Hymn of Valor Cove

November 16, 2014 at 12:00 AM
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 7.3/10 (68 votes cast)

When my father passed away; I received a journal given to us by our family attorney; stating that I was to receive this upon his death as stated in the will. Typical, I’m the only family member he has left and stayed in Valor Cove despite my desire to leave only because of dad and… Certain things that are out of my control; I opened up the journal to see that it had only one entry, and it was just this past month. I thought it was strange that my dad would be giving this to me, especially for one that barely even has a tenth of the notebook filled; but family is family, and according to the attorney, he explains that this journal was a way for my father to explain the things he was never able to explain while alive, and why I can never leave Valor Cove. As I opened the book and started to read; I started hearing the hymn that always played throughout the town, and always given sorrow to the townsfolk.

June 8th, 2009
My town has a very storied history that would certainly make a lot of historians beam with excitement; an important town in South Carolina during the days our country was collection of thirteen colonies, a battle site during the civil war in which the Unions drove out the Confederate forces with their tales between their legs, hell, it was even believed that pirates during the 17th century used the area that became Valor Cove as a hideout from authority. With that said, it often baffled my growing up here that the townspeople always given off the aura of uneasiness and sorry; like they wanted to leave this place but couldn’t.

As a 12 year old kid, I often took it as grown-ups being grown-ups so I never really bothered to ask why they were so gloomy. More often than not I would be playing at the local beach with the other kids and my younger brothers Reggie, age 10, and Warren, age 8, as there wasn’t much form of local entertainment that would keep us entertained outside of TV which our parents profoundly disapprove of. It was the sixties, so what constitutes fun was pretty limited. Reggie would often try to act all macho by being the star player whenever we play soccer with a few of the kids on the beach, always winning due to being bigger than the other kids, while Warren would simply just build sand castles. “Come on Clayton,” Reggie yelled at a distance, as I was sitting at a nearby table reading a book. “Put down that book and come play with us! We need one more man to play soccer!”

“Why don’t you ask Warren,” I responded with a sigh. “In case you haven’t noticed I am busy with something.”

“Fine bookworm; hey little bro, we need one more person, so come place with us.”

Warren doesn’t talk much since he’s always had bad social skills, but I heard the sounds of the children laughing and shouting goal a lot so I took the guess that Warren agreed to play with them. “Aw crap,” one of the neighborhood children cried out. “The ball is in the water!”

I looked over to the water and headed over to see what was up; apparently one of the neighborhood kids Olive had kicked it badly and it ended up a hundred feet away from the shoreline. “Sorry guys,” she said with a pout on her face. “I mishandled it.”

“No sweat,” Reggie responded. “We can just simply swim over to it.”

“Wait a minute Reggie,” another one of the kids said nervously. “Our parents never told us to go into the water, especially if we heard a certain sound.” I know what he was talking about; there’s an odd rule that the adults would always give the children when it comes to playing at the beach. Never go into the water when the hymn is heard, or you will be dragged to the bottom by nature stirred.

The hymn it refers to is something of a mystery to us kids but is known in the region; there will always be a soothing melody that is heard throughout the entire town as if the sound was being carried by the wind at random times, but nobody, not even the adults had any idea what it was… No, that’s not right; I always get the feeling that they know what it is, but they just simply refuse to tell us for whatever reason. “Oh come on you actually don’t believe in that do you?” Reggie laughed; he, Olive and two other kids jumped into the waters to get the ball, though I think they only used that as an excuse to go into the water. “Shit it is freezing! Let’s just get the ball before I chatter my teeth into dust!”

It looks as though Olive and Reggie were the only ones swimming towards the ball while Tara and John were relaxing in the wave. Suddenly, we heard something that sent a shiver through my entire body. It was a song of sorts, but I couldn’t make out the words because the waves drown them out, but I can definitely hear its pitches. It was very soothing, yet at the same time filled with such sorrow; like the singers were filled with no hope. It mesmerized me to the point that I wasn’t even paying attention to the surrounding around me, and I think everybody was in the same boat. All of the sudden, I heard this scream piercing through my eardrums which snapped me out of the trance; it was Olive who made the scream. I darted my head in the general direction. Out of the four who went into the water, only Reggie and Olive were visible above the water. “What happened; where’s John and Tara?!” I yelled at the two.

“We don’t know; something pulled them under and now there is blood everywhere!” Reggie responded. I couldn’t see it, but I did notice that the water being washed on shore has a dark red hue to it now; my god, did a group of sharks wonder into the cove? Everything was all at a haze as I tried to make sense of what was happening. “Oh god I felt something rubbing against my leg!”

“We need to swim out of here before—“Just like that Olive was pulled under by something that we can’t see.

“Olive;” Reggie yelped, even though he was only fifty feet away from us, I won’t forget the look of sheer terror Reggie’s eyes were illuminating. I wouldn’t even begin imagining myself in his situation. “I’m going after her.”

“Are you crazy?!” I yelled at Reggie, amidst the chorus of the other children begging Reggie to not stick around and swim to shore. “If you try and play hero now you’ll fucking die!” Of course my words fell on deaf ears as he just simply dived. God damn it, that idiot. Why does he do this crap all the time, trying to act all macho and be the center of attention? We all kept screaming for Reggie to swim to shore; but no one volunteered to go after him as they didn’t want to find out what is hiding in the waters and be potentially eaten. Warren was completely panicking as the minutes basically ticked by; I was forced to restrain him, kicking and screaming to let him go as Reggie is still under there. I really didn’t want to believe Reggie could possibly be dead; but there is no way I would be risking Warren’s life, not now, not ever. I was able to calm him down for a brief moment, but then Warren gasped when he spotted something washing on shore. When I saw what it was, I can already feel my heart trying to burst out of my chest from agony.

It was a couple of sneakers, both completely soaked in seawater and having a lot of red splotches of blood on them. From the looks of it they came from two people… Oh god no; one of them was Reggie’s, I recognize that mustard stain anywhere and those doodles he did on his own pair. There was simply no point in denying it now; Reggie is gone. Whatever was lurking beneath the water killed my little brother and the other kids; I was so stunned that I completely lost my grip on Warren, he ran towards the sneaker crying and screaming. All the other kids came rushing to him; some of them crying with him, others looking like deer in headlights. I just stood there; everything around me was in a complete blur, I heard adults coming towards the beach from downtown, trying their best to console the kids. My parents came over; my father hugging me tightly while mother went to go get Warren. All the while I heard the same hymn that was being sung, but this time I can hear the words more clearly.

O praise the graceful lord by blood
For then our souls be clean of sin
We brought its wrath and drowned in flood
Our sins pulled us down with a thud
Forgive us great lord and our kin
Your soldiers can take our warm skin.
I wasn’t able to sleep for a second after the incident, but for some reason I don’t think it was due to the loss of my brother; there was something… Ominous, and scary about the words in that hymn; what does it mean by the phrase ‘by blood’, what was this wrath that caused a flood. But the most troubling question thing I kept thinking about was that last verse.

Your soldiers can take our warm skin.

What were these soldiers; and what did it mean by taking our warm skin? I didn’t even want to think about it as I tried my best to close my eyes, my skin still crawling now that the hymn is playing in my head repeatedly like a broken record player. The whole town held a memorial for Reggie, Olive, John, and Tara at the beach, in which the parents talked about how much the kids were special and how losing them was such a blow not only to themselves by to the community. The Police Chief then got his turn to speak; like everybody else, he explained how much he’ll miss the kids, saying a special thing about each of the kids, but what caught my attention is that he said the kids were attacked by a Bull Shark, and that the local coast guard were able to hunt down the shark and kill it.

I had a lot of problems with that idea; there were no warnings about shark sightings on the radio, this town is nowhere near the known hotspot for shark activity Myrtle Beach, and how did they figure it was a shark attack anyhow? The police never recovered the bodies, so there is no way to tell how my little brother died. I would figure that my father would raise an objection, seeing as how he works as a local fisherman and knows a lot about these waters, so I looked at him. Not a single word escaped his mouth; he was even nodding in agreement with the chief. I didn’t understood it back then; why he was keeping silence about the obvious flaw with the Chief’s statements, but I was a kid back then so I really didn’t have much of a voice to object to.

For the next few years or so, Valor Cove tried its best to return to its form of normalcy; but I wasn’t being fooled, I can sense that the adults were hiding something about that incident but every time I brought it up they shot me down saying I should move on, even the now grown-up kids who were there with me on that day shot me down multiple times. Due to my sense of distrust with the community I started to become an outsider to them; they still talk to me and I do have friends but I know that my bond with the town was severely strained. Warren had it worse though; after the incident, it was like his state of mind had deteriorated, he never talked to anyone but me and our parents, he needed to get a lot of psychological therapy, and I thought he was going to go insane. He also had repeated nightmares that we would often talk to me about, saying they were real, of course I didn’t believe him but I really couldn’t blame him for thinking that way.

His nightmares would always involve beings that he called ‘Fish Men’, watching over him while he lay in bed. He told me he couldn’t see much since it was always dark; but he did explain that he always heard some sort of mumbling, like they were trying to communicate with him or with each other. I basically just took it as his mind slowly going over the cliff; he was there at the incident and saw them disappear with his own eyes, and he took it much harder than everyone else, even me. One day, five years after the accident while Warren and I were talking about the dreams at Hospitality, the local diner; a very clean cut guy who looked like came out of Ivy League basically butted into our conversation. “Uhm, can I help you sir?” I asked him annoyingly.

“Oh goodness me I’m sorry,” he said while adjusting his glasses. I can already tell that this guy annoys me. “Where are my manners, my name is Claus Butler, I am currently doing research on urban legends and folklore in the Southeast, and I couldn’t help but hearing in on your story.”

“Uh yeah, it’s a pleasure to meet you Mr. Butler.” I responded. “I’m Clayton Roads and this is my little brother Warren; now if you don’t mind me asking, why does our conversation warrant your attention?”

“Your fish men story, I’ve heard a lot of rumors around the state about these creatures being seen along the coastline, but nobody seems to be able to bring forth much information about them, not even what they look like. A few people I met in Charleston suggested I should go here for my research; it’s a shame that so far I have come up with dead ends though, your dreams about these fish men are in fact the only clue I had.”

For someone who looks cut out for medical school, he sure does have an interest in boogeyman tales. Though I think he could be of some use in finding out some information about the hymn. I explained to him about the weird rule this town has and the hymn itself; though I purposely neglected to inform him about that attack on the beach, the last thing I want to do is to have my brother’s name be plastered in books about some urban legends. Of course he positively beamed about this new mystery. “Fascinating, very fascinating indeed,” he said while making notes. “I’ll definitely be staying here for a while to find out more about Valor Cove’s mystery.”

He thanked me as he left the diner, he explained to me shortly before he left that he’ll be staying at the local inn while he digs up for any info regarding this mystery, so if I ever wanted to make any inquiries I would know where he be. Of course; I never really took up on his offer as I didn’t consider the hymn to be that important, and more importantly, I didn’t think it had to do with what happened five years ago. Strangely though, despite him saying that he’ll be staying in town; not once have I ever seen him anywhere in Valor Cove; not at the café, not at the library, not even at the beach. I just took it as him being extremely busy and invested in his research, so I wasn’t bothered by it in the slightest. In hindsight that was a mistake.

Seven months after I first met Mr. Butler I arrived at the beach to pay my respects after I finished cleaning my dad’s fishing vessel; it was night time so I had to use my flashlight to illuminate the beach and see where I’m going. The memories of that day never leaving my mind for a second, not the attacks, not the blood soaked shoes, not that mysterious hymn. I was standing in front of the makeshift memorial statue that commemorates the lost lives of Reggie and the other three; it was a simple looking thing, the shoes being bolted to a large slab of rock and having a plaque. The slab was buried up to the top so only shoes would be visible –don’t ask me why they did that as I wasn’t involved with the construction of it-, unfortunately it resulted in a lot of rocks and pebbles covering the surface and the plaque, so I brushed them off to read it:

May the lord watch these blessed souls in the afterlife; and let them live on in our memories.
 

Reginald F. Roads: April 1. 1952- September 9. 1962
 

Johnathan I. Andrews: November 12. 1951- September 9. 1962
 

Olive S. Park: May 19. 1953- September 9. 1962

Tara H. Willow- October 4. 1952- September 9. 1962
Ugh, again with the lord stuff. I know it’s referencing Jesus Christ, but thanks to that damn hymn I now associate the lord with something that wants my skin; in any case I headed my way back to downtown, the sounding of rocks scraping together beneath every step I took was permeating throughout the cove as if I were in an echo chamber. When I passed by the inn Mr. Butler was staying in, I noticed something rather peculiar: one of the upper floor rooms was lit up and the window was wide open… Wait, it doesn’t look like its wide open, it looks like it was broken into; was somebody trying to break into the inn? Against my better judgment I thought I should go take a look and see if something happened to Mr. Butler, as well as Mr. and Mrs. Doven; the couple had owned the inn ever since they moved down here from Virginia after Mr. Doven returned from the Second World War according to my dad, they were very nice people and always treated my little brother and I like we were their own grandkids.

When I went inside I noticed that nobody appeared to have been home; Mr. and Mrs. Doven are completely absent and the only sounds I can hear are coming from upstairs, so headed my way up there. There was this strange odor permeating the hallways, to best describe it was like a mixture of sea water and rotten fish, a smell that for those who never been on a fishing vessel would easily feel nauseated by. One of the doors at the end of the hallway is basically wide open; I really hope that isn’t Mr. Butler’s room, because it would mean that there really is some thief in here. Never the less, curiosity got the better of me and I slowly walked my way into the room. But before I even made a single step; a familiar sound came from outside:

O praise the graceful lord by blood
For then our souls be clean of sin
We brought its wrath and drowned in flood
Our sins pulled us down with a thud
Forgive us great lord and our kin
Your soldiers can take our warm skin.
God damn it not that hymn again, I tried my best to ignore it as I made my way in. The room looked like it had a major fight ravaging through the place; furniture thrown everywhere, broken glass on the floor, bed turned on its side, even scratch marks on the wall. That was the strangest thing about what happened in this room, if it was a simple thief, the state of the room would make me believe that some giant animal beast was in here. “Holy crap,” I silently whispered to myself as I inspected the main room to find any trace of life, “what the hell happened here?” As I finished looking around I heard sounds coming from behind the bathroom door; to best describe it sounded like loud chewing, gurgling, and twigs being snapped. My gut immediately told me that this was bad, something definitely ominous was lurking in there; I don’t know why I let my curiosity got the better of me, but I went to the bathroom and pulled the door wide open, hoping to surprise this bad guy and take care of him; what I saw in there immediately made all the blood drained from my body and made me frozen in place.

In the bathtub, there was a body that was completely opened up with its insides almost cleaned out, but I didn’t need to see the face to know who the corpse was laying in the bathtub: It was Mr. Butler, and he had the expression of seeing a terrifying monster, which was exactly what I was looking at now. It was something I will never forget. The thing standing in the bathtub with the body was this thing that can only be best described as a fish man; standing what looked to be over six feet tall, covered in scales that illuminated shades of blue and deep green in the bathroom light, webbed fingers with claws that would easily rip open my body if it wanted to, but it’s head… Oh god; its head. Going up from the upper arm, the scales gave way to exposed human skin, and its head looked like human being, but its mouth was replaced with wide fish lips that bared shark-like fangs, and its eyes were slightly misaligned. But that wasn’t the thing that made me horrified, what did was the face. I know that face from anywhere, even after all these years; I can never forget the face of my little brother.

