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April 2014 Discussion Post: Urban Legends

April 1, 2014 at 12:00 AM

If you’ve never heard the term “urban legend” or “urban myth” before, it refers to – in a definition shamelessly stolen from Wikipedia – “a form of modern folklore consisting of stories that may or may not have been believed by their tellers to be true. As with all folklore and mythology, the designation suggests nothing about the story’s veracity, but merely that it is in circulation, exhibits variation over time, and carries some significance that motivates the community in preserving and propagating it.”

You’ve probably been told some form of urban legend as if it were a truth at some point in your life – I remember the whole “pop rocks and soda will make you explode AND DIE!!!” legend going around my elementary school (complete with dares to try it, of course), and as recently as last month I’ve seen people circulating – seemingly in earnest – the absolutely ancient myth about gang initiations and car headlights. Urban legends tend to have incredibly long lifetimes, and it’s very possible that some of you have unknowingly helped to spread an urban myth that originally spread before you were even born!

If you’d like to explore and familiarize yourself with most of the more famous urban legends, Snopes and Urban Legends Online are your best bets.

If you want to go directly to the creepy/horror urban legends, that category can be found right here.

So let’s talk about urban legends this month. Which of these tall tales is your favorite? Have you ever been guilty of spreading an urban legend, either for fun or because you actually believed it? Were you surprised to see that any of the legends listed on the linked sites were actually just stories? Why do you think certain legends manage to stick around for so long? So on and so forth – I just figured that, given that this discussion post would be publishing on April Fool’s Day, we might as well discuss all the interesting and wild and even creepy hoaxes and legends that have cropped up and spread around throughout the ages.

Have fun!

Submissions Re-Opened & The March/April Open Period Has Been Extended – UPDATED 4/14

March 20, 2014 at 12:00 AM

The backlog has been fully processed. If you did not receive a reply and you checked ‘yes’ on Crappypasta, it’s likely that one of the following things occured:

  1. You entered your email address incorrectly/your email account was full when I tried to email you and let you know of your submission status. Please do a search with some text from your pasta to see if it was uploaded to either site before you resubmit. The search bar is at the top of the sidebar.
  2. Your pasta was deemed over the line and rejected entirely. To play it safe: if your story involved abuse of any kind, pornographic content, racist/homophobic/sexist themes and language, obvious trolls or attempts at targeting myself or another community member, or anything else that we cover in the FAQ as possibly overstepping the bounds of what I’m willing to consider, DO ME A GREAT FAVOR AND DO NOT RESUBMIT THAT STORY. I don’t know if it was something in the water or just part and parcel with the bigger than usual submission count, but I estimate that about 300 submissions fell into this category during the last period.
  3. Your story simply didn’t go through for whatever reason. If I don’t actually receive the story, there’s nothing that I can do.

It was pointed out to me that it was somewhat unfair to do a massive Crappypasta posting spree with all ~600 stories posted within a few days – doing so would basically ensure that some of the stories were completely overlooked by the community as they got buried in the sheer volume of posts. To get around this issue, I tried to leave a day or two in between each batch. To make amends for the longer processing time that this tactic created, I’ve extended the open period once again – you now have until April 30th to submit your pastas.

There will be a ‘rest period’ of several days on Crappypasta to let people catch up on the massive number of stories looking for feedback.

To read the original content of this announcement, please click the ‘read more’ button.

Abomination

April 21, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Abomination
By: Ben Meadows

First of all, I want to clarify that I cared about the people in this account that were taken from me very deeply. Their screams and spirits haunt me to this day. To their families, I promise you, when I find the thing responsible for the atrocities in this story; it will pay for the lives it has destroyed.

The blazing sun beat down on my neck as we walked. It had to be at least a hundred degrees and the Kentucky humidity didn’t help the situation. My National Guard unit was drilling out at Fort Knox in the summer and we were on our last day of training for the month in the woods near one of the shooting ranges. The other medics and I had already qualified with weapons and were winding down with some conversation. The same usual bullshit, talking about late nights getting hammered drunk and every aspect of the sexual encounters we had experienced during the month prior; there was also the occasional spousal joke thrown in between. My friends, Specialist Jeremy North and Private Austin Rivers had been by my side the entire time. We were relatively new at our unit and always got picked on accordingly, so we stuck together most of the time. It was about high noon and we were trying to think of ways to pass the time. The card games were getting old and the batteries were dead on our smart phones, so there wasn’t really much else we could think of to do other than walk around and shoot the shit.
“So how’s your woman doing, Red? Tell her she needs to give me her new number.” North said to me slyly with that ear to ear grin he had. “I’ll tell her she needs to renew her restraining order.” I retorted as I punched him in the arm. Rivers just snorted that goofy laugh he had and followed it up with something incoherent as expected. We walked over to the concrete building that housed the weapons to see if we could find someone to talk to or possibly charge our cell phones. Inside was Staff Sergeant Wake, a former Active Duty soldier who had made the switch to the Guard after eight years of service. “How’s it going, Sergeant?” asked Rivers, as he closed the door behind us. “Hot as hell, boring as hell, and tired as hell” he replied. I hadn’t seen Sergeant Wake all day and that was a good thing. He probably would have given us some kind of bullshit work to do so we would look somewhat productive in front of the officers from the other companies there.

We exited the building from there, realizing that we were dangerously close to receiving some kind of task and began walking back to our tent. The tents were large and green with big flaps on all sides, as if they would have looked any different being Army tents. From there we met about twenty-five other medics and started to pack all of the equipment up: the tents, M16’s, sleeping bags, and anything else that would have taken a while to put away, as we were hoping to leave before daylight in the morning to drive back down to southern Kentucky where our headquarters was. After this long and tedious process, I started to pack all of my personal things into my ruck. My other uniform that had been buried under my sleeping bag was still soaked with sweat from the day before. The name tag read “Winters” although my friends and everyone else at my unit affectionately referred to me as “Red” due to my unusually bright red hair. Rivers looked to me and asked if I would start separating my stuff from his because he had to take a leak, and I obliged. The temperature was getting to everyone. A chorus of frustrated grunts of the other medics trying to reform objects down to their smallest possible size before shoving them into their bags surrounded me.
I looked up into the tree line and smiled, though. I loved the woods and nature for the most part. I was raised in the woods and was always taught to respect the Earth. It’s hard to describe the feeling I get when I’m alone with nothing but the green canopies of leaves above.
Later on, as the sun started to advertise its departure from the sky, an orange glow slowly became more visible and the air started to cool down as well as become dryer.
My friends and I settled on the cots we had placed earlier and waited for the inevitable brief we were going to get from Sergeant Wake about what we needed to do to get out of there as quickly as possible without getting “hung up in more brass bullshit” or something of that nature.
One of the other medics, named Robinson and I were talking about recent news about video games, movies, and TV shows when a sudden realization hit me. I looked over at North who was sitting on his cot with his forehead in his hands rubbing it like he had a headache. “Hey North, have you seen Rivers?” I asked in an unconcerned but curious tone. “Nope, he must have gone to the latrine or something.” This answer didn’t satisfy me. He had been gone for at least two hours and it was getting too dark to be doing anything productive. I looked over at his ruck and saw that it was half empty with some of his things lying around it in a sloppy configuration the way I had left it. I ended my conversation with Robinson and started looking around the camp. I asked ten other people if they had seen him and at this point a concerned North was accompanying me. “He can’t be too far from here.” I said, this time in a concerned manner. “We’ll give it another hour and if he’s not back by then, we’ll tell someone” said North who shared the same apathetic tone as me. We weren’t the over reactive types and just assumed he had found an outlet for his phone or something.
About forty-five minutes later, Sergeant Wake called us all over for a head count. North and I were genuinely concerned for Rivers at this point, not for his safety, but we feared that he might get in trouble if he missed the head count. We told Sergeant Wake about the situation and he sighed, pinching the skin between his eyes at the bridge of his nose. “Had to be one of you fucking new guys” he groaned in an irritated tone. He called all of the medics over and gave us specific instructions not to tell anyone outside of our detachment because if we could find Rivers before tomorrow, no one would have to get punished; he was a nice guy in that way. I was starting to get really worried at this point. Rivers was a sensible guy and this wasn’t like him to just run off like this. We spread out amongst the woods in different directions in 3 man teams. It was getting really dark now and the chances of finding him were getting slimmer as the chances of us getting lost were growing. It had to be around 23:00 and each hour that passed made me grow more concerned for my friend. North and I exchanged glances of doubt and it seemed like we both knew that this wasn’t going to end well. We ducked under tree limbs and crunched the dirt under our feet as we made our way through the unfamiliar woods. We were walking at a pretty fast pace until we reached the mouth of a wide cave adjacent to a creek that seemed really out of place for the terrain. The other man that accompanied us was PFC Terrence Hale and he wasn’t afraid to vent his frustration of the whole situation towards us. “He’s your buddy; why the fuck did you let him run off? I mean, seriously, haven’t you ever heard of Murphy’s fucking Law.” Hale whined in a nasally voice. I just shook my head and proceeded into the cave with a flashlight. The air in the cave was cool and moist, a relief from the summer heat outside. The three of us made our way further inside and continued our search, hoping Rivers would show his face sooner rather than later. Behind me were North and Hale looking in opposite directions of the cave as I looked straight ahead. Hale was still extremely agitated. “I can’t believe this shit, this has never happened before. I swear, if we find him and he’s just fucking with us I will be so fucking..” He trailed off. I saw him stop and hold his breath as he backed away from what had just seen. A feeling of dread crept up on me as possibilities roared through my head. I didn’t want to look; I really, really didn’t want to look. I pointed my flashlight hesitantly over to what had Hale so shocked and vomited. There lying on the ground in a pile was Rivers, or what was left of him. His torso was ripped wide open exposing his lungs and heart and his stomach and other organs looked like they had been eaten away. What once was the face of one of my best friends was now a pit of flesh dug into the semicircle that was his head. And that was all I had the stomach to look at. While we were American soldiers and had been trained to deal with shocking sights.. This.. This was nothing like I had ever experienced. I was sure that this was certainly a very large bear or.. Or a mountain lion or something that had done this, but I was very wrong, so very, very wrong.
Hale let out a scream and North just stood there in shock as we tried to gain our wits. We had to get the fuck back to camp and tell everyone what had happened. We were starting out of the cave when we heard it; the low, bellowing moan of the thing that inhabited the cave. I froze; I had never been so disturbed in my entire life to hear a sound. It was accompanied by footsteps that mushed the clay and mud underneath it. As it approached, I began to smell the odor of decay, the pungent stench of something reminiscent of a dead animal. North and Hale began shining their flashlights in the direction the sound was coming from and Hale dropped his when we all saw it. An enormous, disgusting, humanoid creature took up the entire entrance to another chamber of the cave. It glanced over at us and began taking several awkward steps towards us. The more I saw of it, the more I wanted to vomit the rest of my dinner. Its stomach was swollen with the remains of Rivers it and walked on two long, hairy legs. The entire thing was covered in thick, matted hair from head to toe and its long, wide arms ended in two skinny hands with sickeningly long fingers that were reminiscent of a spider’s legs. The creature had to be at least eight feet tall standing upright and weigh at least a ton. It appeared neither male nor female and had a head that resembled something close to an emaciated deer or a goat with huge, gaping maw that housed several dull, bloody teeth several inches apart and pitch black eyes. Slimy saliva dripped from its mouth and I could smell the disgusting odor of my friend’s remains on its breath. Hale fainted when he realized what he had seen. I wanted to as well but I fought it as hard as I could. And then the room started to spin..

