On the Disappearance of Aaron Barclay

March 10, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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On the Disappearance of Aaron Barclay

There was an interesting item in the Oakland Tribune some time ago. Apparently a young man, one named Aaron Barclay, had gone missing. Mr. Barclay had been attending the Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco and vanished a week before final exams. Some say he killed himself due to the pressures of law school. Such a thing is not uncommon, after all. The proximity of the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the most popular suicide destinations in the world, lends some support to this theory. Others, however, believe Barclay to have run away and point to the lack of a body as evidence. Furthermore, the apartment identified by the police as Barclay’s was left in a state of disarray. The room apparently looked as if the occupant had left in a hurry packing a few things for whatever journey he intended. Nevertheless, no sightings of Mr. Barclay have been reported and police say it is far more likely he is actually dead. Other more imaginative individuals insist that this was all a stupid prank, that Mr. Barclay is fine and probably living in some backcountry town away from the prying eyes of the city.

The subsequent investigation uncovered next to nothing regarding Aaron Barclay’s whereabouts. Only one clue, if it can be called that, was ever found. This “clue” consisted of a multi-page, handwritten letter stashed underneath the seat of a charter bus bound for Salt Lake City, weeks after Mr. Barclay first went missing. Though thoroughly questioned, the bus driver could not provide any information regarding the circumstances of the letter or the whereabouts of Mr. Barclay. This was partly due to the many stops the bus made in Sacramento, Reno and other cities. Many still wonder he ever actually boarded the bus. Forensic analysis of the handwriting later confirmed it to be Mr. Barclay’s though there are naysayers who insist otherwise. Fortunately, handwriting experts later confirmed that the handwriting truly was Mr. Barclays. Now, the letter itself is interesting. The writer, presumably Mr. Barclay, insists he is sane; however, the contents of the letter suggests otherwise. Mr. Barclay was clearly too ashamed to admit the peculiar fixation he had with a certain female professor and too paranoid to have correctly interpreted the events of which he writes. The letter is likely an attempt to rationalize his obsession with the woman. Mr. Barclay’s letter is transcribed in full below.

The Letter of Aaron Barclay

My name is Aaron Barclay and I’m not crazy. Really, I’m not. To anyone who reads this, please understand at least that. I don’t suffer from some childhood trauma that makes me see things that aren’t really there. Schizophrenia or any other major mental problems do not run in my family. I don’t do drugs and drink only occasionally. Please remember that as you read what I’ve written down… My god, I miss my life from before… before I knew. See, ignorance is a beautiful thing. It really is bliss. I didn’t realize that until it was too late. Now I’m on the run from those eyes. I see them in my dreams, in the dark, in the mirror. I know how this all must sound, but bear with me. Ask yourself if some lunatic can recall and write down their recent experiences as coherently as I will.

It started with civ pro, short for civil procedure. I just started my first year of law school and civil procedure is one of the required classes for first year students. The class is about lawsuits and how they work. It’s also famous for being one of the most boring classes a law student can take. Seriously, the class should be patented as a cure for insomniacs. Making it even worse was the fact that my specific class began at 8:30 pm. I heard it was the only class that met so late which made it that much worse. I had all my other classes in the morning and early afternoon; so when Tuesday and Thursday hit, I was stuck in school killing time until my civ pro class started. I usually spent the time studying and relaxing at a Starbucks close by. That wasn’t the only difference between civ pro and the rest of my classes; criminal law, torts and contracts were all much more interesting. We spent time learning about murder, celebrity contracts and negligence, things that would spark any student’s interest.

Civ pro, on the other hand, sucked. Learning about personal jurisdiction, proper venue and discovery limitations made it hard to stay awake in class. I hated it. I never paid attention to the Professor Dunn in Civ Pro. I spent the class browsing the latest news to make the time pass by faster. I even got away with playing computer games a few times. Dunn would post the power point slides on the internet; that’s how I got away with the lack of attention in class.

My current situation started one day when I heard some chatter about Professor Dunn. I think it was some time towards the end of September, the half-way point of the semester. I was walking past the 2nd floor student lounge where other law students came in to socialize, read for class and eat an occasional lunch. I will always remember gripping the metal handle of the door leading to an adjacent room and stopping to hear Kaitlyn gossiping with her friends. Kaitlyn was the obligatory suck up every class had. She probably still is even now. Every day, Kaitlyn would torture the entire class with the sound of her voice as she constantly sucked up to Professor Dunn. Always raising her hand with something meaningless to say. She obviously enjoyed the sound of her own voice which made it worse because she had this stupid high-pitched voice of a 3 year old girl. I don’t think there was a single person in our class who could tolerate Kaitlyn except her own posse.

Anyway, I remember overhearing Kaitlyn talking to one of friends about Professor Dunn that day. Only she wasn’t so much as talking as whispering. She had one hand up to her mouth and constantly glanced around to make sure no one could hear her. I don’t know if it was embarrassment or something else but she obviously didn’t want what she said becoming common knowledge. I let go of the door handle and leaned in a bit to catch what she was saying. I pulled out my phone and pretended to text someone as I listened. She was locked in a conversation about Professor Dunn, giddy with the excitement of a teenager on prom night. She talked about Dunn’s eyes, hair and voice with a breathy whisper. One of her idiot friends nodded in agreement and mentioned something about many other students also feeling the same way about Professor Dunn. Kaitlyn threw the girl a dirty look as if annoyed at the thought of competing for Dunn’s attention. In fact, everything about her suggested she would have had Dunn’s baby right then and there if her biology allowed her to.

Something about that scene that still rubs me the wrong way. Like cold fingers touching my spine. Maybe it was the way that murderous look distorted Kaitlyn’s face at that moment. Or the way Kaitlyn tightened her grip on her pen and held it like a knife for a split-second. Either way, the scene chilled me. I wanted to listen some more, but I suddenly noticed Kaitlyn and her posse glaring at me. I jerked around and stumbled out of sight. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the girls picking up their things and marching towards the exit. I rolled my eyes and ignored them as I continued on towards the school library. I deposited that scene into the back of my mind and didn’t think twice about it for some time. It hadn’t clicked yet.

A few weeks later I experienced a bizarre incident with two buddies of mine. The three of us decided to book a study room in the library to try and get some studying done for the upcoming midterm in our criminal law class. I was running a little late due to some stupid delay on BART. I walked down past the empty study rooms towards the only lit one at the end of the hall. As I walked closer, I began to hear the voices of Connor and Mac. At the mention of Dunn’s name, my feet suddenly froze as my back pressed up against wall next to the room Conner and Mac were talking in. Every study room in the library was fronted by glass window enabling those within to see outside. For some reason, almost by instinct, I did not want either of them to know I was there. I set my backpack down and clung against the wall making sure I couldn’t be seen. Both Connor and Mac were discussing Dunn’s looks. Kaitlyn’s conversation from a while back sprung to mind as the discussion drifted toward Dunn’s eyes, hair and voice. Weird thing was, they spoke in the same breathy whispers Kaitlyn did. I tried convincing myself that this was just simple sexual attraction despite a curious tone of obsession in both their voices.

I decided I had heard enough. I picked up my backpack and walked up to the glass door and opened it. Mac and Connor’s heads jolted up as their hands fell from their mouths. After realizing it was just me, they immediately flipped opened their textbooks and began talking about the felony murder rule. I mentioned hearing them talk about Dunn and joked that I wouldn’t judge them. Neither one of them really denied it but they didn’t really admit it either. Mac just sat there shaking his head while Connor blubbered something about liking her as a teacher and quickly changed the subject back to felony murder.

I never really thought much of Professor Dunn’s looks, I mean, she definitely didn’t have super model looks but she also wasn’t ugly either. I was letting them know what I though when they both looked up at me and just stared, unblinking. I sat across the table looking back and unsure of what to say next. The moment didn’t last long and I finally relaxed when both Mac and Connor let out slow breaths. I told them to forget about it and asked that we continue studying. I noticed both of them unclench their fists under the table as the creases on their foreheads disappeared. I thought of a leopard changing its mind about pouncing on its prey. I wonder now just how close I was to getting a few limbs broken.

After Mac and Connor, I never really heard any more similar conversations. But I don’t think it was because they stopped happening. I began to notice more conversations in hushed tones and the occasional glance in my direction. I’m sure I saw a finger or two pointed towards me a few times as well. Conversations about Professor Dunn seemed oddly absent. It was now that she began to intrigue me. I realized I never really paid any attention in civ pro much less to Professor Dunn. The class was just too dry for me and I had better things to do. I resolved pay more attention to and observe Dunn more carefully. I wanted to know what was so enthralling about her.

The next class, I came a little earlier than usualand sat down waiting for 8:30pm to hit. This time, I did not bring my laptop, choosing a pencil and a notebook instead. Professor Dunn swaggered into class at exactly 8:30. She calmly set down her notes, turned on the projector and began to lecture on amending complaints after they were filed with the court. Despite the boring subject, I managed to keep my head up and began to study Professor Dunn from my seat in the back of the room. As I thought before, she didn’t exactly have super model looks, but she was definitely not ugly, more like plain-looking. She was fairly skinny but not curvy. Her straight brown hair seemed almost too straight and when she walked up towards the back of the room, I noticed a curious lack of any skin blemishes. Not a zit, freckle, mole, or any other kind of mark whatsoever. It seemed almost inhuman, as if she were a living barbie doll. She also had no makeup on. Her skin, her face… everything was naturally flawless; they were not just hiding behind sheen of makeup.

I almost didn’t realize I was staring until she turned her head in my direction while lecturing. That’s when I really noticed her eyes. It felt like the heat of a desert sun blasting down on me. That’s the best I can describe them. Her eyes just stared too, with aimless purpose and completely devoid of life. My head twitched as I turned back toward my notes and still felt the heat blaring down on me. I wonder if that’s how a mouse feels when confronted by a cat.

