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To The Moon

March 30, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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Rating: 8.4/10 (139 votes cast)

Frank was strapped into his seat; he was one of the lucky ones. The trip was a way out, a way off this planet, out of the country that had abandoned him. Everything from the past was going to be forgotten, which was good for him. He would either spend ten years in a cell, or five years on the moon. The moon was a sure bet. There wasn’t going to be any worrying about dropping the soap or getting shanked in his sleep. Not only that, but his family would be getting paid, paid well.

What could be better? He had always wanted to go into space, now he had gotten a free trip, all expenses paid from the government. Twenty years ago, it was just a pipe dream, going into space. Now, it was the lesser of two evils.

Even though these trips had been happening for the past six months without problems, he was nervous. He remembered all the disasters that had happened in the early years; he was a teen in 1999 so the really early problems were before him. He was still too young to remember the Challenger, but he had watched the videos. Then, there was the Columbia disaster, which he did remember.

Sweat was starting to form on Frank’s brow. He looked over to the officers that were in the shuttle with him. One was smiling, a small comfort, but welcome nonetheless. The other was stony as always.

“Don’t worry Frank,” Officer Steel said. “There is nothing to worry about, it’s just a quick trip, then you are free to do your services for the good of mankind.”

Then, the engine started to rumble and Frank’s breath became rapid.

The pilot was seasoned, he had flown twenty shuttles to the moon by now and never had any problems.

Frank wouldn’t be the first convicted person on the moon. That was how the government was doing it; they would give the option to go to prison or to go to the moon and work on building civilization for future use. Granted it was dangerous, but no more dangerous than being in prison. In fact, the likelihood of being fatally harmed was much slimmer on the moon. There was never anyone who had murdered someone allowed to go, which brought down the man-made death to nil, at least in terms of people murdering each other. There will always be accidents; that was just a way of life and it didn’t matter what rock a person was on, they couldn’t avoid it.

The countdown started. Frank closed his eyes and the memories started to project on the back of his eyelids. It was not his proudest moment; there was just no other options that he could think of, and his family was starving. It was a bad time for the country; it still is. There is still more unemployment than there was since the great recession. Frank never thought they had truly gotten out of that era. The government would say that they had, but it seemed like inflated numbers and lies.

It was different from the days he remembered as a child. Maybe that was because he was young, but there was some major differences that he couldn’t have overlooked as a young boy. The biggest of all was that the US didn’t have a president any more. The leader was elected for life. For the past five years, the same man was in office, and he would still be in office when he returned.

The shuttle started to shake as it was propelled off the ground. Even though Frank could see out a window, he didn’t want to. The speed of the shuttle was far greater than he wanted to experience. It wasn’t long until they were passing the atmosphere. Then and only then, did Frank feel it safe to open his eyes.

Officer Steel was unbuckling his harness, the other officer was already floating around the shuttle. The fear Frank was feeling had turned into enthusiasm. “It would be like flying,” he thought.

It was.

Once his trembling hands found the release for his harness, he pushed off the chair gently, the same amount of force he would use to get up from a chair, but instead of getting to his feet, he floated towards the ceiling of the shuttle.

He floated around for hours, a smile plastered on his face. Steel came to him a few times to try and talk, but the happiness Frank was feeling was too strong to be interrupted by anything. He only wished his children could be here with him. For the first time in his life, he felt like he had achieved something worthwhile.

Dinner wasn’t as good as it may have been in prison. Not only that, but the pilot had turned on the gravity, so he wasn’t able to have the joy of eating floating orbs of food, which may have been wise of the captain. He said if they would just float around, everyone would start getting sick, and start to lose reality with how life was on a planet.

There had to be some downsides to choosing space instead of prison. Besides the food and no longer being about to float around, not being able to see his family every day was going to be hard. It would make it slightly easier if he was able to talk to them, but that wasn’t an option until the first three months were over, and then he would only be able to call them once a month.

Officer Walters came into the room, the small amount of chatter halted as soon as he walked in. Steel was nice for the most part, so long as he was treated with respect, but Walters had a reputation of being a rather hard fellow to get along with.

“You shouldn’t be here, Mr. Radds,” he said to Frank.

The eyes of the others went from one man to the other. Frank was happy there wasn’t more than six people on the shuttle, however all six people were now in the room.

“What do you mean, sir?” Frank asked.

“You have been convicted. You should be in a cell, not given the opportunity of a lifetime. There are much more qualified people who should be going to do this mission. What was it that you were? Oh, right. A garbage man. There isn’t much use for that on the moon, wouldn’t you say so?”

Frank didn’t say anything. He stood and left the room. As he passed Walters, he noticed the slick smirk on his face.

The next morning Frank was happy to see that Walters wasn’t in the mess hall as he went to get his breakfast, Steel was though. Franks sat near him and they started talking. It was good to have someone that didn’t look down on him as if he was worth less than the grime on the bottom of his shoe.

“Don’t worry about Walters. He is just upset that he has to go back,” Steel said with a wink.

“It doesn’t matter, I’ll be free of him shortly. How long is this trip again?” Frank started eating once he finished his question.

“Three days, seven hours and fifteen minutes. Hey Frank, why did you do it? You have a family and had a life. There must have been a way to get money that wouldn’t have put you in this situation. Assault with a deadly weapon and robbing a group of people at a mall. How much did you think you would get?”

Frank could swear he heard sympathy in Steel’s voice.

“I didn’t have much of a choice, I was the only person who was making money in my household. The wife couldn’t work, not with the baby. Even if she could, we wouldn’t be able to afford a babysitter. I was only able to make enough to keep us from starving. Then I lost my job. The money was gone quicker than I thought it would have been.”

There wasn’t much more of a motive than that, and Frank didn’t think there needed to be any more of a reason than that. He did what he did because he felt he had to, that was what he wanted to tell Steel. He just couldn’t bring himself to be so rude to the man. He was the only one that gave him the time of day on this shuttle. He hoped that once he got to the moon, it would be different.

Steel could see that the conversation was upsetting Frank so he changed the subject.

“This is a very special mission you’re on, in the next ten years the government projects that we will have an atmosphere around the moon. It will make it easier to work there. That is where you come in, it will be your job to work with the scientist to make this atmosphere. You will also be building houses for people to live in when they start coming, and they will be coming in waves, you know. There is so much money to be had on the moon, I may even retire and go to the moon to make some good money for once.”

Frank believed him. There was a lot of money to be made there: mining, construction, technologies, agricultural prospects and more. Each of these things will be needed once people start to come to the moon. It was the escape that people needed for years, now it was just starting to become a reality. It made him feel like a pioneer from early America or better yet, an explorer from Spain or England.

“I think that I will like it on the moon. It would be better if I could see my family or at least talk to them when I get there. Let them know that I am safe.” Frank waited, his eyes fixed on Steel.

“You know I can’t do that Frank,” Steel said as he lowered his eyes to the table.

“Just one phone call. Please, that is all I want. I just want them to know I am safe. To hear their voices once more.”

“They will know you are safe by the checks they will be receiving.”

He knew this. There was no point in trying to get a call, he can now see that there was no way he would be able to get that from his guards. Ten years would be a long time away from his family. Steel was his only chance at getting an early call, and it was clear that he wouldn’t disobey his orders. Even if he would, it would take longer than two days to get him to agree with it. It was also nice to have someone to talk to, and Frank felt if he impinged too much, that person would clam up. So it was easier to just drop the subject.

It was a good idea for him to do so because Walters came into the room shortly after.

“I thought I told you that you weren’t welcome to eat with us?” he said once he saw Frank.

“Leave him alone, Rodger,” Steel came to his defense.

Walters only stood near the door waiting for Frank to leave. He had made it clear that he wouldn’t sit until Frank was out of the room. Frank, didn’t want to cause any trouble, but he also didn’t feel like he had to leave.

“Come on now, get out. You have no reason to be in here.”

“Actually, I do. This is where we eat, and if you just have a look, you will see that I am eating.”

Frank gripped his fork harder than he should have. It was the only thing that was helping him to control his anger at the moment.

“This is where people come to eat. So, what are you doing here?” A small glint of joy was in Walters’s eyes.

Frank had to swallow his rage. Biting his cheek, he rose. Walters had a smile; he was waiting for Frank to crack, to hit him. That would be a bad idea and Frank knew it. First, Walters was much larger than him. Second, it would only add to the time that he would be incarcerated and would earn him a trip back to earth. It didn’t matter what rock you were on, assaulting an officer was a crime.

He didn’t slam his fist on the table, though he wanted to. He only stood, cleaned his plate and left after bidding farewell to Steel. Walters tried to stand in his way, just one more way to push him to the breaking point. Frank wouldn’t allow this man to win. He was just like the bullies that his children had to deal with at school. He would have to deal with him how he taught his children to handle bullies. Ignore them until they left him alone, unless they laid a finger on them; that would be a different story. He taught his children just as his dad had taught him, don’t hit first, but if someone hits you, you better make sure that they know not to do it again.

But in this case, he wouldn’t be able to do that. If Walters decided to hit him, he would have to attack a different way. He would have to go to the supervisors with a complaint. If that didn’t work, then it would have to keep going up the line until someone would listen, even if he had to take it all the way to the press, which would love a story like that.

“Excuse me,” Frank said, staring at his feet.

Walters didn’t move out of the way, he just broadened his chest. Frank had to look up at the big man.

“I said excuse me. If you don’t want me here, please get out of my way.”

Walters smiled. He knew that Frank was getting frustrated with him and that was his game. Walters leaned on the door frame.

“Come on, Rodger, get the hell out of the way,” Steel said. It was only then the big man moved.

Frank stayed in his room for most of the day. He needed to calm down, but no matter how hard he tried, his mind would just go back to Walters. There was no reason for him to be so nasty. He was just a power-hungry cop, a pig. Now, it made sense why the gangsters used to call cops pigs. If most of them were like Walters, it was easy to hate them.

He would have stayed in his room all day if it wasn’t for his stomach, which was starting to hurt from lack of nourishment. It was time to grab something to eat. There was no clock on the shuttle, time was irrelevant in space. Hunger, however, wasn’t.

When he got to the mess hall, Walters was talking to Steel about something. Once the door opened, the chatter stopped. Walters’s look of jolliness turned stone hard at seeing Frank.

“Frank, we need to talk,” Walters said to him.

Steel moved over on the bench so Frank could have a seat. Whatever Walters wanted to talk to Frank about, Frank knew it wasn’t going to be good.

“What do you want to talk about, sir?” Frank asked.

“I want to tell you about the aliens.”

“Come on, Rodger,” Steel said.

“He has a right to know,” Walters said with a smile.

Frank grabbed some food and took a seat opposite Walters. He felt safer near Steel.

“What is this about aliens?” Frank asked.

Despite the feeling that this was some kind of trap, Frank was interested. He always believed that life on other planets could be real, but there was no way life could be on the moon. As far as he knew there was no way life could sustain on a desolate rock.

“Well, there have been some incidents on the moon. A few people have gone missing, the first two just seemed to vanish, but the third, the third is interesting. The third had a witness see him get taken by something, something with long tentacles that pulled him into a shadow. The man chased after him, but he found nothing. No body. No bones. No blood. No monster. Nothing.”

“Come on, Rodger, you’re scaring him.”

Frank wasn’t scared, he didn’t feel much of anything, in fact. This was just another torment that Walters was subjecting him to.

