Little Glass Box

November 2, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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The pungent, acrid smell permeated the old home that was now mine; I knew that the smell would fade with time, and that I would become accustomed to it as time went on. It was a beautiful little two-story Victorian home in the heart of a small historic town in Virginia. With that being said, neighbors weren’t nearby. Therefore, I wasn’t bothered. I somewhat enjoyed the scent of the home, and was looking forward to learning about the history about the town.

I soon got to unpacking, eager to make the place feel more like home. After the death of my wife, my last home no longer felt like home, and only brought on painful memories. I only want to hide for a while; a few months, maybe a few years. I was hoping this place would do the trick.

It was getting close to 1 in the morning when I decided to relax for the rest of the night and leave the rest of the unpacking for the morning, and I sat down with a glass of wine, next to the fireplace. It was then that I heard the tapping. It was a slow, steady sound, almost as if something was hitting against the pipes down in the cellar. I’m not sure if it had been steady making the sound all day, or if it had just started. Now that it was calm and I was no longer dropping boxes or shoving furniture around, I could hear it distinctly.

I made note of where the sound was coming from down below, and then made my way to the cellar. The smell was even more potent down below due to the humidity; I worried at this point that the basement might be flooded due to the old pipes, and that the sound was from water leaking. I scurried down the basement stairs, clutching the railing on the way down, hoping that the old stairs wouldn’t give way.

I made it to the bottom, relieved to find that the floor was completely dry. I remembered that the pulley for the light was at the bottom of the staircase when I first viewed the home, so I reached for it. Dim light flooded the cellar, revealing an empty room, aside from the pipes, an old water heater, and a few wooden shelves along the wall. The smell of the old cellar was musty and old; it was the pungent smell of wood which had moistened and dried over many years.

I heard the tapping sound again, much louder now, reverberating against the pipes above. I searched the basement, only to discover a small chain, dangling from a hook, clanging against the pipes every time there was a gust of wind that blew from a small cellar window, which was opened. I closed the window, and pulled the chain down from the ceiling. The cellar went silent, and the air began to warm without the cool breeze from the open window.

I turned to head back upstairs, before something caught my eye. Along one of the shelves was a small, wooden cabinet, adorned with small onyx pull handles. I walked over, and opened the small doors. Inside, there was a beautiful stained glass box. It was rectangular in shape, and mostly red and purple. It looked to be an old jewelry box. It was particularly dusty, but with one swipe of my hand across the lid, the glass came clean, and the vibrant colors shone in the light.

I brought the box upstairs to clean it off, under running water. Dust had particularly collected at the bottom, regardless of the lid being closed at the time, which I found unusual. Once it was clean, I set it next to my desk. It was so colorful under my desk lamp, and it made me wonder why someone had left it there, and if the owner misses it now and wonders where it went. I pondered on how old it was, and if it had been passed down for many years. I finally headed to sleep at 2:15 AM that night, and fell asleep almost instantly.

I awoke the next morning very sore and not feeling rested at all, but rather feeling the effects of the hard work over the past few nights. I sat up, rubbing the back of my neck, and got up to retract the blinds. The sunlight shone bright through the window; it was then that I saw the little box again, gleaming in the sun. It was beautiful, and I couldn’t help but be absolutely mesmerized by it once again. I took a seat at my desk, and held the little box. It was clean, and almost perfect; it was free of almost all scratches. I was sitting, almost hypnotized by the little box in front of me, when a loud crash came from behind me. It was the sound of something crashing into my window, and it scared me to the extent where I dropped the box, letting it crash to the floor. It bounced off the carpet, undamaged, but left a small scrape on my leg in the process. I dashed to the window, and grimaced at the sight of the dead bird below.

I spent the rest of the day unpacking and decorating the house, after burying the bird out back, between two oak trees. I was exhausted by nightfall, and decided to head to sleep early. I was finally done emptying every box in the house, and it was still early, but I was more exhausted than I had ever been in my life. I fell into a deep slumber, once again.

The aching, radiating pain was unbearable, and it was the first thing I woke up to in the morning. I pulled aside the covers, only to find the cut on my leg now red and inflamed. I felt the area, and it was hot to the touch. “Shit…” I mumbled to myself, “It must be getting infected.” I stumbled to the bathroom, and retrieved the rubbing alcohol from the cabinet. I soaked a few cotton balls in the alcohol, and gently swabbed the area. I wasn’t worried; I knew I had my tetanus vaccine recently. So, I resorted to wrapping the wound and resting for the day. I knew that old box had much dirt and dust in it when I found it, so there’s no doubt it got in the wound. I was relieved that the box wasn’t damaged. It was so beautiful, and I wanted to keep it from getting damaged. I laid down to rest that night, with my leg in less pain than it had been before.

I awoke the next morning to a very unfamiliar, putrid smell. I pulled the covers off of me, and choked at the sight of my leg, almost retching. The scratched area had now swollen and had turned a putrid, blue-grey color. What shocked me the most, though, was the fact that it was no longer painful at all. It was just there, on my leg, only about an inch or two in circumference. The tissue looked completely dead. I was hours from any hospital, and no doctor’s offices were open, as it was Sunday. I cleaned and dressed the wound the best that I could that night.

I awoke the next morning, and was shocked to find that the wound had grown in size significantly, now taking up a quarter of my leg. It oozed with any slight touch, and the smell of tissue decay from the site was overwhelming. I went to brush my teeth later that same morning, and felt something rolling about in my mouth. I opened my mouth wide, only to find a large molar sitting atop my tongue. I then noticed that my tongue was now a blue-grey color, the same rancid color of my leg. Afraid for my life, I headed to the hospital, knowing I could wait no longer – but not before I threw the little box in my bag.

Once I arrived, I sat quietly in the waiting room, silent with fear, while awaiting my turn with the doctor. I examined the skin around my nails; the skin was now fraying at the cuticles and pulling back. With a slight pull at the nail, it fell off. One more pull, and another fell off. They began to come out as if nothing was holding them together at all. I then looked to my arms, and watched as blood vessels began to slowly become visible behind the skin of my arms. I glanced up briefly before turning around, but something caught my attention in the reflection of the glass in front of me. I glanced back at my reflection, and saw my own face, now sunken in and riddled with a marbled appearance. I looked lifeless. And with this, I began to scream.

Doctors tended to me almost immediately, shocked at the state that I was now in. I was whisked away on the gurney, down the narrow halls, into a room with bright lights above me. They examined my leg, then my hands, and every inch of my body. Then came the needles; I became a human pincushion, with lines of red streaming from my body. Vials of my blood were taken away, in order to be tested. Words like “sepsis”, “necrosis”, “hemorrhagic”, and “debridement” were exchanged between doctors, interns, and nurses alike. I was taken in for an MRI, and biopsies were taken from my wound, before I was finally reeled back into my room and left to rest.

It was a little under two hours later, when a single doctor from the group walked into the room, and pulled up a chair, staring at his paperwork, and only slipping glances my way. He seemed frightened, which frightened me. “I don’t really know how to tell you this so that you’ll understand….” he trailed off, “…because I don’t understand it myself.” I looked towards him, shaking, wanting him to continue, and afraid for my life. “Your body is breaking down your red blood cells at a rapid rate, causing you to have this…appearance. We tested your blood for viruses, any virus at all, and it came up clear. There are no signs of cancer or any tumors at all, and you don’t have a fever. In fact…your temperature is very low.” The doctor cleared his throat, as I looked on in bewilderment. “Your body is also releasing gases such as methane and hydrogen sulfide, which, in these levels, are really only characterized…..with the decomposition of the entire human body. I…can’t explain how you are alive right now.”

The doctor returned his gaze to mine. “Sir…have you any idea how this started?” Trembling, I pointed across the room. “That…that box” I told him, my voice quavering. He walked over, picked it up, and brought it back to me. “This?” he asked. He opened the lid. There was now a small piece of newspaper clipping inside of it. “Is this yours?” he asked, while handing it over to me. I shook my head no, knowing full well that it had not been there when I had originally found the box. I took the clipping from him, and opened it slowly. “MAN FALLS DOWN STAIRS AND BREAKS LEG; IS LEFT TO SUFFER AND FOUND DEAD BY FAMILY ONE MONTH LATER”, the heading said. Underneath the heading was a photograph of the man, and beside the man, was a photo of the house I now lived in. The story told how the man, Steven Cascio, had fallen and suffered a compound fracture in his left leg; since he was old frail, he was unable to gain enough strength to get back up the stairs, and died slowly, with his cries for help left unheard. He had been alive for at least four days before he died due to blood loss and infection. His family, who became worried about him, had found him in advanced stages of decomposition. Due to the state of his body, his family opted for cremation.

It was then that I knew what the dust at the bottom of the small box was.

It has now been almost one month, and I just keep rotting in this hospital bed. I can’t even remember the last day I had a pulse.

Credit To – Vacantia

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Craters in Her Face

November 1, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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I’ve always been an art enthusiast. I guess I inherited that from my grandmother. She had been a painter for many years, and tried her best to instill a love of the fine arts in me. I have many fond memories of trips to museums and galleries with her, gazing upon the countless beautiful and thought provoking pieces.
Sculpture and photography were nice, but I always had a special place in my heart for paintings. Especially old oil paintings. It’s hard to explain. There’s a sort of special property to paintings that you can only appreciate with your eyes in person. Photographs do them no justice. The way the light refracts off of the oil, and bounces back to your eyes give them a sort of life that no other medium can.

Well as much as I loved oil paintings, I was never much good myself. As a child, my grandmother tried giving me lessons. She’d create a breathtaking scenery, whilst the only thing I managed to make was a colossal mess.

Despite my apparent lack of talent in the oil painting department, it did not in the slightest diminish my love for the craft. My grandmother had a room dedicated to the paintings she had created or collected, which she dubbed “the gallery”. I spent hour upon hour in that room, staring in wonderment.

Despite my being a child, my grandmother had no qualms with leaving me alone in a room with tens of thousands of dollars worth of paintings. She knew I had far too much respect for them to damage them, even as a bouncy little girl. She did, however, have one rule that was to be strictly adhered to at all times in the gallery: if any paintings in the gallery are covered, you are NOT to uncover them. Not even to peek.

Now some might think this a strange rule, I certainly did as a girl, but there is reason behind it. Oil paints are very sensitive, and it’s possible the pieces she had covered up could be damaged if exposed to light, or various other factors.

But regardless of the reasoning, I made sure to follow that rule. Or at least I did, until the day my grandmother received her newest piece.

I remember arriving at my grandmother’s home for a visit and running straight for the gallery. I rounded the corner into the room when I was forced to screech to a halt. There, in the center of the room was an incredibly large painting, propped up by an easel and covered with a long, dark curtain.

