And Mira

March 30, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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And Mira

And Mira, Part 1: The Chalky Child

I am telling you this story not by my memory, but in my memory. I must ask you to try to hear my thoughts, take whatever cues, and fill in the blanks. Like a dream you wake up and remember only part-way, and my whole life is like that. Because I cannot talk, at least not in the way you would understand. I do have language, but my spoken language doesn’t make sense yet to most people. While I don’t speak many words, I hear them and understand what many of them mean. I have a good sense of what has happened, but simply cannot tell you my story with the spoken word.

Because, you see, I am 18 months old.

The world turns and its happenings occur around me over and over. I process what the adults say. I interpret what the other children do. Yet I am unable to speak about what has happened to a child I knew not long ago. I can only remember, and hope that you too can find sense in my thoughts and my memories.

My very first memory is of a crying child. Not the child in my story. Another. The sobbing baby might even be me, but I’m not sure. I’m certainly quite unpleasant, if it is in fact me. This child is pale, chalky white, marred and miserable. I’ve never heard such a cry. Not from myself, or from any of my friends.

Well, I don’t suppose I have friends, but the other children in the nursery school. The truth is I do not like them very much, since they spend their days and mine stealing my favorite toys, and finding new ways to brutalize each other. They can’t talk either, and their thoughts, whimpers and memories are all focused on food, their mothers, and pulling hair. Often mine.

But I never have heard a cry from any of those little beasts that is the same as the child in that brief early memory. It is the cry of a trapped animal, sweet yet sad. It is angered, frightened, and frightening. It evokes pity, yet implies flight. An anguished, horrifying cry. While you desire to extinguish the poor child’s pain, there is also a foreboding to it. Attempting any sort of comfort to this little one would certainly lead to death. It is a fleeting memory of a chalky child in the process of having soiled pants removed and changed by an adult, who clearly hates and fears it.

Nothing in the chalky child’s features is any clue. In fact, there are no prominent facial features at all. But, memories are like that, and the fog is thick. The grey-white skin is barely visible through the thick fog of my memory. The skin underneath the diaper is the only to have any color, red and bleeding from the apparent digestive incompetence of this pitiful child. Miserable…and that cry! Part of me perceives that it isn’t the pain of the bleeding skin or rash that causes this child’s pain. It is the pain of having been born at all. An abomination born into a life of pity, and hatred by all in view. This child, will never have comfort, and never know love. Not even from its own mother.

That is all from my first memory.

I no longer see that child when my eyes close, and rarely believe it to be myself. Left to my quietest thoughts, sometimes, alone in a crib, I hear the cry still, while even awake. Or sometimes, I hear it faintly in alone times with Mother, when she sings to me. Mother seemingly never hears, never responds. Wait, did I see her eyebrow twitch in that moment? No. No. Perhaps not.

My father is, or was, a hero. I’m not sure what that means. I believe his job was to kill, but that he died while doing his job. I’m not sure he is actually dead, but I don’t remember seeing him or ever meeting him. My mother says he wept uncontrollably the day I was born. And she says he adored me above all things. And then he was gone. I remember feeling that love, even though I have no actual memory or picture of him in my life.

There is a photo among our few personals in the library. It sits on the highest shelf, bookended by Christie and Mitchell, and a beautiful album adorned with two large “M’s”, the first beginning to wear on the right side. The photo is of mother, wearing a beautiful white dress next to a hopelessly handsome man in a suit. I imagine that beautiful man in the photo, adoring my mother, must be my father.

That’s most of what I know and remember about my family. There is so much more to my story.

As much as I’ve absorbed over my little time on the planet, there is little I’ve been able to organize into what makes sense. Most of my memories are from the nursery school. Disorganized, those memories are rich and plenty. They make more sense to a child my age. The children at the nursery do bizarre, unusual things, but they are the bizarre, unusual things that children do so well. And the behaviors of the adults caring for us are all the things a caring adult will do. Intuitive to me. When adults talk to each other, it’s about guns and cinema and nasties and nations. But when adults at nursery talk to children, they say “Ellie, would you like your meal”, or “Bing, do not bite the other children” or “Andrew, give the toy back to Mira”, or “Good morning Mira”…

Oh. I suppose I’ve neglected to “Introduce” myself. My name is Mira.

It seems. Most people call me Mira, though I’m not sure what it means or whether it is my first or my last name. Some other people refer to Mother by that name, calling her “Ms. Mira” or “Mother Mira”, or some such. Hard to say. Harder to remember. The adults at nursery just say “Mira” while looking at me and attempting to give me direction. So my name must be Mira. The other children, well, they do not call me anything.

Ellie is always hungry. She only eats. She is a sweet, pretty girl, who rarely causes a fuss. But she stays in place much of the time, and waits for the world to interact with her. This of course rarely happens unless one of the other children runs by and pulls her hair. That, sadly, happens a lot. The adults seem to forget about her much of the time. I stop by her at least once in a while, to give her a quick smile or a hug. I would never want to be forgotten by all of humanity for hours each day.

Andrew is a funny little boy that only wants to do whatever I’m doing. He is the closest to a friend I think I have here. More factually, I suppose, is that Andrew likes to take whatever I am playing with. He doesn’t hurt me, and he isn’t mean. He just takes things from me. He often smiles at me, and will even give me a small hug, all while he’s absconding with my playthings. I do think he likes me because he tries to say my name. Or, it’s possible that he’s lazy and is just saying “mama”. He is the youngest in his family, with three older siblings, all girls. Maybe that’s why he likes me. He says something which sounds like Mira and smiles and hugs me. That’s why I like Andrew.

There is also a set of twins. I don’t know their names. They confuse me.

Then there’s Bing.

Bing, I do not like. The adults call him “Beautiful Baby Bing” or “Baby Boy Bing” but they should call him “Biting Bing”. That is all Bing does, is bite all of the children in nursery school, every day. The adults get angry with him when he bites one of us, but not for very long. Bing is in fact a beautiful blond boy with a cute name, and no adult can stay mad at him. So he simply never stops biting the rest of us children. He waddles around with a little hop, with his little grin, and never says a word. He just waddles, hops into their arms, and grins. And he bites. Us.

There is another reason Bing the Bastard won’t stop biting, I think. (I heard Mother call him that once. It made all the adults laugh. I don’t know what that word means, actually). I think another reason Bastard Bing won’t stop biting is that his mother is the mean, angry type. Mother uses another word for her that also starts with “B”. It might be her name.

This woman hates life, hates us children, hates our parents, hates the adults in nursery, and in all likelihood hates Bing too. When the adults in nursery ask her for help with his behavior, she only yells at them, embarrasses and criticizes them in very personal ways. She hates us all. I’m pretty certain it makes her happy when he bites one of us. She certainly thought I deserved it when he bit my face a few weeks ago. She said so out loud. She said something about Mother, and me, and then laughed a laugh that wasn’t at all a human laugh but sick. Her laugh was miserable like the chalky child’s cry.

She laughed that day. I went home that night and cried. I don’t usually cry after something happens. I’m just not that type of toddler. Bing and his horrid mother hurt parts of me that I cannot see with their words and that laugh. Bing had bitten my cheek, and it bled, leaving a thin line of open skin close to my eye. Mother was angry. With me! She said that I should never allow this to happen to me. She was certain I would never be able to perform some function in front of a camera, whatever that meant. I was bad, and I would never be beautiful. Bing caused Mother to be angry with me and that hurt in a way that made me cry, all night, in my little bed.

Bing made me bad, so I thought. I was a disappointment already in my young life. Bing and his B-mother must be evil. I wanted them to die, which I also didn’t truly understand. When I’m older I will understand that that isn’t a nice thing to wish on people. I didn’t wish them to die out of hate or fate, but out of fairness. My father, the man in the photo, died. And he was good. Why should he die, but they get to live, biting and spreading filth in the nursery and in the world. I would never have really wished my father’s fate on another if I truly understood. I just knew he was good, death was bad, and Bing and his mother were bad. Fairness. Not fate.

I finally found sleep with those thoughts, deeply and firmly planted in my memory, along with the cry of that horrible child. You may be surprised to learn that here my story truly begins. It’s about Bing, and what happened to him. Because that was the last day Bing bit anyone. Ever. And I’m not sure if fate or fairness was the cause. What happened to Bing, the very next day, and each day forward for nearly a month was…

He became…good!

He never bit or tried to harm any of the children in nursery again. He never again victimized poor stationary Ellie. He stopped attempting to consume the confusing twins. He smiled at Andrew and me and didn’t try to hurt us. He still wobbled and hopped and grinned. Now even the children could love sweet Beautiful Bing. And it wasn’t just what he stopped doing, but what he began from that day forward. He actually started being nice to the other children.

He would bring Ellie bits of food when she was hungry, even sharing his own when there wasn’t enough. He learned how to open the pantry to get biscuits and an occasional snack cake for her! Ellie was happy every day and smiled more than ever I saw her. And not only at meals, but all the time. She would get up and chase him all through the day, laughing, catching him and hugging him.

He wouldn’t let Andrew take my toys away either. He wouldn’t hurt Andrew, but just took the toys back. He would smile, and give me hugs and kisses. It always made me nervous when he’d try to kiss my cheek, because I was afraid he would bite. But he never would. And Bing learned to say “Mira”. I secretly knew he loved Ellie though.

I am thinking of a B-word for lazy old Andrew…

Bing never bit the twins again. He didn’t really play with them either. None of us did very much I’m afraid. I think they confused him too. They’re a little creepy.

Bing, Sweet Bing was suddenly a good boy! And everyone, including the adults in nursery, and all of our parents, just loved Bing that much more! They would all tell his mother about what a good boy he was, how nice he was to the children, and how wonderful we all thought he was. Sadly, Bing’s mother did not change. As always, she would just laugh and defile our ancestors yet again. She didn’t see any difference and she didn’t care to.

Nearly a month.

Then, after those few wonderful weeks, Bing’s miserable mother seemed to care. One morning she came into nursery in tears. She came without threats. She came without insults, and without her miserable laugh. She howled, a much less bestial version of her miserable laugh. I’m sorry to say I liked it better. It was easier not to hate her, or want her dead, acting so human. I had no idea.

What confused us is when the adults at nursery started to cry. What a sight! The children in nursery calm and quiet, while every adult carried on like someone took their favorite toy! They said strange things, like “but he was never weak” or “he had no cough” and “he couldn’t have had a fever I would have noticed”. They were all confused, all sobbing, all looking to each other, and sometimes to us, for comfort and an answer to an unsolvable puzzle.

Without any warning, any symptoms, something called pneumonia had taken sweet Bing in his crib. Fate. Fairness. Perhaps both. Ellie, seeing Bing’s mother, looked around for him to play. Somehow, she understood, seeing the adults cry and Bing missing, that she would not see him again. So she sat down where she was, staring ahead, eventually shedding tears she could not explain. I don’t remember when she finally moved again.