Dunn finally turned away and walked towards the front of the class; it was then that I noticed my shivering hands and the beads of sweat forming on my forehead. John, the guy next to me looked at me and quietly asked if I was sick or something. I responded by standing up and staggering out the back door toward the bathroom. I opened the door, stood in front of the mirror, and steadied myself against the counter. At that time, I just couldn’t put my finger on it. I’m not that kind of guy to just collapse under someone’s stare like that. I used to win those staring contests all the time as a kid. Why was Professor Dunn’s stare so different? Those eyes. My god, those eyes. The way she stared at me, I felt molested, violated in some way. I knew I had to go back into class, but my feet cemented themselves to the floor. There was just no way I could go back in with class in session.

Luckily, I ran out just a few minutes before the end of class. I checked the time on my cell phone and decided to go back in a minute or two after class ended. I marched towards the class, opened the door and without looking at anyone, picked up my notes and backpack and nearly raced out of the classroom. Good thing it was Thursday, I didn’t have to worry about going back to class for another five days. Too bad Professor Dunn began to invade my thoughts after that class. I wasn’t able to study felt like I failed the midterm when Saturday came.

Our midterm grades were posted the following weekend and gave me some hope; I got a C.. Sunday night, I decided to go to Dunn’s office hours and ask for some tips to prepare for the final. I managed to somehow rationalize this meeting by minimizing what happened the previous Thursday. I told myself to grow some balls; after all, it’s just Professor Dunn. What’s she going to do? Rape me? I pulled out the class syllabus and looked up her office hours. Her only office hours were Monday evening, same time as our class met on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I worried about my grades. About a third of the students are automatically failed the first semester; I didn’t want to be one of them. Also, my scholarship would last only so long as I maintained a B average.

Now here’s the thing. I can’t remember exactly what happened that night. That memory feels like a fog. I remember walking up to Dunn’s office, knocking on the door and being invited in. I also remember having a… pleasant conversation. I don’t remember exactly what happened. But it’s not like I lost my memory. I remember her office perfectly. I remember the books lining the shelf behind her. I even remember what Dunn wore that night, black slacks with some fancy white top and a black tie. But other than that, I just can’t remember exactly what happened; I just remember having a pleasant conversation with Dunn.

That’s the other thing. Describing that meeting as a pleasant conversation is too perfect, almost as if what happened that night is the exact definition of pleasant conversation. It fits too well. I don’t know. It doesn’t make sense to me even now. The funny thing is that that’s exactly how the memories of all my subsequent visits to Dunn’s office feel. I can remember what happened after and before but not what happened during that meeting in Dunn’s office. And only the words “pleasant conversation” come up when I try to remember what happened during those visits. That’s about all I know even now.

One thing I do remember is a slight twinge of disappointment while walking out of her office after the meeting; the meeting ending too quickly for me and for some reason I wanted it to go on longer. I wanted the pleasant conversation to continue. What really bothers me now is from that point, I began to look forward to my civ pro. I never liked civ pro and the thought of that class sickened me. Yet there I was getting butterflies in my stomach at the thought of going to civ pro. I didn’t even realize how weird that was at the time. Only when looking back on it now can I see it. The days passed by and I began to enjoy going to civ pro. Not just enjoy it but long for it. It got to a point where going to the bathroom during class or being late to class felt like a death sentence. I’m thinking of one Thursday evening as I’m writing this.

I was riding BART into the city and apparently there was a delay. A dog or a cat was on the tracks and some person thought it was a good idea to chase after it. The train was moving slowly in an attempt to keep from running over anything. I checked the time every couple of minutes; the thought of being late unnerved me. When the train began to slow down at my station, I grabbed my backpack and text book, stood up and started to walk toward the train doors. My heart fell into my stomach when I saw this old handicapped woman in a wheelchair right in front of the door. The train stopped and the doors opened up. The woman decided now would be a good time to start picking up her shopping bags up off the floor. I watched her trembling hands move slowly as they picked up one bag, made sure nothing was missing, set it onto her lap and moved back down to pick up the other bag. I checked the time and saw that class would start in one minute; it was about a five minute walk to school. The thought of missing even four minutes of Dunn’s presence produced a huge lump in my throat.

It’s hard to explain what happened next. My hands began to move without my command and they both latched on to the woman’s wheelchair. I kind of grabbed, kind of shoved the wheelchair over to the side and then kicked it away. There was a gasp from bystanders as I cleared my way and .raced out the door. As soon as I escaped the train, I ran up the escalator barely noticing the old woman sprawled out on the floor and the string of four-letter words that followed. The whole situation just didn’t register to me as inappropriate. In fact, at the time I blamed the woman for her misfortune. Didn’t the old hag realize I was late? She had no right to keep me from Professor Dunn’s class. It was later that night that my assault on the old woman came back to haunt me. What the hell was I doing? Why was I so obsessed with Professor Dunn? I felt like I had no idea who she was even after all the office visits and lectures.

I later found out more than I wanted to, though it was by accident. About a week ago, I walked out of Professor Dunn’s office with a huge smile on my face. The kind a six-year old has Christmas Eve. In fact, for the first time, this office visit seemed upgraded from the “pleasant conversation” level of the earlier visits. Coupled with feeling of ecstasy was the knowledge that this was the last time Professor Dunn would be holding office hours this semester. We would have a week off to study before finals.

I walked out of the office and toward the bathroom; I didn’t want to end up pissing myself on the train ride home. Sitting there on the toilet, my mind drifted once again to Professor Dunn. Even then I couldn’t say I was attracted to her. Attraction implies something sexual and this just felt different, more like being pulled by gravity. Smaller objects gravitate towards bigger objects in space; the moon towards the earth and the earth towards the sun. I felt like the moon caught in Dunn’s orbit. The thought of not seeing her again made my chest beat harder and my teeth grind.

It was in this state of mind that I began thinking of following Professor Dunn home to see where she lived. Despite myself, I decided this would be a good idea. Dunn did mention that she was living in the city for the time being. I opened the bathroom door only to see Professor Dunn strut out of her office and turn in the other direction towards the door leading to stairs to the first floor. I pushed the bathroom door wider and walked out leaving globs of sweat on the door handle. I crept out of the bathroom toward Professor Dunn’s direction trying to stay in the shadows. I didn’t think it would be a good idea for her to see me. It was bad enough dealing with this weird obsession without having others catch on; wearing the stalker label wasn’t something I found very pleasant.

Dunn reached the exit door, walked through and began descending the staircase. I pulled my hoodie over my arms as I caught up to the door and nudged it open. I heard the clacking of high heels on the stairs below. Slipping through the door, I half walked and half crawled down the stairs in an attempt at silence. I heard the exit door slam shut a floor below me and just barely conceal a low growl. At first I thought the growl came from right below me. My feet froze in place and I halted for a few seconds waiting to throw up my fear. Now that I think about it, growl isn’t really the perfect word. It was more like the grumbling of a stomach or something growling from inside a stomach.

Some deep breaths later I pressed onward down the stairs with some speed in order to keep up with Dunn. I arrived at the exit door and waited for Dunn’s clacking outside to distance itself. When I could barely hear it I opened the door and stepped into the alley. The alley was empty as I walked toward the corner of my school building. I noticed the absence of the security guard that usually stands by that corner during the day. I guess they aren’t paid to stand guard late at night. I could still hear those heels in the distance and I leaned over and peeked around the corner.

I saw a young woman walk past Dunn in a hurry and almost missed the way Dunn slightly reached out and just barely touch the woman’s hand. The clacking of the high heels stopped as the woman jerked around to meet Dunn’s stony gaze. The two stared at each other and I saw that look again on Dunn’s face, that predatory stare of cat having cornered a mouse. Without a single word, Dunn’s hand shot out and grabbed the woman’s arm. There was no scream, no gasp of surprise, nothing as Dunn led the woman onto the darkened terrace of a closed up shop. I snuck across the alley towards the shop to get a better view and crouched down behind a stone bench. I leaned over to one side and watched the unfolding scene some distance from the shop.

The woman looked mesmerized and, except for a slight smile, her face was blank. Dunn’s arms wrapped themselves around the woman as she began to kiss her. Or at least, that’s what was supposed to looked like. From my vantage point, the woman’s head was turned at too awkward an angle for a kiss but any other person walking by would have only seen two women kissing. The odd angle of the woman’s neck made me wonder if Professor Dunn had snapped her neck or something. I swallowed the lump in my throat and fought the urge the jump up and run. They stood in that position for a few seconds when Dunn pulled her head back and I watched her mouth open. And open and open and open. Her mouth was opened wider than was humanly possible. Like a snake with its jaw unhinged. I swear I saw more teeth than I was supposed to. It was… wrong.

Dunn’s open maw inched closer toward the woman’s head and my ears picked up a slight gasp paired with a low growl. It was too much. I winced at the sight and inadvertently banged my knee against the bench. I had this metal pin in my knee from an accident I had as a kid and it shifted when I banged my knee. A shotgun blast of pain knocked me to the ground as my phone fell out of my pocket and clattered onto the cement. Dunn’s head jerked in my direction, her jaw still open. Her eyes, God, those eyes, they zeroed in on me with laser precision, like she knew all along I was there. I swear I would have been devoured at that moment. That mouth and thousand teeth would have come after me if the suited man hadn’t been walking down the street. As soon as he came into view, the thing that was Professor Dunn closed her mouth and began to actually kiss the woman to avoid suspicion. This was my chance. I scrambled to pick up my phone as I jumped to my feet and hobbled toward the BART station. Somehow I managed to escape the scene.

