The Library

November 22, 2012 at 12:00 AM
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So the other day the library calls to have my department do some computer work for them. Usually they have their own IT staff, but sometimes our department will go over there to help setting up machines and stuff like that. When I got there they had just purchased five storage servers and a couple of data entry terminals that they wanted set up for two graduate students. The graduate students were going to be working on a project to take a bunch of old archived stuff and convert it into a digital format for safekeeping and for analysis and research purposes. It was supposed to be a really cool project and apparently the government had given them quite a large grant for the equipment.

They had already unpackaged the computers downstairs in the sub-basement by the time that I arrived and the only two people down there were the two grad students. Alicia looked a lot younger than she was and had curly strawberry blond hair and was a little too cheery for my tastes, Max was the other grad student and he seemed to have a much more gruff demeanor. They introduced themselves to me and we chatted for a little bit until the head librarian came down to greet us.

The head librarian and I had talked quite a few times before and she and her husband had a private book collection that was worth several thousand dollars so she knew the value of the historical nature of books and proper handling and care. She was explaining all of this to the overly peppy Alicia and the under peppy Max and then she turned to me.

She said, “Listen this equipment is very expensive and the government has paid top dollar to see that everything is set up perfectly. I don’t want to tell you how to do your job, but please be careful with everything.” Then she showed me where the computers went and explained the set up to me. She explained how each student would take documents and use a light scanner to scan the pages of documents or pictures into the computer and then use the editing features of the software to correct any mistakes the scanner might have made.

It was a fairly straightforward set up so it wasn’t difficult to get it set up in just a few hours. During that time Alicia told me about how she was planning on becoming a librarian too, but that she really wanted to write for a living and Max droned on for hours about how history was the only important thing on the planet. They seemed like pretty cool people and when I wrapped up I left them to their work. I gave them my card and told them that if there were any problems they could call me directly and I would come take a look at it.

Everything went fine for the first couple of days, but one afternoon I got a call from Alicia. She didn’t sound nearly as peppy this time and told me that the scanner wasn’t working at all and she was having to put most of the data from the documents in manually.

“It’s just a bunch of scribbles,” She said.
I told her that I was busy right then but I would check on it when I got off work at five. Since the grad students had classes they usually didn’t start work until 2 or 3 in the afternoon anyway and worked through most of the night. That evening I went down to the sub-basement and took a look at the scanner. It seemed like everything was set up okay and I told them that I would talk to my manager about setting up a service call from the manufacturer to check out the light.

Now I wish I had just told them to shut it down until the technician could look at it, I should have known when I first saw those “scribbles” but it was late and I didn’t want to waste my whole day trying to figure it out. I did give my manager the information and she scheduled a work order for the following Thursday, but it doesn’t look like that will do any good to anyone now.

The next morning I got a call on my personal cellphone at about 6 in the morning. It was Max. He just said, “Listen goddamnit, I’m not doing this anymore until stuff starts working.” I tried to calm him down but he was completely irate. I told him to wait there and I would be over to see him as soon as I got in. When I did get to the office Alicia was eerily silent and she seemed to have fixed a scowl onto me. I wrote it off to stress of working with faulty machinery and I brushed off the problem as a manufacturer’s defect because Max had pissed me off so badly. If I had just taken the time to look again maybe we could have avoided what came next.

That same night I got a call from the head librarian about the scanner not working correctly. She seemed pretty shaken up and told me that Max had called her up and screamed at her about unfit working conditions and about the noise that the machine was making. I had noticed that when I was there, but the dull humming of the scanners and the quick sliding sound as the light bar swept across the page was normal. I told her that it would be best if we just waited on the manufacturer to fix it, but I did tell her that I would go back to see if maybe it just needed to have some firmware updates or something like that. I honestly just said it to get her off the phone.

I went out that evening at about 9 at night but when I got there things had gotten much worse. All of the lights were off except for the scanner and the noise wasn’t just the normal mechanical noise of the scanner but something so much worse. Looking back I know that it sounded worse than just broken, it sounded hurt and angry and alive. I plugged the main terminal into the ethernet and tried to go online to see if there were any software or firmware updates, but everything seemed to check out. All while I did this Alicia barely spoke at all but her scowl had turned from just a nasty look to a downright evil gaze. She slammed her keys on the keyboard to type in corrections and she cursed under her breath. Max was also more intense, when I explained that there was nothing else I could do he grabbed me by the collar and I swear for a moment when I looked into his eyes I thought he was going to kill me.

His face had twisted into this evil frown and his eyes had seemed to grow wide. I don’t think either of them blinked at me at all. Needless to say I was pretty freaked out. I told Max to back off and continued blaming the manufacturer, I left them with a “don’t call me again. If you hate it down here so much then you can just quit and go home. It’s not my problem anymore.”
I don’t know what it was that really set them off, but I know that we got an alert not to come in to work the next day. When the technician from the manufacturer had a cancellation he’d come in early and the librarian let him in. When they got to the sub-basement they found that Alicia and Max had a confrontation. Max had been killed and his body mutilated. Alicia had broken every one of his fingers and used hair pins to poke his eyes out. The doctor’s said that he was probably still alive then with the cause of death being severe trauma to the brain. Alicia’s hands had been completely shattered, probably from beating in Max’s skull Alicia was still barely alive but her entire body was cut up. It may have been the blood loss but they said she just screamed gibberish at the top of her lungs until the EMTs arrived and then she managed to fight them for a long time until they were able to get her into the ambulance. She died of severe blood loss on the way to the hospital.

Federal agents came in quick and they confiscated all of the equipment, but they also confiscated all of the historical documents. I heard someone the other day say that some of the documents that they lost dated back hundreds or even over a thousand years old. They were part of some of the earliest occult work known.

