The Serene Cyclist

December 13, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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I used to live in Cambridge a while back, which is a small city smack in the middle of England, best known for the university that is as large as the city itself. But I was there for work. I had a few friends around the city, and Cambridge being a very green city, it is the ‘Cambridge way’ to cycle around to most places. I would mostly visit my friends in the evenings, and we would all stay up till late, not socializing, or drinking, but playing games, musing philosophically and finding other means of continuing our existence. On the nights this continued for particularly long I would have to cycle back halfway across the city, often in cold. This was usually quite pleasant; Cambridge is quite a safe city, and I generally enjoy being out in the dark, alone, under the yellow of the night-lights. It was one of those nights, though, that I met what felt to me like the devil himself.
It was on another one of those long quiet lamp-lit roads on a particularly chilly February night. I was halfway home and slightly wary of it being 3 am. This was late even by my standards, and this put me somewhat on edge. My senses seemed to be more alert than usual and I was unconsciously keeping an eye on every single shadow on the street, trying to avoid as many alcohol fuelled incidents as I could. As I turned into a street that told me I was not very far from where my apartment was located I started to feel much more peaceful. It was halfway across the street biking at my leisure that I noticed a man in a dark jacket cycling around 20 feet in front of me. My senses suddenly sharpened again, due to the simple fact of him seeming to appear out of nowhere. Perhaps I had not been paying as much attention as I thought I was.

The man was cycling quite slowly, and even while barely pedalling I slowly started to draw near him. It also started to get quieter on the street. It took me a few moments to realize that I could not hear the man’s bike or the many mechanical clicking sounds my bike often made. The quiet was eerie. That should have warned me, but not heeding what now seems like a very obvious warning, I kept cycling closer to the man. I found his speed quite peculiar, even more so that his dark attire, and so as I drew nearly level I glanced at his body. I say his body because his face was not very human. It was made of what can only be described as a shadow, and with eyes that seemed like he very depths of hell itself. One look left me lifeless, motionless, speechless, riding down the slope right next to him, too scared to move, too scared to act. And worst of all, I was unable to take me eyes off his.

“This way is closed” he said, in a growling voice that made my hair stand on end. “This is way is closed. Go back.”

That was all he said, but those with those words the hold his eyes– its eyes had over me was broken. I managed to find some life in my hands and I braked as hard as I could, letting him get ahead of me. He continued to cycle ahead at his eerily slow place and then, as mysteriously as he had appeared in front of me, he was gone. He simply disappeared, unhurriedly, into the shadows at the end of the street. The rest of the way back home for me was a fight against my own body. My mind would not stop reeling from the horror it had just experienced, and my heart was in my throat, unwilling to go down. I could not think. I could not rationalize. I had no refuge. I could hear again. I could hear the wind in my ears, the clunking of my pedal as I cycled as fast as I could. and unfortunately for me, I could hear someone riding a bike a little behind me.

When I finally got home, I threw my bike and rushed into my first-floor apartment, refusing to look at what was surely there. I could still hear footsteps following me up the stairs but I refused to acknowledge them as I rushed into my room as fast as I could, and into the refuge of my bed.

I could still see shadows under my front door as I finally decided to go to bed. They refused to go away.

True story from 3:49 am, 25th of February, 2012.

(This is a part of a collection of real life horror stories and memoirs currently being collected and compiled by Salman Shahid Khan. For more, please visit and follow the writer’s blog here)

Credit To – Salman Shahid Khan

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The Metaphysical

December 11, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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“One may attain the Metaphysical’s wealth,
All they have to trade is blood and good health.”

This was the message written on the mineshaft’s sign. My brother and I read it out aloud, mocking its corny Dr. Seuss-esque warning. We dared each other to enter the tunnel, which eventually escalated into him chasing me inside. It was fun at first, but as we ventured further down the tunnel it didn’t take long for us to find ourselves missing—stranded on a gravel path lit by wall-hanging lanterns.

“Nice going dumbass,” Kadeem said. “We’re completely lost thanks to you.”

“You’re the one that brought us here,” I replied. “Besides, we’re not lost. We’ll just turn back.”

“Care to show the way genius?”

“Fuck you.”

“Fuck you Riley!”

And like the close brothers we were, we began to fight. When he wrestled me onto the ground—shoving my face with his kneecap into the stone floor, I noticed a large rectangular object in the corner of my eye.

“Wait…look,” I struggled to say. I pointed at the container not far from us with my free hand (since my brother trapped my other arm with an armbar). Almost immediately he let go of my limb. I stood up, brushing off any dirt that got on my face. We looked at a gargantuan leather box. It was enveloped in dust. Crude slashes decorated the majority of the box. Kadeem and I walked towards it, pondering what was inside. We bent down and lifted up its weighty lid and dropped it aside, causing a flurry of dust to nearly hit our eyes. Both of us peered inside the box. Once the dust cleared, we were left dumbfounded.

“Is that—,” I started.

“I don’t…I don’t believe this!” Kadeem shouted.

The contents of the chest were organized piles of five dollar bills. All of them mint condition. Kadeem’s eye sparkled with glee. Mine out of pure shock. My brother began to dance like a madman, throwing money in the air while maintaining a maniacal laugh. I knelt down and picked up a note, stroking my fingertips against the paper to test its authenticity. It sure felt real enough. There was something abnormal about them too; however, the dark setting prevented me from finding out exactly what.

I called Kadeem over to take a look at the note. He ran up to me and looked over my shoulder. I asked him if he saw anything unusual about the bill. He snatched it from my hands and glared at it two inches from his face. As he inspected the bill, he murmured.

“Red seal…is that a star next to the serial, no—no no wait yeah it is…”

“Can you see anything?” I asked.

“Just give me a fucking second,” he snapped.

He walked around the area, staring and whispering to the note. When he was finished he called me over and told me what he discovered.

“Riley,” he said. “This stuff could be worth a lot more than you think. The series on this bill says 1953.”

“So,” I said.

“So, old bills equals more money. If they’re uncirculated—but I doubt it—but if they are…then we’re looking at some serious cash.”

“What you mean?”

“Right. So my professor was talking about old dollar bills in economics the other day. These bills believe it or not. Anyway, he says that the ones for the red seal can sell for about seven bucks. If there’s a star in front of the serial number, then the price could go for double. If they’re uncirculated, their value skyrockets to about a hundred dollars. If we went by its true five dollar value, I’d say there’s $20,000 in that box at the very least. If we’re lucky, then we could be looking at over two hundred grand.”

My jaw dropped. Immediately I felt the joyous sensation that flowed inside Kadeem not too long ago. I bounced all over the place like a possessed pogo stick for about a minute, hollering and flailing my arms in windmills.

“Hey Riley calm down,” Kadeem said, holding me in place. “Breathe.”

I nodded, still smiling. I began to pant as an overwhelming exhaustion took over my body. “How do you not…get tired doing that?”

“Because my phys. ed program isn’t shit. Unlike gym class, training in the Army makes a man outta you.”

“Fair enough.”

Kadeem patted my back as I tried to regain my breath. “Okay,” he said. “What I’m thinking is we carry as much money as we can back to my car. We obviously can’t get it all so we’ll return tomorrow and do it all over again. It might take a week or two to get all of it, but I’m pretty sure we can pull it off without people sticking in their noses if we’re careful enough. Sounds good?”

“What if someone does see us and tries something?”

“Then I’m leaving you on your own.”

“You’re such a dick.”

“I know. Come on, let’s get rich.”

We shoved what we could into any pockets we had on us. Jean pockets, jacket pockets, even a small roll of $20 was fitted in Kadeem’s pen protector. As we put on more weight, we talked over what we’d do with the money. Invest it in a fancy car, boat, perhaps a business (the idea didn’t appeal to him though), give some to our parents; our imaginations went wild. Even the unrealistic purchases seemed buyable just looking at the money. Every bill I scavenged made me feel a bit wealthier. The discomfort from the profusion of money I wore didn’t bother me. We were going to be loaded, and that was all that really mattered to me.

