The Melancholy of Herbert Solomon

December 28, 2012 at 12:00 PM
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On several occasions my interest in the supernatural has taken me to some of the most prestigious seats of learning in the entire United Kingdom. From the venerable halls of Oxford and Cambridge, to the more humble surroundings of inner city colleges and schools, my pursuit of evidence to substantiate such claims has rarely been fruitful. However, while exploring the University of St Andrews in Scotland, I found a rather interesting tome hidden away in a dark and musty corner of the campus library.

The book itself was unusual, its cover bound in a weathered and blackened leather which unashamedly wore the wrinkles and cracks of time. It dated back to the 16th century, and seemed to contain various descriptions and accounts of the daily lives of the people of Ettrick; a small isolated town built in the south moorlands of the country.

Perusing the volume there were a variety of entries from a number of authors spanning a 60 year period. It seemed to have been handed down from town elder to town elder over that time, and to be quite frank most of it contained idle musings on the townsfolk and plans for a number of humble building projects and improvements.

Just as I was about to conclude that the book was of little interest to me, I noticed on the inside of the back cover that someone had drawn a picture. It was elegantly depicted, but I would never have described it as a pleasing sight, in fact my immediate reaction was one of disgust upon first viewing it.

The combination of the harsh, almost angry black lines used and the stark imagery of the scene as relayed by the artist left me with a thoroughly unpleasant impression of its subject. I shuddered as I cast my eye over it in an attempt to take-in the picture of what seemed to be of a man, tall with long, thin arms and legs. His face was partially obscured by one of his gaunt white hands, but what could be seen was monstrous. Prominent veins protruded from his forehead leading up to a pallid bald head, his eyes were deep set into his skull and the surrounding woods seemed to twist and lean away from him fearfully.

At first I assumed that the picture was some form of hideous graffiti, but at the bottom of the page was inscribed the date of 1578, and a rather unusual name: ‘Herbert Solomon’. Whether this was the name of the menacing figure in the drawing or of the artist, I did not know.

Disturbed yet compelled by that dark woodland scene, I decided that the book required further study. I desired greatly to know who this creature was, and why someone had felt the need to capture his strange form in a drawing; a drawing at the back of a book otherwise used to record the lives of the townsfolk. On closer inspection what surprised me further was that the same image seemed to recur elsewhere in the book, but drawn by apparently different individuals.

Within the book I found numerous mentions of Herbert Solomon, and it became clear quickly that he was indeed the emaciated man in the picture. He had lived in the 16th century on the outskirts of Ettrick town. It was a small and underdeveloped place, surrounded on all sides by the thick cover of Ettrick forest, which itself sat in the midst of a vast region of southern moorland.

The town had a small parish church with one humble steeple, an inn normally used by those travelling through the unforgiving countryside, and quaint cobbled streets which wound their way around the stone cottages and town hall.

According to the descriptions in the book, during the December of 1577 children began to disappear from the town. The first was a young girl by the name of Alana Sutherland. She had been playing with some friends by an old well on the outskirts of the town, but had dropped a small toy doll down it accidentally, which had caused her much distress. Unable to retrieve it, she returned home to borrow some string and an old hook in the hopes of being able to fish the doll out of the water below. She was last seen walking towards the well just as the sun set.

In a panic the townsfolk searched, they dredged the well, they combed the wheatfields, and even sent several groups of those willing into the surrounding woods. Alas, the girl was not found.

A few days later a young boy by the name of Erik Kennedy was running an errand for his grandmother. It was dark, but he had only to take some wool over to the Munro place as way of a thanks for the grain they had provided, and they lived but only a few streets away. It was assumed that at least the centre of the town would be safe, but the boy never completed his errand. He vanished, as if he were torn from existence.

By the end of January an unusually bitter winter had caused significant damage to the town and its people. Large, thick sheets of ice and snow covered each house and building. Several people died from the cold alone, and the general mood of Ettrick town was a sombre one.

Despite these trying times, the townspeople were more concerned with the safety of their offspring. In total, seven children had now disappeared without rhyme or reason. Whole families wept in despair and the people of Ettrick began to view one another suspiciously. They knew the truth; someone was taking their children from them.

By mid February two more had went missing and accusatory glances were now being shared between every family, and every member of the community. The town elder decided to act, and took upon himself the arduous task of identifying and catching the fiend.

Bureaucratic discussions were had, church groups convened, and in every house in every street, in every corner of Ettrick, one name crossed the lips of its inhabitants: ‘Herbert Solomon’. The more the name was mentioned, the more certain his guilt became.

Herbert Solomon was an outsider. He lived in a small wooden cabin amongst the woods which surrounded the town, and due to his unfortunate appearance tended to avoid human contact. What his malady was no one was sure and in the unenlightened times of 16th century Scotland, many believe that he was cursed.

Modern eyes would have guessed him to be the victim of a wasting disease. He rarely ventured into town, except on a few occasions to trade for supplies and even in those instances he covered his face with a brown tarnished hat and a grey piece of cloth, which obscured his features below two deep set and darkened eyes.

Several of the townsfolk told stories of Herbert Solomon, according to these accounts he would stand on the edge of the forest watching the farmers till their land, and their children play in the fields. It was his fascination with children which left many feeling uneasy. Some of the town’s children returned home from playing near the woods on a number of occasions with beautifully crafted dolls and toys. They were a present, from Herbert Solomon, and being innocent children they could not know of the dangers therein.

When the children began to disappear, eyes immediately turned to the strange man living in the woods. Accusations were carried by the whispers of fearful parents, and as the whispers increased in number so did their volume, until it was decided that Herbert Solomon must be stopped.

On a cold February night the elders of the town decreed that Solomon should be arrested immediately. Grief, anger, resentment, and fear grew to a fever pitch with this news and every man woman and child set out across the fields, entering into the surrounding forest in search of the child killer Herbert Solomon.

Details of exactly what occurred that night are limited, but it seems as though the people of Ettrick town attempted to remove Herbert from his small cabin by setting it on fire. The crowds cheered as the heat grew and the fire rose. His screams echoed throughout the woods finally to be silenced by the flames.

The townsfolk believed that justice had been done, and while the grief of the parents whom had lost their children could never be quenched, there was at least the satisfaction of knowing that the man responsible was now dead.

However, over the following few days an unease descended upon the entire town. Stories began to spread of strange encounters in the streets at night; a gaunt shadowy figure prowling the cobbled stones, hiding in the darkness. Within a week numerous residents claimed to have woken up during the night to the petrifying sight of an unwelcome visitor.

One account was of an elderly lady who woke to the sound of something rustling under her bed, only to nearly die of shock as a tall, thin man pulled himself out from underneath. She fainted, but not before she saw his face; a withered complexion as if ravaged by disease, his eyes blacker than night and his hands comprised of tightly pulled skin over a bony interior.

Another story consisted of a local tradesman who while investigating a noise from his cellar was confronted by a hideous figure, so tall and gaunt that it had to hunch over to avoid the low ceiling entirely, its sheet-white face flickering in the candlelight. The man managed to escape, but he refused to re-enter his premises.

It became clear to the townspeople that the vengeful ghost of Herbert Solomon was still searching for other victims from beyond the grave. His hate and hideous form haunting the town which murdered him.

With each passing day the sightings grew in intensity and number. A fog descended on the town, and the people wept and grieved as the sound of Herbert Solomon terrorised each person, night by night. He was seen wandering amongst the wheatfields, in the cellars and lofts of cottage houses, his long gaping footsteps ringing out each night through the streets of Ettrick town.

They had been cursed. In life Herbert Solomon had taken and murdered their children, and now in death he seemed to possess the twisted means to terrorize the entire town.

Then the unthinkable happened; another child went missing. A young orphan girl – who often wandered the streets when she could not find a place to call home for the night – was heard screaming for her life. The townsfolk rushed to their windows, looking out but not daring to leave the imaginary safety of their houses; paralysed by fear.

The screaming ceased quickly and moments later wandering aimlessly out of the fog came the menacing figure of Herbert Solomon. He rushed down the street, his lifeless arms bashing against the houses which he passed, scraping the doors and windows with his rigid fingers, emitting an unnatural yell of anger and hatred on his way.

The girl was gone, and the town grieved once more.

In the proceeding days the fog grew denser and with it came the unwelcome news of two more children taken. One a girl whom after having a raging argument with her family, left the house never to be seen again. The other a boy named Matthew, the son of a notable drunk, who was taken from his own bed by the hands of Solomon while the father lay unconscious from drink.

During a church service the unthinkable happened, Solomon appeared briefly in the aisles of the church seemingly unaffected by consecrated ground. The congregation whimpered in horror and disdain as his warped, spindly form walked slowly behind a pillar and then vanished.

It was indeed a show of influence.

Hope was almost lost. Not even a place of worship could deny him, and he was now capable of entering any home at night and then taking whatever, or whoever he wished. The town had to act, or abandon the place altogether, but there was no guarantee that the curse of Solomon would not follow.

The local vicar, a man by the name of McKenzie was asked by the people of Ettrick to use any sacred power which was ordained to him. In an attempt to destroy or banish the spirit of Solomon, a plan was provided. The vicar and a few chosen individuals armed with torches, swords which had been blessed, and vials of holy water, would take guard over the town waiting for the cursed figure of that child killer to show his face once more.

Then they would confront him.

Observing as much of the town as possible from several house windows, roofs, and strategic street corners, McKenzie’s chosen waited. They did not, however, need to wait long. That night the lonely figure of Herbert Solomon appeared through the mist, walking the streets of Ettrick with purpose. Yells and screams rang out as people alerted one another that Solomon had returned.

Families held their children close as dark thoughts consumed the town: Please spare my child, take another’s.

McKenzie was the first to confront him. His will was shaken by the sight of Solomon’s hideous pallid face, rotten and ravaged. The gangly spindling figure stood staring intently at the vicar through black, clouded eyes.

Another man now joined, then another, before long Herbert Solomon was surrounded. McKenzie instructed the men to slowly close the circle, drawing their swords with one hand while brandishing flaming torches with the other.

Fear gripped them, but they knew that this could be their only chance. McKenzie threw a vial at Solomon’s lumbering feet and as he uttered a Christian Psalm, another man struck out with his torch. The blow crackled as the cloth covered arm of Solomon caught fire. Cheers rang out from the townsfolk watching from their homes above, but the man had strayed to close, providing a gap in the circle which Solomon claimed with purpose.

He fled.

His spindling legs and flailing arms cast spider like shadows on the walls and cobbled streets as he passed. The townsfolk gave chase, following the pathetic figure as it negotiated each street corner, lane, and courtyard in an attempt to escape their rage.

The noise alerted the town: Herbert Solomon is trying to flee!

From every home across the town, people poured out of their houses carrying whatever they could as way of a makeshift weapon. They flooded the streets and ran towards the protestations, shouts and screams of Solomon’s pursuers.

With every turn of a cobbled street corner, Solomon was running out of places to hide. Finally, as he stumbled down the town’s main street, he stopped. The townsfolk had blocked all escape routes; he was trapped.

McKenzie pushed his way to the front of the crowd, asking for quiet and calm as he approached the hunched defeated figure of Herbert Solomon; he and his chosen few were going to rid the town of Ettrick of this abomination once and for all.

Vial in hand, accompanied by several large bullish men brandishing swords, McKenzie approached slowly reciting verses from the bible. Through dark eyes Herbert Solomon observed the townsfolk, their faces etched with hate and thoughts of revenge, moving towards him and then, he simply turned and entered an open doorway next to him.

The people gasped and MacKenzie and his followers rushed inside after him. The house they had entered was still, and lying on the hard wooden floor of the main hallway was the pale body of a young girl. The creaking of floorboards under weight sounded above as numerous pursuers searched the house, disappointed to find nothing.