I don’t know if scanning those documents made the computer equipment start to freak out or if the computer and Max and Alicia got possessed by some evil spirit or if reading that stuff was enough to make them crack. Maybe it was all just coincidence that the both happened to snap under the pressure of grad school and jobs and their personal life. Maybe it’s nothing, but I can’t help thinking about going there to fix those computers and plugging them all into the internet.

Credit To: L. Sullivan

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October 31, 2012 at 10:00 AM
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There exists a curious legend among the people of South Africa. Although somewhat obscure now, it was prevalent during the late 19th Century colonisation of Africa which saw the construction of railways across the countryside for the transport of workers. This is the legend of the witch trains – ordinary-looking trains, but staffed by the debased servants of a powerful being generally thought to be a witch, or sometimes even thought to be multiple witches. These trains would appear to people travelling alone at night in the countryside and take them aboard, never to be seen again. This was far from the full extent of the machinations of the being that controlled the trains, who will henceforth be referred to as the Witch, but more on that later. Although the activity of the Witch and Her trains has subsided as of late, there is one witch train still roaming, still waiting to return to the Witch’s house.

Seeking out this train is difficult and will take some time; the rails themselves are not mapped so prepare a rucksack for a long day’s journey – and to carry what you will be bringing back. On the first or last day of any month – this is most conducive to the likelihood of the rails appearing – travel by any means to the town of Karasburg in South Africa. When the sun has gone down, begin walking in any direction between north and north-east of the town. It may be advisable to prepare some sort of self-protective gear for travelling the South African countryside at night, but be warned that, once you reach your destination, whatever protective items or weapons you may bring will not be of any use against what you will encounter there.

Keep walking until you find a railroad track. Inspect it carefully to ensure that it is not merely an ordinary track. The track you are looking for will be in excellent condition, and if you look closely, the ground beneath the track will be completely undisturbed – there should be no difference between ground beneath the track and nearby uncovered ground. Walk in either direction along the track. It should take no longer than an hour for you to reach the station.

In stark contrast to the track, the station is a hovel. You will find the few small buildings completely deserted, and all but one have been burnt to the ground. The one that remains standing is a blackened, rickety, wooden shack, though the single front door appears brand new. A sign nailed to it reads,
In older days this station would have actually had staff – the station hadn’t been burned, either. The witch trains didn’t just stop abducting people of their own volition. The train you are looking for will stop here for you soon, but to make proper use of it you need something from the staff room. No matter what you try, the door will not open for you, but fortunately the Witch gave no special treatment to the walls, trusting them by themselves, along with Her staff, to keep intruders out. They are badly burned and worn. A good kicking at any wall should provide an entrance. The staff room is completely bare, save for a few equipment closets along the walls. Search them thoroughly. Most will contain generic, 19th Century mechanical equipment not worth taking, but one will contain a silver control rod for a gearbox. This control rod will be easy to find – it glows, yet curiously it provides no illumination for anything at all save for itself, no matter how dark the environment is. This is what you need. Take it and wait outside. Now wait, however long it takes. Eventually, you will see the decrepit old passenger train come trundling to a stop in front of you.

A train attendant will open the door for you. This train unusually employs both white and black workers, but regardless of his skin colour he will wear an extremely worn and filthy train staff uniform. He will stare at you with decidedly vacant eyes for a moment, and you will very likely feel a sudden, acute sense of discomfort. You would be right to feel this way – the stare is intense, yet there is no-one behind those dull eyes. The man will then say one word:
The tone will sound odd – as a statement, yet there will be the faintest hint of a query in the sound of it. This is because the man’s speech is meant to be a query. In the past, this man and his fellow staff would, upon stopping and opening the doors for them, ask unfortunate travellers of the South African countryside,
“Single, or return?”

If you were to answer the attendant with “return,” you would be taken on the train and ferried a fair distance along the countryside before being brutally beaten by the train staff and thrown off. This is the same for any others who would have been encountered by this train. Any other answer will simply result in him repeating his question until you give one of the expected answers. The other expected answer you can give is, of course, “single,” however, fortunately for you, the train and its staff no longer have the means to carry out their programmed response to this answer. This is why that part of their dialogue has been removed from their usual protocol. If you answer with this, the attendant will simply stare at you and do nothing until you give another response.

This is where the control rod you have comes in. Without saying a word, produce it and hand it to the attendant. His face will not have any reaction to this, but I can assure you that if he had even the remotest capacity for emotion, he would be profoundly relieved to see it. He will silently take the rod and then step off the train to walk briskly over to the conductor’s car. When he does this, simply climb aboard the train and close the door; nobody will hinder you now, and the attendant will not return to this car. It is a standard passenger car, with rows of wooden seats along the walls, everything thickly coated in dust and worn by centuries of age and neglect. The doors to the other cars, as well as the windows, are boarded up. You must spend the whole journey here, but worry not. It is a short trip, and there is nothing you need to see outside the windows anyway. Sit and wait, you will soon feel the train start to move.

The journey will be short, however, it is unlike any other you have ever taken – the train crosses more than just land, indeed, it crosses more than space, but let’s not dwell on that for now. You will not feel anything during the transition, nor will you feel anything when the train arrives at the destination, however, it is extremely important that you do not open the door until you are absolutely certain that the train has arrived – the transition is lethal to unprotected human life. To tell if the train has arrived, first wait ten minutes – this is the longest it will take to enter the transition – then periodically tap the boarded up window with your finger. A hollow knocking sound will indicate that you have arrived, whereas if your finger produces a dull thud, as if you are tapping against a completely solid object, you have not arrived yet. Disembark as soon as you are sure the train has reached its destination.