Jesus fucking Christ; why does this thing have Reggie’s face? That question kept running around my head while I just stood there like a frozen idiot, its fish eyes staring right back at me, cocking its head left and right. It just stood there like it was scanning me or something, not even moving a muscle; I finally mustered up enough courage to have some word come tumbling out of my mouth. “R-Reg… Reggie?”

In an instant the thing immediately let out a bone rattling scream; without thought or reason I just bolted out of the room and down the hallway, all the while I can hear the thing chasing me; “Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit,” I cussed like a sailor having a heart attack. I nearly tripped on the stairwell and made a bee dash towards the door, bolting out and running towards my house without even glancing back to see if that thing was chasing. I was still cussing when I reached my house and immediately barged inside, slamming the door shut behind me and locking the doors. I collapsed onto the floor and vomited; of course all that sound I made woken up my parents and Warren, who basically came rushing downstairs wondering what the hell was going on?

“What’s going on,” my father asked sternly. “Did you cause some sort of trouble?”

“Dad,” I lost control of my volume at that point. “There’s a monster at the Doven in that ate a visitor from Charleston; we have to warn the sheriff about this!”

“What are you talking about,” my mother asked. “There’s no such thing as monsters. Wait a minute, Clayton, are you taking drugs?”

“I’m not taking any god damn drugs! There is this thing that has Reggie’s face and tried to kill me, we have to warn the sheriff about this before-.” Before I could finish, that thing burst through the doorways. I crawled backwards into the family so that I would not take my eyes off it. “That’s the creature with Reggie’s face! We have to go now!”

But I began to notice something’s deeply wrong here; mom, dad and Warren aren’t running away from the creature, in fact they were petting it like it was some sort of pet. “I’m sorry son,” Dad sighed. “I didn’t mean for Clayton to scare you.”

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing; why the hell is mom and dad treating that thing like it is Reggie? “What are you doing?!” I yelled. “That thing killed Mr. Butler!”

“We know,” Warren silently said. “He was killed as food for Reggie and the other soldiers.”

Soldiers; what did he mean by that? There is no army base anywhere near Valor Cove unless… Are they referring to the soldiers in the hymn? Oh good god, now I understood what it meant by taking our warm skin. “W-what are these things?”

“Hush boy,” my father silently scolded me, “these are our punishments from the lord for bringing destruction upon the seas centuries ago, and now we must stay here and protect them from escaping and being unleashed on the world.”

“You mean were basically prisoners to these creatures?”

“These are not creatures,” Mom said with a sunken look. “They are your brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents, lovers and friends that have lived in Valor Cove.”

That thing really is Reggie? No… I refuse to believe it, I just can’t accept it. But then the hymn started with my parents and brother singing that damn hymn, showing that they have accepted their fates of being prisoners to this town till they reach the grave; but I heard more of the hymn this time, as I only just realize there is a second verse.

O praise the graceful lord by blood
For then our souls be clean of sin
We brought its wrath and drowned in flood
Our sins pulled us down with a thud
Forgive us great lord and our kin
Your soldiers can take our warm skin.
Soldiers born from human and sea
Only knowing the lords deep rage
Feeding them man to hear our plea
If they come to land, end we’ll see
Now we are the soldier’s great cage
Forever more; on the lords’ stage.

I closed the book and let out a deep sigh; I never knew my dad had gone through this hell when he first experienced this. I always thought that he was just simply jaded without any good reason; but being raised with the customs in Valor Cove like I have at such an early age, I guess after what happened they decided to be more truthful with future generations about the soldiers we are bound to hold. I put the book down and looked behind me to see the corpse of some poor hitchhiker who unfortunately picked a ride whose destination was for this town. Ah well; better for the food to be foreigners then the townsfolk. The hymn was still playing from god knows where; meaning that it is feeding time, no doubt the other townsfolk grabbing the corpses of other people that are not from here. I grabbed the body and headed down the stairs and out the house towards the beach; thank god this corpse isn’t heavy, otherwise I would throw out my back. Once I reached the beach there was a lot of people huddling together to see the corpses line up, about twelve in total; it looks like this will be able to least our soldiers for at least a year. I placed the corpse down and joined with the other townsfolk, waiting and watching as the fish men, carrying the faces of those they ate, started to come out of the water with their webbed feet splashing against the rocks and headed towards the corpses where they started to eat. Looking back on my dad’s journal entry, I have accepted that my fate is to remain here in this town till the end of my days, making sure to be the great cage as I watch Uncle Reggie and Uncle Warren eating the corpse I offered, knowing that if they were to leave and spread, humanity would end.

Credit To – Andrew Eden-Balfour

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 7.3/10 (68 votes cast)

What Was Underneath

November 15, 2014 at 12:00 AM
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 7.7/10 (115 votes cast)

Salem, Massachusetts; Police Department – Public Records

CASE: Jason Duluth, Resident of Salem, Suspected victim of occult murder
STATUS: Case Closed
RULING: Accidental death due to rotted floorboards and delusions. No foul play involved.

SUMMARY OF EVIDENCE: Victim’s body. Crime scene and related evidence. Six (6) handwritten pages by victim dated just prior to death. Typed narrative by victim, publicly released by Chief of Police. Narrative is transcribed below.

“Well, Mr. Duluth, you should have your whole bathroom gutted, I’d say,” said the plumber. “But, that’s not my job.”
The plumber hiked up his pants as he stood. He had been peering at the pipes in my bathroom, and thought everything looked fine. Which was weird, because that didn’t help explain my water problem at all.
I paid him his fee, and he left, having been a waste of time and money. Well, except for suggesting I have my entire bathroom redone. That wasn’t a waste; that could prove to be useful advice later. It has been three days since the problems in my bathroom had started.
Three days ago, I was cleaning out my shower when I noticed that some of the tiles on the wall had cracked. I knew my house was old, but I thought the bathroom had been a fairly new renovation. According to my realtor, there was no reason for anything to be broken or old, at least in the bathroom. And yet, here I was, and my whole shower was literally rotting.
My shower has a shelf that is positioned about stomach height, and goes down to the floor. It’s more like a niche or an indent in the wall than a shelf, but it works just as well, and that was where I set my shampoo and soap and whatnot. That was where I had noticed the tiled wall cracking.
I had cleaned away some of the broken tiles, and found that the wooden shelf that supported the tiles was itself rotting. After some more exploration, I found out soon after that my bathroom’s framework was entirely made of wood, and it was all rotting. Especially the shelf.
That same day I tore the wooden the shelf away to see what wAs underneath. Beneath it I found, to my surprise, that there was a large, hollow space inside the walls of my bathroom, like a secret passageway. I poked a flashlight inside and looked around, but saw nothing more than insulation and more rotten wood; exactly what I expected to find in what I thought was a crawlspace. There was, however, something that caught my eye just inside the shelf. Right at the top, near where I had broken the board off, strange symbols were carved into the wood. They were fading with the rot, and most of them just looked like carved smudges, but a few stood out as being surprisingly well preserved.
I checked the board I had ripped out of the shelf and found that the underside, the part facing the empty area in the wall, also had these same syMbols. It occurred to me again that the bathroom had indeed been a recent addition to the house, but how long had this crawl space in the wall been there? I would have to ask the people I was renting it from, I thought to myself.
That was when the water troubles started. The same evening as when I pulled the old boards up, the water from the tap in the bathroom began to run brown with rust. At least, I assumed it was rust. I wondered if perhaps I had knocked a pipe or something during my explorations, but the visit from the plumber a couple days later showed these beliefs to be unfounded. And now here I was.
I wasn’t sure what to do now. All the problems were confined to my bathroom, which, unfortunately, had the only toilet in the house. I could still drink water and wash my hands in the kitchen sink, which wasn’t having any problems, but any attempt to shower proved futile, as the water still ran brown and stank of… something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. It wasn’t quite an iron smell, though that was there, too, but smelled more of… old. Rot.
Sometimes the toilet wouldn’t flush, either. Or it would get backed up for no reason. I had the plumber check that out, too, but he said there was nothing blocking it. Calling the local utility service didn’t do any help, either, as they had received no complaints about rusty water or stopped toilets, other than my own. They suggested I call a plumber, which of course I had already tried.
Things got worse, though. Sometimes I would get this awful stench rising up from the hole in the wall I had busted open. One of my friends, when I told him about the crawl space, suggested I stick a fan and a light inside of the space to dry it out, clear out any mold. That same friend, when confronted with the stench, said I should take bleach and spray it around inside. So I did.
That only made the smell worse, though. It wafted up, through the shower, despite the multiple fans I had inside of it. It got so bad that occasionally I had to leave my house entirely. It was the stink of something DEAD decaying, almost. But so much worse. The bleach did nothing.
I suspected that there might have been a raccoon trapped in the wall at some point, and it had died there, but another check by flashlight proved nothing of the sort; at least, nothing I could see. I did, however, find more symBols carved into the wall. I hadn’t noticed them before.
Two days later, a total of five days after I opened the wall, I began to think the smell was making me hallucinate. Sometimes, when I was looking in the mirror to comb my hair or brush my teeth, I would see something move out of the corner of my eye. Or there would be something off about my reflection that I couldn’t quite place. My eyes were too dark, or a freckle was in a different spot. One time I could have sworn I saw something dark, like a gas, coming out of the hole in the shower (which I hadn’t closed yet), but when I turned to face it, there was nothing. But the most real hallucination, though, was the thumping. I heard it sometimes, coming from beneath my feet. It was as if someone was stuck below me, trying to get out, banging on my bathroom floor. It shook me up a little bit, and I tried to stay out of my bathroom. But, having only one, I had to go back occasionally.
At that point, though, I had been a good five days without a shower, and my friends agreed to let me use theirs. They even talked me in to calling a renovation company to check out my bathroom. When I called the company, they said they’d look at it and give me an estimate on what it would cost to completely rebuild it. And of course, I let the plumber know he might need to install some pipes for me.
I was in my kitchen during most of the estimation process. At one point, though, the workers called me in to show me something. They had accidentally knocked a chunk out of the wall because it had been so rotted, but it wasn’t the rot that frightened them. They showed me the piece of wood they broke, and I saw, to my horror, that the backside was entirely covered in the same symboLs as the inside of the bathroom shelf. They left soon after that. One of the workers said there wasn’t a price I could pay to make him tear down the walls all the way. He said he was scared by wHAt was unDernEATH, whatever that was supposed to mean.
I wasn’t sure what to do after that. I called the people I was renting from, and they told me that they’d lower my cost until I got the bathroom fixed. It was an enticing deal, but I got the feeling that the bathroom would take a long time to fix, unless I did it myself, and I couldn’t do that to the people who were so nice to offer such a discount to me. So, I decided to do just that, and began fixing the bathroom myself.
I started by taking a sledgehammer to the walls, and knocked a huge chunk out of it. I needed to see what, exactly, was in there. There had to be something.
I finally put a hole in the wall that was big enough for me to crawl through, and I stepped inside the crawlspace. With my flashlight, I took a look around. The empty space wrapped all around my bathroom, and even went behind some of my other rooms, like a border to my house. It was surprisingly spacious, but it stunk of rotted wood and… something else. The stench of dEcay was there, strong as ever, but there was more to it than that. There was a chemical, salty smell, too. Sulfur, maybe?
I shot my flashlight around, looking at the walls of the craawl space, and noticed there were more symbosl, hundreds of them, lining the walls and floor on all sides. Many of them had been erased by rot ROT at this point, but they were there. I also suddenly realized what the workers might have meant by “What was IS undERn3ath.” The wooden boards that made up the floor of the crawlspace were a good foot or so below the floor level of the bathroom, meaning that my house was set above something else. And there was sometimes a gap in the wall, between some floorboards, that led to another empty space beneath the bathroom. Almost like a basement. But I didn’t have a basement DO TOO.
I got out of there as quickly as I could, stopping only once in the bathroom to look in the mirror. And what I saw terrrrified me.
In the mirror was a reflection of me, but it wasn’t me. The hair was too long, too greasy to be mine. My face was cut up and bruised BLACK AND BLUE. My eyes were sunken and glazed, and my arm was slashed in multiple places. I looked like a walking corpse YES in the reflection. But what was worse was the reflection of the hole in the bathroom wall.
The hole in the reflection was much, much darker than in real life, and if I looked hard enough, I thought I could see something standing in the shadows. It looked like a man, but he was so covered in shADows that I couldn’t make out any feetures besides his silhouette. Except his eyes. They were a bright crimson, but empty-looking. There was a hunger in them I didn’t like. He opened his mouth, then, and bared his teeth at me. They were long and sharp, like a vampire’s, and r3d with blood. My blood, YES I somehow knew. I got out of there as fast as I could.
I ran from my house, outside, and was surprised to see how dark it had gotten. The sun had been high in the sky when I entered the space between the walls. Now, it was beginning to set. Darkness would descend soon, and I didn’t want to be anywhere in my house when it did.
I ran, unthinking, not knowing where to go. I decided that maybe it was high time to look into what those symbOls were. It was time to go to the library, I figured. Maybe there would be something there about my house, too.
The streets were empty on the way to the library, and there was no one in the library, either ALONE. I could hear someone talking on a phone in the back, but that was it. I ran to the cultural section of the nonfiction books, thinking maybe the sYMbols were some sort of pagan practice or something.
It took me a while, but I finally found some of the SymbolS in a book about classic witchcraft and hoodoo. The smylobs depicted in the book were much crisper than that of the crawlspace walls, but they were fundamentally the same. That was when I figured out just what they were used for. They were protection charms.
It didn’t take long for me a get a grasp of what that meant. Reading further into it, I found that for hundreds of years, CHARMS symBOLs like the ones I had fouNd were used for keeping away or locking in evil spirits and monsters. And the more that were used, the more powerful the creature was supposed to be. And they all had to be perfect UNBROKEN, too, or the monster could escape… THE BINDS
Seven days ago (was it really that long? I couldn’t be sure), I had torn up a piece of wood that had been inexplicably rotten. It had sYMBols on it, symBOLs that I now knew were meant to lock something in. I had broken the chain. I had let something out. But that’s ridiculous, right?
It was impossible, I concluded! Monsters don’t exist, ghosts don’t exist, demons certainly don’t exist. And why would something be under my bathroom, of all places? It hadn’t always been a bathroom, though. But, still, I had seen it. The water, the smells, the distorted reflection, the bumping, the thing in the shadows YES YES YES. And the renovators had seen it, too. Or heard it. But the question remained, WHat was uNDerneath YES WHAT? I needed to know, and yet, I wanted to be as far away from it as possible.
I walked towards the library desk, hoping to ask someone about finding house records or records of strange events. The librarian loOKed up as I walked over, and she screamed.
“What? What’s wrong?” EVERYTHING I asked, trying to see my reflection in some glass behind her. The librarian moved backwards, edging towards her phone in the back room.
“Sir, your face. I need to call help for you. You’re… You’re all beaten up,” she responded, terrified SCARED STIFF. Responding to my blank look of confusion, she handed me a pocket mirror. I looked into it. I gasped when I saw what I looked like.
My face was exactly as it had looked in the mirror at home, horrible disfigured. In the mirror, my arms were sTill scratched up. But, lo0king at them without the miror, just looking, I couldn’t see a thing. I felt no pain that would go with the cuts and bruises I had sustained. But then came the kicker for dread… In the mirror, over my sHOulder, I could see the silhouette of a man, completely covered in shadows, save for his eyes and teeth. I dropped the mirror and spun around, fully realizing that nothing would be there. Of course, nothing was SOMETHING WAS.
I had lost time DID YOU. What had happened in those hours I had somehow spent in the wall? It had felt like minutes when I was there. But, nonetheless LESSTHENONE, I had lost time. And I was covered in scars that only others could see OR COULD YOU SEE THEM. I wasn’t sure what to do.
I ran home, hoping to find something in the walls to put an end to this YOU DID. When I got to the b=BAThroom, I looked in the mirror REFLECT YOURSELF, again seeing the silhouette in the shadows, watching me ALWAYS WATCHING. This time, there was a new bruise in my reflection. A bruise around my neck, like a noose. HANGMEN I turned around away from the mirror, and seeing no silhouette, I climbed into the wall, picking up the sledgehammer I dropped earlier. It was time to see what WHAT was WAS underneath UNDERNEATH. I climbed back out into my bATHroom
It wasn’t long before I broke through the floorboards and rotted wood, working my way into the space beneath my bathroom, smashing down through the floor. It was dark, and my flashlight flickered unpredictably as I first looked inside. It was a small space, smaller than I imagined, SAW but had an ominous feeling, like a great weight of DEAD dread was on my chest. I karefully dropped down into the small space, knowing it would be difficult to get out again. I looked around RED EYES.
There were no symbols MYBOLSS on the walls here, but, as I looked at the floor, DIRT FLOOR there was one, massive symbol DAMN PAGANS scrawled on the ground. I looked around, and noticed there was absolutely nothing elllllllse. No decaying body, no silhouette, nothing. It was dark SO DARK all around, and I looked up, into my btahroom. I had broken through the floor WHAT WAS UNDERNEATH, and the light above me faltered ominously. I thought for a second I saw the silhouette, IT WAS THERE smiling above me in the bathroom, but it was gone. What was I going to do now? WHERE WAS IT
I grabbed the leeeedge that was just above me, pulled myself up, into the bathroom. I looked around, eyeing the hole in the wall. Perhaps I really had been crazy the whole time, or there had been some sort of hallucinogenic gas in the space that I accidentally released. But, I looked in the mirror, and my face was HORRIBLE HORRIBLE normal. My chaotic experience was over. And it was dawn. DARKNESS OF NIGHT
How had I lost so much time, though? TIME IS RELATIVE When I went back to see the librarian later, sehe KNOWLEDGE CAN KILL claimed I had scratches, but there were none. YOU DIDN’T SEE HER Why were the symb0ls there, or were they there at all? Was I hallucinating? Was she hallucinating? What was that stench? Soo0o many questions unanswered, but I would hopefully put this all behind me now. I glanced in the mirror one more time, smiling TEETH LIKE DAGGERS to myself. Everything would be just fine. …—…
EVERYTHING DETERIORATES
EVERYTHING DECAYS
NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO N N N N N ——-………………………… 3VeryTTTHinGGG W0ulD bE ju5T FFIne …—… …—…
EVERYTHING
ROTS

