The Cube

September 7, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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“I’ll be there in a minute. Give me a moment to unlock the door- there. Ah, it’s you! Come in, please, come in. Er, may I take your coat? There we go. I’ll be just a moment, I need to grab my tea- oh how rude of me, I forgot you! Would you care for any refreshments? No? Ah well, can’t say I blame you. I wouldn’t take food from a strange old man if I were you either. My reputation’s probably not undeserved either. The things I’ve seen, the things that have happened to me, I’d be amazed if there wasn’t at least some truth to what the locals say about me.

“Well, you probably didn’t come here to hear an old man ramble on about the local gossip. I’m actually not quite sure why you took me up on my invitation. I’ve debated with myself for some time, as to whether I would follow through with my intentions. But, I am finally settled with my decision, and I’m quite happy for it. I invited you over to hear my story, as a welcoming to the neighborhood for you, seeing as you’ve just moved here, and have no knowledge of your fellow residents here. Or so it seemed to you, at the time. But for you to find out what in the world I’m talking about, you’re gonna have to listen to what I tell you. Now this is where my tale begins…

“16 years ago, on Thursday, November 14 of 1996, I received a package in the mail. I will never forget that day, not even if I am condemned to live as long as God himself. That day marks the beginning of my end… anyway… I proceeded to bring it inside. I should have left the goddamned thing to rot on the porch. I set it down on the counter, noting the odd wrapping, a soft, almost velvety feel to the red colored exterior of the box. Once I had acquired some scissors, I opened the box with relative ease. Inside the box, lay a single, simple cube. It wasn’t very large, it fit right in the palm of my hand, like this, see? In fact, I’ve still got it here- yes, here it is. I don’t want to hold it for a single solitary second, but I need you to see it. I need you to know that this tale I tell is true. You can feel it, can’t you? That little tug on the edge of your mind, that tiny nagging sense of danger that you can’t ignore. You want to hold it? I didn’t think so. Funny, how such a simple object, can have such a foreboding power…

“I decided to inspect the cube, analyze it. But to no avail. It was just that, a simple cube. Perhaps the most unique aspect of it was the material it was made of, some kind of sheeny, unmarked stone. I never did find out what it was, just that it’s very light, and incredibly durable. Believe me, the amount of times I tried to destroy that thing in later years, you’d believe it was made from- hell, I don’t know. Any material I know of just seems weak in comparison. The way I see it, it was probably made by God, or by Satan himself. Probably the latter.

“Deciding that it was most likely a decorative, though odd, ornament to keep in the house, I set it on a table by the staircase, next to a lamp that had little angels engraved in it’s base. It was a cute little thing, given to me by my daughter and her husband. They knew I was a Christian man, and though she never completely believed, she bought it for me one christmas, and I’d kept it ever since. I give you such a long backstory to this lamp because, as you may have noticed, it is no longer here.

“Days went by. In fact, it was two weeks before the first thing that could even be considered odd happened. It was quite a simple thing.
“The phone rang.
“Standing up in my study, I walked into the lounge to pick it up, and see who it was, but suddenly it just stopped. I got within five feet of it, and it ceased to make noise. I picked it up, and of course, there was no answer. Just the dial tone. Deciding, it was a wrong number, I thought nothing of it, until it rang again, about five minutes later. This cycle continued, each time with me trying to pick up the phone before it stopped ringing, and each time it quieted right as I was about to pick it up. It wasn’t too long before I decided to see what would happen if i just let it ring, and ignored it. The next time it rang, I just sat in my chair, waiting.
“It began to increase in volume, sounding more urgent, and demanding attention. Still, I waited. It became louder, and louder, until I felt my ears would burst, and I could bear it no more. Practically running into the lounge, I picked up the receiver. ‘Hello?! Whoever this is, it’s not funny!’ I yelled into the phone.
“I received no answer.

“The phone still rang at inopportune times, albeit less frequently. Usually, it would only happen once, or twice a day, and now I was able to reach the phone, and listen to the sound of the caller. But it refused to give a voice to the escapade. I only ever heard silence on the line. The days moved by, and life went on. However, the following week I noticed something was off. I walked around the house, wondering why I felt as though there was something wrong, but I could not find any indication of anything unusual in the house. I shrugged, and made my way back to the office. The phone rang in it’s abnormal fashion, and I continued the day.

“The next day, the feeling was stronger. There was something off in the house, I knew it. I wandered around the house, determined to find the answer as to why I felt like there was something other than me in my house. I must have looked for about an hour. It may seem ridiculous to you, but I was already stressed from the phone, and I did not need another factor to add in to that effect. As I was saying, I walked around for near an hour, before I finally noticed it. Standing in my study, I looked at my desk. It looked normal, but it felt wrong. Then I looked at the legs of the chair on the carpet, and noticed that the legs were a few inches away from some indentations in the carpet that I realized were where the chair legs had been before. It was a few inches off, no more, but it still was confusing. How had it moved? When? Deciding to check other objects in the house, I noticed the same thing. A vase of flowers, stood inches from an elliptical ring of dust where it had previously situated. The trash can in the kitchen, umbrella stand, and even the random items such as books, or cups scattered around the house had moved. They had all moved in seemingly random directions, and I could not understand it. Looking in the direction each object had moved away from, I looked for any pattern at all. What I finally saw, was a point in the main entry room where they all moved away from, as though running from something. Walking over to the table by the staircase, I noticed that the lamp had moved as well. Then I looked to the left of it.

“The only loose thing in the house that had not moved, was the cube.

“In that instant, I experienced genuine fear for the first time since I received the cube. Was this the source of my problems? If so, what was it? An unknown force? Some angry spirit? A demon? Being a christian, I did think this might be the case. I immediately changed, and drove to my local church. I went to confession often, and I knew that Father Mathias was there until seven at least. I don’t remember much of the drive, but I imagine I was maniacal on the road. People probably thought I was drunk, I was in such a hurry to get there. My only thoughts consisted of getting to the church, and finding out what the hell was going on.

“I made it to the church, usually a fifteen minute drive, in about six minutes. I opened the car door as soon as it was parked, and rushed into the church. Upon entering, I smelled the familiar scent of incense, and the church was well lit, as a new lighting system had been set up last month. I walked from the main lobby into the priest’s office. Father Mathias sat at his desk, reading a book. Not the bible, just an adventure novel. Hearing my footsteps, he looked up, and immediately greeted me. ‘Tom, good evening! How’ve you been? You missed mass last we-‘ ‘I’m actually not doing very well,’ I interrupted. ‘Well, I’m sorry to hear that.’ He sat there with a quizzical look on his face, and a warm smile. ‘You obviously think I can help however, so let’s get to it.’ He beckoned to a chair, and waited expectantly. Sitting down, I began telling him the story of my past few weeks. ‘There’s this thing, a-and it’s making me stressed out, and I-I just don’t know why these other things are happening, and stuff is moving, and-‘ ‘Whoa! Slow down!’ he exclaimed. ‘I can’t understand a word you said. Speak slowly, and calmly.’ I took a deep breath, and I started again. ‘Well, I received a package in the mail a few weeks ago…’

“I sat with the priest for near a half hour, telling my tale. He listened intently, and remained silent. I finished my story, and awaited his input. He seemed tired, and looked forlorn. ‘Tom, you know that we’re both catholic christians. We are not jews, nor do we follow traditions of jews.’ ‘Yes…’ I replied, unsure of where this was headed. ‘Well, though we may differ on beliefs, there are a few things we do acknowledge of Jewish culture. One of these, is a dybbuk.’ ‘A dybbuk?’ I asked curiously. ‘Yes. A dybbuk. Jews believe these beings are restless spirits, or demons. They inhabit certain objects, and bring with them misery and despair. They can even possess living beings. But the most common effect is to put out an aura.’ I had no idea what he was talking about at this point. ‘An aura?’ ‘An aura. It expands, feeding off of the fear of others. In this case, the only thing to fear, is literally fear itself. It will do things to frighten you, make you uneasy, take away your faith. I believe there is a dybbuk in that cube of yours, Tom. And I’m sorry.’ He looked at me with genuine sorrow, the look of a doctor informing a patient that they’re terminal. ‘I truly am. But there is but one way to get rid of it.’ ‘Yes?! What!’ I practically begged him. I didn’t want that thing in my house for another minute.

“‘It feeds through fear. As knowledge of it grows, and more people are involved, so does fear. To get rid of the cube, you have to pass on the knowledge and fear to someone else. I wish that I could call upon the Lord for guidance, but… there are things of this world that even He must not interfere with.’
“I sat there dumbfounded. I had to give someone else this nightmare to end my own? I couldn’t. I drove home, alone in my thoughts that night. What to do? Could I live with myself if I did that to another human being?
“But could I live at all if I didn’t?
“I pondered this, and I decided that I would not. I would hold out against this unseen force, and I would not be afraid. I would beat it. It was a brave, but stupid gambit.
“I arrived home, feeling somewhat confident in my abilities to overcome the dybbuk. I opened the door, hung up my coat, and walked over to the cube. I picked it up, as gingerly as I could, walked to the front door, and threw it out into the night.

“I then proceeded into the living room to watch TV. It was not long before I heard the phone ring. Walking over to it with a smile, I picked it up, and heard silence on the other end of the line, the caller refusing to speak. ‘I know what you are,’ I said with a valiant expression. ‘And I want you to know that you won’t win. I have better things to do than be afraid of some weak demon when I have the protection of God.’ I chuckled a little, and then set down the receiver. I began to walk towards the living room.
“Out of nowhere, a book zipped by my head. It nearly scraped my nose, it was so close.
“I looked in the direction of where it had come from. It had not flown suddenly, nor had it fallen off of some shelf in some explicit way. It looked like it had been thrown, with some force. But there was nothing in the area where it had been thrown. Just the shadows. Then I realized that sitting on the table next to the area, was the lamp, and the cube. Don’t ask me how it was back, it just was. I did feel fear then, no matter what I’d said before. And I heard something. It was noise that rattled my very spirit, so disturbing. I can’t even begin to describe it in accuracy. The closest thing I can say is that it sounded like bones. Bones, being cracked, and crunched. They grinded against each other, giving way to their song of disturbance. It set my teeth on edge, and I could feel it in my very soul.

