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Mirrored Man

October 27, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Curiosity is quite simply a bitch, but me being me, adventurous to the point I become stupid, let my curiosity roam free.

I should probably give you some background first, so you understand what I’m about to tell you better. I live in a quiet and seemingly perfect town in Connecticut. What originally was a peaceful farming town was now wealthy and stuck up, to an unbearable sense. Hence why when an outlet was soon to appear (featuring only designer stores) many were incredibly happy.

I on the other hand, was anything but. You see there’s this abandoned farmhouse where the outlets were soon to inhabit, and personally I thought they were ruining a beautiful historical site of what this town once was. Still, construction was to be carried out within just a few months.

My best friend and I, in all our disappointment, decided to drive down to the farmhouse before it was to be dismantled. As it is I love abandoned places so this was bound to be an amazing night. It took us fifteen minutes to drive down, and we parked off a tiny gravel road that was very apparently not been used for quite some time.

Already we could see part of the old barn, roof collapsing from a fire long ago, and nails sticking up here and there. Further into the distance we spotted two cars, both clearly from the days when the farm was running. One was a small blue car, both front doors pulled off from the hinges that once held it, the other was grey and barely recognizable pretty much just rusty scraps of metal forming a car like shape.

Looking off to the right, we spotted the main house, two stories and slowly decaying. White paint was peeling off the house, and all the glass in the windows were shattered. I guess you could call it the typical “horror house” but I still found it beautiful in a vintage way.

My friend, while adventurous, became more cautious than I was as the sky turned to a pale pink striped with the inevitable dark blue overtaking the sky.

I grabbed the flashlights in the glove compartment, and we both got out.

¨Sarah relax, it’s just an old farmhouse not some cemetery or whatever bullshit you read about online.” I blew it off, knowing if she became freaked out, I would be too.

“I know but still…it’s so creepy.” and I suppose it was, as the light became less and less within the sky you could still see the farmhouse’s white paint almost glowing.

There was silence between us for a few moments as we continued to survey the land our flashlights scouring over it.

A twig broke about five feet away and we both jumped, frightened by whatever animal had the perfect timing to make such a noise.

“Let’s look at the barn first okay?”

We walked over; both in complete silence, I think a bit of fear was starting to settle in between us but no one admitted to it. The barn itself was short in width but in length about a size of a football field. No joke, it was really that big which was odd but I didn’t think too much of it.

The fact the barn had been in a fire was apparent, there was warped metal laying about and half charred pieces of wood. Sarah and I attempted to enter but soon realized there was a wasp nest and some rats, neither we wanted to disturb. However in the right corner of the barn door, recently spray painted, was a pentagram with the word “beware” sprayed above it .

“Graffiti from the fucking bad ass High School kids.” I smirked and rolled my eyes, they were always trying to be edgy. But a pentagram? How completely and utterly unoriginal.

Oddly enough though, the feeling of being watched crept over me, and Sarah’s face showed she was feeling the same.

“This feels wrong…” She softly spoke, as if afraid to be overheard.

“Well yes, I suppose sneaking into an abandoned farmhouse would ruffle one’s feathers and be publicly deemed as wrong.” I knew my sarcasm was a bit harsh, but I was starting to feel agitated and unsettled by this whole situation.

I wasn’t as sure of myself as the feeling continued, almost like a bad decision that never leaves your side. The wind, as if egging us on started blowing up around us, consuming our hair and spinning it around into a tangle.

“Listen let’s just go into the house, the barn’s nothing special anyway.” I grunted in dissatisfaction. My feet weren’t agreeing with my body, wanting to stay exactly where it was, but my brain wanted to go forward and eventually won.

Walking, a nervous Sarah in tow, the house almost seemed more menacing as we got closer and I thought I could see a shadow in the second story window.

Whatever. Honestly, it was probably just a trick of the light, our flashlights reflecting off an object, some scientific reason, maybe a passing car’s headlights?

We entered the house through the back door, steps surprisingly sturdy for how old it was. There was a simple rug, an old type of welcome mat and a chair just a few feet away on a tiny porch. Upon walking in the abandonment was more than apparent. Nails were sticking up here and there, rusty and long. Old yellowed newspapers showing those old comic strips littered the floors, but one thing did look oddly new…a pillow.

Just sitting in the middle of what my best guess was once a living room, a maroon pillow. Bright as day, nothing like the decayed and dusty leftovers in the rest of the house.

“What the actual fuck?” I whispered to Sarah.

That’s when we heard it.

The steps creaking above slowly, as if someone was aware of our presence as we were of theirs. At this point my body was completely frozen as the creaking sped up a bit, coming forth to the stairs off to the side, and then the steps started sprinting.

Both me and Sarah screamed, bloodcurdling preparing for the worst possible scenario. I felt no horror movie could prepare me for whatever was about to come down, and I was right.

To be honest I don’t know what it really was, no words I can find to describe it to it’s full extent of just utter terror it inhabited.

It was a taller thing, with four black sockets of eyes (two on each side; think like a spider) and a crooked mouth. There was no nose, just the skeletal structure of where one should have been. Bits of his cheekbones seemed to be ripped off or maybe just missing, and his body was there, but not simultaneously. I couldn’t even begin to explain. But the two arms (from what I could see I’m assuming they were) ended in long hands that glinted in the pale moonlight.

It clicked. He was made up almost entirely of glass. That’s how he could be there and not at the same time. He opened his mouth to show what were fine toothed razors and let out a sound between a scream a shriek and a bowl.
I think Sarah realized this too because we ran off to the side door screaming at almost the exact same time.

Thrusting the creaky door open, not daring to even glance behind, we ran down the stairs. Both of us stayed quiet, knowing any sound could give away our location, though this thing probably already knew.

As my eyes adjusted to the now complete darkness (having to turn off our flashlights as to not be spotted), I saw something that still amazes me to this day.

Mirrors. Every wall. Even the ceiling and floor were covered in mirrors. They gleamed our reflection from every direction in the room, broadcasting ourselves for this monstrosity behind us. The stairs gave fact that it was coming, creaking under it’s weight in protest and Sarah let out a tiny gasp, too shocked for words anymore.
Do you remember the lights we got as children? The one that purposely flashed silhouettes on the wall for Halloween or stars or something?

Think of that times one thousand as it entered the room. He was there, everywhere, yet nowhere all at once.

Scurrying away from the stairs as far as possible, we began to search for a door.

The thing laughed, it fucking laughed or what I assumed was it’s laugh, as we desperately tried to get away. We couldn’t tell the difference between the real creature and the mirror copies, it loved watching our struggle.

“Help!” I cried to no one in particular, and Sarah began to sob.

He was coming closer, no matter what direction you looked in his image became larger. You could clearly see now that he really was made up of shards of glass, and his four black eye sockets glowed a type of red I’ve never seen before.

Stumbling over myself, I found a latch and desperately grabbed at it, yanking the thing open and seeing the outside.

Sarah and I screamed, running full fledged out of there towards our car, a loud pattering following us closely behind.

Making it to the car we quite literally hopped in, hoping to drive away as fast as we could.

No such luck though, as it jumped on our front hood, as if he was trying out for a spiderman movie.

I cried, realizing my chance to live was slipping away, knowing it had every intention to kill us.

It smiled, wider than humanly possible, those glass teeth glinting with menace.

“Time…” It croaked out in an odd voice, if that’s what you could call it.

“Death.” “Lucifer.” “Hell.” “All real.” The only words I picked up from the soft raspy voice talking to us.

Then it started crying, full out bawling, and blood ran from it’s empty eye sockets. I was completely in shock now, knowing I was about to die any second, but not knowing why.

The thing looked up from between it’s opaque hands, as if realizing we were still here.
It’s tongue darted from it’s mouth, licking his lips in a type of hungry way.

“Food good for soul.” Rubbing its stomach in a cavemen type fashion, it cocked its head.

I took the chance of it’s apparent admiration of how “good” we looked and started the car jamming on the gas to turn around.

Falling off the hood it shrieked and disappeared altogether, a black void, small but definitely there, swallowing him up.

Driving as fast as I could go off the gravel road and onto the highway, I started to calm my breathing down.

“Did that just…oh my god. No. No way.” Sarah couldn’t manage a full sentence as she tried to take in all that happened.

“I can’t…I can’t begin to understand…doesn’t…just no sense at all.” Was all I said. What the hell was that thing doing there? An abandoned farmhouse of all places…”

“Did you see…pentagram…the basement…the pentagram in the basement?” Sarah muttered out, almost as if to herself.

I hadn’t, I had been fixed on only finding an escape and not dying.

Shaking my head, I felt a coldness enraptured me.

“It was on…a mirror. As soon as it appeared down those steps it lit up…blueish glow…so creepy I can’t believe you…didn’t see it.” Her thoughts were jumbled.

“So was it a demon?” Sarah was more religious than I, so I figured she’d know.

“Yeah.” Was all she responded, and it hung in the air with a hollow grip on our souls.

Credit: Leah Bloschichak

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Three Truths

October 26, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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The two men, perched on a steep hillside, watched from a safe distance as an invading army destroyed the city below them. The towering stone wall that protected the city, once strong and unbreakable, couldn’t hold back the onslaught. Even over the sounds of war, the watchers could hear the yells of the invading commanders directing their soldiers. No man, woman, child, or beast was to be left alive. The instructions were carried out with swords and spears, and the slaughter was completed in the space of a day.

