Late One Fall Night

January 5, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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One, two, three, four.. Ah, who cares. I lost count a while back. Strong shit, too. I’m sitting here at the local pub of a lowly city, washing down my sadness with the comfort of my friend Jack Daniel. There are a bunch of others here, too, despite the time of night. Friends celebrating, losers trying to get lucky, non drinkers hanging out around the billiards table. Me? I fucked up big time, and I’m forcing my shame onto my liver. Not the best way to deal with problems, but hey, it works. My name is Kyle. I’ve just gotten the call that my application to play one of the leading roles in a movie, which is going to be a big hit might I add, has been declined.

Yeah, I’m an actor. Or at least I was going to be. I took an acting class for three years, and I was suggested by my instructor to try applying at a nearby studio. I was so confident that I’d make it that I quit my previous job ahead of time. Except that I didn’t get the job. Rent’s due this weekend and I don’t have enough time to find another job. So here I am.

Thinking I’ve had enough for the night, I started to stand and felt immense dizzinesss wash over my senses. Probably had one too many, I thought, as I started to stagger out of the bar. “Hey! You didn’t pay for that last round.” I turned to face the bartender and replied, “Put it on my tab, Mike. I’ll get it to you Monday.” He rolled his eyes, and went back to serving the other losers like me.

I stumbled out into the chilly fall air, and took a deep breath. This city was quite empty for being so crowded. This wasn’t one of those small towns where everybody knew one another. Chances are that if you saw someone once, you wouldn’t meet them again. Yet the streets were very rarely packed, let alone catching people walking on the sidewalk or taking the bus. I shrugged and turned to head home. Walking was kind of difficult, it makes me glad that I didn’t drive out here. I didn’t really expect to see anyone, like usual, however there was someone walking on the opposite side of the street.

This fella was out awful late, I thought, as I checked my phone for the time. Two in the morning. I shrugged it off and continued to my destination. To each their own, I suppose. He’s smart for wearing a hooded coat, it’s fucking freezing out here. I walked at a steady pace, not really giving anything a second glance. However something didn’t seem right. I glanced over to my left, to the other side of the street.

That person that I saw earlier seemed to be headed in the same direction as me. Huh, weird, I thought. He was walking in the opposite direction that I was going earlier. Maybe he forgot something at his house. I kept going, turning a corner onto my home’s street. I glanced back and noticed that the man was no longer there.

“Strange,” I whispered. “Maybe I’ve had too much to drink tonight.” As I walked along the street, my eyes felt like they were playing tricks on me. You know how when you’re paranoid you see movement in your peripheral vision? I kept seeing dark images darting around to my left and right, but every time I turned my head to look directly at them, they were just dark alleys. I just want to get home and sleep this off, I told myself. I rolled around through my thoughts, and got that feeling of being watched again.

I glanced around, but saw nothing. I sighed, and silently promised myself not to drink this much again. This is giving me the creeps. I knew I wouldn’t live up to it, though. Suddenly, I heard a sound that made every hair on my body stand on end. A low, dark laugh wavered out from one of the dark alleyways. I stopped dead in my tracks, swinging my head wildly to find the source of the cackle. Doing so, though, reminded me of my trip to the bar earlier and nearly made me vomit.

I bent over and breathed hard, trying to gather my bearings. I looked up and called out, “Hey! Who ever’s out there.. just fuck off, alright?!” The only response I got was the howl of the wind, so I warily continued walking. I came upon my apartment building shortly after. I walked up the stairs and headed to my apartment. I reached for my keys, grabbed them from my coat pocket, inserted the one to my door and started to turn the knob when I noticed it.

That same man in the hood that I saw earlier could be seen in the reflection of the glass pane above the door. This time, however, he was walking across the street. Directly towards my building. He was standing under a lone streetlamp that occasionally flickered, peering up at me, and for a brief second I caught a glimpse of his face. From what I could make out at a distance, he had no pupils. It was just a blank white color. His mouth was contorted into a strange smile, moving in rhythm as if he were giggling. I swung the door open, slammed it closed and locked the bolt. I closed the blinds to the window, locking it in the process. I sat in my chair with the lights off, and waited. I got up, walked to the window and slowly pressed down on one of the blinds and peered out. He was standing right in front of the door.

I jumped back and ran into my bed room. I slammed the door, locked it, and headed to my bed. I kept a box containing a glock under my bed frame. I removed it and loaded it. I knelt on the opposite side of my bed, gun pointed at the door, and prepared myself. I waiting for what seemed like hours without hearing a single sound other than my heavy breathing. I began to doze off, but jolted awake when my head touched the mattress. I walked over to the door, unlocked it, and opened it just a crack so I could see through. No one was here. I kept my glock at ready and walked out into the rest of my apartment, heading towards the door. I peered through the eye hole but saw nothing. I decided that since I kept everything locked that whoever it was would be unable to get in, so I decided that I should go to bed. I went back to my room and put my glock on the nightstand next to my bed, and laid down. I quickly fell asleep due to fatigue.

I awoke the next morning to banging on my apartment door. Oh god, my head was on fire.. I sluggishly got to my feet, and walked out of my room to the door. I peered through the hole carefully, and saw that a few police officers stood outside. “Just one minute,” I called and rushed to put my glock away. I went back to the door, unbolted the lock and tried to wake myself up with a slap before opening greet them. “Good morning officer, what can I do for you?” I asked without trying to sound like someone who hasn’t had a good rest in weeks. “Mornin’, son. I’m officer Randy Goodman, chief of Silent Hill Police Department. We’d like to ask you a few questions in regards to the room next to yours. Where were you last night at around the time of two forty?”

I swallowed hard, and told them that I had gone out for a bit and came home exhausted, and went straight to bed. He turned to exchange glances with the other officers that accompanied him before turning back to me. “I see. Mind if we take a quick look around your apartment?” I shook my head. “Go ahead.” The officer I had been talking to nodded, and walked in, accompanied by another. Two officers stood outside, as if to keep an eye on me. If they suspected me of something, they could have just told me, I thought. The other two officers returned a few minutes later. The chief took out a note pad and began scribbling notes, recording that they didn’t find much, I assume. “Everything seems to be in order. Sorry for disturbing you, have a nice day.” He started to gead towards the staircase to the next floor when I stopped him. “Hold on a second. What happened in the apartment next to mine? Why did you need to search here?”

The chief officer looked a little distraught, and his eyes darted around aimlessly. He cleared his throat and said, “Look, son. There’s been a, ah, a murder next door. Reports say that local residents heard screaming very early in the morning, presumably from a woman. We found the body of Susan Smith inside her bedroom. The details are too violent for me to describe.” My eyes widened as I instantly thought of that man from the previous night. “I suggest you take extreme caution and security measures until the perp is caught,” he continued. I started to get really nervous and blurted, “Excuse me,” I started. “But did Ms. Smith happen to keep her door locked?” The officer shook his head, a slight look of sorrow playing across his facial features. “Unfortunately, no. If she had, she may still be here today. We found no evidence of blunt weapons being used, meaning the murderer might not have been able to get in if the door was locked.”

I lowered my gaze to the floor. Did he attack her because he couldn’t get me? A wave of guilt suddenly washed over me, but I returned my attention to Randy. “I-I see..” He let out a sigh, and asked, “Is there anything else that you can tell me? Every detail helps.” I felt like I was going to vomit from the sheer pressure that was placed on me. “Y-yeah.. I saw a man here last night. I was pretty, uh, tired last night, but I could have sworn he followed me home. He wore blue jeans and a hooded sweater. Most of his head was covered, but from what I could make out..” I didn’t know how I could tell them the most crucial detail about this damnable being, there was no way they would believe me. “Go ahead, son” the chief pushed. I tried again, and just ended up blurting it out. “The man had no pupils. Not at all. He didn’t even have irisis. The route I took home had very little lightning due to only several streetlamps being placed on curbs, but I’m telling you that this is true.” Randy just looked at me, whether it was disbelief or something else was beyond me. He slowly looked to his other officers, who exchanged the same looks with him and even to me. I knew they wouldn’t believe such a stupid tale. Randy cleared his throat, and scribbled on his notepad. “All right. We’ll keep an eye out for the suspect. We’re going to search the rest of the complex.” He reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a card, which he handed to me. “This number is directed straight to me. Call me immediately if you find anything else.” I nodded, and he motioned for his squad to follow him. “Have a good one, and be safe.” They continued down the hall, knocking on the next door as I went back inside.

I closed the door and locked it again. I sighed deeply, and went to the kitchen to grab some breakfast. It was already after noon, but what can you do? I grabbed a bowl from the shelf and headed to the fridge. I grabbed the half empty milk jug, and brought it with me as I got some cereal. ‘Man.. What a fucked up way to start the morning,’ I thought, as I finished fixing my bowl. I put both the jug and box away, and went upstairs to my room. Upon entering the doorway, I sat down on my bed and grabbed the T.V. remote and turned on the T.V. I wondered how long it would take for the news of the murder to reach the station as I flicked through different channels to find something I would enjoy. I ended up watching some stupid sitcom, only long enough to finish my breakfast. I placed my bowl on the nightstand next to my bed and went to my closet. I grabbed some clean clothes and headed to the bathroom, which was connected to my bedroom. I shut the foor behind me, turned on the light, and placed my clothes down on the sink. Grabbing a towel from a nearby rack, I opened my shower curtain to start the water. Only I didn’t. I stumbled back and dropped my towel, as I tripped and hit the wall behind me. There was a message in my bath tub. I shook my head is disbelief, and stood again, inching closer to check and make sure that what I saw was real. Oh, it was. It was very real. My eyes started to burn and water, as I read the message, written in a dark red, one last time:

“I hope I have as much fun with you as I did with her”

Credit To – Burning Brit

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Coal Mines

January 4, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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There isn’t much to do around Westbrook, our shitty little town in the Appalachian Mountains. The town itself only has a population of two thousand, and most of them work in the Davidson Coal Mine in the eastern half of town. My dad used to work there, before the accident. He died of sulfur poisoning down in what the workers call ‘The Gate’, the deepest part of the mine. They couldn’t even get his body; it was too deep in the hole. All they know is that after he died, the level of the mine where he died had extremely high sulfur levels. It’s alright though; I was only around six when it happened, so I don’t remember much. Just my sister was crying, and my older brother arguing with my mother about him taking dad’s old job. We needed some source of income, and my mother is a small, timid woman, not fit for the mines. So my brother picked up the miner’s helmet, and we started to recover. Over time, the memory of my father slowly faded from my memory. Until of course, my brother met his fate in that dreaded mine.

It was a cold October day, and a cold mist was rolling down the mountains. I was off school because I had the flu, so I was still home when my brother was leaving. He told me to start boiling some water for dinner, but I forgot and just laid in bed and drifted back to sleep. I awoke to my mother’s weeping, and my sister’s angry screams. I went over into the kitchen and my mother told me the whole story. He died of sulfur poisoning in The Gate, and they weren’t able to get his body. We had our little attempt at a funeral, and we tried to move on again.

