The Music Box

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

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

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

Your music box kept you safe.

Or so you thought.

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

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

It was the nightmare.

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

Waiting.

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

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

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

It will control you.

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

Fight it. Remember. Don’t forget.

Or you will become one of them.

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It’s Not About You

August 27, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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You and Sarah rush through the doors as Rachel screams. Her cries abruptly cut off as the stone doors slam shut, though you can still hear a faint grinding coming from behind you. At the beginning, there were five, but now it was just you and Sarah. You catch your breath and try to get your bearings.

You don’t know how you and your friends found the cave, you’d been camping in this area dozens of times, but I guess this time your hikes had taken you farther than you’d thought. It was Katie that first discovered the cave, it seemed pretty cool and… why not? You had all the right gear already, so why not scout it out a little? Then you found a doorway, and you went through. It was a small room, with five closed stone doors on the far side, and a single stone pedestal in the middle. That’s where you found the rings… and when you realized you were trapped.

You weren’t going to touch the rings at first. They looked old, maybe a valuable archaeological find, but then someone—Harry maybe—noticed that door you had entered was blocked. There was no handle, just a solid slab of rock. Rachel figured it must have come down from above the doorframe, and that’s when everybody really freaked out. Harry tried his phone: nothing, no signal, no GPS. Sarah even set up the satellite phone, the phone for just this kind of emergency, only to have it fail as well. Out of options, you decided to go check out the pedestal again.

There were five rings—and what do you know—five people. Sitting just above the rings was an inscription: “The One with the strongest destiny shall claim the prize”. That part was kind of exciting, and well, it seemed kind of like your moment. Hadn’t done much else with your life. That degree in psych hadn’t gotten you very far, had it? Maybe you had the strongest destiny. You never really stood out much, didn’t have any major talents or qualities, but it’s the inside, that counts, isn’t it? And you’ve got that in spades.

That was what you were thinking before Katie died, anyway.

As you each slid a ring on your finger they started to glow, each glow a slightly different color. You thought yours seemed to glow a little brighter than the others, but you kept that to yourself. Each of the five rings shone towards a door at the far end of the room. Five rings? Five doors. Without any other choice, you went through. Everyone was starting to get excited. Then the doors slammed shut again. In this room, there were only four doors. Uh oh.

The rings started to glow again, but for some reason, Katie’s went dark. That’s when the floor started to shake. The cave floor was receding! Pulling away from the entrance of the room, and towards the four doors on the far end. A quick glimpse over the edge sent you running for your door. Over that edge was a black pit. A black pit that would fill the room in less than a minute. You, Sarah and Rachel rushed through your doors, while Katie followed closely behind Harry, hoping to get through his door with him. They were a couple after all. Harry stepped through just as the floor under Katie’s feet disappeared. He had her arm! He was going to pull her through and—

The stone door slammed down on Katie’s forearm with a sickening crack. Her trapped arm was the only thing keeping her from falling into the darkness, but everyone’s doors were completely shut now, except for Harry’s. There was no way to save her, or even see her, except for her twitching arm. Attached to that arm was a hand, and on that hand was a ring that didn’t shine. Harry was screaming into the tiny opening, Katie wasn’t responding, and the door was still trying to shut.

Eventually it did. You were now in a room with three doors.

Things followed a similar pattern after that. Harry’s ring went out, not that he cared anymore. You rushed through your door as the room filled with beetles, covering anything without a source of light. Rachel and Sarah tried to pull him away from the door, from the arm, but eventually all that was left of Harry was a crawling, heaving mass. He didn’t even scream. You had made it though, and as scared as you were, something was stirring in the back of your mind. You were starting to feel lucky. The One with the strongest destiny…

Then came the room with two doors. That was just now! Rachel’s light went out. She started to cry, but calmly turned and said goodbye, that you’d always been good friends. Sarah was screaming at her not to give up, but you didn’t want to stick around to find out what was going to go wrong. As you ran through your door you noticed that the ceiling had gotten lower…

And now here you are. One door left. This is it! Your whole life building up to this. Validation. You don’t have the fanciest job, the best degree, you aren’t the most popular, the most successful, but you are going to survive. It is your destiny. The strongest destiny…

Then you look at your ring, and the light has gone out.