Now, I don’t know who or what the hell Professor Dunn is but I know that I’m not going anywhere near that school or even that city. I don’t care about finals, I don’t care about law school; I just want to get away. Whoever Dunn is, she can find me if I stay here. She can probably find out where I live; she probably already knows where I live. Who knows what I told her during those goddamn “pleasant conversations”. I can almost feel her eyes on me, staring, watching even now. Hopefully this message gets out to someone who cares. I’m not staying in this area for another second. Even now I wonder if she was playing me, making me think I had snuck up on her. I can’t help shake this feeling that she wanted me to see that, so that I will know what is coming for me. Fuck knowledge, Fuck my curiosity. Ignorance really is bliss.

-End of letter

The attention surrounding Aaron Barclay’s disappearance died down after months of no progress. However, about a month ago, another newsworthy incident appeared in the Sacramento Bee. Some of the more conspiratorial followers of this case insist this incident reported in the Sacramento Bee is linked to the disappearance of Aaron Barclay. Apparently, a hotel owner in Placerville, California had discovered a collection of bones in the dumpster behind his hotel. The bones were said to belong to a young male. According to the finder, these bones were also picked clean and littered with teeth marks. The bones were sent to the local coroner who believed the teeth marks belonged to a wild animal. The coroner then concluded that the victim had an fatal encounter with a bear. Unfortunately, the bones were somehow lost or misplaced and local rumors mentioning a metal pin lodged in one of the bones could not be substantiated.

The professor mentioned in the story, Jamie Rebecca Dunn was questioned by the police shortly after the letter was discovered. She was quickly ruled out as a suspect for undisclosed reasons. As a visiting professor to Golden Gate University, Dunn eventually moved back to her hometown in Texas at the end of the semester. Further attempts to contact Ms. Dunn have gone unanswered. And of course, there is the usual group of so-called “paranormal investigators” that draw the worst possible conclusions: Mr. Barclay was silenced for seeing too much or Mr. Barclay had an encounter with some kind of paranormal creature. These conclusions are best ignored as products of ignorant and overly imaginative minds. Unfortunately for Mr. Barclay, the lack of any evidence regarding his whereabouts will likely doom him to a footnote in the growing list of unsolved missing persons cases.

Credit To – Jacques LaQroix

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Existence

March 9, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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There’s a girl in my class.

I mean, I swear she is there. Every day, she walks in, three and a half minutes late, like clockwork. Her skin is pale and sickly looking, and it appears as though she hasn’t eaten in weeks.

Her ghastly figure stumbles slowly into the room, a sort of bone chilling void surrounding her. And I don’t mean that figuratively . . . I mean, you could faintly see the air around her distorting and warping, turning horrible shades of black.

I’m sure everyone would’ve thought this was weird as well . . . that is . . . If they could turn to look at her. Every time the door swung open and that ghastly creature stepped inside however, the class would freeze. Their faces would frost over, the color all but draining from the room, as the air decayed into stagnation.

Looking to the people beside me, I could see their irises, normally bright and shimmering with colors, now appearing flat and dull; a single shade of grey. My classmates weren’t truly frozen, however. I watched them breathe slowly, their overcast eyes shifting between the professor and their notes. Pencils faintly, yet hurriedly, carved away at papers all around me. And yet, despite these incredibly slight movements, their bodies always stared straight ahead, never shifted in their seats, never spoke. Before I could blink, the entire class had become a perfectly synchronized, uniform, grey mass.

Then it would all stop, the color would rush back into the room, the air once again being filled with the hum of the fluorescent lights as my classmates regained their life and shuffled around lightly, as if nothing had ever happened. The clock had advanced ahead several minutes in what only felt like seconds.

I used to think that the girl had sat down, but I was never really sure.

Sometimes I watched her twisted form slowly stagger towards the class, eventually reaching the furthest back desk in the corner and pulling out the chair, looking as if she was going to sit . . . but what happened next? I could never make it that far. Something about watching her move made my head swim and my vision blur. It was as if I had to concentrate as hard as I could to stay conscious: like I was constantly fighting an invisible force trying to shut me out. The longer I looked at her, the harder it became to focus on reality, and I would start to drift in and out as if I was falling asleep without closing my eyes.

The whole encounter only ever lasted about ten seconds from the time she walked in. For the first several times, I didn’t remember the incident at all, rather, I would just feel a strange sense of déjà vu when it happened again the next class. Any time I looked back to where she should’ve been, there was never anyone there, just the desk that nobody ever used, largely broken, scratched, blackened, and falling apart in silence in the dark corner of the room. I wasn’t even really sure what I was looking for, I had no real recollection of any of the events, the girl, the stillness, none of it stuck with me.

But things have been changing lately.

As if exercising a muscle or something, I’ve been getting better and better at staying conscious when she walks in. I’m now able to watch her for extended periods of time. The headache I get is excruciating, and each time I see her, this horrible feeling washes over me, like a sickness. I say that I’m getting better at staying conscious, and while that may be true, it certainly doesn’t feel that way. Rather, it feels as if I’m being trapped in the horrific stillness for longer and longer.

Clearly, as I’m able to tell you this story, I began to remember the events too. They were just fuzzy memories at first, but soon, as I snapped to my senses when the stillness ended, I immediately searched around wildly, trying to locate the girl. I knew she must have been in the room somewhere!

It was quite clear that I was the only one who could retain consciousness in the stillness. Despite lobbing repeated questions about the three and a half minute mark after class started, I could only ever watch confused expressions scratch across the faces of my classmates.

“What girl?” they say.

About a week after this began to occur, or at least a week after I began to remember the daily event, it ceased to be mysterious. It instead instilled nothing but fear in my chest.

Three days ago, for the first time ever, she looked at me.

She had always seemed like a distorted projection or something, a tape player constantly rewinding and playing back her entrance in the exact same way, but on that day, I did something I shouldn’t have.

The clock struck three and a half minutes after class had begun.

The room fell silent, colors flattening and being smudged into the grey background as my classmates froze. She stepped inside slowly.

I had been afraid to watch her before, partly due to the crippling feeling of horror it gave me, but mostly because I didn’t want to stick out, surely if I moved, I would be flat out announcing that I wasn’t like everyone else in the room.

But on that day, I didn’t care. I don’t know why, maybe it was because I was tired of just sitting in silent horror, stealing faint glances, maybe it was because I felt that I needed to know, needed to figure out what the hell was going on, but whatever the case . . . I gripped the sides of my desk and slowly rose to my feet.

And then it happened. Her form stopped, flickering and wavering in and out of focus like a poorly broadcasted TV signal. Then her head turned as her gaze slowly fell on me.

My heart seized up, and I nearly fell to the floor in terror. Her eyes, at first grey, suddenly glowed a dull, dark green, and they radiated a sort of sickness. Invisible, poisonous waves seeped out into the motionless air like slithering eels.

I felt nothing but utter despair. Pain and sorrow formed on my soul like jagged ice crystals, strangling whatever life I had and smothering out all hope. My legs grew weak, and I slowly sunk down to my chair in silent agony as my heart slowed to a horrible, sluggish pace. My vision split in two, and I lost my ability to refocus.

Then she started to approach me, her mouth moving as if to speak and then . . .

I snapped my head upwards and glanced around in bewilderment. The color had returned to the room. The stillness had passed, with me having lost several minutes of memory. I must have been taken by the stillness before I could hear her speak.

The girl was gone, of course. The only thing I had to prove to myself that it had ever happened at all was the sickness I felt in my heart.

No matter what I tried, I just couldn’t break free of the sorrow. It gathered like a dense fog in my mind, and each time I thought back to her eyes, I felt a stabbing pain in my chest. I often nearly vomited from the queasiness.

The next day, my fears erupted into absolute horrors as the clock ticked past three minutes and thirty seconds. The door creaked open slowly behind me as the class fell into the stillness, and I could already feel the horrific presence entering the room without needing to look.

When I did finally force myself to steal a glance however, my blood crystallized and my breath caught.

She was mere feet from me, walking deliberately towards me, her dull eyes fixed on mine. At our eye contact, I felt yet more of my happiness being torn away, my soul shriveling and icing over. This time, as she approached, she smiled, extending her cold dead hand out before her. She was trying to touch me.

I cried out in horror and leapt up from my desk, backpedaling across the room. My heart had begun to decay, my mind getting blotted out and filled with a dark sludge of hopelessness and despair. It swirled and warped my thoughts as I tried to keep moving but found myself too weak: too weak to try and run, too weak to think I would ever make it out, too weak to hope for anything.

There was no hope in this world.

I felt a ghastly void began to materialize in my chest. Something important was beginning to be torn away from me. Something I knew I could never replace.

Suddenly, I looked up to see the class staring at me in shock and confusion. The colors had returned, and I was left standing in the middle of the room, panicking like a paranoid psycho and looking at nothing: an empty space where the girl had once been.

“Are you ok?!” someone asked, “Dude, you look pale as hell!”

I’m sure I did. I’m sure I looked awful, I’m sure they could see me shaking, I’m sure they could see that I was sick with horror. But damn, I felt worse.

Worse than they could imagine.

I mumbled softy that I was alright and walked back to my desk. I slumped into my chair and fixed my gaze on the floor. They all stared at me for a while longer as I sat in utter agony. I felt as if there was nothing left, nothing on this earth for me, nothing that could possibly fill this hole that had begun to grow inside of me. The feeling grew with every sluggish pump of my tired heart: so incredibly tired, straining to beat at all as the despair clung to it like a heavy ooze.

Then, slowly, they began to forget me.

During attendance the next day, the teacher didn’t call my name, skipping right over it and moving on to the next. No one noticed his mistake either.

When I stood up and asserted that my name hadn’t been called, the teacher just looked at me with dull eyes and mumbled to himself, “Yes, yes, of course, my bad.”

None of my classmates turned to look at me however, and the teacher never fixed the attendance sheet after my confrontation. He just continued on to his lecture, as if instantly forgetting that it had happened.

I tried to talk to kids, but their attention was always diverted after looking at me for a few seconds. It was as if I was but a fleeting thought in the back of their minds, always being overwritten by something more important.

