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What the Happiest Dreams are Made Of

July 19, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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The following originally appeared in a train enthusiast subreddit on October 29th, 2015. The thread did not have an account attached to it, and the original post has since been deleted for spam.

“Hello,

Thank you for taking the time to read this message, and I hope you are indeed able to read it. This is probably one of the most surreal things I have ever written (to say nothing of the circumstances I’m writing it under), but it is undoubtedly one of the most important as well. If all goes well, this will be just one of several messages you should have received; the others are writing things, too, but we’re not sure what will arrive intact, or even if your side has anything able to ‘receive’ this.

What you are about to read may seem odd, and understandably so, but please – keep an open mind, and in the very least read through the whole thing before passing judgement on my tale. I apologise for any terms or concepts that seems strange or bizarre to you – I have been informed this message could reach a number of worlds where such ideas do not exist, and so I will, at points, try to clarify some of the more important things others point out as ‘issue concepts’.

My name is William Wolfstone, and I used to work as a law enforcement psychologist. A psychologist is a person who talks to people and tries to help them maintain mental health. As a law enforcement psychologist, it was my role to do this for police (you may call them ‘guards’, ‘security’ or something similar where you are). It was a role I cared about greatly, and had dedicated fifteen years of my life to. I was decent at the job, so much so I ended up being stationed in the capital city of my country. I was one of two psychologists who cared for the personnel who worked at the city’s police headquarters.

This position also put me in one of the best places to see what unfolded, it turned out.

It began a few months ago, when one officer, whose name I don’t feel comfortable noting these days, presented herself to me with what seemed like simple insomnia (inability to sleep). She couldn’t say why, but she was certain she was having nightmares when she did manage to fall asleep (nightmares are bad dreams).

She couldn’t really recall what they were about, just that the situation had been going on for the past month, and that almost every morning , she felt a sense of dread and unease that sometimes took the rest of the day from which to recover.

I didn’t think much of it, to be honest; this officer was a minority in the capital (and certainly the police force), and in addition to those pressures, she had, a few months ago, undergone a traumatic series of events. Those events had turned her into a media curiosity (the media in this case being people who exaggerate news to make money), and from what she described, it wasn’t uncommon for her to find the odd interview request or paparazzi awaiting for her when she got home.

So I chalked the insomnia and dreams up to simple general anxiety and some post-traumatic stress – I arranged fortnightly cognitive therapy sessions, referred her to a doctor for some anti-anxiety and sleep medication, and gave her my personal number should she need to speak to me at any time (sometimes people just need an ear available, and I was happy to accommodate).

But she didn’t call me. And the first few sessions showed progress – although it didn’t resolve the issues, the medication was helping a bit, she was getting full support from her family and friends, and she even found herself recovering from the dreams easier, although she still couldn’t remember them. I figured she was drawing on the strength of character she’d demonstrated during those aforementioned events, and was on her way to ‘willing’ herself through the issues, and it would all be sorted in a few short weeks.

Then something curious happened – one day, there was a knock on my office door, and another officer wandered in. He explained he was my patient’s partner and that he, too, had begun suffering from this insomnia. These dreams. His partner had insisted he see me immediately, although he didn’t seem pleased about it.

Whilst it was unusual for two separate persons to present with the same thing, looking through his files, it made sense he could be suffering similar symptoms – he too was a minority in law enforcement, it turned out he too had undergone the same series of events his partner did…

Another easy case to resolve.

After talking with him, it was also apparent that he had some lingering trust issues, and was perhaps a bit more emotionally sensitive than his partner (often making jokes and observations on others; classic mannerisms for those personalities). So in addition to the anti-anxiety and sleep medications, I scheduled him for weekly appointments, just to suss things out. He also seemed grateful when I provided him my mobile number – as I said, sometimes people just need an ear to lend.

Yes. It all seemed quite normal at the time.

But then, the following week, other officers began to show up to see me and my colleague, presenting the same symptoms – and it wasn’t just beat cops, or those who regularly interacted with the other two, either. It affected someone from dispatch, the police chief himself…

For some reason, a sizeable part of the station was beginning to have sleep issues, and it was quickly affecting both morale and performance. It was obvious something else was going on here; I consulted with the police chief, and we brought in the Centre for Disease Control to check out the station (a disease is something that can make people sick). They walked through the building and, as they couldn’t find anything initially, it was agreed that the department would be closed, the unaffected temporarily transferred to neighbouring stations, and affected staff placed on leave and strongly encouraged to stay home as much as possible (it wasn’t thought to be contagious, but it didn’t hurt to cover bases).

I assisted the investigation as best I could, giving my opinion and ideas on what could have been going on (which basically boiled down to ‘an expression of mass-PTSD? I’ve got nothing’).

I wasn’t providing them anything my patient notes and common sense didn’t, however, so they stopped consulting me directly.

The CDC’s psychologists had sniped most of my affected patients, deeming it easier to track them themselves than through me, but I still kept in touch with Patient Zero’s partner; as I previously said, he had trust issues, so the idea of having to talk to someone new, someone who worked as part of a group interested in poking and prodding him? It didn’t appeal, and the CDC allowed it.

I recall I was watching the mid-day news when I got his call – the story had caught my attention, as it was about a local nudist club whose members had begun to present with some sort of ‘illness’. After I reached for my phone and noted who it was, I greeted the officer, and asked how he was going.

He sounded panicked, exasperated – his breaths were heavy and he choked out incoherences. I left the room so we could talk without the noise of the TV – clearly, things were not ok. He needed that ear loaned, and now.

When we were alone, I asked him to calm down, and to tell me what was going on. He couldn’t. After a minute of reassurance and empathy, I was able to ease him to a state where he could form words. I asked what was going on once more.

He explained to me that he was staying at his partner’s place, so they could both deal with effects of the nightmares better. He’d moved in a few days ago with a few token belongings, ‘just until this blew over’, and it had gone well enough.

The previous night, the officer had been unable to fall asleep on the spare sofa, twisting and turning for what he assured me was several hours, before he gingerly woke his friend up and asked for advice. She apparently suggested they share her bed for the night – it’s my understanding Patient Zero lived in an apartment, so space was likely at a premium. I’m also of the impression their close friendship was beginning to test bounds and begin development into a more romantic relationship, but that’s pointless musing on my end.

At any rate, they shared a bed together, and both officers found it easy to fall asleep.

And then, he told me, the dream started. That admission took my interest – no-one had recalled these dreams before.

He told me it began in a field – he was laying in gold-green grass, and the scent of wildflowers filled the air. It was welcoming, comfortable, and the only detractor was that the sun seemed to shine a little too brightly, but he was happy enough to keep his eyes closed, so it wasn’t that big of a deal.

As he lazed there, he found his mind turning to the events from a few months ago – back during the racial unrest that plagued the capital, tested his partner, and spurred him into joining the force in the first place. The memories were vivid, and he could recall every moment with perfect clarity. He told me it was like a movie of those events, but compiled from his perspective.

It felt so familiar to him, laying like this, reflecting like this. So familiar, and so right.

But at the same time, a small, building nugget in his mind told him it wasn’t.

He’d shrugged it off at first, instead enjoying the reflection on his past, but it strengthened, persisted – it told him not to doze, but to awaken, to fight.

Eventually, it got strong enough that, for a moment, the officer decided to comply. ‘I only wanted to get up and stretch my legs’, he whined.

And that was when he found out he couldn’t. When he went to move his legs, his arms, they only responded lethargically. Panic began to rise within him, and he struggled more, and more – but achieving just as little.

He told me that everytime he struggled, the sun seemed to get a little bit brighter, his eyes a little bit heavier, and he realised that, when his eyes were fully closed, he could still see the images of his past before him – less like he was reflecting, and more like his memories were being stretched out into a film reel run before him.