As you step off the train you will find yourself on a barren, rocky plain, surrounded by a thick mist. Probably the first thing you’ll notice the large number of rotting human bones scattered across the area. The Witch, in its activities in Earth, made a large number of servants. It also made a large number of enemies. The bones that profane the grounds here belong to both camps. The battle that made such a necropolis of this place is also the reason for the abrupt disappearance of the witch trains and new reports of them. A short distance away, not obscured by the mist, you will see a dilapidated church of white stone. Staying close to the edge of the fog but being very careful not to lose sight of the church, make your way there.

This part is important – you must keep a close eye on the church, for you will soon see a small crowd emerge from it and start approaching the train. These are more of Her servants. As soon as you see them, immediately run into the fog as far as you dare but do NOT lose sight of the church – this place is not a natural part of our world, and consequently the geometry of the land is abnormal. If you proceed in what may seem like a straight line too far into the fog, reversing your direction will not bring you back, and in this way it is far too easy to become hopelessly lost there, so do not lose sight of the church! Wait in the fog as the servants go past. They all wear the same, worn out train staff uniforms, and they all wear the same, utterly vacant expressions on their faces. Don’t let this fool you though; if they catch you trespassing on Her land they will tear you apart with a fanaticism and strength no human could match. Once they reach the train, they will stay there – this is the first time it has been here in over a century. Proceed to the church at this point, but stay close to the fog just in case.

Approach the white church and take note of the damage. The walls are adorned in scorch marks and bullet holes. More of the skeletons of the Witch’s servants and enemies surround the church and are scattered amongst the floors and aisles of the nave inside, as you will see through the blasted front doors. You won’t end up like these skeletons at this point; all of the Witch’s servants in this place have gone to the train and will stay there. The people who attacked this place made sure to destroy the Witch’s means of re-entering our world, such as the train and the control rod for activating the transition, so Her servants will be hard at work investigating the train you have brought here. But don’t worry, if you do this correctly, you should be able to return back with the train and control rod before the Witch can make use of them once more.

Enter the church and proceed through the nave to the doors behind the altar. Muster up your courage and determination here, and perhaps prepare something like a rag to cover your face with. The reports I have on this church do not indicate a good ventilation of the next hallway. When you are ready, enter.

The dim light of the hallway will illuminate the carpet of half-decayed corpses across the floor. On the walls you will see the sources of these dim lights; small globes wired into the distended mouths of rows of mutilated heads attached to bizarre machinery set into the walls. Unlike the previous areas, most of these bodies belong to Her enemies, not servants, ambushed and slaughtered here when they tried to make their way to confront the Witch Herself. Walk as quickly as you can through this hall while being careful not to trip, there is certainly no need to take your time here. You may notice that a few of the light globes are dark. Consider the bearers of those lights extremely lucky, for the truth is that these light globes are powered by the electrical signals in the brains of these heads, kept alive by the arcane machinery that supports them. Try not to dwell too much on their fates, you should save your mental fortitude for the trials ahead, And don’t attempt to turn any more of these lights off – the Witch is coming very soon, and if you do not escape, many more people in our world, including you, will end up like this.

My information on this place is based on the accounts of the few who attacked it over a century ago and managed to escape. Thus, I can’t give details on what you will find beyond this forsaken hallway, but I know that among the things here you should find a library, a door of the same luminous silver of the train’s control rod, with a crucifix set into it, and a pool of blood. Avoid the door for now, and the pool of blood at all costs. Instead enter the library. Most of the books here are worthless, except for one set, which should be the centrepiece of the library. Though these ancient books are penned in Hebrew, their place is marked by a sign in English reading “The Annals of the Connexion of the Thrones of God,” or simply “The Annals of the Connexion.” In layman’s terms, this odd phrase refers, essentially, to telepathy. These are what you are looking for.

Before the end of your journey you, one way or another, will be able to read Hebrew, and many other languages. However, it is advisable that you use your discretion in reading these books should you ever so choose. Aside from instruction on the creation and control of the servants that the Witch uses, these books talk about the precise nature and origins of the Connexion of the Thrones of God, the universe, of God and the other deities of the universe. It also details the origin of our species, and what we are to these beings. These things are explained in as much detail as the human mind, or the mind of any other being of this dimension, is capable of conceiving, and it is reported that an alarming majority of those who have read these texts were unable to reconcile themselves with the bleak truth of our existence, and would suffer insanity or depression at the least, often committing suicide. Carefully consider your life and outlook before you seek the knowledge in these texts.

The other copies of these books were destroyed a long time ago by the Witch, as well as others like her, along with most of the people in the world who naturally had the telepathic Connexion. These people made up a large part of the Witch’s enemies who attacked her here. Take these books and leave now – it will not be long before the Witch emerges from Her slumber, yet there is one more sacrifice you must make to facilitate your escape. Find the room with the silver, crucifix-set door, and steel yourself, for this will not be pleasant. Open the door.

The room is pitch black, but you can clearly see the machinery surrounding the chained, furiously screaming man inside, all of it in the same silver of the non-illuminating glow. Try to find something to hold onto as this man, cut off for so long, forces his mind upon you. Your head will feel as if it is being squashed like a balloon to the bursting point as the last man with the Connexion transfers it to you. It will feel like years, but it will only take seconds before it is done. The man will thankfully die from the strain, making him one less person left behind on your conscience. You will want to take time to process all this, as the knowledge and outright changes to your brain will be unimaginable, but you don’t have a moment, you must run now. If you pass the pool of blood on your way out, you will notice that it is bubbling. The Witch is emerging. Run to the hallway, and prepare yourself for the hardest part.

