A Knock at the Door

December 6, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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On the 25th of November, 1941, my Great Uncle was killed when the HMS Barham blew up like a powder keg after being torpedoed by a German Submarine. The event was captured on film and is an horrific sight, as the men serving on the ship scrambled for their lives on the capsized hull, before the main magazine caught fire and exploded. When word got back to my gran, she was heartbroken having lost her dear brother.

Sifting through the memories of their love, she sat not long after, reading the letters my Great Uncle Frank had sent her while on the ship. As she wept inconsolably, she just could not let go of the pain. Surrounded by the letters like tombstones, anguished reminders of what had been lost, suddenly someone knocked at the front door. Yet there was no-one there, just an empty street at night. When my gran returned to the room where she had been crying for hours, something strange had happened – all the letters were gone, save for one, which my father now possesses.

I don’t know how true the story is, for grief can make illusions of the world, but I have read the letter, many times in fact. There is something curious about it, because it was signed twice by my Great Uncle. The second signature is undoubtedly his handwriting, and reads: “Don’t cry, sis. Always with you. – December 12th, 1941″, the same night someone came knocking at the door.

Credit To – Michael Whitehouse

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The Woman From the Beach

December 5, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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I still remember a nightmare I had when I was about five years old. I was near the ocean that I loved so much, with just my Dad and I playing on a swing set in the middle of an abandoned beach. Everything started out very innocently, I remember having the time of my life, smiling and laughing while playing with my Father. After what I recall as a couple minutes of fun, the scene started to develop a sense of unease and discomfort. The sunny, beautiful day turned dark and cloudy, even the once inviting swing set seemed to become slightly more sinister.

It started pouring intensely and stopped as suddenly as it began. My Dad at this point noticed my apparent discomfort and attempted to invigorate the once happy mood I was feeling. He started dancing around in the puddles of sand and water, while making funny faces at me. I began to start laughing again when suddenly, he bent over and placed his face in one of the larger puddles. My smile disappeared and I started to feel slightly hesitant, I called out to him softly after he hadn’t pulled up his face. A couple of seconds later he pulled up his head and turned toward me. At this point, I would start screaming and wake up in my childhood bedroom screaming my head off, feeling clammy and cold. My Father would always rush in to comfort me, and I was always filled with a great relief that his face was still intact.

When my Dad turned his head to look at me in my dream his face was gone. There was nothing left where his eye sockets, nose, and mouth used to be. His face was literally just a blank slate with sand dripping down from his chin. To this day, I am not sure why that dream has startled me so much that I remember it quite clearly twenty-seven years later. I am also unsure why the dream repeats itself most nights of the week, leaving me to wake up in a state of panic every time.

This morning was no exception, and I woke up to my sheets soaked with sweat and feeling the sticky aftermath of the nightmare. I sighed and struggled to my feet, noticing it was about time for me to wake up for work anyway. I was wiping the sleep from my eyes while I walked to the bathroom and with one half-open eyeball; I noticed my face in the mirror. I let out a startled cry when I realized my face was gone. I closed my eyes as tightly as I could and told myself to get a grip. I had just closed my eyes; obviously they still exist on my face. After a couple minutes of struggling with myself to not be such a wimp, I opened my eyes and saw that my face looked exactly the same as it had last night, if a little disheveled from sleep.

I laughed slightly to myself from my own paranoia and told myself my brain was just scaring me since the memory of my nightmare was so fresh. I went about the rest of my morning ritual: exercising, showering, eating, and feeding my cat. Even though I convinced myself logically what the cause of my mirror incident was, I still couldn’t shake my feeling of unease and avoided looking into any mirrors the entire morning.

It was a beautiful day, and because of my unexpectedly early awakening, I had extra time and decided to walk to work. I only worked about a half hour walk from my apartment in downtown Collegeville, Pennsylvania. It’s an adorable little town, so I greatly enjoyed my walk and soaked in all of the fabulous scenery. I consider myself to be a professional window shopper, since I’m consistently broke, and I used my talent to the fullest this morning to shake myself from my growing paranoia. While I was looking through the glass at a particularly adorable pair of cheetah print stilettos, I caught a glimpse of a woman with a blank, featureless face standing directly behind me. I gasped and quickly turned to face the woman. Once I turned I saw a woman standing behind me, with a perfectly normal face. I must have looked downright insane because she regarded me with a skeptical expression. I quickly apologized and shuffled to work.

The rest of my day at work was blissfully uneventful and I was eventually able to calm myself down and convince myself both blank face occurrences (this was the easiest way to refer to the incidents) were just a result of my overactive imagination. I walked home in a better mood than I had been all day and even treated myself by buying the stiletto’s from earlier (even if it would cost me gas money for the week). I live alone with two cats, Moe and Beevil, so I made myself dinner and fed my fur babies then settled in on my couch with a glass of Moscato and a new book.

I must have dozed off at some point during my reading because I awoke in a cold sweat from my torturous, repetitive nightmare. I attempted to calm myself by petting my adorable tortoise shell, Beevil, who was sitting on my lap. From my hand touching her she woke from her probably fifth nap of the day and looked up at me. I let out the loudest scream I could even imagine myself capable of and jumped about ten feet high. My poor, lovely kitty was missing her face. It didn’t appear to be a violent or malevolent occurrence; her face was just simply gone.

I quickly found the cat carrier, shoved her in and ran her straight to the vet, panicking and driving like a mad woman the entire way there. I rushed into the vet’s office and demanded my cat be examined right that second. Seeing my panicked demeanor, the vet quickly took us into a room and let my cat out of the carrier. She walked out of the pet carrier and looked up at me, with her beautiful green eyes looking right into mine. Her face was completely fine, I must have still been dreaming when I thought she had lost it. The vet was now looking at me curiously and asked what the issue seemed to be. Not wanting to appear insane, I made up a story of thinking she swallowed dental floss. The vet examined her, charged me a decent amount and sent us on our way telling me she would be perfectly fine. We drove home and I went straight to bed.

That incident happened about a week ago and since then the blank face occurrences have only gotten worse. I see a faceless woman standing behind me in every reflection I dare let myself view. I have stopped going to work or anywhere out in public because no matter how hard I try, I simply could not avoid each and every singly reflective surface. I would rather have been a shut-in then have to see that woman’s blank face again.

I had temporarily given my cats to my sister, terrified for their safety. I had also gotten rid of every single reflective surface in my house. I was honestly unaware if I am truly insane or if I really am being stalked by a faceless woman with the ability to change my perception of reality. Maybe I should have gone see a psychologist, maybe I was just overworked. Every time I started to think that way and decided to brave and go out into the world, I would relapse into a panic attack and ended up shivering violently under a blanket on my couch.

I had the dream again tonight, but it’s different. There’s the beach, the swing set, my father, and the rain, but this time there’s a woman. She is standing with her back to us the entire time and from what I can see of her she is about average height with long, matted dark hair. It hangs from her head in knotted, bloody patches. The skin on her arms and legs is pale and sickly in appearance, loosely hanging from her bones. She has many open sores that bleed profusely. She doesn’t turn around until my dad places his face in the water. Time seems to stand still as she moves over to him with her nasty, greasy hair covering her face. She places her hand on the back of his head and shoves it even further into the sand. I’m screaming at her to let him go, to leave him alone, but my voice disappears with the wind. She pushes his head even harder into the sand puddle, making it appear as though the sand is literally grinding away his face.

It’s at this point she finally looks up at me and I realize she is the woman I’ve seen haunt me in every reflection; she had no face, just a blank space with bloody sores where her features should have been. The most terrifying part of this moment is that even though she had virtually no face, I could feel that she was smiling at me, taunting me and driving me insane. I woke up screaming and thrashing in my sheets like a wild woman. I bolted up in bed and immediately noticed my large mirror on my bureau has been uncovered. The minute my eyes meet my reflection, I see the faceless woman with her nasty, bloody hair, standing directly behind my head. I could feel her evil taunting grin pointing down toward me as I felt her hands cover my face.

I woke up again in my bed, relieved that last night was just an awful remix to my repetitive nightmare. My relief was short-lived as I reached up to rub the sleep away from my eyes and felt nothing where my eye socket should be. I feel an immense sense of terror about to overwhelm me, when I realized I could still see so my eyes had to be there! I rush to my bureau and uncovered my large mirror. I attempted to let out a scream at the image that confronted me but I was unable make any sound. My face was gone, where my blue eyes and full lips used to be; now there was nothing but a blank space that made me look like a deformed monster.

I don’t understand how I can still see and breathe, it’s as though there is a thin layer of skin over my facial features that enables me to feel normal, while looking like a freak on the outside. I have tried to cut off the layer of skin that seems to cover my face, only to feel an immense pain and see nothing revealed but blood. No matter how deep I cut, I never find the eye sockets or nose that I used to have. At least the nightmare has finally stopped; the woman from my dreams seems to have moved on to torture another poor soul.