Vivid, with perfect clarity.

A weight slithered up against his leg, and writhed up along his body, before coming to a rest atop his chest. A voice whispered to him.

‘No. Almost done.’

The officer struggled his eyes open, and through the now blinding glare, he saw it, smiling down at him.

There was silence after he told me that. I asked what the ‘it’ was.

The officer simply began to cry.

I assured him it was only a dream, and he didn’t have to tell me what he saw. When he was calm enough again, he thanked me.

That, he told me, was what the dreams were – he was certain of it. It was this thing forcing people to re-live a period of their life every night, and he didn’t know why. I didn’t really know what to say – I had no-other patients to compare his experiences against, and whilst logically this experience was surely only unique to him…

Something told me he was right.

I stayed with him on the phone for a while, generally trying to calm him, whilst trying to make something of this new information. He was in the middle of telling me about the time he booked a friend for speeding, when he just…stopped.

Mid sentence.

For a moment, I thought the phone had died, either on his end or mine, but I could still hear breathing, so clearly that couldn’t be.

I asked him what was wrong. He didn’t answer.

And then I heard something else. It began quietly, but rose steadily, and surely – it was…laughter. The officer was laughing.

Again, I asked what was wrong. Then there was a noise, and the laughter became more distant – I can only assume he dropped his phone. I called after him, increasingly concerned, but he never picked it up again – the laughter drifted away as he presumably wandered off.

I’m told that’s normal by the others, and that there was nothing I could of ever done for him.

I went into my living room to use the house phone to call the paramedics – I figured I could call emergency services, whilst also staying on the line with my patient should he pick the phone back up. I was reaching for the phone when I glanced at the TV, and saw the news was still on.

As was something else.

I’ll be honest. I don’t like recalling this part of my life. I don’t think any survivor, either of this world or the others, ever fully deals with this particular moment. The moment when it was all over. But it is important to recount, for myself, just as much as you.

On the TV screen, there was some breaking news. The scene was an overhead view of Downtown, from the point of view of a helicopter camera, focused on police headquaters – my place of work. It took my mind a moment to grasp what I was seeing – for a moment, I honestly thought the things I saw in the image were something like those floppy balloons used-car lot have to advertise (a used car lot is a place where hustlers con good people for dubious vehicles).

But it wasn’t.

What it was, was…I assume you’ve seen something rotten before, yes? Fruit or flesh, particularly rotten, with writhing maggots and fly larvae? If so, that was how my workplace now looked. Except the ‘maggots’ were long, and had faces, rodent faces, whose thin flesh had been pulled taut across the bone, revealing every skeletal edge and angle. Strips of blood streaked down at points where the flesh had simply torn from the apparent strain, and thick veins snaked their banded bodies. Inside their exposed, cheekless mouths, their teeth clicked excitedly.

I remember the camera zoomed in on one as it was gnawing on an exposed girder, and how the large, swirling eyes inside that creature’s skull swiveled up to meet the camera almost immediately, like it knew it was getting it’s fifteen minutes of fame.

The creature’s entire body writhed towards the hovering chopper. It stopped, and its face split into a grin. Those wide, lid-less eyes fixed right on the lens.

And it began to laugh.

The rest of the day isn’t as clear to me after that. I remember watching that smile approach the camera, the screams of the people on that chopper as the image died, then me trying to pack, then just finding myself just running down the street. Part of me wanted to go to my friends, my parents, all of which lived in the inner-city. I wanted to get them out. But I’m afraid to say I didn’t even try. I lived in one of the outer suburbs of the city anyway, Cliffside – I don’t think I’d of made it to the inner-city in time the way those things…spread.

I don’t know if people were just stuck in their homes scared by what they were seeing on TV, or they simply didn’t know what was happening Downtown, but there wasn’t chaos when I ran down the streets of Cliffside. Just some people leaving their homes very quickly – if you’ve ever experienced it, it felt like that moment, the one before a riot happens? The calm before the storm.

I tagged along with a small group that seemed like they had supplies, and moved like they had purpose – a family, two guys and an older woman. We made it to a jetty down by one of the cliffs. One of the guys owned a boat, a small yacht-thing, and we planned to leave the city that way.

And we did.

It became obvious very quickly that we’d been lucky. The capital got a lot worse, fast; we didn’t see many other boats out on the water, and the news reported that those worm-things had begun emerging in other places around the city. That person-sized, cheetah-fast beings had begun swarming from those spots, murdering anyone they came across, dragging the bodies away to parts unknown…

The news also reported that the areas around the ‘emergence points’ were starting to ‘brighten’ and ‘soften’, but I’m still not entirely sure what that means; the mainstream news stopped broadcasting after that, and the people here don’t feel comfortable talking about it. They just say that it’s bad. Very bad.

The internet (a system that allows communication between people, instantly) stayed up longer than I expected. Wasn’t too useful though – online news sources either didn’t know what was going on, or simply stopped altogether. The general public was a mish-mash of doom-say and unbacked theories.

The only thing everyone did agree on was that the capital fell after just two days.

We headed down the coast to ‘Burrow, a neighbouring town renowned for its agriculture, but apparently things were starting to get unpleasant there, too. So we decided to wait for a while on the open water, skirting the coast. We did stop at one place, Stag’s Rest, but the people there were dangerously keen on the boat, so after that, we decided not to risk towns. We heard news that Stag’s Rest fell only three days after our visit – these things were spreading out.

We decided not to risk land in general after hearing that.

We kept traveling for a few weeks. Edging three months, I think. That’s a long time to live within 20 metres of eight other people. Tensions ran high. Supplies ran low. Things got desperate. Things I’d rather not talk about happened, in that time. People left. People died.

In the end, it was just me, the older woman, the guy who owned the boat, and the little girl who’d been part of that larger family. We’d traveled more than this small yacht was ever intended to, and everywhere we went, the news was the same; desperation, death, things that seemed to move in the woodlands that curtains the shore…

It was bleak.

Then, one morning, the ship radio picked up something – the first broadcast in weeks. We’d left it on just in case, but to actually hear something…

It called survivors to an oil rig that had been set up as a shelter, and it promised food, supplies, and that ‘the truth would be revealed’. The co-ordinates weren’t too far away, either. The boat owner thought it was a cult or a trap. I did too, truth be told, but a cult had food, and a trap meant death, and at this point…

I convinced the boat owner to set sail. We reached the rig that night.

The oil rig was large, and surrounded by boats – others who’d heard the call, which I later learned was sent out very rarely and only in short bursts, for safety reasons. The boats were the main reason we’d spotted the rig in the darkness, actually: the oil rig itself had just the minimal lighting on, a few splashes of yellow and red here and there. Again – safety reasons.

We exited the boat using this make-shift ladder to help people up onto the rig – the original gangway wasn’t intended for things as small as ours and the other boats, and the one that was was too dangerous to use this time of year because of waves.

At any rate, the oil rig was the sanctuary it promised itself to be – exiting out of the entrance into the main deck of the rig…it’s something I’ll never forget. People danced and sang around rusted equipment, and talked in clusters holding cups of honest-to-goodness hot food! I’m not afraid to admit I cried when I saw this place; I think everyone of our group did a little. It had been so long since we’d felt civilisation, after all.

We were quickly guided by a welcoming committee, who’d been informed of our arrival by the people who’d helped us up (I later understood why they wouldn’t want new arrivals to see too much before they’d been educated). We were guided into the ‘arrival area’ – a break room in the main building – and told we’d begin integration in the morning. We were also told we’d find out the truth then, too.