I can remember the blurry scene of North and I trying to drag Hale out of the cave as that thing.. That monster grabbed his legs and easily won the tug of war between us. As it got a hold of him, it lifted his body up by one leg towards its enormous mouth and in one crunching display bit his entire head off before proceeding to rip his limbs off individually. North and I started to fire at it with our M16’s but to no effect. It merely flinched at the rounds and looked as if it wasn’t even bleeding. We pounded through the woods towards our camp using pure adrenaline to push us. We had made it pretty far away from the cave, but something suddenly slammed into North hard and he fell. I heard the sickening crunch of his ankle breaking accompanied by his scream of pain. I tried to pick him up and carry him but I was still reeling from what had just happened and fell down myself. I eventually managed to lift him onto my back before I was struck with a large rock to my back. I lay there in agony, my back felt like it was broken and I could barely breathe. I barely had time to process what had happened before I turned over to witness another horrific sight. I watched as North was dragged away from me by his legs at incredible speed by the abomination. I picked up my weapon and fired every shot I had left in my clip above him at the thing that was dragging him away but still the creature seemed apathetic to my rounds. As it all happened, North’s gaze met mine; what can only be described as a look of sheer hell filled his dark eyes as he was pulled faster and faster away, screaming.

Now I’m not proud of what I did, but I turned around and I ran. I ran as fast as I could with my weapon in my hand, sweating profusely, and breathing so hard I thought my lungs would collapse. When I finally reached the camp, I broke down and balled uncontrollably. All of the other medics had already returned and could barely gather my story through the tears of agony. “In the cave..” I said and simply pointed in the direction I came from and fifteen of the others ran off into the woods. I begged them not to go, to wait until daylight but they wouldn’t. They grabbed everything we had at our camp and bolted into the tree line.

The next morning was a hazy blur. The men that had gone into the woods returned with three M16’s and a single, blood-stained combat boot. “We went to that cave he talked about” said McKenzie, a Sergeant who had accompanied them. “We found their weapons and a ton of blood, but none of the bodies or the thing that attacked them.” I was asked to submit a report of what happened, and I tried my best to explain the events but no one would believe what I truly saw. We eventually left two days later and as I got into the back of one of the HMMWVs, I took one last look at the tree line. A blackish brown dot stood in between two large trees. I squinted hard at it and it became clearer. The monster that had taken my friends faced me for a moment before turning around and vanishing into the woods moving with incredible speed for its size.

After that, I wasn’t able to sleep more than a few hours at a time. I was constantly bombarded by visions and nightmares of the abomination coming after me to finish its work. I did a ton of research on the thing and the closest thing I could find was something called the Wendigo, which is a Native American legend about a creature that has an insatiable appetite for human flesh. I had no idea what the fuck this thing was or how to kill it. The entire experience had turned my world upside down and I was making it a point to move away from Kentucky and as far away as possible once my military contract was finished.

The following night, I looked out my window and saw something that sent a violent chill down my spine. I live in the woods with only a couple neighbors who were out of town, and my girlfriend was out visiting her parents, so I was the only one in the neighborhood. As I stared into the darkness, I saw the disgusting deer head of the creature with its mouth gaping wide open. I instantly jumped up and grabbed my Remington 12 gauge along with a box of shells. I said a prayer, clutched the cross I always wore around my neck and ran out to meet the creature. It had moved from its original spot. I grabbed my flashlight and headed towards its direction but stopped myself. “That’s exactly what it wants.” I said to myself. I went back up into my living room, picked up my phone and called the police. I made up some bullshit story about a home invasion so they would actually come. I was not going to let this thing kill me or my girlfriend. I started back onto the porch to keep an eye one the thing but it had moved again. This time I panicked. It’s somewhere close and I had no idea where. I ran all around my property looking for it and eventually gave up. I returned inside and resigned to waiting for the police. At this point, my head was pulsating and my eyes started to become blurry again. I collapsed on the floor and looked up to see the creature standing about five feet away from me on all four legs, it reached out to me with its mutant hands but I managed to gain the strength to get up and run. I sprinted outside and collapsed in the driveway which ran parallel to a steep decline that led into the woods. The monster, now walking bipedal became more visible in the light of my porch. It was a greyish color with wrinkled skin as if it had been soaking in water for days. Its matted hair contained bits of blood and flesh from its past victims and its face was what terrified me the most. Its disgusting Baphomet face housed black eyes that revealed to be pits of where eyes should have been, which led me to believe that the creature relied off of its senses of hearing and smell to hunt. It crouched over my body and wrapped one long, bony hand around my face. Its skin felt like that of a squid’s, and the smell made me want to vomit.

“This is it.” I thought. “My life is over.” My survival from weeks earlier was just prolonging my death at the hands of this monster. It lifted me up with its second hand now wrapped around my torso as it moved to take a bite out of my neck when it suddenly stopped.

The sound of police sirens was now very close. The thing apparently didn’t like large groups of people and didn’t want to get caught. It dropped me to the concrete and started slinking its way back into the woods, but I wasn’t going to let it get away that easy. I ran as hard as I could and jumped down the decline after the creature. I barreled into the thing with all 200 pounds of my body weight and sent it careening down the hill. It was pissed now, and starting running back up the hill towards me with shocking speed, I barely had enough time to let out a buck shot right into its mouth as a slimy substance similar to pus shot out of the creature. I had hurt it! The creature wasn’t pleased and grabbed me with both disgusting hands. It immobilized me as it began slowly lowering its gaping wide mouth towards my head. I fought it as hard as I could but to no avail.

Seconds away from certain death, I started praying. I prayed harder than I ever had before and the creature stopped and threw me down. It backed away writhing in pain like I had seriously damaged it. I began praying again “My father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” and starting walking towards it, blasting at it with the shotgun, each shot putting pus-oozing holes into its stomach and neck. As I advanced, the creature turned around and ran faster than it had in our previous encounter into the woods. I screamed at it with tears rolling down my eyes as it limped away through the trees with its impossibly big body.

The past few weeks have hard. I’ve been to three funerals, gone through several police investigations, and I’ve barely been able to sleep. I rented a cabin far away from my girlfriend until this is all over; I’m convinced that the abomination has marked me, and I refuse to be the cause of her death as well. As far as she knows, I’m visiting some friends down in Tennessee. Now the thing not only threatens me physically but also in my dreams. I wake up some nights, screaming about the things I see. I know as well as it does that this is not over and that it will come back for me. I can only speculate on how much time I have left. I want this to be a written record for anyone who may find it if I don’t make it out alive this time. If I’m never seen or heard from again, tell the Winters family that I love them very much, and tell Jessyca Small that I never had the courage to ask her, but I was planning to make her my wife someday. There’s a thunderstorm outside, and I can see the shape of a figure between the lightning strikes. I would have been able to dismiss it as a trick of the mind, but there’s one inescapable thing I noticed about what I just saw- the glint of service tags wrapped around its wrist…

Credit To – Ben Meadows

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Chronicles of the Mark – The Snake In the Sun

April 20, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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View the original story here: The Mark of Canus.

Two concepts exist in our world, the natural, and the supernatural. Humanity actively sees and understands the natural, as we progress in science and mathematics, but most of us refuse to observe the existence of the supernatural, as we usually cannot perceive it. Many outright deny the possibility of supernatural occurrences, artifacts, or entities entirely, on the grounds that these things cannot be logically explained. The supernatural cannot be explained logically because it is not based in logic, as logic itself is a natural principle.

The human mind, or at least the part our basic consciousness resides in, is another natural thing, an article of logic. This is why we are not able to accept the supernatural as real, because it goes against the very basis of our understanding. Many argue the supernatural is in a part of our minds, the usually dormant part from where psychosis comes from, the crazy part, and that our minds have the capability for the supernatural, but that portion is almost always locked for some reason. Either way, the supernatural most certainly exists, and there is a lot of power in it even today.  One such case of supernatural power in the world is the Mark of Canus, a manifestation of evil in the universe, and a driving force for violent insanity and even deeper darkness in the confines of the mind.

The Mark of Canus has had a profound impact on certain individuals throughout time. James Dodd, an outlaw turned lawman in the American West during the time of expansion and greed recalls his experience with the Mark:

The year was 1876, a full one hundred years after this country was founded. During that time we have seen many wars with the natives, continued fighting with the British, and a full blown Civil War, but all those horrors pale in comparison to the man known as The Snake in the Sun, Darrel Shrimer, the gold tycoon.

Shrimer was an ambitious man, known for his drive and ability to get things done, but there’s more to him than that, alright. He was sadistic, ultimately evil, and it all had something to do with this symbol he always had on him, on a belt buckle or boot. They say you could see it in his eyes, pure evil in that symbol. I shiver to think of when I looked on it. My story with him begins with my return to Albright, Arizona.
I rode into Albright in the late evening, had taken me all day to get here from Tucson. Things felt different going into the town this time, could be because I wore a badge now, instead of a bandana. I was born in Montana, but Albright had been my home for a while, when I was with a gang. Things are different now, I protect people. I cleaned up myself and became one of the best, an Arizona Ranger. Yep, I wore a bright badge and a lot of responsibility with it. The last time I’d been in Albright I had been a criminal, so naturally I knew things would feel different riding in with that weighty title.

Maybe it wasn’t the badge at all, I couldn’t really explain it, but something had come over the town, a heavy feeling. I thought nothing of it, maybe it was just me, after all I’d killed men here years ago. I rode up to the bar for a drink and some food when I noticed a strange marking on one of the posts, it was some kind of symbol, a symbol I would later come to abhor for the rest of my life, but back then it seemed like just an odd little scratch in the post, so I went on in and sat down at the bar.

I looked around to exactly what I expected, people staring. They had a scared look in their eyes, they knew me from before. I used to be a stone cold killer, a criminal who’d rob and steal and shoot men for a living. It’s no wonder they all looked frightened to see me. I’d been brought to justice by a lawman, but not all justice in the West ended in blood. He took me to Tucson to be tried, and they stuck me in prison for many years, many turned to few as I was let off for good behavior. I was completely reformed, cast off my old life in crime, to seek a new one in the law.
I ordered a steak and some Dawson brew, and was waiting for my food, thinking about my new life here when a young man came up to the bar and sat next to me. “You that Jim Dodd they talked about, the outlaw gone put on a badge?” I looked over and saw his face. He looked young, his face not yet rough. He looked innocent enough, and yet there was something off about him, an odd feeling I got. I said nothing, only turned out my badge and nodded. The boy said, “So it is true then. You’re gonna keep the law round here?” I nodded again, eyes still on the boy. “That mean you gonna take Russell Lewis and the Snake in the Sun?” He asked. I cocked my head in curiosity, partly as to who these people are, as well as that the boy was so frank with me about the nature of the law. Sensing my puzzlement, he explained, “The Snake in the Sun is Darrel Shrimer, that gold boss who’s been sweepin’ cross Arizona lookin’ for gold and fortune. They call him the Snake in the Sun on a count of he will kill a man in broad daylight, as much as the dark night. He’s had the whole town in his hands for comin’ on two years now, and I reckon he won’t let us go till someone puts him down or he gets bored. Russell Lewis is his right hand man, he’s just as scary. This guy is like the Devil ate a scorpion and spit him back out into the desert to mock the Lord by puttin’ him in the image of a man.”

I was intrigued at these man he talked about. I’d heard once of Darrel Shrimer, apparently he had gone out on a mining expedition with a whole company of men, went up into the mountains, and returned alone, with a large fortune of gold and a ruthless ambition to get more, but that sounds like most all other gold tycoons around the West. This is the first I’ve heard of murder and settlement extortion, and who was this Russell Lewis? If these claims were true, I’d have to do something, being a man of the law.