I had never seen the piece before, and the sheer size of it astounded me. My curiosity overtook me for a moment, and I found myself slowly reaching out a tiny hand to unveil the mysterious piece. But just as my hand grasped the dark velvet, my grandmother entered the room, wearing a frown.

“Evelyn what are you doing? You know the rule about covered paintings!”

My hand instantly whipped back to my side and my head sulked at the realization of my actions.

“I’m sorry Grandma. I forgot. This painting, it’s so huge! What is it?!”

My grandmother’s expression softened and she placed a hand on my shoulder.

“This painting was just given to me by a friend. Her ill sister painted it shortly before passing away. She said she couldn’t bear to look at it because it made her too sad, so she gave it to me.”

“May I see it?” I asked.

“Perhaps later. It’s very sensitive because it’s in poor condition. I’m going to try to preserve it though. After I’m done, I’ll let you see it like with all the others.” she warmly responded.

Although my curiosity was not satisfied, I agreed and resigned myself to looking at all the other pieces in the gallery. Content that I would no longer cause any sort of mischief, my grandmother returned to the sitting room.

I lay there in the soft plush carpet, gazing at the works of art until my focus drifted. Despite how bad I knew it was to disobey my grandmother, my curiosity continued to burn hot in my chest. I had already stared at each and every piece in the gallery to detail, and had grown restless. I had to see what was beneath the curtain.

Holding my breath, and tiptoed over to the massive easel and grasped the soft fabric in my hand. I’d just peek for a moment. It wouldn’t hurt. Just long enough to quench this burning need to know.

I released the breath I was holding and quickly pulled the curtain aside. Immediately, I felt myself release a gasp. I had seen countless paintings of all genres and matters, but none so utterly disturbing as what lay before me.

The painting depicted what appeared to be a pale young women. Her skin was a sickly yellow, and appeared clammy and unwell. She wore a tattered ivory dress, and her long black hair flowed behind her, seemingly following wind sources from no particular direction.

She sat in anguish, with her hands held up to the side of her face, digging her long black nails into the flesh. As uncomfortable as the piece was as a whole, what really unnerved me was her eyes and mouth. Black, gaping holes sunk into her head where they should have been, and a thick, rust colored fluid seemed to leak from them.

Immediately I panicked and threw the curtain back over the horrid painting. I wanted to run screaming and crying straight to my grandmother, but I restrained myself. I knew that if I did that, she’d know I disobeyed her by looking under the curtain. So instead I gave myself a moment to regain my breath and composure before calmly joining my grandmother in the sitting room.

I never went into the gallery by myself again.
That is until my grandmother passed away, naming me the sole recipient of her painting collection.

The reading of the will was an uncomfortable enough experience on its own, but it was made worse by the fact that my jealous cousins were also present. My grandmother’s estate, belongings, and all of her life earnings were to be split evenly amongst the family. I however, was chosen to receive the paintings alone.

I knew this was because my grandmother knew of my great love for the art, and that I would be the only one not to sell all of them for the money. However, my cousins simply saw it as me inheriting nearly $80,000 in oil paintings, and not sharing a dime of it.

Oh, you can believe they tried to contest the will, but it was iron-clad, and despite their protests, I soon enough found myself transporting the pieces into my own home.

My boyfriend Edward and I had purchased a lovely Victorian style home two years prior, and I, following in my grandmother’s footsteps, had dedicated the long hallway and large room at the end of the third floor to hosting my own collection of paintings.

My grandmother had a great deal more paintings than I, but Edward and I managed to shuffle things around until everything had a cozy new home. Well, everything except for the one, nearly six foot tall canvas, wrapped methodically in several layers of brown paper and twine.

Instantly a knot formed in my stomach. I knew exactly which piece it was. The image of the tormented young woman with bloody caverns in her face flooded my mind, and I felt myself growing pale. Edward however, did not share the same unfortunate memory, and excitedly began unwrapping the piece.

I rushed forward to stop him, exclaiming how I wanted him to keep it wrapped, as it was a horrifically gruesome piece. However, by the time I reached him, he had already revealed the piece’s glossy surface.

I prepared myself for the horrible sight, but to my shock, it was different. The sickly girl in the white dress still stood, hair flowing in the non-present wind and hands digging into her cheeks, but the bloody craters were gone.

Instead, she now appeared to be a pretty little thing. She had soft pink cheeks, sparkling green eyes, and her lips parted daintily into a dreamy smile. I recognized the style immediately. This was my grandmother’s work. She had done an exceptional job covering over the old, horrific facade, however, if I inspected the piece closely, I could still see traces of the gruesome sight hiding right below the surface.

My grandmother had clearly worked painstakingly on the piece. To anyone who hadn’t seen the original, it actually did appear quite pleasant. I, however, hated it to my core. Edward on the other hand, was instantly in love.

The next few days consisted of us arguing over where the piece would be hung. We were out of room in the gallery, and he insisted upon hanging it on the large, blank wall on the far side of our bedroom. I of course wanted nothing to do with the piece, thus the fighting began.

Finally, we came to an agreement. I would let him hang the piece in our room for the time being, but I would begin looking for the family of the woman who originally painted the piece. Obviously, they wouldn’t want to look at it in its former state, as it forever captured the state of sickness in their beloved family member. But now, it was beautiful. It would memorialize her as she was before the sickness began changing her. Certainly they would want it back now!

Edward was hesitant, but agreed that returning it when I found the family would be the right thing to do. So it was that I prepared myself for a few weeks tops of having to gaze at the uncomfortable piece.

The piece went up, and despite my reservations, it actually wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. Without the bloody chasms, the threatening aura of the piece was gone, and I will admit that seeing my grandmother’s painting style made me a little happy.

And while it had taken a few days, I finally tracked down a phone number for the family. The daughter of the woman who had given the painting to my grandmother answered, and seemed excited when I told her of the relic from her aunt. She said she wanted the piece, but she needed some time to find a place for it. Excitedly, we both agreed to hand over the piece the following week.

My excitement however, quickly faded when I learned that Edward was going to be leaving town for the remainder of our time in possession of the piece, due to business. Displaying the piece was one thing, but being home alone with it was an entirely different situation. Despite my grandmother’s beautiful work, being alone in the same room with the piece always left me with an uncomfortable knot in my stomach.

So after kissing Edward goodbye, and locking the door, I immediately ran to the linen closet, where I promptly grabbed a sheet to throw over the creepy painting. I stormed into my bedroom, armed with the linen and a tack, and came to a halt in front of the piece.

It was very vague, and I needed to squint my eyes and lean in to notice it, but it appeared as though my grandmother’s paint had begun to crack and peel a bit, revealing glimpses of the rusty brown color hiding right below.

That was impossible though. The piece was nowhere near old enough for that to occur. Oil paint is famous for staying wet for a very long time. There are even some paintings from the middle ages that are still moist on the inside! There was no way the paint here should be peeling!

Just the sight of that gross, rusty paint made me feel ill. I immediately threw the sheet over it, and breathed a sigh of relief when I was no longer confronted with the eerie sight. I couldn’t give the painting back soon enough.

It was about this time that strange things began happening. Nothing huge and panic worthy. Just little things. Doors I could swear I had left open would be inexplicably closed, every so often I’d feel a soft gust of air as if someone had just walked by, and an occasional creak or groan, which weren’t all too uncommon in a home as old as mine.

Things continued on like this for the first few days Edward was gone. It was Wednesday. Edward would be back on Sunday, and we’d return the piece on Monday. As uncomfortable as I was, my goal was in sight, and I knew I’d make it.

A few more days passed, and things were going relatively well until I decided to look at the piece again. I had been on the phone with a shipping company earlier, trying to decide the best way to wrap and transport the piece. I figured that the cracking and peeling of the piece must have been due to improper preparation and handling, and wanted to avoid further damage. Hesitantly, I lifted the sheet for a quick assessment.

I immediately dropped the sheet once more, and backed away in a moment of panic. The paint had continued to deteriorate, and now even more of the seeping rust was breaking through the girl’s once lovely face, now leaving her with a grotesque, cracked open face.

It was at this point that I decided I needed to speak with the family once more. I dialed the number, and to my surprise, found that the woman who had gifted my grandmother with the piece all those years ago was still alive, and had answered the phone. Apprehensively, I told her about the piece, and she immediately invited me over to talk about it over tea.

Jumping at the opportunity to not be home alone with the piece, I grabbed my purse and immediately headed over. Upon arriving at the address, I was greeted at the door by a smiling old woman. She graciously welcomed me into the home, and in minutes we were settled in the front room with daintily painted teacups in our hands.

She released a long sigh before speaking.

“That painting should have been destroyed a long time ago.” she breathed sadly.

“You’ve seen it. It’s terrible and frightening. It’s the result of a very sick mind.”

She shifted her gaze down to her teacup before continuing.

“My sister had brain cancer. In its final stages, she became very ill mentally. When there was nothing more the doctors could do for her, they sent her home and told us to make her comfortable. She always loved painting, so we bought her the biggest canvas we could, and hoped to make her last moments happy ones.”

“But as you can see, they weren’t. Her mind was plagued by demons. She began withdrawing more and more into the madness of her own world, and it showed on the canvas. I actually walked in on her slashing her arms with a palette knife, and mixing her blood right into the paint.”

The image of the gross, rusty color oozing from the craters in the girl’s face flashed across my mind, and I had to set my cup down for fear of dropping it.

“I was going to get rid of it” the old woman continued “Burn it after my sister passed away. But your grandmother, ever the art enthusiast insisted on keeping it instead. I don’t know why. It’s a horribly dreadful piece.”

“And now, what’s worse, my daughter wants it back in our home. Please, I beg of you. Burn it. Burn it right to ashes. Destroy that accursed thing.”

Right at that moment, the old woman’s daughter walked into the room.

“Mother! What is wrong with you? We have almost nothing to remember Aunt Marnie by, and when something she made with her own hands finally resurfaces in our life, you say to burn it?!”

“It’s a bad painting Sarah. It’s dark, and it’s angry, and it holds all the ugliness of the disease that took your Aunt from us.”

“No! It’s not! Evelyn here said that her grandmother restored it! It’s beautiful now, and I want to display it in our home to honor Aunt Marnie. You’re my mother, and I love you, but this is my home, and I want the painting. That’s final.”

By this point, the atmosphere in the home had gotten quite awkward, so I readily thanked them for the tea, and made my way back home. My newfound knowledge about the piece making me even less eager to keep it in my bedroom.

Without realizing it, I had spent far more time visiting the old woman than I had expected. That paired with the sizable drive back home, I found night to have already fallen by the time I finally arrived on my front porch. The house was empty and quiet, and confirmed my decision to sleep in the guest room that night.