The next morning, we were guided into a nearby room that I assume was where rig staff received daily briefings. The community representative came and greeted us, learned who we were, and what our previous occupations were. For half the day, we worked with him and a few other ‘buddies’ from the community to figure out how we’d fit into this society, and what we could do to help.

Near the end of the day, the community head took me aside, and asked me questions about the state of my group, if I had any concerns about them, what I already knew of the events that had occurred…and general statements clearly probing my openness to new concepts and ideas. I wasn’t the leader of our group – the boat owner was – but I guess they deemed my background in psychology allowed greater insight. I assumed some of these questions related to that whole ‘reveal the truth’ thing, and decided to confront him on that matter directly; I’d seen some horrific things by this point, I was quite ready to accept many things, and I suspected the rest of my group was as well.

He conceded, and guided me to another room, where I’d meet someone who could tell me what was going on in private. The community representative assured me he’d be there and that although this person looked weird, they were friendly, and unrelated to what was happening to our world.

I braced myself when the door opened. In all honesty, I was expecting some sort of three-headed insect, drooling blood (that is something that does not exist on my world), but what walked in was…

I’ll be honest; I understand this appearance is apparently a common one across multiple worlds, but you have to understand, nothing like it really exists on mine, so I apologize if I come across as offensive in my description.

The being was about my height, and composed of tawny flesh that completely lacked hair or fur except for the top of his head, his eyebrows, and his beard. He wore a black, wrap around tunic, white pants, and golden shoes with curls on the end. He had a face and body structure similar to a family of mammal that went long extinct on my world; they were called ‘primates’. I’d seen artist depictions on TV documentaries, but they’d never been created to be so bald. It was quite odd seeing this being look back at me: no muzzle, snout, tail, paws, or claws. Again, I don’t mean to be rude, and whilst I was relieved to see another mammal, it still felt so alien to see something lacking such rudimentary features.

The man’s race are apparently called ‘humans’ in most realities. Hello if you are one, or know one.

The human shook my paw, let me recover from the surprise, and sat opposite me. He let me probe him with basic questions – something he was quite used to by this point – and answered some of my own. Even now it’s still remarkable to learn that mammalia in its totality don’t usually ascend to sapience; that, on some worlds, beings like myself still roam savage like my ancestors once did. A fact I’m sure a certain bigoted vice-mayor of the capital would of loved to know that back in the day, but I’m getting off topic.

The human, Aamir, then asked me a different sort of question.

‘Tell me, Dr. Wolfstone – Have you heard of ‘Disney’?’

It seemed odd, but I told him that I had. I hope it’s a word that means nothing to you; I’m sorry if you, too, understand it.

Disney is an ‘entertainment company’ – on my world, that meant they made cartoons and computer animated feature films (a computer is basically an electronic device that allows people to write, draw, play games and another way to use the internet). On some worlds, like Aamir’s native Arabia, they wrote books and made toys. At any rate, Disney was indeed something I knew of.

He explained to me that he was originally a guardsman from Arabia when his world began to undergo what was happening to mine now.

He’d been closer than I had been when it started, though. Very close.

The Sultan of his land was informing a crowd about reforms to tax law when it began – Aamir was a guardsman near the back of the crowd, waiting to keep dissidents in check should they disagree with the announcement.

The Sultan had just finished greeting the crowd, when he suddenly stopped. Mid-sentence.

Then he began to laugh.

The crowd had shifted uneasily as the Sultan continued to laugh – some were mad, assuming the Sultan meant to laugh at them.

But then, the Sultan began to choke. The crowd gasped, and aides rushed to his side, fearful he had fallen to some poison or malady. The Sultan clawed at his throat, before throwing his head up to face the sky in a sudden jerk. His body trembled and, from inside his mouth, a thing erupted forth – thin, gangly, and the off-white. It grew in height, and width, straining the Sultan’s mouth, before popping the jaw off his head. The crowd screamed.

The thing grew a rodent’s head with taut flesh, and grinned at their fear. Laughed at it.

Aamir tried to guide the crowd at first, but the thing on the balcony just kept growing larger and larger, soon breaking the balcony under its weight. He could see evidence of other such things emerging from over the rooftops, and the city beginning to burst in blended screams.

So, like me, he had begun to run.

And also like me, after he somehow escaped the chaos, he hid, far out in the desert with other survivors from his city. They were heading towards the next city when the group had encountered a group of foreign-looking people, ‘beast men’ like myself, and other creatures, all travelling behind a group of small, winged beings flying along – fairies. Fairies that had taken it upon themselves to guide survivors through the tears that opened up when Disney began to break a world down much further.

From them, Aamir and his group learned the truth – it was not just Arabia that was doomed, but the entire world.

The curse of Disney had come to them, as it had their worlds. As, Aamir apologised, it had now come to my own.

Disney, he explained, was not so much a company, as opposed to an entity – an insidious, living thing lurking in the space between spaces, a thing without form, only agenda. It wanted power over a world quickly, easily, and unopposed, and in order to achieve that, it needed to build ‘presence’ in the minds of that world’s people – an ‘in’ to pry through and enter a world more completely.

To achieve this, it seeded itself in various realities when it could sneak through opportunistic cracks in defenses – a ‘drop’ of itself that always set itself up the company, always in entertainment, always by a catalyst named ‘Walt Disney’ or a variant thereof.

It made sense the more Aamir explained it – Governments and entities could be opposed easily enough. If you formed a country and tried to take over the world, yes, you’d be known – but you also risked being crushed. Forgotten.

But something everyone needed, everyone wanted, like mere entertainment? A company that provided that well enough would grow, and eventually grow unopposed.

In almost all realities, Disney would work as inoffensive ‘feel-good-learn-a-message’ entertainment for younger audiences, because these audiences could create the largest market demand for Disney merchandise. Plant the most awareness of it in the most minds the quickest.

And eventually, when Disney finally gained enough power, enough presence to enter into a world and actually affect a world…? It would seep in quietly, and watch. Wait.

‘Wait? Wait for what’, I’d asked. Aamir looked at me with a weak smile.

‘A moment,’ He answered. ‘It waits for a moment it can use. It can re-purpose.’

He reached within his tunic, and withdrew something – a DVD. ‘Disney’s Aladdin’. A classic movie.

But, looking at the cover, it seemed…off. The Genie wasn’t an elephant, Aladdin no longer a fox, Jasmine not a tiger.

Instead, they all looked like humans.

‘This,’ Aamir explained, ‘Is something I picked up from a shopping centre in a place called Seattle, Washington. From the last world we went to.’

He looked at it grimly.

‘This abomination is also what remains of my beloved Agrabah.’

His beloved..?

In that moment, as my eyes widened and chest wrenched, I understood. I knew.

Every Disney movie I had ever seen flicked across my mind.

How many?

How damned many?

Understandably, it was a lot to take it. When they were told, the rest of my group took time to adjust to the idea, too.

But in the end, we did accept it. Our world was gone. The essence was being snatched through a moment to create…lures, for people elsewhere.

How could we deny it? It was madness either way.

And that is why I – why we – are writing to you today. We can no longer do anything for my world, but we can do something for yours. The last world the survivors went to (the one that went on to compose the property ‘Pig Hero 6’) provided an example of technology that could send things between realities. Send things before Disney tore the barriers. We’re testing the technology with simple things, like this data transmission, before we try anything more…substantial.

But if things go to plan, we will use this not just to find safety and warn others, but to fight.

If the word ‘Disney’ is foreign to you outside this message, and no such thing exists where you are, then be thankful, and watchful. Keep this message hidden, and let no-others know unless it emerges. If Disney is where you are, however…

Fight it. Don’t watch the movies. Don’t buy the toys. Don’t spread the stories. Ignore it, starve it of its desired power and influence. Protect your world by letting ours die. Stop Disney from achieving market saturation, from beginning to watch your world for that one moment it can use against you all.