That was about two years ago, and now I’m of age to work in the mine. It’s my first day, and I hope it goes well. I pick up my helmet, and I head out the door. Before I can leave, my mother hands me a small gas mask. I take it from her and observe it. It’s an old world war one mask, and it likely doesn’t even work anymore, but we’re still very poor, and it’s the best we can do. I walk across the yard and into town. It’s extremely foggy today; I can’t even see the tops of the mountains. The children are racing around the streets, decorating for Halloween. Finally, I reach the mine. I converse with the other workers for a few minutes before the elevator to the mine reaches us. We climb in, and they press 1. We start to descend, slowly at first, but then faster, and faster. We reach level one, and everyone climbs out. I remember my mask, and decide to put it on before I step off the platform. While I’m fiddling with the straps, I hear the elevator doors slam shut. ‘That’s alright’ I think to myself ‘I might get scolded for being late, but it’s my first day, they’ll forgive me’. But then the elevator starts to go down. I look at the level counter. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Level Eight. The Gate.

The doors creak open. I frantically press the level one button, but nothing happens. I hear voices coming from the shadows outside. Hoping they’re fellow miners, I step out and try to find them. Slam. The elevator shuts with a bang. I raise my oil lamp and start to look for the miners. I’m surrounded by odd red rocks, somewhat hot to the touch. I follow the voices into a small subsection of the cave. I raise my lamp and look at the walls. Scratch marks, and lots of them. The voices are nearby. I call out to them. My reply is frantic breathing, and breathless laughter. I start to backtrack to the elevator, but a rock falls in front of my path. I slide down into a small crevice, hoping to find another way around. I look up from my current position and see strange orange lights, perfectly circular. Maybe they sent some miners to look for me. I crawl up the hill, and approach the lights. I lift my lamp to the lights

In front of me stands a creature about five feet tall, blackish-red in color. The skin appears to be coarse and thick. Two small goat-like horns protrude from the head. Five, foot long claws hang lazily from its hands. It grins. Its teeth are serrated, its face oddly human in structure. Before I can run, it slices my leg, and I fall. A small pool of blood is forming at my legs. The creature stands over me, and slices the gas mask’s filter in two. I scramble desperately away, managing to crawl in another subsection of the cave. My legs are losing a lot of blood and my vision starts to become hazy. What was that thing? It seemed so human, yet so different at the same time. I hear its claws scrape the rocks outside. It’s getting closer, I’ve gotta find a way out. I see another opening into the main chamber and start crawling over to it. My vision is failing me, and I’m becoming extremely light-headed, but I reach the opening, and the elevator is right before me, doors wide open. I use all the rest of my strength and pull myself onto the platform and press the surface button. The door shuts hard, and I hear the engine start to rev up. Suddenly, a flash of light blinds me even more. The wire to the power box has been cut.

The lights in the elevator have gone out, but I can see their eyes, coming closer. There’s at least ten of them now, laughing hysterically, thinking they’ve found their next kill. Their claws scrape the metal door to the elevator, trying desperately to rip the small holes wider so they can get it. But I am safe in here, and soon the others will discover my absence and send help. I raise my lamp up to the door and try to get a closer look at the creatures. Their eyes are about three inches wide, and four inches tall. The eyes are completely orange, with no discernable pupil. They have no nose I can see; just two small slits in its face, right blow the eyes. Smoke seems to come out of them. They stop clawing at the door and stand back. Maybe they’ve given up. One of the creatures approaches the door. It is significantly larger than the other ones, and its face has a scar going across the length of it. The beast grips the door and looks me in the eyes, furious at my resiliency. I am very close to passing out from blood loss; the world around me is spinning, but I stay awake. It’s grip tightens on the door and it closes its eyes. The slits below the eyes close up, and you wouldn’t even be able to tell that they were there. Then it rears its head back, and breathes a cloud into my face. Sulfur.

Credit To – ovectrik

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Chalk

January 3, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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My name is Abby. My sister Amber and I are identical twins, and spend most of our time together. Outwardly we look the same: same shoulder-length brown hair, same large brown eyes, same pale skin, same thin 5′ 8″ builds. Inside, though, we’re a bit different. She’s the outgoing, friendly type that gets along with everyone. Me, I’m the awkward one that can’t figure out how to keep a conversation going and gets nervous around strangers.

Lucky for me, I have Amber. You could say that she is my hero, and I hope to be more like her someday. This might explain why I embrace the twin stereotype of our dressing alike most of the time.

It’s only ever a problem when one of us meets a boy we like. When this happens we have a signal: two small taps on the elbow, where nobody can see. If one of us taps the other on the elbow, that means: “I think he’s cute, give us some private time!” Her idea, of course.

Thanks to this little system my sister has had several boyfriends over the years, and I’ve had one or two. Amber dates sporty athletic types, I date broody insecure types, but neither one of us ever takes these relationships very seriously. At least, we didn’t until Chalk.

Our whole lives we had talked about our careers. We were both so driven. We had planned to graduate art college, rent a studio apartment, and create for a few years to see if we could get a reputation going as world famous artist twins. We had saved every penny through high school to make it happen and give ourselves as much of an opportunity to break out as possible when the time came. It was a dream we had shared since I can remember.

But then, we met him. It was our first year of art college on a sunny day, and he was creating a chalk sketch of a huge tree on the walkway between Building A and the Concourse Building. The roots curled around the metal benches, as if holding on to them with a firm grip, and the branches extended up and out towards the parking lot like giant fingers. It was a massive, impressive sight.

Like a few others, we stopped to watch him work. His jeans and hands were covered in chalk dust, but he had managed to keep his tweed vest and the purple button-down shirt clean. His sharp, angular features looked quite handsome, although they were often obscured by his longish hairstyle that he kept having to shake out of his vision. A pair of glasses hid his eyes.

Those glasses were weird. I mean, they were just regular glasses, but it seemed like no matter which angle he was at, there was a strong glare hiding his eyes. I think it was those glasses that kept me from tapping my sister’s elbow, even though when I felt two little taps on mine I felt a little jealous that she had “called it”. I mean, let’s face it, he looked pretty hot.

That day I left Amber to meet Chalk. Everybody called him that. He was a first year like us, and was known for sketching out chalk drawings around the college grounds and random other spots around town. I never did find out his real name, and I don’t think I ever met anyone who did.

Once, Amber said: “Oh he likes to keep his true name a secret and I’m not allowed to tell anyone. It’s really exotic and beautiful, just like him, but I kind of like that it’s a secret. It gives us something special between us, you know?”

I wish I had listened to my gut and warned my sister that something wasn’t quite right… but how could I know?

In the weeks that followed Amber would go out regularly to visit Chalk wherever he lived, and I focused on art history and improving my brush technique. I didn’t think anything of it at first: I was absorbed in my studies, determined to make a serious mark on the world as an artist, and she had never been the most studious type in the first place.

Still, as the weeks and months passed, I started to develop a nagging feeling that something wasn’t right. She had never spent this much time with a boy before, and we weren’t spending nearly as much time together as we had our entire lives. I tried to brush it off as just one of those things, a part of growing up, but still, there was something a little unsettling about the relationship.

It’s hard to describe. Early on she’d say: “Abby we’ll catch up later, I’ve got a date with Chalk tonight!”

Then it became: “Sorry, I’ve got to go see Chalk.”

Then: “Going out sis!”

Lately, she didn’t even bother saying goodbye. Every day she’d just take off to go see him. He never came over to our place.

Things came to a head one Thursday night when we were doing our traditional sister time activity: drinking wine and watching “True Blood”. It was the one tradition we still managed to maintain.

We were just chatting after the show, having to actually catch up on what was going on in our lives. I told her about what I was working on, which courses I was thinking about taking next term, that kind of thing. No boys and no parties recently. The truth is, without Amber around, I was just a bit too shy to go out and make new friends.

When I asked her about what was going on she could only talk about Chalk, as usual. It was really starting to get on my nerves. He seemed to be the only thing she could talk about. A part of me started to hate him… and I admit that it was jealousy, but it was something else as well. I started to hate him for what he was doing to my sister. She was getting kind of obsessed.

Amber always seemed to avoid specifics. She would talk about how he made her feel, the kinds of things he would say, the incredible pictures he was drawing, on and on and on… but if I ever asked her about an actual date they had gone on, or what kind of place he lived in, or even something as basic as if they had slept together or not, she’d get this far-off look in her eyes and say something like: “Come on Abby, there are more important things.”

Tonight was no different:

“He’s so spiritual, you know? When we’re together he talks about how he draws energy from the environment and from people and how we all feed on one another in some form or other, and he’s so right, he’s so right…”

“Ok ok, enough about the boyfriend. You get that assignment for Classics done?”

“Which one?”

“You know, the big one that’s worth 40% of your grade that’s due in a week?”

“Oh that… no not really. There are more important things, sis.”

Up until this point I had assumed she was finding time somewhere to get her work done, but this was news. She had never flunked a course in her life and Classics had been one of her favorites!

“So, what, you’re just ditching it?”

“I don’t know. All I really know is how Chalk has been making me feel lately. Did you see the work he did on the eastern wall of Building A? It was this beautiful scene, half city street and half forest with deer and rabbits and…”

“Whoa whoa whoa, time out! Amber, you’re going to fail if you don’t get the assignment in! You’re OK with that?”

She just shrugged and sipped at her wine.

“So you’re… what… going to drop out?”

“I haven’t given it much thought sis, there are more important things.”

“There are… what are you talking about? Have you lost your mind?”

Everything we had worked for our entire lives was right here, and she thought there were “more important things”. I couldn’t believe my ears.

In the past my sister was always good at reading me. I could hide my emotions from anyone but her. At this point, though, I wasn’t being subtle. I was almost yelling, I could feel my cheeks reddening, and was obviously upset.

She just looked at me with this easy, relaxed expression that hinted distantly of pity.

“You just don’t understand sis, it’s something greater than all of that. Chalk was just saying the other day… ”

“Fuck Chalk! Did you forget our dream? You’re throwing it all away!”

I was screaming. I’ve never screamed at my sister in my entire life, but this was too much. It was like she was in a trance or something, and I had to try to get through somehow.

She just sighed, put the wine glass down on the table, and stood up. “He said this day would come. That people wouldn’t understand our bond, our love, our special energy. Abby, I’m going to give you some time to calm down. Maybe you’ll see things differently in the morning.”

Amber walked toward the door and started putting her shoes on.

“Where are you going? You’re in your pajamas!”

“There are more important things…”

This was crazy. She was clearly brainwashed or hypnotized or something. Anger gave way to fear now. My sister was in danger, and it might even be too late. This guy had reached into her and stripped out the person I’ve known all my life, and left this weird… shell.

I leapt up off the couch, dropping my wineglass on the way, and slapped her in the face as hard as I could as she reached for the doorknob. She just looked at me with this distant, slightly pitying smile.

I screamed: “Wake up!”

She moved toward the door again. I blocked her, talking all the while: “Amber he’s messing with your head! Don’t you see? You’re throwing everything away for some guy! It doesn’t make any sense! Why are you…”

And then she shoved me. Hard. Harder than I knew she could. When I hit the floor I was a good five feet away, and pain shot down my leg and up through my hips and back. Never once in our entire lives did we ever hit or scratch or even push each other. Now she had just thrown me to the floor, and was looking at me with that same distant little smile as if she didn’t even care.