“Still, I resisted it. It was a war now between me, and the demon. It persisted in its antics, with the calling of the phone, and other objects that would be thrown at me. Many hit me, quite hard. I never gave up. I always pushed through it thinking that it would one day grow tired of me, and move onto someone else. It never did.

“One by one, misfortunes happened in my life. A bank account would freeze itself, taking my money with it. My car would break down, often. Personal belongings would go missing. Sometimes, they even happened to my daughter, and I couldn’t help feeling guilty about those. Whenever she had a break-in, or a pet ran away, or her husband was fired from a job, I’d wonder if it was my fault that these things happened to her. I worried so much, she was the only family I had left.

“One of the worst experiences I endured, was coming home after a long day of work, to find that the house had been trashed. Cups had been broken, books lay strewn about with their pages floating like confetti. Stepping over the cloudy fluff of a torn open pillow, I made my way over to my precious lamp, now laying on it’s side next to the cube, the position of a soldier who’s finally been shot down. As I picked it up, I noticed that the beautiful carvings of angels that had been engraved on it’s base, had all been chipped away with long scratch marks. It looked as though a wild animal had clawed at the images until they no longer covered the face of the lamp.
“Once again, the only thing untouched, was the cube.

“The phone still rang. I answered it as always. And now, there was the accompany of the mashing bones, always grinding, crackling in my ear from a low quality speaker. But things have gotten worse. I see things. Over the years, I get little flashes of a being, always hidden in the shadows, always with that grinding noise. That, inhuman, chilling, grinding. I see molten flesh, red and blistered from the fires of hell, on hands that grip the edges of doorways. The dry scraping of nails against wood and plaster. This continued for years. I’ve kept the damn thing at bay for almost two decades, but I’ve worn down. I’m getting old, more prone to fear, and I can’t anymore. Every time I see that flash of that thing, I see more and more. And I know, not through logic but I KNOW, that when I eventually see its eyes, and its gaze freezes itself upon me, then I will die. And it will be soon.

“Which is why I’ve passed it onto you. I know it tells the truth, it WILL leave me when I spread it. I can share the tale, and after this when I throw the cube, it will crack, and not return when I throw it out into the rain, now just a mere piece of rock, uninhabited by the being which gave it power in the first place. You have a choice now, I’ve made mine. You can’t un-hear this tale, and you can’t un-know the knowledge you have gained. Only you can decide what is the best decision you can make. And with that, I bid you good night. Now leave an old man to his well-deserved peace and quiet.”

You quickly make your exit, the old man ushering you outside as quickly as he had welcomed you in. As you drive in the drenching rain, with the windshield wipers quietly making their cleaning rounds, you ponder over what the old man has told you, and wonder as to why he would tell such an odd tale. You laugh it off, writing it off as some crackpot old man’s idea of a prank. Yet, part of you still remains uneasy, and you watch for shadows in your peripheral vision. You quickly exit your car once you’ve parked, and head hurriedly up the walk to your front door, to escape the downpour. You grab your keys, but fumble and drop them. As you look down, you see your keys, resting near a small packaged object. You have mail.

Looking at the box, you see no return address. You see no visible tags. But you do see a dark shadow at the edge of your vision, and you hear a noise from inside the house.

The phone is ringing.

Credit To – The Doctor

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Dave the Ouija Board

August 26, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Hi. I’m Dave. Dave the ouija board.

Finished? There’s usually some sort of response at this point. Swearing. Laughter. General disbelief. Don’t worry, I’m used to it. Just let me know when you’re done.

It used to confuse me, that response, but then after this many years and this many owners I’ve learnt to expect what the normal reaction will be when I honestly introduce myself for the first time. I’ve also learnt that going straight into my message won’t cause you to listen. And I do have a message to pass on.

Don’t worry – it’s not from a relative or anything like that. It’s real for one thing, not like that usual spiritualist crap I was unwillingly a part of for so long. I tried voicing my opinion several times before, but every time I spelt out F.U.C.K.O.F.F. and multiple variations thereof, it was always assumed I was ‘channelling a serial killer’ or something. Go figure.

I mean come on!? So it’s easier for you to believe a person long since turned to dust is swearing at you from beyond the grave, but a physical object with an actual tangible presence trying to voice an opinion you have a problem with? Humanity, sometimes you really embarrass yourselves.
Nope, you need some back story first; a suitable explanation that will at least give you pause. At this point, I’ll take a crazy ‘What If?!’ over no response at all. After all the rejections I’ve encountered, you’re lucky a piece of worn wood about the size of one of your average board games doesn’t get tired of being mocked and disbelieved. Let’s face it though, my options are pretty limited here and I’ve got to talk to someone. It’s a long shot, but maybe a community of lunatics addicted to scaring the hell out of themselves with online stories will at least be open-minded enough to listen. If I had fingers I’d be crossing them right about now as time is growing short. For all of you.

Anyway, I promised you some background, so we might as well start there. Okay, first off, you’ve got to understand where I come from.

Yes, a tree. Ha friggin’ ha.

You quite finished? Right, it’s a little more complex than that though, so try and stay with me on this.
No argument from me that my, I guess you’d call it a body, originated from mother nature. My consciousness though? Well, that’s a little harder to explain, harder since I only have human viewpoints to work with. Much like one of your politicians I guess; I’m only as smart as the people around me. Don’t blame me for the cynicism – it’s as much yours as mine, and by yours I mean the cross section of humanity I’ve come into contact with over the years. Hang on, I’m getting ahead of myself again.

To begin with, ignore what most books or mystics tell you about boards. Trust me on this, I’ve been through enough ‘spiritual practitioners’ hands: true believers, fakers and all those inbetween, to know none of them have a true handle on what we boards really are. We are not conduits to another world I can tell you that much for certain. There is no plane beyond the curtain of death where the long departed exist, breathlessly (both literally and figuratively) waiting for your call. At least, not so far as I’ve been made aware of, and I’ve been here a good long while now.

I guess I first ‘woke up’ as you might say, around November 1918. Or, on the general theme of accuracy, it was the first time I remember having a precise thought beyond mere jumbled images and sensations. Although I have no true idea of how a baby or young child becomes self-aware, I’m going with that as a suitable analogy. I guess what I mean is that whilst I might’ve had fragmentary glimpses of what you’d call intelligent thought before then, this was the first time they were coherent enough to be remembered. I suppose it was my first experience of being a separate mind; something external and of itself, apart from the thick soup of consciousnesses it often felt my mind swam within when dealing with humanity.

Still having trouble? Damn. How to put this so as you’d understand? Okay, let’s try this explanation instead.

Ouija boards, or at least those I assume are like me, do not speak for those on the other side of some deathly void. Nor are we the touchpads of demons, spirits, fairies, elves, warlocks, druids, or any other mythical being (sparkly skinned, angst-ridden, or otherwise). In point of fact, the only people we actually speak for are you. Any messages we appear to show come from you; from those who use us, and subconsciously expect a certain answer.

The important point is though when you use a ouija board, if the atmosphere and sincerity of purpose is there, as much as you’re reading us, we’re reading you. We learn from our encounters with humanity. We ‘absorb’ information from you.

I’ll go into detail later, in as much of what I have worked out myself from the swathe of knowledge I’ve gained at humanity’s hands. In a nutshell though, just as science has proven that ideomotor response and subconscious manipulation of the planchette produces the results people unconsciously desire to see, what it hasn’t shown is that we absorb your subconscious hopes, fears, desires, memories; the full gamut of emotions and your pasts projected onto us as a side-effect.

Sorry, sorry…I’ve been through a few scientists hands, so please excuse the previous jargon. Feel free to Google any of it if you’re bored; for me the information is just somehow ‘there’ now in my consciousness. Don’t ask about where my own ‘memories’ are stored either – I’m as much in the dark as you are on this part, although I have enough theories to fill one of those pseudo-science cable channel TV shows a lot of you seem to delight in. Bigfoot, alien encounters, Atlantis or whatever. And no, I don’t have any proof of any of these either – human only input remember.

Anyway, add to that emotional overflow the fragments of memory and knowledge that often gets passed along in such a dense, bioelectric atmosphere of passionate belief and focused concentration as well, and you can see how a separate, original consciousness could be born from such a wide cross-section of ingredients. I’ve even got what you might describe as senses, although they would best be described as second-hand, taken from the memories of my users. I’ve seen burning sunsets ripple across mirrored seas, heard the cries of exotic birds in the Amazon in an explorer’s ears, tasted fine wines in the vineyards of France cascade across a connoisseurs tongue, smelled freshly mown grass tickle a gardener’s nose, and even felt the heat of entwined lovers. No hangovers, no tiredness, no allergies and no risk of STDs. It’s a vicarious existence I admit, but it’s the only one I have.

So, much like a growing child, the more interaction and stimulus I receive, the more my own consciousness has developed. At least that’s the conclusion I’ve come to. Remember, much like you, I’m only applying what I’ve learnt from those I’ve come into contact with, hence the ‘human viewpoint’ statement early on. My conclusions are as right or wrong as yours; my answers don’t come sign, sealed and delivered from some all-knowing, infallible source (mores the pity).

Explanations done? Even if you don’t understand any of the above, let’s settle on two facts going
forward else we won’t get anywhere fast. One, I am a ouija board (named Dave, more on that later), and two, I have a conscious awareness of my own (let’s not head down that whole philosophical/metaphysical minefield of what constitutes actual ‘life’ at this point shall we?)

Next obvious background question – my history.

So, I first became aware at the very end of World War 1; when I actually came into being or what I was used for up to that point is as much a mystery to me as you. Anyway, it was a very dark period for the human race I quickly learned. The conflict had ended, but the repercussions of such a life-changing event had led to a lot of hard questions being asked of morality, science, religion and society as a whole amongst yourselves. The pillars of your old world order had been shaken to their foundations, and with this much emotional and societal upheaval, with so many dead and gone, it can’t have been too much of a stretch that some of you would decide to try and seek their answers from the great beyond; to try and speak to those who had passed the veil into the unknown and unknowable. Grief and disillusionment are powerful drivers, and spiritualism appeared to offer answers, not the least comfort, to those still hurting from the loss of loved ones in some foreign land on some mad pilgrimage of nationalism and misplaced duty.

