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The Happiest Place on Earth

October 9, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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This was it: night one of my new job as the night watchman for Disneyland. Anywhere else, I’d be referred to as an ordinary security guard. Here, I was a cast member. Something about that label just oozed sophistication and privilege. It was now 12:00 AM. All the cleaners and maintenance workers had done their jobs and gone off to their own homes. My shift started now. I was, admittedly, pretty nervous.

“How many times was it again, kid?” my manager said as he walked me through the entrance.

“Hmm?” I asked nervously.

“How many times have you been to the park?” he clarified.

“Well… pretty much every year since I was 8, sir,” I answered.

“Then you’ll do perfectly,” he said, his tone confident. “Someone who knows the park from head to toe. Just what we need.”

“It’s an honor,” I said with a nod. “And it’ll be a nice paycheck for college.”

“As long as you’re not scared of spending long, lonely hours in a security office and surrounded by areas filled with deactivated animatronic characters, you’ll be fine,” the manager, whose name was Travis, jokingly said as if trying to scare me out of my new job.

What’s the worst that could happen? The answer to that question would only exist in my darkest nightmares and nowhere else. I was never the kind of guy to believe in ghosts, demons, or the supernatural in general. I’d be fine, just a little bored on occasion.

Travis led me to a gray door with a sign reading, “Authorized Personnel Only.” He handed me a key and said, “Do the honors.”

A couple of clockwise twists and the door’s locks seized to be a problem. A long and wide hallway shrouded by darkness greeted me on entrance. Travis urged me in, following closely behind and flicking up a light switch on the wall. The hallway lit up like a kid’s face upon meeting his favorite character for the first time, giving me a clear image of what was found at the end: a blue door reading “Security” with two large glass windows on either side of it. The hallway itself was covered by large boxes which I assumed contained equipment.

Travis walked ahead and led me to the door. He handed me another key and said, “Again, do the honors.”

I smirked at him and unlocked the door, making my way into the spacious office and analyzing the surroundings. It consisted of 4 large desks, each with a ton of screens on the tall wall above it. The first desk’s screens showed the main entrance as well as the park’s famous Main Street USA area. Cameras were placed in many different spots (including inside the shops and restaurants) to give me a full idea of what was going on. The screens on the second desk showed a larger amount of security cameras placed all over the park within Adventureland, Discoveryland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, New Orleans Square, Critter Country, and Mickey’s Toontown. The photo spots, the shops, the restaurants… every nook and cranny in these areas was now under my surveillance. The third and final desk’s cameras were placed… inside the rides. Yeah. Each of them showed me the darkened, lifeless nighttime insides of these beloved attractions. All of a sudden, Splash Mountain was no longer a jolly ride through Br-er Rabbit’s world. It was a dark cave of chilling silence filled with dead-eyed animatronic characters staring in different directions. The first areas in Pirates of the Caribbean went from dark, eerie, skeleton-infested caves to… dark, eerie, skeleton-infested caves. Idiot.

“What do you think?” Travis asked, roughly patting my back. “Beautiful isn’t it?”

I nodded silently before saying, “It’s… impressive.”

“Your new office,” he said. “Never thought you’d wind up here when you were twisting through Space Mountain as a kid, right?”

“No one would,” I jokingly scoffed, getting a drink from a sizable water cooler right next to the third desk. I took a sip and switched on the oscillating desk fan.

“I know what you’re thinking,” Travis said as my eyes went back to the third set of screens. “Don’t even try it.”

I stared at him, confused.

“I know nostalgia can be a force to be reckoned with,” he said. “But don’t go trying to switch on the rides and take them for a solo drive.” He chuckled, letting me know he was just kidding.

I laughed along and said, “I’d get fired on the spot. I know my place.” I sat down on the rotating desk chair and said, “I’m not leaving this office until you get back in the morning.”

“No need to go overboard,” Travis said. “ You can leave the office for a bathroom break.”

“Right,” I said with a nod.

Travis stared at the cameras for a second and said. “Any questions or you all set for now?”

“All set,” I confidently said, feeling surprisingly excited for the job.

“Okay,” Travis said with a proud nod. He took a card out of his pocket and put it on the desk beside me. “If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to give me a call, especially in the case of an emergency, though I seriously doubt it’ll ever come to that.”

I took the card and put it in my pocket. “I will. Thanks.”

“Good luck, kid,” he said, opening the office door. “ He looked back and added, “Check those cameras,
be wary of anything, and… try not to doze off.”

Not a chance. I spent all afternoon sleeping soundly in my apartment for a reason.

The door creaked… then clicked. Travis was gone, and I was now all alone at Disney. Maybe I should give the rides a go…

I’d never do something like that, even if the temptation was brutal. What can I say? I was broke. I needed the money for college. Messing with the rides would be a one way ticket back to my college dorm empty-handed. So I sat down on my little desk chair… waiting… and waiting… and keeping my eyes on those cameras.

For the most part, nothing happened. The only thing I could see? Slightly grainy footage of the park’s deserted whereabouts. The only thing I could hear? The low hum of the desk fan as its cool breeze kept me from breaking a sweat. Truth be told, if I shut off that fan things would get ugly for me fast. I was never the kind of guy to enjoy total (and I mean TOTAL) silence. It’s the kind of thing that would allow my mind to play cruel tricks on me.

With that in mind, I turned up the fan from 1 to 3 and pulled out my phone to check my music library. I swiped my finger across the screen back and forth repeatedly, trying to decide on what to listen to. Ryan Farish was the answer to that question. His uplifting tracks would surely keep the mood from going straight into the realm of the unsettling. I put the phone on full blast, set it down on the table, and turned my attention to the cameras.

I’d be lying if I said the sight wasn’t strangely unsettling in its own way. It’s not that anything out of place was going on; absolutely nothing was, actually. But that was just it… nothing was happening. The park was deserted. In here, Ryan Farish’s tracks were keeping the mood upbeat and lively. Out there, the park itself… nothing. As I sat there, the park’s streets were silent and dark, save for a few lights scattered in different places. The night vision cameras gave me the full picture of what was going on in all areas of the park, though my attention was mostly saved for the main gates. My eyes wandered to other cameras as well, but the gates were the primary focus.

The interiors of the attractions on the other hand…

Yeah, I tried to keep my eyes of them most of the time. It was in my job description to check those too, but something just felt… off. Again, nothing was happening. I could only thank my over-active imagination for what I felt whenever my eyes moved over those cameras. Just seeing all the animatronic characters like this, in total darkness and silence with their dead eyes staring off into the distance and their mouths in unnatural positions, sent chills down my spine. Call me childish if you want, but I just really wasn’t used to seeing them like this. It was the polar opposite of what you’d get in the daytime while actually giving these attractions a go.

“You’ve been watching too many horror movies, man,” I told myself with a wry chuckle. “Remember, it’s all part of the job.”

I sat up from my desk to stretch my legs. It was now 1:10 am. One hour of doing nothing but sitting and staring at cameras was already giving me some physical discomfort. I did a few calisthenics and jogged in place for a moment, stopping only to get a couple drinks of water from the cooler… which added up to a total of 3 drinks taken since I got here.

It was about time for a quick bathroom break.

I took one last look at all the cameras (including the ride interiors) before fetching my key from the desk. I was taken aback as soon as I unlocked the second door, my eyes and senses taking in the sight and feel of the abandoned park. Just total silence and darkness. The only illumination in the immediate area came from the small lights marking the, thankfully, nearby bathroom. I calmly walked over, ignoring the feel of the dead park, and did my business.

I washed my hands and rinsed my face, taking a brief look at myself in the mirror before heading for the door. I was just going past the exit when the sharp sound of something bursting and shattering startled me. I looked up through the darkness at the bathroom’s outer lights… or at least what was left of them. Faint sparks of electricity emanated from the sockets, casting an even fainter glow on the space around it.

“Damn it,” I mumbled, looking down at the glass shards on the floor. “Better get rid of these…”

But not with my hands. There was always the risk of accidentally cutting myself with the sharp edges, but the way the bulbs exploded from the apparent overcharge… yeah, I could imagine how hot the pieces could be. Thankfully, there was a broom and basket in my office ready for the job. I calmly walked over to the nearby office, my ears taking in the abundance of silence, and opened the gray door to the hallway. Except it didn’t open. Confused, I jiggled the door handle only for it to stall each time and emanate a clicking sound.

It locked itself…?

As strange as it was, I didn’t see it as a cause for alarm. Maybe they designed the door to automatically lock itself when closed. It did sound like a sensible security measure to keep any unwanted guests out of the restricted area. I nonchalantly shrugged and pulled out the key to unlock it. No trouble there. The blue office door, to my surprise, remained unlocked. I grabbed the broom, along with the trash basket, and headed back to the restrooms for a quick sweep-up.

“You’d make a hell of a janitor,” I muttered, alleviating the lonely feeling of being here all by myself.

I brushed the shards into the basket and took it back to the security office, unlocking the hallway door again and locking it behind me. The office door, which I had left open, was now shut. However, I didn’t give it much thought. I just wanted to take the basket back in, take a seat in front of the cameras, turn up my music, and unwind. For some reason, the two trips outside the office made me uneasy. It was probably my overactive imagination acting up again, but I could feel… something. As if someone was watching me. Then again, I always felt that. As a kid, as a teenager, and now as a young adult; I always had a certain fear of the dark… or, more accurately, a fear of being left alone in it. I learned to control it as life went on, but never truly got rid of it.

I set the broom and basket down against the wall and jiggled the door handle… only to find it was now locked too. What?

Maybe the same security measure for the hallway door was also applied to this one? If so, how come it was unlocked the first time I came back? Maybe the mechanism just malfunctioned the first time?

Well, whatever it was, I didn’t give it much thought. I used the key and went in with a clear mind. Setting down the broom and trash basket, I went for the chair, reclining on it a bit and massaging my temples before laying eyes on the cameras. Scrolling through each of them for a short period of time, I really didn’t see anything happening. Everything seemed to be in order. Good.

I switched my music back on and bopped my head to the beat. A few minutes of doing so while checking the cameras gave me the chance to clear my head. And then… silence. The music stopped. The phone’s screen went black. My mind shot back into the dark realm of suspicion. What the hell…?

I tried turning the phone back on. Nothing. I pulled the charger out of the bag I’d brought with me and plugged it in. Still nothing. Not even the “Low Battery” icon would show on the screen. The phone was completely dead… Great. I’d never heard of something like this happening, but seeing as the phone was about 4 years old, it really didn’t have to come off as a shock to me. Probably had a fatal hardware error from age or something…

Whatever it was, the result wasn’t pretty: my office being plunged headfirst back into total silence. “Great.” Well… hopefully I could get the phone repaired somehow. For now, though, I’d have to contend with boredom. Moving along to the music was the only thing keeping me entertained. It kept my nerves in check too. As the minutes passed, boredom and nerves created an unholy mix within me. With the exception of the fan’s low sound, the office was silent enough to hear a pin drop.

And then… a knock on a door. Yes… the gray hallway door. It was a single, jarring knock breaking the silence in the worst way possible. I tensed up in my chair, not daring to look behind me. I kept my eyes on the cameras instead, mainly the ones in Main Street USA and the one right outside the main security door.

There was no one. Not even the slightest sign of a person. Everything seemed normal…

/knock knock/

Heart starting to race, I quickly turned in my chair to face the doors. That second knock? It sounded closer… as in, unlike the first, it came from the door to my office. I stood up from my chair and just remained still for a moment, cautiously staring at the door and contemplating whether to check it or not. Eventually, I decided to take that step forward. I carefully opened the door and stepped out, looking around in the hallway. Everything looked perfectly normal. There were no signs of activity whatsoever. Even the boxes were in the exact same places and positions as when I first arrived.

Maybe it was just my imagination… I seriously need to calm down.

With that thought, I shrugged and went for the door back into my office… when a startlingly loud thud coming from outside the hallway door caught my attention. A second bang on the door made me nearly jump out of my skin. It left me virtually paralyzed, standing there with my eyes locked on the door. What’s going on…?

This time I didn’t remain as calm. I ran back into the office and grabbed a broomstick. I removed the actual broom from the tip and took the stick alone with me. I was going out. Cautiously… slowly but surely, I was going out. Whatever it was, I was going to get to the bottom of it. The cameras close to the office showed me nothing, but they could probably be glitching. I took a deep breath and slowly approached the door with the broomstick in hand. A chillingly faint scraping noise came from it just as I was about to lay a hand on the handle. It stopped me dead in my tracks for a second, my mind trying its best to make sense of it all.

Do it.

I slowly opened the door and peeked outside.


“Hello?” I said, silence being the only one to respond. Of course even if there was an intruder the last thing he’d do would be answer the security guard’s calls. I looked around some more and shrugged, my eyes catching nothing. I chuckled nervously and said, “I really am going crazy.”

I rolled my eyes at myself and walked back to the office, unlocking both doors and once again sitting in front of the cameras. I positioned the fan so its wind would go straight to my face and exhaled, relieving stress. As much as I wanted to believe my mind was to blame… deep down, I couldn’t. I heard the knocks. I didn’t imagine them. I heard them. Whether it was some obscure auditory phenomenon I didn’t know about… or something else entirely… I could tell it wasn’t my imagination.

My thoughts were interrupted by the sudden ring tone coming from… my dead phone. I stared down at it, bewildered, and noticed the words “Unknown Caller” flashing on the screen. I reluctantly picked it up and waited a few uneasy seconds before answering. “Talk to me.”