“See you around, sis,” she said.

Part of me was still in shock, and the other part was just too sore to move, so I just sat there on the floor and watched as she walked out the door. She had left her keys, her cell phone, her purse… just walked out in her PJs and shoes. What just happened?

After a minute I snapped out of it, pulled on some clothes, and went out to look for her. I limped around the dorm, a bruise swelling up along the back of my left thigh. She wasn’t in the common room or cafeteria, and I sort of assumed she had gone out somewhere to meet up with Chalk.

It was only then that it hit me: I had never known where Chalk lived. My sister was out there with some guy whose name I didn’t know, who had absolute control over her, and I had absolutely no idea where she was. Some sister I am.

The only thing I could do was go to the places I knew he tended to do his drawings, but I didn’t have much hope. It was dark out, and a light rain chilled me to the bone.

The tree was mostly washed away, but a ghostly hint of the design could still be made out. It looked more like some weird squid now, with hooks clamping around the benches and tentacles reaching out into the parking lot.

I checked the eastern wall of Building A, but they weren’t there either. As the chalk on the mural had started to run, the scene had transformed. What was once a bright and bustling cityscape on the left had turned brown and drab, with people’s faces on the sidewalk sagging and melting. Their eyes bulged from their faces and their mouths twisted into grimaces.

I almost turned away but then something occurred to me: chalk doesn’t really work that way. If it was running it would just fade and become blurry. This was different. It was as if the image was transforming into something else intentionally.

My gut churned with fear as I turned to examine the image more closely. The horror of what was being slowly revealed by the rain began to dawn on me now, and I realized that there was no possible way this was accidental. Whatever was happening, there was a dark design behind it. A purpose.

The cars were turning to rust, the windows breaking and sagging. One of the buildings near the middle had actually crumbled, and inside there were people screaming, stuck in the rubble, with arms and legs trapped and bleeding. Their expressions were so real and life-like, filled with agony and despair. I shivered against the cold and held myself, trying to convince myself that it was just a picture… but I couldn’t help but feel scared. This was just wrong.

The forest scene on the right side was the same: what was once a happy green scene with cute animals had turned dark and brown, with the leaves looking dead and rotten, branches standing out like bony fingers, and the animals all transformed. The deer was still standing, but parts of its flesh were gone revealing half the skull and several ribs. Its entrails were dragging behind several feet. What had once been a cute bunny was now a rotten corpse with little black specks over it… flies?

Suddenly, my sister’s cell phone rang in my pocket. I jumped, startled by the sound. I guess I had grabbed hers by accident when I left; we bought the same model. The call display said simply: “Chalk”.

My hands shook as I pressed the answer button. I held the phone to my ear and listened at first, hoping for some clue as to my sister’s whereabouts.

Amber’s voice said: “Western wall, sis.”

It was her! I felt a bit of relief and realized that a part of me had been dreading that something horrible had happened to her. “Amber you scared the shit out of me! Come home, OK? I’m sorry for the fight, we’ll figure it out, I love you just…”

“Western wall, sis.” It was exactly the same as last time. A bit muffled, with a slight hiss in the background as she spoke. It was like a recording.

The line went dead. Fear slammed through me with a shot of adrenaline, and I took off around Building A. Even now I can’t tell you what it was that scared me so much, but my heart was pounding in my chest and I knew with absolute certainty that something was wrong. I had to find her, now!

Running along the north wall was the longest run of my life. Rain pelted down on my aching bones and the bruising in my left leg gave me a crazy limp, slowing me down. Eventually I rounded the corner, expecting to see Amber or Chalk or both but… nothing. Nobody was there.

I walked forward, dragging my left foot a bit, shivering worse than ever. There was no sign of them, but after travelling a few feet I saw that a new chalk drawing had appeared on the wall.

It was our living room. My sister was still in the same pajamas I had just seen her in, and she was sitting on the couch with her head tilted to the side. Her stomach had been torn out, and was splattered across the floor at her feet.

Her expression was a combination of horror, pain, and confusion.

My stomach turned then, and I collapsed onto the sidewalk. I vomited up the wine from earlier and cried, knowing that this wasn’t just an image. I didn’t want to look anymore and just stared at the mess I had left, slowly being rinsed away by the rain.

Just then I heard a shuffling, and looked back up in the wall. A life-sized rendering of Chalk was now standing at the bottom of the frame, looking out at the world, smiling. His glasses were reflecting the light, hiding his eyes as usual. He had a large butcher knife in his right hand, and blood coated the knife and arm up to the elbow.

Next to him, I was standing with my right hand on his shoulder, my left hand held out in a beckoning gesture, and a smile on my face.

What was this? What did it mean? In my terror and pain I couldn’t make sense of it, but I did know one thing: I had to get back home. This could mean something. There might be a clue back at home about where my sister was… and whether she really was dead or alive.

I got home as best I could, every bone aching from the chill and the shock. I would change, call campus security, and convince them to help search for her.

When I walked in I closed the door behind me, tossed my keys on the table, and confirmed that my sister wasn’t gutted on our couch. I turned and the bedroom door opened. Chalk was standing in the doorway, smiling. He had the knife in his hand. It gleamed, like his glasses, reflecting light from a source I couldn’t quite see.

I was too terrified to move. My heart was pounding in my chest again. I stammered out: “Where’s Amber?”

He just smiled and stepped aside slightly. Then, much to my relief, Amber stepped out of the bedroom. She had changed into the same outfit I was wearing.

She had the same smile on her face as Chalk, the same one I had been wearing on the western wall of Building A. She turned away from me for a moment, took the knife from him, and pointed it at me. “Get your PJs and shoes on Abby. We’re going to make some art.”

Credit To – Sidney Crawlspace

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Roadkill

December 29, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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He liked to kill animals. It was a game he’d play during the longer drives. Jones wasn’t a bad guy entirely, he wasn’t particularly rotten, at least not to the core. He’d never kill a dog, for example, that would of course be wrong. Dogs were part of the family, they could be loved and they could love in return, no, dogs were like people – you couldn’t kill one, not even the smaller, louder, more opinionated ones, no matter how annoying. Cats? Well, cats were something of a middle ground. Jones had no doubt that they could be loved, but he wasn’t convinced that they could return that love. Not like a dog. A good dog would be loyal, but to Jones a good cat was one that just did its business outside. Cats would go where the food was, they’d never love their owners, not really. Martinez, one of Jones’ coworkers, reckoned that if a dog was as big as its master, it would still show love, but if a cat was as big as its owner, it would eat them. But they were still a pet, so he wouldn’t aim for them, but he wouldn’t brake for one either – that seemed fair.

Deer? He would avoid, but only because hitting one would wreck his car, and in its current state of disrepair such an impact would all but finish the old girl off. Most people seemed to consider deer to be cute like a cuddly toy, but to Jones they were vermin, along with every other untamed creature roaming around out there. Squirrels, frogs, mice, rats, hedgehogs, they were all fair game. Foxes? In his mind they were like dogs, but after one of them had been bold enough to wander into a house on the other side of the city, and gnawed off a baby’s finger before being chased away by a horrified mother, he decided that they were viable targets. Kids should be protected from those dirty, filthy beasts.

Jones worked for a small Chinese restaurant on the South-side of the city. ‘Satisfaction’ was the name of the place and despite sounding like an unconvincing massage parlour, it was well known for making some of the best Chinese food in the country; so much so in fact that customers would pay extra just to have it delivered to them from across the city, rather than ordering from somewhere local. And so, this was Jones’ lot in life: Driving back and forward down streets and lanes, and over bridges, both in rush hour when roads were crammed with sluggish traffic, and also when they were empty at night. Despite his flaws – and a university degree in politics which sat in proud frustration on his bedroom wall – he enjoyed the simplicity of his work and took at least a small amount of pride in doing it to the best of his abilities, ensuring that each evening between the hours of 5PM and Midnight, customers received their food promptly, before it would get cold. There are few things worse than a cold Chinese meal.

A driver, whether delivery or long haul, has to amuse themselves somehow, filling each journey with pastimes designed to rescue the mind from a fate worse than boredom; for Jones it wasn’t the radio or an audio-book which saved him from the jaws of monotony, no, it was his game – a nightly target to reach, to see just how many unsuspecting animals he could nail with the wheels of his car. The game had a simple scoring system: 1 point for a frog, 2 for a rat, 3 for a hedgehog, and 4 for a squirrel – once he even hit a badger which he decided was surely worth at least 5 points.

Of course during many shifts he scored 0 and then on others maybe a paltry 1 or 2, but on this night he was flying. He had managed to crush one hedgehog, a whole group of frogs in a single go, and a squirrel, although he acknowledged that the squirrel was already dying having been partially squashed by another vehicle, its back legs mushed into the ground, but with a subtle shift of the steering wheel Jones was sure to finish it off, claiming the points in the process; happy in the thought that his car – his ‘Old Girl’ – had added to her own grim tally for the night.

Despite his glee at the crunching sound and subtle vibrations of the old girl claiming a good number of prey in quick succession, there was an annoyance about the situation. He had just been a few minutes from finishing work, with his mind turning to the beers nesting in his fridge, when a regular customer put in a big order – at five to midnight! It was to be delivered to a suburb in the north of the city and, even with the roads deserted on a Monday night, it was still at least a thirty minute drive to get there. This meant that Jones would not be sitting on his worn red lazy-boy chugging a cold beer until at least half one in the morning. That was more than enough to put him into a foul mood, but despite the animosity burrowing inside, he did take his job seriously and knew that the delivery just had to be made.

After ten or so minutes of driving through the empty city streets, with the only sounds for company the grumbling engine of his rusting car, the Chinese food rustling away in their containers and bag on the passenger seat, and the occasional splash of rubber through oily puddles gathering quickly in the intermittent rain, Jones began to amuse himself once more with the game. Could he add to his tally for the evening? If he did it would surely be a personal best.

The old girl’s glistening tyres skipped across the wet road surface as she was guided by her faithful master onto Hope street. The irony of such a name was not lost on Jones, it might once have been a place for aspiring young families and of burgeoning industry, but now it was nothing more than a shell. Rows of multistory buildings blackened with grime flanked either side of the road, their windows boarded over with bruised and battered metal panels obscuring the empty spaces inside. The entire area would have been flattened, but the city simply didn’t have the money to do the job, nor fix the potholes on the surface of the streets which were causing havoc for the old girl’s already ailing and arthritic suspension. Indeed Jones would have avoided the place altogether if it didn’t shave ten minutes off of his journey.

The only people who frequented such concrete graveyards were the homeless, or drunks and drug-addicts, maybe an occasional group of kids who would manage to bend one of the metal shutters back far enough to slip inside to the darkness and mess around with whatever was left of the buildings’ skeleton inside. It was surprising that he had never heard of anyone being hurt in one of those eyesores, warned as visitors were of the dangers of the rot inside by occasional ‘Condemned’ signs, ironically themselves rusted and cracked as if the treacherous stagnancy of the place were contagious. But for these sporadic guests, the place felt dead.