Out of the blue, the ground underneath us shivered. Startled, we halted our excavation and began to hightail it out of there. As we sprinted for our lives, the minor tremor enhanced to an earthquake. Rocks painted in the blue light began to fall like massive hailstones. Numerous stones thumped against the top of my skull, yielding varying degrees of pain ranging from tolerable to excruciating.

“Keep going,” Kadeem shouted.

I mustered all my energy into one sprinting burst. My chest felt as if it were about to collapse from the lack of breath. My legs ached. My head felt light. My body was being dragged more than it was being guided by my own perception. Hope and desperation swarmed me as the morning light at the end of the tunnel grew brighter.

Suddenly the ground gave way. We fell into the abyss alongside the rocky debris. Freefall lasted only but two seconds. During those two seconds, my thoughts played an instantaneous reel of my life, depicting it as a blur more so than a lucid film. I, along with my brother, polluted the darkness with our screams.

My back hit the surface with a hard thud. As soon as I felt the pain, I felt dampness soaking the skin of my clothes. I opened my eyes to see my body descending down a navy blue atmosphere. Wads of five dollar bills softly floated to the bottom with me. It took me a while to realize I landed in water. At first, I felt relieved that I was alive, but then fear took over the moment I started choking on water. I struggled to swim to the top. I regained my breath before swimming to the gravel shore a city block’s length away from me. Not too far from me was Kadeem just starting his swim to the coast. I called out to him and he looked back at me.

“Riley…is that you?”

“Kadeem! Are you okay?”

“Yeah, how are you holdin’ up?”

“Everything hurts like hell but I should be alright. I’ll meet you on land, okay?”

“Wilco.”

Once we got to the coast, I asked Kadeem what happened. He told me the floor collapsed in the dickish way he always does whenever I ask the obvious. I shrugged his condescension off since it wasn’t the appropriate time to fight. Immediately afterwards he said, “Screw the money, two hundred thousand dollars isn’t worth dying over. Right now I just want to get out of this cave. I sure as hell am not coming back here again.”

For the first time in a long time, I couldn’t agree with him more.

We stood up and caught a good glance of where we were. A titanic dome towered over us—at the climax was a jagged, distant opening. Thin, dim beams of yellow light shone down from it, shining upon the center of the black pool. Hanging from the base of the hemisphere were lanterns lit with cyan flame, scattered around in no particularly organized order. Their glow portrayed a million spots of gleam along the rim of the pond.

Kadeem and I walked on a straight path that exited the shore. The cyan-shining lanterns followed as we walked. My back began to feel the sore aftereffects of the devastating spine-on-water impact. I tried to rub the pain away with an equally sore hand. I talked to Kadeem to help me ignore the pain.

“What do you think life would’ve been like with two hundred thousand dollars?”

My brother, who was leading the expedition, looked back at me and laughed.

“I don’t know man,” he answered back. “$200,000 wouldn’t buy us Brad Pitt’s nutsack, but it could’ve given us something nice to work with. A better apartment for me. A used car for your eighteenth birthday. The rest could’ve gone to our parents, make their lives easier. God knows we’d do anything for them.” He paused for a moment. “Listen, I don’t want to talk about it. I just want to focus on getting out of here.”

“Okay. Um…Kadeem.

“What?”

Thanks for the car.”

Kadeem chuckled. “Don’t mention it.”

I stayed quiet for about ten seconds before speaking up again. “Mom’s gonna kill me for being out this late.”

“Jesus Riley you’re such a fucking puss—”

Suddenly a violent tremor shook the barriers of the alley, sending a deafening shockwave throughout the tunnel. I clapped onto my ears and gritted my teeth, trying to remain balanced until the earthquake subsided. I released my tension and went over to my brother to see if he was alright. He nodded as I helped support him up. After we got on our legs, we jogged further down the trail.

Several minute later the path abruptly ended, and was replace with the cliché rickety bridge leading to another path similar to the one we stood on at the moment. Underneath the bridge was nothing. Just a valley shadowed in a darkness that covered its floor. I inspected the trench, and instantly my heart sank into my stomach.

“Ready to cross,” Kadeem said, already walking the starting section of the overpass.

I took a deep breath. “I…I can’t.”

“Because…”

I gulped. “I’m afraid of heights. I just—I j-just can’t alright.”

Kadeem rolled his eyes as he approached me. “Not now Riley.”

“Kadeem—”

“Are you fucking serious? Are you screwing with me? After all of that progress we made. After all of that shit we just put up with you expect us to stop right now?”

“I mean there’s got to be another way. Seeing how big this place is I don’t see a reason for there not to be. Besides, just look at this thing. It was probably built before Columbus was born. It’ll probably fall under us once we step foot on it.”

“I walked on it and it seems perfectly fine. Now come on you baby.”

“I’m. Not. Going.” I folded my arms and turned my back to him. I was hoping the gesture showed him how serious I was.

“You’re such a child,” Kadeem said. “Fine, I guess this is a perfect time to practice what they taught me in the service.”

“What are you talking abo—”

Without delay I felt a suffocating strain being put on my neck. I forced my fingers in an opening in an attempt to free myself, only to wind up getting my fingers trapped.

“Headlock. Gets em’ every time. Come on Riley, we’re going on a field trip.”

Kadeem dragged my body to the start of the viaduct. I dug my soles into the ground in a hopeless attempt to slow down his progress. Without trying he tugged me onto the creaky bridge. I liberated my fingers from Kadeem’s grasp, and used them to clutch onto the ropes. Again, his brute strength overpowered mine, leaving me with a severe case of rope burn.

“How’re we doin little brother?”

Coughing, I managed to utter a small “Fuck you”.

“That’s the spirit. Now you’re starting to sound like your old brave self.”

Halfway to the other end of the chasm, I saw something moving in the darkness. When I regarded it as a figment of my imagination, I began to see more. I squinted my eyes to get a better picture—realizing that those small objects were hands. Hands clouded in pure blackness, rising up from the shadows like newly renewed corpses from their grave.

“Kadeem,” I coughed.

“We’re almost there Riley.”

“Ka…Kadeem.”

“Hold on baby brother. Don’t get your tits in a bundle.”

He tightened his grip on me. I tried to warn him a third time, but the choke he put on me prevented the words to come out of my mouth. I could only express the massive sight with inaudible murmurs. The hands slithered closer to us like snakes stalking their prey. I shut my eyes and turned my head away from them. I also shed a few tears, which somehow managed to catch Kadeem’s attention as we finally crossed the bridge. He liberated his stranglehold, dropping me onto the ground. Although I didn’t see his face, I could tell that our fear was mutual. With him walking backwards and with me on the floor, we gazed at the phenomenon clothed in black void looming over us. When it ascended at its peak, it froze for a split second before it started to crash down on top of us.

My brother picked me up and we sped off not a moment sooner. The monstrosity collided into the rocks behind us, causing them—and the bridge—to rain down into the abyss. While we were fortunate enough to avoid falling with them, the enormous, sudden earthquake that came after was enough to make me piss myself just barely. We dashed down the linear tunnel of cyan fire, unaware of any fatigue present in us. I looked behind me, and saw that one by one the lanterns were extinguished—behind that was darkness. I couldn’t tell if it was either the fiend or just plain shade.

We continued to run as the darkness slowly blanketed us. The illumination behind us vanished to black. The blackness slowly gained on us. We ran faster, encouraging each other to do so as we did, to try to keep up with the blue light. It wasn’t long before I couldn’t see anything within two feet of my proximity. I gave one more spurt of energy into a final full sprint. Once fatigue caught up with me, I dropped to my knees in a wheezing fit.

“Kadeem,” I yelled. “Where are you?”

