The Cross

December 15, 2012 at 12:00 PM
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We recently moved into this little house in a small, quiet town in Maine. It’s not like I wanted to go, but I guess it was okay because I think I needed a change from the city life.

The day we arrived at the house, I was actually pretty excited. It was a small cottage-type house, and it felt really cozy. My parents had bought the house without letting me see it, so this was my first time inside it.

My mom immediately showed me over to one of those large fireplaces that older houses used to have in the kitchen for cooking and warming the room. I thought it was really neat, but one of the first thing I noticed was a little indent in the back wall of it with a metal cross. My mom thought we could put something “prettier” there, and threw the cross into the back of a cabinet. I didn’t think anything of it, and then went off to explore the rest of the house.

I found the room in which I decided I wanted to be my room. My mom and dad approved, and I set up my bed and moved all my boxes into it. I set up the essentials, like my TV, and just lounged around watching movies for the rest of the afternoon. Then it was bedtime.

It was really strange sleeping in that house. It was pretty much empty, since we still hadn’t unpacked all our stuff. But after a while, I eventually drifted off to sleep. Around midnight, I awoke to the sound of soft crying. It sounded like a little girl, probably no older than 6. I had no sisters, so I dismissed it as the neighbors, and put myself back to sleep.

The next morning, I asked my dad if he had heard anything last night, considering he is a light sleeper. He told me no, and so I told him what happened. He said to forget about it, it was probably just me hearing things.

As day turned into night, I grew tired. It was bedtime. But, yet again, I woke to crying at midnight. Same voice, but just a little bit louder. Once again, I just told myself it was nothing and went back to sleep.

As the days passed, the sobbing grew slowly louder. My parents started to notice it, so we decided to meet the neighbors, to see if it was them. Surprisingly, they didn’t have kids, never mind 6 year old girls. We were perplexed.

Weeks passed. The crying continued. Still no explanation. I decided to research the house and the previous families. The town files said the history of the house dated back to the 1700’s, which would explain the fireplace. I then noticed a little note in the original family’s file. It said that a little girl named Elizabeth had died in the fireplace when she fell in while her mother was cooking. She was 5.

I ran all the way back home, and rushed in the house and told my mom what I had found. She said that I was being ridiculous, and that ghosts didn’t exist. We did nothing.

Over the course of a month, the crying continued. Every night, at midnight, it grew louder. It got to the point where we couldn’t sleep. Our names started to get called. We started to see shadows. And yet my mom continued to tell me my mind was playing tricks on me. Even my dad started to notice the activity. Nothing could convince her to do anything about it.

I had had enough. I told my mom we needed to do something. Then it hit me. The fireplace. The little girl. The haunting. The cross.

I pulled the cross out of the cabinet, and placed it back in the little indent on the back wall of the fireplace. I told my mom the connection I made, and she responded by telling me I was going crazy. The cross was just trash, left by the other family. I refused to believe her.

That night, nothing happened. Nothing.

The house stayed quiet. The calmness continued. I had solved the problem. The cross was what the spirit needed. It was her memorial. But, every now and then, I see shadows and hear noises, even with the cross in place. Sometimes I think it might be something more…

Credit To: Alex

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Harlequin No.7

December 14, 2012 at 12:00 PM
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“The world is indeed comic,
but the joke is on mankind.”
–       H.P. Lovecraft

My town has gained some notoriety in recent weeks. Maybe you’ve heard about the strange electrical storm that showed up in Charlottesville, N.C. overnight and then disappeared just as quick, or maybe you’ve read in the paper about the sudden outbreak of mental illness and cerebral aneurysms. Don’t worry though if you haven’t been keeping up with the crackpot news outlets, I’ll fill you in. How do I know so much about this? Well, let’s just say I was there.

For starters, the only reason I moved to this God awful backwater hell in the first place was because my career choice made employment somewhat difficult to find. You see, most funeral homes are family owned, so naturally the laws of nepotism apply. It didn’t matter that I had a degree in mortuary science, or that I had already completed my apprenticeship and directors certification by age 24, the fact that my daddy didn’t own a crematorium meant I would be facing an endless hallway of closed doors until who knows when. That was of course, until a visit to Bailey Meadows (my birth town.) prompted enough boredom to look up an old friend, Terry Liddell.

I met Terry around the summer of ’05, at this cruddy little bar called “The Broken Window,” where bands would sometimes play shows if they couldn’t find anywhere decent. He and I hit it off in a totally-not-homosexual way and we spent a huge chunk of time around each other because Bailey Meadows was the most boring fucking place in all of North Carolina. That, and the Window was the only place within a twenty miles drive of my house that would serve minors.

So, after wrapping up my apprenticeship in Raleigh, I moved back in with my parents due to the unemployment thing (Apprenticeships do pay, but the position was considered temporary at best.), e-mailed my résumé along the entire East Coast, started going stir crazy, and finally worked up enough motivation to drive my Charger west along Highway 42.

Having spent the last 4 years in Raleigh made me forget what a shit hole Charlottesville truly was. It’s the kind of place where people don’t mow their lawns because of all the scrap metal hiding under the weeds. The folks here were a strange breed of redneck, a cross between the Appalachian variety and the lower dwellers of the marshland. The town itself is just as terrible. There’s the strip mall where all the stoners hang out, a library that smells like piss, a trailer park, the Trinity Baptist church, a hospital, and the downtown area.(includes the Broken Window, a couple of family-run business, the post office, and the courthouse.) The rest of Charlottesville is nothing but a series of abandoned farm houses for about a five mile radius and the ruins of an old paper mill that blew up in ’88.

I found Terry at the Window, behind the counter wearing a Sonic Youth t-shirt and wiping off the mugs. Turns out he and some dude named Franklin bought the place three years back and had pretty much kept things the same since. “Don’t fix what ain’t broke.” Terry said.
After catching up on recent news and laughing about the time we spray painted Mrs. Patterson’s dog over a few shots of Wild Turkey, finally Terry mentioned that the Burnswick funeral parlor needed a new embalmer because the old one went crazy and hung himself or something. Just like Terry to get me good and drunk before telling me something of actual importance. I called him an asshole and we both laughed so hard that I fell of the barstool. That was when Terry made me hand over my car keys.

I woke up the next morning feeling the way I imagined a corpse would feel if it were to be dug up and smacked across the face with a shovel. Numb, but somehow still in pain. The next thing I noticed was that I was not in my parent’s house. I was on Terry’s sofa, or at least I hoped Terry’s. Dragging myself to the kitchen, I drank at least a gallon of water straight from the tap before puking it all back up. The sound of me retching out my innards must have been loud, because the next thing I knew there was an unfamiliar voice coming from behind, a girls voice.

“You must be Stephan. Terry said you were a lightweight.” I turned around to match the voice to a face. She was about a head shorter than me, pale skinned, skinny as a twig and with one of those asymmetrical haircuts that have grown quite popular. Also she was wearing a black t-shirt two sizes too small and no pants. Just a pair of pink panties with a zipper down the front.

“Call me Harris, and Terry’s a dick. He should know to keep me off the firewater, ever
since I hurled all over his drum kit.” I said, wiping barf off my lips while trying not to stare at her crotch. Naturally I assumed that this chick was either Terry’s girl, or at the very least someone not to be caught with while pitching a tent.

“Well Harris, I’m glad you made room for breakfast, ‘cause I’m making waffles.”
Fuck yeah, waffles. During breakfast I found out that her name was Billie-Joe Kimble, and yes, she was Terry’s girl. Fiancé in fact. They met each other at The Broken Window three years ago. Billie was the bassist for a band called “Chop the Willow”, which she joined after moving here from Jacksonville. Why she would willingly relocate to this cesspool was beyond me, but she seemed to like it here. “It’s got something you can’t find in the city,” She said. “This place has mystery.” Looking back on things, Billie was probably right.

Here’s a bit of a historical mystery to keep you from getting bored. As I mentioned earlier, there was a paper mill just outside of town that caught fire in 1988. Some sort of industrial accident or some such. Anyways, a lot of people died in the resulting explosion and it pretty much crippled the town economy. That’s not the strange part. The topic of interest here was that the police couldn’t figure out what caused the fire in the first place. No signs of arson or failed equipment, just a bunch of confused head scratches and rumors. What were these rumors you ask? Well, from the witness testimonials, several floor workers reported that they heard laughter just before the fire started. Maniacal laughter, like someone was in on some sick joke.

After breakfast I took a shower and got ready to head over to Burnswick. Lucky for me I was already wearing a suit, so I didn’t feel underdressed. I thanked Terry and Billie for letting me crash on their couch and they wished me luck. Actually, Terry wished me luck AND offered to give me a ride. I declined, on account of Charlottesville being so damn small that the only reason anyone living here should need a car would be so that they could drive the hell away. Seriously, it took me about fifteen minutes to get to the funeral parlor on foot. I would have gotten there sooner if I hadn’t stopped at the Fill-U station for a pack of Camel. (I cannot stress this enough, smoking is a terrible habit. It eats up all your money and limits your ability to run for extended periods of time.)

