Los Perdidos

February 7, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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The broken blade flashed as it streaked above the desert, circling end over end then striking the rocky ground with a clink. It lay there gleaming in the slanted rays of the sun like lost treasure. The other half of the blade remained lodged firmly between spiky ranks of spines in the barrel cactus, only an inch of the cleanly snapped edge protruding.

Alex would have cried in despair and fury if he’d had any tears left but they were long gone, his eyes as dry as the sandy soil he knelt on. His head pounded and his muscles cramped anew, aggravated by the effort required to fling the knife away in disgust. It was late afternoon on Sunday. He’d run out of water 24 hours ago, every cell in his body aching for replenishment. Though his meager supply of food was a distant memory, driving thirst had long since made him forget the hunger pangs. A long-forgotten scene had pushed to the forefront of his brain: someone in a nameless movie – a Western – cutting into a barrel cactus and drinking the life-saving reservoir of fluid inside it. Hope had briefly seized him, but that hope shattered along with his cheap pocket knife. His swollen tongue clumsily maneuvered a small, smooth pebble around his mouth in an attempt to generate moisture, but it was akin to coaxing water from a bag of cotton balls.

Friday morning had been the start of a well-deserved four-day weekend. It was early May and warm, but still weeks away from the brutal heat of true summer. On a whim, Alex stuffed his sketch pad and pencils, a granola bar, an apple, and a liter bottle of water into his backpack, threw the lot into his pickup truck, and hit the road. He’d wanted to take a day trip west of Tucson since he and Jenna had moved there nine months ago but day-to-day life kept intervening. Envisioning a peaceful morning of hiking and sketching the desert landscape, he sought the most uninhabited and undeveloped area possible. Leaving the city far behind he drove still further, signs of civilization vanishing bit by bit, and was delighted to finally discover an unmarked dirt road well off the beaten path. Without hesitation he turned onto it and bumped along its twists and turns for uncounted miles and minutes until the road became little more than a trail, small desert shrubs and grasses whipping the sides of his truck as he drove.

Carefully coaxing the reluctant truck up a small hill, steering through an obstacle course of large rocks and gaping crevices, he navigated a particularly primitive stretch. The reward at the top of the rise was a stunning view of unbroken miles of Sonoran desert, its rocky ground green with spring and surmounted by an impossibly blue sky that wouldn’t know clouds until the monsoon season started in July.

With the engine idling and both windows rolled down he paused to take in the view, crunching the apple. Dry desert grasses waved gently in the warm breeze and a profusion of spring-green leaves sprouted from a nearby ocotillo. A noisy dispute between two cactus wrens caught his attention and so absorbed was he in his surroundings that he didn’t at first notice the small flames licking the right side of the truck’s hood. By the time the dancing motion of the fire registered in his peripheral vision, small flames had become large ones, hungry for more fuel and sending searing feelers up the windshield. He stared in disbelief for a second then in a panicked single motion grabbed his backpack, flung open the door, and fled, his discarded apple rolling down the dirt trail in his wake.

Assisted by the breeze and the open windows, the engine fire swiftly and greedily spread to the cab, gradually petering out and dying after a brief but savage feeding frenzy. When smoke ceased belching from the engine, Alex cautiously approached and surveyed the ruins. His truck was a useless, smoking lump of metal, the ignition melted and the engine fried. Burned scraps of his jacket littered the blackened passenger’s seat like confetti and his phone – his lifeline – lay shattered and warped on the dashboard next to the now defunct GPS system.

He took stock of his situation: he had no transportation, no phone, and no real idea of where he was. Jenna was in Ohio visiting her family for the first time since the couple moved to Tucson and she wasn’t expecting to hear from him until Monday afternoon. He wasn’t due back to work until Tuesday morning and in any case, he hadn’t told any co-workers about his excursion. The odds of encountering someone else traveling the rough, overgrown road anytime soon seemed infinitesimally remote.

“Stay with your vehicle.” He’d read that somewhere and so he stayed for a while, but the charred interior offered little shelter, no resources, and no hope of rescue. Mentally replaying the miles of dry, uninhabited nothingness covered to reach his current location, he realized that retracing that path was an impossible task. Heading northeast across the desert as the crow flies, however, he’d eventually intersect with the highway – a long hike, but better than the alternatives. With a resigned sigh, he pried his dead lump of a phone off the dashboard with a stick, adding its still-warm carcass to the backpack on the off chance it might magically return to life. He then strode off with a granola bar, three-quarters of a liter of water, and the expectation that he’d be home before evening.

