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I Am The Fish King

April 1, 2016 at 3:00 PM
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I am the fish king stalking the waters to fill you with fright
I am the fish king you’ll never leave my sight
I am the fish I am the night

I am the fish king you see
there is no other fish king only me
I am the fish king blood will soak the walls
I see you running down the hall
I watch you stumble I watch you fall
I am the fish king I see it all

I am the fish king you’ll never be free
I am the fish king and terror ill bring
I am the fish king
and the last thing you’ll see

I am the fish king stalking the waters to fill you with fright
I am the fish king you’ll never leave my sight
I am the fish I am the night

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6:30

April 1, 2016 at 9:00 AM
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It was happening tonight at 6:30.
I checked the watch on my wrist.

6:26

I was beginning to get antsy. It has been a long long time since something of this magnitude occurred. I watched and waited as the second hand moved little by little. Inch by inch. Time had never seemed to move so slowly. Suddenly, I began sweating profusely. Reaching for a nearby cloth I wiped the beads of moisture from my forehead.

6:27

Maybe I should call it off. Maybe I should run. Maybe I made a mistake. No. I had to. Had to stick to the plan. Did I? It wasn’t too late. Yes. Yes it was. I can’t go back. There was no other option.

6:28

Crunch time. I stood up. There was no way I could keep still any longer. I started pacing. Thoughts zooming through my mind left and right. Was I sure? Is this really what it has come to? I was positive. Yes, I was positive. There was no going back. There was no doubt now, only determination. I was ready.

6:29

Here we go. Just a few seconds away. My heart was pounding like a drum in my chest. I tried to relax, but with no avail. I felt prepared but weak and powerless at the same time. There was nothing else I could do to ease the tension. Nothing. I had to power through. I’ve been waiting for this moment for too long to let it slip away.

6:30

Finally. It was finally time.

Nothing happened. I didn’t understand. How could nothing happen? 6:30 was the time. 6:30 was the time. Am I insane? No I’m not insane. 6:30 was the time. I know it. I’m not insane.

Am I?

I glanced at my watch.

6:31

Why. Just WHY.

I remain motionless. I didn’t know what to do. I thought that maybe… I thought… I couldn’t think. All of a sudden I couldn’t think, because of a ringing. I hear a ringing, quiet at first, growing in volume. The sound, all of a sudden very loud, was penetrating my ears, to the point where I thought my eardrums would surely bust. It wouldn’t stop. The constant ringing in my head followed me down as I clawed at my ears and crumpled to the floor. The ringing continued. It continued for what seemed like an infinite eternity of pain. Pain in which was impossible for me to endure any longer. I started to lose consciousness. I felt myself slipping from the real world, and strangely, I was ok with it.

6:31
Everything was dark.
My mind and body numb.
I heard nothing.

Wait.

I didn’t hear anything. There was no ringing.
My eyes opened. I heard pure silence. Pure, beautiful silence. Slowly I rose to my feet. Brushing myself off, I reached forward and grabbed the handle.

I turned it.

The door flew open and a bright light flooded my vision, then a voice spoke…

“That’ll be $12.75”

The pizza had arrived.

I paid the man and closed the door. Smiling to myself, I walked to my seat. Pan pizza with thick cheesy crust and extra pepperoni in hand I collapsed into the recliner.

I was at peace.

Credit To – Cole Christian

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The Musician

March 19, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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“Name?”
*cough*
My mind had been wandering again. The man looked at me patiently.
“Name.” he repeated again.
“Edwin.” I replied. “Edwin Stroud.”
The man pursed his lips slightly as he checked the papers in front of him.
“Occupation?” He asked.
“Musician.” I replied.
His eyes looked up from the papers.
“S-sorry?” he said
“Musician.” I repeated, smiling innocently.
“Hmmm, musician.” The man replied. Patronising? Maybe just a bit. I was finding it a bit difficult to concentrate.
“Well Mr. Stroud, why don’t you tell me about your ‘music’.”
The man was definitely patronising me now. I wasn’t sure why. I wasn’t even sure who he was.
I struggled to focus my thoughts back as far as I could.

“It’s kinda strange. When I was a child, I suffered with extreme Melophobia. You know what that is?”
The man nodded. He was looking at me very intently, not looking at me so much as looking into me.
“Well, all through my childhood, I had this fear. I would freak out if I heard music. Any kind of music. Do you know how difficult that is? How hard it is for your family? T.V. with the sound off. We used subtitles. No kids parties or days out, I was home schooled, because I would just go berserk at any tune. I had panic attacks, music sounded like dragging nails down a blackboard, it had a physical presence, stifling me, battering me with its rhythm. I guess my home life was pretty stressful; My parents started drinking a lot. I can’t blame them, who would want a child to ruin their life. A child that, by one way or another, you love unconditionally. Yeah, I guess it was tough. Anyway, as I said my parents used to drink quite a bit, and I’d hear them shouting as I would go to sleep. That became normal. No lullabies, just tension and anger and fear.