There was a faint, yet agonizing howl echoing at the back of me. I lifted myself up and looked to see where its origin was.

“Riley, help m—AAAAHH!!”

A sickening ripping sound drowned out Kadeem’s cries. My body iced up. Goosebumps tickled me like a suit made up of cold centipedes. I stared at the emptiness, contemplating the dilemma. I took several steps towards my brother’s wails, only to chicken out the moment I heard a deep whisper heading my way. I wanted to help him, I tried to force my body to head in his direction, but fear as well as logic persuaded my legs to go the opposite direction. As I ran, I couldn’t help but feel guilty.

I scurried in the darkness for a good ten minutes or so. There wasn’t a glimmer of light anywhere. It felt like I was running in circles blindly. There were occurrences when I thought I lost it, but when I did, a low, blood-curling whisper trailed behind me. It seemed as if death was inevitable. As I dashed further and further down the path, drenched in sweat and exhaustion, my mind tried to convince me to give in—to tell me that no matter what I did, I was going to die. I tried to fight it. I tried to block out the doubt. But as I traveled deeper, I saw less and less hope. Eventually my body gave into the argument. I collapsed onto the ground, splaying my arms like a kneeling crucifixion victim. I didn’t want to die, I tried to feign optimism to give myself reason to press on, but it was too unrealistic.

A shroud of the familiar blue light suddenly ignited, engulfing me in a dome. Under my feet was a slimy black substance with elongated hands of the same hue protruding from the goo. In an effort to flee, I tried to lift my left leg. However, the matter kept it to the ground like quicksand. The ligaments shot from all angles en route to my captive body. Ten of each grabbed onto my legs. The same went for my arms. The cavern was soon obstructed by the slime’s evolution to the dome’s pinnacle. As the blackness crawled up the walls, a large pearl-white skull and decrepit heads masked with the slime jutted from it.

“We are the Metaphysical,” they whispered repeatedly in resonating pitches varying octave to octave. The baritones quivered my heart. The strident ones grated my ribs like ragged nails to a chalkboard.

As they uttered their chant, a fiery, dissolving sensation came over my arms. I couldn’t help but to scream. When I looked to see what happened to my arms they were gone. Completely erased from the shoulders. What remained was an evolving bloody mess staining my clothes. My limbs were being carried off by the Metaphysical as if they were precious artifacts—returning to their slimy residence with open palms and cautious manner. Soon as they returned to the walls my arms joined in on the wild choir—bathed in their bleak material.

“Sacrifice,” the Metaphysical whispered. “From death comes life.”

Below me, the hands disappeared, exposing the gravel path. Poking out from those minerals were cobras about the size of twenty foot pythons. They slithered away from me and inside the mouth of the skull in front of me. As I observed their migration, my legs started to experience the liquefying feeling that vexed my arms. One Metaphysical hand strangled my neck and held me up. The slime it was covered in felt like acid against my skin. The combined agony was so extreme to the point where I clamped my teeth together—causing the front row to shatter under the extreme pressure I put on them. The welling tears were like needles, stabbing the corners of my eyes as they crept out my tear ducts. Once my limbs disconnected from my body, the liquid-covered hairs on them grew into thin spider legs, walking my legs into the skull’s jaws, entering foot-first.

The Metaphysical retreated to the tiny corners of the cave. Everything was the same, except the lantern’s light. Instead of blue, they shone scarlet. The wall in front of me cracked open, revealing a portal to the entrance of the mine. To me, it felt very close. Practically inches away. But the fact that I was only a bloody stump taunted me. No matter how much I wanted to escape, I couldn’t.

Seconds after the gate opened, I heard faint footsteps from the other end of the portal. I struggled to fight the sleep inducing blood-loss I was faced with. My eyelids were as heavy as tons, but I managed to see whose footsteps they were. Almost immediately, I became overjoyed as to who I saw.

“Kadeem,” I cried. “Thank god you’re alive. You gotta help me!”

Kadeem turned his head in my direction. For a moment, I thought the troubled expression on his face was worry on my behalf. But he wasn’t. If he was, then he’d have come to rescue me. But he didn’t.

“Sacrifice,” a whisper behind me said. “A brother offered blood, and in return earned his life.”

Kadeem turned his body around to face me straight on. His leather jacket was dripping rolls of five dollar bills. But that wasn’t the major feature in his physique. It was the gory absence of his right arm.

“A most excellent trade,” the thing whispered.

Kadeem shot out the mine. I shouted for him to save me with no response on his end. He didn’t even look back. The last thing I saw before being dragged away was the path of money following him.

Credit To – Marquise Williams (aka HonestyAndCapacity)

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The Deafening

December 8, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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Everyone knows that kid in school, the one who spends half the school year at home because their immune system can’t handle the massive amount of germs and viruses that tend to accumulate in an elementary school. I was that kid. I found myself getting sick every other week. Something in my body was always fighting off illness and fevers were more than common. My doctors didn’t know what was causing it, but since it never was serious enough to warrant a hospital trip, they concluded that I got the short end of the stick as far as my immune system went.

This did not make my mother’s life easy, given that she had recently divorced my father when I started first grade. She needed to be able to go to work and having a sick child made it very difficult. She reluctantly asked my grandfather for help. They had been estranged for years after a fight, but he agreed to take care of me and took us both in.

Moving into my grandfather’s house was a new experience that I had never encountered. It greatly outshone the small apartment my mother and father had lived in, a large Victorian home that had been in the family for generations. It stood three stories tall and had a large yard behind it, leading into a forest. It had fallen into some disrepair over the years as my grandfather had gotten older and with no other children to want the house, he’d stopped caring for it. The neighbors had offered him help fixing it up, but he’d rejected them multiple times vehemently, stating that he didn’t want people in his business.

From what my mother had told me, he’d always been a very cold and unfriendly man, including to her. It didn’t change even around me, always feeling as though he would rather be doing anything other than talking to me. That he even took us in though made me think that there had to be some good in this man, being an optomistic child.

It was shortly after we moved in that my fevers started up. My mother had to work and my grandfather was nowhere near as attentive as my mother was, so he left me to my own devices. They were mild, enough to remove me from school, but after a few hours sleeping past when I would have woken to leave for school, I’d get bored with laying in bed and wander. And for a six year old who spent most of their time alone and stuck in a bed, a huge house was the perfect place to explore.

My bedroom had been set on the second floor, next to the master bedroom so I was always near and able to hear my grandfather’s snoring. There were multiple bedrooms on the third floor, which made me wonder why my grandfather had bought the house when he’d only lived with my grandmother and mother. My first exploration would be of downstairs though.

The kitchen was large and made me wonder how much cooking my grandmother had done when she was still alive. The tiles were chipped in many corners and it was easy for me to hide in the large pantry, thinking that it would be a perfect place to jump out from if someone passed by. Even the oven seemed oversized, darkened with stains from meals past. My grandfather didn’t cook much, but he kept a steady supply of basic things to feed myself and my mother. I had never had much of a problem with foods with a few exceptions, which was surprising when you compared most of my classmates who spent most of their days living on chicken nuggets and sandwiches with the crusts cut off and only grape jelly.

The living room was a bit bare, the carpet worn down and rough to the touch. An old and torn couch stood in front of a television that barely functioned, looking archaic and rabbit ears bent in multiple directions. The scratches on the couch looked animalistic and I wondered if my grandparents had once owned animals and just never bothered to get it fixed. Outside of a set of dusty coffee tables, a flickering lamp and a grandfather clock that rang out with a distorted chime, nothing else interested me in this room. I didn’t imagine that it was used very often.

What was used often was the study. It was where my grandfather spent most of his time, looking over books and writing down words and numbers that were impossible for me to comprehend. Even as an adult, I still struggle with the cryptic poems and drawings that seemed to be his entire life’s work. He’d taken up most of the wall space with bookshelves and stocked them to the ceiling. The constant smell of pipe tobacco wafted out from this room and hung on his clothing. I learned very quickly not to bother him when he was in there. The look he cast to me when I knocked on the door was one of anger and disdain. When I asked what he was working on, he shooed me out of the room and told me to never go in there again, that it was not a room for children.

