Farmer John

February 9, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Farmer John was dead and gone;
Hay-men watched his fields still:
Lumpy sacks that had for long
Drawn the crows in manner ill

Some had come to pull them down
But always failed in the task,
Bound to flee at hinted frown
Seen, they swore, in vacant mask

Passersby would scarce arrive —
Merely then to talk, no more:
“My, but crows do love those five – ”
“Strange, I thought them only four…”

Land forsook turned callous ear
To the murmur of the straw,
As the moon revolved the years
O’er the din of sated caw

Farmer John had died and gone,
Yet his hay-men still remained,
Soulless things to greet each dawn
Till such time as fate ordained:

Seasons turned their clothes to dust,
Naked truth at last reveal’d:
Gutted bodies, neatly stuffed
With straw had been resealed

‘Twas his family, time would show:
Wife and daughters, no mistake;
No one, though, would ever know
Who’d got John up on his stake.

Credit To – alapanamo

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Whispers

February 7, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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I’m posting this tonight in the hope that it will clear up the misunderstandings surrounding the disappearance of Debra Lindsay Caine, at the risk of my personal ridicule. Sticks and stones and all that. None of it will matter after tonight. Consider this my one pathetic attempt at an apology, if nothing else. It’s sort of my fault what happened.

Even in her heyday, internet blogger Sugarcaine was just another web comedian. She was funnier than average and certainly skilled with a pen, but otherwise no more remarkable than the rest. For years the circumstances surrounding her disappearance were only occasionally mentioned, and only in the most obscure threads on a couple of forums. She would’ve been forgotten forever if those city workers hadn’t found the tape recorder last Monday.

Sugarcaine’s true identity was a boyishly cute redhead named Debra Lindsay Caine. Her sister Payton described her as, “…a bag fulla fists, nails, and opinions just looking for an excuse to burst open on somebody, nourished by beer and spite since our Papa died in ’91.”

Debra unintentionally began her career as a humor blogger when she let her friends talk her into setting up a MySpace account. She thought blogs were self-absorbed, whiny, and without substance, and thus used her MySpace page to parody the asinine ramblings of her peers. After a while she graduated to belittling popular culture and occasionally reviewing books, comics, movies, and whatever hate mail she received from her growing reader base.

She quickly realized people enjoyed her writing, and by mid-2005 she’d ditched her MySpace account and set up her own humor site, Sugarcaine Junction. Despite Debra’s more-than-decent writing the site was mediocre at best. Most ‘net junkies likely never knew she existed, much less that she’d vanished and possibly been murdered.

Until the city workers found the tape.

Sugarcaine Junction never failed to celebrate whatever holidays and festivals came its way, and its seasonal articles were usually the most eagerly anticipated. Debra composed surprisingly witty drinking songs for her Oktoberfest review, and a touching poem for Father’s Day that she refused to talk about afterward. For her 2005 Christmas rant she wrote a series of parodied Bible passages that broke her weekly hate mail record overnight.

Back then I was known as DeadAtFifty and counted among Sugarcaine’s regular readers. During the first week of October 2006 I suggested that she spend the night in the Daley family’s haunted house and write about the experience for her Halloween article. She announced to her readers that I was a child and a moron. I added a one-thousand-dollar prize to the mix. She eagerly accepted.

On the last week of October Debra announced she would make the hour-long drive to the Daley house for a “spooky sleepover”. She embarked on the evening of the 29th, encouraging her readers to “Stay tuned for the details of my thousand-dollar journey through the haunted Daley house!” I had every intention of awarding her the money, and I never would’ve mentioned the Daleys if I had known what would happen.

Debra always researched her subject before or after her “journeys” (as she called any experience she blogged about — “Stay tuned for the dirt on my journey through the latest Scorsese flick”), if only to make her praise/mockery of it all the more complete. In her apartment the police found stacks of newspaper clippings about the Daley family as far back as 1960: praise for Kevin Daley and the lives he saved as a firefighter; his marriage to sweetheart Naomi Welch in 1970; the birth of their son, Jeff in 1971; Jeff’s growing fame as an abstract artist at only twelve months of age; the rumors that Naomi deliberately dropped her son down the stairs and caused his borderline autism; and of course, the fruitless search for the bodies when the family vanished in 1982.

The bulk of the articles were testimonies from neighbors and friends about the last they saw of the Daleys. Jeff’s performance at school dwindled, but the work he produced in art class was as detailed as ever, depicting macabre realms of twisted abstract shapes and looming shadows — imagery he hadn’t produced since he was a toddler. He claimed that the “whisperers” made him draw these things. His only explanation for a “whisperer” was, “they follow me around my house — I can’t see them, but I know they’re there.”

I don’t think Jeff Daley was dreaming: I think his subconscious was a doorway to other worlds, and maybe his mother knew it and tried to kill him. If that’s the case, I wish she’d been just a little more persistent.

Kevin’s coworkers described him as “nervous, constantly on edge, like he was being followed by a lunatic and couldn’t shake him.” Naomi, normally known to greet her tavern’s patrons with bright smiles and warm hellos, seemed to have crawled into a shell and refused to come out. She took frequent bathroom breaks, only to curl up inside a toilet cubicle and cry with her hands over her ears. And then one day Jeff never showed at school, and his parents never showed at work. They’d vanished into thin air; and according to their neighbors, they didn’t go quietly.

Other articles described strange but seemingly unremarkable sights and sounds on the abandoned Daley property from 1989 to 2004. A few of those articles were so strange they were considered hoaxes or gross exaggerations.

A neighbor’s dog ran barking under the Daley porch. When it returned it spent the next two days whining and cowering and howling miserably for no reason. One morning the owners woke up and found the dog missing. It was never seen again.

A young couple claimed a silhouette in the shadows of the front yard whispered something at them as they walked past the house late one night. They couldn’t tell if there was someone there or not, and when they continued their walk the shape stalked them for several blocks before vanishing altogether.

Several mailmen gave identical accounts of hearing movement and gibbering voices inside the house while on their routes. One assumed it was the local pranksters and alerted the police. They never found anyone inside.

Earlier this week the city workers were preparing the house for demolition when they discovered the recorder under an old desk. Remembering the house’s history of missing persons, they turned it over to the police. The officer who received it — a friend of mine whose name will go unmentioned — had at one time been a Sugarcaine fan. I spent an entire evening listening to the tape at his place. To help spread this story around the web I’ve prepared a transcript of the recording for my own site, which you can read below.