The two watchers, Danel and Keret, understood the implications of what they’d witnessed. The destroyed city was not the one from which they hailed. No, their city was the next closest, about a two day’s march away. Nearly a year earlier, along with several other soldiers, the two men had left their city on a mission to escort an ambassador to a faraway land. The mission had soured, and the ambassador was now dead. On the return journey, the other soldiers had become victims of either the desert heat or nomadic attackers. Danel and Keret were the last survivors of the mission, and were on their way home to report the failure of the undertaking. The two men had nearly stumbled, unexpectedly and accidentally, into the army of the invaders. It was an army from a land they weren’t familiar with. Luckily for them, they remained undiscovered, but a return to their own city was beginning to look impossible. Half of the invading army had already marched off, even while the other half continued with the slaughter. Danel and Keret watched as the foreign soldiers headed toward their city, and they could hear the commanders talking their men up for yet another siege. They considered trying to get out ahead of the traveling invaders, so that they could maybe, just maybe, reach their city first to give warning. But the quickest route was through a small canyon, which was the same route the invaders were taking. They knew it would be impossible to follow that course and not be spotted. They chose a longer route, and hoped that the extra distance would be negated by the fact that two lonely men could travel faster than an invading army.

Upon their arrival, they found that they were too late; their city was already surrounded by the first half of the invasion force. Soon, the rest of them would arrive, and the attack would begin. Danel and Keret didn’t have to discuss it, they both knew their city’s fate would be the same as its neighbor. The invaders wanted this land for themselves, and their army was mightier than any they’d seen before. It seemed as if it was guided by an unstoppable force. The walls of their city would fall even faster than those of the city that came before.

The two men found a well hidden position on a hillside, grimly observing the preparations unfolding down below them.

“It’s hopeless, we can do nothing for them,” Keret lamented.

Danel subconsciously rubbed the stone amulet that hung around his neck. It was a movement he made whenever he was deep in thought. Finally he responded, “I won’t leave her there. I can’t just leave her to die with the rest of them.”

Danel looked down upon the doomed city, the city of his birth. He’d served it faithfully. At a young age, he he’d been ripped from his mother and given to its army. He was trained to be a soldier, and he belonged to the city itself. Emotions were beaten out of him. All of his life, he followed pointless orders, he fought in battles, and then he followed even more pointless orders, never questioning his superiors or their motives.

As he surveyed the scene, he wasn’t surprised that, save for one, he felt no concern or pity for the inhabitants he served. He had done all he could for them. Now, at the start of their unavoidable demise, there was no sadness for the city itself, just a stoic acceptance.

Donatiya, his wife, was the only person for whom Danel spared concern. His battlefield heroics had allowed him the privilege of marrying her. Most of the soldiers weren’t given that luxury. She was the only woman he had ever loved, and she was the only person who had loved him. His marriage, and his friendship with Keret, were the only two important relationships he’d ever formed.

Keret spoke and broke Danel’s concentration, “There’s a way in, you know.”

Danel averted his gaze from the city and looked at Keret. He was listening.

Keret continued, “The tunnel, I told you about it before, remember?”

Danel remembered. The ancient and forgotten tunnel ran from a hidden room underneath the one of the city’s temples and exited outside the walls at the base of a hill. Keret and his long-ago friends had explored the narrow space in their youth. Of that group, Keret was the only one still living. As for the tunnel, its outside entrance was hidden by a boulder, but two strong men could budge it just enough to crawl inside. Keret was unsure if anyone else even knew of its existence.

Keret’s voice intensified, “We’ll sneak in tonight. The entire army isn’t here yet, so we should be able to make it past their lines.” He pointed to a spot towards the southern end of the city, outside its wall, “Look there, what luck for us! They don’t have many soldiers in that area. That’s where the tunnel’s entrance is, a small group could easily sneak in and out.”

Both men studied the area, and Keret gave a wide smile and put his hand reassuringly on Danel’s shoulder, “My friend, tonight we shall save your wife, together.”

Danel rubbed his amulet and responded, “Let’s get some rest, we have much to accomplish tonight.” He was grateful that he had Keret with him, but he wondered how workable the plan really was.

At dusk, the two men laid themselves in the dirt, trying to get their first sleep in three days. Their plan was straightforward, they would wake up after the half moon slipped below the horizon and sneak their way to the mouth of the cave. They would quietly move the boulder aside and slip into the city. Once they were inside, nobody would bother them. They would retrieve Donatiya, and slip back out.

Danel’s sleep was fitful, and he dreamed of both Donatiya and a strange figure who stood behind her while she danced. The figure was merely a silhouette of a large man, with no features distinguishable upon its face. Donatiya danced around the figure, and Danel could tell the figure was watching her, even though he couldn’t see its eyes.

Finally, the dark figure spoke to him, “I can help you save her.” His voice made a hissing sound. Donatiya continued to dance seductively, and the figure repeated itself, “I can help you save her, but you must wake up now.”

Danel opened his eyes. It was night, the starry sky and half moon provided the only light. As he sat up, he saw the outline the being he had just dreamt of standing right next to him. He made a grab for his sword.

“No!” the creature hissed. Danel felt an unseen force push his arm back down, away from his sword. “You called me here, and now you will listen to me.”

Danel felt for the amulet laying against his chest, “Who are you?”

“I am the one that you called upon.” The entity remained featureless, even under the moonlight. A black arm extended from the darkness that enveloped the being, and it brushed a finger against the amulet hanging from Danel’s neck.

Danel looked down at his amulet. “You are Baal?”

“Yessss,” came the hissing response.

“I didn’t call you here. I have no need of you, Baal.” Danel was more nervous than his bold statement made him appear.

“Oh, but you did call me here, every time you rub that object around your neck, you call out my name. And yes, you do need me.”

Danel’s hand released the amulet. He’d found the simple stone carving in the dirt several years earlier. At the time, he’d recognized that it was a depiction of Baal, one of the deities worshipped by his people. He began wearing it, not out of reverence, and not out of fear, but simply because it was something to wear, something that would distinguish him from the other nameless soldiers with whom he shared ranks. The truth was, he’d always had very little use for the deities of his people. He didn’t find it necessary to pray to them, and didn’t feel the need to honor them. Before that night, he wasn’t even sure they were real. Yet there he found himself, standing next to a creature that could only be a deity.

The visitor continued, “This plan of yours, to sneak into the city through a tunnel, this plan is foolish.” The scorn in his voice was evident. “It will not succeed, and you will die. Keret will die. Donatiya will die.”

Danel started to feel fear, which was an extremely rare emotion for him. The concept of deities had never made him afraid before, but right then, having one stand directly before him, it was a completely new and frightening experience. The stories about Baal were never pleasant. He didn’t rule with benevolence, but used intimidation and fear to force people towards his will. He reveled in trickery and deceit. He bathed in blood and fed on sadness.

Baal’s voice took a friendlier turn, “But, you don’t all have to die. I can get you into the city, and out again. However, it will require a sacrifice on your part.” With that last statement, he turned and looked at Keret, who was in a deep sleep.

A look of realization slowly formed on Danel’s face. “You want me to kill my friend?”

“I want his heart!” The hissing voice had returned. “You will look him in the eye, then you will cut into him and rip it out of his chest. Then you will give it to me. In return, I will grant you the power to go into the city and safely retrieve one person of your choosing.”

Slowly, Danel shook his head back and forth. “I won’t do it. He’s my friend. My only friend.”

“Do you really think that you’ll be able to sneak past that army? You will all die, but if you walk the path I set out for you, then only he dies.”

Danel agonized over the choice. The more he thought about Keret’s plan, the more he came to believe that it was a fool’s errand that could only end in tragedy. The dark figure stood patiently by while Danel debated himself in torment. Finally, his pragmatic nature, and his training as a soldier, led him to make a difficult decision.

“I’ll sacrifice my friend to you, and I’ll give you his heart, but first, you must grant me three truths before I commit.” Danel couldn’t bring himself to look at the entity as he spoke.

“Three truths. Of course. You would be a fool not to ask that of me.” It seemed as if the figure might’ve smiled as he said those words.

Danel had been well versed in the legends and superstitions of his people, even though he’d never put too much faith in them. The tradition of the three truths stated that a person, when dealing with a deity, could request that three questions be answered truthfully. If the deity agreed to answer the questions, it would be unable to lie. The questions could only be asked in a yes-or-no format, though the deity could provide additional information if it chose to. The priests of Danel’s city swore this to be true, and the man, formerly of little faith, was about to put their teachings to the test.

Danel took a moment to compose his thoughts. He knew there was a good chance Baal was involved in some sort of trickery, and it was possible that nothing he’d said up to that point was true. He had to ask smart questions. A sudden, panicked feeling fell upon him as he thought to himself that Donatiya might have passed away in his absence.

“My first question, is Donatiya still alive?”

Baal nodded his head. “Yes. She is alive. She is healthy. She’s in your home, yearning for you.”

Danel was relieved at the answer, and pleasantly surprised at the extra information Baal had provided.

“My second question, were you honest when you said that you’ll provide me with the ability to enter the city and safely leave with Donatiya?

Again, Baal nodded. “Yes, so long as you give me your friend’s heart. You can leave with Donatiya, or perhaps your father, or maybe your brother. You can pick anyone in the city.”

Danel wanted to smile, but held back. He thought to himself, “Now I understand his trickery. He thinks I care for my father and brother. He thinks I’m going to have a difficult time choosing who to take.”