Sarah?! No, it can’t be, it’s impossible! Why her? Why HER!! How can she… How DARE she! That ring is mine! Give it to me! It is my DESTINY!

As Sarah turns she sees your rage. Her eyes widen in shock as you scream for what is rightfully yours. Your fist flashes out and knocks her to the ground. She scrambles away as you move closer. She’s crying, begging you to stop. You don’t even hear it. It’s about YOUR life. YOUR destiny!
Nothing. Else. Matters.

And as you’re about to take that final step, when you’re right on top of her, a stone hand grips your ankle. You fall painfully, and two more hands grab your wrists, trapping you. Sarah is getting away! She’s almost at the door! More hands grab your legs, your neck, your ribs, your eyes. Their grips are getting tighter. You can’t see. The pain is unbearable…

And then you hear the stone door slam shut.

And with that sound you realize that you’re not the main character. You’re not special, and you’ll die right here in this room. The world will go on without you. As your senses begin to fade you have one last thought. What about m—

Credit To – Max Watson

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Where A Kid Can Be A Kid

August 19, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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When I was a child my father owned a janitorial company that worked almost every night at our local Showbiz Pizza Place/Chuck E. Cheese’s. He would often bring me to work with him so I could play all of the arcade games without having to wait in line. He’d even spark up the towering animatronics and let me watch them play their “Happy Birthday” songs and other quaint jingles. It was so much fun…until the curtains closed and it went dark.

A part of me hated not being able to see the fake animals, especially the wolf and big gorilla playing the keyboard. It would get so dark once all of those circus lights stopped undulating, but knowing they were hiding behind the curtains severely spooked me. Another part of me was glad I couldn’t see them, with their large plastic grins, bulging eyes and blink-less stares that trapped the false joy of their act. Anything that can remain that happy in the dark, imprisoned by crimson drapes, and frozen in time until the puppeteer presses “go” is just sinister in nature. Even the empty arcade, full of fantastic memories of the day past, sits dark, quiet and abandoned. There is something very unsettling about a place that can bequeath equal parts joy and dread when the sun sets and the doors are locked.

I’ve long since taken over my father’s company and we still hold the contract for this haunted place. Tonight is the first time I’ve brought my young son with me to work so he can enjoy the arcade like I once did. My hope is that when my son finally builds up the courage to pull back the curtain to view those plastic beasts, he isn’t greeted with the same malevolent stare that looked down unnaturally upon me.

_____

Credit To – StupidDialUp (Story)/DeadJosey (Narration)

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The God Machine (Prologue)

July 24, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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NOTE: This is the prologue of The God Machine, submitted by the original author and hosted with permission from his publisher. I have to admit to not having read the book – I haven’t read much that isn’t pasta submissions lately! – but I really enjoyed this prologue and felt it stood well enough on its own that I could feature it as its own pasta. If you feel this will be a problem for you, you have been warned and nobody is “forcing” or “tricking” you into reading this. For everyone else, please do enjoy a prologue that, I think, stands on its own as a fun read.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the water.” – Genesis 1:1

Baitman was uneasy as he got into his spacesuit. “What’s expected out there, Rawlings?” he asked.

“Well, like the briefing stated, we go out there, find out what happened to Fletcher and report back, asap. Other than that, I don’t know. Hopefully we will find him.”

Rawlings gave Baitman a look that expressed more than words could say. The fact that Rawlings was as baffled as he was from it all, made Baitman even more uneasy.

“I told him that this wasn’t a smart idea. Who plans this shit out? They told us to come up here and dig. So we dig. Four damned months we’ve been out here digging in that crater on the dark side where communications can’t even reach and they don’t expect to lose someone?”

“I don’t think they intended to lose anyone, Baitman.”

