Doctor Carney’s Thesis

November 11, 2013 at 12:00 PM
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Does anybody here ever watch those online TED Talks? They’re short lectures given at an annual convention by intellectuals of just about every field or job description. They cover all kinds of interesting things from new insights into neuroscience to the latest business strategies to celebrating comic books. I discovered TED Talks about a year ago and I actually have learned a lot from them. I’ve even started to feel like I’m amassing a fine little store of knowledge on a lot of obscure topics.

Like most of my new internet discoveries though, I tend to spend my nights and days binging on them for a couple of weeks and then get sick of them for months afterward before the cycle repeats itself.

After the last one I saw, though, I’m not sure I’ll watch another TED Talk. I just don’t think that the TED organization is very trustworthy anymore.

The last TED Talk I watched was recorded at the TED gathering in 2012 in Long Beach, California. The Talk was given by Dr. Alfred Carney, astronomer. Dr. Carney is relatively obscure nowadays. I had certainly never heard of him until I watched the TED Talk. It turns out, that he caused a bit of a stir in the late 90s when he taught at Tokyo University.

Dr. Carney submitted a, quite frankly bizarre, journal article to the Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan. He claimed that the then recently discovered mysterious etchings on Bronze Age tombs in southern Honshu were not only a complex system of stellar coordinates but that they correlated exactly to some ancient Babylonian star charts which he had in his possession.

Furthermore, Carney claimed that both of these sources indicated the existence of a dim celestial body less than a light year from the edge of our solar system. Dr. Carney claimed that this body, which he nicknamed the Dark Oni, was massive enough to cause gravitational disturbances in our Solar System’s outer comet belt. If left unchecked, these disturbances would eventually lead to impacts on earth worse than that which wiped out the dinosaurs.

The article’s argument had numerous problems, not least of all the fact that actual archaeologists considered the Japanese markings to be far too vague to be anything like coordinates. Carney, having gained a reputation for paranoia, also refused to turn over his alleged “ancient Babylonian star charts” for independent study. The peer reviewers concluded that he didn’t even have any star charts to begin with.

Dr. Carney angrily resigned from the faculty at Tokyo rather than face further inquiry into his integrity. He was kicked out of the Astronomical Society of Japan and I’m surprised he didn’t also lose his Doctorate. As far as I can tell from Googling, that’s the last anybody heard from him until 2012.

Why would TED even give the time of day to what by all accounts is a disgraced crackpot, though? Maybe the Sapling Foundation has an affinity for bad astronomy and pseudoarcheology? Maybe Carney had some dirt on a member of the selection board. I don’t know. But regardless, on October 10, 2012, the footage of Alfred Carney’s TED Talk was posted to youtube and the TED website under the title, “Alfred Carney: Why comets matter.” It was online for about five minutes before it was taken down and all mention of Carney wiped from the conference records.

The video begins as they all do. The TED logo is followed by a shot of Dr. Carney, standing in the middle of a packed auditorium in California business casual.

“Now, I’m sure some of you here are a little bit skeptical of my work due to certain mishaps in the past. I certainly don’t blame you if you are. I handled the situation rather poorly,” he says. “But what I’ve brought with me today is some fresh evidence that I think will change your mind. And if my conclusions are right, we could be looking at the most dire threat that life on earth has ever faced. Even the Mayans could only foresee the tip of it.”

I can tell that he’s doing his best to pour on the charm and credibility, but still he seems to be a sweating. I doubt it’s just from the stage lights.

“Now, if you’ll direct your eyes to the screen, this is a picture of markings found on a tomb in Japan dated to about 900 years before Christ…” He begins to go into the same spiel that he gave the Astronomical Society. Only this time, he actually shows some blurry shots of his “ancient Babylonian star charts.” He apologizes to the audience that he wasn’t able to get higher resolution images, “at such short notice.”

“As you can see here from the fifth character of the third line and the five, six, seven, eighth character of the second that the only star this could be referring to visible from Babylon is Arcturus,” said Carney. “Now, with that in mind, let’s go back to the Japanese etchings…”

He ultimately didn’t have much new to bring to the table. I’m no mathematician but even I could see that a lot of the coordinates he was marking all over that poor PowerPoint were completely bogus even if one accepted his leap of faith that the Japanese etchings were star coordinates.

The video goes on like that for the next 12 minutes. You can detect yawns and scoffs coming from the audience, but Carney doesn’t seem to hear. At the 12:34 mark, things get interesting again. Carney has just finished showing us a CGI rendition of the Dark Oni.

He says, “So, call it what you wish; whether Nibiru, Nemesis, Planet X, whatever. But the universal attestations of folklore are clear and the math doesn’t lie, people. There is an unprecedented object out there and it is a threat. We still have time, though. The errant comets this thing is going to send out are still years, maybe even decades, away from us. But we need that time to mount an offensive. The darkest imaginings of science fiction will become our grim reality if we don’t launch a program to stop this thing.”

Carney then clicks to an image of Japanese Dogū figurines. “The aliens that the ancient inhabitants of Japan and of Babylon were in contact with gave us a second chance because they saw our boundless potential as a…

At this point, some poor beleaguered producer with a clipboard jumps on stage and goes into damage control mode. “We’re so sorry, ladies and gentlemen! There seems to be some mistake. Dr. Carney had misrepresented to us the content of his presentation. We will be moving along shortly…”

Carney’s mic is cut, but you can still hear him yell, “Fascist,” and other epithets at the producer. He’s now red as a stop sign and gets literally dragged kicking and screaming from the stage by three security guards.

Like I said, the video vanished form the web after five minutes and all references to Carney even being at the 2012 TED Conference seem to have also been scrubbed. I was able to rip a copy of the video once my Spider Sense told me it would get censored but I’m sitting on it until I see someone else post a rip without their website disappearing in the night.

Dr. Carney hasn’t shown up anywhere on the web since that day either. A friend of mine that I discuss this with speculates that “they” sent the IRS to audit the poor sap off the face of the earth, but he’s a little bit of a conspiracy nut.

No other astronomer has come forth to confirm or deny the existence of Carney’s Dark Oni. My rational side tells me that the whole thing is pseudoscience hooey. Still, in the middle of the night as I look up at the stars the Agent Mulder in me can’t help but wonder. What if the crackpot was on to something?

Credit To – Cosmo Fish

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November 7, 2013 at 12:00 PM
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Ever since I can remember I have had a strange fascination with mirrors. The idea that there is a piece of glass which reflects everything you see. I still wonder what the first man thought when he was saw his reflection in still water. Did he instinctively know it was him? Or did he spend a few minutes moving his arms around until he realized that this other man matched his movements completely? Whatever the case, my natural curiosity for mirrors led to one of the most unbelievable moments of my life.

It was 7 years ago. I was a ten year old who had just moved from the cozy suburbs to a large ranch house, smack dab in the middle of 10 acres of land. I had many memorable experiences in that house and on the surrounding property, getting bitten by a racoon, having late night airsoft wars; but there is one that I have never told. One that is set apart from all the others.
We bought that house as a fixer upper, and since I was a ten year old with a taste for adventure, I claimed the lone upstairs bedroom as my own. The room was complete with dated brass fixtures, thick teal carpet, and it’s own connected bathroom.
Over time as I have thought through this story in my head, I am still surprised that I didn’t notice anything when I first went into that bathroom. I didn’t have a dark foreboding, there wasn’t anything stand out creepy or weird about it, just a room. A sink. And a mirror. The mirror was massive. It sat behind the sink so you couldn’t help but see yourself when you walked in. It had a slight yellowed tint, and was covered in dust and grime. But nothing really seemed out of the ordinary, nothing that would signal what was to come.