We will never meet, and I don’t know if I will ever find a place I can call ‘safe’ ever again. The fairies say the barriers are beginning to tear again, and the group must move on. But no matter what happens to me, to us, I want you to know we believe in you, and that, if you try, everything will be ok. We believe in you.

Goodbye, and good luck (luck is…a concept that doesn’t matter, because you don’t need; we will win).

Regards,
Dr. William Wolfstone, PsyD”

***Author Note/Disclaimer: Obviously, this creepypasta was based entirely in the realm of fiction, Disney and anything related are not eldritch abominations bent on consuming worlds, and the author bares absolutely no ill-will towards the company. Infact, some of Disney’s more recent movies have been particularly great; go see one. Zootopia, Aladdin and Big Hero Six belong to Disney.***

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Knocking

July 18, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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Bella awoke from a horrible dream. Or at least she thought she did. Somehow she knew she was still dreaming, but she now looked down upon herself, as if watching a movie. Something like someone having had recorded her, and playing it back for her. But the edges around the “picture” looked hazy…there was a certain numbness that just told her she was still dreaming. Dreaming but unable to actually interact and intervene.

She watched herself rise, rubbing sleep from her eyes. She was in a cozy little bedroom. One that seemed so very familiar, she was sure she’d seen it, even having been inside it before. Yet it still felt wrong. A small, clean single bed sat in the corner, the one she’d risen from. The air was bathed in artificial heat. It felt refreshing. The lighting was dim and flickering slightly, as if ablaze by candle. But nothing visible seemed to be producing it, and there wasn’t a single window to allow natural light inside.

A sharp rapping of wood startled her, and broke the trance. The dream version of Bella stood still for a second, seemingly frozen in time. She watched intently, as if looking in through a haze filled pane of glass at herself. The rapping continued, someone was knocking on a wooden door somewhere. And they continued to do so until she finally decided to move from the cozy bedroom. The hallway outside the room was long, extremely dark and cold, bone chillingly cold compared to the comforting warmth of that bedroom.

The knocking got louder and sharper, and a chill ran up Bella’s spine as she stepped out into the hallway. The air out here spreading goosebumps over her body. She could feel the chill inside and outside of the dream, it seemed. A faint light crept out from the darkness down the long, unrealistically long hallway. Each step she took thundered around her in a deafening echo. The atmosphere thick and intensely quiet, all except for the constant pounding of the door somewhere down the hall every few seconds.

After what seemed like an eternity she emerged from the hall into the light. The place seemed like some sort of extremely rustic foyer. A heavy oak looking door without a single pane of glass stood before her, seemingly the door that was being knocked on. Bella slowly reached for the heavy looking iron handle bar. Hand clasped around the ice cold metal, but hesitant to pull it open. Everything told her not to open this door. To just ignore the constant knocking and walk back down that strangely long hallway and lock herself away in that cozy little warm bedroom. Whatever was knocking obviously hadn’t tried to open the door itself yet. She was doubtful that it would. She felt this as certainty. It’d been knocking now for at least ten minutes. The trek down the hall had to have taken nearly eight alone, at least it had seemed so.

“Just turn around, block out the knocking, go back into the cozy little candlelit bedroom, lock the door and curl up on the bed therein. That simple, just drift off to sleep and forget about this.” The real Bella intervened here, somehow. “Just fall asleep and wake back up, but for real this time. Put this behind you.”

But the knocking continued to grow louder and more frequent. It seemed insanely loud now. Each knock in quick succession echoing like a thunder blast of an intense storm. Bella’s grip tightened on the door handle, and slowly began to pull. A creak was heard as a small gust of wintry wind swept inside. The knocking ceased, and for a moment she stood frozen. Again she rolled that thought of just turning away through her mind. Just shut the door again and turn around. Instead she quickly, as quickly as she could anyway – as the heavy oaken door weighed even more than it looked, flung the thing ajar. The first thing her eyes focused on was the whiteness of the large yard beyond the threshold . Then her eyes focused.

Before her stood the near skeletal face of a woman. It’s fleshless face seemed to form a permanent grin, ice hanging from it, and from it’s straggly gray hair. There were no eyes in it’s hollowed out sockets, and no sign of anything seeing from them. None the less it stared intently for a few seconds, Bella could feel it’s gaze, feel it in her bones, looking through her. Ragged, white flesh hung loosely from the knuckles of its right hand, still raised as it had been knocking.

Bella was frozen, unable to move, unable to breathe even. Finally the thing, the corpse’s jaw seemed to unhinge, lowering as a shrill, bone chilling wail escaped from within its frozen, decaying body. A thin yellow mist poured from the mouth, and finally Bella found her breath as a thin yelp escaped from her own throat and her feet finally seemed free to move.

And move she did. Running, no, sprinting back down that too long hallway. The banshee like scream continued behind her as she heard the all too quick clattering footsteps chasing behind. Forcing herself not to look back she just continued to run as fast as her short legs could carry her. The wailing and the footfalls seemed to be catching up to her. Bella’s lungs were burning, her energy quickly draining. She chanced a look back over the shoulder and caught sight of the thing again. It ran like an Olympian, the trail of yellowed gas having filled the hallway behind them, and streaming from the gaping jaws of the corpse.

The bedroom was getting closer, Bella could see the light under the crack of the door, even feel the change in temperature slightly. She knew somehow that if she could get back in there she could shut the thing out and everything would just somehow be fine. But her legs were faltering, her lungs burning as if doused in napalm, she felt nauseated. Sweating and gasping desperately for precious oxygen. But it wasn’t just the sheer exertion of the near ten minute long sprint down this freakishly long hall, the air was steadily growing more and more sour and acidic. It stung her eyes now, and burned in her nostrils and in the back of her throat. The hall was filling with the yellow gas that seemed to just gush fourth from the thing behind her with each bloodcurdling scream it unleashed.

The door to the bedroom was now in sight, she could feel it’s radiating warmth, feel the anxiousness in her every pore to dash inside and slam the door shut behind her. But her vision was growing fishy, she felt a warm liquid run down her nose, trailing to her chin, knowing without looking it was blood. Her throat felt ragged, raw and mangled with each wheezing breath that tried to escape. She could not only feel but even slightly taste the rustiness of blood running down into her esophagus.

Her legs felt like jello, her feet numb. Eyelids seeming to swell, she stumbled, catching herself, her hand pressed against the warm door of the bedroom to prop herself up. within arms reach was freedom, narrowed down for the taking. Only wood and a lock to put this horrible nightmare behind her. Bella choked on blood, coughing, her eyes blinded now, she slumped forward against the door, head pressed against it. So close…so very close. She felt the thin, skeletal grip grasp her neck, fingers so cold they burned, literally. Instinctively, Bella jerked back, freeing herself from the searing grasp. A new smell mixing into the noxious, burning chemical odor wafting to her nose for a moment, seared flesh. As she’d jerked back the door swung open, spilling it’s oh so cozy candle like light into the dark, gas filled hallway. The warmth splashing out like a tidal wave.

Bella hit the floor gasping for breath, eyes, nose, ears and mouth oozing darkened blood now. Her swelled, watery eyes glimpsing freedom, it mocked her, laughing at her pitiful attempt to find sanctuary. No, not it, the thing, the skeletal thing was laughing as that searingly cold clutching grip again latched around her neck.

With a start Bella awoke from a terrible dream, it had seemed so realistic. She sat on the edge of her bed trying to sort out the details and feeling a tinge of deja vu. Probably a sick fever dream as she felt like she was coming down with somehing. Her throat and sinuses felt kind of ragged and sore, her eyes burned. The hint of an unpleasant acrid aftertaste lingered at the back of her tongue. She shivered, wrapping a blanket over her shoulders.