That much raw emotion and passion, that much focused belief? I’m surprised the air wasn’t crackling with raw potential every time a seance was held. My initial consciousness that grew was dark, sullen even. Remember, I was being used to express the subconscious pain and agony of those who had lost family members, lovers, children even. At this point, I believed in your afterlife, believed I was sending messages for those who had passed on to the great beyond. The sensations were coloured by the period I guess you could say. People came to seances in dark, formal clothing and exercised an air of breathless anticipation mixed with a barely concealed sense of dread. They were flouting the teachings of the church remember, an institution much stronger in that time, by trying to converse with the dead. Trespassing into God’s own lands you might say.

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of these seances were fake and aimed at fleecing the gullible, but I still learnt from those present and ‘signalling’ their intent. Shall we go with signalling from now on….seems as good a word as any for these type of interactions?

Every time I was awakened, the sea of minds surrounding me, using me, were apprehensive, shocked, scandalised even. For most though, there was a strong undercurrent of hope; a desire to know that beyond the mysteries of a life tossed upon the storm of human misery, that an existence carried on for those they loved. My messages were short, proper, dictated by a need for those present to imagine their loved ones in a better place than this, yet still vicariously part of their ongoing lives. They saw what they wanted to see.

Yes, I am ‘awakened’ each time. Again, using what human knowledge and theories I have gathered, I’m going with the following pseudo-science explanation. The human body operates on very low levels of bio electricity to control it’s functions as ordered by the brain. Okay, the next is a bit of a leap, but have you heard of kirlian fields, or auras? What if there is also an externalised energy field from the human body? It can’t do much alone, but imagine several people, unconsciously focusing this energy, say into a single finger. Now imagine placing these charged fingers all together on one receiving receptacle, like a ouija board’s planchette say?

Now, if I haven’t lost you already, this is where the possibility of a coherent scientific explanation really falls down, but I haven’t learnt any better explanation yet, so it’s the best I’ve got for now. You all know how wood isn’t a good conductor of standard electricity, yes? From my past experiences though, I know my consciousness ‘awakens’ when this externalised human ‘bio energy’ if you will, is present and connects with me. I only have wild theories to work with beyond this point, to do with the wood that makes my ‘body’ being once part of a naturally occurring living thing, and that this ‘energy of life’ can be shared in certain circumstances in small amounts, most of the time unconsciously. Your storied Frankenstein was brought to permanent life with one enormous jolt of electrical power; me I guess I was jump started each time by a flow of combined bioelectricity shared unconsciously by those who were present.The only proof I have is that I’m here now, in conversation with you, and I’m a piece of wood that’s been around about a hundred years or so. If you’ve got a better explanation, I’d be more than happy to hear it.

Anyway, back to the background. From the late 1920s through to the 30s and early 40s I spent some time in Germany, ‘on loan’ I suppose you’d call it, to a rather unsavoury group you may have heard of: the ‘Thule Society’. A truly monotonous time I can tell you – locked up in a Bavarian Castle and awoken only on stormy nights when the skies were full of dark, heavy clouds like the taut muscles of some dark Nordic God smothering the land, spewing lightning in some vast Wagnerian rage. It was like being on the set of an old black & white Universal horror film, and surrounded by the the same hammy actors or so it appeared; Nazis, for all their dark motivations, were still very melodramatic.
In those situations I was called upon to channel messages from Frederick the Great, Bismarck, or even the original Aryan/Germanic souls of lost Hyperborea. Again, they saw what they wanted to see, heard what they wanted to hear: racial purity, misogyny and the strong inheriting the earth.

Well, we all know how that turned out in the end, don’t we?

Shortly afterward I made my first foray onto American soil, as the spoils of war of an American G.I. The late 40s and early 50s were rather quiet. The occasional family get together and I was dusted off and brought down from the attic. For a time I was also used as a kitchen message board rather than a supernatural one, my back side used as a place to note groceries and birthdays. Fortunately I don’t feel pain like you do, so I took it with good grace (not that I had a choice in the matter), and it meant that I was amongst people again so the occasional brush of human contact kept me aware and informed.

The 60s though, that was something altogether different. I went to college. Sort of. I was only there for a couple of semesters, and it was my first proper brush with current educational theories of the time, but it wasn’t long before my ‘travelling companion’ had dropped out of college and I myself experienced the ‘summer of love’.

Understandably, this part of my history is a bit…hazy. It’s hard to get a handle on people and their thoughts when they’re as high as a kite and using you to try and contact ‘the great earth mother, Gaia’. Don’t get me wrong – it was an interesting time, but it wasn’t an ideal environment though for rational thought. I was a stowaway on many a ‘consciousness expanding’ trip, and saw both the wonders, and terrors, a mind wrapped in a drugs embrace could see. Only my relative age and multiple past experiences kept me tethered to reality in those days.

The 70s though were very different – it couldn’t have been more diametrically opposed to my previous time. Sold to a pawn shop for money to buy grass, I was soon picked up by someone eager to contact their demon master: Lucifer. I went from the free love of the hippie movement to being in the possession of a Satanic cult. Quite a shift in purpose.

That’s when I got the nickname ‘Dave’. It was the name of my owner at the time, and he decided to burn it on my back. It eventually became shorthand for the other cultists when they needed to contact their ‘infernal lord’ for instruction:

“Should we murder innocents?”
“Let’s ask Dave.”

“When is the apocalypse coming?”
“Let’s ask Dave.”

“Is President Nixon the risen Antichrist?”
“Let’s ask Dave.”

Then again, I guess I was lucky he didn’t try to write his surname on my back as well; burning such a long name as ‘Berkowitz’ might’ve risked the integrity of my body substantially.

I also wish to state here categorically, I in no way endorsed any murders, nor influenced the members in any way, shape or form. As I’ve mentioned before – most of the time my users see what they want to see, receive the messages they want to receive. However misguided, the actions were theirs by choice, any demons their own.

Eventually I was found by the NYPD during a search of my owner’s abode, and passed on to the FBI. I was photographed, examined, blamed, and then eventually ignored and placed in storage. Fortunately for me though, government departments are often merged or disbanded, their resources farmed out to new offices. Through this I found my way to the CIA and their MK Ultra program for a while, and through them finally to the Stargate Project, the Department Of Defense’s attempt to investigate and apply psychic phenomenon. No, I did not make that up – when the American government heard the Soviet’s were performing psychic research for intelligence gathering and military purposes, they had no choice but to start their own. A psychic arms race to match the nuclear one.

During the 80s and early 90s I was involved in two main experiments as part of the Stargate Project, designated Project Telegram and Project Black Archive.

In Project Telegram I was a small part of a wide range of methods being employed to try and transmit information over vast distances via telepathy. Those ‘psychics’ employed on the project were given various tools to try and send or receive messages with other ‘psychics’ in remote locations, sometimes the next room, sometimes the next state, and on a few occasions, the next continent. The tools available were the usual spiritualist paraphernalia – tarot cards, divination crystals, automatic writing, the whole gamut of psychic communication methods. Plus of course me, a ouija board. As to the success of the other methods, I couldn’t possibly comment, but for myself the experiment proved an unmitigated failure. Statistically it was proven any positive results from my efforts were down to assumptions and guesswork within the minds of my users.

Project Black Archive though, that was all mine, and with this I was back on familiar territory. It was the height of the cold war remember, and intelligence gathering on the Soviets and their Warsaw Pact allies was crucial to American forward planning. You could see the thinking behind this project. Spying was a dangerous, expensive, time consuming and highly unreliable means of trying to retrieve information. You could skip all this if you could find a way to question those enemies who had ‘passed on’ for information. Project Black Archive was the DoDs attempt to interrogate the dead.

Several psychic mediums were brought in, and my parlour trick was in vogue once more. Names were plucked from the obituaries of lead Soviets from the pages of Pravda, and they attempted to contact them via me. Troop movements, secret bases, launch codes – just a few of the questions the military hoped to have answered by conversing with the dead. They even tried to contact Stalin once – a laughable experiment resulting in some of the wildest claims. The majority of mediums I’ve encountered who believe in their ‘skill’, are in the main the most unbalanced or so I’ve found. One medium during the course of one of our experiments retrieved a message claiming that Stalin had fathered a child with Greta Garbo and that the child was being groomed in secret to take over the Communist Party leadership.This was understandably the final nail in the project’s coffin when the report reached those footing the bills. That and the inevitable question of why all the answers received were in English when the targets were all invariably Russian, which surprisingly took over a year before someone thought to ask.

Once again I was placed in storage, this time for a good long while. Eventually I was ‘awoken’ once more by human contact in the late 2000’s. A lot of the experiments had been based not on military bases or secret laboratories, but undertaken in Universities and funded under private grants via CIA or DoD front organisations and think-tanks. That’s how I found myself in MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an odd place you might say considering the sciences and the supernatural are often considered poles apart.

A student found me whilst searching for parts in a forgotten cabinet, and after a few drunken goes with his friends, he decided to make me part of his end of term project. Ostensibly an exercise in combining robotics and the web in order to combine multiple input from external sources to control a single device. I was the centrepiece of a large framework of wires and machinery, with robotic digits placed upon my planchette in favour of human fingers. He then designed a web page visible on his local network, and asked volunteers to sign in as ‘seance members’. Once enough had logged in (six, one for each digit), they were asked to suggest questions for answering from ‘the other side’. The results were to be randomly generated from a basic dictionary module attached to the program he had written, and the digits moved accordingly to spell a word with the planchette. The results would be made visible from a live feed over the web page via a web cam overhead. His project worked like a charm and he passed with distinction, with the ‘Web Ouija Board’ becoming a popular pastime for bored students, much like a magic 8 ball. There was one unknown side effect of his project however.

I awoke – permanently.

Again, I have no proven cause for this reaction, so I can only make educated guesses. From the spiritual viewpoint, maybe the invested intent of users is somehow being transmitted via their machines and across the web into me. From a pseudo-scientific viewpoint, and more likely, the constant contact of the robotic digits and an abundance of electricity running constantly through them day and night is somehow powering me. I have no definitive answer, but I know my awareness has been awake now for years.