Baal didn’t appear to know that Danel hated both his father and his brother. His father was the one who’d ripped him away from his mother and sold him into the army. He barely knew his brother, but he did know that he was an awful man who wasn’t worthy of saving. The choice would be easy, very easy, but he didn’t want an emotional expression to betray him to Baal. He forced a look of turmoil upon his face to hide his true feelings.

Feeling more confident in the path Baal had laid out for him, his concern turned back to Keret. He knew that people sacrificed to Baal were often killed in the most excruciating ways possible. “My third question, you told me that you wanted Keret’s heart cut out. That could be long and painful for him. Will you allow him a quick death?”

“That is more of a request than a question… but yes, I will allow you to give him a quick death. You may choose any means of execution, so long as you don’t damage the heart.”

Danel hung his head in relief.

Baal hissed again, “Now stop wasting my time. You have your three truths. Go get me his heart!”

Danel turned and faced the spot where Keret had been sleeping, only to find him sitting up awake.

“How long have you been awake?” he demanded.

Keret didn’t answer the question, but instead made his own inquiry, “What was that thing were you talking to?”

Danel looked to where Baal had been only a moment earlier, but the deity was gone. He turned back and tried to look at Keret, but ended up averting his eyes. “I… I made a deal with him.”

“I’ve seen that thing before. That was Baal, wasn’t it? This is serious my friend, you shouldn’t make deals with him.”

“Yes Keret. It was Baal. He granted me three truths. I can save Donatiya. I know that for sure.”

“But we can do that together, Danel! We don’t need him.”

“No, he told me our plan would fail. He told me we would all die.”

Keret shook his head, “That’s wrong. It’s a good plan. I know we can make it work. I must ask, when he told you our plan wouldn’t work, was that one of the three truths?”

Danel felt as if he’d been punched in the gut. He didn’t answer.

“Danel, listen to me. I’ve lived longer than you, and I’ve traveled further. I’ve learned much, and I know that Baal is no deity, he’s one of the fallen. The pathway of Baal is the pathway to sorrow. He has no loyalty, not even to those who serve him.”

Danel didn’t want to argue with Keret anymore. He saw no point. He knew the truth, he could save Donatiya, and that was all that mattered anymore.

“He wants your heart. I’m sorry.”

A look of rage filled Keret’s face. “He wants my heart? Here, take it if you think that’s what you really need!”

He stood up, pulled his sword out, then threw it to the ground. “Go ahead now, do what you need to!”

Danel drew his sword and shut down his emotions, as he’d been trained to do.

Keret continued with his rage, hitting his fist against his chest. “Take it! I won’t stop you! Just rip it out!”

Danel’s sword lashed out right as Keret finished his final sentence. The very last expression on his face was a look of surprise, as if he hadn’t really expected Danel to strike him. Keret’s head flew off of his body and landed in a ditch several feet away.

For a moment, Danel fell to his knees in sorrow. The pain of his actions nearly overwhelmed him, but he thought back to the lessons of his youth. For one last time, he pushed his personal feelings aside so that he could complete his mission. The emotions weren’t suppressed easily, but none-the-less, Danel regained his focus. Drawing his knife, he sliced into Keret’s belly and up into his rib cage. After several minutes of cutting and tugging, he finally retrieved the heart of his friend.

The hissing voice sounded out behind him, “Make a fire, and blacken the heart. I will tell you when it’s done.”

“I’ll give my location away if I make a fire,” Danel protested.

“Do not worry about that, I will make sure they don’t see you.”

Danel made a fire, as instructed, and place the heart upon it. Behind him, Baal chanted in an unknown language. The heart burned on the fire until well after the moon went down. The night became even darker.

“You may take the heart off the fire now,” Baal instructed.

Danel used some sticks and placed the heart upon a large rock.

Baal nodded his approval, “Use your knife, and make a slit in the heart.”

Once the slit was made, bright red blood gushed from within and dripped down onto the rock.

“Now, smear some of the blood on your forehead. You will be able to walk into the city undetected. The blood will remain wet. When you select the person you want to bring back with you, smear some of the blood from your forehead onto their forehead. You will both be able to leave safely. Remember, you can only choose one! Do not attempt to bring more than one person with you, or I promise a punishment worse than death for both you and them. The invaders will attack at midday, you must leave the city before then. Now go, and leave the heart here for me.”

After smearing a generous amount of blood on his forehead, Danel walked from the hill towards the city. To take his mind off of the death of Keret, he imagined what his future life would be like with Donatiya. He knew of several cities that would take them in, it was one of the advantages of being well traveled. He imagined them both living in a small house far, far from the invaders. She would give him a son, and his son would grow up with the love and privilege that he himself had never received. They would have many children, and he would no longer be pressed into the service of the army.

As he approached the first set of night watch soldiers, he paused and took a deep breath. Their torches burned brightly in the darkness, but they didn’t seem to notice him walking. As he closed in, they stopped moving entirely, as if they were frozen in place. Walking past them, he turned around and continued to eye them. As the distance between Danel and the soldiers increased, the soldiers slowly started moving again, oblivious to the fact that an enemy soldier had just walked by them.

Relieved, his mind began to wander again. He hadn’t seen his wife in nearly a year. He wondered if she would look different. He thought about how happy she would be to see him, and he smiled at the thought.

He finally reached the main gate of the city. The guards on duty looked down on him from high on the wall, but they had vacant stares on their faces. They opened the gate for him without saying a word. Even though the gate was completely open, none of the invaders seemed to notice. Danel walked into the city, and the gate closed behind him.

His heart beat faster. He broke into a run, trying to get to his small wooden hovel as fast as possible. The people of the city looked worried. They were crying and arguing. Soldiers were busy fortifying their positions along the wall. Nobody gave any attention to Danel as he ran through the alleys. Out of breath, he burst through the door of his house.

Donatiya was awake in bed when he entered. A single lantern illuminated the room.

“Danel!” She screamed out his name in joy as he ran towards her.

She looked exactly as he remembered her.

The embraced and kissed. He held her close for several moments. He couldn’t begin to explain to her how he managed to get there, and she didn’t ask, she just accepted his presence happily.

Danel looked into her eyes, “I came back here to save you. We must leave now.”

“That makes me so happy,” she said, “But wait, there’s something wonderful I must show you!” She moved over to the bed and picked up a small bundle of blankets that he hadn’t noticed earlier. She approached him with a smile as he heard a small cry emanate from within the bundle.

Inside, he saw a baby, perhaps three months old.

“Meet your son,” Donatiya beamed.

Danel looked at the baby, and his heart filled with love and pride. The small child, conceived in the days before he left, and birthed in his absence, had the same color eyes as him. Donatiya handed the bundle to him, and he held his first and only son closely.

However, his smile faded, and his pride quickly turned into horror as he realized the true extent of Baal’s evilness. Looking at Donatiya and the baby, he remembered what Baal had told him, “Remember, you can choose only one!”

He knew the choice would be impossible.

Credit: Thomas O.

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The Night Lights

October 25, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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Mulder85: 1850; 10/10/2014 Okay, so long time lurker here, first time poster. I know that this whole forum is dedicated to UFOs and alien fandom in general, but I have to ask. Who here has ever actually seen a UFO? Let’s share some stories!

Ph@z3rs2Stun: 1910; 10/10/2014 Alright, so when I was 10 my parents and I took a trip to Sedona. They were on this trip to charge their chakra levels or something. I don’t know, I still don’t really get them but the main point is my dad was just as into aliens and sightings as I was. He’s the one who introduced them to me in the first place. I remember sitting out in the desert with him, hugging my blanket and hot chocolate and watching the skies. It was simply a perfect vacation.

I remember seeing this green streak of light crossing the sky wicked fast. It must have been moving faster than sound, and it seemed to generate at one point and disappear at another about a mile away. Made me a believer.

PuckU: 1925; 10/10/2014 I guess you’ve never seen a meteor before, Phaser?

Ph@z3ers2Stun: 1940; 10/10/2014 I’ve never seen a green meteor before, Puck.

PuckU: 2000; 10/10/2014 The atmosphere can distort our perception of the color of an object, very easily. There’s also the power of suggestion and the fact that you wanted to see a UFO so there’s that, too.

TheRealAlvin: 2020; 10/10/2014 Has anyone ever seen The Night Light?

Ph@z3ers2Stun: 2025; 10/10/2014 That’s condescending as all hell, Puck. As usual. Funny how skeptics demand proof, but will make equally extraordinary personal claims and not provide the same level of proof.

Mulder85: 2030; 10/10/2014 I believe your story, Phaser! :) Puck, why are you always so hostile?

TheRealAlvin: 2040; 10/10/2014 He did see a meteor, that’s not what they look like. Have you seen The Night Light, before?

PuckU: 2050; 10/10/2014 Not hostile, just rational. You made the extraordinary claim, I didn’t. No, Alvin, I haven’t.

Mulder85:2123; 10/10/2014 Alvin, we try not to be dismissive here, even though Puck flirts with getting banned on a regular basis because of his often hostile demeanor.

PuckU: 2150; 10/10/2014 What I give you guys is nothing compared to the rest of society. They just think you’re either crazy or credulous little children.

Ph@z3rs2Stun: 2305; 10/10/2014 That’s why we stay here, away from that crap, Puck. Alvin, what’s The Night Light? Also, I assure you what I saw was not a meteor. I’ve seen those as an adult.