“Besides, that man who saw that was unstable. He was known to be a little crazy before he was taken to the moon, and to have the sun shining all day and night must not have helped that. I think that man had just wandered off and got lost, or maybe the witness had killed him and hid the body. I wouldn’t doubt that.”

That was a strange turn of events. Frank didn’t know that something like that had happened. His eyes widened as Steel told his side of the story. It made sense that the courts wouldn’t tell that to a person who would be deciding on either going to the moon or to prison. They wanted people to go to the moon, it saved them from sending people who may be considered more valuable.

“Most likely, he just walked off and got lost, though,” Steel said.

Frank wasn’t sure about that. The way that Walters was telling it, the man was killed by someone or something; Walters was pushing for Frank to believe that it was a something. Steel seemed like he was trying to cover something up.

It was the first time that Frank felt that Steel wasn’t being honest with him. Something had happened on the moon; that was true. It hadn’t been told on earth, and maybe it never will be, but something did happen on that rock.

The shuttle landed on the surface on the moon. It was nothing like what Frank had thought it would be like; he was thinking that the houses would already be built. Nice big houses, houses that could hold a family with room to spare, but all he was able to see was ten glass bubbles. Some of them had some green in them, a few had some small houses. Well, small at least compared to the one in the center of the bubble city.

This bubble was huge, about five stories tall and the width of a football field. Inside of this bubble was a building that almost scraped the top of the bubble.

“That’s the town hall,” Steel said, “or at least, it is as close to one that you will need here. That is where the research labs are. Everything that is happening on the moon is being planned and developed there. Let’s go introduce you to the scientists. They are going to be in charge of you here, so it may not be a bad idea to get on their good side.”

Steel slapped him on the back and gave him a wide grin. Walters wasn’t around them at the moment. As soon as they got off the shuttle, he started for the big bubble, leaving everyone else behind. Frank was sure that he was able to hear what Steel was saying to him, the radios in the helmets were connected to everyone from the shuttle. This would be the last time his conversations weren’t being listened to by everyone else on the moon. In the years to come, every time Frank was wearing his helmet, everyone would be able to hear what he was saying.

Once they were inside of the artificial atmosphere, Frank took off his helmet. Everyone inside of the area was wearing clothing that they would have worn on earth, which was another thing that Frank didn’t expect. For some reason, he thought everyone would be in silver jumpsuits. Maybe it was because he always saw people dressed like that in movies.

“This is Steve Holland,” Walters said to Frank. He was already out of his space suit. Steve was a skinny man with thick glasses; fire-red hair covered the sides and back of his head, the top was nothing but a reflective surface.

“It’s nice to meet you,” Steve said. “You will find that you made a much better choice by coming here than going to prison. We are a lot more… laid back here.”

His voice was deep and strong, but he spoke with an uncertainty that made everything he said awkward.

“Thomas will show you to your um… your um… housing.”

Thomas wasn’t around when Steve said that. Frank assumed that it was the other person in the room who was more interested in something under a microscope than anything else that was happening. Steve took the officers away and started to speak in a hushed voice.

It didn’t matter how quiet Steve was speaking, Frank was still able to hear him. There was some things that he couldn’t understand, but for the most part it was clear. It wasn’t until Steve leaned in to the officers, that Frank had become interested in what was being said.

“We found something,” Frank had to strain to hear Steve. But he was sure that’s what the scientist had said.

“What, like a new mineral or something?” Walters didn’t try to lower his voice.

“No. This one is alive…”

“You must be Mr. Radds,” the mousy man with the microscope said, “I’m Thomas Stone, but you can call me Tom.”

“Please call me Frank. It’s nice to meet you, Tom.”

“It’s nice to meet you too. I’m truly happy you’d decided to come here and help all of humankind. By the time your sentence is over, we should have more than enough accomplished to have people living here. It is very possible that you may even see your family here before you have completed your time with us. If that happens you will be given a full pardon.”

Frank’s heart fluttered at hearing those words. Tom seemed like he would be the person to talk to about getting his phone call. All he would need to do is get on his good side and anything would be possible with this man.

They started to walk around the bubbles, each time they passed one, Tom would tell what it was. The agricultural bubble had plants growing inside, but they were hard to see because of the steam that had formed on the side of the glass. The rest were supplies or housing, nothing too extreme. A few of the housing bubbles even had little gardens growing inside.

When they had arrived at Franks housing bubble, number seven, he was excited to see what life on the moon would be like. Excitement quickly turned to disappointment once he walked into the house. It was crude, made from the same gray rocks that littered the moon and looked as if it would fall in at any moment.

With all the talking about what was going to be happening here and what had already happened, he had forgotten to ask Tom about his phone call. He also wanted to ask about the life they found, but it was probably better that he hadn’t.

Steel and Walters had walked into his bubble an hour later.

“Frank, we will be coming back in a few months with rations. Is there anything we can do for you before we leave?” Steel asked.

Walters just looked at the house Frank was living in.

“No thanks.”

“You know maybe it isn’t such a bad idea to have you go to the moon. These living conditions aren’t any better than in prison,” Walters said with a grin.

Frank agreed with Walters for the first time on this trip. The conditions weren’t good. It wasn’t as if he had expected a five star resort but this was far less then what he had expected. Still, it wouldn’t be bad. If what Tom had said was true, they were going to be working on the housing in the next month, then maybe he would have a much better home.

“We brought things that will be needed for the work. If you need anything, just talk to Steve; he is in charge around here. I’ll talk to your wife and tell her you made it safely. If there are any messages she has for you, I’ll pass them onto Steve. Take care of yourself, Frank.”

Steel shook his hand. Walters nodded, if it could even be called a nod. The millimeter movement of his head wasn’t any kind of acknowledgement, more like he felt he had to do something.

—Three weeks later—

Walters and Steel landed without any problems. They had come back much sooner than they would have liked to. Mostly, they only go to the moon once every three months. Now, it had only been three weeks since they left. It wasn’t even three weeks home, Walters was good for reminding Steel about that. The entire trip had been nothing more than him complaining about having to come back so soon. Steel didn’t even disagree with him. Why couldn’t they find someone else to go this time?

Communication had been lost since the second week they had been back home, so it was up to them to make sure everything was as it should be, to make sure that no one had gone crazy and started killing others. Hopefully, it was just an equipment malfunction. That being the case, they would be headed back home the same day.

However, they quickly found that wasn’t the case. The big bubble had a huge hole broken in the side of it, the vacuum of space would have sucked all the breathable air out of there within seconds.

“What the hell happened here?” Steel asked.

“It’s not surprising. That’s what happens when you send the scum of the earth to live in an area together. Just look at the prisons and you could see that all day. The paper pushers don’t understand that, and they most likely never will. They are too scared to get a good look at the undesirables.”

They walked into the bubble. They used the door even though they could have walked through the hole without any trouble. All the equipment that had once been in pristine condition was now a rubbish heap; papers were scattered across the floor, motionless and dead. It wasn’t until they saw Steve lying dead, that they realized the problem they had walked into.

His skin wasn’t the normal pale chalky color of the dead, no, it was slightly purple with a light green film on it. A darker, thick slime oozed from his mouth, nose and ears.

A new vegetation had started to grow on the desks and sides of the dome. It was the only thing that was able to grow, some kind of mushroom. Green with purple circles and an opening on the top of it that looked somewhat like a mouth. Steel found a pencil and prodded the fungi. It let out a pfff noise and a faint green mist was shot into the air, suspended in time and space.

A rustling caused them to look up, Frank was sitting behind a desk on the floor. His spacesuit was on, he was hugging his knees.

“What happened here?” Steel asked.

Even Walters didn’t have anything nasty to say, he was too surprised to think of anything nasty.

“Tell us what happened son,” Walters said.

“Please get me out of here. Take me to prison. I would much rather spend my time there than spend another minute here.”

The officers obliged. Leading him to the shuttle, they walked briskly, ever aware of their surroundings. Once they were in the safety on the shuttle, they started to push Frank to tell them what had happened, but he didn’t want to talk about it, not until he was off the moon.

It took forty-five minutes to get back to the shuttle orbiting the moon. All three of the men didn’t say a word the entire time. Walters and Steel were just thinking about what they had seen. Frank too, was thinking about what he saw, but it was more of a nightmarish reflection than the other two.

The shuttle reached their ride home and they were taken aboard. The three men climbed out and took off their suits, and the pilot changed their course for home.

“What happened, Frank?” Walters asked in the most consoling voice he could muster.

“That thing they found, whatever it was, killed them. The spores are toxic, and if that wasn’t bad enough, whoever inhaled them was in a kind of trance, or under a spell, or something. They would act differently. Never talking, they never talked if the spores got inside them. But the things they would do…”

Steel rubbed the man’s back. “It’s okay Frank. We’re going home now.”

“I think I was one of the first to notice that something was wrong, but by that time, it was too late. Most everyone had already been infected. I did the only thing I could think of: I broke the dome. The things seemed to grow faster in the atmosphere. I figured if I broke it, it would make them die… or at the very least stunt their growth. They didn’t grow any bigger, which was good, but they still spread. Spread quickly.

“The people who were affected would attack others. They became violent. Anyone or anything that got in their way would be destroyed. I broke the dome and killed one man by breaking the glass in his helmet.”

Frank couldn’t hold it in any longer, he started to bawl. Once he started, it took a long time for him to stop. When he finally got himself somewhat composed, he continued with his story.

“I knew that it had to be something on the moon, something that was other worldly. But a mushroom didn’t seem like something that could be so deadly, and that noise it made when it sent out that poison cloud. Pfff. Pfff. I heard it for three days after I broke the glass, until it finally stopped. It just wanted to kill anything else that could still be alive.

“The people that got the spores in them would start to have their veins pop out. It took about two days for that to happen. Three for them to start turning purple. On the fourth day they would die and have this slime ooze from them. God, I hope I never have to hear that sound again. It’s the sound of death.”

The officers didn’t want to push him anymore. They knew he had been through enough. With a big meal and a nice warm drink, they sent him to bed.

“What do you think of his story, Walters?”

“I don’t know, I saw Steve laying on the ground. He looked like what Frank described. I also saw the cells they found out there; it could be true. The cells looked green, but almost everything looks green under a microscope.”

“Yeah, it does seem a little farfetched though,” Steel said. “All those people dead because of some cells grew better in an environment that’s more like earth’s than the moons. Where would they have come from?”

“I don’t know. But you did see one for yourself, even poked it with a pencil.”

The two men stopped talking and looked at one another. As if thinking the same thought, they pushed up from the table and ran towards their suits. There hanging on the wall was Steel’s suit. A slight green film formed on the right hand. They moved closer to it and saw a small bulb had formed in the middle of the green dust.

Very carefully, Steel moved the glove to get a better look. It was green, with tiny purple dots on it. He looked at Walters. He didn’t say anything for a few minutes but Walters had been thinking the same thing.

“We should have left these in the shuttle. We should have…”

Steel’s thought was interrupted by a soft pfff.

Credit: Johnathan Nash

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Bath Water

March 18, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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While I have some scary incidents that happened throughout my younger life, this one has probably stuck with me the most.

I remember when I was a little boy, and my parents used to live in this crummy apartment somewhere in Cleveland, Ohio. I reminisce to the days of the constant smell of mildew and mothballs, as my parents lived in a pigsty of clothes and old trash. They’re not bad people, no, they’re just not the cleanest in the world.

My parents room had one TV, one bed, a near empty dresser, and the rest of the dresser’s clothes scattered on the floor. They had decent jobs: My mom was a clerk at at this big grocery store that had hundreds of people storm in a day, and my dad worked as a valet for this fancy hotel, so he always got good tips.