When I walked into Burnswick Funerals, the first thing I noticed was the complete lack of reception. Normally there should be someone to oversee the front room, usually from a desk or nearby office. True, it’s often better to call in advance to make funeral arrangements, but there really needs to be some sort of oversight for the possible walk in. The second thing I noticed were the dead nightshade flowers on the coffee table. Rather unprofessional in my opinion. White lilies or orchids would have been better, and preferably not old ones. In any case, I decided to wait for someone to show up, and in the meantime I walked around the viewing room, looking over the black and white photographs framed about the walls. Fairly standard display: Trees, sleeping animals, churches, old Victorian portraits, other vaguely mournful images. Appropriate décor if I ever saw it. Interesting thing about 19th century portraits and why they often seem somewhat creepy; most of the people you’ll see in them are actually dead. Old school photography was a time consuming process, meaning subjects would have to remain still for a few hours while the silver nitrate imprinted the light. Also it was very expensive and therefore only used on special occasions, funerals being one of them. And since the person/persons getting their picture taken were post-mortem, there would be no need to worry about fidgeting. I was pondering this knowledge while viewing a picture of a little girl with dead eyes propped up in a chair when I heard a door close somewhere in the lobby. Turning around, I saw a confused looking man staring at me.

“Can I help you sir?” He finally asked after a few awkward moments. He was an older gentleman, somewhere in his mid to late fifties. He wore a pair of wire framed glasses and showed signs of unwanted balding, but no signs to immediately raise the question of whether or not he liked to sodomize the dead. Trust me, necrophilia is not a desirable employer trait.

“Yes you can, actually, I heard that you’re in need of a new embalmer,” I extended my hand for approval “I think I might just be the man for the job. I’m Stephan D. Harris, a pleasure to meet you Mr…”

“Burnswick,” He replied, shaking my hand. “Alfred Burnswick. And yes actually, I lost my main undertaker a few weeks back, a real shame too what happened.” He sighed in frustration before going on. “It’s just been me and Lenard running this place since. Let’s talk. First of all, have you done any apprenticing?”

About an hour later the deal was sealed, I’d finally broken into my target occupation. So what if it was in Charlottesville? I could always relocate after a few years, but for now, it was my time to shine. It didn’t take long for me to get used to things under Mr. Burnswick, in fact, after the first embalming he pretty much left me to my own thing. After all, I’d been training my entire adult life for this line of work. Whenever I had a question as to where a particular wound filler or sanitizer was kept, I’d just ask Lenard. (Lenny ran the cremation end of Burnswick, but would also fill in as an embalmer from time to time) but for the most part it was the same basic procedure that I’d been doing in Raleigh. First I’d scrub down the cadaver, then I’d massage the limbs to relieve rigor mortis. Following that I’d plug up the orifices, seal up any open wounds, begin the arterial embalming, wire the mouth and eyelids shut, finish up the hypodermic embalming, dress the cadaver, apply makeup, and deliver the body to the viewing room. I didn’t even have to deal with any of the surviving family members or review any death certificates, Mr. Burnswick as the lead funeral director would take care of all that noise. The only other regular of the funeral home was the flower girl/receptionist/grief counselor, Madelyn Wade. Now, before I move on, I would like to say that business at Burnswick Funeral was moderately steady, but this was not because people in Charlottesville were dying all of the time. Most of our clients came from a wide group of people in Pitt County who chose us based mainly on our comparatively modest fees.

So after about a month I had saved up enough money to straight-up buy my own house in Charlottesville for the price of a used car. It was an okay little place on Milton Street about two blocks away from The Broken Window. Things were alright for the most part. I hated the town and all those confederate flags but getting back into the groove with Terry made it tolerable. After work most nights I’d just walk over to the Window, drink a few glasses of Wild Turkey, and argue with Terry about which actors from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” were actually dead. Other nights I’d stop by to listen to Chop the Willow practice their set in Terry’s garage before turning in for the night. Billie’s band was surprisingly decent, I must admit. They had that kind of outlaw sound of The Black Angels or Murder by Death that went over well with a mostly southern blue-collar audience. To sum it all up, life was getting comfortable. Until the day I found the thing in a jar.

At first I didn’t know what the hell it was I was looking at. Actually, I still have no freakin’ clue, but I mean I REALLY didn’t know what it was. I found it on a shelf in the storage closet one day at work when our embalming machine busted a tube and I had to look around for a possible replacement. Up on the top shelf shoved into the far back was a cardboard box labeled ‘miscellaneous’ that at first seemed promising. I got on a step stool, and just like any other day I pulled something off a shelf. What I found inside the box… didn’t actually startle me. Not at first, but it did peak my interest. Surrounded by random pieces of newspaper and spare calipers was an average sized mason jar coated in a layer of dust and grime. It was definitely full of some sort of fluid. (Dark green, so it wasn’t formaldehyde.) Also it had a label on the side that read “Harlequin No.7,” which seemed cryptic to say the least. The layer of dirt on the outside and the dark liquid inside made it almost impossible to see what sat in there, so of course I cleaned it off with damp rag and held the jar up to the florescent light for a better look. Whatever that thing was, it was ostensibly organic, based off of the pale flesh tone color. It looked like some sort of mutated potato, but that’s a stupid comparison. If I had to guess I’d say that it was an extracted tumor, or maybe a diseased pancreas. The top half was bulbous, with little protruding bumps here and there. The bottom half had a curved tail similar to the spine of a mammal fetus. Also along the midsection were several thick tendrils that corkscrewed off in every direction. It was an odd thing, but not so odd as to alarm me. True, it was uncommon to find such things in a mortuary, but on the other hand, coroners would often keep certain specimens of interest when discovered, usually out of scientific curiosity. Who’s to say what sort of things Lenard or my predecessor or even Mr. Burnswick have found while poking around inside of people. I’d have kept it if I were the one to find it, only I wouldn’t have hidden it away in a box.

I put the Harlequin on the counter next to the hand sink and went about looking for a replacement tube. I found one eventually, thank God, so the rest of the day went on as normally as ever, save for the occasional glance at the green jar. I resolved to ask Mr. Burnswick if he knew anything about the thing-in-a-jar after the viewing service upstairs was over. I really didn’t want to pester him, but I couldn’t leave an enigma like that unanswered, it was just too nagging to ignore.

When I finally got a chance to show him the strange thing, he took a close look into the cloudy green jar after reading the label, but in the end he just shrugged and said it was probably just a gaffe, or a weird prank set up by the previous mortician Ryan Wilcox. Not a huge stretch, the name “Harlequin” kind of made it seem plausible that the whole thing was a joke. Still, I wanted to be sure. I kept a dissection kit at home in my medicine cabinet, and being licensed as both an embalmer and as a funeral director I was legally allowed to handle and transport human remains, if that was indeed what the Harlequin was. Seeing no qualms about bringing it home for further study, I cleaned up the “undercroft” and headed home with the mysterious jar. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to inspect it more closely until the following night. I had Sunday off and I had planned to go out to the open field gun range with Terry and Billie-Joe while the rest of the town wasted their time in Church. More space for us.

I had a good time blowing apart teddy bears and tacky lamps at the range. Billie kept shouting, “It’s coming right for us!” right before unloading a round from her 12-gauge into one of the stuffed bears, and Terry was and always has been such a terrible shot that he eventually became so irate that he threw down his handgun and proceeded to smash apart a lamp with a tire iron he got out of his trunk. I even managed to get a few good shots off myself, of course I would have done better if Terry hadn’t been shouting things like, “score one for the corpse fucker” and other such distracting remarks. Eventually Billie joined in on the mocking and asked me if it was true that morticians go around killing people to promote business.

“No, that’s Burnswick’s job actually, I just set up the marionette strings for the puppet shows.” I responded, jokingly of course.
“Hey, do what you gotta do,” chimed in Terry, “just don’t go crazy like the last one.”
“Yeah, hey I’ve been meaning to ask about that. Why’d Wilcox off himself anyway?” I asked.
“You don’t know? It was in his obituary. Apparently, Ryan Wilcox’s wife died in the paper mill fire, and he started to get more and more depressed and withdrawn over the years. It sorta makes sense, he had to deal with all the funerals of nearly everyone who died there, his wife, her coworkers and friends and all that. He just couldn’t live with it anymore. Said so in the note he left.”  Billie kicked the dirt with one of her chunky motorcycle boots, clearly getting bored with the conversation. “You think we can talk about something a bit less depressing? We’re here to have fun and ignore gun safety, not get all emo ‘n shit.”

“I didn’t mean to be such a downer,” I said while loading up my revolver. “I just wanted to know why. I found something at work yesterday that might have been his.” Terry started to giggle. “No, it wasn’t porn Terry, you ass. It was some weird thing in a jar, like a maybe a mutant organ or something. I was planning on slicing it up today, actually.”

“Can we watch?” Asked Terry and Billie in unison. *sigh. Some people are really into the macabre I guess.