OhDatDawgofMine: 1623; 10/12/2014 Okay, so I was hanging out by the lake north of Everton last night and my boyfriend and I were watching the sky. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen an October sky get to that shade of red. A perfect hue of crimson crossed hands with a powdery pink while the deep blue of night pushed them both down as the sun faded. Don looked at me for a moment, his eyes soft and full of love. This struck a frightening contrast to the blank expression and raised line of sight which followed moments later.

I had to turn to see what it was, and in the sky above us three lights, forming a triangle, rose above us. The night sky seemed to travel with it. I couldn’t see anything but those lights. Though the lake was still dark, the lights were blinding. It was almost as if it were being transmitted into my eyes, alone. After another moment, it vanished. My vision was filled with spots of every color because the damn thing was so bright.

Still, there was something so alluring about it. Soothing.

Mulder85: 1758; 10/12/2014 Ooooo, that was kinda spooky Dawg!

OhDatDawgofMine: 1832; 10/12/2014 Yeah, it really was. Don was actually pretty freaked out by it. He kept watching out the window and jumping when cars drove by. I had to snuggles him and protect him from the scawy awiens. XD

TheRealAlvin: 1920; 10/12/2014 That’s The Night Light. He’s right to be scared.

PuckU: 1928; 10/12/2014 Spotlights? Maybe some helicopters? I don’t want to just point and yell liar, but I will. Pics or it didn’t happen. How’s that?

Ph@z3rs2Stun: 1938; 10/12/2014 Freaky story, Dawg! I wish I had one like that!

TheRealAlvin: 1940; 10/12/2014 No you don’t. They can come through your door now.

PuckU: 1952; 10/12/2014 What are they, vampires? Lol! Alvin, that’s some wild claims there. Ya hrrrrd?

Mulder85: 2005; 10/12/2014 Okay, I’ll bite. What’s The Night Light, Alvin?

TheRealAlvin: 2020; 10/12/2014

#^$&$^%%&*#(*$&$^%^$&#@)@* $&$#*#&$^$***************************

PuckU: 2031; 10/12/2014 You might want a new keyboard, Al.

Ph@z3rs2Stun: 2043; 10/12/2014 That’s a little creepy. Looks like we got Feds watching. XD

B@n3H3r3: 2051; 10/12/2014 Alvin, I will permit that you may have made a mistake when submitting that post. However, any others like that will be deleted immediately.

TheRealAlvin: 2120; 10/12/2014 #&^$*( door ^@*#(*&

PuckU: 1515; 10/13/14 So much for that instant deletion.

OhDatDawgofMine: 1625; 10/16/2014 Hey guys, providing you a quick update on the situation here. Don is still freaked out by the whole lights in the sky thing last weekend. He keeps staring out the window. He hasn’t eaten much, and he drinks and sleeps just as little. He keeps waking me up with his nightmares, just screaming. I’m thinking of taking him to the doctor because I’m really starting to worry about him.

Mulder85: 1635; 10/16/2014 Yikes! I’m really sorry to hear that. It sounds like Don wasn’t really prepared for an encounter with the visitors. :(

PuckU: 1654; 10/16/2014 Sounds like he may be having some sort of breakdown. Seek medical attention before he hurts either you or himself.

Ph@z3rs2Stun: 1712; 10/16/2014 I’m really sorry to hear that, Dawg. I hope he gets better soon. I imagine that such a close encounter can be very frightening.

OhDatDawgofMine: 2105; 10/21/2014 Okay, so I just had Don committed involuntarily last night. I had to. At around 2am he woke up, screaming again. His cries were so loud, and he wouldn’t stop. He hasn’t been speaking to me for a few days now, he just looks at me. Like he’s contemplating something. Like he doesn’t trust me. When I try to touch him, he recoils and pushes me away.

While I was trying to calm him down last night, I noticed something on his arm. It was a cut about 2 inches long and raised about a half inch. It was all red and swollen. I think he’s been hurting himself. I couldn’t take any more risks so I called 911. He was still screaming when the EMT’s got here. They shot him up with Haldol and he started to calm down, but he still wouldn’t let anyone touch him without grimacing. He was like a wounded animal. I’ve never seen him like this, before.

When we got to the ER, it was a mess. They needed 3 nurses, 3 techs, and 2 doctors to hold him in place and do bloodwork. He screamed and thrashed and cursed and spat when he saw the needles. I was so scared. I’m still so scared. The medicine they gave him didn’t seem to do anything. He was screaming even louder in the ER than at home. Don hit one of the doctors while he was examining him. They tied him down in restraints and locked him in an isolation room. I can’t get the noises he was making out of my head. The doctor told me he was covered in wounds in various states of healing. Punctures, cuts, bruises. I don’t know where he got them.

PuckU: 2150; 10/21/2014 I’m so very sorry to hear that, and I’ll keep you and Don in my thoughts. You did the right thing in calling 911.

Mulder85: 2208; 10/21/2014 Keep us updated, Dawg! We all hope for the best for you and Don!

Ph@z3rs2Stun: 2213; 10/21/2014 Omg, I’m so sorry to hear that! Please be okay, guys!

TheRealAlvin: 2220; 10/21/2014 You’re next, Shelly.

Mulder85: 2228; 10/21/2014 That’s not funny, Alvin. I’m reporting you to the mods.

B@n3h3r3: 2245; 10/21/2014 And banned. See ya, dickweed.

PuckU: 2302; 10/21/2014 Creepy fuck.

OhDatDawgofMine: 1954; 10/23/2014 Don is missing! The police are looking into it but they have no leads! I just want him to come home! Pray for us!

PuckU: 2015; 10/23/2014 Okay, Dawg, do not stay at home! Don was agitated and violent when you last saw him and he will probably continue to be agitated and violent when he gets home! Go stay with friends or family, preferably a place where Don wouldn’t think to look. Let the police know the names of all of your close friends and family who Don knows, and ask them if they could keep regular patrol to watch for him and keep them safe. Don IS NOT WELL! If you see him, do not approach him! He may try to hurt you! Be safe, and keep us updated if you can!

Mulder85: 2024; 10/23/2014 For once, I agree with Puck. Do not stay at home, Dawg! Go to friends and family!

Ph@z3rs2Stun: 2034; 10/23/2014 I’m going to agree. Go find loved ones and stay there!!!

TheRealAlvin: 2040; 10/23/2014 They’ll find you anyway. They can use any door you’re near. You saw The Light. They know who you are now. There’s no escape. Don learned that.

PuckU: 2048; 10/23/2014 Fuck off, Alvin! This is serious! Yo Bane, I thought he was banned.

B@neH3r3: 2115; 10/23/2014 So did I, and he’s just been banned again.

Ph@z3rs2Stun: 2315; 10/23/2014 Not to freak anyone out, but I just saw those lights outside of my window, tonight. Kinda freaky. I wanted to go closer, but they seemed to move farther away with each step I took. When I opened the window, they vanished.

Mulder85: 2328; 10/23/2014 Are you for real right now, Phaser?

TheRealAlvin: 2340; 10/23/2014 They always need more. It’s just one more door they can use to get here.

PuckU: 1350: 10/24/2014 Fucking script kiddies, man. And stop posting on my fucking wall, asshole! It’s all gibberish, anyway.

Mulder85: 1434; 10/24/2014 Seriously, Alvin. It’s not funny anymore. Bane, is there anything you can do to get rid of him?

B@n3H3r3: 1522; 10/24/2014 I’ve tried, he just keeps coming back. His profile shows that he’s already banned. He’s probably hacking the thing. We’ll take care of it, though. Just try to ignore him.

OhDatDawgofMine: 2234; 10/26/2014

I did as you guys requested, and I went to my best friend, Christie’s. I haven’t slept well since that night. Maybe it’s the whole thing about Don being missing, or the new surroundings or just the stress of the whole situation, but I’ve been having awful nightmares. I keep dreaming that I’m paralyzed, and I can’t move. I struggle and struggle, but I can still sense everything. The other day was the worst, though. It was different.

I always seem to be looking at the closet door across from me in these dreams, when I hear the low creak announcing that it has opened. The creaking door gave way to something else, this time. I watched as the darkness gave way to these strange forms. Three men, or something like men, walked out. Their arms were long, sinewy, and practically dragged across the floor. They moved with otherworldly grace, but unknowable intent. I felt their cold, clammy palms and spindly fingers wrap around my limbs. With unsettling ease they lifted me into the air, and walked back into the closet which gave way to endless, winding halls of brackish, twisted metal. The air was cold here, and my breath was a mist before me.

We passed many rooms with open doors. Each one a garish demonstration of torment. A man sat with his back turned to the entryway while one of these beings removed the back of his head and prodded its contents. I heard him crying, laughing, and cursing with the puppet-master’s prompt. I saw a series of vats with unknown contents while an experimenter tossed in mysterious flesh. I saw a great herd of creatures of all manners; deer, wolves, lions, monkeys, and even people. An arm closed off and I heard them being moved into the device. The hellish grinding noise filled the hallway and my ears as the arm pushed the panicked creatures in. I heard fear. I heard flesh tear and bones crack. I heard a woman cry out for salvation before the awful sounds and screams of pain and the silence of death took over. They moved so slowly here. It’s like they were watching.

At the end of the long hallway, my still motionless body was rested upon an icy metal slab. I was surrounded by them. Their long, gaunt forms were only more imposing in the piercing light of this room. I could feel my heart now. I’ve never been that scared. Their awful language, if the crackling and groaning which they spewed at each other could be called that, repulsed me utterly. Their awful faces possessed no mouth, no nose, and only a single, dark eye which always appeared to pierce directly into me. I watched spindly hands pass bizarre, sharp instruments. I watched a ghoulish finger rub hot green slime on my chest. I watched and I could do nothing. I was powerless.