Something felt off. This was the bedroom she’d spent a majority of her childhood in, the bedroom in her parent’s house. Not the bedroom of the uptairs apartment she rented now as a working college student. She shook her head, her mind felt hazy and it made her a bit dizzy. She just needed rest.

She decided it’d be better if she just went back to sleep, rest being the best medicine. A sharp knocking came from somewhere seemingly far away. It was persistent. Exhaustion tugged at Bella’s mind as she rose, letting the warmth and comfort of the blanket slide to the floorboards. She trembled as she slowly opened the door, not really understanding why. The hallway beyond was frigidly cold and dark, so very dark. The knocking continued, louder each time, determined to be responded to.

Credit: Xeo

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Voices

July 17, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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I consider myself a sensible person. I scoff at ghost stories and roll my eyes at the thought of a fourth kind. As an adult, I can easily disregard the notion that there is a supernatural realm that could affect me. But there is one problem with my current ability to ignore all things mysterious, a series of events that contradicts my disbelief.

As a child I heard things. However, I should be more specific, as I do not mean music or laughter or the innocuous, normal sounds belonging to our everyday surroundings. The “things” I heard were spoken by three distinct voices. And they had ill intentions – for me. You may be thinking, “Oh these voices could have been talking about anyone!” But they called me by name. You may also be thinking: “Children have nightmares!” And I cannot force you to believe what I have experienced is real. All I can do is share with you in the hopes that the telling of this story will provide me with some relief.

The most vivid recollection I have of the voices is actually the first time I heard them. At least I think it was the first time. I can now point to this event as the beginning of it all, but I know how easily my other childhood memories have blurred together and been altered unintentionally, in the years since growing up. In the interest of this re-telling, however, I can say with relative confidence that the first night I heard the voices I was seven years old. I was in an awkward phase – though in the interest of full disclosure my life has been a 24-year long awkward phase – and was still struggling with not only a severe lisp, but a stutter as well. My hair was cut in a blunt, harsh bob style at that age, adding to my peculiar look, as I was not only short, but also scrawny in the limbs with a pudgy stomach. Cute right? All awkwardness aside, I was a fairly happy child, despite a somewhat traumatizing home life that can be boiled down to “Daddy has a terrible drinking problem, but we all pretend it doesn’t exist and attend church like a good family should.” The fact that I was raised in the church makes this story even more disturbing to me in retrospect, though in my immature mind at the time I never made a connection between my religious upbringing and the demonic presence in my home.

So this vivid recollection – one seemingly average night as a seven year old, I lay safely in my racecar bed (being a tomboy had some advantages). My routine at that age included listening to religious-themed audiobook stories, which I found soothing for whatever reason. The cassette rolled, as usual, and I began to drift off to sleep, as usual. But that night I was awoken by the voices from beneath my room. Let me clarify something. My bed was positioned next to an archaic air vent, under which was the first floor of the house. More specifically, my room was above the first floor bathroom, and the style of the vent in my floor made it possible to see and hear what was happening in the room below me. The novelty of this view had grown old, and I no longer spied down to the sink (the only part of the bathroom I could see clearly) on a daily basis. So when I heard soft murmuring underneath my room, I at first subconsciously processed the voices as my parents, having a quiet discussion in the bathroom. I continued to drift.

I remember that I suddenly realized that there were more than two voices. Though my brother and sister were born by that time, neither was old enough to speak in a clearly distinguishable voice. The drifting stopped. I sat up in confusion. I would like to tell you that I panicked immediately and because alarmed – but that just isn’t how it happened. I was only perplexed, as I knew there were only two adults in my home, and there were three adult-toned voices conversing beneath me. From my position on the bed I could not hear clearly what was being said, and as I was not entirely concerned at that point, I inched off my mattress slightly, closer to the vent. I could not see down through the metal slats, as the lights in my room and the bathroom below were off, but I could certainly hear more clearly.

The following is my best possible recollection of what was said; I do not claim to remember word for word, and the phrases were spoken softly so I had trouble understanding exactly what was being said, but this narrative should give a general idea of what the voices said to me.

Male 1: She’s asleep
Male 2: We knew she’d be asleep. She’s a child. It is night.
Male 1: *soft laughter*
Female: But that’s no reason to waste time. She will wake up.
Male 2: This is kinder for (my name).
Male 1: There is no kindness.

These voices, obviously discussing me, belonged to two males and one female, though her tone was raspy and deep for a girl, I remember thinking. After the first male voice had spoken the last sentence, there was silence. I shook my head and told myself I was hearing things. Or maybe I was still asleep. I pinched a bit of my arm flesh between my fingers to wake myself up, to no avail. You may be wondering if I ran to the room of my parents for help or to alert them of what I had heard – but I did not. I had learned never to disturb them in the night, and so I tried to talk myself into a calm state of mind despite my rapid heart rate and sinking stomach.

I eventually found peaceful rest, and did not give a second thought to my nighttime terror as the next day dawned and passed without incident. That night and many nights after were free from the voices. I eventually dismissed the notion that anything had even happened; convincing myself it had been a nightmare, a bad dream.

Several weeks later, I believe, it happened again. Same set-up, so I won’t walk you through all of the mundane details. But this time the voices were making plans. You may question how I can remember this, and although I will admit I don’t remember the exact specifics, I knew that plans were being made to harm me. After this second occurrence of hearing the voices they came more often, having started to formulate their plans more concretely at that point. The plans seemed to change in nature, and I heard things ranging from burning me repeatedly, to kidnapping me, to torturing me for information about some unknown secret. It seemed to me that they did not care what the plan was, only that I was harmed. At this point it seems logical to you as readers that I should have disclosed my nighttime experiences to my parents, but I think I was still trying to convince myself that I was in the wrong – I was imagining these voices, and no one would believe me if I did not even believe myself. So I kept quiet and continued to listen to them.

I got to know them, almost as if they were friends. Thinking back I realize that I was a lonely child with few friends and a lack of love or nurturing in my home. I felt somewhat comforted by their presence after a while. The terror turned to familiarity. Sure these voices had bad ideas about me, and wanted to inflict pain on me, but they used my name. They knew where I was. They kept coming back.

One male voice, the first I had heard, was cold, decisive. He knew what needed to be done, though the plan kept changing. He always had new and more extreme ideas. He never used my name.

The second male voice seemed to have mercy. He would always mention that I needed to be asleep before they could do anything in order to make it as painless as possible. He used my name regularly.

She was malicious, graphic, and brutal. She wanted to harm me the most. She used my name occasionally, but with an edge in her voice that made me feel like my name was a dirty word.

After a while (I wish I could tell you how long, but my memories of time periods are vague and inaccurate) I started to try to stay awake for as long as I could in order to catch more of their conversations. They would repeat the plans, uttering the same phrases multiple times, almost as if they were trying to bore me into sleep, but I also somehow knew that they didn’t know I was awake. I began to think that staying awake was the only way I could prevent terrible things from happening to me. I would sit up in bed, on the edge of my mattress, legs dangling over the side, and listen to stories to keep myself awake. I would occasionally drift off to the sound of the voices, which had become almost as soothing as they were terrifying. But on nights when I could manage to stay awake until dawn, I would trudge through my day following the night of vigilant sleeplessness, proud of my ability to “beat” the voices. Even though nothing happened to me when I did fall asleep for any length of time, part of my brain told me that awake equated to safety and sleep to death.

Nights without sleep passed. The voices changed their plans. I struggled to stay awake in school. It became routine as listening to my audiobooks on cassette.