We got back to my place a few hours later after the gun range shenanigans and a late lunch at the local greasy spoon. The sun had already started to set, basking the early autumn sky in an orange glow. Terry sat in the passenger seat of my Charger, Billie-Joe in the back with her shotgun lain across her lap. Pulling into the gravel pit that constituted a driveway I delegated the camcorder to Terry and requested that Billie refrain from poking things. I don’t have a copy of the home video we made, I destroyed the original after mailing a couple of copies to various news outlets a few days after Billie and I had finished hunting down the surviving cultists, but I remember enough of it to cobble together a transcript.

Video Recording: The scene starts with a shot of Mr. Harris walking out of his bathroom. He is wearing a black apron over his suit and a pair of latex gloves. His face is partially obscured by a surgical mask.

Terry:(Behind the camera) Are you ready to win the Nobel Prize for Incredibly Fucked up Pseudo-Science?
Harris: Absolutely! Those morons hunting for Bigfoot won’t stand a chance this year.
Billie-Joe:(Outside of view) Hey guys, let’s get this over with. I wanna use the afterbirth to make soup. Chuckles.

Terry follows Mr. Harris into the living room, where he has set up a few card tables to organize his equipment. On it we can see several empty mason jars, one jar full of what appears to be formaldehyde, a discectomy kit (includes two scalpels, a pair of tweezers, tissue scissors, a curved probing tool, a hypodermic needle, and a clamp)a microscope, and a copy of The Physician’s Desk Reference Vol. 29. Last, in the center on a metal cooking tray sits the Harlequin.

Harris: (Holding Harlequin No.7 up for the camera.) This sick little puppy here is something I found in a mortuary yesterday. We’re not yet sure what it is exactly, but my working hypothesis is that it’s an alien fetus. Either that or a times ten scale model of Terry’s penis.

The frame is briefly blocked by Terry’s extended middle finger.
Terry: Fuck you Stephan!
Harris: Right then, move over here. I am now about to open the jar.

Terry moves to a better angle and zooms the camera into focus over the Harlequin.
Harris: (Twisting the lid off with a slow hiss followed by a loud pop.) Holy hell it stinks. (Grimacing) Nurse, please note that the subject smells like someone barfed into a diaper.
Billie-Joe:(Now in frame)I’m not the nurse damn it, I’m just in charge of soup.
Harris:(Returning to frame) Alright, I am about to remove the specimen from its protective jar. (Mr. Harris inserts a pair of salad tongs into the jar and removes the Harlequin proper. Note here that a minor distortion affects the shot.) Well, it’s definitely organic, judging by how squishy it is. (Carefully placing the subject onto the cooking tray) Oh wow, this might actually be an alien after all. Check out these veins wrapping around the head bubbles. And… Jesus is that an eye?

Terry directs the camera for a closer inspection. From what we can see, there does appear to be an orb that closely resembles the likeness of an eye. Also during the close-up, another line of distortion moves across the length of the screen.
Terry: Dude, you should poke it with something.
Harris: Science is more than just poking shit you know. But yes, I should take a look under these flaps here.

Mr. Harris tentatively prods the strange orb with the blunt end of his probing tool. Unfortunately, the screen pixelates slightly so we do not get a chance to view this maneuver. Also during this scene the camera begins to pick up audio feedback, despite there being no reason for it to do so.
Harris: (Jerking his hand back) The fuck?
Billie-Joe: What’s wrong?
Harris: (Looking startled into the camera) Shit, did you catch that Terry?
Terry: I didn’t catch anything man. Your camera is acting all stupid.
Billie-Joe: What’s going on? What happened?
Harris: I thought I saw it twitch a little. I probably just bumped the table or something.
Billie-Joe: Are you fucking with us?
Terry: (To Billie) Yeah, he’s fucking with us.
Harris: (waving his hands in frustration) Forget it. Terry, move back a little, you’re crowding me. I’ll start over.

Mr. Harris resumes his attempt to investigate Harlequin No.7. He lifts one of the supposed eye lids with his probing tool, and as before the camera pixelates slightly and picks up feedback, but the overall video quality is decent enough to grasp the situation. A minute goes by with Mr. Harris handling several tools before the light above the card tables begins to flicker. At first, only Billie notices this effect.
Billie-Joe: Hey guys, um… (Points to the light)
Terry: (Directing the camera between Billie, the light bulb, and Mr. Harris) Okay, hey, I’m getting kinda creeped out now.
Harris: (In center frame) Right, okay, let’s do this later. (Mr. Harris attempts to handle Harlequin No.7 with the salad tongs.) Holy shit, it’s moving!
Billie-Joe: Get ride rid of it! Get it out of here!

At this point the audio drops and the screen becomes highly distorted. From the few images that remain somewhat clear, we can infer that Mr. Harris is struggling to reinsert the Harlequin into its original container.  The camera also manages to capture several yellow-green pulses of light, but it is unknown whether or not this effect can be contributed to the near constant visual distortions. This portion lasted for approximately forty three seconds, ending when audio is restored with a loud gunshot. When the visuals stabilize, we can see that Billie is pointing her shotgun at the splattered remains of the Harlequin. We can also see that her nose is bleeding.
Harris: (Nose also bleeding) Thanks for that.
Billie-Joe: (Breathing heavily) Yeah, no problem.
Terry: (Yelling) What the fuck was that?!
Harris: (To Terry) How much of that did you manage to film?
Terry: I don’t know man, the goddamn video kept going out! If I coul… Oh… I don’t feel so… (The camera becomes shaky and we can hear the sound of Terry vomiting.)
Billie-Joe: (Running to Terry’s side.) It’s alright, we’re all alright. Just calm down.
Terry: Don’t tell me to fucking calm down! Or did you forget that the room almost exploded just now? What were those noises?

Mr. Harris appears to try to say something, but stops himself when a thunderclap shakes the living room. No one says anything for several seconds, until a flash of yellow-green is seen coming from the nearby window, followed by a second thunderclap.

Harris: Outside. Now.

Terry follows Billie and Mr. Harris outside onto his front lawn. Billie and Harris are looking directly overhead, followed by the camera doing a sweep over the night sky. What we see is a massive thunderhead approaching from the East, and several flashes of chartreuse lightening entangling the dark clouds.
Harris: Terry, Billie… get back inside.

The video ends there.

So yes, we did manage to film the previous events, all the way up to our view of the approaching storm. Unfortunately a good deal of what was recorded ended up being completely unwatchable, so I’ll have to fill in the damaged bits.

First of all, when I was attempting to remove the part that looked like an eye, the Harlequin started writhing and squirming around, which was highly unexpected, to say the least. The next thing I knew, the lights in my house began to pulse and the air in my living room started to shimmer like hot asphalt in June. I panicked and tried to put the Harlequin back into its jar, hoping that would make it stop doing whatever it was that was making the high-pitched screaming that seemed to be coming from all around us. It didn’t, even after I secured the lid. In fact, after I shoved it back into the fluid the damn thing started flashing this blinding green light that made my head feel like it was about to explode. I still have a hard time remembering at what point Billie returned with her shotgun, but after she blew the Harlequin into little giblets everything stopped. Except for the storm.

On September 23rd, 2009, fifty six men, women, and children claimed to have seen the bizarre electrical storm that passed over Charlottesville beginning at approximately 9:13 p.m. EST. These eyewitnesses were the only apparent claims of any weather phenomena, as not a single meteorological study supported such accusations. The storm in question lasted only a few minutes, but because of the witness statements, phone calls, and the complete disregard of the professional news outlets, people in town referred to it as a sign of the End Days. The most vocal of these statements came out of the Trinity Baptist Church, which is a whole separate story in itself. More on that some other time.

Now, after cleaning up my living room and storing what little of the Harlequin remained into sample jars, Billie and Terry went home for the evening. I didn’t sleep that night. I had too much to reflect upon from had transpired.

I was exhausted the next day at work. Exhausted and nervous. Some part of my brain had been switched to panic mode and it refused to shut down. I tried to just move along in my work, hoping that it would help take my mind off that horrible otherworldly screeching. Looking for any excuse to preoccupy myself, I volunteered to pick up a body from the Charlottesville General Hospital. Madelyn got a message from earlier in the morning and had arranged to fulfill a preneed tomorrow afternoon for a Mr. Havenbrook, who had died sometime last night. I didn’t bother asking for any details, I just fired up the hearse and left.

I got to the hospital about ten minutes after filing the paperwork at the courthouse. I didn’t get a chance to talk to Dr. Sarah Liddell (Terry’s aunt and the Pitt County Coroner) which was a bit of a disappointment, but I did have an interesting conversation with her assistant, Robert.

“So how’d this guy kick it?”  I asked Rob while he helped me load Mr. Havenbrook into the hearse.
“Well, from what I heard from Sarah, he and his wife were checking out that freaky lightning storm last night, when all of a sudden this guy drops to the ground and starts having a seizure. By the time the ambulance arrived he was already gone.”
“Weird,” I said out loud, “What did the autopsy show?”
“Aneurysm,” said Rob, pulling out the MRI shots of Mr. Havenbrook’s head. “Probably brought on by the seizure. See that blotch right there at the base of his brain stem? That’s a popped artery.”

