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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Ordinary Nights

September 16, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Dusk will find me in fits.

A pinching feeling of dread washes over me as my eyes sweep across this room. Soft, low lights etch out details of a crew of sweet stuffed animals entrusted with the task of keeping watch over me as I sleep. The purity and nostalgia they represent are to serve as comfort so that I can drift away into slumber nary a care.

My gaze then shifts beyond my bed and toward my bedroom door that is open wide, inviting the lamplight from the living room as well. I have done all that I know how to incorporate as much soothing light to illuminate the very dark corners that could harbor secrets in this heavy, black night air. If I bring everything that could be hidden to to the light, then there will be no occasion for surprise, and I will surely be safe.

And I know, I know this to be true. I know I am safe, that nothing I fear is reality. There isn’t such hogwash as the Bogeyman, and truly young adults should no longer fear such ridiculous fables. The things that go bump in the night are nothing more than a collection of what children fear the most. I am not a child. By that logic, I am showing myself to be oh so very pathetic. I pay rent here. I own this room.

I didn’t invite anyone else to stay the night. Therefore, I know that I am alone. I am safe. I am safe, and now I choose to close my eyes and go to sleep. When I wake up, I shall roll out of bed and carry out a brand new day whilst feeling the sting of quiet humiliation as sunlight replaces the need for night lights and outshines the wimpy light that these 60 watt bulbs give off.

Just as last night, and the night before…

But all I am doing this to keep her away from me always. And I have done all I can do. So by the time I am done saying good night to each member of my plush army I will be sound asleep….

…my eyelids flutter open and my chest dips as if it had caved in. I cannot inhale as easily as I could upon achieving slumber. My mind fumbles groggily, spinning out of urgency; out of panic.

“Get up!” I try to whisper. I hope to rouse myself into action, calming myself and settling into a new position, for I am sure that I am simply recovering from a nightmare…

But my body continues to lie still, and my voice lurks trapped still within my throat.

“Get Up!” I attempt to plea. I cannot turn my head. My shoulders are pinned heavily to this mattress. I am wide awake, my heart quickens itself readying to flee in search of safety. I can see my bedroom door, still open. The door has not moved at all and nothing has been touched. I know the effort to be futile, so I attempt to shut my eyes and wait for this nightmare to pass. Because that’s what is happening. It’s just my mind playing tricks, and nothing more than that.

I shut my eyes in search of calm and rest; but alas, they cannot be found.

I cannot breathe.

My heart is rallying against its confinement in this ribcage. I am certain that my chest wall may explode from all the pressure. I can feel the weight bear down further and further still, mocking me. She rests gleefully in her folklore, but I am very familiar with her presence. The hag comes to visit at the worst of times; an unwelcome acquaintance sharing my bed and stealing precious moments where I could be sleeping if I weren’t fighting for control of my mind while silently begging for freedom to move about on my own free will.

I desperately attempt to move the right side of my hip or force my right shoulder to rise as the weight intensifies. I blink as hot tears of agony stream steadily down the corners of my eyes. Shadows dance in the corners — a taunting marionette — where the light cannot tread.

I hear steady breathing against my own shallow gasps. I become dizzy and the room begins to twirl…

…Did my sheets just hiss?

My body is frozen, stiff, and it is no longer mine.

The hag has settled in to pay me a visit again. This sickening void of terror and isolation is the gift that she comes bearing, for no one will ever be able to grasp what I am going through. Most people cannot and will not ever believe that something so strange can ever truly happen.

The back of my skull digs further into to pillow and my neck constricts to that my belabored breathing becomes even more difficult. I try desperately to let out even just one sound. A single sound can then lead the way for the smallest of movement. If one or the other can be achieved, then I can free myself from the spell and I can then return to safety.

The clock records what an onlooker would judge only to be a young woman fast asleep in her bed. The rhythm taps out the minutes that slide away from me as Nothing happens.