“Hello?!” my manager’s voice came blaring through the speaker, its tone distressingly frantic. “Is everything all right?”

I didn’t know how to answer him; I was momentarily frozen by his tone.

“Never mind,” Travis breathlessly said. “You need to leave the park now!”

“Why what’s going o…?”

“Just do it!” he yelled, forcing me to bite my tongue. “I’ll explain later. Right now, there’s no ti…”

“Travis?” I nervously said, my voice barely going above a whisper. “What’s wrong?”

A blood-curdling mess of terrified, painful screams suddenly pierced the silence. I was helpless, having no other choice but to keep the phone pressed against my ear and invite hyperventilation in.

“Travis!” I yelled.

And then… silence.

“Travis…?” I softly said, terrified beyond description. Slow, thumping footsteps broke through the silence, the sound growing nearer and nearer to the phone’s speaker by the second. The closer the sounds approached, the more unnerved I became. It almost sounded like they were coming from the security office. From… behind me…

The footsteps stopped to give way to a raspy, labored breathing coming directly from the phone.
“S… s… see… you… soooon…” the voice quiveringly said in a way so disturbingly unnatural it chilled me to the core.

Petrified with fear, my entire body seized up. My hand lost its grip on the phone, letting it drop to the floor. I started shaking uncontrollably and backed up against the wall, shutting my eyes and hoping I would wake up from the nightmare. Opening them only let me know I was still in the office. This was no nightmare. I had really just heard Travis being murdered through the phone… and now his killer was coming for me. But… what did he want? What did any of this have to do with me? Better yet, how did he know of my whereabouts?

A loud bang on the hallway door snapped me out of my thoughts yet again, my scream emanating through the office. I stood up and fixed my eyes on the door, waiting to see what would happen if anything did.


Suddenly, the lights went out. The security cameras switched off. Both the office and the hallway became caves. A thick blanket of darkness blinded me and pushed me over the edge of unmitigated terror. I scrambled to find the light switch on the wall to no avail. My fingers could only scratch the walls in a desperate, fruitless search. My phone was the other option. Its flashlight would light up the room like a night club. I pulled it out of my pocket and started pressing buttons… only to find it was dead once again.

“Come on, come on!” I growled in fearful desperation. “Work, you piece of…”


What was that…?


If my ears weren’t deceiving me, I had just heard the door to my office slowly opening by itself. The darkness wouldn’t allow me to get even the slightest look of what was going on… a handicap which allowed my mind to do its worst. The creaking sound slowed to a crawl before being succeeded by the door’s closing click. Creeping footsteps echoed through the darkness, inching closer to me by the second.

My heart raced in my chest. The sweat dripped from my forehead. My entire body quaked with fear. As the footsteps drew closer, I was entirely helpless. I could do nothing but keep myself pressed against the wall and await the result.

Except there was none.

The footsteps stopped. Whether the source was standing right in front of me or halfway across the room was unknown to me. The question was answered when… the lights switched back on. They were tweaking out and flickering, but they were back on. I couldn’t complain, except… I was all alone in the room. Not even a shadow in sight other than mine. I took a deep breath, my hand wiping across my forehead to take care of the sweat, and looked back at the cameras. Unlike the lights, they remained dead and displayed nothing other than my reflection. I tapped one of them out of curiosity… only for the reflection to show something (or someone) else occupying my working space. A shadowy figure with indistinct features stood right behind me, its head slowly tilting to one side. I darted back from the screen and turned in place. Nothing.

The lights went out once again, forcing me to groan in equal parts of frustration and fear. The sound of the office door slamming shut pushed me back against the wall in fearful submission. It was slammed open, the loud thud accompanied by the shattering of the glass windows on either side of it. The door to the hallway, supposedly “locked” by a safety mechanism, was harshly opened as well.

Whatever I was dealing with, it had just taken care of the only things separating me from… it.

I didn’t want to leave the office. No one would. Nevertheless, I knew I had to do it and find a good hiding spot. Escaping the park would be impossible with the gates locked. “It” knew I was here. “It” was challenging me. I could almost feel it. I was unsure of this thing’s purpose. But the one thing I was sure of? “It” wasn’t human. And it wanted to either drive me insane… or kill me.

Or both.

“You can do this…” I said in a vain attempt to console myself. “You’re g… you’re gonna get through this…”

I repeated those words in my mind and proceeded to slowly walk through the darkened hallway toward the main door. The lights above me flickered in an erratic pattern with every step I took, causing me to slow down from sheer nervousness. Once again, I had that strange feeling: eyes… eyes on me. I could feel something watching my every move. I slowly looked over my shoulder, only to reassure myself there was nothing there, and continued my cautious walk down the seemingly never-ending hallway. Every step felt like a mile as my mind was flooded with thoughts about the unknown force putting me through all this. The same “thing” that apparently took Travis’s life.

What is it?
What does it want with me?
Why bring Travis into it?
Is there some history to all of this?

Four questions, zero answers, but it didn’t matter to me now. The only thing that mattered was finding a good place to hide. Was I being tormented by a paranormal force? The kind I never believed in? Definitely. I had no doubts whatsoever. But I did doubt it was an all-knowing force capable of seeking me out no matter where I hid.

My feet ceased to move forward upon reaching the opened hallway door. One more step was all I needed, but the fear was simply too much. The idea of leaving the office, fully exposing myself to this entity, wasn’t exactly pleasant.

You’re a sitting duck here. Move!
Where am I supposed to go? Somewhere this thing can’t find me? It’s probably watching me already…
Don’t hide! Run for the main gates.
That would be a good idea… if they weren’t locked.
You’ll figure it out. Travis said to leave the park. Hiding won’t work. You know it’ll find you.
It’ll find me… no matter where I hide…

My instincts where saying “run and hide,” but my mind was yelling “get out of the park.” There had to be some way to escape…

I slowly cleared the open door, my eyes looking to both sides to make sure nothing was waiting for me.


I looked back to find that the main door had roughly shut itself, the loud noise accompanied by the low clicks of the locks. A low exhale channeled my stress as I slowly walked away from the door, keeping my eyes on it for a moment, before letting my fear get the better of me and sprinting off straight for the main gates.

“Don’t look back, don’t look b…”

My body hit something, stopping me dead in my tracks. Except… there was nothing. I stared in the direction of whatever blocked my escape, my eyes catching nothing. My senses, however, told an entirely different story. I felt the eyes on me once again. Those cold, piercing eyes… inhuman.

“Y… you’re not going… anywhere…” the same unnaturally guttural voice from the phone said after a brief moment of silence. “You’re staying right here… with us… all.. of us…”


“If I were you… I would run…” the voice menacingly seethed. “I’ve brought some… friends… to meet you…”

The voice faded away on the last word, leaving my now unattended attention free to drift over to a nearby thicket of tall decorative bushes… which began to madly rustle. A vicious gurgling sound came from them as the rustling intensified.

“Oh my God…” I nervously mumbled.

A long, thin, almost skeletal arm with disgustingly pinkish, raw-looking flesh stretched out from the foliage, trembling grotesquely. The clawed hand with unnaturally long, bony fingers scratched the ground it reached for. My instincts once again urged me to run, but the sight of this… this “thing” froze me in place. Whether it was from fear, amazement, or diabolical concoction of the two, I simply couldn’t move. My body quaked as the rest of the creature surfaced from the hiding spot. The darkness wouldn’t let me make out the specific details of its appearance, but it did give me a disturbing enough idea of what I was dealing with. It was a tall humanoid figure with a body lanky to the point of deformity. Its bony shoulders stretched up to the midway point of its neck. Its legs seemed like they could snap at any moment. Its chest was sunken in, the bones almost emerging from the thin layer of flesh. How this being was even able to stand and walk was beyond my comprehension, but it was doing just that. Much to my terror, its movements were as hideously otherworldly as could be: erratic, twitchy, stiff shambling that looked anything but human.

Then, in a split-second, its neck twisted toward me, giving me a clear view of its wretched face. The features were deformed and rotten. The eye sockets lacked the eyes; two chillingly dark voids bereft of any emotion. The mouth was stretched out to the point where the skin was tearing at either sides. Black bile pooled from its open mouth. It shambled towards me slowly for a moment, making me finally snap out of the spell and walk backwards a bit. It stayed like that for a few seconds: me walking backwards while cautiously keeping my eyes on the creature’s steady approach. I started walking faster, facing away and looking back every few seconds to make sure it wasn’t closing in.

Its footsteps grew closer. The sounds became rapid. I looked back in a flash to see the being closing in on me. It was no longer shambling. It wasn’t even walking at a brisk pace. It was sprinting, with its erratic and unnatural movements more disconcerting than ever. My heart raced. My palms sweat. My legs did their work. I raced away from the being in a terrified sprint of my own.

The park was a canvas covered in black paint. The few lights Travis had left on in select spots had all been switched off. Decorative buildings, shops, and restaurants were now caverns. I did have a flashlight with me, but right now, in my mad dash away from the being, the last thing on my mind was to use it. My mind was singularly focused on getting away… which was proving to be more difficult a task than previously thought.

For such a weak-looking creature, it could really keep pace. No matter how fast my movement was, it managed to stay right behind me.

I ran down Main Street USA, my path a direct beeline to Cinderella castle. From there, I planned to make a sharp left turn straight into Adventureland. My mind was already cooking up a great escape plan. Adventureland was home to the famous Jungle Cruise attraction. If I could get out of sight for just one second, I would have a good chance to dive into the water and hide under the queue area. It would be perfect, as long as the creature didn’t spot me making my escape.

The stakes were high; my life was on the line. It would be tiring, but I knew I had to be faster. I put everything I had into it. Every last ounce of energy in me went straight to my legs. I ran at speeds I had never reached before in my life, the gap between me and the creature increasing with every passing second. Sadly… I wasn’t in the best shape of my life. Not overweight, but definitely not in the kind of shape desirable for a life or death situation. Nevertheless, I was doing exactly what needed to be done.

The creature screeched savagely as I darted out of sight into Adventureland. I picked up the pace as its distant footsteps seemed to be coming closer at an even faster rate.

Catching sight of the entrance to the Jungle Cruise made me speed up even more. It was the best, and probably only, chance of staying alive. I ran inside, darted through the queue as fast as I could, and jumped into the water without a second thought. I swam underneath the queue line as planned and grabbed on to one of the large wooden poles holding the attraction’s building up over the water. Now… waiting. I closed my eyes and held my breath, my ears perceiving the creature’s frenzied footsteps approaching the ride building.

I tensely looked up when the footsteps started to come from directly above me. The creature had arrived. I could hear it lowly hissing and sniffing. It knew I was here. It just didn’t know where exactly and I was going to keep it that way. The game was cat and mouse. Under no circumstances was I going to let this thing catch me…

The footsteps went further away until the creature was standing at the very edge of the loading docks. My eyes caught a chilling glimpse of its bone-like fingers stretching down to swat at the water in an apparent search for its prey. The hand movements got more impatient, signaling its owner’s frustration.

Just leave already…

Whether the creature had the ability to read thoughts was a question I couldn’t answer. Its actions did raise suspicion on that matter though. Both its hands grabbed on to the loading dock’s edge and its shadow let me know just what it was about to do: take a peek under the queue area straight into my hiding spot.

Oh, hell…

Without even thinking, I took a deep, but silent, breath and allowed myself to drift under the waterline. My figure was engulfed by the darkness of the deep water and remained there… motionless. I made sure of it. I knew so much as the slightest movement could give me away and put the creature on the attack once more. There was one problem however…

I was quickly running out of breath.

My head was starting to spin. My eyes were going backwards into my skull. My lungs cried out for air. These things persisted to the point where I simply couldn’t bear with it any longer. I let my head surface and gasped for air, quickly looking in front of me as soon as my lungs were satisfied. Much to my repressed joy, the creature was gone. I could still hear its movements, but they were getting distant instead of approaching. It didn’t appear to be in the queue building any more from what I could hear. From the sound of it, it seemed to be heading further into Adventureland in direction of New Orleans Square. If that was the case then I’d have the perfect chance to get out of the water, quietly sneak in the opposite direction, and find a good hiding place while the creature searched for me elsewhere.

Okay… you can do this. So far so good.

My inner voice was my only friend and greatest encourager. I had no choice but to heed its words, slowly swimming out from under the queue building and grabbing on to the wooden ledge of the loading dock. I cautiously raised my head a bit to take a steady peek of my surroundings.

No visual sign of the creature. I could still hear the noises it made (hissing, growling, grunting) in the distance, but no sign of it actually being close to my position. It was the perfect opportunity to bolt. I lifted myself up to the dock, placing my chest on it, and raised one of my legs as well. I was about to lift up my other leg, but… I couldn’t.


Something grabbed my foot and gave me a jolting tug back, almost forcing me to let go of the ledge. Panic set in immediately. The leg I’d already raised up to the ledge fell back into the water as I madly flailed in place, trying to get loose of whatever had seized me. I kicked the water with my free leg. Nothing happened. I squirmed and shook as manically as I could. Nothing.

