventually pulled up to Malarie’s spot. As Malarie stepped out of the car I coveted the last few seconds of warmth from the heater before reluctantly stepping out.

“Wow this place is empty, not a single animal in sight.”

“Yup, just the two of us!”

“Sooo, what do we do now?”

“I want to build a snow fort! It’ll be a bit of work but it’ll be super fun and we’ll be out of the cold too. Here follow my lead.” Forced manual labor wasn’t exactly what I had planned to do that day but with Malarie’s grin ear to ear I didn’t really have a choice. Despite feeling like I was about to become a human popsicle the warmth in my chest I felt by just being able to talk about all the stupid things in life with her really helped pass the time.Thankfully before the sun stopped shining we finished and as we stepped into the hole Malarie called our room we could finally rest.

“It really is so much warmer in here, how does that even work, isn’t it all snow?”

“It’s because the snow is really compact and when…”

Truthfully I didn’t care. If it was warm that’s all I needed to know but Malarie only really talks to me so I just let her go on like she does. When she first started camping with her dad she wouldn’t shut up about it. Sometimes it was annoying but that day it was more adorable than anything.

“… and so that’s how we can stay warm in here.”

“Nerd.”

“Wha- hey what was that for…”

“What it’s not a bad thing, if you’re a nerd you’re a nerd.”

“Well I’ve got the better athletics grade.”

“Hehe, Bringing up grades doesn’t help your case.”

“Meanie…”

“Aw come on don’t pout like that. You’re too cute sometimes you know that.”

“Huh! What do you mean! Cute! But you were just, ah! You’re horrible…” I loved to tease Malarie and usually I knew when to quit but I guess that day I just let it slip. She could barely stand to look at me as she dug her head in her hands.

“I’m cold…”

“How you’re the one who were like a million layers?”

“I just am…” She wormed her way so close I could feel her heartbeat race. Her face was awfully red but even so her hands couldn’t cover her wide smile as she nuzzled into my chest.

“If I promise to always be there for you will you do the same?”

“Ye-yeah of course, I’ve got you always. You know that.” She finally looked at me with those sweet eyes. With her hands out of the way I saw her face, she was always cute but never had she seemed so pretty before. She closed her eyes and before I knew it she fell asleep. It’s funny really Malarie's go-to excuse for her always looking so tired was that she could never sleep well but whenever we were together she always fell asleep first. I think I knew it then even if only subconsciously. As I hugged her tight she slept peacefully with not a care in the world. Truthfully my face was even redder than hers.

The universe is a cruel bitch. In an instant your life could be shattered and it wouldn’t even matter to the greater world. Strangely I woke up with the same dread in my stomach from before. It was confusing for sure but it wasn’t what immediately set me off. Malarie was missing. When I processed it I jumped up and immediately called out her name. I was hoping to hear her mundane reply but instead what called back was utterly inhuman. No animal or machine could’ve made that vile tune. I was stunned but I had to find Malarie. As I left the hole I went into the small corridor-like trench that led up towards the surface and saw her there.

“Malarie!” Before I got another word out she rushed at me. With her free hand she covered my mouth and practically pushed me onto the ground.

“Malarie what the hell!”

She looked at me with terror in her eyes as her other hand clung tightly to her now glowing amulet. It was then when I saw it. The human mind naturally tries to interrupt shapes into familiar objects but there is nothing to relate that thing to. A shadow would give it that human quality it doesn’t deserve to hold on to but it’s the closest thing I could think of. Staring at it broke what I thought I knew about this world, and despite not being able to process its full being I just knew it was looking back at me. It just faced us for what felt like an eternity, every second my mind falling deeper into the abyss but Malarie seemed to fare even worse. Her once warm face was drained and pale, she looked like she was about to fold, and her breathing, oh god. It sounded like the final gasps of a dying man. When it moved I couldn’t hold back anymore. Screaming I saw its manifested arm reach towards her amulet and as it encroached it was stripping away at the space around. It was literally tearing the very reality around her amulet!

“Please… let go!”

I guess it was just a cruel twist of fate that the amulet decided then to react and as it glowed fiercely the thing started to dissipate and with some otherworldly screech it had completely vanished.

Thud

Malarie collapsed hard. She was out and all that was left was my body and the relentless cold. I wish I could say that I was able to get up and help Malarie to her truck. I wish I could say that I drove us out of there. But I didn’t do anything, instead I laid there knees anchored in the snow as my mind went blank I collapsed exhausted right next to her.

