The Inventor

October 23, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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“The Inventor”

“Thank you kindly, sir,” I said, handing the coachman a dull silver shilling. “No need to wait for me.”

I stepped out onto a cobblestone terrace amidst a garden of long-withered flowers that lead to the mansion. I began a brisk walk, marveling at the grand house. A wrought-iron fence surrounded the premises. My eyes followed the long spikes pointed toward the heavens that spread a few inches apart, easily keeping any criminal at bay.

I pulled my pocket watch from my lapel. Still broken. I hoped I was on time.

Carefully, I continued my way down the path slicked with ice. Exquisite light fixtures shone in the late winter dusk, giving off an eerie bluish tint that seemed to emanate from beyond the house. A light made up of crystallized beads hung from the porch. Two marble canine statues, teeth bared, guarded the front door, a massive wooden structure the color of oxblood.

The yard, once immaculate with lush, green grass chopped to perfection, now was overgrown with brown, crackling weeds, almost hidden by the fresh dusting of snow. A red hue of swooping curtains peeked through each window, giving the crimson interior the warm look of a womb.

I looked back at the iron gate that opened automatically when the carriage approached. The gate,
with bars of endless curly-cue designs splayed out in whimsical fury, was now closed. I shivered silently, wondering if I had made the right choice in coming here.

Just as I finished my trek to the porch, the door opened immediately.

“Hello. You must be David,” a woman said in a warm yet distant tone.

I stepped onto a black and white-tiled floor as the woman led the way quickly through the entryway.

Directly in front of the door, a silver-haired portrait painting of a man with a furrowed brow hung in an unsettling attempt to make visitors feel welcome. I tucked my hands into my pants pockets, toying with my penknife. Several steps later, a giant chandelier gave light to the otherwise dark entryway, the light sparkling through diamond-like droplets and intricate designs etched into a crystal base.

Another woman, who I figured was the maid because of her black dress and white apron, came
from around the corner in the foyer. I caught a whiff of something burning, and I looked around the hall for a fallen candle. The first woman whispered something in the maid’s ear, and the maid started following us just as the first woman spoke to me again.

“Do you always travel alone?”

“I try to. It’s been my habit ever since I’ve started this kind of work,” I answered, trying to keep up with the woman’s long-legged pace as she lead me through the house. “It’s hard enough as it is trying to patent these inventors’ wacky ideas let alone test them out. Most of these inventions never work they way they’re supposed to.”

“Well, this will work the way it’s supposed to, I’m sure. Jack is in real need for someone, like you, to sit in on his new project,” she explained, looking blankly past me and into another room adjacent to the foyer.

“Could you tell me something about his project?” I asked.

“He was inspired by an American with an obsession for electricity.”

“Edison?”

“No,” she answered, stopping in front of a door.

We stepped into the dimly lit room, and the woman gestured toward the settee.

“Have a seat,” she said, before handing me a folded slip of paper. Then she whispered something to the maid and left the room.

The expressionless maid, duster in hand, walked to the other end of the room, straightened a picture that hung on the wall, and left me alone to wait.

Feeling the softness of the velvet, I nestled into the cushions to make myself more comfortable. I
unfolded the piece of paper. This must be the name of the invention, I thought.

I couldn’t seem to take in all the spender of the room in one glance. My eyes scanned the room
swathed in flame flickers from a wall sconce. A dark bookshelf showcased gold detailed book bindings and a pair of fighting lions carved from stone on the mantel above a large fireplace. The fire crackled soothingly, and I watched as the glowing, sizzling embers cast shadows on the walls.

I was especially drawn to a painting of a dramatic storm over the ocean. I could almost hear the water crash against the rocks and see the lightening strike undeserving palm trees.
A sudden wave of heat came over me. I leaned back into the cushions and shoved my hands back into my pockets.

“I am ready to see you now,” a deep, masculine voice announced from behind me. Just before I turned around, I removed my hands from my pants pockets and noticed inky, black smears from my penknife on my right hand. I quickly wiped the ink on my white button-down shirt, secured the buttons on my overcoat to mask my carelessness, placed both feet firmly on the floor, and stood.

“Electric Chair,” I read again before stuffing the slip of paper in my pocket.

Credit To – Lindsey Cox

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Snap Man

October 20, 2014 at 12:00 PM
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Nightmares.

I never really understood them because I never had them. This is why when I did, I was surprised. It was like all of the horrors of reality seeped into my brain with no way of getting out.

At first, I didn’t even know they were nightmares. I would be watching a man from a third perspective. I never saw his face because he was always turned away from me but from what I did see, he was handsome. He had straight black hair, about 6’2’’ and looked fairly toned. He was always wearing a black suit with a red tie and it was nice and sunny outside. The birds were chirping and there was a slight breeze. I would see him walking on the sidewalk trying to hail down a cab. Every time one would stop for him, everything became silence and turned dark – then there was a snap. I don’t know why but whenever I hear that, it sent a shiver down my spine. It’s not like anything else happens, just a snap.

Now this was a recurring dream, happening about once or twice a week. Each dream was almost exactly the same. The only difference was that a different cab would pull up… and the snap would grow a little louder. A few weeks of continuously having this dream went by. I was in bed one night, thinking if I would have “the dream” again. The low hum of my fish tank kept me awake for a little while until I slowly drifted to sleep. The first thing I saw was the man. The dream carried out like usual. Almost. Everything played up perfectly but it seemed the man was walking towards me instead of away like he usually did. Despite the fact that he was facing my direction, I couldn’t actually see his face. There was an oddly placed shadow that surrounded it like a mask.

A yellow cab pulled up from the distance, he stepped inside and it got dark. There was silence. It was the sort of unnerving silence that you get right before something bad was going to happen. It was like the calm before a terrible storm. Nothing happened. I waited and waited but all I saw was darkness and all I could hear was empty silence. Some time went by until I finally heard the snap. Or was it? It sounded more like knocking… and it was getting more frequent. I woke up when the doorbell rang. Turning over to look at the time, it read 4:57. “What can someone possibly want at this time of night?” I asked to myself.

After quickly pulling on a pair of track pants and a t shirt, I cautiously headed down the stairs. There was a small stream of light flowing through the frosted window on the front door from a dim streetlamp outside. The light reflected onto the floor illuminating the hallway. After getting downstairs, I felt the coolness of the tiles under my bare feet. I got to the door but didn’t see anybody. Whoever it was must have left. I turned back around to go upstairs when something got my attention – I couldn’t see the top. It was as if someone put up a black blanket ending just above the last step. I shrugged it off assuming it was my grogginess getting the better me. However, I was wrong. Halfway up the stairs, I noticed I no longer making any progress. I would walk up one step, then the next, but never actually moved forward. It was as if the stairs expanded infinitely into nothingness. Then I heard the snap. I slowly turned around and saw the shadow of the handsome man in my dream. There was only one problem though…

His head was snapped upside-down. His eyes were just shells in a pitch black socket with a crimson liquid dripping from the bottom. He also razor sharp teeth, dripping with his saliva. I turned back around and began sprinting up the stairs, still without making progress. I heard him dragging his body up behind me which made me sprint harder. However, whatever blackness was at the top of the stairs prevented me from getting there. I heard him get closer and closer until I felt a tap on my back that sent me into a panic. Quickly spinning around, I was surprised to see nothing there. I must have been daydreaming. One thing caught my eye though. There was what looked like a note taped to the outside of the front door window. Recalling what just happened, I didn’t remember the note being there. Silently walking back down the stairs, I headed towards this note. I looked around to see if once again, anyone was there. Nothing.

I slowly reached for the handle which was ice cold when I touched it and unlocked the door. Now outside, I felt the cool fall breeze upon my unprotected arms. I grabbed the note from the door and looked at the paper. It was crumpled up and the writing looked like a 4 year old wrote it. “Look up” were the only two words scribbled on it. My face turned white. When I lifted my head up, the door slammed shut locking me outside. Rising up from the bottom of the door was the man in the suit. He looked exactly the way he did when I saw him on the stairs. Slowly lifting up his hand, he waved, taunting me. He then turned around and walked towards the stairs. Realizing what he was about to do, I screamed.