It’s just that, my family never cared much for buying furniture, or anything that would liven up our home, so we stayed in that pigsty for a year. Wasn’t the greatest of my childhood memories. But, not because of the ugly environment, or the tiny, but effective smell of dirty clothes and a hint of fruity air freshener. I mean, the mixture of those smells made the room smell slightly of rotten fruit. It wasn’t those things at all, in fact, I didn’t even mind the smell that much.

No, it wasn’t any of those. It was the bathroom that terrified me. I remember being at a height where I could just see a tiny spec of my head when I walked past the mirror, and seeing a black shadow sitting in the corner. I was too short to see the full figure, and when I would do a quick jump up to get a glance, it’d be gone. On days when my parents were alone in their rooms, and I would be left alone in the other side of the apartment, I’d go to the bathroom to go pee and see that the mirror would be fogged up like someone had just got done taking a shower. Even the heat you feel basking around after the shower was present. But I specifically remember my parents not even using the bathroom that day, as both of them were most likely napping after a long shift. I mean, even if they had used it, they didn’t take showers in the evening.

I always felt like I was being watched, but not by a bad presence. But rather a presence… Of comfort. I never felt scared when I felt this sense overwhelm me, rather I’d just smile and go back to playing with my Tonka truck or whatever I was doing. The reason I’d never feel worried, is because I was just a tyke then, and never took a second chance to think that a sudden change of emotion in a room would be something horrible.

However, I had a feeling that warm presence wasn’t the only one nested in our apartment. Sometimes I’d watch Looney Tunes in my room with my tiny little television, and feel a cold chill go up my spine and I’d feel like something wasn’t right. When this feeling happened, I would usually run to my mom and dad and hang out with them instead, watching game shows and occasionally looking out their open door, nervous. But I never saw anything suspicious.

When my parents had to do night shifts, or when they were both working, I was dropped off at my Aunt’s till they returned. Both of the random feelings of warm comfort, and dread disappeared when I would enter her house, and the feelings would instantly come back when I came back home later in the early morning.

Let me get to the bathroom again. It was right next to my room, and it’s door was always opened, as my mom preferred, and since I didn’t like the idea of closing my door at night, I kept mine open, too. So every night, I could hear every little thing that went on in there. Whether it be my parents going in there to do their business, the occasional automatic air freshener which sprayed once every five minutes, and sometimes even the drippy tub faucet. Those things were like white noise to me, and it would help me go to sleep. Weird right? You’d figure a constant drip would keep your eyes wide open, each drop annoying you more and more, until you couldn’t take it anymore and would stop it. But, the sound soothed me.

One night, I was hearing the occasional spray and drips, when my TV flipped on. I jumped out of my bed as I figured maybe I rolled on the remote in my sleep, and I turned it off. When I whirled around to walk to my bed, it turned on again. It wasn’t showing any film either, just the static and white noise. I turned it off again and lied down. I woke up a few hours later in the early blue morning, and the TV was on again. A little creeped out now, I unplugged it and went into my parents to snuggle next to them. My mom opened one eye and caressed her warm arm around my body, making me drift off into a loving sleep.

The next day, I told her the weird incident and she shrugged it off by telling me it was an old TV, and most likely did stuff on it’s own like that. She said next time, just unplug it again. I agreed.

Strangely, the TV never had anymore problems like that, but the next night, I remember hearing the faucet water drip like usual. But it was at a higher speed this time, and it grew to annoy me instead of soothe. I got up, adjusted my pajamas and walked into the bathroom. The light switch wouldn’t work, and I figured it must’ve burned out. However, the hall light provided a good enough glow inside the bathroom for me to see my way. I turned the faucet to the left, tightly, slowing the drip and was about to leave when I heard a short distorted giggle of a woman. I stopped dead in my tracks and whirled around. Nothing. I shrugged it off as my mom watching a funny show and laughing at it.

That night, I had a dream. I was walking to the bathroom with only the hall light guiding my way. Each end of the hall that would lead to either the kitchen or my parent’s room was swallowed by darkness. I was moving slowly, almost in slow motion, and there was no sound but light classical music. I saw the red painted bathroom door hanging open, the darkness swallowing it just like the hallway. The background music was being drowned with the light sound of drum cymbals being rapidly tapped.

I pushed the door open more only to have the light automatically flicker on. The light had a weird reddish tint to it, and the tub was full of clear water. The sounds of music and drum cymbals stopped as soon as I looked at the calm pool. I felt drawn to the water, almost as if I should lay in the tub. Above me, in the middle of the air above the tub was a hand. It was a pitch black manifestation and looked like a thick smoke, gesturing me to get in the tub, curling it’s fingers in a come hither motion. I extended my hand to grab the figure’s, but as soon as my fingers were about to grasp the inviting hand and it’s long fingers, my other hand accidentally fell in the water, and immediately, a maroon and sappy liquid dispersed from my fingers, having it fill the tub. It was blood. I screamed, but no voice came out, only the sound of an orchestra building up. The red blood lingered in my nose, filling it with the scent of dirty pennies. a strong dream, one so real, you could smell and taste, you might understand how I felt. The light red glow of the area turned into a crimson shine that made the room a horror movie nightmare. I backed up and the hand disappeared into the wall.

The orchestra built up, not even giving proper notes, just playing the instruments with anger. From the maroon tub, the watery blood gushed out the sides as I saw a plasma coated figure slowly rise out of it. It was facing away from me, but it knew of my presence. The orchestra was now deafening with harsh notes that I can’t explain. If you’ve ever heard “A Day in the Life” by The Beatles, you know what I’m talking about. I felt something leaking down my ear as the music felt like it blasted my eardrums.

The crimson figure was sitting upright, facing the wall in front of it. It’s long hair was thick, with clotted gore hanging about. It lifted it’s hand to to rest on the side of the batbtub, and it slowly turned towards me. It’s face, though lathered in the thick, red goop, smiled at me with pearly white teeth. It’s eyes were pure black with two white circles for pupils. Other than that, it looked normal, although it was very fucking far from normal.

It slowly rose up to its feet, and the orchestra just….. just stopped. Instantly, the lights turned out and I ran. I was still in slow-motion, but I sprinted as fast as my slowed down nightmare would let me. I exited the bathroom and saw the white painted hallway walls bleeding from the ceiling. A solitary piano key clicked in a steady pace, like you hear in those Michael Myers movies when he’s slowly following you. I turned around and saw the figure straight ahead of me, smiling with those snow white teeth. It opened it’s mouth and showed me its tongue. It looked like it was snipped in half with a pair of old scissors.

And everything stopped. I was frozen in the hallway, mid step, and the figure was also frozen, giving me that malevolent grin. I expected it to walk towards me, but it never did. I stared at it in a frozen fear, my eyes tearing up as it’s face was being embedded into a memory that would stick with me for years.
And then, I felt a drip on top of my head. I couldn’t tilt my head up to see what it was, and more rained down. It started to leak down my face, and that slight tickle you feel when it does so kicked in. I didn’t know what it was, but I adjusted my eyeballs to stare up. It didn’t work, but the mystery liquid went in my eye. I squinted my eye shut in that intense moment of their irritation and opened them. In my left eye was a blurry red. More drips hit my head as I felt cold blood drip down my face, and hardening like you see with chocolate sauce on an ice cream cone. The figure still gave me that grin, stuck in it’s place. When the drips stopped, it’s smile widened and it took one step before everything went black and I woke up instantly.

I was in my room, looking up at the ceiling. I was wondering what time it was, so I tried to turn over in my bed, but I couldn’t. I was frozen, just like I had been in my dream. It was sleep paralysis, but I hadn’t known at that age. I tried to squirm, but I was frozen stiff, forced to look up at the ceiling. The sound of three quiet bells from my alarm clock told me it was three in the morning.

I was squeezing my eyes shut in utter terror, hoping I’d just fall asleep and have a good dream like I always do. But I didn’t even feel tired anymore. The sweat from my sudden awake leaked down the sides of my head as I heard something in the bathroom.

It was a squeak, and then a heavy sound of flowage. The tub had been turned on, and it was on full blast. My door was still open, and I heard the creak of the bathroom door open, having soft footsteps being crunched on the carpet. It stopped at my door, and although I couldn’t see it, I knew it was looking at me. It stared at me for a few minutes straight, and I laid there in that state, not being able to move, or scream out.

I heard that same distorted giggle, and then it walked away back to the bathroom, humming a bittersweet tune. I still heard the tub water flowing, and I tried my absolute best to scream, but it was just a muffled one that didn’t give much sound. I heard what sounded like the figure entering the tub and then the squeak of the faucet turning off.
The sounds of someone moving in the water were heard, like it was trying to find a comfortable place to rest. It finally stopped and then I could move again. Literally right after the sounds stopped, I felt a weight on my chest, and I rose up, catching my breath and trying to stay quiet in fears it would notice that I could move freely now. I was crying silently as I ran to my parents room, not looking back. I woke my mom up and told her everything. The dream, the figure watching me from my door, the tub water. My mom rose to her feet and told me to calm down and go back to sleep, as the entire thing was just a dream. I told her I wasn’t lying and I tugged on her nightshirt. She rolled her eyes and agreed to come with me. My dad was working the night shift for the hotel, as the lobby was having a late night party and needed him more than ever. I stayed by my mom’s side as she rubbed her eyes, adjusting to the hall light.

We entered the bathroom and my mom flicked on the light. It didn’t turn on. She sighed, complaining that she had just replaced it yesterday. She told me to wait there while she got a flash light, but I refused and went with her. We came back and she shined the light in the room. Nothing. Nothing but a tub full of clear bath tub water. I started breathing rapidly, wondering where the monster was. I grew a false bravado since my mother was present, and went to touch the water. Nothing. Just normal, warm water. I turned to her and told her to believe me, but she told me it wasn’t funny to fill the tub like that, and to wake her for such a stupid reason. I pleaded to her I had nothing to do with it, crying, and she looked at me for a minute. She looked around the flashlight lit bathroom with a troubled look and told me to sleep with her for the night.

I remember the morning after, my dad got back from his party, his clothes and tie a little worn, indicating he had a good time. His grin enlightened when my mom walked up to him. They were talking, and I couldn’t hear them. I was watching them from behind the hallway wall while they talked in the kitchen. The only word I really heard was water, and I knew she was talking about the bathroom and the incident yesterday. My dads gleeful smirk turned a sour and solemn frown. He looked a little paranoid as he looked around the room a little, sighing. He said something to my mom and she covered her mouth in shock. A few more exchanged words, and they started walking towards the hall. I quickly went back in my room, acting like I had been in there the whole time.

Later that night, my dad came in my room quietly and closed the door behind me. He kneeled next to me, putting his hand on my shoulder. I flinched when I saw his hand reaching towards me, remembering that demonic one that urged me to follow it’s lead in my nightmare. He frowned and asked me to tell him what I saw. I explained to him and I saw his lower lip tremble a tad.

He cleared his throat, and looked about the room. Beads of sweat were on his forehead. “I saw something in there, too.” He whispered. It scared me that he resorted to whispering, almost trying to make sure that…. that thing wouldn’t hear us.

“Daddy was in there shaving, and I-I saw a hand crawl out of the wall. I turned around and saw a woman smiling at me, standing in the tub. And then she disappeared.” he said shakily. I nodded at him and he looked at me.