Then something miraculous occurred, the little girl gasped for air – she was alive.

She had little or no strength, all she could do was utter one word: Below.

In the cellar of the house McKenzie found a grim and horrific scene. The floor was covered in blood and the quite dead body of a man lay face down upon it. Chained to the walls of that dim place were the children who had been taken.

They were partially drugged, malnourished, and traumatised, but they were alive.

The town rejoiced with the news, families were reunited, lives were mended. The mist of a bleak and horrible winter slowly lifted and all seemed well. On regaining their strength, the children recounted what had befallen them.

Each of them had been taken by a man called Tom Sutherland. He was the father of the first girl who had went missing and it appeared that it was he whom had killed her. No one knew for sure, but many were aware of his bad temper and on more than one occasion he had beaten poor Alana.

Consumed by guilt and loss, Sutherland began taking children at knife point and locking them in his cellar. Often drugging them with a local herb and occasionally beating them while pathetically weeping in self pity.

On the day that the children were found, Sutherland entered the cellar drunk, carrying a knife and rope. He began striking the children once more, and told them that one would die that day. He untied one of the children and pinned her to the ground with his knees. The knife hovered over her neck, but just as he was about to plunge the blade into her, someone entered the house.

Sutherland grew ferocious with anger but whoever was standing at the top of the staircase struck such fear into him that he quickly back peddled into the cellar. Ducking under the doorway was the tall scarred figure of Herbert Solomon.

At the sight of him, and now being free, the little girl crawled quickly between Herbert’s long legs. She was free, but too weak to run. She fainted before she could escape the house.

Details of what happened to Tom Sutherland were muddied by the unstable, semi-conscious condition of the witnesses. But it was clear that his neck was broken, his head twisted with such force that it faced an unnatural, opposite direction.

There were various accounts of subsequent glimpses of Herbert Solomon, and some of the children claimed to find beautifully crafted dolls and toys on occasion sitting at the edge of the woods, but of course this cannot be substantiated.

Indeed, I would have said that the entire story could not be substantiated, if it were not for the events which I experienced several months after reading that old book, in the depths of St Andrews University.

A colleague and dear friend of mine invited me to stay at his family home for a few days in the countryside. I knew that the house was in the borders, not half an hour’s drive from Ettrick and could not miss the chance to have a closer look at the area. I had managed to persuade the powers-at-be to allow me to take the book from St Andrews and show it to my friend. He had a particular interest and not insignificant knowledge of the history of the area. I thought perhaps he could shine a light on this curious tale.

His family were very to kind to me, and the house and its grounds were serene in the summer sun, with his children playing in the fields having a carefree and happy time. After reading the book he told me that it was fascinating, and that he knew of a local poem which had been written in the 17th century about a man called Solomon who killed children, but he could not tell me any more.

The next day we heard screams coming from nearby the house; it was my friend’s little girl. We raced outside. Following the cries for help over an old fence and down a steep grassy hill, we reached a winding and furious river. The girl had fallen in and was clinging to a large tree root which thrust out from the opposite embankment into the water. The root was wet and my friend let out a scream of anguish as his daughter lost her grip, being swept down stream towards a large formation of huge sharp rocks which jutted out from beneath the surface. The river would not let go and was throwing her around with such force that it was difficult to see how she could survive.

Filled with the abject terror that she could drown we finally made it to the water’s edge. As we rushed into the murky torrent we watched helplessly as the poor little girl was about to crash into the rocks.

We were too far away!

Suddenly our attention was grabbed by the cracks and creaks of a tall gaunt figure at the other side of the river, rushing out of the woods at tremendous speed on the opposite bank. With one swift motion a thin, bony hand plunged into the violent water, prevailing against the immense currents, finally pulling the young girl to safety.

She was alive. Frightened, crying, but alive and unhurt.

The pale faced, emaciated figure placed the girl gently on the ground, stared at us from across the water through darkened eyes as we ourselves clambered to safety, then turned and disappeared into the woods. Fading away to nothing but a memory.

Even in death Herbert Solomon was the kindest and gentlest of souls.

The End

Credit To – Michael Whitehouse

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Play to Win

December 28, 2012 at 12:00 AM
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Subject: RE: Meeting 3:  Exercise
From: industrialresolution@gmail.com
Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2012 07:31:16 +0000
To: d.j.faulk@well.net

Dear Dr. Faulk,
Let me start by saying thank you, Doctor.  I know why you’re getting me to do this, and I hope that writing about it really does help me to overcome it.  I don’t have anyone left to turn to anymore, espcially not in here, and you’re the only professional that has stuck by me throughout.  I realise that this preamble is just fear talking.  Every word I write now is a few seconds I can avoid writing down the details of what happened.  But I promised us both that I would do this, didn’t I?

It started four months ago, though it seems like so much longer.  I was a student at the University of Liverpool, just started out.  I’d never been away from home before, and I had no idea what to take with me.  My family bought a brand new laptop for studying on, and it’s funny, the one thing I remember with true clarity from that stark, empty dorm-room was the mangled internet socket.  There was no wireless, just an ethernet port, and that was fucked beyond all hope.  When I complained, they said they’d get someone to fix it, but it’d take a while.  New student intake meant that everyone would be very busy for a while.  I’d brought a few books, but it wouldn’t be enough to keep me entertained for long.  The room didn’t have an aerial for the portable TV I had brought with me, so I went into town to look for some DVDs or something.

Well, when I got there, I found out pretty quickly that DVDs would be off the menu.  They were just too expensive for me to waste my money on.  However, when I looked through some of the charity shops, I soon found a decent number of VHS tapes that were priced at 50p, far, far cheaper than a DVD.  In fact, I could get about twenty tapes for the price of a single DVD.  Before I bought them, though, i’d need a VHS player, and I hadn’t seen one of those in years.  I asked the guy in the shop about it, but he had no idea where I could get one.  I bought the tapes anyway, figuring that I could pick one up at another shop.  I must have checked the entire city of Liverpool for a VHS player, or I was at least so unused to the place that it felt like I did.  Almost out of patience with the whole thing, I decided to check one of the pawnbroker’s shops as a last resort.  It’d cost a little more, perhaps.  But i’d already bought the tapes now, and it seemed like a waste if I were to throw them away unwatched.

You probably know the kind of place.  It had a name like “deals” or “discounts” or something.  I bet it probably isn’t there now.  A few of its wares were visible in the window, beyond the bars that had been placed in front of them.  They’d probably had some trouble with vandals.

The guy in the shop had two VHS players in the back which I could have for ten quid each, but he also told me that he could have one delivered to my campus the next morning.  Apparently, he had a friend that worked in house clearance, and he was glad to get rid of the damned things.  I wondered at the time why he’d talk himself out a sale, but it didn’t matter.  Saving a tenner is pretty important to a student.  I went along with it.  And sure enough, when I checked with the campus mail offices the next morning, there it was.  I took it back to my room and set it up, next to the TV which had just been sitting there all day yesterday.

I’m going to take a break from this now, doctor.  My hands are shaking, and I remember what you said in your last session about taking this slowly.  I’ll start again when I can.

 

 

Subject: RE: Meeting 3:  Exercise part 2
From: industrialresolution@gmail.com
Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2012 09:53:02 +0000
To: d.j.faulk@well.net

Okay.  I know I need to explain this as thoroughly as I can, so i’ll take it slowly.  I’ll do my best to remember everything.

Obviously, the first thing I did was set up the VHS.  It was still a very new room to me, so I had to make sure that everything was where I wanted it.  I put the VHS player on the bedside cabinet, with the TV on top of it, and moved it closer to the plug, on the opposite side of the room to the bed.  It wasn’t until I turned everything on that it spat a tape out.  I didn’t even know there was one in there, so I was a bit surprised.  I took it out, and looked over it.  It was just a regular black VHS, rewound back to the beginning.  It didn’t have a label anywhere on it, and the only weird thing about it was the manufacturer’s mark.  Chinese or Japanese characters, though for all I knew it could have been Korean, too.  I have no idea.  Three of them, though.  All the same.  I let curiosity get the better of me.  Anyone would have.  I expected maybe a TV show, or a movie.  Nothing more personal than a wedding, or a baptism or something.  At worst, it could have been a funeral.  God, I was so wrong.

I slipped the tape back in, and it played automatically.  I’m going to describe next what I saw.  I’ll be as detailed as I can.

The image was as clear an image I have ever seen on a videotape.  It wasn’t grainy.  There were no track lines.  The first thing I saw on the tape was a still image of a field, or a meadow, with a single tree in it.  Someone had edited in some butterflies, and underneath the image were a few more of these Asian-looking characters.  After a few seconds, a black bar was placed across the characters, opaque enough to just about see them beneath it.  A subtitle bar that contained the words “Play to win!”.

Slowly, that images faded to a studio set, where two podiums stood.  The podiums had been draped in some sort of shiny cloth, and it was obvious that it had been set out to look like a game show.  It was a clear enough video to see the backdrop, parts of which were the same shimmery cloth, and parts of which were uncovered, showing what looked like pipes and metal plating behind it.  A voice-over in a language I didn’t recognise began to speak over some close-ups of a man behind one of the podiums, a smiling grey-haired presenter.  He then began to speak, and the camera turned to the second podium, where a younger man stood, looking a little nervous.  It had to be a game show.  I was sure of it.  Just some weird game show from China, or something.  I only continued watching because it all looked so amateurish that it might be funny.

The voice over continued on for a little while before  the ‘host’ cut back in again.  It seemed like the show was about to begin.  He raised some cards in his hand, and spoke aloud, very quickly, the camera cutting back and forth between the host and the contestant.  They spoke quickly, each in turn, and the subtitles came back, questions and answers quickly moving along the bottom of the screen.  I found myself pausing quickly so that I could follow the text properly.  The questions were easy to start with, and the contestant was jubilant at getting them all right.  Silly things, like “When was the American Declaration of Independence signed?”  and “What was Mozart’s first name?”.  After a while, the questions got harder, and more obscure.  Soon enough, the contestant failed.  He was unable to give the second world chess champion.  Up until now, it had been quite tame.  It was a good idea.  A quick-fire round of questions that got harder as time went on.  But when he failed, he almost fell from the podium.  He beat his hands against the top of it, and let out a strangled little moan.  I had never seen a quiz show like this before.  I had no idea what the prize was.  Either he was very close to winning, or he was a very sore loser.  Then, men clad in black, probably so they could be as invisible as possible to the viewer, came out, and tied a red ribbon around his elbow.  The questions continued, but he was visibly shaken and he failed two more.  More ribbons.  around two fingers on the opposite hand.

The round ended, and a few numbers flashed up on the screen, but with no subtitles to explain them, I had no idea of their meaning.  The camera flashed back to the contestant, who was now sobbing silently to himself.  The men returned, and one held him around the neck from behind, while the other produced a hacksaw.  Everything was so detailed, and so far away from any movie i’d ever seen.  The man with the hacksaw placed it upon the fold of the contestant’s elbow, and began to saw, slowly.  The camera panned back, and the contestant began to scream loudly.  After a few seconds of screaming, the sound cut out, silent for a second before being replaced by a laugh track.  The sight of the man’s arm being slowly removed made me feel so sick, and the laughter looped on and on until it became more like an alien screech than anything else.  When it was done, the camera focused on the bloody limb as it fell to the floor, the fingers upon it still moving faintly.  The contestant continued to scream, his mouth a voiceless ‘O’ behind the canned laughter.  Two fingers soon followed, and the camera closed in on these too.  By the time the men left, the contestant was propping himself up on the podium, pale and shivering.