“No?” Baitman was beginning to heave his words out from his gut, he was getting emotional. “But they expect us now to go out there and find a man that was trained for this shit, just like us. Go out there with the same damned Rig he went out there with, to the same damned place… and we’re expected to come back? They don’t intended to lose us out there either?”

“Baitman, the months out here are getting to you. You need to calm down.”

Rawlings put his hand on Baitman’s arm, trying to comfort him and smiled, “Take a breath and let’s get going. We’ll be back soon, probably in time for lunch.”

“Probably?” Baitman looked at Rawlings in search of the leadership he’d seen from him in the past and was afraid that he wouldn’t find it this time. They had been out here on the moon digging for lunar materials many times over the years and for months on end. Not once has Rawlings ever lost face. Not once has Baitman ever felt that there was something Rawlings couldn’t handle or couldn’t fix.

He remembered his second mission with Rawlings. Two hours after landing, the power in the lunar base shut down, leaving the crew with only a few hours to figure out what was going on and how to get things running again. Power was provided by sixteen solar arrays mounted on an external truss and a few of them were cracked. It was possible that the solar arrays were hit by space debris or that the rare moonquake had occurred to cause the cracks, but Rawlings didn’t think twice about it. He managed to salvage what he could and fixing up two makeshift arrays. He rerouted the power flow to the main life support systems. His fast thinking and hard work bought them a full three days of power, which was more than enough time for a rescue shuttle to get prepared and shot out to pick them up. The crew of three dealt with thirty six hours of pitch black inside the lunar base and suffered hungry stomachs. The only loss was an aborted mission and a year set back.

That’s just how Rawlings was built. He took care of things without a doubt in his mind of weather or not it was possible, he just did his best with what he had to work with. But now, where was that cool and collected man when faced with stepping into the unknown, uncharted lunar surface that NASA wanted them to dig up, without so much as a word to describe what they were looking for. It wasn’t lunar material, the two men knew that much.

“We will be back in time for lunch. Okay big guy?” Rawlings was able to ease some of the thoughts rushing through Baitman’s mind. He could see it in his eyes; he was getting through to him and calming him down. “You know, sometimes I think these six month jobs are too long for you, Baitman. The moon makes you paranoid.” Rawlings laughed.

“You think so?”

“Yeah. You know, I don’t want to imagine what it would be like to be cooped up in here with you for those two year programs the big wigs are talking about. You’d start acting like Hal or something.” Rawlings smiled and slapped his hand against Baitman’s arm.

Baitman let out a small chuckle and started to relax. “2001: A Space Odyssey… I love that movie. Did you know, it was…”

“The reason that you wanted to fuck up your life and get shot out into this black mess we call space to begin with. I know buddy, I hear it every time we come out here.”

The two men finished getting into their suits and set out to the Rig. Scratched into the side of it was Blaster Master III, a name Fletcher gave the first time they were out here on the moon. Rawlings asked him, “How can you just name something, “such and such” three? Isn’t there supposed to be a Blaster Master and a Blaster Master Two first?” Fletcher shook his head and told him it just sounded right.

“Maybe we wouldn’t be going out there after him if he took his favorite Rig, huh?” Baitman asked.

“A mans fate lies with God. This Rig or the one he went out there in wouldn’t have made a difference.” Rawlings said, “Doesn’t matter to think about it anyways, let’s just focus on the job before your mind begins to wonder again, ok?”

Baitman nodded, keeping his cool.

Rawlings got into the Rig with Baitman and started it up.

The Rig was a NASA designed space vehicle, made to travel across a variety of terrains. It was similar in look to an M38 Wolfhound tank from World War II, yet nearly triple in size. Complete with a high powered, reverse circulation drill that can reach 500 meters into the ground and return the drill cuttings to the surface inside the rod.

Rawlings hadn’t driven a Rig in over a year. The last time he had driven one he almost drove it into one of the moons many canyons. He had to wait there for an hour and twenty minutes, seesawing on the edge of the canyon, until Fletcher came to get him and towed the Rig out.