The first two nights spent in that bedroom were completely normal, nothing strange except the occasional midnight creak or moan from the ancient air conditioning unit. But on the 3rd night, laying in my bedroom bed, it started.
I woke up suddenly, the groggy feeling of heaviness that accompanies being woken from a deep sleep. I slowly started to gain consciousness and my ears strained to hear what could have woken me. That’s when I heard it.

Drip…. Drip…. Drip….

I breathed a sigh of relief as I realized I just must have left the bathroom faucet on. I sat up, turned on my dim bedside lamp, climbed out of bed, and stepped into the bathroom.

As I set my foot down on the tile, I was surprised when I discovered it strangely chilled. I continued in, not thinking too much of it, and turned the bathroom light on.
My reflection greeted me. I was in my Mario pajamas and my hair was a bed-heady mess. I smiled at how silly I looked. I looked at the faucet handle and sure enough, it had been left ever so slightly open. I turned it all the way closed, turned off the light and went back to bed. As I was drifting off to sleep I made a mental note to ask my dad if he could tighten the faucet in the morning.
Though, by the time I got back from school, as you can expect from any 5th grader, I had a million different things on my mind, and completely forgot. Instead spending my time at Goodwill with my parents looking for the perfect costume for halloween, which was coming up in a few days.
That night though, it happened again. I awoke suddenly, with the same strange heaviness that covered my body the night before. Instinctively I strained my ears, and I heard it again.

Drip…. Drip…. Drip….

I sat up, annoyed. I was sure I had double checked the faucet before I went to bed. I turned on my bedside lamp, walked across the carpet and set foot on the bathroom tile. My foot recoiled instinctively. The tile wasn’t just cool anymore, it was actually cold. Too bothered to care, I turned on the light and jumped at the sight of my reflection. I still wasn’t used to seeing anybody else (Even if it was me) this late at night. I guess all that TV before bed was starting to take it’s toll. I turned the faucet off, and the dripping stopped.

The next day I got my dad to tighten the faucet handle. He walked in with the tool bag, appeared to be tightening something, than walked out.
It turned out that everything was already tight, and he told me to make sure to check the faucet before I went to bed.
So, that night before I went to bed, I walked into the bathroom, the frigid floor greeting my bare feet once again. I looked at my ever present reflection, feeling a dull sense of unease for whatever reason. I didn’t look my reflection in the eyes very long, I still don’t know why at that point I felt uncomfortable with it. I checked and double checked the faucet handle, nothing was dripping.
Feeling relieved that I could finally get some uninterrupted rest, I layed down in my bed, turned off the light and drifted off.

I awoke again, my body felt even heavier than usual, my mind seemed groggy, everything was completely black, I think my head was still under my covers. My ears pricked up, listening.
I still get shivers thinking about this part.
I didn’t hear a

Drip… Drip… Drip…

I heard

Psshhhhh

After spending a few moments trying to decipher what this sound was, I realized it was the faucet.
The faucet was on completely. No longer a drip but a steady stream.
I tried to sit up, but it took a few tries to get my bearings after being awakened from my near catatonic sleep.
I attuned my ear and made sure what I heard was what I thought it was. Yes, the faucet in my bathroom was completely on. I gulped.
I stepped off of my bed, my feet being cushioned by the dated carpet. The light from my bed lamp was dim, only casting enough light to light up my floor, the bathroom was still pitch black. I stepped in.

This time when I placed my foot on the floor, it wasn’t just cold, it was freezing. It felt like the tile had been in a deep freeze.
Unsure what to do, I stepped in fully, goosebumps shooting up my calf, and turned the light on. I don’t know what I expected to see, but what I saw was me.
I looked deeply into my own eyes, feeling a sense of distrust. I still don’t really know how to explain it, but the only closest word I can think of, is detachment. Like looking at a photo of yourself when you were younger. You know that’s you, but you feel…. detached.
I reached my hand slowly towards the faucet handle, still meeting my own stare. I slowly started to turn the handle, my eyes meeting my own. The water poured less, less, less and then finally the handle clicked to its full rotation, the water was off. My hand remained on the faucet I started at the eyes of my reflection, and that’s when it happened.

It blinked.

I saw my reflection blink.
I let out what I thought would be a scream but ended up just being a sudden and horrified gasp.
I ran out of the room, down the stairs and straight to my parents bedside.

They were a little surprised that I ran to them crying because I hadn;t for years, but they could tell I was upset so they let me sleep in their room.
All I could muster out that morning in explanation was “Nightmares”
I didn’t dare tell my parents, I don’t know if it was my childhood fear of not being believed, or what. I think part of me was still trying to convince myself that it didn’t happen.
I tried telling myself that my eyes were just playing tricks on me, anything to convince myself that I didn’t really see “my” reflection blink. Anything to convince myself that that mirror was just another mirror.

That evening, was halloween. I was invited by some of my new fifth grade friends to go trick or treating with them, but after a few hours we had to stop early due to a giant rainstorm kicking in.
When I returned to my house, pillowcase full of candy in tow, my parents greeted me with news that send shivers down my spine.

They were going on a date night.

I tried to explain the various made up excuses I had for them not to go, I even tried to use the lightning storm outside as an excuse, but nothing worked. And I didn’t dare tell them the real reason.
They patiently explained how I was 12 years old, they’d only be gone for a few hours, and I had their phone numbers if I needed to call.
Once the door shut behind them, my heart dropped. I was alone. With the mirror.

I spent the first hour or so downstairs. I tried to get the tv to work, but because of the storm outside I was only getting static. That’s when I made my decision.
I still don’t know what drove me to go back into the bathroom.
I’ve tried to explain it as childhood curiosity, temporary insanity, and a few other things. To this day I still don’t understand it.
Whatever the case, I found myself climbing up the stairs to the top floor where my bedroom was located.

I waked into the bedroom, and as if on cue, a particularly loud clap of thunder made the windows rattle. I turned on my bedside lamp, and sat on my bed staring at the bathroom doorway.
I pulled out my still full candy bag, reached my hand down into it and pulled out a few tootsie rolls. I ate quietly, hoping the sugar would give me courage.
I walked into the bathroom, turned the light on, and looked my reflection dead in the eye.
Time seemed to stand still.
My reflection no longer felt like me.
Looking at it made me feel almost offended, that there could be something so similar to me, but so different.

Everything got very quiet.

I could hear my heartbeat loudly in my head.

My reflection was moving.

Its arm, to be specific. I only saw it out of my peripheral vision because our eyes were locked, but it was definitely moving.
What felt like a electric current shot up my body, my hair stood on end and I was frozen, staring, every single muscle in my body tense.
I tried to scream but I couldn’t move.
My reflection still stared back at me, it’s face neutral.

It was moving it’s hand towards the faucet handle on its side, it got closer and closer and then I felt something on my hand, strained my eyes to look down just a tiny bit and realized my own hand had grasped the faucet handle on my side.
It had moved it’s hand to the faucet handle and I had too. I tried to pull my hand back, but I couldn’t.
It was as if the signals from my brain weren’t being communicated to any parts of my body. I willed my body to move, but nothing happened.
My reflection’s face looked at me knowingly, then moved its head slightly closer to the mirror, and parted it’s lips, revealing a devilish grin.
I felt my own face contort, matching its features.

BANG A clap of thunder rattled the mirror.
My whole body felt heavy as I stared at this smiling abomination, somehow controlling my body.
It’s free hand started to move up, and though I couldn’t break the stare with its eyes, I could see out of my peripheral vision that my hand was also moving up. Our hands simultaneously started moving towards the mirror. I tried to fight back, to pull away, but it was useless.
As my hand got closer to the mirror, I felt a vibration emanating from the grimy glass surface, but it pulled my hand closer still, it’s horrifying smile still stretching my face.