I shut the back of the hearse and thanked Robert. From his point of view, everything seemed fine. Flashing lights are known to cause seizures, so big deal right? I however regretted ever leaving the mortuary. I was looking for a way to forget about the events of last night, instead I found out that I may have inadvertently caused the death of a perfectly innocent man. It was a very unwelcoming feeling, like an omen of doom.

I got Havenbrook’s body back to the mortuary not long after. Lenny was off that day and Mr. Burnswick was busy with a client, so I had move the cadaver downstairs myself. The funeral home had an elevator installed for just this purpose, and while the stretcher helped, Mr. Havenbrook weighed at least three hundred pounds, so it took a good deal of effort on my part to move his fat ass onto the slab. Once I got him up onto the embalming table I took a few minutes to catch my breath before proceeding with my work, all while trying not to think about who this man was.

Step one was to wash the body in antibacterial soap and water. I always hated this part due to the fact that there’s always fecal matter residue caked around the ass cheeks and upper thighs, but at least it’s far less disturbing than the second step. Ever give a full body massage to a dead guy? Well I have. The embalming process requires that a body’s circulatory system be un-constricted, and for that the muscles need to be relieved of rigor-mortis (The stiffening of muscle tissue due to an interruption in the ATP cycle.) Interestingly enough, Mr. Havenbrook had hardly any stiffness to him, something that I had not noticed until this point. Rigor mortis sets in at around three hours after death, peaking at around twelve hours before dissipating between forty eight to sixty hours. Havenbrook had been dead for a little over thirteen hours. His back was red and purple from livor mortis (Internal body fluids succumbing to the forces of gravity.), so clearly his heart muscles had ceased functioning. The only rational explanation would be extremely rapid decomposition, a hypothesis that I was capable of testing myself by simply jamming a cooking thermometer into his gut. (Yes, I was obligated to investigate this issue, as it may be health-safety related .Think bio-hazard C.D.C. guys lining the mortuary in yards of yellow tape.) I gave the thermometer a couple of minutes to warn up while I got myself into a haz-mat suit, just in case. The internal body temperature of the post-mortem lowers quite rapidly after death, but will eventually elevate as microbes multiply from within. Mr. Havenbrook had spent most of the night in a cooler, so if he was any warmer than the air conditioned room temperature then I would have to call in the cavalry. Also Dr. Liddell would probably be fired for not taking a proper blood test.

And the internal heat index was… sixty four point three degrees Fahrenheit. One degree lower than the room.  He was fine, and I felt like an asshole in a scuba suit. That and now I had to patch up the hole I had put in his intestinal wall. Good job Harris, now you won’t get to have a lunch break. I didn’t bother taking off the hazard suit while I rushed to make up the lost time. Probably a good thing too, in retrospect.

After I had sealed up the hole and plugged up the anus with cotton swabs, I began the long process of embalming. I started the same way I always had: By making a small incision into the right common carotid artery, the other into the jugular vein. The embalming fluid would be pumped into the carotid artery, which pushes the “displacement,” out through the jugular and down a drain. For a man the size of Mr. Havenbrook, the whole thing would take about an hour and a half to complete, so I started up the pumps while I prepped for the hypodermic stage. As I walked towards the sink to wash off my gloves, I noticed that the lights were beginning to flicker. I stopped walking mid stride, my heart dropped into my stomach as I began to hear a wet smacking noise coming from the supposedly lifeless cadaver of Mr. Havenbrook. What I saw when I turned around made me drop the surgical tray to the ground.

His eyes were open. And they were staring directly into mine. His mouth was opening and closing as though he were trying to say something, but no noise was being made, save for his right arm limply slapping at the tubing in his neck. I didn’t know what to do, didn’t know what to think. All I could do was stand there, motionless with my back pressed against the sink. For the first time in my life, I wished that I had gone to law school.

It wasn’t until the air started to shimmer that I realized what was happening, when I finally understood why the Harlequin was numbered. Twenty four years ago, Ryan Wilcox found himself in this exact same situation. The storm, the aneurysm, the blotch at the base of Havenbrook’s brain: There was more than one Harlequin, at least six others, and they were parasites. They lived inside of people, lying dormant until the time came to awaken. Something else also came to mind. Just before it burst out from the back of his skull, Havenbrook began to smile. Just before the squirming thing slithered down the drain, I heard the sound of laughter.
Maniacal laughter, like someone was in on some sick joke.

Credit To: Stephan D. Harris

Read the continuation here: The Kindness of Strangers

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Guests In Our Home

December 7, 2012 at 12:00 PM
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I love how my Grandfather is always around to keep me company. On days that my Mom isn’t around, Grandpa is always nearby to comfort me. I sit on his lap, tell him stories about my day, and I never feel like I’m alone. Although our house is never empty even when Mom leaves for work, and I sit with Grandpa and read stories while he enjoys his chair, we always have guests in every room of our house.

There’s Edna and Elma the twins my Grandfather is friends with, they’re always sitting together in the kitchen with a teapot between just the two of them. There is also Joseph the plumber who went to school with Dad. Often seated with him in his study as dad is hunched over his desk, with a grin on his face, always looking at their High school yearbook while Joseph keeps him company as old friends should. Unless Mom needs to use a spare chair, then Joseph just stands next to Dad as he looks at his yearbook.

Then we have our younger guests like Beth and Tomas, who are around my age. Often upstairs when they aren’t playing with me. However I don’t really care if Tomas stays up there with his Mom and Dad, he never talks to me, and always makes a stupid face at me when I try and play with him. But Beth is really nice, she has pretty blonde curls in her hair, wears pretty perfumes and makeup, and sometimes Mom buys new dresses for her to wear. I’m sure she likes those, because she always has a smile on her face, even when I accidentally asked Mom how she got the ugly scar on her back. I felt bad when Mom told me that she had gotten the scar when she came here and was separated from her parents, who Mom says were very bad people. So I guess that makes her like the sister I never had, but I just like playing games with her when I’m bored. But Mom often scolds me if I get Beth’s dresses dirty, or accidentally knock her down.

Tonight my Mom says we’ll be having another guest, and a new friend for me to play with! Hopefully his family can come too! But Mom says that it’s hard to get an entire family like Tomas’ to come and stay in our home. So before she leaves for work, she tells me she’ll be home by Midnight. She gives me a kiss on the cheek, packs up her tools, and tells me to go make some space in Beth’s room for the new boy to stay. It’s the last time I talk to Mom before she leaves for work, and I go upstairs to get the bedroom ready. It takes me awhile, and by the time I’m done I don’t want to play with Beth like I usually do. So I grab a storybook from Beth’s shelf, and go downstairs to the living room. As always Grandpa is there, sitting in his rocking chair, waiting for me to come sit in his lap and tell him how my day went.

So I climb up into his lap, and snuggle against him as I tell him about our new guest. But I notice something’s wrong. His head is limp to one side, and his eye’s are closed. So I hop off his lap, and go into the kitchen as fast as I can. I run past  Edna and Elma, and immediately go for the bottom drawer next to the silverware where we keep Grandfather’s emergency supplies. I go back into the living room, stopping at the doorway to remember my manners, and I say “Good evening” to Edna and Elma before I go back to Grandpa. Carrying the supplies in my arms, I drop them behind Grandpa’s chair and look up at his neck. “Grandpa, your stitches came out again! It’ll take me forever to fix your neck like last time!…hmph…if only Mom had sewn you shut with a machine and used beads to stuff you like she did to Beth, instead of that flimsy cotton. Then you wouldn’t be falling apart all the time!”.

But I’m not upset with him, it’s not his fault. Mommy was only learning when she first brought him over as a guest. We’d only just moved into the neighborhood, and she had wanted to make sure that we’d never have to be lonely ever again. But of course now our guests can sit straight and never fall over, and Mom says that someday she’ll be sitting next to Grandfather while I’m out bringing new guests to keep us company.

Credit To: SteewpidZombie

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YOU

December 6, 2012 at 12:00 AM
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The next time you go to the library, be sure to keep an eye out for a certain book. There is no other book like it, and no copies. It can turn up anywhere in the library. It can be on any shelf, any table, in the hands of any person. The cover is made of leather, and the book is titled “YOU”.

Once you find the book, don’t open it. Go to the librarian to check the book out. The librarian should give you a strange look and utter “Oh… that one…”.

Bring the book home. You may be tempted to open the book, but make sure you don’t. At midnight, step into your closet, book in hand, and shut the door. Make sure that all you see is darkness, and that the only noise you can hear is your heartbeat.

Open the book. In the book contains all of the knowledge of your past, present, and future. As you flip the pages of the book, moving from past events to present events, stop once you reach the end of the present events. You will know when to stop when you see yourself in the closet, reading the book.

Before you move on to read future events, think about whether you REALLY want to know about the future.