[END OF TRANSCRIBED EVIDENCE]

POST-CASE REPORT: Filed by Chief of Police
They found the body two days after his death. The search began when he hadn’t shown up for work two days in a row and his boss complained. Jason Duluth had fallen into a crawlspace beneath his bathroom and suffered a broken neck, killing him instantly. We were quick to dismiss the case, saying that the strange symbols around the bathroom had nothing to do with the accidental death of Mr. Duluth. There was nothing occult about his death, not even the enormous symbol placed directly in the middle of the space Jason had fallen in to. I personally went into the crawlspace, something only I and Jason have done. It seemed completely normal, disregarding the symbols.
The official cause of death, as filed in the local court system by myself, was accidental death due to rotten floorboards and delusions. The doctors blamed some sort of paranoia or schizophrenia when Jason told his friends about strange bathroom troubles and seeing things in the mirror. His friends encouraged him to get help, but he never had the chance, even with the various companies he called to renovate the bathroom.
A few days before he died, he apparently would have bouts of insanity, huddling in his house and screaming at nothing. He would cut his arms and bang his head against the wall. He once attempted to hang himself, but the rope broke. When he was lucid, it seemed he tried to actively figure out what was in his house. Ultimately, of course, what was underneath turned out to be rotten floorboards.
Exploring the house, we found a letter written by Jason, showing strong signs of delusions and mental illness. It was written a day before he died. There was a lot about death hiding in the shadows of his crawlspace in the walls and below him, waiting. There was a lot about things seen in the mirror, and how he had to defend himself. He showed signs of having hallucinated strongly, even when he was lucid (if you want to call it that). He also wrote the above story on his computer before he died.
Though the events as he tells them do not directly correlate with the actual events leading up to his demise, there is some truth in what he says. The chaos of his final days is well reflected in the narrative he wrote, but there is one major difference. Jason never made it out of the space below his bathroom. His body was found there, sprawled on the ground, with pieces of the floor scattered around. He never broke through the floor with a sledgehammer. He tripped and fell, splintering the weakened floorboards, falling into what was underneath.
His visit to the library was the last reported sighting of him lucid before he died. The librarian said he was covered in cuts and bruises, and his eyes had a glazed look to them. She neglected to call the police after he left, assuming he went to a hospital. She claimed he was mostly rational.
Much about his final days is not known, or when or how he wrote the story above. There is one catch, though, that makes this otherwise depressing story of a man gone insane, possibly by gas poisoning, more interesting. When the librarian got her mirror back, a symbol was scratched into it. A symbol exactly like the one that Jason fell into, beneath his floor. The librarian also mentioned occasionally seeing a shadow with scarlet eyes and red teeth in the mirror Jason held, but she told us it disappeared after a while. She hasn’t called since. It is suspected Jason had some connection with the symbol in the mirror, possibly scratching it in while he had the mirror in his possession.
Even with all of this, something nags at my mind. The renovators that Jason called filed only one sentence about the house in their reports. “We cannot know what was underneath.” There is something about this cryptic sentence that bothers me. Is it impossible for us to know what was underneath, because we cannot grasp it, or because if we knew, it would destroy us? As in, opening it at all would release something…? How much of Jason’s tale is truth? What really happened in those days? No, I must be day-dreaming. That basement was filled to the brim with mind-altering gasses. These questions are preposterous.
Ah, anyway, it is a terrible story of a collectively shared, gas-induced delusion. But something still remains. Of the hundreds of thousands of symbols carved into the wall, some were broken, and, if it were a chain, this means the chain itself was broken. It would release something, then… Something that is now among us. What is -was- underneath, would no longer be underneath. It would be free. But that is, of course, ridiculous. The gas and this bizarre case are getting to me.
My condolences go out to the family and friends of Jason Duluth.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to call a plumber. There’s something wrong with my pipes.

Credit To – Andrew Sova

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 7.7/10 (115 votes cast)

Camping with Black Eyed Kids

November 13, 2014 at 12:00 AM
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 7.9/10 (160 votes cast)

My encounter with black eyed kids. Please share. I’d like to know other people’s thoughts. Thank you.

First, a quick intro about myself.

I’m a 26 years old, male. I work at a small private college in Michigan. I’m a normal, average guy. I like hockey, HBO shows, kayaking, and hiking/camping. I have a girlfriend, love my dad and sister, and have a pet dog named Bear. While I keep an open mind, I don’t believe in ghosts, aliens, big-foot, and am not even too sure about God. The way I see it, if I haven’t encountered it first hand or seen documented, verifiable proof then I keep a healthy amount of skepticism. There is one thing I do believe in now that I never did before, hell I didn’t even know about it before – black freaking eye kids.

As I said earlier, I love(ed) to hike and camp. For reasons too introspective to get into fully here I just loved the solitude, peace, and serenity the outdoors provided me. My life is not overly stressful, chaotic, or dramatic, but every once in a while a man needs to get away from it all. Being alone in the wilderness gave me the opportunity to clear my head, be introspective, consider the facts of life. I loved the beauty of the natural world, and I try to appreciate the small and big things, from the smallest clover to the biggest mountain. Beauty is all around us. In a way, I think it’s my belief in beauty that has helped me cope as well as I have with what I’m about to share. In late August of 2010 I set out for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore located along Lake Michigan. I had schedule five days off of work, and I planned on making the most of it. Sleeping Bear is one of my favorite parks in lower Michigan. I know it to be a great place for some solitude, and having usually been abandoned by sun worshipers by mid August I knew I’d have most of the park to myself. So, I wasn’t surprised when I arrived the fist day, found my usually parking spot, a sand parking lot just yards from the lake, and didn’t see another person.

As I sat on the hood of my car, overlooking the beach and the lake, I remember breathing deeply and saying aloud “thank God for solitude.” I ate lunch, walked down the beach and put my bare feet into the water. Cold. Very cold. It didn’t matter to me though, because I didn’t come to swim. I came to hike, and to camp. I came to, as was my tradition, sit by a warm fire on a cool night, sipping on my flask of whiskey, enjoying the sounds of the forest. However, this peaceful tradition didn’t happen. The proper procedure when camping at a state or national park, if you’ve never been, is to check in at a ranger station. There you pay your fees, obtain your backcountry pass, if you’re going to be camping in the backcountry as I always do, and give the rangers your information: license plate number, make and model of your car, etc. After my quick stop off at the beach to eat my lunch, I headed to the nearby, a fifteen or so minute drive, and get my affairs in order.

The Platte River Ranger Station is manned until mid October, I think, so it was open and I didn’t have to travel to the main station a ½ hours drive north. I park in the station’s parking lot, and walk into the office. The ranger and I spoke for a little and he asks me for my license plate number. I knew he was going to ask, but I still forgot to write it down before I went in, so I walk back out toward my car, and I see two kids sitting at a bench just in front of where I’m parked. They weren’t there when I parked, and I didn’t notice them when I walked in to the station, but at this point in time I’m still on cloud nine. I’m happy to be on vacation, so I take no real notice. I walk to the back of my car, jot down the license plate number and walk back to office. I take care of business in the office and step out and walk to the connecting bathroom. The backcountry area I’m staying at, White Pine, has a pit-toilet, think port a john but just with a deep hole in the ground, but I’d like to use a real bathroom while I can. I go into the restroom and go into the empty stall.

As I’m taking care of my business, I hear the bathroom door open. I hear whispered voices. It’s a small bathroom, but I can’t make-out what the voices are saying. I can tell they’re kid’s voices though, and I figure it’s the kids I saw near my car earlier. No biggie, right? I finish up, and open the stall door. Sure enough, there are the two kids standing outside the stall. I remember saying, “it’s all yours.” As I walked to the sink. The kids just stood there. When you think about it now, in reading, the situation seems a little spooky, but at the time, and if you were in the situation yourself I’d bet that you wouldn’t be the slightest bit worried and neither was I. I was my hands, and glance in the mirror, only to notice the kids are looking right at me. This is the first time, but certainly not the last time, on this trip that my spine tingles with fear. The god damn kids have completely black eyes. No whites to their eyes at all. Like I said, this is a pretty small bathroom and they were not more than three feet away. At first I can’t do or say anything. I am literally frozen with fear. The water runs over my hands, but I can’t feel it. I’m so deep inside my head at this moment that all I can hear are my thoughts, which were something like “Ahhhhhh!.” All joking aside, I was petrified.

It was only when one of the kids, a brown haired boy that I would guess was around twelve took a step toward me that my fight or flight instincts took over control from my fear. I turned off the water, why I bothered I don’t know habit I guess, and moved a step back from the kids and toward the door. Seemingly sensing my fear the boy didn’t take another step toward me. Instead he stopped, on retrospect I can guess he was trying to keep from frightening me too much – didn’t work kid!

“Can you help us?” That’s what the boy said when one of us finally spoke. For a moment I did want to help.

I consider myself a pretty nice guy. I’d go out of my way to help pregnant women carry groceries to their car. I’d rescue cats from trees if the situation arose, and for a while I thought that is why I wanted to help those creepy kids. I thought, my sheer decency was what made me, despite my better judgment, and despite my fear want to help them. Only since I began researching the BEK’s do I realize that I didn’t want to help those kids, but whatever, magical, mystical voo-doo, power they have made me want to help them. I can’t tell you with any certainty how long I stood motionless thinking about helping those kids, but it seemed like an eternity. Finally, like a physical shaking of my brain I said “No, Not right now. I gotta go.” And then I left the bathroom.

I remember in that two seconds my back was turned on those kids to me leaving the bathroom I felt certain I was going to die. I thought as soon as my back was turned they were going to tear me to shreds. It was with knee buckling relief that I left the bathroom and walked out into the midday sun. I walked the fifteen or so feet to my car, on noodle like legs, too afraid to look behind me. I fumbled for my keys and unlocked my door, sat down, closed the door and locked it. Only then, in the safety of my locked car, did I feel safe enough to look back toward the bathroom. Damned if the little bastards weren’t standing just outside the bathroom staring at me with the big, black soul sucking eyes.

I want to take moment to explain a little bit more about myself. I’m not a big man, but I’m not small either. I’m six foot, with shoes on I always say, and am around 185 pounds. What I’m saying is I can take a couple twelve year olds in a fight (I assume, having never actually fought any twelve year olds since I was twelve myself). In my hiking, I’ve encountered odd people before. I’ve turned a bend in a trail only to startle a huge grizzly bear. I’ve been lost, once, and ran out of water, once, and I even had a tree fall in the middle of my campsite during a gale swept night in Tennessee –as I was drifting off to sleep! However, not a single event in my life scared me nearly as much as those kids.

So, there I am, in my car, staring at those kids, and them staring at me. I can’t take my stare away from them, and they start for my car. Startled to my senses, I turn the key, throw it in reverse, and get the hell out of there. I drive off, not daring to look in the rearview mirror. I know that if I do look back that I’ll see those black eyes looking back at me. I turn onto the main road and head the short drive north to my camp site. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, why the hell are you still camping! To be honest I can’t tell you why. I was just so much in shock that I wasn’t really thinking. It wasn’t until I was parked in the sand lot, at the head of the White Pine trail that my brain started functioning again. The drive home would only take three hours. I could make it home in time for dinner, but for some reason I talked myself out of it. Sitting in my car, in the sun, on the beach has a way of taking away all bad feelings.

I just talked away my better judgment. I won’t be doing that again. It’s around three o’clock, and I know that the sun will start to set in around three or four hours, so I know I should head toward my camping spot. It’s not a very long walk from the parking lot to the White Pine backcountry campground, but it will take around 45 minutes, leaving me just a couple hours to set up camp, gather fire wood, cook dinner and eat before nightfall. Fuck it, I remember saying to myself. I get my pack out of my backseat and take off down the trail.

Now, there are two ways to access the White Pine campground from where I was parked. I could either head through the woods, or I could walk along the beach. The wooded trail is quicker, and shorter, and the beach trail is harder on the legs and lungs (walking with a fifty pound pack in the sand is no picnic). However, considering what I just went through I decided to go along the beach. It was the more open, brighter, kinder trail.
To reach the campsite from the beach trail, you have to turn away from the lake and go about ½ a mile into the woods. Reaching my campsite, I find it, unfortunately, completely empty. The campground has seven sites, I think, and not a one of them was taken. Usually this would be a happy thing to me, but this time I wished for all my might for a little company. I pick a site hidden fairly well from the trail, feeling that I didn’t need anyone walking along to spot my tent.