Nothing has eyes all on me as the hag lets her chin rest atop mine like a jilted lover who has come to visit in the shadows the night affords. We share the same breath, nose touching mine, eyes preying upon my deepest thoughts and ripping my soul to shreds. These tears are an offering unto her. Soon, if I am lucky, the salty liquid will dampen my hair and loose the bond that my head has entered pact with my bedsheets.

Upholding an agreement that the rest of me did not ever recall striking.
The hag shakily cups her hands gently behind my neck slithers upward, taking gentle hold of my head. Her hands offer no comfort that human contact would give. There is no reassurance in this all consuming grasp. These familiar eyes gazing into my own are a most hideous sight, as a child of Nothing cannot contain a soul. All warmth is gone as I peer into those blackened and vacant orbs — the birthplace of my nightmares. My body begins to fall completely numb, and a crooked, unnatural, other worldly grin spreads deliberately across the hag’s face just as all other times before.

If I only understood what she wanted…
I would give her absolutely anything if it meant she would never come and visit me again.

She curls her feet underneath her pelvis, pushing down on my stomach and causing my diaphragm to constrict. All hope fades away. Those listless, ravenous eyes recognize something in mine, something they desperately long for. Her pitted and rotting cheeks moving closer to mine, my nose fills with the stench of musty Earth and decaying flesh. Head tilting and neck cracking in twisting and jerking motions, lacking the fluidity of those of the Land of the Living, she attempts — my deepest horrors realized right then — to hold onto me in search of what she so greedily seeks.

One simple kiss, solidifying my exit from this life and sinking instead to the oddly tempting promise of Nothing…

One simple night in which Nothing can belong with Someone.

Frenetically I keep demanding — over and over — of my right shoulder to buck her off of my torso, push her away, break her captivating embrace — her hypnotizing, awful intent. Such inhuman strength — an eerily tantalizing thought of just giving up and agreeing to stay, because why keep fighting? — could suggest that I will never be free so long as this oppressive darkness ensues.

But this has happened in times passed, and I know if I just want it badly enough I can end what is sure to happen.

Suddenly space and time rip apart from each other. Flashes of light strike and fill my vision, and the powerful force behind it quakes — consuming my entire body. The shriek that had been held back for now several hours finally releases itself.

All that exists is that silent scream, now given its brief chance to speak. The only thing that can be heard is weak and shrill…but it is just enough to bring me back from the throne room to Nowhere and slam me back into my own bed.

My right shoulder moves ever so slightly from its position, and I escape from under this weight. The hag will not have me tonight.

4:37 A.M. and I am free.

I shudder as I wail. These nights occur often and without mercy. I cast a glance at my little army of teddy bears and other stuffed animals. I lean against them as my eyes continue relentlessly leaking. My body is wracked with sobs as I know there exists not a single person who can help me. There is not a person, pill, or potion in this world who can make all of the nights filled with fear of never returning from Nowhere end.

All who can know of the confusion, terror, and wonder of what happens is no one at all.

*The phenomena that causes these sensations and visualizations is called sleep paralysis, a commonly misunderstood event that mainly occurs at least once in a person’s life. However, due to my own neurological complications, I experience sleep paralysis very frequently and may go months having Ordinary Nights such as this, and often times opt to choose not to sleep at all, which has induced atypical psychosis from sleep deprivation in the past. There is no treatment for this or any form of sleep paralysis. The experience detailed uses descriptive language for interest. The account itself is 100% authentic.