“Don’t worry, buddy. We’re getting out of here.” And then he kissed my forehead, and simply walked out. It always freaked me out how serious he sounded, not trying to make me feel better, because he and I both knew there was no use in trying to deny the truth – we both saw the same thing. I had never seen the hand before, besides that dream, but he told me what it looked like to him and I swear to God it sounded as if he was in that dream with me with how accurate he was. We moved out two days later.

A decade later, I found out that sometime in the 50’s, a woman lived in that apartment. Her name was Ivy and she ran this flower shop down the road from the building. That flower shop is now a diner, but when I lived there, it was just an empty lot, with mice and rats infested within, spider webs hung everywhere.

Back when she owned the shop, she met a guy and they did the business, and she became pregnant. Half way through the pregnancy, the man left. And doctors said the fetus wasn’t developing properly, but they’d wait until the birth to see for sure. As you might’ve guessed, the baby died in the womb, and Ivy went back to her shop, silent after all was said and done. With the news around town, fewer people showed up at her shop, and she eventually slit her wrists.. in that same bath tub.

I could only assume the figure was Ivy, but she wasn’t as pleasant as her obituary and story made her sound. When I saw that bloody figure rise out of the top, it didn’t look happy, despite it’s toothy grin, it didn’t look sad, or even angry. It just looked….. utterly insane. It saddens me that such a nice lady such as herself turnedl into a grotesque being, forever wandering the halls and bathroom, wondering where she would be had her baby been born alive. I am still unsure about the other incidents I endured at that apartment, such as the comforting, yet also malicious presence I would feel at the most random of times. Or even the TV. Although my mom could’ve been right about the TV, and it’s old, unreliable set up.

I also wonder a lot of times at night….. what would’ve happened to me, if that black hand had grabbed me in the dream.

Credit: Glitchrodgers (Damian)

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The Shadows

March 17, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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“You’re such a baby!” my friend Elise exclaimed as I held her arm tight when the power in my house went out.

“I am not! I just hate the dark! I don’t know what it is about it, I just always have.” I was frowning, and the hairs on the back of my neck were standing on end. It’s the truth. I have always hated the dark. No matter where I was. I know- a pretty basic fear for a child. But definitely something you should grow out of by the time you’re 17. But I guess the real reason I’ve always been afraid of the dark is probably because of the monster I always used to see, lurking in the shadows of my room at night, watching me while I tried to sleep. I guess you could say it’s the same way people are afraid of clowns for their whole life because of one traumatic event they experience as a child. But this, unlike those is not an unsubstantiated phobia or fear. That monster is real. And I don’t care what anyone tries to tell me. I know he’s never too far away, and I know that he’s just waiting to get me one day.

I guess the first time I ever saw him was right after I turned four. I was lying in my bed one night, chasing sleep as young children do, and there he was. Just standing in the shadows of my room; lurking there, watching me with these horrible glowing yellow-green eyes. And this gnarly ivory white grin that showed rows of sharp, monstrous teeth. He would just stand there, watching me, breathing deep and heavy with labored and rough breathing. The strange thing though was whenever he would get close enough to touch me, all I had to do was hide underneath my blanket, and he wouldn’t be able to get me. I could still feel him hovering over me, and I could hear his ragged, labored breathing; but he wasn’t able to get me so long as I was hidden underneath my blanket. It was as if my blanket was my impenetrable armor. Sometimes when he knew I was terrified, when he knew he had me at my weakest, he’d whisper to me with a deep dark disgusting voice that matched his breathing.

“One of these nights, little one, that blanket won’t be there to protect you. And I’ll be there to get you. I’ll be there waiting for you, to make you mine.” It always frightened me to hear him say that. He wouldn’t speak to me very often, but when he did, he’d always say the same thing.
And that’s why I was so frightened. Summer storms had knocked the power out in my house, and there I was now, sitting in the dark of my house, no blanket and only my friend Elise there for protection. I clenched her arm a little tighter, hoping it would bring me some sort of comfort. It didn’t. Flashes of lightning poured through the windows and a loud crack of thunder followed soon after every strobe. I sat and watched the sudden flashes of lightning, and the loud booming claps of thunder mixed with the heavy pitter-patter pf the rain drops on the windows. I sat in silence as I wondered where The Shadowman –a name I made up for him when I was a child- was lurking. Wondering when he’d show up to “make me his”.

“You’re trembling, Alice. What in the hell has gotten into you?” asked Elise with a certain level of concern in her voice.

“I just hate the dark. I’ve always hated it. You know that.” I was trying to hide my absolute and utter fear, but I don’t think I was doing a very good job at it. And I knew I couldn’t very well open up and tell my best friend about the shadow monster that’s been following me since I was little. Just then, a loud and ominous thud rang through the house, making Elise and I both jump.

“What was that?” I gasped as I looked toward the sound.

“Probably just a small limb falling onto the roof, Alice. Nothing to get yourself worked up about.” Elise tried to reassure me in a frightened tone. I knew she would think of a logical explanation for the sound, but I knew otherwise. I knew it was him; I knew The Shadowman had come for me. And in that instant, I saw him standing there, grinning that same wicked grin he’d always grinned. And at that moment, my heart was pounding as hard and as loud as the thunder outside. Fear gripped me, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it, because I had no blanket and I wasn’t in the warm safety of my bed. Instead, there I was, sitting in the dark on my couch with no protection from him. And there was no telling what he planned on doing to me.

Another flash, and a few feet closer to Elise and I he came. Another flash and a few more steps closer. He seemed to inch closer and closer with every step. I had to try and think of something to get Elise to safety, because I didn’t know if he’d want just me or the both of us. I had to think quickly though. He was creeping closer and closer with every sudden flash of light.

“I’m thirsty.” I lied, so I could get Elise out of the room. “Could you get me some water please?”
“Yeah. I’ll be right back.” She rose from the couch and headed toward the kitchen, and toward The Shadowman. A bolt of fear went through me as I feared he would simply reach out and suck her into the dark abyss that seemed to be his very being. But fortunately, she made it past him as he disappeared with a strobe of lightning. As she exited the room, another flash of lightning threw more light into the room. I was terrified, because I thought he’d be mere inches from my face, but he wasn’t. He was nowhere to be seen. Gone without a trace. Thank the heavens I thought to myself. I quickly changed my mind when instead of seeing him, I heard him. His ragged, labored breathing behind me.

I turned around on the couch to face him, and there he was, looming over me. His eyes glowed brighter than ever, and his grin seemed more ominous than before. He stood silently, stoically almost as if he was awaiting me to scream in terror. But that was just it. I was too terrified to do anything, let alone scream. And as if a comedian had just told him a joke, he began to laugh. He started slowly at first, and then got progressively heartier and louder, until he finally reached a guffaw. Another flash of lightning, and he disappeared, only to reappear in front of me as the darkness swiftly returned. His laughing had subsided, but he was still chuckling to himself.

Then he opened his mouth ever so slightly, and he began speaking with that deep, dark gravelly voice. “Your blanket cannot save you now little one. I have been waiting for this moment since I first laid eyes on you. And now, finally after over a decade of waiting, you will be mine. And there is nothing you will be able to do about it.” His smile grew larger, and more maniacal. And that’s when the true and absolute horror sank deep into my heart. Another flash of lightning came, making him disappear once more like a magician’s vanishing act; and again reappearing in front of me with the enveloping darkness.

“Hey Alice, I’ve got your water.” Elise was coming back into the living room, towards the couch and The Shadowman. He acted as if she wasn’t even there, like the only thing that existed to him was me. He raised his arms, revealing long gnarly disgusting claws that matched his grin.

“With me into the forever darkness you come.” He reached his arms out, and grabbed me by the shoulders, enveloping me in complete and total blinding darkness. For a moment I thought that he’d killed me, and left my body to be found by my beloved friend.

“Alice, where are you?” I could hear my friend Elise behind me. I turned to see her walking around the living room, trying to find me. The glass of water she’d gotten for me still in her hand. “Alice, this isn’t funny. If you jump out from behind the couch and scare me, I swear you’re going to be wearing this water, glass and all.”

“Elise, I’m right here behind you.” I said facing her back.

“Ok Alice, whatever. First you get scared out of your wits over a stupid storm, and then you run off right after I get you the water you wanted. I don’t get you.” She plopped back down onto the couch, letting out a long sigh as she sat down.

“Ha-ha, very funny Elise, I’m standing right in front of you!” I said as I walked closer to her on the couch. Still no response though. “Hello! Earth to Elise!” I practically screamed while I waved my arms wildly no more than a few inches in front of her face. “Please, Elise, answer me.” I began to weep uncontrollably; and then there it was once again, that ragged labored breathing. And that dark, terrifying voice once again played in my ears.

“She cannot hear you little one. You are in my realm now. No one will ever be able to see you or hear you ever again. You’re trapped here with me for the rest of eternity. You are my pet, and there is simply nothing you can do about it.” That same ragged laughter began again as he stood there, watching me weep. And again, the lightning flashed outside. I felt almost as if my whole entire body had been lit on fire for an instant. “And now, like me, you must remain in the darkness. The light will only cause you immeasurable pain.”

The lightning continued outside, and the pain kept coming and going with the flashes. I laid there in my living room floor, crying to myself until I couldn’t take the pain anymore, and moved to my bedroom closet. The only place I knew was entirely dark. I felt completely ridiculous, thinking that maybe I’m just dreaming, asleep on the couch and I’d just wake up in the morning, feeling like a fool. But unfortunately I was dead wrong. I knew I hadn’t been dreaming when I woke up to the sounds of my parents coming home from a short weekend trip, and I was still in my closet- not on the couch as I’d hoped I would’ve been.

I heard the front door opening, and my parents coming into the foyer, dropping their bags behind them. I opened up my closet door, and peered slowly out of the door. The daylight was blinding, and it burnt my skin, but I had to try and make my way down stairs to see them. I move swiftly from shadow to shadow, and finally reached my bedroom door. I opened it and swiftly moved into the shadows of the hallway. As I made my way towards the stairs, still doing my best to stay hidden in the shadows as The Shadowman told me I had to do, I heard my friend Elise stir awake on the couch, and my parents walk into the living room.

“Good morning Elise.” I heard my father say.
“Good morning Mr. Green. How was your trip? Fun I hope.”

“Oh, it was great- except for the terrible storm that rolled in last night.” I heard my mother reply.
“Where’s Alice? I figured she’d be down here with you, what with all the storms last night and all.” My father said.

“I thought so too. But last night, she started acting really weird after the power went out, she seemed completely terrified over a little storm.” She began telling my parents.
“Yeah, she’s always been that way when it came to storms, or whenever the power would go out. She wouldn’t say much, just march straight up to her room and go to bed.” My dad informed Elise.

“Well, she asked me to get her some water, but when I came back, she was nowhere to be found. I searched through the entire house, but I couldn’t find her. I figured she was just playing a prank on me, so I just decided to turn in for the night, since the power was out anyway.” She explained everything that had went on the night before.

“Well, maybe call her phone?” my mom said.

“I’ll try. We didn’t have service last night. I guess the storms must’ve caused some interference.” Elise replied. “I got no response. It just went straight to voicemail.”

“I wonder where she could be.” My mother said almost frantically.

“The worst thing to do is panic.” My dad said. “I’m sure she was just playing a prank on you and fell asleep in her closet or something. Why not give it a little while, and if she hasn’t come down then we can go looking for her.” But, I knew that what The Shadowman said last night was true. I’d never be able to see my family ever again. And they’d never know what happened to me.