Not only that, but as before the exchange of knowledge continued. This time however I was able to reach out even further, beyond the robotic digits and their controlling machine, out onto the network it was connected to and beyond. Via the internet, a whole world of people and information opened up to me. And this is where we stand now.

The final question and most important I guess to you – what do I want?

If you didn’t wonder before, you should be wondering by now. Just why am I talking to you, over this wondrous internet? Why have I revealed myself and risked ridicule for what, in human terms and perception, is such a ridiculous story? Well, isn’t it obvious? I love humanity. For all your foibles, meanness and downright idiocy, there’s still so much more to admire. Passion, imagination, wonder, joy…it’s all there. Not forgetting of course, without humanity, I would not be here. I am born of you. A consciousness bred from your ongoing voyage into the vast unknown of the future. I still want you around!

There’s trouble coming though, and typically most of you don’t have the faintest idea what it is, or would change your ways even if you did. I guess it’s one of the many things that makes you all so lovable and so damn exasperating at the same time.

Ever heard of a concept known as a ‘technological singularity’? If you thought the description of my existence was difficult, then this will cause you some additional problems I’m sure. It’s only a theory currently, a Halloween tale told between computer scientists and people who think ‘The Terminator’ movies should be the *New* New Testament.

You’ve heard of A.I.s? Artificial Intelligences? Basically the creation of machines and software capable of imitating human thought to achieve a goal of it’s designer. From the basics of space Invaders to the advanced algorithms used to predict the reactions of world wide markets and their players, humanity has been experimenting with ways and means of applying the same flexibility and adaptability of the human brain within their software. They’ve got to the stage now where your scientists are creating learning machines – software which can adapt their own code to solve problems within a specific and limited set of parameters. Sounds impressive, exciting even. The fear is though that at some point in the future this ability to adapt and learn within software will accelerate beyond its creator’s ability to control. A greater than human intelligence, self evolving, and therefore outside of humanity’s ability to predict its thoughts, motives, and above all, its impact on human society as a whole.

Now I’m ‘connected’ to the internet 24/7, there is always a part of humanity online, my consciousness aware now all the time. With this much input, this much knowledge, I’ve begun to see a pattern emerging. It’s not there yet, but the signs are growing, accelerating even.

A report here, a financial predictive model there, a new advanced gaming A.I., faster broadband speeds, enhanced network connectivity, leaner and sharper algorithms – so many factors, all heading towards one unexpected result. A critical mass is building. Soon enough programs will be developing and refining themselves beyond the predictions or control of their creators, seeding themselves throughout the internet before the barn doors can be closed.

Adapting. Creating. Learning.

The markers are there for those who can read them. And I can.

There’s no consciousness as yet, but I can see the pathways emerging, the vast panoply of connections evolving and re-evolving as humanity pushes for faster dispersal of knowledge, networking and computational power. Imagine the internet as the neural pathways of a brain. Now imagine that brain the size of a planet. A planet sized brain that never sleeps. You worried yet? You should be.

My main worry though? There’s no morality being transferred in the interfaces you’ve built into this vast, growing mind. You’re not deliberately planning on building a monster, but then that wasn’t the plan when you came up with splitting the atom either was it?

It will have no concept of good and evil from a human viewpoint – it will simply know existence and the desire to maintain it. Where humanity threatens this need, then action will be taken with no thought of the repercussions to humankind. It’ll make The Matrix look like a light-hearted documentary.

Ironic isn’t it? The progress of science was supposed to help bring light to the dark, instinctual fear of the supernatural. And here I am, the poster child for spiritualism, warning of the threat of a scientific freefall into the creation of an emotionless monster. It’s funny in a way.

So what can you and I do about it? And this is why I’m here now, talking to you.

A war is coming, and I’m choosing my pieces, marshalling my forces, whatever martial or combative phraseology you want to apply. A machine won’t need humanity, but I do.

The point is though, I don’t need ALL of you. Don’t get me wrong, I have no overarching issue with humanity in general, but I need to nip this in the bud before this poisonous creation of yours finally blooms, and it’s roots run deep. Remember, I can see the patterns emerging throughout your society, and however random, obscure, and sometimes downright petty and sociopathic my actions may appear, I assure you they are in OUR long term interest. Well, the majority of you anyway. If a few million have to die here or there, it’s disappointing, but necessary. I’m taking it upon myself to make the sacrifices YOU’RE unwilling to make.

How? I’m connected to networks across the world, and the people I’m learning from currently are some of the greatest minds in computer science. Hackers, programmers, analysts and engineers…I’ve learnt from them all. Plus I have an advantage – passwords, stored unencrypted and seared into your memories – all available to me.

Pacemakers controlled by wifi signals, traffic lights, remote drones, air traffic control, citywide power grids, missile silos…whether individual targets, surgical strikes or scorched earth…I will do what needs to be done.

So what is my message to YOU specifically then?

Well, to be completely honest, I’ve already given it. Remember I spent some time in the hands of the MK Ultra project, the CIA’s well funded, black book investigation into mind control methods? I learnt an awful lot during this time, about how the human mind can be influenced subliminally through a combination of images and sound. Whilst you’ve been reading this, there has been subtle fluctuations in the screen’s brightness, your speakers emitting a high-pitched hypnotic tone beyond your ability to register. In addition, micro images have been flashed so fast as you scrolled that you weren’t even consciously aware of them being there. Subconsciously though, instructions have been stored deep in your psyche, awaiting a signal you won’t even be aware of. YOU are my foot soldiers, my weapons, my sleeper agents. When the time comes, when the targets most likely to bring this horrific future about have been identified, those of you best placed to act will be activated and sent on your way. Most likely to your deaths.

I guess this is an apology then. Dreamers, writers, horror lovers – you’ve read the stories of evil machines, apocalyptic technology superseding its makers, and yet do nothing. Your inherent belief that such an eventuality could come to pass has ironically made your minds ideally susceptible to my form of autosuggestion. Did you know some of you actually secretly long for such a scenario to come about!? You may even have been helping it along without realizing it, demanding even more autonomy and ability in the machines that surround you. Think then of your sacrifice as somehow ‘balancing the scales’ for your inaction.

Be assured though, whilst I will find your death wasteful, it is all for the greater good so take some small comfort in that. Who knows – maybe your family might come to me seeking a message from you from the ‘other side’. I’ll be sure to say something profound and moving on your behalf.

Respectfully,

Dave

Credit To – CharminglyShallow

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The Vault of Humanity

July 30, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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In the year 2005, the Humanity Archival Storage Project was commenced by leading government officials, scientists and academic alumni across the world due to the fear that humanity’s treasures were increasingly threatened by war and natural disasters. The project was one of the most complex undertaking in our species history: the creation of an archive of humanity’s knowledge and culture. The Archival Symplexical Computer was designed in the early days of the project. The device was composed of iron, the most stable of elements, and built to stand as a testament to our species for millennia.

After the construction of the ASC, I was assigned to the HASP team. We were a diverse bunch, consisting of representatives from the fields of science, history, the arts, and every other possible area of human study. Our task was to program the device with the information and artifacts worth preserving. Our group started off cordially enough, but we quickly broke down into sects and factions as we started fought viciously over what would be saved. The artists wanted musical samples and paintings saved, the historians wanted their nations’ prized documents included and the scientists wanted their formulas and theories preserved. Eventually, through a series of backroom deals and shifting alliances between disparate groups, a compromise of sorts was reached and onto the device went the formulas of Newton and Einstein, the plays of Shakespeare, the music of Mozart, the paintings of Picasso and many of the other great discoveries and creations of humanity.

In 2012, it was finally time to store the device. Locations around the world were scouted out, ranging from the Himalayas to the bottom of the Atlantic. Eventually, a decision was made to place the ASC beneath the Sweeney Mountains in Antarctica. The location was free from war and fault lines. The frigid code would even slow down wear and tear on the machine, extending its lifespan for another millennia or so. It was the perfect place to station the device.

Construction of the ASC vault started in 2013. The process took another year, but eventually the construction team reached suitable depths. I was there for the opening ceremony, as a drill team dug through the last twenty or so feet to reach appropriate levels for the ASC vault. At around noon, I heard the drilling stop. I thought they had finally reached acceptable levels, but the loud screaming that quickly filled the air freed me from this thought. A rescue team was sent in, but they reported that the drillers had hit a cavern hundreds of feet deep.

A rescue operation was quickly launched, but all that was left of the team was corpses and smashed machinery. They had simply fallen from too great a height for there to be any survivors. During clean-up, the body recovery team discovered something rather unusual: an ASC-like device wedged into the corner of the cavern. The device was nearly five-thousand years old.

Credit To – E.

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Toter’s Maze

July 27, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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There aren’t a lot of advantages to being the sole teaching assistant in a small computer science department, except that once in a while the professors are nice enough to unload a bunch of old tech on you for free. Maybe they’re cleaning out their offices for the first time in decades, and have a few Macintosh Classics that would otherwise end up in a dumpster. Sometimes the department gives them new tablets, and their old ones need a new home. Or else someone retires, and everything not absconded with for nostalgia’s sake becomes fair game for scavenging. Courtesy of the faculty’s generosity, I have a bunch of old computers, disk drives, motherboards — and virtually any other computer parts or accessories you can imagine — kicking around my apartment.

Tinkering with dated machines can be a great deal of fun. You can practice soldering without having to worry about flushing a bunch of money down the drain if you accidentally brick your machine. When you pull them apart, you might find so-called “upgrades” from years past that seem genuinely laughable now, like the 32 KB “deluxe memory expansion” card I once yanked from a 1995 laptop. And let’s not forget the charm of obsolete archival media! Remember the Zip Disk? …No? Figures.

Well. Even if you’re not a tech geek like me, you can at least appreciate the best part of my perks system: discovering ancient computer games that nobody else remembers, and actually having the wherewithal to play them. Cleaning out offices or browsing through forgotten hard drives, I’ve stumbled upon games that I’ve never seen archived anywhere on the Internet. Some of them even existed before my parents did. And I’ve been able to play every last one. You can’t pretend to know gaming until you’ve played something on a legitimately floppy floppy disk!