Edward would be back the next day. Silly as I felt, just one night in the guest room wouldn’t kill me. I snuggled down with a good book, and read until I felt my eyes growing heavy. It had been a while since I had felt this at ease. I was quite happy to have made the decision to sleep away from the dreadful painting.

Within moments, I found myself drifting off to a peaceful sleep. However, this did not last. What I assume to be several hours later, I awoke to the sound of a slamming door. I jolted awake, my heart racing. I was home alone, and feared for a burglar.

I immediately began scoping the room for something I could use as a weapon. Thinking quickly, I pulled down the pole that was holding up the curtain, and wielded it like a staff.

Slowly, I crept through the doorway, keeping as silent as possible. The only thing I could hear was the sound of my own heart rapidly beating in my ears. Strangely, nothing in the house was amiss. I stood in the hallway pondering a moment before deciding which direction to move in.

My first instinct was to reach for the light switch, but if there was an intruder, hitting the light would immediately give away my position. So I decided to navigate in the dark. I knew my own home better than a thief would, so if I moved quietly, I’d have the element of surprise on my side.

Just then I had to muffle a scream as the door to my bedroom at the end of the hall slammed shut. Then the sound of weeping filled the home. It was sad, and distant, but it was definitely coming from my room.

Acting on instinct instead of logic, I hit the light switch in the hall, and went to investigate. Slowly, and as quietly as I could, I cracked open the door. The light from the hallway spilled into the dark room, and immediately, the weeping stopped.

I held my breath for a moment, not sure of what would happen next. That’s when my eyes fell upon the painting.

The sheet lay crumpled beneath it. I know it was covered the last time I had seen it, yet there it was, strewn across the floor.

Shaking, I pushed the door open further, allowing more light to spill into the room. The oil painting on the far end of the room illuminated, hungrily refracting the beam of light that now shone across it.

The last flecks of flesh colored paint my grandmother had painstakingly applied to the topcoat had crumbled away, once more revealing the horrifying visage I remember from my childhood.

I froze for a moment, overwhelmed by the same disgust that had captured me all those years ago the first time I laid eyes on the piece. That sickly yellow skin, those long black nails, the inexplicable wind that defied natural law. It all looked so terrifyingly real in the faint light.

Those deep oozing craters… Wait. Oozing? Oh my God. There’s no way. The craters in her face were actually oozing that horrible rusty material. It was impossible, but those deep, dark crevices were literally dripping with the stuff. I could see it seep out of the canvas and hear the splatters on the hardwood floors below.

I knew I should run, but my feet seemed glued to their place. I tried to calm my heavy, raspy breathes, however, I soon realized that they weren’t mine… I held my breath for a moment, and the scratchy exhales continued. I focused my gaze on the abomination on the wall, and released a silent scream.

The painting was moving. The woman’s bony, misshapen chest was jaggedly rising and falling in sync with the heavy breathing that now filled the room. My eyes widened in terror as my worst fear came to light. The painting slowly began to lurch. The shape of a crater filled head began to push through the canvas as if it were merely a sheet of spandex.

As the wretched figure began to force its way through, I finally regained my senses. I slammed the door shut and began running down the hall. I had only made it a few feet before I heard an enormous thud. The canvas had fallen off the wall. And at that precise moment, the wailing resumed. This time so loud I physically had to cover my hears.

Right as I rounded the corner, I shrieked in fear as I was immersed in total blackness. I tried desperately to orient myself, but my night vision had only just started to develop. In a panic, I continued forward with my hands outstretched, hoping to find the banister that lead downstairs.

A jolt of terror ran up my spine when I heard the creak of a door opening, followed by the sound of something heavy thumping, then dragging down the hall. The weeping had turned into wild shrieks, and were so loud they were disorienting. I nearly fell down the stairs when my hands finally grasped the banister.

As quickly as I could, I began racing down the stairs. The thumping and dragging sounded closer now. It was moving far faster than I thought. When I got to the bottom of the staircase, I felt for the side table on the right and threw it to the ground, hoping to slow it down.

Something was off now though. The shrieking had stopped. It was silent. No thumping, no dragging. Just silent. For some reason this scared me even more. So I ran as quickly as I could, despite the dark, straight for the front door.

Right as I was mere feet from grasping the handle, I felt my feet give out from underneath me. Something bony and cold had wrapped itself around my ankle. I fought wildly to break free as the sound of heavy breathing filled the room loudly again. I saw the form of something large and dark approaching me, and I swung wildly with my hands.

I felt them dig into something cold and moist. In disgust, I used all my might to push it back, and break through the front door, slamming it shut behind me.

I didn’t stop running until the sun had begun to rise. When I finally stopped, I collapsed on the ground, panting heavily. I raised my hand to wipe my brow, but stopped. I had been so focused on fleeing up until now that I hadn’t taken a moment to look at my hand. It was covered in a dark, rusty material, and tangled in several strands of long, black hair.


When Edward returned, he found the home to have been targeted by burglars. The place was trashed, but it was rather odd. Only one thing in the entire home had been stolen. He noticed that the large, lovely painted my grandmother had restored was nowhere to be found.

The police came by, and told me I was lucky to have escaped. I just nodded and kept quiet. After all, a burglary was the only logical explanation, right? This was a fairly textbook case, you see. A large, Victorian home full of valuable paintings makes a tempting target for thieves.

There was however, one detail about the case that seemed to have everyone baffled. All throughout the home there were trails of a dark, rusty fluid. Lab reports later confirmed it to be a strange combination of paint and old, rotten blood.

I’m not much a fan of paintings anymore. Edward and I sold the gallery, and are using the money to plan our wedding and are currently looking for a new home. I told him that I have trouble sleeping here because I have nightmares about the break in, but the truth is, we never did find the painting.

And some nights, I’ll lay in bed, moments away from drifting off, and I’ll swear I hear the sound of distant, raspy breaths.

Credit To – Madame Macabre

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The Thief in the Yellow Robe

October 30, 2014 at 12:00 PM
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My training in Comparative Literature — my miserable graduate school experience in particular — taught me that there is much productive work to be done outside of one’s own academic department. You learn new things by diving into other disciplines. In turn, you come away with fresh ideas; and in turn, those can be synthesized into worthwhile discourses that can open exciting, untraveled pathways for your field. There is good reason why some of the most influential thinkers in the study of literature — Freud, Marx, Foucault, Derrida, to name a few — all came from fields seemingly unrelated to it.

Therefore, when I found that half of my department’s faculty — the half that apparently had no hand in my hire — despised me for reasons of varying merit, I began to look to other departments; if not for friendship, then at least for a less hostile work environment. I settled upon the Theatre Department. Although I had never formally studied drama, I had been involved in my high school’s theatre troupe long ago, and felt that my cursory knowledge and the innumerable plays I had read over the years would serve me well in any conversation among the professors. And indeed they did. I became fast friends with much of the Theatre faculty. When I was not teaching, and not trapped in my building by my bi-weekly office hours, I whiled away the time in the Q— Fine Arts Center, chatting up my colleagues, watching rehearsals, or even guest lecturing on Spanish and Russian tragedians.

Among my closest companions was one Professor B—, a gifted teacher and a playwright of some small renown. She had been granted tenure several years before my arrival at the university on the strength of a trio of semi-historical plays she had written. After that, she had, by all appearances, run out of ideas. Although she numbered among the university’s finest educators, and despite her many successful stagings of classic dramatic works, her output of original plays had clearly stalled. A persistent rumor — albeit one of considerable gravity — claimed she would not earn promotion to full professor as a consequence of her years-long dry spell.

I could only think of what a tremendous shame it would be not to raise Professor B— ‘s rank. Certainly I was prejudiced in her favor, but my favor came less from the caprices of human attraction, and more from what I had seen of her as a teacher. In addition to her unparalleled skill in the classroom, she handled student crises with the greatest expertise, where a lesser mortal would have failed or been driven to wit’s end.

One such instance I remember in particular. A graduating student, bedraggled and in tears, sought her counsel while the two of us enjoyed our lunches beneath the Q— Center’s proscenium arch. I wished I had not been there to intrude on the conversation, but he began to spill out his story before I could make myself scarce. The student claimed that one of the other drama professors, after granting him top marks on a final project, had proceeded to steal the script he had submitted, turning it into a soon-to-open Broadway production whose writing credits were in the professor’s name. The poor student only found out from an actor friend of his in New York City, whose familiarity with the student’s project caused her to mention it during a phone conversation. What could be done? Who would believe him if he brought forth the accusation of plagiarism?

Professor B— thought long and hard about the question. Then, to my utter astonishment, she advised the student not to raise a ruckus. I prepared to interject, but before I could, Professor B— said something that I have kept with me ever since:

“It is less discouraging to be stolen from,” she said, “than to need to steal.”

Indeed, she went on, this student was clearly a talented writer; the professor’s theft constituted his proof. Let him write more. Meanwhile, the professor’s inevitable failure to produce quality plays in the future — coupled with knowing his accolades came from a work not his own — would be a vengeance more emotionally devastating than any the student could inflict.

Her recommendation succeeded. The professor, tormented by a string of flops and critical pans, quit the trade a broken man. The student, taking up his pen with renewed fervor, went on to write several extremely successful plays that continue to run in theatres across the country. In the meantime, Professor B— had spared the offending professor further ignominy, and protected the student from a protracted legal battle he may not have won. The more I thought about her sage advice, the more I wished that I, too, could be so far-sighted and effective. I would have modeled my own advisement after hers, if only I knew how to practice it.

Thus it was with great distress that I watched Professor B—‘s chances for promotion slip away as no new writings materialized with the passing months; and my concerns grew all the more acute when she disappeared a couple of days after the semester’s end. She would answer neither phone calls nor emails, and her house remained empty each time I tried to pay a visit. I told myself that, in all likelihood, she had retreated to some secluded haven, devoid of cellular reception and Internet connections, where she could work on a play without distraction. Even so, a dark inkling led me to wonder whether she might have suffered a mental breakdown from the mounting pressure to compose another worthy drama. Her absence and silence did little to dispel my fears.

Professor B— returned several weeks later, offering no explanations. She did not need any. For when I next saw her, during a chance encounter in the university library, she held in her hands a sheaf of papers bound with brass fasteners — a completed manuscript! Leaden pouches sagged beneath her eyes, and her hair looked disheveled as if by a sudden wind, but I imagined her frantic efforts at writing were to blame for her haggard appearance. After all, I, too, had endured many a binge-writing session in my time; I knew what kind of toll it exacted. Furthermore, when Professor B— gave me a comely, victorious smile, and thrust her manuscript into my hands, any worries I had for her well-being evaporated. She would be fine, I thought; any energy she spent on her play would be returned to her tenfold.