I didn’t cry in my crib that night. True, I would miss Bing, and the wonderful boy he had become. I would miss hearing him say my name. But I remembered my father, who also died unfairly. He too was wonderful and he too adored me. That’s fair, and that’s how it goes.

Bing had been nice, a friend to all, suddenly becoming a giving person to everyone in his world. Then he was lost. But Bing, sweet Bing received his just reward for his behavior up to that point. Fate, or fairness. Hard to say. Bing’s mom changed however. She finally became human. She properly began hating herself more than the world and everyone who had seen fit to love her child through his short life, both bad and good. Fate had replaced her hate for us. What a thing to have to happen, in order for one so foul to become human.

At that, actually, I cried a little, saddened at the thought that some adults needed such a motivation to become decent members of humanity. I hoped I would never become that way. And as I quietly sobbed, I heard the pitiful cry of the chalky child, for a moment, then drifted away to sleep.

And Mira, Part 2: Smoke

“Mira?”

“Hello Smoke,” Mira giggled.

“Don’t call me that. That isn’t my name…”

“Well then, what is your real name? I very well must call you something!” she asserts.

“Oh…well…sorry…I..I just can’t…”

“Mm-hmmm”

“But I don’t understand why you need to call me Smoke! It makes no sense, and it cannot be anything like my real name.”

He said this without being irritated, because she was right. He was unable to share his real name with her at this time. Her nickname for him made little sense, but was a mantle of mystery he had to admit he enjoyed.

It had been seven years since Mira had heard the cry of the chalky child. She still remembered the image of the pale child in pain, but no longer heard the terrible suffering in the back of her memory, or in her dreams. He had remained silent for many years after the passing of Sweet Bing. Almost as if both children had suffered and died simultaneously, the chalky child no longer found a voice after the unexpected passing of Mira’s childhood friend from pneumonia. The cry was palpable that night, almost as if mourning with her, then went away with as little warning as he came. For seven years the piteous child and the agonizing cry was absent. Until recently.

Earlier this month, in the twilight between awareness and sleep, he began speaking to her. At first she was frightened, of course. But it did not take Mira long to realize that this voice must be the miserable baby now grown, and able to speak. He too had replaced his cry with words she could hear, and respond to. She was certain that this was the chalky child of her infancy. They were known and unknown, strangers and friends, yet unseen to each. He seemed unaware of who he was, and did not know who Mira was, other than the one soul that could hear him.

Mira, as a baby, thought the chalky child was even a part of her own mind. But, this was a boy so she dismissed that fully. She thought, too, that it may be the spirit of sweet Bing back to haunt her, or bite her, or just lost in the next life. She wasn’t so quick to dismiss that, even though it was unlikely. The chalky child had been in her thoughts before death had taken Bing. So, impossibly, it seemed that Mira had friended a phantom in her quietest moments, most likely the auditory incarnation of a tormented baby from her memory! A lonely lost soul she called “Smoke”.

“You see, Smoke, you can’t tell me your name. Or you won’t! But I must call you something when I address you, when we speak. And, you see, I remember you from when you were just a baby. We never met, of course, but I knew you, and saw you, and…” She pauses here, not wanting to bring up the constant cries of agony she remembered. He doesn’t seem to know much about himself, and she didn’t want to upset him. If she made Smoke angry, he may leave her for another seven years or more! Though she had many friends, she enjoyed having this secret friend, and didn’t want him to go away. Particularly if by some chance it was indeed Bing. What fun!

“I don’t remember much of course, as I too was just a baby. But every time I saw you, it was as if through the fog of the deepest memory. In some ways I felt as though I was seeing you then, while at the same time as a distant thought. Which is silly, because of course babies don’t have deep memories and distant thoughts. But the constant was the dim fog separating us from existing at the same time, in the same room, or together in the same dream.

“So I call you Smoke! Would you prefer I call you Fog? Cloud, perhaps? Gassy?”

“No, gosh no. No. Fine. Smoke it is. I…actually like it. Well, what shall we play today?”

“Oh, Smoke, you silly, I have to go to school now. I wish you could go with but that never works. I’d love to talk more, but, I’m quite sure it’s time to wake up now.”

And, it was. As every morning, I awake, alone, in daze and haze. Unlike a dream, though, it isn’t just a vivid memory I have of speaking with Smoke. It is as though it just occurred while I was awake. As though it were real. I’m sure Smoke is some kind of spirit, perhaps of a child that died during war, or of pneumonia like Bing, or simply another child spared of another day as the child of Bing’s mother. Thankfully this ghost or whatever doesn’t seem to mean any harm to me. So, like most mornings I awake, very refreshed despite having spent much of my night in otherworldly conversation, and prepare for school.

I love school. I love to read, and learn about things of the world. At the beginning of class each day we pledge allegiance to our flag. “One nation, indivisible.” Teacher calls attendance in order, finally getting to my name. “Mira Mirras!” I say “present”.

So you see my confusion when I was young. Mira. Mira Mirras. That’s my name. Mira was both my first and last name. What a stupid thing for my parents to do. And I had to go to school to figure that out. My first year out of nursery school I thought all of the adults had a stutter! It explains the big book in our library adorned with two “M’s”, though. The first M has worn ever more each year at its farthest right leg. It’s my book of photos.

We study mathematics philosophies for a little while each day, reading, and handwriting. In Social Studies, we are learning about World War II and the split of Germany. This is probably my favorite class! I remember mom telling me we had some distant cousins in Germany. At one point, there were a number of people that needed food and such airlifted to them. What an adventure! I’m sure it was very difficult for them though. The German people are not always seen in a very favorable light, often considered gruff and harsh.

I’m still friends with both Andrew and Ellie. He prefers ‘Andy’. She prefers ‘Eleanor’. Despite that, I’m still friends with them. Andrew (yes, I still call him Andrew), is still my best friend. He was before, even when Bing was being so nice. But let’s face it, Bing was nice, Andrew stole my toys, and I liked the attention from both of them. Andrew didn’t seem to miss Bing very much at the time. Now, we both remember Bing. Fondly. Sadly.

You may remember the twins. They grew up with us, and became a little less confusing. There is a boy and a girl, named Frank and Kelly. They are still funny, as they seem to know what the other is thinking and feeling all the time. Weird. I understand that it’s normal for twins to be very sensitive to each other’s feelings and experiences. They have a lot of jokes and the like that only they laugh at. It’s a little annoying, but I see why they enjoy having that understanding with each other. I might enjoy that, having a sister that knew everything I was feeling! It would be nice if Andrew would occasionally guess what I’m thinking too.

Sorry, that’s another topic.

Kelly and Frank are very good friends to us, but they aren’t always good people.

Kelly is very energetic, perhaps a little hyper. She is pretty in the way that you could make a boy pretty, since she still looks like Frank. He is also pretty, though I would never say that to him. Kelly is very social and will be the one to invite others into a conversation. She works hard to get everyone to like her, but is easily wounded. She likes a lot of attention, but only when it’s positive attention. Her grand personality sometimes makes others feel small, and they let her know it. When that happens, she won’t talk to you for weeks. And when Kelly doesn’t talk to you, Frank does not talk to you either.

Frank is a bully. I’m not saying that it’s entirely unprovoked, but he is. Outside of Kelly’s influence, he is quiet, helpful, and very kind. He is in many ways Kelly’s opposite. Yet they’re twins. And because of that sensitivity, Frank disappears whenever she is upset, and “Angry Boy Kelly” appears. It’s true! Suddenly the kind, quiet Frank becomes as the direct mouthpiece to Kelly’s emotions, and he will lash out on her behalf.

One of the younger boys in school pulled his sister’s hair earlier in the year. I think the young guy actually liked Kelly, and just didn’t know how to talk to her. So he pulled her hair then ran away. Boys do that. Except Andrew. I’d kill him. He knows it.

Sorry, I did it again…

About a month later, Frank started beating the younger kid up, every day, before school. He would punch him in the stomach, and bruise his upper arms and legs, where adults wouldn’t see. He would shake him and threaten him. Some days he wouldn’t even hurt him, but would gaze at him with such menace that the little boy would wet his pants. One day he bloodied the poor kid’s nose and I thought for sure Frank would get in trouble. But the smaller kid told a story protecting Frank because he was scared. And he never spoke with Kelly either, because he was afraid of Frank. That part makes me angry, because otherwise Frank is a mild, friendly guy. I don’t like that she puts him up to that. The little guy learned his lesson. Let it go!

You may remember Ellie. I saved her for last. She is absolutely my best girlfriend, every day since nursery. She has grown to be very smart, and pretty. But she still has a large appetite, and she no longer chases boys. They chase her! I love Ellie, and frankly so does everyone else. She took Bing’s kindness to her, and shares it regularly with everyone else in her world. But Ellie, every day since Bing was taken from her, is sad. She doesn’t look sad, but I can see the missing piece of her soul, that only a friend can see. She shares the very best of herself with others. She saves her tears for me. In many ways I’m grateful to be that person for her. Almost like a twin.

Each day, Andrew walks me home. He doesn’t carry my books or anything. We just walk together because he lives so close. We are very good friends, though, and we talk about everything. He talks about a lot of things I could care less about, but I listen. It’s the least I can do, since he seems to sincerely care about everything I have to say.

Sometimes we talk about Frank, and whether we should make him stop beating up the smaller boy. We both agree that it’s probably Kelly putting him up to it. We both like the twins, especially Frank, when he isn’t acting that way. It’s very difficult to keep associating with him when he is harming a smaller boy though. Sometimes I’m even embarrassed to admit that I know him. Every day Andrew and I agree that the very next day we will make him stop. And every next day comes and we are too chicken to do actually do anything or say anything. I’m ashamed. I’m a coward when it comes to these things.

Most days, I make soup, wait for Mother to get home from work, and watch TV. It’s a little set showing the programs of the day in black and white. Not impressive. I think we will be able to get one in color someday though! Mom and I enjoy the quiz shows. The one where the host tugs his ear and the contestants play charades is our favorite! Mom and I act out the charades and try to guess along with the show. We both stink at it and laugh at each other a lot. These moments let me know that I have a very good life, for which I’m grateful.

Mother and I are very close. I’m all she has. Father is dead, so I’ve heard. It turns out though, that the photo of the man on the bookshelf is not my father. She doesn’t have a photo of Father. She feels bad about that.

The man in the photo is another man she married after she found out my father had died. He was the handsome one in the photo next to my album of baby pictures. Mother says that she loved him almost as much as Father, and that he was very good to her and me for a while. She says he loved me almost as much as Father did. Despite that, he left. What’s funny is that I never met either Father, or my step-father, and have only a photo of the latter. Something must have gone terribly wrong for him to leave the wonderful woman that is Mother. I have a hard time loving him back.