One night I remember, the usual bedtime routine. Trying to give my father a hug, him not being able to look at me, and me hugging his leg, his whole body tensed as though it took all his willpower not to lash out at me. My mother, smelling of raw alcohol, smothering me with sarcastic cooing and forced affection. I went to bed, and the usual nocturnal arguments began. They soothed me. Then I heard something, I guess it was music. I was half asleep, but the music seemed beautiful. I soon fell asleep, and the music was just a memory.

The next day, I asked my father about the music he was playing last night. He said that he and my mother had decided to split up, because it was a ‘self destructive’ situation, that her drinking was way out of hand, and that he had put some music on after she’d gone, I guess it was a kind of parting ‘fuck you’. He never played that song again.

I figured I was over this phobia, but after never hearing music as long as I could remember it took a huge amount of willpower to actively seek it out, do go against everything that my brain was telling me not to do, like skydiving or bungee jumping. I remember I must have been about twelve, my dad was out and I turned the TV on. I turned the volume up slowly, tentatively. The saccharine advert jingle shot like electricity down my spine, it sounded discordant, metallic, it was jarring in its ferocity. I couldn’t move. I wasn’t over it. I started to panic, I collapsed on the floor. My father found me about an hour later, in the foetal position, rigid with fear and covered with sweat. We got rid of the TV.”

I blinked, the memories fading fast, and I was back in the room. The man was still staring intently at me, the fluorescent lights reflecting in his glasses. He pushed them up the bridge of his nose slightly and leaned forward, almost imperceptibly.
“Then what.” He said.
As he finished the sentence, his mouth curled in the corner as if he was somehow humouring me by listening to this story.

“By the time I was fifteen, my dad was hardly around. He would be out drinking all the time, and doing whatever else he did now that my mum had left. I found I could go out at night, There was less of a chance of idiots with loud car stereos, or TV noise, even people singing used to make me feel weird. So my dad would be out, and so would I. I was pretty much nocturnal, I would sleep in the day, and used earplugs in case the local ice cream van came round and sent me over the edge with its tinny, feedback like howl. I would casually observe people from the safety of the darkness, Not like a peeping tom, I’m not a pervert or anything, I’m nothing. No-thing.

I should say at this point, that where we lived was not far from the edge of town. About half an hours walk away, and I used to head out on my own, in the dark (doesn’t that sound crazy nowadays?) and just listen to the night sounds. One night I was out laying on my back, looking at the stars when a car drove past and stopped. It was about quarter of a mile away I guess. A man got out, and I could hear the music again. It was sublime. I wept, the melodies were incredible. The car drove off, but the singing remained. I walked towards where the car seemed to have been, but the music had stopped. I was alone in the silence again.

I decided to carry a tape recorder with me, just in case I heard it again. I mean, I couldn’t listen to most music, but this was somehow different. It didn’t terrify or smother. It comforted, it soared, I had to find it again. It was a few months later, I was heading out on my usual night time walk, when I heard it again, it was somehow different than before, quieter too, but still good. I took out my tape recorder and hit [rec] hoping it wasn’t too low to register on the rubbish built in mic. I wandered around, trying to find where it was coming from, but it just seemed to hover on the air. I looked around, but my only other witness in this search was an old dog resting under a bush. But before I could trace it, it was gone. Over the next few years, I managed to record some more tunes, but they were so rare and fleeting that I started to treasure each cassette, and hid them away from my father in case he smashed them like he smashed all the records when I was young. This was my music.”

“So you hid this music from your father? Why was that?” The man didn’t even seem to be blinking now. He was completely emotionless.
“Yes” I replied.
“ He wouldn’t have understood. All these years of not having music in the house, then finding my cassettes with beautiful music, it would have been to much for him. He got angry when he was drunk, and he was usually drunk.”
“I don’t think that’s the reason” said the man. “Is it.”
These last two words were very deliberate. ‘Is. It’. Maybe he thought I was lying about my father. Maybe he thought I didn’t have these wondrous tapes hidden away.
“We found your tapes” He said. “There were lots of them.”
I knew I wasn’t lying.
“When did you start making your own music”
Again, the sarcastic tone. I didn’t understand why he was patronising me.

I smiled.

“You know, it took a long time to figure it out. I was having to make do with finding these songs just floating on the air. They didn’t happen very often, but I would treasure them when they did. Then I found out how to make this music myself. It was not as hard as you’d think. The tricky part was finding musicians up to the job. Like they say about stories, everybody has one good one in them. Some have more than one. The trick is to get them to make music for as long as possible. That was where I needed to study, to tease these songs out of the chaos of thought, to write longer songs . At first, like any musician, I was clumsy, hours of work might only produce a few chords, maybe the beginnings of a melody. I did learn though, and became more productive. The songs started to flow, and I began to fall in love with music. Because of my condition, I could only work with one musician at a time. I would record what they had to offer, then move on. I would mix the separate recordings together to make whole songs. I had to travel around to find people to work with, and I found talent everywhere.”