This only made me feel more helpless, casting me further into the gruesome despair.

Then, that day, the door creaked open again, and something horrific happened. The stillness that normally lay waste to the room and rendered everyone stagnant . . . didn’t quite happen at all. The air grew heavier and some colors faded away, but the people didn’t freeze as much, didn’t fall into silence or become a still grey mass.

And then I heard the laughter.

A quiet giggle, out of place and filled with pain.

I turned to see the girl walk in, but she wasn’t quite the same. Her form was sharper this time, her image less distorted, and she walked with a new pace. There was some more cheer in her wobbly steps as her sickly giggles filled the room.

I quickly looked away, averting my eyes to the ground.

But then one of my classmates slowly shifted his weight, and his head turned to look back. He nodded his head slowly in the direction of the girl, acknowledging her presence for the first time.

I was aghast and confused, how could he see her now? I watched some other students glance behind themselves as well, confirming that they knew she was there.

I stood up and shouted, “What the hell is this?!” But no one even looked at me. Not one of them met my eyes.

Then I felt a tap, a light hand against my shoulder. I was filled with sudden relief, someone knew I was here after all! I whirled around to face them, only to stagger back in shock. It was that girl, her face smiling wide, her eyes looking deep into mine, I noticed that her skin had become less pale, her form less sunken and more animated than before.

At seeing her face, I shut my eyes, squeezing them tight and turning away. But I could feel her movement as she shuffled close to me. I felt hands being placed on my shoulders, and I knew her face was inches from mine, waiting for me to open my eyes, take just one little peek.

Slowly, my mind began to slip just as before, but this time I waited, curled up in horror, trying not to look for nearly thirty minutes. Finally, after I could hear the hum of the lights grow stronger and the faint stillness lift, I slowly opened my eyes and she was gone.

I had had enough of this. I left that classroom. Convinced that I would never come back.

On the way out of the school, I passed by a mirror. What I saw in the reflection made me seize up in repulsion.

A ghastly, haunted face stared back at me. I was now beginning to look like how I felt. The despair had sunken my eyes into their sockets, the pain draining the color from my skin. I looked as if I hadn’t eaten in many days.

I walked right out of the school, not a person looked at me as I brushed past them, I doubt they even knew I was there.

I finally reached my apartment near the campus, owned by me and three others guys. I opened up the door.

One of my roommates sat, but he didn’t acknowledge me. I closed the door hard, and then slammed it once or twice, but his gaze never lifted, he didn’t even flinch.

I walked up to him and tapped his head, knelt down to catch his eyes.

“Hello?!” I practically cried, sorrow consuming me. His gaze shifted to meet me and then slowly fell away.

“Welcome back . . .” he mumbled quietly, his voice quickly trailing off.

I’m sure I could’ve kept bugging him, but I had no will to try. I was consumed by despair, and all the excruciating sensations it contained. No one would ever acknowledge me, my existence had faded far too much.

Late that night, I sat alone, curled up in my ruffled bed. I slowly drifted off as desolation lulled my heart to sleep.

That morning I woke and lay in silence. I had no will to move. I was never going back to that class.

Not with that creature there.

I watched the clock tick slowly, the machine components forced to carry on. The gears spun and churned, although they had no reason to. Just like my heart, the apparatuses were simply part of a machine, keeping something useless alive.

The clock reached 12:00 and kept slowly carrying on.

Class would’ve just started, I thought to myself. I doubted that anyone even noticed that I was gone.

The light tried to enter through the window, being obstructed by the heavy wooden blinds, casting faint lines in the dim, dusty room, the interior almost looking as if it was filled with a dark haze.

The clock ticked quietly in the background, seemingly muffled and far away. I watched it reach three minutes past twelve and the second hand continued ticking, reaching 30 seconds past.

The air suddenly fell into stillness and my heart froze. I heard it, the door to my room slowly creaking open.

“No . . . No, NO!” I shrieked to the lengthening shadows of my surroundings.

The ghastly creature slowly staggered into my room from down the hall, a horrific smile ripping its face in two.

Except she wasn’t really ghastly at all . . .

Rather, she was nearly entirely normal. The air no longer distorted around her, her face had some faint color, and her eyes glowed a brighter green than I had ever seen.

I screamed, trying to shield my face and shrieking, “No! You can’t be here! Get away from me!”

She didn’t stop however, I could hear her slowly shuffling across the floor, eventually reaching the foot of my bed.

There was no running this time. I slowly peeked open my eyes to see her face inches from mine with a demented cheerfulness distorting her features.

I tried to close my eyes, but her hands suddenly rushed forwards, nearly jabbing out my eyes as she scratched and clawed my eyelids open. I tried to fight her, tried to grab at her arms, but I was too hopeless and weak to move much of anything. As her eyes stared into mine, I felt my body go limp and I couldn’t even twitch a finger.

This was it for me.

I felt the last shred of humanity being torn away from my heart, and the air rippled with dark hideous smudges as she cackled with glee. I felt hot blood running down my face, and I could feel the hole inside my chest consuming me.

As I watched, her face regained all life, her ghostly distortions all but fading away. Suddenly, her glowing eyes dimmed, ceasing to radiate light and becoming utterly plain. The horrific smile faded, and she stopped looking at me, rather looked through me now, as her face went placid. She slowly stepped away from me and wandered around the room as if looking for something, forgetting that I was even there.

My heart had stopped.

I no longer felt it beating in my chest.

I couldn’t speak . . . but quickly realized that this was because I wasn’t breathing.

Speaking required me to consciously breathe in and exhale air. This was something that was no longer a reflex.

I could breathe if I wanted to . . . but I didn’t need to.

For the first time in a long time, however, I did feel something. Something related to pain and sorrow, yet refreshingly different and powerful in a different sense.

I felt . . . entirely consumed by hatred. It mixed into the gruesome vat of sadness and despair already inhabiting my soul, all of the dark emotions swirling around inside of me. My body was too small to physically contain all of them, and they erupted out of me in hideous tendrils of blackness, distorting and warping the air around me.

I rolled off the bed in agony and slammed to the floor, lying and staring at the ceiling for hours after that. The stillness never faded, rather, it grew stranger and stronger the longer I lay. A small area around me was consumed by stagnant air and grey-scale smudges. I was now the one creating it, although it was confined to a small bubble around my broken form. The girl never looked at me again, she didn’t recognize me anymore: she couldn’t even see me anymore.

She was human now.

A trait she had stolen from me. She had taken my life.

One of my roommates walked in at some point and said hello to her as if she had lived in the house the whole time. They recalled and laughed about some memories together, memories that should’ve been about him and I, not him and her.

The picture on the nightstand of my four friends and I, was now horribly smudged and grey. Even as I watched from the floor however, it slowly refocused into the image, her figure standing where mine should’ve been.

I lay in that room, watching in despair as my life was lived out by someone else. Nothing I did made anyone see me anymore, not even the half-assed remarks came my way anymore, no matter how loud I screamed.

Days passed like this until the rage and despair inside of me finally exploded, and my mind reached a breaking point.

One day, the house was deserted, all of my once friends off at class. I slowly stood, my body sickly and crooked. I looked at my hands to see them flicker in front of me like a poor signal as the surrounding air burned black with hatred and sorrow.

I stumbled out of the room with a new horrific determination.

The stillness around me grew the more I felt and accepted the hatred. By the time I exited the house, it was filling up entire rooms around me.

I reached a college auditorium just slightly after class started.

Using all of my feeble strength, I was finally able to force the door open after several minutes. As I stepped inside slowly, the entire room was consumed by the hateful stillness around me.

The people froze and turned away instantly, something I now realized had been a subconscious defense tactic. One that I hadn’t been able to employ.

I was the weak link in my class. The whole time I had been fighting to stay awake, I had really been fighting what my body was naturally trying to do: trying to save me from what I had now become.

I slowly staggered into the class, going to the furthest back desk to sit down when I noticed . . .

. . . one of the kids wasn’t quite like the others.

His body wasn’t quite as grey, not quite as lifeless. His gaze shifted nervously around the room. I probably wouldn’t have even noticed his slight variations . . . if I hadn’t been looking for them.

A horrific smile broke out across my face.

The kid didn’t last long, he quickly faded into the stillness like everyone else as his mind went blank.

I hadn’t been able to make eye contact with him today, his gaze was too unfocused, but that was okay.

I would just have to try again tomorrow.

Credit To – Liam Vickers

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Crepitus

March 8, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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The hangers are still swinging in my wardrobe and all my clothes are scattered around the room. I’m stood in the doorway trying to make sense of the situation: who the hell has been in here? There is no sign of a forced entry; the door was locked when I came home, exactly how I left it, I live alone and I don’t have any pets. Moreover, the hangers are moving as if my clothes had been ripped off them just a few moments ago. I walk into the room, perplexed and annoyed I search under the bed, nothing, inside the wardrobe, again nothing, under my computer desk… there’s no one here. I walk to the window, it’s closed. I look out and I can see my driveway below, but I can’t see anyone there, whoever this prankster is, they’re gone. I don’t know how they got out, but they aren’t here now.

The clothes are back in my wardrobe. I looked through every room but I didn’t find anything, which I guess is good, but I don’t know how they got in or out and that’s what’s bothering me. That’s why I’m lying awake in my bed at 3.05 in the morning, my brain whirring. I don’t scare easily, it’s more that I’m angry because I have no idea how they got in here, let alone why they thought it would be funny to just throw my clothes around like that. At least a robbery is straight forward, it’s not hard to understand why someone would break into a house and steal a TV or whatever, but this is different. It’s like a bunch of kids got overexcited and started chucking clothes at each other or something. I roll over and something cracks loudly, probably my back, the changing seasons must be affecting me more this year, maybe I’m getting old.

I wake for work as usual, get dressed in my nicely creased clothes, and head out. I’m in the driveway with my keys in hand, my mind still buzzing from yesterday’s weirdness, when I feel a weird tingle in the back of my neck. I turn and look up.