As he strode through the morning and early afternoon, he reflected that his faithful gym attendance and regular morning runs were paying off: he was in good enough shape to handle a long hike. Even so, he found it uncomfortably warm, the temperature having risen to the mid-90s, causing his throat to prickle with thirst and the level of water in his bottle to diminish as though it had sprung a leak. A pair of rugged ravines and a thick patch of prickly pear cactus forced detours, and with the sun directly overhead it became more difficult to tell what direction he was headed.

By late afternoon he’d walked through miles of desert with no hint of human presence. The breeze blew effortlessly across the landscape, unimpeded by any man-made obstacles. When at last the sun dipped low on the horizon behind him and there was no sign of the highway, he felt his heart pound and his chest heave as he tried to squelch feelings of panic. As darkness finally fell so did tears of frustration and disbelief. Sticky all over with dried sweat, stabbed by hunger pangs, his fair skin burned sunset red, he shouted futilely for help but received not even an echo in return.

The quarter moon rose, going about its business as it had for millennia. Alex soldiered on in the dim light for a time on that first night, his heart jumping into his dry throat when the dark shapes of roosting birds exploded out of a bush he floundered into, their shrill alarm calls ringing in his ears for minutes afterward. The light breeze rustled clumps of dried grass, making a whispering sound like a conversation just out of earshot, and his footsteps sounded freakishly loud on the hard, gravelly ground. He could swear that when he stopped, the sound continued for a split second as if someone were following behind him in lockstep, mimicking his every move, stopping just after he stopped. Glancing nervously behind him, he stumbled on the uneven ground and pitched forward, sandblasting the underside of his right forearm as he landed.

Defeated by the darkness, he sought a resting place for the night. A rock outcropping near a large creosote bush beckoned and he settled there, his back against the rock wall. How could a short day trip have become a night spent alone in the desert? He shook his head, incredulous. Nearby the skeleton of a long-dead saguaro glowed yellow-white in the pale moonlight, casting a faint, ominous shadow. Beyond that the landscape was amorphous and obscure in the darkness, its nocturnal occupants moving unseen and mysterious about their affairs as they did every night, always. To soothe himself he conjured up fond memories of family camping trips in the woods when he was a child, and thoughts of sleeping bags and s’mores settled his nerves for a short time. Then veering off track like a derailing train, his mind abruptly fixed on the ghost stories they’d told around the campfire. Frowning and cursing himself, he silenced the memories as best he could. He was jumpy enough without thinking about spirits and boogeymen. Famished and exhausted, he ate half of his granola bar then tried to sleep.

Sleep did not come easily. The arid, hard desert ground cannot retain heat and as soon as the sun sets, releases its warmth to the night. Though it had been uncomfortably warm during the day, the temperature plummeted to the lower 50s at night. Wearing just a T-shirt and jeans and hugging his backpack for warmth, Alex shivered himself awake each time he managed to drift off and twitched nervously at each unfamiliar night sound. Surfacing into consciousness for the umpteenth time he gasped in momentary terror as a pale, ghostly figure glided silently above the desert floor some yards away, his tired brain unable to interpret the shape for a moment. Owl, he realized, finally. The snuffling pig-like sounds that came later were impossible for him to place and kept him still and frozen, pressed against the rapidly-cooling rock wall for what seemed like hours before he at last drifted back into a fitful, fearful sleep.

He awoke on Saturday morning with the first light of dawn, his fleeting hope that the whole excursion had been just a bad dream dashed as soon as he opened his eyes. His water supply rapidly diminishing, he devised a new strategy: he would travel during the cooler part of the day and rest in the afternoon. But surely he would find the highway before noon. Yesterday was discouraging but the new morning gave him a burst of optimism.

The day was a blur of walking and resting, the beauty of the landscape and the clear cerulean sky long since lost on him. Evening found him painfully thirsty and hungry after another hot day, and eventually forced to numbly accept that he would be spending a second night in the desert. The bottom of a small, rocky hill near a shallow ravine became his resting place for Saturday night. The now-empty water bottle rattled hollowly against the melted phone as he dropped his backpack and settled in with his back to the stony hillside. Now desperate for water, his thoughts were becoming disordered and unfocused and his eyes and skin were sandpaper-dry. He gingerly prodded the abrasions on his right arm. They’d been screaming for attention all day, red, angry, and starting to swell. As darkness encroached once more, he used his small pocket knife to pick cactus spines out of his jeans and hiking boots, his mind wandering in a near-dreamlike state.