As my eyes darted back and forth, the piercing, sterile light in the room revealed a sight which broke me. I wish I never saw it, and I refuse to sleep again because I fear I’ll see it once more. A series of clear containers sat at the far end of the room, each one containing various organs and body parts from animals on our planet. I saw what looked like a cow’s heart, an eagle’s talons, and a shark’s head. Above the shark’s head was a single human face, pulled taut as if it were being used for leather. I knew that once fair, beautiful face which I had many a times stared into by the light of the moon, or as we made love. It was Don’s face. They caught him. They caught him, and I’d never know what they did to him but they took his face and displayed it like some gaudy fucking trophy. I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t.

My grief was interrupted by the sudden, high-pitched sound of some awful tool. My eyes shot back to catch a glimpse of this terrible thing which these long hands were ever so slowly moving to my chest. I could feel the heat coming off of it. I knew it was coming but I couldn’t move. I was truly powerless. I felt it touch, and my flesh gave way in the most searing pain I had ever experienced. The sound was grotesque. The wet, sloppy tearing intermixed with the harsh cracking of bone as I was opened like a hope chest. I watched them pull up my sternum and block my view. I don’t know which was worse. When I could watch the whole gory show, or when I could only hear it and feel it. I’ve never felt something literally touch my heart before, but I never hope to feel it again. I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t. I wanted to scream, but I couldn’t. All I could do is feel and hope for death to release me. It never came. They just wanted to see. They wanted to keep me alive. That’s why they kept the procedure sterile. They were curious.

I awoke, screaming. I think I know why Don had degenerated so. Were these the dreams he was having? I found a long, pink line down my chest the next day while getting into the shower. Please tell me it was a dream. Please tell me Don is still running around out there. Please tell me he’s just crazy. Please tell me I’m going crazy. I’m admitting myself for observation tonight. I don’t know when I’ll be back on. Goodbye and good luck for now.

Mulder85: 1720; 10/27/2014 What the actual fuck! That’s gotta be a nightmare, Dawg.

TheRealAlvin: 1740; 10/27/2014 It’s not. It’s been a long while since Phaser’s been on, hasn’t it?

PuckU: 1424; 10/29/2014 Yo, I think I saw those lights in the sky last night. WTF?!

Credit: J. Catenaci

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“In the Broad Sense”

October 24, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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There is something wrong with me. I cannot hide it anymore. I fear my family suspects that something is not quite right with me. They reach out to me, but I pull away. If they came too close, they would know I am different and I am dirty.

Once, only my mother’s voice mattered. It is strong, soft, and pleasant. She tells me everything I need to know and I follow her instructions without question. She rewards me with her singing, which none can match in tone and beauty. It was only once, a brief distraction by another sound, I chose not to listen to her. For one brief moment, I listened to another song and that was all it took. I can still hear her voice, but now there is another voice; a malicious voice from within my head. I cry out for help, but it restrains my speech. It forces me away from the sight of others; my mother completely unaware of my absence. I struggle against the will that overpowers me and manipulates my limbs. One leg in front of the other, it marches me out into the forest beyond the safety of my home. It grants no rest or reprieve. It is not long before I can no longer hear my mother’s voice. I rebel against its control and it answers my struggles by making it clear, it is much more than just a voice in my head. I can now feel it moving in my head.

The pain in my head is causing flashes of light to explode in front of my eyes as I shuffle onwards. It halts my body in an unfamiliar place deep within the forest. An invisible hand grabs my head. It pries my mouth open to an unnatural width. With insidious intent, it clamps my mandibles down on the stem of a leaf. It is an eternal grip of death that will never be broken. I feel it severing the muscles in my six extremities, making them useless and immobile. The pressure and pain build in my skull and the light grows dim before my eyes. Just before complete darkness falls upon me, I think I hear faint singing from my mother coming from the distance. I hear a comforting lullaby being sung as a fleshy stalk explodes from my head.

It emerges from the shell that was its womb, glad to be freed from the constraints of its expendable vessel. Now, all it needs to do is grow and wait. Soon its spores will appear and fruit all over its body. They are separate but still one mind and one body. The spores will soon be released and travel on the currents of the air and across the lands, listening for the voice of another royal mother. Their only desire is for her children to listen to its song instead of hers. Just a moment is all it needs.

O. unilateralis only needs to grow and wait.

Credit: Killahawke1

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From Deep Within

October 24, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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“There was a little man in my room last night, and he says he’s going to take me with him.”

I glanced up from my cereal in surprise and fixed Mabel, the light of my life as well as my only daughter, with my best fatherly gaze. She giggles, showing her pearly white teeth. She’s playing a game, I think to myself, and so I smile back at her before asking, “What kind of a man was in your room? And where does he plan on taking you?” She pours her own bowl of Frosted Flakes, spilling a few of them onto the counter.

“Well… he was about this tall,” she says to me, motioning with her hands about three feet off the ground, “And he had a really funny looking face.”

I looked at her quizzically. “You still haven’t answered my other question Mabel. Where does he plan to take you?” Mabel seemed to ponder this for a moment, and I expected her response to be something along the lines of “Never-land” from the Peter Pan book she had recently finished and enjoyed so much, or perhaps even Mount Rushmore, which she had acquired a fascination with since I rented “North By Northwest” from the local video store and we watched it together… Jesus Christ, what had I been thinking let her see that movie?

It was much to my surprise when Mabel finally replied, “I don’t know where he will take me. He just said that he would.” A look of confusion had donned her beautiful face. A flicker of concern sparked in my mind. Surely the great imagination of Mabel Stewart could not be fading at the tender age of only seven, could it? Not in this early year of 2015?

“Well,” I said, attempting another grin at her, “you just have this man visit you again while I go off to work, and when I come back, I expect a full explanation from this individual. I want to know exactly where he will supposedly be taking you. After all, it would be a shame if you had to miss dinner tonight.” I gave her a wink out of the corner of my eye before saying quietly and in a conspiratorial tone, “I’m making steak!”

Immediately her eyes lit up, and that smile that I had seen so often over the years returned to her face in a nanosecond. In a burst of excitement, she jumped up and wrapped her tiny little arms around my waist, pressing her cheek against my stomach. “Whoa there,” I laughed and hugged her back best I could given the fact that I was standing up.

“I love you dad,” she whispered, and I let out a chuckle as I felt warmth spread throughout my chest and course through my veins, the kind of warmth that only your daughter can bring to you.

I knelt down and she gave me a quick peck on the cheek, as was our morning tradition before I slipped on my belt, complete with my Smith and Wesson Service revolver, and headed out to work.

When I returned home in the evening hours, I found Mabel where she usually was; in her room, drawing pictures. I clomped heavily inside before sitting down beside Mabel on her bed. She was so engrossed in her artwork that she didn’t even do so much as turn around. All I got was a subdued “Hi daddy,” as she continued to sketch.

“What are you drawing, sweetie?” I asked her. Then, quite suddenly, she hopped to her feet, and swiveled to face me, with a pleased expression on her face.

“I’m done!” she announced proudly and held her newest picture out to me.

The drawing appeared to be the ugliest human being I had ever laid eyes on, even in an image. His head was largely misshapen, and his eyes looked like someone had jammed a couple of huge black billiards into his head. The mouth was essentially a straight line that was etched into his wrinkled skin.

I frowned slightly, disturbed that my own daughter could produce something this macabre. “Honey… what is this?” I asked, careful to keep any traces of disapproval out of my voice.

“It’s the man with the funny face!” she cried happily. Remembering our game from the previous morning, my concern lessened a degree, and I smiled down at her once more.

“So tell me,” I inquired, “Did this man visit you while I was gone?”

Her eyebrows knitted together, as if she was disappointed in something, before she answered, “No… he didn’t come to see me.”

“Well, that’s too bad,” I responded in my own disappointed tones. With that I assumed that the game we were playing was over, and I was actually a little glad because of it. The picture Mabel had drawn gave me the creeps, and the idea of something like that being in my house was too much to bear. I resolved not to let her read any more of those damned horror comics. They were probably rotting her mind.

The night came and went, and, just like yesterday, when Mabel came down for breakfast the first words out of her mouth were “There was a little man in my room last night, and he says he’s going to take me with him.”

I raised an eyebrow cautiously. “Didn’t he say that last night?” I asked her.

“Well yeah, but tonight he said it again,” she answered, before sitting down and grabbing a peach from the fruit dish on the middle of the table.

Things proceeded as they regularly did. I got my daily kiss on the cheek and with that, I headed to work, came home, made dinner, and finally enjoyed a rerun of an old Twilight Zone episode with Mabel before ultimately collapsing into my bed for a good, long rest.

But I simply could not fall asleep. The face from that picture Mabel had drawn kept flashing into my mind whenever I closed my eyes. It was inescapable. Finally, I got to my feet and ambled tiredly into Mabel’s bedroom. She appeared to be sound asleep. I went over to her window and felt the latch. It was rock solid, no way anything or anyone could possibly get in.

Just for peace of mind more than anything else, I checked the other various doors and windows of my house. All of them were secure. Feeling significantly better about myself, I climbed back into bed and slept tranquilly for the rest of the night.

That next morning it was the same old story again. But this time, when she inevitably said the words, I cringed inwardly, although I did my best not to show it.

“There was a little man in my room last night, and he says he’s going to take me with him.”