I unpack and set up my ultra-light one person tent, put down my sleeping pad, and unroll my zero degree rated mummy-bag. Taking my walking stick, a sawed off hockey stick, and a folding knife with me, I head into the forest to gather fire wood. I pile up a good sized pile, three times larger than I think I’ll need, and proceed to light a fire. I cook my food, and eat, all the while watching the sun set through the trees. What is normally a beautiful, warming sight to me, now only brings dread. I do not want to be out here I suddenly realize. I finish eating quickly and decide to gather even more firewood. I do not want to run out in the middle of the night. As the darkness descends upon the woods and my campsite, I get the fire going, and riffle through my pack looking for my flask. This was a situation that called for a little liquid courage. I hit it hard. In the woods the sun sets at first slower then you think and then near the end it just kind of falls out of the sky, and is gone in a blink. So it did that night.

Sitting next to the fire, I decide to move my tent closer to me, so I click on my flash light, and move my tent until it is right behind the small bench next to the fire ring. I like having the tent behind me, protecting my back as I saw it. I’m glad I decided to gather more firewood because I’m burning through it quickly keeping the fire as high as I am. Even though it is early Autumn and the temperature was probably in the 40’s I was hot sitting so close to such a big fire.

Part of getting away from it all for me, is to leave my phone in the car. In civilization I don’t use a watch. I just look at my cell. However, this night I wish I had my cell on me, not to call someone there is no service, but to check the time. I wanted it to be late. I wanted the night to fly by, and give me the security of morning. I finished the whiskey, and wished that I had brought the bottle with me from the car. The spirits had done their job though, and I was a bit calmer. Also, praise be to god, I was feeling sleepy too. Though the rules say, don’t go to bed with your fire burning, I sure as hell was not going to sleep with out the fire. I got in my tent, leaving the flap open, with just the bug flap closed, so I could see the fire, and tried to sleep.

I don’t know how long I lay there before slept found me, but I did eventually drift off. Thankfully, I can’t remember having any dreams. I woke to a dead fire, and the early dusk light coming in. I have to say I was slightly surprised to be alive.

As dawn turned in to day I felt more and more foolish for the fear I felt yesterday. Being a usually calm, cool, and collected guy I couldn’t explain the intense dread and fear I felt when I saw those kids, but I did my best to ignore it, and I explained away their eyes pretty easily. I told myself the kids were camping at the Platte River campground, same location as the ranger station I registered at. They had some colored contact lenses and were playing a joke. Simple. Possible, even probably considering the alternative. I ate breakfast and then made a, upon hindsight, horrible decision. I decided to stay another night.
After breakfast, I gathered firewood, so that I wouldn’t have to gather any when I got back for the evening. My pile of wood at a towering height, I hiked back to my car, along the wooded trail (I was feeling awfully, stupidly brave that morning).

I arrived at my car, and decided to go to the Dune Climb. The Dune Climb is a trail that begins at a towering dune and ends 1 ½ miles away at Lake Michigan. This hike was uneventful, but beautiful providing me even more determination not to let myself be scared off by some stupid kids with contact lenses. I got back to my car from the round trip hike right around 1:00. I got out my small camp stove and cooked some soup. Finished with lunch, I decided that next I would take the scenic drive, I forget the name of the road, that is part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It’s a winding drive with several scenic and educational pull offs. It’s relaxing and beautiful. I finished with that around 3:00, and I decided I would head to Traverse City, just a 45 minute drive away, and do a little shopping and grab an early dinner at a nice steak house. This is not something I normally do while camping but after the previous nights events, I decided to treat myself.

Traverse City is a nice town to visit, if you ever have the chance (just a recommendation). I went to this steak house just outside of Traverse around 4:30, figuring a quick dinner, an 45 minute drive and an hour walk would get me to my camp at just about dusk. But that’s not what happened. The restaurant was packed! I got a table fairly quickly but the service was very slow. In the end I didn’t get out of the restaurant until dusk. Cursing myself it began to rain as I drove back to the trail head parking lot. By the time I was at the lot and parked it was full blown nighttime. Sitting in the parking lot, listening to the wind, and the rain I was pretty damn scared again. I think that if nearly all of my gear wasn’t still at the campsite then I would have just drove home and said screw it. However, I couldn’t abandon several hundred dollars worth of camping equipment because I was scared. I’m not a pussy.

I gear up: flashlight, pocket knife, water bottle, headlamp, and walking stick. Again I had two options, through the woods or along the beach. The storm clouds blocked out most of the star and moon light so I would have been kidding myself to think that the beach would have been better lit, but it was still more open, and provided me with a better feeling, so I took the beach path. The path is only a mile and a half long along the beach and then another ½ mile into the woods to the campsite. I figured, if I hustled, I could be at my campsite in just over ½ an hour.
I turn on my headlamp and move off down the beach. The wind is hitting pretty hard, and it’ pretty damn cold, but I’m prepared. My coat has a nice rain shell and I’m not getting too wet.
Hiking in the dark is not smart in the best of circumstances. In this area there are cougars and bear, both rare, but the real danger is getting lost, or stumbling over something and injuring yourself. However, I wasn’t too worried about any of that. The animals are so rare in that area it’d take very bad luck to get bothered by them, and the beach was clear of most debris that I might trip on. What had me worried was a creeping sensation of paranoia.

As I walked the sensation of paranoia and dread grew. I stopped every ten feet or so to look around, lighting the tall grass, next to the beach and before the woods, with my headlamp. I opened my jaw and listened, you can hear better with your mouth slightly open, but I saw nothing and heard nothing. I’d walk another ten feet and just know that someone was watching me. It was hard to hear anything over the lapping waves of the lake and the howling wind of the storm, but I swear I heard voices in the tall grass.
I’d been walking probably 1/2 an hour and I new I would be meeting off with the trail leading into the woods, and to my campsite any second now, but then my world fell apart. Having one of my strongest moments of feeling watched I turned around, facing the direction I came, and there they were.

The boy who spoke to me earlier couldn’t have been more than five feet away, and the other boy, the quiet boy, was standing slightly behind him. Each of the boys stood motionless. Staring. Just staring. At this moment, I’m not sure I have the ability to put my terror into words. The best way I can describe it is to say I felt like I was dying. I felt like I was in the hospital and the doctor just told me I had moments to live. The talkative boy moved toward me.
The only light on the beach came from my headlamp. Neither kid had any sort of flashlight. My led beam flashed across their faces, reflecting grotesquely in their large dark eyes. The waves crashed, and the wind blew.

“Help us.”

I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t move. I could barely breathe. The boy moved closer. The quiet boy stepped to the side, almost like he was slowly circling behind me, and that broke the spell.

“I’m not fucking helping you,” I said.
“We’re lost. We can’t find our campsite.”
“Is this a game,” I asked, even though I knew it wasn’t.
“Take us with you. Please. We’ll die out here. We’re afraid. ”

I call bull-shit on that one. They’re scared, I thought to myself? I’m scared. You’re the one with the creepy eyes, the vacant hollow voices. You’re the ones with the fish-eye stare.
The quiet boy moved a little more. He was now standing beside me, just a couple feet away. The talkative boy was still in front of me, blocking the way I had come, blocking the path back to my car. Then things got even weirder.

“Okay, you can come with me,” I said.

I don’t even remember thinking the words. They just came out. The talkative boy smiled and he reached to take my hand. The fight or flight response hit me so hard it was like a physical punch to the stomach. I recoiled at the sight of this little monster trying to take my hand. Before I even realize it, I’m running down the beach. I’m sprinting away from the little bastards, and my car as fast as I can.
I don’t’ look behind me. I don’t know if they’re following me or not, and I don’t want to know. All I know is that I need to run faster. I’m in decent shape, but given any normal circumstance I would never have been able to run so quickly for so long on a beach.

My head lamp bouncing up and down, I see the off-shoot-trail leading from the beach into the woods. Without much thought, if any, I take the trail and head into the woods.
My senses finally returning to me, I jump off the trail and move a little ways into the woods. I turn off my head lamp, and lie down among some tall grass. I watch the trail waiting to see the kids following. I waited, in the rain, and cold for god knows how long. A couple hours at least. No kids.

The cold was slowly creeping in. I wasn’t sure if I was shivering because of the adrenaline, the fear, or the cold, but I do know I was starting to freeze. I had to leave my concealment and make way to shelter. I had two options. The tent and sleeping bag, or the car.

The car meant safety. It meant home. However, it also meant that I would have to walk a mile and a half, in the dark with god knows who or what waiting for me.
The tent meant warmth, and shelter from the elements. It meant exposure to the kids. If the kids knew where I was hiking, and when, then they’d know where I was camping. Right?
It was an impossible decision. It was a choice of the lesser of two evils. I chose the tent. I just couldn’t force myself to go back along the wooded trail, and I sure as hell wasn’t going back along the beach. I crossed my fingers and prayed that the little bastards didn’t know where my tent was. I got up, found the trail, and sprinted the ½ mile to the campground. As I ran a thought occurred. Maybe someone will have hiked in during the way. Maybe I’ll have company.

There was no life at the campground. When I arrived at the campground, I made a wide circle of it, looking both for other campers and for the little devils. I saw nothing and no one.
I made my way, as quietly as possible, to my tent. I unzipped the fly, and crawled in. I thought briefly about a fire, but decided that would be more of a signal to the kids then deterrence. My clothes were sopping wet and I was still very cold. I had to take them off. My pack is leaning against a tree about fifteen feet from my tent. Inside are clean, dry clothes, sealed tightly in a wet bag. However, now that I’m inside the tent I’m sure as hell not going back out. The tent gave me some sense of security even though it wasn’t in any way secure.
Now naked, I crawl inside my mummy bag. I’d like to say how much I hate that it’s called a mummy bag. After a few moments I warm up, but the shivering takes another 1/3 hour or so to subside. As I’m lying there, I’m wishing so much that I had that bottle of whiskey in my car.

The rain plays against the leaves of the trees, and the wind creaks the branches. Under the best of circumstances this is a night where a person’s mind can get away from them. For me, it was utter terror. My imagination made every creak, every howl of the wind into something sinister. As the hours passed, and my adrenaline faded I felt immensely tired. I wanted so badly just to fall asleep. In sleep I wouldn’t know I was being eviscerated. I’d either wake up or I wouldn’t.

I thought it was a nightmare at first. When I heard the voice, say – something, I thought I was dreaming. But then sleep cleared from my head and I realized I was awake. It was still night, and the storm was still biting.

“Help us,” an unmistakable voice said.

I couldn’t help it. It was a gut reaction. I screamed. I lay naked, my mummy bag zipped up to my chin. I was completely helpless. I felt like a newborn baby, my fate completely held in the hands of others.

“Please let us in.”
“No,” I screeched, and then again, “no!”
“It’s so cold. Please let us in, Mr.”

I stopped replying and could only sob. Like a heartbroken teenage girl. Like a woman who just learned her sister died. I sobbed. I was so uncontrollably scared that I think it helped me not pay attention to the kids demands. At least not fully.

“Let us in.”

I tugged the pull string on the hood of my mummy bag until I was completely enveloped. I just kept repeating, not daring to listen to the kids, the word “no.” No, no, no ,no, no, no, no. I waited for death. I knew it was coming. Any second and I’d be ripped to shreds.
The kid kept saying something, but I wasn’t listening. I wouldn’t listen.

I knew how overwhelming their hypnotic power was. I did everything I could not to listen. I kept chanting my mantra. Kept howling my “no’s.”
I don’t know when I fell asleep, but the next thing I know I startle awake. The sun is shining, and I’m alive. I don’t know how, but I’m alive. I look around my small tent and I don’t see anything amiss on the inside. It takes me several minutes to gather the courage necessary to unzip the tent fly, but finally I do. I peak my head out, but see no one. Naked, I run to my pack, and grab my clothes in the dry-bag. I toss some clothes on and race back to the tent. I tear it down in a matter of moments. I pack my sleeping back, and pad and tent onto my pack, and take off down the trail. I decide one more time to take the beach trail. In the sun, and warmth of the morning it’s an entirely different trail. The only moment I’m given pause is when I come across a duck with what seems to be it’s heart torn out. I took a photo with a disposable camera in my pack, and move on.

I arrive at my car and find it unmolested. I get in and drive home.
It’s been almost two entire months since this happened, but I still remember it all like it was yesterday. I haven’t gone camping since, and I don’t’ know if I’ll ever feel safe hiking again. Maybe I’ll go camping again sometime in the future, but I’m bringing a friend. No more going it alone.

I, thankfully, haven’t seen any more black eye kids. I don’t want to posit on what they are. I don’t want to think about whether they are demons, or monsters, aliens, or hybrids. I was interested at first. I did some research because I wanted to know if I was crazy. I don’t care what you think they are. I don’t care why they are. I just wanted to know that I wasn’t the only one who has had this experience. I’m not, and I’m thankful for that.

My advice if you ever do encounter a BEK, don’t listen to it to speak. Don’t be polite in case they’re just weird kids. Don’t question their validity. Don’t worry about looking silly, or that others will think you’re crazy. Just run. Run and don’t look back.

Credit To – David Krabs

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 7.9/10 (160 votes cast)

The Well in the Forest

November 11, 2014 at 12:00 AM
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 7.0/10 (145 votes cast)

We first set foot into this forest yesterday evening after spending just over an hour and a half making our journey. It was one of those evenings where the many Jet-Trails amongst the twilight sky had blended into light orange and pink among the distant orange and black horizon that all camouflaged into an array of messy colours and patterns like a sunset scene from Apocalypse Now.

And as I sit here jotting down my final words on the back of some of Josh’s work related notes, I remember my expectations of Friday clearly. But I remember the horror of today even clearer. I write my story in the midst that one day someone with hope, with an idea; someone who is willing to fight against all the odds, will stumble upon my confession and read what I have to offer. 56 minutes.

The twin’s fully loaded 4×4 Mitsubishi Outlander struggled atop the pothole riddled road which increased with decay the closer we approached the forest. Our gear, nourishment and weekend livelihoods jolted up and dropped back down at unexpected bumps while it all consistently buzzed in the back of the jeep beneath the noise of our excited, eager conversations. The paintjob braved through brown puddles which splashed speckled, brown mud against black metallic paint, while the wheels that were accustomed to avenues and highways were pushed beyond their usual work-rate due to quick-draw, squeaking breaking for when a careless badger or an impatient fox that scampered onto the road, unaware of our oncoming vehicle.

David slowed the jeep to a halt facing a large, locked, red rail which segregated the pedestrian’s forest trail from the short section of introductory road whose ditches acted as slanted parking spots for visitors. As expected though, there was nobody else here which was not surprising for the fact that this particular place had no significant marking or symbol on the map and was only really noticeable because it was the largest shade of “forested area” for at least a 50 mile radius. Isolation.

“No way am I parking this here for the weekend.” David said, gazing at the barrier as if it were the thorns on a red, romantic rose.

Josh turned to me and the two girls, sitting indifferently in the backseats. “Andrew, could you get me the axe from the trunk man?”

“Yeah sure thing.”

I shifted my body around and grabbed the light brown, wooden axe with the shining silver piece of crafted metal atop. The two girls, Lauren and Vanessa, turned their heads only really to survey our activity as any structured conversation at this stage of the trip had broken down into one line comments and off-topic small talk.