“Kate come on, we have to get out of here!” I woke up to Malarie shaking me awake. The pure bliss that falling asleep had afforded me was gone and I didn’t have the balls to keep going. Staring at her I let it all out. My eyes became waterfalls and as I threatened to break Malarie was quick to embrace me. For a minute she held me in her arms, my face in her chest as she tightly squeezed. I was able to regain my breath.

“Hey remember when we went bungee jumping that one time and you practically made me deaf when the instructor pushed you?”

“Yeah…”

“I think you finally beat that scream today.” Reminiscing at our past experiences helped me to focus on something other than and before I knew it we were in her truck ready to get out of this nightmare.

Rumble clik clik

The truck wouldn’t start.

Slam

“Damn! Stay here, let me check the engine.” I stayed wrapped up in my blanket as I watched her hop out and lift the hood of the car. I saw the moment when her armor chipped. Her eyes widened and her complexion drained. I couldn’t see much from my end but the edges of the hood looked scrambled. It was as if someone had literally rearranged the very atoms that made up that part of the world. She slowly walked to my side of the door and laid her head on my chest.

“Are we gonna die here…” It was all I could think to say.

“…no, you’ll be okay I promise.”

Her voice shook and her breathing was shaky too. She took a small moment to catch her breath and she spoke again.

“There’s a more public camping site in the area. If we start walking we might make it before nightfall.”

“Oh…”

She took my hand in hers and helped me out of the truck. Reality was starting to sink in again and the cold biting at my already deteriorating mind didn’t help either. I moved my feet but I didn’t walk. My body repeating the same motion as Malarie dragged me along.

“You know we should really check out that new restaurant they opened in town… I don’t really like sushi but I know you do.”

“Yeah…”

“We should go when we get back.”

“Sure…”

The only reason I could even trudge forward was because of the warmth of Malarie’s hand. She did her best to drive away the fear but as the snow wore us down and the sun retracted its blessings she apologized.

“Sorry Kate…”

We both knew that once the light was gone it was going to come back. All we could do now was hope that we reached the camping site before it got to us. I had never felt so empty before, it wasn’t fear anymore. I don’t know how long we kept walking but I remember instantly knowing the moment it started to follow us again. I didn’t even bother to look back; I just simply let Malarie drag my comatose body through the snow. A minute passed then another and I could feel its otherworldly presence slowly enveloping my body. The only other noise we could hear now was that of Malarie’s heavy panting as she stubbornly trekked through the snow. I couldn’t even dignify us with a quick death. Instead I felt a sense that I was being completely surrounded by its presence. The reality around was slowly being stripped away and as we crested the mass meekly imitating our world we saw in the distance a brightly lit cabin taunting us in the dark.

“Kate, I’m sorry.. this is my fault I should’ve done more to protect you, but I’ll make things right.” As she let go of my hand she looked me in my eyes and found my fragile soul.

“I love you Katelyn, please don’t ever forget that.”

I think a part of me had known for a while but I never really wanted to think about it. She walked straight past me and as the creature manifested its arm it quickly stripped away at the space around her. The amulet red and glowing could simply not stop it this time, and as I watched her slowly lose her shape I made a choice. Lunging forward I grabbed the amulet. I drove it into where I thought that thing was. But it rejected it and slammed me back into the snow. I felt it stare down my soul then.

“Wait!! Please why does it matter, why does it have to be her! You can’t even tell us apart!” I saw her drop to her knees and grovel on the ground like she was some elementary kid again.

“Please, Please! I’ll allow you to have my body just, please leave her alone!”

I don’t know why that thing decided to listen to her prayers but I saw it take her away. It was something out of a nightmare. Its manifested hand slowly stripped away at her body until the space she occupied was no more. I didn’t have the energy to scream, I didn't have the energy to move. I couldn’t even face her as she smiled. I just passed out in the snow again. Unable to do a thing.

Laying here in this hospital room typing this out it hurts a lot. Malarie had found the time to pick up the pieces of my soul and slowly piece them together. Her words saved me, and I was far too weak to do the same. Hell! I was too weak to even make her sacrifice matter! It was luck that really saved me as my frigid body lay there in the snow. It was a stranger who spotted me. Even now I can’t do a damn thing but watch from the window as rescue team after rescue team attempts the impossible. She’s gone now but I promise I’m going to find her. This time I’m going to save Malarie. I don’t care if it’ll take me the rest of my days but I need to get her back. She poured her heart out and I was unable to respond but I will never forget. Malarie I love you.