You may be wondering another thing (you may be very curious readers). Why didn’t I turn on the lights in the bathroom before bed so I could look down into the room and see whom the voices belonged to? I tried that. I would turn the light on, and one of my parents would flick it off before bedtime. I also tried sneaking downstairs and turning it on after they’d gone to bed. By the time I would reach my room and try to peer down through the rusting slats of the air vent, the light would be off again, making me wonder if I had turned it off at all. I began to feel like I was part of a twisted game that forced me to ask myself questions.

Would I fall asleep?

Why can’t I get the light to stay on?

Was I really hearing anything?

As I quizzed myself each night, lying in bed tormented by the trio of voices, the terror grew – but not because the threats to my safety increased or frightened me more. I began to question my sanity. As a young child, to become so unhinged I now realize was normal based on my belief that three people were underneath my room discussing plans to torture me. But at the time I was determined to find my fault in it. If only I could stay awake all night. If only I could see who it was. If only I wasn’t a bad girl who deserved to have these things happen to her. They seemed so sure that I needed to be hurt. I started to believe it.

I decided to sleep through the night and let them carry out their plans. I was tired. I was guilty. I just wanted the confusion to stop.

I slept all night. And all the next day. And that night as well. I slept for 36 hours. I remember my mother coming in and out of the room, tenderly pressing a hand to my forehead, presumably to check for fever. Little did she know I was the healthiest I’d been in a long time. Nothing happened. No plans were carried out. I rested my mind and body. I awoke eventually and went to school. My mother asked if I felt ill. I didn’t, and told her so. The voices did not return that night. Or the next night.

They did not return in my childhood.

When I look back on that period of my life it is easy to chalk up my experiences with the voices as normal childhood fear of monsters. I wish I could. I am so solidly a disbeliever in anything paranormal that it makes no sense to me that anything in that realm could have occurred. Did any of this happen? I have given you my most honest recollections. I leave it up to you to decide. Thank you for letting me release my inner demons.

I consider myself a sensible person.

I hope I can stay awake tonight.

I need to stay awake.

Credit: Aimee

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Do NOT Buy An RT!

June 30, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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Hey, all. You don’t know me, but I’ve been in this group for about four years now, even if I never really said anything. I’m just not really the social network type of person – I’m one of those old-fashioned guys who prefer face to face contact to blog posts and messaging, so I never saw much appeal in engaging in an online discussion, even if I rather enjoyed reading your posts. Well, the time has come for me to make my first, and most likely only, post here. In all honesty, I’m expecting a swift and permanent ban from NetWeb after this, but I don’t really care. There’s something I need to tell everyone, and it’s going to sound crazy and nonsensical, but I assure you every word is true.

My message is simple – do NOT buy an RT!!! I can not stress this enough. Do not purchase an RT, a used one or especially a brand new one. Let the fad die off. Please. I know what you’re thinking – “But Trevor, RTs have the potential to change the world! If we use them right and monitor them properly we’re looking at an age of prosperity!” And yes, I do agree that the fantasy that IGT has been trying to pitch us for the last three years sounds pretty great, but in reality it’s disgusting, inhumane, and not to mention highly illegal. I have no concrete proof for any of my beliefs, so I’m not going to outline them in plain text. All I’m going to do is tell you the story leading up to the creation of this post and let you reach your own conclusions.

It’s important to note that I lost one of my legs to a soft tissue sarcoma last year. By the time we caught it, it had already spread to the rest of my body, but with proper treatment the doctors are expecting me to live for at least another 25 years, which, while not ideal, is way more than cancer patients with my condition lived for only half a century ago. Still, the treatments leave me in a lot of pain, and the aforementioned lack of one leg makes it pretty difficult to move about, even with my prosthesis. And since I’m both disabled AND terminally ill, I more than qualified for IGT’s charity which provided free RTs to people who really need them. When I received a message from one of their PR people asking me if I would like to get a free model to help out around the house, I was ecstatic! Sure, I knew that this was all in their best interest, not mine – their donations are tax-deductible, and they’re also getting free marketing through exposure to boot. Regardless, as someone who’s never had a proper girlfriend and got disowned by his parents years ago, I knew I could really use the help. And besides, who wouldn’t want the hottest, latest piece of technology for absolutely free? I was certainly not going to say no to that, even if I had to play the cancer card to get it.

For the next several weeks I was in negotiation with the PR guy (whose name I won’t disclose, because I sincerely doubt he knows anything about what’s going on), sending documents back and forth, familiarizing myself with the terms and conditions of their deal and that sort of thing. Yes, IGT really do run a charity with terms and conditions attached to their donations, because IGT. But anyway, I was told that I’d receive a 2060 “GRETA” model – not the latest, even at the time (the story happened in early ‘62), yet still pretty damn great, costing north of half a million. The package was delivered to me on a Monday, straight to my door, and after that I set about assembling the RT unit myself. The process was, admittedly, a lot easier than I expected – the body and head were already in place, so all I had to do was attach the limbs, which required just a little bit of unscrewing and soldering, and then activate the unit. Honestly, while RTs look super realistic in ads and on store shelves, in real life they fall a bit in the uncanny valley, especially upon closer inspection. You know that horrible artificial skin they use on the expensive prosthetics, the kind that really looks like skin, but feels like cheap plastic? My RT was covered in that, head to toe.

The assembly took about 25 minutes in total, which I know some people in this group will consider to be way too slow, but keep in mind that I’m not really the type of person who’s ever had to work with this kind of stuff. When I was a child I wasn’t allowed anywhere near the tools, which were the exclusive domain of my father and older brother, and during high school and beyond I only ever did some basic soldering, like the type they teach in shop class, so go easy on me. Anyway, soon enough my RT was ready to go. The GRETA model’s system software came pre-installed (no messy work required there), but the unit hadn’t been activated yet – I had to do that myself so that it could imprint. For the five of you unfamiliar with the process, imprinting is pretty much the most important part of the setup. The first person the RT sees upon its activation becomes its… well, for lack of a better word, its Master. That person will always receive top priority when it comes to issuing orders or being cared for, and the RT will never wander off when its Master is less than 500 meters away.

Upon turning the unit on for the first time, it… Well, I guess after activation it’s not really an “it” anymore, is it? Upon turning the unit on for the first time, she began the imprinting process, and to hide that fact recited a pre-recorded message, just your standard fare about the rules I’d have to take into account, such as feeding her once a day, letting her sleep for at least five hours, caring for her as if I’d been caring for a real person… Kind of ironic, considering the fact that she was supposed to care for me, but whatever. The instructions also stated rather sternly that I was not to penetrate the skin layer of the RT under any circumstances, and that upon malfunction I was to bring her to an IGT-certified repair shop only, or else I’d be voiding my warranty. I didn’t pay it much mind, though.

Once the instructions were complete, so was the imprinting, and my RT’s life, if you can call it that, began. That machine which uncannily resembled a young girl looked around, her artificial eyes flickering and moving just like real ones would. She finally introduced herself more informally, explaining that I had to do some basic tasks before she could be useful to me. It was fairly simple stuff, such as giving her my schedule, setting alarms, feeding her info like my social security number, that kind of thing. She also asked me to name her, which I really didn’t feel comfortable doing. I’m probably very weird in this regard, but I don’t believe in choosing somebody else’s name – it’s like you define part of them without their knowledge or consent, forever. But then again, maybe I’m just biased. After all, when I was born my parents named me Marissa, so suffice to say, that didn’t really stick for too long. Legally changing my name to something more fitting felt empowering, like I was finally in charge of defining who I was. So I told her she could pick her own name, when she felt ready. She suggested Greta, like her model name, but I disagreed – I wanted her to choose something that she, herself, would feel was right for her. It’s funny – even at that moment, I subconsciously knew that she was more than just a computer in a humanoid body, like IGT was advertising. But I didn’t get confirmation until she began dreaming.