Another close-up of the host, and he carried on as normal, as though he hadn’t just seen a man dismembered before his eyes.   “Second round”, the subtitles read, as one of the torturers dropped a small sack of coloured cubes on the contestants’ podium.  “No two colours touch!”  The subtitles told me, over the voice of the host.  The contestant managed to pick one up in his remaining fingers, but blood had slicked everything, and he looked at it for a second, placing it down with trembling determination.  The camera shook a little as he fell forward, eyes closed.  The videotape must have cut for a moment then.  It jerked a little, and in the next frame, the contestant was gone, replaced with a young woman, who picked up the now-bloody cubes grimly, placing them down as quickly and as quietly as she could.  A timer ran down the left side of the screen.  The camera watched her fingers as they worked hurriedly, placing down the cubes, her fingers smeared with the blood of the young man.  On and on she went, and when the time ran down, she turned to run, caught quickly by another of the black-clad men.  The host laughed, a thin, false game-show chuckle as they tied the red ribbon around her throat.  Two more men entered, and committed the horrible deed.  One held her, as before.  The other went to work with the saw.  The camera moved closer to her face.  It captured every inch of her struggle, and when the blade began to slide against her flesh, every flash of agony.  Her eyes protruded from her face, and her features bulged.  She screamed for as long as her nerves could hold, and as before it was covered with the laughter track, spatters of blood staining her lips and cheeks.  Then, when her eyes worked back up, mindlessly, into her skull, the camera moved back in time to see her head drop.  There was a close-up of it.  Just lying there.  The eyelids twitched, out of unison with each other.  The lips were still moving.  It was so real.  So real.

 

 

Subject: RE: Sorry.
From: industrialresolution@gmail.com
Date: Thu, 14 Dec 2012 15:29:11 +0000
To: d.j.faulk@well.net

I’m sorry, Doctor.  I needed to take some time away from this.  I’ve kept it as much of a secret as I can from the duty nurses, but they’re beginning to suspect something.  Like you said, i’ve been hiding the medication they gave me so that I can remember more clearly what I saw, and it’s all so vivid, even now.  It’s getting more and more difficult to type, but I know I have to finish this.

The camera cut again, and this time, the girl was gone.  There was an older man there now, aged about 40, standing at the podium.  His lips moved slowly without words, as though he was whispering something to himself, over and over, but it could just have been muted, like the screams.  The next round began, and the host held up a small button, the camera pointing at a slide projector.  The first click of the button brought up what looked like an equation, which various parts missing.  The subtitles read “20 to solve”.  Eagerly, the man gave a garbled reply, and the slide switched to another.  “15 to solve.”.  Again he replied, this time in more distress, and the projector changed.  “10 to solve”.  Then 5.

The last of the replies the man gave was little more than a scream, but it looks like he managed it.  The projector powered down, and the host moved forward, shaking the man’s hand.  He’d won.  He’d won, and I remember my heart thundering as I watched.  The man closed his eyes for a moment, and the host moved away.  “Grand Prize” flashed on the screen, and a distorted, tinny game show theme began to play.  The video ground into slow motion as the man opened his eyes, and he barely had time to register what was happening before the bullet hit him.  Blood blossomed upon his face, his right eye exploding in red.  The slow motion made it all so gradual.  His body jerked backward slowly, his skull peeled away by the force of the shot, matter leaking from him like treacle.  The credits began to roll, quickly, and without subtitles.  When they’d finished, there was only one phrase left on the tape, and it flashed there for the next 3 hours, until the end of the recording.  I sat there, watching it, overcome by shock.  I couldn’t move.  When the tape finished, it rewound itself, and played again.  And again.  And again.  I sat there until the campus security got reports of the noise.  It was 4am. when they kicked in the door.  It was a week until I was able to speak, and when I came to, I was here.  The message that flashed on the screen?

“Coming to town near you soon!”

That’s all I remember.  I don’t know where the tape is.  I don’t care.  I don’t want to know.  I just want to forget it all.

I don’t want to do this anymore, doctor.  I don’t want to talk to you again.

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The Dissociative Death of Victor Alzwell

December 27, 2012 at 12:00 PM
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The floor was vibrating.  The walls shook, pathetically trying to withstand the shifting below the foundations of the apartment complex.  The television fell over, coughing up shards of glass in it’s last breath.  I cursed all the money wasted, calculating the price of the setback in my head.  Outside my window lay a contrasting scene of a magnificent Sun shining over the city.

Inside my home, though, I was miles away from it.  I was tossed back and forth, without an end in sight.  I had likened my situation to being a reluctant passenger upon Charon’s ferry, riding the tumultuous rivers of Hell straight to it’s depths.

I could see the televised warning in my head as I stumbled.  They had warned of a minor earthquake, but they didn’t say it would be after the one that would cause the building to collapse upon me.  I had never experienced an earthquake before, and anxiety’s overtly heavy breathing became a schizophrenia I couldn’t get rid of.

Attempting to keep my balance, I began to make my way to the doorway to my apartment bedroom.  A particularly strong tremor pushed me back.  Trying to steady myself, I stepped upon a long piece of broken television screen.

I didn’t have the strength to stay on one foot.  The shard that entered through my heel was too painful.  The bloodied floor didn’t stop shaking.  The earthquake was too powerful for me.

I began to limp a step, trying to put as little weight as possible on my injured foot.  My timing was off.  Then I fell.

I opened my eyes.  I was laying face down on a carpet that was stained with my blood, and it had now browned into a gross reminder of my accident.  At least it wasn’t a large pool of blood that would I couldn’t remove.  There was an indentation in my temple, a pocketed wound that dug deep past all the caked blood.  I could feel a scabby layer of blood over the part of my face below the wound, and picked it off.  After testing them, I found my wounds yielded no pain, so I rolled over and sat up.

The lights were off.  A digital clock that had survived displayed nothing.  My cellphone was on the floor in the kitchen, the screen in pieces from being knocked off the counter onto the tile.

And the curtains were closed.  Strange, as I usually always have the curtains open.  I tried to recall the details of what had happened.  Had the curtains been open?  Seemingly insignificant, though.   I decided to find out how bad the damage was.  After a preliminary glance, I saw the outlines of a trashed apartment.  Almost everything that could have been broken wasn’t just broken, it was destroyed.  The side table my head fell upon had a corner painted in a dark red.  All meaningless items now, though I wondered if they had ever been anything more.

I pulled the shard out of my foot fluidly.  Perhaps the nerves had been killed.  I stood up, walking over into the kitchen to wash the blood off my face completely.  Turning the faucet had no effect, and I began to wonder just how bad the earthquake had been.  The  multiple stories of the apartment complex had survived, but what about elsewhere?

How many buildings were brought to their knees?  How many were now homeless?  In the ensuing days, would we have food or drinking water?  How would the local common man get by now that his workplace was destroyed?

Who was dead now?  I could see the casualties in my mind: people crushed by their homes, impaled by the metallic odds and ends that supported the growth of skyscrapers, and then the ones it hadn’t killed, the ones lying under a pile of debris, hoping the suffocation would be quick.

The curiosity that lay behind the door leading out of my apartment distracted me, and I quickly forgot each and every death I had just contemplated.  I walked to the door, and opened it.  My peripherals caught the blandly painted black 8 on my door, and then I was greeted with more darkness.  I stepped out, looking down the hallway.

The ceiling had collapsed, blockading any conventional exit I might’ve been able to take.  I was furthest from the elevator, with neighbors to the left and across the hall.  I took a look at the my neighbor’s door, seeing a blandly-styled 5.  I wondered about it.  Was this always number 5?  Where was the logic in this numbering system?  I couldn’t keep my focus upon it, though, and  walked up and knocked upon it.

No answer.  Another knock, harder this time.  Seconds passed.

Am I all alone?

I heard the lock turn, and the door opened slowly.  A boy appeared.  He seemed to be about 12 years old, rather young to be in an apartment alone during an earthquake.  He quickly stepped out, closing the door behind him.

“Hello.”  He said, looking up at me.  I stayed silent, looking back, though not quite sure why.  He was an average looking child, black hair and an unassuming visage.  I felt a subliminal urge, a desire to remember if I had every seen him around before.

“Hello. Are you alright?”  I asked finally, eventually dismissing the question.

“Yes. Are you?”  He asked in a peculiar way, looking to the wound in my temple.

“Uh, yes, it seems so,”  I said, perturbed by the strange vibes this child was putting off.  “Do you have a cellphone, or anything we can use to get help?”

“No. There will be no way for us to get help,”  He said in a certain way.

“Hm, that is unfortunate. Since my cell phone was broken, it seems we’re cut off. Where’s your Dad?”

“I don’t know. He’s been gone for a really long time. I wish he could be here.”

“Oh, I see. I’m sure he’s fine, you know. He’s probably on his way here now, to check up on you. Perhaps he’s downstairs right now, and all we have to do is find a way there. Is there a fire escape or a building next to the windows in your apartment?”

“There’s no way out.”  A cold reply, especially for one so young.

“Hm. Mine is a straight drop down as well. And it seems a few floors above us have consolidated themselves here,”  I said, walking towards the mountain of debris.  There wasn’t a single gap, and it extended well past the floor of the next level.  I turned back, and the boy stood there, looking at me.  “What’s your name?”  I asked.

“Victor. Or Timothy, that’s my middle name.”

“Timothy. I really like that name. Well, since we aren’t getting anywhere from being out here, how about we go back in my apartment? We can look out the window and see if we can’t get an idea of the situation.”  He nodded, and I walked up to the my apartment, ignoring a vague feeling of strangeness upon glancing at the painfully bland 12 painted upon the door.

Victor came in, and I closed the door.  I told him to watch out for the shattered pieces of glass and suggested he have a seat on the couch.  The stains in the carpet caught my eye, and I mindlessly wondered how I could have bled such a large pool of blood.  I doubted it would ever go away.  A piece of me was now a part of this room, until this apartment complex died.

I walked to the window, and pulled the curtains back.  I felt a twinge of pain between my eyes, inside my head, as I gazed upon a sheet of bruised and lacerated flesh that had taken the place of my window.  I stared at it.

It was a meaty slab, a sewn-together product of multiple skinned torture victims.  It smelled of decay, and I could see a rainbow of necrosis coloring pieces.  Different skin tones, wounds, and shapes combined with the inexperience of the one who did the sewing created a completely disgusting canvas suitable for me to vomit on.

It was all stomach acid, and burned my throat as I tried coughing every bit of it up.  When I finished, I got up, looking at Tim.  He looked at me, questioningly.  Had he not seen it?  I looked back, and the curtains were closed again, bile dripping down the window sill and onto the floor.

“It was nothing.”  I said, and went to sit down in a recliner.

All was quiet again.  I could hear nothing at all.  If sound existed, you would never have been able to tell.  When you’re so close to both the airport and the highway, you find moments like these blessings.

I quickly forgot the window of skin, the experience eventually settling within my subconscious as something that didn’t exist.  I never acknowledged the window again.

The time passed.  I’m not sure what I thought of the entire time.  I remember thinking about what it would be like to have someone close to you die.  A friend, a relative, a teacher, a coworker.  Someone you’ve spent years with.  A parent.  What was it like for him in his last moments?  When the gunman held the barrel of the pistol up to his head and told him he would die, what did he think about?  How did the empty flesh feel after the torturer had ripped it off of him?  I wondered, and then dismissed it.  I had never known what it was like to lose someone and it was irrelevant.

I would pick the flesh around my fingertips.  Sometimes they were small pieces, and other times big pieces that covered whole parts of the nail.  The bigger pieces were painful, but they were always more satisfying.  The blood made it difficult to grip the pieces, and soon each hand’s index finger and thumb smelled strongly of copper.

Tim sat there.  We didn’t talk much.

I wasn’t sure how long I had been there.  With no way to keep time, I just sat there.  I felt another tingling inside my head, in the same place.  Then a strange thought hit me: when was the last time I ate?  When was the last time I was hungry?  I tried to remember.  Was it before the earthquake hit?  What time had it been when it did hit?  Had I ever felt hunger or thirst since I passed out?  I felt an urgent panic shooting up into my veins, an anxiety I couldn’t control, a fear I knew I couldn’t bear to face.