When the downstairs became boring, I made my way up the stairs and to the third floor. This one was even more empty, nothing but the doors to the bedrooms and a stained bathroom, along with a window that you could see the forest behind the house from. I struggled to see where the forest ended, looking like an endless sea of green and brown, darker as you tried to see further.

I checked the bathroom first. Again, everything seemed a bit oversized, but I was a rather small kid, so I wasn’t particularly bothered by it. The bathtub made me happy, I could practically swim in it. When I leaned in to look, it was stained dark on the bottom, darker than porcelain normally would be, but with how run down the house was, it seemed to fit. I turned on the water and the water came out reddish brown before slowly becoming clear. In older houses, the pipes still had a lot of minerals and rust in them, but it still looked a bit unnerving. Seeing the clear comforted my imagination though, especially when the sink did the same thing.

I did notice something a bit strange when I opened the cabinet under the sink. Far in the back, behind a few cleaning supplies, was a lone and dirty rubber duck. I found it odd because it didn’t seem at all like my grandfather to keep something this childish about, but concluded that it must have been my mother’s when she was younger and just abandoned. Feeling a sense of fondness, I took the duck from the cabinet and did my best to wash it off. The poor thing had been left there so long, when the grime came off from him, his yellow body was almost bleached white. His eyes, once black and shiny, looked grey and lifeless. I still liked the little duck though, and decided to take it with me as I explored.

The bedrooms disappointed me for the most part, looking long unused. There were three all together. The first was the most barren of the three, a long faded blue rug half crumpled on the floor and the bare frames of a twin bed in the corner of the room. The wooden slats on the bottom looked cracked and broken, as though someone had stepped on them or jumped violently on the mattress when it was still there.

The second had a bit more in it, barren bookshelves with a few thin books far too high for me to reach. Again, another abandoned bed frame sat in the corner of the room, missing its mattress as well and in just the same shape as the other bed. By now, I certainly wondered why my grandfather had multiple beds up here and who used to live in these rooms.

In the last bedroom, there was a dresser and eerily enough, a crib. My first thought was that this had been my mother’s when she was a baby. It was very small, a change from so much of the oversized objects in the house, just big enough for an infant. Off to the side of the room was what caught my attention. There was a door in the wall, a small square door that I guessed led to the attic. When I tried to pull the door, I found it was stuck closed fairly tightly. I pulled again and once more, but being out of bed and having been wandering up and down stairs had made me tired. I could feel my body begin to ache and decided that it would be an exploration for another day, dragging myself back down to my bedroom and laying down on my bed, falling asleep. The duck that I had kept in my hand stayed on the pillow beside me.
Someone had their hand on my head, feeling my forehead. There were whisperings above me, but they didn’t sound like my mother or my grandfather. They sounded like kids, people my age. I thought I felt a weight on my chest for a bit. Another hand touched my arm, a small hand. Having had many feverish nights, I thought I was dreaming until I could feel fingernails starting to dig into my arm. The whispers turned to snickers and laughs, something dark. I wanted to open my eyes, but I couldn’t. Something had me pressed down and whatever was laying on my chest was pressing to my throat.

And suddenly…

It was quiet. The hands and whispers were gone. The weight on my throat and chest was gone. I could open my eyes again. When I did, I found the duck sitting on my chest, staring at my bedroom door. It was the evening now and I knew my mother would be getting home. A nightmare, I told myself. A fever dream. I’d had lots of them before, and knew none of them were real, this couldn’t have been real. I rubbed my arm where I had felt the nails, not bothering to see if they had been real or not.

My mother swooped me up when she came home, looking tired and worried, telling me how much she missed me. My grandfather had barely left the room all day and somewhere in my sleeping, he’d left me a sandwich and juice, not wanting to wake me. My stomach still was in a knot, but seeing them both in the house helped to ease my nerves.

I decided that night to take my rubber friend into the bath with me before I went to bed. My mother filled up the bathtub, making a comment of rust in the pipes as the reddish brown water flowed out and then faded into clear, and helping me in. It felt soothing and watching the little discolored duck float was amusing. It almost seemed to smile, being in use again. Remembering, I asked my mom when she got it. She looked confused at me.

“I wasn’t much for baths myself. I never had a rubber duck.”

I gave a small “oh” at her and looked back at it. It had been so dirty, it had to have been there from long before. In the middle of my thoughts, I could hear her cellphone ring.

“Ahh, sorry honey, Mommy will be right back.” She said apologetically, rushing off the get her cellphone and take the call.

Now it was just me and the rubber duck. All alone in the bathtub and not able to see my mother’s figure, the walls of the tub seemed higher and larger, almost growing. I felt like I was shrinking and brought the duck to my body, not wanting to lose him in the water that seemed to be expanding around me. I could hear the same noises from my dream earlier, the same snickers and whispers. The thought that I was still dreaming crossed my mind, or that I was getting sicker, but the sounds were getting clearer and clearer. I could make out two voices, a little boy’s and a girl’s, having a quiet conversation. The third made no sense. It sounded like a baby’s gurgle but it was much too…distorted and almost sounded like choking. They were getting louder. And closer to me. Until it felt like they were over the side of the tub. I felt as though if I brought my eyes up away from the duck in my hand, I would see them. As a hand touched my shoulder, I could contain my fear no longer and screamed for my mother.

Her footsteps stomped to the bathroom and she burst in, frightened and worried for me safety. When I looked up, there was nothing but her in the doorway. No children, no baby. Only me and the duck. I wrapped my arms around her and cried, scared and telling her that someone was there, that someone touched me. She held me and stroked my back, telling me that the fever was making me imagine things, that I was sick and she’d take care of me, make it better. I tried to argue with her, but she told me that crying would make my fever worse and to just breathe, that she was there.

She toweled me off and put me to bed, telling me how important it was that I get better, that she loved me and even though it was hard for her to be here, she always would be and if I really needed her, she’d come. I don’t know what drove me to, but I brought the rubber duck to bed with me. She didn’t seem bothered by it. She even patted its head and said it would be a good dream companion, keep me safe. It may have been my imagination, but when I looked at it before she turned out the light, it almost seemed to smile and its eyes darken a bit.

When my mother turned off the light and left me in the dark, fear gripped my heart for a bit. I had wondered if those strange whispers and creatures were going to come for me when I went to bed. I had heard them before, I was sure of it. Would they wait for me to sleep? Would they just come in the dark? What were they, were they human? I couldn’t close my eyes, I was too frightened. The noises never came though. I could hear my grandfather’s snoring on the other side of my wall and my mother’s softer sleeping sighs as well. I couldn’t stay awake forever, as hard as I tried. I set the duck on the dresser beside me and bid it goodnight before falling back to sleep.
I heard them again. I was sure of it. Footsteps heading towards my bed. I had awoken before they got to me and could hear them. My breath caught and my hand moved slowly over to my dresser, feeling the rubber of the duck and where its head was turned, facing me. I’m not sure what compelled me to do it, but as a kid, you get some crazy ideas of what might help and protect you. In a moment, I grabbed the toy from my dresser and pointed its gaze to the sound, yelling “Go away!”

To my surprise, I heard a pair of tiny shrieks and something move through the open door, small footsteps on the stairs. I panted, holding the toy tight. Someone was there. They were real, I wasn’t imagining it. I wasn’t going to waste any time. I jumped from my bed and dashed into the master bedroom, duck still in my hand.