Credit To – Danielle Nicole

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Taps

September 14, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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As a child, I had always thought I knew what true fear was. The fear of something hiding under your bed, or in your closet. Hell, I thought clowns were the scariest shit there was. Of course, I hadn’t known the feeling of real fear; hadn’t experienced it, until I was twelve.
They say people are most afraid of the unknown, of things they can’t quite explain, things they can’t see. Unexplainable sounds in the dark, paranoid thoughts of monsters creeping in the unoccupied spots of their bedroom. These are the things that people are most afraid of, so they say. This wasn’t exactly true for my case. Sure, sounds in the darkness were a factor, but I knew the source behind the sounds. Oh, I knew. And the knowledge of the source drove terror into me, like a mallet rhythmically driving a nail into me, over and over and over.
I don’t know how it started. It was as if a switch was flipped in her and suddenly she became an uncontrollable marionette (oh, the irony). My father tried to stop her, but she persisted and he eventually gave up trying. I suggested that he call the police, or tell the neighbours, but he dismissed twelve year-old me, and told me he didn’t trust “those corrupt government lackeys” and sure as hell didn’t want the neighbours finding out. They’d have immediately called “that wretched three number hotline”. Besides, he told me, she isn’t harming either of us. I had hoped it would stay that way. She sure didn’t seem like my mom anymore, and I told him so. He yelled at me and scolded me, calling me foolish. I wanted to shout back at him, telling him he has no idea how scared I am every night, hearing her, but I didn’t.

Mother was fine in the morning and for most of the afternoon as well. Although she was always in bed, occasionally sitting up just to stare at the blank wall a few feet past the foot of her bed, she seemed as fine as her condition would deem it. Father was at work. He usually works until two in the morning or so. When my mother first started acting weird, he was afraid to leave me alone, so he took a few days off from work. He didn’t dare hire a babysitter, he trusted those people just as much as he trusted the government. After a few days, he figured it was safe enough to leave me at home, alone with her, and resumed leaving for work every morning. Take care of your mother, he would always tell me before he left. I simply nodded, when in reality, instead of taking care of her, I hid from her. But for the most part, she was fine until evening.
It was only at night, when I’m huddled under the covers in my bedroom, that she begins acting up. That’s when the noises start. I would hear her get out of bed in my parent’s bedroom, and hear her crawl across the hall, making her way to my bedroom. After the first night, I always remembered to keep my door locked. She would crawl; I would hear her crawl, all the way to the front of my bedroom door.
And then the tapping began.
They were just light taps, like how a student would knock at the door of the principal’s office. But the taps, they went on for some time. Just a constant steady tap. I remember clamping my eyes shut, trying to ignore it and go to sleep, and after almost an hour of tapping. It stopped, and I slowly opened my eyes. That’s when I realized the door wasn’t locked, and there she was, at the foot of my bed, just standing there. Staring at me. The fear I felt was real. And it sure wasn’t caused by the unknown. My eyes were open, looking at my own mother (that was merely a label at this point) stare at me. There was something unnatural about her eyes; I think it was her pupils. They were dilated to the point of being dots. Just little black dots.
There she was, just staring at me, not doing anything else. She didn’t hurt me. She just stood there. But there was something terrifying about it. Maybe it was her eyes. Maybe it did have something to do with the unknown. Not knowing what she would do next. Not knowing if she would spring at me, and attack. But nothing had happened. My father eventually came home from work and was greeted with the sight of his wife (only a label now), and his son, covered in sweat and fear.

The days following that incident, I had always kept my door locked. I double-check the lock even to this day. Of course, that didn’t stop the tapping sounds. Sometimes I swear they weren’t even coming from outside my door. Sometimes it felt like they were coming from the window, or the closet, or even under my damn bed. Fear of the unknown, that’s always how it is, one way or another, I suppose.
That was when I had my first encounter with true fear, at the age of twelve. Every day after that, the door was always locked. Eventually my mother passed away (cardiac arrest right outside my bedroom, my father opted to bury her in the backyard, can’t go trusting those morticians now), and I moved out. I tried to convince my father to live with me, but he refuses to let go of our old house; he was always a stubborn man.

Life has gotten much better for me since. I landed a high-paying job at a law firm, and next week I have a date with this beaut of a woman I met a few days back.
But, every single night before I fall asleep, as I lay under a new set of covers I bought, I could almost swear.
I swear I could still hear the tapping noises.

Credit To – Kevin Liu

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The Name of One

September 8, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Names.

Words assigned to other human beings to identify them to their fellow human beings. We walk around every day, calling out to one another, using words of a specific language to address a chosen person. Even without knowing a person’s name, we still use them to direct our thoughts, like “the blonde woman” or “the man with a beard.” All of these words describe and name the people and world around us. These words direct us. But what if there were no names? What if we walked by someone we knew by looks, but could not call out to them to get their attention? What would life be like then? Would our thoughts hold a coherent structure? Would we even know each other?