BANG an even louder clap of thunder rumbled the very ground I was standing on.
As my hand got closer and closer to the mirror, my fingertips started to feel incredibly cold. I was trying with all my might to pull my hand away from the mirror, my fingertips were grazing the surface of the mirror, and then I felt it. An icy coldness, a tingling sensation, on the tips of my fingers, and I could see, my fingers had partially gone through the mirror, to the other side.
My heart dropped.
And that’s when I realized it was trying to pull me over to its side.

BANG the loudest lightning strike of them all shook the house, and in an instant, darkness. The lighting had killed the power, and to my delight I could no longer see my reflection, only pitch black darkness.
I pulled my fingers out of the glass, I could control my body again.
I turned my head away from the mirror my body scrambling to be anywhere but in that bathroom. I dove out of the bathroom, hitting my shoulder on the door on the way out, then landed not so softly on the floor. The colors of my room got distorted, everything was purple, then green. The room was spinning and my head felt light, I tried to get up but my body wouldn’t listen. That’s when I blacked out.
That was the last night I set foot in that bathroom. Heck, that was the last time I even set foot in the bedroom.

It took less work than I thought than to convince my parents to let me sleep in the game room.
Eventually though, our family decided to move. We renovated the whole house. We tore up the dated green carpet, we repainted all the rooms, and we removed the big, grimy, dusty mirror in the bathroom.
I refused to help.
The day went by so fast, as I was kept busy clearing out the garage, but I specifically remember the workers carrying the mirror towards the back of the pick up truck my dad had borrowed.
First they tried to break it to fit easier in the truck, but nothing worked.
They tried hammers, axes, but nothing even scratched it.

My final memory of that mirror, was of it standing upright in the back of the truck. Still dusty, grimy and dirty, but other wise completely unscathed. As the truck drove away the mirror happened to be angled perfectly to see my reflection once again.
I saw in the mirror, a kid standing alone in a drive way. Staring with eyes wide, full of fear.

That was the last time I saw the mirror.

Credit To – Duncan Key

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The Mark of Canus

October 16, 2013 at 12:00 PM
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In today’s society, the advent of science brings an understanding of the world which puts people into a sense of security. We know what the world is made of, the way chemistry, physics, biology, and geology all fit in to the picture. There’s not much humanity doesn’t understand anymore. But we do not have it all figured out, not entirely. There is still mystery out there, darkness hiding in the cracks between human understandings. Monsters, spirits of nature, artifacts of extreme power, these entities act on the world without our knowing, but every once in a while, perhaps only for a moment, they are perceived, that moment where the blood goes cold and the skin shivers, when we are struck with the realization that there is a reality of things is beyond science and mathematics. Some go insane, the mind broken by its sense of insignificance, or by something so frightening that the brain is thrown into despair so deep it turns over, accepting the new reality by way of erasing every facet of the old one, souring it in a debilitating logic vacuum. In some occasions, the mind is so affected by the supernatural that it becomes twisted, not fearful or stagnant, but psychotic, as if the supernatural unlocks a part of the human brain dormant, where the most twisted thoughts and notions are born. This part of the psyche creates terrors to rival the supernatural, and can cause us to commit unspeakable acts. There is no way to fully understand this part of our brain, but it exists, and the truth of it is a testament to the supernatural, even in the natural confines of the mind. In one case, an artifact of power has had devastating effects on humanity over time, and its nature cannot truly be perceived, unless one completely embraces the dark nature of the artifact itself, thus succumbing to that evil part of the mind, and saturating oneself in eternal darkness. One such artifact is the Mark of Canus, a manifestation of extreme evil in the world which predates man by some time. Many believe the Mark is eternal, it is, always was, and always will be, some others believe it was born of the deepest, darkest sin in some ancient ritual, others believe it was made by Satan, though it predates him as well. The Mark has inspired mass killings, suicide, and various other evils, too disgusting to explain in detail, and it has permeated into civilization for millennia. To some, it is a supernatural artifact which causes insanity, but the truth of it, the unknown, is so much more insidious.

The Mark of Canus is named after Canus Sepius Florius, commander of the Eighth Roman Legion, the man who is attributed to its discovery, and who brought the mark into Civilization. Canus was a bright young commander, very wary of each situation. He served under the Praetor’s great army during the defense against Hannibal in the Second Punic War, during which he proved his logic and skill on the battlefield against one of the most proficient strategists of all time. Canus was tasked with following Hannibal’s footsteps through the Alps and into Gaul, with the object of understanding the Carthaginian’s thinking behind his route, as well as setting up a defense against further potential attacks on Rome from Gaul. He brought with him 450 veteran legionnaires into the mountains, and two weeks later Canus returned, extremely ahead of schedule and completely alone. When asked what happened to his men, he replied “The legionnaires? Yes they returned home, they’re sleeping soundly in darkness.” This response deeply baffled the consul, and he had Canus taken into custody, for a real answer to the absence of his men. This is the testament of Haran Epiganus, the Roman who questioned Canus:

“As we were led to the chamber I noticed the distracted look of the commander. I thought nothing of it, after his response to the questioning of the consul I felt he had stress. Perhaps he was ambushed by barbarians and they broke his mind. It was only when we were locked in the room that I caught his eyes. They were made of terror, focused and alert, holes to the horrific mind of Hannibal himself. I could not bear to see them. I looked around, but Canus was locked on me. I finally got to the question, ‘What happened in the [Alps]? Those men, they are dead?’ Canus calmly started, ‘They are unto the darkness. May they feed the Mark.’ This answer was confusing, so I asked another question, ‘Canus, you were attacked?’ To which he quickly answered ‘May they feed the Mark.’ I asked around more, but the answer was the same every time. Then he went dazed, so I gripped his shoulder, then he jumped awake, and his eyes changed again. He took his necklace, a new piece, and threw it on the ground. He was frantic, rambling, I asked what was wrong. He replied, ‘The Mark! The Mark! Never let it touch me again, the terrible Mark!’ I asked what happened, what this Mark was, and what happened to the legionnaires. He told me he would only recall it once, and then begun, ‘We were marching up the [Alps] in Hannibal’s footsteps, making excellent progress. We made camp when night came, but I could not find sleep, though I had marched the whole day. I heard whispers, in ancient tongues, calling to me. I was disturbed, no way to sleep, so I went up to investigate. The whispers came from the cave, the unholy cave. I entered like a fool, lit a torch and ventured through the tunnels. The whispers became louder, and I started seeing shadows. Then I wished to turn back, but my legs kept onward, and I felt detached from my body. The feeling became more so, and then the visions stared. I saw visages of a single Mark, this frightening symbol as old as time itself. I do not wish to describe it to you. Then the visions contained blood, and killing, not like on the battlefield, killing from the most violent nightmares. I ventured for hours, farther and farther down into the mountain, until I reached a chamber at the bottom, perfectly round and made of the same stone as the cave walls. No markings anywhere, no furniture, but the chamber seems so perfect yet not man made. In the center, on the ground lay the necklace. A shining piece in sterling silver, no gems, bearing the Mark that persisted in my visions. I heard the whispers rise here, and the rapid beat of drums, the likes of which I had never heard. The sounds rose to a deafening volume, then suddenly dropped out to silence. I then took another look at the necklace, and saw the Mark again, and was filled with a terror so deep it drove into my being. It overcame me swiftly, I released my bladder, and took a step back in fear. Then something took me, seized my body, and gripped my soul. I felt a scraping inside me, all over a sense of wurms in my blood, shivering inside me. It stopped, and I heard a loud whisper, right next to my ear, slave. My mind burst then with images of the Mark, and then the brutalization of my men. It was uncontrollable, part of me released and gripping my mind in fury. The Mark all over everything. I felt a presence inside, one that was not my own. I went to the necklace, put it on, and realized the Mark itself was inside me, and I now lost control. I had to watch as I walked out of the cave, and went back to the camp. I slept in my tent, nightmares the entire night, the disturbing and silent images of the Mark coursing through me. I did not understand it, but I do now. The true terror would warp your mind if I spoke of the Mark in its full evil. It is ancient, beyond the time of men, working with a dark force so much more powerful than the Gods themselves. I woke up, washed over with insanity. I was outside of the person which was me, and I watched in terror as I led the men to a mountain pass, and ordered them to stop. I showed the Mark to them, and it took them all, stopped them in fear. I proceeded to slaughter them all while they stood. I took out the hearts, ate them, then cut off the face. The blood everywhere, I washed in a stream, and made my way back to Rome.’ I stood terrified at his testimony. I looked at the necklace and a shiver caught my back. That was all I needed, Canus confessed to killing the legionnaires. I wasn’t sure if his story was true however part of me believed it, when I saw the Mark. Either way, it was time to tell the consul…”