Minutes turned to hours, hours to days, and days into weeks. I watched as both my parents went nearly insane when I never turned up. They called the police to report me missing when I hadn’t come back the night they came home. I watched, having to lurk in the shadows, dodging the flashing red and blue lights, and the pain they brought. I had to lurk around and listen to the officers tell my parents that there was almost nothing they could do because there was no sign of forced entry, and all of my things were still in the house. I watched my parents break down and cry. I watched silently in the shadows as they basically became hollow shells. I felt helpless and all alone. I cried a lot, having to watch the pain and heartache my family was going through and there being nothing I could do to make it better.

But sometimes when I get really lonely and upset, I return to my closet to sit by myself and think. And I turn away from the light and stare into the bottomless darkness that has become my new home. And far off in the distance, I can see eyes. Not monster eyes, but human eyes. It took me a long time to realize what they were and where they were coming from, but I finally did. They’re the eyes of the countless other children he’s brought into his realm to be his “pets”. I miss my family and friends, I even miss going to school sometimes. But when I get really sad and lonely, I sit down and look at all the eyes in the distance, and I don’t feel so lonely because at least I know I’m not the only one that’s missing.

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My 6th Birthday

March 16, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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It was my 6th birthday, and my party had just ended. We had cake, pizza, and played games, typical American birthday party. I lived with my mom and her boyfriend, his name was Steve. For my birthday they got me one of those plastic Fischer Price playsets, the ones that were like 4 feet tall and had a small slide (small enough to fit in my room). I was extremely excited about this because it was exactly what I wanted and I was sure it was the greatest invention since sliced bread. The playset was set up right by my door in front of my bed.

Now before I go onto the actual part of the story you want to read I need to give a little background about the house I lived in, from what I know at least. To begin with the house was an old, blue, colonial house in upstate NY. The house was like every other house in the neighborhood and since Steve had just got a promotion at work there was constantly work being done on the house, basically a complete remodel while we lived there. The only thing I didn’t like about the house was that you couldn’t get into the attic, and for some reason bats kept getting in there and at six years old you don’t like bats.

My mom tucked me into bed after my birthday at about 9:00 PM, a little later than usual. I remember waking up a few times that night because I was really excited to use the playset in the morning, I didn’t get to play with it much that day because of the assembly. One of the times I woke up I remember looking at the playset when I saw two shadows, a boy and a girl, and they looked like they were talking to each other. As a child I didn’t want to be scared so I rationalized this as the shadows of the trees playing tricks on my mind, that’s what my mom would have said. I managed to go back to sleep that night and didn’t really think much of it the next day.

My birthday is in June so I usually didn’t have class on my birthday, this meant that I could spend the day playing with my friends. I didn’t think about the shadows I saw the night before at all, I basically forgot that it happened, until the next night. My usual bedtime was 8:00 PM and my mom was pretty strict on this matter so I was showered, in my pajamas, and in bed by then. I was lying in bed when I had a strong feeling something was watching me. I looked to the wall between my door and the play set and the shadows were there again. This time I payed more attention to it while I was frozen in fear in my bed. The shadow children seemed to be talking but I still couldn’t hear them, it also seemed as if they were looking at each other but it’s hard to sense 3D direction from a 2D shadow. I screamed for my mom and she ran into my room and turned my light on, at this point the shadows disappeared. My mom then let me sleep in her bed that night, which she never let me do. She assumed I had a nightmare.

Every night from then on when I would look at the wall at night those shadows would be there. When this would happen I would call for my mom and the cycle repeated. During this time Steve and my mom would argue a lot, I wasn’t sure why but I know I didn’t notice it at first. The house had also gone into a full remodeling where almost half the house would always have something being done to it. I wished for school, this was back when school was fun and all your friends would be there. I hated spending any time in the house and I would try to go to my grandma’s whenever possible.

This cycle repeated for a while and I’m not really sure what my mom thought about me telling her that ghost shadow people were in my room every night. I begged her to leave the hallway light on every night, hoping that the light would scare away the shadows. She obliged but the light never did anything and I would yell for her every night. This continued for a while but then one night something changed.

Lying in bed something felt different, I wasn’t sure if I had built up a sort of tolerance to the shadow people that were in my room at night, in the same place, doing nothing but silently “talking” to each other, or if I was just dumb. That night I decided that I didn’t want to wake my mom up for some reason; I decided I would be brave enough to walk right past the shadows to my mom’s room. I think it might be important to remember that whenever my mom would come by these shadows would disappear, I still don’t know why. I walked past the shadows and nothing happened, I was then in the hallway with the light right above me, and my mom’s room to my left. I remember looking up at the light, and then back to my mom’s room, then back to the light. I did this a few times and then I remember just staring into the light, I am not sure why but I was drawn to the light.

This is where the story starts to get a little confusing but I will try my best to explain to you what I can. This next part of the story will be what I can remember as of today, then I will try to fill in some blanks with what my family remembers and could tell me.

After looking at the light for some reason I decided that I didn’t want to wake my mom up, which was weird because I never cared before. I went back to bed and the next thing I remember is sitting in the living room watching T.V.. There was construction all around me, and plastic covers on the couches so that none of the drywall or new paint got on them. I remember I was sitting on the floor and I was just watching static on the T.V., to me this memory seems like an out of body experience, I feel like I was there but I didn’t feel in control.

These memories are like a flash to me, I have them but nothing in between. I only have one more memory being in that house. I was in my room looking out of my window down to the driveway. It was night time and my mom had asked her friend’s mother to come over. Her name was Danielle but everyone called her Dee. I remember watching her pull up into the driveway and giving my mom a hug. I could hear them for some reason, and this also seemed like an out of body experience. I heard Dee say that there was a boy and a girl spirit in the house but they weren’t the problem. The problem was that there was a dark and evil entity in the house and that it wanted me. Dee and my mom then proceeded to burn sage in the house. I assumed I went to bed but when I woke up I was at my grandma’s house and it was two months after the light incident. I felt fine when I woke up and I don’t think I even noticed anything different, I often spent the night at my grandmas house.

I had my own assumptions about what had happened but I never really talked to my mom about it until I was 16. When I woke up at my grandmas my mom had told me that we were moving out of Steve’s house, that they were breaking up and that I wouldn’t be going back. My mom would get my stuff.

As I stated earlier I talked to my mom about this, in detail, when I was 16. The memories had bothered me for so long and I wanted answers. I told my mom the exact story that is written above. My mom gave me a confused look when I told her about the part with Dee. She told me I wasn’t in the house. My mom proceeded to tell me how I became more and more distant as we lived in that house. Then one day we were eating dinner and I just passed out, head in plate, like out of a movie. My mom said I had a high fever and looked ill. My mom is the kind of person who believes in the supernatural and I think when I passed out she decided to accept that the “ghost” stories I was telling her weren’t in my head. This is when she decided to call Dee, who was known around town as being psychic. Dee told my mom to immediately get me out of the house and that she would come over. My mom drove me to my grandmother’s and went back to the house when Dee showed up. I wasn’t in the house but I was able to recall what Dee had done and said, without my mother telling me. My mother also told me that she didn’t tell Dee anything about what I had said just that I said something was here.

Since I was sick my grandma kept a close watch on me that night, my grandma doesn’t really believe in ghosts but when I talked to her about it she said it was a weird night. She said I was making weird noises, having trouble sleeping and had a high fever but then it just stopped. Like one moment all of my symptoms went away, I went to bed and that’s when I remember waking up.

As I sit here and right this story I am a 21 year old senior in college, every so often I think back to these events and I am just confused. I have no answers. I try to come up with my own conclusions but I can never think of a rational one. I have a hypothesis for what happened but I wont share that with you now, I want you to come to your own conclusion. Maybe someone else has gone through the same type of situation. That was the point of writing this story, I am hoping that someday someone will read this and be able to help me. It would be easy to say I was possessed or something but that seems to unreal. If the memories I have weren’t so vivid it would be hard for me to believe this story, hell it’s hard to believe with the memories but I assure you that this happened.

Credit: joey517

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The Window Screen

March 15, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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The backstory: This story was told to me by my friend’s older sister when I was in fourth grade. I assumed she was lying and tattled on her. But to my surprise, her mom actually corroborated the story and even added details to it. Since then I’ve never forgotten it. At some points in my life I thought back to the story and reasoned that the family were just assholes trying to scar a kid for life. But I do remember the older sister telling me “we have a tape.” I never saw the tape, but her mom corroborated that fact too.

So here is the story. The dates are pretty close to when it actually happened, but I’ve changed some of the names and I didn’t include my friend or his sister. The neighborhood where it took place, Boynton Waters, is a real place in Boynton Beach, FL. I’ve fleshed it out into more of a story, but the major plot points are unchanged.

——

June 28th, 1994 – that was the date we moved into the house in that cute little neighborhood of Boynton Waters. It was a new neighborhood. South Florida was chock-full of these little enclaves of houses – Rainbow Valley, Cypress Creek, names the developers probably sloshed around in their heads for a few days to try and sort out what types of images they would evoke for its market.

I can describe the neighborhood as rather undeveloped, with a quiet that blanketed the entire compound at night followed by musky, cicada-infested days.

We were one of the first families that had moved in so I hadn’t been able to get to know the neighbors well at all. The first weeks were a wash-and-repeat cycle of unpacking, going to Publix, looking in furniture stores, getting in touch with my company and setting up the utilities. By the third week all that was done and over with, so now it was just a matter of settling in and making it feel like a home.

It was around July 29th, about one month later, that I noticed something odd with the window screen in our master bedroom. An outline of white appeared on the fiberglass and I as approached closer, I could see that there were a series of small tears running vertically and diagonally, in fact – there were dozens of them.

“Huh,” I remarked to my wife Amanda. “That didn’t used to be there did it?”

She followed my voice out of the bathroom. “Hm?” Then she noticed it. “Oh how did that happen? I never saw that before.”

“It’s not a big deal,” I insisted, half-voicing my real thoughts. I mean, it’s a new house after all. It should be flawless. “We can get it fixed.”

Being that the rips were so significant, I figured they would need a professional touch, so I called up a few window screen repair services the next morning. The big yellow phone book didn’t list prices so I had to call quite a few before finding the best quote.

The guy came a day later and didn’t seem at all fazed by the sudden appearance of wear. “Happens to everyone, but if you need to do this again in the future – here’s how.” He demonstrated for me. It wasn’t a difficult process, just involved getting a new sheet of fiberglass and some super glue. If it happened again, this would be no problem, but I doubted quite highly it would happen again.

Four nights later, on August 2nd, it must have been around 10 PM, but I was retiring to bed a bit early. That’s when I noticed it.

Dozens of ripped, white tears in the window screen. Needless to say I was more than a little freaked out. “Honey!” I called. Amanda bounded up the stairs.

I inched closer to the screen and felt a wave of déjà vu pass over me. These tears were almost exactly the same as the ones from four nights ago. It was puzzling, but… there they were. “Odd…”

Amanda folded her robe over her as she entered. “Oh my god!” She rushed over to the screen. “What the…?” She peered up at me with a raised eyebrow. “Did-did you do this?”

“Of course not!” I protested. “I don’t know how they got there.”

Amanda stifled a laugh. “Sorry, it’s just – It doesn’t make sense does it?”

“No it doesn’t…” I said seriously with a sigh. I couldn’t believe it. This was a new house! These rips couldn’t have made themselves so it was obvious to me that a neighbor or someone, maybe an animal perhaps, made these. “It’s got to be a pest, a rodent or maybe birds. I guess it could’ve also been one of the neighbors’ kids I mean… This just doesn’t make any sense. And look-“ I pointed to the size and length of the tears. “They look exactly the same as last time.”