She said I could keep the manuscript to read at my leisure, for she already had several hard copies in her possession, in addition to myriad digital backups. At the same time, she swore me to secrecy regarding its contents. A production was already in the works, she said; with the aid of some of her most promising graduate students, she would stage it before the next semester’s end. Of course, I was welcome to watch their rehearsals — provided I remained equally as reticent as I did concerning the script. I gave her my word that I would keep the door of my lips, and looked forward to reading her latest masterpiece.

That night, instead of pursuing my own research, I sat at my desk with the manuscript, as I knew I could accomplish nothing else until I read Professor B—‘s latest work. What an opportunity I enjoyed! Was this what it felt like to read a play by Ibsen or Miller before it appeared on stage? My excitement darted through me like an electric current as I glimpsed the first page, where the play’s title, “THE THIEF IN THE YELLOW ROBE,” seemed as freighted with meaning as the epitaph on an ancient grave.

I must admit that I could make little sense of Professor B—‘s title. It alluded to no literary work or figure that I knew of, and as I read more, its referent became still more opaque — for no character approximating a thief, much less one clad in yellow, appeared in the play! The action, from what I could determine, consisted of the nonsensical banter of a group of courtiers at a lavish banquet. Their exchanges appeared coherent at first, but devolved long before the end of the first act. They barely seemed to converse with one another, each spoken line a virtual non sequitur to whatever dialogue preceded it. It was as if Professor B— had written a complete draft of the play that included an additional character — whom she removed upon its completion, leaving the rest of the script intact. The resultant text was not without humor, but I felt more bafflement than levity upon finishing it.

What was I to make of such a work? At first, I imagined that poor Professor B— truly had cracked under her creative stagnation, and that I beheld the product of a damaged mind. I soon scolded myself for the thought, however. It was perhaps more plausible that Professor B—‘s play tackled the theatre of the absurd with a nuance beyond my powers of analysis. After all, Beckett — rather notoriously — had brought forth plays that eroded language and meaning. In a similar vein, the promised antagonist in Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano never materializes, except for a single mention in the largely incoherent exchanges between the play’s characters. The point behind such plays might initially seem inscrutable, but inscrutability and nonexistence are different things entirely. My responsibility as a reader was to find the point, not to pronounce it absent. Moreover, the work I read was merely the embryo of a finished play. The script furnishes a mere fraction of the actual performance; the lighting, sounds, set design, costumes, makeup, and acting all lend something to the play’s meaning. Having only the text to consult, then, left me at a disadvantage. Therefore, I placed my trust in Professor B—‘s abilities, telling myself that The Thief in the Yellow Robe would prove far more understandable — if not downright illuminating — once she brought it to the stage, and joined it to the other trappings of the theatre.

Although rehearsals began within the week, I chose not to drop in on Professor B— and her students until their early dress runs. By then, I reasoned, the play would carry some semblance of its true form, but nonetheless remain distinct from its final version. As such, without spoiling all I would behold on the play’s opening night, I could see something markedly different from the text I read, and perhaps come closer to fathoming Professor B—‘s peculiar genius.

I sat in on their second dress rehearsal, taking advantage of the auditorium’s unoccupied front row. Professor B— welcomed me, but sat a short distance away in order to take notes on the performance. The house lights went out, and the curtain rose, revealing a set designed like a grand medieval hall. The student actors, all in period clothing, managed to inject quite a bit of character into their bizarre lines.

“Such bounty,” said the queen, a young actress made old by some makeup wizardry.

“Let him feast!” replied a noble lady, portrayed by the knockout blonde that every theatre troupe seems to have.

“I’ll bring the wick,” a portly nobleman put in, as if it were a witticism.

As the play progressed, I noted that each ingredient in the production seemed of the highest quality, but added little to my understanding of the script. Everything onstage thrummed with life, yet remained incomprehensible. With some imagination, the play I watched could have passed for something by David Lynch, if ever he tried his hand at live theatre. Alas, unlike a work of Lynch, I could not determine what part of my brain I needed to deactivate in order to appreciate Professor B—‘s play. I began to worry that The Thief in the Yellow Robe would flop — an unprecedented occurrence in Professor B—‘s career — and wondered whether such a blemish would fatally stain her record.

Despite my misgivings, I made sure to attend the play’s opening night. If Professor B— were doomed to failure, the least I could do was to stand by her side, and offer my solidarity. I must confess that, before I reached this conclusion, I battled some serious indecision, and my delay cost me. In the time it had taken me not to act, the show had almost sold out, and the best ticket I could buy would grant me a seat on the upper mezzanine. When I arrived at the theatre and claimed my spot, I was so high above the action that I felt like a bird lost in the rafters. A sea of people murmured and shifted in the packed auditorium below, while the proscenium arch’s heavy curtain undulated with a rhythm like breathing.

Somebody tapped me on my shoulder, and when I turned to look, who did I find but Professor B—! Waving, she gave me an impish grin. I asked her what in the world she was doing up here, when surely she ought to be down in the front rows. She laughed.

“What good could I do down there?” she asked. “It’s out of my hands now. Besides, I prefer to watch all of my plays from the mezzanine. It’s a vantage I seldom have the chance to enjoy during rehearsals.”

We persuaded the man to my right to switch seats with her. The two of us sat shoulder-to-shoulder as the house music faded, and the light slowly retreated into the dimming lamps. A spotlight activated with a sound of pounded metal, beaming a harsh circle onto the rippling curtain. The audience applauded as the curtain lifted, exposing the detailed banquet hall. A noble strutted into view, delivering a familiar monologue. More actors joined him as the drama unfolded, but as each one spoke their lines, I counted down the moments left until the script fell apart. How would the audience respond? My nervousness was palpable, but Professor B— seemed unfazed. I could not imagine the source of her confidence.

The queen’s second monologue wound to its close. It marked the point of no return. Once the prince began to speak, Professor B—‘s career would be over…

Before the prince could make his nonsensical interjection, a figure wearing a yellow hooded robe that completely obscured the face and body beneath glided onto the stage from the left wing. A fine mist billowed from under the robe’s folds, coating the ground the figure trod. What a marvelous effect — and undoubtedly a challenge to mount. In a haunting voice that sounded at once female and male — as if a man and woman spoke the same words simultaneously — the figure serenely recited a monologue whose words were pure poetry. The beauty of it all threatened to overwhelm me. Was this the character from whom the play derived its name? It must have taken nothing short of brilliance to conceive of and create such a being. Here, at last, was the saving grace of Professor B—‘s drama.

I placed my hand on her arm, and congratulated her for such a masterstroke. When she faced me, however, she wore a stricken expression. She staggered to her feet, and began to wind her way through the occupied rows toward the exit. The players onstage continued their performance, seamlessly incorporating the figure in yellow.

Had the months of intense stress finally broken Professor B—, now that she was out of danger and loosened her guard? I followed in her wake, catching up with her in the hallway outside. She shook violently, and steadied herself against a wall. I helped her to stay upright, and asked her what was the matter. There was no cause for despair in this moment of triumph.

She turned to me, intense fear smoldering in her eyes. “That person,” she said, “wasn’t in my rehearsals.”

How clever of her! I remembered that the script seemed to allude to an unexpected guest. What better way to emphasize that feeling than by forcing a surprise on her cast? I had heard of directors using unorthodox means to coax memorable performances from their actors, albeit never in a theatrical context — only the antics of Tarkovsky or Kubrick sprang to mind. I congratulated her on joining their elite ranks, if not surpassing them.

“You don’t understand,” Professor B— said, her strained voice scarcely louder than a whisper. “I’ve never seen that figure before, either. I have no idea who might be under that robe.”

“Whoever it is,” I said, “he or she seems quite familiar with your play.”

Professor B—‘s jaw began to tremble. She bit her lip. Her body threatened to convulse.

“It’s… It’s not my play.”

My face must have betrayed my shock, although I fought to suppress it, lest I cause her any further distress.

“I translated it,” she stammered, “but… I didn’t write it. I… I found it. A typed Latin manuscript, buried in the periodicals section of the university library. No binding. No call number. Nor was it on file in our database. It was as if someone had left it there and forgotten…”

Or left it there deliberately, I didn’t add.

“And I was so desperate,” she continued. “You know I wouldn’t have done it, unless…”

I had no words to offer her.

“My students all know how to improvise,” said Professor B—, “so they’ll carry the show if I let them. But I have the worst feeling about this. I… I have to stop the performance.”

We descended to the ground floor, Professor B— several strides ahead of me. As she rounded a corner toward the dressing rooms, I approached one of the auditorium doors. Curiosity had overtaken me, and I had to know the state of the play. I gently tugged on the door so as not to distract the audience. It would not budge. I applied more force, and still it remained firmly shut. Muffled voices filtered through from the other side. What was going on?

I made my way to the dressing rooms, where Professor B— berated the stage manager.

“Who’s that out there?” she demanded. “Why did you let him onstage?”

“He — she? — didn’t come through this way,” the stage manager said. “I thought it was your idea, and it fit the play so well, I…”

Professor B— shoved the stage manager aside, taking his two-way radio. In her haste, she had knocked it off-frequency, and could not find the channel to communicate with her technicians. She threw the radio aside, and it broke into pieces on the floor.

“I’ll need to go out there,” she said. “I must give them some excuse for calling off the show…”

“The auditorium doors are locked,” I told her. “Be careful not to cause a panic.”

“They are?” she cried. “But, I didn’t… Who… Oh, god!”

As she darted off somewhere I could not see, I peered out from the wings. The figure in yellow stood in the center of the stage, while the cast had arranged themselves in various postures of submission nearby, the mist coiling around them. The dialogue proceeded as expected, except for the robed figure’s two-voiced contributions. The air around me felt chilled, but my lungs tingled and burned as I breathed it. The audience looked on, enraptured.

“I am no thief,” the yellow figure intoned, “for one can only steal what is not given.”

“I give you my eyes,” said the queen.

“These ears are yours,” said a nobleman.

“Take my heart,” said the princess.

The cast began to claw at themselves. I heard the slick sound of rending flesh, and urged myself to turn away, but I could not pull myself from the grim spectacle before me. Nobody in the audience made a sound. They seemed every bit as entranced as I was.

“Drop the curtain!”

I heard Professor B—‘s voice in the catwalk high overhead.

“Can’t you hear me? Drop the curtain!”

The cast lay in a viscid heap on the stage, the robed figure towering above their fallen bodies. Their mutilations looked so severe as to be fatal. A single cast member seemed to breathe, but her breaths were shallow and labored. The figure paid the bloodied students no heed. One yellow sleeve had risen in a peremptory gesture. It looked empty and hollow. Then it pointed toward the audience.

“Even my sovereignty hinges on the charity of my subjects,” said the figure. Though the melody remained in its voices, the poetry of its words seemed to have vanished. “Without their compliance, I am nothing.”

To my horror, the cast managed to speak.

“We will what you will,” they murmured.

Without my volition, I, too, had mouthed those words.