2 Comments
2024/06/13
22:47 UTC

32

I Found a Stranger in Our Family Photo Album, and Now I Can’t Escape Him

I was going through old family photo albums one rainy afternoon, reminiscing about my childhood and the good times we had. Each photo brought back memories of birthdays, holidays, and vacations. But then I came across a photo that made my blood run cold.

In the picture, I was a toddler, sitting on my mother’s lap at my third birthday party. My dad was standing behind us, smiling. But there was someone else in the photo, someone I didn’t recognize. A tall man, dressed in a dark suit, stood in the corner, staring directly at the camera. His expression was blank, almost emotionless.

I flipped through more pages and found him again, in different photos from different occasions. He was always in the background, always staring at the camera. I asked my parents about him, but they didn’t know who he was. They insisted that no such person was at any of the events.

I became obsessed, going through every photo album we had. The man was in all of them, always in the background, always watching. It was as if he had been a part of my life all along, but no one else remembered him.

One night, I woke up to the sound of rustling paper. I turned on the light and saw the photo album open on my desk, pages flipping on their own. I got out of bed and approached it cautiously. The pages stopped on a photo I hadn’t seen before – it was of me, in my bedroom, asleep. The tall man was standing next to my bed, looking down at me.

I felt a chill run down my spine. How could there be a photo of me sleeping, taken from inside my own house? I backed away, terrified. Suddenly, the room grew cold, and I heard a faint whisper.

“You can’t escape me,” the voice said.

I turned around and saw the tall man standing in the corner of my room, just like in the photos. His eyes were locked onto mine, and a sinister smile slowly spread across his face.

From that night on, the tall man appeared not just in the photo albums, but in my dreams, and sometimes even in the reflections of mirrors and windows. No matter where I went, he was always there, watching, waiting.

I burned the photo albums, hoping it would end the nightmare. But it didn’t. The photos reappeared, charred and blackened, with the tall man still staring out from the corners. It was then I realized that he wasn’t just a part of my past – he was a part of me, and there was no escaping him.

One night, I woke up to find the tall man standing at the foot of my bed. He leaned in close, his breath cold against my face. “You belong to me now,” he whispered.

I bolted upright in bed, drenched in sweat, my heart pounding. The room was empty, but the feeling of his cold breath lingered. I knew I couldn’t go on like this. I had to find a way to rid myself of him.

The next day, I went back to the attic and searched for anything that might explain the photos and the tall man. After hours of rummaging through old boxes, I found an old journal belonging to my great-grandmother. Flipping through the pages, I discovered that she had experienced something similar. Her entries spoke of a mysterious man appearing in her photographs, haunting her dreams, and slowly driving her mad.

Her final entry was a desperate plea for help: “He won’t leave me alone. I fear for my life, and for those who come after me. If you’re reading this, beware the man in the photos. He is relentless and will stop at nothing to claim you.”

My hands trembled as I read her words. I felt a mix of fear and determination. If my great-grandmother had faced this horror, maybe she had found a way to fight back. I needed to know more.

I took the journal to a local historian, someone who specialized in old legends and paranormal events. After explaining my situation, she agreed to help. We spent hours going through old records and stories, trying to piece together any information about the tall man.

Finally, we found a reference to an ancient curse. The man in the photos was said to be a spirit trapped between worlds, feeding on the fear of those he haunted. The curse could only be broken by confronting the spirit and severing his connection to the physical world.

The historian handed me a piece of paper with an incantation. “You have to recite this in front of a mirror at midnight,” she said. “It’s dangerous, but it’s your only chance.”

That night, I set up a mirror in my living room and waited for midnight. As the clock struck twelve, I stood in front of the mirror, my reflection barely visible in the dim light. Taking a deep breath, I began to recite the incantation.

The room grew colder with each word, and the air felt heavy. My reflection started to change, morphing into the tall man. His eyes glowed with malice, and a sinister smile spread across his face.

“You cannot banish me,” he hissed. “I am a part of you now.”

I continued to recite the incantation, my voice shaking but determined. The tall man’s image flickered, and I felt a surge of strength. I focused all my fear and anger into the final words of the incantation.

Suddenly, the mirror shattered, and a deafening silence filled the room. I collapsed to the floor, gasping for breath. When I looked up, the pieces of the broken mirror were scattered around me, but the tall man was gone.