This hallway was created for the Connected when they attacked this place. All the people now set into the walls have been subjected to unthinkable horrors before being forced inside their minds by destruction of all five of their senses. But with the Connexion you will, upon entering the hallway, feel all of their ghastly thoughts inside your mind. This is why the Witch did this – to weaken the Connected at this hallway with the tormented thoughts of these people so as to defeat them more easily. As hard as it will be, you must focus yourself on running through this hallway. Once you are out, you will be fine, but you must get out quickly.

Get to the train, where Her servants will still be. As long as She is not nearby, you can now use the Connexion to force your will upon them, preventing them from attacking you, but not for long. Quickly enter the conductor’s car on the train, and use your will on the control rod in the same way to make your escape from this place.

If you successfully escape, what you do with your newfound talents and books is entirely up to you. As mentioned before, you now have the capability to read the Hebrew language of the Annals, and other languages. There are many people who will offer incredible sums of money for the Annals of the Connexion, as well as unthinkable gifts, many of which will sicken you with their degradations. Many more people will hunt you for the Annals, as well as for simply what you now are. Most likely, you are not able to predict what you will do, as you will surely be a completely different person at the end of this journey, so at the very least you should hope that you can adapt to your new life quickly enough before it can overwhelm you.

Credit To: corpulent

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Listers Rache

October 10, 2012 at 6:00 AM
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It may be hard to believe for those of us born in the digital age—when every embarrassing moment can potentially be uploaded to Youtube for posterity—but an estimated 70% of all films from the silent era are thought to be lost.  Of the silent film directors whose works have largely vanished, perhaps the most intriguing, at least for me, is the German director Kai Winckelmann (1887-1926).  Although influential in his own era, he has since been largely forgotten, for reasons which I believe will become readily apparent if you read further in this article.

Winckelmann was born on September 18th, 1887 in Offenbach am Main, the son of a butcher.  He reportedly found the family business very distasteful and did not get along well with his father, who drank heavily.  After serving on the Russian front in World War I—a period of Winckelmann’s life which left him permanently traumatized—Winckelmann married a certain Greta Schulz, a nurse whom he had met at a veteran’s hospital.  He moved with her to her home city of Vienna, Austria, where he began making films for the pioneering producer Joe May. Winckelmann created many moderately successful films while working for May, several of which survive in whole or in part, but by far his most successful work was the Lord Lister serial.

The Lister series, based on a series of pulp stories concerning a gentleman thief named Lord Lister who goes by the nom de guerre Raffles in the criminal underworld, consists of six episodes, each about an hour in length.  The films bear a somewhat superficial resemblance to their source material.  In the original novels, as in the first two episodes of the Lister serial, Lord Lister is a somewhat sympathetic Robin Hood-like figure, à la Arsène Lupin, who rarely commits any particularly egregious misdeeds.  In Winckelmann’s Lister serials, however, he became a much more sinister figure: a seemingly omnipotent mastermind of crime who is not above rape and mass murder.  In the serial, as in the novels, Lord Lister is pursued by a Scotland Yard detective named Baxter.  In the early installments of the serial, Baxter is portrayed as a figure of fun, an incompetent drunkard who is always outwitted by the master thief, but in the later episodes, Baxter becomes a tragic figure, an honest lawman who is helpless to prevent the atrocities of his implacable persecutor, Lord Lister.  Although Lord Lister was played by several different actors—the idea being that his true face was unknown—Detective Baxter was always played by Winckelmann’s friend and confidant, actor Olaf Schneider.

Olaf Schneider became close friends with Winckelmann shortly after the latter began working with Joe May.  The two could not be any more different in appearance or in temperament: Schneider was healthy, muscular, and a lover of fast cars and boxing, while Winckelmann was a recluse and often in poor health.  Nevertheless, the two shared a close relationship, perhaps finding common ground over the tragedies in their respective pasts: Winckelmann had had an abusive childhood and was left mentally scarred by his service in World War I, while Schneider’s wife had committed suicide in 1918, leaving him to raise their infant daughter alone.

The contents of the first five Lister films, insofar as they can safely be reconstructed at all—only one of them survives, and even then only in an incomplete print—are as follows:

1.      Lister tritt ein (Enter Lister): The screenplay of this first episode was written by none other than legendary director-screenwriter Fritz Lang.  In this installment, Lister, who is living under the assumed name Lord William Aberdeen, manages to steal a valuable painting during an art exhibition.  The bumbling Detective Baxter eventually manages to arrest Lister, but the latter escapes, switching identities with a guard in a clever ruse.  A spectacular chase scene ensues, during which Lister, of course, escapes.

2.      Lister schlägt zurück (Lister Hits Back): The film opens with an elaborate scene where Lister steals the pearl necklace off of a duchess’ neck at the opera house.  Shortly thereafter, Lister boldly announces his next crime via a newspaper advertisement: he will still the family jewels of Lord Willmore at such-and-such an hour.  Baxter and his fellow policeman stand guard at Lord Willmore’s side at his mansion, waiting for Lister to appear—but he never does.  Just when he is about to dismiss the incident as a hoax, Baxter hears muffled cries and discovers the real Lord Willmore bound and gagged in a wardrobe; Lister had been impersonating him the entire night, and the real jewels had already been replaced with identical duplicates.  Baxter realizes that the mansion is rigged to explode and barely escapes with his life.  This is the only surviving Lister film.