“Are you hungry?”  I asked Victor nervously.  Surely his input could console me.

“No?”  He said strangely, like it would be odd to be hungry.

And just as soon as it had come, it left.  I became distracted, my thought devolving from a realization of something very wrong, to a level-headed contemplation, until finally I forgot about why I would need to be hungry in the first place.

I went to the fridge, and looked down at my phone and the surrounding bits of broken screen.  Except there was blood.  I looked at it, the answer deduced but not understood.  I lifted my right foot up.  I had been walking around slowly embedding glass into my foot.  It was stained red.  Perhaps my head injury damaged a part of my brain that registered pain.

I opened the fridge door, and found it empty.  It seems I had forgotten to buy groceries.  I walked back to the living room.

The pain of knowing I wasn’t doing anything began to set in.  What do you do when you wonder what to do?

I waited.  How long?  I had no way to know.

Restlessness finally came for me.  I needed to get out.

I went into my bedroom and began kicking the wall.  It gave easily.  I carved a sizable passage into my neighbor’s home, taking a few steps in and taking a look around.  It looked like I was in their kitchen, based off the same model as mine.  I turned back and called Tim’s name out, then went through.

And he was standing there, already in their apartment, looking at me.

But it was my apartment.

A chemical, I don’t know what kind, began to cauterize a piece of my brain, the same part that had been in pain.  A massive headache slammed the area between my eyes.  I yelled.  Fell to the floor.  Time changed.  I didn’t think I perceived it any longer.  In fact, I instinctively knew time didn’t exist in this place.

Whatever this place was.

“Victor…”  I called out as I got up, attempting to rub the pain that never fully left away.  I looked up.

His face was removed.  He no longer had any hair, no eyes, nose, mouth, ears, jawline.  His head was a carelessly-shaped square-like thing attached to a child’s shoulders and body.  He walked toward me, causing me to back up.  He continued to walk, not toward me any more but toward the counter, somehow perceiving the outside world.

I stared at him as he picked up a knife, twisting his amorphous head toward me, then shoving the knife into the middle of his face, pulling towards both sides, creating a jagged line that bled black and red.  And then he started talking from the wound.

It was a scratchy, primordial voice that spoke, like a creature physically learning how to speak, and yet mentally knowing an entire language.  The voice cracked every few seconds, fluids flooding out the aperture this thing was using to speak.  This voice, the thing invading my head, this thing before me, was something beyond normal, something that existed with such a dark foreboding it filled me with a primal fear, a fear that transgressed the physical world.  I have known of this thing before, somewhere, and it knew of me.  It was back for me.

“Whaaaaattt. Is. Ittt?”  The thing said.  It waited, staring at me in a way that wasn’t possible.

The noise that emitted tore into my ear drums, it disturbed my mind to a point that I could feel mental illness plaguing me.  I could feel it slowly crawling up my brain stem with long, ragged claws.  It was as if someone had controls on what I perceived, and they started to play the question over and over, speeding it up, increasing the volume, echoing it inside of itself, over and over.  It hurt in a way that is indescribable, a way that my being felt like it was being consumed.

I lifted my hands up, preparing to yield anything and everything I could to the thing, when I saw my fingers: they were picked, gnawed, and in most places infected.  Each nail had been removed, and the finger tip was nothing more than a swollen, bulb-shaped piece of me covered in vessels of a deep red and pus of a sickly quality.

I took a breath and then I felt a little different.  My head changed.  My perception changed.  I could feel something firing through my brain, it felt hot, it was fire firing through my brain, something was wrong what was happening to me?

I got sick I could feel the fire in my stomach rise up and it came out my mouth over the floor but it looked like there were bits of flesh bits of flesh, bits of my fingers had I eaten my fingers? how did they get that way

I was horrified I ran back back into my apartment that I was already in through a hole in the wall that was in both sides of my apartment that led me into my apartment.  through the hole how many holes can fit into a single apartment? was it even my apartment anymore was it even an apartment apartments don’t usually have holes

It was dark how I could see everything perfectly as I ran through my bedroom.  I think I slept here once, somewhere else. It was pitch black, but I could see everything perfectly how could one see in the dark so well?  how long have i seen into the dark? how long have i been in the dark how long

tim was there in the window room he was hungry so he ate the window, i can hear in my head, i hear how much he wants to eat my skin as well oh no that does not sounds good because i have a lot of skin

i ran out i ran into the door trying to open it how did these work? unlock it

in the hallway, so dark, windowless pits.

open the door, close the door.

he hung from above a rope around his neck

he swayed.

the tv played his voice exactly like him the black and white snow mixed and yet not mixed it just went on and i can still hear it somewhat like a song stuck in my head on repeat forever eternal eternal eternity.

he used his blood to paint the will of the gods it was a numbers repeated over and over and over and over over every inch of every wall

8-5-12-12_12-21-19-20-19_4_25-14-21

and then i was gone

for ever


Epilogue

PAGE 9

F.P.D.
NON-HOMICIDE DEATH REPORT
DATE: 7-15-20
TIME:  14:15
INVESTIGATING OFFICER:  OFFICER STRNAD
INCIDENT:  Accidental Death
LOCATION OF INCIDENT:  6135 N. Styx Ave.

The deceased’s name was Victor Alzwell, aged 19.  Subject was found approximately fifteen minutes after the earthquake of July Fifteenth, Two Thousand Twenty.  The vic was discovered dead by his landlord.  When interviewed, the landlord says he checked on Mr. Alzwell when he did not respond to requests to affirm his health.  Mr. Alzwell was found on the floor, a deep wound in the right temple.  An ambulance was dispatched, and Mr. Alzwell was officially pronounced dead once they arrived.  The coroner determined the cause of death was brain trauma, which occurred during the earthquake.  Mr. Alzwell lost his balance, falling and smashing his skull against a corner of a small table.

Mr. Alzwell’s previous criminal history includes one single juvenile phencyclidine(PCP) charge.  While officially expunged, I remember this kid specifically coming down to the station, as I was given his father, Timothy Alzwell’s homicide case.  Timothy Alzwell was kidnapped, tortured, skinned and executed with a handgun.  A copy of the entire case file went missing around the same time we brought him in to break the news, when he was fifteen years old.  He learned every detail.

Psychiatric testing revealed deep mental illness.  He was given a foster home, received psychiatric care, and seemed to be getting better until the PCP charge.  Afterwards, he continued counseling, began drug treatment, and was finally pronounced stable.  He was given help in finding a job and then left his foster home to move to the apartment complex in which he was found.

This kid was one of the good ones.  His was the only death reported during the earthquake, and he didn’t deserve it.

Notes of interest:

Test results show Mr. Alzwell had an extremely high level of N-dimethyltryptamine(DMT) in his system, in addition to traces of PCP.

Upon investigation, it was discovered Mr. Alzwell’s pineal gland reacted in a uniquely adverse way to the brain trauma, and began releasing massive amounts of DMT.  It was also discovered that the brain trauma was not instantly fatal, and he lived anywhere from five to fifteen minutes after receiving the wound.

Somehow, despite not being in a conscious state of mind, Mr. Alzwell ripped enough skin from his fingers to write a series of numbers down in his own blood.  We’re not sure what exactly what they mean.  We had one result using a simple alpha-numeric conversion code, but it didn’t make any sense.

SIGNED: OFFICER T. STRNAD

END OF REPORT
CASE:  CLOSED
Credit To –  Lichtjunger

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Bedtime V: Sleep Tight

December 27, 2012 at 12:00 AM
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I am shaking as I write this. I was released by the police less than two hours ago and I am compelled to record the events of the past day and night as quickly and as accurately as possible. In some ways I want to forget, but I know that I cannot, I know that I should not. For my own sanity I must divulge what has happened, it is far too important. Should I ever allow myself to be swayed by the mechanical, rational nature of the world once again, these words should serve to remind me that what is unseen is both mysterious, and frightening.

After Mary left, I knew that I had lost her forever, but rather than be consumed by depression and inaction, I was invigorated by one purpose, by one thought, by one idea that I knew I had to carry out. I had to destroy that thing, for I could not allow the chance that it may one day hurt my loved ones, or desecrate the innocence of another child.

I also knew that I faced death, but feeling that I had already lost everything, that was a small price to pay. It is said that revenge is a dish best served cold but having waited my entire adult life to be rid of this thing, its memory and the shadow that it had cast upon me, I met the proposition of killing this fiend, this corrupt and perverted force, with a smile on my face.

That night it would be dead, even if I had to drag it to hell with me.

Busying myself for the next few hours, I packed a bag and wrote a letter to Mary and my family explaining what had happened and that they weren’t to blame. I phoned my mother and father, then my brother, just to hear their voices one last time, but I did not let on that I thought I may never speak to them again. My mother’s intuition led her to ask if everything was all right; I smiled and told her I loved her before reluctantly saying goodbye.

At about 7 o’clock I made my way out to the car. The sun had already set and the street seemed eerily quiet, as if the scene of an unattended funeral. I sat in the driver’s seat leaving the door on the other side open, awaiting my most unwelcome passenger.

By 9 o’clock nothing out of the ordinary had occurred, the place remained deserted and the cold night air flowing through the open door was beginning to bite. As I sat there, contemplation echoed through my mind. I ruminated on the nature of this cadaverous parasite. One question rose out of a sea of thoughts, towering above all else, unmoving, and continuous:

“Can you kill something which is already dead?”

I did not know if this was a thing of the grave, or some unworldly spectre which could be considered ‘alive’ in some way, but just as I was re-evaluating my plan, there it was. It was subtle at first, but there was a small, almost indistinguishable shift in the suspension of the car. Had it been any other circumstance, I would have put this down to a gust of wind pushing and pulling at the chassis, but I was all too familiar with that feeling from all those years ago, as the bunk bed would shift slightly with that thing climbing into the bottom bed. I knew its foul calling card. The air grew denser as if contaminated by some nearby corpse.

It was in the car with me, unseen yes, but there nonetheless. As I heard the slightest of whispered breaths from the back seat, I leant over and calmly closed the passenger door. I turned the key in the ignition and as I pulled out of the street, I could have sworn I heard a quiet yet distinctly malicious snigger, as of something mocking me.

Did it know what I had planned for it?

Our destination was not far, but the roaming hills through which our taken country road penetrated, rose up and diminished with regularity; a stark reminder of the ominous isolation of night. Occasionally on the way I could hear something from behind, but I refused to look for that thing in the dark. Patience; it would not be long before I would confront it.

The irony hit me, I was worried about scaring off the same thing which had terrified and tortured me as a child. I had to be resilient and so drove carefully and calmly through the countryside, swamped by darkness, hoping that my unearthly passenger would not suspect me.

I arrived.

The wheels of the car struggled and slid on the undergrowth as I headed off of the narrow country road. The landscape had opened up and as I looked at the broken and rotting trees around me, I felt that it was fitting to come to this bleak place in the cold night, to destroy that bleakest of things.

The land suddenly came to an abrupt end; a cliff etched out from an old quarry, looking deep into the black waters of the lake below. The cliff edge was relatively flat and had in fact at one time housed a road which had subsided into the lake decades earlier. The local kids would tell stories about the vengeful ghosts of those killed during the subsidence, but they were just stories. Or perhaps they weren’t. In the past I would have disregarded such tales, but who would believe mine if I told it to them now?

I switched the engine off and parked several metres away from the cliff edge, switching off any lights and composing myself for what would come. I sat in that car for what seemed a lifetime, the only company given to me by the occasional splash of water against the cliff below.

I waited.