“Maybe this is the balance of things, Baitman.” Rawlings laughed, almost yelling over the loud engine of the Rig resonating in side the cockpit. “Yeah, I bet he’s just sitting out there pissed. Wondering how many ways he can tell a man off for taking his sweet ass time.”

“Well you told him off nine kinds of ways that day. If he wants to keep things original he’ll have to think about it for a bit.” Baitman said. “Of course he has been out there for just shy of twelve hours.” Baitman’s smile began to fade, “The Rig only has about twenty hours of air supply. I bet he has given up on thinking about you and me and is trying to make peace with his maker.”

“His maker? I know I wouldn’t want to claim that piece of work.” Rawlings said jestingly.

Baitman let out an uneasy chuckle and the two became silent. They continued to mock the misfortune of Fletcher in hopes that he really was alright, trying to keep their minds off of the possibility that he was badly injured or dead. Trying to ignore the potential danger they themselves were embarking upon.

After an hour or so, they reached the dark side. The jesting had ceased and their chatter had turned into routine call outs of “Clear.” and “I still don’t see a thing.” The men were on their last string of hope. Traveling in the dark left a horrible feeling inside them both, a feeling that neither of them could shake off anymore. It forced their minds to spin around the thought that here, in this pitch black where even God himself couldn’t reach, Fletcher was dead.

The headlights of the Rig pierced the dark ahead of them. As Baitman looked out the window to his side, he could see nothing, but darkness. He tried to focus on the lit moon surface in front of them to keep his mind off of the darkness that surrounded them. The dark that seemed like at any moment would consume the Rig into oblivion. But, the more he stared at the lunar surface before them the more he got the feeling that the light was leading them both to a hell that waited.

Looking over at Baitman, Rawlings could see the furrows of worry upon his brow. “He still has time, Pat. We still have time.”

“I’m more worried that you’re lost Rawlings. I think you gave up on finding him awhile ago and you’re now just trying to get your bearings to head home.”

“Are you shittin’ me, Baitman? You think I’m lost on this rock after all the years of working her? Sheeeeeit, this place feels more like home sometimes than Seattle does, let me tell ya. And if I’m lost on her…”

Rawlings stopped talking and squinted, peering out into the endless black. In the distance the two men could see a source of light that was barely making the crater it was coming from visible. It was the Rig Fletcher had left in.

“You see that!” Rawlings exclaimed, pointing off in the direction of the light. “That’s our boy!” Rawlings laughed almost hysterically as he veered towards the crater and accelerated.

As they pulled up closer, the edge of the crater became visible. Rawlings slowed the Rig to a stop beside it and looked down into Parsons Crater, a name given to it when it was discovered in honor of the occultist and rocket scientist, Jack Parsons. He saw Fletchers Rig sitting there in the center of it and beside it he could barely make out what looked to be a large rectangular shaped object lying on the ground. In front of the object was a man in a spacesuit. It was Fletcher. A feeling of relief came over them. They had found their co-worker and could soon be on their way back to the base.

Rawlings opened the radio to speak with Fletcher, but there was no response. He tried a few times, but there was still no response.

”Get your helmet on Baitman. We’re going down there.” Rawlings said.

They locked their helmets and stepped out of the Rig.

Baitman turned on the short wave radio communication device in his helmet, “Fletcher, do you hear me?”

There was still no response. The two men started down Parsons Crater toward Fletcher who was facing the object in the center of it. When they got there, Rawlings shined his flashlight into Fletcher’s helmet.

Rawlings cried. “Fletcher! Baitman help me get him back in the Rig!”

Baitman froze at the sight of Fletcher’s face. It was locked in a contorted expression of fear and awe.

“Baitman, come on man! Help me!” Rawlings ordered.

Baitman composed himself enough to look away and quickly grabbed a hold of Fletchers right arm to drag him back to his Rig with Rawlings. They pulled him into the small closet space entryway of the vehicle and closed the outside hatch. Rawlings pulled down a large lever and the room hissed as it was quickly pressurized. The inside door opened and they stepped in.