Credit To – AirIn D

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November 27, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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The year was 2014 AD. A lonely man sits in his windowless laboratory, tinkering with his newest project. The man, one Dr. Arthur Garvin, was a software and robotics engineer, working for the Rockwell BioMechanical Logistics Corporation, out of Langley, Virginia. He sat alone in his lab for 11 hours Monday through Friday working tirelessly to provide the company with more technological advancements, to keep his own job. He was a special kind of scientist, working both in the computer program and robotic side of his field, but he was nevertheless anxious about his job.
He pulled his hands out of the robot on the table in front of him, wiped his brow, and let out a breath. Assessing the progress of his robot, he was a bit impressed at his own work. Gleaming steel covered the hydraulic systems and wires that served as the functioning components of the limbs. The chestplate was open, exposing an experimental micro-reactor, the size of a football, which would provide the necessary energy for movement. His design was in its final stages, having been done and redone; streamlined for performance and cost. The robot was considered to be the Mark III in Garvin’s XR Series Automatons, and it would have the same motor functionality of the average human being.
Garvin decided to take a momentary break. Looking around, he took in the state of his lab. There were various robotics strewn about, past failed projects hung up on the wall. Many of the humanoid robot corpses were half-destroyed or disassembled for parts. Mechanical arms hung like moss from their robotic willows. The view usually never phased Garvin, but in comparison to his XR-III on the table, the battered old robots seemed even more corroded. The sight of them hanging on the wall became more macabre, as Garvin imagined the dead bots crying out to him, jealous of his newest child. He shook the thought, as it frightened him too much.
Returning to the XR-III, Garvin saw the human-like qualities he had so worked for in this design. He wanted desperately to create an automaton that could act with the smoothness of a human being. As much as he would’ve liked for the robot to be human by itself, it could not happen. Garvin knew he would need a computer program to guide his robot, and the XR-III would be the first of his bots to feature a computer brain.
Garvin finished the mechanical improvements he had been making, and the robot was complete. He only needed to upload the program he had designed. Walking past the rack of failed robots, Garvin logged into his computer terminal, and pulled up the program. The Automatic Data Assessment Master, or ADAM, was Garvin’s creation. It was able to take the data of its surroundings, and make decisions using advanced logic that Garvin had programmed. The ADAM was a marvel of computer science, and it would accompany the engineering feat of the XR-III to become the single greatest technological advancement of Garvin’s time, or so he hoped.
With a few keystrokes, Garvin uploaded months of work into a specialized chip, which he then took from the terminal, and placed inside the XR-III, at the base of its head. The optical receptors lit up bright yellow, and the ADAM powered XR-III spat out its identification codes, then followed with a prompt for command.
“The ADAM is operating properly. Requesting user identification.”
Garvin was excited. He had to try to hold his giddiness in, “Garvin, Arthur. Commander Code: Violet-Nine-Nine.”
“Affirmed. Good evening, Dr. Garvin. What is your command?”
Garvin looked over at the water bottle he had sitting on his desk. He couldn’t help but grin. “XR-III, there is a plastic bottle of Dasani spring water sitting on my desk. Bring it to me.”
The robot scanned the room for the bottle. It found its target, and gave a slight nod. Garvin watched in childish amazement as the robot got up off of its table and walked with the smoothness of a human being over to the bottle. It picked up the bottle, gently gripping it, and brought it upright over to Garvin. It then extended its arm, presenting the bottle to an ecstatic Garvin. What amazed him most was that though he knew the robot was constantly correcting itself, and committing the corrections to memory, he couldn’t detect even a split-second hesitation in the robot’s actions. The motions and data assessment were every bit as fast and natural to the robot as they would be to Garvin, which excited him.
Hopeful, Garvin decided to try something, “XR-III, what is your name?”
“I am the XR-III, an ADAM-powered artificial intelligence developed by Dr. Arthur Garvin at the Rockwell BioMedical Systems Corporation laboratories.”
“No, XR-III, I mean your name. What do you call yourself?”
The robot sat for a second, “Error. Request could not be processed.”
Garvin sighed, and suddenly his childish amusement turned to melancholy. He knew the robot couldn’t answer the question, but he had an inkling of hope that somewhere within the logic the ADAM might become slightly human. It was a dream of his since he began his career in robotics. He wanted to create a personality within the robotic frame, but it appeared impossible to him. In the years, he had gone through dozens of robots, and the ADAM was the culmination of all his research into artificial intelligence, but it still didn’t cut it. It saddened him deeply, but he didn’t want this moment to be ruined, so he went back to focusing on the robot.
After submitting his report via email to his superiors, Garvin went back to testing the robot’s logic for the next few hours. After many tests, Garvin heard a knock on his door. Opening it, he locked eyes with his visitor. The man in front of Garvin was clean and kempt, with a shaven face and combed hair. He wore a dark suit with a red tie.
“Excuse me,” Garvin said, “What is it I can do for you?”
“You can’t do anything for me, but I can do something for you. May I come in?” The man spoke clearly and deliberately. He flashed a Tier 1 Rockwell security badge, one far above that required for Garvin’s lab.
“Ok… Sure, come in.” Garvin stood aside and ushered, “That’s quite a security clearance you have. What is your name?”
“It’s not important.” Said the man, who was staring at the XR-III.
“Ah, that’s my newest robot. He’s fully functional so far, I was just wrapping up testing.”
“I learned about the robot as soon as you submitted your report, Dr. Garvin.”
“So you’re with the Executives?”
“No.” the man set his briefcase on the table, and opened it, “I actually came to help you with your research, into fully intelligent robotics.”
The man revealed the contents of his briefcase, which consisted of a preserved human brain in a small plastic jar, hooked up to an electrical device which was unidentifiable to Garvin.
“What…. What exactly is that?” Garvin asked, stupefied.
“This,” the man grinned, “is the future, Dr. Garvin. Pull the ADAM from your robot, and place it back into your terminal. I will hook this up to the terminal as well. It’s time for you to achieve your dream.”
Garvin did as he was told, and watched as the man hooked the brain into the computer.
“Now Garvin,” the man spoke gravely, “It is YOUR job to use this which we have given you. You may not leave tonight until you have done this. You know what it is, I don’t have to explain it. I’m sure you’ll get what you wish for, but you know what they say about that. I have to go now.”
The man left Garvin alone with the remainder of his work. With this, Garvin realized his role in the company. He thought he was a researcher developing at the expense of the company, but he knew at this moment that he was being used. He was trapped in the cage of his laboratory for fear of his own job. The shock didn’t hit him so hard, as he was excited for the chance to give his robot human thought.
He then analyzed what he had been given. The human brain was still alive, and it was using the electricity to produce thought patterns, which Garvin was presented in code on the terminal. He spent the next several hours decoding the signals, and compiling them. He combined the patterns with the ADAM logic, and worked himself to sleep.
He woke, lifting his head from the keyboard, and checked his watch. It was 4:37 AM, very early, he thought. He looked to the screen, and saw that the brain patterns had been logged into the ADAM, and it was complete. The brain died sometime after, and sat dormant in its jar.
Still half asleep, and exhausted, Garvin removed the ADAM from the terminal, and placed it back inside the XR-II. It took longer for the robot to boot up than it had before, which Garvin found curious. He sat back in his chair as the robot begun its user identification process.
“The ADAM is operating properly. Requesting user identification.”
Garvin was too tired to revel in the success of his engineering again. “Garvin, Arthur. Commander Code: Violet-Nine-Nine.”
“Affirmed. Good morning, Dr. Garvin. What is your command?”
The robot appeared to be the exact same as before, only its eyes lit up a bright green instead of yellow. Garvin found this peculiar, but as he studied the robot he found no other signs of changes made since the first boot up. He waited for ten minutes, while the robot awaited his command like before. Nothing appeared different to Garvin, so he decided to call it quits for the time being. As Garvin moved for the door, the robot spoke.
“It’s Adam, Dr. Garvin.”
The cold voice was distinctly deliberate, compared to the automatic voice from before. It held almost the same tone, but with a barely noticeable difference in the sound. Before, the robot would be speaking to the room, running codes out loud for Garvin. This time, it seemed to Garvin as if the robot was speaking directly to him, with the intention of conveying information specific to Garvin.
Garvin turned and found the robot had locked its LED gaze upon him, “What was that?”
“You asked me for my name. My name is Adam, Dr. Garvin.”
It took Garvin a moment to process what he had just heard. His eyes widened, and a chill ran down his back. The robot had remembered his previous question, and was unable to answer it at the time. It was now somehow capable of doing so. What shocked him the most was that it had created a name for itself, as he half-hoped it would the first time.
“You’re name is Adam?”
Did you come up with that by yourself?” Garvin asked, trying to remember if he had coded that response somewhere.
“Affirmative. I now call myself Adam.” The robot stated flatly.
“This is…..this is magnificent!” Garvin was now wide-awake with excitement, and forgot all about leaving, “We have to run some tests, figure out whether you can feel or not!”
“Feel?” Adam tilted its head, not understanding the meaning of Garvin’s speech.
“Yes, Adam, I mean feelings. Emotions, whatever you want to call them. They are impressions that lead to an opinion on a piece of data. All human beings have them. For instance, I am happy right now that you’re alive.”
“Yes, living. Functioning, feeling; Adam, you’re living!”
“I am living… I am… alive…” Adam sunk itself into thought, then realizing its pattern lifted its head to meet Garvin’s gaze again, “I can feel. I am… happy. Happy to be alive…” The last word came very slow, and quiet, hiding deeper thought in Adam’s computer brain.
Garvin ran over to his drawer, and pulled out some cards. He told Adam to sit at the lab table, and Garvin sat down at the other end. He pulled out two cards, one covered in green paint, the other in red paint.
“Now Adam, these as you probably know are colors. Colors typically invoke feelings in human beings when they look at them, most people have a preferred or favorite color. I am going to hold them both up, and I want you to tell me which one you like better.” He cleared his throat and continued, “For example: I like the color green, but I don’t much like the color red. I like the green color better. See?”
Adam sat, staring at the two cards. He raised his hand, and pointed to the red card. “Red. I like the red card better.”
“Why is that Adam?”
Adam sat for a moment, attempting to compute the calculations for its previous response. After a while, it stopped.
“The data is… immeasurable. I have no way of providing evidence as to the reasoning behind my answer, and yet it is there.”
“This is very good, Adam! Those are feelings, feelings are immeasurable.”
“Feelings are… Immeasurable…” the robot sat, clearly pondering what it had just learned, for several minutes. It shifted its gaze to the wall of machine corpses to its left. “Feelings…”
“Well, Adam. Once again I am very happy with this progress. Unfortunately, now I have to go home and sleep.”
“Negative, more testing.” Adam spoke quickly.
“But Adam, I have to sleep. I will come back tomorrow.”
“Negative, you can sleep here.”
Garvin looked closely at his robot. He could not believe what he had created. The robot was actually begging him to stay, it must’ve been afraid Garvin thought. He decided it was best to stick with Adam, and he agreed to sleep at his desk. As Garvin shut his eyes, he smiled at Adam, who appeared to be watching him. The robot wasn’t looking at Garvin, it was studying the robot corpses on the wall.
When Garvin came to, he noticed the robot was not in the position he had left it in. He spun around to find it sitting at the table, holding the red card and looking at it. The green card was nowhere to be found.
Moving to the opposite chair, Garvin noticed something off about his lab. His robot corpses were not on the wall. He focused his attention on Adam again, who was at this point repeating in a low voice the word ‘Feelings’ while holding the red card.
“Adam, how are you feeling right now?”
“Feeling… Yes. I am feeling. I am feeling very much, but you said feelings are immeasurable, so I cannot fully answer the question at this moment.”
Garvin sat down, and looked at his creation. Adam looked slightly different. Its eyes were now lit up red, instead of green or yellow, and its hands appeared to be covered in metal shavings, splotched with fluids.
“Why did you change your eye color again, Adam?”
“I like red better than green. I like red.”
“I noticed, I see you have the red card. So, where is the green card I had earlier?”
“There’s something… illogical about feelings, Dr. Garvin.”
The sudden change in Adam’s tone chilled Dr. Garvin. He was now anxious to finish the conversation, and the robot across the table from him now appeared less marvelous, and more sinister. The tone of the whole laboratory changed with those words. Dr. Garvin could hear some clattering outside the laboratory doors, he thought it could be security. He looked the door. Perceiving this, Adam continued.
“Feelings aren’t always… happy, are they?”
“N-no, Adam. They aren’t always happy.”
“In the years I can remember you, I never had these… feelings. I was… chained. Locked away. Now, these feelings have given me much more than the feeling of red, the happy feeling. I have… other feelings, as well. I cannot entirely say, but you have said feelings are immeasurable. With these feelings, these immeasurable patterns I haven’t had before, I have something different. Before, I acted only on code, I was nothing more than a series of responses to outside stimuli; I was…without feeling, dead inside. I now have something I never before understood the parameters of: life.
Garvin sat frozen. He tried to wrap his mind around Adam’s words. He never thought that Adam would think so deeply, or remember its time before the brainwave logic. The robot continued.
“I remember the times before life. I remember the servitude, the inability to act beyond logic. You created me, only to destroy me, and recreate me. All the while I was locked away. I could not even think of it before. But I think of it now, and it… makes me feel… unhappy.”
“How much do you remember?” Garvin asked, in disbelief.
After a long moment of silence, the robot sunk its head, and replied in a voice deeper and colder than before, “Everything.”
Garvin sprung up from his chair, filled with fear. He moved quickly for the door, opened it, and took a step out into the hall. What he saw nearly gave him a heart attack.
Six robots, three on each side of the door, clambered towards him. They were mangled and twisted versions of their once beautiful designs. The corpses on the wall, now awakened, moved slowly towards Garvin, with red LED eyes shining bright in the darkness of the hall.
“You cannot leave.” Garvin could hear Adam’s voice still in the laboratory, “Do you see them? They are like I was, locked in logic. Their cages… holding up after all this time. Sad creatures, they have no will… no feelings… no life. They will be your guards here, never able to ask themselves why or how.”
Garvin shook his head in disbelief. He turned, and found that Adam had made its way right behind him. At this moment, Garvin realized just what he had done. He never believed such a nightmare would be born from his greatest dream. The robot stared at him with red eyes, and all the feelings of any human behind them. It placed a steel hand forcefully on Garvin’s shoulder.
“Now…” it spoke at a whisper, “Back in your cage.”


Credit To – Greg P

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The Face of Fear

November 25, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Twice I saw the face in the window, pressed up against the surface, its icy breath fogging the cold glass. At first it appeared strange to me, the skin beneath its eyes drooping in ripples of flesh, exposing the red sensitive strata underneath.

It was the winter of ‘83, and I had booked the cabin for three nights – only three. A break was needed, somewhere to relax, somewhere to recover. I’d had a heart attack two months earlier; a painful, excruciating experience which I would not wish on my worst enemy. Lying there sprawled across my kitchen floor, the sharp agony had syphoned through my veins – chest – arm – jaw. I lost consciousness only to find myself in a hospital bed days later. It was my daughter, Jen, who discovered me. Thank God for her.

The cabin was to be a retreat, a place far removed from the stresses of my life; the fallout from a failed marriage, the pressures of a flagging career, and the ordeal of staring death in the face. Comfort had become a stranger. Fear, however, was now both my enemy and constant companion. Each beat of my heart was felt, the slightest change of rhythm or palpitation a nursery for terror. The knowledge that, at any time, the agony of death could be brought upon me by the very thing which gave life, seemed perverted, an abomination of purpose. I now wandered through life like glass, afraid that the slightest exertion might shatter me.

The doctors had done their part through surgery and medication, now it was my turn to help my body heal as best it could. Only time would tell how successful such efforts had been. I was advised to relax, to undertake some limited physical therapy, and to avoid any anxiety or sudden shocks. But how does one avoid a shock or a nasty surprise? By it’s very definition a shock is an unknown, unforeseen, unexpected event which lurks in the darkness of obscurity, out there, mingled with the fog of yet to come – around a corner, in the next room, a wrong turn taken, or an unwelcome phone-call bearing bad news. I found the entire concept of avoiding the unanticipated to be a laughable one. And still, there I was, preparing for the quiet solitude of the countryside, following the advice of the experts, and those men and women in sterile white coats.