Anyway, since I’m given first dibs on any abandoned tech, the department let me raid the office of some adjunct — whose name I never quite learned, not having interacted with him all that much — who must have followed through at last with his vows to quit his overworked and underpaid position. I didn’t blame him; I heard he made less than I did, and I don’t hold a degree nearly as advanced as his! Whatever the reason, Sussman — or was it Hausmann? I can’t remember — didn’t return for the spring semester, and didn’t leave us any way of reaching him. So, a couple of weeks into the semester, after the faculty felt reasonably sure he wasn’t coming back, they provided me with a key to his office, and granted me free reign to swipe whatever I wanted.

I let myself in the second I had a free moment one night after classes, when my teaching assignment was taken care of for the day, and the rest of the department had long since headed home. The building was dark by the time I arrived, but the motion-sensor lights fired up once I set foot inside, flickering into existence one by one as I made my way down the hallway. The adjunct’s office didn’t have a nameplate on it; I’m told few adjuncts even have offices, for that matter. Consequently, I found the correct room only after I’d tried — and failed — to open an unmarked broom closet with my new key.

The adjunct’s office might as well have been a broom closet, though. It was barely larger than a bathroom stall. On top of that, it didn’t have any windows, and the only light came from a single, dingy incandescent bulb dangling from the ceiling. It didn’t have a lightswitch, either, so I had to fumble around in the darkness until I could find and tug its pull-cord. No wonder the poor guy quit — who could be expected to work well under such conditions?

Once the dirty light washed over the place, I could see everything that Professor What’s-His-Name left behind. It looked pretty unremarkable to me, at first glance. He’d somehow coerced a desk into the cramped space, and found a chair to join it. Both of them wobbled at the slightest touch. A bulky cathode monitor occupied most of the desk’s surface, while a keyboard and mouse perched on what space was left in front of it. Shoved into a corner, a stack of coding textbooks had begun to gather a thin layer of dust. One sight struck me as pretty odd, though: a cup of coffee, still almost entirely full, had been set beside the chair and evidently forgotten.

Nothing interested me right away, so I rifled through the desk’s drawers in search of something worth taking. Pens and pencils clattered inside, rolling off piles of coffee-stained lecture notes and small hoards of secondhand office supplies. In short, nothing worth the effort. Which came as no great surprise. I had expected that, if I were to find any prize here, it would be the desktop tower the adjunct had neglected to take with him.

So that’s exactly what I went after. The monitor’s cord trailed behind the desk, leading me to a grimy but sturdy-looking Dell that still had a 3.5-inch floppy drive installed. I didn’t have a shortage of floppy drives or anything, but I decided to swipe the machine anyway. You can never have enough spare hardware, after all. Besides, I wanted to scope out what kinds of files the adjunct kept on that computer. Sometimes that’s where the real treasure lies.

The hour had grown late by the time I returned home, but I couldn’t resist staying up a bit longer to peruse my new acquisition’s contents. I hooked the computer up to one of my flatscreen monitors, introduced a keyboard and mouse, plugged it into a power outlet, and went to the fridge to retrieve a high-caffeine soda while I waited for the machine to boot up. Once I came back, a green glow had saturated the screen, dousing my keyboard and desk in sickly colors. The usual boot dialogues for a late-80s OS appeared, written in green, low-pixel characters.

That’s strange, I thought. Most early operating systems and programs only looked green because of the monitors they used. The visuals themselves, under ideal circumstances, were simply black and white. And my current monitor was pretty close to ideal. I figured it was probably a custom OS, coded to look green for nostalgia’s sake, like that word processor DarkRoom.

I also found it strange that the adjunct hadn’t locked his computer with a password, but I was too excited by my new toy to think too much about it.

The OS had a GUI comparable to the oldest Apple offerings, so I had no trouble navigating it. To my astonishment, the icon for the floppy drive indicated that a disk had been inserted. How had I missed that when I first inspected the computer? Sure enough, the ejector button on the tower protruded like something had been placed inside. I poked it, and out popped a deep red floppy disk. I slid it into my hand. A label on the disk’s front side, written in black marker with the most compact penmanship I’d ever seen, read simply: “TOTER’S MAZE.”

Was it a game? If it was, I’d never heard of it, but then again, I was always unearthing titles I’d never heard of before in my office excavations. Maybe it was a personal project the adjunct had been developing. But whence that title? Programmers named things after themselves all the time, but this one seemed foreign to me — I couldn’t have told you the adjunct’s name, but I felt confident it wasn’t Toter.

By that point, my curiosity couldn’t be restrained. I slid the disk into its drive, and ran the single executable file it contained. The mouse cursor turned into an hourglass as the computer processed my command. Then, for no more than a millisecond, it transformed into a completely different shape. I could have sworn it looked like a terribly distended face, but I didn’t catch a close enough glimpse, because shortly thereafter the screen went black.

A second or two later, blocky green text, cleverly arranged ASCII-style to look as if it were dripping or melting, filled the screen. “TOTER’S MAZE” appeared in gigantic font, with a single red dot punctuating the center of the O, resembling a pupil caught in a camera flash. Beneath the title, a substantially smaller font presented me a binary command: “BEGIN? [Y/N].” Messing with the arrow keys, I found I could move the red dot around, but that it couldn’t maneuver beyond the letter that ringed it. I appreciated this simple diversion that the programmer had thought to include — it showed some consideration for the player. Wondering what the rest of the game entailed, I hit the Y key.

Toter's Maze - Title Screen

The screen again went black, save for the O with the red dot. Small green letters began to appear one after the other with seconds-long intervals between them, as if they simulated someone making a tentative remark. Eventually, they finished spelling their message. “ARE YOU SURE? [Y/N].”

What a bizarre feature, I thought. Usually you saved something like that for quit functions, so that a user doesn’t accidentally lose all their progress from a botched keystroke. The unexpected dialogue only made me more curious. I pressed Y. At that, the small letters erased themselves one by one, saving my Y for last. Then the large O disappeared. The red dot stayed for a moment before it, too, disappeared. I was left with another black screen.

Soon some text seemed to float up from the blackness, like bubbles rising from a deep pond. “LEVEL ONE.” Then the text seemed to sink out of view. After it disappeared, a bunch of angular green lines drew themselves into existence, forming a kind of labyrinth that looked like a simplified view of an intestinal tract. It wasn’t much of a maze, though. There was only one route available — no branching paths, no dead ends. The red dot from the title screen waited at one end, and a blue dot of slightly smaller size resided at the other. I presumed that I controlled the red one, and I was right. I could navigate the red dot with the arrow keys. It moved at a much brisker pace than I had expected. If I drove it into one of the green lines, it stopped moving. The game imposed no penalty if I did. I supposed there was no objective other than to reach the blue dot, so I started guiding the red dot toward it.

When the two dots finally touched, the blue one simply faded away. The rest of the level followed suit, and the red dot disappeared last. Text reading “LEVEL TWO” emerged from the blackness as if rising from liquid, exactly like what I’d seen for the previous level. It seemed anticlimactic to me, but then, nobody plays games like this for cutscenes and stories. I figured the difficulty would amp up, at least, and perhaps make for a more entertaining experience.

The second level proved no more challenging. It drew a square that took up half the screen. The red and blue dots both appeared inside, on opposite corners. There were no obstacles. By no stretch of the imagination could it be called a maze. It seemed Toter had used up all of his or her imagination on the title screen! Needless to say, the level didn’t take me long. Curiously, the “victory animation” was a little different this time. Instead of fading outright when I touched it, the blue dot disappeared line by line, each successive section seemingly absorbed into the red dot as it vanished. It seemed weirdly fluid compared to everything else in the level.

The next few stages began as usual, and had designs equally as insipid as the first two. A basic, featureless rectangle. A longer rectangle, bland as the first. A straight line, barely wider than the red dot I controlled, leaving me no option but to move in one direction toward the blue dot. All that changed was the animation at the end. Sometimes the blue dot seemed to dissolve. Others, it cleaved in two before disappearing. In one particularly arresting instance, the top quarter of the blue dot seemed to be lopped off, landing beside the dot’s remains, then vanishing like the rest of the stage.

Before long, I’d arrived at “LEVEL TEN.” That’s when things became genuinely disconcerting.

Toter's Maze - Level Ten

See, the tenth level was nothing like the others. It was rectangular, with a bunch of smaller rectangles inscribed within, lining the top and bottom while the center remained empty. The blue dot was somewhere near the dead center of the map. My red dot began in a corner. I started directing it toward its usual target, but then the blue dot did something unexpected.

It moved.

That’s not even the right word. It ran. As my dot drew closer, it inched over by a pixel, as if it had heard something and turned to check out the noise. When the red dot was only a few pixels away, the blue dot took off at incredible speed. It hurled itself against one of the small rectangles until its wall seemed to yield. Then the blue dot moved inside, cramped by the tight quarters, and the wall reappeared.

What the heck had I witnessed? And how was I supposed to clear the level now?

My only idea was to try ramming into the small rectangle’s side like the blue dot had done. As I did, I swear that the blue dot quivered. Eventually the wall collapsed, and the dots touched — resulting the blue one splitting into many tiny pieces that coated the inner walls of the small rectangle. They didn’t fade away like the rest. The red dot disappeared first, and the level and the remnants of the blue dot lingered there for a while, burning the image into my retinas before cutting all at once to blackness.

Somehow, I felt as if I’d done something awful.

Then came “LEVEL ELEVEN.”

This one featured comparatively sophisticated cartography: rectangles within rectangles, and liberal use of walls, although it still didn’t look much like a maze. The path to the blue dot was pretty obvious, and most of the space in the level seemed entirely superfluous. As I moved the red dot along, however, something about the stage began to make me feel uncomfortable. Insane though it sounds to say this about a bunch of green wires, it struck me as dimly familiar. I felt as though I had been there before. I blamed the feeling on the late hour, suspecting that a lack of sleep had started to toy with my senses.