“Honey…” I began, my voice cracking, “do you think we can stop playing this game?”

Mabel looked at me curiously. “What game are you talking about daddy?”

“Well Mabel, you know that there is no man in your room, right?”

Mabel’s expression was blank. She did nothing but slowly shake her head.

“Mabel, I think what you’re having is what’s called a reoccurring nightmare. It’s a dream that repeats itself. It is very common; you have no need to worry.”

Again, Mabel’s stare was cold and blank. She responded by saying, “Daddy, I’m not lying to you. The man is real, and he’s going to take me with him.”

I continued to eat breakfast momentarily, musing with myself about how this situation could be fixed. Then an idea came to mind, and I hid my smile with a glass of orange juice before clearing my throat.

“Mabel, do you think you can convey a message to this man for me?”

“Uh huh,” Mabel responded, buttering her toast.

“Tell him that I don’t want him in my house anymore, and if he wants to take anyone, he should take the Brewer kids from up the street.”

For a second I could see the amusement in Mabel’s eyes. She knew what bad kids the Brewers were, and how relieved everyone would be if they were to suddenly disappear without any explanation.

“Sure daddy, I’ll tell him!”

A few hours later, the day’s work was done and I was in the final stages of preparing to go to bed. I walked over to my drawer, pulled it open and took out my revolver. The leather holster was smooth and harbored no frays. I had taken good care of it. I slid the gun out of its protective case and looked down at the shiny metal instrument of death. In all my years of police work in this fine town of Millingport, North Carolina, I have never fired a single shot from this pistol. Twice I had had to draw it, but nothing more.

Sort of like how I never got the promotion to detective, regardless of how hard I had worked to prove myself. I feel a twinge of anger. My boss shouldn’t be able to hold my life’s ambition from me because I looked at his wife the wrong way. What was wrong with him? I force the hate down. I shouldn’t allow myself to be irate towards my boss, lest I do something I regret in the long run.

Decidedly, I set my gun down on my nightstand and fall onto my bed. Call me what you will, but I just wouldn’t feel comfortable without it in hand’s reach for this particular night. When I woke up in the morning, everything was well. I had gotten a good night’s sleep without even a single interruption. I looked over at the pistol that lay on my nightstand and chuckled to myself. What a childish thing it was to put it there! I get to my feet and replace the gun in its proper location before making my way to the kitchen and beginning to make myself oatmeal. Within a few minutes my breakfast is ready, and I sit down at the table to eat.

It’s only when I am halfway done with my meal that I realize Mabel had not yet come down for her morning nourishment.

“Mabel!” I called, “Breakfast is ready! I made oatmeal!”

There was no response, which was strange, considering the fact that Mabel loved oatmeal.

I stood up and eyed the stairs suspiciously through the open door leading into the living room. Taking a deep breath, I crossed the kitchen, made my way through the den, and began to mount the stairs, one by one, slowly and precariously. When I eventually got to the top, I scanned the hall. Mabel’s door was slightly ajar, and I could make out a faint trace of her lavender wall that I had painted myself, much to her delight.

Suddenly, I wished I had my pistol at my hip. I kept imagining all of the bizarre and frightening things that could possibly be on the other side of that door, perhaps holding my daughter hostage so that she could not speak. Out of the depths of my own mind, I conjured the image of the picture Mabel had drawn.

Every instinct in my body was telling me that if I opened that door all the way, that thing would be there, and it would pounce on me, perhaps tearing out my throat with sharp white teeth that the line of its mouth had hidden so well…

The logical part of my mind piped up. You are being absolutely ridiculous, Scott. There is nothing on the other side of that door but your overslept daughter and you damn well know it. Now, go over there and open that door.

With tension building in my chest like the cogs and springs being tightened in a clock, I took step by step forward until the door stood right in front of me. I placed my fingertips on the smooth wood and pushed gently. It opened slowly, with a maddening creak that made me want to clench my fists and grind my teeth.

I walked inside the room and turned on the light.

Mabel was nowhere to be seen.

The sheets of her bed were jumbled and twisted, as if there had been a struggle. My breathing began to quicken as I observed the room.

On the floor next to the bed, there were ten scratches engraved onto the wood that went as long as ten feet across the room, as if someone had been grabbed by their ankles and dragged from the comfort of their bed. And after that there was…

A most personal fear rose within the recesses of my mind, and I stepped forward, looking down upon the object I had just discovered on the floor.

It was a fingernail, female by the looks of it, and no bigger than a sleeping pill.

After that there was a little bit of blood, and the trail ended at the second story window, which was wide open. A cold breeze wafted in, and the tears that stood in my eyes came cascading down as I collapsed against the floor in shock, weeping for the loss of my daughter.

How had I not seen this coming? The “Little man with the funny face” that came into her room every night was probably a kidnapper wearing some sort of disguise. And I, of all people in the world, a police officer, had been too much of an idiot to notice or think anything of it. And now my little girl was gone.

She had been kidnapped, but by who, and how? The doors and windows were firmly locked. How could anyone possibly get in? How could something like this occur? The questions whirled around in my mind.

There was only one thing to be done. I went to work.

I started the only place I knew where; Mabel’s bedroom. I took out my Nikon Camera from the storage room in the downstairs basement before beginning my investigation. I took picture after picture of every last inch of the crime scene. Not a single detail was missed. I examined the angle of the fingernail I had found on the floor. It would appear that Mabel had actually made a good effort to ground herself in. One more tug from her assailant and the nail was bent back until it snapped completely and was left there.

Having a fingernail come off is a very painful ordeal. When I was no less than twelve years old, my large toenail had become ingrown and infected. I was forced to pull it out completely so that a new one could grow. The pain had been absolutely unbearable, I had howled in anguish as the pliers did their dirty work and when it came out I had immediately submerged my entire foot in ice water. To imagine Mabel having to go through something in any way similar to that was gut wrenching to me.

How had I not heard her scream? Excruciation such as that was usually, if not always, accompanied by screaming. The only way to explain this was if Mabel’s attacker had masked her racket somehow, most likely by clamping a hand over her mouth. But this did not add up. How could this be possible if I already knew that this said attacker had kidnapped Mabel by grabbing her by the ankles and dragging her? It could not be, unless whatever had taken her had more than two arms.

What else was there to do? A sudden idea came to mind, and I quickly ran downstairs and grabbed the materials I needed from my work drawer. I had bought theses items from EBay, in the hopes that I would need them for my job as a detective, a job which I never got.

When I went back upstairs, I began to dust for fingerprints.

I must’ve done every square inch of that bedroom, from the window to the bedposts.

Much to my disappointment, there was nothing of any interest, all the fingerprints that were in that room belonged to Mabel herself. I scowled. What an idiot I was being. Did I really think even for a moment, that a man or thing sadistic enough to kidnap a child from the arms of their loving parent would let me off with something as easy as fingerprints? In my frustration I threw my brush across the room before racking my brains on what to do next.

The roof, I would check the roof for any indications that could help me to solve this mystery.

Unsteadily, I pushed myself out of the second story window and lowered my body onto the top of my house. The first thing that I was able to discern was the shingles that had been kicked loose. I followed a path of cluttered shingles until I found myself looking over the edge of my roof. Below there is an arbor that I had bought for the grapevines that had a tendency to grow near our porch. Now it is clear to me how someone could easily get up here. But the issue on the windows being locked still remained.

I went back into the house through my window. If I could keep tracking the trail that I had found, maybe I would be able to get at least an idea of where my daughter was being held, if she was alive at all. Again, a wrench is thrown in my stomach, and the hot tears return to my cheeks, cutting tracks down my aging face. The mere thought of losing my only daughter seems to me impossible.

But had I lost my wife and son, hadn’t I?

Memories come back in a rushing flood as I remember the last time I ever saw my spouse. It had been a rainy Wednesday morning, and Ellen had announced that she was going grocery shopping. I had kissed her goodbye a final time, and she had never come back.

I later learned that she had driven down to Florida and married a successful businessman. It was one of those situations where the only thing to do was put your head in your hands and wonder what you possibly could’ve done wrong. Then, when you were all out of tears to shed and you couldn’t think of any possible reason why these unfortunate events had occurred, the only option was to move forwards like they had never happened in the first place.

Gerald was my ten year old son. My wife had left him with me and Mabel.

Gerald and a friend of his, Richie Parker, were spending the day near a river. Richie had bet Gerald three shiny silver dollars that he couldn’t swim to the sandbar at the middle of the river and back.

Gerald didn’t know the first thing about swimming, but those dollars were terribly convincing, and he had decided to push his luck.

It didn’t take him very long to drown.

I let Mabel stay home from the funeral. I didn’t want her to be exposed to anything that could potentially upset her. This was probably ridiculous since she was only three years old at the time and incapable of understanding what was happening, but I did it all the same, for her welfare.

The day I attended that service, as I looked down upon the face of my dead son, I made myself a promise that I knew I would do anything to keep. I would not let Mabel slip from my fingers the way I had allowed both Ellen and Gerald to. I would keep her close, and never allow her to be put in any sort of danger. Did this make me an overprotective parent at times? Yes, I suppose it did, but it was worth it to keep Mabel safe.

And now look where I am. Mabel has been kidnapped, perhaps dead, and I couldn’t so much as get to my feet and face it like a man.

I refused to even entertain the notion that Mabel could possibly be dead. No, she was alive, probably not well, but alive all the same and I had to find her.