Jones saw it only for the briefest of moments. It leapt across the abandoned road straight in front of the car. He didn’t have much time to react, but as his mind was already on his points tally, and being a seasoned pro at that sort of thing, with the deftest of touches to the steering wheel, the old girl responded quicker than her rusted body would have suggested possible, making sure both driver and car got the kill.

Bang on target.

It was quite clear that Jones and his weathered metallic accomplice had ended the animal’s life, as a loud squelch spat out into the night air. The car rose up and shuddered on the driver’s side slightly as the front wheel rolled over the body, before the rear wheel finished the job. The sound of bone crunching was louder than expected, and for a moment he was convinced he had heard what sounded like the animal shrieking – a high pitched shrill which cut through the quiet like nails on slate. Indeed, of all the tiny bodies his nightly drives had severed and broken, none had been accompanied by such violent protestations, no matter how brief.

Looking in the rear view mirror with a curious smile on his face, Jones was slightly disappointed that there was no evidence of the kill left behind. The car must have entirely eviscerated the carcass, that would have explained the loud screeching sound. Still, points were points and reaching a personal best was enough to make the late delivery worth it: But which points to award himself? He wasn’t entirely sure what he had hit as the animal seemed to leap up out from an open drain at the very last minute. The area was notorious for its rats, but even by those standards, that would have been the largest rat he’d every seen. A cat maybe? The more he thought about it, the more the size of the animal surprised him. Was it really that large? It certainly made an horrific noise as it was mangled by the hulking mass of his car, suggesting something bigger. After contemplating an appropriate scoring system for ‘unknown’, he settled on six points for something as big as a large cat – maybe larger – and congratulated himself on finally beating his score from the previous year. Perhaps a couple of whiskeys to accompany those beers in the fridge would be a suitable reward for such a grand achievement, it seemed only right to recognise the occasion. Life is full of little victories.

Navigating around the insidious holes in the road, turning into similarly vacant streets poking like veined branches through another web of crumbling and decrepit buildings, it was only after a few minutes that Jones first heard the noise – an intermittent clicking, grinding which grew louder with each corner and uneven dip in the road. He ignored it to begin with, not because he didn’t care about a malfunction of his car, but simply because it was hardly out of the ordinary. Barely a week would go by without something going wrong with the old girl; this had been the source of regular arguments between himself and his girlfriend a few weeks back, she wanted him to take it to the scrap heap or trade it in, so Jones did what was left to him – he traded the nagging pain in for a cute shop assistant on the West side of town. Less mileage too.

And so for a few subsequent vacant blocks he ignored the noise as best he could, but deep down he knew that sooner or later he’d have to attend to the issue. Killing his speed in the hope that pushing the vehicle a little less forcefully would somehow magically fix the problem; the old girl wearily pushed on. For a few minutes it seemed that being gentler had worked, soothing the rusted beast, but that hope vanished when the car turned onto a long straight avenue which pierced its way between the shells of three or four once prosperous factory buildings. Now he could feel the noise; something loose moving beneath. A scraping vibration sliding along the undercarriage of the car. Edging forward from the rear, it had dislodged itself from the back axle and was now below the seats behind, but still he tried to ignore it. Whatever it was that hung between the car and the road, he’d check as soon as he’d made the delivery.

Tiredness was setting in and the jubilation of his recent high score was now beginning to wain. He just hoped that the old girl could get him home, he didn’t really care about anything else and did not relish the thought of breaking down in such an isolated place. It was strange to think of remoteness in a city of hundreds of thousands of people going about their existence on a daily schedule which had to be kept, had to be followed religiously; sleeping, working, pointless. In any case the noise was probably just the remnants of his last kill caught on a loose piece of metal, swinging about and wiping its crushed insides over the undercarriage with each bump of the failing suspension or tired turn of the wheel. The previous year he had hit a hedgehog which somehow got caught on the underside of the car, its body sheered in half and stretched unnaturally long scuffing the road like skin on sandpaper. Yet in the back of his mind, he still felt this sound and worried that the scrapes and intermittent clicks were not the result of an eviscerated rat or cat battering against the ground and undercarriage, but something wrong with his pet instead, his old girl whom he had grown quite attached to.

As the car plodded down the long crumbling street, the noise continued to move further forward, slowly, almost meticulously. Jones strained his ears trying to ascertain its nature, he had always wanted to learn more about the workings of a car, but in the end had never bothered too, even though he used one daily and relied upon the old girl in fact. It could have been many things, but what troubled him most was not the presence of the noise but rather the nature of it. The sound moved, and as it did so a cold shiver washed over him, almost frightened by the thought of the jagged grating reaching the underside of the driver’s seat where he sat. Inch-by-inch metal scrapes and muffled clanks sounded as the problem swung and juddered with each and every concrete indiscretion. Closer, still closer. Finally, and with no small amount of aggravation, Jones decided to pull over and take a look at what was wrong; better setting his mind at ease than feeling that strange anxiety building inside for the rest of the journey.

The engine coughed a little and the body of the old girl shivered in the cold as she pulled in to the side of the road, straight in front of an old factory with bubbled and peeling white walls, a pair of once proud and looming front gates now broken, resting on the withered grass attached to the crumbling pavement, and its hundreds of windows either smashed or covered by weathered and cracked wooden panels.

He sat for a moment in the uncomfortable stillness of the car, a car which should have been moving, should have been going – stationary its very purpose held moot. The internal workings of the old girl bubbled slightly under the bonnet, not so much a purr as an aged breath filled with the phlegm and fluid of a failing biology. To him, this noise was comforting in a way as it seeped through from the engine to the dashboard. Yes, her breathing might have been difficult, but she was still alive dammit, and the sounds she produced were soothing like a child listening to a grandparent wheeze – yes, still alive.

As Jones listened to that mothering, familiar noise, he strained his ears slightly, wondering if the problem was perhaps worse than he had originally assumed. For as he sat there in the driver’s seat, a tapping, clicking, scraping sound began to emanate from the undercarriage once more. If he hadn’t known better he would have said that it was more like someone clinking their nails against metal, than of an actual mechanical problem, but that of course was a ridiculous thought. Yet there it continued. Tap, click, scrape. Then silence, the sound of the car’s troubled inhalations once more dominating the abandoned street. Tap, click, scrape. Again, it sounded, rhythmic almost. Tap, click, scrape.

By now, he was beginning to scare himself a little. He wasn’t normally one to entertain flights of fancy, but there was something about the entire situation which did not sit right with him. He had driven countless nights for years delivering food to customers, almost every inch of the city and even a couple of nearby towns had all witnessed the sight of Jones and his old girl chugging through the streets. Even that place, that forgotten, rotten part of the city which had at one time been host to prosperous neighbourhoods mixed with the huge sprawling factory buildings which kept the community thriving – even there he had driven through many times; hell, it was quicker to get to the north side this way, despite being eerily stagnant.

But things felt different sitting there; the steam rising from the front grill, the broken concrete and vacant shells which once homed or employed people – alive, yes alive people. The place felt emptier than he was used to, but not completely empty, not altogether vapid and lifeless.

Tap, click, scrape. Again, the noise of nail on metal, that tapping sound rang out – or was it a click? Jones began to doubt himself. For the briefest of seconds his attention shifted as he glanced to the side and thought of busy workers in blue overalls funnelling into that once shining factory; hammering, twisting, manipulating, creating – alive, yes, still alive – tapping walls searching for a hollow? A cavity? Or for something more concrete and solid; a place to drill.

Condensation began to collect in the car and as the windows steamed up, Jones rolled down his to take a breath of the fresh night air. But it wasn’t fresh, nor clean. A sewer must have been open in the street somewhere, a manhole cover removed, broken, or a drain backed up – the stench of the place reminded him of a rubbish dump he often drove past; the smell of rotting vegetables and decomposing things.

Tap, click, scrape. With the window down, he could hear the noise more clearly, and could better estimate its placement. Tap, click, scrape. Silence again, nothing. Jones wasn’t a mechanic, and knew little about cars and so jumped to a generic fault he was sure he had heard somewhere before – possibly on television or from someone more knowledgeable in such matters – an oil leak underneath, perhaps that would somehow cause the tapping, clicking, scraping noise; he barely had time to convince himself of that theory before it sounded once more. Tap, scrape. Only twice this time? No clicking? Maybe it’s getting better, Jones thought, trying to alleviate the sense of dread which was now clambering up his spine.

Then, a new noise. Something different. This time, it wasn’t a tap or a click, no, but it was familiar. He had once sat at the side of a motorway and watched curiously as a rescue service crew tried desperately to resuscitate a passenger who had been horribly injured in an accident. Jones felt sick, but it wasn’t the memory of that gruesome scene which caused him discomfort – he believed that it was probably the passenger’s own fault for getting into a car with an incompetent driver – no, it was the similarity between this sound and the one he had heard that day which caused him to shiver slightly and break out into a cold sweat.

It was the sound of something cutting through metal, and it was coming from under his seat; yet a far more sinister sound than that of a rescue crew cutting an already dead passenger out of a car wreck with a powered saw, for here the metal split and shrieked as something sliced through it, but there was no buzz of a revolving blade, no mechanical noise at all, there was only the sound of metal giving way to quick, sharp strikes.

No, no, this is crazy. It’s just the old girl again.

With a quick turn of the key in the ignition, the car fell silent with one last gasp of air. With that silence came the sound of the neighbourhood, poking its head intrusively through the open car window. A slight wind rattling a corrugated rooftop, building’s creaking under their own weight, and the occasional scamper of rat feet, the only indication that life still saw fit to call such a place ‘home’. But no tap, click, scrape. No sound of metal being clawed and sliced.

Letting out a long sigh of relief, he concluded that it must have been something wrong with the car as the noises ceased when he turned off the engine. He wasn’t keen on spending anymore time in that place than he had to, so he took a torch from his glove compartment and with a deep breath, opened the car door, stepping out onto the soaked and crumbled road.

The torch was a little cheap number he had bought from a local supermarket with a black handle and an orange head – no point coughing up money for an expensive one he’d hardly use. Still, as he stared up at the grimy white factory building in front, he was glad to have it. Many of the street lights were out, a few occasionally flickered, inspiring little confidence in their continual support, so having that meagre, flimsy torch provided at least a modicum of reassurance. The thought of being stuck in that street if the lights went out was not something which Jones wished to dwell on, but despite his hurry he could not help but turn his attention to the factory building itself. Old buildings creak, and rats take over any abandoned place, but a crazy thought now entered his head: What if the occasional scampering sounds were not rats at all, but something else? A plague of things running around the festering basement of that once busy place, sliding around in the dark, forgotten.

Jones shuddered momentarily before simultaneously laughing and chastising himself for being so easily frightened. It was an old building, simple as that. Times must have been hard a few decades earlier and businesses moved to better areas or just went bust. A place like that gets all kinds of things running around it. Normal, diseased, annoying vermin. That’s all. On a better night he and the old girl would have happily claimed them all as points for the scoreboard.

Taking another deep breath, he shone the light from the torch at the side of the car. He paused only for a second as the memory of that scraping and slicing of metal sound made him think twice about looking, but never mind that! There was food to deliver, and it would be getting cold. He’d be receiving a few complaints no doubt from his boss, but right now all that mattered was checking the underside of the old girl and getting her back on the road – at least for long enough to get the delivery done and then home. A mechanic could wait until the morning, well, as long as the car could drive.