Josh glanced around at his surroundings, fearing that some distant passer-by would attempt the role of the overly law-abiding citizen and interfere with his chain breaking process.

“Here, there’s nobody around, go for it!” Andrew shouted, semi-leaning out the jeep window, smiling at the end of his sentence.

Josh smiled a little in response, before turning back around to complete the task at hand. He pulled the axe up just above his shoulder, gripping it carefully with his two hands and forced it down upon the lock. The impact clashed out a tolerable clanging sound but the lock didn’t fall to our ground, much to our likely disappointment. Josh kneeled down to examine the damage of the impact.

“The lock’s made of Brass.” he called out to us “Should come off with a few more strikes.”

Josh struck the chain in the same manner once more. Same result.

And again. Bingo!

The lock split in half and toppled to the ground, clashing against the little pebbles with an extremely brief metallic collision sound. We all cheered on Josh as he jokingly stretched the axe into the air with his two hands pretending to lift a trophy. He quickly pushed aside the red barrier like a wheeling cart, walked back towards us, jumped into the front seat of the jeep and carelessly dropped the axe down between his two legs like it was flavourless chewing gum.

The friction of the pebble riddled path assaulting the thick off-road tires only made the objects in the back shake again. After about 15 minutes though; after venturing through slowly darkening skies and quickly thickening forestry we had finally reached a dead end. The headlights beaming down rows of unkept trees and beautiful wasteland as far as the eye could see.

“We will park the car here and camp a few metres away, how about that?” Andrew directed as a general question to everyone. There was a moment of ambient, silent thinking and quick examination of everyone’s faces before everyone collectively agreed that this idea should suit everyone. It only made sense to set up camp nearby the vehicle to prevent us going too far in and then somehow inevitably getting lost. So we all gathered an equal share of the tents, bags of food and other miscellaneous necessities and within an hour, our polyester, nylon and canvas civilization was huddled in closely to a crackling orange fire beneath towering trees that expanded in alternating vision.

We spent the majority of the night doing the typical camping thing amongst college students. The night seemed to fly by as we roasted marshmallows while talking absolute crap and getting to that reasonable, enjoyable, mellow level of drunk before the last of us drifted away from consciousness at around 4 A.M just as dawn was revealing a dark slate, cyan sky.

I woke up later that morning at 11 A.M. and stepped outside to beaming sun blaring through tree trunks, and gray smoke plummeting from a pile of dead black ash like a tiny cottage that had been laid to waist. Lauren was having what I assumed to be her first smoke of the day, sitting on a large, 7-foot-long-ish log that we had recklessly strewn between two tents after spotting it nearby at around 1 A.M. Last night.

“Vanessa and Josh are still asleep, David is probably off taking a walk or something somewhere, y’know him.” Lauren said in a husky voice, answering the question she knew was enveloping my mind.

“Hey, where are the others?” I replied in a semi-sarcastic tone, eyebrows perking up momentarily.

I sat down beside her and we tucked into camping food for breakfast; an odd combination of corn flakes and lukewarm bottled water. As I was nearly finished, Josh and Vanessa emerged from their tent, looking stale and worn, sharing an inquisitive, piqued look on their faces when they saw that it was just us two outside.

“Have either of yee seen me brother?” he asked.

“No when I woke up he was gone.” I replied. “Lauren says he’s gone for a walk.”

“That’s just what I assumed.” she contributed. “I’ll give him a ring will I?”

Lauren took her phone from her pocket, looked at it for a few seconds, before letting her hands collapse to her knees and her eyes shut in defeat.

“Shite, no signal.” she said, frustrated.

“Let me try.” I offered.

I took my phone out from my pocket and saw there was no bars beside the little signal icon. I held my phone up into the air as if I was a selfless old man releasing an injured bird back into the wild that I had nursed back to full health, and tried my best to keep my eyes on the signal bar, despite the bright rays of sunshine damaging my visibility.

“I got a bar.” I said in a modestly victorious tone.

I held the phone up to my ear which felt refreshingly cool against my ears which were red hot because of the humidity of the tent and the comfortable depths of my pillow.

“Ring, Ring.”

And at that moment, everyone looked up and around at each other with the slow realisation of just how worrying that sound really was. And I had heard too. Through the dial tones which echoed from the speaker and into my ear, I had also heard it. The sound of the standard iPhone ring tone penetrating through the canvas of David’s tent. Made dull and centralized by the suffocation from his zipped up, abandoned refuge. David was out there somewhere. Lost in the middle of the woods. Without his phone.

“I’ll check the jeep.” Vanessa said shakily, shattering the tense silence.

If only Davey had taken his phone with him. If only he had been more cautious as to where he was venturing. If only he was obliged to tell one of us where he was going, what he was doing and why, rather than shy away from possible judgement and already perpetuated concern. Sneaking off and acquiring personal space alone at a time when nobody could be quisitive of his motives for the simple reason that none of us were in any position to do so, and thinking about it now only kills me. The thought of it guillotines tiny lean slices of brain slowly and allows thick, broadening blood to leak out from my freshly chopped wounds.

Like the concerned idiots that we were scripted to be though, we exposed ourselves to his mistake and, unaware of the malevolent act unfolding, became tangled up in a mess of rushed choices and poorly thought-out decisions. Now all I can do is wait. I sit here writing with a pen that was pointing up in the cup-holder like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, on the back of Josh’s work notes who is out lost in the dense forest somewhere, and I wait for my inevitable death. I pray that a fate that I not only know so little about, but that I also don’t have the energy to develop proper recognition of, is quick and merciful. The wounds thump to the rhythm of my pulse, each beat sending a little numbing shock to my brain, and are swollen disgustingly like the throat of a croaking frog. 1 hour and 35 minutes.

We meandered by thorns and swept aside branches which only flung back into their original position, as stubborn as a cobweb stuck to your hand. The four of us looked around aimlessly with no real objective or any structured plan other than calling his name as loudly as we could anytime we heard the rustle of a rodent or the snap of a twig. As you can guess at this stage, he wasn’t in the jeep. The further we travelled from the campsite, funnily enough, the less dense the forest got, and the thick-trunked evergreen trees which were planted among the vast hills of the area as part of a government forestation scheme were gradually turning into scrawny deciduous trees which were turning golden and brown leaved in the early September weather.

We ruffled through rustling foliage and wet leaves clinged to the bottom of my boots like a section of rug that lifts to the air by a vacuum before dropping to the floor again. We continued to call out “Dave” “Davey” and “David” in the hope that one of us would hear a distant response but our sirens were only tangled up in echoing branches and dispersed different directions by muting mountain winds.

After about 15 minutes of trudging and the forest eventually turning 99% deciduous, both Lauren and Vanessa started hearing an extremely faint call for help in the distance. They followed their instinct from which direction the calling was coming from, and told us in frantic, yet relieved voices, that the shouting had gotten a little louder. We followed the two girls and seconds later Josh informed me that he could hear it too. About thirty seconds later, I started hearing distant shouting as well, which was definitely getting closer.

We came to a bare-ish patch in the middle of the forest, where the trees surrounded a well in an oval shape, which poked out of the ground like the round bone in the middle of a steak. At this stage, the shouting was echoing very nearby so the obvious precaution was to check the well. We all rushed over and surrounded the cream coloured well with David’s words hollering from within its depths.

“Davey!” I called out to him.

“Andrew!” he shouted back immediately, as grateful as a rock climber taking their first bite to eat after a long hike. “Thank fuck you’re here man I thought I was a goner!”

“How long have ya been down there?”

“’Bout an hour.”

“Are ya okay? What happened man?”

“I went for a walk because I woke up way earlier than all of yee and when I got tired I sat down on this well. I fell in by accident but luckily my body got jammed a few times on the way down and broke my fall.”

“Have ya broke anything?”

“No, nothing serious like that, there’s a few nasty scratches on my back from when I was sliding down and I probably have a few bruises but that’s about it really.

“Great to hear buddy.” I said, trying to comfort him.

“I’m soakin’ though, and I need to get outta these damp clothes.”

“Okay sit tight, we won’t be much longer.”

I turned to the rest of the group with a half worried face that extinguished their excited expressions.

“How are we gonna get him out?” I asked

“Maybe we should call emergency services?” Lauren said with a scrunched up, “that as a bad suggestion” kind of face.

“What? And explain to them why we’re trespassing in a secluded area? No.”

They all paused for a second before Josh’s face lit up. “I brought a rope ladder with us!” he said pointing to the air.

“Aww nice one!” Lauren exclaimed as we all smiled.

“Back in the jeep yeah?” I asked.

“Unfortunately, but we know where he is now so we won’t be runnin’ round like headless chickens. Shouldn’t be more than ten minutes.”

“Okay, yee all comin’ then?”

“No, no.” Josh said to us as he handed me the keys to his jeep. “Yee three go and get the rope ladder and a few torches. I’ll stay here with my brother and keep him company.”

“Okay, we won’t be long.” Vanessa said to Josh, and we ventured back through the forest as fast as we could to help rescue David.

Those 15 minutes we spent going back to the jeep, retrieving the items and then laughing and joking our way back were the last joyful moments I had in my life. Lauren and I talked about returning to our college course later that month, and Vanessa and I talked about our cheap trip to Amsterdam that summer, to which Lauren envied and then swore that she would accompany us for our planned return next year.

I miss them already.

The one thing that I have always detested the thought of in life was dying alone. Yet here I am, cooped up inside this cramped mess of camping gear, coffee mugs and cigarette butts, watching the yellow crusted bite wounds slowly swell. Keeping an eye on my watch to note how long it has taken me to die. I wipe away the condensation on the raindrop covered window and look outside to the quickly withering flesh of Lauren.

Her stomach is a red mess of blood and guts, blood washing away in the rain and permeating through the composted forest ground. I think back to her saying that she was drifting through a bright white light that engulfed her whole before the swollen stomach exploded and her frozen expression thumped dead onto the soaking log we had sat on earlier that day. I think about it, and suddenly I don’t feel so lonely anymore. I look at my swollen arm, and don’t feel lonely. When I drift through a peaceful white light, I’ll remember how long it took me to die and I won’t feel so lonely. 2 hours and 22 minutes.

The rope ladder was wound up into a brown cylinder like an un-hollow rusty pipe that I pressed up against my chest. Vanessa carried two of the flashlights in both of her hands while Lauren carried one flashlight and some food for David. We navigated through the natural obstacles once more on what was pretty much the exact same route we had taken the first time of round. We got back to the oval shaped part of the forest again where the well itself was, which I couldn’t help but feel, resembled a street magician surrounded by a group of people. That thought quickly fled my mind when I instantly observed something perplexing and concerning.

Josh was nowhere in sight.

I froze n realisation for a few seconds before the two girls started calling out his name and I rushed to the well and roared out for David. I listened out resolutely for even a peep of a response from someone or somewhere as the sound of the girls calling out for Josh that had been pushed to the back of my mind now increased in volume and disparity

No response.

“DAVID. JOSH. DAVEY. JOSH.” I roared in quick succession.

“Where the fuck could he be?!” Vanessa asked staggered and vexed.

I turned around to see the two girls

“I don’t know. Maybe someone or some animal chased him.” I suggested.

“We need to find him.” Lauren demanded.

“Look, Josh is probably somewhere out in the woods but we need to get David from out of this well now. He could be unconscious now for all we know. He’s not responding to my calls.”

“I’ll try calling him.”

Vanessa took out her phone before stomping her foot in frustration.

“Fucking no signal.” she spat as if it were all technology’s fault.

Lauren and I followed suit and we all held our phones up into the air, keeping one eye focused on the signal bars. Against my wishes though, and after a long, harsh, silent minute, my hopes remained obsolete.

“I got nothing.” I finally confirmed.

“Me neither.” Lauren said.

“Nothing.” Vanessa complied

“Right, fuck it, Lauren, hold this and release it down the well.” I said as I handed her the ladder. “I’ll go grab that nearby rock.”

Lauren held the first bar of the rope ladder and unravelled it down into the vanishing pits of the mystifying well. I heaved the heavy grey rock up from the ground it sank into and staggered it over to keep control of the ladder. With the ladder now in place, I voluntarily, yet hesitantly, climbed down the ladder to the unknown labyrinth beneath.

I carried a flashlight in my mouth like Mother Wolf transporting her beloved pup and descended into the engulfing labyrinth beneath. I flicked the flashlight on about halfway through my descent as all light had evaporated from the well, making my task now twice as challenging. Never good at multi-tasking, I struggled my way down with one hand on the ladder and another on the flashlight, while having to keep an eye on my current position and having to look out for the last step.

The bottom of the ladder dangled a few feet above the ground, like a dreamcatcher hanging from the ceiling; rotating liberally. The flash light lit up the bottom below me, shaped like the bottom of a chemistry flask and I had just journeyed through the tube. I dropped down a few feet, the thick soles of my boots cushioned my drop and generating an echoing splatter sound.

“I’m down” I shouted out to them. “I’ll shine my flashlight up to yee when you’re climbing down. Don’t wanna risk falling just cause you’re climbing with one hand.”

I couldn’t see too clearly from this distance without my glasses or contact lenses, but they both looked like they nodded in acknowledgement. Eventually they both made it down after a few minutes, individually consuming much less time than I had to reach the pit. Lauren dropped to the ground with ease, but Vanessa landed gawkily and she crippled to a bend just as she landed.

Lauren and I rushed over to her aid.

“Whoa are you okay.?” Lauren asked concerned.

“I think I sprained my heel.”

“Well come here.” I said, as me and Lauren lifted her slowly from the ground in which she lay injured.

“It should fade in a few minutes. Just walk it off.” Lauren reassured her.

We flicked our flashlights on towards the tunnel, just as we were about to set foot into vanishing point. That’s when I heard a small weep from Vanessa beside me. A weep that sounded like someone had abandoned their majority of hope and was wallowing in their own self-demise and loathing. It was only then that I had noticed that her flashlight wouldn’t turn on; Vanessa pressing her flashlight like it was a jammed key on a laptop.

“Hey, I thought you were alright?” I said trying my best to encourage her.

“No Andrew.” she replied, her lip quivering, her nose sniffling, her cheeks moist.

“I’m scared.”

And then she pointed at something in the distance, and I turned around to see my flashlight projecting a large, recent bloodstain on the wall, trailing drips travelling south like a controlled red avalanche and contaminating the shallow stream beneath.

We had both overlooked Vanessa’s screams penetrating our eardrums and rushed to desperately reassure her that it could have been anyone’s blood. Any animal’s blood. Anything’s blood. There was nothing more foolish than me convincing her not to climb back up that ladder, because in that moment in time, there was this idiotic, nagging voice at the back of my head which was edging me to keep Vanessa down there. That there was this inarguable logic that we needed all the people we could to help find David and Josh. That anyone’s emotions could be suppressed, thrown aside and were only really a burden to help finding our friends. That’s what I did. I convinced Vanessa of this within a few minutes, only I garnished it with comforting tones, soft-spoken voice and complimenting vocabulary. That’s what I did, and I feel like a murdering mind-contortionist for it.

Lauren has it lucky. Lauren looks so peaceful. Lauren’s face is so empty. 2 hours and 52 minutes.