*

[Tape begins with fifteen seconds of silence. Broken by husky female voice.]

“Don’t think I’ve ever been to this side of town before. Had to stop at a diner and get directions ‘cos I managed to get my stupid ass lost. Supposed to be an hour long drive, but it’ll be close to midnight by the time I find this dump.

“Oh, I told the lady I was coming to visit an old friend who lived in the Daleys’ neighborhood and she was happy to help me find my way. Imagine I won’t be well received if I go around telling everybody I’m spending my weekend breaking into other people’s houses. Even if the Daleys are too dead to give a shit.”

[Silence for eight seconds. A sigh.]

“I feel silly going through with this. On the plus side I’ll get to pay my rent for the next month.”

*

“It is now…eleven p.m. on the dot. Took me forever to find the stupid house. Kept turning down the wrong streets. Hard to miss it once you find the right one. The front yard is a jungle of wiry vines and three-foot grass infested with species of insects never before seen by man. You can’t even see the front door from the street this late at night ‘cos the shadows gulped it up.

“Parked two blocks away and walked. Gonna find a window to climb through. Hopefully won’t need to pick the back door ‘cos that’ll take forever. More as it develops.”

*

[Hollow footsteps on old wooden boards. A series of distorted thuds as the recorder rattles violently. Silence for sixteen seconds.]

“Tripped. Ow…It’s pitch black in here. Where’s my damn—?”

[Quiet shuffling for the next minute, and more footsteps. Debra releases an exhausted breath. Tape rattles slightly.]

“Okay, I’m in. My camp is set up in the…I guess this was the office. There’s a dusty old desk next to the window I just climbed through and a bookcase to the right of the door. Both are bare. I’m about to take my tour of the house. Camera ready, although this place isn’t much to look at. Keeping the flash off, so the pics might need to be tweaked when I get back. I ought to keep the flashlight off and just let my eyes adjust, but…yeah, I’m not gonna do that.”

[Two minutes of silence apart from footsteps and the occasional electronic shutter sound of a digital camera taking pictures. A cough.]

“The house is a really roomy two-story deal. Oh, there you are, you elusive stairs…The carpet’s been all torn up except for one corner of the living room, so the floor’s all crusty wooden boards.”

[Footsteps. Loud, human-like shriek of pain from the rusty hinges of a door. Debra lets out a startled gasp, curses.]

“…a moldy bathroom untouched since nineteen eighty-two…”

[Several coughs as the camera clicks. More squeaking hinges, significantly quieter. More camera clicks.]

“Ugh, goddamn wolf spiders everywhere!”

[Seven minutes pass with footsteps, camera clicks, and Debra’s coughs the only sounds; halfway through, hollow thunks of boots on wooden stairs, and footsteps change to loud, unhealthy creaks. Now and then Debra makes various comments on the house’s layout.]

“[unintelligible muttering] —dust in this place is murdering me. Second floor is rickety as hell. Here’s hoping the building doesn’t collapse on me in the night.”

[Hollow thunks again as she returns to the first floor. At the ten minute mark, dead silence for approximately twenty seconds. Debra exhales.]

“I think that’s it for the tour. I’m off to sleep with the spiders.”

[Silence for two minutes. Debra whispers to herself inquisitively. Wooden clunking.]

“Found a loose board in the office floor. ‘Previously-pried-up’ loose. I’ll have to check that out tomorrow morning.”

[Clomp of steel-toe boots carelessly tossed onto wooden floor. Rustling of thick cloth. Coughing.]

“Ah, god, I can’t breathe in this place…Awright, time for bed. We’ll finish up our notes tomorrow. G’night!”

*

[Recorder rattles. Debra begins to say something, only gets the first syllable before going quiet again. Silence for another minute.]

“There’s something in here…”

[Pit-pat of bare feet. Silence. Door creaks shut. Rustling.]

“Fuckin’ rats. I knew it. I hear ‘em scuttling in the living room walls. I shoulda brought a cot.”

*

[Exasperated sigh.]

“Okay, well, I won’t be sleeping tonight after all, so I’m pryin’ that board up to pass the time. More as it develops.”

[Recorder rattles as it is set aside. For the next five minutes there’s nothing but fingernails and something metallic — possibly a Swiss army knife — scratching into wood, and occasionally a clunk. A gasp, and the clatter of a small object. Debra’s bare footsteps move out of range. Another minute of silence. Debra says something too far away to make out and seems to wait for a response. She repeats herself, louder.]

“Who’s there?”

[Nothing for a minute and a half. Creak of the office door closing. Pit-pat of bare feet returns. The tape rattles.]

“I’m losing my mind. I could swear I heard—”

[Silence. The scratching and clunking returns, and moments later there’s a wooden clatter like a board being tossed aside.]

“Gotcha!”

[Paper rustling.]

“Um…”

[More paper rustling. Silence.]

“Um, there’s…drawings. Wadded drawings stuffed into this little space beneath the loose board. I think they’re Jeff Daley’s pictures. When he was five he used to draw his bad dreams to…No, these can’t be real. The detail is—?”

[Crumpling: wadded paper being unraveled and then flattened out. Debra speaks quietly, almost inaudibly, as if reading something aloud to herself.]

“Don’t listen. It’s not Daddy. It’s not Daddy. It’s not…”

[Silence. A deep, trembling breath.]

“Okay, um…Okay, this isn’t funny anymore.”

[A distant sound, possibly out in the hall, and a shrill gasp. Two minutes and forty seconds of silence.]

“[incoherent mumbling] –not funny.”

[The sound again, within five feet of the recorder: a human voice speaking almost above a whisper. It says a single word difficult to make out, but sounds like Debra’s name. The recorder rattles violently as it hits the floor.]

“It’s not funny! Stop it!”

[Silence. Pit-pat of bare feet leaving the room. Three minutes pass with no sounds except a periodic thump deep within the house and Debra shouting angrily. The footsteps return. Heavy slam of the office door. Quiet sobbing within three feet of the recorder, and nothing else for another minute.]

“[speaking too quietly to register on the recorder: her throat has tightened up]”

[The sobbing stops abruptly as Debra holds her breath. The voice speaks again as quietly as before, from inside the room. Feet scrambling across the floor. The office window shrieks as it is torn open. The rest of the tape is silence.]