I don’t think I ever screamed that loud before. I screamed until my face turned red – but nothing. It was silent. All I could hear was the rustle of leaves that were scattered all over the ground. I tried to turn the handle – it was still locked. After slamming the note back on the door, I turned my back against it and began to sob. Whatever nightmare I was in, I wanted out. Then I heard it.

Snap.

Snap.

I tried for the door once again. This time, it opened with ease. After opening it, I felt everything get colder. That didn’t make sense though – it was much colder outside than it was inside. Pushing the thought out of my mind, I ran upstairs towards my parent’s room. When I reached it, the door was open. I knocked on it but got no response.

I didn’t know what to expect when I walked into the bedroom. It was too dark to see anything and conveniently enough, the lights are right next to the bed. I walked towards the bed and saw the silhouette of two people in awkward positions lying on the bed. Both of them. Both my parents. How, how could he have done this to them. Their heads, barely visible in the darkness, were snapped upside-down. Their eyes were just shells in a pitch black socket. They both had razor sharp teeth, dripping with their saliva. All around the bed were dark stains. I knew what they were but I tried not to think about it. My dad made a small gurgling sound. I couldn’t handle it anymore. Darkness consumed me as I fell to the ground and passed out.

I woke up in bed. Looking around, I was relieved to see it was just a sick, twisted dream. It was 7:54. I put on my school clothes and headed downstairs to have some breakfast. While I sat down eating at the dimly lit table, I realized my parents weren’t up yet. I shrugged it off remembering that they both worked late last night. After breakfast, I got all my books and headed down the hall. While walking, I noticed something up ahead that made me stop dead in my tracks.

There was a crumpled note, taped to the outside of the door.

Credit To – ItzaMeLuigi

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Iquarus

October 19, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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I don’t know how to start my story but I guess I’ll begin with the basic information and work my way down.

I used to be a computer junkie, so I tended to spend a lot of time surfing the web… reading blogs, articles… Facebook… the whole nine yards.
But my main focus was gaming. I loved to game. World of War Craft. League of Legends… Diablo III. ESO. I could go on. I’d spend most of my time playing games when I wasn’t at work, which was just contracting work that my dad helped me find to get me out of the house. I always caught myself wondering if I’d ever break out of my borderline lethal addiction to do something with my life that actually mattered to other people, mostly because I just wanted everyone to piss off and mind their own business. My sister would say “I don’t understand how you can spend so much time on something with no actual rewarding outcome besides a couple of measly points and theoretical money.” I didn’t let that bother me though.

It was more than that. I like the graphic satisfaction of being something I’m not. Having ultimate power over actual people who are just disguised as creatures, but who are trying just as hard as I am and not getting anywhere near as close to my greatness. It was real to me. And I loved every minute of it.

I never thought that one day I would throw my computer away. And not just throw it away. Throw it so hard into the dumpster, it shattered, sparked, and caused it to catch fire. Just thinking about it brings me anxiety. I trust right now my once very expensive, custom designed computer is sitting somewhere, destroyed in a landfill collecting trash scum. Good.

A few months back, I upgraded my system. I had just downloaded a new MMORPG game and I had to buy an entirely separate processor because I had modified my game so much (plus I have multiple games on my system). I’ll admit right here and now: I had done some dark things to get my computer to where it was then. Nothing evil or inhumane. Just illegal. Okay?

Normally having several games will slow your game system down dramatically but I wasn’t having that. I had spent all my hard earned money modifying my system so I could continue to rein power over all the n00bs and wanna-bes. I was king. I was to have the best system. Slow wasn’t an option. I named my system “Iquarus” because it was my favorite name. It was an older name, and it was ironic to have a modern system with an old name. It was always in my username too for my games. Granted I almost never got just “Iquarus” for my username so it was usually like “Iquarus32049812” or “IquarusKingOfLands” or something like that.

My best friend Joel and I played together all the time. We were both ranked up pretty high, and were competing for a chance to play for actual money in a tournament. And a lot of money too. So naturally, we spent so much playing that eventually people began to worry about us. We were obsessed. Hooked. The computer was our drug. Thank God we weren’t using anything stronger than coffee.

One day I was in the middle of a battle I had been going at for about an hour and a half. I was doing so well, I almost had it beat, when a black spot appeared on the screen. It was like a giant pixel that decided to block the way of my health and points. At first I assumed it was a little glitch. But it wouldn’t go away. I swore heavily at the spot, ignoring it best I could until eventually I lost the battle because it was in the way of site. I heard Joel swearing too. He was on my team, and we’d just lost an important battle that could place us in the finals. “The fuck happened, dude?” He asked with a pissed off tone.
“God damn glitch. I have to get Iquarus looked at.”

I called Geek Squad and had them take a look at Iquarus. “Well,” the tech said, “your system is overheating. When’s the last time you turned it off?”
I looked away with slight shame. “Well… probably 2 or 3 weeks.”
The guy laughed. “Gotta give her a rest kid. You could ruin this beautiful thing if you don’t turn it off once in a while.” He was right. He said sometimes the screen can get damaged if overheating occurs but it should go away in time.

The next day I turned the computer back on. The spot was still there. I felt myself get angry. That geek better be right…. I thought, I paid him $100 to give her a good look.

But the spot never vanished. It stayed there. In fact, the following day, it seemed to get bigger. Only by a few millimeters, but it was noticeable. Fuck it, I thought, and logged into my game. I wasn’t about to let a little pixel ruin my chances of winning a couple thousand bucks.

When I was on team speak, Joel gave a huge sigh. “Dude… we’re never going to make it into the finals. We might as well give it up.” I was offended by his tone. The only reason we’d lost was because of me and this stupid fucking spot. I wanted to win some money for being the best god damn game king to exist. “No,” I said angrily, “we’re going to win this thing. Come on, man.”
We began battle. We were kicking ass. We almost had the fuckers beat again. Then the spot began to flicker. But not like you’re probably thinking. The best way to describe this flicker is a slow every 3 seconds flicker… then once a second… then once a minute. Then switching between dark red…black…white…then almost like a blinding, glowing red.

I thought I was going to lose my mind. My brain was flooded with hate thoughts towards the computer company. That’s when I heard Joel say “Fucking mother fucking screen is messed up!” I guess Joel was experiencing some screen trouble too.
“Your screen’s got issues too, man?” I asked suddenly, glad I was no longer the reason of failure. “You Failed!” Appeared on the screen and I overheard glass break on Joel’s end. My guess was he’d thrown some kind of cup or bowl in a burst rage. I turned away from the computer and put my hands through my hair. Damn it was greasy. It must have been at least a week since I’d showered.

“Fuck this game, dude. My computer can’t handle the graphics and the pace of the programing is just too much.” He said, sounding like he was moments from going mad. “Let’s try a different game.” I grunted in approval then turned and looked at the screen. I leaned in closer because I wasn’t sure if I was seeing it correctly but sure enough I was. The spot had multiplied. Like chicken pox or poison ivy. It was spreading. I decided to ignore it, hoping it was some temporary glitching. I removed some other software games in hopes this would stop.

For the next few days I switched to another game and played with Joel a few hours a day. But Joel was slowly starting to distance himself from the computer. Since we lived a few towns away from each other, it was our only contact until school started up again. So naturally I was missing his presence in the games we played together. I called him one night after shutting Iquarus off and noticed his voice was dreary.
“I can’t sleep dude…” he said with a troubling tone, “I wanted to win that game. It’s haunting me. I can’t get over it.” I sighed.
“I wish the game wasn’t so lame that it was messing with my computer.” Joel stopped breathing.

“The game messed with Iquarus? Are you sure? Isn’t Iquarus like… top of the line hardware? Even…sort of illegally?” I laughed. “Yeah. But sometimes computers just can’t handle everything no matter how fancy or expensive they are.” Joel laughed. “Okay.”