Suddenly, the force pulled on my leg with full strength. My hands painfully scraped the wood as I was violently pulled back into the water with a loud splash. I swam back to the surface and gasped for air before trying to grab hold of the ledge again. Unfortunately for me, this unidentified entity wasn’t finished with me. I was pulled under the waterline once again, both my legs being held together and making it impossible for me to escape. Panic intensifying, I shut my eyes and held my breath. Whatever this new entity was, I didn’t want to lay eyes on it.

Except… I had no choice. Once my head was above the waterline again, I felt two pairs of fingers set themselves on both my eyes… while my legs remained held in place.

There’s two of them?!

The fingers on my eyelids pushed in opposite directions, forcing the eyes open… to the sight of the deformed, skeletal creature shambling toward the edge of the dock. Apparently, the sounds of commotion had drawn it back to my position and now… my cover was blown.

The unexpected, and unwelcome, sight forced a piercing shriek of pure, unadulterated terror out of me. I began wildly thrashing around like a patient at a mental asylum, fearful desperation now risen to an unbearable degree. This time, it actually worked. I felt my legs go loose and the fingers removed from my pressured eyelids. Unfortunately… it was too late. Before I knew it, the bony creature ran and pounced into the water with its arms stretched out towards me and the claws seemingly aimed at my neck.

In a gut response, I speedily dove under the water and miraculously avoided the creature’s lunge. It splashed down a few feet behind me and began thrashing around to the symphony of its own frenzied grunts and hisses. I didn’t even look back. I couldn’t; it would be a waste of the few precious seconds I had to escape with my life. I swam away. I swam as fast as I possibly could and latched on to the loading dock’s edge for the second time. Raising both legs to the dock at record speed, I got out just in time to avoid the creature’s second grab at me. It’s claws missed my leg by that much; I actually felt the wind from its swipe. As the creature made quick, spastic movements to get up to my level, I wasted no time in making a run for dear life. I cleared the queue and was out of Adventureland before I even knew it.

The creature’s frustrated, ear-piercing screams became more distant as I ran into Discoveryland and dove into a thick thicket of bushes, catching my breath from the sprint and giving myself a chance to regain my energy for what would be a full night of running and hiding… if I didn’t get… killed… that is…

The thought alone brought me closer to breaking down into a quivering pile of anxiety-stricken uselessness. I hadn’t lived a full life. Not even close. I didn’t want to die now… especially not like this. All alone… terrified… with no one to turn to… pursued by a threat I didn’t understand… mercilessly slaughtered by demonic beings.

You can do this…. you’re going to make it… don’t give up…
You aren’t going to die like this…

As much as I wanted to believe my inner voice’s motivational words, it was too tough a task. I wanted nothing more than to make it out of this alive and never return, but what I had just been through made me realize just how hard that was going to be. I was under constant surveillance by these… things. The bony demon was visible and could be avoided if I sharpened my senses to the necessary degree. But invisible entities that seized me in the water? I had a sick feeling in my stomach telling me there were others like them all throughout the park.

They were probably watching me right now as I lay hidden in the thick brush…


The skeletal demon was back, madly shambling around close to my position. I backed up against the wall, not daring to create a crack in the bush for a quick peek. This time, it wasn’t making any sounds other than footsteps. It was entirely silent, which made its presence all the more unnerving. Once the footsteps were in close proximity, passing by directly in front of the thicket I hid in, I decided to take no chances. I held my breath, the sound of my breathing being the only one I was producing.

Eventually, the sounds of its feet subsided, becoming more faint as they seemed to head back in the direction of Adventureland. Curiosity getting the better of me, I decided to take a quick look through the bush. I slowly stretched out both hands and silently pushed open a clearing on the foliage.

Nobody. Not a sign of life nearby. I couldn’t even hear the creature’s footsteps anymore. Until…

The bushes right next to me rustled, catching my attention and causing me to run out in a dash. A low giggle came from them as well, something which was anything but charming. And then… the footsteps again.

I quickly turned to the direction the sound came from and saw… something. It wasn’t the skeletal demon. It was something else: a man. Or at least it looked like a man.. except it had no eye sockets, hair, clothes, or facial features in general… with the exception of a bloody mouth with the lips and the skin around it nothing more than a shredded mess exposing the jagged teeth and rotten gums. This new entity occupied the space right in front of the Discoveryland entrance. It just stood there… silently. Staring me down as if challenging me.

Footsteps. Rapid footsteps coming from behind me.

I turned in place and saw… her. A woman in a white dress sprinting straight for me. Except this was no ordinary woman. It was one of… them. Her skin was gray and wrinkled. Her eyes were pupil-less. Just two white, emotionless orbs held in place by the sockets. There were no eyebrows above them. Her teeth? There weren’t any. Her mouth was a stiff wide grin, showing off the ghastly toothless wasteland that was the inside.

Not more than a couple of seconds passed before I was running for my life yet again. Thankfully, this female entity wasn’t too fast. I found it easy to outrun her. Unfortunately…

The eyeless, silent entity appeared in front of me. Just like that, out of thin air. I looked back to make sure I’d lost the woman and found myself staring the eyeless creature in the face. It grabbed on to me and threw me to the ground, a low hiss escaping through its jagged teeth. The impact with the pavement scraped my arm, drawing a small amount of blood. I scrambled to get away and found myself leaving the creature to eat my dust. My heart pounding my chest cavity with full force, I ran into Fantasyland and looked behind me. The eyeless demon was gone, but the rapidly approaching footsteps of the woman let me know I was still in trouble.

Unfortunately for me, there were no bushes nearby. I couldn’t just jump into a thicket this time around. I would have to go into one of the attractions. Even more unfortunate… the closest one right now… as in right beside me… was “It’s a Small World.”

No choice… she’s getting closer…

I took a deep breath, gathering up the courage, and sprinted over the bridge straight into the entrance. Wasting no precious time, I ran down the stairs and went right into the darkened attraction on foot.

My back was placed against a wall inside the attraction, my ears paying careful attention to the female demon’s sounds. I could hear her grunting and running around out there. If she was searching for me, she was out of luck. Under no circumstances would I leave my hiding spot.

I crouch-walked deeper into the attraction, paying close attention to my surroundings. My deeply unsettling surroundings. The overwhelming silence was an entity on its own. The Small World dolls almost seemed to surround me and gaze at every step I took. Their lifeless eyes stared off in aimless directions. Some had their mouths wide open as if screaming in terror.

I knew I was doing just that deep down inside.

After a few minutes of sneaking through the attraction, I decided to take a little rest. I sat down against a wall and shut my eyes momentarily.

How will I make it through this? I’ve been attacked by 5 of these things already. How many more could there possibly be? If I’m lucky, the answer is “none.” But judging from my situation, I’d say I’m not very lucky. And if I’m not… I probably won’t make it to sunrise. Not alive and well. How did I get myself into this mess? Why did it have to be me? What did I do to des…

/It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears…/

Oh no…

/It’s a world of hopes and a world of fears, there’s so much that we share that it’s time we’re aware it’s a small world after all/

The animatronics began to move on their own. The attraction remained in total darkness, but the music began to play.

/It’s a small world after all…/

The voices were a cacophony of madness. Some were normal. Some were in reverse. Others sounded distorted beyond belief. The one thing they had in common: they were all slowed down to ominous effect. I looked around to see… all the animatronic dolls had turned their heads and fixed their dead eyes on me.

“It’s a small world after all,” they sang as a demonic cackling sound joined the unholy combination and looped endlessly.

The terror within pushed me to run. I suspected they couldn’t hurt me, but the sound would surely attract the physically visible demons hunting me down. I ran along the sides of the attraction’s river… when something grabbed my arm and twisted it, dropping me to the ground. I was shoved into the water and pushed in face-first. They were already here…

I scrambled to regain my footing and got out of the river only to find myself face to face with a group of cackling dolls staring directly into my eyes as the others pressed on with their warped, depraved singing.

I trembled in place. My legs gave out for a moment. I was now on my knees. I looked around me as the maddeningly distorted sounds incessantly pierced my eardrums and pushed me to the brink of insanity. The Small World I knew from my childhood was a calm boat ride through a fantasy world brimming with saccharine sentimentality. This Small World was instead a horrifying exercise in frightening flustering madness.

“Stop it!!” I painfully screamed, my mind breaking “Stop it!!!”

No matter where I ran or where I looked, I felt stalked. Each and every one of these animatronics was now under the control of evil spirits keeping watchful eyes on me without a second wasted. The thought alone was causing my mind to stop working properly. I became increasingly disoriented by the insanity surrounding me.

However, my eye-sight remained perfectly functional. And what I saw made things even worse. On the other end of the room were the skeletal demon and the female both moving around and searching the area. My defensive instincts kicked in and I was hard on my heels. I looked around and saw the door to a supply closet just out of sight, behind a large pillar covered with those wretched cackling dolls. I ran for the door and was pleasantly surprised to find it was open.

“Y-y-you’re gonna make it,” I said to myself, shakily chuckling. “T-t- they’re not going to find you h-here…”

Except they already had…

A single hand grabbed my shoulder, getting a horrified scream out of me and causing me to start blindly swatting around.

“No!” I yelled at the top of my lungs. “Leave me alone!!”

The hand joined another as both grabbed my arms, turned me around, clutched the back of my head, and smashed me face-first against the wall. My vision blurred, I looked up as the single light bulb on the room’s roof lit up… showing me who had just assaulted me: the female demon. How she got in the room was a question I couldn’t answer. She looked over me, her toothless grin on full display, and stomped her foot down on my face. From there… silence.

Chaotic cackling. Cartoony voices. Foreboding music. Running water.

All these sounds joined together within my ears as I slowly came out of unconsciousness to find myself… in a log running down a river with cartoon animal animatronics all around me.

“W-what?” I muttered before realizing I had been locked down in a log on the darkened Splash Mountain. “How?”

How I got to be in this position was the least of my worries now. I had a feeling this wasn’t going to end well. A feeling that was hastily confirmed as soon as I saw what awaited me at the top of the climb for the ride’s final drop. A slobbering hunch-backed creature stood on the right side of the lift hill’s top, incoherently mumbling to itself while moving around in an unnatural manner and menacingly staring down at me.

My mind was no longer working correctly at this point. All I wanted was to get out, no matter the cost. I grabbed the safety harness pressed down on my lap and began to push up on it. I wanted out of the log. I didn’t care what I would do afterward… I just wanted out. I pushed up on it violently while grunting and thrashing around in my seat. When I’d reached the top of the hill and began to bowl over for the drop… the harness snapped open on its own. But by then… it was too late. I went over the drop without anything to hold me down and was promptly launched out of the log. An unseen force pushed me through the air and higher up, making the fall twice as hard. I landed on the the bridge in front of the attraction… legs-first. Both of them were painfully snapped out of place on impact, rendering me a groaning, broken mess. I clutched at them, which only worsened the searing pain, and screamed in response.

The pain was so severe I actually began sobbing pathetically, feeling out of breath from the constant gasps.

Then… there they were.

Standing at the end of the bridge were the 5 demons who had made themselves physically known throughout the entire ordeal. My hunters. My oppressors… all grouped together.

“What do you want with me?!” I furiously screamed as fear mixed with anger inside me. The scream descended into more pathetic tears as the pain in my legs slowly got worse.

None of them responded in words, but the skeletal demon began shambling towards me. I tried to crawl away, but it was no use. It only served to further intensify the pain. The bony monstrosity fell on its knees and began crawling slitheringly towards me, its pitch black eyes fixed on me and its facial expressions serious. Once it was a few inches away from my face, it grimly smiled. Then… it was over. The creature lunged at my throat, putting and end to my nightmare once and for all.


Yes, my friend. I died that night. So why I am still talking? Well… let’s just say I have a new group of friends. The same beings who relentlessly hunted me down that night I now call friends.

I died, but I didn’t leave. As a matter of fact… I could be right behind you as of this moment.

Just a little joke. You’re alone. Well… to my knowledge at least. Some of my kind could be lurking in your humble abode without you even realizing it. As for me, I’ve made a nice home in the place of my death: “the happiest place on earth” itself. Just remember this: next time you pay a fun visit to this park… I could be participating in your vacation photos. And who knows? Me and my… friends… we might just pay you a visit once you leave…

Just… a thought.