The expression on the man’s face seemed to change for the first time. He still looked ‘into’ me, but now he didn’t like what he saw. He was done humouring me now.
“You know we also found your recording studio….”
The statement seemed to hang there, unfinished. Was he waiting for me to add something?
“Really? Impressive, isn’t it.”
I smiled again, hoping to diffuse the tension that was quickly rising in the atmosphere.
“You were certainly busy” The man replied through gritted teeth.
“For the record, I am showing Mr. Stroud the photos we took at his recording studio” the man spoke into a tape recorder, just like mine.

He placed one photo after another on the table in front of me. All taken in a darkened filthy room. In the middle of the room was a sturdy wooden chair with leather straps hanging from the arms and legs. There was a dark patch on the floor. A microphone hung at about head height in front of the chair. One photo of a small tin containing teeth of various sizes. One photo of a severed finger. One of a metal table with various tools. One of a tape recorder.

“And now, the musicians” He said.

The photos were falling faster on to the table now, as thought the man didn’t want to even touch them in case he was somehow tainted by them. Photos of bloodied bodies, people of all ages, brutalised beyond recognition.
“This poor bastard,” He said as he threw the last photo down.”This poor soul lasted for three days after we found him. He died the day we got to you.”

“Ah yes. He was very resilient.” I replied. “I had a weeks worth of music from him”
I smiled again. The man looked at me and I could see his jaw tense.

“Take him away” he said.
Two large men walked in through the door and hoisted me to my feet.
“It’s such wonderful music” I said. “Beautiful, beautiful music.”

I was dragged down the corridor back to my room. I fell asleep to the sound of music drifting down the corridors.

Credit: Sludgieboy

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Any Day Above Ground

March 9, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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I open my eyes to absolute darkness and to a stale woody smell just inches from my nose. I don’t remember being here, how I got here. I don’t even recall where I was last. My amygdala is setting off internal alarms. I’m not in full-blown panic state yet but I’m getting there. I have a tendency to succumb to claustrophobia in a matter of seconds. I always have. I remember that. I turn my head left and right but that tells me squat. I move my arm to feel around. In just a few inches, my knuckles hit wood all around me. So close. I push on the sides. The sides are so close. “Hey! Someone! Let me out!”

Calm yourself, James. Caaalm.

James. My name is James McKinney. That’s a good start.

This wood is so close – right in my face. My breath bounces right back to me. Do I have enough air in here? Stop it. Stop it. Don’t hyperventilate. Figure out where you are. Think. Think. Think. Think.

I bite my lower lip to take my attention off the panic. Grit is covering my mouth and I spit. Well, that wasn’t too bright, James. It dripped right back onto your face. I move my hand up along my body to wipe off the spit and…dirt. It feels like dirt. Tastes like dirt. Where the hell am I?

I hear muffled voices.

“Hey! Help me!” But, then, they are gone. “No! Come back!”

I feel around and the damp wood is enclosing me on all sides. I can barely move my arms. That means I can’t move. I can’t move around. I can’t turn over or sit up. Let me out, let me out. I thrash my body around in hopes of, what, breaking free? But it doesn’t do anything. What is this? “Hey! Where am I?”

I feel sick. Oh my God. Don’t get sick in here, James. Don’t get sick.

I take a few calming breaths and talk myself down. Don’t become hysterical, now. I slide my right hand back up my chest and rub my eyes. My hand swipes something long hanging above my face. Is it a worm? Bugs! Oh, my God! What is it? What is it?! My hand brushes it again and I hear a faint tinkle. My fingers search for whatever the hanging thing is. It’s not slimy; it’s a string. A string hanging in a box. What the…?

Well, pull it, you moron. See what it does!

I yank on it and I hear a bell ring far away like. “Heeey!”

A string in a box – with a person. I know why this is familiar. Yes. This is like those Scare-the-Shit-Out-of-You nighttime stories I read before bed. They used to bury people with a string attached to a bell just in case they weren’t really dead. Someone would sit by the grave and the person in the coffin had three days to ring the bell to let them know they buried an alive person. After three days, I guess they supposed you were actually dead as dirt and – whoop – they’d yank the string out and well, there you have it.

I wrap the string around my fingers several times.

Is that where I am? Am I dead? But I’m not dead because I’m here. Here. In a box.