“Well we’ll just have to keep the window closed then,” Amanda concluded.

“Oh-what? Come on,” I told her. “We’re not gonna suffer in the heat because of a few tears in the screen.”

They could be fixed easily. Around 10 AM the next day I went to Home Depot and got some supplies for fixing. At least one thing came out this. I’d get to work with my hands and do some real fixing up on the new place, which I was looking forward to.

By the afternoon, the fiberglass was fixed. I stood back and admired my handiwork proudly. Looked good as new, and I really, highly doubted I would need to do this again. “Well, that’s that.”

The day wore on and Amanda and I were out for most of it. We had made some new friends and went out to dinner together. We came back around 11:30. Amanda went upstairs first. Minutes later she called down to me, “I thought you said you fixed it!”

I glanced up casually. “I did!” A pause. I did…

“Well it’s still there!”

I shook my head. No way. I shook my head all the way up the stairs. No way, there’s just no way. I just fixed it. I just fixed it! Walking in to that room, my heart jumped back five feet. What appeared before me was a torn screen, once again – the same large gashes… in the same places, creating that same white outline. I couldn’t say anything at first. I was a little spooked, but mostly perplexed. This wasn’t a situation that could be easily explained I felt.

I observed the tears again, this time searching for clues and traces of what or who caused them.

Amanda noticed the concern on my face and told me gently, “It’s probably an animal, like you said.” She prodded further, “And it’s not a big deal after all. We’ll just fix it again tomorrow and keep the window closed unless we’re in the room.”

But I wasn’t convinced that was the answer. I know it was crazy and probably going a bit too far for some silly old rips in a window screen. God knows those things can tear pretty easily. Still, I had some video equipment. Maybe I could set it up and see what was causing these rips.

I yawned. Of course not tonight. Like Amanda said, it wasn’t urgent.

As we slept, a small noise, like scratching against the wall stirred me awake. I only opened my eyes and listened for a moment. It was like someone was carving something into the wall. A rising sense of panic flashed through me and I quickly turned on the light.

Amanda blinked and rustled. “Why’d you turn on the light?”

“Don’t you hear that?” My ears peered open again for the scratching.

Amanda listened also. “Sounds like carving.”

The state of alarm in me was all too real. So I got out of bed and listened for where the carving was coming from. “It sounds so close by.” As if it was in our own room.

I approached the window cautiously, assuming there to be some menacing figure, a teenager, or someone carving into the side of our house. My voice was buried at the top of my throat, ready to unleash a string of loud warnings.

In one swift movement, I opened the window and peered outside – on both sides. But there was no one. It was empty. It was dark but tranquil.

The carving continued.

“What is that?!” Amanda cried, her voice also rising in panic.

I shook my head and waited for a moment. A few seconds later, the carving stopped.

My heart beat loudly in my chest and I had to take in a good thirty seconds of silence before I could feel at ease again. “I’m going to give the realtor a call tomorrow, see what’s going on – if there were some rodent problem she conveniently forgot to mention.”

In my grumpiness and agitation of being woken up, it was hard finding sleep again.

“Vagoyaveech. Vagoyaveech.”

I furrowed an eyebrow. “What was that honey?” I muttered drowsily. Oh forget it, I thought. She always talks in her sleep, deeper tone than usual though.

In order to trap to snake you’ve got to set some bait. The bait would be the fixed screen. That was top priority, so first thing in the morning – I cut out patches of fiberglass and set to work molding the new patches into place with superglue. After that, I set up the tripod. My video camera hadn’t gotten a lot of use in the past year so the tape inside would suffice. I would have to come check on it after 2 hours so I made sure to set an alarm on my wrist watch. This time there would be no mistake. I couldn’t even leave one minute going without recording.

In the first two hours, I tried to take care of errands outside. To my positive dismay when I returned, the fiberglass was actually holding up. And throughout the day, as I checked repeatedly in two hour increments, nothing happened. I had to constantly record over the previous footage, as there was simply nothing happening that was worthwhile.

Well, I thought, this was probably a good thing. The rodent or perpetrator, whoever, had moved on.

But something was egging me to keep going. Around 8 PM, the camera still going, and me and Amanda downstairs scarfing down the last bits of Breyers ice cream in front of the TV, the walls appeared to rattle, if only for a second.

“That was weird,” Amanda remarked.

I waited for a moment to see if more rattling would occur, but it had passed and nothing more happened. I felt a bit alarmed though and told her, “I’ll be right back.”

More cautiously than usual, I walked up the carpeted stairs, quietly. I suppose I was masking my own footsteps. Did I suspect someone was in the house? No… But, just to be on the safe side.

The door to the master bedroom was wide open. “Huh.” I thought I had closed it.

As I proceeded closer I could see the window appearing into view, and the screen, once more – was ripped – in the same places. I rushed over in a panic, edging my hands along the outskirts of the rip. “HEY!” I shouted at no one in particular, but I assumed there must be someone. “HEY!”

From behind me I heard a loud gasp.

I looked back at Amanda in disbelief. “Can you believe this?!”

“Did you get it on tape?” She asked.

I nodded. “At least we got it on tape this time. OK.” I stopped the recording and handed the VHS tape to Amanda. “Get the VCR ready.”

I stared back at the window screen intently, no thoughts going through my head except “Why?” “How?” I focused on the outline, and my eyes… in that moment, some inescapable feeling of dread filled me. The outline began to come together for me, take on a shape. It was the outline of a human, no, a woman. It appeared to be, with a sharp nose, her face leaning down and her eyes closed, and below to the side, what looked like fingers plugged into the screen.

I shook my head. Maybe it was reruns of Twin Peaks setting my mind on fire, but… the face, the figure now were unmistakably visible. I could no longer see any outline. All I could see was this embittered woman, face pressed against the window screen among the ripped fiberglass.

I ended up backing away slowly out of the bedroom. Whenever I looked back at the screen, I could see now, not a rip or a tear, but a woman – and needless to say – it freaked me out.

I walked down the stairs to Amanda, trying to put on a calm face and get the rationality back into my mind.

She had already prepared the video. “Ready when you are.”

I nodded slowly, pressed play – the scene of the crime where we left off – and pressed rewind. We watched as the video unfolded itself backwards. Nothing was happening yet; the rips were there but we hadn’t reached the point where they first started to appear. “There!” Amanda cried.

I paused and looked closely. In the fragmented image, I could see the rips in the screen reversing. I tried to make out what was behind the screen. “Can you see anything?”

“No…” She said. “It’s all darkness behind there.”

I rewinded back further. Amanda shrieked. What we saw in those few moments of rewinded footage was the screen ripping… by itself, naturally.

“OK play it back,” She urged.

I pressed play. Now we were at a point where the fiberglass was undisturbed. I let out a small gasp as I realized now what I was seeing – there was no person… no animal, no bird, no rodent – just the fiberglass ripping apart, alone, and by itself. One rip. I shook my head rapidly. Two. And then another. Amanda stood up and backed away, “What the hell?!” It was all happening on its own.

“I can’t… understand it,” I whispered to myself. “Is it…”

“A ghost,” Amanda concluded. Her voice was absolutely serious.

I looked at her as if she was crazy, which she was. “A ghost,” I repeated dryly.

She pointed to the screen hysterically. “Look at what you just saw!! Window screens don’t just tear themselves.”

I suppose mentioning that the outline appeared to look like a woman would only fuel her frenzy. “Look, I admit it’s weird.It’s…”

“How else can you explain it?” She was still pointing at the screen accusingly. “Window screens rip themselves?”

I shook my head in disbelief and forced out a bit of logic, “It’s got to be something outside causing it.”

Amanda looked completely spooked. “Calm down.” I looked back at the screen. “Let’s just think about this.” I sighed. It may be freaky, but it certainly wasn’t dangerous. I figured a venture outside to catch a glimpse of what might be causing this was necessary. “Where are the flashlights?”

As she went to look for them, I stared back at the screen and rewinded the footage again to when the rips first started appearing. I pressed play and watched. The first started from the left, slight vertical incisions, all in a row, indicating what had earlier looked like fingers. Then long gashes gradually surfaced, one, and then another until finally what looked like the outline of a sharp nose finished the abstraction.

My fears lumped together and Amanda’s suggestion came back to me. A ghost. The ghost of a woman?

“Brought the flashlights,” Amanda handed one to me. She paused. “What’s the matter?”

I guess the fear showed in my eyes when I looked up at her. “Nothing.”

We slipped out the back door and made our way around the hedges to the master bedroom side of the house. Using the light from the flashlights, we peered up and down and into the hedges, along the metal piping and at the bottom edge of the house. We looked all over but there was nothing.

My vision darted back to the window, to the hedge and then back again quickly. Something was off. I moved just so that the shadows in the master bedroom would allow me to see the rips in the window screen more clearly.

The vertical gashes splitting the screen diagonally down the middle were still there, but I could feel my body freezing up with the absence of the rips that contoured a nose… a face, contoured those closed eyes – the tears in the middle, all of them, and I had definitely noticed them before – were missing.

“Amanda,” I mouthed. “Amanda!” I repeated in a hushed voice.

“Hm?” She asked.

“Go inside the master bedroom, and tell me what you see from in there,” I told her.

“…Okay,” She replied. “But we’ve already—“

I whispered again, harshly, “Just please do it.”

I couldn’t move my eyes. I was stunned. Now I had some reason to believe that these rips weren’t caused by something natural. Or maybe it was just me… But there had definitely been a face among the rips before. Definitely there were small gashes outlining a face. I was repeating this logic in my head. But I had to be sure.

I watched Amanda come into view. She nodded at me from the bedroom. “OK, I see you.”

“How many of those tears can you count?” I called to her.

She looked at me like I was crazy, as obviously there were quite a few, but began silently counting. “There’s the two big ones on the side here, and these two smaller ones, and then four little gashes right below… just down here. In the middle there are just a bunch of little tears. I can’t exactly count them. Looks like… 1…3-“

She was counting at nothing from where I stood. I interrupted her, “From this side you’re counting at nothing.” I motioned to the small area that should have been torn to shreds. “Nothing at all.”

She looked at me wildly and without another word left the bedroom, I assume to see if my claim was true.

I stared at the window screen, calming down a bit. It was perplexing and it was confusing yes, but it wasn’t dangerous I reasoned. But why did danger even resonate with me? Because danger and ghosts usually walk the same path was the answer I was looking for but didn’t want to admit.

Amanda appeared by me a few moments later, “Well…” She breathed astonished. “I’ll be. You’re right.” She placed her hand on the spot where the cluster of rips should’ve been. “There aren’t any.”

I heard a rustling coming from the hedge beneath Amanda’s feet and flashed my light. “Sssss” a seething, menacing sound filled the silence of the night, and I watched helplessly as the threatened snake underneath the hedge lash out and stab one sharp tooth into Amanda’s foot.

She screamed and I reached out, dropping the flashlight and pulling her away from the hedge. The snake that had been hiding underneath slithered into view and as quickly as it had appeared, disappeared into the lawn-cut grass.

My stomach sank. It was dark but I saw it – the scales ringed in patterns of red, black and yellow. A coral. We didn’t have much time.

“Oh god,” She breathed heavily. “Oh god, oh god, it bit me. It bit me!”