Popular talk shows couldn’t exist in this reality, because they couldn’t name who they would talk to. Confusion would follow the presidential elections, as no one would know who they were voting for. School would be harder, since you would be meeting new people that you wouldn’t even recognize. Our brains could not survive without naming people. Our minds would fill with thoughts but no one to direct them to, no one to name. Words like “blonde” or “bearded” would carry no weight, for those are names given to those we do not know. Languages would no longer be functional. If there were no names, nothing to describe a person, would they even exist? Could they exist? Is that why names were invented, to hold the human reality in place? Is that the price to pay for being withheld to a word given to you, one you didn’t even choose? Is being trapped by a word worth your existence? People who change their names can create a whole new reality for themselves. Breaking away from a particular word can open up thousands of possibilities. Also, those people that give you names, do they own you? Are you withheld to their power, their will? We name animals, and by society’s standards, we own the animals we name. If the government named you, would that mean that they owned you? Is being safe inside the confines of reality mean you give up your freedom? That is the conclusion I came to.

Now, you may be wondering why I asked you all these difficult questions. You may have already left, the ravings of a mad woman sent to torture your subconscious is not worth the time it takes to listen. Exactly what your captors want you to think. Who do you think started the naming process? Wouldn’t be the people that owned you as well as the entire human race? Reality is what we believe our world exists in, what we don’t want to break away from, when; in fact, it is the very thing that holds you hostage, holds you back from true freedom. Now that you’ve realized this, I only have one last question for you.

What is your name?

Credit To – Weirdo Reading Manga

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Why Sarah Never Sleeps

August 19, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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There were too many doors in the upstairs hall. Sarah told her parents, but they couldn’t see it. They told her not to worry. They told her there was nothing there. But there was an extra door at the end of the upstairs hall. An extra yellow door, and it didn’t belong.

It was the color of disease, jaundiced and infected, with spidery black veins across its face. One perfect silver knob gleamed in its center above a shadowy keyhole, and it didn’t look right. The doorknob shone with a mirror’s finish, and caught the light from any angle, begging for Sarah to look its way. Sarah did her best to ignore it, but the door knew her name, and it whispered it when she drew near.

Saraaaahh . . . ” the door would rasp with a voice like dried leaves as tiny claws scraped against the other side. Tears would well in Sarah’s eyes as she’d hurry past, her arms laden with everything she’d need to get ready for the day.

Saraaaahh . . . ” it would call again before she’d shuffled out of range and closed the bathroom door, cutting off its paper-thin wails. When she’d creep from the bathroom to head downstairs, the door’s voice would follow her with a furious flurry of scraping claws and tormented howls. They lingered and gnawed in the back of her mind as she’d rush through breakfast so she could leave the house a few minutes sooner.

School became a blessing, an excuse to be someone somewhere else. At school she could forget the door. At school she could pretend her house was like everyone else’s, with the right number of doors and no eerie whispers. But at the end of the day it was still waiting for her at the end of the upstairs hall, with its mirror-ball knob and yellow face. She hated coming home and knowing it was there, but even more than that, she hated going to sleep, because in her dreams, she opened the door.

Every night, she stood before it, fighting the urge to reach out. Dread knotted her belly in anticipation of pain when her hand rose anyway to grasp the silver knob. Some nights it burned her like the driest ice. Other nights it seared like a red hot coal. Very occasionally, it did neither, instead turning and turning without ever opening the door, and she couldn’t stop turning it until she woke up.

When the door did open, it revealed a swirling vortex of shadow and sound, with a thousand voices crying in the darkness. The voices curled around her, crawling through her hair like spiders. She thrashed and swatted at their skittering whispers, but the words still tingled across her skin.

She never should have listened.

He sees . . . ” they said. “He hears . . . ” they moaned. “He hungers . . . ” they wept, and burrowed in her mind like worms. “The Hollow Man, the Hollow Man,” they echoed in her mind and screamed to her from the gaping vortex. “The Hollow Man . . . he hunts!