Credit: JG Cross

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The Garden Gnome

October 3, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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Rating: 8.6/10 (148 votes cast)

Juliet stood on the sidewalk, hands on her hips, and stared at the house. How depressing. Her Aunt Camilla had passed away just three short months ago. An aneurysm or stroke is what the doctors had said. Camilla had been in her nineties and a spinster. With no husband or children, the probate court had informed Juliet that she was the nearest living relative, and had therefore been awarded her aunt’s estate.
At first, Juliet looked upon it as a windfall. She had hardly even known her aunt – actually her great-aunt – and could count the number of times she had visited with her on one hand. She then sadly realized how lonely the old woman’s life must have been. Even her closest relative was almost a complete stranger.
Juliet tried to put that feeling behind her as she drove to the small, New England town where her new home was located. She tried to avoid thinking about the point that she was, in fact, not much different from Camilla. Juliet had been an only child. Her parents were long since passed on, and she had no “real” friends to speak of. At the age of fifty-two, she was pretty much resolved to the fact that she would be a spinster herself. She had been living on social security income ever since an auto accident in her thirties, and had a small apartment that she could barely afford. It was for this reason that she had decided to pack up her few belongings and move into the old house.
Looking at the house from the outside, she could see that she had a lot of work ahead of her. In addition to a thorough cleaning inside, sorting through all of her aunt’s possessions, the yard needed some serious tender loving care.
The lawn had grown so tall that it had gone to seed, and it was riddled with weeds. A row of five things that might have once been considered shrubs were so overgrown that they just about covered the house’s front porch. The wrought iron railings of the porch that did manage to peek through the bare spots were wrapped in dead remnants of ivy.
“Ah well,” she rubbed the back of her neck in anticipation of the coming pain, “It’s not like I don’t have time. Hey, free house, right?”
The first thing that had to go, though, was the ugly old garden gnome that was poking its disturbing head up from the tall grass. It was male, bearded, wearing a red hat, and smoking a pipe. She had never been a fan of lawn ornaments, especially gnomes. They were so tacky. This one, though, was especially disturbing. It’s glazing was faded and crackled, leaving the face looking jaundiced and wrinkled; as if it had once been an actual living creature that had died and was rotting away.
“Yep, that thing has to go. First things first, though. I don’t even own a lawn mower.”
Nearly a week had gone by and she had all but forgotten about the gnome. She had visited the local hardware store and bought the first pair of hedge trimmers she’d ever owned. A man would be stopping by later in the day with a lawnmower he had for sale on Craigslist. She had spoken to him on the phone earlier in the day and he promised that it was in great working order. She had already decided that she would use her “feminine wiles” when he arrived and try to whittle the price down a little.
“Not that I have much left in the wiles department,” she smirked. She stopped in the front hall and looked at herself in the full-length mirror mounted to the closet door. She had to admit that the work boots, shorts, flannel shirt, and her aunt’s old sunhat did look somewhat cute on her.
Juliet was still hacking away at the first shrub, which was starting to resemble a real hedge, when a red pickup pulled into the drive. The man who got out of the cab seemed to be about her age, and not too bad looking, either. Juliet pulled off her gardening gloves and jogged down the drive toward the truck.
“Hey there, stranger. So… I believe you have a mower for me.”
The man surveyed the yard, and let out a long whistle. “Yeah, and it sure looks like you could use it. Name’s Jim, by the way. You must be Juliet.”
“Yes, um… So how much did we decide on?”
“Twenty-five, but… um,” said Jim as he cocked his head, “I didn’t realize that I was headed to old Camilla’s place. I’d about give it to you free just to see the place cleaned up.”
Juliet smirked. “Yeah, it’s pretty much a hot mess.”
“How’s the old bird doing anyway?”
Juliet bit her lower lip and winced. “Oh, she passed away about three months ago. That’s why the yard was in such bad shape. I’m afraid that I haven’t really had the chance to come out before now.”
“Oh, geez. Way to go, Jim. Open mouth, insert foot.” He removed his baseball cap and ran a hand over the top of his head, ruffling his unkempt hair. “I’m sorry. So, are you her grand-daughter?”
“Ha!” barked Juliet, giddy with the compliment. “No. I’m sort of her great-niece, I guess. I never really did see too much of her, but apparently she didn’t have any other family.”
“Yeah, yeah. Very sad.” Jim brightened back up. “Hey, let me get this old mower down. Come to think of it, I will let you have it. Just bought a new one and I would have just put it at the curb anyway. I thought I’d try Craigslist first. But, you seem like a nice gal. I just wouldn’t feel right taking your money.”
“Really?” Even without rent to pay, Juliet was still strapped for cash, so she wasn’t about to turn down the kindness of a stranger. Especially when it came to cash. “That’s so nice of you.”
Jim pulled the mower to the edge of the pickup’s bed and heaved it down with very little effort. “She still has a little gas in her… Hey, how’s about I help you tackle this lawn?”
“Oh, no. I couldn’t…”
But Jim put up a good fight, and truth be told, she was looking for an excuse to get him to stick around. She hadn’t noticed any sign of a wedding ring on his finger. She decided to test her theory, just to be sure.
“Well, would you like to use my phone? You know, let your family know that you’ll be late?”
Jim peeked out from under the brim of his cap. “If by family, you mean a wife and kids, then that won’t be necessary. Never did get around to settling down.” Then he hid his mouth with the back of his hand and joked, “And there’s not much of a selection of pretty ladies in this town.” Nodding again, he said, “Until now, that is.”
Juliet let out a girlish giggle before she had time to restrain herself. Her face turned as red as a beet, but she didn’t care. She was beginning to think that moving here might have its perks after all.
Juliet returned her attention to the hedges while Jim started up the mower and began pushing it through the tall grass. It cut out on him several times as he got into the thicker stuff. She was glad that she hadn’t resisted his offer too heartily. With her neck pain, taming this jungle would have been nearly impossible. When Jim was about halfway through the front lawn, she stood and yelled out to him, “Hey Jim, I’m going in to get us some lemonade. Be right back.”
Jim stopped, but didn’t turn off the mower. He just smiled and waved back, mouthing the word “Okay!”

Juliet stood in the kitchen. She stared out the window over the sink and regarded the back yard. It would need as much work as the front, possibly more. She was certain that she could get Jim to volunteer to help. The thought excited her. She had just finished pouring out the second glass of fresh lemonade when she heard the mower stop. Juliet didn’t think that Jim had finished the lawn, so she assumed that he must have run out of gas or hit another rough patch of grass too heavy for the old mower to make it through.
Holding one frosty glass in each hand, she made her way through the living room and pushed open the screen door with her hip. She stood on the porch and looked out to see Jim standing motionless and staring at the ground with a blank look in his eyes. As she approached him, she noticed that he was standing directly in front of the ugly, old gnome and gazing as if he were entranced by the malice in its eyes.
“It’s pretty ugly, isn’t it?”
“Gah!” Jim literally jumped a little into the air. “I didn’t see you coming.”
“It is ugly, though. Don’t you think?”
“Um, it might actually be considered handsome, in a way,” he said, as if he did not wish to offend the statue. His attention began to drift back to the gnome again, but he caught himself and turned away to face Juliet. “You know, it seems like everyone in town has one of these little guys, but I never noticed one in Camilla’s yard before.”
“Yeah, well, I’m not surprised, given how tall the grass was.”
Jim shook his head. “No, even when Camilla was living here and having the lawn mowed by the neighborhood kids, I never saw it. I would definitely have noticed. I know a little something about gnomes, you know. You might say that I’m even a collector, of sorts.”
Juliet groaned internally. She began to question her thoughts of inviting Jim to stay for dinner that evening. “Well, you can have it if you want. I plan to get rid of it as soon as possible.”
“You can’t,” he almost screamed. “I mean, I couldn’t take him. It wouldn’t be right. It’s very unlucky.”
“Really. Enlighten me, gnome-man.”
“Well,” Jim removed his hat, almost reverently, and stared at the gnome as he spoke, “Gnomes are a class of legendary creatures, originating in Europe, that could take on several meanings. Most generally, though, they refer to very small people – usually men – that live in dark places: especially underground, deep in the forest, or more recently in gardens. Most European ethnic groups have their own gnome legends with local variations.
“Despite all of the varying forms, gnomes all possess the common attribute of being able to move through the earth as easily as we move atop it. Paraclesus, a sixteenth century Swiss alchemist, identified gnomes as a class of nature spirits comprising earth elementals, as opposed to the air, water, and fire elementals. Other subclasses of gnomes include dryads, elves, brownies, goblins. Some help plants and animals, some help humans, some reclusive ones stay underground, perhaps hoarding treasure.”
By now, Juliet’s eyes were glazing over, but she was trying to keep up her end of the conversation. “Mmm hmm. And which type is this little guy?”
“Well, out in the open like this, I’d guess that he’s one of those mischievous ones. The sort that plays pranks, or even causes harm, to humans.”
Now she stared into his eyes defiantly, but still with a sort of playfulness. “Well, great. That’s it then. It goes in the trash tomorrow.”
“No,” Jim pleaded. “Please just leave it where it is. It’s probably quite valuable, you know. Most of the people around here have those cheap hardware store gnomes. Made of resin or plastic, you know? But not this guy.” Jim stooped lower to look at the gnome, almost affectionately. “This guy is definitely terra cotta, and old at that. The artist sculpts a model, and then casts a mold around it. Once the mold sets it is removed, reassembled, and thin runny clay is poured in. He allows the clay to set against the mold’s inner walls for a bit, and then pours out the excess.”
“So he’s hollow?”
“Well, maybe,” Jim said teasingly, “Unless there’s a real gnome inside.”
Juliet friskily punched him in the arm. “Enough. Or he definitely goes in the trash.”
They drank their lemonade and resumed work on the yard. A few more passes with the mower, a couple more stops for lemonade, and they stood in the driveway admiring their work. They agreed that it wasn’t too bad, for the first day, and Jim offered to return the next day to tackle the back yard.
“Oh, you really don’t need to,” Juliet said unconvincingly.
“Nope, I started the project. Now I want to see it through. That’s the way my Daddy raised me.”
Juliet offered to cook dinner, but Jim begged off, saying that all he needed after that day’s work was a hot shower and a soft bed. Juliet paused to wonder if that had a double meaning, but shook off the thought. So, they exchanged phone numbers, agreed on getting back to work in the morning, and parted ways. Juliet chased him back to his truck, though, and gave him a quick peck on the cheek. She couldn’t believe how bold she was acting.
“You’re staying for dinner tomorrow, though. I won’t take no for an answer!”

By the time Juliet finished up with her own hot shower, it was dark outside. She toweled her hair dry and put on a robe. Stepping into the kitchen, intending to make dinner, she stopped at the rear window to check out the backyard and come up with a preliminary plan of attack. That was when she noticed a pointy, faded red hat sticking up from the tall grass. She immediately ran to the back door, flipped on the jelly jar light, and stepped out onto the rear porch. Sure enough, there was another gnome, identical to the one in the front yard. She was surprised that she hadn’t noticed it earlier.
Confused, she walked back through the house and out onto the front porch. The gnome that had been there was gone. She realized that the one in the back yard must have been the one previously out front.
“What the hell?”
Muddle-headed, she again ran back through the house to the rear porch to examine the gnome in the back yard – just to be certain. When she got back out, it was gone. She ducked inside the door and slipped on her tennis shoes, then went back out for a closer look. Five minutes of walking back and forth through the high grass turned up no sign of the gnome. After standing still for a minute with a blank look on her face, she went back inside, locked the door, and turned off the light. As she did the same at the front door, she could swear that she saw the pointy hat sticking up from behind the hedge. She briefly considered stepping outside again, but decided against it when a chill ran up her spine.
“Too tired to deal with this shit,” she reasoned. She locked up, returned to the kitchen, and made a light meal. After a little television, she turned in early. She drifted off to sleep actually looking forward to another day of hard work – with Jim’s help.

Juliet told Jim all about the gnome the next morning. He told her about the pastime of gnoming. Kids would cruise around town, stealing lawn ornaments from peoples’ yards and moving them around, sometimes taking them from one yard and placing them in another. It was a nationwide fad. In some extreme cases, kids would steal a gnome and travel around, texting pictures of the gnome in different locations – sometimes across the country – to the original owner, or posting them on websites. It was annoying, possibly illegal in some cases, but mostly harmless.
“Well,” said Juliet, “Another reason that I don’t want it in my yard. Maybe next time the kids take it, they won’t return it.”
Jim pursed his lips and raised his eyebrows. “I’m telling you, Juliet. It’s bad luck. You’re better off just leaving him be.”
“Now you’re creeping me out. Stop calling it a ‘he.’”
As if the terra cotta gnome itself wasn’t creepy enough, Jim went on to tell her about so-called “real” gnomes. He said that gnomes consist of a number of different types. The most common is the forest gnome who rarely encounters man. The garden gnome lives in old gardens and enjoys telling melancholy tales. Dune gnomes are slightly larger than their woodland brethren are and choose curiously drab clothing. House gnomes have the most knowledge of man, often speaking his language. It is from this family that Gnome Kings are chosen. Farm gnomes resemble their house brethren, but are more conservative in manner and dress. Siberian gnomes have been more interbred than other gnomes have and associate freely with trolls. They are much larger than the other types and have an infinitely more nasty nature. Jim said that it is best never to evoke the ire of such gnomes, for they delight in revenge.
“So, if all of that is true, then why is it lucky to have one in my yard?”
“Well,” explained Jim, “Garden and house gnomes are very protective, both of their home and the people living in it.”
“Hopefully he’s interested in protecting me, and not the house.” She slapped her forehead. “Oh God, now you’ve got me calling it a him.”
Thankfully, Jim stayed for dinner that evening. Although she desperately wished that he would stay the night, for more reasons than one, she didn’t feel comfortable enough to hint at it yet. She walked him to the door, but waited there while he walked to his truck. She felt a little creeped out by the thought of walking outside after dark now. He made it half way down the drive, then turned around to give a little wave goodbye. She waved back and then, after staring at the house for a few seconds, he walked back toward her. Her heart leapt a little.
“Um, Juliet,” he said haltingly.”
“I think that your gnome moved again. It’s not here.”
She was really beginning to like Jim, but was getting a little pissed off about this whole gnome business. She considered telling him to go home and slamming the door, but now, more than ever, she didn’t want to be alone.
She stepped out and confirmed that the gnome was gone. “Do you mind checking the back yard, Jim?”
“No problem.”
Juliet waited at the front door, and after what seemed to be the longest minute in her life, he popped back around the corner of the house.
“He’s not back there,” he said, actually looking somewhat sad. “Maybe you got your wish and the kids took him for good.”
“Oh, well, that’s too bad.” Juliet said it for Jim’s sake, but she was secretly jumping for joy inside. She was glad it was gone, and hoped that the kids who took it never brought it back.
After a second goodbye and a promise to get together again the next night – for a real date, this time. Dinner, at a restaurant. She watched him walk to his truck and pull out of the drive. She shut the door slowly and flicked off the porch light. Putting her back against the door, she sighed. Aside from the gnome business, the move to this new town, the house, the opportunity for a fresh start, and Jim were all working out quite well.
Juliet went to the kitchen and cleared the plates from the table. As she set them on the counter beside the sink, she attempted to resist the urge to look out the window. She realized how silly that seemed, but still… Finally, as if in defiance of her fear, she looked up quickly. There, even closer to the house than the night before, stood the gnome.