“Mommy, Grandpa, there’s something upstairs!” I called out, shocking them both and my mother turning on the light. I ran into her arms and buried my face in her chest, telling her of the kids in my room, the talking, that I heard them run up the stairs. My mother tried to calm me down, but my grandfather seemed angry and ripped me from her arms, holding mine and telling me to stop this nonsense and go back to bed, stop telling lies. My mother looked cross at him and told him that I was frightened and should stay with them. He argued that there was no one in this house and I wasn’t going to learn to handle myself unless I stopped being coddled. Not wanting to keep an argument going that late at night, my mother got up and said she’d stay in my bed for the night and keep watch over me. Looking irritated, my grandfather grunted and curled back up in bed, telling her to turn off the damn light on her way out.

My mother held me all night in my small bed. I think she must have been uncomfortable, but she didn’t seem to mind at all. Her warmth was comforting and within minutes, I had fallen back to sleep.

She did this every night for the next three nights, particularly as my fever got worse. The whispers stayed away when she was there, and after the first day, I grew nervous about napping when she wasn’t home. It left me worn out and exhausted, aggravating my illness. I felt a heavy throbbing in my ears and the morning of the fourth day, I couldn’t hear at all.

The doctor had said I had a severe ear infection and needed a lot of rest and antibiotics. It was an unnerving thing, not being able to hear. You take it for granted when you can, all the little things you missed. I wasn’t able to hear the tea kettle in the kitchen, nor the creak of the floorboards as I walked up and down the stairs, nor the sound of birds in the forest out behind the backyard. During this time, the duck, who I had named Leonard, never left my side. Whatever those things were, they didn’t seem to like him. He seemed to like me though and as I carried him around, his eyes seemed to get darker and shinier.

My fever spiked in the night and I could barely move from my bed. My mother watched over me, worried. She wrote things down on a notepad so I could understand what she was saying. She talked to my grandfather a lot and even though I couldn’t hear, I could tell they were fighting by the looks on their faces. When he left, she looked defeated and wrote something down on the paper.

“Mommy will be sleeping in Grandpa’s room tonight. You just call if you need anything, okay?”

I nodded and she kissed my forehead, the little concerned wrinkle in her brow as she turned off the light. I was so tired, that once she left the door, my eyes closed into sleep.

It did not last long though. I realized shortly after I had fallen asleep. I couldn’t hear them! I couldn’t hear if they were coming into my room or not! My skin tingled and a cold sweat started up in my body. My hand scrambled about my dresser, but somehow, I had dropped the duck from its place beside me. It wasn’t there. It wasn’t there! Tears began to form in my eyes, thinking that I couldn’t hear the creatures that were coming in, that my friend, my only friend, was gone and couldn’t protect me. Even calling for my mother wouldn’t work, they’d get me before she got there.

My blood ran cold as I could feel hands, two hands on each arm touch me, hold me down. The pressure returned to my chest. They were here. They were here and there was nothing I could do about it. Tears dripped down the side of my face and something else did. Whatever was on my chest was looking down at me, its head over mine and dripping something thick and cold, putrid smelling. It smelled like the rusted water from the bathtub, but far worse. I could see it staring down at me, small head silhouetted in the darkness by what little light I could see. The ones on the sides were digging their hands into me, and I could feel how slimy their hands were, cold and disgusting. I was sure I was going to die. My throat was being constricted, tiny malformed hands pressing to my neck and choking me. Everything was feeling tighter and tighter around me. The pressure was growing stronger and stronger and their grip on my arms dug into my skin. A feeling of resignation and relief came over me as I began to pass out.

A bright light flashed before my eyes, two small screams could be heard and all at once, it was all gone. I sat up, gasping for breath and heard something fall to the floor. Quickly, I turned on my light and reached for it. It was Leonard. All his color had returned, but it looked as though someone had tried to burn him, black misshapen patches on his body. He looked happy though. I hugged the small toy to me and cried, cried harder than I ever had before. It woke up my mother. I told her I didn’t want to stay here anymore and begged her to go somewhere else, to move, anywhere. She held me close and cried with me and promised me that we’d go somewhere else. Maybe it was the way I was crying or when she saw what looked like dark dried blood on my cheeks and arms, she knew something was deeply wrong.

Thankfully, one of my mother’s coworkers had the kindness in her heart to take us in. We moved out of my grandfather’s house, who barely said a word to us when we left, walking back inside to his study, I imagined. I would not leave Leonard behind. He stayed with me on the move and still stays by my bedside, even as I have long grown into an adult. I did not hear any whispers or feel any more presence in the nights. After that night, my illnesses suddenly cleared. I was able to go to school and function as a normal kid.
When my grandfather died, I was a teenager in high school. My mother called me and asked if I would help move a few things out of the house, though she did ask rather gingerly. I said that I would.

When we returned to the house, close to ten years after we had left, it was in even worse shape than we had remembered. The windows were coming off the hinges, the roof had rotted and fallen in at places from heavy rains and the plant life was overgrown outside the house. We walked inside and the smell was horrendous, reeking of mildew and the vague scent of death. She cringed and asked me to look for anything that may be saved, otherwise to leave it. I don’t think she wanted anything from that house and would have burned it to the ground right then if she could.

I walked into the study and the smell of death was stronger than anywhere in the house. The chair where he had sat often was stained with something unmentionable. I imagined that was probably where he had died. A book lay open on his desk and I picked it up. The text was close to illegible, but I could read small words and dates, March 13th and April 2nd. They showed up repeatedly. I glanced through some of his other books and many were just the same, scattered drawings and journals everywhere. I picked up the ones that seemed the most important and left the room, happy to be out of the smell.
After disposing of the long rotted food in the fridge and pantry, I made my way upstairs, a sense of apprehension in my body. I’m not sure what I expected, it looked just the same as when I had briefly lived there ten years ago. The forest still expanded out into a sea of trees, and even as an adult, I could not see where they ended.

I remembered the second bedroom and the books that were on the shelf and went to see if they were still there. Indeed, they were and I reached up for them. They were photo albums and a journal. The photos seemed to go from the most recent to the older. I looked through and found pictures of my mother, going from a teenager to a child, to a toddler. When I got halfway through, I found other pictures that left me confused. They were pictures of children, a boy and a girl. They looked old and worn away, slightly distorted and black around the edges of it. They were mixed up, but the oldest they seemed to be was around 7 years old. In one particular picture, they were standing and waving to the camera with my grandmother in her younger years. She looked to be pregnant. In another picture was the boy in the bathtub smiling up at the camera. Holding Leonard.

My skin prickled as I stared at the photos. No one had said anything about other children. As far as I had known, my mother was their only child. Why would my grandfather hide this from her, from me, from…anyone? I closed the album and put it in the box with the journals, looking at the other book that had been on the shelf. When I opened it, a small envelope fell out. It had never been sealed shut. With a shaking hand, I opened it and pulled out the documents. They were birth and death certificates. The dates…1950 to 1957. 1951 to 1957. Causes of death, drowning. And…my grandmother’s. 1922 to 1957. Cause of death, suicide. Down in the doctor’s notes, it detailed her autopsy.

“The patient suffered multiple self inflicted wounds to the stomach and chest. The largest wound was created on the lower abdominal region and ruptured the uterus and small intestine. A brief blood sample and the expanded uterus lead to belief that the woman had been pregnant. Blood and amniotic fluid had been found around the woman’s mouth, as well as unknown flesh found in her teeth. No infant body was discovered with her and investigation is still in progress.”

This…was sickening. Was I reading this right? It was saying that…my grandmother had killed herself and tried to eat her own child? There was no death certificate for any infant in the bunch. Had they never found it? I looked through the book, searching for anything that would give me a clue about the children, what had really happened. There were places in the book where pages had been torn out. I searched the room desperately and found them having fallen behind the bookshelf. The writing was not my grandfather’s, it was far too neat and legible. The first page had the date of March 12th, 1957.

