Jason Loved to Read

August 29, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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Jason loved to read. Every day he would take a walk to a nice place, like the park or the beach, and sit down to read for hours. It didn’t matter what the story was about, or who the author was, because Jason just loved to read.

One weekend, his usual places were a little crowded due to the gorgeous weather. He decided to take a walk in the woods to see if he could find a clearing, or an interesting log, where he could relax and lose himself in a book.

Jason walked through the forest for quite some time. These particular woods weren’t good for hiking and had no trails, so he was sure to have some solitude. He wasn’t sure how far he had walked before he came upon the mysterious building. It looked somewhat like an old bank, and was covered in moss and vines. The doors were open and falling off the hinges, and the windows were filthy and broken. Jason figured this strangely placed building might be just what he was looking for.

As he entered through the crumbling doorway, he saw dozens of shelves lined with books. What was a library doing in the middle of the woods? It didn’t matter to Jason. All that mattered was that he was staring at what might possibly be a treasure trove of unread narratives.

He wasted no time grabbing a random book off the closest shelf as he dropped his book bag without care for its contents. Jason inspected the book and it was surely something he had never heard of. He returned it to the shelf and went to further investigate the library. The whole place was filthy, but there wasn’t any random clutter like one might except from an abandoned building. But why was it abandoned? Who could just leave all these books to rot? Jason only thought about it for a moment, as he was too engaged in reading the names of all the books, wondering if he’d find something he recognized. He didn’t find anything remotely familiar.

Books were meant to be read, and Jason felt like these books weren’t fulfilling their purpose, and for a long time it seemed. It was time to start reading. He picked one called ‘Black Wing Adventures’ and sat Indian-style on the floor. The story was incredible! It had everything anyone could want in a good book: adventure, romance, action, even philosophy. But it wasn’t just that it had so many good qualities, it was that those qualities shined so much brighter than anything he had ever read. If this book was this amazing, what treasures did the other books hold? Jason was excited in a way he never felt before.

It was getting late and Jason knew that his girlfriend, Melissa, would be pissed that he wasn’t answering her texts. Normally she understood that this was Jason’s ‘me’ time, but he usually came home hours ago. He took the book with him so he could finish it later and started his journey home. He wasn’t sure if he would find the library again, so he marked trees along the way with a sharpie he had in his book bag.

The next morning, Jason got up a little early so he could read. He grabbed his book bag and took out what he expected to be ‘Black Wing Adventures’. The book now had a different title, ‘Love Without a Friend’. More rummaging through the bag produced only his other boring books that he had previously been excited to read. Did he grab the wrong book? No, that wasn’t possible. He hadn’t let go of the book before putting it in his bag. It was obviously from the same library because it was covered in thick dust. He must have taken the wrong book. It was the only explanation.

He decided that he would read ‘Love Without A Friend’ even though the title didn’t really seem anywhere near as cool as ‘Black Wing Adventures’. Boy, was he wrong. It was just as good. It didn’t have adventure or action, but it had a strikingly human quality to it. Jason had never felt the kinds of emotions the story was invoking. Turning each page was like opening a Christmas present. He couldn’t wait to receive each word, each thought, each feeling. It was late, and Jason began to nod off. He didn’t want to stop reading, but eventually he passed out.

The next morning he was still holding the book in his hands. It was still opened to the page he left off on, and he started to read again. He had no idea what he was reading. The story had completely changed. There were different characters, different thoughts, different feelings. He closed the book and looked at the title. It was ‘Men and Monsters’. Jason was even more shocked than the first time. This book hadn’t left his hands. He hadn’t returned to the library to exchange it for another book. None of this was possible, and Jason was getting understandably freaked out.

All he could think of doing was going back to the library. Maybe he could find one of the other books he was reading. Upon his arrival, Jason received a text message from Melissa that read, “Are you ignoring me?” He responded, telling her he had found a new spot in the woods to read. He left out the part about a mysterious library with curious books, figuring it would only lead to more questions. Once Melissa’s concern had diminished, Jason shut off his phone.

When he got inside the library, he searched long and hard for ‘Black Wing Adventures’ or ‘Love Without a Friend’, but he was unsuccessful. In fact, none of the titles he remembered from before were anywhere to be found. Every book was different. Could this be another abandoned library? How many could there possibly be? Even one seemed strange. Jason just wanted to experience what these books were capable of, so he didn’t want to think about how strange the whole situation had become. He just wanted to read.

He knew he didn’t have much time, so he quickly grabbed a book called ‘Our Nation’s Last Hero’. It was a political drama with as many twists and turns as a great mystery. Jason had never read anything like it. He rarely thought about politics, but it was suddenly the most interesting subject in the world. It started getting dark, so once again, Jason left the library and took the book he had been reading. He hoped it would still be the same book when he woke up the next morning. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

Jason didn’t know what to do. These books were amazing, but apparently he wasn’t going to be able to finish one unless he read it in less than twenty-four hours. He was going to have to stay awake for a long time, so he packed his book bag with caffeinated energy drinks and a few deli sandwiches in case he got hungry. Jason knew Melissa would be looking for him, but he didn’t care. He cared so little that he left his phone at home on purpose.

And so it began. Jason was on a mission to finish one of the magical changing books. What else could they be but magical? A book that changes every day? What an incredible thing! Though Jason had been upset about not being able to finish one, he was thrilled at the fact that he was reading books that no one else would ever read. If he managed to finish one, he would be as satisfied as he could ever be in his whole life.

He chose a book called ‘The Lion’s Tears’, and began reading. As he read, he would periodically take a few swigs of energy drink and take a bite of a sandwich. Eventually he ran out of drinks and began crashing from all the caffeine. It was too soon! He hadn’t finished the book! There were just a few chapters left, but he couldn’t stay awake any longer. He hoped that he would wake up again before the book changed. When he awoke, it seemed as though the next day had not yet come, but the book had still transformed into something new. Jason decided he was wrong about when the change occurred. It wasn’t when the day changed, it was whenever he fell asleep.

Jason stopped leaving the library. He had no time to walk back and forth, or spend time with his girlfriend, or do anything other than read the magical books. He tried to stay awake long enough to finish one, but it was no use. He just kept falling asleep. Jason was getting angry now. This wasn’t a treasure trove of beautiful works of fiction, it was a curse. He was obsessed with finishing one of the books, and it was eating away at his sanity.

No food, no water, no contact with other human beings. When Jason would begin to fall asleep, he would take a piece of broken glass from one of the windows and cut himself to stay awake. After several cuts, he began to feel weak from blood loss. His mind was becoming warped as he sucked every word into his now crippled consciousness. The books he chose became more and more macabre. Titles like ‘Making Love to Murder’ and ‘The Man Who Ate Himself’ were overtaking the other, more gentle ones. If Jason was going to finish one of these books, it had to be something that interested him, and gentle things were no longer in his interest.

There was no telling how long Jason had been in the library. He wasn’t eating or drinking, but somehow he wasn’t hungry or thirsty anymore. It was as if the books were keeping him alive. They wanted him to read. They wanted him to finish. He kept getting closer and closer to finishing one of the books. He was sleeping less and less, and his dream was going to soon come true. But which book would be the lucky one? Which one would be read from front to back by a willing participant? He picked up a book off the shelf and looked at the title. It was called ‘Jason Loved to Read’.

His eyes widened. His mind raced. What an amazing coincidence! A book with his name in the title! And it’s about someone who loves to read! Adrenaline raced through Jason’s body as he opened the book and began the first chapter. He read of a teenage boy who found an abandoned library in the woods. He read about books that magically changed their content whenever the protagonist fell asleep. He read about himself. This was the book that he would finish. This was the book that he HAD to finish. Jason’s heart pounded like mad as he reached the final chapter, when suddenly he was interrupted by a shouting female.