She and Jim went out the next night. He walked her to the door, but didn’t come in. The date did end with a kiss, though, which pleased her. She was almost as pleased by the fact that the gnome was back in its original position in the front yard when they returned from dinner. She couldn’t take much more of this joking around by whomever was trying to prank her. They probably thought that it was funny, but to her it was not.
She had no reason to enter the kitchen that evening, and so did not. She even avoided looking out of the rear window of her upstairs bedroom, for fear of glimpsing that stupid gnome. She did not want to spoil an otherwise perfect evening getting upset over it.
Juliet had just slipped her clothes off and was about to get into the shower when the doorbell rang. She assumed that it must have been Jim, and so a thousand thoughts raced through her head. Why did he come back? What did he want? What would she do? She pulled on a terry cloth bathrobe and quickly padded down the steps. She flipped the light switch for the front porch and threw open the door.
With a smile on her face, Juliet said “Well, hello stranger. Long time, no s…” She screamed and jumped back from the door. There, on the doorstep, stood that dreadful little gnome. She quickly slammed the door and locked it, leaving the light on, and ran back up the stairs. Grabbing her cell phone and throwing herself on the bed, she punched in Jim number and waited. It rang six excruciating times before going to voicemail. She hung up and dialed again. This time, he picked up on the first ring.
“Hey babe, sorry I couldn’t make it to the phone the first time. I was just walking into the house. Miss me already?”
“Jim! Thank God! He’s back. He’s doing it again.”
“Slow down, Juliet. Who’s back? What’s going on?”
“The gnome! The doorbell rang, and I answered, and… Oh my God, he was standing there on the porch!” Juliet began hyperventilating.
Jim tried to speak slowly and in a soothing voice. “Calm down, hon. It’s the kids again. They’re messing with you. A clay statue can’t move on its own and it sure can’t ring a doorbell.”
Juliet took deep breaths. “Whoo, okay. You’re right. I’m being silly, aren’t I? Why am I letting this upset me?”
“I’m sorry, Juliet. I shouldn’t have filled your head with all of those dumb stories. Gnomes aren’t real.”
Juliet let out a little laugh as she calmed down. She stood up and began to stroll around the bedroom while she spoke with Jim. She reached the rear window and gazed down toward the ground.
“Holy shit!” she screamed. “It’s in the back yard again! It’s on the back porch!”
“Juliet. Stop. Do you want me to come back over there?”
She didn’t even need to think about his offer. “Yes! Please! And please hurry.”
“Okay, just try to hang on. I’ll be back in ten minutes.”
Juliet couldn’t bear to be near the windows. In fact, she wanted to be in as small a space as possible. She considered her walk-in closet, but decided that would be overreacting. She went into her bathroom, locked the door, and sat on the closed toilet seat. She waited, and waited, checking her cell phone every few seconds to watch the time go by. “Just ten minutes,” she told herself, “Just ten minutes.” She jumped as the doorbell rang again. It couldn’t be Jim; she had only hung up a minute ago. She knew that it was the gnome again – or the kids who were pranking her. Either way, she wasn’t about to answer it. Then came knocking. She couldn’t tell if it was the front or the back door, but she had a good idea that it was the back. She left the bathroom and poked her head out of the bedroom door. Her skin tingled and goosebumps raised up as the knocking started again. It was at the back door. Soon after it stopped, the front door bell rang again.
She let out a little yelp and dove back into the bedroom, first slamming its door shut and then locking herself back in the bathroom. The ringing doorbell and the knocking alternated back and forth, back and forth. Then the knocking turned into hammering, as if whomever was there was trying to smash its way through the door. Now the hammering was coming from both the front and the back, again alternating. The doorbell began ringing incessantly.
With horror, she realized that when Jim did arrive she wouldn’t be able to tell. Just as the thought came to her, her cell phone began to ring.
“Yes? Jim?”
“I’m here, Juliet. I’m at the front door. No kids, no gnome. You can let me in.”
“Thank God.” She bolted down the steps and, after turning on the light and carefully pulling back the windows shade on the front door, saw Jim standing there on the porch. In a state of near panic, she struggled with the lock, but finally threw open the door and hugged Jim tightly, burying her face in his shoulder. She began to cry.
Jim had a duffle bag with him. He planned to stay the night, on the couch if necessary, but he had a feeling that Juliet would want him closer. He had barely stepped through the doorway when the hammering at the back door resumed.
“Oh, that’s enough!” he roared. “I’m going to beat the living shit out of whoever that is.” He charged toward the back door and yanked it open. “Who the hell..?” There was no one there. He and Juliet simultaneously realized that they had failed to shut the front door. He was first to enter the living room, but Juliet was just behind him. Her hands flew to her mouth as soon as she came into the room and she screamed. The gnome was standing there in the middle of the living room floor, a trail of dirt leading from the doorstep to its current position on the carpet.
Jim lunged for the statue and picked it up with both hands. He thought that it seemed surprisingly heavy, but he shrugged the thought away. He made for the door and ran out into the driveway, Juliet following a few steps behind.
“Screw bad luck! We’re through with this thing,” he screamed as he threw the gnome onto the concrete drive with all of the force that he could muster. On impact, it shattered into pieces, sending bits skittering across the driveway. Staring down at the aftermath in the cold light of the moon, both Juliet and Jim were aghast. Their breath caught in their throats and they were not even capable of making a sound.
Mixed in among the broken shards of terra cotta, there were the remains of a tiny, humanoid skeleton.

Credit: Kenneth Kohl

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October 3, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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This is a video pasta. If you cannot see the embedded video, please click the link below and watch at the video’s YouTube page. Enjoy!

Credit: Liam Vickers

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The Fair Folk

October 2, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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Every culture has its own unique folklore- traditions and tales passed down through generations. In the modern day, these are often looked upon by most with the idle interest of a time gone by, but I have always found them to be quite fascinating. They reveal so much about the hopes and fears of people who once were; people trying to make sense of the world around them and at times, cope with its harsh realities. It was this passion of mine that would eventually lead me to major in Folklore at Memorial University.

I relished the study, so I was thrilled when I was given the assignment to interview people on a topic of my choosing. I live in Newfoundland, a province steeped in supernatural folklore, so I jumped at the chance to delve into the stories of the fairies, the mischievous, malevolent creatures that lurked in the forests and fields. In preparation, I went to the folklore archive to borrow some recording equipment as well as to listen to other recordings to get more of a sense of what I was in for. I listened in rapt attention to people of various ages tell their tales of wee people, of lights in the forest or of strange enthralling music carried on the wind.

I decided to conduct the interviews in my home town and made plans to stay with my parents for the weekend. My family comes from Cupids, a rural, over 400 year old community about a one hour drive from the city where I lived. Given that Cupids was the sort of town where everyone knew everyone else, it wasn’t hard for me to find a few of the older residents who were willing to share their tales and encounters with the fairies and allow me to record them. One lady told me of her uncle who was wounded by one of them and spent the rest of the month picking fish bones and wool out of the stinking cut before it finally healed. Another encounter was described by a gentleman who claimed that he had gone into the woods to set rabbit snares, only to come home three weeks later with no recollection of where he had been or even that such an amount of time had passed.

The last interview of the day was reserved for my grandfather, who had agreed to tell me his story but, unlike the others, now seemed reluctant to do so. I assured him that I could find someone else if he was uncomfortable, but he shook his head and began to speak. He told me that his mother would always warn him about travelling on a particular trail; that in order to safely pass through, he must wear his coat inside out and carry some breadcrumbs or else he would be taken. Even in those more superstitious times he was not the sort to believe in such things and so, as he found himself hurrying to get home before dark after a day of berry picking, he brazenly cut through that very trail, without a second thought to his mother’s warnings. He recalled that as he walked along the path, the surrounding trees seemed to close in on him, the area feeling more oppressive. While he felt foolish, he decided at that point to turn back and take another route.

He had begun to shake while telling his tale, but now tears filled his eyes as he spluttered and stammered as he attempted to describe what he saw when he turned back. “Devils!” was all he could finally manage. I took his clammy hand to calm him and told him again that he did not have to tell me anymore. But he regained control of himself and told me that he ran, frantically throwing down the breadcrumbs and tearing off his coat, flipping it inside out and holding it in place like a cape. He did not stop or slow until he reached the safety of home, bursting through the door to find his bewildered mother. She was about to scold him for his torn coat until she realized what had happened, at which point, she held him close and thanked God that he was safe. When my grandfather looked at his coat, he noticed three long tears as if it had been clawed.

His story finished, he shakily excused himself to bed. I apologized for upsetting him, but he waived it away, only turning back to make me promise not to ever go looking for such things. I gave him my word to ease his old mind and left. I returned to my parents’ home and spent much of the rest of the night writing my report and re-listening to the stories I had gathered. Hearing my grandfather get upset again made me feel terrible, but his story also sparked a sense of curiosity within me. I remembered seeing what I believed was that very same trail, when I was a child and helping my family pick blueberries (though I probably ate as much as I picked). We would never take that trail, instead taking one of the longer routes back home. I had assumed that they were afraid of robbers and roughnecks that might be roaming this less maintained and less populated path, but now I wonder if it was simply to appease my grandfather’s fears. The next morning, I attempted to slip out, explaining, when my mother caught me at the door that I wanted to go for a stroll through my hometown before I had to go back to the city. Once out, I followed my memories back to that blueberry patch and, sure enough, there it was; the path I had remembered seeing years ago. It was even more overgrown but I could still maneuver my way through it. I remembered my promise to my grandfather, but my curiosity overcame it. In fact, a rush of excitement went through me as I walked the same path I was sure he had so long ago. It’s difficult to explain, but this sense of stepping into the folklore was thrilling and supressed all worry and perhaps my common sense as I proceeded.

Strangely, as I walked onwards, the overgrowth seemed to recede as if someone had maintained the path only so far and then stopped. After passing through a ring of trees that had managed to grow in, I found myself walking on a trail that was as neatly groomed as any other in the community, my initial confusion at the change in the path was turning into disappointment as I wondered if this was the right place after all. Perhaps some childlike part of me had hoped to see something otherworldly. This feeling was soon replaced again, now by a wary sense of being watched. I nervously increased my pace, not for fear of fairies but of malicious people.

The path remained well-groomed, but the dense trees at either side made me feel as if they would swallow me. I began to sweat as I continued onwards, before a sound made me stop in my tracks. There was a low creaking sound as if a bough were being broken. Even though everything in my being told me not to, I turned towards the sound, which was coming from the area I had just travelled. My blood ran cold at the sight that greeted my eyes. Standing there was a tall creature that looked to be made of tree bark that creaked and groaned with every movement. Its body was thin and crooked like a spruce that had been battered and misshapen by the elements with uneven broken branch arms. Its legs were equally misshapen, leading to a mess of roots for feet. Its face was the most frightening of all; split open into a grin of splinters over which two bored holes sat as in mockery of eyes. I stood transfixed as a clacking noise heralded the approach of its companion; a creature on all fours whose twisted knotted body seemed to be made of joined thin antlers and sinew, except for the face, which was a moose-like skull, complete with wider antlers and with eyes that looked like pearls and shone with terrible beauty. A third being appeared, forming out of the ground in front of me. It held a vaguely humanoid form, although faceless, and looked to be composed of moss and soil, though it reeked of death, and insects burrowed through it. I felt the worst sense of malice as I stared at these things. They, the fairies, ruled here and I was trespassing. Either their thoughts entered my mind or my fears projected that the king of rot wanted to suffocate me in his stinking embrace, that the king of trees wanted to pull me apart until my limbs were as broken tree branches and the king of bone wanted to gore me with each of its twisted antler limbs. I was snapped out of my horrid trance as a malformed insect ridden arm began reaching for me.

I ran from them. I could hear the creaking and clacking and shuffling of their pursuit as I did. The path now seemed impossibly long as I sprinted; cursing my arrogance and my curiosity with every step. I cursed myself further as I felt something tear at my hip, nearly throwing me off. My mind spiraled into deeper panic as I felt warm liquid and a crawling sensations coming from the wound, but I forced myself onwards. Like the lash of a whip I was struck in the back, sending me tumbling forwards. I scrambled forwards on all fours like a frightened animal until I could right myself and run again. They could have easily caught me and killed me there, but they did not. They were playing with me, I realized. I was their game and they wanted to savour my torment. Gasping for breath from the strike, the fall and the pain I was becoming increasingly aware of, I thought of my grandfather’s description: “devils”. At that moment I could think of no better term to describe them. The tales I had gathered had spoken to their maliciousness, but even my grandfather’s tearful recount had failed to instill in me an inkling of the pure evil that lurked here, or a true belief in their existence. I had no bread to offer, nor a coat to turn inside out. It was early October and the day was so warm, I thought one would only be a hindrance.