*

Debra posted an update the same night. There was no trace of her usual snide narrative, and she exchanged punchy one-liners for razor-edged curses. She wanted someone (me) to apologize to her for what she believed to be a perverse Halloween prank. She’d managed to keep one of the drawings she found under the loose floorboard and included a hi-res scan in her rant, condemning it as an obvious attempt by a barely capable adult artist to reproduce the work of an eight-year-old retard.

Drawn entirely in black crayon, it resembled a caricature of someone’s living room as done by Salvador Dali. At the center stood a dark shape with a grayish head misshapen like in a funhouse mirror, making it impossible to tell if it was supposed to be human or not. The thing stared right at the viewer over its shoulder with two empty black holes for eyes. Three more of the things stood beyond it, also staring at the viewer — it was as if the act of drawing the scene had grabbed their attention. Although their faces were amorphous mushes of white and gray, the three in the background seemed to be smiling. And it really did suggest a level of artistic finesse beyond that of an eight-year-old boy, but the style matched Jeff Daley’s other drawings.

Debra and I both got our share of hate mail after that blog. Half her readers thought I was an asshole for setting her up for such a nasty trick. The other half thought Debra was pulling a hammed-up Halloween prank of her own, and when her next two updates erratically described how the sounds in the Daley house had followed her home, everyone became all the more certain of this. They still believed it was a joke when she failed to make a single update for two weeks afterward.

On November 4th in the middle of the afternoon, Debra had called her sister, Payton. She was blubbering so much Payton couldn’t understand a word she said at first.

“She let loose with the heartbroke drunk routine. Said she was sorry for missing my wedding, sorry for always being a spiteful bitch when we were growing up, sorry for kicking our dog when she was twelve — apologizing for all kinds of silly stuff like a desperate sinner at confession.

“She stopped to catch her breath, and I heard somebody else in the room with her talking quiet like they didn’t want me to hear. I asked if she wanted me to come over. She started sobbing again and said, ‘I hear Daddy, but it isn’t Daddy.’ Then she hung up and I called the police. They didn’t find anybody when they got there. I was talking to her only minutes before.”

Most folks still think Debra’s abduction by the whispering stalkers of Jeff Daley’s nightmares is a hoax orchestrated by Debra or by some other sick individual. The tape has been “proven” a fake by one ignorant skeptic after another, and it won’t be long before Sugarcaine Junction fades into obscurity once again. I hope to prevent this, not because I feel pity for Debra Lindsay Caine, though I really do pity her; but because I hope to prevent others from vanishing like she vanished, and like the city workers who found the tape vanished, and like my friend vanished. They mark their territory — like they marked the Daley house and the tape — and they can smell anything that comes in contact with it. Once they smell you, they hunt you like bloodhounds until they’ve marked you, too.

They call to you softly like they’re afraid to talk too loud — sometimes two rooms away, sometimes right next to you. They imitate people you’re closest to. Maybe they think it’s funny. But you can’t listen to them. You have to shut them out, otherwise you’ll be too scared to open your eyes or move a muscle. You won’t have the chance to kill yourself before they drag you to whatever unholy hell Debra Lindsay Caine was taken to.

 

I have to go take a bath with my toaster now. Mother has been calling to me for the last hour, even though she’s been dead for five years.

###

Credit To – Mike MacDee

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What’s The Matter, Jenny?

February 2, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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You believe in ghosts?

Me neither. I can’t or I’ll go completely off the track. Or maybe I’m already nuts. What happened two days ago in the Chapelgate house might’ve actually happened or might’ve just been my imagination. One thing’s for damn sure, though: I’ll never set foot in that neighborhood again.

Sure, if you got a minute I’ll tell you all about it. You won’t buy an inch of it, though. Everyone thinks I’m as crazy as Jenny. Eric won’t even believe, for Chrissakes, and he’s the one who sent me to that dump to begin with! Came just short of picking me up and tossing me out of his house when I told him. Jenny had the right idea, keeping her mouth shut.

*

It wasn’t an official job. I went out there as a favor to Eric Cunningham, Gary’s brother. Yeah, the schoolteacher. His ward, Jenny — that cute little teen that clutters his house with all the photos — had a medical emergency recently.

Well, I wouldn’t exactly call her “all right”. She’s gone mute and even so much as making eye contact is difficult for her. Shies away from folks like a puppy that’s been kicked once too often. Since her recovery she’s clung to Eric more than ever. Poor Eric’s about to crack, he’s worrying about her so much. We’re old friends, me and Eric, and I wanted to help him out. Now he doesn’t want me near him or Jenny anymore. That’s the thanks I get.

Understand that Jenny has no one else, and the feeling is mutual. Jenny was raised in the Aspenvale Orphanage, but never adopted ‘cos she feared and loathed adults and kept running away. Bright kid, though. Real imaginative and loved a good book. When she ran away the police almost always found her at the library.

For two years Eric held a side-job at the orphanage as a weekly reading and writing tutor. Every week Eric brought boxes of new books for the kids to enjoy, but Jenny always got something special, usually something by her favorite authors: Christie, Poe, Keats, Angelou, Frost. They became friends right away, and whenever she saw Eric she eagerly ran to greet him with crushing hugs and tales of her misadventures in town.

No, Gary’s the one married to Tricia. Eric lost his wife, Gwenny, to pneumonia. Gwenny would have adored Jenny, so Eric became her legal guardian. Even gave Gwenny’s wedding band to her as a birthday present to unite the three of them as a family, and she never took it off. They were just like father and daughter for the longest time: sweet little Leave It to Beaver family.

The whole ordeal began on my doorstep with a 7 A.M. visit from the police. “Eric Cunningham sent us,” one of ‘em said. “Jenny’s in a coma at the hospital.”

I threw on my coat and rode with ‘em. Gave me the skinny on the way there: they’d found her in the Chapelgate house on the furthest corner of Evergreen Drive, where she’d apparently spent the entire night in the kitchen pantry with the door barricaded from the inside. They wouldn’t have found her there if she hadn’t been whimpering like a dog, or at all had her friend Derrick Snyder not told them where to look for her.