Oh, boy. Oh, boy. Here it comes. My hands are tingling. Don’t think about your breathing, James. Don’t think. Ignore it. Don’t take short breaths. In through your nose, out your mouth. Someone buried me thinking I was dead. I don’t remember being in an accident. I wasn’t sick, I don’t think. I feel around my body. No pain. All in one piece. Why would they think I’m dead? I’m not! I’m not!

I pull the string again and again, “I’m here! I’m alive! Let me out! Please! Please!”

But they don’t hear me out there. And the air is getting thinner. Less for me to breathe.

Ha! If I wasn’t dead when they put me in, I will be soon, and I start to laugh. Laughing uses more oxygen. Don’t laugh. But I can’t help it. I keep ringing the bell. Why don’t they hear it? I can.

And then I hear them again. Closer this time, clearer. Tight. It’s so tight in here. I pound on the sides, “Hey, out there!”

“He’s dreaming again, Doctor. He’s pulling at the restraints.”

I’m not restrained.

“He’s not supposed to be doing that. Give him another dose of pentobarbital and fix his earphones. And keep playing that Buried Alive recording. His incarceration is well deserved.”

Incarceration. I remember now. Fifty years to life.

“This one’s not eligible for parole, is he?”

I hear the doctor laugh. He laughed. “That’s what I was told.”

“Wow. We’ll all be long gone when he wakes up, huh?”

But I’m awake! And I pound on the sides. “I’m here!”

“You bet. At least my tax dollars won’t be going to his cable or food, and he won’t play basketball all day like he’s at some resort.”

A buzzer goes off. “Bed 735C is waking, too.”

“Which way is that?”

“That way. At the front of the building.”

No! Don’t go!

“God, I hate all this walking…”

Rows and rows. Rows and rows.

“Who thought making this warehouse so big was a good idea? All right, come with me, then. Which one is C? Top or bottom bed?”

“Top, Doctor. And this one should be back in coma-state in a few.”

Coma-state.

I wait, hoping unconsciousness would kick in and this will disappear, melt away like they promised. The stale air is suffocating. Minutes pass that feel like a forever wait.

And then I hear the nurse, “Okay, he’s out.”

Out? I’m not out. I’m not out! I’m still here, in this box! Coma people are not supposed to think anything, feel anything. That’s what I was told at sentencing.

“After the next one, Kate, you wanna grab a bite at Finnegan’s?”

“One of their juicy burgers sounds…”

And they’re gone again.

“Wait! No!” I yank on the bell. The more I scream, the more air I use up. Less and less air. The dark is oppressive and liquid tar fills my lungs. I can’t breathe. There’s nothing left!

Check off all the boxes that apply: I am most uncomfortable when… Psychological profile, my ass.

“Mr. McKinney, the prosecutor has given you the option to forego your prison sentence for Alternative Sedation, which you have taken. Congratulations.”

Congratulations, the judge said.

“Piece of cake, Judge. You bald bastard.”

Ha! Ha-Ha! Hold it together, James. You’re starting to lose it.

Joke’s on me, isn’t it? They know. They knew all along what a coma person goes through. A permanent state of elsewhere.

Hold it together. You have a long way to go, James.

This is my fifty years to life. Fifty years in a box, underground, covered in six feet of dirt, ringing a bell no one will hear. Oh, my God. No air. No air. No air.

Credit: R.B.Frank

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Soulmate

March 1, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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The night is especially silent and the moon is missing the company of its alluring stars. Sitting on the edge of a dusty old mattress, Evelyn Parker holds on tightly to the agate necklace her grandmother gave her less than a year ago. Tonight feels different than most nights and the overpowering feeling of distress overcomes Evelyn’s spirit.

“Are you ready?” The voice of a friend echoes through the abandoned house. Sarah Tipton stands at the bottom of the rotten old stairs with her hand gripping the end of the banister. “Hello? Are you ready or what?”

Holding the agate stone closer to her chest, Evelyn’s response echoes her uncertainty: “Yes- I’m ready.” With one last look at the night sky, she makes her way down the creaky stairs.

The girls’ five year tradition of coming to the abandoned cottage was getting a little old for Evelyn…at least, that’s what she hoped her mixed feelings were about. Telling ghost stories in an old house in the middle of the woods at night doesn’t exactly sound like a perfect slumber party.

Evelyn makes her way into the old dining room where all the girls sit around in a circle. She passes a cracked mirror on her way to the girls and jumps at the sight of something reflected in the mirror behind her.

“Come on Evie,” Sarah says. “Now is not the time to be scaring yourself. You have to share the terror with all of us.” She winks.

Evelyn looks at the mirror one last time before heading towards the circle.

“Come on,” Tiffany pats the floor beside her. “You can sit next to me.” Tiffany leans forward and lights a lavender and sandalwood incense in the center of the floor, then sits back up.

A cold breeze flows through the eerie home as it makes the worn curtains on the windows dance to the dark hymn of the night.