For the first time in weeks, I felt a sense of peace. The whispers were gone, and the oppressive presence had lifted. I gathered the pieces of the mirror and buried them in the backyard, hoping that would be the end of it.

Days turned into weeks, and the nightmares ceased. I no longer saw the tall man in reflections or photos. Life slowly returned to normal, and I began to believe that I had truly banished him.

But one night, as I was going through my phone, I found a photo I didn’t remember taking. It was a picture of my bedroom, and there, in the corner, was the tall man, his eyes glowing and a smile on his face.

A chill ran down my spine. I realized that while I might have broken his immediate hold, he wasn’t truly gone. He was waiting, lurking in the shadows, biding his time until he could return.

And so, I live with the constant fear that one day, he will come back. I can only hope that when that day comes, I will be ready to face him again. Until then, I watch the shadows and listen for whispers, knowing that the man in the photos is never truly gone.

3 Comments
2024/06/13
20:02 UTC

25

The Raining Man Diary

On a hike in Switzerland I discovered the following text out of a notebook. The area in which i found it was technically off limits, since there are some satellite dishes and weather stations nearby, but i like to push my limits. Between some granit i found the weathered pages of a journal or a paperbook of sorts. Rain and sunlight have destroyed most of it, but the text in the back was still readable. It's impossible to paraphrase what was written in there. It has been a week since I read through it and I still catch myself mindlessly staring. I just can't help but wonder. In German, we say "Geteiltes Leid ist halbes Leid" so i thought best to translate it.

 

 

Thursday, 13.2.2023

 

Today, on my routine walk intended to secure the hiking trail at Durnberger Spitze, I made a horrifying discovery. I use the word 'horrifying' because it was an unexpectedly brutal incident. As usual, I followed the path to the peak, already having half a bag full of collected trash. Then I started my way back. Just before reaching my house, I decided to check the footpath I despise, which over the years has become deeply trodden. Among some trees, I saw him. A young man sat with his back to me in the clearing. His spine was oddly twisted to the right, in an angle that seemed humanly impossible. Naturally, he did not respond when I spoke to him. Upon closer inspection, it seemed he was frozen. He was dead. I realized this when I walked around him. Blood had streamed from all the openings in his face. Since blood coagulates relatively quickly, I couldn’t determine how long he had been there. He wasn’t really sitting; his legs were folded beneath him, splayed out like overcooked spaghetti under his rear. His arms hung limply. During my time in the surgery department in Zurich, I saw a lot of blood and quite a few dead bodies. But never in this form, and never in my familiar, home environment. The police kept me at their station for a long time today because the case was shocking and new for them too. After all, it’s not every day you encounter a corpse here in the countryside, especially at such a high altitude. It is now very late, and I will go to sleep. As a "Best-Ager" (which I still consider myself to be, now that I have time and money), one needs one's sleep.

 

 

Friday, 14.2.2023

 

I dreamt of the man. In my dream, he was a living corpse, dragging himself toward me with his thin arms, his useless legs following him like dead tentacles. I could use some fresh air. Today, I would like to bake the cake I will bring to my mother at her nursing home on Monday. I will test if I have the makings of a baker.

I took my notebook on my walk to jot down any thoughts. It turned out to be a good idea. I can hardly believe what my eyes saw. At around 3 PM, I saw a dark spot falling from the sky out of the corner of my eye. It fell straight from the clouds and crashed into the spruce forest to the right of my house. I immediately thought of the sitting man from yesterday. And I was right. In the middle of the spruce forest, roughly where I estimated the object to have fallen, a woman was hanging between the trees. Clearly dead (her spine was severed). The broken trees and branches above her tell the story. She seemed to have fallen from the sky and onto the earth. Now I stand here, wondering what to do. Since I have no way to prove what I saw, I will call the police from my
house phone and describe my find to them. I hope I won’t be declared insane, as the situation is truly bizarre. It’s best not to overthink it until the matter is resolved.

I am not a man of panic and do not believe in rash decisions and overreactions. But I am beginning to feel uneasy. Just before reaching my house, I heard a flapping sound very close by. It sounded like the wingbeat of a mighty eagle, only much louder. Air displacement is the keyword. More unaesthetically, I saw a body hit my car with full force. My first thought was about the car. Total loss doesn’t even cover it. Upon closer inspection, the hood of my Mercedes was a mix of blood, organ remnants, and engine parts, making any repair attempts
impossible. I urgently need to call the police.

The line is dead. Nothing works. My only salvation, my car, is wrecked. I must keep a cool head; anything else is the quickest path to personal disaster. I will have to come up with a plan.