The eviscerated cast stood up in unison, their wounds dripping. The fat man who promised his heart held it in his hand, and a gaping hole bore through his thick chest. How could he stand? My fright was worse than any I had known, but I could not avert my eyes. The cast reached into the deep gashes they had torn into themselves, and each drew forth a pristine blade from the opening that glistened in the spotlights. They lined up beside the robed stranger in two jagged flanks, and turned toward the audience.

“Drop the curtain!” Professor B— shouted.

“I take only what my people offer me,” said the figure in yellow, “and only if they be blessed with abundance.”

“Such bounty,” said the blinded queen, her age makeup melting off her face in grotesque streams.

“If my people will me to eat,” said the yellow figure, “then I eat.”

“Let him feast!” said a noble lady, whose patchy scalp oozed where she ripped out her flowing blonde locks.

“And if my people build me a sacrificial pyre,” the figure proclaimed, as the cast advanced toward the edge of the stage with their weapons drawn, “then I light it at their command!”

“I’ll bring the wick,” said the heartless nobleman.

I heard the singing of sharp metal as the gored cast prepared to pounce on the audience. Then a crashing noise thundered in the catwalks. The heavy proscenium curtain fell unrestrained from the arch above, its anchor ropes trailing after its weighted base, and cracked against the stage floor with a noise like breaking bone. A rush of scorching air knocked me onto my back, slamming the stage door behind me. It rattled in its frame as fierce winds lashed the wood.

Roaring applause erupted on the other side.

Wincing with pain, I raised myself, and stumbled toward the door. Its knob felt warm in my palm. I pulled it open. Professor B— stood on the other side, staring at the stage.

The set remained intact. But none of the actors could be seen. Piles of ash lay inside their rumpled, bloodstained costumes.

Except for the flowing yellow robe.

It was nowhere to be found.

Credit To – Lex Joy

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The Doll

October 22, 2014 at 12:00 PM
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Three years ago I had been asked by my employer’s to retrieve a particular item but that day I walked away with more than just a mere trinket.

I had been employed for several years at an antique store called “A Moment in Time”, and I liked my work. I got to meet many interesting people and encounter rare items of just as much interest.

Often my elderly employers, a married couple known as the Hudson’s, would send me out to pick up items that had been donated to the store. Sometimes the trip was just a few a blocks away and other times I had to leave the city for the outskirts. In the end my final trip out would take me further than I had ever imagined possible.

The item pick up seemed simple enough: Go to the house, pick up the trunk and bring it back to the shop. But when I finally got the house that day it was anything but simple.

As I drove deeper into the forest and onto the large property the birds stopped singing, the insects stopped buzzing and even the wind seemed to come to a halt. The house had clearly been abandoned and had been so for some time. What was once a gorgeous two-story log cabin on the edge of the lake was now a decaying structure overgrown with wild vines and uncut weeds that blocked out the windows on the first floor. The roof was blackened by a fire and a large gaping hold in the roof that surely allowed the elements to decimate the interior just as severely as the exterior.

Moving through the thick weeds, following what was left of the front walk, I knocked on the door but received no response. I knocked again but there was no denying that no one was in the house. I checked the faded numbers of the house’s address to the information that I had been given, it was the correct house.

As I put my hand on the doorknob it fell from the rotten door and landed on the wooden porch with a loud ‘thud’. The door slowly creaked open on its own. I peeked inside and looked around and saw nothing moving. More vines snaked along the floor like a natural carpet. There was no furniture in the whole house, all that was left was a broken grandfather clock and the long dormant fireplace. I could see that the windows in the distant kitchen area were broken and dirty. There was a single bedroom that was also empty.

Small circles on the dirty floor indicated that furniture had once been in the room but removed, and removed recently it seemed. The adjoining bathroom was a mess, the pipes were no longer dripping as rust encrusted the leaks. The medicine cabinet mirror had been broken. Checking the closets I found nothing but a stray wire coat hanger.

On the wall of the kitchen there was a phone. I picked it up and listened to the receiver but I heard nothing, no dial-tone, no busy signal. Only silence. I hung the phone up.

I called out again but the house remained silent, except for my own footsteps against the warped wooden floorboards. The staircase itself was its own story. The vines engulfed the side of the stairs and wrapped up the banister. Most of the steps were cracked and splintered, other steps were missing entirely. An ominous thought entered my mind; who put the trunk up for donation?

As I ascended the stairs I couldn’t help but feel like someone was watching me. My skin began to crawl with building uneasiness. The second floor was a room all its own, extending the entire width and length of the house itself. The hole in the roof shone a single intense beam of sunlight when the wide tree branches over the house would allow the light’s passage. In the center of this beam of light was a single trunk.

I took a step toward the trunk and heard the rapid steps of a small child running behind me. I froze and looked over my should quickly but saw nothing and all fell silent again. I called out but received no reply.

Wanting to get the trunk and get out of that house as fast as I could, I kneeled down in front of the trunk and checked the lock but it was secured. I wiped the sweat from my face and looked around in a feeble attempt to find some sort of tool to pry open the lock. As my eyes left the trunk the lock began to loudly rattle.

I jumped back and stared at the trunk, my heart pounding hard in my chest. With my shaking hand I tested the lock again and this time it was loose. I removed the lock from the trunk and took a deep breath as I slowly opened the lid.

Inside the trunk I found what looked like scraps of newspaper and a single red velvet bag. I opened the bag and pulled out a porcelain doll. I held it in my hands and studied it, the uneasy feeling returning with a vengeance.

The doll itself seemed so otherworldly. It was a doll of a small girl. She was wearing black and white saddle shoes and white stockings, with a snow white circular brimmed hat on her head. Her dress was snow white as well, reaching down to the dolls knees and half way down her arms. A red sash was tied at the doll’s waist with a red barrette clipped in her hair. Her hair was the deepest black, blacker than charcoal. Her hair reached down to her waist and it had bangs cut just over where her eyes should’ve been. The doll’s face was blank. No eyes, no mouth, no nose. Just a blank canvas that was even whiter than her dress.

I carefully slipped the doll back into the bag and set it on the floor beside me. Slipping my hand back into the trunk I checked it for other items but found only more scrap newspapers, at least I thought they were scrap. I caught a glimpse of a strange picture in the scraps and saw that it was an old article clipped from the newspaper.

The article told of a mysterious fire that happened in the house, how there was no explanation ever given and the case was still be investigated. Another article spoke of mysterious animal deaths on the property. A third clip spoke of a little girl drowning. On and on each article I picked up spoke of one tragedy after another, all happening at the house or its property. The dates stretched back as far as seventy years, and in every photo that accompanied the articles I saw the same name of the person who was reportedly responsible for all the tragedies; ‘Caroline’. As well as the same object: The doll.

I felt a chill go up my spine. I reached for the velvet bag with the doll but my hand only found the floor. I looked down at the bag was gone. A thump from behind caught my attention. I turned around and saw the bag in the middle of the floor. Outlined in the bag was the form of the doll sitting up right.

Now my heart was beating so hard I could hear it in my head. I grabbed the doll, tossed it in the trunk, slammed the lid and dragged the entire thing down the stairs. As I dragged the trunk through the front door the itself somehow slammed shut on its own. It was a struggle to lift the trunk into the back of the truck but I managed to do it thanks to the fear-induced adrenaline.

The drive back to the shop seemed to take even longer than before. All the while I kept looking in the rearview mirror at the trunk in the pickup bed. Whenever I looked away I would hear a bizarre scratching noise, like a tree branch dragging against the roof of a house.

As soon as I pulled into the parking lot of the store I ran in to inform my boss’s of the delivery. Mrs. Hudson could see I was upset, she sat me down and asked me to tell her what happened while Mr. Hudson went to check on the trunk. Before I could even begin my story I heard Mr. Hudson’s weak voice call for help as he hit the gravel of the parking lot. With Mrs. Hudson as my side I knelt down next to him and checked his neck for a pulse, but I couldn’t find one. He was dead. Mrs. Hudson began to panic, so I told her to run back inside and call 911 while I hopelessly attempted CPR.

I looked around trying to figure out what caused Mr. Hudson’s collapse when I noticed that the trunk had been opened. The lid was being held open by the lock that had been bent at an odd angle. On the inside of the lid of the trunk were tiny scratches, almost like claw marks as if something or someone, had been locked inside.

The EMT’s and police arrived at the shop but it was too late, Mr. Hudson had died from an apparent massive heart attack. As the ambulance pulled away with Mr. Hudson’s body and the police took Mrs. Hudson aside for questions, I cautiously approached the opened trunk.

Inside the trunk was the bag with the doll, it was again sitting upright. I opened the bag and took out the doll, small abrasions and dirt covered the doll’s small hands and fingers. They matched perfectly with the marks on the lid of the trunk.

The brittle paper that had been clawed began to flake away revealing the ancient wood beneath. Strange markings marred the wood, like a burned engraving. I cleared away the paper and saw a name: ‘Caroline’. I put the doll back in the trunk and tried to slam the lid shut, but it wouldn’t close anymore.

Unable to cope with the loss of her husband Mrs. Hudson closed down the shop. She died of a stroke two weeks later.

As for ‘Caroline’, the name I had given the doll, I couldn’t get her out of my mind. I would dream of a faceless girl every night and I would hear tiny foot steps running through my apartment at all hours of the day. Whenever I drove by the closed down antique shop I would see her standing in the window starting out, staring with her blank eyes.

I put her ebay along with the trunk and newspaper articles. As soon as she was purchased my nightmares stopped and my apartment was quiet. But the most disturbing image that ‘Caroline’ left behind was the picture I had taken of her when I put her up for auction. At first the image seemed normal and it remained as such until she had been shipped away. I went to delete the now unnecessary photo from my laptop when I saw in the thumbnail that the doll’s face was different.

Her eyes were black hollows and she had painted ruby red lips that were twisted slightly upward in a sinister grin. I clicked on the thumbnail to enlarge the image but when I did the face returned to its blank expression of nothingness.

I deleted the image from my computer, but I couldn’t get her eyes or her smile out of my mind.

Credit To – Katie Averill

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October 21, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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(This is a conclusion to the previous two pastas, “Necropotence,” and “War of the Dead.” I was a mod for the old creepypasta forum, and this is the first submission I’ve sent in two years. It feels great to be writing again! Thanks for reading it, and I hope it’s good enough to conclude my unfinished trilogy on this site. Sincerely —- Violent Harvest/DW.)


I started all of this at the end of round one, before I learned that there is far more power in the company of death rather than a futile struggle, day to day, clinging to the fragile coils of life. It’s a lie that rules over all of humanity as we cherish and bow down to it, obsessed with prolonging our end. I was like everyone else once, during my first chance that I pissed down the toilet over the course of seventy years. Anyone who says they’re not afraid of death — that they’re “at peace,” or that it’s “their time to go” — they’re lying.