According to my research, RTs dreaming during sleep is not uncommon at all. In fact, it happens roughly as frequently as it does in humans, and just like us, they dream of recent events, people they have met, the works. Their software is sorting through the data collected during the day, placing the most important bits on the HDD and deleting the rest, and that process may sometimes “glitch” into dreams. I’ve seen a lot of people in this group, and beyond, report being weirded out when their RTs woke up and began telling them about their dreams, but at least those could be easily explained by the information transfer process I described above. What’s less easy to comprehend is when an RT begins dreaming about things and people they’ve never seen before. After all, if that explanation is true, then how can RTs possibly dream of objects they don’t have a recorded memory of? It didn’t make any sense at all, it was like a camera having pictures on its memory card that you’ve never taken. My own RT, who by that point began going by the name Laura, started experiencing this phenomenon about a month after she imprinted.

It was always the exact same dream – a white house, with two floors looking like cubes stacked upon each other. The peculiar thing about them was that the upper “cube” was turned several degrees to the side, so that its corners protruded above the lower floor’s walls. It was an interesting architectural decision, one that I was positive I’d never seen or even glimpsed before. And yet Laura recalled it flawlessly, down to the finest detail. The first time she told me about this dream I dismissed her pretty casually, thinking it was just something she spotted while on a shopping trip. The second time caught my curiosity. Then the third, fourth, fifth and sixth times all convinced me that there was something very weird happening here. Worried that my RT might have a serious issue, I asked her to draw a sketch of the house, and then sent that to IGT’s customer support alongside an explanation of the problem. This is the response I received:

“Dear Mr. Kingsley,

I regret to hear about the issues you’re experiencing with your aRTificial. Our engineers here at IGT are working hard to troubleshoot every single unit we ship in order to assure that our customers receive only the highest quality product, but considering the demand and the limited time we have to spare on quality assurance for each unit, sometimes mistakes (known as glitches) in the unit’s memory occur. Your particular issue, while inconvenient, is not too uncommon, and we are pleased to inform you that it will cause no issues or long-term problems with your aRTificial’s function. It stems from the fact that, during QA, the engineers use stock photos to “flash” a unit’s short-term memory and make sure it’s functioning. The particular image you have sent me shows an uncanny resemblance to one of the stock images we use for the process, which I have attached to this e-mail. While the issue will fade away over time, if you would like you can bring your unit to an IGT-approved maintenance workshop so that its memory can be formatted. That will solve the issue once and for all.”

As always, I am keeping the IGT employees’ names out of this until I become certain of their involvement. Anyway, I downloaded the picture and, wouldn’t you know it, it was the exact same house that Laura had drawn, right down to the very last detail. Immediately, a lamp in my brain lit up and I was like “Conspiracy! They photoshopped this image to throw me off!”, but no, a reverse image search brought up plenty of sites hosting that particular stock photo, which was apparently uploaded quite a few years ago. Problem solved, right? The customer support guy’s story checked out right down to the very last detail, and more importantly, it made sense. So then why couldn’t I put it out of my mind? And I wasn’t alone – day after day, Laura would wake up and excitedly told me about the dream she’d had as she prepared breakfast for us. That dream was, of course, always about the house, in some way, shape or form. Sometimes she dreamed that she was very tiny and standing in front of the house, other times she was closer to her current height and walking up to it, and a few times she even dreamed that she was inside the house, facing the two pine trees just outside. When I asked how she knew this was the exact same house and not another, Laura told me that it just felt right. It became pretty obvious to me that she had a connection with that place, but I genuinely couldn’t understand what it was. So, like the good no-lifer that I am, I decided to spend my time doing research.

I discovered that the house was built by one Nigel Winston, an architect who also doubled as an artist. He’d built over a dozen houses during his career, each of which had some sort of quirk to it. The white one he called “House of Cards”, which, honestly, didn’t make much sense to me, but I’m sure it did to him, at least at the time. “House of Cards” was built in 2044, and for a time Winston himself lived in it alongside his family, but if the home’s listing in a real estate site was to be believed, he’d moved out about a year ago. An e-mail to the real estate company quickly got me his e-mail, and, interestingly, only his e-mail. While I did prefer something a bit more personal, such as a phone number, I was informed that Nigel Winston was a very private person and rarely, if ever, spoke to anyone. That led me to believe that my e-mail was going to be completely ignored if I revealed the truth about my research’s purpose, so instead I pretended to be someone interested in purchasing the house. I asked the standard questions – is it in a good neighborhood, are there stores or landmarks around, that kind of stuff. On top of it, I also asked more information about the house’s history, such as why it was built, how the stock photo came to be taken, and why he moved out and chose to sell one of his works of art. I am copy/pasting his response below, in full, and leaving the conclusions to you.

“Dear Mr. Kingsley,

I’m pleased to learn of your interest in purchasing the house my family and I called home for over 16 years. Despite its unique design, thus far you have been one of the very few people who expressed a genuine interest. As you can see, my House of Cards is in pristine condition, inside and out. There are multiple family-owned stores about five minutes away from it, as well as a MarGet roughly 15 minutes away. A school and a hospital are both within short driving distance away from the house, as a matter of fact, that’s the reason I chose that place in particular to build it. Its sole reason for existing was to give me and my family shelter, so I deliberately found a spot that would be great for raising a child. One drawback of the house is that it only has two bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room, as well as a bathroom on each floor, so there’s no place to, say, set up an office or a storage room. You could, however, convert one of the bedrooms into that if you need it, or you could build an additional structure in the backyard. We used to have two pines growing there that my wife had a liking for, but when we decided to sell and move those were removed, leaving enough empty space to attach another room or even two. The neighborhood is quiet and calm, trust me on this. The reason we moved has nothing to do with the area, or with any external factors. The truth is, my youngest daughter disappeared roughly a year ago, and once the investigation was closed we found that the house just held too many memories. I would prefer it if we no longer dwell on this depressing matter, yet I would also appreciate it if you can keep my Laura in your prayers tonight. If you have any more questions, or would like to set up a meeting, feel free to respond to this e-mail.

With respect, Nigel Winston”

Credit To: RaidenDP1

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June 23, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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Have you ever had a lapsing dream? It’s a very real thing, but I don’t talk to many people and I pay little attention to the media, so it is difficult to know what is unique to my mind and body. I turned the concept into a creepypasta because it scares me, or it frustrates and upsets me at the very least. A lapsing dream is entirely separate from more widely discussed occurrences in sleep like lucid dreams or paralysis incidents. It is not as immediately scary as sleep paralysis, but as someone who has suffered from both types of dream, I believe lapses to be the more insidious of the two. A lapsing dream lies somewhere between the illogical realm of fragmented dreams, which don’t seem to be very different from normal dreams except for their poorly defined and difficult to remember chronologies, and the timeless void of dreamless sleep. Lapsing dreams only seem to happen, or at least I remember them to only happen, at either edge of a period of restful sleep or throughout the course of poor, non-restful sleep. During a lapsing dream, random shards of thought or information spontaneously dart through the dwindling stream of consciousness, popping in and out in extremely quick succession as if hopping crossways over the mental flow. Sometimes, a lapse is composed of succinct, discrete bits of meaningless information that are too small in volume to hold any meaning. Other times, a lapse is composed of an amorphous mesh of many little thoughts ran together. All thoughts experienced in a lapsing dream do not appear in any tangible format such as text, imagery, or sound. They are all raw and unprocessed, and how they are able to be perceived, let alone remembered, is unexplainable. Any perception of self and existence is lost during a lapsing dream, but the experience is still present and able to be remembered. When someone has a lapsing dream, they do not see black or any other color, which separates this type of dream even further from all other kinds.