Sarah shot up with a scream that night, gasping and sweating, but alone in her bed. The clock’s crimson face said midnight had passed, but not by much. Darkness enveloped her room, except where a vestigial nightlight illumined the corner by her desk; it wasn’t much, but she felt better when she saw it.

She pulled the bedsheets over her head and pushed away the echoing voices. I’m fine, she swore, hugging her knees and rocking. It’s just a dream. They’re always dreams. The dreams will go away like they always do.

She started humming a song her mother used to sing when Sarah was smaller, small enough to need the nightlight, and the panic faded little by little with every note.

Just a dream. She repeated. Just a dream. Just a –

“Sarah?” Someone whispered from the hall.

Sarah froze.

“Sarah? Are you Sarah?” It was the voice of a girl not much younger than Sarah, and not at all like the voice she usually heard from the door at the end of the hall.

“Who . . . who are you?” Sarah whispered back from beneath the sheets.

“My name is Lizzie. Are you Sarah?”

Sarah didn’t move; she was terrified of leaving the safety of her cocoon. As the moments ticked past, however, an anxious curiosity emboldened her enough to peek out from the covers. What if it was another girl, she thought. She sounded just as scared as Sarah felt.

Sarah crawled from her bed clutching the sweat-damp night shirt she’d worn to sleep, and waited. When nothing happened, she stood up and tip-toed toward her bedroom door; toward the waiting yellow door, with the mirror-ball knob, on the wall at the end of the upstairs hall. When she stood before it, her stomach lurched, and for a moment she couldn’t tell if she was going to vomit, or faint.

“Please,” the door said in the young girl’s voice when Sarah got close. “Please, are you Sarah?”

Sarah opened her mouth to answer, but her voice was a tiny squeak of nothing. She pressed her palms to her cheeks and smeared away the tears before trying again.

“Yes,” she finally managed. “. . . I’m Sarah.”

“Please, let me in!” The door’s silvery knob shook violently, rattling as if locked and jostled by someone on the other side. Sarah stumbled back with a gasp, staring at the shuddering, alien knob.

“Let me in, Sarah, please! I can’t stay in here! Please help me! Let me in!”

Sarah dropped to her knees when her legs gave out, and she screamed when she looked at the door.

Level with the shadowy keyhole, below the rattling knob, she stared directly into a very human eye. Tears shimmered in the other eye, as they shimmered in Sarah’s. It darted around, wide and white with fear, as if searching through the hall. And then, without warning, the keyhole became shadow, and the silver knob stilled, and the girl on the other side of the door began to cry.

“Please, Sarah,” she pleaded. “He’s almost here.”

“The Hollow Man?” Sarah whispered as a chill slithered up her spine. Lizzie sobbed quietly. Sarah scooted closer to the door, her fear growing colder when the girl from the other side didn’t answer. “Lizzie?”

Silence fell, as if it had always been there. She couldn’t hear Lizzie crying anymore, and even the house was too quiet behind her.

Sarah put her ear near the door, and held her breath.

She waited. Minutes passed — but it couldn’t have been minutes.

Nothing moved. Nothing whispered. Nothing cried. Nothing stirred. She couldn’t hear anything but her own racing heart. Was she gone?

“Lizzie?” She tried again, afraid the Hollow Man had taken her.

He’s here . . . ” Lizzie whispered at last, almost in her ear, as though Lizzie’s lips pressed tight against the keyhole. “Please, let me in . . . .

Sarah’s head ached. The world was a little fuzzy around the edges, and it was harder to focus than before. She had to stand up. She didn’t dare touch the sickly door, but her legs felt too wobbly and weak to support her. She reached for the knob with a trembling hand.

Please, Sarah . . . .” Lizzie’s voice was getting smaller. “Please . . . .

Grasping the mirror-ball knob, she pulled herself up from the floor. It moved noiselessly beneath her hand, gliding without resistance, and opened the yellow door.