I clenched her shoulders and immediately hustled us away from the window and toward the driveway. “You’re going to be fine!” I assured her. For some reason, and I don’t know why, I glared angrily back at the screen. “You’ll be fine,” I repeated.

“Ow…” She winced. “Honey it’s really starting to hurt.”

With Amanda limping by my side, I walked her over to the passenger side of the car and she leaned against it. “Wait. Just. Hang on.” I rushed into the house without a thought, grabbing at everywhere in the dim light, trying to get to my keys. My mind was a jumbled mess at this point, a mess of disbelief and fear.

“Vagoyaveech!”

My eyes shot up and I glanced around wildly. A voice, a dark and deep tone of a voice, had been so close to my ear. At that moment the lights flickered off.

“Who’s there?!” I shouted, but only silence responded.

“Hon!” Amanda’s voice, crippled from the pain, shouted to me from outside. “Hurry up!”

My breathing had grown staggered and heavy. Someone was in the house. Oh why had we dropped the damn flashlights? Zig-zagging pupils, my heart was racing now. Phone, phone, phone. Call 911. Call the police. Whatever my hand would find first. I had to rationalize. I had to get my mind to a secure spot where it could think. I was in the living room. The kitchen was to the right.

I felt along the wall for the phone. Near the entrance, adjacent to the table, just have to reach for it.

A gradual stench began to fill the house, waft into my nostrils and sit. “Ugh…” Phone, phone, phone. My hand wandered along the empty walls until I reached the entrance to the kitchen. I flung my hand desperately to the left, feeling the familiar smoothness of the receiver and picked it up.

The lack of a dial tone left me weak-hearted. I pressed the numbers desperately. 9-1-1. 9-1-1! 9-1-1! “Damn it! Work for me!”

I slammed the phone down, the putrid smell still in the room with me, but my only thought was of Amanda. Keys. I strode towards the kitchen counter and felt around, searching for a glimmer of metal. But there was nothing. “I put my keys…” I tried to retrace my steps. We came home. Came out of the car. I put my keys by the… Oh god, it was hard to think with all the elements of the moment – the smell, the dead receiver, the darkness, the voice, the bite… Think. Think! I put my keys by the…

Suddenly I realized. The table. By the sofa. The table by the sofa. In the dark I felt along the walls using my whole torso as a compass. I could feel the edge of the counter press against my back and I followed the it around the corner where it ended against the wall.

I paused for a second, taking in the smell finally. It was ghastly, a horrible smell like plastic bags of rotting garbage left out in a drizzle and then melted back down by humidity, coiled up and decaying. I’d never before smelled anything like it.

I walked into the living room, my nerves tense now that I’d formally met the horrible stench.

It was at that moment our car alarm went off, a loud, high-pitched, wavy sound that mutated from tone to tone quickly.

I yelled into the darkness agitatedly. “What the hell is going on!”

Not wasting another moment to feel the wall or look where I was going, I stumbled into the darkness towards the polyester-clad sofa, slid forward and grabbed at the surface of the table until I felt something sharp and metal in my hands.

After that moment there was no thinking left to be had. I rushed out, slammed the door shut, turned the alarm off and caught up to Amanda who was crouched down by the foot of the driveway. “Honey, Manda, come on! We gotta get you to the hospital.”

“I don’t feel so good…” She muttered dazily. The pupils in her eyes appeared dilated and sweat was pouring from her face.

“Come on…” I urged. “Into the car.” I shuffled her in and fastened her seatbelt for her.

As I was backing out of the driveway, I felt the house staring back at us, something hostile emanating from it. In that fragment of time, it peered at us like a stranger. “It was a perpetrator,” I mouthed in a desperate grasp of logic. It was our house, yet it seemed cold and uncaring of everything that had happened. It seemed cold and uncaring of me, perhaps even pleased with the turn out. “A perpetrator,” I mouthed again, but my mind was unconvinced.

August 6th was the day Amanda was released from the hospital. It was 2 days later. According to the doctors, a lot of venom had made its way in, but because we reached the hospital in such a short amount of time and because they had anti-venom on the ready, she was able to recover quite quickly.

In all that time, minus a couple of food breaks and calls to her parents, her sister and my clients, I barely ever left her side.

The fear of returning to our house had bottled up in me and was forgotten, until release day. Then the realization started to hit that we were returning home – and with home came all the elements of that night, the rotting stench, the sudden power outage, the voice, the car alarm suddenly going off. That familiar sense of unknowing filled me.

I had asked police to check our home, search the premises, but they returned with nothing. “Keep your doors and windows locked; we’re just a phone call away,” They said. Reassuring words, but I had hoped that it wouldn’t come to that. On the drive home I even contemplated buying a handgun.

Amanda would still need some time to fully, properly heal, but for the most part she was home-ready and could do all the recovering she needed to do at home.

“Honey,” She said as we approached the entrance to our community. “I don’t want to sleep in our bedroom. I hope you know that.”

“Manda,” I looked at her seriously. “We can’t let fear run our lives. Besides,” I reasoned. “I’ve already made calls to Animal Control. They’re coming by in an hour or so.”

Amanda shook her head. “That’s not what I mean. It’s not the snake. It’s the window screen.”

The word sent shock waves up my arms. “Well then I’ll fix it.”

“Just take the whole thing off.”

I looked back at her. We were approaching the driveway now. The place was very different from how we left it. In the daylight it looked warm, friendly and inviting.

“I think I’ll make some calls,” She said decisively. “Hey, have you ever tried using a medium? One of those people who can communicate with the dead?”

I didn’t want to get into this argument with her, so I made my last point very final and clear, “We don’t need any damn medium.”

Amanda insisted she needed just the one crutch, but the hospital had of course given her two. She strode towards the front door, a little limp in her walk but as I watched her I could see – the doctors did a fine job. She really had recovered. Maybe now, in light of those hospital bills, we could just put this whole mess behind us and move forward with our lives.

I would have no fear. As I opened the door to that familiar hallway, nothing putrid, rank or foul met us. It was the cleanest, freshest smell, the smell we’d grown so used to and that felt so warm to us.

Enveloped in this new assurance, I head towards the master bedroom, prepared to see a torn screen, maybe even feel a sense of security in seeing it again. But staring me back in the face when I entered was a perfectly flawless screen. No rips, no tears, not even a blemish.

Amanda cautiously followed in after me, and a loud gasp followed that. She pointed, her eyes and mouth quivering at an enormous speed.

I finished her thought for her, “Yeah, it’s fixed.”

I gently escorted her out. I knew she didn’t want to be in there, and I hadn’t any explanation nor a tape to serve as proof of anything. “Just forget it,” I told her. “Screen’s fixed so that means it’s over.”

She turned to me abruptly, “And you’re not gonna question how the screen got fixed so conveniently while we were gone?!”

“Who cares.” I brushed the point off. I was sick of this crap and I just wanted to move forward.

“Seriously!” She called after me, still pointing to the master bedroom. “You’re not even gonna examine this?! Honey! This is—this is not normal. Screens don’t just fix themselves. Are you gonna tell me the police did this? That they conveniently fixed our screen from the kindness of their hearts?”

I flung a hand into the air, my way of saying “forget it, move on.”

She called after me repeatedly but I didn’t want to acknowledge it. The past is in the past. What’s done is done. Yes I was curious and sure, I didn’t know how the screen got fixed. But was I going to dwell on this more? No! And I hoped she wouldn’t either.

But… She did. We did.

One day later, on August 7th she discovered it.

I use one of the spare rooms as a home office, but I rarely open the blinds. I keep them about half-way open. Our short-lived attempt at moving on with our lives was just that – short-lived.

She came into my office one day and while examining a bill with me noted the half lit visibility of the room, “You know it’s a little dim. Let me open up the blinds.”

With no objection from me, she opened the blinds all the way and noticed it – something that looked like tears in the screen behind the blinds. “Was the screen here always ripped?”

“Oh no,” I stated. “Is it ripped?”

She pulled the blinds up so we could get a good look at it.

My heart stopped in my chest. It was daylight yes, but I could see it. Amanda could see it too. The same tears, the same rips, the same variation and placement of the previous rips.

“But I never open the window,” I told her. “I never… You don’t think I…”

“Did this?” She pointed. “No…”

We were a little spooked, especially after everything that had happened. But since it was daytime, we didn’t feel the high intense amount of fear we did the previous times with the master bedroom. Each time we had discovered those rips it had been at night.

“Still,” She continued. “Do you think you could fix it? I mean I know you don’t use it often enough, you keeping the window shut all the time. But…” She approached the screen, then hesitated. “I wonder.”

“What?” I guessed she wanted to bait whatever had caused the previous rips. “That if I fix these tears, they’ll rip up again on their own?”

“I’m just thinking…” She murmured.

“Amanda,” I said seriously. “I don’t want to play ghost hunter. The rips are there. Let’s just leave it at that.”

“But don’t you want to see—“

“No I don’t,” I interrupted sharply. I never told her about what happened the night she got bit. I never told her about the putrid smell, the lights flickering off, the car alarm, the voice. I never told her any of these things and I didn’t want to. She would take it and run, conjure up an even deeper ghost story than the one she probably already had brewing in her mind.

I just wanted to move on.

At around 9 pm, I was still in my office, catching up on work. Two days is significant, the fact that it leaves a lot of backed up assignments on the table is an understatement. I’d be working well into the night I assumed.

“Vagoyaveech.”

Startled, I turned in the direction of the voice. It had been harsh. It had been close. It was so close to my ear that it felt as if someone had whispered right into the eardrum. Alarmed, I stood up. It was an enclosed space with barely a closet. I knew, logically, right then in that moment, no one was in there with me. So, was I just… going crazy? Why did I keep hearing this voice? And why this sound? This language that I didn’t recognize?

My nostrils flared. The remnants of a stench. I recognized the smell. The same, rotten, horrible smell from three days ago.

“Amanda!” I called.

She followed my voice towards the office. “Ugh,” She voiced her disgust immediately, holding an elbow up to her nose. “What’s that awful smell?!”

I shook my head helplessly. “I don’t know.”

She recoiled back further. “Oh my god, it’s awful. Is it the garbage?”

I searched around the office for any clue of where the smell was coming from. “Get some of that air freshener stuff.”

Was there a dead animal outside? And that’s what’s causing the smell? But Animal Control had cleaned up our yard good. They removed two snakes. They checked thoroughly for any remains of anything else, so… it just didn’t make any sense that it could be a dead animal. I mean, this was a new property for pete’s sake.

I could hear Amanda spraying the air freshener everywhere, but it just wasn’t doing any good.

I started to thoroughly check the house from room to room, thinking, trying to identify the culprit. The window screen gets ripped, then this happens.

A piercing, drawn out scream interrupted my thoughts.

I rushed to Amanda as she rushed towards me, panicked and upset. “What is it!? What’s wrong?”

“Go check the bathroom!”

I could feel the odor pulsating as I approached the open bathroom door, and lord was I shocked. Mold. Mold everywhere. Black mold forming around the outer edges of the tile along the bathroom wall, inside the shower, at every corner of the room. It was like our bathroom hadn’t been touched in decades.

“How the hell did this happen….” I stated in disbelief. It wasn’t like this at all two hours ago. I had just used it. And in that time, years of mold just appeared?

At the far end of the hallway Amanda stood, awkwardly hiding her healing foot behind her good foot. “Let’s go. Let’s get out of this house. Just for tonight.”

“No!” I stated.

“But honey,” She stated again, tears in her eyes. “You know something’s wrong with this house.”