If you decide not to read further, close the book, leave it on the floor in your closet, and leave. Be sure to keep the book INSIDE the closet. You will notice in the morning that the book is gone.

If you decide to read your future events, begin to turn the pages of the book. It is extremely important that you DON’T scream when you read about your death. Don’t take your eyes off the book when you see yourself being dragged into the depths of darkness that was once your closet. Don’t blink as you see yourself being torn apart by a hungry beast, the bloody book laying on the floor next to your severed limbs. Don’t be surprised when you feel the beast’s hand on your shoulder…

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Keep The Mask On

November 29, 2012 at 12:00 PM
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My father was not a famous man, but he should’ve been. He was the first person to break ground on that archaeology dig in Egypt you didn’t hear about. I go to see him once a week now. I tell him how things at home are, and he just sits there and rocks back and forth in his beige sleeveless jacket. He hasn’t said anything since the first day he was here, before the doctors began pumping the drugs into him that make him drool on himself. I’ll not soon forget what he said.

He looked at me, straining against the straight jacket that he’d willingly stepped in to. He winced as they tightened it. He looked dead in to my eyes, and I returned the gaze. I didn’t know yet. I thought he’d acted the way he did unprovoked. I didn’t know why he’d practically destroyed our house in a sudden fit of rage, screaming “Where are you?!” at the top of his lungs. I didn’t know why he thrown my mother down a flight of stairs and paralyzed her from the neck down.

But I now sat next to a broken mess of a man. Dried tears dotted my cheeks, and I looked at the man I thought was a monster and asked him, “Why?” He glanced up to me with those sad, brown eyes and smiled. It took all I had not to punch him his already swollen face. He simply said “Top drawer, right side.” before he looked back to the floor and closed his eyes. That was the last time he spoke to me.

I immediately rushed home. I parked the car and ran in, up the stairs and down the hall to my father’s study. I tried the knob and, as usual, it was locked. I was so angry, before I knew it I had broken the door down in three kicks. I strode to his desk and opened the drawer he had identified. It was empty save for a large, manila folder. I ripped it open and poured the contents on the desk, which consisted of a folder full of ruffled pages and a small post-it note. I plucked up the post-it and read it aloud. “45-34-21.” I set it aside and picked up the folder. I immediately recognized my fathers handwriting. I opened the folder and laid the pages out on the table. They were wrinkled, smudged, and horribly frayed, but I sat down and began reading. From the best I could tell, he had began writing these the day after he got home from the dig. He began:

“Just got home today. I decided to start this journal after a recommendation from a friend. Not really sure how to go about this. I brought back a birthday present for my 16 year-old son. It’s a small copper plate about 3 inches square. Found it just outside the dig site. Has a small hole punched at the top. Maybe he could put it on a necklace. Lots of strange carvings on it. They don’t seem to be a language. Small picture of a human figure etched in as well. It seems to be wearing a mask or helmet. I hope he likes it.”

That was all that was on the first page. I almost smiled at my dad’s writing style. Choppy, brief, and informal, just like dad. But I paused for a moment. My birthday was still a few days away, and I had heard nothing about this “gift”. I skipped to the next entry, which was dated to be the following day.

“Long night. Couldn’t seem to get to sleep. I swear I heard a voice last night. Couldn’t make out what it said. Just a whispering from down the hall. Maybe Josh was up late. I’ll ask today”

That piqued my attention. I remember him asking me if I had been up late, but I know I had been asleep. Odd. I read on to the next day.

“I had to write this down. No one will believe me if I don’t. The whispering came back last night. This time I heard what it said. Give it back. That’s all it said. Over and over. I looked out the door to the hallway and I’d swear I saw someone there. A short figure, hunched over. Heard a raspy breathing. Kept saying give it back give it back.”

I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Had my father gone crazy over night? I remember him behaving oddly the next morning, but I was in such a hurry for school, I thought nothing of it. I flipped to the next page, and immediately noticed a difference. The handwriting was smudged, scratchy, and uneven, almost like it had been written in a hurry. It said:

“Had my friend Buddy translate the words on the gift. He was confused by it. Said it was in Latin. Why did we find Latin lettering in an Egyptian dig? Buddy said it read ‘larva-umbra’ at the top, and ‘veniet’ everywhere else. When I asked him what it meant, he looked at me and said ‘Mask-Shadow. He will come.’ I asked him what that meant. He wouldn’t tell me. I’ll look it up tonight.”

I looked at the date. It was the day before he’d gone mad! Unfortunately, it was also the last entry. Exhausted from the long day, I sat down in my dad’s chair. I stacked the rest of the papers and began to slide them back in to the envelope when I noticed the sticky note I had set aside. I plucked it back up and read it again. “45-34-21.” I thought for a moment, then like a bolt of inspiration I remembered my dad always kept a combination-locked safe in the basement. I grabbed the sticky note and ran downstairs. I arrived at the small, stocky safe and quickly dialed in the three numbers. The door clicked, and I swung it open. There, in the middle of the safe, sitting upon a small handkerchief was what appeared to be a small piece of copper, about as big as a playing card.

I slowly reached in to pick it up. As my fingers brushed the bitingly cold copper, I felt a chill run up my fingers, up my arm, and down my spine. The room seemed to grow shockingly cold, and the lights flickered and glowed. The whole house seemed to be…whispering. Talking. A voice was resonating from the walls. A foul, wispy voice. An angry voice. At first I couldn’t quite make out what it was saying. But it steadily grew louder and louder, until I had to cover my ears in pain. “GIVE IT BACK”. The voice boomed so loud the windows rattled and the furniture seemed to be vibrating at the sound of it. Beneath the echoing din, I heard a light tapping. I forced myself to look up and at the end of the hall, I saw a dark figure. It was a short, hunched over figure, no taller than 5 feet high. It wore a dark hood and robe, so I could not see any distinguishable features, except for what was making the tapping sound. A long, thin arm was extended from the figure. The skin was a sickly greenish-grey, and appeared to be peeling back and falling off the bones. At the end of the gaunt arm was a horrifically large hand, with thin fingers and…claws? The booming voice stopped, but the horrible hand kept tapping the concrete wall. The lights flickered again, and I was plunged in to momentary darkness.

In the inky blackness, I heard what sounded like a shallow, raspy breathing, getting closer and closer. The lights flashed back on, and as my eyes adjusted, I saw the figure now loomed over me. The hand had seemingly disappeared back under the black robe. I tried to steady my breathing, and that’s when I noticed the smell. Like any boy, I had been around a few dead animals. Dead birds, rats, and even an opossum or two. But this smell was easily far worse than anything I had ever inhaled. It burnt my nostrils and made my eyes water. I hurriedly scooted away from the figure that stood over me. It made no move to stop me, but seemed to watch me scurry across the linoleum. With my back against the wall, I stood myself up. For what seemed like hours, we stared at each other. The figure would occasionally tilt its head in what seemed to be curiosity, but as I could not see its face, I couldn’t be sure. I heard a rustling sound coming from beneath he creatures cloak. As I watched, horrified, the ghastly arm emerged from the folds of his robe, this time accompanied by another. With slow, deliberate movements, the arms reached to where I assumed the creatures head was, and slowly pulled back the hood. The light fell upon the creatures brow, to reveal not a face, but a huge, clunky copper mask. The mask seemed to be bolted and spot-welded on to the figures head. There were no apparent orifices, except for two holes where the eyes would be. And there I saw, peering back at me, to dreadful eyes. They were completely white, with a sort of pus or dew at the edges. The eyes blinked, and more of the white pus oozed out of the corners. The horrible sight combined with the smell was enough to make me gag, and I retched upon the floor. The lights emitted a buzzing sound, and soon flashed off again. I sat in the dark for what seemed like several minutes, all the while hearing the raspy breathing grow louder and louder. The lights began to flicker violently, so I only caught occasional glimpses of the horrible sight before me. The figure had abandoned his dark robes, and risen to a massive height, uncoiling a horribly mangled body beneath his masked face. The skin was stretched tight upon a gaunt body, and was the same sickly green as the arms. The spine seemed to have a horrible twist in it, as the creature could not stand up straight. It now towered over me, and again the booming voice filled the room. I could not recognize what it said. It almost seemed to be in another language.

As I watched, the room around me seemed to burst in to flames. Smoke lunged upward from the now flaming furniture, and quickly filled the small concrete room. By pure instinct, I bolted toward the exit. I heard a laughing behind me, and no doubt that awful creature reclaimed what was his. Thank god I made it out in time. I have never encountered the creature, but I can’t help but wonder…now that it has what it came for, will it leave?