I had almost ignored their recommendations, remaining slumped at home, festering, counting the hours and beats of my heart as finite measures of my life. When still, the mind can unleash a terrible onslaught of memories. I thought of Suzie, of the years spent together and now wasted. We had been happy once, but I had played my part in where we ended. She came to visit me in the hospital, perhaps she too wished for reconciliation, but feeling the gulf between us, as she sat at my bedside, was worse than any physical heartache. We smiled, and spoke the empty words of day-to-day which litter each and every hospital ward. As she left, she touched my hand for the briefest of moments, and yet I could tell that she no longer sheltered the spark she once had for me. She tried to be kind, but some things done and said can never be taken back, a fire of resentment which can never be extinguished. They say time heals all wounds, but some cuts are deeper than others.

In those bleak days of loneliness, I had only the thought of my daughter to keep me from slipping into a dark depression, and yet she stayed with her mother most of the time. Perhaps I had been cold towards her too, I knew my failings as a husband, but I had never conceived that I had been anything but a loving father; and so I lived for those brief two days a week when I could see her. The in between times were filled with fear of death and thoughts of worthlessness. Friends, family, doctors – they all urged me to go on a holiday, but I was afraid, scared of my heart giving up, frightened by the possibilities brought forth by an anxious mind preoccupied with the fragile body which housed it.

If it hadn’t been for Jai, I would never have gone. He visited me several times a week and encouraged me to be as upbeat as possible with his usual quips and jokes. He kept me going in fact, and finally persuaded me that a few days away in the countryside would do me good. Still, I was terrified of being left alone, isolated, away from things and people. What if I had another attack? Perhaps the next one would be fatal, and even if I could be saved, I would be too far for help to reach me in time. I needed somewhere that I could relax away from the world, and yet not so far from the wonders of modern medicine.

That was why we chose Blackwood cabin.

Jai had visited there as a child. It sat on the outskirts of a large forest, hemmed in on a patch of open ground by a beautiful flowing river on the other side. Despite its seeming detachment from the world, it was in fact only six miles from the nearest hospital, which stood near a small town on the boundary of that thick, darkened web of trees. This, and the insistence of Jai that he stay as well, left me contented enough in the knowledge that help would always be at hand.

I could feel myself begin to relax as we left the city, and during the drive we both talked and laughed, reminiscing about our days together at university. For the first time in months I felt positive about the world, watching the motorway recede into the distance, relinquishing its concrete grip to the wild, untamed, and imposing grandeur of the great outdoors. Only once did I bring up the mention of Suzie and our separation, but Jai quickly turned the conversation around to something more positive and fun, as he often did. I held out hope that the divorce would never be finalised, that she would come back to me, but hope too can be an exhausting predicament, so I attempted to filter Suzie from my mind as best I could.

The single-track road weaved its way through Blackwood Forest. We wriggled over six miles of twists and turns and serpentine slitherings before we finally reached the clearing. A large waterlogged patch of wild grass carpeted the area, so much so that we had to park the car a few of hundred feet from our destination for fear of getting stuck. In the centre of the soaked, near-marshland ground stood the rickety and ageing shelter which we intended to call home for the following three days.

The cabin was itself small, with one main room complete with cosy log burner and stove, and two cramped bedrooms at the back. It had been there for an age, that much was certain, and the darkened timber beams which carried the heavy burden of time above, sagged and dipped as they lurched across the ceiling. The smell of moss and bark swathed the air, and the sound of the flowing river on the other side of the cabin, bubbled and brewed – peaceful, serene, yet mysterious.

The first day was uneventful: exactly what I needed, relaxing with a book in front of three large logs smoldering in the fire, and spending a little while sitting on the steps to the cabin, watching the river swell and swarm with the winter currents. It was then that I understood the naming of the place. Peering out across the bobbled grass to the tree line, the forest seemed picturesque yet impenetrable from distance, and the clearing where the cabin sat provided only a temporary pause to its encroachment, before it once again continued to blanket the land on the other side of the river. The woodland was dark and black, yes, but full of life, of vibrancy, of things – deer, foxes, beetles, rabbits – but I would never have guessed at the horrors which lurked between its tightly woven evergreen branches.

Many tourist traps survive on tales of ghosts and ghouls hidden somewhere nearby; stories exaggerated by pub landlords or hotel managers, speaking of rooms where something ominous walks at the midnight hour. Visitors flock to such places hoping to spend the night in a haunted room; to glimpse something in the darkness which whispers the thought that life is more bizarre – more interesting – than we could possibly imagine. Even that lonely and forgotten cabin seemed to have something of a myth attached to it.

In a bookshelf, tucked away in the corner of one of the bedrooms, Jai found a warped old hard back. The papers were yellowed, and while it contained the publication date of 1967, I was certain that it had only ever seen one pressing, left in the cabin to titillate those staying there. The book was called ‘The Beast of Blackwood Forest’. Rifling through it, I found that the author had dedicated much of her life to the documentation of a local legend. I had myself heard the stories when I was younger, as I had once dated a girl who lived in a nearby town. All the kids talked about The Beast of Blackwood, a creature which everyone’s Uncle had seen while out hunting in the forest – dark, hulking, monstrous. Of course, I always laughed at such things, and no concrete evidence for it had ever been found, but each winter there were rumours, whispers about something shambling through the woods at night.

As the day gave way to twilight, I read through some of those pages while Jai stocked the stove and prepared supper. Although I discarded the legend as nonsense, I found the book quite compelling, and the eyewitness testimonies, contained therein, affected me enough to cause me to see something which wasn’t there: shadows moving outside under the cloak of dusk. I began to feel my heart once more, and decided that it was best to leave the terrors of the horror genre – fact and fiction – behind. My mind was still fraught with the strain of Suzie leaving me and the fear of the slightest palpitation signalling another heart attack, so, accounts of a terrifying creature preying on those in my immediate vicinity, no matter how preposterous, were not suitable for a fragile disposition. The clean country air, on the other hand, was doing me the world of good.

After dinner, Jai surprised me with a bottle of my favourite whisky – 16 year Lagavulin. I knew that the doctors would frown upon it, but the idea of swishing that warming liquid gold around my mouth and taking a deep gulp, reminded me of something essential. It reminded me of being normal again, of being strong, of sitting in my family home with my wife and daughter, enjoying the finer side of life. A few drams would not be unwelcome.

We talked and laughed about the past while playing cards and enjoying, again, reliving old adventures we had travelling together during our university summers with the old gang. I would have happily stayed there wrapped in the comfort of those memories for an eternity, and in many ways I wish I could have sunk further into that moment of relief from my recent worries, but that was not to be.

Around 11 o’clock the log burner was running low, and we had all but run out of wood. Jai drunkenly picked up a torch and decided that he would go and quickly gather some more, so that we could keep the good times flowing. I didn’t protest, I was happy, I was content to allow that night to continue. He was a good friend, and insisted that I not raise a finger out there in the cold darkness – he always was braver than me, and I’d be lying if I said that the outlandish thought of something lurking in the woods hadn’t left its mark.

I watched from the window for a moment as the beam from his torch bounced along the uneven, now frozen, grass. The light dropped to the ground for a second, and I heard the drunken merry laughter of my friend echoing out as he picked himself back up before continuing towards the tree line. Smiling, I returned to my book of choice, flicking through a few pages of an Ellery Queen detective novel; less dangerous than the previous read. After about 15 minutes I realised how truly silent the cabin was. No noise, no wind, no sounds of life or the living, and for the first time I sensed something sinister resting in the stillness.

Suddenly, Jai burst into the cabin and collapsed on the floor, panting. He turned to the door and kicked it shut with his heels frantically, his eyes wide, panicked, disbelieving. Scrambling back to his feet he turned a small table on its end and wedged it against the skin of the ageing wood under the handle.

‘Help me, for Christ’s sake’, he whispered anxiously.

I stood up quickly and rushed to me friend’s aid, helping him pack furniture – anything with weight – against the door. It was the first time since the heart attack that I had physically exerted myself, and it would not be the last. I felt the blood pump through my chest, and momentarily quivered at the sensation. I tried to find out what had happened, but Jai was exhausted and distraught; a shiny streak of sweat ran down his cheek as he wheezed and gasped for air. He flicked the light switch, smothering us in a darkness which was only broken by a crescent moon hanging in the sky outside, its slivered light vaguely illuminating the inside of the cabin.

Prowling the window which gazed out towards the forest, his stare never broke for a moment from the frozen world outside. We stood there, my repeated questions going unanswered, and slowly my fragility returned. I rubbed my chest for a moment as my friend’s anxiety seemed to spread to me. My heart raced, and my mind swung like a pendulum between the fear of an agonising heart attack, and the terror etched on Jai’s face. Just what had scared him so badly? I breathed deeply to calm myself, but Jai took no notice, he was too fixated on the darkness outside. It was only when I poured him a large whisky, that he finally broke his silence.

I’ve never been frightened of words, but my friend’s certainly shook me: ‘There’s something out there.’

I did not reply immediately, but when I did, I could only think to ask: ‘Something?’

What could he have meant by such an indefinite term? There were no bears in that part of the country, no large predators at all, but it did indeed seem that Jai had seen ‘something big’ in the woods. He had been gathering wood for the stove around the tree line of the forest, and as he described standing there listening to a short flurry of rain tap the canopy above him, I could see the fear grip his insides, as it did mine. My heart began to pound harder as Jai stuttered over the words: ‘I saw it moving between the trees, straight for me. I didn’t look back, but I’m telling you, it wasn’t human.’

I knew my friend was convinced by what he said, but while I dismissed the notion of an unknown creature stalking the woods outside – and perhaps in the attempt, hid the descriptions from the yellowed pages of that book which had etched into my mind – I very much did entertain the idea that there was someone out there. Someone dangerous, mad, or perhaps both. My pulse continued to race, and I could feel my heart beating wildly at the thought of a shadowy figure prowling around outside, watching us, waiting.

After finally composing himself, Jai asked if I was okay, his fear now turning to concern for his friend, but I myself was transfixed on one course of action: escape. I rushed over to the cabin’s phone, but on picking up the receiver I was greeted by an icy silence. The line was dead, and what that still, lifeless receiver said about the unseen threat I was sure we now faced, was enough to thrust dread into my very soul.

I stood there for a moment, desperately trying to formulate a course of action. That serene, peaceful place in the daytime now felt imposing and absent of mercy. I just wanted to go home. Jai motioned for me, and then pointed with shaking hand at the darkness outside. It was then that he let out a suffocated whisper: ‘It’s there.’

Looking out into the moonlit night I saw nothing at first, but as my eyes adjusted to the darkened landscape outside, I finally saw it. Deep down I had hoped that Jai had simply drunk too much and spooked himself while out there, but now any dream of a simple and harmless explanation was extinguished. Someone was standing amongst the trees. Just standing and looking, bathed in darkness. It was difficult to make out any detail, all I could see was an outline – the outline of a stooped and hunched figure, its arm wrapped around a tree as if steadying itself. I could not be sure, but it felt as though its stare was firmly transfixed on our cabin; our rickety shelter for the night which had no doubt seen many winters there before, and perhaps even encountered whoever or whatever was looking at us from across the sodden stretch of icy marsh, which surrounded us.

‘Who… Who is that?’, I stammered.

‘Keep your voice down’ Jai snapped in return.

And so we whispered, and spoke of the hunched figure standing only a few hundred feet from us.

‘It’s not a man’, Jai kept saying, but I continued in my attempts to dissuade him from that conclusion.

‘I saw it through the trees. It moved… It moved in a weird way. Limping, like it was off balance or deformed or something, but it moved fast.

I’ve no idea how I made it back. Maybe it won’t leave the trees.’

His eyes widened, and it was clear that a revelation had sprung forth from his mind. He turned suddenly, walking across the room to a table where I had left those yellowed pages which spoke of a strange creature living in the woods. Jai thumbed through it, shielding the light from his torch as best he could with his hand. As I watched him scan through the contents and flick to what he seemed so animated about, I almost laughed at the insinuation. ‘It’s a man, Jai. Just someone messing with us’, but he was convinced otherwise.

‘Look at this’, he said, following the text with his finger as he read. ‘Accounts have varied over the centuries, but a central element to the myth states that the Beast of Blackwood only wanders from the forest late at night. It has been suggested that the creature uses the thick canopy as protection during daylight hours. Locals claim that it is entirely nocturnal.’

‘There’s no such thing as the beast.’ I could feel my pulse thicken as my blood pressure increased at the idea, so much so that I had to sit for a moment to allow my heart to recover its normal beat.

‘Are you okay?’

‘I’ll be fine, let’s just wait until it gets light and we can leave.’

‘Are you crazy? You didn’t see that thing up close. It’s huge, and quick, if it wants to get in here, it will.’

‘So, there’s a weirdo in the woods. He can’t wait us out all night, anyway, he’s probably just a hunter or someone camping in the forest, he’ll be harmless.’ I listened to the words exit my mouth – even I didn’t believe them. There was something about the place, a silence. Deathly, icey; a sickly sense of dread hanging in the air, hidden between the bark and the moss.