Just as I decided to open my mouth and tell the boy I’d look into it, his stare changed. He now looked pale, almost grey, and those eyes, they were empty. The eyes were as empty as the night sky in the Mojave, and just as deep. My blood ran cold, I was frozen stiff. I could not look away. Then the boy said, in a raspy voice unlike what I had just heard from him, “You can’t stop the Mark, it lives everywhere, inside you, inside your mind. The Snake in the Sun will make you submit, submit to the warming insanity of the Mark. We have given in, all of us, Albright belongs to the Mark, to the Snake in the Sun. Can you feel it, man of the law, can you feel the Mark in your mind? It’s there, waiting for you to see its glory, and love it eternally in darkness as the Snake in the Sun, and all of us.”

I looked at the boy for a moment longer, trying to figure out if what I heard was even real, I was very tired. I blinked a few times, and to my surprise he was still there, with that grey look about him, but now the symbol from the post was there, inside both his eyes, this time terrifying, its silent glare penetrating my mind. It was like looking into the essence of the symbol itself, which I now knew as the Mark. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before, that Mark. It’s the face of terror, the face of sin and greed and corruption, it’s the origin of all evils. I turned away, towards the rest of the bar, only to see them all the same, silently staring with the Mark in their eyes, silent, unmoving. All of them. I got up without my food and left the bar.

I ran out into the street, unhitched my horse and saddled up as fast as I could and spurred the old bronco out of town at full speed. The Sun was down but I didn’t care, I was so mortally terrified, and every part of my being was screaming at me to leave, leave while I can. Think of it now what I did was pretty dumb, but I was just so scared I couldn’t think of anything else but to turn tail and run like a child. I rode and rode into darkness until I the horse was so exhausted she just collapsed in full gallop. I flew off her and hit the ground hard, then I blacked out. The last thing I saw as I flew through the chilly desert air was my horse, eyes gaping, the Mark in those eyes.

I came to when a hand tugged at me. In a daze I realized my own hands were tied up, and I was sitting atop my horse, walking along behind another man on a horse. He held the rope. I could tell I wasn’t speaking complete sentences, but I tried to ask what was going on, said I was an Arizona ranger and I demanded to know why I was tied up. The man ahead of me wore a black coat and brown hide hat, all dusty. He didn’t turn back, only laughed, the kind of laugh you hear in a looney bin. He then spoke, still facing forward, with a voice that could cut stone, “That’s a good one, friend, but the law don’t make it round these parts, law dog. And that shiny badge of yours, well it just got you in a world of hurt!”

He continued to laugh, and by this point I was all cleared up. “You trying to be funny?” I said, “Sounds to me like you’re the one about to be in a world of hurt when I get loose here friend.” He was silent for a second, then replied, “Who you think you are anyway, Dodd? The only reason you’re still alive is because It wants you somethin’ bad, and the Snake in the Sun wants to watch you suffer It’s madness. That’s the world of hurt I was talkin’ about earlier.”

I was surprised he knew my name, the Arizona rangers are officially anonymous, I had no ID. I finally asked “How’d you know my name anyways, slick?” “Oh It always knows, Jim.” he replied quickly, “It told me ‘fore I laid eyes on you yesterday. Besides, I heard about you, been an outlaw in Albright stirrin’ up trouble daily, caught by Manny Gargas with that six-shot .44, and put in jail. Then out of the blue they let you out early and you change colors, swappin’ your red sash for a white hat, and go on slaughterin’ outlaws like you’re some patron saint of Arizona. I hate lawmen like you, who use violence as means of ending violence.”

He made a point, but I was still baffled he knew so much of me. “And just who are you then?” I asked. He finally looked back at me, his face was rough as sun-bleached leather, all cut up and dusty. He looked like he’d been dragged through Hell by the spurs and pulled back to Earth again. “Why little old me? Name’s Russell, Russell Lewis, friend. I work for the Snake in the Sun, and I’m an outlaw through and through. I hope that hurts you inside, Jim, seein’ an outlaw you can’t kill? And, I serve It, our master, the Evil of Humanity. I serve the Mark. That’s all you really need to know there, Jimmy boy.” “Pleased to meet you.” I said, as we came upon the town. I looked ahead and saw him.

From a distance he looked like anyone else, a man on a horse, in a hat and coat. As we got closer and closer I began to make out features, He was older, snowy hair and mustache. He had a rough, stern face which was ever the norm in the West. He wore a tan coat, a hide hat and a nice shirt. On his boots was sewn an image of the Mark, and on his shirt and hat.

Then, as we got really close, I saw something different in him. His face was like an animal, he looked borderline insane, like he could snap at any minute. He looked evil. “So this is the James Dodd I was so compelled to have brought here.” He started, “you know something boy? You should have stayed in that jail cell, cause it ain’t half as bad as what you’re about to go through. You’re in Hell now boy, God can’t save you now.” I was thoroughly convinced of his words, but I wouldn’t show it. “You got a pair of balls holding an Arizona ranger like this. I’ll see you tried and hung, but that’s if I don’t put a hole in you first.” He chuckled, the kind of chuckle that made it clear he was confident of himself. “Well boy,” he said, “that sure sounds nice, but the Mark has different plans for you.” He reached in his shirt and pulled out a necklace, looked silver, with that unholy Mark on it. “Do you even know what this is, boy?” he got off his horse and I was pulled off mine.

He came up real close, held up the necklace. I could hear whispers in some odd language, saw lines coming off it, like sometimes in the middle of the desert, under the hot sun, when you’ve been out there too long and things get to your mind. He looked closely at me, I saw the ferocity in his eyes, after a long moment he spoke again, “This, boy, is the Mark of Canus. It’s as old as time itself, and it’s as evil as it is powerful. It can make men do terrible things, to others, to themselves. I feeds off us, our sheer horror satiates its terrific hunger. Men have lived and died wearing this Mark. I found it on a Spaniard some time ago when were on a mining trip. Said he got it from Spain, and it had great power. It haunted me from the moment I laid eyes upon it. So one night, in the mines while everyone was sleeping, I took the Mark, and I killed everyone there. I ate their rich hearts, and cut off their sad faces. It was ecstasy, the Mark had me from then on, and I’ve served it in madness to acquire my fortune. But now, now the Mark wants you too boy. And it’ll have you. You’ve seen it, I know you have, there’s no going back now. The insanity will come over you, then to serve the Mark, you’ll cut out your own heart for me, so I can taste it.”

I was not going to do that, but he spoke so confidently, as if it was inevitable. Suddenly, my head started spinning, I saw the Mark everywhere, on the walls, in his eyes, on the ground. I took a step back, tripped and fell. My hands were still tied, I sat there in horror as the Mark permeated into my mind. “Where are my manners?” Shrimer snorted, “Russell cut him loose.” Russell did as he was told, and I was free, or I thought I was. I then tried to run, but the whole town crept out onto the street and blocked me, they all looked grey, soulless. The Mark was in their eyes, all of them.
They started closing in, cornering me. All the while I could hear a thrum of some odd sounding drums getting louder, and whispers. The Mark was taking me, my own evils from long ago coming back out to claim what was theirs. There, back in my head the faces of the men I killed, the nightmares I’d woke from in my prison cell, all I worked so hard to erase back again. The sins I thought I had absolved, dropped on by as if they never really left. I screamed, fell down again and writhed on the ground, I could feel a slithering inside.

“You feel that boy?” called Shrimer, “That’s the Mark inside you, that’s me inside you. Do you know why they call me the Snake in the Sun? Because I slither through the desert and eat any rats I find. You’re no exception, boy, you’ll succumb just like all the others!” I fought it, I fought it hard, but it didn’t matter, the Mark was quickly taking me.

As the darkness closed in, I had a thought, something that sheriff Gargas had told me when get finally took me. He said ‘Evil is everywhere, friend, it is even inside you. Fighting that evil is all we can do, all we can live for, because it is the only way we can redeem ourselves. We do bad things, no one is perfect, but it is how hard we fight it that makes the most difference, because in the end, we are all judged by our efforts. Even if we never really win, what other choice do we have?’ That thought inspired me, I fought back the Mark, not completely but only for now, accepted it, and pushed it from controlling me.

My hands free, I reached for my hip, and pulled up my .44 Magnum handgun. I was surprised they left it on me, Shrimer was really convinced that I’d be taken. Things happened fast after that, Russell reached for his rifle, but I was too quick, and I nailed him twice. Two of the other henchmen tried after that, each went down with only one round, ranger training is extensive. There was blood on the ground, and Shrimer reached for his gun, but I shot him in the leg. He dropped it and went to his knees, I had him now.

The man dragged himself back as I came to him. “What are you gonna do now?” He puffed out a few more mad chuckles, “You’re out of bullets, you gonna cuff me, boy?” He seemed confident still, even wounded and outmatched. “Not today, Shrimer. Look again, and count my bullets before your blessings. Normally they have only five, but I had this one made special like Gargas’. There’s one round left, friend.” He stopped lurching backward, but I kept towards him.

He just continued to laugh, “Killing me won’t help you, Jim. The Mark still has you, though you managed to beat it back. We all go sooner or later, and the Mark is always there. You haven’t won, boy, not by a long shot. Evil will always be with us, and you can’t escape your wicked past! You can’t change!” I put the gun to his forehead, and looked down on him. “That doesn’t matter anymore. I am the law now, and I’m gonna bring you to justice. And you’re right, I can’t change. I killed back then, and I kill now, but the difference is I kill the killers, and not the innocent. Condemn me if you will, but if killin’ you saves someone else, well I’ll be damned if I let you go. You made this personal, you brought the hawk down on you, snake. Now I’m gonna cut you down, just like I promised.”

I pulled the trigger, and he fell down. The Snake in the sun was dead, and already I felt a weight lift off the town, suddenly the townspeople weren’t looking grey anymore, though they were confused. I plucked the necklace off Shrimer, and put it in my pocket. I would return it to Spain where it was found, and evil like that needs to stay buried.

Dodd’s story is only one of many like it. Throughout time, the Mark has always been there, tormenting souls and enforcing its evil on the world. However Dodd, unlike many, has been able to keep the Mark from taking him, it would always be there, and every once in a while a chill would creep down his spine, and he knew the Mark was present. He battled with the evil in him until his death in 1919, when the fever got him in his sleep. It is said he rambled in his last days, talk of something coming for him, and he mentioned the Mark over and over again. He passed away in the late night, a look of fear on his face, fear of the Mark and its madness, that same madness he had beat, if only temporarily, on that day in Albright, Arizona.

Credit To – Greg P

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Mould

April 19, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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To whoever may read this. The following is an account of some of the melancholy events that have befallen me in my dark tinged lifetime in my own words. I hope that some of you may for a moment put aside the pressures and events in your lives that may have some actual importance and listen, or read rather as I recount the tale of my life. In particularly my life insofar as it relates to a certain devil house which once constituted my family’s estate. It is a grim tale, and not for those weak of stomach or depressed by nature. Before I begin I suppose I must give you some information on whom life you are about to see inscribed on paper. I am 25, a failed writer and somewhat of an English scholar, I say somewhat as I never finished formal education, or at least not as much of it as I really should have. I now find myself as a failed writer and a journalist who hates his job. I will not use my name in this story for fear somebody may use it in order to find me and therefor the horror which I will now die attempting to keep from the world.