3.      Lister in Amerika (Lister in America): Detective Baxter receives a tip that Lister is hiding in the United States.  Baxter boards an ocean liner, but half-way across the Atlantic, the voyage begins to go horribly awry: the passengers are falling mysteriously ill.  It seems that Lister has planted plague-infested rats onboard, presumably in an attempt to assassinate Baxter.  Upon his arrival in New York, Baxter is swiftly arrested for a series of murders that Lister committed, and a local judge, really Lister in disguise, sentences him to death by hanging.  Baxter makes a desperate escape through the sewer system and emerges into the night air—where he is greeted with the sight of Lister taunting him from a rooftop.  He is wearing his iconic costume: a black cloak, black gloves, and a black executioner’s mask.  Lister mockingly crosses and extends his wrists, as if daring Baxter to arrest him.

4.      Das tödliche Parfum (The Deadly Perfume): Detective Baxter investigates a series of grisly murders: someone has been replacing department store perfume with sulfuric acid, resulting in dozens of deaths and disfigurements.  In order to uncover the truth, Baxter forms an alliance with a young woman who claims to have been Lord Lister’s lover.  Despite being a married man, Baxter soon begins to succumb to her charms as well.  The film ends with a shocking scene: due to the machinations of Lister, Baxter is forced to allow the young woman to be run over by a train in order to avert an accident that would kill hundreds of people.

5.      Die schreiende Leiche (The Screaming Corpse): Little is known about the contents of this particular film, as contemporary reviews contain little but exclamations of disapproval.  It is known to chronicle Baxter’s descent into alcoholism and depression after his repeated failures to capture Lister.  The plot reportedly involved a deadly fire at an opera house and a surreal scene wherein Lister wears a man’s flesh as a mask.

Despite, or perhaps because of, their often morbid content, the films were quite popular with the contemporary viewing public—one might consider them the Saw of their day.  As you might have guessed, the increasing darkness of Winckelmann’s films was accompanied by a corresponding crisis in his personal life: the affair between Winckelmann’s wife, Greta, and his closest friend, Olaf Schneider.  Winckelmann seems to have known of the affair and tacitly accepted it, although eventually, this seems to have taken a considerable toll on his already fragile psyche.  In a letter to his cousin, dated October 13, 1923, Winckelmann writes: “…And why shouldn’t she prefer him?  A man like him can offer her what I, with my frail body and lacerated soul, could never hope to give her.  My dark Muse has seized control of my life.  I am powerless to do anything but obey its commands…”

This state of affairs continued for some time before an unthinkable tragedy put an end to both the Lord Lister serial and Winckelmann’s partnership with Schneider…at least for the time being.

In December of 1923, Winckelmann was away on business in Frankfurt, having left his 18-month-old son alone with his wife.  The live-in housekeeper was away visiting her sister.  According to the report that a distraught Greta later gave the police, she and Schneider were making love in the bedroom when suddenly she heard a loud thud from the child’s room.  Her son had evidently climbed out of his crib, breaking his neck.  Naturally, this created a gigantic scandal, and no one was particularly surprised when Greta disappeared one day, presumably to start a new life under an assumed name.  As for Schneider, he emigrated soon thereafter to the United States, where he dropped out of the public eye.

Despite the horrendous personal tragedies that had befallen him, Winckelmann held up as well as well as could be imagined under the circumstances.  Although he had been a doting father—at least when he was not distracted by his film-making career–he managed to bear his grief with a certain quiet dignity, even founding his own film company a few months later.  Winckelmann’s studio was relatively successful at first, turning out several lucrative if unremarkable films.  A few years after his son’s death, however, strange rumors began circulating around Winckelmann.  It was said that he had fired most of his staff and spent his days wandering around his empty, decrepit Filmstadt.  In an interview with the Vossische Zeitung dating to six months before his death, Winckelmann claimed that he had fully forgiven Schneider and, rather surprisingly, had been corresponding with him and planned for them to make a film together.  To the surprise, and later dismay, of the viewing public, a final installment of the Lord Lister saga, entitled Listers Rache (Lister’s Revenge) was released in 1927.

Listers Rache was screened in only a few theaters before being permanently withdrawn from circulation.  The film, only 40 minutes long, was much more surreal and expressionistic than any previous installment in the series—and much more unsettling.  Contemporary accounts, though doubtless exaggerated, mention fainting fits and worse at advance screenings of the film.  According to contemporary newspaper reports, the film begins with an intertitle explaining that Detective Baxter has lost his job with Scotland Yard and been abandoned by his family.  Baxter is shown in a dirty, disordered apartment room, sitting at a writing desk; there is no other furniture around him.  Baxter is writing a note whose contents we do not see and weeping all the while.  He is surrounded by empty beer bottles and his appearance is unkempt and disheveled.  The crying scene continues for an uncomfortably long time, after which Baxter leaves his apartment and wanders through the streets of London.  The city is represented by a series of surreal matte paintings, reportedly very much in the style of Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, full of absurd angles that would be impossible in reality.  Sinister shapes can be discerned in the background: hanged bodies, weeping, disfigured faces, etc.

Detective Baxter finally pauses in the middle of a tall bridge, contemplating the rough waters and jagged rocks below.  It is clear that he is considering suicide.  Suddenly, a dark shape materializes at the other end of the bridge: it is Lister, wearing his usual executioner’s hood and cloak.  Lister shouts “Jump!” (via an intertitle, of course), and Baxter, after a moment’s pause, manages to gather his resolve and chase after his nemesis.  After a brief chase scene, Lister leaps into an enormous sinkhole, Baxter following close behind.  In the next scene, the detective finds himself in an enormous cavern—presumably the master criminal’s base of operations.  It becomes clear that the cavern is filled with furniture: a dining table with chairs, a wardrobe, a wash basin, even a book case.  Baxter cautiously approaches the table, soon realizing, to his horror, that all of the furniture appears to be made of human bone.  In the center of the cavern is an enormous pile of human body parts, casually stacked together like a compost heap. Baxter recoils in horror and attempts to run back to the entrance of the cavern, but it is too late: Lister, with two other masked men on either side of him, is swiftly approaching, carrying an axe.  We see their shadows on the wall of the cave encroach on the detective’s, finally engulfing it completely.