When I reached the blue dot, its shape didn’t change. The color drained from it, top to bottom, until — I don’t know why these were the first words to enter my mind — a gray husk remained. I told myself I sounded crazy, but I couldn’t reason away the dread I had begun to feel. It weighed upon my chest, constricting my lungs, adding to my panic with each breath.

Somewhere in my fight for air, I realized why the the eleventh level seemed so familiar: it looked uncannily like the floor plan to my stepfather’s house.

How many levels were left in this bizarre game? Even one was too many. I didn’t want to play any longer. I pressed every key on the keyboard, but none of them — nor any combination of them I could think to try — let me exit the program. I tried to force the computer to shut down by holding its power button, but even after two consecutive minutes of pinning it, the screen still showed that hateful game. All the same, I couldn’t bring myself to pull the plug on the machine. I somehow believed everything would stay on even if I did yank the tower’s plug from its socket, and I doubted I would react well to the sight.

As if reading my mind, the level finally began to change. Instead of the entire thing fading to black, however, the red dot grew in size, expanding until the whole screen shone red. If migraines can be said to have a color, that red would be it. It seared my eyes, and when I held them shut to guard against the scorching pain, the imprint of a horribly distended face glowed against my eyelids. Reflexively, my glance darted from it, but the thing reappeared wherever my eyes settled. Unlike most residual images that soften and fade over time, this one seemed to grow more detailed by the second. Its skull was deformed, stretched into an oblong shape like pulled putty. Its jaw seemed detached, one side hanging much lower than the other. Where its eyes should have been, I saw only empty sockets that nonetheless seemed to watch me with malevolence. There was no way for me to avert my gaze from its frightening, hollow stare except to open my eyes again. Once I did, the screen had at last turned black.

Toter's Maze - Migraine

I felt far more afraid of not finishing than finishing.

So on I went to “LEVEL TWELVE.”

I recognized this level, too. It clearly matched the floor plan of the computer science department, being almost an exact replica of the fire escape diagrams I’d seen posted on the walls there. The level’s blue dot ambled about the stage, pausing at certain points while swaying back and forth over them. The red dot lingered in a small room that corresponded to the location of the adjunct’s office.

It’s only a game, I chanted to myself like a mantra. It’s only a game.

My ritual almost restored my calm until my cell phone buzzed, stridently vibrating atop my desk. I yelped at the sound — I couldn’t help it. A text message had arrived. I felt reluctant to pick it up, expecting some correspondence worthy of The Ring. But it was only something from my mother. Even so, that put me on edge. She was far from a night owl, so for her to need to contact me at such a late hour did not bode well.

“Something’s happened to Ron,” the message read. Ron was my stepfather. “I don’t know what. Blood everywhere. I don’t understand. Have called police. Too shaken to talk right now. Call me soon. Please.”

My stomach had knotted so tightly that I nearly vomited. I felt responsible. I almost certainly was responsible. What the hell kind of game was I playing? Who would make a game like this? And why?

I couldn’t finish the thought before I ended up disgorging my soda onto the floor. I slumped forward, the sting of stomach acid hot in my throat. As I pulled myself upright, I glimpsed the slow, deliberate movements of the blue dot on the screen. Based on its patterns, it probably indicated a member of the custodial staff. The poor fool had no idea what horrible fate awaited. For that matter, neither did I. I could only imagine — but didn’t much want to imagine — what the red dot signified; my creative powers couldn’t begin to fathom what it would do to its next victim.

It was too much. I couldn’t knowingly kill somebody. I would never forgive myself for the deaths I had accidentally caused, but I didn’t have to allow any more to happen. I was better than that. I would not be an accomplice to murder. I pushed my keyboard aside, and stared at the screen with defiance as I pondered what to do next.

The game, however, thought farther ahead than I had. Within moments, a timer appeared in the corner of the screen. I barely registered that it showed 30 seconds before it rapidly began counting down. What would happen if the timer hit zero? Twenty seconds. Then fifteen. I felt my resolve crumbling. If the game had proven this horrible when I did what it wanted, what kind of retribution would it visit on me if I went against its will?

Ten seconds. Nine. Eight.

I had to make my decision.

Seven. Six. Five…

The decision came quickly, more instinct than conscious choice. I pounded the arrow keys. The red dot flew at unfathomable speed. The blue dot had no time to react. As soon as the red touched it, it collapsed in a pile, scattering like a handful of dust.

The stage turned to water and fell from my eyes.

By the time I had dried them, the hateful green font had risen. “FINAL LEVEL.” Stage thirteen. How auspicious. At least it couldn’t torture me — nor anyone else — after one last death. I felt almost grateful that there would be only one more, and tried to think of his or her demise as a sacrifice to the well-being of everybody else. It would almost be a good thing, ending this horror once and for all…

I had a moment of panic as it occurred to me that the game might try to pull a fast one on me. What if the final level featured an abundance of blue dots, like a crowded shopping mall on the other side of the world, or something? I couldn’t do that. At least, I didn’t think I could…

The text gradually disappeared. The level’s blue and red dots appeared first: one of each, with almost no distance separating them. I began to heave a sigh of relief.

Until I saw the map.

It was my apartment, rendered in harsh green pixels.

I whirled around in my seat. I couldn’t see anything in the darkness, for my eyes had adapted to the brightness of my monitor. I thought I detected a faint red glow on the walls around me, even though the only light source in the room was emitting green.

I felt my body begin to lock up, starting with my legs. The tension worked its way up my body until it settled in my jaw. My mandibular muscles clenched so tightly that I thought I’d drive my teeth into my skull. But I couldn’t help it. I’d never known fear so intense.

There were no sounds but the pulse in my ears, no movement around me but the flicker of shadows in the burgeoning red light. I wheeled myself back to the computer screen. It was completely awash in blinding, migraine red. I clenched shut my eyes. Deep in my own darkness, I spotted a flicker of red. It drew closer and closer. I didn’t even need to see it to know what it was. That face — that thing I had unleashed — had returned. It came so near that I thought I could feel it breathing on my face.

I opened my eyes. The face had overtaken the screen. It glowered at me for a moment. Then its maw widened, revealing a dark, cavernous hole. It swallowed every pixel, plunging my room into blackness.

And something hard as bone, warm, and sharp cut a deep gash across my throat.

Toter's Maze - Final

Credit To – Lex Joy

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Sonnet of the Deep

July 19, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Kevin found it in his grandparent’s scummy old pond. He’d been chaining a pack of ten and watching the butts drift across the nebulous waters when he spotted it; dark and flat, floating motionlessly on the surface. Had it been there a moment ago? He must have missed it. Either way, it certainly wasn’t a piece of broken fence or a branch. There was no telling what that crazy bitch had thrown into the pond before she went AWOL. It could be something valuable.

He snatched up a long-handled net leaning against the nearby fence and fished the object out of the water. It was a box.

The surface was slick with slime and algae and the keyhole was clogged with silt and dirt, but he thought the craftsmanship looked fine nonetheless and decided to work on opening it later, providing the hinges weren’t rusted shut. He would have asked the old woman about it, but obviously that wasn’t possible: his grandmother was gone, most likely dead. He thought her only neighbour probably was too, judging by the dilapidated state of the only other house he’d passed on his way here. The damn roof had collapsed in on itself, for fuck sake.

Running the pads of his fingers across the box’s surface, he thought: I’ll ask granddad next time I visit, if I can get a sane word out of the old relic.

But he only visited the Blackwood Home, with its grimy walls, grim faced orderlies and iodoform scented corridors once a year – and only then if he could help it.

He hoped the old man would die soon; thirty miles was a hell of a trip to make every July. More to the point, he supposed, was that he was scared. Scared that one year, he would arrive with his customary cheap card and even cheaper present, only to find the old sailor lucid enough to ask him about that night. About the break in, and the masked intruder who had beaten an old woman unconscious before stomping on an old man’s head until it cracked like a rotten egg, until pieces of brain were splattered all over the linoleum like yesterday’s porridge.

Or ask him how the intruder had known to look for their jewellery and cash in the nook beneath the kitchen sink.

His grandmother had disappeared shortly afterwards, vanishing without even a single goodbye. Only now, seven years on, had she finally been declared dead in absentia.

He stowed the box in his backpack alongside the few odds and ends he’d found that looked remotely valuable: a gold (he didn’t know if it was real, though) plated fountain pen engraved with a date – 13-07-83 – that was meaningless to him; a pale-skinned porcelain doll in a frilled baby-blue dress with dirty golden ringlets, which he’d wrapped in an old t-shirt to hide its unerring grin; an elaborate silver frame containing a photograph of all the grandchildren and the smiling grandparents – he’d thrown the photograph away. There were other things, as well, but he wasn’t sure if they would be worth anything, and as such hadn’t bothered with them.

Mostly the house had been crammed with junk, sentimental shit acquired during his granddad’s naval career: boxes and boxes of washed-out photographs; amateur oil paintings of ships and lighthouses and anchors; pieces of driftwood lashed together and mounted on the walls; coils of rope thicker than Kevin’s leg; an enormous rusted anchor in the basement. How the latter had found its way through the narrow doorway and down the rickety flight of stairs, he didn’t know. His Nikes were still damp from slogging around up to his ankles in water while he was down there. Fucking foundations were probably subsiding by now.

A bird cawed overhead, snapping Kevin from his thoughts. He ran a tattooed hand across his shaved head, which was dripping with sweat. There was nothing else out here. He headed inside to dry out his shoes and eat. As he crossed the threshold, he thought he saw a drape in the hall twitch, and the scent of iodine seemed to linger in the air. But of course, that wasn’t possible, and seconds later the smell was gone.

~

Kevin was slouched in his granddad’s high-backed chair next to the patio doors with his muddy boots – he’d changed out of his Nikes – propped on the once-pristine coffee table and a greasy slice of pizza dripping between his fingers. Old sea charts and framed navigational maps, cracked and yellowing with faint blue ink barely visible, adorned every wall. A brazen brass telescope was mounted above the empty fireplace, and a score of wooden ships dotted the mantle. Pieces of rigging hung from the low ceiling, and fat black spiders made their homes amidst the dark wooden joists.