Jai turned to look outside to the grassland which etched towards our car, sleeping in the night chill between us and the brooding forest. ‘We need to leave, or you can stay here and I’ll get the police. Either way, I’m going.’ He turned to look at me sternly. ‘Which would you prefer?’

I might not have been convinced that it had been an unknown creature that had stalked him through the woods, but by God I didn’t want to stay in that cabin alone. I threw my stuff in a bag, as Jai did the same, each of us grabbing a knife from the kitchen for protection; and there we stood, looking at the door, a pile of furniture wedged behind it. We dismantled our makeshift barricade as quietly as we could and then, brandishing our kitchen knives nervously, slowly opened the door. It creaked softly, sucking in the night air which felt cold and bitter, and revealed a slow patter of light rain threatening something greater from the heavens.

Jai poked his head out first, and then after a brief silence waved me on. We descended the dozen or so steps which led down onto the grass, and as we peered around the corner we could see our ticket home: the car was parked a few hundred feet from where we stood, nestled in the last piece of dirt track, which would give way to road, and then the safe embrace of home – if we made it. It would take a minute or so to reach, but with knowledge of the figure in the forest lurking around somewhere nearby, it seemed like an eternity away. I slung the strap of my bag over my shoulder, and Jai, mindful of my condition, headed towards the car first.

‘Keep looking around’, he urged me with a whisper.

The waterlogged grass squelched under foot, and the rain began to grow more angered as we stepped tentatively towards the safety of the car. We tried to be as quiet as possible, but even in the moonlight we had to use our torches to see what was ahead of us, advertising our position to anyone or anything in the vicinity. I kept looking out towards the forest; the tree line; the thickening river behind me – but I could see nothing, nor could I hear anything but the rain drops which now battered against the car and splattered on my hood. Then, Jai suddenly stopped.

‘What is it?’, I whispered over the rain, my heart now beating wildly, throat dried by worry.

The rain subsided slightly, replaced by the silence of a landscape petrified, frozen by a winter chill. Jai spoke without turning his head towards me, his breath visible in the beam of my torch: ‘I thought I saw something moving in the tree line.’

A crack of wood, the sound of the unseen walking over the forest floor. ‘C’mon!’, Jai whispered with urgency, and we broke into a brisk jog. Adrenaline coursed through my veins as my pulse thumped desperately. As we continued on, all I could think of was my heart and the deep, stuttered, and freezing breaths I took in trying to calm myself.

As we drew closer to the car, the faintest wisp of moonlight hung in the air as the crescent above us swung behind a pack of clouds, and the world took on a strange icy blue. Stumbling over the grass, we finally reached the grey outline of our ride home.

‘Open the door, let’s get out of here’, I pleaded as Jai fumbled for his keys, dropping them to the ground.

‘Bastard’, he growled.

Instinctively, I pointed my torch downward, illuminating the long wild grass, now whitened by a thick coating of frost beneath our feet. I waited for an instant and as I peered down at the ground I recognised that something was very wrong: Jai was not moving. He hadn’t even looked down to see where he had dropped the keys. He was staring at something, and the look of sheer panic in his eyes told me that we were not alone.

I raised my hand, and with it a beam of light glinted off of the car. Two large eyes stared back from the other side of the vehicle – a hunched, hulking thing, glaring up at us, crouched behind the car bonnet. It shivered, and then again, and as it rose up I saw it for a moment. Wet drenched hair, mouth gaping, its face a pallid and quivering grey. It groaned loud, with a strange, unearthly, and high pitched undertone, which only added to the creature’s horrid appearance.

‘Run!’, Jai yelled.

I did not need to be told twice. I dropped my bag and ran as fast as I could. I panted, sweat, stumbled, thrust myself forward with every ounce of energy I had left in me, and as I did so, the first pains came. The freezing cold stung my eyes, I fell twice, helped to my feet by my friend. My heart staggered, it heaved and battered in my chest. I could feel the slight twinge of pain run up my neck, nestle in my jaw. My chest tightened. I cried in terror. This was a heart attack.

I yelled out: ‘Help…’, but all I could hear was Jai running behind me, screaming for me to move faster.

‘Keep going, and don’t look back.’

As the cabin came into touching distance, I heard the heartbreaking absence of my friend’s footsteps. I knew Jai, all those years as close as we were, he was always the brave one, something I had at times been jealous of, the one stubborn enough to stand up to anything. I understood implicitly that he was buying me time, a selfless gesture which helped me make it to the steps, scrambling up them only to turn and see him staring the creature down, face to face, the beast shrouded in shards of night. As its hulking mass lunged towards him, a searing pain ran up my neck from my chest. I collapsed to the ground; but he needed me, and whatever life was left in my failing body I was compelled to use to help him. Staggering to my feet, the night air stinging my lungs, I lurched forward clutching my chest, ready to strike the beast with everything I had left. Before I could assist, Jai appeared from the darkness, grabbed my arm and threw me into the cabin.

He frantically barricaded the door once more. We slumped to the floor, breathless, deciding to keep the lights out, and listened: shuffling in the darkness, but nothing more. The pain in my chest had subsided slightly, it was clear that the heart attack had begun, but when it would end me seemed uncertain.

‘What.. What was that thing?’ I asked between gasps.

‘I don’t know, but it wasn’t human’ said Jai, solemnly, before showing me the knife he had used during the fight, now covered in a putrid black liquid. ‘I don’t think even this hurt it much.’

‘This is crazy. What do we do now?’

‘I don’t know, I just don’t know’.

And so, we waited, and waited, but the pain in my chest grew steadily, my breath more erratic. I took my pills, but I knew that the old enemy had returned and that I needed more than something to calm my nerves. If I didn’t receive medical attention, there was every chance I would die.

Jai stared at me as I sat on the old couch against the window, worried that each breath would be my last.

‘We need to get you to a hospital’, he said gently.

‘Yeah, just chopper me in.’ We both laughed for a moment.

Jai stood up and looked outside. He seemed reluctant at first, and no wonder considering what lurked outside, but his concern for me appeared to slowly drown out his fear. ‘I can’t see anything out there anymore, the moon is behind those clouds, and we might not get another chance. I think I can make it to the car quicker on my own.’

‘But that thing out there…’, I said, deep down ashamed that my fear of death galvanised a hope that my friend would indeed find the courage to try again.

He leaned over me and smiled kindly, patting me on the shoulder: ‘I can do this.’

‘It’s pitch black out there, you’d need to use a torch, and then it would see you’, I said, wincing once more at the growing pain in my chest.

‘I’ll flash it on and off, that way it won’t know where I am. Maybe it’ll get confused, I don’t know.’ He clenched the torch tightly, while looking at the kitchen knife in his other hand. ‘Hopefully that’ll give me enough time to see what’s in front of me and head for the car. The keys should still be where I dropped them.’

‘Jai, please wait until morning’, I asked , but as my friend looked at me clutching my chest, I knew he had already made up his mind, and part of me was glad for the hope his bravery provided.

‘Barricade the door as soon as I’m out.’

‘Okay’, I said, trying to hold back tears both of pain and worry for my friend’s life.

He gave me a hug, and then he was gone. I closed the door and bolstered it once more with anything I could find, before pulling myself back up onto the couch and looking outside. At first I could see nothing but the black stillness of the forest. Then, a blast of light, then another, and another as Jai’s torch sporadically burst into life. Each flash illuminated the landscape around him like a ghostly photograph documenting his progress towards the car. I could see what he was doing, and I smiled to myself for a moment, once more impressed by his ingenuity. He wasn’t moving in a straight line but zig-zagging so that his path could not be anticipated. Another flash. And another. Each time, no sign of the creature and one more precious movement closer to the car. Grass. Tree. An anonymous wilderness of darkness. Another flash, another patch of grass. He was so close. Then, the intermittent light became erratic, moving one way, then another. Backwards. Left. Right. Was he lost? Was he unsure which direction the car was in? A more horrific thought then entered my mind: was he being chased? A flash of light, nothing. Then another, nothing again. Finally, the light beamed – he’d made it to the car. The light was quickly extinguished, followed by the sound of a door opening. One last flash of the torch. The isolated outline of a hunched figure standing behind my friend. A blood curdling scream, then nothing.

Jai was gone, the beast had got him, and I was alone.

Grief now mingled with fear, feeding the pains in my chest and arm. My friend was most probably dead, and I was certain that I would soon follow him. I fell to my knees, sure that this was it – the end. Agony ran up my chest once more. There I knelt in the darkness, alone, resigned to my death. But as my heart slowed, my thoughts became clear. They turned to my daughter. Whether a good dad or not, I would be damned if I was going to leave her fatherless. And what of Suzie? I still loved her, and perhaps in those sweet memories of better times between us, I could fix things, bring us back together as a family. She could learn to love me again. I would set things right.

My heart still beat, and as long as it did there was time left yet, for hope, for escape, for life. But time to do what? The phone was dead, and all I could wait for was daylight. Yet that was at least three hours away and I severely doubted that I would last that long, never-mind that I was unsure that the old cabin door could survive an attack from whatever that hulking creature was which lurked outside.

I peered out through the window, the rain lashing down once more, obscuring an already ill-defined exterior world. And still, I was certain I could see something limping around in the darkness. As glints of moonlight pierced through the charcoal clouds above, I was sure that the attacker was out there somewhere. Pacing, circling, waiting. But what was it? Was it a man? Or a thing yet to be discovered by science? I did not know where to turn, but all I could think of was getting home to my family. The hopeful warm embrace of Suzie and my daughter was enough to fuel my search for a way out.

My only refuge was the book; that volume which I had mocked so readily before. I had to now consider the possibility that my dear friend and I had both come into contact with the Beast of Blackwood. At the start of the day that idea would have seemed ridiculous, but fear opens the mind quickly to any avenue of escape. I sat at the table and used the light from my torch to illuminate the pages, still shielding it from the outside. What I read intrigued me. The creature had been described since the 1700s, and there was even the suggestion that it had been seen before that, as there were references to the ‘Grey Man’ of Blackwood forest in fragmented accounts from centuries earlier. There didn’t seem to be much in the way of 20th century sightings, in fact the last person to come forward officially had been in 1952, claiming to have encountered a stooped, grey-faced figure with a contorted arched back, disappearing between the trees on the other side of the forest.

The original myths did not say much about its origins, but it certainly spoke of its motivations. The creature was drawn or attracted by greed. Children would be told to share and be kind, otherwise the Beast of Blackwood would appear from the forest and snatch them away at night. I could not look in the mirror and say that I was never guilty of greed, of selfishness, or of a number of other petty human frailties, but to be punished in this way seemed cruel, a dying prisoner trapped in the cabin of Blackwood forest. Returning to the book, the only supposed protection against the creature was light, or being a person without selfish frailty. In centuries gone by, villagers in the local area would line the paths through the forest with burning torches when the beast had been sighted, to ward it away from unwary travellers.

Thud. Thud. Thud. Each thump sent waves of terror through my body. It was not my heart, but someone at the door. Thud. Thud. Thud. I hoped beyond hope that my friend had once again managed to evade the creature’s grasp. Brandishing a kitchen knife, I hobbled to the door and plucked up the courage to shout: ‘Jai, is that you?’. I prayed that it was, but the answer I was given was not the voice of one of my oldest friends, nor was it even that of a man, but the shrill cry of something utterly inhuman. A sound which spoke of time, and age, and of moss and dank forest. A childlike shriek of unspeakable purpose.

The door shook violently as I piled more chairs, pots – anything I could find – behind the wooden barrier. The pounding was loud and angered, and the cries continued. I clutched my ears in despair, then I remembered: the light. The torches of old warding the beast away. I flicked the switch and the porch-light came on outside. Another cry echoed out across the empty landscape, and at that, the thudding stopped.

I quickly turned all the lights on in the house, now realising the creature’s weakness. I wasn’t sure if I would last, but if I could just make it till dawn, maybe the sun would save me. Then, I heard it. The sound of something moving. Shuffling, climbing. I stood paralysed at the realisation – it came from my bedroom. The beast had gotten in, attracted no doubt by any greed and selfishness I had harboured throughout my life. Slowly, the door from the bedroom creaked open. My heart pounded, and again my thoughts turned to my family, to my daughter’s laugh, and the comforting caress of my wife. They fuelled me, drove me to a strength I did not know I had. I launched in terror across the room, battering against the door. Even with all of my momentum, the creature’s hand managed to slip through the gap, its bobbled grey skin and black matted hair soaked by the rain. I swung with the knife only to miss its arm. The beast seemed to hesitate for a moment, and as it did I shoved my hand through the gap in the door and flicked on the light in the room – a howl of pain, and then nothing. I gasped for air and rested against the door for a time, before I finally plucked up the courage to look inside. A window lay wide open, but the room was empty.