I strap on my police belt before making my way out the front door of the house, viewing the arbor which I had always thought beautiful with a new hate, before beginning to search for any kind of clue that could set me on Mabel’s trail. When I got to the outer perimeter of my property, I find something.

It was a torn piece of pink pajama fabric.

Ahead of me were the woods which I had always warned Mabel never to go in without my being there. Taking a deep breath, I descend into the semidarkness that the thick canopy of leaves above provides. I am always bent over, looking closely on the ground for anything that could be of significance.

I am able to follow a trail of leads through the woods. It isn’t easy, and sometimes I wonder if I’m going the right way at all, but it’s all I’ve really got to go on.

There’s a misshapen footprint of something here, a dribble of blood on a leaf there, and a broken branch every once in a while. This would be a lot easier if I had bloodhounds, I think to myself, and I consider the possibility of having the station rent me out a couple dogs.

I would call the station when I got back and report Mabel kidnapped. That is, if I could find nothing more myself.

Only once did I find a footprint that was fully visible, but even then it seemed… marred, almost distorted in a way. The shape of the foot was oddly curved and it had three toes instead of five. I dismissed it as there being a scuffle of some sort and snapped a picture with my Nikon before moving on.

An entire hour passed by, with me slowly but steadily tracking the signs that I had found I went deeper and deeper into the wilderness of the woods. Every time I began to lose confidence, a memory resurfaced in my mind.

I was ten years old, and my dad was taking me hunting in the woods for the first time. I was very excited. This was something that I had been looking forward to for quite a long while. My father dressed me in heavy camouflage, to the point where I felt like I would fall down if I tried to take a step. Then he thrust a .22 rifle into my bundled arms and explained to me the basics of gun safety. I could barely hear him through the cap that was pulled tightly over my ears, but that was all fine, I had shot guns over at my friend’s houses and I knew what to do and what not to do anyway.

With that we were off, he and I trudged into the tightly interwoven trees to find ourselves a buck to shoot. I asked him if I could take the cap off and he nodded his approval. No sooner than I had removed it he was holding his hand up for me to stop. Then he crouched down, examining the tracks he had found in the mud. He beckoned me closer and, I placing the butt of my rifle in the ground, we both observed the imprint of deer footfalls, me feeling a little silly doing it.

With that, he taught me in a hushed whisper the fundamentals of tracking.

At first I was admittedly quite terrible when it came to the task of tracking game. But as the years wore on and my father and I went into the woods more often, I became skilled in this operation. By my teenage years, with the help of my dad, I became one of the best trackers in town.

I smile to myself, despite my desperate situation, over that memory of which I am so fond.

It is only a few minutes later when the woods, and the trail with it, abruptly end.

I find myself looking out into the Brewer’s Cornfield.

The pale yellow stalks of corn rustle in the wind. They almost seem to be mocking me.

Whoever kidnapped Mabel took her through this cornfield, no doubt about it. But it would be trespassing to go forth and investigate. Even as a police officer, I cannot just search the Brewer property without a warrant, and there is the possibility of me getting shot if I were to try. Bart Brewer is not very agreeable to trespassers.

No less than a year ago, I remember a young nine year old boy coming into the Millingport Police reception area bawling his eyes out. When we were able to calm him down as to make his words understandable, he had choked out a story about how he had went to retrieve a baseball on the Brewer property and ultimately had a muzzleloader stuck in his face.

Suddenly, a thought comes to me. How did I know it wasn’t the Brewers that had abducted Mabel in the first place? Somehow this idea troubled me, despite my not knowing the Brewers very well.

All I really did know about them were the fact that their kids were troublemakers and their father had hunted illegally several times. That and that fact that they were not very nice people and it was certainly advisable to avoid them whenever possible. The answer was in those stalks of corn. I knew it.

So, without another thought, I strode forward and began to make my way through the yellowed rows.

Picking up clues to the trail in the cornfield was much easier than it had been in the forest. Certain stalks had been trampled over, making a clear and obvious path.

The sun rose high in the sky, and sweat began to cumulate on my brow. Still, I pushed on and on, with the sound of corn husks crunching under my feet and the stalks tickling my arms and legs.

Any moment I keep expecting to find myself face to face with Bart Brewer and the muzzle of his eight gauge shotgun, but for whatever reason I do not. The farm remains peaceful and quiet. There is no sudden blast of a gun and spill of my guts. In the rows of corn, I walk on, undisturbed.

Eventually the trail stops, and I step out into the open. But I am still in the cornfield.
It would appear that somebody had cleared out a wide circle in the corn.

The stalks had been pushed flat for twenty feet in every direction in this one particular clearing. There were no more signs of Mabel. It was as if the earth had swallowed both her and her kidnapper up and left a large amount of open space in their wake.

As hard as I searched, no more clues could be found.

A course of action needed to be taken. I could call my fellow police officers to this case and lead a full scale investigation of the Brewer farm. That would be the obvious thing to do, would it not?

Then, I started to think to myself.

I sat down at the wide open clearing in the corn, and I thought.

I thought about how, after all these years of hard work and dedication in the police department of Millingport, I had never been given the promotion to detective.

It had been my life’s ambition since I got out of college. Start out as a lowly police officer, and, over the years, get promoted to detective. However, after all this time, I hadn’t even come close to this opportunity, despite how much I wanted it, and despite the excellency with which I had done my work.

If I solved this case on my own, without the help of anyone else, my boss, no matter how much he disliked me, would have to give me this promotion. How could he not?

With this in mind, my mission to find Mabel became ever more urgent than it already was. On the way back to my house, I made a plan.

I would return to the Brewer farm for a late night stakeout. Anything suspicious would be captured with photographic evidence.

When it is exactly ten o’clock and the sun has disappeared behind the vast horizon, I set out from my house to do what I must.

I park my car on a ledge overlooking the brewer farm. The only thing left to do is to wait.

The hours crawl by with no signs of activity. I often find myself thinking that this is pointless, and I should turn around and go home to get a good night’s sleep. Then maybe in the morning I can call the rest of the police department and have them sort this out with me. Hopelessness nearly overcame me. Who cared if I didn’t get the promotion to detective? Wasn’t this all pointless anyway? What were the chances of me finding Mabel on my own? Slim to none, probably. I was wasting my time, and maybe the consequences of my not telling the police department could be even greater…

What if I had my badge revoked for not reporting a serious crime? What if Mabel was already dead, and if I hadn’t just called the police department, she might still be alive? The indecision of what to do is unbearable. I eventually decided that if nothing is to happen in the next five minutes, I should leave and call the police station as soon as possible.

I glance down at my watch. It is exactly 2:37 AM.

I let out a deep sigh and the exhaustion rolls over me in a wave of weariness. I blink hard, trying to focus. Spots dance in my field of vision, all the slight movements that I make feel forced. My eyes close for a spit second, and I enjoy the feeling of sweet sleepy bliss. I am not falling asleep, only resting momentarily…

There is a sudden and brilliant flash of light. My eyes snap open and I stare in complete awe at the magnificent beauty that is flashing before me.

It was a giant white orb, floating in the sky and slowly descending downwards. It is spinning very fast, and sending fragments of every color I have ever seen in every direction, as well as colors that I had never even seen before. It was a total shock to my brain, since I had never registered something of a color that was not natural. I could almost feel the waves that the thing was sending out as it spun, slowly descending downward until, with a rustle of the stalks, it lands in the middle of the Brewer cornfield, instantaneously flattening a wide patch of the crop in a wide diameter. I can only look on in a sort of fascination. This is something supernatural… something…

The words come to me in a flash. This is something extra terrestrial.

I have just witnessed an unidentified flying object touch down on the land of earth. Wonder overcomes every emotion that I have built up within me. Could I be the first human being to ever see something of this nature?

That’s when I feel it. From deep within myself there is a sudden, overwhelming urge to get out of my car and walk into this rotating essence of energy.

“Walk into the light, Scott. You will see your daughter once more. All you have to do is walk into the light. You will know every pleasure that man has ever seen. Just take a step out of your car and walk into the light.”

I jumped when I heard the voice, and for a moment I looked around in my car, convinced someone was there with me. Then I realized… the voice I heard was inside my head, but it was not my own. As if someone was forcing their way into my skull and placing their thoughts there, subliminal verses might be a good way to put it.

“The light, Scott… walk into the light.”

That voice… that voice shouldn’t be there, but it’s so convincing… so comforting.

I feel my hand reaching for the lock of the car door, but at the last second I stop myself. I shut my eyes tight, trying to block out the voices in my mind. Now I understand how the little man got into Mabel’s room. Mabel probably let it in. I also understand why I did not have an encounter with Old Man Brewer or any of his family when I trespassed on his cornfield. They probably went into the light.

“Scott… all you have to do is walk into the light.”

My blood pulses rapidly as I engage in a mental battle which I know I cannot win.

“Scott… it’s useless to resist. Walk into the light.”

For minutes on end I fight the probe of thought that is trying to make me do what is sure to get me maimed, killed, or worse. These bastards, whoever they are, kidnapped Mabel! Why should I listen to them?

“The only way Mabel will be freed is to come to us, Scott. Join us, Scott.”

They would never let Mabel go as long as I stayed here. The realization of how dire my circumstances were hit me hard. I think fast, trying to come up with a way to outsmart this alien force, but nothing comes. I don’t know if it was those creatures using my own brain against me, or just the sheer urgency of my situation, but for whatever reason, I can speculate no other option except for the one those things have already laid out for me.

“Scott… the light, you have to walk into the light.”