There, stood in my window looking down at me, is a naked man. Well, I say man, it could just as easily be a woman: I can’t see any genitals. It’s just stood there, looking down at me, naked and bald, their skin is a faded yellow colour, it’s weird, it looks too tight almost, and I can see every one of its ribs and every bone in its thin, skinny frame. The face is gaunt like a skeleton with hollow cheeks and eyes that are sunken into black sockets.

As I stand bewildered, staring up at the thing in my bedroom, it lifts its bony hand in a wave, but it’s not right: they must have arthritis or something because their hand is moving in quick, stiff jerks, like the joints are seized. No, that’s not right, it’s more like they’re broken, the wrist is bent at an impossible angle, and it seems to snap from side to side. Two waves, then it drops it’s hand down in that jerky way, turns, and walks back into my room, moving like a man would on broken legs. I stand for a moment longer, then turn and run back to the house.

So this is the joker, the one who decided to throw my clothes around yesterday. They didn’t leave. They were still in the house somewhere, must have got passed me when I opened the bedroom door. I run upstairs, the bedroom door is shut and I bang it open only to find my room empty, with everything just as I left it. I search again, but more thoroughly. There’s nothing. Nothing under my bed, desk, drawers, nothing in my wardrobe, the room is empty. They must be in another room.

I look into every room, searching as thoroughly as a police drug dog, every nook and cranny, and still no sign of the intruder. Did they get passed me again? Another quick search of my room, I’m sweating like a pig and now I’m late for work. They must have got passed me and left: I searched everywhere. No way are they still in my house. The old creep probably escaped from a nursing home, all confused, maybe even with dementia. Could be why they messed about with my clothes like that. Weird old fuck.

I run out to my car, panting and stressed. I look up to my window, no one there. Good. Maybe they got the hint that I wasn’t messing around.

Work is normal, same old boring crap, and when I get home all my clothes are undisturbed, still in the wardrobe, where they should be. I sleep well, my joints are still cracking whenever I change position but I sleep sound in the knowledge that the intruder has gone. The mystery of the moving clothes is solved. Well, I still don’t know how they got in or out, but whatever, they aren’t here now and that’s what matters.

The morning starts off same as before, but no creased clothes this time, I look sharp. I treat myself to a hearty breakfast, then lock up and get in my car. The engines running and I’m just about to pull off when I glance up at my bedroom and see it, stood in my window just like yesterday. It grins at me, and its grin spreads across its face in the same convulsive way that its arm moved, as if it was being manipulated by some manic puppeteer. Its lips crack as it smiles wider, like a mannequin with a frozen expression gone horribly wrong. I stare back and feel a rage bubble up inside me. The fucking thing is grinning at me, like an obnoxious child. I rip my keys out of the ignition and storm into the house, locking the door behind me: they aren’t gonna get out this time.

I tear my house apart, pulling all the furniture away from the walls, swearing under my breath as I go. I move everything out of place, leaving nothing untouched, one room after the other, starting with my bedroom. Somewhere amidst the swearing and searching I call work, tell them I’m ill and won’t be in today, chest infection, which is pretty convincing since I’m panting so hard between words. I put the phone down and continue with the hunt.

I search all day.

Nothing. No-one. Zip. No sign of anyone ever being here.

But they were here.

I sleep restlessly, nightmares of figures standing over me, creeping out of the walls and floors. I must have been fidgeting because one of my bones cracks so loudly it wakes me up.

It’s morning, and I feel awful, I get up but I don’t get dressed, I just put my dressing gown on and sit at the kitchen table, running the last few days’ events through my mind.

Then a thought occurs to me. I go to the front door and open it, but I don’t step through; I pause for a moment, then slam it shut. And that’s when I hear movement upstairs. I listen as abrupt, spasmodic footsteps move around my room, but it’s not just footsteps, there’s a strange shuffling sound, like something moving unsteadily on both hands and feet, then the noises stop.

I sneak out of the kitchen and up the stairs, breathing shakily: they’re here, they were here all along, in my fucking bedroom.

I approach the closed bedroom door, take a breath, ready to confront the sneaky bastard. My hand grips the round handle, I turn it, but just as the door begins to open I hear sudden loud thumps and snaps, someone running on broken bones, and the door jams, only slightly ajar. I look up and in the small opening I see half of a face staring at me.

I was wrong.
No human looks like this. Its face is tilted forward into a frown as it regards me, my gaze is stuck, locked onto the eye looking back; the eye is in a large black socket, with a dark red and yellow iris and tiny black pupil, filled with such intensity and cunning I have never seen before. The eye narrows, as if giving acknowledgement of my sneaky trick. I can’t move. Then the creature’s eye widens, its black mouth opening to an impossible gape as it lets out a scream that deepens to a deafening roar. The door slams shut against me so hard I’m knocked off my feet and down the corridor. I lie on my back, staring at the door, my breath comes in short sharp gasps and I can feel sweat dripping off my body. I lie there for a while before I scramble to my feet and stumble downstairs like a drunk. I call the police hurriedly, and then I go outside to wait for them, careful not to go onto my driveway: I don’t want to look at that thing ever again. I want it out.

The police arrive within minutes, I splutter confusedly at them, holding back tears. My story is incoherent, I’m clearly in shock, but they get the gist. Three officers search the house, one of them with a dog, while another female officer makes me a cup of tea and takes a statement from me. The tea helps. I tell her everything that’s happened, starting with my clothes being moved, ending with my phone call. She nods attentively and takes notes, and I feel much better now that they’re here: they know what they’re doing.

The police search for two hours but find nothing. They suggest that maybe I missed something – some hidden corner that I hadn’t looked in – but their presence would almost certainly have scared anyone off, and there definitely isn’t anyone else in the house. I start to feel stupid, and all thoughts of “creatures” and strange beings dissolve in my mind as I return to my senses. It was just an old man, scared and confused. I thank the officers, apologising profusely for wasting their time. They leave and I sigh, annoyed at myself for getting so carried away. I get dressed and decide to do some gardening. I look up at my bedroom window often, nothing there, the police would have found whoever it was if they were still here. They’re professionals after all, whereas I’m just an amateur.

Still, when it comes to going to bed, I find myself doubtful. I tell myself it’s just because it’s dark and I’ve had a rough day, that I’m being stupid, there’s nothing in my room, but still a niggling feeling remains, as if I’m not alone. I decide to take my mattress downstairs and sleep in the kitchen. I feel better.

So here I lie, on my mattress, next to the oven. I can’t hear anything moving upstairs, but to be honest I’m trying not to think about it, something about those snapping sounds and the way the footsteps moved so spasmodically freaks me out. And that eye. That staring, hateful eye… I don’t want to think about that.

I fidget, and again I hear a crack from one of my knees, or maybe it was my back, I don’t really know. Was my mattress always this uncomfortable? I never noticed before but it feels like some of the springs are warped, I can feel bumps pressing into me.

I roll onto my side with my head under the pillow and my ear pressed against the mattress. As I move I hear another snap, and it feels like something gives way underneath me slightly: a broken spring? But it didn’t feel like that, it felt hard, and rigid, and it went suddenly, as if it was seiz-

SNAP

Credit To – Jimmy V

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The Boy From Posey Chapel

March 7, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Going back, I remember it all vividly; my first time at Posey Chapel with a couple of my friends. Nobody was really scared; after all, the sightings were hoaxes and never supported with actual evidence. But, being Halloween, something was bound to happen—and something happened indeed, because that night was the start of a string of the most horrifying ones in my existence.

We arrived at the chapel, cracking jokes about the myths that were told about it while walking around aimlessly, not in search of anything specific. After about five minutes in our journey, I saw in the midst of the churchyard, an all-white figure. From what I could tell, he was near the age of 10, and had no eyes…just black pits where his eyes should’ve been. I looked at my friends for reassurance that this wasn’t just my imagination, this was real. They told me they could see him too, but just vaguely. As he was about a football field away, it was hard to tell what we were looking at. So, naturally, we strained to get a better look at him.

The four of us started to walk slowly toward him, not particularly looking to hurt him in away sort of way. Once we reached a certain point, I instantly felt a sort of connection with him. I was the only one he “looked” at, considering he had black pits for eyes. The others could see him looking at me intently, and we decided to leave; afraid.

We got back in the car and waited about five minutes before leaving, just to see if anything would happen. Nothing did, but the minute my head hit the pillow that night is when things did started to happen.

That first night, Halloween 2014, I had a dream about him—the boy from the chapel. It was all a recap from that night, except everyone’s teeth were rotted out and/or had cavities. These dreams occurred each night for eight days. Within each dream he would get about 10 yards closer, and the dream would always cut off just as I closed the car door. After eight nights, the dream had occurred eight times consecutively and he was about 20 yards away from me, so we went back to Posey Chapel. The dreams stopped after that visit.

January 8th, 2015.

I’d been staying at my grandma’s that week, as my bathroom was being renovated. I was on the couch, where I had been sleeping. This night had started as an otherwise normal one. I was casually browsing my Facebook and listening to a podcast with one earbud in. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, but then the lights and TV went out and I heard scratching from the basement. It started coming up the stairs and gradually got louder and louder until I thought I was going to lose it. Then, abruptly, silence. I looked up toward the stairway door to see what it was, but saw nothing. Questioning it, I turned back, and I got a glance down the main hallway where I saw a streak of white. Terrified, I was hesitant to look back, but I seemed drawn to it. So I looked, despite my gut feeling, and there he was: the boy without eyes. He stood there with intent but lack of emotion for at least twenty minutes, and then he disappeared. Or so I’d thought.

I looked outside my window and there he was, hanging from the barren tree. I thought I was going insane; hallucinating. My brother claimed to not be able to see him, so why could I? I snapped a picture of the tree from inside, sending it to the group chat I was in. Nobody saw anything except what they thought was snow, but I knew it was him.