So why are lapses more scary than nightmares or sleep paralysis? Well, I think that lapses have the ability to slightly alter a person’s perception of reality. Lapses have a strange place within the continuum of the mind and sleep. Having a lapsing dream is probably as close as one can get to “experiencing” a deep, dreamless sleep, yet they occur at the times when the mind is most active and the consciousness is strongest during rest. That said, they seem to draw together areas of the mind that are usually kept separated, and the residual effects of lapsing dreams extend into the waking world in strange ways. After any given lapse, I woke up with memories that were entirely real to me until I noticed the absence of a particular object, location, or person, or someone belied the truths that had just manifested in my head. I know from reading various forums that it is not a very rare occurrence for dreams to cause false memories, nor is it a phenomenon exclusive to lapses, but this is somewhat different. Memories created by a lapse are very strong regardless of how implausible or glaringly false they are. After a lapse, somebody who had lost a loved one after a major tragedy might believe that the person lost was still very much alive, or that a tragedy had never taken place at all. And when that person’s memory is nullified by the truth, they might suffer the same grief that they went through when they were first exposed to news of the death. I know this to be true because I have been affected by lapsed memories multiple times. There have been many times throughout my life where I remembered owning items, usually things that I greatly desired, that I did not actually possess, or where my knowledge of the layout of a building or environment was overridden until I visited the altered locations. The most notable and exceptional cases concern a long-dead family pet and a grandparent who had died long before I was born. When I woke up one morning, I went into the living area of my house confident in the knowledge that I’d be greeted by my parents’ fluffy white dog Princess, who had been around since before my conception. I soon found out that Princess had died years ago, but I felt like I just lost my pet. I do not want to talk about my grandparent’s death in detail, but it is important to point out that I felt someone who I had never met was with me.

The incident with my dog presents another strange anomaly caused by lapsing dreams: distortion of the perception of time. After waking up that morning, I was missing a huge chunk of my memory. Of course, this occurred during the earlier portion of my childhood, and the hippocampus tends to be rather unreliable during that period. But what I experienced was far different than the gradual fading of memories. Additionally, I have the gift of being able to remember many scenes from my early life with extreme detail, including some from before the lost period. My recognitive ability does not, however, negate the fact that I am missing multiple years’ worth of memories, including the time when my dog died. I still do not remember witnessing or even hearing about my dog’s death even though I remember almost every detail about her looks and some details (although they may be confabulations) about my interactions with her. That is the power of a lapse, and they have not stopped since my childhood. The extent of their effects does not end with the alteration of experiences committed to memory, either. Lapses can also alter a person’s moment-to-moment perception of the passage of time.

By the supple age of 15, I felt like a centenerian in a few respects. I didn’t have the maturity or the experience of someone so old, and I knew that, but I was speeding through time like someone who had already experienced their entire life. Of course, the acceleration of time is a constant that affects everyone, but the shift in perception that I experienced was far too large and obvious to simply discount as a mere unpleasant marker of aging. Even now, when I look at my old digital clock sitting behind me on my dresser, I can see the delimiter blinking twice as fast as I remember it going in the past. Whole minutes run freely by whenever I do not concentrate on the clock. Even when I do focus on every instance of a second, trying to limit the implacable forward drive of time like an under-equipped traffic officer, every moment still seems fleeting. I am not sure why lapsing dreams do this, but I have noticed that during instants occurring on the latter end of a rest, there are sometimes very brief periods where the afflicted will regain a nominal level of consciousness. When these short bursts of wakefulness happen multiple times between intervals ranging from a few minutes to a few hours every morning, a cognitive effect of “time travelling” is created. It does not seem unreasonable to believe that an individual’s sense of time might be residually skewed from witnessing chronologically distant moments in quick succession (time is barely perceived during a lapsing dream), but I do not have the knowledge or the means to prove such a belief with empirical evidence or anything else. It is also impossible to tell if the problem is caused or exacerbated exclusively by interrupted lapses, or if this phenomenon is no worse than segmented sleep.

Lapses clearly diverge from regular dreams by a large amount. They present no tangible images, feelings, or sounds. All of their effects on temporal perception and the psyche are latent and lasting as opposed to contained within the dream, or, in the case of a nightmare, a short period during and after a dream. And they only seem to be partially connected to the unconscious system, holding no meaning or symbols unlike normal dreams. They certainly do not represent a defense mechanism or a manifestation of desire. I was not particularly regretful that I never got to meet my grandfather until I lost his confabulatory phantom to the truth, and I was much too young to understand the solemn concept of death when my dog actually died. Although objects that I desired were commonly written into my memory, so were random items and locations that had nothing to do with my emotions. If I am the only person afflicted by this, then perhaps lapsing dreams are an unappreciated but necessary mechanism of my powerful memory? It may be plausible, but there are a few other details about lapses that might negate such a possibility.

If a memory of a location is overwritten or created by a lapse, there is a chance that the mental image of the location will be extremely mesmerizing. The arrangement of light within the visualization will have an intoxicating effect on the mind, and the visualization might stay even after the overwritten memory has been corrected. The effect is impossible to describe beyond this, as the manner in which the light in the image is configured and the way that it influences the afflicted cannot be communicated verbally. The phenomenon is far too idiosyncratic and intangible for anybody to fully understand without experiencing it themselves. However, despite being hard to describe, these otherwise normal images steeped in an otherworldly aura are very real and very powerful to me. They are so pleasant that I have gained a love for nature and the inadvertent aesthetic of the environment just by being exposed to them, and as if being driven by Jung himself, I find myself drawing trees and other natural structures at random. It is when I make drawings and doodles that I think about those hexing visages, and I wonder about their cause and purpose. The most memorable of the images are usually very similar in form to an actual location that I have visited, but glazed over with a magical sheen. Others are more unfamiliar, and some are even abstract, but they all show an empty environment filled with nature, certain pieces of infrastructure, or a stark sky. A lot of them seem expressionistic in a way, which brings me to my point. I believe that the images of real locations are skewed by an enigmatic force because they show something that we cannot normally see. The rapid exchange of impalpable information during a lapse may serve to decode a moment of perception that the occipital lobe is not capable of handling. But what is a lapse doing when memories of people or events are falsified, or entirely fictional locations are generated?

I believe that lapses are as close as any being can get to witnessing and knowing Nihility: the Zero State. When a person dies, their brain goes out with a flurry of activity, and final dreams may occur. When a person is anesthetized, there are no dreams to be had, and nothing is experienced or remembered. I have walked in the fog, blind and deaf and stripped of somatic being, but I was still able to know something and remember it. Maybe the images of unseen things and the dead come from somewhere further down than the bright lights of our great scientific and analytical minds have yet shone? Maybe a lapsing dream is a toe dip into the watery membrane demarcating the eternal spaces? Maybe I have written nothing special, and a worldly, predictable logic that I am totally ignorant of tightly binds and regulates the dreams? I have no way of understanding the enigma that both plagues and blesses me. I am a weak, sentimental little thing who is probably only drawn to the mystical for fear of a harsher, scientific truth about my problems. Every tick in a tock pangs my existential fears as time is continually quickened, and my prized achievements and emotional treasures are slid to the edge of a steep mantle every time I go to sleep. I cannot help but speak of the lapsing dream like both a common affliction and a condition unique to me because I would like to think both cases are true. I am rendered lost by its mysteries, and I am too confused to write. Can I walk into that terrible fog even during the day? My mind has rolled onto a tangential track, and I am lost. It seems that this curse of mine is not something that I can speak about freely.

It is awfully late. The server administrator can confirm this if the submission date is accurate when this is sent in. It is time for me to sleep.

Credit: Sprite of the Wold

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