Joel decided to take a bus over to my place the following weekend. He was obsessed with finding a way to play the game and wanted to figure out why my computer specifically was rejecting it. He couldn’t seem to believe that my computer would reject it.

I was worried about him though. Something wasn’t right with him. He’d claimed to be having dreams about being in the game and killing everyone gruesomely in his path so he could just win. His face was pale. His eyes were dilated. He smelled pretty bad. He wasn’t doing well. I was glad he’d decided to come over so we could spend real time together instead of obsess over this stupid game.

I’d mentioned that I hadn’t turned Iquarus on for a few days. He was thrilled about this. He begged me to turn it on since maybe that would make all the difference and maybe we could even get it up and running again. This made his eyes brighten and his face regain some color. I didn’t want to do this but if it would cheer him up, I was more than happy to give it a whirl.
When Iquarus turned on, though, the both of us had the same blood draining reaction to the computer screen. The spots had multiplied into a bizarre shape. It looked like some sort of evil pagan look a-like symbol. It gave me the chills, because the last time I’d seen it, it was only a few dots. Now it almost entirely covered the bottom half of the screen and was too obscure to shake off as a glitch. “The fuck…” I said trying to click around. When I clicked, the computer made an awful, pitchy noise but also sounded like when something electronic is malfunctioning… low pitched and almost like a whine.

My stomach turned so badly I took my hand off the mouse. The moment that sound started, Joel jumped up and fell backwards over his chair. He began to hyper ventilate and sweat profusely. I looked over at him in shock and stood up as well. “Wow…Joel are you okay?” He shook his head and I could see tears in his eyes. “Not you too… not you too…” he said over and over. I stared blankly at him for a moment and started to reach out for him but he stood up and ran out the door. “Joel wait!” I called after him but he didn’t respond. I scampered over to the window and watched him race off towards the bus stop.

When he stopped to wait for the bus, I saw him talking to himself. Occasionally he slapped his head a few times and shook while looking around suspiciously as if there were people watching him. I don’t know if it was Iquarus that had scared him but something suddenly drove him mad. I stood there for a moment and zoned out from the bizarre nature of what I had just witnessed. I wondered if I should call his dad or if maybe he was just having an episode. It was very bizarre and quite disturbing to witness.

I had begun to forget about Iquarus until she started making that terrible sound again. And it wouldn’t stop. It was continuing without reason. I tried to turn the computer off but it didn’t seem to want to shut up. In fact, trying to turn her off made the sound even worse. I even pulled the plug out but it wouldn’t stop. My dad came into the room and asked me if I was smoking cigarettes in my room again. (I had once made the smoke detector make a similar, less creepy sound by trying to unplug it when I was going through my pack-a-day phase my freshman year of high school).
I showed him the computer and he said the sound would probably die after some time, like the smoke detector. So I threw a blanket over Iquarus, put on some sound blocking head phones and fell asleep. Before falling asleep, I had texted Joel, telling him to call me when he had a chance, and that I hoped he was all right.
I woke early morning to a red glow from Iquarus. At first I thought I was dreaming until the sound was faintly resonating throughout the room. The symbol was slowly pixelating from black to red and it was flashing. It could see the shape perfectly from beneath the blanket. It was beginning to really freak me out. I pulled my blankets over my head and tried to think of something else. But I couldn’t fall asleep. It was terrifying.

Not even an hour later, I received a phone call. It was my dad, who was an EMT for the county.

“Hey sport,” he said, there was a really dim tone in his voice, “did I wake you?”

I got out of bed, shielding my eyes from the red glow, and walked out of the room downstairs to grab some milk from the fridge. “No. No I’m awake. What’s going on dad?”

He sighed heavily and cleared his throat. “I received a call this morning… to 55 Lake Drive…” At first I didn’t recognize the address.
“I didn’t realize where I was headed till I got there. It’s Joel’s house.” My stomach turned a knot. I almost hung up on him because I knew what was coming next. “We think… Joel committed suicide..” I dropped the phone and thought maybe I was going to pass out. I had just seen him. Not 24 hours ago. I heard my dad’s voice shouting so I quickly picked it back up. I’ll admit.. I’m a guy, and I have some pride. But I couldn’t refrain from the tears and shouting. “You’re out of your fucking mind, dad! Joel was a happy kid, he’d never do that! He’d never do that!” saliva and mucus drained from my nose and mouth. “I’m sorry kiddo. He was a good kid.” I hung up the phone and sat at the kitchen table for a long time. Crying. Thinking. Wondering. How could he do that? How could he kill himself? He couldn’t have. Then I wondered how he’d done it. When? He would have told me things. We were close. Best friends since first grade. The fuck Joel?

Dad didn’t come home for a few hours. I was still sitting at the table when he walked through the door. My face was swollen with misery. Joel was my only best friend. I had other friends but none like Joel. He was cool. We had so much in common. Dad sat down at the table and looked at me. “I kow you’re probably taking this harder than ever…but… there’s an investigation going. The sheriff is on his way over to speak with you,” he said sternly. I felt myself make a confused gesture with my eyebrows. “The sheriff? Thought it was a suicide?” I said shakily. “Well… they think there could be some other factors that you personally may know about.” I angrily put my hands in the air. “Like fucking what?!” I shouted, assuming they thought maybe I had something to do with it directly. My dad slammed his hand down on the table.

“You listen to me,” he said, eyes so solidly gazing into mine, it made the hairs on my neck stand up, “You just better calm your ass down. I know this is hard. I know. I saw the poor kid’s dead body, you hear? Now when the police are involved, it don’t matter what they’re trying to get outta you, you tell them everything you know, you understand?” I stared blankly at him and looked away. “Yes, Sir.”

Around 12 the police arrived at my house. The Sheriff made quite the entrance, if you know what I mean. Smacking on a piece of gum, keys jangling with every step his clunky boots made. Mustache right out of a Dirty Harry film. He tilted his sun glasses down and nodded his head towards me. “You must be Damon.” I nervously nodded and put my hands together. “Yes, Sir.” He whipped out a file from seemingly nowhere and sat down across the table from me. He opened the file and removed his glasses.
“You were close to Joel, yes?” He asked. I nodded. “He was my best friend.” He grunted.

“When is the last time you saw him?” I looked right at him and leaned forward. “Yesterday, Sir.” He gave me a questionable look. He was going to try to intimidate me, and it was insulting. I tilted my head to the side. I knew he was going to drag this out and quite frankly, I was in no mood to be fucked around with. “You gunna cut to the chase or we gunna pussy foot around all day?” I said with a cold tone, waiting for the interrogation to begin.

“Damon, you watch your fuckin tone young man-“ Dad began but the Sheriff silenced him with a gesture of his hand.
“It’s alright, Dan, if he wants to be treated like an adult, I’ll respect that.” He said tossing a series of photos onto the table. “Your friend brutally murdered himself in his bedroom at what we believe to be around two in the am.” My heart almost stopped at the sight of the photos. Red. Bloody. Terrible. Horrifying.

The Sheriff stabbed a fat finger onto the one of Joel’s bloody face. “He stabbed himself in the eyes, the ears, and finally, the throat. He bled out within the hour.” He said with a strong southern accent. “We understand he was having some anxiety towards his obsessive computer use. Know anything about that?” I held back my tears as long as my manhood would let me, but it was only so long before the lump in my throat became so painful my voice was unbearable.
“He was upset about not being able to win a tournament. But I didn’t know how obsessed he was. Not to this extent.” My tears couldn’t be held back. I felt them fall and then winced when I realized they had fallen onto one of the photos. I looked down at the photo and felt my face go white when I realized I was staring at the same evil black pattern that my computer had displayed this morning. “You done look like you seen a ghost young man, that photo mean anything to you?” I picked it up and stared at the blood spattered computer. The pattern was the same. Half red. Resembling an evil, demonic spiraled symbol of some kind.
“Was there a sound?” I said staring at the photo. The Sheriff uneasily snagged the photo from me. “What do you know of the sound?” My dad and I stared at each other for a moment then parted gazes. I turned to the Sheriff and tried to make logical sense of this. I lied and told them Joel had mentioned it to me. I told them I was convinced it was some sort of potentially untraceable hacker, and that Joel was just obsessed with his game that perhaps he was slowly developing a mental illness. So when the virus spread into the only thing that was making his life worth living to him, he lost his mind.