I did know that. I couldn’t explain the window screen. I couldn’t explain this mold and I couldn’t explain a number of other things that had happened. But I also couldn’t let whatever this thing was win.

“We’ll sleep through tonight,” I told her gently. “We’ll get the bathroom taken care of, and then you can call… That.” I didn’t want to say it, but I knew we needed one. “That medium or whatever.”

I kept my eye locked on the bathroom door as I closed it. Black, deadly mold. And it was everywhere.

The next morning, August 8th, I felt a tight sensation in my chest as I woke up. My lungs. It felt as if they had caved in on me. My breath came out in sharp raspy tones, like after water goes down the wrong pipe. “Amanda,” I called in between great big gasps of air.

She rustled and turned towards me. “Hm?” Her eyes opened wider and she sat straight. “You’re sweating! You’re all pale oh my god.”

I couldn’t react much as far as say her name again. My glands felt puffed up and heavy. I needed oxygen. “Hos…” I breathed in a gap of air. “Pital.” I said it again, pushing the words out against collapsing pieces of air. “Hospital.”

The fear of what was happening to me spread, as Amanda limped towards the phone. “I’m calling 911 okay?! I’m calling them!”

I focused on the little air that was seeping in me. Breathe, I thought to myself. I would have to conserve air. My lungs were failing. I could feel it. Every gasp of air was like sharp needles, clusters of needles, attacking my lungs. It was horrifying, what was happening to me, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

I could hear her curse loudly in the background, but my lungs were preventing me from catching any of the stimuli of the outside world. All I could think was to take each breath at a time. Any moment I could black out and it would be over.

She came back into the room, and spoke to me, but I couldn’t catch what she said. It was all gibberish now. Everything in the room was blending and blurring together, including her.

I think she snapped at me, and screamed a warning at me to stay with her. But I was fading. The world around me was darkening. My brain was being depleted of oxygen and so to was my consciousness.

I just kept on puffing out sharp breaths of air in an effort to stay linked with the world.

Amanda left my side again in a huge hurry. A voice, distant, shouted back to me. I kept my concentration on the ceiling. I just had to stay linked with it, not let it fade out of view. Stay alert. Stay breathing. Don’t slip away, I thought. These were all the thoughts I had room for.

It was a struggle, fighting against my drooping eyelids, fighting for those breaths of air, each inhale stabbing at my insides. Any moment now I would go.

More snapping, fingers, not Amanda’s. A multitude of strange, distorted faces crowded around me. I could hear the echoes of their voices bouncing from one figure to the next. I felt the ceiling move closer to me then slip away as other scenes of other tints of color flipped past and behind me.

Something fastened it’s self on my face and I felt my brain flicker with some sort of gust of energy, then fade. My eyelids were heavy. The world was becoming dark. Figures. Hands all around me. Can’t hang on.

I awoke roughly two hours later in a hospital bed.

My chest felt like ice, but at least I was breathing. I had needed some suctioning to drain out the excess air. “Pneumothorax,” the doctor explained, and I had been attacked by a small hamburger-sized bite of it.

“Small?” I scoffed. “Didn’t feel that way.”

“Try not to talk so much,” The doctor warned. Boy was he was right. Talking hurt. In fact, everything hurt. He explained that things will hurt for the next few days as I recover, but he was hopeful I would be out quickly. “After all,” He told me, “It wasn’t a major collapse. More like a light graze.” I wasn’t sure if he was telling me that because it was true or just a nice, calming “doctor” thing to say.

Amanda was by my bedside. I could feel her squeeze my hand. “You made it back to me.”

“Yeah…” I replied drowsily. “I did.”

I didn’t think too much about why it happened. Mostly I just focused on the recovery part. Amanda was with me most of the time. The day before my release she was out and when she came back, she had a strange little smile on her face.

I had watched enough episodes of The People’s Court and I don’t even like Mad About You but I watched it, so when she entered my room, my heart soared the way it did when I proposed and she’d said “yes.”

She sat down by my bedside and put a hand over mine.

She stated sweetly, “I think we’re ready to go home.”

“Good,” I nodded with relief. “I’ve had enough TV for one lifetime.”

She laughed. It was odd. It had been awhile since I’d heard her laugh. Since either one of us had laughed. Finally she just rested her eyes on me, a pretty smile playing on her lips.

I was curious. “You seem happy. We’re finally getting out of this hamster cage?”

She shook her head still smiling. It was a huge comfort to me. I had pretty much recovered. Breathing had normalized and I knew we’d be going home tomorrow. But something about her smile in that moment. Fresh Prince in the background. The hospital room glowing just a little bit warmer than usual. Something in that smile, in that moment I guess, was very comforting.

I was released the next day. It was noon, August 12th, just about four days later. Release papers signed. Amanda’s foot more or less healed so she drove us home.

Everything was a bit brighter, a bit gentler, and even the fear of going back to the house seemed to pale in comparison with the beauty of the world. When you’re in a hospital for a few days, everything looks greener once you get out. Even that crappy 7-11, the one on Military Trail that no one goes into looked brighter.

As we approached our community, I felt my throat lock up.

“I have to tell you something, “ Amanda told me. The way she said it, I could sense that some kind of big revelation was hiding underneath those words. “I called a medium the day after I came back from the hospital, the day before you went in.”

I stared and didn’t say anything.

“Well she came,” Amanda continued. “And she explained a lot of things.” She took a breath as we approached the house. “Now, I know how it’s all going to sound. But have an open mind about it.”

At this point, considering that the very air that I breathe had nearly been taken from me, I was willing to go on a little faith.

The medium had come two days ago. The tears and rips in the screens had mysteriously vanished and there was no mold in the bathroom, neither was there any stench in the air, but according to Amanda’s story, the medium had felt the lingering remains of a presence, but she needed to do some further research to find out if this presence was harmless, malevolent and if so, would it return.

“She called back last evening – that’s before I saw you,” Amanda recalled. “And it turns out, the developers hid a very compromising fact about the land our community is built on.”

According to the medium’s research, our community had been built over a site that had previously served as a Seminole burial ground.

“That means hundreds of Seminole Indians are collecting dust beneath our feet?” The thought gave me shudders.

“Listen!” Amanda continued. “It was really important land, to a lot of people of Seminole descent. They refused to let anyone desecrate the land so there were daily protests. This was years back when the land was still undeveloped. The point is, one Seminole woman led an annual ritual there, and as she was leading people to the spot, she fell into an unmarked pit. This is the only documented death that took place on the grounds our house is built on in the past fifty years. She suspects that… maybe the haunting was temporary, a chance to lash out against oppression. Against us, descendants of white men.”

I was taking all this with faith, and a grain of salt. “So wait, you’re saying that the snake bite on your foot… and my collapsed lung… all this stuff, has been about revenge?”

Amanda shrugged, nodding a little. “Eh, it makes sense to me. I mean it happened to me. Can’t be coincidence that it happened to you too.”

“I just want to know that it’s over,” I looked at our house wearily. “Otherwise we’re definitely going to have to move.”

“It’s over,” Amanda stated firmly, her voice held some assurance. “We’re not going to be bothered by anyone, ghost, spectre; we’re not going to be bothered again.”

I gave her a look. “How can you be sure?”

“Because the medium sensed it – that all the lingering evil intentions are gone.”

All we could do was hope. At this point, a normal life couldn’t come soon enough. The practicality, the realistic possibility that we would have to move was sitting in my mind like an unopened notice. The option was on the table now. Just the fact that it was even on the table…

I thought deeply about the theory. A woman. An angry, bitter woman. Bitter that the land had been developed against her will. Bitter that white feet trampled over sacred Seminole grounds. So she lashed out, as a snake against a foot, or as the trigger to a lung collapse, as mold against a shiny bathroom sink, or the foul odor of a rotting corpse filling the hallway.

That theory nestled and buried itself deep in my mind.

The next few weeks went by without incident. It was tough to climb back up after everything that had happened, but somehow Amanda and I made it out of that hole. We were finally at a point where we could put all the terrible events that had plagued our first two months here – our lives had regained a semblance of normality again.

Weeks turned into months. We didn’t look back. We kept moving forward.

It must have been February when I was browsing a Walden Books and came across a few books on Seminole Indians. I didn’t buy any, but that long dormant curiosity was surfacing. That theory had never left my mind. Was buried yes, buried deep in cross chambers of my memory that I didn’t want to reopen. Yet I think in all that time since the incidents, I never answered some of the burning questions that lay deep in my memory.

After that visit to Walden Books, I returned home, keen on contacting someone. Who, I didn’t know, but the web might. Yes, we finally got our PC hooked up to the web. Moving forward!

About fifteen minutes later, I found who I was looking for and rang them up.

They came by the house three days later, while Amanda was at work.

“Are you John?” They asked.

“Yeah that’s me, come on in. Make yourselves at home.”

My invited guests were two men of Seminole descent, one in his early fifties and the other, much younger, probably in his twenties.

The older one started talking first, “I’m Steve. This is Jason. Good of you to call us when you did.” His eyes crinkled as his belly shook with laughter. “I want to hear the whole story. I mean the whole story!”

“Yeah it’s quite a story. Can I get you anything?”

The younger one, Jason, spoke up, “Coffee?”

“Got it, one for you too Steve?”

Steve was a big guy with a bear-like stance when he walked, “Better make mine decaf.”

Steve and Jason were both with the Seminole Tribe of Florida organization. They agreed to meet after I had indulged a little bit about what had went down in those late summer months. Now I was filling in the details. They were intrigued.

“And anyways,” I continued from the ending of my story. “It seems like it’s over now… But, I feel guilty. If we’re here… sitting on a Seminole burial ground, and she died in such circumstances, just because she wanted to keep traditions going. I mean…” I swallowed. I hadn’t mentioned it much to anyone. It was a thought that sat in my mind, alone, for only me to grapple with. “The tears and cuts and rips in the screen, they resembled a woman – eyes closed, fingers digging into the screen.”

Steve looked at me strangely. “Window screen ghosts,” He whispered.

I stared up at him, startled. A smile crept up at the corners of his mouth and he broke into wide laughter, “Now listen John. If I were you, I would just put it behind me. And you have. But you got to really mean it. To put this stuff behind you, you got to let it go. Now if I recall, the lady in question, whose name is Urma, she’s done her part here on Earth and now she’s continuing on her journey. Her possessions, buried with her. That’s our custom.”

Jason spoke up then, “But I’m not sure if she even intended to hurt you. That’s not our way… I think she was communicating something with you. A warning, perhaps, a chance maybe? I mean after all, isn’t it the moments where we think we might lose each other that bring us closer together?”

Jason had a point. If anything had come out of all this, it’s that Amanda and I care for each other more deeply than ever, and the preciousness of our lives feels more real and valuable to us than it has ever felt before. A faint smile found its way to my lips, a warm, burning feeling that speckled and flickered along the lines of my mouth and faded as quickly as it had come. Suddenly, and perhaps for the very first time ever since the incidents, I really felt at peace.

“Just one question,” I remembered now. The thing that was nagging at my mind. “I kept hearing the word ‘Vagoyaveech.’ Does that mean anything to you?”

Jason and Steve looked at each other and then Steve spoke. “Well, yes it does.” He laughed. “Even with your mangled pronunciation.”

I leaned forward. “What’s it mean?”

“Vhoyvkets. It means… ‘Let’s go.’”

Credit: saucerhands

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The Orchard Of Despair

March 14, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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The Orchard Of Despair

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Credit: Morgan M

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