Gathering up my courage, and going against my own gut, I went outside to take a different picture, this time with the flash on. I only cracked open the door to do so, as I didn’t want to leave the comfort of the house, no matter if he could get inside. This time, he was sitting in the tree rather than hanging from a noose. That was what struck me as extremely odd. I took the picture despite his changed position and rushed inside, sending it to my group chat again. This time they could see him. He stood out against the snow as a lighter, blurrier white.

After this, I felt compelled to go back outside and face him; ask him what he wanted from me. So, once again, I gathered up my courage and went back into the freezing winter night. I looked up at him in the tree and yelled, “What do you want from me?”

Ten seconds of silence filled the chilly air.

And then, “Please, come back.”

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The Hill Beast

March 3, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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No one hears much about the little town of Saint Pauls, North Carolina. It’s located in the southern part of North Carolina, literally two hours away from the South Carolina border. It’s a quiet town located right off of the interstate 95. When you get off the Saint Pauls exit the first thing you see in front of you is the ABC liquor store. You turn to your right, there’s a Days Inn Hotel, owned by the Patel family. I graduated with their son; he was Valedictorian of his class. Beside the Days Inn is a McDonalds; it stays busy with visitors that often stop there during long trips. Across the street is the Burger King which has the worst service you’ll ever get. I ordered chicken strips from there and got raw chicken twice; something about their atmosphere just reeks of laziness.

But I’m getting off the point. You turn to your right on a little road called Odom Drive that’s right past the McDonalds. There’s an empty field to your right and a neighborhood to your left. You turn into the neighborhood and there’s a little yellow house that looks in shambles to the left. That’s mine; I live there with my younger brother and our parents. We’ve lived there practically my whole life. But back to that road you’re on, before you turn into my yard, you’ll notice to the right, across from my house, is woods. Those woods have been a source of stress for me all of the time I’ve lived there. They aren’t so bad during the day but I get the feeling in the pit of my stomach that something watches me from them. I’m not so terrified that I’ve never entered. I have actually journeyed through them, but again, only during the day.

My journey usually allows me to clearly see the house through the tree lines or the little treehouse my neighbor built for his kids. I remember once journeying in with that neighbor and his kids when I was perhaps 12. That was the first time I ever saw the swamp. Dirty green colored water that was opaque and mud like. It was the farthest I’d ever journeyed into those woods. I felt as if I’d been invasive or something, like I’d found something not meant to be seen by the human eye. Maybe that makes me sound like I fear nature but in fact I find nature very beautiful. However, something about that swamp seemed bottomless. I believe a deep dark old danger lived in those woods. I was in its natural habitat and invaded its personal space. After this, I never journeyed any farther than the edge of those woods.

I have always believed in supernatural things. Even as a child I had a sense about “not playing with fire,” as one would say. My parents often warned me that the woods had very wild animals. We even supposedly had an alligator come from the swamp and try to cross that busy road between McDonalds and Burger King. I recall bats being popular visitors at dusk and dawn, and snakes were common visitors to our yard. One night my dad and I went out looking at fireflies. It was the first time I had ever seen them in real life and not on television. I thought it was cool, but the fireflies were in the edge of the woods and the sun had sunk quite significantly in the sky. I remember this feeling of something coming from the back of the woods edging towards us. Something was dark and determined. I tugged my dad’s shirt and insisted we go back in. He seemed disappointed that my timid side had shown but he obliged.

My parents seemed to strongly support the belief that I had a very overactive imagination. I am an artist after all, so they weren’t wrong. I remember having a nightmare the night we saw the fireflies. In it, we had stayed watching fireflies and I had ignored that gut wrenching feeling in my chest. Something large that I couldn’t see came running through the trees tearing after my father and I. We ran for the house. We ran for our lives. I collapsed as my foot caught something in its path. I struggled to fight the overwhelmingly heavy defeat when the form collapsed onto me and I heard the sounds of heavy breathing in my ears. The pressure of teeth shot through my ears in a horrid pain. I finally jolted awake.

There were many times I had vivid nightmares. My artistic mind led me to dreams that were just so much more real and detailed than most people. As I aged, though, I simply got used to those types of things. It was rare that I didn’t have nightmares. Maybe my parents were right and I did have a very overactive imagination.

Time passed pretty quickly, and eventually I was in college. I remember very clearly being a college senior, ready to get out of school and start my life. I think most people have that blind excitement of not knowing what is to come, at least I know I did.

It was spring, and the flowers had finally started coming out. I hadn’t actually had a nightmare in a few weeks. This is where things started to get strange though. I remember one night I had gone to bed pretty early, around 10, to get a lengthy good night’s rest. I remember kicking my blanket half off of me because it was hot. I had always been very warm blooded for some reason, so I slept better when it was cooler. But this night I decided that the temperature mattered not a lot because there was a lot to be done the next day. Eventually the exhaustion succumbed to sleep.
I remember running. Running frantically before tripping. I turned to face what looked like a rabid wolf. It was growling, ferocious, and edging closer, slowly and ominously. Its eyes had a film over them, making it appear blind, but yet it looked right into my soul. It was then that its head contorted upside down, still bearing into my soul as the deformed beast edged closer. I jolted awake. I looked at the clock which read 3 a.m. I collapsed back into my pillows and stared at the ceiling.

The next night I anxiously went to bed. I closed my eyes, and dreamless sleep awaited. But relief was short lived when I woke up again at 3 a.m. I sat up having this ominous feeling return to my chest. I gasped in the hot North Carolinian air. I looked at my window. The blinds were closed except one that appeared to be drooping open. This wasn’t abnormal as I occasionally peeked through them. This night, however, I decided it was in my best interest to close them. I had just got to the window when a shadow darted across and the blind closed on its own. Terror arose as I returned to the shelter of my bed. The next morning I grabbed the tape and taped them shut.

I remember the third day was hot and I had been finishing up with my class. My mother called to inform me that my grandfather was ill and she needed me to come get her from the rest home where he was residing. I drove to the rest home and we visited for a little while. I remember sitting in the rest home waiting on my mother to help my grandfather eat. I had pulled up my laptop to work on a paper when a dog entered the room. Its eyes were glazed over just like the beast in my dream, making my heart sink, but its kind presence was undeniable, so I reached down to pet it. The dog gently rested its head in my lap. It looked at me, and I felt as though it actually may be trying to warn me about something. My mother emerged from the room and we left for home.

My driveway in the backyard resides next to a hill. Being as we don’t own that land we have no permission to touch it because it’s owned by the town. Therefore, there are overgrown weeds that make it impossible to see over. On many occasion my dad would grumble that there could be bums right next to us ready to rob us and we’d never know. Nonetheless, it was overgrown and no one could do much so complaining got us nowhere.
My mother was frustrated about the complications with my grandfather’s illness and I recall I letting her drive home. Driving somehow channeled that anger. I won’t say it soothed it, but by the time we got home and got out the car I knew she’d be alright. That’s how it always worked. She had been extremely stressed and I just let her vent.

We finally arrived home. I remember us talking, but not what about. It isn’t very important in the grand scheme of things. Just that we had both exited the car and were continuing the conversation. The car lights were fading slowly out. The conversation was cut abruptly short when the sound of rustling filled my ears. I turned to face its source, the hill. To my surprise my mother too was very attentively staring. I watched as the moonlight hit what appeared to be brown fur. It descended from the hill. It was then that the sounds of heavy breathing raised to our ears. My mother, who had always said I had a very overactive imagination, the same woman who usually said “pay it no mind”, now said, “What is that?” I heard the creature charging toward us and remember only one thing. My voice yelling “RUN MOM!”

We ran into the safety of our house, quickly closing the door behind us. My dad and younger brother greeted us, noticing our obvious terror. They grabbed flashlights, shining them out into the yard while remaining safely behind the glass door we had just run through. My brother muttered, “I think I see a dog… or something… furry…” My dad nodded, “Sounds like it’s just a coyote.” My mother retorted, “Why would it come to the car though? I’ve never seen a coyote come to the car.” My brother shrugged, “Maybe it’s rabid.”

I remember a sense of relief. Relief, that for once, I wasn’t over exaggerating. That maybe if I was right this time, I had been right the other times I sensed an ominous presence. In which case…. was this thing following me long before? Was it what I saw in my dream? I had a lot of unanswered questions and sleep had been much harder to obtain.

The next day I left for the weekend to go on a trip. My return was met with findings of my younger brother and father. They had been cleaning the yard that weekend. When they got to my mother’s car, they found something they had not expected. By the back tire was an animal hind leg, stripped of nearly all its meat to the bone. In fact, the only hint that it was even an animal was the paw. Upon further inspection, the leg appeared to belong to a larger racoon. We decided to see if perhaps there was any trace of this beast on the hill. All we saw were possible racoon tracks, and what looked like a bigger animal’s paw print.

I never saw the beast again after this. My brother came home telling stories about the adjoining neighborhood. A wild animal the size of a great dane had been seen across the neighborhoods and was aimlessly eating squirrels and other small animals. One of my brother’s friends that lived on the street told of his personal encounter. He had taken the trash out after dusk when the beast approached him. He owned a german shepherd who leapt to defend him. The beast easily grabbed the german shepherd and tossed him into a nearby wall, wounding the dog. However, my brother’s friend had already entered the house and avoided conflict.

I’ve never seen the beast again. I don’t know if it still lurks in our swamp. Sometimes I think I may hear it lurking in the swamp, but I’ve never dared to let curiosity get the better of me. I do what I’ve always done, go into the house and never leave after dark. The dark is full fears beyond comprehension. Fear that summoned a beast that terrorizes the little town of Saint Pauls.

Credit To – Elysia Bloom

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The Linen Closet

March 2, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Reading a couple stories here, and something that happened to me came to mind.
You ever have moments that you blip out completely? As if your brain can bother to remember something only so often, so it’s shoved into the depths of your memory? But something always seems to unleash it.