His blurred sight turned creeping shadows into dreadful stalking beasts with shaggy manes and long legs skulking behind the stunted desert plants, circling him on the fringes of his vision. The high-pitched yammering of a pack of coyotes reached him from a far distance. If they came closer, would they pass up an easy target? As his eyes began to feel heavier with the onset of sleep, a sudden, loud shriek pierced the air close by, sending tingles of alarm through his body. Holding his breath, he sat perfectly still in the dark, waiting. The same shriek sounded twice more, farther away. A night bird of some kind, he hoped.

Jumping at every sound and shaking from the cold once again, Alex at last drifted into an uneasy sleep – and dreamed an uneasy dream. He was at work late in the evening, long after everyone else had left. Parched with thirst, he left his office to walk to the break room for a drink. The building was still and silent and all the offices but his dark as tombs, their identical doors shut tight, their contents cryptic. He squinted to find his way, the hallway lighted only by tiny, dim, far-flung nightlights with long stretches of pitch black in between. Twisting and turning, it wended its way for what seemed like miles with no end in sight and he took to walking hastily through the dark stretches, more fearful with each moment that one of the doors would open of its own accord as he passed, revealing a horror behind it. When he looked back, there was no sign of his office now: just a tunnel of thick, sooty blackness.

Gradually he became aware of the faint sound of sobbing coming from each office he passed, accompanied by muffled whispering from the far reaches of the hallway behind him, the words incomprehensible. He quickened his pace to a jog, eager to reach the safe haven of the break room. For miles and miles he jogged, the sobbing and whispering now gone, hearing only his own wheezing, gasping breaths. Finally winded and with his lungs aching, he was forced to stop – but only for a moment. Louder but still inarticulate the whispering began, the sobbing soon following. Closer now, they issued from all of the offices at once. As terror began to overcome him he broke into a run despite exhaustion, like wounded prey in a final life-or-death effort to evade a predator. Rounding a bend in the hallway he spotted a bright light in the distance and though struggling for breath managed a burst of speed toward it, revealing it to be the break room at last, awash in bright light and lined with dozens of vending machines containing bottled water and cold soda of every sort imaginable. It was directly across a wide hallway that formed a T intersection with the one down which he fled.

Some primitive instinct stopped his headlong rush just in time. He skidded to a halt at the edge of the hallway a dozen feet across from the break room and looked down. There was no floor, a drop into an obsidian-black, apparently bottomless chasm between him and salvation. As he stood there panting and helpless, the now-ceaseless sobbing escalated to a wail of agony and he heard the office doors for miles down the hallway begin to rattle violently in their frames.

He awoke with a start in the early dawn of his third day in the desert.

Sunday proved to be as fruitless as its predecessors and walking ever more taxing. After failing to cut into the barrel cactus in the early evening, Alex trudged to a nearby dry wash to seek a place to spend the night. The wash stretched on endlessly in both directions, a broken promise of water. A high rocky cliff formed a wall on the far side some yards to the right, a handful of gnarled mesquites in front of it. Completely drained, he dropped where he stood, no longer caring to find a more suitable spot. As the sun began its descent and a chilly breeze sprang up, he fumbled his sketch pad and a pencil from the backpack and wrote a short, shaky note to Jenna, telling her that he loved her. Returning the pad and pencil to the backpack, he fell asleep from sheer exhaustion, in spite of the cold, his aching thirst, and the throbbing pain in his arm.

His muddled mind couldn’t process the sound that stirred his unconscious and woke him. Half-awake, he waited for it to repeat.


After a minute, “¡Hola, amigo!”

A human voice came from the direction of the rock cliff on the far side of the wash. Snatching up his backpack, Alex struggled to his feet and staggered several yards to his right, closer to the source of the sound. His view of the cliff, dim at best in the moonlight, was further obscured by the clump of mesquites in front of it.

“¡Aquí!” the voice entreated.

Climbing down the insignificant bank and crossing the wash revealed a shallow cave in the rock cliff only a few feet above the wash bed. A ridge of dirt and rock extended several feet in front of the cave entrance making a natural walkway, and on that walkway stood a dim figure – by its voice, a man – waving his arms above his head.