“Get his helmet off.” Rawlings said, with a cool about him that came naturally.

Baitman took Fletcher’s helmet off and held his upper body up.

As Rawlings reached for the medical kit, he felt a stark hand snag his leg. He quickly looked down and saw Fletcher staring up at him. His face was still contorted and his eyes were sunk deep in his head, as if his life was being siphoned through the back of his skull.

“It’s so beautiful…” Fletcher said, barely able to pronounce the words as he attempted to move his mouth. Each word caused his jaw to pendulate.

Baitman pried Fletcher’s hand off of Rawlings leg, “Easy there buddy, we’re gonna help you, ok? Just let us help you.”

When he finally got Fletcher grip loose, Baitman held Fletcher tight in his arms and looked up at Rawlings, “What the fuck is he talking about? What’s beautiful?”

Rawlings just stared at Fletcher who began to moan and wail in Baitman’s arms, twisting free to the floor of the Rig. Fletcher’s body began to coil around itself, his arms flailing and Baitman backed away from him to avoid getting hit. Rawlings quickly snatched a strong sedative from the medical kit.

“Hold him down,” he said and filled a syringe with lorazepam.

Baitman froze and just stared at Fletcher. The sound of bones cracking echoed with a metallic ping off the interior of the Rig with each sudden twist of Fletcher’s body.

“Hold him the fuck down, Baitman!”

Baitman snapped out of it enough to react. He held Fletcher down and Rawlings injected the needle into Fletcher’s neck. Almost immediately, Fletcher was unconscious. Rawlings sat down in the driver’s seat of the Rig and took his helmet off. Sweat was beading on his face. His voice may be able to remain smooth, his mind keen, but his body couldn’t hide the signs of the stress he was under. His hands were shaking and he tightened them up around the seat of his chair. He held on as if he was worried that he’d somehow shoot off like a rocket. Baitman just sat on the floor and stared at Fletcher.

After a few moments of silence, they heard a voice over the radio in the Rig. “Tartarus, this is Houston. Do you copy?”

Neither man responded. They looked at each other, then over to the radio. The voice came through again, repeating the same words.

“Are you going to answer it?” Baitman asked.

Rawlings leaned over and pushed down the talk button, “Houston, this is Tartarus, we copy.” Rawlings replied.

“Have you found Fletcher?” Houston asked.

“Yes we have Houston. But, we aren’t sure of his current condition and I don’t think we have the equipment up here to take care of him.”

“You are at the dig site?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Have you secured the dig site?”

“Secured it from whom? We’re the only ones out here.”

“Secure the dig and prepare it for pickup.”

“The dig…?” Rawlings became angry. “Are you listening to me? What does the dig have to do with anything right now? Fletcher is hurt, bad. We need you guys to come get him now.”

“We are on our way, Tartarus. But we need you to secure whatever was found in Parsons Crater. Do you copy?”

“You have got to be kidding me.” Baitman said to Rawlings.

Rawlings pushed down the talk button, “We will secure what we can sir, just get some people out here fast.”

”As I said Tartarus, we are already on our way, but we need you to step out of the Rig and secure the dig. Make sure that everything is still intact. It is imperative that you do this, Tartarus. Do you copy?”

Rawlings looked over at Baitman who was muddled by the situation. After a moments pause, Rawlings queued in the radio again, “Copy, Houston, over and out.”

“Secure the dig? We have a man here, a friend, about to break his fucking spine, if he hasn’t already and they require us to secure the fucking dig?” Baitman said, already putting his helmet back on and standing up to move towards the Rig door.

”You know what we do out here as well as I do Baitman. The contract we signed was crafted by the devil himself.” Rawlings attached his helmet to his suit and opened the door.They stepped outside and walked to the large object.
“I’m starting to think you aren’t joking when you say that. You know I don’t believe in that religious crap, Rawlings, but any NASA big wig sure is a fine candidate for the devil. So, what do we do now?”