“What the hell, Jason?! THIS is where you’ve been?! I’ve been calling! I’ve been texting! Everyone is looking for you! I only found this place because I happened to see those marks on the trees and thought that maybe you made them! Hello?! Jason?! Are you deaf?!” Just then, she noticed the cuts all over Jason’s body. She fell silent, and took a step back. Here was her boyfriend, cut up and bloody, buried in a book, paying no attention to her tirade.

“Jason… what’s going on? Are you alright? Why won’t you look at me? Jason?” Her voice was concerned but hesitant. Jason just sat there Indian-style, reading his book. Melissa lost her temper.

“Look at me, Jason! What the fuck?!” She began to cry. All she wanted was to find her boyfriend and find out why he had been missing. She expected him to embrace her and tell her that they were together again and that everything was going to be alright. She ran to him, bent down, grabbed his arm and shouted, “Jason!”

In a split second, Jason grabbed a piece of broken glass, already covered in blood from using it to cut himself, and jammed it firmly into Melissa’s neck. Her eyes became wild with fear as she gurgled and jiggled, eventually falling to the floor with the glass still in her neck. Jason’s face had no expression as he continued reading his book; his legacy.

It was about to happen. The last page. Jason couldn’t believe it. He had finally stayed awake long enough to finish one of the magical books from the mysterious abandoned library in the middle of the woods. His hands shook as he turned the page and saw the words ‘The End’ towards the bottom, below the final paragraphs. It was then that he became horrified for the first time in his entire life. The book ended with the protagonist, Jason, stabbing his girlfriend in the neck with a shard of broken glass.

Jason didn’t move, didn’t blink, or even think. He just sat there in absolute shock. Was this really happening? Why did the book say that he killed his girlfriend?! That was impossible! Jason was no killer, he just loved to read! He stood up and screamed a desperate, primal scream, throwing the book on the floor next to Melissa’s body. He looked at her as if noticing her for the first time. There was blood all over the floor. Melissa was surely dead, and Jason must have been the murderer. He walked home in a daze, and called 911 to turn himself in.

According to Jason’s story, the police expected to find Melissa’s body in an abandoned building in the woods. When they arrived at the proper location, they found only her body amid the blood stained leaves and branches. Nothing that resembled a library was anywhere in sight.

The details of the trial and conviction aren’t extraordinary, but what you may find interesting is what happened when Jason arrived at prison. His cellmate offered him a book to pass the time. Jason politely replied, “No thanks. I hate to read.”

Credit To – Umbrello

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In the Dead of Night

August 27, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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This is a video pasta. If you cannot see the embedded video, please click the link below and watch at the video’s YouTube page. Enjoy!

Credit To – Written & Directed by Chris McMahon and Michael Whitehouse

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Room Number 17

August 11, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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This story is based off of real events that happened to me and my family while on our second vacation to Scotland. Names might be changed to keep our privacy and some details might be wrong, but for the rest, everything is what happened. Oh, and we all survived ;)
~Caspar

My parents dragged me towards the pillar where the tour guide would meet us. It was the second day of our two-week vacation to Scotland and right now we were in the capital city of Edinburgh. Our hotel had given us a few tips and things to visit over night and eventually, the three of us decided that we would go to the ‘Mercat Ghost Tour’ in the Edinburgh Dungeons. “Exciting for the entire family!” was what the hotel owner had said. In all honesty, I wasn’t such a fan of ghost stories. I didn’t like horror at all, actually. It was definitely not my favorite, nor could I take jumpscares. So I wasn’t that happy. My heart was pounding quite fast and if I were to see even the slightest scary thing, like a spider, I’d probably jump in my fathers’ arms to hide. No shame, I’m a scaredy-cat.

It had gotten pretty late, and we were waiting at a small café with a nice view on the Mercat pillar. Eventually, the tour guide arrived together with a German family of four. The tour guide introduced himself and we started walking through the city. Edinburgh was beautiful. It was a pretty old city with a big history. The guide stopped every now and then at a building and taught / told us an interesting story, before continuing on walking. The German family took pictures of everything while me and mom listened carefully. Dad was taking pictures as well. We walked around the plaza, called “the Edinburgh Mile” and after walking for a while we reached a small street, nearly hidden from the public. It was barely visible and we stopped to look around a bit. We were surrounded by houses and flats, three-high each. The tour guide opened his bag and searched for the key to the building he’d take us in. After a while he found it. He opened the door and gestured us to enter.

The guide grabbed a lantern and started walking down some stairs. We followed him down the cellar-like stairs and the door closed shut behind us. Shivers ran down my spine as it was getting colder as the night grew older. Also because we went lower and lower underground. I looked over my shoulder at the door and nearly bumped in my father because we came to a sudden stop. The guide turned around and creepily looked at us. The dungeons appeared to be discovered quite recently. They had been closed off and forgotten due to the criminal world seeking refuge and dealing in the underground. The government wanted none of it and thus they closed it. Years passed and the dungeons got forgotten. At least, until recently, when someone found them by accident at the construction site of some building. Mercat took the opportunity to make it into the ghost tour it was now. There were prop bodies and lights hidden throughout the dungeon and if you listened carefully you could hear scary music playing in the distance. The guide focused his attention on us and started telling stories. I wasn’t completely there though, I was distracted. I felt cold and somehow… unsafe. I wanted to get out, even though there was nothing to worry about. I sought comfort in my mothers’ arms and tried to listen to the guide. But there was something… or someone… ominous around. I didn’t feel secure, it was as if we were being watched from behind. We continued and got even deeper inside the dungeons as the guide took us to a closed off section of the dungeons. It had been found by the workers of Mercat while cleaning out and preparing the dungeons for their tours. Apparently it was the safe-route from the Edinburgh Castle to the outside world. The route had been forgotten and hidden for ages until they found it. Story goes that two of the castle’s guards accidently blew up the tunnel by firing the cannon which indicated one o’clock at one A.M. instead of P.M. after having one or two beers too much. it fell of the wall and boom! Anyway, the tunnel was now closed off for visitors.

“Have I told you the story of Room 17?” Asked the tour guide. We all shook our heads, indicating he indeed hadn’t.
“Very well.” The guard put down the lantern on a rock and started his story. Again shivers ran down my spine, followed by a feeling of dread. I felt scared, anxious. But not unsafe. Not anymore.

“A long time ago, there was this hotel. Everybody forgot it’s name, location and city. But it’s around the city of Saint Andrews. The story goes the hotel had a haunted room, number 17. Of course, the room hadn’t always been haunted. It started in the 16th century. On a late autumn night, a young lady appeared at the hotel. She seemed cold and looked for a room to stay the night. The hotel owner had one free room, number 17. The girl thanked him and immediately went upstairs to sleep for the night. The next morning, the girl wasn’t awake for breakfast. She hadn’t come down for lunch either. Even though every guest needs their privacy, the hotel owner was getting worried that something had happened to the girl. The man walked up the stairs and knocked on the room door. He waited for an answer, but it stayed awfully quiet. He knocked on the door again, this time a bit louder. Still no answer. The man was getting very worried about the mysterious female now, so he decided to grab the spare room key and unlock the door. He walked down the stairs again, but as he went down to grab the key, he heard eerie whispers in his ear. He couldn’t understand what they were saying, something about a man clothed in all black. This scared the old man. He grabbed the key to room no. 17 and held it tight in his sweaty hands. He ran back up the stairs and knocked on the door one more time. No answer. He unlocked the door and turned the doorknob to the right. He carefully pushed open the door and called ‘miss? Excuse me, are you there?’ He took a quick peek around the half opened door but couldn’t see the bed yet. He now opened the door fully and walked in. On the bed, covered in a red pool of blood, the corpse of the mysterious female had been left for dead, murdered in cold blood. On the ceiling of the room was written “HELP” in the women’s blood. The old man gasped in fear and called for the town guards. To this day nobody knows who murdered the girl. The hotel owner couldn’t handle the feeling of guilt and closed the hotel for good. It wasn’t until 50 years later when a young family bought the empty house. There were way too many rooms for them, so they decided it would be a good idea to make it into a hotel. So they did. But as the husband of the family inspected every single room, he found one room with a strange, scary atmosphere. He didn’t feel safe at all in the room. He could swear he heard whispers in the room, telling him about a man clothed in black and murder. He shivered and shut the door. He numbered it room 17 and decided to never rent the room. The family earned good money off of the room, but never ever let anyone rent room 17.