I was shaken from my thoughts by the sign of my salvation the path up ahead was once again becoming overgrown. I hoped that I was reaching the boundary of their domain, and my trespass would soon be at an end. This hope was shattered as a stabbing pain pierced my side. The king of bone would not let me go without his mark. Again I was pitched forward, landing in the overgrowth. The nettles and roots and grass added an agony all their own to my wounded body. By some miracle I stood up and limped slowly away, unable though I was, to get a good breath of air. I stumbled through the last of the overgrowth, a step away from my freedom when I heard a creak and a snap like a broken tree branch. I looked behind me and realized that the king of trees had my arm, and was holding it at an impossible angle. My fear left me, as did my senses, as I slipped from his grip and fell the remaining distance out of the trail. I thought I heard laughter that was soon replaced by the voices of men.

I awoke in a hospital bed, surrounded by the worried faces of my parents and my grandparents. My mother, seeing me awake, burst into fresh tears. She told me that I was in the Carbonear General Hospital and that I had been attacked by a moose. I was seen falling out of the woods by some locals and rushed to the nearest hospital. She broke off at the thought of what might have happened if they had not seen me, and was led out of the room by my father who, himself was holding back tears but still suggested that they step out and let me rest. My grandfather suggested that my grandmother should do the same and, after a quizzical look, she too left, leaving us alone.

I attempted to shift in my bed to look at my grandfather, but was held in place by a sudden awareness of terrible pain. I glanced down at the cast on my arm and then back up to my grandfather who moved to my side so that he could speak quietly to me.

“They can’t seem to keep the wounds clean.” He said after a moment of silence. “They keep finding bone fragments and splinters and dirt…” He broke off, then continued mournfully, “You went looking for the fairies didn’t you? Without even an offering to protect yourself.” His face was pale as he squeezed my good hand, “I should have never told you my story. I’m sorry I did. I’m sorry I couldn’t make you believe an old man.” Before I could say a word, he left me to my guilt ridden rest.

They kept me in hospital until the wounds on my side and my hip healed completely, out of fear of infection due to the never ending supply of items that needed to be pulled from them as well as the putrid stench. I remember waking from a restless sleep one night only to find a centipede working its way out of my hip. I screamed until the nurses came who pulled the thrashing insect from me and, after inspecting the wound for more, they cleaned it again and left with looks of fear and disgust barely hidden under the bedside manner.

By the time the wounds had healed, so had my bones. They cut open my cast only to find bark and spruce needles caked in around my arm. Baffling though it was, my arm was healed and they could find no signs of infection so I was sent home.

In the years that passed since this incident, I completed my Bachelor’s Degree and am currently working on my Master’s while writing a book about the fairy lore of the province; including my own incident. That day did not quash my love of folklore but has given me a deeper respect for the old tales. I am also driven by another need. Whenever I pass by a wooded area, of which there are many, even in the city, I hear them. I hear their spiteful laughter and the dreadful creaking and clacking and turning of earth. They want their offering. After so many years they want payment for my life that goes beyond a handful of breadcrumbs or a coat worn wrong-side out. I am supplying this payment by telling my story- their stories- and honouring them here and in my book. I can only hope it will appease them, as the sites of my wounds continue to itch and I often find clumps of spruce needles, moss and bone waiting at my door.

Credit: KnitWolf

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Bennett’s Exorcism

September 30, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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“Our church is no more. Our arrogance and ignorance brought forth our destruction. We are all that’s left of the once glorious church. Christianity now relies on us to survive.”

-Pope Pius IX, addressing the Magisterium in the ruins of St. Peter’s Sqaure

All Hallow’s Eve – 1856

The hollow autumn wind brushed through the dying trees with zealous tenacity. Soft whispers on the breeze called forth spirits long forgotten. Here, in bleak despair, a lone boy sat. He cried over the loneliness of a mother’s death. By his side, an older gentlemen, mid aged, his father.

“Bennett, your mother loved you, you know that, right?”

“She left us here father, how is that love?”

“Don’t talk like she was heartless. We tried to give you a life beyond these cathedral halls. Away from religious fervor and zealous politics. She died giving you a chance to make your own life.”

“It still hurts.”

“I know my son.” Gregor, the boy’s father, said, reaching down and hugging his son, ” I love you.”

“I love you too, father.”

The dark, moonlit halls were still, not even the dust woke upon the chilling winds. Bennett traversed the sanctuary, it’s ruined state brought a strange quiet to his torment. The moon was rising and its pale blue light gleamed through the stained glass windows. Bennett knelt before the alter, looking upon the crucifix which hung from the wall, a radiant golden glow gave it an aura of hope.

“Lord, I am lost. Help me find the light which is lost to me.”

No answer.

“Please Lord, I ask for guidance. I ask for peace.”

No answer still.

Bennett’s mind raced; foul thoughts brought to the forbearance of radical cognition. Death seemed to be a comfort, a release from the empty company this site gave.

“I love you.” His father’s voice echoed through his mind.

“Lord, help me. I beseech you. I lay down my pride, my guilt, my sin. Show me your benevolent light.”


Bennett sighed and rose from his pious stance. The moonlight dimmed to dark luminance.

Into the sanctuary walked three figures, garbed in black robes with flowing cloaks. Bennett gave no thought to their strange regalia, for thoughts far worse entered his mind. Thoughts of flames, of cities brought to ash, of an evil returned.

“Excuse me sirs, but the sanctuary is closed. My father is in the chapel, delivering the All Hallow’s Eve service.”

“We have not come to pray before the cross young Bennett. We have come to give you hope.” The center figure said, a strange, deep dread in his voice.

“Your release which you so long for.” The figure to the right said, his voice gave a chill of hate to young Bennett.

“Your prayers have been heard, your plea has been granted.” The last figure said, an aura of death radiated from him.

“My prayers, answered. My cries heard. Surely my doubt is mistaken, the Lord has heard his servant.” Bennett said, tears falling upon his cheeks.

Bennett wiped the tears, which blurred his vision, then he noticed a strange sight; black feathered wings stretched from his saviors’ backs, black halos above their heads, which held a black flame, alit in malevolent hate.

“What are you, surely not of Heaven.” Bennett asked, fear overwhelming his spirit.

“We are your saviors dear Bennett, servants of the true light.” The center figure said.

Bennett stood there, his mind affected, his soul shakened.

“Take my hand, let us show you our grace and forbearance.” The center figure said, the other two started a haunting yet beautiful chant which echoed in the ruined sanctuary.

Bennett hesitated, he tried to run away, but his legs couldn’t move, his thoughts raced. He reached out and touched his savior’s hand. Then, darkness took his vision, then there was nothing.

Bennett awoke in the sanctuary of his father’s church, the moon high as it glared at him through the holes in the once beautiful ceiling. Around him, a symbol, a star upside down. Candles at the points where it touched the circle enclosing it.

“What is this?” Bennett asked, his voice raspy and shallow.

Strange chanting echoed through the halls, small flames sparked in the lines of sand which made the foul pentagram.

“Hear our voices, oh bringer of light. We give you a chance to return.” A voice said, it’s speaker unknown.

“A soul, pure and willing.” Another voice said.

“We send it to you, oh fallen savior.” A third voice said.

The three black angels stepped into the dim light of the flames.

“This isn’t right, you lied. What salvation is this!” Bennett cried out, yet his voice still held its solemn quiet.

“Into the darkness we raise this soul. From torment and deprivation shall he be saved. A herald of the new age.” The center angel said.

“All these, we give. Our lives, our souls. So that we may see the coming storm, the wave of retribution swept clean.” A fourth voice said, a woman, as she stepped into the light. Her hood was down, revealing her dark nature. Her eyes were as if they were torn from the sockets, blood dripped down her cheeks. Her voice boomed, torn stitches ran across her lips, as if they were forced apart. Bennett stared at them, shocked at the sight. Foul shadows encased them, their faces twisted in pain and death. His heart raced, his mind panicked.

“Dear God, what have I done.”

Unable to move, unable to speak, Bennett cried in his mind for release. He thought of the life he would leave behind, the love he would never feel.

Then, in unison, the four figures finished their foul prayer, “Into light, we release the one who fell.”

The flames of the pentagram flared, turning into smokeless black light. The moon turned dark. Whispers echoed through the sanctuary as if the damned themselves were released from Hell.

“God, forgive me.” Bennett whispered, sinking to his knees, crying.

The figures then all looked up, their mouths wide open, and jaws dislocated. A malevolent black smoke rose from their mouths, meeting high above the center of the ritual.

“Release, I remember this feeling. It will be fleeting if I do not have a host.” The vile smoke said, it’s voice has foul as its appearance.

Bennett could not help himself, his mind was not his own anymore, “I have given willingly, my soul for the light.” He said.

“Yes, a soul, meant for Heaven. A lost boy, longing for answers. I shall give you what you seek.”

The smoke, now a large cloud of black mist, flew with all haste towards Bennett, whom held his face high, his mouth open, his arms outstretched towards the sky. Into Bennett, the demon flew, a silent scream overpowered Bennett mind, his thoughts clouded by the corruption which was invading his very soul. Around him, the fallen angels dissipated into black dust, which faded into nothingness.

“A world anew, a brother restored.” The demon whispered in Bennett’s mind.

The demon had taken control. It drew upon Bennett’s life force, eating at his very soul. His world grew dark, nothing was left.

No hope,

no salvation.

Then, from behind, a voice boomed throughout the sanctuary, like angels heralding the dawn, “How dare you enter this place!”

It was Gregor, whom ran towards his son.

“Back to the flames, back to your master!” Gregor yelled, tearing his cross from its chain.

He held it forward, “In the shadows I cast thee, into darkness you shall return!” His voice shaking in wrathful righteousness.

The cross flared into divine light, the windows gleamed as if day had broken.

Bennett screamed in pain, causing Gregor to flinch.

“Oh archbishop, truly you cannot believe mere piety can banish me.” The possessed Bennett said, his voice was as if two were talking at once.

Gregor once again held his cross forward, still illuminating with the divine aura.

Bennett fell to the floor, screaming in agony, bringing Gregor nearly to his knees at the sight of such pain towards his beloved son.

“I cast your faith aside. Your messiah shall fall!” Bennett yelled.

The ground shook, dust fell from the ruined ceiling and the crucifix fell onto the alter, splitting both in half.

“You dare insult Christ. You forget who broke Hell’s grip in the first place.” Gregor said, now standing over his possessed son, “I cast thee away!”

Gregor slammed his cross into Bennett’s chest. The demon’s scream overpowered Bennett’s,

“Shadow’s shall fall, and the sun shall rise. Your darkness shall end.” Gregor said, pushing the cross harder. The ground shook, violently. The walls crumpled, the windows shattered at the sheer force of the battle of wills. Shockwaves sent stones flying into the night, booms of trumpets echoed in the sky. The whispers of the damned turned into deafening shouts and screams.

“In righteous light, I banish thee.” Gregor yelled, the light of the cross sparked as it burned away at Bennett’s flesh. Black veins grew from the skin where the cross touched, Bennett’s skin started to grow pale.

“You think your false messiah can save you. There is no escape from the truth.” The demon said, weak yet all the more arrogant.

“Damn you, let go of my son!” Gregor yelled, tears pouring down his cheeks.

“Never, he was promised to us and to us he shall go.” The possessed Bennett said, breathy yet strong.

Gregor thrusted the illuminated cross deeper into Bennett’s chest, weeping at his son’s torture. Bennett screamed as the cross burned at his flesh, the smell of burning flesh flooded Gregor’s nose, steam rose from Bennett’s wound. Then, a silence befell the destroyed sanctuary. A column of thin dust stretched up into the sky and Bennett rose into the air, his screams now as silent as the night. Gregor was thrown back, landing on his back.

“Out of death, shall life be freed. In eternal light shall Hell be spent. Your master is calling you back, return to the chains!” Gregor yelled as he arose, his final cry to the demon.

Bennett’s screams ended as he looked up, opening his mouth in a manner most unnatural, his jaw dislocating with a painful crack.

The demon rose from Bennett gaping maw. Bennett’s eyes faded to solid black and his skin now was almost snow white.

The demon was wrapped in strips of soft blue energy, golden motes danced around it. Bennett’s skin turned pale and the veins around his eyes and mouth grew black as the demon took more and more of his soul.

Gregor yelled at the top of his lungs, “By the power of Christ, I banish thee back to Hell!”

The demon then flew at top speed into the air, a massive cloud of black smoke, Bennett’s soul dancing around it.

Gregor held his cross high, which flared with golden light, almost as bright as the sun. The demon screamed in pain as a hole formed in the ground, smoke and flame outpoured from it. The demon spoke once more before he flew into the portal to Hell, “This is merely alteration in my master’s agenda. He shall have his prize, one way or another.”

In an uproar of flames and smoke, the demon was pulled back down to Hell by the infernal chains and the portal closed. The scent of brimstone still lingered in the air. Gregor ran to Bennett, who laid on the floor, pale and lifeless.

“Bennett, oh my boy. I’m so sorry.”

Gregor held his son, tears ran down his cheeks like down pouring rain.