All of Derrick’s friends are what you might call die-hard horror connoisseurs, and Jenny was no exception. She loved a good thrill, but in spite of her imagination she presented herself as a hard-nosed skeptic where reality was concerned. This made her a constant target of Derrick’s childish dares, and she never backed down from a dare, that girl.

Derrick had been on a tangent about the house when Jenny last scoffed him. He goaded her to sneak in alone that Friday evening — when its only current residents, the Clarks, were due to leave for the weekend — and take a moonlit tour of the mansion to prove the nonexistence of ghosts. That weekend at 10 P.M. she went, promising to return with a souvenir. Derrick and friends stayed up late waiting for her, but when night came and went and Jenny never showed, they called the police.

She was unresponsive when they found her, and she refused to open the pantry door. When they were forced to break it down she fell into a frenzy of panicked screaming and fainted as one officer reached in to offer his hand.

I’d braced myself for an ugly sight when I got to the hospital, but Jenny wasn’t hurt. Just a little dirty and trapped in a restless sleep. Rashes on her arms and shoulders were the worst of her injuries. The doctor said she’d suffered a shock and no one could say how long she’d be out.

Eric refused to leave her. He was pasty, baggy-eyed, and irritable as hell when I got there. Scowled at everyone, spat his words on ‘em like phlegm. He had good reason to be pissed: his baby was in a coma, nobody could tell him what caused it, and on top of that Gwenny’s ring was missing from her finger. The paramedics and police insisted she wore no jewelry when they brought her in, and Derrick swore she had it when she left on the dare. The ring is precious to Eric and Jenny and its loss would’ve broken both their hearts, but more importantly Eric believed that its return would help brighten Jenny’s spirits and maybe even hasten her recovery.

That was all he asked me to do. Get the ring back, and find out what happened to his adopted daughter.

Well, I did. And me and Jimmy Beam have been trying to wash it outta my memory ever since.

*

Everyone’s heard the rumors about Chapelgate House being a haven for ghosts and demons. It’s no secret that orchestra leader Evadne Chapelgate was murdered there in 1934 by her husband Ralston as comeuppance for slapping him around for twenty years. But nothing’s ever proven the property is dangerous or haunted to any degree.

It isn’t even abandoned: Edie Hathaway, this retired accountant, rents its rooms to families in the process of moving in or out of the city. At any given time there is always two or more people inside. Tom and Agnes Clark, the most recent residents as I’ve said, have had no complaints about the place apart from a few odd smells.

I hoped Mrs. Hathaway might shed a little light on Jenny’s predicament. She didn’t know much about the Chapelgates except that they’d shared a modest fortune, never propagated, and were the most unappreciated artists of our time. She didn’t like to talk about them much ‘cos of the murder. She gave more details about the house itself: two bedrooms, two washrooms, kitchen, dining room, study, cellar, drawing room, and studio. Built by an English merchant in 1850, sold to the newly-wed Chapelgates in 1917, and to the Hathaways in 1940. Renovated twice in its lifetime.

The kitchen caught my interest, of course. The Chapelgates practically wore it out with all the parties Evadne threw (she had an unhealthy love of gin and compliments); after the Hathaways bought the house, none of their tenants ever used the kitchen except occasionally as storage space. The most common reason given was its smell, a strong potpourri of mildew, sewage, and mire.

Mrs. Hathaway squeamishly admitted her growing concern about the moldy stench over the last few years. She cleans the house from top to bottom once a week, including the abandoned kitchen, but the stench clings to the air no matter how hard she scrubs it. She even called a health inspector over on one occasion. He never found the source of the odor, but did manage to find a dead cat tucked beneath the steel dishwashing tub.

I could see Mrs. Hathaway’s skin turning green when she described it. Blisters, rashes, and necrotic lesions covered its body: slimy black fungus peeled the flesh back eagerly like a greedy kid opening a Christmas present. Eyes bugged out of its head like it’d died of fright. Mrs. Hathaway had never seen or smelled anything like it, but while it certainly added to the kitchen’s offensive odor, it wasn’t the source.

Curious? A little bit. Nauseating? Absolutely. But these details still didn’t explain how a house that had served as a hotel for years could turn a young girl’s mind inside-out in a single night. I turned my attention to Jenny’s ring, figuring she would enlighten us when she woke up.

Damn Jenny. Damn Eric. Damn the Chapelgates. Damn the Clarks and their vacation. Damn my own weak, mushy heart for ever feeling sorry for anybody. The answer finally reared its hideous head when I visited the house to look for the ring.

*

It was the middle of the afternoon by the time I got there. The moment I stepped through the front door rotten marshland fumes punched me in the stomach. I’d been to the house a few times to visit friends that stayed there and never noticed it at all; now here it was in full force like something had recently agitated it.

In all my visits, though, I’d never seen the kitchen. The lights didn’t work, but the late afternoon sun lit it up just fine as it trickled in from a pair of tiny windows eight feet up the eastern wall. The cupboards and counters sagged like the weak shoulders of elderly men waiting for death, their surfaces spotless but worn and brittle. Many cabinets had lost their doors long ago and grinned broadly with cobweb teeth. Along the north wall (to my left from the door) naked cupboards stood at attention on an Egyptian tomb floor of faded tiles. In the far corner the wall opened into a pantry the size of a small walk-in closet. The inside was a mess of broken shelves and crates. The door was in splintered fragments on the floor.

I found Jenny’s ring in the pantry, glistening in one corner as if calling for help. I would have left right after snatching it up, but an odd gurgle — I almost mistook it for a voice — turned my attention to the far end of the room. A partition jutted out from the middle of the south wall, shrouding the corner to the right of the door in thick shadows. Hiding shamefully from the sunlight in that corner was the steel dishwashing tub.

I approached it with my handkerchief over my nose (the smell was worse by then) until I stood close enough to rest a hand on its tarnished lip. A blackish sludge stinking of rot had scaled the pipes to form a puddle at the bottom of the tub — maybe a clue to the source of the mysterious stench. Mrs. Hathaway should’ve noticed it, but never mentioned a clog. On closer inspection I realized the sludge puddle swirled and quivered with sluggish life and its edge was slowly expanding, as if the drain decided to back up on a whim.

The shriek of a rusty hinge attacked me from behind, and I about-faced just in time to watch the kitchen door fling itself shut. I tried the knob and found it frozen with centuries of rust!