The family got rich off of their hotel and the fantastic service. But never ever did they rent room 17. It turned spring, to summer, autumn, and winter again. But the winter was harsh and cold. Chances of surviving without food or a roof above your head were near to null. Every room in the hotel was full, except for room number 17.
The weather outside was harsh, it was snowing and the wind was sharp. It was close to midnight and the family’s husband was sitting in the bar drinking his final beer before closing the hotel door. Suddenly he could hear a weak knocking on the door. He grabbed a torch and opened the door. He looked straight into the eyes of a young woman and her child. They seemed very tired and cold. They were soaking wet of the snow and freezing. If he didn’t let them in, they would surely freeze to death. The husband had pledged to never let anyone stay in room 17, but decided it was better to let them stay than letting them freeze to death.
He let the woman in who thanked him dearly. He handed her the key to room 17 and shut the door. The woman and daughter went up the stairs and stayed the night in room 17. The husband went to his room and tried to sleep, but he couldn’t. His heart was pounding in fear, yet he didn’t know why. An hour passed and the man still couldn’t fall asleep when suddenly he heard a loud screech. It sounded like it was from a woman. He lit a candle and ran up the stairs. Every hotel guest had awoken from their slumber by the loud scream and everyone was looking out of their room doors to see what had happened. Everyone, but room 17. The hotel owner was shaking from head to toe as he opened the door to room 17. He walked inside and saw the woman sitting on a chair in the middle of the room, her eyes fixed on the ceiling in fear. She was completely terrified and paralyzed in fear. The daughter was lying dead on the floor. The husband knew that he had made a mistake. Rumor spread across the country like wildfire and soon, the entire nation knew about the hotel and the haunted room. The husband was never renting the room, ever again. Not even when it was freezing outside. He pledged it against his wife, his son, his grandmother and everybody else. Never.

Anyway, years passed and the hotel grew famous worldwide for its haunted room. Word reached the Vatican and a monk wanted to hear nothing of it. He thought it was all the biggest humbug and he was going to prove it with his own life. The monk travelled all the way to Scotland, to the hotel, just to prove it was all a hoax. The monk sought contact with the hotel owner and after discussing for a long while, the hotel owner decided to let the monk stay for one night, and one night only.

The monk took his belongings inside the room and the owner gave him two bells. One huge bell, which he could ring if he was in trouble. ‘DONNGGG’ It would sound. And a small bell, for if he needed something to eat or drink. ‘ding!’ it would sound.
Night fell over the city and the family’s husband stayed awake for the night, scared of what might happen to the monk. For hours he waited, but nothing happened. The hotel owner’s eyes grew heavy and he nearly fell asleep. Maybe he even did, until he got awoken by the sound of a bell.
‘ding!’ ‘ding!’ ‘ding!’ It was the small bell, being ringed over and over again. it got quicker and quicker, so the husband slowly made his way up the stairs. suddenly, the big bell rang. ‘DONGGGG!’ it sounded through the entire hotel. The husband now ran up the stairs and opened the room as quickly as he could. In the middle of the room, the monk was sitting in a chair, his eyes fixated on the ceiling in fear. In his hands, the small bell. In the corner of the room, the big bell. Way too far for him to have been able to ring it.
The hotel owners were now certain of the room being haunted, by the mysterious woman who had been murdered there ages ago. The hotel closed, the room numbers disappeared. Nobody knows what and where it is nowadays. have a good night.”

The tour guide let us out of the dungeon and we walked to the hotel together, still in shock of the finishing story as told by the guide. It was quite an amazing experience, yet we wouldn’t want to do it again. Way to scary, especially so late at night. We arrived at our hotel and stayed the night. The day after, we drove from Edinburgh to Crail.

Crail was a small fishing village located near Isle of May, famous for its huge population of puffins. We arrived at the hotel where we would stay the night. After walking around for the entire day, we made our way to the hotel and met up with the hotel owner. The year before, we’d been there as well and the man still remembered us. He was very nice and kind, and loved whiskey. Just like every real scot. He told us stories about when he was younger. The owner took us to our room, which he had reserved especially for us. It was a big room with a nice view on the sea. Strangely enough, it had no number on the door. I suddenly got a flashback of the year before, when we stayed here as well. We were having breakfast and got in a conversation with a man and women who had stayed the night in a room with ‘no number’. They’d had some weird experiences in the room. The woman woke up in the middle of the night because she felt something next to her, but her husband was gone. The bed was empty. Somehow, the husband had gone walking in his sleep and found his way to the stairs next to the bathroom. That’s at least what they told.

Anyway, the owner gave us the key and walked back downstairs with us. After more stories and folklore, he went to bed and we were left alone. It was getting midnight and the three of us decided to play a card game, called “last card plus”
My father had always been the more skeptical of us three when it came to ghosts. He didn’t really believe in them. As we played the game, he started telling jokes about the tour yesterday. Neither mom nor I liked it, since we did believe in ghosts. But whatever. We finished the first of seven rounds. Mom won, dad and I had to count the score of our leftover cards. I had 6 points and mom wrote it down. I looked at dad who had a weird grin on his face. He showed me his cards and I looked at the score of the cards together. Seventeen.
Mom and I glanced at eachother and laughed nervously. But the second round ended with dad having seventeen points. Again. His smile disappeared. At the third round, his smile was completely gone and at the end we counted our leftover points again. Dad’s face had turned white now. Seventeen points, three times in a row. And at that moment the lights went out.

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Sleepy Trove

August 10, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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‘SLEEPY TROVE.’
How well do you trust the exits and turnoffs that dot your local interstate highway? I tell this story to make you reconsider taking such detours.
While driving through heavy rain on the Ohio turnpike last year, I caught sight of a plain looking sign during an upward battle with my eyelids to stay open. The word ‘sleep’ was in the title. After what seemed to be just a few moments later, another brown sign, even rustier than before came into view; ‘Sleepy Trove rest stop, one mile ahead,’ it read. As I passed this second sign, I felt an intense numbing feeling drape over my whole body. I was tired and I couldn’t deny it to myself any longer. I swerved and succeeded in pulling off at the exit. For a minute or more as I followed the dimly lit turnoff, the rain continued to pour down and I told myself I made the right decision. Looking back now I tell myself that I would have turned off even if the rest stop name hadn’t comprised the word sleep in the title, but I’m not convinced of that because not so subliminal advertising works well when you’re tired.

I had been driving home from college for a weekend break. For I knew I needed a lazy weekend getaway and I was looking very much forward to my Mom’s cooking and crashing in my old bedroom. But I couldn’t help that my thoughts, or rather my dreams about my bed seemed to lead me to make my last second decision to pull off the road and follow the strange brown colored sign to the Sleepy Trove rest stop.

Immediately I wished I hadn’t.