This chilling story is only the beginning of the Mark in humanity. Haran spread the word of the Mark to Rome, and it became known as Canus’ Mark, or the Mark of Canus. They say the Mark can affect anyone. It chooses freely, and you don’t need to look directly at it for it to take you. The necklace itself is referred to as the Mark of Canus, but the image itself has power as well. The relationship between image and necklace in terms of power is not entirely known, however it is known that wherever the necklace goes, the evil is always there. It has passed hands from the Romans to the Germans, then the English, then to America. It instills fear where ever it is, and the killings always follow. Many have tried to study the Mark, but its existence is entirely a mystery. Some say Canus did not actually find it, that he made it, others say it is alien in origin, most believe it does not exist, because it cannot be explained. In 1745, the Mark was found on a witch in America. The witch was found out, and the Mark confiscated. The magistrate ordered the Mark destroyed, saying it was of the Devil, but it was taken by one of his own men, Edward Tiller, a Puritan clergy. Edward fled the country by boat, went to Spain with the Mark, and committed suicide there without any excuse. It was said by Tiller’s wife that he left, “without any cause or reason, but with such obsession [She] never saw in him before.” Most likely the Mark had taken Tiller, as she found pictures of it in his closet, scribbled with chalk.

The Mark’s legend was strong by the 1930s, so strong that it sparked the curiosity of one such German leader who had been obsessed with the occult. Adolf Hitler, furor of Nazi Germany, led a campaign throughout the world to collect objects of supernatural significance, and studying their power to weaponize it. Hitler sent Gustav Kerch, an SS official, to Spain to find this Mark of Canus. Kerch was successful, the Mark around his neck when he returned to the furor. He handed the necklace over to the SS, but it didn’t matter, the Mark already had him. He then returned to his original post, the administration of the concentration camp Auswitz. He let the Mark control him, and with its darkness he became notoriously cruel, openly killing many prisoners with his bare hands, eating their hearts, and cutting off their faces. One Joshua Dicsh, a Polish Jew held in Auswitz, recounts his brush with Kerch,

“During my time in Auswitz, I saw many horrors. My fellow Jews, working themselves to death, through starvation. The Germans were merciless, but there was one man in particular who was even more disturbed then the worst Nazi, his name was Gustav Kerch. Kerch was the man in charge of Auswitz, and he was more terrifying than the camp itself. He stalked the camp, looking with those eyes, those terrible eyes. They were like pools of the bluest poison, ominous and deep. It was like looking into the eyes of Beelzebub himself. He was insane, often times breaking into fits of rage, scribbling symbols on the walls, and rambling in other languages. The guards said one of them heard him talking to himself in his chambers, in dual tongues. We dared not sleep alone at night, and in the day we worked hardest to keep him satisfied. One morning I was working in the mill with Deter, and Franz making helmets when Kerch walked in to inspect us. He had those eyes again, I could hear whispers around him, as is right out of my nightmares. He looked at Franz’ work and smiled his wolfish grin, ‘Excellent craftsmanship, Franz. Were it not for your foul Jewish nature you would be a master at your trade. Leave now to work in the yard!’ He dismissed Franz, then walked to Deter. “Oh Deter, this is wonderful. Very nice camouflage paint on the sides. The Bolshevik hordes will never see us coming! Now, you may join Franz in the yard. Go now!’ Kerch may have been a psychopath, but even he could not ignore superior metal working. He then moved to me, and he changed. The whispers became louder. He looked at my helmet, a ding in the side, the swastika unfinished, and he looked filled with a calm, almost otherworldly anger. ‘Joshua, a truly Jewish name. You must have roots in Canaan, don’t you? You’re filthy, this work is shameful. You’re good for nothing, besides to stink up the ground like dirt and mud.’ Then his voice changed completely, ‘Look at me, child.’ I stared into his eyes, and I saw it, the Mark, the terrible Mark! It was hideous, drenched in ancient blood, ungodly and disgusting. I thought it of the devil at first, demonic and Hellish, but as I stared it took on a different quality altogether, something much more terrifying, basing its power in fear itself, rather than torment. I could see the terror on my own face, then I was out of my own body, and I found myself in front of a room, not like any other I had seen. The Mark was all over the walls, and a light shone in the middle of the room. I went towards it, unable to control myself, and when I nearly came upon it, the light disappeared. In its place was Kerch, covered in blood and laughing hysterically. I had begun to weep when he stopped and called to me, he then whispered, but I could hear it as if he were right in my ear, ‘slave.’ I cried out, ‘No, no, no!’ I begged, pleaded, but Kerch only continued to laugh as he took out a combat knife, slit his own throat, and watched the blood drain out on the floor. I stood frozen in terror as the blood pooled and Kerch fell to the ground, then gaped as the blood on the floor started spinning, forming a whirlpool in the room. I prayed out loud to the Lord and begged for forgiveness, but then I started to see the scarlet whirlpool change, as if something was stirring inside, it begun to climb out, ever so slightly I noticed a form move from the puddle, then I blacked out. I woke up in my cot, soiled and sweating. The prisoners were cheering, and Franz came to me, told me Kerch was dead, had killed himself in his room. They found his body on the floor, he slit his own throat, but there was no blood anywhere.”

Legend has it the Mark itself was cast into the Mediterranean, and washed up somewhere in Africa. The myths were recognized by the US government as fear-inducing propaganda, and all traces of it were wiped from the archives. The reasoning behind this is shrouded in mystery, but the government continues today to deny its existence, and maintains tight internet censorship of the Mark. Most searches for it come up empty, but every once in a while something slips.

The power behind the Mark of Canus is unknown, we cannot imagine its true nature. What we do know, is how it can affect us. The Mark doesn’t need to be touched to affect someone, in many cases, merely seeing its likeness can cause it to grip you. Often times, the Mark finds you, as several have claimed to see the Mark clearly where others cannot. This signals its arrival into your mind, and you should be worried. The Mark existed before man’s impact on the world, it doesn’t need to be where people are. Some have claimed to see it etched in the woods, in deep parts where no one has been. One thing is for sure, if you see the Mark, you are not safe. Efforts have been made to secure the Mark, to contain it in order to protect humanity from its devastating evil. These attempts have all failed, as the Mark can control men, make them do crazy things. Most who see the Mark experience nightmares, hysteria, fever, hyper salivation, dehydration, sometimes blindness or paralysis, and always insanity. The Mark so far has not directly killed anyone, but almost all who see the Mark end up committing suicide, to escape the mind-numbing terror. Attempts to destroy the Mark have also failed, as it seems to be made of an unbreakable metal. People in exposure to the Mark have claimed to experience prophetic dreams or visions, images of the Mark as the creator and destroyer of humanity, and extreme love from the Mark, as it nurtures them. They claim the Mark is sentient, that it watched over everything, that it exists in the deepest oceans, the darkest forests, and in the confines of our minds. They claim the Mark is always there, even when we don’t perceive it, that it is fear, and whenever we are afraid the Mark is with us. The creepy part is that they can recite testimonies for events that they should not have known about, places they weren’t present. One cop was startled as an “odd-acting” perp once told him about his son’s birthday party as if he had been there, when the party happened in a private place over a decade ago. The Mark is all around us, thriving in fear and the unexplained. Some day you may just see it, even for a moment, then it will haunt you for the rest of your life, which may be shorter than you think. Is there something you can do? No, not so far, but you can only hope the Mark passes you by in silence, and you never have to hear that whisper in your ear, “slave.”