“We make sure that there is no damage done to whatever was dug up and we do it fast. Then return to base with Fletcher and wait until they arrive.” Rawlings was still angry, “I don’t know about you, but once we leave, I don’t think I’ll be coming back.”

“You will never leave.” Baitman said, his voice crackled a bit in Rawlings’ helmet, buried behind white noise.

“What was that Baitman? You broke up a bit.”

“Huh? I didn’t say anything.”

“Just now, you said…”

“I said what? When I asked what we should do now?”

Rawlings felt a chill down his spine. Being stationed on the moon could get to people sometimes and they could start to hear or see things that weren’t really there. Was he losing his mind? Was this job getting to him? Or was there something more sinister at work? He shook off the thought and focused on the task at hand.

As they drew closer, they shinned their flashlights toward the object. It seemed to be an enormous sarcophagus that was intricately carved out of a smooth metal, almost gold in color and clearly not of the moon. At least not any lunar material they had dug up. It was large, almost forty feet long. Along the sides of it were curious hieroglyphics depicting a story that neither man had the quiescence of mind to try and decipher.

They set up a ladder against the object and climbed up. The top was similarly carved, but the images were clear. It was of a man standing with the sun behind him, in the middle of eight serpents and above the serpents was a two headed eagle that gripped a pine cone in its left talons.

The man appeared to be in a bulky suit with tubes that connected from the body of the suit to the helmet. In the man’s right hand was a bucket. The sun behind him was made out of some type of crystal and the serpents surrounding it had unusual heads crowned with horns. As they walked across the top, Rawlings noticed that the lid to the object was a jar.

“Check this out Rawlings. Where did this come from?” Baitman knelt down and touched a large feather. He smiled, “It’s pretty.”

Rawlings was barely paying attention to Baitman, he shined his flashlight into the opening of the object. “Yeah, it is. She’s beautiful.”

“Hey, I thought you said the dark side was beyond our radio transmissions.”

“It is.”

“Then how did Houston get in touch with us this far out? They can do that?”

“No, they can’t” Rawlings said as he stared at what was inside the giant sarcophagus, “They sure can’t Baitman.”

Credit To – Anthony Genova

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Wood Grain

July 17, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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We had found the dresser at a yard sale, beaten and broken, but it was an artifact of the 1920s and my husband insisted we bring it home and fix it up. I thought nothing of this aside from the fact to be noted that the dresser was not for sale – it had practically been forced upon us at the mentioning of our interest when the words left my husband’s lips that day, “How much do you want for this?” Pretty shortly after the previous owner was frantically helping us load the goliath into our van and stammered a hasty, “Thank you!” as he turned and retreated back to his yard sale stand. We found this a bit odd, but we weren’t completely taken by the incident. He was just a strange young man.

My husband furiously set to work and had completed a beautiful restoration of our new bedroom object in less than a week’s time, working especially quickly on the weekend and luring me into the garage, blindfolded as usual, and taking the cloth off of my eyes to present its glorious new body to me. It curved in all the right places, its wood was now clean, pristine, and shiny, and the new handles on its drawers fit lovely. I gave him a kiss and told him there was nothing that he wasn’t able to fix up, and he blushed and said, “Aw, maw” and laughed. That night he was more than excited to enlist in my help for getting it upstairs to our bedroom, where we placed it almost right next to our bed. It looked perfect, we could see as we stood in the doorway and took in the new freshness that it brought to our room. Just perfect.

That night before I closed my eyes to go to sleep and switched off my light, I lay my head down next to my husband’s on our pillow and met his snoring face, giving him one last kiss on the tip of his nose as I usually did. I was about to close my eyes when I squinted and realized there was a shape in the wood grain on the side of the dresser. I almost let out a slight chuckle at myself but it was unmistakable, there was a shape of a footprint stamped into the wood. I hadn’t noticed it before but now it was clear as day. I shrugged it off as nothing, closed my eyes, and fell into a deep and wonderful slumber.