In only a few minutes the septic stench had rotted to a choking level that my handkerchief couldn’t fend off: my throat itched and convulsed and fire tickled my eyes. Black sludge continued to puke up from the tub’s drain, filling it halfway, then two thirds, then near overflowing. But just when it seemed on the verge of spilling over the edge, it abruptly stopped.

Some fool curiosity inched me forward for a closer look, but my feet quickly filled with concrete: from the tub’s throat came a thick gurgle that sounded like speech!

The longer I listened, the more the drain spoke. Its voice seemed miles away and grated like a knife against the grindstone, its language slurred and meaningless. A silhouette formed on the south wall, bent slightly over the tub like a washwoman. Another shape appeared, swimming back and forth like a shark on the prowl, occasionally latching onto the first and then tearing away like it was feeding on it. The gurgle-voice shot off a steady stream of vicious nonsense words like artillery fire while the urge to scream struggled to reach my throat and kept slipping back down again.

Suddenly the first silhouette turned on the second. The voice rose to a shrill whine punctuated with the crashing sound of metal utensils scattering on the floor. The first form had the second by the neck, squeezing the strength out of its legs, beating it into submission with its fists whenever it broke free. The attacker pivoted, plunged the weakening shape into the tub with a sploosh I heard but never saw. I counted every second of the eternity that followed while the shape held its victim down with all its might. Then the drain fell silent; the first silhouette wilted like a miserable flower, then vanished. The tub drain released a long sob.

All was still again. I stood unmoving, listening sharply like a soldier in the jungles of ‘Nam. I thought of dashing to the door and coaxing it open with brute force. The stench, as if in reply, swarmed me like angry bees and almost knocked me off my feet.

A nightmare broke the sludge surface. A hand, its peeling flesh stained black with mold and filth, reached out and latched onto the edge of the washtub. A head wrapped in snakes of black hair emerged, then a set of mildew-eaten shoulders.

I’d seen enough. I scrambled for the door and assaulted it with my boot. It rattled in its frame but refused to give.

Splashing of the nightmare climbing out of the tub drove me into panic. I throttled the door, keeping my eyes fixed on the doorknob. I would not look at it, no matter how much my instincts begged. I would not look at it like Jenny had. I would not suffer the same mental shock with that lurching horror inching nearer every second. The stench strangled all the breath from my throat and my vision began to fail me.

Dripping ice cubes touched the nape of my neck.

The door surrendered.

*

I don’t remember leaving the house. My memory is nothing but fog for several pages; then I’m waking up in the home of Eric’s brother, Gary. He says I showed up on his doorstep pale and exhausted and collapsed in a faint right in the doorway. When I came to he offered me a glass of bourbon, which I gladly traded for Jenny’s ring. Didn’t say a word except that I’d been to the house and found the damn thing.

I think I was on my second glass when Tricia sat beside me and put a cold spread of ointment to my neck. I asked what it was for and she described in great detail a grossly neglected fungal infection. My head still swimming from the things I saw in Chapelgate Manor — teetering toward writing it all off as a terrible dream — I sauntered into the bathroom to see for myself.

Three unsightly welts had formed at the nape, each one raw and inflamed as if it had gone untreated for days. And as you can see for yourself, each took the hideous shape of a human finger.

I took one look, thought of the cat, and threw up in the sink.

Credit To – Mike MacDee

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Jozsa’s Grove

January 31, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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You’re twisting my words again. As I’ve already said a hundred times, I have no simple answers for your questions. You can’t expect me to respond “yes” or “no” to questions about complex matters that I haven’t begun to recover from. Jerry, you know better than any of these assholes that I’m not the kind of guy who rattles easily. I don’t belong in this loony bin!

Yes, I did agree to cooperate. If I have to answer you straight, then I will, but only if you’ll let me explain the details. I admit to spending the previous weekend with Arthur and Samantha Duncan at the old Schall estate on Riley’s Rock, and I confess to the property’s hasty demolition. The Duncans’ murders are thankfully not on my conscience, but my inability to prevent them is. The bullet was mine, but I didn’t kill Sam: she was already dead. I just killed the bitch that stole her body. Not sure what that adds up to in court. And I didn’t do it all in a raving mania. You got to believe me, through this whole incident I was perfectly sound in mind until I uprooted that damned tree. It was that final horror that sent me off the deep end and ultimately landed me here.

I really don’t expect any of you to believe what I’m about to disclose, but I’ve got the right to explain myself. I need another whiskey before I start, Jerry, if you don’t mind.

*

The Duncans wanted to turn the estate into a vacation resort. God knows the place had more rooms than anyone knew what to do with. Art never told me how he got his hands on the property, just that he wanted me in charge of hotel security. I needed the money and hadn’t had a steady income since the war. Art had better luck in that area, the rich bastard. Besides that, he felt like he owed me one for that bullet I caught in his stead.

He and the wife had to bring their own hired help — four foreigners who didn’t speak a word of English — because they couldn’t find any in town. The locals weren’t crazy about the place. We were told that centuries ago a tribe of druids tainted the Rock with ritual blood-spilling, which none of us considered very seriously at all, though it still almost turned Sam off of the place. Sweetest lady I ever knew, but a little too sensitive sometimes, even for a Catholic. I have to cut her a little slack, though. After her last stillbirth she stopped taking her meds and her neurotic lapses got more frequent.

Efram and Jozsa Schall were Jewish immigrants who migrated to the ‘States a century ago and built the hotel on the Rock with the same dream as the Duncans of running a vacation resort and raising a family. And like the Duncans, the Schalls had trouble birthing children. They tried as hard as they could to have a baby, but nothing seemed to work and by the time they moved to that little hick town by Riley’s Rock they’d all but given up. Some of the locals said Jozsa wasn’t meant to spawn — even now they always say it quietly like they’re afraid Jozsa will overhear.

Yet shortly after they arrived Jozsa became pregnant, and for a while the Schalls had more spring in their step than usual. Explains how Efram managed to get the hotel built so quickly. Jozsa spent her pregnancy planting and nursing a garden on the west end of the property, and surrounded it with a beautiful cherry grove. A nice way to celebrate the new life she would soon bring into the world, if you ask me. But the baby never got a name. Stillbirth, you see.