Jones crouched down, resting his denim clad knees on the wet road surface, being careful not to tweak his left knee as it always gave him a bit of a pain when driving after a few hours. Hesitation took hold, but after listening for another moment and hearing nothing but the scampered pattering whispers of the old factory building’s rodent population, he quickly shone the light underneath.

Nothing.

Thank God.

There was nothing hanging down from the old girl that he could see, but a chill caught Jones’ off guard as he glimpsed what appeared to be the impression that something had been there. On the undercarriage, the oiled and muddied surface had been scarred. What looked like scratches where something had clung on to the car could be seen. Several at a time, seemingly climbing from the rear towards the front. He adjusted his torch once more.

What the hell is that?

Directly under the driver’s seat, a large incision, as if someone had taken a cutting tool and torn through the metal flooring, scarred the underside about a foot across. The cold, rotten air throbbed through Jones’ lungs as his breath grew anxious. The light from his torch shone through the slit and into the interior of the car, exactly beneath where he had been sitting.

Standing up abruptly, he stepped back away from the old girl, just enough to give him a feeling of safety. But safety from what? Okay, so there was a gash across the floor of his car, but that didn’t mean that something did it. Something, alive. No, it made much more sense that he had scuffed the undercarriage off of an unseen obstacle on the road. But wouldn’t he have heard it? Maybe, maybe not. It was late, he was tired so his attention could have been elsewhere. Or, it could have started out as a small crack and the strain of the old girl thumping along those pot holes could have been enough to stretch the gouge. Yes, this was increasingly likely. Jones calmed himself slowly, assuming that in his zeal to flatten a few local animals and beat his personal best score, he had just swerved over an uneven bit of road, a speed bump, or a rock. There was simply no way an animal could have done that, was there? No, surely not.

Looking down at his feet, the realisation present itself that he had taken quite a few steps back in his panic. Enough to take him over the threshold of the factory grounds, next to the gates, resting like two large cadavers forgotten by both family and friends, consumed by the dirt and soil. One day they wouldn’t even be visible, completely devoured by the ground, and yet once they had stood tall, strong and proud, welcoming industry into their embrace. He turned to the factory building with this thought. With enough time it too would be gone, its once shining white walls now cracked, bubbled and moss ridden – they too would be consumed. Claimed by the wind, the earth, the roots and weeds. But what if it had already been claimed, what if something took up residence there to be left alone, and you, you idiot, are standing on its property?

Another ridiculous thought, but a creeping feeling once again took hold, like someone watching from the windows, and for the briefest of seconds Jones was convinced that he had seen movement up on the fourth or fifth floor. Something which glanced past the window.

I wonder what they made in there?

It was time to move as Jones felt he had scared himself enough with his idiotic and juvenile contemplations – the product of a bored delivery takeaway driver – but the available choices were not too pleasant to him. Phone someone to come pick me up? That would involve waiting around for a while, and that was something he had no desire to do. Walk out of the place to a main road? He knew the area well and it was probably at least a twenty minute walk before he would be out of that forgotten neighbourhood; looking down the street at the other old factories and occasional residential buildings, they all spoke of things rummaging around at night. He just wanted to get out of there quickly. Going back to the car and driving out of there seemed the fairest option, but while Jones had tried to convince himself that there was nothing to those deep metallic scars other than a bump or two, their very nature still suggested to him deep down that something with purpose committed the violent offence.

The indefinite patter of scampering feet once more sounded from the factory building, and with the thought of a swelling mass of rodent tails and claws exploring the night, Jones stepped forward cautiously towards the car in hope more than anything else. Yet as he sat back down into the driver’s seat, a noise again grabbed his attention. He turned in its direction and saw, for the briefest of moments, a movement; but like the common phantoms which we all see from time to time out of the corner of our vision, the source of the movement was not present long enough to be identified. Overhead nearby a street light had flickered in tandem with the activity and all Jones could think of was green; dark, putrid green. That was the impression of it.

Fear was still present, but so to was curiosity. It was an animal, it must have been an animal. It couldn’t have been anything else. The factory looked on sternly, and Jones shuddered in response. This is ridiculous. Standing up once more, he exited the old girl. A subtle breeze blew threw the street, not carrying freshness, life; carrying with it a foul stench of rot. Then, a sound of wet. Something viscous and animated poured out from the rear of the car, receding quickly into the old girl’s shadow. Yes, he was convinced, there was something moving around back there.

The light from the torch quivered and Jones looked down at his hand doing likewise. Closer to the rear of the car he moved, and with the proximity, that wet sound continued. The street lights flickered and rattled again, but he did not register nor so much as contemplate their temper, for he was convinced that he had just seen the slightest flash of grey pallid green skin, bobbled and warted, retreat farther beneath the car. What was that? A rat? No, there was no suggestion of something warm blooded. Whatever it was gave off a cold impression.

Then, anger began to rise; he still discounted the possibility that an animal could have torn up his car floor so badly, but he knew one thing – whatever it was that he had hit, it wasn’t dead yet. A bang echoed out across the street from the factory building, a clatter of falling masonry, a broken floorboard, or an old pipe seizing up and giving in to an expanse of fetid water inside. Whatever it was Jones was in no hurry to find out, what he was in a hurry to do was expel that horrid animal from under his car, he’d crush its skull in with his cheap torch if he had to. He couldn’t have it scampering around under the older girl – he didn’t believe that it could have torn through metal, no he didn’t believe that at all, but for some reason he did believe it to be the reason for his impromptu stop in such a lonely, rotten piece of the city.

Yes, that little shit would pay, Jones considered that he might even give himself the extra points for dispensing with a horrid piece of roadkill so manually. Probably would be putting it out of its misery in any case. Slipping quietly this time onto his elbows and silently as possible lying flat on the ground, he didn’t want the thing to know his plan. While he was convinced vermin couldn’t love, he wasn’t so sure that they couldn’t think. Gripping the torch now like a club or sword, its beam shone under the car once more. He couldn’t understand it, again, there was no sight of an animal – none. The marks and gouges were still on the undercarriage, but no animal itself. Drawing in closer, Jones slowly pushed his head into the shadows underneath, his arm protruding forward to look behind the tyres. Nothing. Almost disappointed, he began to slide his head back out from under the car, only to be stopped. Frozen to the core. He knew now why he hadn’t seen the animal. It wasn’t under the car, it wasn’t hiding behind a tyre, no, it was curled up inside the wheel arch above where Jones’ head now sat. Sitting there, in the darkness of the curve above the tyre. Motionless, but as Jones saw it, not lifeless, no, it peered out through two front facing eyes with intent.

The torch was now by his side, still in his grasp, but he did not move it to take a look. He couldn’t entirely perceive what sort of animal it was. All he could see were two eyes, the impression of a mouth and nose. If he hadn’t known better he would have said that it was almost human, in fact it was very human, like the disfigured, dark green head of an old woman wedged between the tyre and the oiled metal of its shielding arch. But no, it was more than just a head, there was the suggestion of appendages, and it had squeezed the entire contents of its sagging body into that tight space like a coiled snake or rat in a drain pipe.

Yet Jones dared not move. For although it had shoved itself into that confined part of the old girl’s body, it was impossible to know its true size, or its true nature for that matter. It could have been harmless, but those eyes staring so fixedly, they did not feel harmless.

Suddenly it let out a noise. Low and almost Owl-like, a deep sound which resonated within its body, causing a reverberation which was accompanied by a wet, liquefied noise. A pause. A deep automatic inhalation, gasp of fear which channelled its way into Jones’ lungs. There they stayed for a moment of nothing, then slowly, a protrusion; a sharp piece of its body sneaking out of the darkness under that wheel arch, moving softly through the air. It hovered directly over Jones’ face hypnotically, pointed, dark-brown, tinged with a muddy, earthy smell. It took him a moment to comprehend what he was seeing, so close to his face was the sharp object that it blurred and drew his stare towards the centre of his nose like a child attempting to cross their eyes. It looked like a talon, resembling that of a bird of prey, but it was not a talon, nor was it a nail or a horn, it was something new, something unseen and unknown within the animal kingdom – at least to him. All Jones knew and was now sure of was that it had sliced its way through the metal of the old girl’s body, and that it could gut him like a fish.

Then a soft sound, almost calming. It was a vibration again, but it resembled a deep, gentle coo, or the satisfied purr of a cat, and although Jones’ intellect screamed for escape, his senses and his body slipped into an unanticipated relaxed state at the sound. He remembered sitting under the television as a child on a Sunday afternoon, watching an old B-movie wondering how they did the effects, with the rain crawling down the window outside, and his Granddad snoozing in his chair. A comforting memory, and that sound elicited it from deep within.

Two pieces of gelatinous flesh widened in the darkness, and from that human mouth stitched to that fluid body came a sound, a horrible, torturous howl, part animal, part human, and part something between. The talon sliced quickly and hooked into Jones’ cheek. He remembered once more as a child catching his forearm with a fish hook, its barbed curves pulling and ripping at the skin. The hook of the creature’s appendage had dug deep. Through flesh, and ligament, and into the muscle of his face. He struggled for a moment, blinding pain sheering through his body. Once more their eyes met, prey and predator, and then Jones spoke, sure that somehow it could understand, that he could compromise with that thing under the wheel arch. That a creature with the capacity for thinking resided there, certainly not something which could be loved nor love in return, but perhaps in that facsimile of a human face there was a thought or emotion which resembled compassion; all the while the hook, its cold, barbed structure buried deep within the muscle of the cheek, just above the jaw, its sharpened end grazing slightly against the bone underneath.

‘Please, no’ Jones whimpered.

The face within the darkness howled once more and with a jolt, blood spouted upwards into Jones left eye leaving him momentarily blinded. The talon was obscured within the wheel arch again, but not before taking its prey’s left cheek, muscle, ligament, flapping skin and all, with it.

Jones cried in agony, and rolled out from under the car as soon as he was released. Reaching up he felt a deep depression in his face, severed wiry anatomies which he could not name, and the hard abrasive texture of bone. Panic and horror shook him, part of his face was gone, torn from him by that thing under the wheel arch.

The back of the car began to shriek as the sound of metal ripped and severed echoed out across the empty street. The old girl shook violently, shuddering, convulsing as if being tortured by a powerful assailant. Lying with his back against the ground, dazed, Jones’ awareness focused once more at the familiar – but now terrifying – smell of petrol. It seeped out from under the car from a fatal wound, soaking his denims. The old girl bled out, now useless, her master now trapped in that horrible street with that beast.

The face appeared from under the car, its arms stretching out with limbs in peculiar places, contorted by an unnatural anatomy of doubled joints. As Jones held what was left of his face with his hand and turned to run, the wet and jerking yet quick movements of the creature’s appendages clobbered and clambered over the pavement in pursuit.

It was fast, too fast. And its size had easily tripled since sliding out from underneath the car, its awkward limbs attached to that hideous face thrusting forward awkwardly like a spider squeezing forth from its venomous hole. Liquid poured in through the large opening in Jones’ face and as he gasped for air he was met with the sickening metallic taste of his own blood. He dared not look back, but the beast drew closer, the sound of its slithering, contorting legs only out done by the anguished, pain-ridden howl which escaped from its mouth.