I’ll never forget that night Joel came over and saw the same image on my screen. I wanted to mention it but instead, I kept it to myself.
Dad suggested I get rid of Iquarus. So I did. I threw her in the dumpster and watched her catch fire, slowly burning in her evil aura from hell. With a sound so awful you’ll want to go deaf. A sight so horrible you’ll want to go blind. A presence so dark, who knows what you’ll do with yourself.
I couldn’t bring myself to post this online, I’m too afraid I will attract whatever it was again, so I forwarded this to a friend to repost. I will end by saying this: Demon. Hacker. Virus. Whatever it was. It may still be out there. Please be careful. Rest in Peace Joel.
-Damon

Credit To – Damon

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What A Beautiful Soul

October 13, 2014 at 12:00 PM
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I fought to breathe, swinging my arms in a windmill-like pattern while slowly feeling myself slipping out of consciousness. The room had been spinning for what felt like an hour. Gravity seemed to weigh a ton and then some. I managed to unravel the hand that clenched my throat so firmly, so spitefully, and so intentionally, allowing myself one last gulp of air before I braced for the blow that knocked me out cold —

“Meow!” Rolling over, I managed to fall on top of my hostile cat, Felix, in the soft rolls of my duvet, which in turn resulted in a loud shriek that pierced the walls and windows of my crippled two-story apartment accompanied with a minor scratch across the nose. Batting Felix to the floor, I nustled into my pillow for a brief moment more.

If you could park a house, mine would surely come with a handicap sticker. Peeling paint, warping floorboards, broken faucets, clogged drains — there wasn’t much beauty left in the establishment. I’d lived here for no more than a year and it was clear that the previous resident took no pride in their living quarters. Dust had clumped, rust accumulated, and strange residue dripped from the ceiling in the basement.

I opened my eyes (barely) and with a great deal of effort managed to shift my weight from the spring mattress to my pathetic excuse for legs. Shuffling across the soft, carpeted floor, I started heading for the staircase. Flailing for the handrail to find my balance, slowly I descended to the first level.

The wooden platform at the bottom of the steps was cold on my bare feet. I performed a dance of sorts in order to keep my feet off the icy slate. Hopping and skipping in a strange fashion, I made my way to the coffee pot and brewed a fresh batch, I knew I needed something to stimulate my senses for the next hour or so without throwing me into some ridiculous caffeine overdrive. Coffee never did a whole lot for me, but it was enough to keep my Mondays rolling at six in the morning.

However, today was not Monday. It was Saturday. A day meant for relaxation, potential yard work, and my favorite pastime, meditation.

Meditation isn’t exactly what they glorify it as in strange movies about 80’s kungfu techniques, at least, not the form that I practice. No — what I do requires immense concentration. A silent mind with complete attention to your surroundings all the time. I practice this about an hour after waking up every weekend, and I could only feel myself getting stronger with each attempt that I made. Subconsciously, I felt empowered by my actions. Consciously, I was terrified.

My process was pretty simple. I’d start by laying on my back, arms rested to my sides. One pillow for neck support but not to cause damage to my neck or back, or disorient my concentration. I’d lay still for about twenty minutes, completely emptying my mind of anything negative and positive, focusing solely on the fact that I wanted to empty my mind. Once I am sure that everything but that thought has been cleared, I let that thought go and hold onto nothing but silence.

I’m no longer focusing on thoughts at all. I concentrate everything on my breathing. My heart rate. The sound of my blood flowing through my body. As crazy as it sounds, it’s there. It’s complex. You can’t think to yourself, “Wow, my heartbeat is really fast” or, “My blood is flowing so quickly.” You have to simply acknowledge that you are aware that it is there, and control it. Slow everything down. Feel your body sink in to the blankets and sheets beneath your body. Visualize yourself being consumed by the bed.

You’ll start to feel still. Paralyzed really. If you feel this sensation you can’t break focus. You can’t lose concentration. You’re doing it right. Keep going. Keep slowing everything down. Count to ten if you must, but focus solely on the numbers as you inhale and exhale. Nothing more, nothing less. If you break focus now, it’ll take you forever to return to this state.

As I continue my lengthy, nearly tortuous process, I start to regain the fear that’s come with every experience prior. The things I’d read online always seemed far-fetched and I didn’t believe much of it, but I knew the meditation practices had been helping me with my anger management. That was until I knew what I was truly doing. I’d taken things one step further, one step further into there was a weekend when things went too far. Voices started echoing from the back of my mind. I’d read on one of my many searched websites that this was common within the practice and was merely your body beginning its ascent into the lucid dream world. Most know these practices as, “Out of body experiences” or OBE’s.

They say OBE’s take your spiritual being and place it on the astral plane of our universe, allowing you to lie lucid in your bed while seeing yourself and everything around you in first person from your third eye’s extensive leash into the astral world. Bizarre concept, and I didn’t believe any of it. Not until the voices came.

They were horrific. Nightmare inducing. Mind piercing. They said no foul words, they spoke only in tongues and languages of sacred texts that I couldn’t even begin to identify. I could hear one voice speaking English, but it was distant, quiet, as if it wasn’t even relatively important. I focused hard to hear this voice above all others, but this sequence in my meditative state I seemed to have no control over. The first few times I attempted this, I couldn’t conquer the voices. They scared me plain shit-less, for lack of better words. I’d hesitate or over-think the situation and break focus nearly every time. It was without fail 45 minutes in to my session each time I came back to my true senses.

Today was different. I wasn’t letting these voices of unknown nature hinder my ability to travel beyond our world. What an amazing feat it would be to conquer the physical and enter the astral dimension. Why let a few sacred voices stop such an extraordinary experience?

I had already laid under my covers, as to provide extra weight to my subconscious mind, allowing the feeling of sinking into the bed to come more natural. I’d practiced the sequence so much, I had the initial actions of my process mastered and it took me but 10 minutes to become numb and fall into my subconscious.

Faint, and nearly present, the voices slowly leaked into my head. Demonic tongues and foreign language rattled in my brain, it caused a bit of a headache really, but I held focus. Focusing simply on my breathing and the calmness that was my bodily relaxation, I dropped the astral rope from above me. Performing the last set of the sequence was deemed the hardest. Once the voices trespassed your serenity, these guide sites stated that in order to leave your body, you need but imagine a rope. A heavy rope like you’d climb in high school gym class. That rope was your freedom. You are to simply reach for the rope with your astral arms. Feel them lift from your physical body, envision them on your own. Once you make contact, use all of your mental strength to escape your body. Lift and pull as hard and as thoughtfully as you can.

——————————————-

I stood in my room once more. It was silent as ever. No birds at the window, Felix no where to be fou — oh, there he is. I called his name, beckoning him over. He stared at me with a crooked look of confusion. As I investigated his inquiries, I realized he wasn’t looking at me, but rather looking through me. I froze. I turned to look at the bed and saw myself lying there motionless.

Had I died? Had everything I’d known to come and love been obliterated? Was I damned to life on Earth as a harmless spirit for all eternity? I took a step forward. A light glistened beneath my feet. I tried to squeal in excitement, but nothing came out. I was voiceless. I knew I had to transmit anything and everything with my thoughts, but this was my first time and I was so new to the experience. How far could I go? Who would I encounter?

I realized on the astral plane you could really bend through anything. I sank through my glass window and took to the skies above my house looking at the land beneath. No other spirits were in the area, so I took a brief second to enjoy the natural silence. I wanted to go higher, but my lack of experience kept me bound pretty close to my house. I didn’t have the mind power to stretch my leash any further. I circled my home a few times, looking out and over, seeing the silent night that fell so innocently over my quaint neighborhood. Nobody was stirring, no one except the neighbors. I glanced for a mere second to see shadows and silhouettes moving about their windows.