Apparently that sight was enough for Vanessa at this point, and she hobbled back over to the ladder, her heel still in pain and giving her difficulty. I caught her before she even got a hold of the ladder, and convinced her to stay with us. After all, it was pretty much essential for us to have as many people with us in our search for David. After a few minutes of the most persuading speech that I could muster up, Vanessa warily agreed to continue on with us. Now determined to locate our friend, we all walked on, at the same pace as Vanessa, who was still limping from her fall.

Our little splashes echoed relentlessly through terrifying quiet that was mutually experienced. We kept our faces straight, our eyes focused and pace consistent surrounded by eerie echoes and the occasional distant drip. Trudging through the questionable hygiene of stagnant water in search of two friends was certainly not what any of us had in mind for a weekend of fun.

Unexpectedly then, Lauren’s flashlight began to dim quickly. Slapping it desperately, I could only watch as terror swelled up Lauren’s expression. After several seconds of “No no no.” and disbelief of our misfortune, the light disappeared, leaving my flashlight the only one left shining.

I turned around to the two girls whose dismay had consumed their expressions. The only flashlight left illuminated their grief stricken faces, as I once more attempted to comfort them with the fading hope that the twins are somewhere down here.

“Come on, we’ve been travelling for miles now.” I told them, “They’re probably just up ahead. They’d do the same, if two of us went missing. C’mon”

“Andrew, wake up you stupid bastard.” Vanessa snapped at me with venom. “There’s somethin’ seriously fucked up goin’ on here. If we don’t turn back right now and leave, and I’ll put this simply so that it’ll pierce that thick skull of yours. Bad. Things. Will. Happen.”

I dropped my flashlight in frustration and stormed over to her face to face.

“How the fuck can you say something like that when two of our friends our missing?” I demanded.

“I’m worried for us.” she replied, with less venom and more concern. “How come neither of ye have thought this through? What logical reason would Josh have for coming down here other than rescuing David? Huh? Why would he and David start venturing down this well when he knew that we were coming back for him? None of it makes any sense. Why is it that you insist that it was animal blood we just saw back there, but that we actually haven’t seen any animals down here?”

“Why the fuck are you only saying this now.” I asked with acted frustration, over grim realisation.

“Because nobody in this fucking group ever listens to me. I’m always the calm, passive one who has to do what everyone else is doing, but does anyone else give a shit about me? No.”

“That’s not tr–“

“Let me finish” she said cutting off my objections. “I came down with you both, because I knew I wouldn’t have a say in the matter. I knew that nothing I could’ve said would get either of you to listen to reason, and just stay back at the tents.”

“Guys…” Lauren started saying worryingly at this point, but I was too engaged in Vanessa’s rant and focused on convincing her to continue with us to even notice she was trying to grab our attention.

“Look, I had no idea that you felt this way, okay.” I said.

“Guys…”

“I promise that once this is all over I’ll start listening to you more.” I continued.

“Guys…”

“Andrew, turn around. Seriously.” Vanessa replies “I’m sorry, but if they were still here we would have found them ages back. I’m sorry, but we need to get back.”

Lauren was now speechless.

“It’s going to be dark soon, and getting back to camp is going to be a nightmare in that.” She continued

Lauren’s teeth started to jitter.

“Okay, we’ll bite the bullet and call 999. How about that?” I replied.

My eyes, now adjusted to the dark, realise Vanessa is now looking at Lauren. The sound of her teeth jittering echoes through the well along with the sound of a low, nearby grumbling. The beams of the flashlight on the ground slightly illuminate her violently shaking arm, which was pointing in the direction we were walking.

Unbelievably terrified by her tense state, Vanessa and I slowly turned around and faced the direction she was pointing. I couldn’t comprehend what my eyes were now witnessing, as eight green, marble-like eyes reflected in the flashlight beams and blinked curiously and occasionally. Its grumbling became louder and more aggressive, as the hairs on its 8 black legs began to twitch violently as its mouth slowly opened. Its blunt teeth, shaped like little half-crescents, illuminated dully like marble; a horrendous set of gnarling teeth that were splattered and dotted in shiny blood. As it growled, it’s abdomen slowly raised to an awkward angle, readying itself to sprint towards the three of us.

I slowly picked up the flashlight as it continued to observe us, noticing something in the left-hand corner at the top of the tunnel. Buried beneath a thick blanket of the creature’s silky web, Josh’s blue, terrified face was frozen still above an enormous bite wound which was punctured across his entire chest. The blood spilled out and down through the web, and pooled into a glossy puddle on the ground. I shun the light, following the trail of leaking blood, and saw hundreds of tiny little spiders; crawling around and all over each other, all grouped together in the puddle which accumulated below Josh’s pale-blue, dead body.

I ran. I had taken all this is in, in around 6 seconds, and after that I just ran. My mind didn’t even think to be a leader, or to look out for the two girls, or to even try to be intelligent about the whole situation. All I could do was run. Vanessa limped behind me screaming. Lauren screamed out my name for me to help her and Vanessa out. The thing screeched harshly and my eardrums rung slavishly to its incessant screeching. While running, my brain finally caught up with itself when I started to become exhausted. I realised that Vanessa had sprained something when she fell, and that her and Lauren needed my help.

I stopped and rushed back to Lauren and Vanessa. Although what I had initially done was self-centred, they were just glad to see me helping them. The three of us hobbled through the splashing tunnel as fast as we could. Tears streamed down Vanessa’s face and Lauren shouted words of encouragement to her. The screeching was starting to become louder, and whether the two girls knew it or not, it was only a matter of time before it was going to catch up with us.

I looked behind me briefly. It looked like it was seconds away from attacking, and it was terrifyingly fast, despite the fact that it galloped like a wounded horse. In a bout of sudden, desperate anxiety, I tightened my grip on the flashlight I was carrying and prepared myself, against all odds, to out-strength the creature.

“Hang on.” I shouted to the others.

I stopped, turned around, and the creature stood on its two hind legs and ferociously rang out a sonic-shattering screech. I gathered all the physical strength I could possibly conjure, and savagely whacked it on the head as many times as I could. I roared, I swore, and I ignored my quickly aching muscles as thick, green goo started to spurt out from its head and from some of its eyes. My whacking started slowing down, and despite every effort I had put in, I had failed to kill or critically injure the creature.

Ignoring its wounds, it dived on top of me, and sunk its teeth into my flesh like spongy marshmallows. I roared at the crushing agony, which was then accompanied by the injection of a burning liquid that I felt squirt from its fangs, and into my bloodstream. Lauren and Vanessa screamed in panic, and in a last stitch effort to stay alive, I battled over the searing pain and the pumping, boiling liquid, and rolled the brain covered flashlight over to Lauren.

Like a scurrying mouse dashing out from a hole, Lauren grabbed the flashlight and instantly smacked the creature in the head. Through my searing pain, the sound of Lauren’s valiant efforts became dimmer and dimmer as my concentration began to seep into a painful, faded blur. Vanessa hopped over to me, and made sure I was alright. She helped me up, and as we huddled there listening to Lauren’s whacks of brain matter become slower and slower, I slowly started to weep thinking just what I had gotten my friends into. I myself had been bitten by God knows what, and I had almost got two of my dearest friends killed from trying to rescue two friends who were already hopelessly gone. I sat there weeping, from both the guilt of bringing my friends out here, from the impending unknown of what the searing bite on my arm was going to do, and from the agony of getting us all trapped for only trying to do the right thing.

Lauren wiped the fringe out of her eyes and approached me. She stared into my tear-filled eyes, before she herself burst into tears. We hugged each other for a few seconds before slowly walking away, physically deflated and emotionally weak. Vanessa looked at us still standing on one foot and held her arm out meeting Lauren’s shoulder. We hobbled once more towards the ladder, and I looked around once more at the unsanitary tunnel and shining my light at the dangling ladder. Looking around me once last time, I gazed at the thick, green goo that covered Lauren’s clothes, and that’s when I noticed, to my melancholy and horror, thumping red flesh around swollen teeth marks on her left leg, just like the one on my arm.

She obviously didn’t want to say anything, so for now I kept my mouth shut. Both Lauren and I went up first and she helped Vanessa climb up onto the first step. I was eternally grateful that the rock had managed to keep the ladder in place. The ladder was slippery in places, indicating there had been a downpour since we had ventured. I looked up once more into the never-so-beautiful murky grey sky, which was a navy shade indicating it was late-evening or early night. I checked my watch and to my shock and horror realised we had been searching down there for nearly four hours. No wonder Vanessa had become so angry with me.

I never thought about what I would tell The Twins’ parents. I never thought about what they would have to tell their little six year old sister. I never thought about how we would alert the proper authorities. I was just glad that I had escaped alive from that horrifying creature. I hadn’t even thought to myself what that thing was, and I was just glad that I could nearly taste the light of day. As we were approaching the open top, we collectively heard one more screech bellowing out from down beneath. Lauren and Vanessa shared a dismayed, concerned look, but I was too relieved to have escaped to honestly care.

I hopped out of the well, the feeling of crunchy leaves massaging my feet through my shoes. I reached out my hand and helped Lauren back up to the forest. I looked down and saw Vanessa still struggling a little bit up the ladder.

“C’mon girl you can do it.” Lauren encouraged her.

I was a little too pre-occupied with feasting my lungs to the fresh, damp air to realise, so I snapped out of it and walked over to the well to see how she was getting on.

“Almost there.” I said to her.

She looked up at me and gave a relieved grin. She reached for the next bar, but without warning, her hand slipped as she expected to grab her own weight on the wooden bar. She lost balance there and then, and that beautiful, hopeful smile she had gleaming across her face just seconds ago, became a lost, desperate cry for help as she suddenly diminished into the black depths of the well once again.

“GRAB BACK ONTO THE LADDER.” Lauren shouted down to her. A fading scream was her only response.

“VANESSA GRAB BACK ONTO THE LADDER.” she shouted again. The scream had become nothing but a whisper.

Her pleas were going hopelessly unanswered. I rushed over to the side of the well and grabbed hold of the rope. I started reeling it up, in the miniscule hope that it was exceptionally heavier. As I continued rolling it up though, I heard a little wooden bar rattle its way up the side, and my eyes capacitated with tears when two torn bits of rope hopped out of the well with it.

With one final, desperate attempt to save my friend, I flicked the flashlight back on, and dropped it down the well. After that we ran. Lauren and I ran back through the skinny deciduous trees, and back into the dense, thick forest. We then arrived to our drenched tents and logs, where only 24 hours ago we were sharing intimate secrets and drinking questionable mixtures of beer and whiskey. Finally, after a while of running, we had arrived back to the lonely black jeep surrounded by dense deciduous trees, where the red wounds on our limbs were thumping and bleeding. I leaned over to vomit and catch my breath, when Lauren’s eyes shut, as she collapsed onto the damp, mossy forest floor. Her exhausted body escaped a suffering that I deserved for slaughtering all my friends, as her fragile, blond head cracked off a nearby sharp rock, and her body lay limp; her warm blood pooling onto on the cold, wet ground.

Shortly after her death, the wounds burst like popping bubble-wrap, and those miniature spiders I had seen rolling around so contently in Josh’s blood, slowly emerged one by one out from her flesh. I sat here suffering for hours on end, and I don’t even know what sort of fate Vanessa had met down in that damned well. There was no way of me ever knowing, and hopefully I’ll ever knowing. All I can do, is sit here praying that this phone soon gets signal, and that I can pray that Vanessa is rescued from that well as soon as can be.

I was never a praying man, but now I find myself clutching the cross necklace that hangs around The Twins’ rear-view mirror. My wounds continue to pulsate, almost like they’re alive themselves. If they are, I hope they feel the pain I do. It’s only a matter of time now before this little creature, who’s stretching his leg to the edge of the now see-through bubble, pops out and feasts on my flesh. I’m becoming very dizzy, and very nauseous, and these condensating windows are not making me feel any better. I feel clammy, humid and I cannot see Lauren’s peaceful face and envy how I’ll soon be like that. All I can think about is the horrendous pain this pulsating swelling has been putting me through for the last few hours.

This is my final note here. My legs feel heavy and paralyzed. I poke my head up once more to try to have a look at Lauren’s body. The miniature spiders seem to have disappeared or have moved around to her back or something. The visible part of her skin is ghastly pale, apart from her throbbing, pink leg. My lightheadedness has come to a point where my arm is starting to become numb. If that even makes sense. I don’t know, and I don’t care. Once one of them is visibly making an effort, I at least know his, and my time, are soon. I never expected my last thoughts to ever be self-pity. 3 hours and 14 minutes.

What have I unleashed upon this World?

Credit To – CrashingCymbal

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 7.0/10 (145 votes cast)

The Missive of Jeriah Dowd

November 7, 2014 at 12:00 AM
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 8.0/10 (125 votes cast)

It was about a year ago, in June of 1928, that I entered the New England convalescent’s home where I sit writing this missive. I do not wish to record its exact location, for if this manuscript somehow reaches the outside world I do not want unsavory and foolish callers questioning me about what I am about to write, about the things I saw in that jungle.

I arrived in Bolivia in February of 1928, landing at Arica in Chile and traveling overland to that country’s high inland plateau. With me I brought only one companion, the illustrious Doctor Aleister Braithwaite of Miskatonic University. The good Doctor was one of the leading experts in linguistics in the country. He knew tens of languages both currently living and millennia dead, and, especially pertinent to this expedition, specialized in the languages of the natives of South Africa. While convenient, this area was not where we both expected him to truly flex his skills. His research into old tongues had also given him an appreciation of history and archaeology, and we were on the track of something much older and stranger than South African language. With the combination of my own intrepid abilities in exploration and bushwhacking and the Doctor’s quick linguistic wit, we believed there was no way our quarry could evade us. Not a day goes by that I do not regret that our belief was right.

Shortly after our twosome arrived at our La Paz apartments, we began to inquire after our goal, and after the actions and whereabouts of a talkative white man in a bicorn hat. This man was my good friend Charles McAlister, known back home in Providence for his effervescent manner and signature archaic headgear. It was McAlister who had given us the information that precipitated our trip. He had spent three years in Bolivia, both in the cities and among the small jungle villages, where often old languages and customs run deep. It was from the latter that he first heard rumors of an ancient city deep in the primeval jungles of the Amazon. Supposedly, this city was ancient beyond the memories of man, built of Cyclopean blocks of basalt covered with indecipherable decisions. Supposedly the place’s original inhabitants had died out millennia ago, but such were the rumors of their sacrilegious dark arts and disgusting acts of cannibalism and human sacrifice that none of the locals had ever tried to enter the place or make it their own. In fact, the ancient inhabitants of this supposed city were so feared that it was a taboo to speak of them or their now-overgrown home. McAlister only managed to obtain so much information by plying the locals with expensive whisky.

McAlister had related all this and more to me in a letter which I’d received a few months ago. Besides the information above, he informed me that the rumored location of the ancient city was a day’s march from a southerly village called Yaku-Sumaq, literally meaning good water in the local dialect. McAlister concluded by saying he was departing to Yaku-Sumaq the next morning in search of the nameless city. The date next to his signature was from several weeks before I received the letter.

I was vaguely interested in the matter of the ancient city, and awaited correspondence from McAlister regarding his mission. However, nearly two months passed without a peep from him. However, at that time a letter from Bolivia arrived in my mailbox. Its writer was an English expatriate called Samuel Browne, who lived in La Paz. Charles had left my address with him, along with instructions to mail me were he to go missing. According to the letter, this condition had been met: McAlister had not been seen since a few days after he wrote the original letter. After a short internal deliberation, I decided that I must go to Bolivia to find him. However eccentric he was, he was my good friend since childhood. Due to the ancient mysteries that potentially figured in Charles’ disappearance, I decided it would be necessary to bring along an expert, and I found an eager one in Dr. Braithwaite. As soon as I related the rumors of the ancient city to him, his eyes sparkled in scholarly fervor and he agreed to take ship with me to Bolivia.