The Schalls buried the baby in the grove near a young sapling, and Jozsa let it all grow out of control until the Rock had itself a nice toupee of greenery. Efram tried to forget they ever had the baby, but Jozsa must’ve felt like she’d been robbed of her motherhood because she visited the grave every day to keep the poor kid’s spirit company. For the next ten years tenants heard her singing out there for hours at a time.

One day Jozsa led Efram into the grove and neither of them ever came back. Then the Schalls’ tenants started disappearing, rumor has it the same way Jozsa did: one by one, like in a trance, they walked into the grove and ceased to exist. The locals shunned the property for fear they’d disappear, too. They closed off the roads to Riley’s Rock until the trees and foliage covered them up. The grove withered and decayed and the house degenerated into a mausoleum for the Schalls and their nameless baby.

In spite of its history, the Duncans loved the place. It was a fixer-upper for sure: everything was caked in dust, the furniture had all but fallen apart, and the ceiling had collapsed in two rooms and let the spring drizzles damage everything inside. But they loved it and they couldn’t wait to get started. I’ll admit I was just as excited: eight bedrooms, four bathrooms, dining hall with an ocean view, the sweet smell of the sea in the air. A little polish and it would’ve been a beautiful place.

We set to work right away, dusting the countertops, polishing the windows, clearing the busted furniture out to make way for the new due to arrive that weekend. The carpenters were supposed to show up today, actually. We spent the rest of Friday cleaning, then drove into town for dinner and beds at the local inn.

The dream changed everything.

God, I remember it perfectly. I walked through an endless void of white mist, like I was standing on the ocean surface on the coldest night of winter. I walked on and on for what seemed like days until suddenly the fog lifted to reveal a blood red sky and an ancient, crooked tree towering over a field of shriveled greenery and sterile earth, with eight or nine limp bodies dangling from its naked branches like trophies. Not from nooses, Jerry: that damned tree gripped their broken necks like a child would his playthings. And there was a woman in a tattered house dress with long, tangled locks of black hair. She stood ahead of me, facing the tree, singing to it in some foreign language.

She stopped abruptly, looked over her shoulder and shot me the meanest glare I’d ever seen. She had no color in her face, just a sickly stone gray. And Jesus, her eyes: solid white like golf balls, yet somehow expressing hatred and malignance rivaling hell’s. She didn’t want me there, but I couldn’t turn away. My feet had grown roots. The dream was vivid to all the senses: I smelled damp earth eons old and the cold of the fog bit my flesh like mosquitoes.

Those horrible eyes were suddenly inches away from mine, piercing me like gunshots. I woke up in a cold sweat, so badly shaken I couldn’t sleep the rest of the night.

We all must’ve had the same dream, because everyone started acting weird the following morning. The workers kept whispering to each other, and whenever I asked them what the problem was they clammed up and went on about their business. Sam was particularly jumpy, and the first to lose it. We hadn’t been working more than two hours when we heard her scream. Everyone rushed to the source and found her shivering in her husband’s arms on the ladies’ room floor. She’d gone in there to wash her face, looked in the mirror and saw someone else looking back.

Sam just wasn’t the same after that. All day Saturday she wasn’t much use to anyone — a nervous wreck keeping mostly to herself, incapable of sitting still for more than two seconds like she was constipated. Twice I caught her staring out the dining hall windows toward Jozsa Schall’s grove of dead trees. She just stood there, staring. And when I said her name she’d snap out of it and go about her day like it’d never happened. She didn’t even remember walking into the room.

Art wasn’t happy, let me tell you. Sam’s neurotic behavior had been grating on him for months, but this was the worst she’d ever been. He started losing his temper at the drop of a hat. Shouted at her a lot. Smacked the workers around from time to time, which didn’t improve their odd behavior much.

The new furniture arrived late in the evening and none of us had the strength to bother with it, but Art and Sam were set on staying the night at the hotel this time and I wasn’t willing to leave them alone at night in an eerie house with no electricity. So we dragged the Duncans’ bed into their room, and I put one of the new lobby couches in the hall just outside their door and parked myself on it. Said goodnight, cleaned my sidearm, then read Arthur Conan Doyle until I passed out.

The damned dream haunted my sleep again that very night — the fog, the tree, the hanging bodies. I woke up with a sissy yelp this time, catapulting off the couch and onto the floor. I sat panting in the corridor for a long time, blind as a bat because the place had no electricity, like I told you. I took in a deep breath to calm my nerves, and held it fast when I heard another set of lungs breathing only a few steps away.

Someone was standing there in the dark, watching me. Sam’s voice asked if I was all right, and for a few minutes I just stammered like a fool while she blindly felt around my face to see where I was, then took my hands and helped me to my feet.

That’s when I noticed how dirty her hands were. My fingers came away caked in soil like she’d been out digging holes with her hands all day. I asked her about it while searching my pockets for my flashlight.

“I’ve been in the grove,” she said.

“The grove?” I said. I started to ask what she was doing out there in the cold so late at night as I fished out the flashlight and flicked it on. Instead of Sam’s pretty face I saw that hateful white-eyed scowl from my nightmares and I dropped the light and screamed and screamed.

You should’ve seen me, tripping over my own feet, crashing headlong into walls. I about threw myself into the car and pressed the gas pedal to the floor all the way to town. Damn my cowardly ass to hell. I left poor Art alone with that…with that God-knows-what.

*

Would I be telling you this if I’d killed them all and burnt the place down to cover my tracks? Would I make up a story if I knew full well you wouldn’t buy it? That would be pointless, wouldn’t it? Besides, one little ghost isn’t what made me liberate that place. Yeah, that’s right, I said “liberate” because that’s exactly what I did: I liberated Riley’s Rock from an ancient, unspeakable taint. A fluke of the natural world that I still can’t wrap my head around.

*

When the workers set off for the hotel Sunday morning I didn’t go with them. Scared too far out of my wits. But eventually guilt kicked in and I started thinking about how good the Duncans had been to me all these years, and ditching them seemed a lousy way to pay them back. Mind you, at the time I still wasn’t sure what I saw. At the time I was beginning to think my imagination was just having a little fun with me. So I drove back, composing and rehearsing an elaborate apology in my head.

Riley’s Rock had put on a biting cold while I was gone, like winter had hit early. The minute I walked into the hotel lobby Art greeted me in hysterics: his eyes rolled around in his head like marbles and he kept saying, “Something’s got my Sammy, Brad. Something’s got her.” I didn’t understand until I saw it for myself.