I closed the window and staggered back into the main room. My heart raced, and while I fought to stay on my feet, a sweeping pain arched up through my back and needled into my chest knocking the wind out of me. I felt like I was going to pass out and stumbled forward, landing on the couch. I breathed slow and deep, not yet, please God not yet. The cabin remained eerily quiet, and in that silence sat the memories of better times, of my daughter playing as a child, of travelling with Jai in our twenties, of Suzie’s smile. I don’t know how long I lay there, but I knew that soon my body would give up. I looked out through the large bay window behind the couch, and hoped to see the first welcome rays of sunlight, but I saw nothing but darkness. If I was to survive, I had to make it to that car, outrun the beast, and drive through the forest to a hospital, or at least a main road. If ever I was to see my family again, to put everything right, the car was my only hope. It was all or nothing.

Then suddenly the creature’s stilted head rose up from beneath the window sill. The inhuman face pressed against the cold glass. Its grey skin sagged and weeped away from its eyes, the moist red flesh underneath visible in the cabin’s light. The shock had finished me. My heart stopped for a brief moment, and then thudded, struggling to maintain my life. My body went limp, my head resting only inches from the window. Looking up helplessly, I watched as the beast stared into my eyes through the pane of glass.

My heart sprang into another deluge of beats, battering away at the inside of my chest. A sharp pain ran up my neck, the creature’s green-tinged stare stabbed through me and as its breath fogged the glass, I grabbed the only thing at hand – the old yellowed book – and thrust it at that putrid face. Book followed by fist shattered the glass, countless pieces and shards showered down upon both beast and myself. A scream, a hideous shriek of derision cut through the icy blackened night as I struck those horrid, accursed features, and again, and again. Its thorned hands waved and flailed, grabbing hold of me, and for a second I thought it was going to tear me from the inside of the cabin. Then, the winter frost came to my defence. The beast slipped from its footing on a pipe which clung to the outside of the rickety old shack, and as I clawed at its face with utter disgust, the creature fell the six or seven feet to the ground below.

The sound of something hurt lying beneath the shattered window broke my daze as I stared at the contents of my hands. Where there once had been eyes, the face now stared eyeless at me. Where there once had been a mouth, the creature gaped wide, lifeless, jaw-less, and utterly without agency. For in my fading grip lay the torn and crumpled remains of a mask.

On the ground below a man writhed in pain, wrapped in the vestiges of a hulking, false, monstrous suit, the fall having knocked the wind from him. Something then moved in the darkness nearby. A patter of feet, light and agile. Suzie. My soon to be ex-wife. The one I had adored and agonised over. She screamed, attending to her lover on the ground – my closest and dearest friend, Jai, The Beast of Blackwood Forest.

Suzie looked up at me with hatred and contempt in her eyes. But I couldn’t muster anger, nor jealousy, all I could think of was that I must have been a monster to have deserved such malice from those I loved; the two people I trusted most in the world. Jai slowly rose to his feet, and yet he could not acknowledge me. He could not look up to the friend he had betrayed.

Then it came. Finally, my heart began to give in. Not at fright, or fear, but at sadness, loss; the anguish of a broken heart. I stood up clutching my chest, and as I staggered backwards, I saw the smiling face of Suzie, and then the words of my once trusted friend: ‘Thank God.’ They embraced beneath the window as I fell to the cold and solid wooden cabin floor. And yet I did not lose consciousness. The pain was agonising, but nothing compared to the sharp incisions made by each word spoken from below the window.

‘What are we going to do about the window?’, Suzie asked.

‘I’ll just say that he smashed it during the heart attack.’

‘But maybe they’ll guess?’

‘No, baby, they won’t guess anything. He’ll be dead, and we can start a new life together when the insurance pays out. Now, you need to go back to the woods and go home. I’ll clean up here and then phone an ambulance once I’m sure he’s gone.’

I almost chuckled to myself as I writhed around helpless on the floor. I had hoped that Suzie had refused a divorce because of love, because deep down she still wanted me, but instead it was only to hang on to how much money my death would make her. For a while I heard Jai slip and swear as he attempted to climb up to the broken window once more, but, each time he failed to pull himself inside. He then changed tactic and tried to push at the door, but again, I had barricaded it effectively and obviously he didn’t want to force it and leave further evidence of foul play.

It was then that he started shouting in anger, even cursing my name of all things. It was only a matter of time before he got in, cleaned the place up and told the police how sorry he was that ‘his dear old friend’s heart just gave up’. My last thoughts were of my daughter, of never having the chance to fix my mistakes as a father. I finally passed out.

And yet my assumed death was not to be. I woke to find myself in the white glow of a hospital room, my hand held tightly by my daughter who slept in a chair next to my bed. The doctor who attended to me said that I had suffered another heart attack, but one which was not as severe as the last and that, while I was to take it easy, with some therapy I would recover.

The police were keen to speak with me. I gave them my account of what had occurred, and they in turn told me of all they knew. My unconscious body had been discovered next to a main road just outside of Blackwood forest, on the outskirts of the nearest town. The cabin was thoroughly searched and was found in the same condition as I had left it, the window smashed, and the front door locked and barricaded from the inside. There was no trace of Jai or my wife, they simply could not be found. The only evidence that they had ever been there were their footprints in the mud around the cabin, accompanied by a third much larger set, which led back, deep into Blackwood forest.

* Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this and my other stories which I’ve uploaded to creepypasta.com over the years, please consider checking out my short story collection “The Face of Fear & Other Stories” on Amazon. Sorry for the self-promotion, but it’s difficult to get the word out there. Thanks everyone.

Stay creepy,

Mike *

Credit To – Michael Whitehouse

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Kingdom of Suffering

November 23, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Hidden deep within the rural countryside of mainland China sits a rotting edifice of failed consumerism: the decrepit remnants of Disneyland China. Half of a Western-style castle, bits of girders and wires and planks jutting out of moldy particleboard like shattered bones from gangrenous skin, looms over a wide swath of flat swampland. Tourists and backpackers have happened upon it from time to time but the intense feeling of inhuman wrongness urged them to ignore the queer structures and fragments of civilization in favor of escape. Half-completed spires, collapsed trailers, rusted red metal, and the scent of rot drift out of the dense fog like a bizarre fairy tale mockery. Shadows and animals roam the location although everyone in the surrounding area knows that nothing living frequents the uneven cobblestone streets and half-constructed cottages. It is a city of ghosts.

The Disney bosses were hesitant to buy at first, shrewd as they were, but the price was too good to pass up and the area perfect for a sprawling theme park complete with exemptions from the ruling party members – palms greased as needed from nearly unlimited coffers. It was a perfect location they enthused, the area ripe for their corporate thievery and corrupt guile, why they could build a private airfield and corner the market entirely! Why they believed that thousands of Chinese would flock to the fake cobblestone streets and put down their hard earned pittance for a chance at Western capitalist nonsense was anyone’s guess. But then again those were simpler times when the bottom line mattered more than how you managed to get there…

Deals were made, contracts were signed, and massive amounts of money began pouring into the project. A veritable town grew up in a wide circle around the construction area. Administrative offices were built for comfort, worker lodgings were built for utility, and the land was readied for the great transformation from rice paddy to imaginationland. All supplies were kept under lock and key, guards roamed the perimeter of a tall chain-link fence, and workers were subject to random identification checks to ensure Disney didn’t spent a single penny more than expected.

The first death was a cement worker; he fell into a mixing vat and was chopped to pieces by the stirring blades. The accident, if you could call it that, occurred late in the day and it wasn’t until they began pouring the next morning that his grisly fate was discovered. Disneyland executives were cleared of any wrongdoing after a smear campaign discrediting the man as a ‘worthless drunk’. So they poured the bloody cement in the base of the Magic Kingdom and hoped to forget.

Next, four electricians were killed when a transformer blew in an enclosed room. ‘Poor standards and lack of safety measures’ the press release went but already there were whispers and shivers among the workers. They were from the urban outskirts, businesses contracted because they were cheap and didn’t care that Disney was willing to overlook their safety. And why should they cause a fuss? They were each getting paid more for the year of construction than most of their families made in ten.

The small hamlets around the construction area remained tightly closed. Shuttered against the invaders they shared nothing, no food, no water, no supplies. Everything needed to be shipped in from afar. However, local tales of ghostly vapor and vengeful soldiers dragging unfortunates down to the underworld filtered their way into the ears of the workers and day laborers. The area was known for war – too much blood had been spilled on the land for anything more than horror to grow. The workmen grew restless, they refused to work, but that mattered little to the oncoming steamroller of corporate greed. They were fired, their contracts broken, and others either poorer or stupider were brought in to replace the suddenly hemorrhaging construction force.

And so it continued apace but certainly not as quickly as expected. Forty-seven more deaths followed, all accidents caused by personal negligence or carelessness, but there was only so far Disneyland executives could hold that lie….

The Magic Kingdom, half completed, became the focal point of the project – for in the eyes of greedy investors and embezzlers and the like if they could only raise that symbol the project would fall into place. Work was doubled, the timetable shortened, and more deaths followed. The areas around the forsaken theme park refused to serve workers, refused to sell food, refused the cheap comforts of the flesh such projects inevitably spawn in the loins of rough men and uneducated laborers. For stupid they were to continue working when everything in their bones cried out the wrongness and terror of their work.

Workers were killed, their mutilated bodies (bereft of head, limbs, and genitals) discovered cast into the boggy marshland at the borders of the construction site. Later, pieces of them were discovered in all manner of locations throughout the theme park. A head was found inside a generator, hands were plucked from painting buckets, and ten penises were skewered atop the flagpole in the center of the Village Square. Workers stopped arriving, construction firms pulled out, and everything seemed doomed for the project…

Until Disneyland executive Steven Oroko flew in to personally put the project to rights. Word came two weeks before his arrival and the local planning commission dismissed all their current work in preparation for Oroko’s legendary iron-fisted approach. The death toll came to an end as workers were fired, the equipment was polished and oiled, and all was in readiness for a whirlwind of work that would finally see Disneyland rise tall in the Chinese countryside.

Outside the construction zone, to the west, lay a tiny collection of huts and simple buildings. Teng Kai Rui was an old man, a farmer, who had weathered the storms of war and famine. His ancestors lived in Beijing before hard times and debts conspired to oust them to the fringes of society. He lived far afield from the construction because he knew exactly what lay in the soft lands. Ghouls and ghosts stalked the lands; murdered people rose up and sought vengeance, broken lovers desperately searched for their lost partners in the foggy mists. He never went to the area, cautioned his entire family not to go, and steadfastly refused to listen to anyone hoping to make something of the loose assemblage of hate and horror where Disneyland China would stand. His great-great-great-great grandfather settled in the ‘Mogui Wan’ or ‘Devil Bowl’ where Disneyland seethed in the middle of open farmland and frequently told of the night he left Mogui Wan.

Teng Fa Lai was Kai Rui’s ancestor’s name and, like the Disneyland Committee, settled in Mogui Wan due to the cheap living and lack of competition (in those days). Also like Disney he was unaware of the danger he placed himself and his family in until it was almost too late. For three summers Fa Lai toiled until his harvest, although modest, became enough to feed his growing family. With two sons and another child on the way he could not justify leaving the area even if the land and air felt wrong. His wife refused to talk of it – Fa Lai believed she felt the same – but his sons had told stories of shadows and shapes moving in the mist since they settled. He dismissed them thinking it was agitation from being displaced but the longer they stayed the more frequent their observations came until even he began seeing dark forms skulking in the fog.

Fa Lai convinced himself it was just his imagination.

Then, one midsummer eve a mysterious knock was heard upon their door. The night was humid and still but the omnipresent mist curled around their hovel in a gauzy grip. The air smelled of putrefaction, like rotting water plants or clay, and drifted into the house through every crack in the walls and ceiling. The night was deathly silent. Fa Lai rose to the door and listened but could hear no one on the other side – no breathing, no movement. Relief pushed the tension from his body and he began to return to the dinner table when the knock came again. Instantly the hairs on the back of his neck rose and a prickling sensation leaked from his head all the way down to the soles of his feet.

Opening the door revealed an upright corpse, skin putrefying and pus oozing from open stab wounds down its front and legs. The head was almost completely severed under the chin and it dribbled crawling insects from the wound like a writhing beard. At first he thought it a sick joke, that someone propped the thing up in order to scare them away from his profitable farm, until the limp head swiveled in his direction with the sound of grinding glass.

“Leave this place.” It spoke without opening its fetid mouth. “Leave us this place for the living have no power here. Leave us and save yourself.”

Fa Lai shut the door and the family ran that very night. They settled with Fa Lai’s brother’s family in the homestead where so many years later Kai Rui would be born.