On this particular day, Andrew and I resolve to end Frank’s bullying of the little boy the next morning. For good. His terrorizing of the poor kid was just too much to bear. The child sat for an hour, under a tree, just shaking and shaking, afraid to enter the school that day. His teacher finally went out and collected him before lunch, and he said he fell asleep. As scared as I am, I think it’s just too much to witness day after day. And for once, Andrew was angry enough to fight Frank himself if needed. We’ll talk to Frank first, of course, but if that doesn’t work…

We never had to. The very next morning, out of nowhere, Frank went up to the little boy, and apologized to him. Profusely, and with tears. Weird. He was truly ashamed of his actions. Not only that, but he promised to protect him from anyone else that would ever try to hurt him the rest of the school year. And, he apologized on behalf of Kelly. They all became very good friends. In fact, the younger boy struck an especially close friendship with Kelly, who he liked. She, in turn, started being very nice to him, walking home with him from school every day. Just like Andrew and me, though I think she started, uh, liking the boy. And he carried her books for her. Lucky girl!

Sorry. I really need to stop that. How embarrassing…

I had always found Kelly to be a little unforgiving, so this was a surprise. She wasn’t a bully like Frank, but without her influence, Frank was more likely to be a close friend to someone than she. She was less likely to forgive a past slight. He, quietly, continued to be the young boy’s protector, as well as a good friend to everyone else. She was the same ebullient girl she always was, but without the easy wounding and vengeful tactics. They were a strange pair, each with two different sides, not quite complementary. Now, they were both showing their very best sides, great students and even better people, for nearly a month.

One day, Andrew and I decided to ask Frank what was responsible for the big change. Something had definitely happened, but what? We asked him to walk with us after school. Since his sister spent so much time with the other boy, he was happy for the company, and agreed. We walked a few blocks, keeping the conversation very casual. Then, at the right time, I asked Frank directly what had made him decide to stop bullying the little boy, and to befriend him. What was responsible for this wonderful change that made us all love him, and Kelly? Frank stopped, and looked at his feet, as if deciding between two different answers. He finally decided, and his mouth began to form the word “Kelly”.

But before he could utter that or any other word, he sunk to his knees. Tears began to well, slowly at first. Then, with a sudden frightening twist to his features, the tears fell freely, and he wept. He had gone completely mad, crying and whimpering out of control, his face a mixture of torment and fear. We tried to comfort him, but he couldn’t stop. Any approach brought ever louder screams. Other times his eyes would glaze and he appeared to forget we were even there with him.

After nearly ten minutes of persistent, even despair, he lifted his head and howled. This was a miserable cry, as though an animal were caught in a trap, breathing its last. We were afraid that Frank would die before our very eyes. But, Frank did not die. Immediately following the horrible scream, he was finally able to mouth the word, “Kelly” as he intended before, but this time he was certain of which word to utter. Then, he stood, and ran from us, as if from a fire.

We followed him. Frank isn’t normally a sure runner, but he seemed to know precisely where he was going this time. He turned quick corners and ran back toward our school. Just before reaching the storehouse of education we all shared, he rapidly bent his path, choosing a quiet block, with only a few houses to boast. It was the block that the little boy lived on; the same poor kid that he used to brutalize on a daily basis. And there, in the middle of the street was that boy, huddled down over a body, himself a mess of tears. Kelly’s body. She was dead.

Frank froze, viewing Kelly’s broken body. After empty moments had passed, the boy was able to ramble a few words. Kelly had apparently been hit by an automobile. She never had a chance, dead even before being flung in the air. It was clearly an accident, as no small boy could cause that kind of damage. Neighbors finally started to pour out to help and bring order to the situation. No one, including the boy had seen any car speeding down that road. In fact, very few cars ever traveled this road. One must have this day though. And at the very moment of the accident, and each second leading up to it, Frank had felt her fear, her pain and her death.

The little boy went into shock. He didn’t speak the rest of the school year, until his parents just kept him home. He would be absent from school entirely until many years later. That night, in my bed, I didn’t cry. I couldn’t cry for Kelly. I could feel sad for Frank, and for the little boy, I suppose. It was true that Kelly had turned around, becoming a good friend, and a good person. But, as you know, fate and fairness and all. Kelly, I’m sure, received her ultimate reward for her behavior the many months prior.

You know, even as I say that, and even believe it; it rings hollower than with Bing. I decide to talk with Smoke about it when next we speak.

“Smoke, why do bad things happen to good people?”

A pause

“You mean like Kelly?” he asked.

“Yes.”

Another pause.

“They don’t. Kelly was not a good person. She made Frank mean.”

I didn’t know how he could possibly know that.

“Smoke, how do you know that?”

“Bing. He wasn’t a good person either. He was mean.”

Oh…

I now know that Smoke was NOT Bing. I was suddenly afraid to know any more. I wanted to wake up.

“Mira, I’m going to try to tell you my name. Soon. You will help me. Then you will call me by my real name.”

“Smoke?”

This pause felt very uncomfortable.

“Yes?”

“Do you know how Kelly died?”

And with that, it was time to wake again. I suddenly shivered before opening my eyes to the new day. It was because I was already awake, and morning had not yet come. My eyes had never closed. I had the whole night yet before me.

“I will tell you my name.”

And Mira, Part 3: Andrew Lost

I decided today to look through my photo album. It’s been a while. Every time I open the book, the “M” on the cover, the first one, wears down more of its dangling right leg. There are two large “M’s” on the cover, signifying my name, Mira Mirras.

Yes, that’s my name. Redundant, I know.

I don’t want to damage the cover any further, so I rarely pull it from the bookshelf where it sits next to a photo of Mother and my former step-father. When I do take down the album, I’m quite careful. For twelve years I’ve managed to fill this book with brief glimpses of my life’s endeavors, keeping careful to protect my nameplate. Today, I am as cautious as ever, but intent on viewing each photo in detail for clues to the ghost that haunts me.

My ghost is “Smoke”, or so I call him as he hasn’t told me his real name. He started as a foggy memory from my infancy, so initially when he began speaking to me at age nine, I simply called him Smoke. It sounded better than “Smog”. I didn’t realize at the time that he was a ghost, as truthfully I could very well have been mad, hearing voices, attributing them to lost friends long gone. But, I was quite certain that the unhappy chalky child from my early memories was now grown, and speaking to me as a grown boy. He no longer demonstrated the agony of his difficult young childhood, and presented as a secret friend.

Now, I’m not so sure. True, there haven’t been any further deaths, and Smoke has been nothing but kind, even funny on occasion. But I cannot forget the night that Kelly died, and how much he seemed to know about her, inferring that her death was justified. And yet, he seemed unwilling to share about how much he knew about her actual death. Chilling!

Two children I have known have died in the time that I’ve known Smoke, or at least known of him. There is little to prove that Smoke was responsible, really. The one child, Bing, died of pneumonia – quite common in our day. And Kelly was an unfortunate victim of an automobile accident. Both deaths were very sad and untimely, but not at all unusual or unheard of.

But here’s the thing. Bing showed no symptoms of pneumonia of any kind. He simply died in his crib after a life of total health, so it seemed. And Kelly’s accident was even more bizarre, since there was only evidence of an automobile accident, but no evidence of an automobile. No automobile! The one witness to the accident, Kelly’s young boyfriend, went into shock and is now completely mute, at home, removed from society. All of these were completely normal deaths, under entirely abnormal circumstances.

Adding to the mystery of it, both had a complete personality change, for the better, for nearly a month up until their deaths. And Smoke…he seemed to know all about it, or enough to make me very nervous. He told me they were not good people, which he should not know. And why would he even say that? So I’m looking through my own history to see if I can find a clue about myself, Smoke, and why he would choose me to talk to, or haunt, or whatever it is that he’s doing.

My baby pictures are wonderful. Of course I have the bearskin cheesecake shot. Thanks, Mother. That of course will never be shown outside of this house to anyone not related by blood! There are photos of me eating, cake I think, on my first birthday. I giggle, because it’s all over my face, and because the sad fact is that I still eat cake this way. I see a more recent photo of myself with one of the young children in the neighborhood. He and I are playing with a potato-like toy, and I’m making him laugh with the funny faces I create. I like caring for children very much, like the adults from my nursery school cared for me. Like Mother.

There is a beautiful photo of me sleeping, covered in a homemade blanket, dark with lighter cross-stitches on it. I am sleeping on my stomach with my bottom up in the air and my cheek scrunched up against the bed. It’s funny because I see children sleeping that way now, so it must be how children sleep. But what makes the photo beautiful is the peaceful look on my face above all the scrunching. Whenever I am feeling depressed or down-trodden, I think about how calm and happy I am in this photo, and I feel immediately better.

There are a number of other photos of me at various ages and stages, playing with toys, swimming, running, chasing a ball or a dog, or a dog chasing a ball, and generally enjoying a wonderful life. My careful inspection of each photo brings warmth to my cheeks as I smile and remember happy times. None, however, offers a single clue to my ghost. In many ways, that’s a relief. At this point, Mother enters the room and turns on the television in order to watch “Today”.

Mother and I watch television together a lot. We laugh at the characters, play the game shows with the contestants, eating supper, or occasionally fast food while watching. Mother hates that she allows me to do that, but we both enjoy wonderful time together. We are very close. Since I’ve begun digging up my past, I decide to push a little further.

“Mother, what can you tell me about Father?”

“What would you like to know?”

“Well, everything, of course. What did he look like? Was he handsome? What was your favorite thing about him? How long were you married?”

“Mira, my goodness, slow down! Of course your father was very handsome. He wasn’t terribly tall, but had light hair, dark eyes, and a hopelessly infectious laugh. He and I laughed together a lot, like you and I do. We weren’t married for very long…he died shortly after you were born. Spending time with you reminds me of the fun he and I had, which is such a joy. It also is very sad. What I miss most about him is how much he loved you…”

It sounded as though she had more to say, so I pressed.

“How did he die? I’ve heard people say he was a hero. But what does that mean?”

“Your father was a soldier in the war. He killed a lot of enemy soldiers, and died protecting some of his own men. I don’t know all of the details, but yes he was very brave. His death allowed others to live, which is why you will hear our family often call him a hero.”

OK. One more.

“What was his name?”

A pause.

“Nathaniel. It was Nathaniel. I’m surprised I’ve never told you that…”

“Nathaniel the Brave,” I dreamed out loud.

“Yes”, said Mother, “Nathaniel the Brave, who loved me, and loved you, and his fellow soldiers and countrymen and…loved his family.”

Mother gets a very sad, quiet expression at this, as though she were losing Father yet again. Hearing those things about the father I never met gave me the warm, flushed, happy feeling that I felt looking at my sleeping photo with the dark cross-stitched blanket. I turned to it again to complete the feeling, but what I found left me cold. When I turned to it, the photo showed instead, in full color, a cherry-red box with a gold cross.