 

 

Monday, 17.2.2023

 

It has been raining people continuously now for three days. They do not scream as they fall. I have locked all the windows of the house and drawn the curtains. Shortly after it started, I tried to make one last call, but I could no longer reach my mother. Afterward, I spent hours resignedly watching bodies fall from the gray clouds. The whole driveway to the house is covered with body parts, about three to four people. And, of course, there is blood everywhere. It smells oddly metallic. I can no longer see out of the lower floor windows, they are so smeared. Bodies are scattered across the cow pastures to the right and left of the property. Once, I took binoculars and looked at their faces. They look like ordinary people. Some have big noses or small ears; they are all humans. I worry that my roof might collapse under the weight. I constantly hear cracking in the attic and then the sound of bodies sliding off. I am kept awake at night by the crashing sounds. By candlelight, I try to read a book to calm myself. Oh yes, the power is out. I believe the power outage is widespread, maybe across all of Switzerland or even Europe, or the entire world. Imagine thousands of main lines covered with bodies. The corpses must smolder and glow from the electricity continuously pumped through them. It must smell awful. Fewer bodies are falling now, but surely more will come. I have been disappointed several times. My car is out of the question. With the driveway blocked, the roads will be impassable anyway. It’s getting dark, and I’m running out of candles. I will continue writing tomorrow.

 

 

Tuesday, 18.2.2023

 

I did not sleep much again. The night was very windy, and a large man, perhaps in his late sixties, fell into my conservatory. He is the first I’ve come so close to. I hadn’t touched the sitting man in the clearing or the others, always keeping a distance. Until now, I had never seen all the organs of another person, let alone my own. Now I have that experience, though unwanted. The man had a very red face, and one leg was caught in the broken window. I did not look at him long and then removed him because I did not want to deal with the rats and maggots that would likely come soon. I patched the window with an old sweater and some tape. Maybe it’s just a matter of time and patience before this storm stops. Then I would contact my insurance. Something should get covered by them. Meanwhile, I spend my time forming theories that could explain this rare phenomenon. I once read that it rained meat in America. One expert opinion was that there is a belt of meat near the sun that got too close to Earth that day, explaining the meat rain. I don’t know if I can believe that
explanation. After all, meat is different from meat. There, it was analyzed by local researchers to be beef. Here, it appears to be human flesh, human organs, and human blood. Plus, the source of these things is provided. I list my theories in bullet points:

 

-Theory 1: Switzerland is in the middle of a widespread Russian attack.
Recently, tensions and rocket attacks on major medical sites in Ukraine led to
an escalation of the conflict. This resulted in the use of bioweapons by Russia.

Comment:
Not entirely unthinkable, but there are some gaps. For example, how does one
find enough bodies to use as bioweapons but then not have enough soldiers to
invade? The scales here are too large.

 

-Theory 2: Elsewhere in the world, there has been an alien attack that ended
with many dead people. These people were loaded onto the invaders’ ship,
possibly killed there, and then unloaded here.

Comment:
The plausibility of this theory is almost zero, especially since the existence
of higher life forms is out of the question. Any radio waves or other
long-wavelength radiation would have been enough of a signal to inform Earth’s
inhabitants of the existence of other intelligent life forms.

 

Not much else comes to mind. I have to rethink the theories and take different perspectives. I will try to sleep on it.

It is the middle of the night, and something is keeping me awake. My body wants to sleep. It is exhausted and weak. But my brain is awake. It’s as if an invisible hand is holding my eyelids open. I want to sleep with all my might, to finally rest. I imagine, no, I hear, the thuds and squeaks and slides and pops outside. How their body sacks burst, and it rains organs with a splat. How spines and skulls crack like the brittle branches of a dead tree. How they hit the ground with a thud and lay there, arms and legs twisted at grotesque angles.

 

 

Wednesday? 19.2.23

 

It is light outside again. I must have found some solace in my manic writing. At any rate, I fell asleep. It is early morning, and a look out the window reveals that more bodies must have fallen during the night than usual. The cow pasture is increasingly covered with fresh blood. The sky is gray and restless. Occasionally, I see blue-violet lightning high up in the cloud towers. I am determined to go outside today. I must keep an eye, better both eyes, on the sky. Being struck by a falling body would certainly not be a pleasant death.