“Beautiful,” Tiffany whispers.

“Come on ladies,” Sarah says. “We need to get started before it starts to rain. I don’t want to get stuck in the mud when we’re back outside. Evelyn, it’s your turn to start off with a ghost story tonight. It better be a good one too, or else you’ll have to stay the night in this old hell house.”

Evelyn nods in agreement and clears her throat. “My ghost story for the night is about a dream a young girl once had.”

A questionable look forms on Tiffany’s face. “What? A dream? How scary can a dream be?”

“Tell me about it,” Sarah feigns a yawn. “I’m already bored out of my mind.”

“Well, just because it was a dream doesn’t mean that it’s not scary. Believe me, anything that comes to you personally through a dream should be considered scarier than a made-up story,” Evelyn argues.

“Alright,” Sarah waves her hand in the air. “You may continue.”

“Ok, as I was saying…”

The sound of footsteps make their way towards Evelyn’s back. “Boo!” Brittany Harrington screams in Evelyn’s ear in an attempt to scare the living daylights out of her.

The only thing she gets out of Evelyn is a slight jump.

“Oh, come on!” Brittany says, dissatisfied. “I didn’t scare you?”

“No,” Evelyn responds. “But I kind of was expecting someone else to appear behind me, since I saw the reflection in the mirror when I came downstairs.”

“What reflection?” Brittany asks.

Evelyn rolls her eyes at Brittany’s attempt to play stupid. “I saw your reflection in the mirror over there,” She points towards the mirror. “You were standing in the kitchen.”

“Um, no…I was never in the kitchen. I was hiding behind the stairs,” Brittany responds. “This better not be your attempt to try to scare me. You’re not really good at that.”

“Ok, whatever,” Evelyn smiles. “Sit down so I can continue my story.”

Brittany makes her way through the circle and sits down, crossing one leg over the other. She winks at Evelyn making an unnecessary yet suggestive comment: “I’m very flexible.”

The room fills with laughter for a few seconds and then back to silence as the girls sit up straight, finally preparing themselves for the story.

“Well, like I was saying before being rudely interrupted,” Evelyn glares at Brittany, “There’s a girl who has a dream scarier than any other dream she’s ever had. If I were to name her dream, I would call it, Soulmate. In her dream, her soul comes out of her body and interacts with her like a normal human being; they act like best friends. They dance around together and laugh at how silly they are acting. She couldn’t help but feel blissfully happy. In a way, she feels like she’s getting to know herself, inside and out. The only thing she finds odd about her dream is the fact that her soul is of Asian descent, and she was white,” Evelyn laughs as she shakes her head. “Either way, they are both happy to be together.”

“Ahem,” Sarah clears her throat as if trying to rush Evelyn’s story. Everyone could tell she was at the point of becoming inpatient. Knowing how bitchy Sarah can be when impatient, Evelyn skips to the interesting part of her dream.

“As they dance around they hear a voice. She can’t explain how she knows this, but she can tell it’s the voice of a demon, so they start to run. They run as fast as they can. They can’t tell where they are going, they just want to get away from the demon. At one point, she can feel her soul slowing down, lagging behind her and, well, eventually coming to a complete stop. She doesn’t know what her soul was doing, but something tells her to keep running. Visions start running through her head like a movie. She can see her soul speaking to the demon, making some sort of pact with it. Now she finds herself running away from both her soul and the demon. In her dream she already knows what her soul wants and how the demon is willing to help her out. It turns out that her soul wants to be her own person, she wants to have her own body, her own life. The demon tells her he will help her fulfill her desires. All she needs to do is find her way back inside the girl’s body and tear her way out through her stomach while killing the in the process. See, she can’t be her own person if the girl is still alive. Her body is considered to be a prison, and her soul was her captive. The sad part is, she really thought her soul was happy with her.”

“A lot of people think they’re happy together,” Brittany chimes in. “until one finally finds who they really are and wants out of their so-called relationship.”

“Yeah, exactly,” Evelyn agrees. “Well, either way, she continues to run in her dream. Finally, she comes up to her bedroom, her real bedroom in the real world. She tries hiding under her bed but she can’t quite fit underneath. She starts using her feet to push herself further and further beneath the bed. As she’s finally able to hide more than half of her body, she sees her soul’s feet appear at the foot of the bed. Her heart pounds like crazy in her dream and she can feel it, it feels so real. Her soul runs to the side of the bed where the girl is hiding and throws herself on the ground, slamming her left knee down first and then her left hand. Her hair touches the ground as she lowers her head to the side ready to show her face. She’s found her…”

“Well?” Tiffany asks. “What happened?”

“Nothing,” Evelyn responds. “The girl wakes up before she’s able to see her soul’s face, but she still wonders what would’ve happened if she had seen her face in the dream.”

Sarah rolls her eyes. “The girl already saw her face, duh.”