No! A coffin! I quickly skimmed through all of the other photos to find that in each I was no longer visible. It was as if my whole life had in fact happened without me! My absence was repeated through each photo on every page, all the way until the very first photo. There, on the bearskin rug, where previously I had had my very first photo, was instead a pasty white baby looking forward. That is, if you could call it a human baby. This child was an abomination! At the realization that my baby picture had been mystically replaced by the true visage, the disgusting features and mangled body of the chalky child, I screamed and lost consciousness. That is all I remember.

I woke up later that evening, the album still lying next to me, open, and apparently back to normal. Mother was quite concerned, but I couldn’t let her know what I saw. I couldn’t let her know that my photographs were being haunted by a creature from my earliest memory, or that this creature even existed. Even I would think I was mad if I heard my own story! Thinking quickly, I told her I must simply have been famished, and must have passed out from near-starvation, and would she be willing to get me the Colonel’s chicken for dinner? Yes, yes I feel fine. Of course I would be just fine to go to school tomorrow!

I am now twelve years of age, and in Junior High. I don’t love school quite as much as I did when I was younger. I don’t mind my classes, and I love learning, of course. But I’m afraid. You see, I make friends easily, which isn’t as good as it sounds. Because I have a ghost. And ever since I’ve had a ghost, my friends seem to have unexplainable, mortal accidents. So while I enjoy school, math, reading Anne Frank’s Diary, and pledging “one nation, indivisible” each day, it is always in the back of my mind that one of my friends may simply die!

It is always in my mind that it will be, somehow, my fault.

I am most concerned for Andrew. I will say that the best part of Junior High is the boys! They are many, and they enjoy talking to me. But my favorite boy, my favorite friend, is Andrew. He continues to walk me home every day, and while he’s never kissed me, he’s begun carrying my books for me. I can certainly carry my books myself, but I sure do enjoy when he does it for me! We talk every day about important things, like television, schoolwork, our friends, the President, Queen Elizabeth, the bomb, and the world such as it is. I enjoy our conversations, but I have to admit that it is Andrew’s presence, his words and his eyes, that make them the highlight of my day.

And then there is Frank. Frank is beautiful in his own right. He also has never kissed me, but I doubt he will ever kiss anyone. Frank lost his sister, Kelly, the girl that I referenced earlier. They were twins, and I have to believe that type of loss is different than losing a sibling in any other way. Frank is very cordial at school and even smiles at me sometimes. But Frank, unlike Andrew, doesn’t give me the time of day when classes are out. That isn’t fair, perhaps, as he doesn’t give anyone the time of day. He spends all of his afternoon hours, after school, standing outside of the little boy’s house that he used to bully. The one that was there when his sister was…when she died. Cooper.

Just before Kelly’s accident, Frank had befriended Cooper. He protected him at school, which was ironic considering that Frank was the one that had been bullying Cooper. Cooper and Kelly became very close friends largely due to Frank’s change of heart on the matter. Or, so it seemed. Our group of friends always felt that it was Kelly’s influence that made her brother bully the smaller boy. Then, suddenly, Frank apologized for having terrorized him, and pledged his friendship. After that Cooper began to spend a lot of time with Kelly, and they became close. Until she died.

Now, Frank would spend every moment after school, until suppertime, standing outside of Cooper’s home, just staring. Two young men on opposite sides of a glass, feeling the same inconsolable loss, unable to create any positive momentum toward healing. Both rushing toward death by standing still.

I would follow him on occasion, with Andrew, mostly out of concern. Most often, we would observe Frank staring at the home of the now mute child, with a very strange look on his face. I still don’t know if it was anger, or something else. Part of me believed that Frank needed to continue to protect Cooper, even more so now that his sister was gone. The more rational part of me knew that he was waiting for the chance to exact revenge on Cooper. For what? Surviving, I think, while his sister did not.

Andrew and I spoke of this at length. He felt we should leave it be. It wasn’t our concern. I felt that we needed to reach out and help Frank, at the very least, and possibly even Cooper. Andrew became increasingly irritated with me, which frankly I did not like. He was acting almost jealous of Frank! I wasn’t terribly impressed that he would leave our friend to such misery, and it wasn’t like Frank was carrying my books home every day.

Oh, Andrew, just kiss me you idiot!

But he did not. And our arguments continued to the point that he was becoming impossible to deal with, and I was not willing to let poor Frank go on like this. Eventually Andrew threw up his hands and just told me to go my own way. This made me sad, because Andrew was my friend, no, my partner, and I was disappointed that he wasn’t willing to help another friend with me. He stopped walking me home. He stopped carrying my books. And he…well, never mind that.

Lucky for me, there was Eleanor. Ellie. She continues to be my best friend to this day, and she loves more than anything else to talk about boys! True, she still loves to eat, and is maybe a little bigger than she should be, but she is the most loving, wonderful human being that walks the planet. She is very beautiful in her own way, and often captivates the boys herself with her wit and her sweetness. Actually, she has already been kissed! She knows that I love Andrew, and is disappointed every time he disappoints me. But she’ll never tell him. Because Ellie is loyal first to me, then to the boys, then to the world. My Ellie.

We would talk about how cute they were, how they made us laugh, and the many ways they would infuriate us! Andrew and Frank were so very different. Andrew was not a stout fellow at all, very slim, but with beautiful eyes and very light hair. He’s also had my heart since nursery school. Frank, on the other hand, was a very impactful fellow, big and dark, with even darker eyes. I wouldn’t call them beautiful, like Andrew’s eyes, but they were certainly mysterious and exciting! His stare was both terrifying, and captivating.

Ellie agrees that Andrew is being a fool, and that it is right for us to help our old friend Frank, despite his history. I think Ellie may have liked him at some point. Perhaps even now. The loss of Bing hit her so hard. How wonderful it would be to bring Frank back from his malaise, as the solution to Ellie’s broken heart. Now, we will work together to bring him back.

The strategy is simple. For one week we will follow him from school, and simply stand with him. The next week, we would talk with him. This all worked great, except that Frank would never acknowledge that he had been spoken to, except to me. It was as though Ellie wasn’t even there, and she did not like that. It hurt her that he would only listen, and speak, to me. I am sure now my Ellie loved Frank, enough to let me get through to him if I could. Even without her.

So, by the third week, it was just Frank and me, standing outside Cooper’s silent home. Standing and staring. Over time, his stare would become softer, and he would gaze around, or down at his feet. I would ask him his thoughts about things, like school and the world, and slowly he would answer. I asked him many times about Ellie, but he refused to talk about her. I never shared that with Ellie, since I knew it would hurt her. Sometimes, I would lie and say he asked about her, which made her blush.

By the fourth week, Frank was a different kid. He would talk and laugh as though nothing else mattered, and more importantly he seemed to forget about silent Cooper, and standing outside of the house, gazing his death-gaze at the unseen Cooper. Andrew was still upset with me, and I at him, so Frank began walking me home, carrying my books. We would laugh and talk until reaching my home. Then, believe it or not, Frank would hand me my books, say a cordial goodbye, and go home. He would never even go back by Cooper’s neighborhood. It was as though he had forgotten his mania altogether.

At the end of the fourth week, Frank was holding my hand as we walked home. Oh damn. I didn’t want this. I do care deeply about Frank, but I love Andrew, and Ellie will kill me, and this was very very bad!

At the beginning of the fifth week, Monday, Frank noticed Mother wasn’t home, and wanted to extend his visit. Fool that I was, I let him. We entered our home, into the living area which was beginning to get dim from the darkness outside. My intent was to light the room immediately, but Frank stopped me, wanting instead to play a new game. I’d not heard of it before, but like everything else about Frank, it was dark and exciting! While standing by my photo album, and the photo of Mother and my step-father, he explained the rules.

“Mira, take a candle, and walk upstairs backward. I will be waiting for you at the top, by the giant mirror. When you get to the top of the stairs, turn, and quickly look in the mirror. You should then catch a glimpse of your future husband standing next to you in the mirror. But here’s the thing, if you see a skeleton or a phantom, well, that means that you will die before you marry!”

I should never have participated in this exercise. I know. Given my history of the past few years it was certain that I would see the ghost, chalky white in the mirror, and die on the spot. Perhaps the ghost would come through the mirror and take my life in front of Frank’s unbelieving eyes! But, here I was, with dark Frank, exciting, a wonderful game and a role to play. So, as only a fool would do, I lit a candle, waited for Frank to take his place upstairs, and began my ascent.

There was nothing to the game, the candle, or climbing the stairs. I stumbled briefly on the way up, nervous and not able to see where I was going, but quickly caught myself. Boys seem to like when girls are embarrassed, and Frank, no exception, kept encouraging me all the way up the stairs, before the large mirror where he was waiting. I took the last few steps, backward, into the hall, waiting for my doom to occur. At the precise moment that I looked into the mirror, I was certain that I caught a brief glimpse of Andrew, as my candle blew out, leaving Frank and me in total darkness.

But at the moment the candle blew out, I felt something grab at me. I was certain that this was the moment of my demise, and the chalky child had come; ready to take me to my well-deserved fate. I thought of all of the children I had known. Bing, sweet Bing the biter, with the wicked mother. I relished her pain! And Kelly, of course. I wasn’t pleased at her death, but she was wicked as well. And this was what brought Frank and me together! Certainly, it was my turn to receive my reward for all of the horrid thoughts I had had for those poor souls!

Hate, fate and fairness. I deserved this. I leaned back and waited for my final breath. And justice immediately stopped my lungs, and my airways, covering my mouth fully. And death felt like warm, wet lips on mine. What a curious way to die! I finally did realize that Frank, in the darkness, had decided in this moment to procure his first kiss and mine, in lieu of the visit of a specter and the reaper’s scythe. It was a short moment that lasted forever, and I almost laughed at myself for thinking Andrew would have been the one.

But, I had seen Andrew’s face in the mirror, hadn’t I?

I swore that Andrew should have been my first, evidenced by his appearance, on cue, in the mirror, and the guilt now tugging at my heart. Guilt for Andrew. And guilt for Ellie. The kiss ended, naturally, on its own. Frank had performed the perfect first kiss and made me swoon. There were no good choices to be made at this point. I pulled back to look upon Frank, who had me in his arms and in his control, his dark eyes evident more in the blackness. I relit the candle, coveting the darkness, but endeavoring to look into the dark eyes of this boy that had stirred first romantic feelings in me. My heart beating, I stole a second glance in the mirror, to see if the reflection of my true love had evolved.

It had.

As if in a nightmare, the boy holding me close, holding me tight, was not Frank. Frank somehow had disappeared, replaced by a pale monstrosity, recognizable from my early memories, now grown! Looking in the mirror, I saw my infatuation to be not Frank, and not Andrew, but a chalky, unclothed beast, with eyes closed, breathing short, heavy, foul breaths.