Art had been organizing his new office when he suddenly noticed how quiet the old house had gotten. He searched the hotel from top to bottom and couldn’t find a trace of his hired help. Instead he found Sam standing at the dining hall window, staring out at the dead grove, singing a sullen lullaby to nobody at all.

She was different. I can’t say how. Sam just wasn’t Sam anymore. When we came in she turned and glanced at us with disinterest, like we were strangers to her. She gave us a tiny smile with no heart in it, the kind of routine smile you give someone when you’ve had a really bad day and don’t want to talk about it; but while the pretty smile was unmistakably Sam Duncan’s, the eyes behind it belonged to another person, like someone was wearing Sam’s face as a mask — one that didn’t fit quite right.

All I knew for sure was that the frigid air enveloping Riley’s Rock emanated from her.

After watching the woman sing stupidly to the window for several minutes, Art and I decided one of us had to approach her and ask her who she was. I didn’t have the courage, and Art was married to her anyway, possessed or not. Up close she seemed to finally recognize her husband, smiled warmly and held his hand like they were high school sweethearts all over again. Goose-bumps swept up his arm like she was icy to the touch.

“Come with me to the grove,” she said. “Come and see our baby.”

He kept at Sam’s heels in a dog-like trance as she went out the door, maybe enslaved by that dreadful urge to see what horror was yet to come. The same urge that goaded me into following them. God help me, I followed them, Jerry. I followed them into that sea of shriveled trunks and crooked branches to the barren garden in its belly. I followed them to that horrid black tree — the one that’d tortured me in my sleep for two nights, the only still-living thing in the entire garden — whose bald boughs perked up when it felt the three of us approaching. Sam kept singing those damned lullabies while the tree somehow swayed in-time.

A terrible unseen force beckoned us. Art walked right up to the ugly thing and put his hand on its trunk. He suddenly jerked his hand away in horror and looked at me with a dismayed expression I’ll never forget, his mouth opening fish-like as if trying to find the words to share an awful revelation with me.

Our eyes instinctively fell to the ground. One of us screamed, but I don’t know which.

The Duncans’ missing servants hadn’t wandered far: four pale, shriveled faces peeked up from the soil at our feet like sprouting cabbages, their dead eyes gazing blindly toward the stars. As the great tree twitched, one of them shifted slightly and sank another inch.

Jesus, it was like a nightmare. Art’s feet vanished. Something took hold of him and pulled him down into the earth. He clawed at the air for something to hold on to, unable to tear his eyes away from that hideous crop of human heads. He was gone in moments, consumed by the garden. Nothing left of him but his endless earth-smothered screams.

The tree stood still for a moment, as if surprised. Sam continued singing.

Something brushed my feet — something alive, a barracuda taste-testing its prey. Suddenly my limbs thawed and I turned and ran. I ran through the house and into the woods. Thorny bushes and sharp branches thrashed me bloody and I didn’t care. I ran and I didn’t stop for breath until I made it to a telephone.

*

You’re giving me those funny looks again, but I’m telling you if you’d only been there with me your hands would be shaking as badly as mine. Hell, you probably wouldn’t have the guts to talk about it again, let alone make the return trip to do what I did. To do what had to be done.

Jerry, give me another whiskey or I’m not going to make it through this.

*

I came back with the oil later that evening. More than anything I wanted to get Sam out of there in one piece, but if I went back to that hotel and found somebody else in her skin I was going to shoot her right between the eyes. Judging by the charred remains you recovered from the ruins I think you know how things turned out.

She tried to lead me into the grove, Jerry. She would’ve done it to me, too. You know I loved Sam. I couldn’t let that thing parade around in her body. Just the thought of it turns my stomach.

I cremated her with the rest of the house. I burned the grove, too, and boy all that dead foliage just lit right up like tissue paper. That nightmare tree was the last to go when all the others had turned to ash. It crackled and blazed and snapped back and forth like a hooked fish. As it wilted in the fire something cried out from beneath the ground — a piercing, child-like wail that nearly shook Riley’s Rock out of its seat!

The next morning, when the flames finally died, I rented the crane to tear that monster up by the roots and make sure it was dead, and had only just finished the job when you all arrived at the scene and found me raving and cackling in the courtyard. Judging by the way you’ve treated me not one of you must’ve laid eyes on that abomination. But the forensic team is combing the ruins as we speak, right? They’re bound to find it right where I left it. I can’t wait to see the photos. You’ll believe those, I bet. You’ll take one look at those roots and my guess is you’ll all be raving and cackling, too.

I counted around fourteen bodies tangled in them, dry and black and shriveled like prunes, every drop of fluid sapped out of ‘em. There might be as many as twenty or even thirty, but I stopped counting when I found the husk that used to be Jozsa Schall. She was easy to identify because her baby — that monstrous infant-thing the roots sprout and slither out from like a sea anemone — was hugging her close like a crusty old teddy bear. Kinda precious when you think about it.

Credit To – Mike MacDee

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The Devil’s Chamber

January 21, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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This is such a stupid idea. Why are we even doing this?

Those were the thoughts that arose in my mind on that chilly, eerie evening. Sitting in the passenger seat of the dimly-lit car which belonged to my best friend Matt, I peered out the window and glanced up at the beautiful, yet ominous, night sky. The moon was huge and luminous. I looked at my watch. It was just about midnight, a time when most normal people would already be in bed.

I glanced over at Matt, who was gleefully driving to our destination, seemingly unaware of how stupid this whole thing was. “Why are we doing this, Matt? You know nothing’s gonna happen,” I said, slightly annoyed at the entire situation.
Matt looked at me with aggravation.
“You agreed to come, so stop being a little bitch and try to have some fun,” he snapped.

After about five more minutes of driving, Matt stopped the car abruptly. “Here we are,” he proclaimed with genuine excitement. He then turned to me and corrected himself. “Well, almost. We have to do a little walking.”

I followed Matt as we walked down a steep grassy hill and ended up in the woods. Pitch black. “I can’t see a fucking thing,” I exclaimed. “Don’t worry dude, I brought a flashlight.” He pulled a small flashlight out of his jeans pocket. “Of course,” I muttered under my breath. We continued through the woods for what seemed like an hour. Finally, we arrived in front of a vast, deep tunnel.