But this is your moment, when you have the opportunity to change and open your mind to something different. There is real power to be gained, and I’ve made it very difficult for those I’ve chosen to seek out this grimoire. This will be my final message before the cogath.

There is nothing to be afraid of if you are willing to learn.

I’m only different than you because I’ve learned the truth. I’ve defected from the gruel and grievous circle of lies, and entered the deceptively sweet embrace of death. My second chance didn’t come with exercise or good diets or vitamins. Life was a monotonous letdown. The gift came to me, a very unworthy and clueless old wretch, and it’s a wonder at all that I discovered the blessings of death before I tried to off myself. But that’s not what happened.

This is about a lot of things. It’s about making all of you realize that you need to wake up. You’ve forgotten what it means to survive. You devour gluttonous value meals from drive throughs and fry your minds in front of digital displays for hours and hours at a time, and every single facet of living has been spoonfed to you from a silver bowl of shit. That’s what I call this pathetic sideshow of paychecks and miles per gallon and reform bills that inspire panic because you’re all going to lose pieces of paper from your wallets or digital ones and zeroes inside bank computers that tell you how successful you are and whether you can have a new Mercedes since your Lexus is over five years old.

Life is billioning everywhere, but the real potential of the human race has wasted away slowly. So this about a worldwide reminder. When the graveyards start erupting and soccer moms are robbing their neighbor’s house for a revolver, they will be reminded. They will know what it means to deserve life, and they will pay an instant fine for years of cheating death. They will go from being afraid of the internal revenue service to being afraid of the mean alcoholic uncle they buried four years ago when he shows up hungry at their front door. They’ll be freezing and diseased in forests and caves and fields, hunkered down and fearing sleep without another breathing partner to keep watch.

The government will call it bio-terrorism. The churches will call it the end of days. But we will call it what it truly is. The cogath.

They will cling to the lie of life. Consider yourself fortunate.

You and I will call it the cogath dar marbh. In English, it means war of the dead. It’s from the old tongue, when the Gaelic chomhairle tried in vain to do what I am about to attempt. Their druid enemies stopped them.

It’s been exactly one thousand years since my ancestor failed the ritual. I stay in contact with him on a regular basis. His favorite sacrifice is a twenty something redhead. I have sent him many, many redheads.

So this is about making him proud, and giving back to my otherworldly community that has granted me authority over life itself. It’s about returning power with power in return, quid pro quo.

Will you be one of them, or will you accept my gift?

Before you go any further, I would advise you to visit the cemetery of your family’s legacy, gather up the remains of your loved ones, and grant them peace from the impending chaos.

Cremate them. Your mother will thank you on the other side later.


The first steps have been taken. Let us take a moment to mourn your old existence, because it’s only natural to have those feelings. Kiss it goodbye.

It’s been bred in to you to chase these intangible and incessantly insane things called dreams. You can do achieve anything if you work hard enough. This what you’re told when you’re young, because we only have so much time on this earth, and the people who think they have the power and the control know they have a lot of money to make off you believing this. I worked hard for over thirty years at a company I started myself, only to get backstabbed by my partner. I’m a quadruple divorcee. I was depressed and eating valium because I made seven figures instead of eight. This is what life and dreamchasing does to you.

The cost of what will be required of you is astronomical. You think I don’t know you, but I do. You care about three things. Money, sex, and power. These three motivations rule the world of the living. Some would attempt to question the big three, perhaps bringing up futile concepts like love and goodness, but those people are worthless to me. They won’t be approached or instructed like you. You are depraved like me. That’s why you’ve been given the opportunity to learn.

Lesson number one. Nothing comes without sacrifice. Absolutely nothing. This also proves true in life, but death is a much more forgiving teacher. You’ve put in hard work to get something you want out of life. Nice things, a pretty girlfriend, a manicured lawn. What’s valuable in life is not valuable in death.

There is no big three. You will prosper through asking of what is required of you in the nether. I am your instructor, but the nether itself will hold you accountable.

For now, I need you to forget about morals and right and wrong. You are going to kill people, but in the process, you will make them something bigger than they could have ever hoped to become in life. You will spill blood. You will cause suffering, and you will love it.

Order number one. You need a partner in crime, and I don’t expect you to do this alone. As I said before, death leaves you a lot of room for poetic license and creativity. You need to find yourself a living, breathing thing that’s not human. I used my house pet and turned her in to vicious hell hound, but I leave the choice to you. The first step to gaining potency in your rituals requires something to keep watch over you as you commune with the dead. As you drift about the nether, you will be protected from the raging spirits of old, but you will be vulnerable in the real world.

What is left of the Gaelic rituals can be found in the Munich Manual of Demonic Magic. Nearly all of the terms and superstitions outlined within it are inaccurate, but there are detailed instructions for creating a familiar. That is your starting place. Read it, create your circle, and bleed out the old husk of your chosen animal.

When the last drop of blood falls, you will witness the opening of the nether for the first time.

I will not be there waiting for you, but rather, you will attune yourself and converse with the first spirit drawn to the body of the animal. Do what it asks of you, no matter what the request.

Should you succeed, then I assure you that I will be aware of it.


You’ve made quite an interesting choice, my little necrolyte. I saw you, screaming and covered in blood, with your circle crudely etched in the wood by a shaky hand. Fortunately, a perfect circle wasn’t required by the particular spirit who came to you. I appointed it specifically to your induction due to its chaotic tendencies. It felt the grave sense of terror in your gut with the bleeding fox on your lap, and it was grateful to consume such a strongly human emotion.

And you were grateful to have it taken away from you. How does it feel, knowing that you will never fall prey to fear again? It’s been ages for me, but I’ve never forgotten myself.

I watched the entire ordeal. I saw your face contort with tears and regret, only to shift in one glorious moment as you wrapped your clutches around the first hint of necropotence. Your open, screaming mouth became a beautifully sadistic grin when the fox rose again. From a pitiful, dying and broken thing to a stalwart guardian of your legacy. How long that legacy persists is an entirely new question altogether.

Lesson number two. The pleasures of the world are meaningless to you now. and so are the consequences. Maybe you had thoughts of changing your appearance, of sucking the life from someone you hate, only to change the circumstances of your mortal life and get a second whirl at things. I don’t blame you for these feelings at all, for I must admit I fell victim to them at first. I murdered my boss and my wife, I looked to be in my twenties, and my first inclination was to hit the town and find a nice, lovely piece of college ass. But there are things you don’t realize.

Forget about your “nether regions” and burying them in pussy, or painting the town red and impressing people who don’t matter by creating little green lights that dance on the ends of your fingertips. You have a new center of pleasure now. Remember that money and sex mean nothing, and when you bleed out your first victim and make your first offer of blood, you will be filled with such elation, with such physical pleasure, that you will forever regard humans as a snack for your brethren across the veil. They have much greater things to offer you in return for your service than a three second orgasm.

Forget about the police or any fears of worldly justice. There is nothing capable of punishing you except for what lies in the nether itself. Well …. and me, should you fail miserably and waste my time so close to the hour of our war.

Order number two. Your familiar is ready, but ninety percent of you is still pathetically human and therefore very weak. You will have to create your own pumice stone for mixing the blood of your offerings. To command the dead, they must respect you as they respect me, which means you need to become as close to your master as physically possible. Draining the blood of one will bring you a longer lifespan and restore wrinkles, but draining the blood of ten at a time, mixing them in to a grisly soup, and then offering it will allow you to learn new techniques and rituals. There’s more to being a necromancer than living forever and drawing circles. You will learn to transform blood and bone in to shockwaves that will bring buildings to rubble. You will learn how to enslave any living, breathing thing indefinitely, so that it might do your bidding for eternity. You will learn a great many things, but none of them will come to fruition without a pumice stone.

Any solid object will do. Mine was given to me by one of the last remaining chomhairle when I was a child, crafted from a piece of stonehenge itself. It’s important you understand that the object itself is simply a medium. You don’t need some special keepsake like the pocket knife your grandfather gave you before he passed away. You can use a roll of toilet paper if you’d like (although you may become the brunt of many a sideways snicker at the hands of your necromantic brothers for doing so).

When you’ve chosen your object, create a new circle (which should look much better, considering the excitement I feel in you, rather than fear and trepidation), and find your first blood offering. It would accelerate your progress if you could select someone particularly special to you, be that in a positive or negative way. Very soon, your old girlfriend or your Monday night football buddy will become fodder for the corpses, so in a way, should you slice up and bleed out someone in your social circle, you are saving them from a much more grisly fate later. You will carry them with you, and at times, you may hear their whispers and screams from the object itself.

The choice is up to you. Take them alive, and ensure that every last drop touches your pumice. It will devour the blood like a rabid beast, and you will once again open the nether.

Enjoy the flood of youth and real power. This is your first kill, and it is your first step to belonging with your prestigiously gruesome family of the macabre.

I will be watching.


How dare you. How fucking dare you.

Did you think I wouldn’t find out?

I’ve been surprised before. Once. The son of the Chomhairle primogen caught me unawares in a bathroom, when I still led a halfway human life. I must admit that on that particular night, I thought the cogath would come to fruition.

As it turns out, that miserable little power monger was already dead. I was close, you see. I was closer then I am now, except that when his blood ran like a river, the nether wouldn’t accept him. Perhaps it was a strategic move on their part, to send me a dead spirit in the empty vessel of a human body. A living, breathing Chomhairle wouldn’t dare cross my path. They know I only need one of them.

And so, you’ve chosen to betray me.

I’m not quite sure how you found out. Have I been usurped by one rogue spirit in the nether realm, or do they all conspire against me? Surely not.

So you gathered enough blood in to the pumice stone, and then destroyed it, thereby severing the link between you and your necromaster.

Rest assured that I will find you, even if I can’t watch you through the stone. You were so very good at following directions.

When we meet face to face, I will first rend the flesh from your body, until you are nothing but a framework of walking muscle on top of brittle bone, and then I will suspend you in a glistening bubble of torment.

Is it poetic? The fact that you’ve turned against me, in your own lust for power, just as I have against my Chomhairle brethren? Maybe this is the way it should be.

But still.

How dare you.

I accept your challenge.


You were nothing, and you’re something now. Because of me.

I find it fitting that the world has begun its descent in to pure, unbridled chaos. I applaud you for your contributions, for you’ve somehow found a way to manipulate necromantic power as I have, without a familiar, without a pumice, without anything but your mind and your body and your spirit.


Surely, you’ve seen the bloodsucking fiends, spilling out on to the streets, burning alive under the sheen of a morning sun. They were never part of the grand scope of things until they decided to cross my path as you have.

What you are, necrolyte, is an abomination.

They’ll do anything for a taste of the blue goop. They smell it, they FEEL it, and it becomes them.