This thing was smart, of that there was no doubt. It had toyed with me, relishing the pain and torment it had caused as only something of a coldly frozen intellect could. For this reason I knew it would suspect me, and perhaps even flee if I brought the car too close to the cliff’s edge; I had to wait for it to attack, let it feed, let it revel and gorge itself on me, perhaps then it would not notice as I slowly plunged the car into that dark, icy water below.

I was going to drown the bastard.

I had appraised the potential consequences in my head and reasoned that there would be a moment, a singular moment where I would have a slim opportunity to escape from the car just before it reached the edge. Mary and I used to go there occasionally, a place to be together away from everything else and it did not look nearly as stark during a summer’s day. I therefore had the place in mind and knew it well. The drop was at least 30 feet to the depths below and I did not want to be in that car as it hit the water, nor trapped inside with that abomination.

I waited.

Then I heard it. Slowly at first, and then increasing in rate and volume, a rasping, wheezing breath from behind. Strangely, it sounded more laboured than before. Each breath a struggle, filled with fluid, rotten and decayed. A shiver ran up my spine. A rank, foul smell began to fill the air.

The breath drew closer from behind.

My heart began to race, beating hard and fast as I looked up and saw the windscreen begin to ice up from inside. I could see my breath, a natural thing indeed, but what was unnatural was the breath visibly moving across my face from the side. I turned slowly, I wanted to cry, I wanted to leave, run into the night, but I had to stay, I could not allow it to escape.

It was sitting in the passenger seat.

I was staring at it, and it at me. Hunched over covered by darkness, contorted, gaunt, hands seized as if fighting rigamortis, it slowly moved towards me. One bony leg cracked and groaned as it slid over my lap and onto the other side.

Oh god, it was sitting on me!

It pulled itself in close to me and through a shard of light provided by the moon, I saw its face. Skin hung from its jagged features. Glassy eyes stared deep into me as its grin spread up through its face, unnaturally wide as the result of its half rotten flesh, exposing the rotten muscles, broken teeth and sinews of its rancid smile beneath.

Pulling closer it opened its mouth revealing a wet and putrid tongue which could be seen through part of its missing jaw. Wheezing, breathing heavily, a foul stench which stung my eyes and filled my mouth elicited a response from me as I wretched, my body attempting to expel its poisonous fumes, and as I did so it stopped for a moment, and then cackled to itself; happy, content. Staring into its icy cold eyes, it yet gave the impression of an afflicted and increasingly weak old man. It was still incredibly strong, but it seemed as though it had lost some of its potency.

Perhaps leaving that elongated room had somehow affected it?

Its long protruding fingers caressed my face and then, as a show of intent, it stuck one of them deep into my shoulder. I screamed as it bent and twisted inside of me, the rotting fiend moving its finger to cause the maximum amount of damage and pain that it could. As it did so its other hand slid down against my body.

It touched me.

It was time. With my free arm I turned on the ignition and though my shoulder was still pinned to the seat I managed to fight through the pain, put the car into gear and took off as fast as I could.

The creature flailed and screamed, it attempted to climb over me into the back seat, but I held on with all of my strength, the thoughts of what it did to Mary enough to fuel my rage. We raced towards the edge of the cliff and I eyed the driver’s door frantically. As we neared our icy plunge, I screamed in anger at its festering, rancid face and pushed it off of me.

It scrambled into the back seat for dear life as I scrambled for mine by unlocking the car door.

It was too late, the car careered over the cliff face and before I knew it, we hit the dark water, splitting the black glass-like surface with tremendous force. I should have died then, but an air-bag took the brunt of my impact, although I still managed to scrape my head across the door frame.

Dazed, I looked around. The sound that I heard coming from that thing was malformed yet familiar. The squeal of some demonic child soon gave way to the anguish and rage of an ancient intelligence which knew that it faced almost certain death.

The water was frozen and poured in through the now twisted open car door with such force that it winded me. I gasped for air as my unwilling prey now did. It writhed and twisted as it looked for an exit. Spying the open door, it pulled itself through the water towards me.

I curled up my fist and smashed it into that thing’s face. Pieces of rotten flesh flaked off under the impact as a dark black liquid oozed from the resulting wound.

Again it attempted to get passed me and I knew that to keep it in that car, long enough to drown, that I would have to die with it. I felt numb as the frozen water slipped over my chin, my heart struggled against the cold and with a sudden surge I was submerged and had breathed my last.

I held my breath, but only to compose and ready myself for an icy, suffocating death. I hoped that it would not be painful. My thoughts returned to Mary and my family, a all consuming sense of sadness and despair overwhelmed me, but as I struggled with that thing trying to get passed me and through the door, grabbing and flailing with its arms, I looked down and saw it.

Its leg was trapped between the dashboard and floor of the car by the impact of the fall, and although it could move, it could not leave.

I turned immediately for the door, I could barely see but a foot in front of me in that black water, but there was enough moonlight to light my way. Just as I got to the door, the wretch grabbed hold of me and pulled me back to it. It had given up all hope of escaping, but it wanted to drown me with it.

We fought for what felt like an age in that cold bitter grave as the car slowly sank deeper and deeper into the darkness. I could now feel my body pleading with me to take a breath, to exhale my last gasp of air and then inhale the frozen water.

I am happy to say that I used my wits to get out of such a horrible fate. Orientating my body , I pushed my feet against the dashboard with enough force to at last escape its slippery grasp. I do not remember much else, bar the anguished and hate-filled scream that my tormentor let out as I left it to die at the bottom of that icy lake.

I found myself walking through the wilderness, cold, wet, but alive. The wound in my shoulder slowed me down, but I kept the bleeding at bay by applying pressure to it with my other hand. It took me two hours to walk home, and I am amazed that I did not collapse from exhaustion or hypothermia. When I saw the familiar sight of the street that I live on, I was filled with a sense of accomplishment. A sense of pride and triumph.

I had beaten that thing once and for all!

That is until I went inside my house and found a trail of large, wet footprints leading from the front door to my bed.

Disbelief took me. Despair so sharp and so overwhelming that I am unable to convey it with mere words. It was lying in my bed, waiting, a white sheet covering its emaciated body from sight.

The human mind is a wonderful thing. Just as you believe your body has reached a level of exhaustion that it cannot recover from, that your emotions are so frayed that you feel you cannot continue, a thought springs as if miraculous from a weary mind.

Let it rest, for now.

I quietly crept through the dark and picked up my wallet which I had left on a small coffee table in the centre of my living room. Leaving the door unlocked, I left to attend to a new plan and returned an hour later. With a moment’s preparation I slipped into the spare room. There I lay in that unsullied bed, waiting. I was sure that this was the end game, that instead of toying with me, it would come for the kill. How it had escaped that watery grave I did not know, but I would be damned if it would escape again. I could only hope that it would sense me from the other room.

I closed my eyes, pretending to be sound asleep. Time lumbered onwards and although I fought it, exhaustion finally took me, sending me into a deep slumber.

I woke with its hands around my neck. It coughed and spluttered on top of me, a rancid black liquid dripping on my face as it oozed from its facial wounds. I struggled, gasping for air and hoping that I had the strength in me to escape its grasp, but it was too strong and my hands could not grip it with any sense of conviction, as it seemed to be dripping wet from its plunge into the lake.

It may not have seemed rational at the time, but as my vision dimmed and the last light of consciousness extinguished within me, I did as so many animals do in their last moments; I played dead.

Lying motionless, holding my breath, it shook me violently by the neck and then released me. I waited for my moment, my last chance to destroy this thing. Its laboured breathing relaxed slightly and seemed to stare at me almost quizzically.

I waited still for a shift of weight which might have let me throw it to the ground.

Leaning down close to me, its wide, crumbling sneer puckered. Gathering its putrid saliva in its mouth and in what was left of its cheeks, it then showed utter contempt for the living, and the dead; it spat its festering fluid onto my face, the remnants dripping down onto me through a hole in its jaw.

I wanted to scream, to do anything to remove such a vile smear on my skin, but I dared move; the time was not right. Leaning in closer, it prodded and scratched at the wound in my shoulder, the pain sheering through my body. With all of my resistance, I remained motionless.

Then, it slowly and patiently slid two of its long, distended fingers into my mouth. The taste was overwhelming, rancid, rotten, dead. The arthritic clicking of its knuckles shook my resolve. As it arched its back in glee, it suddenly pushed its fingers deep down into my throat.

I gagged, an instinctive reaction.

Instead of being shocked, a garbled laugh emanated through its broken teeth as it thrust its fingers deeper into my mouth. I felt its cold, hard flesh scraping against the inside of my throat pleading without words for it to stop.

In our darkest of moments, we sometimes find our true strength. I rolled to my side using its weight against it and finally, managed to break free. I fell onto the floor. Its long reach grasping at my feet, I kicked and screamed and at last was free. It stared at me, only for a moment. Rising up on top of the bed, its brittle bones cracking under its own force, it now towered tall and gaunt ready to pounce.

Since I was a child I had been a victim. It had terrorised me, taken my innocence, attacked Mary and broken my life.

I would not stand for it any more.

Sometimes the most dangerous prey is the one who can out think you, the one that lulls you into a false sense of dominance or superiority, the one who has conquered any fear of you with a sense of anger and betrayal. It had fallen into my trap, one conceived by logic, reason, and an understanding of the world through the eyes of a scientific mind.

Fire cleanses all.

As it groaned, shrieked, cracked and contorted, readying itself to pounce, in one swift motion I removed a blanket from the floor revealing a bucket filled with gasoline which I had bought in that short time of preparation. I threw it as hard as I could, the liquid splashing all over that horror and the bed.

It grinned at me, mocking my very existence, making light of my pain and the agony it had caused.

From my pocket I pulled out a lighter, lit it and through it onto that wretched thing. It writhed and screamed in agony, parts of its flesh crumbling away, searing into nothing in front of my very eyes; I almost felt sorry for it.

Let it burn.

The fire got out of hand, thankfully a neighbour heard the screams and saw the smoke, calling the fire brigade. I remember nothing of how I escaped.

I spent several hours in hospital being treated for light smoke inhalation and painful burns to my hands. It still hurts as I type, but as with many superficial wounds, they will heal. Perhaps there will be a few scars, but I can live with that.

The police arrested me shortly afterwards, believing me a murderer. They suspect that I killed someone in that fire and find it entirely suspicious that I have a deep wound in my shoulder, and scratches over my body. I’ve been told not to stray far in case they wish to ask me further questions, but they can ask away, I doubt they’ll believe my answers. They found no remains, nor any evidence that someone else was there, bar a strange outline of a figure etched deep into the bed and wall. It looked as though whatever had been there attempted an escape, but I do not think it accomplished this.

A weight has now been lifted from my shoulders, one which I now realise was always there, since I was a child in fact. I believe that thing had an affect on me even from distance, and now that it is gone, I feel whole again.

I am devastated that I’ve lost Mary, and my house can be written off as I’ll probably be charged with arson after they realise I started the fire, which means I can kiss goodbye to any insurance claim.

My hands ache, as does my shoulder, but my spirit does not. I am writing this from a hotel room, it’s small and unassuming, but it will suit my purpose. Tonight I intend to sleep and dream, as I did as a child, before that wretch invaded my life.

I believe that it was my rationality which saved me, my logical thought which allowed me to destroy such an evil, but I will never escape the conclusion that there is much more to life beyond the veil, out there in the darkness. It is a world I have seen, and do not care to revisit, but tonight I will rest and tomorrow I will build my life again with the confidence that my unwelcome guest is gone forever. I can feel it, I know it!

It will take time for me to adjust and perhaps my mind will play a trick or two a long the way, it is difficult to abandon the paranoia of a lifetime. I must learn to accept my safety once again. I refuse to be looking over my shoulder for the rest of my days, but I will always be cautious, as I was when I was in the hospital this morning lying on a bed in a quiet ward, I thought I felt the bed shake for the briefest of moments, but I know that it was just my imagination.