Credit To – Greg Padrick

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Martellato

October 15, 2013 at 12:00 PM
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It was an expensive chair. The leather squeaked as I shuffled in it, betraying its purpose by failing to get comfortable. Disapproving eyes glanced up from the heavy mahogany desk that lay before me. After a pause the solicitor continued reading.

“And to my grandson, Alastair Kincade, I leave a sum of £30,000 and the following items…”

My grandfather Colin died of a heart attack in his sleep, after months of living in a home due to his alzheimer’s. My father tried to care for him as much as he could but towards the end he needed twenty-four hour attention. Dad was still years away from retirement and wasn’t able to give that kind of attention.

“And his violin.” My ears prickled, and I looked up at the solicitor then to my father.

“Violin?” My father, Michael, took the words out of my mouth.

The man sitting next to me, my great uncle Torrance, waved his hand to tell my father not to ask questions during the reading. My curiosity itched and I squeaked in the chair again, the solicitor shooting another look before continuing to list my twin sisters’ lot of inheritance.

In all, my sisters and I received ten percent each of his money, my father and aunt twenty five percent, and my great uncle twenty percent. The house had been sold before he died to fund his care, and numerous items distributed to each of us. I was glad for the money. While I didn’t do badly for myself, the sum was easily enough to place a deposit for my own property: something that has become rapidly more difficult to generate in England the past ten years.

Once we were dismissed, both my father and I pounced our questions upon Uncle Torrance, “I didn’t know Granddad Colin played the violin.”

“Dad never owned a violin, when did he get that?”

Uncle Torrance raised his hands to again wave down our questions, while my sisters headed out of the solicitor’s building to head home. “I’ll tell you… in exchange for ale!” A cheeky grin spread out across his face, the way it always did when he told a story.

Dad drove to our local, The Cattle and Block. Once three glasses decorated the table, my uncle began to tell us the story of the violin.

“You probably know very little of my Grandmother Hildegarde. She died before you were born, Michael. I don’t know much about Grandma Hildi before she married my Grandfather Bhaltair, only the stories she told use before bed. She was german originally, and grew up in the streets of York. She had only one possession apart from the rags on her back, and that was a violin. Grandpap Bhal heard her playing on the street, and fell in love with her instantly. He saw through the dirty blonde hair stuck to her shoulders, the scars and mud around her knees, and saw the beauty she wove over the strings. He got down on one knee, then and there, and told her she must marry him. He told her he could not live another day without that song in his heart. She said yes, and they were married.”

He paused to take another long sip of ale. It was like a fairy tale and it was surprising to hear such a story about my own family. “So it was Hildegarde’s?”

Uncle Torrance nodded and put the glass back down. “Yes. Now, my brother and I were raised by our grandparents. My brother was five when our mother died, during childbirth to me. My father – he was called Logan Kincade – turned up on Grandpap and Grandma’s door step and begged his parent to look after us for a while. He was stricken with grief and needed some time to pull himself together, and figure out how to be a father without my mother. They accepted, and he never returned. We never knew what happened to my father.

A couple of years before your Dad had you, Grandpap Bhal passed away. Soon after, Grandma Hildi passed. You know what they say about a love bird losing their mate. That was when Colin inherited her violin. He always kept it locked up in the attic, I don’t suppose he ever knew what to do with it. He probably sent it to you because you like music so much, Alastair.”

“Wow, it sounds like quite the family heirloom.” Dad said, “Look after it.”

“Yeah, definitely.”

We finished up our drinks and took Uncle Torrance home. As he was getting out of the car, he said, “All the years we lived with Grandma Hildi, I never heard her play it. She polished it, cared for it, but she never played. If I asked, her answer always “Not today, dear.” She never attempted to teach one of us either.” He shrugged and gave his goodbyes.

It wasn’t until a few weeks later when Granddad Colin’s possessions were sorted through and delivered to the appropriate relatives. My father dropped my share of boxes off at my house and quickly moved on the deliver the others to my sisters. The contents of the box were added to my collection of items I had accumulated over the years. I never really took an interest in classical music, or the techniques used in playing and composing – my main interest was in jazz and blues, some rock and roll. I liked soulful music, things that came from the heart, and it fascinated me how pain could create such beautiful things.

The gramophone stood proudly with its collection of records, and the violin case lay before me. I had no intention to learn to play it, but I couldn’t stop myself taking it out the box and give it a spin.

The case was a big heavy wooden box, shaped like a violin, but it seemed a lot bigger than necessary. I unclipped the case and inside was a vast amount of silk cloth. A stunning crimson that caught the light as I placed it on the floor. Underneath, the object of my curiosity. It was worn, some of the varnish chipped in places, but even I could tell the craftsmanship was expert. The wood was a deep colour, and on the back there was a branding. It seemed to be a sigil depicting a swan, bleeding from the neck. I didn’t recognise it, but I know very little about bowed instruments or sigils.

Holding it in my hands, it was a lot heavier than I expected; Hildegarde must have been quite a strong lady. I pulled it up into position on my shoulder and stroked the bow across the strings. I flinched from the screech. I tried again, a little gentler, only to be thanked with another banshee wail. Defeated, the violin went back in the box. Clearly, it took a master’s hand to use it. As I was putting the silk back around it, a small envelope dropped to the floor. Written on the front in black ink, Alastair, in my grandfather’s handwriting. I pulled the note out of the envelope: Burn the violin. With salt. Why would he ask me to do that? Then again, as his mental health declined, he could probably have been capable of any delusion.

I had a vivid and painful dream that night, I stood in the foyer of a house I didn’t recognise. It was grand, clearly the home of a rich family. There were portraits on the walls, soft and elaborate carpets beneath my feet, and an unlit chandelier on the ceiling. Below me, I heard agonising, tormented screaming, punctuated with a heavy wet thuds. Above me, some of the most enchanting music I have ever heard. I can only describe this song in how it made me feel: lost and forlorn, my eyes on the brink of tears. Though the tone of the notes seemed almost harsh, I longed to find them in the halls of this house, I wanted their comfort and embrace.

I moved automatically to the stairs beside me, unable to pull myself away from the siren song, the screams fading into the distance. The chords floated throughout the house, teasing me, beckoning me to their creator as I reached a door at the end of the hallway. The gold painted detail led to the handle, its cool touch swept across my hand. It turned, the latch clicking open, and then I awoke.

The headache sat behind my eyes, clinging to the groggy realms of sleep and the lost call of the dream I’d left behind. It felt as if all the space around my eyes was packed with cotton wool, and a dull throb pushed onto my eyeballs. I took a deep breath and shook my head to find some sense in the morning. It’s not like I have never dreamt before, but rarely did something stick with me in such a haunting way. I felt the song in my bones, the ache to hear the rest, like a story with the ending ripped away.