The creature was bald, gaunt, with one ear barely protruding from the side of his head, and the other missing. He had no hair, no nose, no teeth, and his leathery face seemed to continue into his pain-writhing mouth, as though sewn from a sack cloth. His fingers appeared attached to each other, stumpy and thick, almost webbed, but strong. The body, skeletal at best, gave no evidence as to its true gender, but I knew. This was the chalky child from my earliest memories. This was Smoke!

Smoke had somehow replaced Frank as the object of my first romantic encounter. As much as I needed to, I couldn’t scream. Instead, I lurched, and lost the day’s meals. I closed my eyes and fell forward, heaving, filling all before me with my bile. I cried. I shook. I threw off the last of my sickness and bore up to face Smoke, to scold him, and to accept the fate I had expected all along.

But Smoke, the chalk-monster, as well as Frank, was now gone.

Peering in the mirror, I saw Andrew again, but not as a reflection. I was standing in a field, with Andrew staring at me, face sad and head down. I put my hands up to the glass, to try to touch him, to bring him to me. I had no idea until this moment how badly I needed Andrew. He would briefly look up, shake his head, then turn away. I took a deep breath, desperate to scream for Andrew to come to me, to save me from this nightmare. And it was then I saw the light. It was then I looked down. Railroad tracks!

I wanted to scream for Andrew to jump out of the way, but no sound would escape my lips. Harder and harder I cried, with no result. Andrew kept looking down, sad, shaking his head. I was sure that the ugly chalky child, my Smoke, was going to kill the true love of my life, and I could do nothing to change that, as the lights behind me got brighter and brighter.

Wait. Behind me?

I looked down. Tracks, illuminated ever more by the increasing beam made it certain that there would be death tonight, where only moments before had been sweet romance. And as the tracks shone brighter in the glowing beam, I realized that it was not Andrew facing the power of the oncoming locomotive. It was me! I was stuck to the tracks while Andrew simply looked on, sad and shaking. I quickly whirled around to face my fate, staring deep into the spot of the oncoming locomotive. I braced for death.

Then my eyes opened to a new light, the light of morning. I awoke, in tears and in the sweat of having stared down the certain death of myself and the other most important to me. And then, I knew. I knew that I had not died, nor had I witnessed the death of Andrew. I had been the eyes and the emotions of Frank, as Smoke, my ghost, had placed him in the very center of harm’s way. I had just witnessed, and experienced, Frank’s death, with the fear and hopelessness that Frank must have felt.

I knew. I knew he was gone. The next day’s newspapers and the gossiping community would prove that to be true. Oh dear Ellie! She will be crushed.

“How…how could you?”

“Mira. I want to thank you.”

“Don’t you dare thank me you chalky bastard. How. Could. You. Kill. Frank? Tell me why!”

“Mira you have shown me my true name. I now know who I am. You searched and you questioned, and you found the answers to all of our questions, and you found my name.”

Silence. He is too calm. This is not good. I’m suddenly frightened of my secret friend, more than ever. What did he mean ‘our questions’?

“Yes. I am the chalky child. I am Smoke. But I also have a name. Others have called me…Nathaniel. That is my name.”

No.

My father was a hero. He saved lives. He couldn’t be this chalky bastard, this monster. He killed only in war, and was first a protector. How could this ghoul be Nathaniel Mirras? How? I needed to calm down quickly. It would not do to anger this ghost, so much more connected to me than I first realized. I walked downstairs. I was clearly awake, and able to speak with him while conscious. I needed answers. The rest of my life would depend on them.

“Smoke. Nathaniel…tell me why you killed Frank. Tell me why. Why?” But even as I demanded through tears his account of himself, I already knew the answer, and the consequence to me, to Frank, and to anyone I might ever love. I understood.

“Mira. Be patient. There is plenty of time for all of your friends. You don’t even realize how close you came to taking a different path altogether. You were supposed to play the game with Andrew, after all.” Though no longer visible, I could feel the evil smile spreading over his toothless face, eyes still closed as though still the infant he once was.

I understood that I would never be able to be with my partner, my best friend, and my true love since childhood. Ever. And as I looked over to my album I saw that the right leg of the first “M” was completely gone, now forming, in fact, the letter “N”. My life and the lives of those around me are in the hands of Nathaniel Mirras.

And he is a killer.

Credit To – MeGoMike/MeGoMirras

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The Remover

March 28, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Author Note: Written by Kenneth Kohl (kowale). This is a long read that began as a single short story (Part 1). More parts of the series were provided and it was eventually combined into one large work. The Remover has gathered a considerable fan base since its original posting, and has since been incorporated into a full-length novel of the same name. What follows are the original posts that appeared on Creepypasta Wiki.

Admin Note: As this is a longer-than-usual story, I’ll be creating an index to aid those of you who may want to read this story in smaller portions.

Also, if you are reading this from an index page, please click the ‘read more’ button. For the sake of not stretching out the archives, main page, category pages, etc, this story will display only until the end of chapter one. Beyond that, you’ll need to visit the individual pasta page, which can be found here, or by simply clicking ‘read more’.

INDEX

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven
Part Eight
Comment Section

Part 1

When I left my office, I already had a premonition that something awful was going to happen that evening. I’m not psychic. I am quite perceptive, though, and the signs were easy to read. I had worked late – nine o’clock and already dark – and my ordinarily enjoyable walk to the parking lot struck me as a little bit menacing. I parked in a lot that was about a ten minute walk from my office. In the early evening on a crisp autumn day it’s a pleasure to stroll there and take in the sights of downtown Indianapolis. Occasionally I’d take a detour and walk along the canal, checking out the street art. This was past nightfall, though, and right in the middle of a hot and humid August. There were only two sorts of people in downtown Indy that night – those who had to be, and those who had no place else to go.

My walks always took me past the Wheeler Mission. There was a flashing neon sign reminding me that “Jesus Saves” every ten seconds. The mission was a magnet for the homeless. A lot of my sort of people ended up there, but some others as well. Addicts, mentals, criminals on the run and looking for a meal and a place to stay. According to the mission’s rules felons were usually turned in, so the police visited regularly. None of the city’s finest sitting outside that night; just a collection of bums waiting to scam some loose change off of whoever happened to be out on this humid night.

One of the panhandlers called out to me. “Hey! Can I talk to you sir? Can I ask you a question? Are you afraid of homeless people?” He was young, maybe pushing thirty. He was clean-shaven and had a number of tattoos running up his arms and neck and ending just shy of the bottom of his dirty red baseball hat. The design hinted at a former stay in prison.

Every one of them always has a story. It’s typically well practiced and smooth. A bum tells his story so many times that he begins to believe it himself. He gets into his character and will debate at length on the subject of why he needs money. The stories can get quite elaborate and sometimes amusing, if you have the time. But unless you want to be followed all the way back to your car or to the door of your office it’s best to just say “No” or “Sorry.” That night, I was feeling antsy and just wanted the conversation to end quickly, so I opted for “Fuck you.”

Red Hat responded in kind. At first he stopped in his tracks, looking sort of stunned. Then he started following me. “You think you’re better than me? Don’t you walk away from me.” Then he grabbed at the back of my shirt. That’s when I knew for sure that things were going to end badly.

I shrugged him off. I could have easily outrun him at that point, but I didn’t. I don’t know if it was pride or arrogance; or if it was due to the fact that I was tired, irritable and in an excessively bad mood. I did start walking faster, though. I hoped that he would tire of the game and go back to his roost outside the mission. I hoped that the situation wouldn’t go any further.

Then I saw a chance to end the game. There were two routes to my car – one being along a well lit, albeit virtually deserted street and the other a slightly shorter route through a small alley behind the Robertson Parks church. I aimed myself toward the alley. I could still hear Red Hat shouting behind me, but I was doing my best to ignore him. “Where you going man? Stop! I want to talk to you,” he said. I had a pretty good idea that when he saw me heading towards the alley, he thought that he had me beat. How stupid did he think I was? I knew that once we were alone, I’d have the upper hand. I could either disappear into the shadows or, if necessary, kick his ass. What I didn’t know, however, was that he had a couple of friends waiting for him.

They must have seen us head off and circled around the block. It’s like they were expecting me to walk through that alley. For them, it was the perfect place for an ambush. I’ll have to admit that I was startled when I first saw them. I had allowed myself to get too distracted. Not only by Red Hat, but by the anxiety that I’d been experiencing since leaving my office. The two buddies, dressed similarly and tattooed like Red Hat, stood at the far end of the alley. In addition to seeing their silhouettes I could smell them from where I stood. I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw them. Red Hat closed the distance behind me and pushed me further into the alley. Then the other two approached and boxed me in.

One of them pushed me and laughed. “What now, Chris?”

“Now we teach this little shit how to respect people,” Red Hat replied.

I had backed up against the wall of the church. “Trust me guys. Bad idea,” I said.

The one who had previously been quiet came forward and shoved me – hard – back into the wall. I remember feeling the back of my head bounce off the brick. Then he punched me in the stomach. As he drew back his arm to get ready for another swing, my arm flew out and I grabbed his head, palming his face like a basketball. I pushed backward and twisted his head as he fell. That’s when I saw Red Hat’s knife.

Red Hat had drawn his arm back as if he were going to pitch a softball underhand. He had the point of the knife aimed at me. He lunged, but I managed to grab his wrist and deflect his thrust. At this point I could no longer see the first of his two buddies – the first to punch me – but the other one landed another blow directly to my nose. That diverted my attention long enough for Red Hat to bring his knife around for another attempt. A thousand thoughts were racing through my mind. How could I have let myself get drawn into that situation? Why did they pick me? Why that night? How was it going to end? How was I going to handle the cleanup after it was over?

Between all of the distractions and the surprise punch to the face, I must have missed seeing the knife until the last moment. It sunk deep into me. Low, directly below my ribs and angled upward into the place where a normal man would keep his liver. The guy had been in fights before. He was a pro. I felt pressure, but not any actual pain.

Then I felt myself becoming very hot and my vision faded to white.

When the numbness went away, I surveyed the scene in the alley. One of the guys – the one who managed to land a punch on my face – was running around the corner of the church screaming. Around me, there was blood all over the ground and even sprayed up onto the wall of the church. The guy whose face I had grabbed was lying prone nearby, his head cocked at an unnatural angle. His neck was clearly broken. It was Red Hat who surprised me most. He was lying at my feet eyes open, mouth frozen in a perverse smile, and throat ripped open. He looked like he’d had a date gone bad with a table saw.

And all I could think of was how long it had been since I’d last eaten.