When I was a child I lived in a small thatched cottage in rural Devonshire, England. It is an eerie old house, the type that would look quite at home in some cheesy horror story. During the autumn and winter thunder storms where common in my area and on a dark night with the wind howling, the rain belting and with lightning chipping away at the surrounding mountainous countryside it could be quite a sight. It was also strange old place, the sort of house where you would wake up early in the morning with your heart thumping and beads of warms sweat streaming down your face onto your soaked sheets without any memories of a nightmare or any sign of what could’ve woken you. The sort of house were you could be alone in a room but even if you lock and bolt the doors you would find yourself sub-consciously glimpsing over your shoulder as if the very walls were sprouting unseen eyes and watching you.

There was always certain malice about the place. You never felt truly alone. It was never a place I could call home but I don’t think I was the only one. The house seemed to reject any sentient life that dared step foot into its dank rooms. It made you feel unwelcome by projecting its own darkness unto whoever entered it as if left tainted by the hateful heart of some previous deceased owner. We knew nothing of the houses history with my parents having only purchased it in the early 50’s. We had no significant contact with the houses previous owners other than to exchange money and legal papers. So when my father and mother (who was pregnant with me at the time) moved in they knew nothing of the place but we could always tell it was old. I don’t know quite how old enough to have seen a lot in its time.

There may well have been a whole village there when it was first built. But now there is only the house and the desolate country side that stretches out for miles each side. There it stands like a sentinel, standing erect in that untouched area of countryside, keeping its cold watch, ready to stop anything from touching its strange serenity. But there was also something meek and pathetic about the house, like it was the last survivor of some near apocalyptic event in which all its brethren was wiped out, now doomed to stand its lonely vigil until the its very earth gave way beneath it. Sad, alone, weak, with a crooked old heart filled with hate. I believe my poetic side is reading too far into it, so I will stop boring you with my romanticising and instead get to the bulk of my tale.

I lived in that house for all of the first 18 years of my life with my mother; a quiet and nurturing woman, my father; a rather traditional English gentleman, he commuted to the small village a few miles away where he worked in the isolated village’s bank. I also had a younger sister who was eight when she vanished. My sister disappeared from our family home on the 4th of November 1970 I was only ten myself when it happened. I don’t remember the details of what happened. I only remember that one day she was there and the next day she was gone, leaving nothing but a distraught mother and numb father to prove that she had ever been there at all. My parents called the police at a payphone in the village (because after a particularly brutal storm the week before knocked out the phone lines [at that time there was no internet and I still can’t figure out how we even had electricity and a phone line]).

The search went on for a few weeks after she disappeared but nobody was ever recovered. The police gave up the search reasoning that she had run of during the night for some childlike adventure those young ones raised in rural environment’s tend to go on and had fallen or gotten lost. There had been heavy rain and decent wind speeds on the night she disappeared so it wasn’t hard to imagine a young girl running through wet rocky area in pitch black tripping and breaking her neck or falling down into some crevice. The police knew there was no hope of finding her alive and this was long before the time of Facebook missing person’s campaigns. So the police stopped the search in the knowledge that all they would be doing by sending more officers into a secluded rocky area in harsh conditions would be risking more lives. So my sister was essentially classed as missing and presumed dead.

Although I might not remember the events surrounding her disappearance, what certainly stuck in my head were the events leading up to and the aftermath of her disappearance. My parents took her disappearance harder than I did. I was too completely young to comprehend what was going on and neither of my parents really felt like explaining it to me. All I understood was that Sal was gone and now mummy and daddy are sad. My mother took it hardest of all. She had clearly always wanted a daughter and my sister had been extremely close to her, following her around almost everywhere. It didn’t take long for my mother mental state to Deteriorate to a startling degree after my sister’s apparent death. She completely withdrew into herself.

She never spoke to anyone, not even my father. Yet, sometimes I would hear her talking though, but not to any person. To my young mind it almost sounded like she was, well, talking to the walls. Like she and the house were engaged in some deeply private conversation in hushed tones. What really stands out in my memory today is the fact that I could hear two distinctly different voices. At the time I assumed that she was either speaking with my father or talking in funny voices (I mean, at the time I saw nothing wrong with this).

In retrospect however neither of these things could be true, with my father apparently always having an alibi and the fact that that voice could not possibly have been my mothers. Not only was it in a completely different frequency, it also didn’t sound human. I know that sounds cliché but by inhuman I don’t mean it was the deep guttural growl of some demon or animal. There was something pure yet scratchy about its voice. The closest thing I could compare it too is the noise thick foliage makes when a strong wind blows. Something in between a whistle and a scream. Only a year after my sister’s disappearance my mother also vanished late on an October night. The investigation was short with the obvious, be it brutal verdict being that she had slipped of in the middle of the night without the intention of returning. There are many caves, hills and streams in the surround area a person could use to quietly take their life and never be found.

My father became cold and distant after my mother’s death. He was hit hard by my sister’s death but with the loss of my mother he felt he had nothing left to live for. I could tell he still cared for me and did not act distant to hurt me. My father was an honour bound man, there was no way he would take his own life but at the same time he had no hope, everything he had loved and tried to protect had been taken away from him in the course of one year. He never turned to alcohol or quit his job. He never left the house and lived in it every remaining day of his life. He just stayed in his own honour bound limbo until he died 20 years later. Once I hit eighteen I left to make my own way in life, although I wanted to be there for him I sensed he didn’t really want me there.

And so I lived a normal life. I got a decent job as a mechanic and bought myself a decent sized bungalow in a small town in Hampshire; I lived well but not in luxury. I then discovered my father had passed away aged 64 leaving the house and what humble possessions he had left to me. After I left home me and my father had never patched up our relationship, in fact I hadn’t spoken with him in 11 years and had only found about his death one I was approached about his will. I had over time blocked out the events of my childhood. Not even because I found them traumatising, but more because I thought them to be unimportant, particularly when I was younger. The moment I heard about my father’s death all the memories (many with new detail and context the older me could pick out) came flooding back. At that moment something happened; I was not filled with some strange curiosity, some urge to go back there, I was not suddenly aware of some great truth I had left unseen, not even the lightest flame of interest was ignited in my heart. I quickly, quietly and above all simply; lost the ability to live a normal life.

I can’t explain it, it wasn’t something understood by my higher thought processes. I simply could no longer continue with my endless dull routine of; work, eat, sleep. I found myself unable to focus on any of these activities. I found it especially hard to do them in any order uninterrupted. I was just accompanied everywhere by this nagging sense of insecurity follow me through life with the continuous sub-conscious feeling that returning to the site of my family members death’s would somehow ease my mind. I was not sure that it would and I wasn’t nervous about doing it either. It was just a vague hope, but a necessary one. A hope that, in the end, became just as nagging as the problem to which it was supposedly the solution. I eventually decided to claim a few weeks of work to visit the home (if I can even call it that) I grew up in.

It was a Monday I left for the house. I had no significant other and only a handful of friends so I had no-one to really miss me. My limping old ford twisted its way over the desolate Devonshire countryside until I finally came to the remote hilly area my childhood house was situated in. It hadn’t changed a bit. Then again I shouldn’t have been surprised, why should I expect an area which looked like it hadn’t changed in perhaps thousands of years to have changed purely to stroke what little sense of nostalgia I may have had. I had no pleasant memories of that place. I was always a quite reserved boy. Not meek or sickly but simply more at home with his own thoughts than out playing in the green wasteland that stretched out for miles around my childhood friend.

As I walked up to the gate of the house I finally saw something to assure me that I was in fact returning to the house rather than letting the creeping feeling I never left takeover. There at the gate stood an old wiry hazel tree which I remembered from my youth. Now however the branches where torn and crooked and the tree was a sickly shade of grey. I looked to have taken a lighting strike some years ago. The entire tree was fried and the top of the trunk had been totally blown off. I hated that tree, as a small child I found its dark bark would sometimes make shapes that, too a young child, resembled a human face all too much. Now the once healthy young tree stood crippled and hunchbacked leering down at me with its dark mangled faces. I opened the gate and it screamed as I pushed it open as if the house was warning me not to take a step close.

As I got a closer look at the tree I noticed multiple small patches of a pure black mould growing out of the holes in the wood. It looked smooth and thin and whistled at me as I walked past. I got the strangest feeling as I walked away from the tree. I felt as if the tree was watching me with its many strange faces. I could feel its eyes scorching the back of my neck. It felt as though I had woken the tree from a great slumber and now as it came around the frustration I felt in its gaze transitioned into something else. It was something primal, common to all higher thinking beings to some degree. Something we all keep locked away in the backs of our minds as we have no use for it. It’s the way a predator eyes its prey. Not even prey its hunting, just something that, under other circumstances it would be hunting. It didn’t take long to realise I had awoken the house and now it was watching me.

I was never one to keep diaries. I never felt the need or had the patients and commitment to keep one. At this point in my life however, for those few days, I did keep a diary for the sake of documentation. It is less my diary and more the diary of that house. So for now I will recite to you an abridged version of that very diary. I will hand over to my younger self for now.

1st November 1991

The journey here was uneventful. The round between my current home and this house is basically a remote country road so no terrible traffic. I think I’ve brought enough food to last me a week. I have a small-fridge which I’ve already plugged in and I can use the water from the tap in the kitchen with the cups I brought. It looks like we’re in for a storm in the next few days. Being here got me thinking about father and what it must have been like alone. The phone doesn’t work and there’s no-one living for miles. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for an old man living here alone. It makes me feel bad I wasn’t there for him but I know I wouldn’t have been welcome. I would only have made things worse.

It doesn’t feel like I’m home, in fact it feels as if I’m invading somebody else’s sanctuary. They say father died from some sort of reaction to an unknown contaminate, signalled by a black rash. So I’m being especially careful not to touch things when it’s not necessary. Years of poor upkeep mean the house if full of damp spots since the thatch on the roof hasn’t been changed in years so the one upstairs room I’m staying in has water stains down all the walls. I hate to think what it’s going to be like if it does rain. There’s one window looking out onto the front garden and the rolling hills and rocky crevices beyond. The walls are covered in small black spots of mould on the damp patches. What shocked me however the fact that there was mould on the window. There it was. Multiple small black smudges on the windows.

I was immediately` fascinated by this phenomena and upon finding the mould was thankfully on the other side I took a closer look. Each smudge was around the size of my thumb. What was strange about them was the fact that each of the smudges on closer inspection seemed to have spiral patterns were the glass showed through. This gave the weird effect of making smudges resemble fingerprints as if some unseen figure had been prodding at the window. Anyway, I’m now going to prepare some canned beans and go to sleep. I decided that since it was still here I would sleep in my old bed. I am staying in my old room so there’s no point in buying a sleeping bag with my childhood bed being right there.

2nd November 1991

I woke up at around three in the morning last night to a sound that resembled something hitting the window with an impact considerable enough to cause a loud smacking sound but not quite enough to break it. My first though was that a bird must have smacked into the window. It was pitch black outside after all. I flicked on the light and went to the window to discover what unseen event had startled me so much. When I opened the blackened curtains I was greeted by quite an unnerving site. New mould had grown on the window. This time it was a far larger single patch of mould that looked like a bunch of small patch’s stuck together. They all shared the strange marking I had seen on the other one with the spirals. There seemed to one large circular one with five small oval shapes coming of it. I very quickly realised what this looked to be and jolted backwards the moment I did. It still seemed to be on the outside, which came as some relief for some reason. I decided I was tired and my mind must be exaggerating just how much this silly patch of mould looked like a hand. I was about to turn off the light to go back to sleep when I caught one last look at the old hazel tree, and too my weary eyes it almost looked like it was looking back up at me.