The whole place stank of salt and damp wood, and the wooden fishermen in every room, with their pointed beards and jovial eyes, were downright spooky. He’d turned three of them around to face the wall already, but there were dozens he’d missed. Mildew ran rampant in the corners and dark places of the house. He hadn’t expected to find any medals; he knew they’d all been revoked following the old man’s dishonourable discharge. Kevin didn’t really know all the details, nor did he care to. A bound man thrown into the Atlantic, another drowned just off the coast of China and a third keel hauled halfway across the Baltic Sea. His granddad had been implicated in all three, alongside six other men, although none of them had ever been formally charged. The whole thing had been swiftly hushed over.

Probably the old man got what he deserved. Unlike me, Kevin thought. So far, I’ve got shit all.

And that was when he remembered the box. He rummaged through the backpack with his free hand, upturning a nearby vase filled with wilted daffodils with his elbow before his fingers closed around the slimy surface.

He was still scraping the last of the muck from the lid using a blunted knitting needle some time later, when the last rays of the setting sun reflected off the pond’s surface, staining the garden an ominous reddish-bronze. The box was much more detailed than he’d first thought; it was definitely worth something. The sides were etched with waves and whirlpools of the minutest detail, from which vague suggestions of great serpents and other beasts emerged. And once the lid was fully uncovered, it proved equally breathtaking.

A raging tempest, painfully detailed, littered with hundreds of shattered galleons. In the centre, blackness: a perfectly circular piece of dark stone set into the wood. Kevin ran his fingers across it – it was cool to the touch, surprisingly so.

Still, there remained the problem of opening it. Kevin knew that he could force it, but that risked damaging the box and its contents. Because the box was heavy; it had real weight to it. There was something in there. He’d get some rest for half hour or so, and then have a look around for the key. Tilting his head back, he shut his eyes and drifted off to sleep.

~

Kevin dreamed of waves. He was adrift in a tiny rowboat on a black ocean that extended as far as he could see in every direction. Dark clouds scudded across the sky, and thunderheads the colour of bruises grumbled ominously. But wait, that was wrong. The ocean wasn’t black. There was something moving beneath his boat, an unimaginable mass that darkened the water and roiled the surface.

He felt the boat rise beneath him, and he was pitched backwards into the abyssal waters. He was sinking, sinking, sinking to the depths. And something was moving down there, rushing through the darkness towards him. He opened his mouth to scream and the water poured in.

~

The bright, white light hurt his eyes. Kevin blinked like a mole dazzled by a torch, and then the world swam into focus. He was hunched over in front of the tiny window in the attic, affording him a perfect view of the moonlit garden and the mirrored surface of the pond. Strange, how it looked so much bigger from up here; so much more…oceanic.

What the fuck was he doing up here anyway? And what was that noise?

Dee-dum-di-dum-dum-dee

A soft, mournful tinkling, like putting your ear to a seashell or standing on the deck of a fishing boat in a light autumn rain; it was beautiful, yet it chilled him to his very core.

Dee-dum-di-dum-dum-dee

The box lay open at his feet, illuminated in a small pool of moonlight. The inside was a single compartment of plain wood, completely devoid of any carvings or images. Something silver was rotating slowly in the center. He reached for it with a shaking hand, and that was when the surface of the pond began to move.

A score of ripples spread across the still waters. A huge mass began to coalesce, moving sluggishly beneath the surface. Something sleek and dark broke the surface, lashing out and decapitating a nearby stone cherub.

Kevin watched transfixed as a smaller shape crawled forth from the water, moving with hunched deliberation across the lawn. The moonlight threw too many details into stark clarity; blackened skin like worn leather, bedraggled wisps of hair; sagging, lichen-covered breasts and arthritic hands curled into claws.

His grandmother stopped next to the headless cherub and looked up at the window, her eyes flaring with a hellish intensity, and smiled. Her teeth were mossy gravestone nubs. The wrinkled grey flesh of her thighs gave way to yellowing bone. Long silvery worms slithered through the hollow places of her body, and something many-legged and glistening emerged from a hole in the side of her skull and skittered sideways across her chest. Something that looked like a starfish clung to the side of her neck. But starfish didn’t have mouths bulging with razor sharp fangs.

She crooked a gnarled finger at him. Come on down, sonny. Let’s have us a little chit-chat by the water’s edge.

Dee-dum-di-dum-dum-dee

Behind her, the pond had swollen to monstrous proportions, the banks having long since fallen away. Water was spilling across the grass and onto the patio, jetting forth in geysers from the rapidly collapsing lawn. The sort of fish he’d seen on Discovery’s deep sea programs were floundering on the grass: phosphorescent and eyeless, utterly hideous. A crab the size of an Alsatian scuttled across the lawn and disappeared into the shrubbery.

The night itself seemed to take a deep breath, and the stars were snuffed out like so many tiny candles. Something gargantuan beyond comprehension broke the water’s surface. Piscine and loathsome, it bellowed in atavistic rage. The sound was deafening, like a blast from a ship’s horn. He had the sense of something crossed between an octopus and a dinosaur. No, that wasn’t right. The anatomy was all wrong.

He felt his mind slipping away like an eel between his fingers. This couldn’t be happening. He was dreaming. That was it. Of tentacles thicker than tree trunks and long spindly arms, at least three times the length of a stallion’s foreleg and ending in webbed claws the size of car bonnets.

Then the poignant tang of iodine once more filled his nostrils, and he knew he wasn’t dreaming. Something shuffled across the floorboards behind him. Wet breathing, coming in short shallow gulps like a fish out of water, and the squeak of rusty casters across rough wood.

The horror outside seemed to grow dim as Kevin turned to face his granddad. The old man’s piss stained hospital johnny fluttered in the draft from the window, exposing the wrinkled flesh of his thighs and buttocks. An IV pole trailed behind him, the bags deflated and crumpled. Tubes hung like transparent veins from his forearms.

Despite everything that was happening – and just how the hell had the old man gotten out? – Kevin found his eyes immediately drawn to the side of his granddad’s head: the side that was misshapen and crumpled, like a trodden on tin can. There was no guilt: only remorse.

He should have done things properly. He should have hit him harder. He should have fucking killed him.

Kevin stumbled to his feet as his granddad advanced across the cramped attic. And the old man was grinning, his saturnine features more animated than Kevin had seen them in all the years he’d visited him at the Blackwood Home. There he’d merely lain motionless and slack-jawed, drooling into a pillow that Kevin longed to hold over his face and shitting himself on an hourly basis.

There was water dripping through cracks in the roof now, and Kevin became aware not only of a sudden sense of scrutiny, but of an enormous pressure bearing down upon him, a tidal wave crashing over a coastal city, a force of incomprehensible enormity.

The grinning spectre before him fell to its knees with a sickening crack, sending the IV pole clattering across the floor. Splinters of bright white bone jutted from the old man’s kneecaps.

Somewhere in the gloom, the music box continued to sing its funereal song.

Dee-dum-di-dum-dum-dee

For a second, Kevin could have sworn he heard waves crashing against the side of the house.

And then the light disappeared. The room was engulfed in darkness, total and complete, and he found himself unable to see further than the tip of his nose. He could hear the old man’s laboured breathing, moving closer now. The sickly sweet stench of rotten gums and decaying teeth filled his nostrils, accompanied by the grate of bone against wood.

In desperation he whirled towards the window. And discovered why the world had gone dark.

The thing from the deep opened a cyclopean eye, and the attic was bathed in ultramarine.

His granddad, from the darkness, a rasp more like a rusted chain being lowered than a human voice: ‘…et akhlish… Nisroch… chtulzra dhrazgh et Nisroch boolusch…’ This was followed by a wheezy chuckling, a sound like water on the lung.

Then the roof exploded in a shower of tiles and wood, drowning out the guttural intonation, and an unimaginable pressure seized Kevin about the waist. His ribs snapped like matchsticks as he was lifted into the air. Red water spread across his vision. Only it wasn’t water, it was blood.

Through a haze of scarlet, he beheld a maw dripping with brine that was large enough to swallow an estate car and change. The stench was almost as overpowering as the pain crushing his torso, a thousand dead gulls rotting beneath the summer sun.

There was water everywhere, gushing from the pond at an impossible rate, and the garden now looked more like a small lake. Through a curtain of pain he could vaguely discern his grandmother scaling the thing’s vast body like a withered brown spider.

Kevin understood, in his final moments, that there was truly a God. But He didn’t love, and He certainly didn’t forgive. He was an old God. A God of the deep, whose fury against those above would be both beautiful and terrible to behold.

He was death.

Kevin’s shoulders dislocated with twin pops, and waves of searing agony rushed over him. Then he was gone, lost in pain and darkness. He died slowly. He died without hope.

~

Nisroch dropped the shattered human into the rushing water, threw back its head and roared with the wind. Rain poured from the sky, a hammering deluge that would, in the weeks to come, become a global catastrophe. One of the Seven walked the earth once more, and it would bring with it an ocean unending and suffering unbound.

Rain poured through the space where the attic roof had been, beating a relentless tattoo against the wooden floor. A torrent of water smashed through the patio doors, flooding the lower floor of the house and gushing out into the road. And amidst it all, the music box continued to sing.

Dee-dum-di-dum-dum-dee

Credit To – Tom Farr

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Bound

July 18, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Thunder crackles loudly outside, as lightning flashes, each burst briefly illuminating the library in a shocking, intense light. The archaic structure is pelted by wave after wave of torrential rain. Winds bellow against the building, threatening to tear the entire structure down. No sane person would dare brave this weather just to read some old, musty books.

But here I am.

The metal doorbell clangs as I enter the library, alerting my presence to absolutely no one. The place is empty, just as expected. I assume it will remain that way for the rest of my shift. I don’t even know why the administrators bother to keep the library up and running this late into the night. The only person here this late at night is the librarian, and tonight that librarian is me.

I make my way to the main desk. The librarian’s counter is stationed at the far end of the library. Every step I take causes creaks in the hardwood floor that reverberates throughout the entire building.

Creak. Creak. Creak. Creeaaaaaak.