Credit To: Gage Seitz

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WARNING

November 28, 2012 at 12:00 PM
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My friends and I had just left a party at a local bar, and we were walking back to my house, seeing how it wasn’t too far away from where we were. On our way back, we happened to come across a small lot sandwiched between two apartment buildings that was filled with black garbage bags and piles of tires. Rich proposed going in, and after a few minutes of consideration, Dennis and I agreed. Obviously, there’s nothing special, or fun, about a rotten-smelling junkyard, but we were a bit drunk, so the idea seemed great at the time. We decided to play a game called “King of the Hill” on the fort of tires that stood before us. Basically, we were just pushing each other off of the top. After a while of climbing up, and falling down, a pile of tires in an idiotic attempt of having fun, we took a break by sitting against one of the dumpsters that stood near the entrance. As I tried to get a hold of my breath, I gazed around the small dump, and noticed something I failed to spot out before.

There was a white grocery bag hanging from the fence in the back corner of the junkyard. I figured that someone tried to throw it over, but it got caught on the fence on its way down.The bag seemed to be filled with something. It had blocky edges poking out from all sides. I know something as plain as a grocery bag isn’t much, but it still intrigued me.

“Hey,” I said as I nudged Rich, who happened to be sitting next to me,”Look over there.”Dennis leaned out behind Rich, and looked towards where I was pointing.
“So, it’s just a few rips. No one’s gonna care about whether or not the bags are torn.” Said Rich. He was pointing out the tears our shoes had left in the trash bags when we played our little game.
“No, the grocery bag hanging from the fence.” I said,
“So?”
“Well, it’s filled with something.”
“And?” Said Dennis. I shrugged,
“Don’t you guys wanna know what’s inside?”
“No,” Rich chuckled, “It’s just trash, man.”
“What if it was something like jewelry?” I said as I stood, and made my way towards the grocery bag.
“You’re just gonna find a dead cat in there, dude!” Dennis hollered as I struggled to climb the mound of garbage bags that blocked my path. His sentence was followed by the two of them laughing. I didn’t really care what they had to say. I was just a bit curious, that’s all.
Once I made it to the other side, I reached for the grocery bag and grabbed it. Inside of it was a whole bunch of cassette tapes, and an old Walkman.
“No way, you guys gotta see this.” I called to my friends,
“Did you find the leprechaun’s gold?” Rich mocked,
“Hold on, I’m coming.” Hastily, I climbed the pile of trash and walked back to where they were sitting.
“Look at this.” I held the bag open, letting Rich and Dennis view it’s contents. I pulled out a tape and read it’s label,
“Journal entry one,” I pulled out another, ” Entry three.” I read,
“No way, it’s someone’s diary.” Said Dennis.
“I wonder why they threw it away.” I said,
“Probably because they realized how stupid they were for keeping a diary.” Said Rich.
“Whatever,” I dropped the bag on the ground,” It’s one in the morining, we should be heading back.”
“Woah woah woah,” Said Dennis, as he snatched the bag up from the pavement,” What the hell are you doing, man? Don’t you guys wanna listen to these?”
“Well, it could be a bit funny.” Said Rich
“Journal entry one,” Started Dennis in a stereotypical british voice,” I walked my dog, BonBon, today at the park and came a across a rather odd squirrel.”
I laughed, “Dennis, you’re such an ass. Fine, lets take them with us.”
We left the junkyard, and continued to walk down the street towards my house. I remember how excited I was to listen to those tapes. Stupid, I know, but the thought of listening to someone’s personal life sounded interesting to me.
Once we arrived at my house, I unlocked the door, and immediately walked towards the dining room. Dennis set the bag down in the center of the table and pulled out the Walkman, as three of us grabbed ourselves a seat. Eager to hear what it had to say, I siezed the first tape, put it in, and pressed play. I was suprised at what I heard. The voice wasn’t at all what I expected. It seemed to be a boy who sounded as if he was in his late teens.

Hey, my name’s Chris, and I’m a Junior in highschool. I don’t have many friends, actually, I have none. I guess it’s just because people don’t like me, or maybe because I’m just too weird. I’m not weird, am I? Anyways, that’s not why I’m here. It’s actually because my uncle gave me this Walkman and a few tapes. He said that the Walkman used to be his, and that he just didn’t have the heart to throw it away, because he used it so much as a kid. So he made it my birthday present. Well, I didn’t have the heart to let it catch dust in the corner, so here I am, using it. Maybe it’ll come in handy one day, I don’t really know. Should I go on with telling about myself? Well, my favorite class is science, and I’m extremely bad at math. Blue is my favorite color, and I prefer dogs over cats.

A door slams in the background, causing all of us to jump.

That was my mom. Her and my dad have been arguing alot lately for reasons I can’t even bother to figure out why. I know for one thing that my dad is thinking about calling a divorce, which doesn’t really bother me. It would bother anyone else, though, but it doesn’t bother me. That’s not weird right? I’ve been hearing alot lately that I’m a little ‘weird’. I don’t see why, though. I eat, drink, sleep, and live like a normal human being. That’s what I think, anyways. Maybe it’s just because I’m not as talkative as everyone else, or what if everyone was just making it up, so that they would have a reason to pick on me. Frankly, I can’t see why anyone would want to pick on me in the first place.

“What a loser,” Said Dennis, “I can see why people want to pick on him”. I shrugged,
“Let’s just play the next one.”

It’s January 14th, which is three days since I’ve made the last tape. I decided that I’m going to continue making tapes, and keep it as my journal. Who knows, maybe I’ll look back at these old recordings one day when I’m a bit older for a small dose of nostalgia. I’m making this a short one, because I have to leave in about five minutes. My mom’s taking me to some stupid jewelry party at one of our neighbor’s house because, according to her, I absolutely have to be there, or we’ll make a bad impression . So here I am, sitting in dress pants, a white button up, and a stupid tie. I don’t have dress shoes, so I just wore an old pair of Nike sneakers, which makes this situation about five hundred times worse. Maybe in the next tape I’ll talk about how the party went, hopefully it went well enough for me to talk about it.

We looked at eachother and laughed.
“Nike sneakers.” Rich muttered in an almost giggly tone.
“Should I seriously play the next one? I’m not sure if I can handle listening to this for another ten tapes.” I asked. Dennis and Rich nodded with giant grins on their faces.

January 16th, I was punched in the face at school today by a senior whose name is Jake. Honestly, I don’t even know the guy. To make my day even more wonderful, I ended up eating outside in the rain, because all the seats in the cafeteria were taken by the time I got back from the nurse’s office. I could’ve simply cleaned up the blood pouring from my nose by myself in the bathroom, but one of my teachers, Ms. Hoffington, insisted that I go see the nurse. While I was at the nurse, I managed to get a glimpse of myself when I passed the tall mirror that hung on the outside of the bathroom door. I was a bit amazed at the amount of blood that was smudged across my face. Actually, it was kinda cool. I felt a small amount of pride when I got a good look at my face. Probably because I’ve never actually spilt that much blood in my life before. Jake got suspended by the way. For a week to be exact. I think he should be expelled, so that I didn’t have to see him again. Oh yeah, and, uh,by the way, the jewelry party went well. No one noticed my Nike sneakers, and the food was good.

A small amount of shock appeared on our faces. “Damn, he got punched in the face.” I said,
“Well it serves him right. Someone must’ve known he was making stupid ass tapes in his bedroom.” Said Dennis,
“How can you even be happy about getting a bloody nose?” Rich added, ” What the hell is wrong with him?”
I shook my head,” I don’t know, man.”

January 20th, While fooling around on YouTube for about two hours, I came across a weird documentary on something called the ‘Slenderman’. It’s an odd creature with no face, wearing what looks to be a suit, that has tentacles, giving it a dark, spidery look. It’s said to lurk in forests, and that once you see it, it stalks you before actually claiming you as its victim. No one really knows what the Slenderman actually does to his, or its, victims, and that all we really know is that they go missing without a trace. I guess alot of people are creeped out about this, and I can see why. The photos that depict him look pretty disturbing, but what actually generates the most fear are the stories about him. Actually, I’ve been listening to them all night, and I’m not scared at all, just intruiged. Turns out, these stories come from a site where people just write, and submit a whole bunch of creepy stories, and not all of them about the Slenderman. I’ve heard a couple that talk about lost episodes of famous Tv shows that depict some disturbing, twisted version of the actual show. I’ve also heard stories about serial killers, ghosts, and whatever else that’s remotely scary. Some are more gruesome, while others are just a bit eerie. I, for one, have never found any of these stories to be scary. I usually find myself thouroughly mystified as I read.

We all glanced at eachother, a bit confused about what the Slenderman is. I guess the kid was a horror fan. I put in the next tape, and held my head in my hands, wanting to go to sleep.

January 26th, Did I ever mention the site where I found all these stories from? It’s called creepypasta.com. Yes, I realize that it’s an odd name because an Italian dish is in no way creepy, but if you’re interested, check it out. You know, now that I think about it, these stories have showed me how much darkness can exist in this world. You’re never actually aware of it until you start thinking about it. What I’m saying is not crazy, it’s true. Darkness lurks in the hidden corners of everyday life. Right here, right now as I’m saying this, a person is getting brutally murdered.

Immediately after he said that sentence, my head shot up and I looked at Dennis and Rich, bewildered at what I just heard. They shook their heads and shrugged.