Hallucination? Dream? Either was possible. Alex tentatively called, “Hello?”

“¡Hola!” came the reply.

Not completely trusting his eyes and ears Alex closed the remaining distance to the rock cliff, scrambled stiffly onto the walkway, and approached the figure cautiously, fearing it would dissolve into nothingness, a figment of his imagination. As he grew closer, the moonlight brought to light a man of small stature and slight build clothed in well-worn blue jeans, a light brown T-shirt, and a black windbreaker with neon-green stripes starting at the neck and running the length of both arms. His dusty, scuffed boots had seen many miles of travel by foot. Jet black, wavy hair merged into the black of the cave interior behind him and from what Alex could tell, his eyes were equally dark. An oval, silver pendant hung around his neck, gleaming faintly as it caught the light.

“¿Tiene agua?” questioned the man, with hope in his voice.

Alex knew only a handful of Spanish words. Agua was water, the lack of which he felt keenly.

“No,” he replied, shaking his head, his swollen tongue making speaking an arduous task.

“¿Un coche?” the man asked next.

Seeing the confusion on Alex’s face, the man mimed steering a car.

“No. I did, but it doesn’t run anymore,” Alex responded, then realized the man probably couldn’t understand him. “Do you speak English?”

A flash of white teeth appearing in a slight smile, the man lifted his hand, holding his index finger and thumb close together. “Little,” he responded. He then thrust his right arm out, inviting Alex to shake hands. “Me llamo José Luis,” he offered.

Alex shook hands, introducing himself. Gesturing toward the interior of the cave, José Luis invited him inside out of the cool breeze. The cave was little more than a hollow scooped out of the cliff in some distant era, wide but not very deep, with a ceiling that sloped downward as it reached the back. When his eyes adjusted to the dark interior, Alex could just make out a battered backpack, a baseball cap, and two empty milk jugs lying on the left side about halfway back – evidently the only possessions José Luis had carried with him across the border. The milk jugs, he guessed, formerly held water.

Hardly daring to hope, Alex asked, “Do you know how to get to Tucson?”

José Luis nodded with a slight smile. “Si. Voy a Tucson para encontrar trabajo,” he replied, pronouncing it Took-sahn.

Whatever that meant, Alex didn’t think it answered the question and so tried again.

“Which way is Tucson from here?” Alex pointed first one direction then another and gave an exaggerated shrug of his shoulders. “Umm…donde Tucson?”

Moving to the front of the cave, José Luis turned to the right and with no hesitation or sign of doubt, pointed northeast.

Relief flooded over Alex for the first time since Friday as he envisioned himself setting off at the first light of dawn with a guide, finally sure of the way home – to water and help and civilization. Interrupting this reverie, José Luis abruptly stood and beckoned Alex to the walkway in front of the cave. Alex followed, curious, as he stepped off the walkway and moved a short distance down the bank of the wash to the left. A rough square of fabric – perhaps a piece of a waterproof jacket or a light tarp – stretched on the sandy soil there, held in place by seven or eight rocks placed along its edges. The fabric sagged in a slope toward a small pile of pebbles in the middle as if it were suspended over a hole in the ground.

Grabbing Alex’s sleeve and pulling him closer, José Luis pointed to the fabric and stated, “In morning…agua.”

The crude device must collect condensation during the cool night, yielding drinking water, Alex realized, nodding and smiling in understanding. There wouldn’t be much, but even a thimbleful would be a blessed relief.

A sudden loud rustling out of sight down the wash bed caused both men to flinch, then stand stock-still, barely breathing. When the noise didn’t recur after some moments the pair relaxed, though José Luis glanced nervously around as if trying to scan the opaque shadows in the desert beyond.

“Hay fantasmas en el desierto,” he whispered uneasily.

“Fantasmas?” Alex repeated it in his head, his tired, fuzzy brain trying to work out an English equivalent. “Fantasmas…fantasies?” Then, “Phantasms…phantoms. Ghosts.”

José Luis clutched the silver pendant he wore. Alex could make out a winged figure on it – an angel.

“San Miguel me protege. He protect me,” the man said, his voice now louder and more sure.

Alex was past worrying about ghosts, but nodded his understanding.