“Well, yeah,” Evelyn says. “She saw her face at the beginning of the dream when they were happy together. Something tells me her soul’s face was different after making the pact to kill the girl. Her soul had been tainted and there’s nothing she could do about it.”

“Oh please,” Tiffany laughs. “You’re saying that as if it were all real. That girl’s soul is fine, which makes this story not scary at all.”

“You seriously thought that would scare us?” Sarah laughs. “Maybe I’ll have my grandmother tell us a story next time. At least she has a shaky voice and can make anything scary, unlike Evelyn.”

Evelyn looks down at the floor slightly embarrassed. “Sorry to have disappointed you guys.”

“No worries,” Brittany replies. “You just need some practice.”

Positioning herself closer within the circle, Sarah lights two purple candles then moves to light two green candles in the center of the three circles drawn in the center of the floor. “Alright girls,” she smiles. “Time to call the spirits.”

The girls bring themselves to their knees and sit in upright positions.

Sarah extends her hand to Evelyn. “Agate necklace, please.”

Evelyn holds the gemstone as tight as she can before taking it off. She hands it to Sarah and immediately feels a sense of regret.

Sarah places the agate in the center of the altar and lights the spirit candle. The sandalwood and lavender incense lit a few moments before by Tiffany is taken by Sarah. She then takes the Lavender and Willow Bark incense that was previously lit by Evelyn and holds both up in front of a bowl.

“I’ve already marked this bowl for divination,” Sarah says while showing the bowl to the girls. “I have also brought the three casting stones.” She holds the stones in her hand, then casts the incense into a burner.

“Ok, girls,” Sarah says in a soft voice. “It is now time to open your mind, body, and soul…” she smiles at Evelyn. “Join hands as we welcome the spirits into our presence. Spirits of good will, I bid thee enter…The outer circle, the second circle, the inner circle. I am protected by this pentacle upon my breast.”

Evelyn squeezes Brittany’s hands as she starts to fear for her life.

“What’s wrong with you?” Brittany whispers. “Chill out.”

Sarah opens her eyes from her incantation. “Shh,” she says. “You know we can’t break our concentration. Now close your eyes.”

Brittany and Evelyn lower their heads and do as they’re bid. Sarah continues to repeat her incantation two more times. Tarot cards are used to introduce the spirit willing to make its appearance.

“Why is it taking so long?” Tiffany asks Brittany. Before responding, Brittany glances at Sarah to see if she heard Tiffany’s question. “I don’t know. Now shut up and concentrate.”

Evelyn can hear the girls speaking, but a pressure on her head gets her attention. She squeezes Sarah’s hand letting her know to look. “Sarah,” she whispers. “Look…” Evelyn looks upward hoping Sarah can see the hair at the top of her head being pressed down.

Sarah looks irritated when she responds to Evelyn. “What are you doing?”

“Can you see it?” Evelyn asks.

“I don’t see anything,” Sarah snaps. “I have to finish this or else I can’t make contact!”

One by one, Sarah pulls out her tarot cards and holds them firmly in her hand. Evelyn’s stomach starts to cramp up. She fears that something is trying to attack her and no one believes her.

“I-I can’t do this you guys,” Evelyn finally speaks up. She stands up and backs away from the girls, instantly breaking the protected boundary between the living and the dead.

“What have you done? Are you insane?!” Sarah yells.

Evelyn shakes her head.” I can’t sit here anymore,” she says.

“Why not?” Sarah asks.

“I just don’t feel comfortable. I need to get some fresh air.” Evelyn stumbles her way out of the abandoned cottage and rests against a wooden column on the porch. Brittany soon follows to check on Evelyn. “What’s going on?”

“I’m not sure,” Evelyn responds. “Tonight is just not a good night for me, I guess.”

Brittany looks down at Evelyn’s hand, which is firmly placed on her stomach. “Why are you holding your stomach?” she asks. “Are you not feeling well?”

Evelyn looks down at her stomach and responds, “It kind of hurts. I guess my nerves are really bad.”

Sarah bursts her way out of the house onto the porch. “Are you kidding me?!”

Evelyn tries to respond but the cramping in her stomach worsens making her bend over forward. The pain is becoming unbearable to take.

“Evelyn, are you ok? What’s wrong?” Tiffany fretfully asks.

“Oh, don’t pay her any attention,” Sarah snaps. “She’s just doing this for attention. Her ghost story wasn’t scary enough so she’s trying to scare us all now. Isn’t that right?!”

“No…” Evelyn responds through her tears.

“Leave her alone, Sarah!” Brittany pleads. She doesn’t know if Evelyn is lying or not. Evelyn isn’t known for pulling off bad pranks like this. She knows something is honestly wrong with her.