Somewhere out there a person is dying. Could be a full grown man, or a child. You never realized it until you heard me say it just now. But, hey, that’s the real world for you. Lately, I’ve been noticing how everyone else at my school is so blissfully ignorant to the horrible things in this world, while I’m being constantly reminded of it. No one sees what I see. It kinda makes them all look a little bit dumb. Don’t they see? Don’t they notice what happens around them? They hear sirens echo down the road, and it could just be a plain car crash, but what if it was caused by something far from our reach? They don’t know that. Their eyes aren’t opened wide enough to notice. At least I’m aware of it.

February 2nd, Have you ever noticed how much death is involved in an average creepypasta. It’s almost as if death is a needed element in the story. You know, ever since I started reading these stories, I’ve become pretty comfortable with the thought of dying. Sometimes, I laugh at those poor, poor people in those stories. I guess they haven’t realized how much of a friend death could be, even when pain is the price you have to pay for meeting him. After all, aren’t we all going to face it one day? Sooner for some people, later for the rest.

There was a long pause before he spoke again.

I’ve been thinking about writing my own creepypasta soon. After reading everyone else’s, I figured I should try it for myself. It’s worth a shot isn’t it? I think I’m going to write one about the Slenderman, or maybe Jeff…Or maybe I’ll write a story about a man who goes crazy, and starts killing everyone he knows… That sounds like a wonderful idea.

February 17th, They didn’t accept my story. What was wrong with it? Was my grammer off? Was the spelling bad? All I wanted was for it to be out there for everyone to see. Hell, it was probably one of the greatest ideas they ever came across, but…

He voice became angrier and a bit frustrated, almost as if he was about to go off on a full blown rant.

But they turned it down. Are they too stupid to see the brilliance in what I wrote? On top of that, I found two assholes who decided to read it, and make a mockery of my hard work. Idiots, they’re just a bunch of idiots who can’t see the genius in one’s work.

A loud scream erupted from the speakers of the Walkman, and a hard thud was heard soon after. I figured that he had just thrown it out of anger. I wonder what his story sounded like, and why they turned it down. The next tape started, and we immediatly realized how angry he was. He spoke in a loud, irratable tone, which was almost terrifying.

February 22nd, Stupid people. Stupid, stupid people. They should all rot in Hell for all I care. I shouldn’t have to deal with them everyday. Once I walk through that school’s front door, I’m surrounded by them. My teacher gave me a detention for not paying attention in class. Why should I? We’re all going to die. We’re all going to die someday, and there’s nothing we can do about it, but no one around me is smart enough to see that. Why? Why can’t they just open their eyes, and pay attention to the horrible world around us? They’re too preoccupied with their lives, and what comes tomorrow, instead of what comes at the very end. Did I tell you that I was pushed down the stairs today? Ben Trinner. He did it, and this time, I’m not letting it go. I’m going to find him, and he’s going to pay. You might be wondering how I’m going to get out of the house without my parents seeing me. It’s okay, they’re already gone. Dad’s still at work, and Mom-

There was a short pause, and a slight chuckle arose from his voice.

Mom’s taken care of. He’ll find her when he gets home, and I’m not coming back. I don’t have to deal with them anymore.
“What, what did he mean by ‘Mom’s taken care of?'” Asked Dennis in a hushed tone.
“Do you think-”
“No,” Rich cut me off, “There’s no way in Hell that little fucker did that. Play the next one.”
I obliged and put in the next tape, a little scared of what I may hear.

February 24th, I found an old warehouse in the outskirts of the town, and I’ve decided that that’s where I’ll be living from now on. The lights still work in the rooms where they’re not broken, and the boarded windows keep out most of the rain. It’s not that bad of a place, really. I stole all the money from my mom’s wallet, so food is already taken care of. In one of the rooms of the warehouse, I found a really old Tv. It’s a black and white one, and it uses a dial to change the stations. The reception’s a little bad, but I could still make out what’s happening behind all the static and whitenoise. I decided to change it to the news channel, and I was greeted with a picture of my mom.

A loud, almost evil, laugh echoed from the speakers, which goes on for a few minutes.

They think I’m dead, which is good on my end, because they won’t bother searching for me. Oh, the glory I felt when they announced how she had been stabbed five times in the chest. It made me feel a little bit excited to know that I have done such a thing. It wasn’t easy, but it sure was satisfying in the end. And now I have to find Ben. He doesn’t know it yet, but tonight is his last one on Earth. Luckily for me, his house is a few blocks from here. It’s eleven at night right now, and I should be finished by one. Wish me luck.

I quickly put in the next tape, now a little bit more concerned with what was going on. Was he really going to kill that kid? It almost seems too real to just be a sick joke. But no matter how much I wanted to think it was just a joke, a frightening truth stood in the back of my mind, telling me that it was all true.

February 25th, I’ve never felt so happy before in my life. You can’t even imagine the butterflies I got when I saw him gurgling his own blood in a worthless attempt of fighting for his life, and no one heard a thing. I was able to open one of the first floor windows without a hitch, thank God. It took me about thirty minutes to walk up the stairs without making a noise. I had to be careful, for even the slightest of all noises can awake someone. When I got to his room, I was able to open the door without him waking up. And everything else that followed seemed to happen so quick, almost as if my memories of the event were a flip book. I quickly covered his mouth before I dragged the knife across his throat, severing his jugular. I wanted to laugh at his squirming body as he died, but I didn’t, out of fear of waking his parents. I pulled open his bedroom window, jumped out, and ran. I think I hurt something in my foot when I landed, but I didn’t care. All I could feel was the cold, bitter wind slicing across my smiling cheeks as I ran. I’m back at the warehouse now, and it’s 1:45 in the morning. I have the Tv switched to the news, waiting to hear about my newest accomplishment.

We all looked at eachother, still a bit traumitized from what we had just heard. An uneasy atmosphere hung in the room. He killed him, and no matter how much we didn’t want to believe it, we knew it was true. I hesitantly put the next tape in the socket, and pressed play. Immediatly, a loud, abrupt white noise blasted from the speakers, making us all almost fall out our seats. Even though that would be something we’d end up laughing about, no one broke a smirk. I grabbed the next tape and put it in, turning down the volume before I pressed play, fearing that there would be more static. I heard a faint voice, signaling me to turn the volume back up. This time, the kids voice sounded a bit huskier, pointing out that it has been year or two since his last tape.

January 17th, It’s been a while since I made one of these. Well, a few weeks ago I was kicked out of the warehouse. I had to move my location, since the police were planning to investigate the area on account of the recent murders.

He started to laugh again. The sound of it was almost sickening, and added a sense of dread to the atmosphere.

Seven, seven people have died since I’ve made my last tape, and each murder has become more gruesome and disturbing as the last. The last person’s eyes were gouged out, and their wrists broken. There was no rhyme or reason to why I did it. I did it simply because I HAD to. It’s just not enough. I need to kill. It’s the thing I find the most pleasure in. It’s even more fun to hear it announced to the public. Anyways, the police are investigating the area to find the body of another one of my victims. They suspected that it was the same killer as the last dozen, and they weren’t wrong. So, I’ve moved my location. I walked for quite a long time through the woods that bordered the southern part of my town, before I managed to enter the next town and take refuge there… It’s almost like those stories I took so much interest in. No, it’s exactly like those stories. What a dream to actually be part of my own Creepypasta, oh if only the rest of the world could hear about it.

The next tape was the strangest, and most horrifying that night. When I pressed play, all we could hear was static, but after a while we heard what sounded like screaming. There was a certain quality to it… It sounded panicked and strained, as if the poor person’s throat gave out from screaming too long.

January 22nd, You hear him. I know you do. That’s one of my newest… ideas. It makes me smile, seeing him beg and scream for help, knowing at this point nothing could save him. Why don’t you give up hope, my dear friend? You see, death is inevitable for you, and theres no escaping it now. But, hey, you shouldn’t have been walking around town so late. You know that there are terrors hiding in the corner every night, and that you should avoid them. But then you came across me.

He started to laugh again. The sound of it made me want to throw the Walkman at the wall, hoping to stop the evil laughter, but I knew I had to keep listening.

The best part is, he’s not even restrained. I broke his legs, making it impossible for him to walk. He should be proud to be the first one of my victims to die like this. I realized that every time I kill someone, I do it too quick, to the point where it’s not as… satisfying as I hope it would be. But by bringing him here, I’m able to see him struggle for his life before it actually ends.

Small bursts of static were heard, but even through all of that we could hear what was going on. We heard heavy, slow footsteps that faded away, as the distance between the Walkman and Chris grew. The screaming became louder, and more struggled. The sound of it alone made me want to puke. The screaming was then replaced with a horrible gurgling noise. Even through his blood filled throat, you can still hear him scream, begging for his life. I heard the familiar click and felt a bit relieved, but that quickly went away, as I realized that there was one more tape left.