I looked at Matt. “What the hell is this thing?”

“The Devil’s Chamber. Here we are. Let’s go.” Matt said, dangerously eager to go inside the death trap.

I stopped him. “Woah, woah, woah, we’re not going in there, are we? We’re gonna kill ourselves. What if the flashlight dies? What if there’s someone else in there? What if there’s–”
“What if you stopped being such a pussy and just walked in?” my friend interrupted in a half-joking tone. “Come on, let’s go.”

I reluctantly followed him into the tunnel. It was cold, dark and damp. Insects were everywhere, not to mention all the dead rats, mice, and of course the occasional decaying cat. There were all sorts of graffiti covering the walls. I instantly felt something very strange throughout my body. It felt as if a bubble of negative energy was trying to push itself into me. I was overwhelmed with a sense of dread. However, I remembered how damn excited Matt was to be here, so I kept my mouth shut and continued to follow behind him.

As we reached the middle of the tunnel, Matt pulled out his camera and decided to take a few pictures. For the next couple of minutes all I heard was the loud snap of Matt’s camera, paired with a flash that nearly blinded me. Suddenly, I felt a small hand on my shoulder. I quickly turned around, but of course, nobody was behind me. I shrugged it off and kept walking. “Maybe it was a bug,” I thought, in an attempt to calm my nerves.

The tunnel became colder and darker the further we walked. “How long is this tunnel?” I asked Matt. He turned to me and smirked. “Would you relax? We’ll turn back in a minute.” I noticed that he was beginning to feel a bit nervous. “You’re right though, we have been walking for a while. Let’s turn around.”

We began to walk back to the entrance. I couldn’t wait to get out. As we were walking, I abruptly heard something that sounded like a young girl’s laughter. Then, I felt it again. The hand on my shoulder. The same small, child-like hand. This time, it was more assertive, like something was really trying to get my attention. Again, I tried to tell myself that it was probably just a bug or something. I just wanted to get the hell out of this place.

Finally, after what seemed like hours, we reached the entrance and quickly walked outside. We hurried through the woods and up the hill, glancing over our shoulders every so often to make sure nothing was … “following” us.

At last, we arrived at Matt’s car. I wasted no time opening the passenger door and hopping in. Matt then got inside after me and started the car. He pulled his camera out of his backpack. “Alright, let’s see what we got,” he said with a radiant grin.

The two of us looked carefully at every picture. Nothing. Just a bunch of concrete, dirt and spiders. Then, we came across a picture of me standing in front of Matt. We both looked closely and gasped.

There was a small child-like hand, gently resting on my shoulder.

Credit To – Jake Grogan

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The Fugavi Incident: A Drake Blackwood Case File

January 14, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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I won’t bore you all with the details of my work, that can be for another time. What is important is that I have made the decision to share my case files with the general public. Most of the cases I’ve been involved in have revealed themselves to be distinctly ordinary, or tangled up in lies, hoaxes, and even mental illness. But there are a few instances which I continually come back to. In the quiet hours of the early morning, these are the facts which weigh down on me and keep me from sleep.

I don’t know if this is just a form of self therapy (I definitely could use some) but perhaps some of you who are fascinated by the bizarre, and are compelled like myself to discover what’s truly out there beyond the humdrum world we seem to live in, that you might find the following case studies of some use. I know it gets said here a lot, but names have been altered and all sensitive information has been redacted. Please also be aware that these are my personal notes and as such are not written in story format. They are for educational purposes only.

Case 34: The Fugavi Incident

I travelled to Somerset in the South of the country last Saturday, May 3rd. Having been contacted by a friend in the local authorities down there, I was brought in to consult due to the similarities with the Whitman case. Two local boys, James Carney (15 yrs old) and Donald Lewis (16 yrs old) had stayed out later than allowed by their parents on Wednesday the 30th of April. At approximately 11:04pm both boys found themselves on the outskirts of the town and, in realising the time and worrying about how angry their parents would be with them, they decided to take a short cut on the way back.

To make it home as quickly as possible, James suggested cutting across a large field known as The Fugavi Patch. Donald was hesitant in doing so as the large patch of grass was often avoided by locals as it had picked up a reputation for being unsafe, especially at night. Interviews with the families of both boys, neighbours, and the local school headmaster, revealed several second-hand accounts of alleged experiences there including strange dim lights, whispering, and an unpleasant smell associated with The Fugavi Patch.

Despite Donald’s hesitancy, both he and James climbed over a metal gate 5 feet in height and proceeded to cross the 298 metres of grass to the other side. As both boys approached the middle of the ground, James began to complain to Donald about feeling nauseous along with a warm stabbing pain in his stomach. As they continued on, James became increasingly disorientated and began to sweat profusely, while retching and then vomiting several times. Donald panicked and, believing that James required medical assistance, phoned for an ambulance from his mobile phone. James grew delirious, collapsing to the ground, asking Donald several times: ‘Who is that man standing over there? What does he want?’. James pointed repeatedly to a row of tall hedges on the other side of the field, lit by a nearby street light, but Donald could see no one.

As they waited on the ambulance, James grew frantic with fear, pointing and screaming across The Fugavi Patch in the direction of the hedgerows, yelling about a man walking towards them. Donald tried to calm James’ fears by telling him that there was no one there, but James screamed and thrashed around on the ground clutching his stomach in agony, crying out for help. Finally, he lost consciousness just as the ambulance arrived.

James was rushed to hospital, but was unfortunately Dead on Arrival. The autopsy recorded the cause of death as being a ‘cardiac arrest brought about by a violent allergic reaction to trace chemical waste, still present in the soil from a metalworks factory which occupied the field twenty years previous.’ I was able to contact the owner of the land, a Mr Adams who was very upset about the whole ordeal as the locals blamed him for the tragic events. He produced papers clearly showing that the entire area had been decontaminated and was supposedly quite safe.

The death of James Carney has left the small town community shocked and traumatized, but the official explanation seems to have been well accepted. I cannot, however, dismiss the strange events surrounding the boy’s death. The sickness and excruciating stabbing pain he experienced before collapsing, the man he screamed about walking across The Fugavi Patch towards him, and the horrific marks and sores on the poor boy’s body; one in particular which stretched out across his abdomen and looked uncannily like the imprint of a human hand.

Credit To – Michael Whitehouse

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