I am glad I have written down my experiences, it has illuminated much about myself to me, and most importantly should anyone ever, God forbid, find themselves in a similar situation, then maybe you will know what to do.

Now, it is bedtime and I must rest for I have never known a weariness such as this.

Good night, and sleep tight…

THE END

Credit To – Michael Whitehouse
Note: This story is part of a series. You can read the first installment here – Bedtime

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Kerberos

December 26, 2012 at 12:00 PM
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A few months ago I was watching television in my living room when I heard the first howl. It reverberated through my bones like something from my darkest nightmares, leaving me temporarily immobile with the shock of it. After a few moments I tried my best to regain my composure, reassuring myself with a forced laugh of self-deprecation that it was most likely just a stray dog or coyote. I told myself that it had just startled me with it’s suddenness, nothing more. After all, I reasoned with myself, the mind likes to exaggerate things. The rest of the night passed without further events and I went to sleep having all but forgotten. My dreams, however, were less forgiving. In them I stumbled through darkened woods, heard echoing howls that seemed to come from every direction at once, was haunted by the feeling of piercing eyes following my every movement. When I finally woke a short while before dawn I was covered in sweat. A lingering unease clung to me until daybreak.

The next few weeks were pretty uneventful. Rarely I would, on occasion, hear some strange sounds as if someone was walking in another room or on the porch, but nothing that I wasn’t able to simply shrug off as my imagination. The worst thing that happened was a recurring dream similar to the first I’d had. I would find myself walking down a dark stretch of country road located near my home at night. The dirt road stretched out in front of me, seemingly for an eternity, while the trees on either side formed a dense canopy that only allowed for a few stray shafts of moonlight to illuminate my way. As I walked onward, I would always hear movement to either side, just out of sight. I remember only on rare occasion catching brief glimpses of silhouettes in the dark. But always, always, I could feel eyes on me.

Aside from the occasional dreams, it was about a full month from the first night before I heard the howling again. This time it was not singular, but a series of overlapping howls that gathered to form a melancholy crescendo. It seemed like the howls came from every direction at once and with such piercing clarity that I could have sworn the sources were almost on top of me. I was horrified, there was something that just felt fundamentally wrong about these howls. I covered my ears and closed my eyes, trying to will away the horrendous cacophony. I truly felt like I was going to be driven to pure insanity by the piercing sounds of it all.

As embarrassing as it may be, I was in the fetal position rocking back and forth with my arms over my ears when the howling finally subsided. I was trembling from fear to the point where it must have taken me a full minute to even stand. Trembling, I made quick a lap through my house shutting all of my curtains and ensuring that my doors were locked and dead-bolted, never lingering by any of the windows for long. When I finally reached the sliding glass door leading to my back porch, I heard footsteps. I was just barely able to see the black silhouettes that broke up the faint glow of the moon on my porch. If I’d had the lights on in the room I probably wouldn’t have even noticed until I was only inches away.

Slowly, I reached into my pocket and pulled out my cell phone, all the while aware of the distinct sensation of their eyes upon me. I took one quick picture as my hands trembled, then slowly backed away, unable to stop gazing into those eyes which burned like the coals of hell itself. Eventually I inched back enough to duck into my hallway, sliding to the floor as fear took hold and drained the strength from my legs. With my back pressed to the wall, I fumbled for the hall light switch, part of me expecting to hear the telltale sound of breaking glass at any moment.

Nothing, no glass breaking, no footsteps on the porch. Absolute silence filled the air, not even the chirping of crickets reached my ears. Pulling out my cell phone and staring at the screen, not even daring to look at the picture I had taken, my hands shook as I tried to figure out who to call. Who could I call? “Ghostbusters…” I whispered aloud to myself after a moment, trying to force myself to calm down with a bad joke. The cracked mockery of my voice that came out of my mouth only served to solidify my fear. I remember thinking about what I had just seen, could I really call a friend, family member or even the authorities? Even worse, the gate to the driveway was almost half a mile away and I would have to go to my car and drive the distance to let anyone in.

In the end, I crept to the over side of the hall, cautiously entering my room and retrieving my CZ-52 pistol. I sure as hell wasn’t going to look for a fight, but I decided that I wasn’t about to die without one either. I ended up sitting there against the wall until morning, only mustering the strength to lean around the corner and look out the sliding glass door when the room was bright from the sun’s rays. The porch was empty. With gun in hand, I made a few laps around the house, feeling slightly more confident with the comfort of the sun. The area was clear, I didn’t even find any tracks.

Over the next few weeks I was haunted by the same dreams of being stalked as before. I could see the silhouetted figures more clearly in the trees now as if they were getting closer. I could see the redness of their eyes reflecting in the pale light of the moon. They never howled in my dreams, they barely even made a sound as they crept along and shadowed my movements. A call to animal control revealed little except that a few people reported hearing howling as well. They said that it was normal of coyotes and that the light had played tricks on me. Unconvinced, I made a habit of locking and bolting my doors as soon as I got inside and was always indoors by dusk, with my sidearm always at the ready.

I used the internet to try and figure out what could be going on. I poured through information about canidae. Canis lupus, Canis lupus familiaris, Canis latrans, I researched all of them. What I saw did seem like a wolf or coyote, but those eyes, those howls, they were just so unnatural and unnerving that I couldn’t accept this. Then there was the picture, that blurry picture from my cell phone that showed what I could only pray was a trick of the light. It was as if the creatures exuded tiny tendrils made of shadow that writhed in the air around them. I could only hope they were diseased or covered in wet and knotted hair.

A part of me knew there wasn’t such a clear cut and simple explanation to this, however. Despite wanting to remain skeptical, what I had seen and heard lead me to suspect there was something supernatural and malevolent about these things. Searches lead to stories of barghests and Black Shuck, mythical black dogs that are said to roam the English country side as harbingers of death. I hated to even imagine this as a possibility, that my own death was just slowly stalking me until the time was right, that my end was near.

Trying to allay my fears, I posted the picture I had taken on various forums, ranging from ones about wolves and wild dogs to those dedicated to the occult and supernatural. It seemed that every time I told my story I was either met with ridicule or nut-jobs who linked it all to ludicrous things like alien plots. I caught a few leads eventually in news reports. Stories started popping up from nearby towns of people committing suicide or being attacked by wild animals, people who had reported of hearing eerie howls much like I had. The sites were spread apart and seemingly randomized, but I kept up my search for similar incidents. I had to find something that would prove to myself that I wasn’t simply losing my mind. Sadly, all I could do was keep searching and hope to eventually find some sort of meaning to it all.

Finally, four nights ago my dream changed. After walking for so long I could finally see the end of the road. I was horrified. A few hundred feet in front of me the road simply stopped, vanishing into a wall of trees. In shock, I stood there, staring at the throng of old pines, wondering if I should turn back. I had scarcely a moment to think before I saw it. Out of the center of the mass of trees, plodded a large black wolf-like creature. Barely more than a shadow, its eyes pierced the darkness as it eyed me. Behind those eyes was an unmistakable malice. Even more frightening, there was an unmistakable intelligence in them. I was frozen.

After what seemed like an eternity, the beast sprinted at me. As the distance closed I could see its body clearly covered in flowing black tendrils that flowed in the air as if its very essence was reaching out to devour all around it. Instinctively recoiling, I braced myself for the impact as it lunged at me, covering my stomach and neck to try and save myself. At the very moment in which I knew that everything was over, its haunting howl echoed through the night and caused me to wake up with a start.

My heart was pounding in my chest as I woke, my hand was already reflexively gripping the pistol that I now kept under my pillow. Sitting upright, I was trying my best to catch my breath when I heard and saw it. Like a black smoke it poured through one of the darkened corners of my room, almost seeming to suck the light from the area around it. As more and more started to creep in I could clearly see those damned red eyes that were now dripping with blackened blood and a muzzle full of razor sharp teeth starting to form. What happened in the next few seconds will be forever burned into my brain.

I got off only three shots between the time it had formed and lunged on top of me. I remember in the back of my mind I was shocked that it even had physical form as the impact knocked me backwards onto the bed. My gun was knocked out of my hand as it pinned me and pushed its muzzle towards my throat. Its eyes were burning flashes like cigarettes in the dark, leaving bright trails as it maneuvered for a good bite. With one hand I gripped its throat while with all my strength fighting to keep its gnashing teeth from my neck. While struggling,  the putrid stench of a thousand rotting corpses assailed my lungs as it’s breath washed over me.

With my free hand I groped frantically across my nightstand in a state of panic for some kind of improvised weapon. I was keenly aware of the sensation that my entire body was going numb. Those writhing tendrils of darkness seemed to permeate my very flesh, every where they flowed through my body felt like it was submerged in freezing water. I had lost all sense of feeling in my arm that held the creature at bay by the time my hand touched the base of a familiar metal surface. My touch lamp blazed to life.

In an instant the snarling atrocity which lumbered over me seemed to fade from existence. Nearby I heard a loathsome howl that echoed through my ears like a curse, then dissipated into nothingness. It took hours for me to regain feeling in my arm and my body, but I laid there until morning in complete and utter terror.
Had the light driven it back? Was pure luck the only reason I was now alive? I could scarcely believe that it wasn’t all some sort of hallucination. I wish that it had been something as merciful as insanity.

In bed, I remember pondering my situation. Trying to put some sense to this all. Three shell casings laid strewn across the floor and there were no holes in my wall. I wasn’t sure how to feel about that. It told me a few things, however. There was no blood, but that beast had been hit and I was able to touch it. The sudden bright light seemed to have driven it back, but I had heard it later, so I doubted that it was fatal. It had appeared out of the darkest corner, so it possibly needed to manifest in darkness. Oh yeah, it also stalked me in my fucking dreams and toyed with me, only to then follow me into my bedroom and try to rip my throat out. I had no clue what the hell it was.

I felt like I would never know what was going on. I started leaving all of my lights on all night and switched all of my bulbs to 100 watt. Saving power isn’t exactly high on my list of priorities any more. I’ve tried staying awake forever. Didn’t turn out so well, but I can’t remember what I dreamed of these past few nights. That’s something I really don’t find myself regretting. I’ve heard it nightly; outside, howling, walking around on my porch. I don’t think anyone can ever become accustomed to that accursed howling, but it doesn’t completely paralyze me with fear any more. It may not have been much progress, but it is something.

Last night I had a bit of a breakthrough, although it doesn’t really help my current situation. I’d long ago assumed there wasn’t any chance of actually getting a serious response in any of the forums I had visited and given bits of my story to, but last night I received an email from an alleged government worker. It seems I’m not the only one with firsthand experiences. He has been dogged (if you forgive the pun) by these same beasts for some time now as well, but unlike myself he was able to dig up some information from classified documents that I would never have been able to get to. At first I was extremely skeptical– until I began to read through the information he had sent me. Too many pieces fit into place for it to be sheer coincidence or him making things up.

Although it is a lot of data to process, I’ll relay the story as it was told to me.

————–
Over the past few decades, dogs have been the focal point of myriad scientific experiments. Soviet scientists, for example, used them extensively in their experiments. From studies of the effects of weightlessness on the body to attempts to preserve living organs outside the body. Some died in orbit as the first animals to ever travel into the blackness of space, countless others died deep in underground labs under the surgeon’s knife in countries around the world.

Not all of them, however, remained dead.

Dr. Peter Safar, the inventor of CPR, introduced a concept to the Army that must have seemed laughable at the time. He suggested that you could keep a body in suspended animation for hours by replacing all the blood in a body with an ice-cold saline solution. It was shelved for nearly two decades. But, again, eventually dogs were put on the chopping block in the name of science. Organs were torn and bones were broken, only to be repaired by the ones who did the damage. The saline was drained after hours of operation, blood was re-inserted into the corpses and their hearts were jump-started. Safar was right, you could keep a patient in stasis for hours until they could be operated on, then resurrected. It was an astounding medical breakthrough, one that would soon be twisted into a blasphemous mockery of it’s original purpose.