But even the vampires who resist the liquid blue will fall, you see.

Do you think I’m afraid of something that can’t even breathe? Do you truly think that you can manipulate the nether, and become one of them, and protect the last living Chomhairle before I find him and bring about the war of the dead?

You can not stop the cogath.

Give up now, and I might spare you, to be a dead man floating by my side.

Or you can let that pathetic Cainite embrace you, and lose your power.

The choice is up to you.


Your necropotence …… I can’t fathom how you’ve managed to hang on to it.

I found him, not an hour after he sank his incisors in to your neck.

But this is not the way the spirits told me it would transpire.

I have set out, to start a war of the dead, and instead, you seek to combat my efforts as a member of the undead, wielding MY gift and theirs at the same time. It shouldn’t be possible.

I’m close to you. I can see and feel traces of you. You’ve become powerful, but not powerful enough to hide your tracks. I know you’re heading for the Chomhairle temple. I know the druids have joined. I know about the wards at the entrance, and the hundred thousand walking constructs of bone that you have managed to resurrect with the sacrifice of the other Chomhairle.

So you will protect him from his bastard son? This is what you want?

I’m coming for you.


I’ve been such a fool. That old man who fixed my bike. IT CAN’T BE YOU.

You were my STUDENT! You faked everything …… even your own demise. How could I have forgotten you? The source of my gift ….. it’s impossible.

So, you were the necromaster before me, and now you’ve come back to reign over the living. Why protect them? They deserve the war. They deserve everything that’s coming to them.

These wards are stronger than I thought, but I will have them destroyed in a fortnight. I can feel you behind that gate, conjuring and speaking in Gaelic like a madman.

I’ve seen to it that all the druids will not only perish slowly, but they will perish at the mercy of the pathetic living trees and flowers and animals that they worship.

I have turned living flora in to walking, corrupted fauna. Even now, they lie on the ground, held at the wrists and feet by barbed and bleeding cusps of ancient oaks that have turned on them.

My father inside the temple, that you are protecting through your treachery …. he has spent his entire life trying to find a way to wipe them out, and I have destroyed them in less than day.

Do your hear their screams? I will bring them back. Once, they were worshipers of life, only to evolve, to change, to rise up from their thorned shackles and fight for the only side that can bring about the face of the new world.

I destroyed your sire, and you will not evade me by becoming vampiric. You will not protect him.

Hide in your little temple. I’ll break in there, soon enough.


Everything burns. It is a beautiful thing. It is not the cogath, but I truly marvel at what I’ve accomplished thus far.

I’ve found the key to breaking through the wards. I sacrificed each and every druid, and mixed their blood in to a cauldron. I found the last Cainite, the ONLY one who can resist the liquid blue, and I stole his blood as well.

But the blood of the fiend, and the blood of the druids, and a single drop of blood from my own hand is not enough.

I’ve drawn every rune, every symbol, down to the last detail from the Munich manual. This is the strongest circle I’ve ever completed, and I’m still not finished.

I need the body count. The spirit in the nether who betrayed me and allowed you to rebel against my power is here now, under my control. You are alone, suspended in the eye of a storm of necropotence. How can you possibly hope to defeat me without the nether behind you?




Ten thousand, four hundred and sixty eight. Is that the magic number? One drop of blood from each of them.

I’m quite proud of my human body count.

I have them, aligned in rows. A field of dead bodies, accompanied by walking trees that bleed. Each of them has a rune, burned in to the ground by my own hand. This grove was once thriving with life, and now it has become a garden of death.

There were certain kills that were special to me, and even others that were special to Sasha. Perhaps a dozen of them stand out in my memory, screaming in agony under the green glow of fate itself. I didn’t just rend them open with a kris. I allowed them to suffer magnificently. Slowly. Beautifully.

I will channel the nether in to the earth itself. The energy in the soil will bring them back, an army of ten thousand strong, with my hellhound and my ex-wife and a few nameless bums who are very special pets, because they were some of my first kills.

Not two hours from now, I will begin the incantation to form the blast. It will begin in the depths of every decaying husk, ping ponging through the grove like green ball lightning, until it has touched all ten thousand. After they’ve risen, the circle and the runes will empower them….a mass of undeath, incinerated in a stinking cloud.

And then, I will send them for you.

I hope Margerie gets her hands around your throat, even if she can’t choke the life from you.

She only has to hold you still, so that I might exorcise your pathetic dark gift and reduce you back to a pitiful human being.

You fucked up, thinking you could be turned and still harness the power.

You are nothing.

Hunker down.

Here it comes.


There have been so many very splendid moments in my lifetime. The first cut with a knife …. feeling young again,
igniting desire in the hearts of women….. and of course, taking on a student, although I must admit that I truly regret that decision now.

The explosion surely rocked you to your very core. Never have I sacrificed anything on such a grand scale.

It was painful, you see, to destroy my beautiful creation…. to sacrifice everything, so that I might meet you face to face. You, the abomination. You, with your alterior motives. You, standing before me, a sickly and pathetic leecher of life, wielding my power for the sake of mocking me.

For the sake of stopping the cogath.

Step aside, fool. I will have the blood of the last Chomhairle, even if I must destroy you.


Oh, how the tables have turned.

I had forgotten what true pain feels like. The deathfox and his teeth …. your familiar was truly a formidable opponent in the three seconds before it melted in to nothingness.

I will remember you forever, even if you disgusted me in your final hours, having become something that I never thought could have existed in the first place.

You came so far. I saw you, walking the streets, drinking your life away, because you wanted to become something more, and in this regard, you certainly have.

But you are not a necromancer. If you were, you might have defeated me.

My flesh may be singed. My hair may be gone. I may be old again, clinging to my last breath as I was before this all began. You have reduced me to my original, decrepit form of weakness, but I will never be human again.

I am nobody’s bitch, and that’s what matters.

Before our auras clashed…. before you burned away my skin with the channeled fury of the nether …. I did see my life flash before my eyes. And then you burned those away too.

But it has destroyed you.

It is very poetic, I think. I don’t have much time left, but you are vanquished, and my father is dead.

He is peeled open in front of me, and although I only have one leg left, that leg is enough to hobble over his corpse.

The true decision now, is which drop of blood to use. In this entire pool under his flayed body, there are millions to choose from. It will be my final decision, and therefore it must be a good one.

It’s a pity that I was never able to meet my father ….. that he sent his other son, a dead man walking, to challenge me. It’s a pity that my brother was not smart enough to choose the right side before I enslaved his spirit in the nether.

It would certainly bring a tear, if I were capable of crying.

And so, with my last breath of strength, I command this drop of Chomhairle blood in to the vestibule of this temple. I command the nether to become part of this world, to burn your body in the expanse of oblivion, so that you might find eternal peace in your final death. Perhaps I owe you that much for getting this far. You came so close to stopping me, and you partially have, indeed.

I will not survive to see more than a few seconds of the resurrection of the dead before my body dissolves in to the nothingness of the nether, but the ritual is done. The ritual that I have sought like a madman for a hundred years, rebelling against my own father, against my own necromantic family, against the vampires, against the druids. Who remains now, but me? Nothing.

And so it begins.

My final thought is the beauty of it all. I have drifted away from my body, to join the spirits, but not before I see the dead walking the earth.

I’ve chosen the cemetery where you fixed my Schwinn and gave me the stone in the first place. That’s where it will begin.

I can see them now.

Peeled, rotting fingers, erupting through the earth, accompanied by moans of hunger.

I underestimated you, but you have fallen, and the war of the dead has truly begun.

The only question now, is who will wage it in my place?

There is still necropotence to be found, should someone else desire to become the overlord of death…

C…C….cogath dar marbh….

Credit To – Violent Harvest

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The Forever House

October 8, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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It’s funny, really.

You finish college, get yourself a degree, maybe stay shacked with your folks for a few years longer while the paychecks build up and, well, eventually? Eventually, your own place pops up. You wake up one morning as an overgrown version of the kid you used to be, and the next, well, you’re a man. You’ve got bills and responsibilities and you’re suddenly allowed to start harboring expectations of your own – but most importantly, you’re free. You’ve got your own space.

I don’t know at which point it happened for me, but my parents’ home just stopped doing it. Things that had been so cozy for so long suddenly became cramped and annoying. My own room barely felt private, I could barely afford to stock the fridge with what I felt like eating; but the point is that once I stood in front of that house, just a short drive away from the highway, I felt free. The real estate agent told me it was a bit of a fixer-upper thanks to some obviously shoddy construction, but it didn’t really bother me.

I mean, damnit… I was home!

It took a while for me to start noticing just how crooked the place was. I didn’t complain, though – I’d set a price limit that pretty much had “starving artist” written on it, and I loved the location. The para-transport service worked flawlessly in the area, and I still had the advantage of general solitude. The place was newly built, too. Aside from these vices, that crooked appearance it had? Everything was absolutely flawless. It wasn’t big, really – one bedroom, one guest room, a reasonably-sized living area right next to a kitchenette with its own little stretch of counter-top. That’s it. There was the basement, too, plus the parking lot, but these wouldn’t catch my eye until much later. The real estate agent had told me it had been a real find at this particular price margin, and that for some odd reason, none of the nearby developers remembered building anything on that particular lot. For that matter, for all the searching she did, she never did find the lot number for that house in any of the local registries!

Now, a savvier person than myself would’ve realized something was odd a long time ago. I didn’t. I was young, I worked three odd jobs to pay the bills, the place wasn’t much more than a dorm for myself and my occasional friends, and I was generally out at all hours of the day and night. More often than not, the place was locked up tight. If distance hadn’t been enough of a factor to dissuade any would-be burglars, then my meagre possessions would’ve done the job. Like a lot of newly emancipated guys around my age, I lived surrounded by hand-me-downs and thrift store horror stories, horribly mismatched items I didn’t really care all that much about.

Like I said, though; the house was crooked. Slightly stilted to the left, if I remember correctly. The oddest thing is that it only became obvious if you looked at the upper corners in each room, where the ceiling and walls met. Pull out a laser guide, though, or your smartphone’s level app, and you’d realize that the place was actually leveled out. Your eyes would keep reporting the odd bend, but everything else reacted as though the house was entirely straight.

The basement, though, was interesting. First, the entire place smelled new. You ever smelled a freshly installed window frame before? It’s got that acrid, almost antiseptic tang, that unmistakably “new plastic” scent that sticks on clam-shell wrappers in a more muted variant. Some friends of mine called it the “new keyboard” smell – but the thing is, the house looked like it’d just been built, and it didn’t show up on any lot registries. Everyone around me more or less went through the same logical hoops and assumed the place hadn’t been fully squared out before the real estate agent sold it to me. Even she was surprised, and her own bosses just shrugged it off, assuming some paperwork was missing. Everyone told me I’d eventually receive a call from City Hall, asking me to come and fix up a few administrative niggles or issues, basically sign my name on a couple dotted lines.