Through the tears, Gregor looked past the ruined windows and saw the breaking dawn, the radiance of the sun filled the room. In the sunlight, the ruined alter and crucifix flared bright and Gregor had to shield his eyes. After the glorious display, Gregor gazed as the alter and crucifix were restored. He looked up as the sound of choirs started to sing. A single speck of blue light floated down in a ray of light which pierced the now dissipating clouds. It flew into Bennett’s chest, and he took a deep shallow breath, his jaw snapped back into place. Gregor’s tears turned to joy, and he held his son even closer,

“Oh, my son. You’re home.”

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The Secret Room

September 29, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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I always thought that I was pretty safe from most things since I was living on a military base. The past recent events have proved otherwise. My name is Seaman Murphy, U.S. Navy and I’m writing this to warn future sailors or anyone in the military about what they might encounter.

It had been a couple of months since I graduated boot camp and I was enjoying life in “A” school. I was particularly enjoying the luxuries deprived from me in boot camp such as taking long showers, wearing civilian clothes, going off base with my friends during liberty, sleeping in on the weekends, and most importantly, my phone; my dear beloved phone. Things were looking up for me. Now that I was in the military, I was finally free from my crummy neighborhood, a dead end job with a douchebag for a boss, and a cheating girlfriend. Being in the military sure had its benefits. I was getting paid steady income, I had free health care and dental, I was always fed, and I had a place to live for free. Life couldn’t have been better, at least until I had to stand watch at Grey Hall for the first time.

It was a cold and bitter winter night. It was only 1600 and the sun was already going down. Darkness began to envelop the base. It was my duty day, so I shaved, got dressed, and headed to the quarterdeck to check the watch bill. As my eyes scanned the watch bill, I hoped in vain that I would not see my name. Sure enough, I saw my name. I had watch from midnight to four as the rover at Grey Hall. I grimaced at my misfortune and reluctantly signed the watch bill.

I had heard many rumors about Grey Hall, but I didn’t know if any of them were true or not. Apparently the most prominent rumor going around was that a Master Chief hung himself on the top deck of the building. No one knows exactly where or why. They say that the Navy tried to cover up the incident to protect its image. It didn’t matter to me anyway because I didn’t really buy in to any of the rumors. I took them to be nothing more than myth or old wives tales.

After shoveling snow for an hour, I headed back to my barracks room to get some sleep before watch. After a few hours, I was abruptly woken up by the high pitch of the alarm on my phone. The time was 2300. I sluggishly got out of my rack and slowly put on my uniform. I then made my way down to the quarterdeck and entered into the frozen tundra that awaited me outside. The air outside was a loud cacophonous symphony at its climax, blowing harsh gusts of wind that pierced through every layer of Navy issued clothing I had, straight into my soul. There’s nothing like a fresh blast of wind to wake you up for watch.

After a few minutes, I finally arrived to the base of the building. It was the largest building on base and one to be revered. It stood 13 stories high and overlooked the whole base. The building was ancient. I was surprised that it was able to withstand so many brutal winters like this. It was supposed to be renovated, but I suppose there just wasn’t enough funding do so. It was no longer being used by anybody due to its condition. However, it was still used to store classified documents, so there was still a watch stationed there. The bricks on the outside of the building were a dark and faded rust color. They looked brittle and corroded as if they were ready to collapse at any moment. The windows were blurry and opaque. All you could see was the dim lighting that bleakly shined through. I entered the building and saw the Petty Officer Of The Deck and the Rover anxiously waiting to be relieved. I approached the rover and signed into the log. I checked over the previous logs to check the condition of the building. There were a few lights out and some leaks here and there, but nothing serious.

“Is there anything in particular I need to know about this building?” I asked the Rover. He shook his head.

“Just try to get your rove done as soon as possible, this place gives me the creeps. Oh, and try not to anger the ghost of the Master Chief.” He held out his arms, doing a poor imitation of a ghost.

“Good thing I shaved and shined my boots before I got here. He won’t be able to chew me out for that,” I replied jokingly. I then bid the Rover good night and he left the building. Shortly after, the relief for the Petty Officer Of The Deck showed up. As soon as he signed into the logbook, I grabbed a flashlight and departed for a rove of the building.

As I walked up the stairs to each deck, every step I made echoed and reverberated through the entire stairway like a ghostly wraith. Every hallway on every deck was lined with huge paintings of deathly old Admirals and other high-ranking officials. Their faces were cold and austere, and their eyes were lifeless and filled with contempt for those below them in rank. They seemed to glare at me and follow me as I lazily moseyed about through the corridors half asleep. Every time I took a step, the floor underneath me creaked. The whole building smelt of mildew and asbestos, the paint on the walls was chipped, and the ceiling was deteriorated. This place was in dire need of a makeover.

My rove was very uneventful. I checked to make sure certain doors were locked, and then checked them off on my log sheet. One by one, I kept checking things off. As I walked on my rove, I could see a faint reflection of myself in the windows as if I were a vague or forgotten memory. Despite the raging wind outside, the inside was almost dead silent besides the creaks and moans of the building. It was all a little bit unsettling to me, but I was too tired to think about it. After roving the first 12 decks of the building, I finally arrived to the 13th deck where the Master Chief had supposedly hung himself. “It just had to be 13,” I thought to myself. It looked no different than any of the other decks. It was as lifeless as the rest of the building. I continued on my rove as usual until something peculiar caught my eye. I was roving around the machinery room on the top floor checking for leaks when I saw a very subtle square outline in the wall. It didn’t seem too strange or out of place, but I was so bored that my curiosity urged me to take a look. I put my hands up against the center of the square outline and pushed slightly. The square caved in a little bit. I felt the wall outside of the square; it was dense as a rock. I then proceeded to push harder on the square in the wall. I kept pushing until I heard a loud thud. My heart jumped. To my surprise, I had pushed a neat square hole through the wall. I looked through the hole and saw nothing but darkness. I then took my flashlight and shined it through. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Lying in the dark was a small room filled with what appeared to be boxes of classified documents stored on a shelf. I peered my head in through the hole and examined the room with the flashlight. The strangest part about the room was that it didn’t have any doors or windows, just the one square hole in the wall. In the center of the room was a small table with a piece of paper on it. It appeared to have writing on it. I placed my clipboard with the logs on the ground then climbed in through the hole and fell abruptly onto the floor. I was surprised to see that the square I had pushed through was still perfectly intact. I then got up and walked over to the desk with the paper on it. I shined the flashlight on the paper and examined it. It appeared to be written in Latin. There was no security classification stamp on the paper, so I figured it would be safe to take the paper back with me to study it. I folded up the piece of paper and put it in my pocket.

The place gave me the creeps and I was anxious to leave, but I was too curious to find out what was in there. I had plenty of time to complete my rove anyway. I grabbed a couple of boxes off of the shelf and started perusing through some of the documents; a decision I will regret forever. I thought I would find just a bunch of long and wordy instruction manuals, but what I found made my jaw drop. The documents consisted of instructions on how to perform strange rituals such as summoning people from the dead, summoning Demons, performing human sacrifice, and even communicating with the Devil himself. These were just some of the many different rituals to be found. All of it made me sick. I didn’t want to keep browsing through all of the documents, but I just couldn’t help myself. Why were these strange papers hidden here? How did they get there? How come nobody noticed this before? I had too many questions and not enough answers. I had to keep searching to see if I could find out more information.

I grabbed another box off the shelf and placed it on the table. This box consisted of several really old newspapers with a bunch of different articles. I picked up one of them and read the title. “Communist Spies In Our Navy: Threat To National Security”. I proceeded to read the article. It was basically about suspicions of a secret society within the Navy that was selling secrets to the Soviet Union. A Master Chief named Ronald Hart brought up the suspicions after he discovered a secret hideout area containing very peculiar artifacts by accident and pursued an investigation. I took the contents of the article with a grain of salt. In those days it was easy to accuse anyone of being a communist.

I looked at another article. The title read, “Master Chief Commits Suicide In Grey Hall”. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The rumors were actually true. After reading through the article, I discovered that it was the same Master Chief who conducted the investigation. The rest of the article dismissed the Master Chief’s findings and the whole case was dropped.

I continued to look at more articles when suddenly, the room temperature dropped. A cold chill went up my spine. I could sense something in the room. I could feel it behind me, looming over me. I felt a subtle breath of air against my neck. I looked over my shoulder… there was nothing there. My heart rate began to increase. I had a gut feeling that when I turned back around I would see something unpleasant. I quickly turned my head back around…nothing. I let out a sigh of relief. I decided that it was finally time to put away the boxes and get the hell out of this room. My sweet tooth for mystery had been satisfied for tonight and I was ready to forget about all of this.

I picked up the boxes and quickly stowed them back on the shelf. As I turned around to leave, my heart skipped a beat. I didn’t want to believe it but I couldn’t deny what my eyes were seeing. It was indeed, the ghost of Master Chief Hart, hanging just a few feet in front of me. His neck was crooked and his head lay tilted to the side, but there was no rope to be seen. His eyes were veiny, bloodshot, and filled with agony and rage. His face was boiling red to the point where it looked like it was getting ready to explode. His arms and legs fell limp to his sides. The ghost wore a Navy dress blue uniform with a Master Chief rank insigne and 6 gold service stripes on his left sleeve. He looked just like the man I saw in the pictures of the articles. There was no denying that this was Master Chief Hart. I stood there stiff and frozen in shock as the Master Chief towered over me lifelessly. Hot and cold flashes ran through my body, sweat ran down the brow of my forehead, my entire frame helplessly shaking. I have had Chiefs chew me out before, but the fear I felt during those times were nothing compared to the sheer terror that the Master Chief inflicted upon me.

There was not really a reason for me to be afraid. Ten seconds had gone by and the apparition hadn’t made a single movement to harm me, but it was the look of pain and misery on his face that sickened me. I couldn’t bear to look at the awful figure before me, but my eyes couldn’t look away, locked on to his horrible face. Finally, I mustered up enough courage to run around the Master Chief and do an Olympic dive through the square hole. I grabbed my clipboard and started racing out of the machinery room. I knew I shouldn’t look back, but once again my curiosity got the best of me. I took a look over my shoulder and all I could see was the Master Chief’s head staring at me through the square hole in the wall. I bolted out of the machinery room and dashed down all flights of stairs to the quarterdeck. My heart was racing, my adrenaline was pumping, and my whole body was perspiring.

As soon as I got down to the quarterdeck, the Petty Officer Of The Deck stared at me funny.

“Are you alright shipmate?” he asked.

I was contemplating whether or not I should tell him what I had just witnessed. No one would believe me though. People would think I was crazy. I would lose my security clearance and get kicked out of the Navy. I did not want to go back to my old life. I decided to keep it to myself.

“I’m fine,” I replied. “I just got a little bit winded from walking up all these stairs.”

“Are all conditions normal?” he asked.

I nodded my head, still trying to catch my breath. I still had three more roves to complete before I got relieved. That meant I had three hours alone with the Master Chief. I checked my watch. The time was 0105. I reluctantly departed for another rove. This time, I went through my rove as quickly as possible. I wasted no time climbing each flight of stairs to the next deck and quickly hurrying through each deck to check things off on my log sheet. I tried to avoid the ominous gazes from the paintings of the Admirals as I rushed through the corridors. I also kept my eyes from wandering over to the windows in fear of seeing the reflection of the Master Chief behind me. Everything went smoothly for the first twelve decks, but sure enough, I approached the 13th deck.

As soon as I stepped onto the 13th deck, I could immediately feel the air begin to grow thin as if the oxygen were being sucked right out of the room. Something was definitely off about the 13th floor but I couldn’t put my finger on it. It looked practically the same as every other deck. Perhaps my mind was just playing tricks on me. I continued to tour through the building. I checked the appropriate doors and emergency exits and continued onward to the machinery room.

When I got to about 10 feet away from the machinery room, my feet instinctively halted and planted themselves into the ground. I stared at the door head on. Every instinct in my body told me not to go into the machinery room, but I knew that it was one of the areas I had to check. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I just skipped over it. I was also inquiring to what I may find inside. Would the Master Chief be there, waiting for me? I decided to stop speculating over the thoughts in my head and mustered up enough courage to set forth into the machinery room. I started to step slowly and carefully towards the door. The floor creaked uneasily under my feet. Each movement felt like I was carrying bags of rocks on my shoulders, every step felt like a thousand miles, and every second felt like a million years. My whole body was stiff, my muscles ached, and my stomach felt nauseous. After what felt like a long and arduous endeavor, I finally reached the door.

I grasped the doorknob with my cold and sweaty palm. The doorknob was cool to the touch and sent a shutter down my spine. I don’t remember it being like that before. Perhaps I was just letting my imagination run wild, or maybe my fear was heightening my senses. I took a deep breathe in and quickly opened the door. I peered my head in through the room and looked around. I looked for the hole in the wall and found it plugged back up with the square piece. I didn’t recall putting it back. I quickly rushed into the room and briefly walked around just to make sure there were no leaks. I was not interested in having another encounter with the Master Chief. As soon as I concluded that the room was okay, I hurriedly shot out of the front door.
My mind began to race as I headed back downstairs. How did the square piece get put back in its place? I’m pretty sure I already knew the answer to that question, but what would’ve happened if I went back into the secret room and dug around deeper? Would the Master Chief show up again? I’m glad that I decided not to find out.