“Come on!” Sarah yells. “You can’t tell me you don’t see what she’s trying to do! She’s pretending to be in the stupid dream she spoke of.”

“No-No, I’m not…” Evelyn cries.

*tap, tap, tap…*

“What was that?” Tiffany asks as she looks over at the living room window. “Did you guys hear that?”

“Give me a break,” Sarah mumbles under her breath.

“Seriously.” Tiffany walks towards the window. “I thought I heard someone tapping on the window from inside.”

“There’s no one else here with us,” Brittany says.

“Great, are you trying to scare us too?” Sarah asks. “Let’s just go back inside and grab our stuff. This stopped being fun when Evelyn started crying out for attention.”

“Alright,” Brittany agrees. “Let’s go grab our stuff.”

“I-uh, I guess I’ll go back inside too,” Tiffany hesitantly agrees.

“Please don’t leave me alone out here,” Evelyn pleads. “I don’t feel so well.”

The girls make their way back inside the house while Evelyn remains outside alone. “It was my dream,” she whispers in hopes that one of the girls can hear her.

“Do you really think Evelyn is making all of this up for attention?” Tiffany asks Brittany.

“I don’t know,” Brittany responds. “All I know is that I don’t feel right being here anymore.”

Tiffany feels a cold chill overcome her body making her rub her arms. “I don’t feel right either.”

The sound of something moving in the kitchen catches the girl’s attention.

Sarah pauses from picking her tarot cards from the floor. “What the hell is that?” She looks at the girls. “Do you hear that?”

“Yes,” Tiffany responds. “I told you I heard something tapping at the window!”

“Calm down!” Sarah replies. “Let’s just get the hell out of here before more crazy shit happens.”

The girls grab their belongings as fast as they can and make their way towards the door. Before reaching the door, Tiffany sees a reflection in the mirror through the corner of her eye. She stops and looks straight into the mirror hoping it’s just her imagination.

“Ahhhh!” She lets out a terrifying scream when she sees what’s being reflected in the mirror.

“What?! What’s wrong?” Brittany calls out to Tiffany.

Speechless from what she is seeing, Tiffany points her finger at the mirror. Her face is pale as a ghost and her response sends a shock to the girls. “d-d-demon…”

Before the girls can react to what Tiffany has just said, a shrieking scream is heard from outside.

“Ahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!”

In the midst of the terrifying confusion, they had forgotten that Evelyn was still outside alone. Brittany and Sarah disregard Tiffany’s statement about seeing a demon and run to Evelyn’s rescue just to find her squirming on the ground in agony.

“Help me! It hurts!!!” Evelyn cries.

Before Brittany is able to reach Evelyn on the ground, Sarah holds her back. “Look…” She says.

“Look at what?” Brittany desperately questions Sarah.

“There’s blood on the ground next to Evelyn,” Sarah points.

The girls stand there in shock at what they are seeing. Evelyn’s stomach is being torn from the inside out. They watch as the skin from her stomach is ripped apart. Evelyn’s desperate cries for help are faint as blood fills her throat. The tapping sound returns once again from the living room window. The girls look at the direction where the sound is coming from and see the horrible sight Tiffany had seen less than four minutes ago. It’s a demon and the smile on his face expresses how pleased he is by what is going on.

“This can’t be happening right now,” Brittany cries. “What did you do during the ritual?!” She screams at Sarah.

“I didn’t do anything!” Sarah cries out. “I’ve never done this before! I thought it would be something different…I didn’t mean for any of this to happen!”

“You don’t even know what the hell is going on!” Tiffany yells. “Oh my god!” She points in Evelyn’s direction. “What is that?”

All at once, the girls pause in terror at what they are seeing. A hand appears to be forcing its way out from Evelyn’s stomach. One hand, then another. A human is making its way out. The head appears after both hands touch the ground. It’s covered in blood, but the girls can tell it is female. Her head comes out, then her neck, then her shoulders. She crawls out slowly from Evelyn, whom is still alive. The unknown woman turns her head towards the girls and shows a sadistic grin while whispering two words, “Soul…mate.” Knowing nothing can be done to save their friend, the girls start running into the woods away from the demon, away from the house, and away from their helpless friend.

“Help…help me….help…me,” Evelyn continues to plead as she extends her arms out to the girls that have now disappeared into darkness.

As her eyes glaze over, she falls with her back to the ground and releases her last breath.

Credit: M.S. Rivera

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Arrival

February 8, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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I met Cassie for the first time when I started high school. She was in my art class, and the teacher, Ms Perez, was always giving her a hard time. She was talented, but lacked motivation, was what she used to say. Cassie didn’t seem to care, and seemed more focused on whatever music was blasting in her earphones than on her art assignments.

We started talking, and found out we were both interested in the same kind of music. I had played the piano for a couple of years, and she was taking guitar lessons. We both dabbled in songwriting, and it didn’t take long for us to join forces to start a band together. There were only the two of us in it, but we were young and mostly just spending our time daydreaming about making it big.