I couldn’t move any closer, so I stared inquisitively for a few moments. Five minutes past, and nothing else had caught my interest in that time. Knowing I’d be weak after waking from such a glorifying experience, I sunk back through my window to my room.

Taking a final glance around my room, I slowly positioned my back to the bed as to align my astral body with my physical self. I attempted to line my right arm, but nearly destroyed my astral body with my inability to collect the information that lied before me.

…my body was gone.

I’d practiced the sequence a thousand times. I knew I had left my body in the bed, there was no where else that I could have started this whole process. I frantically searched the house for what seemed again like hours. To my complete confusion and total dismay, I found nothing until I, for reasons I still don’t know to this day, searched the bathroom. There I was, lying in the bathtub.

Water had dripped from the edge of the tub to the floor beneath. Blood was scattered among the walls and on the rungs that held the curtain in place, as well as the curtain itself. I forced my astral body up with the little energy I had left and flew down the stairs. As I hit the platform, I began feeling dizzy and excruciatingly weak. I managed to glance at my wipe-board where I normally hosted my chores for the week. Written in thick black marker were words I didn’t understand.

“What a beautiful vessel.”

I felt myself being pulled back to my body. The astral chain was being broken by a force I hadn’t read about. I snapped and with a heavy click I heard my astral body snap.

I woke under water in my bathtub. My eyes had shot open from the pain I had just felt as my mental body snapped from drifting unconscious. Water splashed among the room as I struggled to stand up. I was so weak. I ran back downstairs to see if I could collect any more information from my journey.

….Everything was as I had left it.

No change in scenery. Furniture still together, the wipe-board hosting my goals for the week, but the blood still remained in the bathroom. I didn’t understand. “What a beautiful vessel.” What did it mean? Clueless, I ran back to the bathroom to see if there was any additional information. I opened the cabinets beneath the sink and everything was still in order. I opened the lid to the toilet and screamed louder and more shrill than I ever thought possible. A knock had hit the wall behind me. It was the neighbor.

“Are you alright?”

“HELP!” “SOMEONE HELP!” I started crying, bawling really. What I saw was simply something not meant for the eyes of a human being. In the bowl of the toilet, laid the head of my cat, drifting in a circular pattern while I noticed the body lay behind the neck of the white waste dispenser. I sobbed, and with these cries came a sharp pain to my side — but it wasn’t internal.

Scratches. Scratches from my Felix. They literally had covered my body. From the top of my torso down to my lower pelvic region, and the layover of my skin over these scars caused a searing amount of pain. I had only thought I hadn’t noticed them at first due to the extensive amount of adrenaline surging through my body as I had awoken.

I now heard my neighbor banging at my door pleading for me to let them in. I couldn’t bring myself around to do so. I just sat kneeling in front of my toilet crying. As I did so, things started lining up.

Those voices as I meditated. They weren’t warnings, they weren’t simply sacred tongues, they were demons. Pure, relentless, demons; and in exiting my body, I let one of them in, and forced one out upon my re-entry. It used my body for a sinful deed to fulfill it’s demonic desires. I must of kicked it out, and in that right it wouldn’t be happy. I had to tell my someone. My first instinct was my neighbor, still banging at the door, but she was a devoted Christian woman who wouldn’t take kindly to such a story. I knew she’d see it as a sick joke and simply take it as a poor excuse for me decapitating my own cat.

In shock with no viable way to address the issue, I did what anyone would least expect. Walking back to my room, I grabbed a change of clothes from my closet and laid back down on my bed. This had to be a drastic nightmare, right? An extensive taken on a lucid dream that I was having. A dream within a dream, those do happen from time to time.

…but only when you’re close to death.

I shot up, only to be greeted by a grim stare. Eyes filled with hatred and lust for torment and pain. I swung myself to the left in an attempt to throw myself from my bed, but the ravenous hand met my throat before I could make another move. The creature that looked down upon on was massive. A small titan really. It was as black as night with spikes stretching from every inch of it’s rotting flesh.

I fought to breathe, swinging my arms in a windmill-like pattern while slowly feeling myself slipping out of consciousness. The room had been spinning for what felt like an hour. Gravity seemed to weigh a ton and then some. I managed to unravel the hand that clenched my throat so firmly, so spitefully, and so intentionally, allowing myself one last gulp of air before I braced for the blow that knocked me out cold.

——————————————————-

The cold side of the pillow had never met my body so welcoming. I managed to turn and see the clock sitting on the nightstand. “5:07pm” I gazed around the room and saw a nurse flicking the end of yet another IV needle. I knew it was for me.

“A present for me?” I asked playfully.

“If that’s how you want to look at it, I guess.” The nurse smiled akwardly while acknowledging my attempt to lighten the mood.

“Did you sleep well?” she asked.

“I did, but I definitely had some crazy dreams.”

The nurse chuckled, inserted the IV slowly and with great precision, but left the room immediately. I scanned the room. I couldn’t remember much but the vivid dream I had had whilst laying in the hospital bed. To be honest, my recollection of arriving at Jude’s Hospital was non-existent. Switching on the TV, flipping through the channels and realizing that nothing worth my time was on, I took my attention from the television to the hospitals wipe-board to see who was taking care of me.

Rather than names, I saw something that only clarified that I wasn’t as crazy as everyone claimed I was. I rattled my bed, I called for help, and I started shaking violently. The room began spinning and I lost control of my senses. Doctors and nurses had flooded the room to see my actions take place, but no one expected the outcome.

That board left me with a sense of realism and it only confirmed my, “crazy dreams.” Written quite legibly, in the thickest marker they had, left words that donated information to what happened after I was knocked out cold. I had a heart-attack, and my body was left empty. Doctors couldn’t diagnose the cause, but I knew all along, even as I had left the physical world.
The demon had visited the hospital that night. He left me but four words to remember him by.

“What a beautiful soul.”

Credit To – Tanner M. Bailey

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The Painting in the Mirror

October 11, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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My hands shake as I write this. I’ve long given up any hope of anyone ever believing me, or offering me any form of meaningful help. All I can do is stay here and hope I never see it again. I don’t know why, but for some reason I’ve come to believe that if I can’t see it, maybe it can’t see me. That makes sense, right?

You have no idea what I’m talking about. You’ve probably already dismissed this as the senseless scrawling of a madman. Believe whatever you want, I can’t help that. All I can do is tell you what I saw, and what horrible things I have come to know about this world.

It all began about six months ago. I was just starting my last semester of college, and desperately needed a place to stay. I don’t have many people I can safely call my friends, and this put me at a disadvantage. My home was too far away from campus to commute, and my family couldn’t afford to put me up in the overpriced dorms anymore.

Desperate, I scanned local newspapers and websites, looking for anything I could afford. Less than a week before classes started, I lucked out: there was a one-room basement studio going for below market-value in the nearby town of Greenhaven, New Jersey. The drive to campus would only be about fifteen minutes, and there were a number of local stores and restaurants where I could look to find a part-time job. Excited, we contacted the realtor’s listed e-mail address, and got a response inviting us to tour the place and, if we liked it, sign the lease forms.

Things started getting strange the day we got there. When we arrived at the building, rather than meeting the realtor, we were instead greeted by a scrawny courier, who handed us an addressed envelope.

“The keys and lease forms are inside,” he said in an unsteady voice, “If you like the place, sign the forms and send them with a check to the address on the envelope. If you don’t, just send them back with the keys.”

This struck us as extremely strange, and we tried questioning the courier, but he was rushed and had more deliveries to make. Once he left, my parents got into an argument. My dad was uneasy and wanted to leave, convinced this was some sort of trap or scam, but my mom insisted that we look at the apartment. I love my mom, but she’s very impulsive and has an extremely short temper, and before we made a scene I took the keys and went down into the apartment.