After no less than a few seconds contemplation, my hand once again goes to the lock. Not of the will of those beings that live in the light, but of my own will. I open the car door slowly and get out. I walk down the ledge precariously, taking every free second that I can. This is not something that I want to do, but something I have to do, for Mabel.

I take step after step. Getting close to the cornfield now, all the time focused on the light. The allure of it is more than physical. It is a mental magnet that attracts all who are near. In no less than a minute I am pushing my way through the tall stalks of corn. Bright beams shoot through the field, and as I get nearer and nearer it seems I will be blinded. Ten feet away now, I stop for a second, my legs trembling, before forcing myself to continue. Finally, I stand at the edge of the clearing, looking into the pulsating mass of vivid intensity. I can feel the very ground below me vibrating with its power.

I scream Mabel’s name as loud as I can.

I see an outline of her tiny form stumbling out of the light. It appears to stick to her skin like liquid until she pulls herself free of it completely.

My heart is hammering in my chest. I am almost afraid that Mabel won’t be able to hear me. I call out her name again and she seems to see me for the first time. She runs into my arms and I pick her up in a giant hug and swing her around.

“Mabel!” I sob, holding her close and crying into her shoulder. Mabel clings to me like I am the last person on earth, holding me tighter than she ever has. She is actually shaking a little bit all over, as if it was freezing cold. I rub her back comfortingly.

“Daddy…” her voice is weak. “Daddy, you have to go back. They did terrible things to me, I barely survived… I don’t want you to get hurt like I did…”

For a moment I am tempted to run with Mabel in my arms, away from this terrible threat. Why should I just submit to the will of these things? As I keep a firm hold on Mabel, one hand strays to the pistol at my side. How could I have forgotten about that handy little tool? The voice in my mind stirs once again, and this time there is a sinister note in its speech:

“Scott, there is no point in making this harder than it has to be. We will never allow either you or Mabel to escape with your lives if you try anything reckless here.”

I bit my fist hard before setting Mabel unsteadily onto the ground and looking her dead in the face. I don’t want to have to do this. I promised myself I wouldn’t lose Mabel. With the thought of my promise, I feel a painful tug in my chest and a lump gathers in my throat. When I talk to her, my voice is strained.

“Mabel, don’t you worry about it, you just get out of here and you get help, okay? There’s a cell phone in my car, you just call the police okay? You know the number, right?”

Tears begin to stream down her cheeks. When she responds, her voice is thick and layered with grief. “Daddy, please don’t do this to me, please, I don’t want to live without you.”

I use my thumb to wipe her tears before saying to her, “Please don’t cry, Mabel. It hurts me to see you cry. Just know that whatever happens, I’ll be safe as long as you’re safe, okay?”

It was a lie and we both knew it. But Mabel just nodded her head, despite my words, her weeping has not subsided.

I set Mabel down on the ground. She is breathing hard and deep. I looked into her deep blue eyes for one last time, the multicolored lights reflect in her pupils. Then, with a break of my heart, I yell as loud as I can:

“Go, Mabel! Run for the car!”

She takes off running in the direction that I point. Then, I stand and face the light.

It doesn’t matter what is about to come.

What matters is that Mabel is safe.

I walk into the light.

Credit: SnakeTongue

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The Man in Black

October 21, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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I had to grow up when I was six. I had two little brothers that depended on me. Liam was two and John was just a baby. Our parents were going through a nasty divorce and suddenly the children were just a burden that neither wanted to tend to. I was the one who made sure we ate, bathed, wore clean clothes, changed diapers, and taught the boys how to pee in the potty when it came time for that.

I also stopped believing in Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Sugar Plums and Gum Drops. Which meant I also didn’t believe in anything that went bump in the night. I couldn’t believe in those things. I had to be the grown up. I had to be Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and I had to chase away the things that went bump in the night.

My brothers were terrified of the dark and the things that lived under the bed and in the closet. So every night before bed I would take a brown paper lunch bag and chase away the things from under the bed and in the closet. I’d catch them in my bag and then I’d stomp on the bag, thus killing the monsters, with lots of praise from the boys. We all slept in the same bed. It was easier that way. I knew where they were at all times then.

Things stayed that way as we grew up. The boys knew they could count on me above our parents anytime they needed something. Even after the divorce the neglect never stopped. We sort of fended for ourselves.

When I graduated high school things started to change for me. I started to become angry at the way my life was. I resented my parents. And I hate to admit it, but I started to resent the boys. Even though none of it was their fault. So I ran away. I ran away with a boy my age who had joined the Marines.

Our life together started in Florida. And ended in North Carolina. The boy was secretly an abusive drug addict. I came home broken.

That’s when I met my husband Tim. Who was different than anything I had ever encountered. He’s kind and gentle and works hard to make sure I know I am loved, which was a feeling I never knew before. I had two children with him. Two girls. Gena and Melany.

That is when the nightmares started. That is when I started to believe in the things that went bump in the night.

I don’t know if the process of child birth makes one feel and know things they previously thought didn’t exist, but after Gena was born I started having horrible nightmares. The nightmares were so vivid they would put Wes Craven’s Nightmare on Elm Street to shame. Then the day after the nightmare I would see the subject of the nightmare out and about. As if I were being stalked.

Normally the nightmare was of a man in all black choking me. His hands gloved wrapped tightly around my neck. My husband normally wakes me from these dreams. I scream out, I fight, I kick, and punch. I woke with cold sweats.

But the next day out in town. I’d catch glimpses of him here or there. Over the years I thought it was just coincidence. That there must have been someone in town who wore a black jacket like the man in my dreams. It wasn’t until the man started being literally everywhere I was, that I started to worry.

One hot summers day at the farmers market I saw him. The man in black. I saw him across the market place briefly. It startled me so that I dropped my basket. I quickly retrieved my belongings and looked again and he was gone. It had to be the man. Why would a man be wearing a black leather jacket in 90 degree heat?

That night I had the nightmare again. Same man in black with his hands around my throat. I scratched his face under his right eye. The man yelled a curse and bit me on my left shoulder. My husband woke me again. We turned the light on and he ran to get water while I caught my breath. He came into the room and looked at me and said, “Baby you’re bleeding” I was confused but he ran up to me and put pressure on my left shoulder.

Once the bleeding had stopped we were able to see what the cause of it was. I had a deep bite mark on my shoulder. I broke down and told my husband of my dream. How could something that happened in a dream appear suddenly on my body. I could understand a random bruise, since I tend to wrestle the air, but a physical bite mark was unexplainable.

I called my best friend in the morning and Shawna and I agreed that I could use some time away from the house. Shawna and I went to the mall to walk around and people watch. People watching was a fun past time of ours. We quite enjoy picking out morons at the mall and secretly laughing at them. It always makes me feel better.

While we were people watching I saw him again. He looked right at me. And he had scratches underneath his right eye. We stared at each other for a moment before he turned to leave. He was leaving Hot Topic and heading towards J.C. Penney’s . I needed to know who he was. Why he was everywhere I was, and why he was in my head. I tried getting to him, but a gaggle of teenage girls suddenly burst out Claires in front of me and he was gone…again.

I didn’t know what to do. This was getting very real. Why would he have the scratches? Why did I have a bite? I needed help. Shawna, who is also clairvoyant told me I need to speak my mother. I asked her why, but she said all she knew was she was getting a strong feeling that I needed to talk to my mother and that was all she knew.

I hadn’t spoken to my mother in 15 years. As soon as I graduated high school I left and never looked back. But I trusted Shawna. I knew if Shawna said I needed to do something I needed to do something. So I called my mother.

“Hello, is this Donna?”

“Yes, who is this?”

“Elizabeth, your daughter”

“That’s impossible, my daughter is dead.”

“No I am not, I am alive and well, I am married, I have two children, and I need to speak to you.”

My mom sighed heavily on the other end of the line. “I thought you were dead and that is why it had ended, not because you had children.”

“What are you talking about?” I asked

“You are being stalked by a man in black aren’t you?”

I stayed silent for a minute or two. Before my mom went into the story of the “The Man in Black”

Apparently he is a curse. He has been haunting women in my family for generations, so long the reason for the curse was no longer known. He will follow/haunt the mother until the next daughter has children or the next daughter is dead. This is the reason for my parent’s divorce. This is the reason my mother was distant while we were growing up. She didn’t want to get close to me. She harbored homicidal thoughts towards me my entire life to end the curse that was upon her. She hated herself for it so she didn’t want a relationship with me. There is no other way to break the curse. When I asked my mother how she survived the curse without a spouse to wake her from her nightmares, she told me she had her alarm clock go off hourly. It took a toll on her, but at least the man in black couldn’t claim another victim.

I knew what I had to do. The man in black is after blood. He will not stop until he takes a female of my bloodline. He will continue to torture us until that day. So that night I bought a bottle of sleeping pills and crushed 3 or 4 up into Tim’s tea being careful not to give him a lethal amount just enough to keep him asleep when the man in black comes. I tucked my daughters into bed and kissed them one last time. And then I went to sleep myself.

The man in black came as predicted. He took my life as predicted. My cause of death went down to undiagnosed sleep apnea. I watch over my family now. Their sadness keeps me here. It’s odd, I thought I’d be tethered to the man in black for all eternity but once he took me I never saw him again. At least I am free of him.

23 years later

That bastard. That sorry bastard. Gena had a baby. She had a baby girl. And now the man in black is back. He is haunting my daughter. There is no way to break the curse. And my curse is to watch it happen to my family for generations to come.

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