“They’re gone. I can’t…even believe it. My babies. He won’t even look at me. He thinks I did it. I turned my back for a minute. Just a minute….what a cruel world, to take ones so young. He keeps staring at me. Those eyes are burning holes in me, I can’t stand it. He’s looking at the young one in my stomach. He’s thinking I’ll drown it too. That man…he won’t hold me, won’t comfort me, won’t shed a tear for them.

What if he’s right though? The thought of my child coming into this world and losing them…no! No, I can’t let it happen! I can’t let them suffer, breathe in this foul air of the world, to be forced into existance just because I wanted another child…how selfish am I? I need…to help him. Save him from this world, but…I can’t bear losing another. What will I do?”

The second page seemed to be a letter. I was marked with the date of April 2nd. I tried to wipe off the dirt that seemed to be staining the page before I realized what the splotches and stains actually were: long dried blood. My body trembled and I feared what it would say. How long had my grandfather been hiding this? Against my better judgement, I carried on.

“my darling child,
i don’t have much time. i held you today, covered in my life and fluids, cut from my womb. you’re crying so quiet, i didn’t think you’d be so big, able to cry. i had hoped you’d be small enough to just sleep. even though you’re not ready, you look so beautiful. i made a mistake. don’t worry baby. i’ll put you back, then we’ll go together. i’ll bring you back in my body before we leave this world. then you won’t ever be alone. Mommy loves you so”

The letter seemed to cut off there and a trailing pen mark led off the paper, which made me guess that my grandmother had lost consciousness while writing it. My hands were shaking violently and tears had stared to form in my eyes. I dreaded the thought of showing this to my mother, finding out her mother was…No. I’d keep this to myself. She didn’t need to know. I put the letters back into the envelope and took the album and the book. I’d clear out the album when I got home, give her pictures and burn the others. They somewhat looked like someone had already tried.

The last room to inspect was the third bedroom. The roof had collapsed over this one and rotted wood and tiles lay scattered about. The crib that had been there before seemed to be missing. I was about to turn and leave, seeing nothing of value to take when I remembered and a chill went through my spine. The attic. I had never made it in as a kid. Given what I had found on the bookshelf, I thought of just leaving it be. I didn’t want to know. But…I knew I had to.

With a yell, I yanked open the door, feeling it snap at the top hinge. The smell of dust and dampness seeped out. I could barely see inside, but there was a light bulb hanging inside. My hand searched the side of the wall and found the switch when I crawled inside. What I found made me scream out loud.
The crib that had been in the room before had been put in there. The floorboards were stained all over underneath it. Inside the crib, the small mattress was covered with a red and black sludge, looking like it was slowly breathing, gasping for air. It moved and what looked like a misshapen and contorted face. It opened its mouth at me and let out that same gurgling cry I heard so many years ago.

I did not stay any longer. I scrambled out the small door, slammed the attic door shut and grabbed the box, running out of the house faster than I had ever moved. My mother caught me outside and asked what was the matter. I told her that something was living there, something that needed to die, that we needed to get away. She worked to calm me down and got me to the car, driving off as fast as she could to get us back home.

I never went back. I never stepped foot in the neighborhood again. My mother told me a few years after that, a storm had caught fire to the roof and the entire thing lit up and collapsed from poor care. I gave my mother the journals and took the photos of the children, my grandmother’s entries and the death certificates. I tried to burn them, but they would not catch fire, as hard as I tried, only blackening the edges. The documents and pictures are kept far away in a storage of mine, hidden there to be forgotten and abandoned when I die or for someone who knew nothing of her or our family to find one day, far off in the future.

I do not know or care if that thing…is still alive. What I know is that Leonard still remains by my bedside at night. His head is always, always turned to the door. My husband thinks I’m crazy, but tolerates it. I won’t let him turn on the radio at night. I can’t take the chance of not hearing the whispers again if they ever do return. He says he doesn’t like the silence at night.

He doesn’t know what the real silence is.

Credit To – Ariane M.D.

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Vir Silvae

December 3, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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About 5 years ago I went on a vacation to Wrangell–St. Elias National Park in Alaska. The cool, fresh air, beautiful scenery, and vast expanses of wilderness seemed ideal for my vacation from a tedious desk job back home. I’d saved up for years to finance the trip. I wanted my stay to be perfect.

I left in late August to fly from my home in Alabama to Alaska. Everything was going great; my flight was smooth and I set out on my camping trip, alone, into the wilderness on September 1st. I hiked about 13 miles the first day and set up camp among a large area of Black Spruces. I started a small fire to cook some food around 6:00 pm. I still remember how I felt, overjoyed that I was away from my stressful life. I lay back on the ground, looked at the stars through the trees, and listened to the fire crackle. It was a while before I began to notice the quietness of the rest of the forest. No insects, no birds, no anything. All I could hear was my breathing and the fire, not even a breeze met the branches of the spruces. Later on, I’m not sure what time, I was woken up by a noise off in the distance. I’m not sure what it was, maybe a falling tree, but it was fairly loud. I didn’t hear it again within 5 minutes, so I went back to sleep thinking it had been part of a dream.

I woke up early in the morning just as the sun was coming up. I inhaled the fresh Alaskan air and got up to make some breakfast before packing up and continuing on my hike. By the end of the day, I had moved 9 miles from my original camping spot. It was a slower day, but I enjoyed taking my time and soaking in the scenery. I still hadn’t seen any signs of wildlife, however. I didn’t even see a bird flying above me or insects buzzing around. I didn’t dwell on it, though. I felt like I was in Heaven. At about 4:00 pm I saw the first sign of life in over a day, two hikers. They were coming the opposite direction of me, but they didn’t have any gear with them. We were miles from any civilization, so it was weird seeing anyone, let alone anyone with gear. They were moving at a fairly quick pace, and I ended up having to grab one of them as they went past to ask if they were okay because they didn’t even look at me. The guy I grabbed jumped and nearly started crying, then he looked at me and said, “Turn back. It’s still back there,” and then he jerked away with me, grabbed his friend (who had been staring straight ahead with a glossy look about him) and started walking away, still with a quick pace. I reasoned that the guys had been doing some powerful drug in the woods for fun and had started seeing things.

I set up camp and ate dinner pretty much the same way I had the night before, star gazing for a while before falling asleep. I woke up with a start several hours later to what I can only describe as a fog horn. It was low and very loud, and seemed fairly close as well. The noise echoed off of the trees, making it hard to tell where it had come from. I sat up, still sleepy, trying to wake up and figure out what was going on. I looked around, yawned, and was about to go back to sleep when I heard the sound again. This time it seemed much closer, but I still couldn’t tell where it was. After a minute or two, I heard trees moving off in the distance. I heard loud snapping noises, and branches rubbing against each other and shaking. I couldn’t give you an exact distance, but I think it was about a mile away. The first thing to come to my still-sleepy mind was “bear.” I jumped to my feet and began looked for anything to use to defend myself from this “bear” and ended up picking the hatchet I had brought.

This is what the noise sounded like, only deeper and in longer bursts.

I stood around in a defensive stance for a good 10 minutes before I heard the sound again, this time even closer. I heard tree branches, maybe the trees themselves, snapping in the distance. It was within a mile from me, now. It then began to dawn on me that what I was dealing with wasn’t a bear. My heart was beating furiously and my mind was racing to figure out what was making the sounds I kept hearing. I couldn’t think of anything. The horn-like sound sounded again, this time farther away than before. I stayed up the entire night, listening to it as it got farther and farther away. By sunrise, the noise had stopped. I ate breakfast and packed up fairly quickly; I had decided I’d hike back to the car I had rented and drive off, maybe stay in a hotel till I could get on the next plane home. It was still early, though, and I thought I’d go towards where I kept hearing the noises in hopes of finding out what they were. I got about 3 quarters of a mile from where I had set up camp when I found the first tree. It was completely snapped in half, falling in the direction my campsite was. I continued on, finding more and more snapped trees. They made a trail, almost, that I started to follow, not thinking about the daylight I was wasting moving along the fallen trees. The trail went on for miles, filled with nothing but fallen trees and weird holes, like if a tree had been uprooted, all along the trail as well. I figured whatever had been here had started throwing trees as well as knocking them over.