Instead of the usual turnpike service plaza, there was only a block of restrooms, lit solely by my headlights as I parked in front. Mine was the only car to grace the cement structure, which was not too surprising because it was after midnight and maybe the more seasoned travelers had known the lack of Starbucks and McDonald’s at Sleepy Trove. The absence of restaurant logos upon the rest stop sign should have been a warning but as I say; I was tired. At first I was relieved to be alone but despite feeling somewhat safe, I locked my door before reclining my seat.

With my vehicle engine off and the rain easing, I could now listen to a paranormal radio talkback show that seemed to be the only strong signal all night; besides my circadian rhythm telling me to pass out that is. The guest on the radio program was talking about missing people all over the U.S and how there were clusters of disappearances near national parks. I turned it off, not because I was getting scared or anything but because the guest’s final conclusion was that the perpetrator was in fact Bigfoot. Which he annoyingly called Sasquatch to lend undue scientific sounding weight to his premise.

As the rain dwindled away, the unmistakable heaviness in my bladder became harder and harder to ignore. That beer I shared at my buddy Dave’s before I left was no doubt the culprit. The thing was I didn’t even like using those pretty bathrooms at Macy’s, let alone this rundown, no doubt spider-infested trucker’s dump. But since the rain had stopped and nobody else was around at that moment, I convinced myself that it was the best time to go. Unlocking my door, I dashed over to the Men’s entrance. Luckily, a single bulb hanging down from the cobwebbed ceiling lit the cubed, windowless room. There was an empty energy drink bottle in the single sink, a discarded hooded raincoat in the corner and what I hoped was just rainwater soaking the yellow tiled floor. As I made use of the stained stainless steel urinal, the heavy downpour of rain began again like applauding angels. The roof was bombarded with water and the sound reverberated throughout the bathroom. Even through the rain, I still couldn’t mistake the sound of my car’s engine starting up. I zipped up and bolted to the entrance, almost slipping over, ok I did slip over, but I stumbled up just in time to see my taillights speed away back towards the interstate before vanishing in the watery curtain of the blasted storm.

I stepped back into the restroom, checking my pockets and realizing that I had indeed left my keys in the ignition. Someone must have been waiting in anticipation for me to finally get out of my car. Someone who had obviously got his courage from the energy drink in the sink. I cursed the Bigfoot man on the radio in anger for causing me to leave the keys in the ignition to listen to his dribble. But soon relief washed over as I pulled out my cell phone. I would call the police and they could head the thief off with a roadblock and bring my car right back. But I was back cursing Doctor Sasquatch as soon as I saw there was no reception in the urine soaked hellhole.

It was then as I was moving about the restroom trying to find a signal that I first saw it. Well, I had of course noticed it earlier. The industrial blue hooded rain jacket plopped in the corner had been there all along, but now out of the corner of my eye it shuffled ever so slightly. I stepped away, afraid there was a rat or something inside. Staring at the half sitting up jacket, I realized something about it unnerved me. It was sprinkled with water but was against the far wall where rain couldn’t have possibly reached it. There was also something else that caused me to shiver; a rusty old chain was attached to the tiled wall and metal links trailed up the jacket’s sleeve. At that point I noticed I had moved all the way to the door.

Eerily, I stared at the strange looking jacket as the bashing deluge upon the roof almost deafened my ears and with that my mind began panicking again. My heart felt like it was about to leap out of my chest. Having my back already drenched from the downpour, I made the decision to get away and try to find a signal on my phone and to also think clearly away from the noisy ceiling.

I first considered heading for the road and trying to flag down a car or truck but knew they wouldn’t see me on the rain swept road. Instead I circled around the back of the restroom block, using my phone as a light source and constantly checking the bars for reception. I futilely texted a quick message to my friend Dave; ‘STUCK AT SLEEPY TROVE REST STOP ON TURNPIKE. COME HELP!!’

I was so fixated at seeing a signal icon that my feet almost stepped into a lake that was down a slight hill from the restroom. Looking across the rather large lake I could see what looked like little houses, lit up against the night’s darkness. After my eyes adjusted, I made out the houses were on an island and that they were not houses at all. The lights were coming from one facility. It was a collection of huts and cabins circled by a veranda, very much like a campground. As there was still no activity on my phone, I followed the lake for a few minutes until coming to an ancient, half sunken, missing planked wharf. There was one corrugated iron sign that when illuminated by my phone read; ‘SLEEPY TROVE BOYSCOUT CAMP.’

I immediately glanced back over to the set of cabins across the lake but could see no sign of them anymore. I assumed trees or some other mass were blocking the lights from that position. Walking back the way I had come to recapture the previous view of the faraway campground, I quickly realized that all the lights must have been turned off. Had they seen me or was it only a coincidence? Maybe the lights had been on a timer or the storm had knocked the power out.

As the rain soaked me to the bone, I worried about damaging my phone and I hurried back to the restroom block. This time I went into the Ladies side and to my disappointed it was no nicer than the Men’s. I then made a silent prayer to use and enjoy the Macy’s bathroom if I ever got out of this place.

As I clenched paper towels over my phone to dry it, I thought I saw one reception bar fleet across the top of the screen. I clicked on the connectivity option and was surprised to find a WiFi connection. Tapping it so quickly that I almost splintered my screen, I joined the free WiFi of ‘SLEEPY TROVE BOYSCOUT CAMP.’

The name unnerved me as by the looks of that wharf, surely no boy scouts had been over to that little island since the dawn of the internet. The signal strength was weak but my phone’s search engine popped right up. I had never been more curious and since none of my friends, family or Dave would be on facebook this early, I typed in ‘SLEEPY TROVE BOYSCOUT CAMP.’ And words like Abandoned, Haunted, Trespass, Disappearances, Cults, Cryptids, and Urban Exploration littered webpage descriptions. Because clicking on links failed to load, I gathered most information from the search results. Sleepy Trove Camp had apparently closed in 1982 after several boys had been violently ‘disassembled’ by an unidentified hostile force. Their ghosts and the unidentified hostile force are said to badly haunt the area. Right as I read that bit of chilling information, the shared wall with the Men’s room that I had previous been in began banging. The source of the commotion originated from a rusty square panel, about ankle height. Realizing that it was the backing to the chain that was attached to the jacket made me shudder. Someone or something was yanking on that chain like a game of tug of war. A blood freezing scream then echoed from the neighboring restroom before the banging ended abruptly. I heard someone running outside and when the heavy footsteps sounded like they were far enough away I ventured out of the safe Ladies room and headed back to the Men’s, guided only by the light of my trusty phone.

I remember passing by a newly arrived car before heading into the bathroom as my perceptions became a deafening, warpy blur.

As I stepped into the Men’s bathroom again, fear and the worst sense of dread rushed over me as I laid eyes on a very dead figure slumped against the urinal. The grotesque twisted body was that of my friend Dave. It turned out he had received my text after all. His face was contorted in an agonizing explosion of frozen terror. Blood now covered the urine soaked tiles and the jacket from the corner was now lying discarded by the door, covered in blood and large chunks of brown dirty hair. The chain had been ripped out of the wall as well. Whoever or whatever had been trapped there had been awoken and was now free.

The next thing I clearly remember is hearing my screams mixed with the sound of Dave’s car horn as my fist beat the steering wheel.
I’ve done little research since that horrifying night. My car was found just one stop down the turnpike. Traces of similar filthy brown hair were discovered on the driver’s seat. The police said they were adult, whereas the hair from the restroom was from a child, both most likely that of a primate. I let my parents handle liaison with the police after that.

I don’t know what lights I saw over at Sleepy Trove Boy Scout Camp that night, but I often imagine they live there and travel to the structures and facilities that dot the mainland to find their victims.