As I said, Dr. Braithwaite and I began searching for Charles McAlister as soon as we arrived in La Paz. The final location we visited was the home of Samuel Browne. Browne welcomed us in, poured some tea, and asked “Mr. Dowd, I presume? You are here to inquire about the whereabouts of Mr. McAlister?”

“Yes, I am,” I replied. “Have you seen him since mailing me?”

“I’m afraid not,” Browne said. He was here months ago in that ridiculous old hat to give me your address, and since then I have seen neither hide nor hair of him. I believe it’s been more than month now. A few weeks ago I heard rumors of an oddly-dressed foreigner out in one of the jungle villages, but that’s it.”

This was disquieting news. I had entertained a feeble hope that Charles had turned up sometime between receiving Browne’s letter and our arrival, but it seemed this was not the case. “When he visited you last,” I asked, “what did you notice? Any strange behaviors? Stranger than normal, I mean?”

Browne rubbed his hand against his chin, as if stroking a nonexistent beard. “Hmmm…He was talking quite animatedly about some sort of ruined city when he visited. He left on an expedition to find it the next day.”

“Did he mention any sort of planning for his expedition? Buying provisions? Hiring porters or guides?” I said.

Browne frowned. “Nothing of the sort. Only that he hoped to be at his destination in less than a week’s time.”

I sighed. It was just like McAlister to go haring off into the jungle without the slightest preparation. I dearly hoped we would find him safe and sound, but I did not let myself entertain much hope. Dr. Braithwaite and I thanked Browne for his time and took our leave.

It took us a week to get to Yaku-Sumaq, seven stinking days in the back of a donkey cart. As much as I’d mentally admonished McAlister for not adequately preparing for his jungle trek, we had not done much better. In the interest of haste, between the two of us we had nothing but some long-keeping provisions, bushwhacking supplies such as machetes, hatchets, and rope, firestarting equipment and some camping pots to boil water and cook in. It was our plan to try to hire a guide who knew the local jungle in Yaku-Sumaq itself.

We arrived as the sun was setting on our seventh day on the road. To our surprise we found not the squalid collection of thatch-roofed hovels we had expected, but a relatively modern set of muddy streets lined with wood-framed buildings, which we later learned had been funded by logging companies interested in the area’s trees. The one closest to us was a tavern, with a barroom on the ground floor and lodgings above. Braithwaite and I walked in, eager to wash a week’s worth of dust from our throats.

The barroom was at about three-fourths capacity, split near-equally between white men and natives of the area. Sitting down at the bar, Braithwaite ordered a pint, and I asked for the same along with two fingers of whiskey. After resting for a few minutes, we began to ask the other patrons about bicorn-wearing McAlister and his mythic, cannibal-haunted destination. No one we asked about McAlister had seen hide nor hair of him. Similarly, none of the whites we asked about the ancient city knew any more of it than we did. Most hadn’t even heard of it before we questioned them. In contrast, the natives said nothing when we queried them, only shook their heads or stared levelly at Braithwaite and I with dark, hooded eyes.

Our information-gathering fruitless, we bought a room from the proprietor. We were about to ascend the steps and prepare for sleep when a voice called to us. “I heard you asking about Qu’xtl earlier.” The voice came from a dark corner of the barroom. “Your friend was asking about it too, weeks ago.”

“Q-Qu’xtl?” I said, mouth stumbling over the weird, almost inhuman syllables.

“The city in the jungle. All built of basalt, and cursed. The one you were asking about. Qu’xtl,” came the gruff reply.

Even the name of our previously unidentified target sent a chill down my spine. The archaic, unnatural syllables conjured up visions of horrid rites perpetrated in darkest night, of fell ceremonies honoring nameless gods forgotten by civilized man.

I paced over to the corner, with Dr. Braithwaite close behind. The cryptic speaker sat at a poorly-lit table, an untouched mug of ale in front of him. His face was as tanned and lined as an old boot, speaking of a life spent out in the elements. He was missing several teeth, and a dull iron ring pierced one ear. We sat down in front of him. “Do you know where this Qu’xtl is located?” Braithwaite asked, his trained mouth pronouncing the name much better than I had. “Did our friend go there?”

“Go there he did, no matter that I warned him not to a hundred times,” the grizzled man replied.

“Why didn’t you tell us earlier?” I barged in. “And I don’t believe I got your name.”

“Haas,” the man said, and stuck out his hand.

I reluctantly shook it. “Jeriah,” I said.

“To answer your other question,” Haas continued, “Qu’xtl is not something that’s talked about in this town. It wouldn’t be good for me to be seen speaking of it.”

“What can you tell us about it?” Braithwaite asked quickly, returning the conversation to the topic at hand.

Haas finally took a swig of his drink. “Them who as built it were an old people, older than anything else here. They’d been dead and gone for eons before the Incas got started. They worshipped a jungle-god whom required human sacrifice, and they ate each other too.”

“Yes, quite scary,” I returned. “We’ve heard it all before. But you say the place’s been abandoned for millennia. Why is it so dangerous now?”

Haas breathed out a long sigh. “Them as go there, don’t return. None of them.”

At this point I practically exploded. I was tired of the man’s cryptic antics. “Then why did you tell McAlister where it was? You’ve killed him!”

At this, Haas met my eyes for the first time. His eyes were old, that much was plain, and full of sorrow. “I warned him,” said Haas in a desperate, almost pleading tone. “ A hundred times and more I warned him, but he wasn’t having it. I believe every man has the right to make his own choices, and your friend’s-McAlister’s-choice was to go to Qu’xtl and doom himself. I…am sorry.” He sagged back in his chair, looking spent and broken.

Braithwaite, who had been ready to intervene after my outburst, relaxed after seeing me do the same.

I sighed and paused a minute to clear my head. “I am sorry as well. You are not to blame for our friend’s disappearance. But still, I would like-“

“A day’s march northeast of here, down a ravine,” Haas interrupted. “You’ll know you’re on the right track when you see the standing stones,”

“Er-thank you,” Braithewaite said. “But aren’t you going to warn us away?”

Haas looked at him. “You wouldn’t listen. You need to find your friend, yes?”

“Yes,” I said firmly. “Now, Doctor, let’s get some sleep.”

Braithwaite looked at me, then Haas. “Er-Thank you,” he said, and the old man nodded. Braithwaite followed me up the stairs, and we both fell asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow, exhausted after our overland journey.

We woke up bright and early the next morning, and set off to the northeast. For a little while the two of us were able to stay in the cleared area near Yaku-Sumaq, and the going was easy. Then, we reached the edge of the jungle. This part of the forest was relatively young, and our progress was dramatically slowed due to the thick undergrowth. The masses of bushes and vines were tough and spiny, and full of many insects and noisy small animals. We took turns on point hacking our way through with machetes and hatchets, but even with the trading-off going was slow for a few hours. However, after scraping our way through a particularly thick patch of thorny vines we found a reprieve as the underbrush thinned.

We had entered an older part of the rainforest, where the trees had grown so high they had blocked most of the sunlight and prevented it from reaching any plants lower to the ground. Compared to the close-up tangle of the younger section, this area conjured ideas of a huge, natural cathedral. The calls of the animals practically echoed in the spaces between the massive tree-trunks.

It was only a few minutes after entering the older growth that we spotted the first sign of our destination. I would have missed it in the arboreal gloom, but Braithwaite’s keen eyes spotted it. “Look!” Excitedly, he pointed. “That must be one of the standing stones Haas told us about.”

Indeed, it was. Braithwaite was pointing to a tall basalt pillar, about fifteen feet in height. It was as big around as the wheel of an automobile at the bottom, and tapered parabolically to a sort of point at the top. Its great age was evidenced by the thick patches of moss and lichen covering much of its surface.

“Quite impressive that it’s managed to stand this long. But what is that near the top?” I pointed to the metal plaque set into the stone near its apex. It was dark green, as it tarnished, but the verdigris was no color I’d seen before. The moss and fungus on the rest of the stone seemed to have grown around it. Deeply graven into its surface was an odd symbol. It was a five-pointed star with long, wavy arms that reminded me of tentacles. In its center, there was a wide, staring eye.

Braithwaite stared at the plaque for a while, then spoke. “Hmmm. I’ve never seen a pentagram drawn quite like that. Perhaps it represents growth, of plants, or of territory? It could stand for a land feature, like some kind of way-marker.”

“What about the eye?” I said, a bit disappointed with his vagueness.

“That’s a bit easier. The eye is a symbol of vigilance and guarding. It is a mark of warning, one that keeps things out. Or perhaps in.”

I wished I hadn’t asked. Braithwaite’s ominous answer had sent a mild chill down my spine. For the first time, the strange circumstances surrounding Qu’Xtl , combined with the cryptic stone, were making me consider the possibility of the rumored “curse” being in some way real.

Dr. Braithwaite and I continued our march through the old forest. As the sun sunk lower in the sky, we passed three more markers, one leaning over, one toppled by tree roots, and one standing like the first. Each was made of the same black basalt, and each was capped with the star-and-eye symbol on a dark green plaque. I touched the plaque on the toppled column, and the strangely-colored metal sent a strange, undefinably wrong feeling up my arm when I touched it.

Soon after passing the third standing stone, we happened upon a ravine. “This must be where the city is,” said Braithwaite, still managing to sound excited, though both of us were sweating profusely in the Amazonian heat. I gave a nod in response, and we began the treacherous descent into the valley. Most of the time, we got by carefully using trees as handholds, but for a few very steep sections, we had to use the rope. We left segments of it at these steep sections in anticipation of ascending the same way when we left.

It was when we reached the valley floor that the first true sign of horror reached us. Braithwaite was the first to reach the bottom, dropping off of the rope from about three feet off the ground. I, up above him, heard a disgusting squelch closely followed by a yelp of surprise. I jumped down and saw Braithwaite, back against a tree, pointing silently with a look of horror on his face. I looked to where he was pointing and nearly retched.

There on the ground was an abomination, an utter affront to the natural order of the world. It was a patch of human-like flesh, spread on the ground like moss. It had peeling skin burnt red by the sun, and was studded with coarse black hairs. Gangrenous wounds and suppurating lesions mottled it with discoloration and pus. The stink coming off it was astounding, and as I stared at in in terror I realized its surface was slowly moving up and down, as if it was respiring.

From my left, there was a choked sound from Braithwaite. “Wh-wh-wh-wh-“

“Stop!” I cut him off. “Hold yourself together. Remember our mission. Remember McAlister.” At this Braithwaite took several deep breaths and calmed himself. “But what is-“

“It doesn’t matter. That’s not why we’re here.” Despite my stoic outward appearance, I was at least as shaken up as Braithwaite. That thing on the ground was [i]wrong[/i].

We started moving up the valley. We saw more and more patches of the flesh-moss, on the ground and once crawling up a tree. All of it was an unhealthy and reeking as the first patch. We also began to see evidence of ancient structures. There were foundations and toppled walls and stacks of Cyclopean blocks, all made of the same basalt as the standing stones. Finally, we reached an arch of the same material, about twenty feet high. Beyond were buildings more intact than any we had so far seen. It was the entrance to Qu’xtl proper.

Braithwaite and I went through, studiously avoiding patches of the flesh-stuff growing under the arch. The only sounds were the strange, choked calls of the monkeys in the trees. They sounded somehow…off to me, though at the time I did not know why. Immediately after passing through, we noticed the evident sophistication of the buildings. They were built of massive basalt blocks, cunningly joined without mortar and even reaching two stories in some places. There were what we surmised to be residences, granaries, offices of government, and a paved square that could have been a marketplace. Evident throughout it all was great age. The buildings were far too old and weathered to be as sophisticated as they were, at least according to conventional archaeology. Despite the oldness, none of the buildings seemed to have any sort of plant life on them. Instead, the loathsome flesh-moss crawled up walls and around doorways like the fat surrounding a glutton’s heart.

Set into some of the walls were sunk reliefs made of the same dark green metal as the plaques on the standing stones. The ones in the residential buildings showed a wide variety of scenes, from farming and hunting with slings and what seemed to be relatively modern plows, to scenes of cannibalism and ritual sacrifice to horrible to describe. Nothing significant could be learned from these reliefs until we reached what seemed to have been Qu’xtl’s Capitol building.

While it had originally been two stories, the top floor had blown over in some storm and its pieces scattered. It was among these we found the most significant relief. It showed the tentacle star and eye symbol that had been on the standing stones, but much larger. Under it was incised some writing in a strange alphabet I had not seen before. Braithwaite’s eyes, however, lit up when he saw it. “Why, it looks like a degenerate form of Sumerian cuneiform! No, a protoform! Though, how could it have gotten to Mesopotamia, hmm, perhaps-“

“Can you read it?” I interrupted, gently as I could under the circumstances.

“Er-yes, just a minute.” He stared at the dense writing. “It says ‘Thus it is, and so shall it be, for YOG-SOTHOTH is and shall be, and He is the spawn of YOG-SOTHOTH. He grows, and rots, and grows again, for he is the Hungry Pestilence-just a moment, this next word is odd-for he is the Hungry Pestilence, N’HOR-N’TH.’”

At this last word, this hellish name, my blood ran cold. I had seen these names once before, in an often-banned occult tome owned by an acquaintance named Pickman. It was the Genus Caelestia Sphaera, the Lineage of Celestial Spheres, and it purported to be a list of the incomprehensible and horible gods that even now slept and warred throughout the cosmos and the darker spaces outside of it. If Braithwaite was reading the name correctly, and the book was to be believed, the so-called “curse” of Qu’xtl was all too real.

I did not tell Braithwaite of the horror that struck me, as he was an academic and did not put much stock in the supernatural. We merely continued up the ravine until we reached its end, still with no sign of McAlister. The end of the valley was a cliff of stark black stone. At its base was a wide doorway, its frame and jamb made of precisely chiseled basalt. Above it, cut into the cliff, was a strangely asymmetrical five-branched symbol. The workmanship was very rough and primitive, as if the chiseled symbol was even older than the rest of the city. Perhaps this tunnel was the mine from which the basalt was quarried. The darkness inside looked cold and foreboding. Even more troubling, though, was the fact that the flesh-moss made a solid carpet inside the tunnel. As much as it revolted me, I was going to have to go in there to look for McAlister.

“Stay here,” I told Braithwaite. “If I’m not out in half an hour, get the hell out of here and try to get help.”

“Are you really going to-“

“Yes. I have to.” I removed the flashlight from my pack and plunged into the darkness. My feet sank into the fleshy substance coating the floor, and I thought I could feel it breathing faster as I passed, like it was angered or upset. The stench was so thick I worried I would ignite it with the torch. Luckily, the passage was relatively short. It widened into a massive cubical room cut into the mountain itself. I exhaled in relief to be out of the close confines of the tunnel, but by reprieve was short-lived, for I then laid eyes on the thing in the center of the room.