I dreamt the same thing for a week afterwards. It began the same way, however each night I would get closer and closer to the source, and each morning I would wake up in more and more pain. The migraines got so severe, I spent a lot of time before work vomiting in the bathroom, until my head eventually stopped spinning. Pain killers did very little, and I was drinking extra water to make sure it wasn’t dehydration. Nothing satisfied it.

The night before last, I stood right behind her. As I was lured up the stairs, the song changed as I approached the violinist: playful, like it was teasing me, begging me into a game. She turned her head to the side, just a little, and said, “Not today, dear.”

I suddenly awoke and my legs retracted into my chest for the pain, and I pushed the heels of my hands into my eyes. A small amount of relief from the pressure, but not enough. It took me several minutes to realise I could still hear the music, coming from my collection room down the corridor. My hand was on the door handle when I became aware of the dripping sound. At my feet, dark spots decorated the carpet, and on my bed the same darkness streaked the sheets. My hand rose to my face to realise it was wet. Angry, confused, and scared, I jerked the door open and stormed into the room where the violin lay on one of the display cabinets. The song was a cacophony of agony through my mind, yet it was beautiful.

I held it in my hands unsure what to do. My mind came back to my Granddad’s note: Burn the violin. With salt. I shook it off, it was ridiculous. I pushed it into its case but the song still burned through my eyes, tears streamed down my face. As I piled the silk wrapping on top of it, the music ebbed slightly. I wrapped the silk around again, properly, covering each inch of the instrument and with each binding, the pain faded with the tune. As I clipped the case together, the violin was all but silenced.

I woke up on the floor next to the case with the taste of copper in my mouth. I must have fallen asleep in there, after silencing the instrument. I decided then and there that I was done, I was going to sell it. Whatever madness overcame me, I’d give it someone else. I knew a place in town and, after cleaning the blood from myself, I drove straight there.

I could still hear the humming from the case as I pulled it from the boot of my car. I took a few ibuprofen in preparation. I’d also considered ear plugs but somehow I came to the conclusion they wouldn’t work either.

A bell rang as I pushed the door open.

“Hello!” A cheery wave from an older gentleman.

“Hey, would you be interested in an antique violin?” I set the case down on the counter in front of him.

“Certainly!” His finger rippled above the case before he nimbly flicked open the latches. I braced myself. As he pulled the silk away, the song became louder and all the pain returned to me.

Act normal, just act normal. “I don’t know a lot about it. I inherited it recently. It’s from at least 1880′s, it was my great great grandmother’s.” I sucked a deep breath in to push back the throbbing in my eyes.

“Yes, it certainly is old, not in the best condition, but not the worst I have seen.” He turned it over and I felt a sharp pain across my forehead. Air rushed into my lungs, and I tried to cover the sharp breath with a cough. He gave me an odd look, “This is sigil is interesting. I haven’t seen it before. The manufacture of this is reminiscent of Stradivarius but-”

I didn’t hear the rest of his sentence. Blood pouring through my brain, pulsated through my eyes and my ears. I concentrated as hard as I could on staying conscious. He said some number, I accepted. He said he would get me a cheque, and as soon as his hands left the violin, I wrapped it in the silk. I clipped the case back up and let out a sigh of relief as the pain left me. The man was stood staring at me.

“I’m sorry, I just want to protect it.” I blurted out.

“It’s alright…” He edged to the other end of the counter, take glances back to me and wrote the cheque out. “Now before I give you this, I need some contact information. Just a precaution.”

I didn’t ask why. I didn’t care. I pulled a business card out and gave it to him. He carefully inspected the card, and offered the cheque once he was satisfied.

I hastily took it, “Thank you, thank you.” I left immediately, knowing I must have seemed rude, or more likely mad. I remember the jingle of the bell, and a goodbye before I drove back home to get a night’s rest.

It didn’t last long. Two nights after I sold it, I awoke again to a migraine and the sound of a violin. I screamed in frustration. The melody was coming from outside, from the rear of the house. I headed downstairs to the back door, already the pain spread across my forehead and down my face. I pushed the door open and stared out into the woods that backed onto my house. It was out there and called me. Stuffing my feet into work boots, I went to find it, and I was going to bind it up, and deal with it in the morning.

The pressure in the back of my eyes grew as I stalked down my garden. At the gate, I scanned the woods behind the house. I couldn’t see anything out there but I could feel it in the pain magnifying through my head. Two nails jabbed into my eyes and were slowly being pulled up through my skull. All I wanted was relief as the nails broke my eye sockets and began pulling at my scalp.

After walking out into the woods, it’s hard to remember everything clearly. I remember how much it hurt, and how it kept getting worse the further I walked, to the point where I didn’t know if I was following the music or the pain. I think I almost passed out at one point. I saw bright flashes in front of my eyes, and my vision started fading in black spots. I could have sworn as those black spots started appearing over my eyes I saw the shadow of a woman in front of me.

My vision came back to me when I saw the blood on my arms and staining my pajama bottoms. There must have been brambles scratching me as I pulled myself through the woods towards the song, but I couldn’t feel any pain there, only the persistent and all consuming ache spreading across my head. I could feel through the centre of my forehead intensity as if a vice were applied to each side of my head, forcing the bone into itself.

Ahead of me, the trees broke out into a bank, and some murky, inky water. It was a neglected river – no! An abandoned canal route, full of rotting plant matter and debris. The pain had finished its work on my head, and indulged in exploring my chest. It felt as if my rib cage were being slowly pulled from the rest of my body. The pounding in my chest became a crushing hand around my heart. My legs gave out from under me and I fell, whimpering on ground. I’m not proud of it but I cried. I sobbed into the dusty mud around me, the smell of the water nauseating, and being unable to distinguish between the flies around me and the black spots I was hallucinating.

Eventually, my head slumped to the side and there lay the dark wood case. The tears stopped for just long enough for me to try and pull myself up, pain shot through my ribs as I hauled myself to it. The pain ebbed as I wrapped my fingers around the handle of the case and held it to my chest. While the song still sawed through my skull, the pain waned just enough for me to make it to my feet along the trek back. Perhaps the violin provided me mercy for finding it, or perhaps it was just the relief of finally having an option to end this.

I saw the back gate ahead of me, and as I approached it, the shadows crept back over my eyes and stole vision from me. My boot caught on something and I flew forwards, hands finding the gate in front of me before I crashed into the ground. The impact throwing all the air from my lungs and sprayed blood over my hands. I lay there over the gate, winded, stunned, and a dull throb throughout my whole body, until a light from the kitchen pierced the darkness before me. The pain was excruciating. My face was wet with tears and blood as I came through my back fence. As I was about the open the back door, I heard a voice.

“Are you alright?” My neighbour. I’d forgotten he worked early shifts and would be up in the small hours of the morning. When I first moved in, he came over to ask me to keep the noise down in the afternoons while he slept. “You don’t look so good.” He stubbed his cigarette out against the wall, slipped it back into the packet and came over to the fence.

“Did you hear that earlier?”

“Hear what?” My heart sank a little as I knew the answer to my next question.

“The noise… Coming from… Over there…” I struggled to form sentences. I gestured out to the woods with the violin case.

He shook his head slowly, his gaze following my arm before looking back to me, “Do you want me to call someone?”

“No, no, I’ll just get some sleep.” I pulled the muscles in my face into what was meant to be a reassuring smile. My head throbbed and I gave up on the effort. “Thanks.” He watched me head inside into the house before pulling his cigarette back out.

In my collection room, I lay the case before me. I could still hear the music slicing through my brain. Silk. I needed more silk. I tore every bed sheet from the airing cupboard and threw anything that felt like silk on top of the case. Every shirt, pair of boxers, handkerchief that shimmered and danced through my hand went onto that case. Finally I could hear myself think, and hear my nose dripping again before collapsing onto my bed for the night.