Jones stumbled, he clawed at the ground and as he steadied himself he realised where he was – at the door of that old, crumbling factory building, that place of scampering feet which once housed the busy human boiler suits and all, fixing, building, manipulating, making. But over the door lay an impenetrable wall of metal panelling. Thrusting his closed fists against the barrier, he pleaded – ‘Help’ through broken teeth and ruined jaw. ‘Please, help me!’ he yelled once more. But there was no answer, and why should there be? For that place was long a shell which the rodents had claimed for themselves.

Creaking, slithering sounds shook out from the fervent movements of the creature as it closed in. Then that noise, that comforting lullaby purred from the beast. For the briefest of seconds Jones was transported to a childhood memory, one where he stood over the dead body of his pet hamster which had died in the night. His father took its lifeless corpse from its cage and laughed as he shook it, mimicking an unusual ventriloquist act giving the little boy’s dead pet a sickening and comical voice.

Jones cried.

Tears streamed down his face, mixing with blood and saliva which still spewed from his jaw and cheek. The purring, soothing sound continued from behind. Turning to view his predator, it stood there, staring at him. Jones’ breaths were laboured and nervous, the cold air rushing through the hole in the side of his face, stinging deeply with each inhalation. Their eyes met once more. The face stared, letting out a painful gasp. With an abrupt burst of powerful strides, the creature tore across the overgrown grounds, leaping incredulously high with each movement, its talons raised.

Jones let out a whimper as the mangled mess of legs and arms chased towards him. Shards of light glistened on what seemed to be a body and head, its erratic movements whisking past strands of shadows which made it impossible to truly comprehend its anatomy. It howled and yelled and screamed in what approximated rage.

A forceful breeze covered everything in an invisible cloud of movement, rattling one of the panels which covered a window at the side of the door. It had been bent back, bent back! Escape, help, run! Jones now no longer accepted his fate, but rather saw something to hold on to, hope and the promise of life God dammit. Pulling himself to his feet with the palms of his hands against the blistered once-white walls of the factory building, the spindly viscous legs of his pursuer clambered and wriggled ever closer, but humans too can be nimble – Jones leapt for the ledge which housed the bent panel standing about 6 feet from the ground. He scrambled and struggled and hauled himself up as fast as he could. But the beast was upon him. A blinding pain shot through his body as a talon sliced into the heel of his foot, cutting into meat and nicking a tendon. Retracting with force, it retrieved a bulbous piece of flesh from its prey.

Wounded but freed from its barbed incision, Jones pulled at the flapping metal panel, losing his balance and falling inside in the process, into the darkness. Howls of derision and disgust bellowed from outside as he lay sprawled in agony on the floor. The ground was covered in a thick mixture of dust and powdered concrete. He coughed and spluttered as it invaded his lungs assisted by the cold still air of the place, deep within. Beams of light broke their way through fractures in the building’s shell, enough to allow his eyes to adapt to the darkness.

The sound of the tangled monstrosity outside climbing up onto the ledge sent a shudder of fear and dejection through his body once more. In a panicked fumble, he limped badly, knocking into a desk with a clatter. If he had the time he would have thought that it was strange that such a place should retain its old furniture and belongings, but a light shone brightly from one of the street lamps outside, as the creature pulled back the panel he had used, like tin foil, poking its bodied head with gaping mouth through the gap, howling at the sight of the human hobbling in agony.

Jones moved as quickly as he could, but in the panic a thought permeated through the fury and senseless mess of the situation: He could never outrun it. A wet thud slithered through the air as a contorted mangle of legs or arms, grappled to the floor, righting itself and then turning its body upwards in a strange convulsing, gelatinous movement. With a shriek it made for its prey moving violently over the desk, which once played host to a man or woman filling in a rota or paperwork before heading home to see their family.

Through a door, Jones found himself in another room, then another, each displaying the forgotten remnants of a bygone era – a chair where someone once sat, a cabinet which held files and papers and consignments, orders for the troops, a peg where a boiler suit, or a uniform of some description once hanged. Into another room, then down a short hallway, populated by a thick layer of dust. All the while the clambering pacing movements of his recent roadkill chasing nearby.

Closer and closer still it came as Jones threaded through the maze of rooms and hallways, his injured leg dragging painfully, desperate to keep up. Slamming a door shut behind him, he pulled a large metallic table onto its side, the pitter-patter of blood dripping from his face twinkling in the light, bouncing off the metal surface like rain. Heaving it quickly across the hallway, he forced it against the door. Then another table, a collection of chairs, and finally a rusted cabinet which housed the forgotten musings of the factory’s once deliberate foreman. In the slightest of pauses he dug deep into his denim pockets and produced a mobile phone. Its screen was shattered, most probably from the fall into the building. There was no hope of fixing it and with that loss came the realisation that he was truly on his own.

The tangled mess of man made objects quivered as the scuttling, many-legged creature pushed and howled against the makeshift barricade. With each effort Jones watched in exhausted, gasping horror as the door inched its way open piece by piece, with each crash of a mangled limb.

There wasn’t much time, soon it would be there. In the dim light, he looked desperately for a mode of escape. Nearby sat a sterile staircase leading up to another floor. He did not want to risk being trapped away from the ground, away from being able to escape that thing, but there was no where else to turn. With an echoing crash the cabinet fell to the floor as the door now opened wide enough for the creature to place one of its long legs through the gap, but was it a leg? Revulsion boiled in the pit of Jones stomach as what looked like a human hand began to claw at the obstructions on the other side, pulling them away to free its path.

Fight or flight. Jones took to the stair case. In any other situation he would have been reluctant to enter the darkened stairwell, but between the unknown and that creature, only madness would choose the pursuer.

Globules of sweat and blood congealed on the side of his face as he ascended the stairs. For the first time thoughts of just giving up entered his mind, and it occurred to him that he must have looked like one of those deer on a natural history programme, when they literally give in to the shock and horror of a painful death brought about by a brutal predator.

A crash rang out and a howl of derision sounded once more, the beast had broken through Jones’ hasty construction and was quickly making its way to the staircase. Finally, he reached the top of the stairs where there lay a broken door rotting on the ground. It had at one time sat proudly as the entrance to an office, but now lay torn and mangled on the floor, the brass nameplate which at one time would have carried the handle of someone of importance, now scarred and disfigured, unrecognisable even to those who must have known or a had a covenant with the place.

With little thought, he staggered gasping for air through the empty doorway. He stood in an office. In its centre lay a large, austere desk, accompanied by a torn green leather armchair. At the back of the room lay a second broken doorway which Jones viewed gratefully as another route of escape.

Even in his frantic state of mind, he could not help but notice the papers strewn across the floor, on the desk and pinned to the walls. They spoke of construction, of design, of strange diagrams and of processes and calculations, but they were meaningless to Jones as he struggled across the room dripping sweat and blood and fear on the notes below.

He could hear the creature climbing the stairs, but at last a piece of luck. With all of its unnatural appendages, it ascended slowly, much slower than Jones himself had – the old stairwell had bought him some time. Reaching the exit he found himself standing on a grated platform looking over what must have been the main factory hall, where all of the work would have been done and where no doubt the occupant of the office would have kept an eye on the workers below, observing sternly.

Surprised again at the sheer amount of machinery which had been left there to rust and erode with time, Jones began to descend a set of metal stairs which led back down onto the factory floor. Once on the ground, perhaps he could get away from that place, find a door or window which would allow for his escape? Maybe it would not follow?

Each step down the staircase was accompanied by shooting pains which seared up his body. It became clear that he had torn a muscle or ligament in his good leg while running, but still he had to push on and get away from his pursuer. Reaching the factory floor the collection of machinery around him now towered above. All manner of drills and tables and unfamiliar tools dripped fluids onto the floor, their once chattering movements and mechanisms now silent – a technological tomb best served as a museum for the wary. Clawed arms, thrusting pistons, glass chambers and a mess of tubes and pipes surrounded him. None of it made sense, their internal workings nor their purpose clear. Just what did they make there?

That now too familiar howl screamed from the platform above. That rippled, green and grey withered female face oozed out foul liquids from its approximation of a mouth, screaming in anger as it awkwardly, step by step, hand by hand, talon by talon made its way down the stairs. Jones scrambled in fear, staggering between the countless mechanical relics. The wound in his foot made it almost impossible to continue with any success. Tired, whimpering and utterly devoid of hope, he did as best he could to duck below a strange machine with two large armed pincers, hoping to be out of sight as he climbed under its manufactured protection.

It was as if the creature knew he was hiding. The howls of anger and hatred had ceased, replaced only by the sounds of its viscous multiple footsteps echoing throughout the factory hall. Scraping, tapping, clicking. The wait was torturous, and with every breath more blood oozed out from the hole in his face and the wound in his foot, the pain was becoming increasingly unbearable. Occasionally he would glimpse the creature’s double jointed strides clambering around the factory floor, its warted skin rubbing against the dust covered ground producing the sound of sandpaper on wood which turned Jones’ stomach.

Then with no warning, the noises ceased. Silence. Minutes past, and still there was little or no sound in the old factory building. Finally a wisp of vitality returned to his being once more at the thought of the creature having left. Anger at being hunted, frustration, pain at the thought of being hideously scarred for the rest of his life took him. His heart beat rapidly as he prepared to act.

He was going to escape dammit. And when he did, when he did! He would be back with an entire troop of pest control or animal control, or whatever was required. And he’d laugh, yes he’d laugh as they fumigated the place and hunted that disgusting beast down, letting its lungs fill with poisoned air or its stomach burn with arsenic placed in its food. Then a slow horrible, painful death. One which was so clearly deserved.

But first he had to escape, and had to take the opportunity presented by his pursuer’s absence. Uncurling his feet, Jones slowly rose up from underneath the strange pincered machine. Where was it? Where had that piece of vermin gone? But those thoughts diminished: Salvation presented itself. On the nearest wall lay a window, a beautiful boarded up forgotten window. Obscured from the outside world by a board which flutter in the night breeze. It cracked its wooden body against the worn building in defiance. Yes, it was free, attached only by a few rusted nails no doubt on the top of the window frame. If he could make it there, Jones would most definitely be able to get outside and hope that the creature had slunk off to its rancid little hole somewhere in the building.

It was only about 15 feet away, but with a dragging leg behind him, that seemed like an eternal distance. But nothing ventured nothing gained, and if Jones hadn’t been missing a chunk of his cheek, he would have smiled. Looking around one last time, he decided to make his move. Each hobbled step and dragged foot cut through the silence and he was sure that at any moment the beast would leap out at him. But the factory hall remained quiet. The machinery did not stir, nor did their watcher.

With a rush of excitement he finally reached the boarded window. Pushing at the panel it lifted quite easily and in fact gave the impression that it was ready to fall to the ground outside should a strong enough wind catch it. He sucked the cool night air into his lungs, staring out at the empty street ahead, and for the shortest of moments felt hope to be gone from that place.