I’d forgotten the house on 12 Dahlia Road, in the little town of Mary Esther, Florida.

Though, “forgotten” isn’t altogether the right word here, because the truth is, I’d never really forget.

The things I’m about to tell you are completely true, in which even my family can attest to. Not one to be fictitious or exaggerating, I will tell you this story in its entirety. Names and places, however, have been changed to protect those that have witnessed it.

My husband passed away when I’d been pregnant with my daughter. On his way home from work one evening, he’d been T-boned by a drunk driver and had slid peacefully into a coma while on site. He’d simply never woken up.

During my mourning, I’d stayed with my parents until our daughter, Callie, was born.
She was, I want to say, nine months old when I’d been feeding her breakfast in the small kitchen one morning.

Her high chair was wedged between the table and the wall as best I could manage while still allowing room for movement in the little dining area.
My father hadn’t been able to squeeze through the gap and, I guess, that had been the snapping point.

“Lori,” he sighed, setting his coffee mug on the table heavily. Coffee sloshed over the rim and stained the table’s scratched and marred surface. “Katherine,” my mom,” and I have been talking for a while now, and we’d like to give you the other house.”

A little backstory here; when I’d been eleven, we’d moved shortly after my grandfather had passed, and into my grandmother’s house two cities over. My father had felt she needed someone to look after her in her age, and we hadn’t bothered to sell the other house.

Instead, we’d rent it out and save the extra money for emergencies. Occasionally, we’d lent it to children of friends, or a college graduate transitioning from school to the real world.

It was slightly damaged from over the years, but it was my childhood home. I was more than happy to raise my daughter in the house that had shaped me as a child.

It wasn’t as if I didn’t enjoy my family or didn’t love them enough. The memories I had after Kevin’s death were full of warm comfort and patience.

My parents were wonderful, and had made a point to make sure I never felt as if I inconvenienced them in anyway.

Looking back on it, I think they were a little sad I was taking their only daughter and granddaughter from their home, but they also understood my need for independence again. I needed my own home, my own space. Something in which I could carve out “MINE!” in the world, in big, bold letters.

And the house in Mary Esther seemed like a perfect opportunity.

It had taken almost a week to ready the house just to move in. Luckily, friends, family, and neighbors seemed to crawl out of the woodwork to help.

They’d installed a new garage door, a working dishwasher, helped fix the leaky roof. They’d even repaired the damages a previous tenant’s dog had wrecked.

The dog must’ve been a massive thing because it had broken a sliding glass bathtub door, shredded through cabinets, and taken huge chunks out of the hallway’s carpet.

In the end, we couldn’t save the floor and ripped it out. We’d placed down linoleum tile that looked like faux wood flooring, but much cheaper.

The linen closet at the end of the hall had been left unscathed, so the carpet in there remained. It poked out a little along the bottom of the door, but it was tolerable.

I wasn’t about to complain, after all. Everybody had put in so much effort to make me right at home; a little fluff under a door was the last thing I was going to gripe about.

I was thankful.

It was a Monday evening when I’d finally gotten settled into my new home. I had taken putting everything where it belonged on pause, so that I could give Callie a bath in the new tub.

We hadn’t had a tub in my grandmother’s home. The house had been fashioned around someone handicapped, so we’d had the big, bulky shower stalls.

In the new house, though, we had a big tub in the hall bathroom and Callie was more than excited to check it out.

Covered in bubbles of lavender-scented baby shampoo, she giggled and played until she was all tuckered out.

I realized I’d accidentally put up all the towels instead of leaving a handful in the bathroom for drying, and let Callie sit in the little remaining water as I went to the linen closet at the end of the hall.

It was only a short ten paces away, at most.

It had been the linen closet when I’d been a child and my mother had taken to putting the excess sheets, towels, and linens along wooden shelves that lined the interior of the spacious room. Having recently acquired the house, I took up the same habit.

Comforted by the familiarity of my childhood home, its familiar smell, I listened to Callie splash and play in the last few drops of water as I stopped short in the hallway.

It was the first time I actually noticed the doorknob. It wasn’t just a smooth, gold knob like the other closets in the hall, or even the bedroom doors, for that matter.

A turn-style lock on the doorknob, on the outside. It didn’t sit well with me.

Had someone been locking someone/something in the linen closet?

Maybe it was the dog that destroyed the house, I thought to myself. Maybe it got out of hand occasionally and they’d locked it in the spacious closet?

It was odd that the door would have a lock on the outside, and I made a mental note to change it.

What had the previous renters been doing here?

What if Callie locked herself in the closet by accident? She was autistic and would panic horribly. It would take hours for her to calm down if that happened.

I swaddled her in the oversized towel, which hung over her feet and pooled on the floor in heavy, maroon shades. Her blonde hair spiked all over her head in all directions and she giggled as I dried and tickled her mercilessly.

Afterwards, I slid her into her Hello Kitty footed pajamas and tucked her into her crib.

I hated that crib, to tell you the truth. It was massive, and being a small woman of only five feet in height, it was a real pain to get her in and out of the thing. It felt as if my abdomen was bruising every time I leaned over the wooden rails to pick her up.

I sat in the large rocking chair my grandmother had given to me as a housewarming present and read her the tale of The Last Basselope.

It was a book my father had read to me almost every night, in that very room, in that very chair.

Truthfully, I was a little homesick. I missed my folks, but more so, I missed Kevin horribly, wishing that he could see us more then than anything else.

I missed his smell, the texture of his clothes, the feel of his breath. It shattered my heart just to think of him.

He’d never even gotten a chance to see Callie, or read to her, or touch her face. He’d never gotten a chance to watch her first steps, hear her first words, or help her on the bus on the first day of school. All because some stupid kid had decided he’d been okay to drink and drive.

I was crying quietly by the time she’d fallen asleep.
Sniffling softly, I placed the book on the chair and headed to the bathroom, leaving her door opened a crack so I could hear her better. Her soft snores floated after me.
Leaving her room, the linen closet was directly on the left; the dead center of the end of the hallway.

That damn lock, I kept thinking. It just does not make sense. Who would put it there? Was it a temp fix for a broken knob, maybe? Why not just switch it out with one of the plain bedroom knobs then?

I dampened the corner of Callie’s bath towel and dabbed my eyes. I hung it over the shower rail and blew my nose in a handful of tissue paper.

No more tears, I told myself. It’s a new start, a new beginning.

The lights in the bathroom flickered briefly, which wasn’t exactly abnormal.

We lived rather close to the Air Force base, so the practiced bombings occasionally caused electrical interference.

Off in the distance, I remember, I could even faintly hear it. The heavy OOMPH noise that sounded like heavy fireworks in the distance.

I settled into the living room, keeping an ear open for the baby as I began to read in the quiet of the new house.

At first, I didn’t notice the sound. A new house, it’s bound to have some random ticks.

The steadily cracking along the top of the walls, a small scraping sound.

I muttered in disgust, “Great,” as I slid the bookmark into a page and set the novel down.

My first thought was, “There’s some kind of animal in the crawl space.”

From the way the scratching, scraping bounced up and down the wall suddenly, I assumed it was a squirrel.

It ran from floor to ceiling, a sound like scurrying and bobbing. Small claws rattled against the wooden posts of the inner wall and sheetrock lining.

I followed the noise, trying to track where it could possibly be.

It went along the top of the living room wall, down the corner, back up the cold air return in the mouth of the hall, and around the top of the door frame of the bathroom.

“Oh, it’s going to wake up Callie,” I grumbled, getting royally pissed off suddenly.
She’d already had a traumatic day with moving and all the people. The last thing she needed was to wake up and have a meltdown.

Like I said, she’s autistic and absolutely hated anything that wrecked with her routine.

Messing with sleep time definitely wrecked her routine.

A heavy thump and something that sounded like a slide, and I’d decided I’ve just about had enough!

I darted in my room, across the hall from Callie’s room, and next to that damn closet, and snatched the phone receiver off its charging base.

I punched in my father’s cellphone number instantly and listened to the ringing.
In the spanse of time it took him to answer, the thing in the crawl space had maneuvered to the ceiling right outside my bedroom door.

“Lori, are you okay?” was the first thing he asked, bless his heart.

“Yeah,” I reassured him instantly, feeling more than a little guilty and foolish for calling so abruptly. “It’s just that there’s something moving around in the crawlspace beneath the attic in the house.”

After a short pause, he laughed in his usual warm, grumbly way and said, “It’s probably a ‘possum or squirrel.”

I agreed with him. “True, but I don’t know who to call about it and I’m afraid it’ll wake up the baby.”

A few grumbling noises and the slam of a pickup truck’s tailgate later, he began, “I can head out in the morning-”

But my mother interrupted him. “Is that Lori? Does she need something?” her voice had begun to go a bit nervous around the edges and raising. “We can be over there in fifteen minutes, honey!”

“It’s just a rodent problem,” he tried to tell her, but being my mom, that was the worst thing he could’ve told her.

“A rodent problem? Dammit, Allen,” she’d gone into full raging by then. “Get the truck loaded up. Our grandbaby doesn’t need that crap!”

The scraping had intensified by then, and slithered around the wall in the corner of my room.

“Is that it?” Dad asked, hearing the sound over the phone.

“Yeah,” I answered, smacking the wall in an attempt to frighten and quiet the wretched thing.

It didn’t work.

Instead, it became more agitated and scraped with frantic claws that sounded as if they were the size of butcher knives.

“Jesus,” he muttered. “Katherine,” to my mother, he shouted, “get the shovel from beside the garage while I get the keys.” To me, “Don’t aggravate it. It might have rabies.”

Hell, I hadn’t even thought about that until then.

“Can it get in the actual house?” I asked, worry for my child seeping into my heart.
I darted across the hall and peeked into her room, but she was still fast asleep in the big crib, with her princess nightlight shining over her.