It was a small one-room studio with a cramped bathroom and kitchenette. It wasn’t ideal, but I knew how much my parents were paying for my tuition and knew this was the cheapest place we were going to find that was livable. I faked enthusiasm, which convinced my mom. My dad still looked uneasy, but didn’t argue.

The move-in was brutal, and the three of us were exhausted by the end of the night, but the place was cozy enough. I hugged my parents, thanking them before they left. My dad held on longer than usual, and when my mom was out of earshot, said quietly to me:

“You let me know if anything—and I mean anything—doesn’t feel right, okay?”

I nodded, and was about to say something, but when I mom saw him murmuring to me she became agitated and my dad decided it was best to leave, but the concerned expression stayed on his face as they drove away.

That first night was one of the weirdest of my life. As I lay there on my newly-assembled bed, I realized that this was the first time I had ever slept completely alone. Up until that night, I had always lived either in my house, in a dorm building, or in a hotel room whenever my family went on vacation. In all cases I had been surrounded by people I knew in a safely guarded place. Now I was alone in a creaky old building in a town I knew nothing about.

And then there was the mirror. It was the only decoration in the apartment—besides another smaller one in the bathroom—and hung on the wall at the foot of my bed. Whenever I would shift onto my back, I would be confronted by my own shadowy likeness, framed by the bedpost and painting hanging on the wall above me.

There is a strange state of consciousness that descends upon the human mind when falling into or emerging from deep sleep. It is a state of being neither asleep nor fully awake, but a murky realm in between where the rational fears of the conscious are confronted with the macabre imaginings of the irrational unconscious. I had just descended into this state, on the threshold of sleep, when I thought I saw something move in the shadowy depths of the painting’s reflection in the mirror. I tried to make out what it was, but my exhaustion caught up to me and in seconds I was asleep.

Classes began the following day, and I was so distracted that I forgot all about the strange dream. It was nice to see some familiar faces, but I’ve always had trouble connecting with people on a casual basis, and this semester was no different. I would return from classes and sit in front of my laptop in my tiny dark apartment, with nothing for company except the creaking of the pipes and occasional cockroach scuttling through the kitchenette. At night, I would lay sleepless in bed, staring at the whitewashed ceiling or my gaunt reflection in the cloudy mirror.

It wasn’t until about a week later that I saw the figure in the painting again. I had just come home from a long evening run on a Friday night (my idea of “getting out more”) and collapsed, exhausted, onto my bed, staring into the mirror. Once again, I was just on the brink of sleep when I saw movement in the reflection of the painting.

The figure was back, and getting closer. I could see that its movements were disjointed and lopsided, as if it had several broken bones, with long gangly limbs like twisted branches. Its ash-colored body was emaciated and hairless, and its head was hung, concealing its face. I remember watching with a sort of horrified fascination as the thing shambled closer, and closer.

At some point I must have fallen asleep. That seems completely unbelievable to me now, and I don’t remember anything else from that night, only that when I woke a weak grey morning light was filtering through the apartment’s tiny windows and my throat felt like it was full of sandpaper. I dragged myself out of bed and into the apartment’s small bathroom, turned on the faucet to the sink, and greedily slurped metallic-tasting water down my parched throat. Almost immediately, I vomited it back up. I drank again at a slower pace to keep myself from throwing up again.

When I looked into the mirror above the sink, I barely recognized the face that stared back at me. My eyes were sunken in their sockets, the flesh beneath them swollen with ugly purple blotches, and my skin was pale and pasty-looking. I shuffled into the cramped kitchen, my body aching with every move, and opened the fridge. The plate of leftover food from Friday was sludgy and covered in mold, and the half-drunk carton of milk was sour.

How long was I asleep?

With a creeping dread, I stumbled back to my bedside table and picked up my phone. It was dead. I plugged it into its charger, and once it had recharged enough energy to function, I checked the date.

Over a week had gone by.

There were several voicemail messages from my mom, growing progressively more worried, the last of which was from the night before. I immediately called her, telling her I lost my phone and forgot to call her.

“Are you alright?” she asked worriedly, “You don’t sound too well.”

“I’ve come down with something,” I said, “Don’t worry, I’m fine. I’ll sleep it off.”

After a few minutes, she gradually calmed down. She offered to drive to where I was staying, but I politely refused, on the excuse of not wanting to get her sick. In truth, I didn’t want her to see my abysmal state, knowing how prone to hysteria she was with regards to my physical well-being. Although, to be fair, I was fairly close to hysteria myself as I hung up the phone.

The following week was miserable. The workload wasn’t too much of a problem, as it was still the beginning of the semester, but my physical and psychological condition didn’t get any better. Despite the fact I was malnourished, the very thought of food made me sick, and I ate little. I slept fitfully, haunted by nightmares of being chased down and rent apart by shapeless monsters. I began visiting the campus health center in my spare time to talk to counselors, at one point bursting into tears in my exhaustion, but when the psychologist recommended that we call my parents, I automatically refused. The last thing I wanted to do was make them worry about me.

At some point in my last session, the subject of the painting came up. I mentioned my recurring nightmare of the misshapen figure from the reflection of the painting over my bed. The psychologist frowned.

“Well, what’s this painting of?” he asked, “When you’re awake, I mean.”

I realized then that I had no idea what the painting actually depicted when I wasn’t having nightmares about it. The psychologist suggested that I take it down immediately, and bring it to my next session.

When I walked out of the health center, for the first time in weeks I felt somewhat better. It was so simple, just take down the picture! Why hadn’t I thought of that? It also struck me as strange that I had never thought to look at the picture during my waking hours.

For the remainder of the day, I felt better than I had since the semester started. I was actually more focused on my classes than I was on my own anxiety and fear, so much so that I forgot all about the painting until I crawled into bed at the end of the day.

After undergoing my nightly ritual of tossing and turning in a vain attempt to find a comfortable position, I found myself once again staring into the mirror at the foot of my bed. Naturally, my eyes drifted to the painting suspended over my head, trying to make out what it depicted. I squinted, trying to identify the vague shapes, then finally realized how stupid I was being. I sat up and twisted around in bed to look at the wall behind me.

The painting wasn’t there.

I sat, dumbfounded, in that awkward position for a few moments, staring blankly at the bare wall above my head. I turned back to the mirror, dread gripping my gut like a horrid claw, and saw the painting suspended over my terrified, exhaustion-ravaged face. Back to the wall: blank whitewash.

I think this is the point when the last of my sanity left me, because when I turned back to the mirror the creature’s upper body filled the picture frame.

I watched with a sort of horrified fascination as it stalked closer, as if like myself in a horror film. I willed myself to move, but my body wouldn’t respond, as if the nerves connecting my brain to my body had been severed. I was a sack of meat, waiting for the thing in the painting to come and tear me apart.

The thing dragged itself closer until its head and shoulders dominated the painting. Two spindly, claw-like hands reached up and clutched the bottom of the frame, and I realized with horror that the claws were gripped around the outside of the frame. Then it lifted its hideous head, which was covered with sores seeping black pus, and stared straight out of the frame—AND I SAW ITS FACE! OH MY GOD I SAW ITS FACE!!!

Or—what was left of it. The skin was cracked and peeling like old paint, the mouth nothing more than a jagged, bloody line. And its eyes—oh my God. It had no eyes! Just black sockets with rivulets of blood running down its bony cheeks like little black rivers but it saw me!!! IT SAW ME!!!

Perhaps it was the trauma of that abhorrent sight that broke my paralysis. I scrambled to get out of the bed, but it was too late. The hands lashed out, the clawed fingers sinking themselves into the soft flesh between my neck and shoulders. I tried to scream but only managed a choked shriek as I was dragged headfirst into the painting.

I don’t entirely remember what happened to me next. Maybe that’s for the better. My memories of the horrible interlude between that dreadful night and whenever I awoke—weak, shivering, and slick with sweat and blood—on the floor of that horrible little apartment to the sound of the police kicking down the door. Only two images come back to me. One is the my immediate descent into the nightmarish world of the painting, my room whooshing away from me and my screams of terror and pain being lost in the roar of some infernal, otherworldly wind.