The scene shifts yet again; Detective Baxter is shown inside a damp dungeon of sorts, his hands and feet manacled to the wall.  He is bruised and bloodied.  A large metal door swings open and Lister reappears, still accompanied by his two masked henchmen.  One of said henchmen is carrying a struggling, wriggling form: a blindfolded little girl, around ten years of age.  Lister tells Baxter “Now you and your daughter will be reunited, just as you wished!”  With that, the two masked thugs hold the screaming and kicking little girl down on the ground while Lister withdraws a butcher knife from somewhere within his cloak and calmly, methodically slashes her throat.  The two masked henchmen then place the dying little girl opposite the distraught Detective Baxter.  Blood is oozing from her mouth and throat, but she is still breathing slightly.  Lister declares “Leave him to his fate!” and the three masked men exit the room, leaving Baxter to watch helplessly as his daughter breathes her last.

An intertitle announces that three weeks have passed, and Baxter is still chained where Lord Lister left him.  His clothes are ragged, his skin is covered in bruises and blisters, and his eyes have a wild, haunted look.  Across from him is the corpse of his daughter, bloated and blackened.  The iron door slowly creeps open, and Lord Lister reappears, once again shadowed by his two masked accomplices.  This time, he is carrying what appears to be a burlap sack.  The two henchmen unchain Baxter; he attempts to strangle Lister, but, in his pathetically weakened state, he is easily restrained.  Lord Lister slowly pulls an object from the sack: it is a long-haired human head, still dripping blood.  “Kiss your wife!” Lister exclaims.  A horrified Baxter refuses, but the henchmen punch him into submission and restrain his arms.  Lister forces the severed head’s lips against Baxter’s, the latter retching all the while.  Baxter is then returned to his restraints, and the two accomplices proceed to savagely beat him with nail-studded wooden planks while Lister looks on.  Lord Lister motions for his men to stop the beating, and Baxter looks up with dying eyes at his tormentor, lying in a pool of his own blood.  “Do you realize now why you’ve never managed to catch me? Why you could never have won?” Lister says.  Lord Lister begins to peel off his hood and turns around to face the camera directly.  We see his true face for the first time—or rather, the space where one should be, for Lister does not possess one at all; his face is a blank wall of flesh with nothing at all to mark it as human accept a gaping black mouth.  “I am Loss,” he says, drifting closer and closer towards the camera, as if threatening to break through it.  Lord Lister’s jaw opens wider and wider, far wider than should be humanly possible; it reaches almost down to his waist, as if threatening to engulf the audience and all the world.  And with that image, the film abruptly ends.

As mentioned above, Listers Rache was a resounding failure with audiences at advance screenings, and it was quickly pulled from most theaters.  Evidently, the film was “too much” even for a movie-going public that had made Winckelmann a wealthy man for his earlier forays into aestheticized violence.  Audiences had found the film’s gore effects to be disturbingly convincing—so convincing, in fact, that many suspected that they were not “effects” at all, and a warrant was soon issued for Winckelmann’s arrest.  After the police had searched in vain for Winckelmann at his home, a fire was reported at his downtown film studio.  Several hours later, Winckelmann’s body, having been pulled from the smoldering ruins of his Filmstadt, was identified using his fingerprints.  Though his garments were badly burned, he appeared to have been dressed in black.

The bodies of Olaf Schneider, his ten-year-old daughter, and his former lover Greta Winckelmann were never recovered.

Like most of Winckelmann’s films, Listers Rache has vanished almost without a trace.  Some copies were lost in fires—an unfortunately very common occurrence, as early film stock was highly flammable—while others were deliberately destroyed.  There is an interesting, though almost certainly apocryphal anecdote in Christian Eichheim’s Moderne Schauermärchen aus der Stummfilmzeit about a rediscovered copy of Listers Rache, which bears repeating here, if only for its dramatic interest.  In 1974, so the story goes, Peter Fleischer, an Austrian film collector, acquired a copy of Listers Rache at an auction.  After viewing the film on his private projector, he began to experience headaches, nausea, and finally hallucinations.  He reported seeing a figure in a black cloak out of the corner of his eye, but the figure would vanish as soon as he turned his head.  At first, this figure would appear to be far away, but it seemed to come closer over time.  Eventually, Fleischer began to suffer from insomnia—the figure would stand over his bed at night, but disappear as soon as the light switch was turned on.  Every appearance of this figure would cause a feeling of intense despair and dread in Fleischer.  After several weeks of agony, Fleischer finally burnt the film reel in his fireplace.  The hallucinations ended, but an inexplicable smell of charred flesh lingered over the chimney.

The same book also offers a rather strange urban legend concerning an alleged curse that hung over the life of Kai Winckelmann.  While serving on the Russian front during World War I, so the story goes, a dying prisoner of Romani descent who had been captured after a particularly bloody skirmish cast the “evil eye” on the young Lieutenant. “The weight of the deaths you have caused will follow you like a cloud,” the man is reported to have said.  Perhaps this was the “dark Muse” Winckelmann spoke of in his letters?  It bears mentioning here that Winckelmann’s sketch book from his stay at the veteran’s hospital contains numerous line drawings of a faceless, cloaked figure.

Regardless of what you think of the supernatural, ask yourself this: who is more real, Hamlet or Shakespeare, Dickens or Oliver Twist, Charles Foster Kane or Orson Welles? Some fictional characters have more life in them than you or I.