Despite many practical applications for saving trauma patients and wounded soldiers, this treatment is still not in widespread use, at least not as originally intended. The government decided to do what it had always done with new technology designed to benefit mankind. The decision was made to weaponize it. Once more, due to repeated successful re-animations, man’s best friend was placed firmly in scientists’ sights once more. Thus began the project henceforth known as the Kerberos Project. Whoever gave it this moniker likely thought it was extremely clever.

If only they had known just how fitting their choice was.

It was surmised that, while in this state of suspended animation, procedures which would almost certainly kill a living creature from shock could be carried out with significantly reduced risk. In this vein, the original plan was to test concepts on the canines, which would then be carried over to select active special forces troops if successful. One of the primary goals was to make physiological ‘enhancements’ that would make the test subjects much more resilient in combat. Wolf-dogs were selected as prime test subjects due to their oft larger and sturdier frames that resulted from cross breeding.

The first test subjects were put under with the aim of implanting subcutaneous body armor in the form of layered titanium plates, which would theoretically be able to deflect bullets. While many were able to survive this procedure, the scientists were completely unable to find an acceptable balance between weight and protection. Results varied from dogs who could not move under their own weight which were slightly resistant to small caliber rounds to dogs which were highly mobile but statistically no more likely to survive small arms fire than a dog without the augmentations. Many subjects were lost to suffocation through their own weight, while the lightly armored dogs were simply put under yet again, their armor removed. Eventually the solution was found in sheets of carbon nanotubes, woven into a lightweight ‘fabric’ that was both flexible and able to resist small arms fire. The resulting armor was a mere 0.6mm thick and capable of flexing freely. An astounding seventy percent ratio of tested dogs survived the procedure and showed an astounding resistance to small caliber handgun and rifle rounds.

Having proven the plausibility of a bulletproof super soldier, they began to focus on potential offensive enhancements to the animals. Again and again, the dogs were put into a suspended state and operated on. No real breakthroughs were to occur, however. Notions such as replacing claws and fangs with much sturdier and sharper materials resulted in the animals shredding themselves into grisly ribbons when they attempted to scratch themselves. It was in this period, however, that abnormalities started to make themselves clear. The wolf-dogs that had been under the knife the most started to show signs of instability. They ran into the walls as if chasing an unseen foe, they snarled and growled at vacant corners. It seemed that prolonged and repeated death and re-animation had resulted, unavoidably, in brain damage. The decision was made to continue the studies and to see just how many times the dogs could withstand the process before they were unable to fully function.

The symptoms became worse and worse, the dogs seemed to stare at things that were not there, their ears began to twitch as if listening to sounds unheard. Speculation arose that the animals had begun to hallucinate as a side-effect of brain damage, but the tests were not interrupted. In time, every single of the surviving dogs displayed erratic behavior to some degree. The ones that had been subject to the most experiments had started to even show signs of a weakening vascular system, their heart rates slowed to an almost death defying pace and their eyes began to fill with red as if all their capillaries had burst. Extreme cases began to develop where blood actually started to slowly pour from the eyes and nose of the animals. These cases were accompanied by an inexplicable darkening of the fur and behavior that, if applied to a human, would be classified as paranoid schizotypal behavior. Both fear and aggression were markedly increased, the dogs alternately slunk from and/or bit at anything around them, be it real or imagined. The order came down from the high brass that these red-eyed beasts were too unpredictable for practical applications or to even continue research on. Research was confined to an observation only basis.

Within a week, the first reports of howling on the base began. Dogs began to disappear from their cages, each time with no trace as to how they had escaped. All of the cages found empty had been magnetically locked and there were no records that indicated loss of power. With each night, reports of strange howling grew as the numbers of subjects inside the lab dwindled. Sightings of black ‘wolf’ silhouettes were reported by the guards, often seen vanishing around a corner to never be located again.

The corpses started turning up on the fifth morning. Twelve dead. In the nearest town people were found dead in their beds, at their computers and on their couches. Some had their throats ripped open, others had their entrails devoured entirely. This was easily attributed to the escaped animals, but the most puzzling thing is that a few of the homes had been locked, without any signs of forced entry. Frightened townspeople recounted hearing an ominous howling throughout the night that seemed to be coming from every direction at once. Some even reported witnessing strange movements in the shadows and claimed to have been stalked by creatures by dark red iridescent eyes.

Within sixteen days all of the remaining animals, totaling over two hundred, had inexplicably vanished from their cages. During this period the omnidirectional nightly howling that pervaded the nearby countryside pushed people to their mental limits. Local police were inundated with calls from panicked individuals who had locked themselves in their homes, afraid to turn out their lights or even sleep until morning. It wasn’t until the end of the third week that the death toll began to wane into nothingness. Reports of the eerie howling started to be confined to the most rural of homes before they stopped entirely. The total of missing and dead was tallied at ninety-seven, with eighteen deaths attributed to suicide. Of the suicides, four were notable for happening in the victim’s beds and for a complete lack of physical trauma or traces of known drugs or medications in their blood streams.

In the end, nondisclosure agreements were signed by staff. The government wiped its hands of responsibility and claimed the incidents in town were due to a massive rabies outbreak. All data was classified as Top Secret and summarily filed away.
————–

This is basically the meat of the information he gave me. As far as I can gather from our correspondence, this happened originally in a remote location in Arizona which was blacked out of the files. Given my location in rural South Carolina and the fact that I have only witnessed a few at most, I could only assume that most of these animals have branched off into small packs and been roaming ever since. Sadly, I can’t do anything but speculate on the details of what really happened based on what I’ve seen.  The conclusions I’ve drawn only serve to horrify me even more, but I can’t think of any better explanations.

These dogs were taken into the realm of death dozens of times, only to be ripped back into our world. What if, each time, they took a part of the realm of death itself back with them?  It’s as if they began to see and feel that which exists on both sides of the veil of death simultaneously and it cracked their minds. They underwent this turbulent transformation into some sort of semi-physical manifestation of the other side, becoming literal avatars of death. Now this transformation is complete and they aren’t broken minded killers any more, but stalking agents of the afterlife that like to toy with their victims before taking them down. At will it seems that they can manifest out of the blackness and travel the void between both worlds, somehow neither truly alive or dead, but something in between.

I don’t know if they can be killed, but the light holds them at bay. Earlier, I gathered all of my courage when I heard my demonic stalker on the porch and confirmed this theory. I slowly opened the back door after I had flooded the room with light. I locked eyes with the beast, but he simply glared with hatred through the glass door. He made no attempt to press forward through the light.  It was a horrific few moments, but I had to be sure that the light could offer protection.  I now feel like a prisoner of my own home, but at least I am alive for as long as I have power.

One fear keeps repeating itself in my mind, though. What happened to the four reported dead in their beds with no explanations why? Did they reach the end of the same road that I did and simply never wake up?

They’re out there. They’re hunting.

The only advice I can offer is to keep your lights on… and try not to dream.
Credit To – Wolfen

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Bedtime IV: Something Wicked this Way Comes

December 26, 2012 at 12:00 AM
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Last night was the most heart-wrenching and frightening of my life, so much so that I can barely bring myself to contemplate it. By now I will have submitted what occurred during my visit to that cursed place I once called home; a visit which heralded the return of my childhood fears. No matter what foul thing befell me then, nothing could have prepared me for last night.

After waking up to the chilling sight of that toy soldier, bitten in half, I found that the window to my bedroom was slightly ajar. On closer inspection it looked entirely as if the window had been prised open from outside. The latches were bent back, out of position as if subjected to an unrestricted, unbound brute force.

From the outside looking in, I could see three indentations where the unwelcome housebreaker had used some kind of tool to leverage the window unnaturally away from its latch. What was peculiar about those markings was that they seemed to cut across the outside of the window frame like an old uneven razor, unlike a crowbar or other implement which would have merely left a dent where it had been used as a wedge, to force the window open.

Nothing had been stolen and I attempted to rationalise the markings on the window as human-made, and not ‘claw-like’ as they appeared to be. The toy soldier, returned to me so violently, I could not explain. My heart sank at the very thought of it.

I knew it was a message, but it seemed to me to be more of a twisted joke, announcing the arrival of my childhood predator, rather than something to be puzzled over or interpreted.

I spent the morning checking each room of my house and its contents; nothing was missing. I could only hope that whatever that fiend had been in the back seat of my car the previous night, that it had only wished to frighten me one last time, and then be on its way.

Perhaps its reach would be weakened so far from my childhood bedroom.

It is all too easy for any sane person to persuade themselves that a traumatic event is something more benign, but in this instance I could not; that broken toy was not a mere joke, but a promise. A promise that it would return, for what I did not wish to know.

My thoughts naturally tumbled inwards and back to those terrifying nights I had as a child. I was now re-introduced to the apprehension of bedtime, the longing for the day, and the anxiety of night. Like an old and relentless enemy, my fear grew throughout the day, festering inside of me leading to strange and ominous thoughts about the consequences of unwittingly bringing that thing home.

Do not misunderstand me, my fear was not simply for my own safety. As a child I believed that my nightly visitor was transfixed and consumed by wanting me, but I did not feel that my loved ones were in any danger. This, however, had changed. I did worry. This time I did feel nothing but fear for my loved ones, because you see, I do not live alone.

My girlfriend and I moved in together over two years ago. I have caused enough damage now, that I do not wish to speak her name and will simply refer to her as ‘Mary’. Mary and I had had a happy existence and in fact, we were very much in love. This coming Christmas morning I was going to propose to her, but that beautiful moment has now been bitterly taken away from me by that rancid abomination.

I knew that Mary would be home that evening. She works in events and promotion and as a result is often away from home for days at a time, travelling around the country coordinating various conferences and exhibitions. I do not complain about this, as she and I both know that I am a solitary character, and that the odd few days of solitude normally do me good, allowing me to dive headlong into my writing, absorbing each and every word, undisturbed.

Despite this, I always miss her, and with the events of the past week, reliving those torturous nights and then allowing them to return, I had missed her far more acutely than I had ever previously done so.

She arrived at around 6pm and I greeted her with a smile, a warm embrace, and a passionate kiss. I tried to hide my perturbed state of mind from her, but Mary knows me better than anyone I have ever met and immediately enquired:

“What’s wrong?”

I tripped and fumbled through my words as I explained to her that I had written a story about my childhood and that exploring those dark and twisted memories had left me distraught. Mary has an incredibly caring nature and she immediately lay her suitcase and bags on the floor, sat me down on our couch, and with her soft and gentle way, asked me to talk about the whole ordeal.

But I couldn’t!

I couldn’t mention this thing, this wretch which had now found its way to our home; an invisible and twisted invader which had been led there by my idiotic curiosity! At the time I felt that she would think me mad, but now how I wish I had told her the truth!

If there is one thing more damaging to a relationship than a lie, it is a half-truth. Not because it is deceitful, but because it is a corruption of the truth; perverted and abused to suit the teller’s needs.

I told her my half-truth.

I told her about my story, that of the thing in the narrow room and the watcher at the end of my bed, but that is where the truth ended and a lie began. I deliberately and deceitfully mentioned that it was of course just my imagination as a child, and neglected to talk of my experiences of returning to the scene of those depraved crimes. Knowing that she would see the damaged window latch and claw marks, I spun my web as I told a grand tale about waking up to a burglar attempting to break into our house, and having to chase them away.

I was quite the hero. I lied to her, and she showed me great sympathy and kindness for my deception.

I was embarrassed by the truth then, and I am ashamed of my lie now. If I had been truthful, then perhaps we could have faced this menace together, but instead that thing took advantage of my dishonesty and put a wedge between us.