I awoke to a rapid knocking at the front door. I pulled myself out of bed, a small headache still prevailing but much better than it had been. I pulled on a dressing gown and answered the door: it was my neighbour.

“Hey, you’re still alive! I was just checking, you looked rough last night.” A smile of relief washed across his face. I was genuinely surprised.

“Yeah, I’m okay. Thanks for checking up on me.”

“Wife look after you?”

“Oh no, I’m not married.”

“Oh so it was your girlfriend?”

“No, I live alone.”

“Well your guest or whoever followed you in last night.” He said, rolling his eyes. He must have mistaken my confusion for being pedantic.

“What?”

He hesitated, “A woman. She walked up through the back gate and into the house a few minutes after you went in.”

“There’s no one here.”

“Alright, alright, I’ll keep schtum about it. Was just checking you were okay.” He put his hands up defensively.

“No, I’m not… Thanks for checking, I mean it.”

“You’re alright, see you around.”

“What did she look like?”

“Eh? You’re serious, aren’t you? You don’t know what I’m on about?”

I shook my head.

“Well, she was a bit taller than an average lady I’d say, blonde… Very pretty. She was in a white dress, you know like a nightie but an old fashioned one. She walked up from where you came, through gate and in the back door.”

“And she opened the door?” I gestured with my hand, just in case he didn’t know what opening a door looked like. Smart.

“Yeah…”

“She unlocked it and walked in?”

“No, she didn’t unlock it.”

“Excuse me, thank you.” I ran to the back door and checked it. Locked.

My heart pounded in my chest as the sense of reality I had built up over a lifetime began to crack. My first headache without the song pushed into the back of my eyes. I realised then, while I was rubbing my temples, if the nightmares didn’t kill me, the sheer stress would. I finally decided to obey Grandpa Colin’s note then, and burn the violin after my neighbour left for work.

Alarm set for four-thirty the next morning, I went to bed and dreamt. Once again, I stood in the foyer of the strange house and, once again, those screams and wet thuds pushed through the floor below me, and the siren song led me upstairs. However, this time there was a soft sobbing above. The golden trimmed door creaked open, and before me stood the blonde violinist in her nightgown, the low light glinting off the tears on her face.

“Not now, dear. Please.”

The piercing beep of my phone awoke me, and it was time to enact my plan. I flicked the alarm off and claimed the violin from the collection room. With the music muted under piles of fabric, I brought together all the tools I’d need: the barbecue, lighter fluid, and table salt.

The fire made quick work of the silk, surrounding me with the scent of burnt hair and the consuming melody I sought to finally silence, and the agonising pressure across my skull returned. As the flames reached the violin, and black smoke rose from the metal dish, the music began to distort and shriek in protest. Pain swept across my chest. Voices screamed with the violin, pouring into my ears, begging me to save them and make the pain stop. Smoke billowed out around me and stung my eyes and throat, making me cough, and I fell to my knees as the crushing, black cloud forced me to the ground.

I found myself lying in the mansion, my eyes focussing on the chandelier above me. Like so many times before, a woman’s voice screamed below.

“No! Please!”

Thud.

“Why are you doing this?”

Thud.

“I won’t tell anyone if you just let me go.”

Thud. Crack.

Unlike before, there was no music, there was no pain; I was free to move. I stood and looked around the foyer.

Thud.

The paintings in the hall were of familiar faces; the names “Kincade” printed beneath on a brass plate.

Thud.

There were several doors around me, but I knew which one to take. I took the basement stairs.

Thud. Crack.

A small lantern barely lit the room. Workbenches framed the walls, covered in many tools; vices, hammers, spanners, screwdrivers, and drills.

Thud. Thud.

The sounds of the hammer in his hand.

Thud.

Blood splattered his shirt and braces. His dress trousers were muddy and wet. Dishevelled hair fell over his face.

Crack.

The hammer caught that time. It took several tugs to free it from the mess of meat between his knees. Pieces fell onto the tarp beneath it.

Thud.

The face of a woman stared up at me, motionless apart from a twitch when the hammer struck her rib cage which sent her head rolling on her neck. I stared back, at her left side with each rib individually broken, as the man worked on the right.

Thud, thud. Crack.

He sat up and wiped his forehead. Red gore replaced the sweat. There was no satisfaction on his face, no hint of personal pleasure or arousal, like this was just another job that needed doing. After a few deep breaths, he swung the hammer into the skull until the woman’s face no longer looked at me.

He stood, dropped the hammer to his side and raised his head, scanning the basement walls. As his gaze fell upon the stairs, I recognised him from one of the portraits: Bhaltair Kincade. I instinctively ducked, though I had nowhere to hide. His eyes continued past me to the spade in the corner of the room. He took it and began the next chore, digging into the dirt floor of the basement.

I sat on those stairs and watched as he dug out the trench. He sank the spade next to the hole, and wrapped the chunks of meat in the tarp it lay on. In the dim light, I saw a pale hand in the wall of the grave, partially decomposed. As he dragged the body in and began to cover it with the dirt, I noticed the rest of the floor: uneven, some parts freshly dug, others older but the outline still distinct.

Thud.

My attention snapped back. Bhaltair’s foot on the bottom step of the stairs, his eyes locked onto mine, pain shooting into the back of my skull, white light pouring over my vision.

A steady beep, fresh oxygen with each breath, a voice, a woman’s voice. My sister’s voice.

“Alastair!” A hand gripped my wrist. I screwed up my eyes and rubbed them with the back of my hand. The white filled with grey, then the shadows and colours returned to show me her face. “Alastair, you’re awake!”

My head span a little, and I felt like hell all over. “What… Where?”

“You’re in the hospital. You neighbour found you after passed out in the garden.”

The violin. “The fire…”

“Yes, your stupid late night barbecue party for one.” The concern was gone, the familiar tone of lecture mode replaced it. “What were you even burning? There was black smoke everywhere. The fire brigade couldn’t even find what you set fire to, just accelerant and salt.”

“I’m-”

“Sorry? A moron? Trying to kill yourself?” A sharp pain to the side of my head. “You nearly died from monoxide poisoning! Your whole face was covered in blood.”

“Don’t flick me!”

She opened her mouth to say something, but her throat caught. Instead her hand jumped forward and delivered another stab of pain to my temple.

Lilly drove me home later that day, after I was given the all clear. I slept well. It’s been nearly a week since the hospital, and I’ve dreamt of nothing but mundane work-related stuff.

You know the real kicker to this? I had a call from the police on Monday asking me about the violin. Apparently, when the music store owner had come in on that morning, it was gone. He’s reported it stolen, and given my name to the police so they can ask me for information that might help them find it. Damn thing is no end of trouble.

Credit To – Kerrima

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Ochelari

October 12, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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In my room, on my desk, sits a black, plastic casing which holds my glasses.
They have a power of minus 9 and they were very expensive to wear.

When I was younger, my mother used to warn me about sitting too close to the television. She used to tell me that my eyesight would get progressively worse and I’d either end up needing glasses or my eyes would simply be bad enough to make me legally blind.

Being an overly obnoxious nine-year-old, I never listened to her. So whenever my favorite cartoon or TV-show was on I would scurry to the living room and rest my head an inch away from the screen. I figured that the closer I got to the TV, the closer I could get to the show.

Whenever my mother found out about this she would yell at me about how expensive glasses would be and that we couldn’t afford even a single pair. She’d then proceed to slap the back of my head so hard that I would accidentally bite my tongue or unpleasantly acquaint my face with the hard TV screen. It happened every time and I always ignored her.

Until one day she got to say ‘I told you so’ and we were forced to get me a pair of glasses. Because we couldn’t afford to buy new ones, she took me all over the neighborhood to find a used pair that did the job well enough. And so it continued until my eyes settled at a power of minus 9. Finding a used pair of glasses that would suffice was hell.