Credit To: Lucretius

DERPNOTE: This pasta is a Crappypasta Success Story. That means that it received enough upvotes during its time on Crappypasta for it to be posted on the main archive. You can find its Crappypasta entry here. Thanks, everyone!

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Unknown Number

October 4, 2012 at 6:00 AM
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“JESUS!!” I cried.
Being jolted from a half dose at a quarter to midnight by my new ‘Halloween theme’ ringtone didn’t do wonders for my heart-rate, especially since I’d momentarily forgot I’d changed the tone at all that day.
Took me a while to find my phone stuck down the side of the armchair I was sitting in, not helped by the fact that the only light in the sitting room was the static on the widescreen TV.

“Unknown Number.”

I answered it, there was no-one there.
To be honest I was expecting heavy breathing on the other end as I was still a little freaked out, but there was no noise at all.
I hung up, took a deep breath and frowned- Maybe I just pocket dialed myself.
My old iPhone could make a fake ‘self call’ designed to create a diversion, so if I was having a boring conversation with someone I could pretend mom was ringing or something , although I wasn’t familiar at all with this ‘new’ piece of crap.
Dad bought it from a gas station for twenty bucks a few days ago, as I’d lost my iPhone on a trip to the city last week.
I flicked through the features on the menu screen trying to find the fake call option, but didn’t have much luck, for one thing the screen was about half the size of a credit card.

I cursed and decided to watch T.V. instead to take my mind off things.
I tried using the light of my cell to find the remote with little success.
Groaning out of laziness, I hauled myself out of the chair to get to the light switch.
Stopping halfway, I registered the fact that I had the T.V. on the satellite channels when I fell asleep yet now: static from the analogue Ariel.
I ran the rest of the way to the switch and basically punched it.
Light flooded the room and my darting eyes saw nothing.
After another deep breath, my moment of fear passed, guess I was a little unused to having the whole house to myself.

Mom and Dad were only gone for the night, but it was quite a treat for me since they rarely went anywhere, even during the day.
Nowhere to go but fields around this part of the country, so them going to a friend’s wedding meant I finally had some solitude.
I still couldn’t see the remote so I decided to recheck the sides of the armchair.
I threw my phone on the seat and reached deep down either side.
The Phone rang again at full creepy blast with my ear pressed right up against it.
I angrily grabbed it- “Dammit WHAT!??”
Again, there was dead silence.
Cursing, I threw the phone back on the seat hard.

At that moment the lightbulb blew out violently and the power went out, thrusting me into total darkness.
With a shriek, I scrambled to grab the phone again and found it after an instant of blind terror.
Using the tiny screen light to see, I panicked and bolted down to my room as fast as I could, jumped into bed and pulled the covers. I curled into a fetal position.
I was panting hard, from both the run and the fear. I couldn’t form any thought for about 5 breaths, until I decided to call dad.
Looking at the screen, I saw I forgot to hang up the last call.
My breath caught in my throat as I saw that this time, it wasn’t an “unknown number”- It was mine.

My old number from the phone I’d lost.

As I hit the red button my terrified mind began to race through a thousand horrible implications until I realised something else.

My bed was already warm.

BEEP BEEP. The message tone nearly gave me a heart attack.

“It’s under your pillow”

Ever so slowly, my trembling hand slid underneath the pillow- and found the T.V. remote.

From under the covers I heard my bedroom door close, then lock.

Credit To: Beefnuts

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September 30, 2012 at 4:00 PM
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I’m writing this down in this journal because if I don’t, I may go insane. You may think me insane after reading my story. I wish I was.

My name is Jared Baldwin, and I am twenty-two years old. I recently moved into a brand new apartment in rural Maine. Everything was going great the first two weeks, I was having no problems unpacking my boxes and everything seemed to fit nicely. It looked as if everything I had bought had been bought to furnish this apartment. The power company had forgotten to shut off the electricity, cable, and wifi since the last tenants had moved out. Or perhaps, now that I think about it, they had left so fast the company never knew they had even moved. I can’t blame them.

The first night sleeping in the apartment, once I had completely furnished it and gotten everything set up the way I wanted it, was fantastic. I had no problems adjusting to the new environment whatsoever. I fell asleep within five minutes of getting into bed. It was strange, especially for me, since I usually have trouble falling asleep anywhere I’m not used to. I had this feeling that I was meant to live in that apartment, though it was run-down and in a completely isolated area. I don’t do well with isolation, though it didn’t bother me in the apartment.

The second day went well, though I noticed something strange about the bathroom mirror. It had been painted over with black paint, not an inch of mirror could be seen through the coat. A sledgehammer rested on the tile as though someone had just dropped it and left after considering smashing the mirror, too concerned about leaving the apartment to pick it up before they moved away.

Of course, I didn’t think anything of it at the time. I was rather excited to have gotten a free sledgehammer.
A few weeks went by without incident, and I was completely happy in my new abode. However, strange things were starting to happen.

One night, around three, I woke up with the urgent need to use the restroom. I shuffled in and stopped dead in my tracks. Though the mirror was covered with black paint, a faint silver glow showed beneath the cracks in the coat. I was fascinated, and overwhelmed with the desire to scrape off the paint and shove my hand through the mirror. I thought I could hear faint whispers coming from the other side, beckoning me to clear the mirror of its black cover.

I came to my senses and realized that what was happening was not fascinating at all, but frightening. The voices behind the mirror became agitated, and a split second later both the glow and the voices were gone. I closed my eyes and shook my head, and when I opened them again I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had been dreaming and had merely sleepwalked into the bathroom.
I used the restroom and returned to my bed without giving the mirror a second thought.