Something… changed in the middle of our sophomore year. Her family had been away over the holidays, and when we met again in January I could tell that something was off. She looked tired in a way I’d never seen her before, and she seemed unfocused. I asked her about it, and she just told me that she’d been having trouble sleeping. I kept prodding, and Cassie described having weird dreams of traveling through vast, empty spaces. They weren’t nightmares, as she weren’t scared, but when she woke up in the morning she didn’t feel rested either.

Days passed, and she didn’t get better. In fact, every morning the bags under her eyes seemed deeper in hue, and nothing could hold her attention for very long… except for art class.

Looking at her as she was then, it was hard to imagine it being the same Cassie I’d seen roll her eyes at Ms. Perez in our first year. As soon as she got a brush or pencil in her hand, suddenly she came to life again. It was amazing to watch her as she worked, filling canvas after canvas with force and precision. Her paintings were like if Pollock had been an astrophysicist, bringing you into a different world as a lone explorer. From darkness and emptiness came lights, worlds, destruction, and silence. I was impressed, as everyone seemed to be, but I worried about her. There was something I couldn’t help but notice that troubled me about her painting: her expression. While writing songs and playing guitar, creating out of joy, she was always leaving a trace of herself in it. Watching her paint, I didn’t feel that. I felt determination, urgency, and fear.

In our senior year, Cassie got offered a scholarship to some art school. She didn’t have a lot of options; her dedication to painting, and listless approach to anything else, meant her grades had dropped significantly. I asked her if she intended to take it, and she shrugged and said that it ”didn’t matter”. I urged her to go, telling her that she had a real talent, and that I knew she could make it big like we used to talk about. She looked at me then; the tiredness in her eyes, bringing a hint of nostalgia to the surface, and a ghost of a smile. I hadn’t seen her smile for so long, no matter how little.

As graduation neared, Cassie told me that she was having a showing of her art. She’d found the ”perfect place”, and wanted me to help her set everything up. After school, she brought me to a small, abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of our district. It was pretty clear that no one in their right mind would think that the place was fit to act as a gallery, but Cassie didn’t seem deterred. ”Were we trespassing?” I asked her, as we headed back to the car. ”Yes”, she answered, ”But it’s important”. We spent the next week driving back and forth between the school and the warehouse. A few days before graduation, she asked me not to come anymore. She told me that she was grateful for my help, but that she needed to finish installing the pieces on her own.

”When the rain comes, meet me here” was the last thing she said before we parted ways. I wondered what she was talking about; the forecast had said that it was likely to remain sunny for at least a week. I didn’t ask, though, but I wish I had.

She didn’t come to school those last few days.

We were listening to the principal speak when the first drops started falling. The skies had turned a dark grey, and thunder rolled in the distance. The wind was picking up, and a few graduates shouted as their hats blew away. As the rain intensified, they started moving the rest of the ceremony inside. I got up from my seat with the others, but headed further out as they headed in. The weather got worse by the minute it seemed, and I started running to my car. Cassie’s words were ringing in my ears, and I couldn’t help but feel that something was horribly wrong.

When I arrived at the warehouse, it was a full-blown storm. The rain seemed almost horizontal because of the wind, and by the time I got inside I was soaked to the skin. ”Cassie?” I called out into the darkness, but I received no answer.

In the light coming in through the door I could see lit candles set up in a line. I closed the door behind me, and walked toward the flickering lights. As I separated myself from the tempest outside, I started to make out the trail Cassie had made for me; candles set up to illuminate the right path along the story she wanted to tell. I started walking at a slow pace between her paintings, letting her guide me.

Before, I’d only ever seen her paintings as individual works with a common theme. Seeing them this way, lined up in their proper order, it became clear that they were much more than that. They were a journey. As I passed from one work to the next, I felt as I was traveling across some vast expanse of space, through the deep of our universe. I saw solar systems, galaxies, stars, planets pass me by. I saw world after world collapse and be destroyed, leaving fragments and moving on to the next. It was both amazing and terrifying.

I wandered along the journey Cassie took me through, when something started to dawn on me; recognition. This was no longer a just a brilliant visualization of the enormousness of space… it had a final destination. I felt myself grow cold. For each painting I passed, I grew more certain of what I would find at the end.

I gazed up at the wall bearing Cassie’s final work, as I held her close. “When?” I wanted to ask her, but I knew it would be impossible to wake her. She had been laying on the floor below the painting, sleeping, when I found her. I had picked her up, but felt somehow how far away from me she was. I wondered if she’d ever wake up again, before it came. Looking down on us from he canvas were the remnants of the destruction it would leave behind. She had truly done a masterful job of capturing the End.

Credit: LateNightWritersClub

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