Trespassing on the Boy Scout Camp Island can bring with it a thousand dollar fine, but I wouldn’t even go back if they paid me that much. It’s not like I could return anyway; the Sleepy Trove exit is gone and the restroom block has been torn down. Try searching for it online or, heaven’s forbid, on the turnpike itself and you won’t find any trace of it. But I fear as we move further and further away from them, they will continue to encroach more and more upon us.

Credit To – ShaunMcKinnon

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Shock Factor

August 9, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Creepypasta has never been a shock site. It says this in the rules, under the FAQ, word for word. Submissions are supposed to be creepy stories to spread around the internet for a bit of an adrenaline rush on those late nights alone. They’re not real, they’re not meant to be full of explicit gore or violence, they’ve always been simple stories – sometimes overdone, sometimes with plenty of cliches or plot-holes, but never… never truly chilling to the bone, not before that night…

As most of you probably know, creepypasta.com receives plenty of submissions. I had started working on the site as an assistant of sorts after volunteering to help a friend in the staff, reading over submissions to help get through the massive backlog so that they could be opened up again in a timely manner. It was much harder than I had expected, to be honest, most of the submissions I turned down didn’t cross my mind even once after they had been rejected. Most violators followed a similar pattern: blatant crappypastas, grammatical errors far too frequent to ignore, rewrites of previous pastas that had been done time and time again.

Now, I’m quite the horror fanatic. I love movies, game, stories, anything with a macabre theme that would send chills down the spine. Unfortunately, being such a frequenter of these sites and sources resulted in a sort of… immunity? to the “creepy”. Reading through submissions never really made me glance over my shoulder or peer into dark crevices, not like it used to anyway. I got cocky, thought that nothing could scare me, that I was invincible to the supposed creep-factor.

I was stupid.

It was late. My roommate was exhausted after studying for some class so she had turned in for the night. My cat had been fed and was lounging in the other room, probably dozing off for the moment; Millie only ever got up to run around after I had gone to bed, finding that the most inconvenient time for me must’ve been the most fun for her. With no homework on my agenda and no work the next day, I tried to filter through as many of the submissions that I had been asked to look over as I could. There weren’t many left, just a couple more and they seemed fairly short. I smiled to myself after whittling them down, proud to see that I had made it through almost every responsibility. I planned on spending my day-off relaxing if I could just make it through four more submissions.

“Shock Factor” was next on my list, a submission with no credit name, emailed under “[email protected]” I wouldn’t be contacting whoever this was. I didn’t even bother to test the address, certain that their story wouldn’t make it very far. Regardless, I started reading through, almost bored at first as they seemed to go with the cliche setting of being alone on a dark, stormy night. Nothing stood out, at least not at first, but I kept reading.

“Maybe they’d surprise me,” I thought. God, I wish they hadn’t.

As I kept reading, the story warped into some… twisted torture flick. Apparently the protagonist wasn’t completely alone, he had someone tied down in the other room. The narration quickly slipped into a step-by-step account of a horrific dissection, without any anesthesia, on some complete stranger. The part that sent a shiver up my spine was the descriptiveness, it seemed so detailed, so involved. It was like nothing that I had ever read before, blunt and all too natural.

I rejected it, of course. It violated the rules, the email looked fake, I simply discarded it with the others and moved on. It stuck, of course, it had disturbed me a great deal, but I brushed this off as just being a good narrative; if that submission had fallen within the rules, it might have made a good addition.

A couple days went by, and at first I had forgotten all about “Shock Factor”. With the submissions all filtered through and the next submission period being moved onto, I offered to help with the next load if I was needed and was called to do so about a month later. Again, I went through the stories and rejected whatever didn’t follow the FAQ – honestly, you’d think that some of these people hadn’t even given the link a quick gloss-over.

And it showed up again.

“Shock Factor Part 2.” Did this person honestly expect a “Part 2” to be submitted when his first had been rejected? I felt kind of pissed off, thinking that this person had just re-submitted their works, and even a little bit nervous as I remembered just how graphic the last one had been. Regardless, I opened the submission and started to skim through. I was disgusted as I found that the narrator was up to his old tricks, this time with a younger victim, stated as being somewhere around fifteen years old.

I didn’t bother reading through the whole thing as it somehow managed to disturb me more than the last one, detailed accounts of torture and abuse far beyond what I ever wanted to read in my life. All the while, it had that extremely real feel to it, that tone that dragged me in and made me believe that this was some actual legitimate account for a brief moment rather than some sicko’s idea of a joke. A joke, a sick joke to play on the staff for rejecting his first story, that’s what this must have been.

It was discarded, I made it through my quota, and I didn’t volunteer to help anymore after that. For a short while I thought that it was over, and went back to my normal everyday life. Classes, work, boyfriend, classes, work, boyfriend, classes… I began to slip back into my schedule, though memories of the “Shock Factor” series kept bubbling up over the next week or so.

I assured myself that it was over, until I received an email titled “Shock Factor Part 3” to my personal address.

It was impossible! There was no way that this guy could’ve gotten my personal email! I deleted it without bothering to read it, unnerved by the fact that he found me. I tried to think of ever possible logical explanation, even getting upset as I considered that my friend had planned some elaborate prank to disprove my boasting over never being creeped out. After sending her an annoyed message, I received a new one, this time titled “Shock Factor Part 3: You should read it this time.”

My blood ran cold. How the–

I looked at the description nervously, the glimpse of a message any gmail user would be familiar with seeing, located next to the message title. “This time there’s a cat, and I know you love c…” it read, trailing off.

I exited the tab and closed my computer. On some sort of… God-awful suspicion, I suddenly stood up and began searching the apartment for Millie. I called for her, looked under the furniture, I even asked my roommate about her and for nowhere. I started to panic, convincing myself that whoever this anonymous sender was, they had somehow managed to get their hands on something close to me. My pet, out of my house, as the topic of one of his twisted stories. How else could he have known that I had a cat? How could he have known my email address? Who the hell was he?!

Months went by. I graduated, I moved on in life, I got a job. I never did find Millie after that, never did find out who was emailing me. Occasionally, I’ll still get these strange emails, even after changing over to new addresses. New additions to the “Shock Factor” series, every time with a short description. The worst part is that… every time I receive a submission, it seems to happen just after I lose something… And whatever I lose ends up in the story. I’ll misplace a sewing kit, and find “Shock Factor Part 6: Stitching”, or I’ll lose a pair of scissors and receive “Shock Factor Part 9: Cutting Up.” It scares me, now. I dread checking my email, I’m paranoid, I never go out alone. It’s putting a lot of strain on me, and on my boyfriend, I make him go everywhere with me except to work.

The Shock Factor series has worked its way to Part 23 at this point… I don’t know how much more of this I can take…

If you ever receive an email from submission.spacefiller, an email titled “Shock Factor”, anything of the sort, please ignore it. For your own sake, ignore it – I don’t know if that would even work. It’s driving me crazy, I can’t go anywhere alone. I feel like someone is following me, like this stranger knows everything that goes on in my life. I don’t know how his stories got so realistic, either, but I don’t want to think about it.

I just got a text the other day, too, one that has driven me to the point of seeking legal help. I’m going to the police now, he has my phone number, and he’s not going to stay out of sight for forever.

“Part 30 will feature a guest star. I’m afraid that I’ll have to move on to finding a new editor after she has her episode, though. How unfortunate. I knew her so well.”

Credit To – Kat Ozkosar

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Nihil

August 1, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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‘The first time I heard the legend of the Mad Hangman was from another inmate in our prison. He told me that there was a man with the ability to ward off death. That he was immortal. At first I thought it was a comforting fable for people who were about to be executed, but then I heard it from other places. ’

‘His name was August Atherstone. A master executioner in Britain in the 1800s.’