I was awoken in the morning by a bloodcurdling scream. It was the first of its kind that I had heard since an incident that took place when I was a little girl, where my brother had fallen out of a tree out in the front yard and dislocated his shoulder. He had called out in such agony that I thought he had been near death, but our parents assured me that he was going to be fine. This bloodcurdling scream woke me to life and my eyes darted back and forth across the room until I met eyes with my husband, who was now lurched forward in pain and horror. I flung myself out of my bed and ran to his side where my arms embraced him and I asked him what was going on, and he motioned to his foot with tears in his eyes. There was a huge nail sticking out of the wooden floorboards in which I had never seen before, and it was completely through his foot.

We spent the day in the hospital and his foot was wrapped as to keep the puncture wound from infection. He was told to keep off of it for a few days and allow it to heal as best as possible, which was near-impossible because after retirement my husband had taken on opening up his own saw sharpening service and so he always had constant customers coming in and dropping off their items for him to care for. He sadly accepted the news and said he would make some calls that afternoon to ‘let people down and give them the news.’ I just nestled my hands into his hair and told him it wouldn’t be long before he was back on his feet.

That first night home after his incident, we fell asleep in bed together but I was woken abruptly by an oncoming thunderstorm in the middle of the night. My eyes opened directly over my husband’s shoulder to notice the wood grain on the side of the dresser for the second time now. Where the shape of the foot had been marked in the grain, there now appeared to be a different shape – that of a tooth. I assumed that my eyes were playing tricks on me and I fell back to sleep with not a worry in my mind.

The next day I was tending to my husband frequently. In between doing wash and dishes and other house chores, I made him meals and rubbed his ‘good’ foot and brought him the newspaper when prompted. He really appreciated it. I cooked him up a fantastic lunch – chicken Alfredo and cooked spinach, one of his favorites. I placed the tray in his lap and turned the television to one of his favorite shows and he thanked me as I walked into the bathroom to start scrubbing the toilets as the next chore.

His loud yells could have been heard across the entire neighborhood. My heart was in a complete flutter as I bolted out of the bathroom and down the hall which seemed even longer than it really was in such a panicked situation. “John! John!” I called out, and burst through the bedroom door, to find a mess of blood in his lap and his tray laying scattered on the floor, a mess of food everywhere. Now, given, John was getting older, but he was still in great shape. He was 55 with the mind of a 30-year-old, something we joked about often. He was still holding the fork in his hand but he was now glaring down at himself and raised his eyes to me to show me his mouth. There, in his other hand, were three teeth. They had all fallen out of the very front of his mouth. “I’ve NEVER lost a tooth in my age,” he murmured, shaking his head. “I need to go to the dentist, Paula.” He was shaking and he sat the teeth next to his bed on that dresser. That same dresser.

I had trouble getting through the rest of the day. John asked around evening-time if I could escort him downstairs and onto the front porch where he sat frequently and watched the sunset. He asked if I wanted to sit with him but I just smiled and told him, “No, you need to enjoy the rest of your day in solitude, you’ve been having a lot of bad luck and I have things to take care of in the house.” He insisted that I take a break for once but there was work to be done. When I left him out there I worked quickly, running up the steps to the bedroom and over to the dresser. There was no insignificant designs in the wood grain and I checked it up and down for any unordinary signs but there was nothing ‘off’ about this dresser from what I was seeing. I had so many questions but the point being, it made me incredibly uneasy. And so I dismantled it with a hammer. And I didn’t stop beating it apart until it was in so many pieces that there would be an incredible mess to clean up.

When John called upon me to take him back upstairs for bed, I did so, but on the way up I stopped him, lips trembling a bit for affect. “John, there was an accident with the dresser.”

He scratched his head and let out a short chuckle, asking, “What do you mean? What could have possibly happened?”

I told him a beautifully-crafted, long drawn-out story of how a bat had entered through the window when I was cleaning the bedroom, and so I grabbed the hammer off of the shelf and beat it to the ground, but first smashing the dresser to smithereens. He didn’t question me, though he gave me a few looks and one of them was the fact that this story had made him quite sad and uneasy. He had worked great lengths on the dresser and did not want this to be the truth, but sadly this is how it had to go.