When I got up this morning I decided to have a look around the house. All the rooms look exactly like they did when I left. In fact it looks the exact same as it did the day my mother disappeared. It must have reminded my father of her, keeping the place like this. The only new object in the house is an old photo of my mother and sister sitting alone on the dusty, mouldy mantelpiece. What I did find however is a door outback which appears to lead underground. I don’t recall us ever having a basement but I never went out back and I don’t see when we would’ve used it so it would hardly surprise me if we did have one and I just never came into contact with it or don’t remember ever having. I tried to pry the door open but it just wouldn’t budge as if something was holding it shut from the other side.
I went for a walk around the countryside, something I never did while I was younger. I’ve never felt as alone as I do here. The beautiful terrifying desolation of this place is palpable. The loneliness is the kind of loneliness you feel when the whole world turns on you and you have nowhere to hide. When the very earth itself seems to look up at you with a mix of disgust and contempt. Half ways through my walk it began to rain. By the time I had jogged back to the house it was belting down with the first signs of dark lightning storms moving over the empty tundra. I was soaked when I got in and intended to take a bath. When I got to the tub I found it still filled with the last disgusting remnants of the last water poured into it. The thought that this may have been the last bath my father had ever taken sent shiver running down my body. So I dried of and settled for some new clothes. The more I think about it the worse an idea this trip seems.

I still don’t know what I hope to achieve with this. I came on the logic that I should pay my final respects to my father. But that’s not what I’m here for and I know that. I just think that if I can get down into that Basement maybe I’ll find the answer I seek, even if I’m not even sure what the question is yet.

3rd November 1991

Last night was hell. I couldn’t sleep over the persistent feeling someone was watching my slumbering when no-one is there. In the middle of the night I became aware of the sound of something greasy squeakily rubbing against my window. I waited for the noise to stop and got up. I turned on the lights and opened up the curtains. Despite the heavy continuous rain the dark imprint of a hand seemed even more pronounced and there was a new pattern. There the black mould was, forming a human face. I almost yet out a yelp when I saw it. The face was large, as big as both my hands side by side. It looked human but there were things wrong with it. The eyes seemed that littler bit too small for the face, the nose was invisible and the mouth was stretched into a long crooked grin, a grin I might almost call hateful. It might have only been mould but looking into the things “eyes” I could have sworn I sensed malice. Reached out to touch, to see if it really was there and it wasn’t something the exhausted imagination had pulled from the darkest part of my psyche.

Much to my horror it was wet. Not even wet, but slimy and smooth. It was on my side of the glass tonight. I jerked my hand back. It felt like rubbing thousands of tiny smooth strands of seaweed. I felt a throbbing pain in my middle finger where I had touched it. When I looked at it I did not see a normal finger, where I had touched the mould the finger had gone black and grey. The nail had curled of and when I prodded it with a pencil it slid straight off. I was too tired for everything that was going on so I went back to sleep and just as I turned the light out I could sworn the face’s sadistic smile had widened.

The day went by without anything eventful happening. I woke up and attempted to nurse my finger. The pain had stopped and I ran it under cold water, to no avail however. The skin itself was black and shrivelled and there didn’t seem to be much I could do for it other than bandage it up with my small portable first aid kit. I figured that since it was no longer causing me any distress and it didn’t seem to be spreading I would risk the seven hour drive to the nearest hospital. With my finger like it is now I decided it wouldn’t be worth it. I would just keep it clean and keep applying fresh bandages and antiseptic. Until I find the answer. I need the answer and I’m not stopping until I find it. I won’t leave until I’m sure I understand this house. I took another look at the basement door. After years of decay and rainfall a small corner has snapped off, I managed to take it by the sodden wooden corner and pry it open. Its smells like decay down there but I can’t stay in this house, not for another night.

I went into my bedroom earlier and upon looking at my bed I noticed that on the walls above it are two large patches of black mould. They appear to be in the shape of humanoids in the crouching position looking down at the bed. They appear malnourished and misshapen. Like the pale imitations of the human for you might see in a child’s painting. The wretched creatures seem to be looking straight at the bed ready to spring from their position at anyone who falls into their trap. Any tired ignorant person. Me. I don’t know what they would do if they caught me off guard sleeping but I know it wouldn’t be good. I can’t sleep in that room again. I have decided that I will go down into the basement, get my precious answer and leave this cursed place.

4th November 1991

I am lost. Last night, in the middle of the storm I entered the basement of the house. The first thing that hit me was just how warm the air was. It felt like a hot, humid summer’s day down there despite the fact it was a chilly autumnal night outside and it was blowing a gale. I closed the door to attempt to block out the guttural pounding of the rain. As it shut I continued down into the darkness with no company other than the antique miner’s oil lamp my father kept on the mantel. I was bloody lucky there was oil in it. I just then noticed the smell. It was something in between meat, a green field and a rotting apple. It was strangely pleasant yet sickly sweet and totally sickening. They as I stepped down the final two steps I noticed the first of the carcasses. It was a rat nothing more. It looked relatively fresh, as if it had died only a few hours beforehand. The only off thing about it was the layer of black mould encasing its body. I had never seen mould like this. It was so thick it looked more like moss.

As I took a few steps I began to notice the shapes of other dead creature. They were lined up along the room like the trophies of some strange biologist. Who chose to, instead of preserving his specimens in vinegar encase them in this strange mould. There were animals of all types in there. Small birds and rodents to larger mammals like badgers and foxes right up to sheep and goats. All in differing states of decay but all sharing the same ominous layer of soft black mould. As I waved my lantern, at the end of the room something stirred. My mind was whirring as to what could’ve possibly have killed all these animals and brought them down here. A large predator? A Maniac? My own father? As well as what the mysterious mould was doing. My brain put the movement down to something being blow by a gust from the on-going storm outside. However whatever was moving continued to stir and grabbed my attention when it slowly but surely began to rise, like a child taking its first steps.

This pulled me back from the world of possibilities I was considering at the time. They shape raised itself unto its hind legs, it appeared humanoid. Like everything else in the room it was covered in a thick layer of mould, but was older than anything else in the room though. The skeletal shape beneath the tangled mess of fungus looked weak and incomplete. It swayed slightly as if the bone itself was crumbling. To reach such a state of decay would take some time. Perhaps around twenty years. As that creature turned to face me the other creatures in the room began to rise. I felt the rash on my finger begin to throb and burn as I saw the black shadow of another skeletal creature standing next to its larger counterpart. It was much smaller. It resembled the decaying bones of a small child. I had seen enough. I only had time to weakly utter one final word to the creature “Shit” as I bolted for the door. I panicked at first as I struggled with the old wood but my panic was short lived as I began to feel the door crumbling open. And so, I ran. With the shambling creatures slowly awakening behind me and getting up to lumber after me.

I jumped in my car and drove. Ignoring all my possessions I left in the house. I just drove. As I looked back at the house one final time in my wing mirror I saw the door to the basement still wide open with silhouettes poking out from the darkness that, from the distance, I could almost mistake for a woman and child standing and holding hands as the wind, rain and lightning beat the countryside around them.

That was too fucking much for me. I drove back to my hometown and am now spending the night at the house of my friend Jess. I cleaned and replaced the bandages on my finger. To my horror I also discovered that during my scramble to get out I had ripped my jeans and exposed the skin underneath to the mould. The rash grew for a couple of hours and stung like hell before calming down. It now covers most of my kneecap. I’ll go to hospital to get it checked out in the morning. For now I just need to sleep in a safe environment and gather my thoughts. Had I found my answer? Was I happy? Was I safe? I don’t know but I doubt it. All that I do know is that I’m far away from that house, and that’s all that matters. I think this will be my last entry.

And so it was. I got it looked at the hospital the next day, they were baffled. This sort of reaction only ever occurred due to the bite of some exotic insect, not some common English fungus. The reaction died down, although the black hue never went away. I stayed with Jess for another couple of months and over that time one thing led to another and over the course of many months we became more than friends. We got married in the spring of 1992. Spring, a fresh start for me, away from the endless fall of that house. We had two beautiful sons and have lived a happy life in our small town for twenty odd years. But I know I need to go back. The house kills and the mould feeds on decay left behind after death. It’s the perfect symbiotic relationship I suppose. The house is a predator that never lets go of its prey and I am its prey and the mould only lives on dead things. I was dead from the moment I touched that face. Therefore the mould will have me one way or another. I doubt I’ll come back and if so I’m sorry I couldn’t have been a husband to my wife and a father to my sons for longer. But I don’t want to take them down with me. I have to go back to that house and face it alone. Because lately, my rashes have been burning. And even more recently, I’ve seen the strangest spots of mould on the walls.

Credit To – CreepyZalgo

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The Shadow Beneath Whelford

April 18, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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December 25th, 1976. 11:00 PM. Christmas was winding down for most residents of Whelford. For its burgeoning police department however, the night was just beginning. A call had been received reporting flashing lights and loud noises coming from the abandoned coal mine, which lay just inside the border separating Whelford from the neighboring hamlets. The captain at the time, John Ford, had driven out to investigate along with another officer, anticipating nothing more than a group of teenagers out on a dare. Christopher Raymond was not included amongst the original dispatch, though he wished he had been. Most of his coworkers would’ve relished a day off on Christmas, but for the newly recruited officer, what should have been a day of merriment and celebration had, as per usual, turned into an excuse for his family to rag him out for his life choices. “Why would you ever leave Boston for this cow town? Why did you marry that Mexican whore? Why haven’t you and the whore given me a grandchild?” They never came to visit of course. It was a matter of principle for the elder statesmen of the Raymond family to avoid the perceived filth of Whelford. The lack of a physical presence from the parents didn’t make the obligatory Christmas phone call any less insufferable. The worst part of it was that his family was correct in at least one of their assumptions. Why had he up and left a promising position in a big city organization for a tiny no-name town out west? His wife’s status as a Mexican citizen didn’t bother him as much, and he was in no hurry to produce an heir to the now “corrupted” Raymond line, but the initial question still gave him pause. So when Christopher’s phone rang at 11:20 PM, with a frantic sounding sergeant practically begging him to drive down to the office for briefing, it was less of an unpleasant interruption and more of a godsend.

30 minutes later, Acting Captain Christopher Raymond was on the scene at Cunningham Mine. Everything was shaping up very conveniently for him to play hero. Both members of the original investigative team sent to the mine had completely lost contact with the outside world. The new recruits from Worcester and Boston were not arriving for another few days. And out of all available field agents, he had been summoned to follow up on this case. As he approached the mine, Christopher knew he had to force the uncomfortable sense that this was all too good to be true out of his brain. He was finally getting a chance to prove himself! An opportunity to get his foot in the door in this still foreign environment! Still, “that feeling” remained. The feeling that despite everything falling into alignment, something was off. It was a sort of paranoia that was a key tool in any effective policeman’s belt, yet it was especially pronounced for this occasion. “No time to worry now.” The officer’s thoughts dug their way through his brain and out his mouth for the first time in a very long while. He was quite correct in his assumption. The gaping maw of the mineshaft awaited him.

The scene that lay before the new captain as he entered the mine would not have been out of place in a geological freak show. The mineshaft was constantly shifting, wide to narrow, tall to compact. Every now and again a faint rumbling could be heard from somewhere deep below his current position, but this was the only thing he had noticed thus far that was even close to a clue. The more he wandered, the further he threw himself into the guts of the Earth, the more Christopher wanted to return to the surface. He was normally unfazed by the darker places of the world, but Cunningham Mine had a certain bleakness about it which chilled him to the core. Still, there was a job to be done, and he was not going to leave until his compatriots had been found. Taking a left at a rotting support pillar, Christopher called out, “Officer Ford! Officer Shepard!” His request for the missing officers’ presence yielded no reply. Right turn. The once-blinding cone of vision provided by the flashlight was now beginning to dim. Onwards, onwards, onwards, down into the endless, twisting halls of the mine. Faster now. “Officer Ford!” A rumble from below. “Officer Shepard!” A scraping noise from behind. Another right. And another scrape. Something was here. Down a slope. Faster. He could hear a squelching sound, closer than before. It was closing in. Christopher whipped around, gun in hand and…nothing. He turned forwards and began to run, then stopped himself. Had to stay calm. He began to explore once again, more prudently this time. Diligence and patience were key in these situations. Left. “Officer Ford!” Still nothing. Christopher rounded a bend and found himself facing a long hallway, a faint light at the end. Finally, a breakthrough. Once again, he began to run. As the light closed in, it became clear that this was the entrance to a room. A safe haven. And if luck was on his side, some answers. The light drew closer and closer, until finally – “Jesus Christ!” Officer Raymond skidded to a stop at the entrance of the room. Something was not quite right.