‘He hanged a countless number of criminals. There were rumours that the only way August could get so effective at killing was that he performed ‘unofficial’ executions. Favours for prisons who quickly wanted rid of an inmate.’

‘August said he had seen ‘reflections of the afterlife’ in dead eyes so many times that death and life became one. He was Death’s Messenger, and through this, entered into a pact with Death Himself.’

‘Some people say he was afflicted with eternal life. Some say Death rewarded him.’

‘He walks the earth now. Waiting by the graves of his loved ones for Death to finally come for him. But he never does.’

‘They say that some cults worship August as a God. They offer him sacrifices so that they too can live forever. I tried to find them. I couldn’t. That’s why I ended up here.’

The legend of the Mad Hangman, pieced together by various letters found in an abandoned apartment.

Death Himself is a mystery; the milestone to which we measure life. We wait for him like we await an old friend, often attempting to delay his intervention, but never to defy him entirely.

He was my obsession. I longed to see the world through Death’s gaze. By the time monotony and routine had become the foundations of my existence, I had learned that life held no discernible meaning. Death would come for me, and I would be a name carved into stone, long forgotten before high winds prevented graveyard visits and overgrown wilderness masked the details of the dead on my colorless headstone. Through some divine inspiration; perhaps driven by the stale nothingness of reality, I unknowingly embarked upon a journey into the realms of the unreal.

I began contacting murderers, serial killers, terrorists, cult followers, cult leaders, mental patients, grave robbers, necrophiliacs, cannibals; any type of deranged mind I could locate the whereabouts of. Within a few months I had contacted notorious inmates such as John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy. It seems that I had a natural talent for eliciting a response from such people. I would study their victimology and work backwards, often posing as a woman, or a gay man, or a devotee of their interpretation of art. On the night Ted wrote his last letter to me, he had signed off with ‘your friend’, and it was no coincidence that he was executed the following morning. I always found it humorous how the prospect of death reveals true intentions, even from someone as experienced in the art of death as Ted was.

My interest in high-profile killers began to wane, as their stories were often elaborated to the point of fiction. My concern, then, moved onto lesser known evil. The nameless occult killer haunting the backstreets of small towns; the curious Satanist eager to offer his new God-deity his first sacrifice. After all, if I was to unlock the secrets of Death, would I not find it veiled in the unattainable depths of a morbid psyche?

What became clear through my correspondence was that although serial killers were the most egotistical people alive, they held a secret admiration for each other’s work. An admiration which existed only in the murderer’s collective conscience, never to be spoken of. It was not uncommon for me to play the part of the middle man, passing messages between psychopaths across the country. It was through this that I learnt the legend of the August Atherstone, the Mad Hangman, and his pact with Death Himself. Whenever a serial killer with occult connections was incarcerated, several murderers would try to contact them, and the subject of the Mad Hangman seldom arose.

Occasionally, I would be asked if I could contact certain people who I wasn’t familiar with. It was rare that this happened, but one name in particular kept arising; Baron. I had uncovered no details regarding such a person, but I was assured he existed. Robin Gecht informed me that Baron was an unstoppable, merciless killing machine driven by ritualistic delusions. Rod Ferrell was certain he had met Baron before, and that he was somehow affiliated with the cult which worshipped the Mad Hangman. Months of searching for this mysterious inmate yielded no results, until I received a letter from a cannibal in Britain.

‘He’s here.

There’s a cell in the basement we call the Throne Room, because it’s just a chair and nothing else. Some of the guards organise fights between inmates down there and a couple of guys claim to have seen an unknown prisoner in the Throne Room. I’ve overheard conversations between guards – he’s painted the walls with his own blood, his mouth has been sewn shut, he wears a mask, he’s been eating rats. I sometimes hear sounds coming from his cell. It isn’t screaming, or shouting, or any of the shit you usually hear in prisons at night. The noises coming from down there are not human.
I know from experience that he won’t be around long.

I’ve heard that the guards have been told to ‘get rid of him.’ They will unofficially execute him, August Atherstone style. If you want to see Baron, get here quick.

Stephen G, inmate #364, Wakefield Prison Monster Mansion’
I made arrangements to travel to Wakefield, not hesitating to leave routine and monotony behind.

Standing infront of the Monster Mansion itself, its gigantic stone walls cast a shadow on the sleepy town beneath. Cold January rain beat against the arched gates which slowly opened to reveal a gothic palace housing the most deranged criminals in England.

‘I have a visit scheduled to see Stephen Griffiths, inmate #364,’ I told the guard, who escorted me to our allocated room.

‘I’ll be supervising your meeting with Mr Griffiths,’ said the guard. He tied back his long hair with a hairband from his wrist and straightened his uniform.

‘It’s for your own safety, and to make sure nothing is given or exchanged. Do you understand?’

I agreed to the protocol, and soon found myself sitting face to face with Stephen – a sociopathic cannibal lusting for infamy. His shackled hands rested in his lap, and his gaze was primarily focused on the table between us. We made small talk, such as how I was finding my stay in England and what I did for work. Stephen’s crimes did not interest me in the slightest, nor did his life story. I had begun regular correspondence with Stephen so that my motives for entering Wakefield Prison would not be questioned. I suspected Stephen knew my true agenda, but who was he to reject friendship?

When I finally asked Stephen about what I needed to know; Baron’s whereabouts, his eyes met mine for the first time. Before Stephen could speak, however, the prison guard promptly intervened.

‘Visiting time is up,’ he said, and ushered in another prison warden to escort Stephen back to his cell. I had anticipated that this would be the case, and somehow needed to prolong my stay at the prison. The same guard forcefully ushered me out of the room and back to the courtyard.

‘Please follow me, sir,’ he said, walking in the opposite direction of the arched gates I entered from. ‘The exit is this way.’

I followed him across the empty courtyard, my visibility reduced by standard issue English weather. We passed between two stone pillars, bearing plaques honouring the architects who built Wakefield Prison. We passed through a picturesque scenic garden, decorated with benches and rose bushes. Despite its beauty, the place seemed more barren with every step we took. We eventually arrived at a spiraling concrete staircase leading down seemingly to the bottom of the world, and it wasn’t until then that I realised where I was being led. The guard was not leading me to the exit. He was leading me to where I wanted to go. His silence and blank stare told me all I need to know; he was one of us. A follower of the macabre, a seeker of Death.

Not a word was spoken between me and the guard, but like serial killers before us, we upheld a mutual silent admiration. At the bottom of the staircase the guard unlocked a steel security door which opened into a dimly-lit corridor. Once the scent of damp stone had subsided, I followed him through a narrow tunnel illuminated only by a single bulb in the distance. For the first time in my life, excitement coursed through my veins. It felt as though I was walking into the mouth of hell, and I didn’t care if I made it out alive. This was the closest I had come to Death’s realm since I first contacted John Wayne Gacy and those letters seemed like child’s play in comparison. Death had visited here; this I was certain of.

At the end of the corridor, it stood. The Throne Room, in the flesh. Just as Stephen had described in his letter. Albeit with one minor difference: the cell bore no prisoner. It was simply an empty chair, camouflaged against the grey stone wall behind.

‘I’m sorry to disappoint,’ said the guard, finally breaking the silence. ‘But Baron is no longer kept here. He was coerced into a fight to the death with another inmate just yesterday, if the rumours are to be believed.’

‘He’s dead?’ I asked.

‘Yes, or so I’m told. I didn’t witness it myself, although I had bet a lot of money on Baron to win. Such a shame.’

‘Why the hell would you do that?’ I asked.

‘There’s no death penalty in England, you see, so we have to find ways of keeping the prison population down. The official report will say that a fight broke out, resulting in the death of an inmate. No one really bats an eyelid when a criminal dies.’