The other is the faces. I could see them swirling in the dark, the spectral remains of what were once perhaps people, but now nothing more than wailing wraiths churning forever in a vile storm of horror and torment. Whether they saw me, or were even capable of sight, I don’t know. Perhaps I was just another screaming spirit being dragged through the storm with them, borne upon hellish winds to whatever damnation awaited me.

The doctors rarely talk to me here, and the nurses don’t say anything other than empty, vaguely motherly condolences like “hush” or “don’t worry” or “everything’s gonna be okay.” Every now and then I’ll feel the sharp pinch of an injection, or the soft rubbing when they change the bandages on my arms and shoulders.

How could I not have seen it? How could I be so stupid? I was there for almost two weeks—or was it three? Four?—and in all that time if I had just contorted in the right position through any of those restless, sleepless nights, or thought to lift my head from my computer screen, I would have seen that there was nothing there. And if I had noticed sooner, maybe I could have gotten help. Maybe I could have gotten out of there sooner, and everything would have gone back to normal. Maybe—

I don’t see my parents much. They stop by often to check on me, but I pretend to be asleep. Not because I don’t want to be with them, but the pain on their faces is too much to bear. I lay there and feign sleep, despite the fact they know full well that I’m awake. I’m not ready to face the pain yet. I’m not sure I ever will.

I answer the doctors’ questions as calmly as I can. I’m rarely successful. I cry a lot, and often wake up thrashing and screaming to the creaking of the body restraints holding me to my bed. I’m not allowed near pictures or mirrors—or rather, they’re not allowed near me. And that suites me just fine.

Eventually, after what was probably weeks but felt like years, I managed to convince one of the nurses to give me paper and a pen. She was one of the nice ones, but gave me a thin felt marker instead of a pen, and only on the condition that she sit beside me while I write, like she is now.

I like her. She’s nice, and quite pretty, though I wish she wouldn’t dye her hair black like that. It makes me think of night, which in turn makes me think of nightmares, which makes me think of—

My hands are shaking again. I have to stop writing. You know my story. Whether you believe me or not is up to you. You probably think I’m crazy, and I probably am. I guess I won’t know until I breath my last breath, and see for myself what lies on the other side of death—Heaven? Hell? Nothing? Personally, I’d prefer an eternity of nothingness to what I saw in the painting in the mirror.


Credit To – Thomas Sireci

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My Story

September 20, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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I am from a small northern town in England. A place with a non-relenting gloom that surrounds the insignificance of the poor souls that live here. It always rains. The sodden clothes we wear only serve to weigh us down into an inescapable darkness, anchor us all into a depression so deep we are the only creatures living there. Life is heavy, life is unfair, life is grim.

I am no exception. Given life by a prostitute mother and created in a heroin infused womb I was born into this god forsaken world without a fair chance of good life. Since my back street birth and subsequent abandonment I have been fighting an uphill battle just to exist.

Somehow though I have made it through 29 birthdays (my 30th is in 2 weeks’ time, Happy Birthday me). I would try and take the credit if I wanted to pretend that I was a better man, however without my Auntie Joan I would have succumbed to my own irrelevant existence. I would have probably slit my wrists or overdosed on the brown powder long ago. But she dragged me up, kept me in line and kept me away from my thirst.

Most heroin addicts remember a time before the itch. A time when they weren’t consumed by the unconquerable desire to inject liquid paradise into their feeble bodies. Not me, I was born with it. I don’t know any different so I can’t complain about how it has ruined my life, my family or anything else that addicts think used to matter. Most users find a moment of clarity where they promise to rectify all the wrongs they have made. All of it is just self-righteous stuff they tell themselves must make tying a belt round their arm a little bit easier. I bet my mother gently rubbed her belly whilst I assumed the fetal position inside her warmth and whispered to me that ‘this is the last time’. It never was.

She exited this mortal coil when I was 6. She died as she had lived, on her back. She was found with a needle in her arm and vomit lodged in her throat. They told me at the time that it would have been painless, that she wouldn’t have felt anything. I know I was supposed to have felt some sadness at her demise, I think I pretended that I did, but to be honest, I didn’t care. As I have got older I kind of hoped she did feel anguish and that her last thoughts were of me, of what she had done to me.

When it happened my mother wasn’t taking care of me, my Auntie was. She wasn’t actually related to me, but she insisted that I called her Auntie probably in an attempt to help her love me more. Her son was my mother’s ex-husband. A time before my mother became an addict she had a husband. He died in the Falklands and my mother’s life fell apart. I was born to some random guy that had paid for the pleasure but my Auntie took on the responsibility of raising me. I think sometimes she liked to pretend I was a product of the boy she had born, had loved and had lost, and not an accident created by fate on the back of sleaze.

I was raised well enough. We didn’t have much but I never wanted for anything. She kept me on the straight and narrow and her heavy hand was what kept me in check. I had nothing but resentment for a lot of my childhood but as I grew into a man I appreciated why. She hit me with the belt so I wouldn’t use it on myself.

My life so far has been somewhat unremarkable. Like a pattern on lifeless wallpaper I have blended into the normality of the world that envelops me. I work in a factory, have struggled to hold down a steady relationship and until 2 months ago lived with my Auntie. 2 months already, wow doesn’t time fly?

She had taken ill in early December. It wasn’t her first time battling cancer, she had beaten the disease that had eaten away at her bowels 8 years previous, but this time I knew the fight had gone out of her. Every time I looked into her eyes I could see resignation, like she had taken on God and knew she had been defeated. She had never looked so old. She was 87 but always carried a bit of youth about her. Always an active lady, but now bed ridden.

The silver of her hair had started to die and disperse and give way to patches of nakedness surrounded by hair as mundane and grey as a rain cloud. Her false teeth had been removed and her faced had sagged considerably, the wrinkles of her face conveying her age like the inner circles of a wilting tree. Her once electric blue eyes swelled like the dark ocean in a storm.

She kept talking about how tired she was. That she was ‘ready’. Ready for what I didn’t know. I couldn’t help thinking she meant ‘ready’ for the great beyond. She wasn’t religious in the slightest. I never heard her pray, she had no pictures of Christ and she didn’t keep a bible. We didn’t even talk about whether there was a God out there in the heavens above. When you have to face the stark realities of life I suppose God doesn’t exist for you. But something in the acceptance of her fate seemed to have opened a door inside and in through it had walked a belief. A belief that this wasn’t the end.

I visited everyday, partly out of duty and partly out a selfish desire to not be alone. I would sit by her bedside whilst the morphine dripped into her system to help ease her pain. The world I was harshly born into was the same one that would gently take her out it would seem. Most of the time she would lie there semi-conscious, muttering to herself and I would sit in silence watching the life fade away from her like a sunset. Every once in a while I would turn up to the hospital and she would be sat upright in her bed, fresher than a daisy and ready to explode with conversation. She would talk about her life, how she had hoped she had done a good job of raising her son, how she would see him and her husband again. As the weeks passed these waking moments saw her become increasingly happy. She had convinced herself that her ‘2 boys’ were waiting to take her ‘home’.

That takes me to the week before her death. A dark and dank Thursday afternoon, the wind serving only to throw the heavy rain into my face. A cold hard slap from the hand of God. I didn’t have any money that day (I didn’t have money most days) so I walked to the hospital and every step felt forced, like I was walking towards death itself. That’s what I assumed, that my Auntie had died during the morning and that only her memory would greet me when I arrived, but what I found there was much worse.

The ward she was in gave me an uneasy feel. Hospitals in general always have the feel of death hanging over them, like an umbrella blocking out the sun on a glorious summers day. People are fighting the inevitable in hospitals, their struggles give the feel of a constant war between the living and the cold touch of the grim reaper. That’s why I believe cemeteries are more peaceful than they are frightening. The dead can’t struggle anymore.