It was a bizarre sight indeed. Before him lay an abyss, the likes of which he had never seen before. It couldn’t have been a dynamite blast from long ago, gone badly wrong – the gap in the ground was almost ethereal in nature. The stone which made up these walls was different than the pale granite that comprised the rest of the mine. This made the smears of bright red strewn across them all the more striking. Pentagrams, pentacles, and far more ancient insignias from a dark, lost age adorned the sides of the artificial cavern. A doorway across the pit led deeper into the mine, but this chasm was clearly an impassable obstacle; a detour would need to be found. As Christopher cautiously wheeled around, taking care not to lose his footing, a muffled cry came from above. He shifted his gaze to the ceiling, and suddenly, the mission was complete. The missing officers had been found. Dangling from the top of the room was a sea of sickly-green pods, each containing the body of an individual who had found himself unlucky enough to venture into this primordial chamber. Hundreds of the pods, mashed together, swayed back and forth in the nonexistent breeze. Christopher could do nothing but stare, paralyzed by consternation, as the abominable container closest to him was ripped open slowly, the material comprising it stretching and straining against itself like a revolting sheet of plastic film. From inside of the shell emerged former Whelford Police Captain John Ford. Initially bewildered by his surroundings, Ford quickly remembered the purpose of his escape.
“Raymond! Get the hell out of here! They’re-” The ex-captain was cut off by a droning, guttural groan stemming from the hole which he swung perilously over. “Just go! It’s too late for us!” As if to prove Ford wrong, dozens of other pods began to open. Unbelievably, the bodies of the miners who had initially stumbled upon this unfortunate room had been perfectly preserved. Their wails echoed through the room and down the hallway – “Help! Help!” “For the love of God, get me out!” “Save us!” Their rapid movements only worsened their situation- one by one the pods dropped like icicles into the abyss. With each falling pod, the hideous noises from the pit became louder, and began to shake the room with increasing measures of violence. Yet still, Christopher was rooted to his spot. An unnatural gust blew in from the hallway behind him, and he was momentarily engulfed in a blinding cloud of smoke. Just as suddenly, the smoke cleared, the cavern was still and silent once more, and from the apex of the room, a booming voice both angelic and demonic, divine and unholy, rang out to address Christopher with three simple words – “Don’t look down.” This was enough to snap him out of his reverie. The pods were falling at a faster rate; the whole mine seemed to be collapsing. Ford was right. It was time to leave. Christopher bolted back down the hallway, feverishly working up an escape plan. Left turn. Right turn. Another left. The violence of the quaking seemed to increase tenfold with each passing second. Everything was slowing down. The hallways were spinning. Well aware that he was losing consciousness, Christopher attempted to stumble just a bit further, but to no avail. He fell to his knees, desperately grasping for a last moment of life. His vision blurred. His mind emptied. A shadowy figure skulked forward from the end of the hall. The blackness seeped in. And the mine was no more.

How Christopher had managed to end up in his bed by 7 the next morning was a mystery only to him. According to his fellow officers, he had never left it. There was no “John Ford” or “Haley Shepard”, nor had there ever been at the Whelford Police Department. The mine had been caved in for decades now, and Christopher had never gone there to investigate anything. He hadn’t come into work in the past few days in fact, and it was a relief to find out that he was okay.

This, at least, was the story he got. The town had a certain stillness to it that it had lacked before. The rowdy were docile, the children had calmed, and by the time he returned from grocery shopping that afternoon, Christopher knew that something was wrong. He had to have been to the mine. All of the memories were so vivid. This merited further investigation. Upon arriving at the mine for (supposedly) the first time however, the story perpetuated by those down at the station seemed true. A heap of rubble and wood blocked the entrance to the mine completely. He strolled up to the ruined doorway. Maybe he was just going crazy. But he had to be certain. His ear pressed up against the cool stone. And in a flash, his suspicions were confirmed. In that instant, Christopher Raymond ran from Cunningham Mine and never looked back. It may have been a trick of the mind, or perhaps just the wind. But from that point on, he would never deny that he heard something when he placed his ear up to the entrance of that accursed mine – the piercing screams of those still trapped in the recesses of a place that something beyond time, or space, or human comprehension called home.

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Out of Body Experience

April 17, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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My life ended in mid-December, the 17th to be exact. I survived a little after that, but that was the last day I lived freely.

I was goofing off on the internet that day, kind of flicking through my newsfeed, reading interesting news stories, that sort of thing. Sometime after one thirty, I found an article on lucid dreaming and out of body experiences.

I skimmed through the article. The author mentioned astral projections and plane walking a couple of times, and other similar terms. I’m not a hardcore naturalist who believes that everything has a natural explanation, but telepathically visiting alternate planes seems far-fetched, especially when it comes from someone trying to sell you something. Still, I was interested. It sounded similar to lucid dreaming, which I’d had fun with once or twice. I thought of them as just a biological glitch.

It’s not like it’d be a challenge to find how-to guides for out of body experiences on the internet, so I won’t bother being super-secretive about it. The goal of out of body experiences is to get your body to go to sleep while retaining consciousness. When you go to sleep, your brain shuts off movement signals to the physical body so that you don’t hurt yourself while you dream. Out of body experiences utilize this feature of the brain to make mind think it’s moving while keeping the body stationary.

The concept arrested my mind. I couldn’t let it go, and I found myself looking forward to the night. I waited for the day to pass, and when night came, I set up safety measures; if something did go wrong, I didn’t want to be stuck in dreamland for an eternity. I set my alarm for an hour after I planned to have my out of body experience, so I wouldn’t be stuck for too long. Hopefully the sound would bring me back to my body in case I couldn’t get back.

So at eleven o’clock, I went to bed and slept. I had trouble falling asleep, but eventually I dropped off. I slept for a few hours, then woke up and went through the process of getting an out-of-body experience. Once I was ready, I took a few seconds to collect my thoughts, then tried pulling myself out of my body.

Once I started forcing myself to move, my perspective altered, and I could see myself from the side as though through a different set of eyes. I could still see with my eyes, but I had a second view from an outside perspective, watching myself. I could still feel my body, but it was distant. I forced myself to sit up and to my delight, I felt myself moving but my body remained still. Through my outside view, I could see a ghost detaching itself from my body. I was elated.

My pleased surprise only lasted a few seconds before I felt my body freeze. Just as I realized that my trick had really worked and that I had no control over my body, an amorphous red cloud filled my vision. It hovered over me for a second, then disappeared as I inhaled.

My body reacted instantly and began seizing up. The spasms made all of my muscles clench, relax, and clench again. In my trance I think I counted four convulsions every second, but I’m not sure how long they really lasted. It was terrifying; I knew I’d set my alarm clock for ninety minutes after I’d begun my lucid dream, but I couldn’t last that long. At the rate I was convulsing, it would only be a few minutes before my heart gave out.

The red cloud obscured my vision, both from the outside perspective and through my eyes, and even worse, I was paralyzed. I tried to force myself back into my body to stop my seizure, but I couldn’t get in. Then I heard the voice.

It was like a grating rumble rasping deep in its chest, but it also had an animal quality, burning with anger. Not a shrieking fury, but slow, deliberate menace.

“My…Name…Is…”

The voice filled me with terror. I wanted to run as far from it as I could get, but I was frozen. Names had power. I didn’t want to hear it, I didn’t want to know it. Just as it spoke its name, I shouted my own name through my convulsions, drowning its voice out. It stopped speaking, as though surprised it had been interrupted. It growled softly as the red smoke began to dissipate, and I fell into my body again. My seizure stopped and I woke up.

I don’t know how long this experience lasted. I’m guessing about twelve or fifteen seconds, and probably no more than a minute. My chest hurt and my muscles trembled, but I was alive. I was rattled, but I managed to convince myself that something went wrong and I created a nightmare. Maybe my fears of what could happen surfaced subconsciously, I reasoned. Whatever the case, I decided not to exploit any more “glitches” in my nervous system and went back to bed.

I slept through the night, though I was uneasy. The next morning, I awoke and convinced myself that my experience had just been a fluke. And I had more pressing matters on my mind. It was exactly one week before Christmas and I had no idea what I was getting for my family, so I showered, dressed, and headed out the door. The events of the previous night quickly fell to the back of my mind as my car entered the rumbling traffic.

At least that part of my day was a success. I bought most of the presents for my family and girlfriend, and I just needed a few for my other friends. As I was browsing the aisles of Wal-Mart for a good pair of headphones, my arms suddenly felt like they’d been encased in ice. I jerked in surprise and the feeling vanished. As it went away, I heard a deep, indistinct whisper. There was no one nearby, unless you counted the seventy-something woman a few feet to my left. I shook my head, thinking I’d felt a draft of icy wind, and continued shopping.

I went to bed that night and found myself unintentionally entering that half-awake state, but I felt vulnerable. I didn’t want to push myself out of my body, but I felt myself slowly rising out of my body. Terror shot through me as I sensed the red smoke hovering over my body. It felt like it was trying to pull me out. As soon as I realized that, my eyes shot open and I came back to my body, shaking from fear.

I didn’t sleep that night. I knew that my oppressor was still there, and I got more tired as time wore on. I would begin to fall asleep, then jerk awake as soon as I felt myself being pulled out of my body. At first I tried to ignore it. I knew it was coming for me, but I started eating real food and drinking caffeinated drinks, which helped. Morning was an immense improvement; I didn’t feel so tired with the sun up already. As soon as it was light out, I went outside to get some winter sunshine, enjoy some Christmas movies, and finish Christmas shopping. I couldn’t hear anything through the day, but I had a feeling that I was being followed. I tried to blot the fear from my mind as I returned to my home.

I felt jittery. I knew I had to go to sleep eventually, but I didn’t want to think about it. six or seven, I began to microwave something when I began hearing the voice in my mind. I dropped the plate in my hand and it shattered.

“My… Name… Is…”

Its voice now held contempt as well as that bitter anger. I yelled my name out loud when it was about to announce its own, hoping that it would drive the demon away like last time. For a moment I thought it had gone away. I relaxed but then heard its laugh, deep and slow. It was unsettling, like hearing loud, harsh music. Its laugh rolled on for several seconds, then it spoke again.

“Your… name… is… worthless…”

“My… name… is…”

I said my name again, this time more forcefully. Its chuckle lasted longer this time, but then faded to nothing. I listened intently. I couldn’t hear anything, but I knew it was still there.

I finally moved from my frozen position. Leaving the broken plate and splattered food, I rushed to my computer. I began searching the internet for the thing, but there were too many possibilities. It could be a demon, an asura, a ghost, or any one of hundreds of other of spirits described by the cultures throughout the world.

As I clicked on another link, I heard its laugh again. A chill invaded my body and I heard its voice.

“Hear…My… Name…”

“Shut up, shut up, shut up!” I screamed.

It laughed again.