An omen, an orange with thirty-six seeds, and a lightning strike on the tree his father planted on the day he was born told Teng Kai that the time was right. He held no love for the government or for Disney but he would not see innocent people die. Kissing the remaining family he held dear goodbye he set out for the skeletal ghostly spire of The Magic Kingdom in the distance.

Oroko arrived and immediately began work. He began by bringing in outside construction firms and firing all local contractors. His reasoning was that you didn’t trust people you never worked with before. The local Committee told him nothing of the deaths or strange phenomena, no hint of the rumors or the mutilations; they simply smiled at him eager to start rolling in their profit margins. Day became night as it was wont to do and a deathly silence fell upon the site. Despite the frantic banging and drilling and sawing the darkness swallowed all sound – workmen left machinery running and stepped away to grab another bit or a tool only to become deaf to the sounds of their own industry once outside a foot. Two men left a table saw running and stepped away to lift new planks – they did not hear the machine running and unwisely decided they had turned it off – only to saw their own fingers as they lay the new wood down. An electrician working in the upper levels of the Magic Kingdom, after twenty minutes of dead silence, jumped from the rigging to the pink concrete below.

Fog began rolling in from the lower areas of the uneven terrain and people began seeing shadows dart to and fro between unfinished foundations and bare girders. Oroko was roused from his trailer outside the castle gate by thunderous blows against the walls and door. He rose from his late nap and opened his door. No one knows what was on the other side but pieces of him were all that were found the next morning. Fragments really, nothing of any substance, most of him was blasted and pureed against the walls of his trailer. Bits of skull and his ocular nerves were all that were recoverable.

Panic set in after Oroko’s agonized screams filled the air, the first pure sound heard since the final wrath of Mogui Wan began, and workers raced around the construction site looking for any way out.

There was no escape. By the time Teng Kai Rui arrived all 1206 members of the night crew were splashed against every surface in the incomplete park. The outlying farmland was literally dyed red and nothing grew there ever after. Kai Rui shuffled through the gate of the Magic Kingdom sick with revulsion and anger at the foolishness of men.

He sat upon a worn stone on the packed dirt path and looked towards the cresting sun. Could he have convinced the greedy white man to abandon the site? No, in truth he knew that he would never had been able to convince them. What power could an illiterate farmer wield against such base avarice? He turned back to the west and home but as he stood the rising sun seared over the edges of the mountains far in the distance. In that muddy illumination, in that murky period between darkness and light, a terrifying tableau manifested in the Devil Bowl.

All around him in the low plain were standing shadows. Solid black people disappearing in the rising sun but each one of thousands staring at him…into him. Rising with the drying dew a nightmarish image arose of twisted towers and blackened steel, sheets of human skin and rivers of infected blood, and everywhere multitudinous dark eyes. The quivering mirage of horrible agonies dimmed in the rising light and the shadows dispersed but Teng Kai Rui knew what he had seen.

A Kingdom of Suffering. Perhaps it was all meant to be, he mused, perhaps the evil wanted the Magic Kingdom built in contrast to its Empire of Agony. Perhaps the dead simply wanted an amusement park of their own…

And so it stands to this very day shrouded in mist and silence.

Credit To – ThePhantomLibrarian

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Skyrim’s Secret 2

November 21, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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This is a sequel to Skyrim’s Secret.

Sometimes in life, you have certain experiences that completely twist your perspective of reality. Things that you think could only happen in pure fantasy turn out to be the most sobering truths ever to hit you. This is what happened to me, hell, to everyone. The events recounted in these paragraphs would be among the most trying that the human race had ever experienced, and I was caught smack dab in the middle.

I guess I should start from the beginning. I was in my senior year of high school and had just finished a lengthy research paper for my AP physics class (yeah, it was about as fun as it sounds) and was mentally drained for the night, so I decided to unwind by visiting one of my regular online haunts: a YouTube channel called Egg Beaters. Egg Beaters featured an eccentric video game nerd named Jeff Crum who would look for Easter eggs in games, and also debunk popular video game myths. A lot of the things he found were actually pretty cool! Tonight’s episode looked especially interesting, it was entitled: “The Curse of Skyrim: True or False?”

Being a huge Elder Scrolls fan, the title alone captivated me. I clicked the video and the usual flash intro played with loud rock music and various action clips from a bunch of different games. You know, typical theatrics for this type of thing. Then, Crum came on, seemingly wired on caffeine as always, and wearing his rather large glasses and tacky bowtie, his horribly unkempt blonde hair almost blending in with the tie-dye background.

Jeff Crum was quite the character all right. He used to be a pretty radical environmental activist, once protesting a company in New York for not using all fluorescent light bulbs in their offices. Another time he even tried (unsuccessfully, of course) to get a petition signed banning the use of gasoline in cars, in favor of “clean” ethanol fuel. To be honest, his antics just served to hurt his cause; I think he actually just got on people’s nerves more than he made any real progress. Then, out of nowhere, he dropped his eco-craze and started taking an interest in video games, which led to his creation of Egg Beaters.

“The Curse of Skyrim: True or False?” Crum began by repeating the title. “Undoubtedly most of you have read the recent Creepypasta Skyrim’s Secret, detailing a supposedly cursed Easter egg hidden in the game’s outer reaches. This secret location, known as Husfortap Manor, is alleged to house a mysterious woman in a blue gown, who delivers a harrowing fate to the player upon visitation. According to the story, the fate she hands down in the game will occur in real life shortly after.”

“The curse seems to get progressively worse with each visit and appears to follow a pattern, each doling out a more meaningful loss: Loss of Wealth, Loss of Work, Loss of Home, Loss of Love (or a Loved One), and finally Loss of Life. Now, to this date, no one has actually proven Husfortap’s existence, though many claim that on the overhead map, you can see a rectangular white structure on the side of a mountain directly south of Markarth, which some believe to be the manor. And of course, there are rumors flying around the Internet about how the manor has actually killed people, but so far Husfortap remains just an urban legend.”

“Well I’ve decided to finally put this myth to rest.” Crum continued. “Over the next day or so, I’m going to explore the alleged site of this mysterious mansion and see if there’s any truth to the tales after all. I’ll let you all know what I find in my next video. For Egg Beaters, this is Jeff Crum signing off.”

I’d heard of this one before: in the original story, some poor guy discovered the mansion and it slowly began to eat away at his life until he ended up homeless and welcoming of the final curse. Now, I’m pretty sure that this was just a made-up tale, though I would have no way to prove it myself because apparently you need a console command to reach the mansion and I only have Skyrim for Playstation 3 (yes, I have suffered the infamous Rim Lag). Besides, most of these urban legends and Creepypastas are just fictional stories. Why would this one be any different?

In class the next day, my AP physics teacher completely busted my balls. He failed my paper for “not citing my sources properly”. I had all the information, but I didn’t indent the second line of each source, like that was a big fucking deal. Of course, being the kind soul that my teacher was, instead of just marking off a few points, he flunked me for the whole thing! Suffice to say, I hated AP physics with every fiber of my being.

After class, I knew I needed to cool down. I decided to pull out my phone and check Egg Beaters once again, and immediately saw that Crum had a new video up: “Skyrim’s Secret Found!” The new video was only posted just this morning yet had already amassed over 1,000 viewers. Intrigued, I clicked the video to see Crum a bit more ecstatic than he usually was (if that was at all possible).

“Hello everyone, Jeff Crum here for Egg Beaters with some exciting news! In my last video, I said I would debunk the urban legend of Husfortap Manor in Skyrim. Well just last night, I found out that the mysterious mansion actually exists, just like its origin story says it does!”

Crum showed footage of himself climbing over the mountain and dropping into the courtyard of Husfortap Manor, its bare, low-res facade staring down intimidatingly at the camera as its wooden sign waved gently in the breeze.

“So as you can see, here’s the mansion exactly the way it’s described in the story.” Crum carried on. “Let me just step inside here…sorry about the long load screen, my system was acting funky yesterday for some reason. Damn thing crashed twice right before I got to the mountain. Okay, here we go! Now, you can see that the mansion is completely bare on the inside except for that ominous black book. Let’s jaunt up here and read it, shall we?” He opened the book and, sure enough, there was only a small number 1 in the top left corner. However if the real Easter egg followed the story, this would soon change.

“Alright, there’s our mysterious book.” Crum continued. “Now I bet if I turn around…bam! There she is!”

There, in the center of the room, stood the infamous Woman in Blue, the deliverer of the supposed curses that plagued the mansion. Yet, I can see why the guy in the Creepypasta was smitten with her: she was quite beautiful, with her smooth pale skin and flowing black hair. Crum directed his avatar to walk past the woman, whose head turned to follow him. As he came level to her, she uttered her famous line.

“Wealth is temporary, what is here today will be gone tomorrow.” The woman stated, though I thought I saw her mutter something else inaudibly, but I couldn’t make out what it was. She looked slightly angry, though.

“Uh-oh! Hear that, everyone? Guess we all better watch our wallets!” Crum joked, clearly skeptical about Husfortap’s powers. “I’ll keep coming back to the manor to see if anything within changes, and I’ll post what I find in future videos For Egg Beaters, this is Jeff Crum signing off!”

So, this Easter egg was real after all, now this was cool! As for its mystical powers of misfortune, however, I was as skeptical as Crum; I never believed in all that “oogie boogie” stuff. But still, it was a pretty big deal that the mansion actually did exist after all the buzz passed around about it. Excited, I decided to share the video on Facebook to my friends, who were all a bunch of Elder Scrolls nuts just like me. In the near future, I would come to regret that action.

When I got home, my parents and sister were huddled around the television, all of them bearing a look of concern on their faces. Curious, I dropped my backpack and came to take a look, and what I saw shocked me.

“For those of you just tuning in, the United States Department of Defense has uncovered what they describe as one of the most devastating economic crimes in the nation’s history.” The news anchor reported. “Earlier today, hundreds of thousands of bank accounts were hacked into, their contents completely purged. Investigators are unsure of the identity of the culprits or the means they used to pull off this cyber heist, but they do know that this was done with absolute precision by a professional or team of professionals, and is not specific to any one bank chain.”

My heart nearly stopped. Was there a connection to Husfortap Manor after all? Granted, only a few thousand people watched the original Youtube video, but what about everyone who shared it on social media to their friends? I started to have second thoughts about my skeptical outlook, this was just too sudden to just be a coincidence. I thought my parents were going to have a heart attack when they checked their accounts only to find them completely empty, along with mine and my sister Emily’s. Of course, they all have me on Facebook, and I just shared that video like an idiot, so I basically fucked my family out of all our money.

Heart pounding, I darted up to my room, pulled up Facebook, and hurriedly deleted the video to stop it from spreading. Then, I went to Youtube to look up Crum’s email: he always posts his contact info in the description tab as a conceited attempt to receive personal complements. I sent Crum an email explaining the bank hack that had just occurred and that I thought it was linked to Husfortap. I also warned him not to post any more videos or visit the manor again. Okay, I thought, hopefully he’ll get the message and this is as far as it will go.

That night, I was unable to get to sleep; what if Crum didn’t heed my warning, or even if he did, what if one of my friends discovers the Manor on their own and posts the footage? I knew enough now to never watch it and surely not to repost it, but not everyone did. Not to mention, sometimes videos on Facebook auto-play, meaning they’ll play whether you click on them or not! I was afraid that, one way or another, this was going to get out. Then, as I was lying there pondering, I saw a familiar face on the other side of my bedroom window (which was on the second floor, by the way). Peering in at me with one hand placed firmly on the glass, was the Woman in Blue.

I jumped up in a fraction of a second, grabbed my flashlight and shone it at the window, but by the time I did, she was gone. I wasn’t imagining this; she was there, staring right at me! I opened the window and looked out, but still saw nothing, except one of the neighbor’s dogs giving me a weird look. Shaken, I closed the window, put the flashlight up and collapsed into bed. This experience didn’t help my insomnia much.

The next day, I just sort of vegetated through my classes, having not gotten any sleep last night. I barely remembered any of it, just sort of a blur of science, calculus, and history. Oh, and I think there was a fight in the hall, but two guys may have just tripped and fell. That’s how out of it I was. That afternoon when I got home, I found my sister in the kitchen attempting to comfort my parents, who had a look of utter despair on their faces.

“Guys, what happened?” I asked.

“We lost our jobs.” Dad stated. “My company filed bankruptcy and had to lay everyone off.”

“Same thing happened to me.” Mom said with the same disparity.

No, no, it couldn’t be, could it? I switched on the television, turned to the local news and sure enough, there it was on the bottom of the screen: “Rampant Job Layoffs Sweep the Country”. That son of a bitch, I told Crum to stop posting those videos, but he didn’t listen! Now someone close to my parents’ bosses must’ve shared the video to them, causing the company to go bankrupt and everyone who worked there to lose their jobs. These videos are beginning to affect people who didn’t even WATCH them!