Then a noise sounded. That sweet, calming purring which had brought back memories of home and of bad times and good. Turning cautiously to his side, a shaft of light streamed in from the street outside and illuminated what looked like a vice or pressing machine on the other side of the hall. There the beast cooed and purred softly, with motherly devotion. A mass of slithering and garbled sounds whispered from the darkness, quivering and huddling together; countless infantile versions of the creature from under the old girl.

It occurred to Jones that all along the beast was perhaps caring for its young, protecting them from the clanking and screeching of his own mechanical beast. Perhaps it could be loved and love in return. And for that moment, he felt no anger towards it; not hatred, not rage, just understanding.

Slipping out quietly between the panel and once-white paint of the factory building, Jones slowly but surely began to limp towards the old girl. He knew he’d probably have to struggle to the nearest pocket of civilisation to get help, but if there was any way that the old girl could still get him even one little piece closer to a hospital then he’d be grateful.

A thunderous bang sounded as the creature, that loving, caring, cooing mother or father, burst through the window panelled shell of the old factory building. Jones had no time to turn let alone react as the beast thrust one of its legged talons deep into the back joint of his right leg – the good leg. With one swift motion, Jones yelled and crumpled to the ground as the beast hooked his kneecap from inside and ripped it clean out through the back of his leg. Its arms and appendages battered away, piercing up and down its prey’s body like a typewriter, before moving off.

Jones lay there, the life bleeding out from him, watching in anguish as the creature scuttled over to the old girl still parked faithfully out front. As the street lamps flickered above, the dim light of Jones’ life slowly faded to a single point, soon to be extinguished. The last glimpse of the world for him, a mass of armed and legged things tearing apart the old girl piece by piece; taking the metal, frames, seats and wheels into darkened doorways nearby. The sound of clanking and manipulating and twisting rang out into the night, along with a final thought: I wonder what they make in there? A razored talon hovered above.

Jones body was discovered three months later by a group of kids who had decided to explore the area for fun, but also with a healthy hope of finding some scrap they could sell. His body had been consumed twice, once by the rats and then again by the earth, obscured as his remains were by weeds and roots and soil converting him into an empty shell, a forgotten grave not unlike the factory gates resting beside him.

His death remained unexplained due to the hideous condition of his body, but one thing was clear, his head was missing. This caused many arguments between two medical experts. One claimed that the head had been eaten by rats much like the rest of his body, but the other noted a clean strike to a neck bone, almost as if his head had been surgically removed.

Credit To – Michael Whitehouse

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Skinwalker

December 28, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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My father told me a story once. I’ll never forget it, for a few reasons. I think it’s the first story he ever told me, as a child. Its also the story of how my grandfather died. But honestly, that isn’t the reason.

You hear stories, on TV, or sometimes you over hear something in a public place. People talk about ghosts and aliens, and you think to yourself “that ain’t real. They’re making it up, or they’re mistaken, or they’re crazy.” or something like that. You just can’t believe it.

Until something happens. Something that brings it all together, connects the dots in a way you didn’t think of before. Maybe it happens to you, maybe you hear the same story again and again, happening to different people. It doesn’t take long for the world to become a lot bigger than you thought it was.

As I said, this is a story my father told me, but I never believed it, even though he swore up and down it was true. It wasn’t until I started clicking around the internet I started to believe. I started to hear other stories just like the one my father told me. It didn’t take me long to believe in The Rake.

That’s not what my father called it, of course. He’s never used the internet in his life, he wouldn’t know what the consensus has taken to naming it. When he chose to call it something other than “it” or “that thing” He called it “Skinwalker” after an old Cherokee tale his grandfather told him.

But I’ll tell you the story, the way he told it to me.

“We were out hunting one night.” he’d tell me. “Coyotes. We’d kill ‘em for fifty bucks a skin.” they lived on a dairy farm, in Ohio. “They’d kill calves sometimes. We’d do it every night, because we needed the money. Sometimes, while we were out, we’d come on a Deer, and kill it. Our landlord didn’t mind, and it could a feed our family for a few nights and save us some money.”

“Anyway, we were done making our rounds and heading home, walking, ’cause we didn’t have a car or some four-wheeler back then. We’d cut through the woods. That’s when we came up on it.”

“Blood, everywhere. Splattered on the trees, in the grass, in the creek, everywhere. At first, we figured it was a pack of Coyotes. We’d seen it sometimes, they can’t scavenge and start hunting Deer or cattle. The worst was when they breed with feral dogs. But this wasn’t like that.

See, when a pack of dogs, or wolves, or coyotes attack something, they do it right. They’ll pick off one that’s weak, or sick, or old, or just small. They’ll hunt it, draw it into a corner, some place it can’t get out off, and they’ll run it right to the biggest one, the Alpha. And that deer will never see that Alpha. It might hear it, but it won’t see it. It’ll just notice that it’s throat is gone, and then it’ll drop dead. Its quick, its clean. That wasn’t what happened here.”

“Something had run up on a den of deer. Coyotes won’t attack a den, wolves neither, because they’d get too much of a fight. There were three, I think, three bodies. Just torn apart. You’d see a head here, a leg here, a torso there. Predators don’t do that. They don’t leave behind scraps. What had done this hadn’t done it for food. It had done it for fun.”

“But we didn’t know that. We saw a bunch of carcasses and we think its something we gotta take care of. I remember my dad telling me to go home; he thought it was a pack of feral dogs.

But I wasn’t leaving him, and I damn sure wasn’t walking through two miles of woods alone, with nothing but a twenty two and a pocket knife.” he was only thirteen at the time, so a .22 rifle was about the only gun he could reliably use. “dad had the shotgun, and I wasn’t going anywhere without it.”

“It took me a while, to convince him, but finally we began tracking whatever did that. It wasn’t hard, either, we just followed the blood. Either that thing bleed a deer before it got away, or it dragged one for a mile. I don’t know. I know that I’d never seen my dad scared before that night.”

“We started hearing noises. I’ve been in a lot of woods, in my life, I’ve been all over the world, and ain’t never heard noises like I heard that night. I heard things screaming.”

“Heard deer, and fox, and rabbits and raccoons and birds, just scared. Keep in mind, this is maybe twelve, or one o’ clock. ‘cept the fox, and some birds, nothing was supposed to even be awake. But they weren’t just awake They were moving. I saw flocks of birds that night fly straight into trees just trying to get out of there. We came up on a pack of coyotes, nearly shot a couple thinking it was what we were looking for us, but then we saw they were running towards us. They ran right passed us, didn’t even notice.”

“Then some deer did the same. Then some rabbits, squirrels, foxes, even a couple wild hogs. These things were supposed to be eating each other and the only thing they cared about was getting out of there.”

“We should have put it together. That maybe whatever we were tracking, it wasn’t something we were supposed to see, and it wasn’t something we could kill. I don’t know why we didn’t just go home. I guess we were curious. I think that was my dads nature, to go toward trouble, to fight. And knowing what I knew about what my father did during the war, my nature was to stay close to him.”

“We finally get into an open valley. It was normally a soy field, but it wasn’t in season, so it was just flat dirt. We saw the tracks, then. A lot of the animals fleeing the forest had paved over the land. But where that deer blood was, nothing had taken a single step. Like they were leaving it for us to find.”

“The tracks were shallow. Whatever it was couldn’t have weighed more than one hundred pounds, but that didn’t mean much. A bobcat weighing forty pounds wet nearly tore out my damn throat, once. All that means is that its quick and hard to hit.”

“So we follow the tracks, and it doesn’t take us long to find where it is. There’s this old school house that sits on the top of a hill. Half of it had been ripped out by a tornado, but nobody lived there, not for a long time. We caught homeless people in there, sometimes, or druggies looking for a safe place to shoot up. We figured maybe that was it. Maybe it was some sick kid riding a high. But we didn’t think that for long.”

“We get within fifty yards, and we hear this noise. A screeching kinda sound. It was sort of made up of two different sounds. One was a high pitched screech, another was a low pitched growl. It was making both, at the same time.”

“We get within twenty yards, and we hear this sound. I can remember thinking that it sounded like paper being torn apart, while someone was swinging water in a bucket, back and forth.”

“Dad looks at me, kneels down, and whispers. I gotta stay behind him, ’cause we’re about to corner him. Any animal will fight when its cornered, specially when its a predator. But we can tell by the tracks that its just one. He tells me its probably a single, feral dog, probably rabid.”

“The plan is to sneak up on it while its eating, shoot it, and then keep shooting it ’till it don’t move anymore, then slit it’s throat. And if it gets to dad, It’s my job to shoot it or stab it to get it off him. So he walks up, and I’m right behind him, just a tad to his side, so I can see what it is. I wish to this day I hadn’t.”

“It was leaning over a carcass, tears off its flesh, and throws what it doesn’t nibble at aside. There’s blood all over the brick, glistening in the moonlight. It’s pale white. Human looking, but not quite human. It had arms and legs like a human, but it sat like a monkey, hunched over. And its hands weren’t normal; it had long fingers with claws at the end.”

“So we see that, and my dad hesitates. He wasn’t about to fire on a person. So he clears his throat, to try get it to turn around.”

“I swear to god, all the noise just ceased. I ain’t ever heard true silence before that, and not after it. But for two seconds, nothing, nothing, made any noise. Which made it all the louder when it turned around, made this shrill cry, and jumped on dad.”

“He got a shot off. I think he missed. If he hit the thing, it didn’t mind. But it was on him, tears parts of him off. I start shooting it with the twenty two, point blank, but it barely bled the thing. I got off five rounds, and then I started hitting it with the gun butt. But it wasn’t budging.”

“It didn’t even register that I was there.”

“It’s clawing at my dad, taking off bits of his flesh. It starts on his torso, ripping off the skin, his tit, then it moves up. It tore off his throat, it tore off his nose, his eyes, it scalped him. Then it started digging in, ripped off the bottom half of his jaw, the little bones and that tube in your neck, then his ribs.”

“I don’t exactly remember what happened, but somehow, my dads knife ends up in this things shoulder, and my dad ends up on my back. I’m running, and by god I’m running faster than I’d ever run before or after. And its following me. I end up back in the woods, opposite the ones we been in. I’m headin’ towards my landlords house, cause it’s half a mile away.”

“I can hear this thing, screeching and moaning. I hear these tree branches crack and get thrown around. It sounds like someone’s taking an ax to every single tree I pass, its cracking so loud and often, but I just ain’t looking back.”

“Finally, I trip into gravel. I look up and there’s my landlord and bunch of his buddies, drinking around a campfire. I scream and I cry, and they come over. I’m telling them to call an ambulance, and he looks at me, and I’ll never forget what he said.”

“‘What is that on your back?’ he asked me. Just as he said it, he saw. One of those godawful flannel shirts my dad wore everywhere. It was what was left of my dad. Most of his head, his torso, but nothing after the waist.”

“Suddenly we hear it. Screeching. He grabs me, my dad gets thrown on the ground. I’m fighting him, crying, cause I think we can still save him, somehow, but my dad had been gone ‘for I ever picked him up. He has to pick me up and throw me inside before I come with him.”