“Your… Name… Is… Worthless…

“Your… Commands… Are… Void…”

“My… Name… Is…”

I tried to ignore the terror inside me, but I shouted my name again. I had a sense it was shaking its head as its laughter faded.

What sort of demon places such importance on names? Names were supposed to give you power over the demon, not give the demon power over you. What kind of mythology was this from?

I returned to my computer and began a new search.

* * *

It came to me several times in the following hours and whispered its name. Finally, I stopped trying to drown it out and listened. When the demon spoke its name, it was so soft I couldn’t hear it. It sounded like softly hissing static, a name composed of indiscernible sounds. As soon as I stopped blocking out the demon’s name, it began whispering mine.

Nothing happened as far as I knew, but I grew even more nervous. My searches weren’t helpful, and I couldn’t hear the demon’s name well enough to get a clue what it was.

My body felt weighed down. If my eyes were closed any longer than a blink, sleep washed over me. I couldn’t sleep, though, because every time I began to drift off I felt the terrible presence hovering over me. I’d jerk awake and begin another string of searches. It spoke probably four or five times an hour, and whenever it whispered its name, I strained to hear it. It was still an indistinct hiss.

Sometime in around three in the morning I realized I could hear its voice in the real world. I heard it when the wind blew past my window, when the furnace kicked on, when water ran in the bathroom. And it grew louder as the night wore on. I began blasting my music, but I could hear its rough voice in the static between songs. The demon’s voice grew louder and louder until I could hear its muttering in the background of my favorite songs. I stopped listening to music at five in the morning, but I could still hear the voice in the computer’s fan and in the creaking of the house.

The morning was worse. I rushed to the library as soon as it opened and began researching out of body experiences, religious beliefs on demons, ancient religions, and the like. Nothing helped. The things I found helped me understand the science of the thing, but there was nothing to explain hallucinations after waking up, unless I was taking hallucinogens in my coffee. As I burned through the pages, I could see the dark red smoke in the edges of my vision. When I glanced at it, the smoke would vanish. I would go back to reading, and it would rematerialize. By the afternoon I saw the smoke hang in the air for a few seconds before fading to nothing. Evening came and went without relief, then I decided to go home. I was rattled after my day in the library, and not much better off. As I drove back to my house, I could hear the demon’s voice grumbling in the engine, saying my name, muttering threats, and grumbling its own. When I turned off the car, it didn’t even bother masking its voice anymore. I could almost hear its name now, but it was still distorted. Worse, I could feel its frozen breath tickling my ear and smell its dusty, rotten breath.

I scoured the internet all night, going to several forums for supernatural and paranormal. Few people had heard of demons like this, and they couldn’t advise a defense other than a crucifix, holy water, or salt, but I doubted they’d work. I stayed up all night hoping for someone knowledgeable to show up on the forums. I was disappointed.

About two hours ago, the kitchen lights started flickering. The pencils in the jar have started rattling softly, and I swear I can see the cans of tipped-over energy drink slowly rolling toward me. Not only can I hear its voice, but I can also hear a faint, high-pitched keening, like a distant boiling kettle. And footsteps. Heavy, inexorable footsteps, coming closer, and when I turn to confront my enemy, I only see indents in my wooden floor.

It’s six in the morning now, still dark, and I’ve reached the limit of my endurance. I have to fight it. I’ve chosen my best defenses in an attempt to ward it off, but somehow I doubt they’ll work. I’m alone, I’m exhausted, and I’m done fighting. I’m sorry everyone, but I just can’t…

Stay…

Awake…

Credit To – Crow

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Chalk 2 – Cult of Chalk

April 16, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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[Please read the first in the Chalk series here! -Derp]

You would think that being a cult investigator would be so exciting that I couldn’t get bored. The problem is that I get completely obsessed with something, learn everything about it, and when I figure there’s nothing new to see I lose all interest. It doesn’t matter how freaky the subject is or how dangerous, there comes a point where I get the sense that I’ve seen it all, done it all, and it’s time to move on.

Devon and that night at the warehouse changed all of that. I discovered that there was something I hadn’t seen yet, and it was bigger than I could have imagined. In my defence, though, nothing could have prepared me for this.

When I first got hooked on the dark and dangerous world of cults my mom completely freaked. “Kevin,” she said, “you’ll just end up shaving your head, selling everything you own, giving all the money to some degenerate, and then you’ll kill yourself so that you can join the mothership or something!”

Later I found out that, as crazy as that sounds, people really do that. They do it every day, all over the world. There is some serious brainwashing going on out there.

I didn’t want to worry my mom, but I was just too fascinated. The strangeness of seemingly normal people randomly tossing their lives out the window was just too much to resist. I told her that the surest way to make sure I never became a victim was to learn everything I could about the subject. Eventually she grudgingly agreed to let me take a few courses.

If the courses had been good I might have been satisfied and moved on, but they were a total bust. Documentation on this stuff is pretty sketchy and usually takes the form of dry police reports or glossy made-for-TV documentaries that skip most of the details. It’s all pretty surface-level, and doesn’t explain how or why any of these people do what they do.

Eventually I decided to dive in and do my own research. I got good at hunting people down who were currently or had been in cults, as well as family members of people who had joined cults and disappeared forever. When I found them, I interviewed them, and eventually had enough material to start writing books about it. I was never really popular, but I hacked out a modest living.

At first it was great, but, I’ve got to be honest: it’s just the same old story every time. Some guy looks for people who are insecure. They’re easy to find; they’re everywhere. He tells them that not only are they special, but that he has the secrets to unlock what’s special about them. He tosses out a bunch of pop-philosophy that he read out of a magazine to get them thinking that it might be true, and they start believing in him in the hopes that he can make the world a less intimidating place.

Then they’re welcomed into the group with open and loving arms, and it’s all chanting and social pressure. They start getting social validation and encouragement every time they obey orders without question and voice their agreement with the leader. If they disobey or question the leader, well, maybe they’re not such a great person after all. The group turns against them until they fall in line, and when you’ve been insecure your whole life and finally find a group of people that accept you, you fall in line real quick.

To seal the deal they’re encouraged to avoid contact with outsiders so they don’t get “contaminated”. The group becomes their whole universe, and nothing makes sense outside of it. Then you just mix in a little group-hypnosis, a low-protein diet, the occasional drug-induced “mystical experience”, and voilà: you’ve got yourself a brainwashed cult.

I’d start one myself but, damn it, I’m just not depraved enough yet. Maybe someday.

I had seen it so often that it had gotten boring, but then I met Devon. Now, I know that it’s a horrible cliché having your mother call you up out of the blue to set you up on a blind date. Her friend’s cousin’s daughter has “a great personality”. It’s an old story, but that’s ma for ya: a true classic. Truth is, I love her for it, and considering how long it had been since I had a date at all, I was open to seeing anyone even if their “personality” weighed 100 pounds more than I do.

So you can imagine my surprise when I met Devon. She was a stunner: a tight 5 foot 3 inch package with long black hair that shimmered and flowed past her shoulder blades as she moved. The killing blow were her dark eyes: they looked right into you. There was something about the way she moved, the way she smiled, and the easy way she laughed. This was a woman that was confident, had herself together, and was enjoying the hell out of life. The effect is more seductive than anything you can imagine, trust me.

She was way out of my league. I mean, I’m not ugly, but I’m not the kind of guy anyone would pick out of a crowd. Average guys don’t get these 10 out of 10 girls. So, when I met her, I figured it would be our first and last date. You can imagine my surprise when, at the end of the night as I was dropping her off, she stopped mid-sentence and kissed me.

“Sorry to kiss you out of the blue like that,” she said.

“It’s OK, you can kiss me like that any time you want,” I said.

We went on a few dates and things went well. She laughed at my jokes and ignored the drooling stares other men gave her. She was witty too, always with a quick turn of phrase or clever observation. Her sharp features and pale skin went well with her dark hair and eyes, and that stare she’d give me sometimes just melted me to the core.

She recently quit her job as a lawyer, and was trying her hand as an artist. When I asked her why she just said: “There are more important things, you know?”

Still, the better things went, the more doubt built. I just had to know: why was she bothering with someone like me?

Eventually I just decided to put her on the spot. We were walking home one night after a few drinks and stopped on a foot bridge over the highway just to watch the streams of cars come and go. It was just something to do to pass the time, and she was funny like that: she never really needed entertainment. I swear we could be staring at a brick wall and she’d be just as content, as long as we were together.

After awhile I asked: “Seriously, why are you dating me?”

She laughed: “You’re a great guy Kevin, why wouldn’t I be?”

“No, seriously, I mean… why did you agree to go out on a date with a stranger you had never met anyway? You must have guys falling all over themselves trying to get your attention.”

“Well sure but… I don’t know.”

For the first time I saw her hesitate and look away, holding something back. I knew I was on to something.

“Was it a bad relationship or something?”

“No, no my relationships have been fine.”

“Well do you have some dark secret, like a criminal record? Or you’re an asylum escapee? Or you’re really a dude?”

She laughed, and said: “No no, I’m fine, and I’m all woman for your information!”

I think I must have shown some visible relief because she laughed again. I guess I had been pretty worried that she was going to turn out to be a cannibal, or worse, a man.

“Well then… do you just go out on every blind date that your mom sets you up with?”

“No, I never do.”

“So then why did you agree to go out with me?”

I had her then. She bit her lip and looked down at her feet. I waited.

“Well I… heard you wrote about cults.”

“Oh! You’ve read my books?”

“No. Well I mean yes, I picked them up after our first date, but that wasn’t why…” She just trailed off there, still looking down and avoiding eye contact.

Something was really bothering her, but I couldn’t figure out what. I’ve interviewed dozens of people involved in cults, possibly hundreds, but this wasn’t the typical level of anxiety or sadness people usually wore on their faces when talking about this stuff. This was more just… concentration. Like she was just trying to get the words right.

She had never been tongue-tied before. She still had too much of that lawyer in her. I decided to give her a little time to come around to it, and watched the stream of headlights below us.

“I know someone Kevin. Someone you really need to meet.”

Oh no. Not this. I know this speech.

She continued: “Look before I go on I need you to trust me that he isn’t a cult leader. He doesn’t manipulate anyone or keep anyone from contacting the outside world, and doesn’t even ask for money! He’s just… ”

I had meant to let her finish, I really did, but anger got the best of me: “Are you serious? Are you really being serious right now? Every single person who has ever been in a cult has sworn that it wasn’t a cult! That’s how they all work! They don’t ask for anything and have this big outer layer where everyone comes and goes, but once you’re accepted into the ‘inner circle’ then everything changes and it’s goodbye bank account, hello poison Kool-Aid!”

“Kevin will you please… please just let me explain. Please can I just have the floor for 5 minutes?”

Her eyes were pleading. I couldn’t say no to them, so I put my hands on the railing and stared out at the line of red tail lights, grinding my teeth.

“Ok, first a quick yes-or-no question: have you ever heard of a guy called Chalk?”

I shook my head.

“Alright, there’s a reason for that. Chalk isn’t a fake prophet come to get people’s money. He’s the real deal, Kevin. Not exactly a ‘messenger from God’ or anything, but you would not believe the clarity he brings to your mind!”

I wanted to tell her that that’s why they call it “brainwashing”, but I bit my tongue. She had over 4 minutes left.

“For example: would you believe I used to be shy? I mean crushingly shy, like I wouldn’t talk to anyone? It made my job as a lawyer really, really tough, and with his help I was able to become so much better at what I did. I got so good but in the end, I realized I just didn’t need it anymore to prove that I’m worthwhile. There are more important things. And you know what Chalk said to that? He agreed, and recommended I take some time out to find what I’d like to do instead. Now I ask you: if he was some kind of power-hungry cult leader, wouldn’t he have wanted me to stay a lawyer to look out for his best interests?”