By the time I noticed it was getting dark, I had almost reached the end of the trail. I kept walking, exhausted from my sleepless night, not even noticing when the trail stopped, and decided to set up camp for the night next to a large, tall tree. It was much larger than the spruces surrounding it, it looked nothing like any evergreen I had ever seen, and its trunk was blacker than the night sky. I decided the tree had been a victim of a fire. It had plenty of branches, and my idea of setting up camp near it was so I could climb it in case whatever had been knocking over trees decided to come back. At the top of the tree was a hole, similar to one you might find in any tree, and it looked large enough for me to climb into and hide in if I could reach it. I set up my plan, ate a little bit of food, and then passed out, planning on heading back as soon as I woke up.

I’m not sure how long I slept. I must have fallen asleep at around 8:00 pm, so it must have been about 3:00 am when I woke up. I was asleep on my back, clutching the hatchet in one hand, when I felt the ground tremble. Whatever it was was close. I was pretty disoriented at first from being woken up, but I soon got a hold of my senses. I clutched the hatchet even harder and tried to open the tent I was in when an extremely bright light appeared right above me. It was blinding, partly because it was just a bright light and partly because my eyes were only adjusted to the darkness. I somehow managed to get the tent open with the full intent of running as fast as I could, and as soon as I did I looked up, trying to get a quick look at whatever it was standing over me. A bright, yellow light was coming from a large oval hole in what appeared to be the tree I had planned on climbing. Only the tree was, at least it was supposed to be, about 10 feet away from me. The light hovered, I think, about 70 feet above me. I didn’t look much longer because I got out and started sprinting through the woods as fast as I could manage. I lost the hatchet at some point, but I don’t think it would have done me much good.

As I ran, I began to feel the ground quake like it did before, at intervals of about once every 5 seconds. Whatever it was, it was gaining on me, but I didn’t have time to think about that because the noise sounded behind me, and it was incredibly loud. I tried to scream, make any noise, really, but nothing came out. Then I ran right into something and fell and tumbled to the ground. I immediately tried to get up and keep running, but soon realized I was tangled up in someone’s tent, which had apparently been abandoned. It was then that I realized I was once again bathed in the yellow light. I looked up to the light, shielding my face with my hand, and got a better view of what had been following me. The tree I had camped by was standing in front of me, bent so that the light, from what was apparently the hole I had planned on hiding in, sent a beam down directly on top of me. The trunk of the tree (if you can still call it one) was split to form what could only be described as legs, each making a rather deep imprint in the earth, like what I saw along the trail of broken trees. The “tree” also seemed to have arms, or long, thin, branches that hung loosely by its side. The thing stood there, unmoving, and seemed to just stare at me. The light soon became rather pretty and nice to look at, but then the “tree” made that awful noise again, and I snapped out of my trance.

I got up and started running again, maybe even faster than before. I kept running till morning came, and then I kept going till I reached my car. I’m not sure when it stopped following, when it stopped shining its light at me, when it stopped making that horrible noise, but I didn’t care. When I made it to my car, I immediately got in and drove off in the direction that I’d come in from. I nearly wrecked several times from exhaustion, but I didn’t want to stop and risk meeting that thing again. I eventually made it back to civilization and got the first plane back home. I didn’t sleep well for the next few weeks. I live in a fairly wooded area, though I have plenty of neighbors, and had to keep the blinds on the windows closed to keep from seeing the woods outside my house, fearful that the black tree I saw would be standing among the pines and oaks. I still have nightmares.

Credit To – Chapman

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The Thing in the Fog

December 2, 2013 at 12:00 PM
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San Diego is a beautiful place, don’t you think? The sweet and salty aroma of the Pacific Ocean drifting on a cool breeze as the warmth of the sun caresses your skin is a luxurious experience you can only enjoy on the Californian coast. However, San Diego has its share of dark dealings. The most well-known by far is the Whaley House. The list of documented hauntings is growing every day. However, it is not the biggest danger here.

It started a few months ago on a chilly and overcast night. My dog escaped from the backyard again and I went out to search for her. I walked along the sidewalk, calling her name in an attempt to get her to return.

“Lindsay! Come here girl!” I yelled, and then gave an ear-piercing whistle. I didn’t care whether or not I was disturbing the neighborhood. My priorities dictated my pet was more important than whether or not someone got 39 rather than 40 winks of sleep. ‘Why do we say 40 winks anyway?’ I thought. ‘Does it have to do with rapid eye movement?’ My train of thought rambled along for a good 2 minutes before it was interrupted by the yelp of a dog followed by a faint, distant and constant whining. My heart skipped a beat and my stomach dropped. “No.” My breath came in short bursts as I ran in the direction it came from.

The public playground.

I could only pray and hope that Lindsay wasn’t hurt. Or worse.

I slammed open the chain link fence.

Then suddenly, the whining stopped.

There wasn’t a sound in the air except for the chirp of crickets and the rustle of the trees.

My eyes darted from place to place, looking for any sign of my dog. I stumbled around, my heart rate the highest it has it has ever been and tears welling in my eyes.

I looked under benches and in bushes. I checked everywhere I could for at least an hour before I finally gave up hope. I raised my head and stared into the sky, tears running down my cheeks, my throat burning, and my trust in God shaken. I turned back towards home with a hung head and heavy heart. I was about to leave the playground when I saw a band of purple dangling from the lock of the gate. For the second time that night, my heart skipped a beat.
It was my dog’s collar, only it was frayed far more than it was the last time I saw her. I picked it up and glanced to my left, towards the town, then right, towards the playground and surveyed the area for the last time.

I can’t believe I almost didn’t notice it.

I was starting to look away when something in my brain clicked.

I slowly, anxiously, looked back.

There was a figure standing on the other side of the playground. Despite the bright yellow streetlamps illuminating us, its skin was as dark as night. It must have been at least 7 feet tall if not bigger. Its chest was wide and its lower abdomen tapered down to nothing; it had no legs. The arms narrowed down to almost non-existent wrists. It had large hands with long spindly fingers. It was bald, it seems, and had a sharp chin.

Its eyes-Oh God its eyes-were nothing more than white specks in obsidian caverns that could be called sockets.

I stared at it for a few seconds. I took a tentative step away, ready to run if the need arose.

I didn’t think it could look any more terrifying.

I was wrong.

It grinned, exposing small, pointy yellow teeth.

A feeling of absolute dread shot through me and my hair stood up on end.

I dropped Lindsay’s collar.

I didn’t need any more incentive than that.

I turned and ran as fast as my legs could carry me, making sure to not look back.

It seemed like ages before I finally reached my house. I burst through the door and slammed it shut behind me. I locked it, bolted upstairs to my room, and collapsed on my bed.

I sobbed.

I sobbed for my dog.

I sobbed for me.

I sobbed for anyone that encountered that thing.

I sobbed until I fell asleep.

I woke up the next day at around noon. I felt absolutely exhausted. My legs and feet ached something fierce. I got up from bed and went to the bathroom. Looking in the mirror, I saw my eyes were red and puffy. I had almost forgotten why. I splashed some cold water on my face and dried it off with a towel. I went downstairs and to the kitchen for a bite to eat. After eating a hearty meal of biscuits and gravy, I went to my computer.

I asked on every forum I knew and searched on every site having to do with myths, legends, and the supernatural. I could not find a single report or article of any kind about anything that even remotely resembled what I saw last night.

I was racking my brain for any other way I could go about this when I heard tapping and jingling sounds coming from my front door. My curiosity got the best of me. I went and opened it.

No one was there.

I looked up and down the street, trying to see anyone, or anything, suspicious. Nothing caught my eye until looked down to see if my mail was here.
There, on ground, was my dog’s collar.