‘Can you tell me anything about him?’ I asked. ‘Did you talk to him? Do you know about his crimes?

‘I can’t divulge any details. Besides, he didn’t say much. His lips were always sealed. His possessions are still in his cell if you’d like to take a look. Just don’t take anything.’

The posthumous items adorning the floor of Baron’s cell would be priceless to some of the deranged collectors I had come to know. A detailed sketch of a public execution with a sharply-dressed hangman holding a scythe. A masked man sitting atop a tombstone. Two crows encircling an empty grave. The only other item in the cell was a pack of playing cards, missing every card but one. The card in particular was the Jack of Hearts, and something had been hastily scribbled on the back.

‘355 Churchfield Terrace, WF6 4QZ’

An address. I slipped the card into my pocket when the guard was unaware. I thanked him for his time, and asked him to show me the real exit.

Grey skies set in overhead as I took shelter from the rain in the doorway of Wakefield library. My taxi arrived, ten minutes late, and took me towards my next destination.

‘That’s a ways away,’ the driver said. ‘Be about an hour.’

He was not wrong. The journey was made more treacherous by the sterility of the vast Wakefield countryside. Endless acres of woodland, with only hints of blackened skies visible through impossibly high trees. My drop off destination was what seemed to be in the middle of a marsh. No distinguishable path led the way and all signs of urban life had long been depleted.

‘Here?’ I asked.

‘No, not here, dummy,’ the driver said. ‘This is as far as I can go without driving into a bog. Keep walking that way,’ he said, pointing into the black expanse of trees. ‘Should come to a few houses eventually. Some right weirdos living ’round here.’

I followed his instructions as he drove away. I struggled my way across dead wildlife and broken tree branches, eventually arriving at remote territory resembling a domestic residence. It was more of an abandoned farm, but the worn plaque on the broken gate told me that this was 335.

Exactly what I would be greeted with, I was unsure. All I knew was that Baron had brought me here. Overgrown grass and weeds led a makeshift path to the front door of the house, which – despite knocking on for several minutes – no one answered. I edged around the side of the house, eventually stumbling upon a small window. A dim light flickered off the reflection of the glass, allowing me to make out a handful of details inside. A trophy cabinet. A white leather robe hanging from the wall. A painting of a tentacled eyeball.

‘I knew you’d come,’ said a hushed voice behind me.

I turned around, ready to run.

‘I just needed to know you’d take the initiative.’

A familiar silhouette appeared from the shadows. Waist-length black hair, no longer tied back.

‘My apologies for not being honest with you earlier. I couldn’t risk our conversation being overheard. I planted that address in Baron’s cell. My address. I needed you to come here.’

‘This is your house?’

‘Correct.’ he said. ‘I’ll explain everything soon, and I assure you you’re in no danger. Would you follow me please?’

The prison guard, or who at least I believed to be just a prison guard, led into his decayed farmhouse. Each room was more decrepit than the last, some of them barely held together by loose wooden panels. One of the rooms had a semblance of order; perhaps a living room, since lost to domestic neglect. A corridor led to what I assumed to be the room I had stared in from outside the house. The entranceway appeared different to the rest. It had been cared for. It boasted three steel padlocks and was made of corrugated iron.

‘Very few people have ever stepped foot in this room. Or even laid eyes on it. Please do not touch anything.’

The iron door took an age to swing open. Orange light from bare bulbs illuminated the rectangular room, showcasing wall-to-wall glass cabinets. Headless mannequins adorned the corners of the room, decorated in clothing from a previous age. Bizarre paintings of otherworldly demons hung in black frames.

‘I’ve read all of your letters,’ the guard said. ‘Your preoccupation with death goes beyond obsession, to the point where you are willing to travel blindly in the vain hope you might uncover something the rest of the world doesn’t know.’

I walked up to the first glass cabinet, unsure where to look first.

‘I know this,’ he continued, ‘because I’m the same. Every item in this room has, at some point, passed through the hands of Death Himself. All the artwork you see has painted by murderers, serial killers, sometimes with their own blood. The offspring of demented creativity and the paintbrush. I own genuine torture devices, used centuries ago in public executions. I am in possession of the bones of the most deformed man to have ever lived, who was hanged from a tree as he was thought to be an adversary of God. I own occult artifacts, murder weapons, a piece of skin said to be torn from the Devil himself.’

He walked towards a mannequin wearing a white mask and a frayed leather robe. Infront of the mannequin stood an empty altar. A visual straight from the scene of a cult sacrifice, albeit its human elements replaced with lifeless ornaments.

‘This is my collection. This is my obsession. All I’m missing is the ultimate item.’

His eyes glanced towards the empty altar, and took a breath to indicate that the piece was not wholly complete. That something should be perched atop; some priceless tome or grimoire.

‘Which is?’ I asked.

‘Please step this way. I have a surprise for you.’

A door – camouflaged between two glass trophy cases – became apparent when the guard placed his hand on its gold doorknob. He opened the door outward and proudly stepped back, as if revealing a master painting he had spent his life creating.

It appeared to be a storage room; perhaps for items deemed not important enough for viewing privileges in the guard’s personal museum of the dead, yet not. A sudden influx of shock blinded my rationality. How long I remained silent for, I will never know, but between breaths I eventually managed to ask the question:

‘Who is that?’

I needed not to wait for his answer. A man, bound with rope and chain sat in a chair, unconscious. Any other time, I would not have recognised him. His pale features and thin blonde hair – uncut for decades – resembled no one I had seen before. My realisation came when the prisoner’s head lulled to the side, revealing lips which had been somehow torn to pieces. His mouth had swelled to twice its normal size, and his lips pulsated with holes and fresh scars anew.

‘I apologise for showing him to you in such horrific appearance,’ said the guard, ‘his lips had been sewn shut for years. I’m no surgeon. I couldn’t help the trauma.’

For the first time, I felt that maybe I had come too close to Death. Maybe this was all some kind of error, and Death was not my reason or my obsession. Maybe something else entirely; literature, painting, poetry. Maybe I could take solace from a medium where Death was not immediate, not presented within touching distance inside a glass case.

‘Please, explain.’ I said. ‘I don’t know if I want any part of this.’

‘Being in the inner circle in the prison system gives me access to the information I need. The amount of inmates who pass through us without the public’s knowledge is immense. From there I can locate the killers who interest me, and be the first to get hold of their possessions. I convinced the courts to send Baron to Wakefield so that we could keep him hidden in the Throne Room. Most prisons are reluctant to take the high profile inmates because it’s not worth the hassle, so the courts were glad to send him to us.’

‘High profile?’ I asked. ‘No one knows who he is.’

‘Because we managed to keep his whereabouts a secret. Regardless, our instructions were simple; keep him hidden from public, starve him to death then claim it was self-inflicted. But last week the instructions from the courts changed; kill him immediately. The authorities had unearthed more of his victims, and they found a word carved into their skins – Nihil.’

‘Which means?’

‘This isn’t the first case we’ve heard of with this word being carved into victim’s flesh. The problem is it’s been occurring all over the country. Different victim types, different methods of body disposal. At first it was assumed to be some sort of underground trend; maybe killers were somehow contacting each other and this was their way of showing off.’

Thinking back through my correspondence with inmates, the word had made vague appearances in the sign offs of some of the lesser known murderers, often those with connections to the occult or Satanism. I assumed it to be a farewell of those initiated into Death’s circle.

‘It took me three days, but I finally got Baron to speak. Everyone who knows about him believes he’s dead, so I could do what I wanted to him.’

The guard cast a maniacal glance towards Baron’s shattered ankles. What little consequence was threatened as a result of his torture had manifested itself into violent interrogation. The guard did not strike me as psychotic, merely motivated by desperation at a rarer-than-rare opportunity.