It is late afternoon according to my watch. My battery-operated wristwatch still shows the time. But it is only a matter of time before it stops working. How ironic. More importantly, I made a significant discovery today. I managed to drag one of the corpses from my driveway, past my wrecked car, into the garage. I selected a young man for examination. My initial investigations revealed no significant anomalies, except, and here’s the surprising part, they all have a third nostril. I repeated my experiment on a woman and another man, and found the same result. This is highly interesting. A few hours later, my garage looked like a scene from a horror movie. The insides were like those of any other human. I don’t know what I expected, but I also don’t know what to make of it. My thoughts are swirling and fuzzy. I can’t quite grasp them. I’m going to open a can of ravioli and think more about today’s findings.

 

It’stime to go to bed now since it’s dark. However, it’s not completely dark. The sky glows blue, green, and purple. The cloud cover, which has stretched to the horizon for days, doesn’t clear up. Bodies keep falling.

 

Iwas awakened by something incredible. I woke up in the middle of the night, floating in the air. Along with my blanket, pillow, and everything else that wasn’t nailed down, I was suspended motionless in the air. The phenomenon was accompanied by a dull electrical hum, like a microphone not properly connected. Then it was over, and I fell back onto the bed, breaking the bed frame. Now I sit at my desk surrounded by the shattered glass of my whiskey bottles, writing this down. I understand less and less of what is happening.

 

 

Thursday

 

The humming keeps coming back. I measured a one-hour interval between occurrences. Each time, the force that lifts objects into the air gets stronger, and the humming gets louder. I prepare for each episode by holding onto the stair railing, so I don’t break my bones if I fall badly. The sound starts quietly, and at first, the force isn’t strong. I suspect a direct correlation between the volume and the resulting force. Each episode lasts at least five minutes and gets about 20 seconds longer each time. All signs indicate that the intervals between episodes are also getting shorter. It’s only a matter of my calculations to determine when exactly the pulses will never stop. Others might panic now, but according to my calculations, I have about five days until a critical point.

 

Another pulse just went through the house. I could see through the window that not only my house is affected by this strange gravitational force. The bodies on the cow pasture are also lifting slightly. Their organs fall out of open gashes in their bellies and float around them like tentacles. My heavy mahogany desk is starting to lift. Another indication that the pulses are getting stronger. I will run to the workshop between pulses and get tools to fasten it in place.

 

The desk has become my sheltering cave. Now I crouch under it and scribble in this notebook. I doubt anyone will ever read this, but it helps me, so I write. During the pulses, I wedge my shoulders between the edges of the cutouts and lift just a few centimeters off the ground. I clutch the notebook and pen. This seems to work for now. I will try to get some sleep between pulses. I have fetched blankets and pillows, which I stuff into all corners under the desk. This should allow me to sleep somewhat peacefully.

 

Something just fell through the roof, right in front of the desk. I can’t see it, it’s too dark. I suspect the beams have finally given way and let one of the bodies from the roof through. It was incredibly loud, and I’m trembling. Adrenaline is finite, and I just have to wait until my body calms down. My mind longs for sleep.

 

Friday,
the first find of the sitting man was over a week ago.

 

It’s light outside again, at least a diffuse light is coming through the windows. I will wait for the next pulse and then take a look at the body in front of the desk.

 

I made an incredible discovery. The body had broken through the roof, landing on its stomach, sustaining some injuries in the process. Through the hole in the ceiling, I can look directly into the sky filled with colorful veils. In the distance, far above me, I see a house. It looks very familiar. It’s surrounded by several cow pastures, a forest of fir trees, and there’s a silver limousine in front of the door. I can’t make out more details. I don’t understand it, but it’s my own house? Has a kind of mirror formed in the cloud? The roof of the house had no holes, and the car didn’t seem damaged either. My intuition tells me I should examine the body more closely.

 

DearGod. What sights I have seen.

I had put the pen aside and tucked the folded notebook into my pocket. Carefully, I approached the lifeless body. There was a sort of magical attraction emanating from the corpse. It almost glowed. It was as if a colorful shimmering veil hovered over it. I patted the pockets of the corpse and pulled out a tattered notebook. The veil flowed right over to my hands, soon enveloping me completely. Even now it dances around my skin. According to all the known rules of physics, this should not be happening. I  had to muster all courage to turn the man’s body over. With one arm under the corpse’s shoulder, I lifted the body first onto its side and then completely over. My suspicions were confirmed when I looked unto my own face. It was my own, except for the nose. Like in a mirror, with a single small difference.

I can hear the humming coming back. It is now a lot louder than before.

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2024/06/13
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