“Block off the cold air return and the closet,” he informed me. “If it’s in the crawl space, it might be able to get to the ventilation fan in the utility closet.”

A new set of worries plagued me as he promised to be there in no less than fifteen minutes, and if anything else happened, to call his cellphone right away.

I closed the door to Callie’s room as a precaution and kicked into gear as I slid the phone into my back pocket.

While the creature scraped and bounced down the walls, I somehow moved the small recliner in the living room down the linoleum floor of the hall, and positioned it in front of the cold air return below the utility closet. I’d successfully blocked both with one piece of furniture.

Feeling rather proud of myself, I sat in the chair for a moment and waited on Mom and Dad.

Silence abruptly filled the hall. The scuttling drained away as if it had never been.
It was so unnerving, the hairs on the back of my neck raised as gooseflesh marched up and down my arms, climbed my cheeks.

It hadn’t been silent for almost an hour. Nothing but constant scraping, slithering, bouncing, and scratching.

I’d have preferred the movement to the unsettling, deafening quiet. With her bedroom closed, I didn’t even have Callie’s light snore to drown it out.

I sat in that hall, in that chair, and listened to the sound of my own pulse rushing through my ears for I don’t know how long.

Each rhythmic rush of blood seemed louder than the last.

I tried to lick my suddenly dry lips but found my tongue had been equally devoid of moisture. I tried to swallow the lump in my throat.

My thoughts raced. Had it gotten hurt or maybe stuck? Maybe it had found an escape and I was wasting my parents’ time?

I felt like a fool sitting there, with my chair wedged against the wall, waiting for my heartbeat to slow.

But then something shoved the chair from behind and I was moved a good half-foot. Too scared to even scream, I shoved the chair back just as hard.
The only thought, I can honestly say, that filled my head at that precise moment, was of my baby.

Callie was in that house, with that creature that was shoving against my chair, shoving against my back. My baby was in possible mortal danger.

My heart soared as I went into some kind of protective overdrive.

I jumped up and whirled, shoving with all my might to slam that chair right back into that damn wall.

No creature on Earth was going to burst into my home and threaten me and my child!
The utility door tried to open once more, rocking the chair forward before I kicked it shut again.

Scraping, scratching, a kind of odd hiss, and it was back into the ceiling. It scrambled faster now, and I scrambled just as fast after it.

It darted down the hall, bouncing between the door frames of the guest room, the bathroom, my bedroom, Callie’s, before starting all over again.

I was going to kill the thing with my own hands at this point! Let it come down the utility closet. I was going to strangle it to death for doing this crap to me!

Squirrel, ‘possum, rat, whatever. It was dead, I tell you.

My pulse was pounding on the back of my tongue so hard, I could almost taste it.

I’d grabbed the broom from the bathroom and wielded it like a sword as I waited for the creature to seek purchase somewhere.

Hell, at that point, I’d probably slam the broom handle through the ceiling to kill that little devil.

I was snarling, stark-raving mad, trying to keep as quiet as possible. I felt as if I had become an overprotective mama bear and I needed blood to calm down.

Something shifted and the scrapings changed. It went into the ceiling space in the linen closet.

I was so enraged, I nearly ripped the doorknob off the door to open it, but before I could, what sounded as if boards, wooden boards, were being rendered and ripped from inside.

I stopped, the onslaught of fury in me feeding to near panic. It felt as if the fight had gone right out of me, replaced solely with horrifying, chilling terror.

It hadn’t sounded big enough to do that much damage. It hadn’t sounded like it had fingers or teeth that could yank the ceiling right out of the little room.

A heavy thump and a slithery shift before what I could only imagine sounded of heavy towels and sheets falling to the ground within the linen closet.

The growl that crawled from under the door sent shivers up my spine and arms.

Broom in hand, I was preparing to slaughter it while my heart was wedged in my throat and I wondered, for the first time, if I’d actually survive it.

It sounded like a dog. I know that sounds crazy, but it sounded like a dog pacing in the confines of the linen closet and fear, cold and real, iced my body from the inside out.

The doorknob grabbed my attention, and I swear to you, it started to turn.

That lock, that damn lock, and I clicked it home.

The creature howled, livid beyond all belief, and slammed into the door bodily, heavily.

The thick wood physically shook in the frame.

Phone retrieved from my back pocket, I frantically called my father as tears filled my eyes. I honestly did not expect to survive the otherworldly creature I’d locked in my linen closet.

How could I protect my baby if I was dead? I was almost crying.

He answered on the third ring, the sound of my mother laughing in the background.
“Where are you?” I demanded before he had a chance to say hello, my voice watery with unshed tears of horror and fear. I was full-out panicking on how to survive this thing long enough to see to the safety of my child.

“A couple blocks, what’s wrong?” his voice full of worry and concern. I could hear
the traffic moving around them, the flow of shifting tires, honking horns. The sounds of the city, my city.

“It’s some kind of dog,” I told him, all but actually crying now.

The doorknob shifted restlessly before it finally gave up, as if it had hoped to somehow break the lock.

“That’s impossible,” my father informed me, scoffing. “It might sound big in the little space-”

“I’m not making this up!” I hollered, and the door shivered under another onslaught again.

“Holy hell,” he whispered in my phone as the noise carried. To my mother, “Get the shotgun from behind the seat and load it.” To me, “Get Callie and get out of the house, we’ll take care of it. We’re almost there. At a red light right now, but we’re almost there.”

I don’t know if he was comforting me or him at that point.

I watched in horror as the carpet beneath the door moved as if something was yanking heavily on it. As if they were taking big handfuls and pulling.

Not wasting anymore time with that, I flung open the door to the baby’s room, threw the phone to the floor, and slapped the wall switch until brilliant light flooded the room.

She was still resting on her back, one tiny little fist clutched to her pale cheek as her fluffy blonde tufts angled out in every direction.

I wrapped her delicately, calmly in the pink little blanket and draped myself over the crib so that I had enough leverage to pull her out. My abdomen screamed in protest as the bars of the crib pushed into my middle.

The entire time, the creature in the closet was digging, digging at the carpet under the door. It pulled the fabric back far enough, I could see the glue to the floor.

Holding her to my chest, and bouncing her ever so gently, comfortingly, as she nuzzled into me, moodily waking up, I stepped as softly as possible out of her room as to not wake her further.

As I neared the end of the hall it howled, and I was too afraid to look back, too scared to look over my shoulder and double check that the linen closet’s door was still holding.

Instead, I all but crashed into the front door and ran into the driveway in time to see the spill of headlights illuminate my street.

My dad pulled up in his red Ford F150, shotgun clamped tightly in his hand as I rushed to the flinging open door of the cab.

“Are you okay?” my mother was already demanding as she jumped out of her side of the truck to run to me.
Dad was pulling the shovel from the back of the truck and moving it to the front porch as he glanced inside the screen door.

I assumed he meant to kill and bury the thing with the tools, and never once questioned it.

“It’s in the linen closet,” I told him, tears of relief streaming down my face as I clutched to my mom all but sobbing.

“Oh, baby,” she said, and held me close as she shifted Callie from my shoulder to hers. “Go help your father, I’ve got her.”

I kissed both their cheeks, tucked Callie’s little pajama-covered foot back in the pink blanket, and got to the porch.

I took the shovel from its resting place against the brick and stood with Dad beside the door.

He cocked his head, ear pressed to the door and listened. After a moment, he asked, “Is that it?”

After a pause, I could hear it, too.

It was a guttural, low growl, almost too quiet to have heard.

I couldn’t manage an answer. My voice felt dried and hollow in my throat, unable to force its way through my cold lips. I managed a weak nod, eyes wide and scared.

Switching off the safety, he opened the screen door and stepped inside. I mustered courage and followed him, shovel in hand.

The house went quiet and still as we moved through the living room.

He peeked into the den and kitchen for a moment before asking me to move the chair in the hall.

I propped the shovel and managed to shove the recliner to the side, giving him enough room.

He flung open the utility closet first, and studied the little room in the hall lighting.

A muttered obscenity and I realized what he’s swearing at as I grappled the shovel with numb fingers.

Claw marks, deep and wide, riddled the thick, wooden door and the sheetrock lining the room.

There was at least hundreds of them, gashing wide into the wall, around the backing of the AC unit, and down the door.

Chills ran rampant up and down my arms and face as he slowly closed the door and turned to the linen closet.

The lock, that damned lock, was twisted and free.

Had it gotten out?

We agreed he’d aim the gun and I’d open the door in the end.

With me to his right, my breath came in labored puffs, my pulse raced through my veins and pounded into my ears until I thought I might faint.

I grasped the cold, gold doorknob and twisted, resisting the urge to squeeze my eyes shut against the nightmare.

Yanking the door with all my might sent me crashing into Callie’s bedroom door frame.
My dad was as still as a tomb as he stood there. His eyes shifted from all over the linen closet, to me, back to the closet.

I peeked around the edge of the door and stared at the chaos as the shovel dropped from my loose, cold fingers.

Towels, sheets, pillow covers were littering the floor, covered in thick tufts of loose carpet.

Claw marks, matching the utility closet, riddled the walls and doors. The doorknob appeared to display a set of teeth marks.

The ceiling, however, was perfectly intact.

We spent the better part of half an hour tearing through shredded towels, hefting shelves, throwing sheets, but could not find a single hole into the room.

We searched the whole house, gun and shovel in hand, prepared to mutilate any living thing we found, but came up empty.

My mother helped me pack Callie’s things, some clothes, necessities, and we took their truck back to their home, forgoing my little mini-van in the driveway, as my fingers were still too number to drive.

The next day, I packed up as fast as I’d settled in, and, with Callie on my hip, we shoved the For Sale sign home into the dirt of the front yard.

I never spent another night in the home of my childhood.

Credit To – ilothopskaty

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