It was shredded to bits.

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The Darkman’s Domain

December 2, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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3 weeks ago, I moved into my new house in the Ramapo Mountain State Forest in New Jersey. I moved in with my friend Ben. Ben and I split the cost of the lease 50/50 and since we were long time friends it only seemed appropriate to move in together. I had family in Jersey City and Ben’s family had moved to Pennsylvania when we were young, but nevertheless we kept in touch. We had visited each other from time-to-time and we had always made plans to rent out a home together somewhere near the wilderness. And finally now was the time. We were fresh out of our homes and ready to begin our lives as true adults – or as I came to know in the past week, end our lives. As I mentioned before, we rented our home relatively close to a state forest, which is about as wilderness as we needed. Ramapo State Forest is roughly 4,200 acres of dense, green brush and trees.

After settling the first week, we took a few hikes out into the wild to see what it would be like. Hot, muggy air surrounded us as we walked through the thick brush. Twigs snapped under our feet as we traversed the forest landscape. In the area of the forest we were in, there were rarely any other people around and when they were, they often just passed through, so we didn’t notice anyone as we walked through the brush. Though, thinking back on it, I did feel a strange sensation as if I had eyes on me. But, I brushed the feeling off initially and we continued into the forest a bit farther before stopping and turning back.

Ben was asthmatic, but not to the point where he was in any extreme danger. Typically, after pushing himself for awhile, he’d begin to feel dizzy and a bit nauseous, but I think he mostly used it as an excuse to get out of any type of physical labor. I, on the other hand was relatively healthy, no big conditions or surgeries, nothing. Usually, I was the one to had to do the heavy lifting. Anyways, after stopping for a breather, we turned back. I’m guess we traveled farther into the forest than I thought because it seemed like 40-50 minutes before we arrived back at home.

I remember as we were about to walk in in Ben had asked, “Hey dude, you hungry?”

“God, yes. I’m starved.”, I responded.

Ben then said, “Well how about we go t-”

Ben stopped as he opened the front door.

“Hey. What’s the hold up? Having an asthma issue?”

Ben turned towards me, with a confused and ghastly look on his face.

“What’s wrong?”, I asked, a bit startled by his behavior.

“We locked the door right?”, Ben asked.

“Tighter than Fort Knox”, I said, confused.

Ben motioned me into the house. My knees turned to mush. The inside of the house was wrecked, furniture turned over, broken glass everywhere, possessions and keepsakes strewn all over the place, but what struck me the most was the scratches on the walls. They weren’t made by ANY type of blade I’d ever seen. I dragged my hand across the wall, feeling the coarse slices that were now there. The scratches were just far enough apart to mimic the distance between fingers which made thoughts of Freddie Kruger pop into my head. The scratches went down the entire front hallway. I followed them down into the living room where there was only more carnage to behold. I thought that, maybe some thieves broke in a trashed the place looking for anything with value. Ben snapped out of his shocked state and helped inspect the damage.

The house had 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a large living room and kitchen, several little places for storage, a laundry room, a garage, and the basement I had dubbed “The Pit”. Every room in the house was wrecked apart from the basement which was virtually untouched. I figured that thieves probably saw no value in a dusty, damp, old basement. But still, something in the back of my head told me there was more to it than that. We spent the next few days cleaning everything up.

By the second week, we had successfully cleaned up, repaired, and replaced most of the things we had. Though, there was nothing we could do about the scratches on the walls. Every time I walked past them I had this weird feeling, like, the feeling you get when you shut off all the lights in a basement and you feel the need to run up the stairs because you think there is something behind you. Fear.

The rest of the week was.. odd. I often felt sick before trying to go to sleep and if I didn’t, I felt watched, it was like 1000 eyes were cutting into my skull through the darkness. I didn’t get much sleep those nights. Ben looked pretty tired too.. I noticed through the wall separating our bedrooms, that he had been talking in his sleep, rambling really. It was muffled though and I couldn’t make our a single word though. We joked around saying that our house was haunted by Edward Scissorhands and Ben had mentioned something about hearing tapping on the walls outside our rooms. I was scared, even then. I went into the basement once to put some extra items in storage, a single bulb lit most of the central ground but left a lot of area submerged in darkness. I could’ve sworn I felt something just outside of my sight, somewhere in the darkness. Hiding. Waiting. Watching. I ran up the stairs and slammed the door behind me. I startled Ben, but had said nothing of what I had felt down there.

We should have left then.

The next week was the worst. Everything seemed to intensify. I heard the tapping now and it was maddening, but I was too scared to try and confront it. I heard whispers that were loud enough to be heard over the rustling of the leaves outside my window, I was terrified.

Wednesday is when everything fell apart. The night was unusually quiet. Too quiet. No birds chirping, no wind, leaves. Not even the hum of our air conditioner. Even so, I wasn’t passing this up. I said goodnight to Ben, I was tired from the lack of sleep, but also because we had a Star Wars movie marathon that night. I went into my room, closing the door behind me. I didn’t bother to undress, I hadn’t been out of the house that day. I lied down in my bed, checked my phone for messages, and shut off the bed-side lamp and closed my eyes. Instant sleep.

Something crashed outside. I jumped out of bed and eyed the door. Ben screamed. I ran for the door but before I could even reach it, it flew open. Ben trembled and yelled at me, “We have to leave! NOW!” Before I could respond, I heard bones crack. Something splattered against my face, I placed my hand up against my face and when I pulled my hand away from my face all I saw was red. My hands trembled and my muscles tightened up. I looked to Ben’s direction, my eyes took a moment to focus and when they did, I tried to scream but it was useless. There before me was Ben with a look of pain on his face and a hand pushed through his chest. The hand retracted with inhuman speed and Ben’s body fell to the ground. There I saw a dark figure with long, deathly black hair. His arms were long and dark, he wore a tight black cloth on his body that covered everything except for his hands and feet. His legs were long, he was maybe 5’9. Everything about him was disturbing, dark, morbid. His skin was pale and had a dim glow to it which made it appear a dull gray. His hair was out of his face just enough to where I could see his features. He has a slightly tall face, thin, not round at all really. His eyes were large, too large to be human and they glowed like an animal’s eyes in the moonlight that came through my window. He had no pupils, just bright white eyes that glowed candescently when the light him them just right. Also, a particularly disturbing feature was his mouth, or, more like his smile. He smiled at me like his mouth was made of stone. He had a mad grin from ear to ear. His teeth were relatively sharp and they were roughly the same color as his skin and he just stared at me. His hands though, his hands were the worst though. He were inhumanly long and his fingers were split in half by blades that were merged with his knuckles. Even so, he moved each half of his fingers like they were all separate.

I blinked. In an instant, his head cracked sideways and I heard a noise that sounded like an entire spine snapping in half. He was still.

In that moment, with Ben dead on the floor and his killer looking me dead in the eyes, I decided that I need to run. Run as fast and as far as my body could let me go. I blinked again. His hand twitched and his voice rattled and he said to me, “This… is… my… domain.” He let out and inhuman screech and I dove out of my bedroom window and into the backyard. I got a few cuts, but I wasn’t dead. I ran into the forest, it was my best bet. I heard him run after me, he was fast. I heard him growl and screech after me. I ran as far as I could and somewhere deeper in the forest, I must have lost him. I couldn’t hear anything, no wildlife, nothing. Even the stream was still. There was an opening to a cave I crept into in and settled in the corner. I reached into my pocket to see if I had any food, but all I found was the sheet of paper and my favorite pen. So I began to write. I lost track of time and it is still too dark to see much, but my eyes have adjusted to the light. If I don’t make it out and somebody finds this paper, burn that house down to ash. Ben would’ve wanted it that way.

I’m beginning to sob, I placed my hand over my mouth to muffle the sound.

Wait… No no no no no! I hear something outside of the cave entrance. I think he’s found m-

Credit To – Zak Yates

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