The lights in the hospital ward felt dimmer, their brightness turned down, and there was an unsettling quiet that choked the atmosphere, unseen but obvious in its blanketing presence. I arrived expecting to see an empty bed among the 5 others that filled the small room, but she was there. Sat up, alert, but different. Something so different that my heart lodged itself in my throat and fear took a hold of me like a stranger grabbing the arm of a child before dragging them away from their mother.

She turned her head, slowly, so slowly. Her eyes locked forward the entire time, as if hands held her head in its place and were forcing her to look at some horrific sight. Her eyes locked onto mine and I felt the acid in my stomach try to rip my soul apart. Their bloodshot appearance made me think she had been crying rivers of crimson. They peered through me, reaching my very core and tearing it to pieces with their solemnness. I wanted to turn away, to run away and never go back. The skeletal face of this woman had replaced the one that I had grown to love. The woman that once cared for me now seemed like she wanted tear my flesh from its bones.

A small recognition lit in her eyes, there but for a brief moment, but enough for me to take one step forward instead of the many steps back my animal nature told me to take. ‘Hello’ is all I could muster.

She mumbled something back, I thought it might have been ‘help’ but I couldn’t be sure. It could’ve been a simple ’hello’ that had become lost on its way. She started to cough, viciously, the air trying to escape the black abyss of her poisoned lungs. Instinctively I darted forward to help her. I poured a glass of water and this feeble old lady that had just scared me so was now quivering in my arms as she sipped from the glass like it was her first drink after days in the desert.

There was nothing but silence for a few year like seconds, until she gripped my hand. Such strength escaping from the brittle bones in her limb, a vice locking onto me. She tilted her body back, pulling herself away from the comfort I had given in my embrace and looked at me.

‘He is coming for you’ she said. The words were as clear as a piano played in an empty hall, each letter danced cold upon my spine, sending shivers rippling across my body as a brick sends shivers in a lake. ‘He is coming for you’ she managed again, before leaning in to take on more water.
I tried to speak with clarity, showing no fear, but every letter, in every word shook and trembled. ‘Who is coming for me?’ I struggled.

She suddenly sat upright, lifting her head toward mine again. I flinched expecting a new horror, but her iron grip on my hand loosened, and I saw nothing but love in her eyes. She said my name so gently it could have taken flight. She started to sob.

‘What’s wrong’ I almost begged to find out but was terrified of an answer.
‘Nothing, I’m a silly old fool. I’m on my last legs and this morphine is making me…unstable. That’s all.’ She replied.

I couldn’t find the courage, it lumped in my throat stifling my words. I found something eventually. ‘Who is coming for me?’

‘Ignore me’ she almost whispered back ‘Ignore me’.

But I couldn’t.

She was asleep minutes later, the morphine a lullaby, the hospital bed a cradle. She looked at peace.

I must have drifted away myself because the scream brought me back into a reality. She was flailing, contorting and her body writhed in agony. Blood poured from her nose and the screams shattered the dreams of the dying. I matched her cries of agny with one of my own as I called as loud as I could for a nurse.

Suddenly my Auntie stopped. She laid motionless upon her bed. As still as a moment lost in time. I thought she was dead. I turned and called for a nurse again, and returned my gaze to the lifeless figure. I moved my face in close to see if I could see any signs of breathing. I could smell something that plagued my nostrils making them sting as my innards wretched. It was rotting meat, dried urine, raw sewage, all mixed together.

No rise in the chest, no parting of the lips, it looked as if my Auntie had left me here alone. I tilted my head and put my ear close to her mouth to see if I could hear any breathing, hoping to catch her last one.

‘He is coming for you’ she whispered.

I staggered back, hitting the chair I was sitting in, and fell onto the floor. She sat upright, looking straight at me, her eyes a spiders web, my eyes the fly trapped in its doom.

She was smiling, oh how she smiled at me. A wicked, joyous smile. She seemed to enjoy my submissive fear.

Sternly the words came pouring out ‘He is coming for you’. The voice grew in volume ‘He is coming for you’.She started coughing, phlegm and blood and puss came up with every hack. She spat at me. ‘He is coming for you’ she howled once more.

I trembled in her gaze, and could only yelp a defeated ‘Who?’

She snarled. ‘He is. At first He will make you feel like you are going crazy. You will feel his burning eyes in the back of your head when you are alone. He will make you feel nothing but dread as you turn around to see if everything is okay. He is the shadow in the corner of your eye, the noise that makes you jump, the shiver that you feel when you know someone is following you. He is coming for you and He will not make it quick. He will take you in every way you fear and you can do nothing to stop it. He is coming for you.’

As I sat there, frozen on the floor, a nurse darted past me pinning my Auntie to the bed by her shoulders. My Auntie resisted but soon was overwhelmed by a second and a third nurse. They gave her a shot of something and her resistance was over.

This moment is etched into me like a carving in stone, yet the moments shortly after are a void of nothing. All I remember next is receiving a call a few days later to tell me that my Auntie had not awoken from the coma and that she died peacefully. I hoped she was with her boys.

From then on I became reclusive. Fearful that something was coming for me. I slept with the light on, what kind of adult sleeps with the light on, and what kind of man wets the bed still?

The doctor I went to see told me exactly what I thought I would hear. That she was on medication, she was dying, that hallucinations and vivid dreams were not uncommon and this could be attributed to what happened. But I couldn’t accept this. There was something in her eyes that made it true.

I started to fear my own shadow, I felt that every day would be my last, that every moment something, someone would fulfill this prophetic statement given by the one person who ever truly cared for me.

The nightmares were the worst part, the horror that unfolded night after night is unspeakable. ‘He’ came to me every night. ‘He’ was everything and everyone.

A drowned little boy with a slit throat so deep his tongue fell though the gaping hole, he smiled as he castrated me with the kitchen knife. Stuffing my mutilated genitals into my mouth.

A limbless, fat, bald man. He was sweating, naked and clambering on the floor toward me, his stumps slowing his crawl. Licking his lips as he inched closer to my paralysed body, his erection displaying his purpose.

An old man with skin that looked like it had been shrink wrapped around his bones, he whistled as he stroked my body with is liver spotted hands. His dirty, long finger nails caressing my stomach. I was tied down to the bed and he reached his pocket and found a scalpel. He forced open my eyes when I closed them, the metal moved closer to the pupil until all I could see was the point of the blade.

I had my first shot of the purest form of happiness and escapism I had ever tasted a day after the funeral. It exploded in my veins and took away all my fears, it was the closet to finding God that I had ever been. The fine point of a needle my vessel to the heavens.

The nightmares didn’t cease but soon they became irrelevant as my desire gave in to the warmness coursing through my body. I wanted more and more and filled myself up time and time again.

Apparently they found me lying unconscious on a backstreet. How funny that I was born on one and tried to die on one.

I was taken to hospital, the same one where my Auntie died, and the nightmares returned as my thirst consumed me. ‘He’ invaded my mind and the visions were more vivid than they had ever been before. But it wasn’t the actions in the nightmares that destroyed me. You see He tortures me when he talks to me, his words are the razors that flay my skin. I begged the nurses to kill me and end my misery.

They wouldn’t.

But I will.

Today I have checked myself out of the hospital and have refused the urge to take another hit. I sit at my laptop writing these words with a warm bath and a razor blade waiting for me.

I guess you could call this my suicide note, I’d prefer to call it my excuse. I cannot escape him. I know what he is and if I don’t end it now I fear what dreams may come. Before my Auntie died she had faith that she would be greeted by her boys in the afterlife. I believe that there is nothing, nothing but darkness and emptiness and silence. Even that seems to be better than what could be coming.

I have found solace here in my last day and have smiled reading through the stories on this website, even though I suppose I am supposed to gasp in fear. It’s funny how people can create such horror out of nothing. Funny to those have really felt it, seen it, tasted it.

That is not the reason for my final smile though. The reason is because I know you are reading this. There is one thing that reassures me, one thing I have found out thanks to my nightmares, one thing He told me, one thing that makes the end seem easier. My Auntie wasn’t speaking to me when she said what she said.

‘He is coming for you’.

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