The basement, though? That looked old. The door leading down had that same plastic-ish smell, but the stairs were creaky, the wood polished by what looked like generations of someone’s routine trekking up and down. I’d say about twenty inches were poking from below the ground, leaving enough space for a couple windows. The place was barren, like I said – all concrete. It was cracked and pitted and stained and, well, nevermind how new the rest of the place was, the basement just didn’t fit. At first, I figured I’d just bought someone else’s semi-thorough renovation job, something that had involved tearing down an original construction while keeping the foundations and the basement.

Things actually started making a turn for the sinister around that basement, now that I think about it… The place was poorly lit, no matter how much you tried making sure nothing grew over the windowpanes, outside. I couldn’t afford to have other lights installed, so I stuck with the one dingy lightbulb that tried its damndest to cast some shadows in the corners of the room. At night, that really made me anxious. I’d watch a couple horror movies, realize I’d left the laundry in the washer and needed to make the switch before the clothes would start stinking up the place, get down there and generally – hate being there. The shadows in the corners were too thick for my liking, but I figured that was just me being unused to having my own basement, my own dark patches. There was nobody around to help me cement any sort of routine into place, so I guess the newness of these shadows never really left me.

So one night, I’m bringing my laundry upstairs, when I hear the sound of something like pebbles gently hitting the ground. I turn around, spin my head this way and that for a few seconds and generally try to get a bead on the sound, until I realize it’s coming from the far-right corner, directly opposite from my washer and dryer. I don’t have a flashlight, of course, because stupid first-time home-owner, so I nearly break my neck trying to angle the one lightbulb I’ve got in that corner’s direction…

There’s a crack snaking down alongside the right-hand wall, and I’ve never noticed it before. The little pitter-patter I was hearing? That was the crack gently widening, pushing down towards the floor and making little flecks of surface-level paint and concrete fall to the ground. Again, I don’t think much of it at first, filing that under the several anecdotal problems I’d noticed that kind of lent credence to the fact that the place was, indeed, a fixer-upper. I mean, I’m sort of past due for my first lessons on caulking up walls, right?

A few days pass, and that same pitter-patter of falling flecks of paint and concrete wakes me up in the middle of the night. I remember confusing it for a leaky faucet, so I got out of bed and double-checked my two sinks. They were both fine. As I’m heading back to bed, I have a clear view of my room’s rear wall, by the light of my bedside table. That allows me to notice the exact same crack, snaking its way down towards the floor, dead center in the wall. It’s the shape of the crack that sticks out, really. Something about it makes me take a peek downstairs, in the basement, and allows me to confirm that odd hunch I’d been having. The pattern is identical, every single ripple and wave across both crack is identical. Even the size and shape of the flecks of plaster and paint are the same!

I remember staring at the basement’s crack, at that realization, and briefly feeling something ominous, something cold, slither deep into my chest. Then, maybe out of exhaustion, that somehow snaps back into place. I mean, really. Matching cracks in the walls? I shake my head and tell myself I’ll just buy some caulk at the hardware store, the next day, and try and work on my first patch-up job ever.

Had to happen at least once, right?

I did caulk everything shut the very next day, and I do remember feeling pretty good about myself for that. The creaking noises, though – they’d start during the following night.

New houses don’t settle into place, especially not in warm climates like mine. New houses just are, and it takes a decade or two before humidity does its work and nails start to pop, right? Well, at night, once everyone was gone and there’d be nobody left but myself and that place, it’d creak. Not just a little, oh no – a lot. Far too much to fit any sort of recently constructed house. I had contractors come and give it a once-over, I even had one of the walls between the bathroom and the living room partially torn down, just so I could look at the retaining beams! Everything was fine if I went by the contractors’ word – but God, did the place freaking creak at night!

I’d go to bed, the floor popping and snapping under my feet the whole while, and maybe have an hour or two’s worth of peace and quiet. Then, absolutely out of nowhere, the hallway’s floor would let out loud, agonizing groans, almost as if someone were tearing up the flooring right outside my bedroom door! Sometimes, the sound would be syncopated, like someone hurriedly making straight for my bedroom and just – stopping. Straight in front of it, too. About three months in, I couldn’t even sleep in my own room; the doorframes creaked and popped so much it sounded like someone was banging on the doorpane all night long!

If only that had been it. If only nothing else had happened… A year in, I’d wake up and go for a drink at the kitchenette, and find myself staring at the pitch-black emptiness, outside. By day, you could see a fairly wide expanse of the kind of underbushes that make up unattended lots that are just waiting for the construction crews to show up. I’d hear rodents and crickets, plenty of cats from the surrounding neighbourhoods, too. The developers seemed more interested in giving my street a wide berth, and nobody could tell me why. I was growing more and more isolated, and it became frighteningly obvious after dark.

I mean, you couldn’t see anything. No trees, no bushes, no grass, no streetlights, no distant gleams off of someone else’s headlights down the road – nothing. Turning on my porch light past dusk, I’d step out and find myself just staring out into the void…

Sometimes, you’d hear voices. Shouts, too. They never sounded too menacing and they generally did sound like the sort of stuff you’d have expected to come from my neighbours. During the day, all I had to do to get a glimpse of civilization was look past the old trees that were just on the other side of the residential development’s shared fence. You’d see it, a row of cottages, coming out of the same cloning farm-slash-architectural firm that crapped out affordable living spaces for young couples and families looking to own a slice of the suburban life at a fraction of the cost. You’d hear them, too: calling out for their kids, planning barbecues, bringing in their groceries – typical stuff, really.

Nobody ever went past the trees, though. The people I paid, expected or hosted did come over – but none of the locals ever tried to throw a housewarming for me. The people I did see just didn’t like my house. Something about it was rubbing them the wrong way, and they could never tell me why.

I’d hear all of them, at night – and some other sounds. Odd sounds, really. Things I thought were car alarms, but that kept sounding more and more like oddly sibilant screams, the more I thought about it.

Two years passed, and I was living with the cracks, the pops and the creaks, convincing myself I’d lived in plenty of other houses with symptoms like these – even condos. I had, but I could’ve understood where everything came from, before. This? If I thought about it, that old anxiety, that cold I mentioned earlier, would grip my chest and squeeze, like a vice.

One night, I got sick of it all. I’d set some money aside, and I wanted to figure out what the Hell was happening with the place. The cracks, exact duplicates of that first one, were practically everywhere, now. I bought myself an electronic level, some more caulk, and more or less resolved to take a slurry of photos. I’d email it all to my old real estate agent and ask her if there’s any way she could’ve known about the more rational aspects of all this beforehand. The cracks, the creaking – I mean, there had to be something, right? If nothing came up, then I’d sue her ass! Nothing she’d said, nothing she’d ever mentioned had ever prepared me for anything like this, and I’d be damned before I’d go down without earning some of that peace and quiet I’d wanted!

To be honest, I couldn’t do more than half of the living room. By the time I looked at the second corner at the far-left end of the room, I knew – absolutely knew, that nothing about any of this made sense.

The level told me the walls were straight. Yet, if I tried to look – honestly peer at the spot where all three walls met – I’d realize that the angles were shifting. The walls moved if you looked at their exact point of intersection, and they’d become fixed in place if you looked away. The more you looked, the more the house creaked, and the more it swayed. You couldn’t see it sway, oh no, and nor could you feel it – but the house swayed, the whole damn world outside swayed, and you swayed with it all!

I remember falling off of my stepladder and losing it for maybe ten minutes. I was gone. Maybe I hit my head on the television’s corner while falling, I’m not sure; but the light had changed by the time I came to. The moon was out, a big, pale, bloated thing, and it covered everything I owned in a kind of silvery pale I wouldn’t have called moonlight for anything in the world.

There was a crack on the floor, right between my legs. I backed away, disgusted. I felt that the fissures were vile. They were abhorrent, awful things that offended everything I took for granted about this world’s rules. Looking at them made me sick, but I couldn’t stop.

I tried for something I’d never done before, at least not directly. The last time I’d tried, I’d had caulking gloves. I’d never felt the porous texture of the edge of the world.

I touched… I don’t know what I touched, but it gave away like cheesecloth. Then, I saw.


Imagine Everything. Every place, every person, every color, every scent, every concept, every notion. Imagine everything we have, everything we’re still looking for, everything we”ve been, are or will ever be.

Imagine living at the crossroads of that. Imagine yourself standing there, in that fixed instant. That – that Forever and that Never that nobody should have ever seen. Individually, the pieces are beautiful. Ordinary-looking, on occasion. Some notes are offensive, others reach for your heart, and there’s a few smells that remind me of colors from continents past, wavelengths we haven’t heard in a million years. That old radio tune, from Far and Away? It’ll only reach us once we’re dead and dust.

It’s terrifying.

No mind should witness this. No person should ever have to touch this. When I came to, I knew. I knew all about the house, and the knowledge was tearing at my mind like a flock of carrion birds. I had to get it out. I had to spit it out, carve it out of my head with a melon baller, sear it away with a blowtorch.

The house isn’t a place. It isn’t an entity. It isn’t fixed in time or in space, and you’ll find it atomized across all of Creation. My garage was in the radiation-blasted wastelands of Topeka, Kansas. My living room was somewhere on an opal summit lost in some silent corner of the M83 galaxy. Chunks of my basement were in the Realm of the Skinless God, minuscule flecks lodged in the infected pores of blind and deaf beasts howling inside their steel boxes. My entryway is one of the Paving Stones to Infinity, a fleck of limestone the great beings beyond Time never even notice.

The house is a thing, lashed together by some sick mind who was curious to see what would happen if you made parts of All That Is touch in the most abhorrent of ways, twisted and snapped together so the final product would look innocent – a nice and safe little hole for the one poor idiot with the nearly-void bank account who needed a space to call home.

I’m not even sure when or where I’m writing this, but I know all who will ever read this. I know where they’ll find it, in places where I’ll never set foot. I know the house can be anywhere, in any place and in any time. Anybody could find this.

Pick a highway and drive. Look off to the side, past the point where sane people stop building. If you see a house that looks slightly off, a place that seems perfect for you while still somehow carrying something you can’t quite place, keep driving.

Don’t stop. You’ll find it again, across months and miles and years. You’ll find it in books and movies and in lyrics. Don’t watch it. Don’t listen to anything that’s said about it. But – you can’t, can’t you? You can’t stop it, not any more than I ever could!

I’ve written about the house, this damned place beyond all places. You, you’ve done your part. You’ve read this story. Where I am, now, I can see. I can see you, lashed in the fibers of the paint, reduced to a hair-thin film across all surfaces.

You’re the house, and the house is in you.

Credit To – IamLEAM1983

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