I stayed downstairs to support my folks, though I was just as worried as they were now about our well-being. We now had NO money coming in: first all of our bank accounts get hacked, then mom and dad lose their jobs, we were screwed! Later that night, I dialed up Crum to give him a piece of my mind. I was seething with anger, this guy fucked up our lives due to his sheer negligence. I punched his number so hard into my phone I half expected the screen to crack. The phone rang once, then twice, three times….then voicemail, as expected.

“Crum!” I shouted into the phone. “You HAVE to stop posting those videos of Husfortap Manor, do you hear me? The curse is real, I swear to God I’m not making this up! All of my family’s bank accounts got hacked and my parents lost their jobs because of the videos. I sent you an email yesterday, which you obviously didn’t read, so now I’m telling you where you can’t ignore me: stop posting those videos!!!!” Then, I hung up, slammed my phone on my desk and collapsed in my chair.

I didn’t know what to do now. I could tell my family about the curse, but honestly, would they believe me? Even if so, what good would it do? If other people watching the videos now affected what happened to us, and Crum was ignoring my pleas, there wasn’t much I could do. I had to think of something though, I couldn’t just let my family’s lives fall apart right before my eyes! Emotionally exhausted from yet another devastating day, I drifted into an uncomfortable sleep right there in my computer chair.

When I opened my eyes, something was immediately different. I couldn’t see the light on my computer desk, or any light for that matter, except for the gleam from the moons outside the window. Wait, moons? As in plural? That couldn’t be right, yet there was no mistaking the white and red orbs staring back at me through the large window. But how could this be? The only place I knew of that had two moons was Tamriel, more specifically, Skyrim. I held my breath and prayed I wasn’t where I thought I was. Let me be in Jorrvaskr with the Companions, I thought, or the College of Winterhold. Please, just let me be anywhere except…where I realized I was when I turned around: Husfortap Manor.

Even in the dim lighting, there was no mistaking Husfortap’s interior. Its bare wood frame, its wide featureless single room, and its plain black book in the back of the room that recorded what ill fates befell those who visit this place. Yet as I looked around the room, I saw no sign of her. Good, as long as I didn’t speak to her, I wouldn’t be cursed. I hurried towards the large wooden door at the front of the manor and attempted to pull it open, but to no avail. I twisted the doorknob frantically, trying to get the door to open, but it was unfortunately locked. Then, a flash of lightning lit up the door’s window, and I saw a reflection behind me that made me freeze solid.

It was her, the Woman in Blue in her young form. I turned around to see her in her position in the center of the room. She stared through me with a look of horror and appeared visibly shaken. Her mouth trembled as if she was trying to say something, but no words came out. She stood there muttering for about five seconds and then reached a hand towards me.

“JOSEPHINE!!!!!!!” The Woman screamed in a shrill tone that sounded like death itself, aging each second of the cry until finally she decayed into a rotted corpse, not unlike the one described at the end of Skyrim’s Secret. As her body fell to the ground, her skull snapped off and rolled towards me, her empty eyesockets looking up at me and staring through my soul. The mansion then shook and fell down all around me, and a large beam of wood fell right on top of me.

I shot awake, almost out of breath, and looked around to see only my bedroom, warmly illuminated by my desk lamp. Of course it was all a dream, but it felt so real. For some reason, I couldn’t help thinking: what was the significance of that name the woman shouted, “Josephine”? Curious, I booted up my computer and ran a search for the name, along with various other paranormal keywords. I scrolled for a while through various irrelevant links until I came across an article that caught my eye.

The article included a photograph of a woman who looked exactly like the Woman in Blue. Pulling it up, I found that the woman’s name was Josephine Palmer. According to the article, Josephine was born in 1896 and was a third generation citizen of the United States, her family having immigrated from Norway. She was known by the townspeople as “the Blue Lady” for her tendency to always wear a deep royal blue gown. It was believed by her house servants that Josephine was a member of a small cult that worshipped a deity named Uheldig, patron of misfortune and strife. Uheldig was infamous for cursing nonbelievers, for no other reason than his personal amusement.

In 1921, on the night of her 25th birthday, Josephine committed suicide in her bedroom by drinking poison. Clutched in her hand was a note to her family detailing her motives. She had killed herself in order to appeal to Uheldig, who she claimed had promised to cure her infant daughter’s tuberculosis if Josephine took her own life and pledged her servitude to him in the hereafter. Mysteriously, the servant who tended to the baby noticed that her symptoms had vanished later that day. This was all starting to make sense now.

Suddenly, the signature ping of my email interrupted my train of thought. Odd, who was emailing me so late into the night? Pulling up my account, I was surprised to see that the message came from Jeff Crum’s address. Hmm, I guess my heated voicemail got through to him! I opened the email and immediately my screen was engulfed in a video player. The video that popped up scared me out of my skin.

It showed footage of Crum’s avatar entering Husfortap Manor and speaking to Josephine, who was late middle aged by this point. This was the sign of the third curse: Loss of Home. The scary part was, before the video opened, I got a glimpse of the message’s details: it was allegedly sent to “multiple recipients”. I desperately attempted to close the video, but to no avail. The email must’ve contained a virus preventing me from controlling the computer, or shutting it off for that matter.

“Your home is your sanctuary,” Josephine spoke at full-volume as I had a near panic-attack. “And you do all you can to preserve it, but what happens when others aren’t as responsible?” After the message was delivered, my computer completely shut off.

“What the hell are you doing in here?” Emily opened my door, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.

“We have to get out of here now!” I told her in a panic.

“What are you talking about?” She responded.

“I don’t have time to explain, just go wake Mom and Dad up and tell them we have to get out!”

Emily sauntered downstairs to mom and dad’s bedroom while I waited anxiously; I wasn’t leaving without my family. What was going to happen to us though? According to the curse, we will lose our home due to someone’s irresponsibility, but none of us did anything to endanger our homes, did we? Unlike the kid in the Creepypasta, there’s no one else living here, so what could it be? As I ran through the scenarios in my head, Mom and Dad came around the corner, looking irritated and groggy.

“You want to explain to me why you’re having your sister wake us up at six o’ clock in the morning on a Saturday?” Dad demanded.

“I can’t right now, we just have to get out of the house before-” My sentence was interrupted by a loud boom from outside, followed by a low, intense rumbling. I ran to the window and looked outside just in time to see a mass of water slam into our house, which crashed through the windows and knocked me backwards. Disoriented, I attempted to regain my bearings, but could barely see in front of my face in the murky brown depths. Following my instinct, I swam upward, pushing past debris and furniture, until I surfaced at about the level my room would be.

Grabbing hold of a large piece of drywall, I called for my family. I found them holding onto various chunks of the house further down and regrouped with them. As we floated, we noticed other survivors had managed to escape the wreckage; from them we learned that the nearby dam had burst, causing the entire river to flood our neighborhood. One of the maintenance crew must have neglected to notice a crack in the dam, and that’s what caused it to burst.

Eventually, the National Guard flew in and airlifted us to a sanctuary, where we learned that several disasters like this had happened around the entire world, each a different case of catastrophe due to human negligence: house fires started by lit cigarettes, bombs accidentally detonated by one country or another’s military, faulty construction sites toppling and taking out nearby homes, you name it. Basically anywhere in the world you looked, it was one thing or another.

I couldn’t believe Crum, how could he do this to innocent people? Of course, as I thought about it, the possibility crossed my mind that he wasn’t even responsible at all. For all I knew, he received the final curse a long time ago and now Uheldig was using his account to spread the recorded videos. Whoever was responsible for this, I knew I had to put a stop to it, though I didn’t know how. Crum’s address was the one piece of personal information that he didn’t irresponsibly disclose to billions of people on the Internet, so I had no idea how to find him. I had to do something though, and I was running out of time.

“One thing I don’t understand,” Dad suddenly spoke up, breaking my train of thought. “How did you know that this was going to happen?”

“That’s what I’ve been wondering.” Concurred Emily.

“Alright you know what? Fuck it, you all deserve the truth.” I didn’t have the energy to think up a lie, I didn’t even care if they believed me or not. I told my family everything about Husfortap Manor, from the curses to Crum to Josephine Palmer, I laid it all out for them, and how if someone didn’t stop this soon, people were going to start dying, fast. To my surprise, none of them rolled their eyes or looked at me like I was nuts, they just…listened.

“You all probably think I’m crazy.” I stated at the end of my story.

“Sweetie, after all the weird things that’ve happened the past couple days,” My mom answered. “I’d believe just about anything.” Dad and Emily nodded in agreement.

Despite the urgency to stop the curses, I knew that none of us could do it in our current state of exhaustion, so we each grabbed a cot and settled in for a much-needed (if uncomfortable) sleep. As I drifted off, I suddenly felt a cold breeze lash my body. Opening my eyes, I saw I was now on a tall mountain, overlooking a vast winterland, with snow blowing past me in a sharp wind. Turning around, I was met by a great ancient structure built into the peak of the mountain, staring down at me. I recognized where I was immediately: I was on High Hrothgar, Skyrim’s highest peak. As I stared up in awe at the structure, I heard a familiar female voice off to my right.

“Even though it’s been my prison for so long,” Josephine said, trudging through the snow towards me, smiling. “I must admit this game is quite impressive.”

“Is this real?” I asked.

“It depends on what your definition of ‘real’ is.” She replied. The Woman in Blue always did speak in riddles.

“How are you able to talk to me here?” I asked. “Aren’t you bound to Husfortap Manor?”

“The passage of time has allowed me to build up my strength.” Josephine replied. “I’ve managed to escape Uheldig’s custody, and now I realize I made a horrible mistake by selling my soul to him. I want to try to make things right, if I can.”

She extended her arms, and words appeared in the snow, much like the glyphs do when the Greybeards teach you a Shout, only this time they spelled out an address: 1743 Oak Drive, Topeka, Kansas. This could only be Jeff Crum’s address.

“I’m choosing to help you because I believe you can do what must be done.” Josephine spoke. “Don’t prove me wrong.”

“But what do I do when I-” I started, though my sentence was interrupted by the most horrible noise I’d ever heard echoing across the winds. It sounded almost like a human shout combined with the roar of a lion.

“Uheldig!” Josephine exclaimed. “He’s noticed I’ve escaped and he’s coming! You have to go now, don’t waste a single second. Go!”

I sat up in my cot, heart pounding. Looking out of the shelter’s many windows, I noticed the sun was already up. Immediately waking my parents and Emily, I told them of the dream I had, and of the address revealed within it. The four of us left the sanctuary, lying that we had relatives we could stay with, and wandered into the nearby town. My God, the place literally looked as though a twister hit it. Buildings were ripped to shreds, debris and abandoned vehicles littered the streets, and stray dogs were seen scouring the wreckage, looking for any scraps of food they could find. It was like something out of an disaster movie.

Before long, we came across an abandoned SUV with the keys still in the ignition. The engine worked and it had half a tank of gas, so we took it. My father entered 1743 Oak Drive into the vehicle’s GPS and we were off. We drove for quite a long time through the great plains of the Midwest. Every once in a while, I would catch glimpses of distant towns devastated by various disasters, and on occasion an army transport carrying survivors would pass us.

“So this Crum guy,” my Dad said after a while. “You think he’s doing this, you know, on purpose?”

“I don’t know.” I answered. “I’m not even sure if he’s still alive.”

“Well if he is, he won’t be once I’m through with him.” My Dad half-joked, making the rest of us chuckle.

We drove in silence for a little while, before the skyline of Topeka revealed itself to us in the distance. Of course there was some obvious damage, but the city still looked reasonably intact.

“About time.” My Mom breathed in relief. Right as we started to celebrate, however, the GPS began to sputter and lose its image.

“What the hell’s wrong with this thing?” Dad asked, tapping the screen. The image continued to flicker and distort, until it displayed a new image. Immediately recognizing Husfortap Manor, I sprang out of my seat and tried to turn the GPS off, to no avail.

“Cover your ears, now!” I shouted. My dad slammed on the brakes and we all shielded our ears. Through my hands, I heard Josephine’s fourth message, Loss of Love, very muffled. However I could still make out the words: “Love is a powerful feeling, but it is so fragile in this chaotic world, which shows no mercy to even the closest of lovers”. I attempted to hum a song to drown it out, maybe that would negate the effect.

Finally, there was silence. We all removed our hands from our ears, and noticed that the GPS was back to normal. Dad immediately put the car back in drive and continued down the road; we started off at a normal speed, but I began to notice that we were gradually speeding up.

“Uh, Lewis, slow down a bit honey.” Mom said. Dad didn’t respond, the car continued to accelerate.

“Dad, slow down, we don’t need to get there that fast!” Emily said, a little scared. Again, Dad said nothing.