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The Mail Man

March 27, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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It all started as a message in my mailbox one morning. Having my morning coffee and cigarette, I decided to walk out to the mailbox and check my mail. I had bought this house from an auction for a very low price. It was out in the quiet country. I, being a city kid, had no idea what country life was like until I had made a few friends around the area. With the purchase of the house came 100 acres of crop land that, in the autumn, blossomed into golden produce that swayed beautifully in the wind.

I put on my shoes and headed out to the road, still slightly groggy. Upon opening the mailbox, I found a dead bird inside; at first, I thought it was some stupid kids playing pranks again – last week, they decided to toilet paper my lawn. I pulled the dead bird out and threw it on the ground; it was mangled to a pulp, almost as if a dog had gotten ahold of it.

Besides the bird, there was nothing inside of the mailbox. I started to think that maybe the kids had stolen my mail, but eventually I brushed it off and told myself I’d get up early in the morning and watch the mail come so I could catch the jerks in the act. The next morning arrived and the mailman came as usual. I walked out and got my mail, not thinking anything of it. The next morning was the same.

The next week came and I walked out to get my mail once again. This time, I was horrified at the sight; my white mailbox had blood smeared all over it. I opened the mailbox cautiously. Inside was a mangled cat. I gasped and covered my mouth, quickly choking back the vomit raising to my throat. I rushed to my garage, put on a pair of gloves, and pulled the poor animal out. Stapled to it was a note, fairly legible, but crude nonetheless. On the note was a simple smiley face. I was disgusted at that; whoever did it thought it was funny. I gave the cat a proper burial and continued with my day. The next morning, I woke up around 5:00 AM, walked out, and checked my mailbox again to see if it had been tampered with. The cat I had just buried in my backyard was stuffed inside yet again, this time another note attached to it. This one had a frowning face and under it, which read “You don’t like my present?”

Pissed off and finally fed up, I decided to bury it yet again and to stay up all night to watch my mailbox to find out who was doing this. The time rolled by – 12:00 am, 1:00 am, 2:00 am, nothing at all….then, at 3:00 am, I finally saw movement across the road, and out of the cornfield there came a figure into my yard. I watched it until it finally came under the security light I have in the middle of my yard. What I saw, I cannot begin to explain. It was a man…or at least I think it was. It was hunched over like an old man with long gangly arms that went farther than the average human, and its head bent downwards as if it was looking for something it had dropped on the ground.

The man, or rather thing, looked frail and weak, but it moved with great speed. I quickly and quietly moved to the back window and peered out as I saw it dig up the cat once again and hold it in its arms. It stroked the cat as if it were alive and quickly hurried around to the front of my house. I scurried back to the front window again and watched as it made its way to my mailbox, and once more put the cat inside, before disappearing into the darkness. That day I didn’t leave my house; I was too shocked of what happened. I slept a bit then decided to take a trip to the store; when I came back, I checked the mailbox again and there it was, the same cat I just buried. I went to take the dead cat out of my mailbox once again and bury it in a different spot, then decided to stay up again that night so as to see what happened.

With a flashlight in hand, I watched out of my front window and saw the long, spindly man come out of the field and jog into my yard, to the spot where I just buried the cat that day and started to dig it up with his hands. I slid open the sliding glass door and stepped outside, turning on the flashlight. I aimed it at the man, and yelled “What the heck are you doing?!” The man turned around to face me, and that’s when I saw the thing for the first time, in plain sight. Its body looked like it had been mauled by a bear, its clothes ripped, rotting skin showing through, its teeth completely exposed and jagged, and the eyes sunken in. I quickly ran back inside as it gave a shrieking
sound and hopped over in my direction.

I slid the glass door shut and locked it, and grabbed the pistol I had bought for self-defense from under my couch. Loading a bullet into the chamber, I shined the light at the door and waited. A glob of something hid the glass door, and I instinctively shot a bullet, which found its mark inside of my wall. I walked to the glass door and shined the light down to see what it was: a mess of entrails were scattered across the bottom and blood smeared across the glass. Sick to my stomach, I choked back the vomit that was rising from my stomach.

I quickly rushed back to the couch that was against the wall and sat there with my eyes fixed upon the glass door, my flashlight off. Outside, I could see the moonlight through the gruesome mess that was plastered upon the glass. I saw a figure approach the door, and stared in awe as its hands smeared the blood across the window. I was frozen with fear, waiting for it to break the glass and try to take my life from me.

After smearing the blood, it turned around and walked away. I swear I could hear a faint chuckle, like a smoker’s lungs laugh, but in a way that emphasized the rasp of deteriorating breaths. I sat in the sofa and didn’t budge; I don’t know how long I waited, but after a while the room became light as the sun rose in the sky. I looked around the house – everything was so quiet – then fixed my eyes on the glass door. Smeared across it were hand prints with unusually long fingers and a smiley, the same one on the letter. I sighed and tried to make myself comfortable, laying down and resting my eyes, but still remaining as alert as possible. A few hours later, I awoke from a nightmare and propped myself up on the couch.

After a short while, I got up and prepared to clean away the aftermath of last night’s encounter. I was, apparently, pissing whatever it was off, and I was getting more scared by the second just thinking of whatever was out there, lurking. I cleaned the entrails off the ground and went out to check my mail, then I came across a plain letter. Curious, I opened it up and felt a chill shoot up my spine.

The letter had no words – only a smile, the same, crude smile that was on the letter stapled to the cat and on my sliding glass door.

I quickly crumbled it up and tossed it on the ground. I left that night; I went to stay with my parents up in the city for a few weeks. Not explaining my situation to them, I simply told them that I had been sick of country life and needed a change for a few weeks. They happily let me in. When I returned to my home three weeks later, horror was stricken across my face, for my house was not as I left it. As soon as I walked in, the stench of rotting carcass hit my nostrils and I vomited on the floor. Covering my nose with my shirt, I proceeded to the light switch.

Turning on the light made me shriek in terror. Scattered throughout my house were entrails and carcasses of dead animals; some were propped up like humans on my couch, and all were staring at me as I stood, horrified, in the doorway. All over the white walls were smiley faces and the same writing over and over, “I’m very angry with you,” written in blood. I lifted up the couch seat to look for my pistol, but it was gone.
Just then, I saw something in the hallway moving steadily back and forth. Flipping on the hall light, there it was again: the creature who had tried to kill me the night before I had left. It snapped its gaze to me and moved its mouth into a sickening smile. It jumped up and started to walk in my direction. I quickly turned around and ran outside, slamming the door behind me. I got into my car, started it up, and proceeded to back out of the driveway and onto the road as fast as I could. Behind me, I saw a figure in my rear-view mirror running up to my car; its arms slammed into the trunk and it proceeded to hop onto the roof of my car.

I shifted into drive and slammed on the gas. I drove all night as far as I could away from the house, those dead animals, that thing. As soon as I was in the city limits, I decided to buy some gas, seeing as I was almost on empty. I pulled into a gas station and got out of my car. My eyes widened as I saw the trunk had been completely bashed in. I quickly pumped the gas and left for my parents’ house. Four months later, I am living in my apartment, dealing with occasional nightmares at times, but could never be happier to get away from that house and that monster that lives there.

I just checked my mail this morning and received a letter with no return address. Inside, written on crumpled up paper, was a crudely draw smiley face and the words, “You can’t hide.”

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RECORDING 21A3

March 21, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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{BEGIN TRANSCRIPTION. DATE: NOVEMBER 21. 11:11:11s}

 

[ SPEAKER COUGHS. AVERTS EYES; NERVOUS.]

 

Um, okay so—damn it! How do I start this—well, okay.

 

Let me say this first, I’m not crazy.

 

I am not paranoid. I do not have a hyperactive imagination. No, I did not watch several hours of horror movies and no, I was not a sickly child. I am not mentally ill either. Well, other than this notion my parents seem to have of my jumping at shadows which aren’t there.

 

I mean that figuratively of course; I’m not so crazy that I see shadows that are not there. I mean who would do that?

 

[SPEAKER CHUCKLES; FALTERS.]

 

I just hear it. The true sounds, I mean. That did not come out right. Damn, I’m not making any sense.

 

[SPEAKER SIGHS. GESTURES: HANDS RUNNING THROUGH HAIR, PALMS SHINING; SWEATY]

 

Look, have you ever heard the wind blowing? Especially when it comes out as that almost ear splitting whine when it’s coming through the crack in the door?

 

Or what about when your heart pounds in your ears and your head seems to throb? When the sound appears to echo up your throat and you just blame it on stress or nervousness?

 

What about when you hear the white noise on your TV?

 

What about when a light seems to flicker, but no one else notices?

 

Or when the ground seems to shake, but appears still to everyone else?

 

Did you ever even spare a second thought?

 

You’re not crazy. You just caught a glimpse of what I experience every day.

 

Think about it. All of these noises just happen to come up right when you think everything around you is silent; when everything fades away and you feel isolated. They always happen to start reverberating and repeating, back and forth, possibly in long hollows sounds, right when you feel like you’re alone. They just so happen to trigger the intuition that has saved mankind for so many years and just so happen to make you question your surroundings.

 

And you probably ignore them, like any person.

 

[SPEAKER SMIRKS, CONDESCENDING: LOOKS TO GROUND, SHAKES HEAD.]

 

We make our excuses, foolish as we are as human-

 

[VAGUE DING IN BACKGROUND. SPEAKER IS APPROACHED.]

 

Stop it—No, I am.

 

[FOOTSTEPS RECEDE. SPEAKER STARES AT EXIT. SPEAKER’S EYES UNFOCUS AND GLOSS OVER.]

 

[SPEAKER STARES BLANKLY FOR A FEW SECONDS.]

 

Where was I? Oh ya…

 

We petty humans always seem to like to use reason. Our reason is only based on what we see or experience with our own senses. We always discredit those who sense something different because it does not align with the masses. Or we’re too scared to acknowledge it.

 

[SPEAKER LAUGHS, BITTERLY. LOOKS TO FLOOR, LEAVING PALMS ON KNEES.]

 

See, when someone offers an alternate option, and we discredit it, we fail to realize that there are things our senses cannot pick up. Things we cannot forget have the same magnitude as the things we cannot remember. And that doubt to the fundamentals of our knowledge seems to scare us because then we cannot trust anyone.

 

Not even ourselves.

 

You’ve probably been told justifications—the noise is TV static. Or that it is because it just is—the heart appears to throb because that’s just how we perceive it. Or we are told to doubt ourselves—that light did not flicker at all!

 

But when a theory is offered that explains it all, we avoid it because we are fearful of the consequences. Our apathy and ignorance is entirely ridiculous. Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle said the infamous “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”

 

If you have stuck around to listen to all of this, then I hope you are ready to hear, because this is not something you can go back from. Even if you try to forget, perhaps that’s their one blessing on us, it will always be that little ringworm in the back of your mind, inching its way around every doubt, every fear, every truth you used to believe.