February 5th, I have come up with the most wonderful idea yet. And it’s probably the best one. I figured that instead of just a slow and hesitant death, I’m going to let them rot and decay in their own fears. Should I tell you what it is?….It’s a surprise, and I would hate to spoil it.

The last tape clicked and we all looked at eachother with a grim look on our faces. We knew what we had just witnessed in the past ten minutes, but none of us wanted to acknowledge it, or believe it was real. After sitting in silence for what seemed like about twenty minutes, I spoke up,

“What do you think the suprise is?”
Rich abruptly sat up and pushed in his chair,
“I don’t know, man, and I don’t want to know,” His voice had an uneasy feel to it. It almost sounded as if he were a bit frustrated, “I’m leaving. I don’t want to take part in anymore of this.”
I stopped him,”Wait, you can’t go. What are we going to with the tapes?”
“Fucking burn them. Get rid of them. Pretend it didn’t happen. I’m leaving,” Said Rich
“Dude, calm down. We have to figure this out. We have to know who he is. He could still be out there.” I said. Dennis cut in,
“We should hand them over to the police. Maybe they could do something,”
“Really? And you know what else the police would do if we give these to them? Fucking nothing. We gotta figure this out on our own,”
“Oh yeah?” Started Dennis, “You wanna solve this big mystery? I know you want to know who he is, but you shouldn’t try messing with something that could kill you,”
“Sure, he might kill me, but he also might kill a shitload of other people. We have to figure out where this fucker is.”
“You’re not some kind of hero, Jake. I wouldn’t bother messing with it.” Said Rich
“I’m not trying to be a hero. What do you guys think I’m gonna do? Walk outside with a flashlight, and call his name like a lost dog? All I want to do is some research, that’s all.” We stood in an uneasy silence for a moment.
“Why were those tapes hanging on the fence in the first place?” Asked Dennis. He was right. Why were they hanging on the fence?
“Do you think someone had already found them and was trying to get rid of them?” I asked.
“Look guys,” Said Rich,” It’s, like, three in the morning. We’re all a bit tired, and we’re all a bit confused, so trying to figure this out now would be useless.” Dennis and I looked at eachother and nodded a bit sheepishly, realizing how true the statement was. Rich started to walk towards the door, and Dennis followed him soon after.

“I’ll catch up with you later, Jake.” Said Rich as he opened the door, making his way out. Dennis waved a goodbye at me and shut the door behind him. The sound of the door clicking shut gave me a sense of finality, and the silence that followed afterwards was almost sickening. I walked into the living room, and turned on the tv, hoping to uplift the heavy atmosphere the tapes have caused. I grabbed my laptop, sat on the couch, and turned it on. While it was starting up, I looked into the dining room, staring at the cassette tapes and walkman that still sat on the table until I heard the Windows 7 start up sound call for my attention. I immediatly opened up Google and searched for murders and deaths in this area, but nothing came close to what Chris had described. I tried looking for the school he went to, hoping I would get some clues, but that didn’t work either. I sat for a second, staring at the Google search bar, until I came across an idea. I clicked on the URL box and typed in ‘www.creepypasta.com.’

A site with a black background and white text came up, with the simple heading “Creepypasta.com”. I scrolled through the page, and read some stories and announcements.

“This is what he was obsessed over?” I muttered to myself. Sure, some of these stories are kinda scary, but it certainly wasn’t anything that can drive someone to kill. How long has this site even been up? It doesn’t seem that old. This was probably around since my Senior year. I shut down the laptop and turned off the tv. After I got up, I walked into the dining room, and shoved all the tapes back into the bag. I decided that I would hand the tapes over to the authorities the next morning.

I barely went to sleep that night, because I was still shooken up over what I had witnessed earlier. And as I layed in bed…it almost seemed as if there was a presence, like someone besides myself was there. I quickly shrugged it off as my paranoid mind causing me to feel things that weren’t even there, and fell asleep soon after. When I awoke it was around twelve in the afternoon. I had slept late, which isn’t suprising, considering I went to bed at around five. I didn’t even bother to eat or brush my teeth after I got up. I just got dressed, grabbed the tapes, and got in the car. The tapes and Walkman were sitting in the passenger seat. They seemed to emit some uneasy feeling throughout the ride, which only made me more eager to get rid of them.

When I arrived at the police station, I quickly grabbed the tapes and entered the building. I didn’t even bother to turn the car off. The building’s lobbey was vacant, and the only person who was there was the cop sitting at the desk, sipping coffee and filling out paper work. I dropped the bag onto the counter, causing the man to look up from his work.

“Can I help you?” He said in a somewhat irratable tone.
“I-I think I solved a few dissapearances.”
He raised an eyebrow at me, and glanced towards the filled grocery bag that sat on his desk.
“Those?” He asked. I nodded quickly. He sighed, grabbed the bag, and put it on the floor next to him,
“Alright, I’ll present it to the authorities when I can.”
“Aren’t you the authorities?” I asked, a bit frustrated at how little he was concerned.
“Listen, I only hand out speed tickets and search for lost parents at the mall. But right now, I’m doing this here paperwork, and when I get the chance I’ll hand them over to authorities.” I nodded with some dissapointment and left, relieved that I didn’t have to be close to those tapes anymore.

Once I got home, I grabbed my mail and opened the front door. As I made my way into the living room, I tossed the stack of bills onto the table. I was suprised to hear something hard hit the wooden surface. When I looked back I noticed that the manilla folder that layed among the white envelopes wasn’t filled with sheets of paper, but a small object. A bit curious, I went back and opened it. I cringed when I saw what the folder had revealed.

Inside the folder was a small, black cassette tape labeled, “Entry 15.”

No, this wasn ‘t possible. It had to be Rich or Dennis. There is no way another tape was sent to me. We were the only ones who listened to them that night. And I was certain no one saw us, except for a few cars that passed when we were walking down the street.

I wanted to hear what the tape said, but I remembered I gave the walkman to the police. I searched my basement for a radio, anything, that I could play this tape in. I had to know what it said. Finally, after searching for what seemed like an hour, I came across a box in the basement that had a small cassette player inside. Hastily, I grabbed the dusty object from the box, and ran back up stairs. As soon as I reached the table, I put the tape inside the player and pressed play, hoping to hear that this tape and the other’s were just a sick joke one of my friends had planned out. But once I heard the voice, my stomach dropped, and I felt as if I were going to puke.

April 12th, Hello Jake what did you think about my game? It took me a while to get it ready, but it was all worth it. I knew your curious little mind wouldn’t be able to help itself. I’m surprised at how smoothly this all went out, actually. You and your friends barely noticed me when I put that bag on the fence. And you went and grabbed it, almost as if it was on cue…Are you still surprised, Jake? I’ve been keeping a close watch on you ever since I killed Ben, but I never actually carried out anything ’till now. I knew I had to save the best for last just for you. And now that I think about it, the waiting was all worth it. I’m shocked, Jake. You seem like you don’t even recognize me at all. Don’t you remember punching me in the face back in highschool?

I started to hear the sound of leaves shuffling. It sounded as if he were walking through the woods.

You guys look pretty scared over what you heard in that last tape. I can see it right through the window.
Once the tape had stopped, slowly and unwillingly, I looked towards the window on the south side of the dining room. There was nothing there except for the bushes that stood directly in front of the glass.Terrified, I ran towards the phone to call the cops. When I heard a voice on the other end, I jumped into a panic.
“Hello!” I desperately asked the phone. As I spoke, I patrolled the house, making sure that all of the windows and doors were locked.
“Oh, it’s you again,” Said the policeman I met earlier, “Listen, I told you I would get to it when I ca-”
“Someone’s after me. I just recieved another tape in my mail, and there were threats directed towards me on it, I think it’s the same person who made the tapes I gave you. He’s going to kill me.”
The officer spoke in a bored tone, “Well make sure that everything’s locked up, first,” He paused, “Now, are ya sure it’s not just one of your friends trying to mess with ya?”
“I’m absolutely sure it’s not one of my friends. Please, send someone out here.” I pleaded
“Sorry, but all you can do for now is to make sure that no one can get in. Just go up to your room and quietly read a book or something.” I slammed the phone back onto the hook. He’s not listening to me. I grabbed my laptop, and headed up to my room. I didn’t notice before, but I was the Jake Chris had mentioned in one of his tapes. And now he was back to get me, just like how he had killed Ben. I shut my door behind me and locked it, hoping it would serve as an extra layer of defense.

I decided that I would document what had happened to me, and submit it to creepypasta, so that it could serve as a warning to everyone out there. And that’s how I got to here, typing desperately on my laptop. I just heard some glass break downstairs, and I’m becoming more terrified by the second. I’m going to try to finish this up the best I can.

Please, for everyone’s sake, if you happen to have a “thing” for scary stories, don’t get too obsessed, or you may turn into what you originally have feared. If not, then watch out for those who are vulnerable to becoming the monster that Chris is.

Chris, honestly, I hope you’re happy. You have your own creepypasta, and you live in what you admire so much. You were right, the darkness in a simple scary story is more real than I thought.

Credit To: TVATR

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