I had to admit, she was making a good point… but it could have either been a stupid rookie mistake or an advanced long-term play on his part. It didn’t really change anything.

“The reason I decided to date you was because of something he said once. He said that one day he would love to meet someone who was an expert in cults so that they could judge him. He would answer their questions fully, go on record, and let them decide for themselves. So I thought… I thought…”

She thought… what? I lost my composure as the realization hit me: “Oh my god that’s even worse! So you’re saying you’re dating me to recruit me?”

“No! No that’s… I’m not explaining this…”

“Devon, let’s go meet him. Right now.”

“What?” She looked surprised.

The fact was that I was furious, and someone was going to pay. This bastard, whoever he is, reached out to me through this amazing woman and toyed with my emotions. I wasn’t going to let that slide.

I had my handy Olympus digital voice recorder in my pocket that I carried around for interviews, and I was going to put this cult leader on YouTube for everyone to hear… with my commentary picking him apart, of course. And if I happened to find an opportunity to break the guy’s nose when I was done, so much the better.

Despite it being around 11 at night, Devon said that Chalk should be available. We caught a cab and she gave the driver directions to a warehouse down by the pier.

In the cab, Devon seemed to suddenly transform. She had been understandably upset on the bridge, and flustered that I had caught her in her little manipulative scheme, but that all changed now. She let out a long, satisfied sigh and leaned back in her seat, looking out the window and ignoring me. There was a small smile that played on her lips, almost like she had won something. Like she had beaten me.

My sense of humiliation grew, and I just got angrier as I became more and more convinced that she had played me every single step of the way.

Were any of the things she told me true? Was the whole “shy thoughtful moment” on the bridge just a big put-on to bait the hook? Was she really in control of the conversation the whole time, just pushing my buttons, provoking me into reacting?

It didn’t matter. I was going to meet this Chalk, and expose her little god for the pathetic fraudulent degenerate he was. Then we’d see if the little bitch smiles so smugly.

When we got there we entered through an unlocked door that faced the street. It was dark inside, with only a few lights were on inside the warehouse illuminating the centre of the room. A man was on his hands and knees in the open space creating a complex pattern on the floor about 50 feet wide filled with arcane symbols and various languages.

A young woman met us at the door. “Hi, is this Kevin?”

I wasn’t surprised that Devon had told them about me. It is a cult, after all.

In the dim light I could see that she was a young woman, maybe a college student, and her expression didn’t give a hint of a threat. Still, I’ve seen that before in some real psychos, and considering how much of a fraud Devon was turning out to be, I wasn’t about to let my guard down towards her.

When neither of us spoke she smiled warmly and extended a hand. “I’m Amber. Welcome, you’ve been expected. From what I’ve heard you’re probably pretty pissed right now aren’t you?” Her expression implied that there was a joke in there somewhere, but not knowing what else to do, I decided to grit my teeth and stick to my manners. Show no weakness.

I shook her hand. “Hi Amber. Well I… I mean… I’m just a little confused, let’s say. Could I talk with Chalk?”

“Of course, go right ahead,” she said. She waved me towards the man in the centre of the room.

I took a few steps before I realized that Devon wasn’t following. I turned around and she just stared at me blankly. Of course she wasn’t following. She had done her job and delivered me to her leader, so that was it. There was no reason for her to bother with me anymore.

I should have just kept walking, but I couldn’t stop myself: “What kind of bitch does something like this? Dates a guy and plays him for weeks just to set up some meeting?”

“I understand, but there are more important things. Chalk will explain,” said Devon.

“Chalk will explain. Go now, he’s waiting,” said Amber.

I wanted to scream at her, to hit her, to make her feel some of the anger and pain that was boiling inside of me, but it hit me: this is the lion’s den, and I’m going in completely unprepared. In fact, now that I had the chance to think about it, this is not the way I do things at all.

When doing interviews for my work I would usually have left a message with a friend about who I was meeting, where I was going, and how long to wait until calling the police if they don’t hear from me. I would have also written a note with the same information and left it on my desk for any investigating officers to discover later. I would have also definitely been going under an assumed name.

Tonight I don’t think I even mentioned to anyone that I was going on another date with Devon, and I could feel eyes in the dark corners of the room watching.

I bit my tongue, turned around, and walked on. The danger of the situation meant I had to try to bottle these emotions and keep my cool. I admit, I wasn’t finding it easy. I promised myself that I would make the bitch hear me though, sooner or later.

The man in the centre of the room looked like he was just finishing up his work, putting the finishing touches on the design in the middle. He stood up and dusted off his jeans. When he looked up at me he shook his hair from his face and simply waited for me to join him. He had angular facial features, a wide smile, and wore a tweed vest over a purple button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up.

As I passed over the patterns I began to notice some distant similarities between some of the symbols in occult texts such as “The Lesser Key of Solomon”, as well as a few Egyptian heiroglyph references, but for the most part they were a language and art style I had never seen. Either he had pulled from some pretty obscure source material for his holy scribbling, or it was just art made to look like language.

Even if it was nonsense, one thing was definitely true: there was something gorgeous about it. The characters (if that’s what they were) seemed to have a compelling flow to them, a churning that pulled at the concrete they were drawn on. It was just chalk on a warehouse floor, but somehow it really did seem like magic. It was almost like there was a humming, or some kind of vibration coming from the patterns as I stepped on them.

The sceptical side of me was screaming to ignore stupid, fanciful thoughts like these. I bit my cheek on purpose then, hard, focusing on the pain, focusing on my anger, and looking away from the swirling patterns on the floor. The man in front of me was my objective. Focus on him.

When I was just a few feet away I stopped. “You Chalk?”

He nodded, but said nothing. He had a pair of glasses on that were reflecting the light so I couldn’t see his eyes.

“So? You wanted to speak with me, right? You know you could have just called, instead of sending someone to trick me into coming. I don’t like being played.”

He didn’t flinch or speak or even raise an eyebrow. He just stood there, smiling.

A part of me found his calm stillness in the face of my aggression unnerving, but I wasn’t going to give in. You have no idea who you’re dealing with buddy. I don’t get intimidated that easy. I pulled out the Olympus and said: “I’ll be recording this. You don’t mind, do you?”

Oh please object, please give me a reason to start arguing with you…

He slowly shook his head once.

Fine. Now if I could get him to speak.

“So how long has your little group been in operation?”

I waited but… silence.

“No? OK well, how big is it then? What’s it called?”

Again, silence. It was making me feel uneasy and a bit paranoid. Why was he just staring at me? Was I missing something? Is he setting me up for something?

“Look, I was told that you wanted to be judged, that you were going to give complete answers. How am I going to get these answers unless you start talking?”

“You haven’t asked the right questions,” he said. His voice was difficult to describe. I’d say it was like wind through the leaves in autumn or the babbling of a brook but, to be honest, I can’t quite call it up in my mind. It was a human voice though, I’m certain of that. I’m certain.

I stood there thinking for awhile, trying to work out how to navigate this man. He was like a statue of a person, rather than a living being. I couldn’t even see him breathing. I had ventured beyond the world of generic degenerates and into some real psycho territory.

Well, if he’s a cult leader, he’ll only really be interested in spreading his little twist on philosophy and holy doctrine. If the preacher wants to preach, then let him preach.

“What is it that you’ve been teaching people?”

“Do you want me to tell you, or do you want to know?”

It only took me a few moments to realize that his question was a trap. Word games like this almost always are, and if a cult leader asks you an either/or question you can be sure you’re being manipulated. Now it’s just a matter of working it out to use it against him…

So, if I choose “I just want you to tell me” he’ll say something like: “well if you aren’t going to try to understand what I tell you, why bother?” Classic dodge.

If I say “I want to know” then he’ll tell me about the long, long journey ahead in order to truly comprehend his teachings. That way he can drag it out over months, giving me tiny bits of his holy doctrine each time and promising me more in the future, all the while making me participate in ritual after ritual to break me down.

Either way, he doesn’t want to give a simple answer to a simple question.

I decide to stick to my guns: “I want to know, but I want to know right now. Tonight. Within the next hour, ideally.”

He smiled a little more broadly and said: “Your offer is accepted.”

He took off his glasses, and the world went black.

Gravity is gone, and just like that, I understand everything in existence.

It hurts of course. Hurts like hell. Hurts like someone is reaching into my skull from a thousand different angles, piercing my skin and hacking away chunks of bone.

The cerebellum goes first; a smooth chop just up beneath the base of the skull. Just like that I no longer have any sense of what it is to work a human body. I still feel it though. I still suffer from it. I just have no notion of how to control it.

A hundred needles pierce the back of my head, destroying my concept of vision. The needles become drills and they bore in further, killing my ability to speak, wiping out my ability to understand abstract concepts. Pain is left, however. Pain and confusion remain, overwhelming and all-encompassing.

Knives stab up through my chin and sinuses and up up up into my temporal lobe. I can’t remember who I am. Every record and memory stored in my brain is forever obliterated. There is no moment before now, nor is there one after now. I am the eternal essence of suffering and confusion.

When the concussive force of the sledgehammer crushes the front of my skull the confusion disappears. I am simply pain. I have always been pain.

Agony is the universe in its entirety, and it is infinite and eternal.

Then, out of the fabric of pain, a new concept is offered. There is a record of a man named Kevin. I can use that record, pretend to be him, and escape this universe. I can exist on a whole new level of reality.

My guide and saviour will be Chalk. He will bring me forth into this new plane of existence, one filled with thought and new feelings other than pain. Once there I will help him exchange energy. It will be my infinite pleasure to do so, and in exchange he will give me experience beyond my imaginings. He will show me how to puppeteer this body, and how to operate the brain to make-believe I’m a convincing “person” named Kevin.

I do not hesitate in my acceptance of the offer.

As I am created anew by Chalk, I am told that he would normally complete this process without pain over the course of months. At first I don’t understand until he teaches me what months are, and what it is to be without pain.

The sheer wonder of it is beyond anything I was ever capable of imagining. To exist without constant, never-ending suffering, is just incredible. Even this is merely a step on the road to something greater. A thing called “death” awaits me that will provides the promise of absolute oblivion. It will be here in just a few decades at most – barely a blink compared to the eternity I have anguished. My only disappointment is that I have such a tiny blink of time to serve my savior.

When I am fully reborn, Chalk is smiling at me, and I at him. I notice this body is still standing in a warehouse, holding Kevin’s recorder out. I hit stop on the recording, and then delete it. It seems blasphemous to have a record of this moment beyond that which has been shared between us so intimately.

“How can I serve you?” I ask him. Speech is a wonder. Breathing is a wonder.

He points down at our feet. We have been standing on a beautiful image of Kevin’s mother. No, I must learn to say “my” mother. That is my mother on the kitchen floor, covered in blood, her head nearly but not quite severed from her body. That is Chalk and I standing next to her.

I know that I must make this art become reality.

As we walk to the exit there are two beings Kevin thought he knew: Amber and Devon. Those aren’t their names of course, just as Kevin isn’t mine. We are greater than that: we are servants of Chalk.

Other servants are also in the room, ones that Kevin had only guessed at. They are standing in small groups, taking up residence in the shadows to watch our savior work his art on the floor. There are even more servants out there in the world, each with their own make believe character to play, although how many of them are out there I cannot know.

Kevin would probably object to what we’re going to do to my mom, but it’s fine. I can do things that Kevin wouldn’t do, as long as those things are in the service of Chalk.

After all, there are more important things.

Credit To – Sidney Crawlspace

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