‘I needed to know about Nihil. About what it meant. But what he told me was a lot more interesting.’

The guard leaned down and spoke to Baron’s swaying head.

‘Tell him what you told me, about the Executioner.’

A soft voice eventually began to speak, slowly, as if narrating a story he had told a thousand times. His arms and legs still shackled, his body leaning forward as if independent from his thoughts. He recanted the tale of the Mad Hangman, applying details of the story lost during its telling through the ages. Night turned to morning, and myth became reality. I left the guard’s house in the early hours, coming ever closer to a chance meeting with Death.

The guard financed me considerably. Money was no object to him, or so it seemed. Or at the very least he was willing to part with a generous sum of money for what he deemed ‘the ultimate item.’

August documented everything he knew about Death in his journal. A book unlocking the secrets of existence. It’s in possession of a cult who worship August as God, and his Book of Death as their Bible. A cult I was part of. They have used it to enter the realm of immortality.

Baron was certain he knew the whereabouts of the book, and even claimed to have seen it himself. I followed his directions to the letter, taking the west-bound train out of Redditch until it came to a stop in a tunnel while the tracks changed. I exited the train through a window and hid in the tunnel until I could safely move. I followed the tracks out into the ensuing greenery and into a backdoor town called Logslow. What windows were not whitewashed were boarded up, and a grey tint illuminated every building and path. After asking multiple Logslow residents for directions, and them denying its existence, I eventually found what Baron had assured me was August’s eternal home; Logslow Cemetery.

I waited until dusk and scaled the cemetery walls. The gigantic bolted gates showed no signs of allowing visitors. Nervous adrenaline propelled me into the waist-high grass from the atop wall, barely checking for any dangers below me. The graveyard was a forgotten sanctuary, unspoiled by human hands for decades. The dead here were calm; almost certainly.

I waded through grass and across frozen mud until I discovered the tombstone I was searching for. A blind angel atop a black headstone; the resting place of August Atherstone’s wife. In Baron’s version of events, August came to this grave after madness had claimed him. Unable to cope with the grief of seeing his loved ones pass away, he attempted to dig up the remains of his deceased lover. When he failed, he simply sat in this graveyard waiting for Death to take him, but Death never came.

I followed a dirt trail leading from the blind angel grave to a nameless mausoleum paying an unsung tribute to the dead.

The tomb leads below the graveyard. A private burial ground. It’s where they buried the men that August hanged. What you are you searching for is down there.

I followed a spiralling path into blackness, keeping my body against the wall. The shuffling sounds I heard as I ventured further in I attributed to vermin and large insects. I continued down, trying not to avert my eyes towards the few creatures which grazed my neck and hands.

Follow along the left-hand wall all the way down. There is a gap when you think you’ve come to the end. Get through it. It’s in that room. Take matches, there are torches along the walls you can light.

I struggled through the gap, barely wide enough to pass through a child. I felt along the walls and came to the first lamp, which lit without issue. I welcomed the sudden influx of light, heat offering a secondary comfort. I lit as many torches as I could find, and came to realise that the burial chamber I stood in was colossal, perhaps stretching the entire terrain of the graveyard above. Each lamp I lit exposed another until the whole room shone with radiant orange flame.

It took me several minutes of stunned silence to overcome the beauty before me. The room’s perfect architecture, its macabre decorations of bone and flesh. Coffins lined the floors, carcasses lay draped across detached headstones. Decomposed bodies hung from the walls in mimic execution; a nightmarish tribute to the legend of the Mad Hangman. It became clear why the entrance to this room was a single rupture in stone; the room had been sealed off. This crypt was intended to be inaccessible, yet it had been breached. Sanctuary was not to be found here. A sense of intrusion befell me, and looking back I vaguely made out a silhouetted figure between two lamps, watching me from behind the ruptured entranceway. He did not move as I backed away. My senses told me to sprint, and I ran. Far back into the catacombs beyond the reach of light. I trampled bones and tripped over corpses in my haste, but didn’t once slow down. Footsteps followed behind me. Slow, innocuous footsteps, cementing my fear that somewhere in this crypt I would reach an end. I found a darkened corner and hid. Perhaps awaiting my demise. Why now? Why, when I was so close to my answer to Death’s enigma?

I waited, breathing in damp air and the scent of putrid decay. I waited hours, possibly days. I will never know. My senses were rendered absent by fear and obscurity. My body failed me. It wasn’t until the unlit torch I leaned against brightened, and I was greeted face to face with an entity; a lifeless figure devoid of shape. A deformed mass of hanging cloth, his face concealed with a white mask. He said nothing, and stared at me with vacant eyes. He was not alone. Behind him, replicas of the bizarre man appeared. All wearing identical robes and masks.

I was terrified. The cultists held me against the cold stone floor. I protested my innocence; that Baron had sent me here. He had told me all about the Nihil Cult. He told me of their devotion to Death, and that August was their God. He told me that they kill as followers, so that each cultist can live in a world between worlds; in Death’s realm. Sacrifices to their God meant eternal life, and eternal life meant immortality.

My final vision was of an execution. The colossal burial chamber was my courtroom, and a horde of Death-worshipping cultists my jury. I pleaded with them to spare my life; at first with declarations of my acquaintance with Baron, and secondly that I was only there to retrieve the Book for a collector.

‘Baron failed his initiation. He is to be removed from paradise.’

The speaker; August. The hangman himself, passing judgement from atop a magnificent throne of human heads. His voice low, yet piercing. His features barely visible through withered skin.

‘And the book. The most treasured item in existence. The book is what keeps people searching. The book is the whispers of the condemned and children’s fears embodied. This so called Book of Death does not exist. A myth, created to bring people like you to us.’

And with these words, consciousness faded.

An afterlife called out to me. I awoke in the same crypt I had died. August’s throne sat empty. The gallows on which I drew my last breath announced no successful execution. The chamber lay desolate, no cultists in sight. I searched the cavern, hoping to find something which could explain recent events. I made my way out of the unending burial chamber and back into the graveyard, and what I saw was not a world I recognised.
At the center of the cemetery was a gallows, already with a condemned prisoner attached to a rope. A smartly-dressed hangman dropped him to his death to the applause of a thousand-strong audience baying for his blood. I watched his lifeless body be removed, and the rope be cut up and passed to audience members craving a token of death.

I now realise why August informed me that the Book was merely a myth. In life, yes. It exists to lure Death-worshippers to the burial chamber of a living Death God. For sacrifice? Perhaps. But I now realised that I was not executed; I was initiated.

I now see the world as I saw it before, but with remnants of death haunting every avenue. Along every road and on every street corner, murder victims replay their dying moments. Severed heads decorate barbed wire fences, and streets are awash with the wreckages of fatal accidents and bloodshed.

This place was not an afterlife, yet it was. It was neither hell nor heaven, but somewhere between. A private purgatory. A paradise in black and grey. This was Death’s realm; reserved for the chosen few who seeked him.

I returned to Wakefield. The guard waited for me to return with his ultimate relic, but I never did. I found it amusing to watch his sanity gradually slip. I eventually killed him, along with Baron. The guard’s occult collection proved useful in locating further devotees of Death, cementing my position as a member of the Nihil Cult.

I was assured that neither Baron nor the guard would be granted access to Nihil. They would simply pass out of existence, never to lust or desire again.

I’m afraid I can’t reveal my name, nor the exact whereabouts of Logslow Cemetery. Just know that I exist in your world, yet I live in Nihil; Death’s realm. I have no choice but to continue to walk the earth. Undead, yet unliving. Seeking Death more with each passing day.

Credit To – Joe Turner

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