We eventually spotted a proper pair at an antique store. The store was filled with objects and trinkets that could have come straight out of a horror movie. Most of it, including the elderly woman who was sitting behind the counter, looked fit for use by witches.

The woman was wearing sunglasses that were much too dark for the dusky little store. My mother asked how much they would cost and the woman simply replied ‘very expensive’. She seemed to be blind because she never looked at my mother while they spoke about the price, but she stared intently at me. Even as we left the store I could tell that she was following me with her gaze. It made the hairs on my neck stand on end.

Despite being very ugly, the glasses did the trick. She had to work 7 days a week for months in order to earn back what it had cost, but at least my eyesight didn’t seem to get any worse.

Needless to say that my glasses were a necessity. Without them I was essentially a baby in a suit. I had to look out for every little thing so as not to break or otherwise damage this life-saving piece of technology. Eventually, my girlfriend and I grew tired of having to always watch out for my glasses. And so, after a lot of coercing, she managed to talk me into getting laser eye surgery.

I can’t say that I’ve ever regretted making that choice. It was wonderful seeing things perfectly clear again without wearing my glasses. At first, the discomfort was horrible but eventually it faded and I got my perfect eyesight back. I felt like a new man; reborn with the eyes of a god.

I’m a sentimental idiot and so I never managed to throw my old glasses away. Months and years passed until one day, when we were packing our stuff because we were moving to a new town, I stumbled upon the old, plastic casing of my massively expensive glasses.

Holding them again after such a long time felt strangely nostalgic. They were once incredibly important to me, enabling me to live like a reasonably average human being. I may have actually shed a small tear or two. And in my nostalgia I wanted to wear them again, even if just for a little while.

Looking through glasses if you don’t need them is bad for your eyes, but I figured a quick peek wouldn’t hurt too much.

The moment the pads rested on my nose and the temple tips nestled gently behind my ears, I could feel something wrong. My eyesight wasn’t distorted at all, despite what I’d expected. In fact, when I think back, it might have actually improved marginally.

Naturally, as any sane person would, I was confused and I wanted to take them off to reassure myself that my eyesight was still perfect without them. But they wouldn’t budge.
No matter how hard I pulled, and I pulled REALLY hard, I can assure you, the pads stayed perfectly still on my nose and the entire damn thing wouldn’t move so much as a millimeter.

At this point, I was freaking the hell out. I called out to my girlfriend, who had been in the kitchen, packing our cutlery and plates and such, but she didn’t reply.

At first I figured she must have not heard me, so I launched myself out of the chair I’d been sitting
in, wanting to make my way to the kitchen with all sorts of haste.

Beyond the door, however, was a desolate, empty house where only moments before a vibrant, new home of a loving couple had been. The previously white wallpaper was filled with holes and patches of mold and it slanted away from the wall as if it had grown tired of its own existence.

Behind the wallpaper were cracks in the wall, as if the house had been abandoned for a hundred years. The wooden floor beneath my feet creaked so much I feared it would cave in, and the roof above my head was already partially on the floor.

Through the holes in the roof I could see the sky. Clouds rolled over each other, as if at war with themselves, and in the distance I could see the sun rising, leaving a blood red stain on the deck of clouds as it pierced through them like a knife through soft flesh.

I called her name again, suddenly fearing for her life. My legs were trembling but they obeyed me and moved faster than they had before.

When I finally made it to the kitchen, it was as empty and decayed as the rest of the house had been. The stench of rot and decay penetrated my nose and my gag reflex automatically set in. Panic and fear mixed in my stomach and I ran out of the house into a world that was completely and utterly dead.

There were no people, no animals, no plants. There was no sound other than that made by the wind. I was completely alone in a place that seemed to be rotten and saturated with death.

My fear fueled my adrenaline and with all the strength in my arms I pulled at the glasses, but they still would not move.

I closed my eyes, took several deep breaths and then punched the contraption of plastic and metal and glass that had glued itself to my face and was showing me the end of the world. I punched until I couldn’t feel my face and my knuckles were raw.

Her gasp is what woke me up.

She was standing in the doorway with a horrified look on her face; as if her worst nightmare was coming true. It filled me with worry but the sight of her dampened my fears with love and relief.

I crawled to my feet, wanting to wrap her in my arms and hold her. I wanted to make sure that this was real and that she was safe. But she shied away from me, as if she feared that I would attack her.

Her eyes briefly darted over me before feverishly fixating on my face again. I reached out to her again, hoping that she would understand that I wanted to hold her in my arms, but those very arms were covered all over with a red, sticky wetness. I felt no pain, so that must mean it was someone else’s blood.

Disgust and terror gripped my heart and I frantically ran my eyes over her entire body while she stood frozen in the doorway. The only thought going through my mind was ‘Did I hurt her? Is she alright?’ and I wanted to tell her that I had no memory of whatever had happened and that I would make sure that everything would be okay.

No sound came from my mouth. It was as if there was an emptiness in my throat that swallowed all sound I was trying to produce.

I tried talking again, but all I could hear was a low gurgling coming from the back of my throat followed by the horrific scream that came from the woman I loved. She turned on her heels and bolted away. I started chasing her, ignoring the wet, disgusting feeling on the rest of my body that I’d finally become aware of.

The stickiness didn’t matter. All that mattered to me was to tell her that everything was going to be okay, that I loved her and that we would make it through this if we stuck together.

She reached the front door, pulled it open and ran out before slamming it shut behind her with such a force that it rattled the mirrors in the hallway. I passed them by and glanced, briefly, from the corners of my eyes.

Except there were no eyes.

Two caves of rotting flesh stared back at me, oozing blood that crawled down my face and stained my clothes a dark, filthy red.

My mouth opened in horror but that only made it worse.

In my mouth was an emptiness. My tongue had been cut out and the same disgusting blood was bubbling up and over my shredded lips. I wanted to scream, but I was met with nothing but a gurgle.

I stood still for minutes, staring at the horrific creature in the mirror. Its hollow, bleeding eye sockets stared back at me and in the far reaches of my mind I wondered how that could be. How could I see without eyes?

But then I remembered an old woman who wore sunglasses in a gloomy store, as if she were blind, and my mind made the connection.

Back in my room, on my desk, sits a black, plastic casing which held my old glasses.
They had a power of minus 9 and were very, very expensive to wear.

Credit To – Ouroboros

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The Music Box

October 11, 2013 at 12:00 PM
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You know how it goes.

When you were a child, your favourite thing was your music box. It would play a soothing yet haunting melody that lulled you to sleep, or provided background noise for playtime.

You had it for years. You loved it, cherished it. You brought it everywhere. Kept it safe. It was your comfort item, one you were proud to show, unlike Billy’s baby blanket.

Your music box kept you safe.

Or so you thought.

Each night you would play it, falling asleep to its haunting tune. But what you didn’t know was that it was always there, poking and prodding at the edge of your consciousness. It controlled your dreams, made you think that the nightmares only came when there was no melody breaking the stifling silence.

No, you didn’t have nightmares with your music box.

It was the nightmare.

It fed off your happiness, your calmness. Oh, now you’re just noticing that you never had to change the battery. It wasn’t an inanimate object. No, it was a living, malevolent creature, waiting.

Waiting.

It’s waiting for that one moment, that one slip up in reality.

It’s waiting for you to screw up, to forget.

Your precious music box will become part of you. You will forget it. You will not remember.

It will control you.

And the only part left will be a faint melody, one that reminds you of your younger, innocent days. What you won’t realize, is that it was it slipping up.

Fight it. Remember. Don’t forget.

Or you will become one of them.

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