“He and his buddies, we’re all inside, and their locking doors, and getting guns. The landlord’s asking me ‘what happened?’ ‘what happened?’ but I just don’t know what to tell him. He pieced enough of it all together to understand that there was something dangerous there. All the lights in the house are on, and someone calls the cops. They’ll be there, but in fifteen minutes.”

“We look outside, and see it walk in front of the fire they’d made. Don’t know what it is, one of ‘em says it looks like an Ape. Suddenly, something goes through the window. We shoot at it, but ain’t the thing. Its my Landlord’s dog. Just the body, though. Not his head or legs.”

“We start pushing things in front of doors and windows, when we hear something the garage. I remember one of his friends sayin’ that the doors were open. We hear metal and glass just get ripped apart. We put a couch and a TV in front of the door to the garage.”

“It banged around some more, but then it got quiet. Not silent, like it was before. We could hear it move around some, and the guys were talking, making sure the guns were ready. Someone hands me a pistol. No sooner did I cock the hammer back did we hear something shatter upstairs. Then we heard it screech again. ‘cept now it was louder, and it didn’t echo and fade out. Because it was inside.”

“We all rushed to the one door leading upstairs, and we got to it just as that thing did. It opened it just a bit, and four or five men just slammed into it. It got its hand through. Someone with a shotgun took care of that. Put the barrel right up to its wrist and pulled the trigger. Cut its hand off, clean.”

“That only pissed it off, though. It started pushing on that door, clawing. We were on one side, pushing as best we could, and it was on the other, doing the same. That wood just wasn’t going to hold, so someone tells us to keep our heads down. Suddenly the top half of the door is just gone, my ears are ringing, and there are splinters everywhere. Two or three of them just unloaded on the top of that door.”

“I don’t really know where it went after that. The police got there. I was still glued to that door, what was left of it. The sun was up before they got me off it. They put me in a hospital for a while. A lot of people talked to me, but I didn’t talk back, not for a long, long time.”

“When I got back home, I got a job for the landlord, working on the farm. We didn’t talk much, not about the thing. But, I signed up for the army when I was nineteen, and he sat me down to drink some scotch as a send off. I asked him, right away, what the police told him. The story they went with was a wild animal, probably a wolf, or maybe a bear that had migrated north. I asked him how they could say that when they had the hand. He looks at me, stunned.”

“He tells me that hand never made it back to the station. The cop who had it in his car wrecked, drove into a tree, died on impact. The hand was never found, probably taken away by an animal. The cops, when they would acknowledge the hand existed at all, said it was simply the paw of a bear that looked like a human hand.”

“I never talked to the Landlord again. He went missing when I was in basic. Never found him. They said he owed some people some money and just ran away, but I don’t think its that simple. I never went back to those woods. I wouldn’t even if I had the whole goddamn US Army at my back.”

But that was a lie. When my mother died, I don’t think my father felt he had anything left, and that he might as well settle old scores. He went to those woods. He never came back. FBI was called, they did a show for everyone involved, but I knew they weren’t really looking. I had to get one drunk and slip him a few fifties before he finally told me that they get a few calls about those woods every year, about someone up and vanishing. But that was all he wanted to tell me. Before he got up and left with the rest of his team, he wrote “The Rake” onto a napkin. I didn’t know what I meant until I searched for it on the internet. Honestly, I would have rather not known.

Credit To – Max Minton

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The Man on Easter Island

December 27, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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It’s just a legend.

But…I suppose…that’s what most of those unbelievable things turn out to be…legends.

I heard this legend from my grandmother. I asked her about it when I saw her drawing the Easter Island heads on a piece of construction paper. Actually, when she found out that my dad never told it to me, she was a bit upset…I guess it’s family tradition. She even made me promise to tell it to my children. My grandma originally heard it from her mother, who heard it from her mother…well, you know how these things work. It goes back in my family for as long as anyone can remember. You see, if you trace back my family far enough, you’d never leave the United States. The earliest official records of my family say that we started in Hawaii, but according to my grandma, we actually started out on anisland in the southern Pacific Ocean: Easter Island (or, as my grandma ordered me to call it, Rapa Nui). That’s where this legend comes from—supposedly unaltered, exactly the way it was told centuries and centuries ago.

According to the legend, the people on Rapa Nui had always been in touch with the spirits. They had their ceremonies, they did their fair share of sacrifices, etc. Sure, these days the idea of sacrificing an animal to a god seems a bit crazy, but keep in mind that it was normal back then. It was all they knew; the civilization had worshiped the spirits that they believed walked among them since the dawn of time. (Well, actually, I should say “flew”…apparently, the spirits that my wise ancestors worshiped were actually giant, creator bird people. Not that I’m judging or anything.)

But then, after hundreds of years of the same traditions, the same ceremonial rituals, the same chants, the same animal sacrifices…something changed. The people started to see something. Every once in a while, someone would report seeing a man standing by them in the night. Occasionally, he stood at the edge of the forest and “watched” the people who dared to walk by alone. He could be seen in the shadows, in the water, in the trees, or even in the grass. Regardless of where he was or who saw him, though, he always looked the same. He was reportedly very tall and covered in wrinkly, dark grey skin. He had a long, almost rectangular head, but where his eyes should have been, he had two deep, smooth depressions surrounded by shadows. His giant nose was also rectangular, and the bridge sunk back into the shadows along with the eye sockets. His mouth, stretched into a long, dark frown, rested above a square chin. His arms were short compared to the rest of his body. They were nothing but stubs, but when he moved them, it seemed that he had at least 10 joints. (I asked my grandma if she meant like tentacles–she said no, because tentacles flow, and the man’s arms were rigid and stiff.) Apparently, he had two legs, like any human, but they curled up and contracted like a worm until they were inside him. He didn’t need legs, my grandma said, to be tall.

The first time somebody saw the man, the village thought he was insane. He talked nonstop about this man that only he could see. He tried to describe the mysterious figure and insisted that it was familiar to all of them, that they’d all seen it before, dozens of times. No one could understand the descriptions of the man, though. A week passed, and the man from the village saw the strange being (who, from now on, I will refer to as the Mo’ai) more and more frequently. But the more he tried to explain to his family what the Mo’ai looked like, the less they understood what he meant. Then, exactly a week after first seeing it, the man was found dead where he slept. The Rapa Nui people thought that their gods had struck him down for blasphemy, and they chose to never speak of him or the Mo’ai again. However, about two weeks later, another member of the village claimed to have seen the Mo’ai one night. She said that he didn’t watch her, but simply stood over her, staring straight forward into the darkness. However, she also mentioned how the man who saw it before was absolutely right–now that she saw it, she knew it. She had known its face, with its sunken eyes, its pointed nose, its bald, wrinkled head, and its eternally closed mouth. The villagers thought that she had gone mad as well, and ignored her as she described the Mo’ai to them. A week after she first saw it, she, too, was found dead. She had eaten a poisoned berry by mistake.

The people of Rapa Nui kept on seeing the Mo’ai, and everyone who saw it died seven nights later. It wasn’t like a plague, though. It wasn’t like the Mo’ai would appear to people, therefore condemning them to death. It seemed that those who saw it would have died anyway—it was more of a warning than a sentence. And each time someone saw it, they would realize that they knew its face like they knew the camp in which they lived, like it had always been there, and they just didn’t realize until they saw it. But the people who couldn’t see the Mo’ai swore that they had never seen anything like what those who could were describing before. But one thing about the clan’s attitude towards the Mo’ai did eventually change: the chief decided that it was an evil spirit who appeared to those who were to die.

One man who saw the Mo’ai got so frustrated that no one knew what it looked like that he decided to carve it out for his fellow villagers to see. He made it out of the tallest boulder he could find, and he carved the omen exactly as he saw it. But the Rapa Nui people, upon looking at the effigy, held that they had never seen the thing before. The man who carved the statue was so angry that he took one of the stone tools that he had used to carve the statue and sliced his throat open (at this point, I silently decided never to tell this story to my children). He ended his own life exactly one week after he first saw the Mo’ai.

Then, something terrible happened. I guess you could call it genocide, but it’s not like you’d expect. You see, the clan’s chief demanded to know what the Mo’ai really looked like. If everyone who saw the Mo’ai recognized it, then they should have recognized the statue, too. But they didn’t, so they needed another skilled carver to see the Mo’ai and make as many statues as he could. And here’s the terrible, genocide-ish part. The natives came up with an idea: everyone who knew how to carve stone was to kill themselves in a week. That was the plan. The plan was for the carvers to plan to kill themselves. Well, it worked, and they produced quite a few statues out of it. But by the time that the workers ended their lives, the chief looked upon the statues that had been produced and saw that they were all identical to the original. So he ordered more people to kill themselves. Not enough people volunteered, so he sought help from other clans on Rapa Nui. None of the others had heard of the strange Mo’ai creature that the messengers talked about, but after someone from the first tribe visited another tribe, then people from that new tribe began to see it too. Suddenly, it was an island-wide disaster, and every craftsman on Rapa Nui was ordered to be executed in seven days. It worked, and every craftsman began seeing the Mo’ai. They carved it into the boulders to prove what it looked like, but they were still almost exactly the same, and still no one knew the face.

My grandma said that the mass homicides and suicides went on for almost a year, until finally every chief, all at once, saw the Mo’ai. They realized that the people they had killed had really been carving the statues perfectly the entire time. They stopped ordering deaths of stone carvers, but that didn’t stop the uprising all across the island that took the life of every chief.

That’s where the legend part stops, I’m afraid. Because the people of the island stopped carving the statues after that, and a few hundred years later, the Europeans arrived. They were a bit surprised by the statues (which, by the way, had since been positioned along the shoreline in hopes of frightening away any more dark spirits). They figured that the statues of the Mo’ai were simply erected in honor of the Rapa Nui ancestors. It wasn’t until one of the settlers started seeing the Mo’ai that they realized what the statues were. They thought that the Rapa Nui natives had summoned the evil spirit by building the statues, and they tried tearing down them down. It obviously didn’t work.

I asked my grandma what happened next; I mean, obviously people who visited Rapa Nui didn’t still see the Mo’ai when they were about to die, did they? She told me that it only ever appeared to the people who currently lived on the island and to direct descendants of the original island natives. Visitors weren’t haunted by it. I asked her if I would see it when it was time for me to die, since she had just told me that I was a direct descendant of the Rapa Nui natives. She just smiled and laughed quietly as if I had just told a joke.

Then, I asked her why no one knew about this legend. I mean, if the Mo’ai still appeared to some people, don’t you think they’d want to tell someone? She told me that the locals know not to make a big deal out of it. The more they talk about the Mo’ai, the more often it appears to them. She said that some people went mad if they didn’t talk about it, though. Apparently, the fact that no one understands exactly how familiar the Mo’ai is until they see it is almost too frustrating to handle. Sometimes, it’s so unbearably maddening that its victims end up killing themselves (making me wonder exactly how true my statement about how the Mo’ai doesn’t condemn people to death by appearing to them really was). But people find their own ways to deal with it during their last week of life. Some people travel to Rapa Nui to see the ancient statues. Some people make their own mini sculptures of the creature. Some people simply draw the Mo’ai on paper, just to make it easier to deal with the stress.

My grandmother died four days later.
Credit To – Christopher Gideon

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