 

[LONG SCREECH. CHAIR DRAGS BACK. SPEAKER IS VISIBLY STARTLED; EYES DART IN ALL DIRECTIONS.]

 

Wait-where are you-no put me down. What is this place, what-

 

[THUD.]

 

Where was I again?

 

Riiiiight. So, it inches its way around every doubt, every fear, every truth you used to believe.

 

You thought those noises and small flickers and changes around you were actually not connected? That they could be so simply explained?

 

How about this: imagine an insect. I can’t tell you what they look like, and even my thinking they are insects is a bit of a deduction from what I know. I can only write it as far as I can see them, which isn’t much considering we forget their having ever been seen, as soon as we look away. It has happened to me so many times—that odd feeling of déjà-vu and surreal confusion that follow an encounter—that I actually tried to record the instances.

 

I imagine for as long as I did see them, I noted down observations quickly, in my journal. But, I can only vaguely remember what I wrote because the next time I look at my journal, which is perhaps only a fraction of a second later, my notes are gone.

 

Wiped clean.

 

A blank slate.

 

That’s all we are. As soon as you see them head on, you can’t remember them.

 

Those sounds—

 

[LONG, INTERMITTENT BEEPING. SPEAKER IS VISIBLY SHAKEN: EYES WIDE; RUBBING PALMS ON KNEES.]

 

What—time’s up? No, please not yet—please! I am getting there.

 

[SPEAKER’S BREATH IS HAGGARD AND ROUGH. COMES STRAINED AND FORCED.]

 

Yes, yes I understand. Don’t do this. Please.

 

[SPEAKER PAUSES FOR SHORT INTERVAL. LOOKS AROUND DAZEDLY.]

 

—you may have heard are just—why am I crying? When did I change my shirt? What the hell? Where did this friggin’ red stain come from?

 

[SPEAKER SHUFFLES. CHECKS CLOTHING: PULLS, STRETCHES IT. RELAXES SLIGHTLY.]

 

Nope, I’m not bleeding. Yay….

 

Anyways, those are them. That buzzing you hear when you are all alone; it is not just your mind. Those are wings; flapping in unison with such perfection, we cannot even recognize the sound properly.

 

That white noise? Same thing. That wind blowing? Same thing.

 

And when the wind howls and yells. When it cries out, it is not just because it is coming in through a small gap.

 

It is because they are screaming as you squeeze them through the small space. Force them to leave their group when you shut the door.

 

But they get their revenge.

 

Imagine what happens when you whistle willingly, your mouth open with all the wet, soft fleshiness and the route directly into your body and brain. Giving them access to vulnerable places of pain and the control center of your body.

 

Why do you think most people don’t perceive them at all? If they could manipulate your remembering what they look like without even having been inside you, imagine what they can do from the inside.

 

[ SPEAKER CHUCKLES MALICIOUSLY; SNEERS.]

 

The reason your heart seems to roar in your ears when you’re nervous or scared? You are so utterly exposed, your emotional barriers down. That’s when they can overcome you. They surround your ears and your brain, laying their implants right when you would not notice.

 

And you breed their next generation.

 

We’re nice little incubators, aren’t we?

 

The reason butterflies seem to flutter in your precious little stomach? Same reason. They already have access to your insides, is it really so surprising? They have mastered it so smoothly, we just accept this as “human reaction.”

 

What a joke.

 

[SCRATCHING IN BACKGROUND. SPEAKER APPEARS HORRIFIED: EYES WIDE, MOUTH DROPPED, PALMS OUT IN FRONT OF TORSO. STARES AT A FIXED POINT.]

 

No—I’m done. I swear! Let me just wrap up, please! Please.

 

[RUBBING SOUND. SOMEONE IS SHUSHING IN BACKGROUND. SPEAKER IS UNCONCIOUS.]

 

[SPEAKER REGAINS CONCIOUSNESS: RUBS EYES; BLINKS PERCEPTIBLY.]

 

Where am I? Damn it, did I sleepwalk? What the hell, did Micheal prank me again? What’s that? He wrote on my arm?

 

“Wrap it up.”

 

Shit. I get it now. I’ve lived a life being aware of this lack of memory for long enough to know what this means.

 

Okay, so look, this was just my side of the story. Now it has come to a point that I see the video camera in front of me but I have no idea how it got there. I’m guessing they wanted to know how I know they exist? I am currently bound to a chair, and the white room I’m in is so empty, it hurts.

 

My body feels like it’s is slowly caving in on itself. My ribs are sticking out more and more every second-

 

[SPEAKER EXCLAIMS, SQUIRMS IN SEAT.]

 

I am not sure how I was even brought to this room.

 

[CRINKLING—PAPER?]

 

And I know someone is listening, because I don’t know how I got here.

 

[VACCUUM SOUND AT DOOR—AIR RUSHES OUT OF ROOM.]

 

I don’t know how long I’ve been here.

 

[LOUD FLUTTERING IN BACKGROUND; RISES IN VOLUME.]

 

And now, there is only black. Did they put a blindfold on me? Did I always have this on? But I was able to see before—

 

[THUD.]

 

I think I am alone in this room. But then again, I guess considering all of what I’ve said, none of us are ever truly alone are we?

 

They finally got to me.

 

Goodbye, get help.

 

Whatever it is don’t sit still.

 

Remember, the innocuous noises in the silence you hear do not mean you’re safe. It is that naivety which will kill you.

 

[SCUFFLING.]

 

No, please! I did what you asked. NO! N—

 

{END TRANSCRIPTION. DATE: NOVEMBER 28. 12:11:11s. DURATION: 7D:1 H. TIME ELAPSED: 169 HOURS.}

Credit To – Phoenixriser

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The Pale Emperor

March 19, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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I had always wondered what the bottom of a lake looked like, and now I know. It looks like the sun setting over the horizon, where the farthest depths of sky are black, but you can see a kind of layered improvement in the light the farther along you get. I wouldn’t be able to see anything at all down here if it wasn’t for the full moon.
At least here, near the bottom of the lake, I was safe. I think.

I knew that with every breath I drew, the oxygen level in the car drained. If I died here, at least it would be my way- instead of dying at the hands of that thing. The ambiguous mass of shapeless dark that could keep up with my car, even though it was going 85mph before I crashed. If I didn’t have a 4 cylinder engine, I would’ve gone faster and may have gotten away.

I first met him when I was 6, and he was the perfect house guest when we had our tea party. He wanted to bring his friends, but I insisted that I get to know him first. His friends made me feel weird anyways, because even though I couldn’t see them, I could hear them talking to us. I showed him all my stuffed toys and baby dolls, and I asked if his friends might like to play with them too. He liked my toys, but he said real friends are better, and one day I’d have lots of real friends. Maybe whenever I met his friends, we’d all be friends and have so much fun we wouldn’t need any toys.

I told my mother all about him, how his friends called him the Pale Emperor, and she forbade me from “imagining” him again. Mother was a very stern Christian and thought such nonsense was surely the work of the devil. Sullen, I explained how in Sunday school, we were taught that God wanted us to make friends. She looked down her nose at me and said that only applied to real friends and real people. I tried to defend Pale, but she wouldn’t have any of that nonsense. I scoffed at her behind the closed door of my room. Pale sensed that I was distressed and asked what happened. I told him what my mother said.

He didn’t like that at all.

Next Sunday, when we were at Church, a big, heavy wooden cross fell off the high arch ceiling and split her head open, spewing her brain matter on me. My mouth was open, singing psalms, and as hard as I try to deny it, I know I ate some of her brain tissue. Pale didn’t show up until after the closed casket funeral. I was absolutely furious. I told Pale that I knew what he did. I told him God doesn’t let killers into heaven. They burn in hell, and that’s what he was going to do one day.

He didn’t like that.

Pale stopped appearing in front of me entirely. I was glad for that, because when I yelled at him that night, he was…changing. His skin grew darker, especially around his eyes, which were beginning to turn yellow. The more I yelled at him, the more yellow they became. He got taller, and his hands started to meld together and become webbed. He didn’t look like a real person anymore.

After that, Pale started to come only at night, but he stayed hidden. What I had once considered a friend was now a stranger lurking in the dark. I could hear him whispering from the closet, asking me to come play. Other times, I heard him giggling from under my bed, telling me that all his friends were there -everyone but me. He only wanted to play again, and that if I did, we would be friends forever. He got mad because I told him wouldn’t play with him, and I wouldn’t be his friend. He started shaking the bed violently. At that point, I started to fear him. I didn’t talk to him anymore.

He didn’t like that.

It wasn’t until I was 7, on an unusually dark night, I awoke to voices. I recognized them as his friends, but they weren’t encouraging and cheerful like they were before. The voices under my bed were crying for help, saying they were trapped there, and that I’d be trapped there too. I put my head under my covers, but I saw Pale under there. His eyes were glowing bright yellow, and he smiled. I could see his elongated, jagged teeth by the mere light of his demonic eyes. I screamed.

He REALLY didn’t like that.

I flung the covers off me in a panic and started to run to the hall. I fell when I was almost at the door. I heard dad moving somewhere in the house. Something cold had closed around my leg, and I shouted again. It was shadows, but the shadows looked like hands clasped around my leg, and they were touching me. I could feel them. Cold, dead- and pulling me to their dark home under the bed. I jerked and pulled, pleading with Pale to stop his friends. He said my mom was there too, and she had decided to be his friend. Why couldn’t I? His friends pulled so hard that I slid quickly across the room towards the underside of the bed, and I saw several bright yellow eyes under there, all belonging to Pale.

The lights came on and dad came through the door. I stood up and tried to run to him, but I fell again, sobbing. My leg was so clawed and mangled that I couldn’t walk. My father taped a towel across my leg to stop the bleeding and rushed me to the hospital. The doctors said they had only seen such injuries in feral animal attacks and suicidal cases. My father denied their recommendation to put in an asylum. The doctors said I could really wind up hurt or worse. We came back to the house, and I didn’t see him that night, and I had stayed wide awake for most of it. I had hoped the light had hurt him. Soon after, we packed and left for an apartment down the road. Father wanted to so he wouldn’t have to relive the memories of mom in that house, and I wanted to so I wouldn’t be terrorized by her killer.

I hadn’t seen him until tonight, almost 20 years later. I sensed him before I saw him, but it was a presence as familiar to me now as it was then. I immediately grabbed the keys to my car to leave and go stay with a friend. As I passed the doors down the hall, I saw him in the bathroom first, then each room after that, smiling that terrifying, carnivorous grin. As I flung open the door to sprint out, I heard the cries of his “friends” pleading with me not to go. I did anyways.

He didn’t like that.