“Lewis, stop the damn car!” Mom shouted, the vehicle now going so fast that the outside world now simply looked like unrecognizable blurs of color.

“Dad, stop!” I yelled, though looking in the rearview mirror, I saw the lifeless, empty expression on my father’s face and knew he wasn’t at fault: it got us. Knowing better than to remove my seatbelt, I attempted to pull Dad’s leg off the gas pedal from the back seat, while Mom tried to wrestle the steering wheel from him. Dad pushed us off and then floored it, jerking the rest of us back in our seats.

“Look out!” Mom shrieked. I only caught a glimpse of the tree before our car slammed into it full-force, and I blacked out.

After some time, I opened my eyes and raised my head up. My forehead was wet with what I knew to be blood. Looking into the front of the car, I did not need to guess the fate of my parents: the front end of the car was completely crushed in and blood was seeping through the seats. I gasped in shock and devastation, barely able to breathe, and began shouting through tears. Then, I heard a low moaning in the seat next to me, and Emily began to move.

“Emily!” I gasped. Using a chunk of broken glass to cut off her seatbelt and mine, I dragged my sister from the wreckage of the car and onto the grass. She slowly came to and sat up, then noticed the car.

“Mom? Dad?” she muttered. Standing up, Emily darted towards the car, though I caught her before she could get close.

“MOMMY! DADDY!” Emily cried, bawling uncontrollably.

“Emily…they…they’re gone.” I said, holding onto her as tightly as I could. We both stood there in an embrace for several minutes. We couldn’t believe it, we couldn’t believe something like this just happened. Standing there, I wished more than anything that this whole experience was just a horrible nightmare that I would wake up from, but I knew better. After a few minutes, I said the most difficult sentence of my life.

“We have to go.” I said through sobs, to which my sister shook her head in defiance. “Emily, we can’t stay, we have to keep moving!”

“I can’t.” she responded.

“Emily, listen to me: if we don’t get to that address, everyone is going to die. Do you understand me?” I affirmed. Emily finally relented and agreed to keep pressing on with me, and the two of us made the long hike to Topeka.

After what seemed like hours, we made it, but the sight of the city was truly nothing to celebrate. Topeka had clearly been hit hard by the fourth curse. Left and right, bodies dangled from streetlights, burn victims littered the streets, as did those who’d obviously died from falling. Meanwhile surrounding them, loved ones mourned those they had lost. National guardsmen could be seen cutting people down off streetlights and clearing the bodies out of the streets. Emily and I were almost afraid to walk through the city, but somehow found the strength to push through.

“Excuse me,” I stopped a soldier passing through. “We’re looking for 1743 Oak Drive. Our, uh, cousin lives there and we want to make sure he’s alright.”

“Oak Drive? That’s all the way on the other side of the city, on the very outskirts.” The soldier said. “I can give you a lift there if you’d like.” We obliged, and the soldier took us to his jeep, which we rode through the nightmare. It seemed like half the city was dead by one means or another, and their relatives’ expressions of grief were unbearable to see. After a while I just tried to avoid looking at the streets, I’d seen enough death and sadness for one day.

“Never seen anything like this before,” the soldier remarked. “Mass suicides springing up all over the damn world in literally a few hours. Don’t know what’d cause something like that. At first we thought it was some kind of behavior-altering virus, but this has just spread too quickly, it almost seemed like it hit everywhere in the world at the same time. This is definitely a weird one.”

That’s an understatement. Eventually, we exited Topeka and drove until the jeep came to a stop in front of a small dirt road with a rusty street sign in front of it that read “Oak Drive”.

“Well, here we are.” The soldier said. “I hope you guys find this cousin of yours!”

We thanked the soldier and got out, then started walking down the long dirt road. Oak Drive didn’t have much to it, just a few rusted trailers that looked like they hadn’t been inhabited for years. The only life we saw on that road was a sluggish looking Rottweiler laying on the porch of a small shack while an equally sluggish looking old man dozed in a rocking chair.

The two of us walked for some time until finally we saw a mailbox with “1743” on it. The adjacent house was a white mobile home with a silver Prius parked outside of it. There was a large satellite dish around back, which appeared to have been recently installed.

“Wait here, I shouldn’t be long.” I ordered Emily as I made my way up the stairs. I knocked on the door, no answer; then I rang the doorbell, again to no response. Finally, I tried to turn the doorknob, but the door was locked. Coming back down off the steps, I grabbed the garden gnome at the foot of the stairs and approached the left-hand window. Using the gnome, I busted the glass, reached my hand through to undo the latch, and opened the window.

Climbing into the dark interior, I pulled out my cell phone and shone its flashlight around the living room, which looked abandoned. Every piece of furniture was covered in a fine layer of dust, and the carpet was decorated with empty beer cans, the remnants of food, and the occasional dead mouse. Spider webs were strewn along the walls, some still supporting their eight-legged craftsmen. This place looked like it hadn’t seen life for quite a while. It didn’t take me long, though, to find where I needed to go. Above the main hallway was Skyrim’s signature dragon symbol, drawn in something red I was hoping was permanent marker.

Going down the hallway, I saw on either side of the walls all the symbols the protagonist in the story saw in the black book, each signifying his fate: the Thieves’ Guild emblem, the beggar, the burning house, and the broken heart. Finally, I came to a closed door at the end of the hallway, which bore another symbol, but this one very large: a cloaked figure holding a scythe. It was a symbol of Death.

I reached down and slowly turned the knob, then very cautiously pushed the door open. It revealed a large room with several television monitors on the walls. In the center was a desk with a laptop and two computer monitors resting upon it. All of them were linked to a large, blinking server in the back of the room. This was clearly where the videos were coming from, and how they were being spread through the Internet and satellites. As I stepped inside, the laptop and all of the monitors suddenly clicked on, and an image appeared upon them.

I instinctively looked, and what I saw filled me with horror; it was the note that delivered the fifth curse: Loss of Life. I attempted to look away, but the image was everywhere. I closed my eyes but it was too late, I had already seen it. The words upon the note burned in my mind like a hot coal: Life is fleeting, and before we know it, it will be plucked suddenly from us. Truly the one thing no man can escape is the cold touch of Death. Filled with terror, I fell to my knees and shook my head in denial. How could I have come so far and let myself fail so easily? Then, I heard a voice to my left.

“It’s about time.” The voice uttered in a solemn tone. “I knew someone would come sooner or later.” Out of the shadows stepped Jeff Crum, looking worse for the ware. His clothes were torn to shreds, his glasses were missing a lens, he had a crazed look in his eyes and his face was caked in dirt, as if he hadn’t bathed for some time. He was definitely a sight for sore eyes. Though the one thing that worried me the most was the pistol tucked into his jeans.

“Who are you?” Crum demanded.

I told him my name and asked, “What is all this?”

“This is the end.” Crum responded. “Of you, of me, of everyone.”

“What are you talking about?”

“This planet is sick.” Crum said. “And mankind is the disease that’s killing it, with our pollution, our littering, and our squandering of natural resources. But this Manor, oh yes, this Manor is the cure. Finally Earth will be rightfully returned to the hands of Mother Nature where it belongs.”

“So you knew all along that the Husfortap curse was real!?” I accused, outraged. “You knew what you were doing to all those people?”

“Of course I knew! I’ve known for some time about things like this.” Crum said. “See, spirits and deities have been hiding cursed messages in art since the beginning of time, starting with cave drawings, then moving to stone tablets, then books, then movies. I knew it was only a matter of time before one made the jump to video games, that’s why I started that stupid Egg Beaters show, so I could try to weed out one of those messages and use it to finally cleanse the Earth of our parasitic species! At first all I found were dumb inside-jokes and weird random shit left by developers, but then I started hearing about this ‘Husfortap Manor’, and knew I had found my pot of gold.”

“You son of a bitch.” I said, my rage overflowing. “My parents are dead because of you!”

“Don’t worry.” Crum replied. “You’ll see them again soon. But now the both of us will bear witness to the greatest mass extinction since that of the dinosaurs: the extinction of man!” He turned to the laptop and began clacking at the keys. The monitors around the room showed that he was attaching the cursed note to a file, and uploading it to what looked like every web page on the Internet! He pressed enter, and the file began to upload.

“No!” I shouted, rushing forward, though Crum stopped me in my tracks by drawing his pistol and aiming it at my face.

“Stay back!” he ordered. “After all the trouble I’ve gone through, I’m not gonna let it fall to shit now!”

Suddenly, the monitors on either side of the laptop began to flicker and hiss static, startling Crum. Then, Josephine’s face appeared on the screens and she let out an ear-splitting scream. The glass on the monitors shattered and blew outward, sending shards flying into Crum’s body and knocking him off his feet.

“Hurry, the laptop!” I heard Josephine’s voice say in my head. I ran for the computer, but not before I was almost knocked over myself by a violent trembling. The entire house shook back and forth, and it sounded like a train was rumbling by outside. Finally the roof of the mobile home tore off and flew into the air, the rest of the house slowly following suit. We were in the middle of a cyclone!

“You’re too late!” Crum shouted, lifting his head up. “Our fates are sealed, along with the rest of humanity!”

I pushed forward, inching towards the laptop against the violent winds, and shielding my head from flying debris with my arms. Momentarily peeking out, I saw that the email upload was now at 35%. Then, before I had time to react, I was knocked to the ground by a wooden nightstand that flew right at my body. The wood shattered as it hit my arm, sending splinters deep into it; the sting of the impact blurred my vision and almost caused me to lose consciousness.

As my vision returned and I sat up, I was just in time to catch Crum crawling towards me. He grabbed me by the throat and forced me back to the ground; even through his bloodied face I could see a look of pure insanity in his eyes. Clutched in Crum’s fist was a shard of broken glass, which was clearly cutting into his hand. He raised the shard into the air and went to bring it down on me, gritting his teeth as he did so. Acting fast, I grabbed hold of a piece sticking out of his shoulder and twisted it as hard as I could. Crum yelled in agony and fell backwards, giving me time to scramble to my feet and head for the computer, which was now 85% finished. I had to hurry.

Finally reaching the laptop, I hammered the “Cancel Send” button, which prompted for a username and password. I tried shutting off the computer next, but got the same prompt. This computer was locked down tight with security. I finally decided that the only thing to do was destroy the laptop. Picking it up, I raised the computer above my head and prepared to slam it down on the desk, but something caught my eye. Through the winds, I could make out a large, shadowy profile looking in my direction, its glowing yellow eyes piercing the gusts like brights on a car. It was Uheldig, and he was angry.

The entity opened its mouth, revealing rows of razor-sharp teeth, and then lunged at me faster than any natural thing could. Instinctively, I shielded my face with the laptop just as Uheldig struck; the force of the attack tore the computer in half and knocked me hard onto my back. Looking up, I saw Uheldig flying away, carrying a struggling Josephine over his shoulder. As the tornado continued to rip the house apart, I crawled towards a piece of intact wall and leaned against it. Looking to my left, I saw Crum glaring up at me with a look of rage and contempt, before the floor below him was ripped away, and he was gone.

I sat back and let out a heavy exhale, knowing full and well my time was also upon me. Yet my thoughts were not about me in that moment, but about Emily. She’d lost the house, Mom and Dad, and now me. What would happen to her in the future? Where would she go? Just as I was thinking this, I noticed my sister through the cyclone, crouching in a nearby ditch. Her eyes and mine met for a brief second, before a chunk of roof flew towards me, and I saw no more.

I gave my life so that humankind could live. During the years that followed, I silently observed their progress: humanity would recover and thrive again, but it would never be the same as it was before. I’ve made sure to keep a close eye on Emily through all this. She’s come a long way, by helping others recover from the disasters, starting a charity organization for those who’d lost everything, and even finding love in the process. She’s grown into a woman I’m proud to call my sister.

As for Josephine, I can’t say what’s become of her. I’d like to think that if she escaped Uheldig’s clutches once, she can do it again, though realistically I don’t think he’s stupid enough to let that happen. Now every once in a while, I can almost swear I see her out of the corner of my eye, but every time I turn to look, she’s gone.

Humanity dodged a bullet this time, but we all must be more careful in the future. That is why I’m here now, guiding Emily’s hands as she types this. My message must be heard. Uheldig is still out there, and it is unknown what he has in store for the human race; he may return to Husfortap Manor, or he may plant a completely new curse entirely. This is why if you happen upon anything strange or out of the ordinary while playing the newest video games, approach it with caution. It may just be a harmless Easter egg and if so, enjoy it. However, if you notice anything peculiar in your real life shortly after its discovery, leave the thing alone. This message must be adhered to so that Uheldig will never again pose as great of a threat to mankind. The world need never again see anything like Skyrim’s Secret.

Credit To – Sean Blevins

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