The rest of my rove was uneventful. I had no more strange encounters with the Master Chief and didn’t see anything else that was suspicious or out of the ordinary. At 0330 I was relieved from watch and headed back to my barracks room to get some sleep. After what I encountered that night though, there was no way I was going to be able to get any sleep. That whole night, I lied awake in my bed trying to comprehend what had just happened to me. Was there a reason why the Master Chief appeared to me? He must have been trying to get revenge for some reason. Whatever it was, I didn’t plan on finding out. I was done poking my nose into something that wasn’t my business. Or so I thought.

A couple weeks had gone by since my encounter with the Master Chief and I had pretty much put the whole thing behind me. That all changed when I was doing laundry one day. I found a piece of paper lying around in my pile of clothes. I picked it up and unfolded it. It was the page written in Latin that I found in the secret room. I had completely forgotten about it. My curiosity was ignited once again. I reasoned that it couldn’t hurt to study it from the safety of my own room.

I got onto my laptop and started typing the words on the page into Google Translate. Here is what the rough translation was:

“Our fallen father, we humbly offer you this sacrifice as tribute for your noble cause. Forgive us of our transgressions against you and allow us to bask in the rewards of your glory. We denounce the holy one and his teachings in return for your favor upon us so that we may triumph over our enemies.”

I shuddered at the words I was reading. What did they mean? What could possibly be going on in that room? How did all those strange documents get onto this military base? The answers continued to elude me. I decided that it was time to stop trying to avoid the evidence before me and get to the bottom of this nonsense. My first thought was to speak with the base Chaplain. I could say literally anything to the Chaplain and he would have to keep one hundred percent confidentiality.

“What can I help you with today shipmate?” asked the Chaplain.
I told him about the secret room, the strange documents in the boxes, my encounter with the Master Chief, and the paper written in Latin. He stared at me expressionless the whole time while I explained my discovery. Once I finished, he just nodded.
“Shipmate, that building is very old and in poor condition. All of those factors are probably just playing tricks with your mind. You’re over imagining things. That paper you found was probably just an old Halloween gimmick. That room was probably just an old abandoned storage room. Just forget about everything you’ve seen and don’t let it stress you out.”

I stared at the Chaplain with my mouth agape, appalled by what I was hearing. I couldn’t believe he was just easily dismissing everything I had discovered like I was delusional. He was treating my case like it was nothing. I got up out of my chair and stormed out of the office.

“Wait, is there anything else you want to get off your che…”
I slammed the door on him before he could finish his sentence. In hindsight, that probably wasn’t the best idea, but my judgment was clouded by anger at the time. For some reason, my life became a lot more difficult after my meeting with the Chaplain. One day I received a random room inspection and they apparently found a bag of weed on my desk. I don’t know how it got there or where it came from but somebody was definitely setting me up. I was then sent to Captain’s Mast as a result of my “actions” to receive a punishment.

I stood in my dress blues before the Captain in his office, stiffly at attention. Standing beside him was the Executive Officer and the Command Master Chief. There was a line of chiefs on both sides of me glaring with distaste. I was like a small lonely fish surrounded by a sea of sharks. The Commanding Officer then proceeded.

“Seaman Murphy, we are here to discuss your intolerable behavior and conduct on this base.” He then proceeded to list off articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice that I had supposedly broken. Afterward the Command Master Chief spoke.

“Shipmate, what you did…” He paused. “Was egregious!” He then continued to scold and admonish me. I wasn’t paying attention to single word he was saying though. Everyone in the room seemed to take turns telling me what a shit bag I was, but I drowned out all of the voices.

Suddenly the Captain said, “Shipmate, do you have anything to say for yourself?”

My mind snapped awake. I began to plead my case in what I thought was a very logical and well thought out argument with plenty of compelling points to make. However, none of them seemed to get through to the Captain. He then proceeded to give me my sentence.

“Seaman Murphy, you are found guilty under the UCMJ and will be dishonorably discharged from the Navy.”

I couldn’t believe what was happening to me. My life had changed so quickly. I know I didn’t do anything wrong. I tried my best to study hard in class, stay out of trouble, and be an asset to the Navy. Who could possibly hold a grudge against me? Why would someone do this to me? I didn’t deserve this. I didn’t want to go back to the life I led before the Navy. The Navy was all I had. This day couldn’t have gotten any worse except for the fact that I had duty as well.

That night, I slept deep in my rack trying to forget about the earlier events of the day. I had a very vivid and almost lifelike dream. There was a group of four or five people wearing black cloaks with hoods in a small room that was dimly lit by candles. They stood in a circle around a small table. On top of the table stood a tall man with a noose around his neck. It was the Master Chief.

He pleaded, “Listen, you don’t have to do this! I swear I won’t say anything!”

A voice in the group responded. “Oh we’ll make sure that you don’t.”

The Master Chief shouted back, “You’ll never get away with this! Someone is going to discover you guys and expose you to the public!”

The voice responded, “You poor fool. You could have easily avoided this fate if you wouldn’t have stuck your nose where it didn’t belong. All of the hooded figures began to speak in unison. I couldn’t understand what they were saying though. The Master Chief started shouting at the top of his lungs.

“Help! Help me, somebody! I’m in here!”

“Your screams are futile,” responded one of the voices. That didn’t stop the Master Chief though. He yelled desperately for help that wouldn’t come. The figures in the robes then pushed the table out from under the Master Chief’s feet and watched him as he helplessly kicked and squirmed. The look he had on his face was the same as when I first saw him. I tried to look away but I was not in control of the dream. What kind of sick bastards would do this to somebody? All of a sudden somebody raced into the room. He was a young sailor of no significant rank. The poor guy looked at what was happening in horror. The robed figures turned their heads toward him. “Looks like we will have an extra offering tonight.”

I abruptly woke up to a loud banging on my door. I got out of bed to see who it was. I opened the door. It was the rover of the barracks building.

“You have watch,” he said bluntly.

“Where and when,” I replied disgruntled.

“You have the midnight watch as the rover at Grey Hall.”

My head immediately perked up. I closed the door on the rover and started to get dressed. This would be a perfect chance for me to disclose the information that was hiding in the room on the 13th deck. I now understood what the Master Chief was trying to tell me. He wanted me to continue his investigation and bring these bastards to justice. I had a plan, but it was risky. I would bring my phone with me into the building and take pictures of the room and the contents inside. I wasn’t allowed to bring my phone inside since it was a secure building, so I had to make sure that I was careful not to get caught. I slipped my phone into my pocket and headed downstairs. I quickly rushed outside into the cold wintry night.

As soon as I got to Grey Hall, I stared up at the top of the building. “I’m going to finish what you started Master Chief,” I whispered under my breath. I then raced into the building and wasted no time signing into watch. Afterward, I quickly roved each deck, eager to get to the top Deck. I wasn’t even bothered a bit by the paintings of the admirals or the ghostly reflections of myself in the windows.

Finally, I reached the 13th deck and headed straight for the machinery room. Without hesitation, I opened the door and entered the room. To my surprise, this time the square hole in the wall was open. Perhaps somebody else discovered it too. I walked up to it to get a closer look. All I could see was darkness in the room. I climbed in through the hole and fell onto the floor. I then turned on the flashlight and practically had a heart attack. Standing in front of me were the black robed figures in my dream. Their faces were masked by the shadow of their hoods. One of them chuckled.

“We knew you would come back here.”

“Why do you think you got assigned watch here?” another voice said.

Anger and frustration began to swirl in me like a maelstrom. I had been played like a fiddle and had no idea. “So it’s True what the articles say,” I replied. “You guys really are selling secrets to the communists.” They looked at each other and laughed.

“That was just what the people thought during that time period,” one of them said. “We had to get rid of that meddling Master Chief before the public found out who we really were.”

“So you hung him and made it look like a suicide,” I said.

“We didn’t but our predecessors before us did. However, it was more than just that. He was used as a sacrifice to bring us strength.

I looked at them dumbfounded. “What are you talking about?” They sighed in annoyance.

“Do you know how when you want one of your favorite sport’s teams to win and you pray to god for your team to triumph over the other?” I nodded in reply.
“Well it’s foolish and ineffective!” said one of the voices. “God doesn’t pick favorites between sides. He stays out of the way of human affairs. However, his counterpart is much more willing to oblige if you pay him the right price.” I was still confused.

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“Why do you think we have one of the most powerful Navies in the world?” asked one of them.

“Because we are technologically advanced.” I replied. They shook their heads in disappointment.

“It’s because we sacrifice the most to Satan!”

I laughed. “You’ve got to be joking.”

“How do you think we won so many wars when the odds were against us? Think about it.”

My heart sank. Could what they were saying possibly be true? Was everything I learned in history a lie?

“Sometimes Satan requires animal sacrifices, other times he just needs us to perform a simple action, and sometimes…” the voice paused. “He requires human sacrifice.”

I shuddered at the thought. These were some really fucked up weirdos.

“Since you decided to stick your nose in our business, we will use you as a sacrifice. No one will even notice you’re gone since you’re supposed to be getting discharged anyway.”

I clenched my fists. “How did you guys know that?” I shouted. The robed figures began to pull back their hoods. My jaw dropped immediately. It was the Captain, the Executive Officer, the Command Master Chief, and the Chaplain.

“Who else is part of your little group!” I demanded.

“There more of us scattered throughout all branches of the military. There aren’t too many of us, but just enough people who are in the right places,” replied the Captain. The four of them proceeded to enclose around me. I suddenly realized what the Master Chief was really trying to tell me. He was trying to keep me away from this room. That’s why he initially appeared to me, so that I wouldn’t get my nose too deep in all of this nonsense. The dream was meant as a warning of what my fate would be if came back to the room. I suddenly felt foolish and stupid. What was I thinking? I should’ve just minded my own business and never gone snooping around.

Suddenly, I remembered that I brought my phone into the building. I took it out of my pocket and quickly put it on the camera feature. I then pointed it at the four of them. “Say cheese motherfuckers.” I pressed the button on my phone and the camera flashed and pierced their eyes.

“Hey, you can’t have a phone in a secure building!” shouted the Command Master Chief.

“Well you also can’t sacrifice people to the Devil,” I replied. The four of them began to charge towards me. I instantly dove out through the hole in the wall. Just before my whole body could exit, one of them grabbed a hold of my leg. I frantically kicked at their arm with my free leg. One of them winced in pain and let go of my leg. I fell to the floor and immediately started to race out of the machinery room once again. Before I could exit, one of them shouted, “Wait!” I turned around.

“What do you want?” I shouted.

“If you don’t post the pictures of us in this room, we will let you stay in the military and drop the charges against you.”

“Screw you guys, I’m going to bring you bastards to justice!”

I turned around and proceeded to exit when the Captain shouted something in Latin. All of a sudden, Master Chief Hart’s ghost hung before me and grabbed my throat.

“I…thought…you…were…on…my…side!” I screeched out as the Master Chief strangled me. I turned my head and realized that the Captain was controlling him with his hands through the hole in the wall. My vision began to blur and the world around me began to grow black. I needed to escape before it was too late. I still had my flashlight in my hand. Perhaps if I could throw it at the Captain, it would momentarily distract him. It was kind of a far shot considering I had a relatively small target and I was being choked to death. I figured it was worth a shot though. I craned my arm behind my back, said a small prayer, and chucked the flashlight as hard as I could.

I couldn’t see if I hit the Captain or not, but I figured I did because the ghost of the Master Chief dropped me. I’m not very religious but perhaps God was working in my favor that night. My head was spinning like a whirlwind and I barely remained conscious. The only thing that kept me going was my fear. I quickly got up and dashed out of the machinery room onto the quarterdeck and pulled the fire alarm. The Petty Officer Of The Deck looked at me wide eyed. “What’s going on?” he asked

“There’s no time, just call emergency and get out of the building.” I then rushed outside and stared up at the top level of the building. I could see the Captain, XO, CMC, and the chaplain staring down at me through the windows. They looked like wraiths through the opaque windows. I started to notice smoke on all levels of the building. There was actually a fire going off in the building. Whatever caused it remains unknown to me till this day, but I have a few pretty good guesses.

The Petty Officer Of The Deck stormed out of the building. “I’ve never had this much excitement on watch in my life!” he exclaimed. Shortly after, the base fire department showed up to the scene. By the time they got there, the building was blazing with fire. Heavy black smoke polluted the night sky and enveloped the base.

The rest of the night was very busy and tiresome. I had to answer questions from the fire department, the OOD, and the CDO. I kept my story short, simple, and most of all, believable. After speaking with everybody, I went back to my room to get some well-deserved rest. I slept like a rock for the few hours I had before morning muster.

After the incident, I was never harassed again by anyone and the charges on me were dropped- a huge mistake on their part. After the fire, Grey Hall was shut down. The classified documents that survived the fire were salvaged and stored in another building. Somehow the Captain and his band of merry men escaped the building without anyone noticing. I don’t know if what they told me was true about worshipping Satan to gain favor over other countries, but I am going to try to get the word out to as many people as possible just in case there are more Satan worshipping human sacrificing nut jobs out there. Unfortunately, the picture I took on my phone came out blurry and unfocused, but they don’t know that.

I just recently graduated from my “A” school and will be going on deployment soon. If anyone else in the military reads this, be vigilant of your surroundings. Pay attention to who your superiors are and what they’re up to. If you see something suspicious, investigate it. Probe around. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you do decide to heed my advice, just remember that you may find more than you were hoping for.

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