It was a massive lump of flesh, higher than a man and three times as wide. Its skin was oily, scabrous, fishlike. Weeping sores and tumorous, malignant lumps covered its entire surface. As the light of my torch fell upon it, it shivered with a jiggling motion that nearly made me vomit. The lumps and tumors upon its skin shifted and swirled, until a sort of crease opened and a massive, pus-filled, weeping eye peered out from within. It focused on me and in that instant I know that I nearly went mad at the knowledge it filled me with. Mercifully, I have forgotten most of it, but I still dream of what’s left. Even in the waking world, I imagine the fields of graves and coruscating swirls of blackness on darkness that it showed me, and I nearly faint.

After a moment the eye closed, but the crease that had concealed it soon opened again. This time, something new was behind it.

A mouth.

It was thirty feet of lesion-crusted horror, the thousands of blackened teeth in multiple rows relatively tiny. Human.

Stuck in some of them, I saw a chewed, sodden, bicorn hat.

It was then that I broke and ran. Behind me the thing gargled in its cave, and I felt a tug on my pants as I sprinted. I dared the briefest of glimpses downward and saw that the flesh-carpet beneath me was studded with mouths. I somehow managed to avoid them until exiting the tunnel, where the flesh thinned out. “RUN!” I screamed to Braithwaite, but he was already doing so. We tore through Qu’xtl as if the devil himself was behind us. I knew it was actually something worse. The air was filled with the choking and gargling of the flesh-moss. I dodged the patches as best I could. At one point Braithwaite briefly fell behind with a cry before catching back up. I looked down and saw blood running down his leg. Finally, we reached our ropes and scrambled up the wall of the ravine as fast as we could.

There is not much else to tell. We did not stop in Yaku-Sumaq, only re-hired our donkeys and rode back to La Paz, taking half the time the first trip has. During this time, Braithwaite’s leg began to turn gray and break out in sores. By the time we reached Arica, he was delirious with fever and the tumors had turned his leg into a 150-lb cylinder of diseases flesh. The ship’s surgeon cut it off, cauterized the stump, and had the vile thing thrown overboard, but it was too late. Braithwaite’s entire body greyed and developed lesions. He lasted two weeks. He weighed a quarter ton in tumors and his flesh was sloughing off his bones at the end. I myself spent the rest of the journey too drunk to think or even remember.

Soon after my arrival home, alcohol lost its effectiveness and I turned to morphine to forget. That worked for a while, but then stopped just like the rum had. Hopelessly addicted, I checked myself into this convalescent’s home. I’ve been saving my daily ration for nearly two weeks, and tomorrow it all goes into my veins. I’ll finally forget for good. But first, I wrote this manuscript, and will soon post it to the Miskatonic University library as a warning. It is too late for me, but not for you, reader, so here is my advice: do not dig too deeply in the old places of the world. The things inhabiting them do not die, but merely dream, and it is all too easy to wake them.

Credit To – Turiya

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 8.0/10 (125 votes cast)

Metroid 2: Secret Worlds

November 6, 2014 at 12:00 AM
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 8.2/10 (263 votes cast)

A few months ago I was busy preparing to move to a new house when I came across something from my past.

I was going through my belongings, trying to figure out what to keep and what to discard, when I found an old shoebox stuffed down the back of my closet. Curious, I opened it up and found that it was full of CD’s. I flipped through them and realized that these were backups of files from over ten years ago.

I remembered that this was how I used to back up stuff before external hard drives became affordable enough for me to just start backing up with them.

I stopped packing and started checking out the CD’s on my computer. They were mostly full of stuff I’d collected off of the net like mp3s, roms and animated GIF’s.

I then came across a CD that was labeled ‘Conversations with Pahn’. I stared at the CD with some reservation for a moment before loading it into my computer.

The CD contained a bunch of images, a couple of audio files and some text dumps from a message board.
Looking over these files made me recall an incident that had occurred many years ago. It was an incident that had slipped from my mind until I saw that CD again.

Honestly, I was glad to have forgotten about it. It was a pretty freaky experience and to this day I still don’t know what to make of it.

It was 2004, I was in my last year of high school and I spent most of my free time being an admin for an emulation message board.

It wasn’t a particularly taxing job, I was one of three guys who were admins and the board itself was pretty niche, so we usually didn’t get a great deal of traffic.

Back then there wasn’t the bot problems you find on boards these days. Most of the time I just had to log in, check my messages, then browse through the forums to see if anyone was breaking any rules or just being a dick.

It was a pretty fun gig, I got the most enjoyment out of messing with persistent trolls.

Being an admin allowed me to change their avatars(I had pics of crying babies for such occasions) or edit their posts.

Usually I’d have them say stuff like “I suck”, “I cry into my pillow at night” or my personal favorite “I left my brain in the womb”.

Basically I used to get a real kick out of administrating justice on the board.

So one night a new guy registered to the forum and created a thread called “Need help to pull apart my nes”.

The following is from that thread:

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 1

I was slightly mystified by his question and I had some time to kill so I thought I’d ask him.

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 2

I almost laughed at this. I explained to Pahn what roms were and he got really excited.

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 3

I got the gist that he really wasn’t very technically savvy. Which was fair enough, we all had to start from somewhere.

After explaining to him about roms and emulators I didn’t hear back from him for a few days.

He then came back to the board and became a bit of a regular. He would mostly start threads in which he was asking questions about emulation problems he was having.

A lot of people didn’t have any time for him.

They felt that he was just an annoying person who asked dumb questions. I remember one night he started a thread about how he couldn’t get an emulator to read games he had downloaded. We then had to explain to him what a zip file was and how it worked.

One of the other admins was thinking of banning him. He didn’t like the fact that Pahn was starting up new threads about stuff that had been already answered in earlier threads.

I told him not to do that, I’d have a word with Pahn.
I don’t know why I decided to step in, I sort of felt bad for the kid I guess.
 I also felt a bit of a connection to him because he was one of the few people I’d run across who was also a fan of the RPG Suikoden.

So I told Pahn to check through the board before posting any questions that might have already been asked and answered. I then told him if he got really stuck to just private message me.

It wasn’t long before he started messaging me. At first he would just ask me questions.

Lots of questions.

Fortunately he seemed to be a quick study, I didn’t find myself having to explain things to him over and over again. So I wouldn’t say he was stupid, just green.

Soon enough he asked me for some game recommendations and this lead to us talking about what games we were playing. It was from there that we started having a correspondence over the next few months.
We only really talked about games and movies though, the only personal stuff that I knew about him was that he was 16 and he lived in London.

One night we were having a conversation about Metroid games. I’d just clocked Super Metroid for the millionth time and was thinking about dusting off the original Metroid and giving that a go.

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 4

It was a pretty well known glitch. Basically how it works is, if you are falling down a long shaft in some places in the game and then press the select button repeatedly really fast, you can make wall tiles disappear. If you go through the tunnel that is created you’ll end up outside the map.

You can then find rooms that are tile swaps of regular rooms, rooms that scroll repeatedly forever and rooms that look like they have been randomly thrown together.

Apart from using it to sequence break, it’s pretty pointless. It’s more of a novelty then anything else.

Some people started up a website devoted to the ‘Secret Worlds’. They were obsessed with mapping the whole thing out. Like they were explorers braving uncharted territory or something.

I tried it out myself once on my gameboy. I quickly got frustrated though after I kept getting stuck in walls when I moved between rooms.

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 5

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 6

I didn’t hear from Pahn for a couple of days after that. Then one night he sent me a message.

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 7

I taught Pahn how to take snapshots and upload them so that he could show me the stuff he was finding.

A few days later I got a message.

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds -8

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 9

After that I didn’t hear from him for about a week. Then one night I was on the message board and got the following message:

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 10

Pahn sent me the links and I looked over the images he had uploaded.

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 11

I knew straight away that this wasn’t a glitch.

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 12

I asked him where he had got the rom from and he gave me the address. When I checked it out, the page wasn’t there anymore. Which wasn’t really surprising. Back then rom websites were frequently popping up and being taken down almost immediately.

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 13

Just before I was about to go to bed I looked at the pictures again. It occurred to me that the words might form a sentence. I wrote the words down on a piece of paper and started trying out combinations. Eventually I came up with;

“HOW DARE YOU. STOP STEALING MY LEGACY.”

I thought it was a rather strange sentence. I couldn’t figure out why anyone would even bother hacking that message into the game, I didn’t even understand what it meant.

A few days later I got another message from Pahn.

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 14

I taught Pahn how to capture the audio and gave him my email address. I told him to attach the file there if he did manage to record any sounds from the game.

I thought about what Pahn had described to me and I had to admit that I was pretty impressed by the hack.
I also agreed with Pahn’s reasoning. If someone had bothered to put this much effort in, then it was likely that they had done more. It was just a matter of finding it.

Though I was surprised that I had never heard of the hack before. I started browsing through rom hack sites, trying to find the one that Pahn was playing. I didn’t have any luck so I asked around in a few IRC channels but no one had seen anything like what I was describing.

The following night I was browsing the message board when I noticed I had a new private message. I saw that it was from Pahn and opened it up.

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 15

The audio file finished downloading and I listened to it while I waited for Pahn to come back.

I didn’t know what to make of it, I’d never heard a gameboy make that kind of sound before.

At first it just sounded to me like a foghorn, but then another sound started to play over the top of the foghorn noise.

The other sound did seem familiar to me somehow, but I couldn’t quite place it. I found myself getting spooked so I quickly closed the file.

I got up and made myself a cup of coffee and a snack. By the time I got back to my computer 15 minutes had passed.

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 16

I waited a few more minutes but I didn’t get a response from Pahn. I got worried for a moment but then just figured either a friend or family member had come by and he was busy.

I surfed the net for a bit, did some Admin duties then checked my messages again. Pahn still hadn’t come back. I was pretty tired by that point so I shut down my computer and went to bed.

I got up early the next day and checked to see if Pahn had left me a message.

He still hadn’t gotten back to me.

I headed off for school and didn’t get home till the evening. After I grabbed a bite to eat I sat in front of the computer and checked my email and private messages. There was still nothing from Pahn.

I left a few more messages and waited for his response. Over the next few days he still didn’t get to me and I really started to freak out.

I skipped school for a few days and stuck pretty close to my computer. One afternoon, after performing some minor admin duties, I re-listened to the sound that Pahn had sent me.

I still couldn’t make out what it was so I started playing around with it in sound recorder. I sped it up a few times and realized that the foghorn sound might be the the music that plays right before you fight the Metroid Queen. As I continued to speed the sound file up I realized what the other sound was, someone was talking over the music.

I had to speed the sound up over ten times to get it to sound like it was playing at the right speed. Once I had done that I tried to make out what the voice was saying. I had to listen carefully a few times before I got it.

The first part was an introduction. Someone was saying “I am…” and after that was presumably their name. I couldn’t catch what it was though, it wasn’t an English name.

The second part of the sentence was clear enough though.

“Knock Knock, I am here.”

Needless to say I was quite unnerved at that point.

I hit the internet again, trying to find out anything I could about the version of Metroid 2 that Pahn had been playing. I emailed people at the “Secret Worlds” website, I posted messages on numerous emulation websites and I spoke to people on various IRC channels.

Most people though I was joking, the rest thought I was crazy.

It seemed no one knew what the hell I was talking about.

Then one night I got a private message.

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 17

I was a bit startled. When I’d been going around asking questions about Metroid 2 I hadn’t been using Pesmerga as my username. Nor had I mentioned what message board I was from.

I replied back to the message, wanting to know who was messaging me and how they had found me. But the user never got back to me. After that night I kept an eye on the logs of user activity to see if he came back to the site, but he never did.

I then took the message’s advice and looked up the name Gunpei Yokoi.

It didn’t take me long to find out who he was.

It turns out that he was hugely influential at Nintendo. Some of the games he worked on included the original Donkey Kong, Mario Bros, Kid Icarus, Metroid and Metroid 2.

But what he is best known for is arguably his greatest creation, the Gameboy. It’s often described as his legacy.

I kept reading the article in fascination when I got to a section that was about his life after leaving Nintendo. Not long after he left Nintendo and started his own company, Gunpei Yokoi died in a car accident. I glanced at the date of his death and that gave me a shock. It was October the 4th, 1997. The same day that I got my last message from Pahn.

I listened to the sped up version of the audio Pahn had sent me and that’s when I knew that the first part of the message was “I am Gunpei Yokoi.”

It was after this realization that I went through a period, which went on for about a year, in which I flat out refused to answer a door unless the person identified themselves.

Over the next few months I scoured the internet for any news stories concerning a missing teenager in London.

There were several stories that would pop up but the details were so vague that any one of them, or none of them, could have been Pahn.

There was one story that did catch my attention. It was about a missing teenager who had been last seen at home.

His mother had left for work and she said that he had been on the computer in the lounge room.

When she returned several hours later the lounge room was empty but the computer and various other electrical appliances were still turned on. At first she thought that he might be in another part of the house, but when she checked she found that it was empty.

She then tried to call his mobile phone and that was when she discovered that his phone and wallet were by the computer. It was at this point that she called the police. They investigated and found no sign of disturbance in the house and nothing was missing, well except for the teenager. He had vanished without a trace.

I looked for more information online but couldn’t find anything else.

I contemplated getting in touch with the police in London. But one thing stopped me, there was no way I could think to word my story without sounding like a crazy person.

Even if I could figure out how to word it properly, and if this missing teen did happen to be Pahn, there was no information that I could give them that they wouldn’t get off of his computer anyway. And if it wasn’t Pahn then I would just be wasting their time and possibly end up in some sort of legal trouble.

The words ‘hindering a police investigation’ popped into my mind.

I went back through my conversations with Pahn to see if there were any clues to his real identity that I hadn’t noticed before. But there was nothing there that revealed anything I didn’t already know about him. It was then that I realized that I always just assumed that he was a ‘he’ in the first place.

But there was nothing in our conversations to dismiss the possibility that Pahn had been a female. The possibility of Pahn being female instantly made the task of finding Pahn twice as hard.

In the end I had to give up, I just didn’t know what I could possibly do. I took screenshots of all of my conversations with Pahn, copied the pics and sound files he had emailed me and burnt them onto a CD, just in case I ever needed them again.

Not long after that I finished high school and then started working.

Within a month I stopped being an admin. I still stuck around the board for a few more months, but by then I no longer had the free time to post with any regularity. Over the following years I got busy with life and everything that happened with Pahn drifted further and further from my mind.

I decided to write this all down and put it online in the hopes that after all these years someone might know something about what happened to Pahn, or know of the version of Metroid 2 that he found.

As I said at the beginning, I honestly don’t know what to make of this.

Is there a copy of Metroid 2 floating around the internet that’s haunted by the ghost of Gunpei Yokoi? And if you have the misfortune to stumble across it does he come to your door, angry that you have dared to defile his legacy?

I try not to think too much about it.

When it does cross my mind now I like to imagine that the whole thing was an elaborate hoax perpetuated by Pahn. That he set the whole thing up months in advance. He created the images and the audio files. He came onto the message board, pretending to be a technically inept teenager, when really he was brilliant with a pc.

He was user12345, he was the one who told me to look up Gunpei Yokoi.

I like to imagine that he is somewhere out there, still laughing about the wonderful joke he pulled all those years ago.

Sometimes I can almost convince myself that it was just a hoax.

I think that was how I was able to get to sleep at night in the months after I lost contact with Pahn.
And I think that telling myself that it was all a hoax now is going to come in real handy on those restless nights in the days to come.

Credit To – Yuber Neclord

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 8.2/10 (263 votes cast)
Try a free sample Personal Astrology Profile!