A lonely expanse of normal wall inched into view, and she felt sick. She worried at her thumb in confusion, and extended a trembling hand to touch the wall behind the door. It was solid. As solid and as normal as the wall at the end of the upstairs hall should be, but her stomach churned.

She gently closed the door, which issued a soft click as the latch sprang into place, and waited. She hardly dared to move or breathe as she listened to the night, waiting for the door to speak again.

Hours passed in oppressive silence — even though it couldn’t have been hours–, and the door had nothing to say. Sarah grew sleepy — too sleepy to keep standing. Too sleepy to remember why she was standing so still at the end of the upstairs hall. It was time to go to bed.

It’s just a dream, she remembered, turning away and rubbing at her eyes. They’re always dreams.

Shuffling to her bed was like swimming through Jell-O, and most of the way there she couldn’t keep her eyes open. Luckily, she knew the way.

The dreams will go away like they always do.

The crimson clock was broken when she rolled herself back in bed, its face declaring 12:16 AM to a room that only vaguely felt familiar, but she couldn’t bring herself to care when her eyes and body felt so heavy.

Sarah . . . , Lizzie whispered. But it couldn’t be a whisper.

Sarah, Lizzie whispered. Sarah, don’t wake up.

Sarah groaned a little.

Don’t wake up, Lizzie said, her voice echoing in Sarah’s mind.

Sarah frowned, and rolled on her back. She didn’t want to wake up. She wanted to stay asleep. Lizzie didn’t need to tell her not to wake, because not being awake was the whole point of being asleep.

For a long time, all was silence. Sarah’s mind drifted, and she felt herself grow lighter, as if getting ready to float up through the blackness that surrounded her. She could feel the cool sheets beneath her then, and for a moment she thought she heard the papery-thin rustle of leaves in her room.

He’s here . . . , Lizzie whispered at last. Please, don’t wake up . . . .

Who’s here? Sarah wondered as she steadily rose.

His hollow face, an eerie mask. With hollow voice at doors will ask. To be invited in to bask. Above his favored midnight task.

A strange tingling worked its way up Sarah’s body as Lizzie recited the haunting rhyme in a disconcerting monotone. Clarity inched its way toward her slowly, melting away the fog of sleep. Hadn’t she been dreaming? Was she still dreaming?

Something was wrong.

He’s waiting inches from your face. To be the first thing your eyes grace. But keep them shut, or else embrace. A hollow shell to take your place.

Cold dread seized Sarah’s heart with each new stanza, and she trembled with the weight of her mistake. For a moment, she swore she could feel the air stir above her, stale and strangely warm against her cheeks. Leaves rustled above her bed.

The yellow door, you always keep. He follows you to where you sleep. Into your room he then will creep. Your life and dreams for him to reap.

Lizzie’s voice became little more than a breath within Sarah’s mind, and the air cooled around her when a pressure lifted from her chest.

The leaves were in the hall.

The Hollow Man, above your bed. With hollow eyes, deep slumber fed. His hollow dreams may fill your head. But never peek, or you’ll be dead.

Everything was wrong.

Distantly, Sarah registered the sound of her parents screaming in their room, and felt tears sliding down her cheeks. No longer dream tears, she could feel the wet warmth as each one fell.

“. . . Mommy,” Sarah whispered, the sound paper-thin. “Daddy,” she rasped with a voice like dried leaves.

Lizzie? She thought, but Lizzie did not respond.

Silence fell over the house and Sarah knew nothing would ever be right again.

From the hall outside her bedroom door, Sarah heard the soft click as a latch sprang into place, and waited.

Silence filled the house again. The leaves were gone.

Sunlight peeked through the curtains, and the crimson clock said it was 7:45 AM before she felt it was safe enough to open her eyes and leave her room. The yellow door, with its mirror-ball knob, stared at her from the wall at the end of the upstairs hall, and the house was still too quiet. It was a different quiet than before, though, a different quiet than from her dream.

It was the quiet of a tomb.

Except, of course, for the occasional tapping, as if from tiny claws, from the other side of the yellow door.

Credit To – Death_by_Proxy

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