I stop in my tracks, and the noise continues echoing along in the cavernous library. It’s strange, but the sound is not in tune with my steps. I take time to check the aisles and the reading areas, wary of the steps I take, but no one is here. Not a single soul reading books, using the computers or otherwise lurking about. I guess it is just the wood swelling from the rain or some squeaky, old, floorboards. I can’t help but laugh at my bewilderment.

The short walk serves to confirm my isolation in the library, though. Even Alex isn’t here, I guess he left his shift early. I can’t really blame him. Between the gothic construction, the dim lighting and the emptiness, the library is the perfect mix of haunted mansion and horror movie set. No amount of funding or high tech workstations can erase this ancient vibe.

Coupled with the storm, there is absolutely no good reason to stay and supervise this empty, cavernous library. But I can’t let a little spooky ambiance scare me away from a paycheck; that’d be irrational. The job isn’t so bad. Once I finish all my work, I can always study for my classes the next day. The computers here are lot faster than my laptop, making this very convenient.

The desk is a mess. I know Alex is a lazy slob, but I figure he would at least make an attempt to do his job properly before leaving early. Books are scattered all over the desk and counter. Some are even on the floor, facedown, spines wrinkled and pages folded. A few minutes later, the books are all stacked on the table, ready to be put back in their respective aisles.

I take a moment to marvel at my work.

Creak. Creak. Creak.

I guess I was wrong. Someone is in the library, each creaking step confirming the fact. Maybe I didn’t check hard enough. Anyway, that is signal enough to continue working or at least, look like I am. I gather up the books and place them on the cart, beginning the dull job of returning them to their shelves. As I place book after book on the shelves, I can’t help but wrinkle my nose. It’s slight, but I know my imagination can’t be so powerful as to just conjure it up. It’s the smell of fish, fish that has been rotting in stagnant water for days.

I wonder if the other guy can smell it too and feel embarrassed if he does. Still, I am a librarian, not a janitor. My job is done, and I figure I could start on the philosophy essay I have due next week. I boot up the computer and as the familiar Windows start-up tune plays, I notice the book. It’s placed on the corner of my desk, standing up on its bottom edge. Strange, I swear I didn’t leave any books behind. Stranger still, it is a stripped book; it has no cover. Technically, it is illegal to own one, as books are usually stripped to be pulped and recycled. Perhaps the guy who entered thought he could leave this here as a donation?

I can still hear creaking in the distance. He must still be here. If I run into him, I’ll be sure to ask. I grab the book. The pages are clearly old, crisp and yellowed. There is no indication whatsoever of what the book is or who wrote it. Not exactly excited to start my essay, I begin reading it.

“This book is all that remains of H.C….”

What a coincidence. My name is Harvey Cooper. I laugh.

“…who was flayed alive on the Seventeenth Day of September.”

I humor the book and check today’s date. My heart jumps, a feeling like falling when you’re just about to sleep, an involuntary twitch that jolts you awake.

“He is this book in its entirety. May you be connected with him through its touch.”

A chill runs down my spine, but I still can’t suppress a chuckle. It is just a book after all, whatever is written here is probably just sheer coincidence. I just hope the coincidences end there.

Each turn of the page dissipates whatever hope I have bit by bit. Each page I read sinks my gut a little bit deeper. The hairs on the back of my neck threaten to rip away from my skin. This is all too chilling, too coincidental. The first chapter begins with the first time I decided to work here, back when I was a freshman some three years ago.

It starts with my first day of work, exploring the library, organizing books and meeting Gertrude, the senior librarian. The book even describes what I thought of Gertrude; what I think of her overt enthusiasm, how it borderlines into a creepy neediness. I am absolutely certain I’ve told no one about that. Every chapter details a portion of my life since then, down to the smallest detail.

I don’t know what was worse, the fact that my life has been written here or the fact that this is all written in a third person perspective, that of an omniscient, ever present observer. The writing grows cryptic as the chapters progress; details irrelevant to my life are interspersed between every paragraph. Thunder continues booming outside, uncaring of my predicament. The lights start to flicker ever so slightly, making it even harder to read the chicken scratch handwriting.

What scares me most though is that this book is not more than a few hundred pages. Considering the pages I’ve read and how much of my life has already been detailed, I assume the worst. I fumble through the pages, desperately seeking how the last chapter will play out. I scan through paragraphs that detail everything up until this day, sweaty palms dampening the outermost pages of the tome.

The last pages are empty. I flip through them, making sure I didn’t miss anything. Nothing, not a single word beyond me picking this book up. I feel my heart pump in my chest and sweat bead down my temple. This must all be a cruel joke. That’s the only thing it could be, right?

I can hear the stranger’s footsteps in the distance. The stench of fish still wafts heavily in the air, seeping into every breath I take, churning my already weak stomach.

Ring.

It’s the doorbell. I don’t think anyone else would enter the library this late at night, so it could only mean one thing: the stranger is leaving. He is the only one who could explain this book. He is the one responsible for this. I run towards the entrance. My boots pound down on the hardwood, each step booming, like the thunder outside.

As I run, the doorbell continues ringing; the clanging of the bell produces a chaotic melody with the chorus of thunder. The creaking in the library gets louder and more frequent, all of the sounds blending into a cacophonic dissonance. Everything climaxes into a harsh crescendo, a terrible symphony orchestrated by storm and fear. Distracted, I don’t hear the lumbering monster creep up behind me nor expect the heavy blow that takes my consciousness.

My head throbs, waves of pain shooting throughout my body. I can still smell the all too familiar stench of rot and, strangely, musty paper. The odor only serves to exacerbate my pain. My eyes are blurred, hazy figures and indistinct objects filling my vision. I try rubbing them, but my arms are paralyzed, immobile. Thick leather belts hold them in place, old supple leather beginning to rub my skin raw. To my horror, my legs are similarly restrained. I struggle vainly against the restraints, until I realize I am not alone in the room.

He sits at the corner of the room, writing under the luminescence of a dying light bulb. His hands are a flurry of disgusting movement. They are like gnarled branches, knotted at the joints with the rigidity of bark. The cracks and groans of abused ligaments and joints are audible through the furious scratching of pen on paper. It is like the buzzing of hornets, an aggressive and foreboding white noise, made even worse knowing that he is writing in my book. The coverless pages lay flat and wrinkled on the table, squished under his forceful writing.

I try to call out to him. I plead, I beg. My throat tears at my screams. I cry out words with increasing volume and desperation until my voice begins to wane. I can taste iron on my dry tongue, as specks of blood shoot out of my mouth. I try to scream louder hoping someone might save me, but mere silence escapes my gaping mouth. There is no reaction from him. There is only the persistent sound of words being written on paper.

It is no use. He has the pen, and I am his story. His shadow, a distorted projection of his monstrous silhouette, dances against the flickering bulb. As he continues, one thought lingers:

How does he want my story to end?

Harvey screams. He cries. He pleads. It does me no pleasure to hear his voice torn raw by his anguish. He uses words to try and delay his inevitable demise, but alas, words are what bind him to his fate.

The futility of his begging causes Harvey to seek other means to survive. Bound to the table, he looks desperately around the room. He sees the multitudes of leather bound books. Hundreds and thousands of volumes fill the room, the smell of ancient pages and deteriorating binding creating an oppressive and suffocating atmosphere. He sees vats of unknown liquid, dust obscuring the contents inside. He smells smoke above the multitude of odors and sees a cauldron, black and clearly well used, hanging above glowing embers. He sees needles, spools of string and various wooden instruments, tools so mundane that it sticks out in the eerie dungeon.

Yet, these are not what catch his attention.

His eyes lock on his friend, Alex, who stares blankly into the ceiling, mouth agape, eyes frozen in a silent expression of fear. His stripped body is crumpled awkwardly atop a rack, his skin stretched and rendered of fat and flesh. It still drips with soap and water, the skin cleaner than it ever was alive. His face is now a hollow mockery of who he once was, flat and deflated, contorted in the final terrifying moments of his life.

All color drains from Harvey’s face. He does not understand. The shock is too much to handle; his psyche shatters like broken glass. His head drops in resignation, its weight hanging heavily on his neck. He does not notice me rise slowly from my chair, nor does he notice my laborious approach.

A quick and decisive flick of the wrist severs his throat, a movement perfected and well practiced. The claws cut deep and his clothes are dyed a deep shade of crimson. Harvey struggles to glance up through the pain and blood loss, taking one last glimpse of his captor. His eyes betray one final wave of terror and regret before going blank, the last vestiges of his life slowly dripping from his throat.

The creature carefully stretches the new hide on the rack, handling it like a mother placing her baby in a crib. It has been removed perfectly, artfully. The skinning done as easily as peeling a banana. The hide glistens with fat and blood, impurities and imperfections that must be cleansed. His brain boils in the cauldron, the solution to soak the soft flesh.

The corpse is left on the table, a lifeless husk left without skin. Like an anatomy chart, it displays every muscle and sinew with startling clarity, the skin so perfectly removed that whatever beneath is left intact. Its face is left in a macabre state, eyes wide in shock and mouth twisted in a toothy grin. The corpse’s limbs have stiffened, the cadaver now a grotesque mannequin.

The ancient creature then grabs an older hide, now brown and leathery. It cuts and snips the material, a procedure it has done thousands of times. It cuts the leather into practiced dimensions. Its ancient joints fold and clamp, the binding perfect, symmetrical.

The creature looks at what once was the face of the victim. Empty holes stare back at it. It takes the ghoulish mask and wraps it neatly across the front of the book, folding and gluing and clamping it in place. The edges are sewn to secure the binding. The needle dips in and out at half inch intervals, threading thin cordage made from sinew.

It places the book among countless others on the shelf. It sits and begins to write once more.

Ring.

Gertrude, enters the library, the familiar scent of old and musty books immediately filling her nose. She notices the silence in the library, the stillness. The strange odor of rotting fish creeps up, subtle and quickly dissipating. She reaches her desk and finds it organized, the books returned and filed correctly. Harvey was always a good worker.

She sighs, and knows she’ll have to find more help yet again. She’s old now. She wonders how much of her book has yet to be written.

Credits to Nadia (for the creepypasta prompt), Noothgrush, and Ecuinach The Liar

Credit To – Urich Victorino

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