The next night the same thing happened, though I noticed some of the paint had chipped off the mirror. A small hole in the paint, about three inches tall and two inches wide, revealed a sliver of mirror, which glowed and pulsated with a sort of silver electricity. The voices, soothing and inviting, called me and begged me to remove the paint from the mirror.

I closed my eyes, and when I opened them again I found myself in bed. I glanced at the clock, 7:43 am. Had I dreamed the whole thing? I had a nagging doubt in my mind that maybe what was happening was not a dream at all, but common sense put that idea to rest for a while.

A few more nights passed without incident.

I awoke once more and shuffled into the bathroom in the middle of the night, as I had done twice before. This time a very large amount of paint had been removed from the mirror. A hole about a foot tall and four inches wide had been made in the paint. The pulsating, electric glow permeated the surface of the mirror and reached out into the bathroom. Tendrils of smoke trickled from the mirror. Once again, the voices pleaded me to free the mirror from its coating. Once again I found myself back in bed, only to find that it was the next morning.

I went into the bathroom and saw that an even larger hole in the paint had been made overnight. I looked at my hands and saw black under my nails and staining my fingers.

God, had I been the one removing the paint at night? The thought frightened me, and that night I bolted the bathroom door shut from the outside. The previous tenants had placed the lock there, no doubt for the same reason I had.

When I awoke that night, I unlocked the deadbolt and went into the bathroom. The voices, more inviting than ever and making me feel like I was meant to do nothing else but free whatever hid behind that mirror, once again demanded I remove the paint. I obeyed, though a very deep level of my subconscious screamed for me to stop. I suppressed it and let the sheer pleasure of removing the paint drive me to do my duty.

I awoke the next morning horrified to see that I had removed all the paint from the mirror. Not a shrapnel of black remained on the mirror, and my hands were completely black. What had I done? I was afraid to sleep that night.

A few weeks passed without incident.

One night, waking up around three as I had done many times before, I went into the bathroom at the request of the voices coming through the bathroom door. They were louder now, as one would expect, for they were no longer muffled by the paint. What I saw terrified me more than anything I had ever before experienced. The thing that lived in the mirror was not pleasant at all. The silver glow was more intense than ever, surrounding the outside of the mirror. Tendrils of smoke poured out from the glass, and the creature inside grinned at me, revealing rows of jagged fangs. My heart nearly exploded through my chest. The voices that had before been so kind and pleasant now sounded menacing and sinister. The creature, hidden by shadow, climbed through the glass, chanting my name.

I ran, out of the bathroom and into the living room. Hearing it close behind, laughing and taking its time, I bolted out the front door and didn’t look back. I didn’t worry about my belongings or about leaving my door unlocked. I didn’t even grab my car keys, I just ran.

Now, as I take refuge in a neighbor’s home, I can’t help but feel as though I’m not safe. I released it from the mirror, and I know it will hunt me until it pulls me into the mirror with it. I have to get away from Maine. Tomorrow I will be moving to California. I don’t care about my belongings, I just want to be safe.


It has been two months since I last wrote in this notebook. I am now living in a very small apartment in southern California, and am working in a restaurant to pay the rent. Though I can barely afford to buy groceries, I am happy that I no longer have to worry about the demon in the mirror.

Though last night I thought I heard a soft, lovely voice calling to me from my bathroom while I slept. That couldn’t have happened, though, I’m probably just still having nightmares because of what happened in Maine. It couldn’t have followed me here, right?


Credit To: Kaylin Rutter

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A Silent Reminder

September 25, 2012 at 4:00 PM
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During the second world war many families in Berlin where confined to shelters for days, sometimes weeks while outside air raids flew overhead.

Many of the children, who were supposed to be at school making friends, where instead put under great stress.

However during this time, the english government, in an attempt to raise moral began a large scale propaganda campaign, the most noticeable of which was the “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster. However less notable was the british government’s contracting of Wonderment Toys & co, to produce free stuffed bears, which were handed out to kids and families around Berlin during raids. the toys were made by war prisoners under forced labour, and at very little expense to the ministries. The project was soon discarded, though after a massive loss of man power in the workhouses.

On the 6th of June 1942, the bodies of over 300 prisoners where found in the workhouses of w&co toy manufactures. The bodies where described as still chained to the work benches, but butchered, bisected from head to crouch and void of all internal organs. Baffled by the massacre, the police were unable to find any leads to who may have been behind the event, but mentioned in the reports that the toys and workstations remained untouched.

Three days after the workhouse massacre, there was a series of small bombings near the north suburban end of Berlin. While causing little damage, the explosions were thought to be responsible for the disappearance of the final shipment of bears, which never arrived at the towns.

The week after the countryside bombings, a large air raid hit most of berlin and in the wake of the raid came a spree of missing children’s reports from north. This while tragic, was nothing more then a footnote, as the war began to reach it’s peak.

The documents following the case reveal no connections to the workhouse massacre, save a disturbing report by an elderly women living in the suburbs on the night of the air raid.

Sue Geese, the elderly woman, reported seeing a large group of children gathered in the streets through her window. The children appeared to be playing with their toy bears.

After a few hours the raid sirens sounded and Miss Geese ran to the bunker screaming at the children to “run home”, according to Geese the children did not hear her or simply ignored her.

During the bombings geese claimed to hear screaming that seemed “hollow” and “metallic” over the explosions, but upon leaving the bunker found only the children’s stuffed bears, which, according to geese, where actually in “good condition considering the damaged surroundings.”

Other reports from the area, not related to the missing children, concerned a bad smell, described as “rotting meat” for three days after the raid.

The children were never found, yet another tragedy born in the horrors of WWII. However, if you look in antique shops, you can still find the bears today, a silent reminder of the hardships endured by the people of England.

Credit To: hendo

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