The events of last night desecrated the most important thing in the world to me.

Night time arrived in all of its bleakness, and was unwelcome. I lay in the darkness, waiting. Mary was sound asleep next to me, each breath a soothing reminder of companionship, but despite my growing aversion to loneliness, I would have no sleep that night. I knew from experience that when my uninvited guest would show itself, it would do so with subtlety, increasing its grip on me with each visitation as if requiring time to build up its strength; a leech feeding on my fear for succour.

My nerves kept me on edge, which fought back the oncoming onslaught of sleep admirably. In the end though, biology won and as my bedside clock lumbered towards 4am, sleep took me; the relaxing blanket of nightly oblivion, anxiety washed away, my worries a distant memory, sinking deeper into the soft mattress below and finally into a long sought for rest.

Sleep, no matter how deep, is rarely all encompassing. For as I hovered over the cusp of a dream, something began to bother me. Something invasive, yet distant. I slowly opened my eyes and allowed them to adjust to the darkness. Mary lay soundly asleep and I calmed myself by listening to her breathing in the night. Inhale was followed by exhale, again, and again, rhythmically, hypnotically, I began to drift towards sleep once more.

But, no. There it was, something else, distinct yet undefinable.

It was distant, out of the way, almost obscured or smothered as if coming from…behind something. I strained my ears in an attempt to define it, but it was all too quiet. I remained in the bed for several more minutes, but with each passing second that almost inaudible sound grated on me, like broken glass on a raw nerve.

Sleep was now abandoned, and with much frustration I decided to reluctantly investigate the source of the noise. I sat up in the bed and listened intently. It was unlike any other sound I had ever heard. Quiet, low, but as my mind adjusted to the noise I slowly began to piece its nature together. It was most certainly obscured by something, but the closest thing I could relate it to…was a repetitive murmur.

I heard something similar previously when I was a child visiting my Grandmother in a nursing home. A place which had left an impression on me, seeing the wandering residents confused and of a fractured mind, meandering around the grounds like lost inmates murmuring repetitively to themselves of days gone past, repeating nonsensical phrases and words.

This is what it reminded me of; a continuous stream of indecipherable words, uttered by someone in the throws of confusion.

I turned to check on Mary, watching her chest rise and fall with each breath. Assured that she was undisturbed, I left the bed. As I stood up I recognised immediately that the murmuring was louder. While dark, I had left a light on in the hall as I always do which crept under the door and allowed me to view the room in a dim, but visible way.

I looked around to see if anything was out of place, but the room appeared as expected. My mind ambled back to that night as a child in the second room, when noises could be heard from some unseen, yet ever-present menace.

I took a step forward and as I did so the noise once again grew in volume. While I was still at a loss in deciphering the words, I could now hear the character of the voice. It was old, scratched by age with a harsh, guttural undertone to it. The words were being repeated at a frantic pace and seemed anxious, yet muffled by some unknown barrier.

I was frightened, but I drew strength from Mary being in the room, and with a deep breath filled with trepidation, I took another slow, and silent step forward, my bare feet cushioned by the cold floor below.

Again, the voice became louder. I wasn’t sure if I was imagining it, but I could have sworn that it had become more agitated as I drew closer. The next step I took, shook me to my very core, for as that murmuring, garbled voice grew louder still; amongst the rambling, gravelled sound of it, I heard a word. A word which shot an icy shudder through my bones. A word to be feared.

It spoke my name.

Dear God it knew my name! To me it was as if knowing who I was somehow endowed that thing with an unlimited reach. That I may never be rid of it. That it could kill me at any moment.

Something suddenly caught my eye, a movement accompanied by a ruffle of cloth. I knew now where that rhythmic, agitated voice originated. I knew now why it was muffled and difficult to decipher. I could now see it, only a few feet in front of me.

Standing.

Standing behind the closed curtains.

The moon was in its ascendancy outside, and while its glimmer could not entirely penetrate the thick cloth, it could barely, and faintly, outline the thing watching between my window and the curtains. I cannot now convey the strangeness which then overcame me. My anxiety and terror had heightened, but an unusual compulsion, an untimely sense of purpose took me over.

I had to see what it was.

I took another tentative step towards the curtains. They swayed slightly as if caught by a breeze, but I could not tell whether the movement had been caused by myself, or the hand of that thing hiding behind a shroud of cloth. I was now close enough to hear its laboured breathing, the displacement of fluid at the back of its throat palpable with each inhalation.

This was it.

I was going to confront this monstrosity from my past, this tormentor of children, this coward. Raising my right hand slowly, I accidentally touched the fabric of the curtain, causing a subtle ripple which parted the them momentarily. I gasped, for through that temporary slit, only for a moment, I saw it.

My God, how can I describe what was standing there? Even now, I close my eyes and wish that I could erase it from my memory. It shivered and shook as it continued to murmur, repeating some indecipherable phrase, sounding like a bizarre mixture of numerous languages. Its emaciated skin stretched over an unnatural frame of brittle and prominent bones; vertebrae, ribs, and other inner workings almost protruding through its paper thin, pale, languidly pink, and almost bruised looking husk. As malnourished as it appeared, the stomach was distended in places and its bony appearance did nothing to diminish the feeling that it was capable of exerting itself with brute, perverted force on any of its victims.

Sickness swelled in my stomach, a tainted, offensive smell filled the air, and as it murmured and whispered in the darkness through what sounded like broken, fractured teeth, I could not help but feel pity for this wretch, quivering in the night as if victim of a long starvation.

I quickly came to my senses and realised that this thing was not to be pitied, but feared. Not to be understood, but exposed. It was not shivering because it was cold, it was shaking with excitement, like a drug addict anticipating their next dose.

Standing there contemplating what I had just seen between the curtains, I once again prepared myself to remove its shrouded, clothed protection and to reveal it for what it was; a cold hearted vandal, a prowler of the worst kind, a deviant festering in its own delectation.

As I once again raised my hand to draw the curtain, something caught my attention. Its incessantly confused, gravelly, and inarticulate whispers squeezed through that broken mouth and uttered the three most terrifying words I have ever heard.

“Look behind you”.

A cold breath slid down the back of my neck.

Momentarily I froze, but love is a powerful motivator. Had I been on my own, fear would have taken me, shaking any possibility of resistance from my mind, but with Mary sleeping soundly in the same room as that thing; shielding someone I loved from that wretch was my only thought.

I turned around slowly and as I did so, I could hear it wheezing, gasping, groaning for air. At a quarter turn, I could smell its breath, the stench of death hung in the air, plague-like and foul. Then, I heard another voice. It was not that horror in the darkness, but Mary. She let out a scream which startled and distressed me to my very core. A scream which will haunt me for the rest of my days.

I turned quickly and laid eyes on it, but it wasn’t behind me, it was on the bed! It writhed and rasped, wheezing in delight, its bony spine curved with the anguish of countless years protruding through a ragged, torn piece of cloth which hung loosely over its torso, in a vain attempt to appear almost human.

But was it human? Had it once been human? Or was it something so vile, so despicable, so utterly and sorrowfully contemptible that no man or woman could ever attempt to quantify or understand it?

I sprung forward towards it, grabbing, hitting, pulling at that thing with every ounce of my strength, its loose skin slipping through my hands. It squeezed and forced Mary’s face into her pillow with glee, as its other limbs arched and contorted, tearing at her nightdress, running its long, starved fingers over her naked body with its sordid caress.

Mary’s screams were muffled by the pillow as I began to fear that she was being suffocated.

I shouted, I yelled, I pleaded with that thing to leave her alone, to take me, to do anything it wanted, but that only served to animate the fiend to even greater depths of depravity. It was hurting her, cutting her… my beautiful Mary.

Suddenly it stopped attacking her, but it still kept one of its brittle, gangly, and gaunt yet weighted hands on the back of Mary’s head, pushing her face further into her pillow. I had my hands around its putrid neck, trying as best I could to strangle the beast, but my efforts were in vain. Its scrawny frame belied its overpowering strength. I watched in sickly disbelief as it began to run its cadaverous fingers through Mary’s hair, slowly, and almost with affection.

I could now here the twisting and cracking of bone, the popping of cartilage, the snapping of tendons.

Thank God it was not coming from Mary! I was now on its back with my arm wrapped around its throat, and my chin rubbing against the abrasive skin of its shoulder. As its spine dug sharply into my stomach, it twisted its head in an entirely inhuman way. Its neck clicked and groaned under the strain with every arthritic movement, as if hindered by a thousand years of rigamortis.

It was now looking at me.

I have heard it often said of some people that they cannot see the forest for the trees, but now I truly appreciate that sentiment, so close was I to its black, icy stare that I could not take in its surrounding features.

I increased my grip, I swore, I screamed, I would have torn its throat out if I could have, but it was all in vain as it continued to run its scrawny fingers through Mary’s hair nonchalantly while looking at me.

I don’t think I will ever truly recover from the sound which seeped out through what I assumed to be its approximation of a grin; a wheezing sigh; a grunt; something which sounded very close to a sinister, otherworldly laugh.

As its face touched mine, its eyes stared deep into me. Not even my reflection was returned; two looking glasses into a sanctuary for the dark, devoid of light, happiness, and love. It was staring as if it wished to say something, as if it was trying to communicate a simple idea to me.

Malice.

With a wrenching, stuttered and violent movement, it tore an entire fistful of hair from Mary’s head leaving behind it an open wound. Then it was gone. Mary did not scream, she merely whimpered. I turned the bedside lamp on, but no words of care or sympathy could console her.

She wept uncontrollably.

The bed was soaked in blood which had seeped out from the numerous scratches on her back and the large cut where an entire section of her hair had once been. I hugged her, told her that everything would be all right; then she looked at me.

Looking at her tear filled eyes I knew what she thought immediately. She thought I had attacked her, that I had done those terrible things to her. Of all the experiences I have had, the look of betrayal, disgust, and contempt on Mary’s face will remain the most painful.

She is gone.

After composing herself, she gathered up some things and left. I tried to explain, I tried to tell her everything that had been happening, but she would not listen. Who would believe such a preposterous story? She simply said that she would not call the police, but that if I ever attempted to contact her, she would do just that. To her, I was the aggressor, not that thing. As she left, she turned to look at me one last time and then burst in to tears.

I know now that I have lost her forever. The woman I love more than anything on this earth thinks I am a violently hideous human being. If only she could understand that whatever did this, that it was not human, and if it ever was, it had long since abandoned that nature.

It was 5am when Mary left me; it’s 9am now. I am sitting here in the cold light of day at my kitchen table, writing this so that there is some record of what has transpired, so that people know, so that Mary knows, that whatever happens, that whatever occurs from here on in, that it was that despicable creature from my childhood, from that cursed narrow room all those years ago which rained this misery down upon me; upon us.

I must now dispense with the sentiment. I could easily sit here mourning the loss of my relationship with Mary, or I could allow myself to be overcome with fear; to do nothing. But that simply will not do.

I can hear the laughter of my neighbour’s children outside. At different stages in my life, I remember that same feeling of joy and happiness from something as simple as playing with friends, or climbing a tree, or kissing the woman you love, or even drifting off to sleep at bedtime to dream of what could be, in the safety of a happy family home. Memories, only memories…I fear I will never experience that happiness again. This thing has broken me. But I am resolute. Whatever that hideous wretch has in store, whatever it desires to do with me, I will not allow that thing to harm another person, or to invade another child’s life as it did mine all those years ago.

I must leave you all now as there is much to be done before it gets dark, before it returns. My plans are made and with any luck they will succeed. I wish I could say we will speak again, but I think that is unlikely. I hope you understand what must be done.

Because tonight, I’m going to kill it.

Credit To – Michael Whitehouse
Note: This story is part of a series. You can read the first installment here – Bedtime
Look forward to more installments being posted over the next few days!

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