When we made it to the bedroom, he asked to see it and so I whipped the door open – and let out a huge gasp. There was the dresser, perfectly assembled next to our bed, once again. He burst into laughter and turned to me and said, “Why would you play a joke like that on me?! I really fancy our dresser, Paula.” And then I took him to bed, and I one-overed the dresser once more before I changed into my pajamas and hopped into bed with him.

I never wanted to worry my John; since we had been teenagers getting married at 19 years old, he had been my entire life. I had plenty questions about this dresser but I refused to allow him to see me get distraught over such a thing. We fell asleep talking about something in-depth but to this day I don’t remember the conversation. It was important at the time and to this day I wish that I could remember it because it was the last conversation I ever had with my John. As he talked and I peered over his shoulder, I could make out a new shape that night somewhere within the depths of the wood grain. It was a heart. I knew that the next day he would be having a heart attack, the first and last one of its kind to hit him. And this became true.

Credit To – Maggie Louise

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We Lie

May 29, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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Adam entered the living room and sat down with a glass of red wine, careful not to spill. He needed to have another talk with his wife. Things could get difficult. The wine helped him keep a level head.

“Clara.”

“Yes, dear?”

“I’m glad you’re here. We have to talk.”

“Okay,” she said. “About?”

“Can you help me to understand why you did it? Why you hurt me like that?”

Clara was silent for a long while. Adam took a sip from the glass, remaining patient.

“I was hurting too. And confused. Please…forgive me.”

“It’s hard, Clara.”

“I know. But I don’t want to talk about it now.”

Adam stood up, paced around the room a few times, and sat back down. “Well, are you happy? Can you at least tell me that much?”

“Yes, so long as you’re with me. I won’t leave you, Adam. You have to know that.”

“I know. And I love you, Clara.”

“I love you too.” There was another long pause. “Do you know I sometimes watch you while you sleep?”

“Really?” Adam idly swirled the dark liquid, observing how the glass refracted the room’s light. “I’ve been having bad dreams lately, so just knowing someone’s there watching over me really helps. Thank you, honey.”

“I have to leave now.”

“Already?” he asked, surprised.

“Hey, I know. You should come with me.”

His brow furrowed. “I…I can do that?”

“Sure. You already know how.”

“How?” he asked, sensing he wouldn’t like the answer.

“Same as me, silly.”

The room seemed to dim at the corners, as if its huddled shadows were conspiring to eavesdrop. “What? How could you say that, Clara?”

Another pause. “Clara’s not here,” came the reply.

Adam felt his stomach bottom out. “What…you mean…you’re not..?”

“No. Never was. But I did speak to her once.”

The deceit stung at his eyes. “Oh yeah? And what did you say?”

“Jump.”

He shot up from his chair, rubbing his temples. “No. No, goddammit. H-how? How is this possible? All those things she said…I was talking to Clara, dammit. I was talking to her!” At this point Adam was not so much talking with another as he was pleading with himself. But he forced himself to sit back down.

The planchette beneath his fingertips raced across the board, spelling out a simple message.

“We lie.”

Tears began to splash over random letters, blurring the ornate typeface. But Adam dared not remove his hands as the planchette continued to move.

“One more thing.” He did not respond, so it resumed without a prompt.

“Those aren’t dreams.”

Adam could recall only fragments of his nightmares – a dark alley, a dripping tunnel…the thrill of darting from shadow to shadow…a scream cut short…hands wrapped tight around something soft and yielding…and the reflection of the moon in a cold river, its black waters rushing at his bare waist.

He found his voice again, growling, “what do you mean?”

“I borrow you.”

At this, Adam withdrew his trembling hands and stared at them in disbelief. He choked out a single word: “Why?”

The planchette moved freely now, without need of human touch, and answered with a single word of its own:

“F-U-N.”

Credit To – alapanamo

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