I pulled out of the driveway and with the screech of tires I was gone. I was sobbing hysterically, barely able to see the road ahead of me. I looked in the rearview mirror. He was standing in the middle of the road. As I drove farther away, he didn’t move farther away. He was as unmoving as the road, yet still ever present. I picked up speed. I saw him jerking, moving unnaturally- inhumanly. I glanced down at the speedometer. 80, 82, 83. I looked back, and he was almost upon me. 85.

I snapped my attention to the road in front of me. He was there, watching with his bright yellow eyes. I grit my teeth and prepared for impact. He disappeared as soon as my Civic hit him, but the steering completely failed, and I veered off the road.
When I ran my car into the water because of that shapeless dark, I blacked out briefly. Next thing I knew, it was slowly sliding upside-down to a drop-off point. I looked through the windows of the car. If there was ever a black blacker than black, it would be at the bottom of this lake.

I glanced around for my purse. In the crash, everything flew everywhere, and my car wasn’t the cleanest of sorts. I found my purse in a Subway wrapper smudged with BBQ sauce. I sat up on the ceiling and rested my upper back on the seat where my lower back was meant to be. I fumbled about my purse, pulling out a pack of Marlboro reds, or as my father called them, “cowboy killers”.

If I was going to die, I wanted a damn cigarette. I hadn’t even thought about making a break for the surface. I refused to go where he was. A part of me actually wanted to die here, at least away from him. I thumbed the lighting mechanism of my wind-proof lighter. I stared down at the flame and drew deeply from the cigarette. When I looked up, my heart stopped.

At first, I thought it was from the lighter, because there was a little yellow light at the bottom of the lake; however, they began to multiply. The lights and the darkness came closer. I realized that the car was moving to the drop-off point. The wind-proof lighter blew out. I looked behind me and screamed. The Pale Emperor was pushing the car. My breaths were labored as I kicked the window, trying to escape.

He HATED that.

A gurgled growl rang in my head, and I was certain I was going to die here if I didn’t get out now. Precious moments went by, and the drop-off point came ever closer. I frantically looked around my car for something to bash the window open with. Everything was so scattered, so chaotic. I scanned the clutter, opened the glove box- but I could find nothing. Then, I thought of the metal cigarette box in my purse. I immediately reached for my purse and grabbed the metal box.

I raised my hand to strike the window with the edge of the box, but Pale’s face appeared, his shapeless maw opening to utter the most inhuman shriek I ever heard. It caused me to drop my box. I looked around the ceiling for it, but Pale jerked the car and my cigarette box tumbled underneath some garbage. I shifted everything in an all-out panic, the discordant groan of metal and the increasing hopelessness of my situation was the crescendo of my worst fears.

Everything started to get dark, but I found it. I raised my hand to bash out the window, but I saw those horrible sets of yellow eyes. I looked up to see the moon getting further and further away, succumbing to the nothingness that enveloped me. And I was too. The only light in the darkness was the cigarette I had lit that had rolled into the corner. It was almost dead.

I grabbed it and breathed life into it. As I puffed the cigarette, the inside of the car glowed red, dimming every few seconds to burn brighter by another breath of life, like a pulse. It seemed like I smoked through it so quickly, but in reality I was afraid of the light going completely out. I opened the cigarette box.

I had 5 cigarettes left.

I searched for the lighter, but couldn’t find it. Desperately, I lit another cigarette with the dying embers of my last. Smoke filled the car, but I could see them when I took a drag from my cigarette and the light glowed bright.

4

Their bodies were gray, except for Pale’s. His was black. He was full of strange holes, like his skin had been stretched too far and ripped.

3

The other creatures he called his friends milled about the car. Pale smiled. He knew I was nearing my last cigarette. Despite my trepidation, I edged to the window to see if I could see the moon. Barely.

2

It was so dark down here. I realized the moon was getting farther away. No- I was still sinking. My cigarette started dying.

1

I breathed shakily, and Pale’s toothy smile spanned wider. I heard him in my head ask me to meet his friends, but this time, it was a whisper. Each time he asked, he asked more loudly. His friends, the gray ones, begged me not to go. Cheerily at first, but the deeper I sunk, the deeper, even more desperate their voices became. The cigarette went out.

0

He liked that.

Credit To – James Ticknor

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A Voice in the Dark

March 16, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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I was well into spending my Friday night as I typically would – staying up most of the night, playing games and looking at stupid meme sites – when the room went dark. My phone suddenly illuminated on the desk where I had just plugged it in, and I realized the power had gone out. I cursed softly as the screen went off; I knew the phone hadn’t charged nearly long enough for me to use it as a light for any length of time, and I was relatively certain we didn’t have any actual flashlights around. Just as I was wondering if it would be worth it to try to grope around in the dark for a lighter, I heard my roommate’s door open across the hall. There was a brief shuffle of movement, then I heard my own door open.
“Hey. Power’s out, huh?”
I considered giving a smartass answer to this asinine question, but ultimately decided it wasn’t worth it.
“Yeah, seems like it. You don’t have a flashlight, do you?”
In the near pitch darkness, I felt and heard him move farther into my room more than I watched him.
“Nah. Can you use your phone to see?”
“I had just plugged it in ‘cause it was almost dead. I should probably leave it alone, just in case we actually need to call somebody. How about yours?”
“Dead. So… What do we do?”
I sighed inwardly. Jake was a good roommate: He always had his half of the rent on time, didn’t leave messes in the common areas or use my stuff without asking, and if I told him to stop doing something (like leaving his coat on the couch instead of taking it to his room), he stopped doing it. But he was not the brightest guy, and often looked to me to explain things or figure them out for him. Don’t get me wrong, I liked him, but sometimes I started to feel more like his dad than his roommate.
“Well, I have to assume somebody in the building who doesn’t have an almost dead phone has already called the super or the power company, so now we just wait. There’s really not much else we can do.”
“Oh. Okay. Well… Can we just hang out ‘til it comes back on? It’s so dark.”
Again, it was hard not to respond flippantly to Jake stating the obvious, but it was true that there was really nothing to do until the power came back on but sit and talk. It seemed foolish to go offending him when he was to be my only companion for God knew how much time.
“Sure, why not? Go ahead and sit down.”
“I already sat down.”
I was surprised to realize that his voice had, in fact, moved to where my bed was in the room even though I had not heard any movement.
“Oh. Cool. So how did you notice the power had gone out? I thought since you’re home you must have work in the morning.”
Generally, unless he was scheduled to work Saturday morning, Jake would spend Friday nights out with his girlfriend. Like Jake, she was not terribly bright, but sweet and clearly devoted to him. I had been dreading the day he would say the two of them were moving in together, thus meaning I would have to seek out a new roommate. I hated most people on principle, so the idea of having to find another one I could stand to live with was daunting to say the least.
“I woke up ‘cause it’s so dark. It’s never been so dark in that room before.”
Naturally, this statement confused me greatly. I wondered if I’d heard him right.
“What? You woke up because it got darker?”
“Yes. Because of the dark.”
I still didn’t think he was making a bit of sense, but he had just woken up, after all. His initial response of “yes”, however, oddly unnerved me. Jake had been my roommate for over two years, and I felt very sure that in all that time he had never given an affirmative response that wasn’t “Yeah” or “Uh-huh”. Furthermore, we had had power outages before, so his assertion that it had never been so dark in his room before didn’t seem to add up. Then I remembered that he had recently gotten (or rather, his girlfriend had gotten for him) some black-out curtains for his room, to block out the sun when he needed to sleep during the daytime. If he had those pulled, they were probably blocking out any small amount of light that may have filtered in from outside before. Nonetheless, it seemed bizarre that it being especially dark had somehow woken him.
“Well, if you have work tomorrow, maybe you should try to go back to sleep. I’ll stay up until the power comes back on.”
No, I don’t want to go back to sleep. Let’s talk, Dan.”
Unnerved was steadily progressing to downright freaked out. Jake was a naturally laid-back and easygoing type of guy, so to have him suddenly use such a forceful and aggressive tone was very disturbing to me. Even worse, however, was him calling me “Dan”. One of the only habits I’d been unsuccessful in breaking Jake of was calling me “Danny”. Eventually I had just given up and allowed it. I tried to tell myself that he was probably just tired, that that was the reason for his uncharacteristic behavior. It dawned on me that I’d be much readier to accept that explanation if I could actually see him. As dark as it was in my room – even with a small amount of light coming in from a distant street lamp – I could barely make out his silhouette on my bed. Just a black, vaguely human shape in the darkness.
“Why are you calling me that, Jake?”
There was a moment’s silence before Jake’s voice responded, now in a conciliatory, decidedly more Jake-like tone, “That’s what you prefer to be called, isn’t it? You said so before.”
I can’t fully describe the thrill of horror I felt as I realized that whomever – or whatever- I was speaking to was backpedaling. I was certain now that this was not Jake, and certain that whoever it was knew he had shown his hand a bit, and was now desperately trying to return to acting like Jake. The tone was good: unsure, almost apologetic. That was very much like Jake. The wording, however, was all wrong. And there was another problem.
“I haven’t mentioned that in over a year.”
Another pause. It was taking all my willpower not to jump up from my chair. Whether to confront the impostor or run from him, I wasn’t sure. I think both the desperate, lingering hope that this really was Jake as well as a notion that if it wasn’t, it was in my best interests to keep playing along, kept me rooted to my seat.
“Oh, haven’t you? Sorry. I guess I’m kind of tired. I can call you Dan, though. If you want.”
I couldn’t take it anymore – this wasn’t Jake, I was beyond sure of it now. I jumped up from my seat, “Who the hell are you?!”
I had only a second to reconsider the wisdom of choosing confrontation over fleeing as the impostor answered quickly this time and in an appropriate tone of alarm,
“W-whaddya mean?! I’m Jake!”
“The fuck you are! Tell me who you really are!”
“I’m Jake! It’s me, Danny,really! Why don’t you believe me?!”
“Because I can’t fucking see you, and you’re not acting like Jake – you aren’t Jake! Who the fuck are you?!”
“I am Jake! I know you can’t see me… Hey, wait – you said your phone wasn’t quite dead, right? Let the screen come on just long enough to see my face. You’ll see it’s really me, Danny!”
This gave me pause. The voice in the dark was now sounding very convincingly like a frightened and confused Jake, and had quickly suggested I use my only light source to prove its identity. I was starting to feel increasingly foolish and chagrined at my paranoid freak-out. But still… I had to be sure. I turned to reach for my phone where I knew it was still sitting, plugged into the inert wall socket. I picked it up and the time appeared in white, causing a miniscule amount of illumination. As I was about to unlock it, it started ringing.
Jake calling…
I didn’t turn. I slid my finger to the little green phone icon in a kind of surreal haze of disbelief.
“Hello?”
“Hey, Danny! I forgot my key again, can you come let me in?”
“…Jake?”
“Yeah, it’s Jake. Hey, is the power out? It’s all dark-”
And the phone went dead.

Credit To – A. McKee

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