The two returned to the shelter of the cave. Pressing both of his hands together and placing them alongside his face, José Luis shut his eyes and feigned sleep for a moment to communicate his intent to Alex. He then moved to the left wall of the cave and lay on his side with his back against it, his backpack serving as a pillow. Alex followed suit, his limited reserves of energy used up despite his renewed hope. Lying against the opposite wall of the cave all he could see of José Luis was a vague, dark shape and the dim glow of the neon-green stripe on his right sleeve. A muttered prayer in Spanish was the last thing he heard before drifting off into the soundest sleep he’d had in days, free of dreams and filled with a cautious optimism.

He awoke just before dawn, his memory of the previous evening returning in a flood. A glance across the darkness of the cave showed the dark outline of José Luis still sleeping in the spot he’d occupied earlier. Alex’s first and most pressing thought, before he was even fully awake, was of water. He rose and stumbled to the location of the water pit just down the wash bank, the weak hint of daylight not yet any brighter than the murky moonlight had been. A dozen steps should have brought him to the pit, but he was unable to spot the fabric that covered it even when he retraced his steps several times, deviating first to one side then the other.

Dropping to his hands and knees to better see the ground, he noticed a darker, oval patch just a few feet away and crawled to it, his injured arm aching. A shallow pit occupied the space but no fabric covered it. The rocks that had held the fabric in place were disordered and scattered, a tattered strip of fabric under the remaining rocks along one edge. Carefully probing inside the pit with his hand, Alex discovered a small collection of dried desert plants, several pebbles, and a ragged piece of cloth, all half-buried under dust and sand. As he attempted to pull the piece of cloth out of the dirt, it crumbled in his grasp, brittle and fragile.

His heart pounded. Had he walked the wrong way down the wash bank? He was certain he hadn’t. Had José Luis risen earlier, taken the water for himself, and destroyed the pit? Then why would he have showed it to him in the first place? Distressed and bewildered, Alex sat cross-legged next to the pit until the first feeble rays of the morning sun showed themselves. He would confront José Luis and demand to know what happened to the water, he decided.

Using what limited strength he could muster he returned to the cave, crossing the sand-strewn threshold then approaching the still-sleeping man.

“José Luis!” he called from the middle of the cave, but there was no response.

Louder this time: “José Luis!” Again the man didn’t acknowledge him or even move.

Alex took several steps forward and stooped over, stretching his right arm out to grab José Luis’s shoulder and shake him awake, at the same time allowing a patch of the pure, newborn morning light to streak into the cave. His hand an inch from the green stripe on the black windbreaker, he froze.

José Luis’s left arm bent in front of his body, his hand resting on the ground in the spotlight of sun. Patches of brown, leathery flesh, withered and mummified, covered it and the bones of several fingers showed through. In the dirt nearby was an old pendant with an image of Saint Michael, long since broken away from its frail chain. On a dilapidated backpack, hollow, empty eye sockets stared from a skull adorned with thick, black hair, long dead – years dead – and covered in dust.

As Alex sat in the cave, staring into the distance, the sun ascended and the desert inhabitants went about their business as they had for millennia.

Credit To: bansidhe

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The Singing House

February 1, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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My friends used to dare me to visit the house at the end of the cul-de-sac. In fact, everyone was daring everyone to do it.

I remember the looks on their faces. How scornful they looked at my refusal. How they all called me chicken and teased me endlessly.

Not anymore. They’ve all done it, and they all regret it. Now they discourage me from visiting that house. The old house at the end of Singing Court. Street number 2104. People were dared to spend a night in that abandoned old house, and of course, everyone came back just fine.

Afterwards they were different. Scared out of their minds. Convinced they’d never set foot near Singing Court again. A simple high school joke gone completely wrong.

I know, people always do stupid things like this, and a few of them come back with ghost stories to liven things up. Get everyone guessing, make people believe crazy things, but this isn’t the average “haunted house”. Everyone who came back from the house swore there really was a ghost, a ghost who had almost gotten them and they barely escaped.

Try the bet, you enter the house, you hear the strange sounds, the ghost finds you, you run, you tell your friends, they laugh. They try it themselves.

They never laugh at you again.

That’s what happened to some of my own close friends at school, if you could call them that anyways. It was high school, and lots of your “close” friends at high school are really just the “crowd” you fit in with, you know? I was like that. My name is Cameron, and I used to go to South Cadance High School. Pretty natural high school. Bullies, jocks, month-long relationships, name it.

I was pretty natural too. I was tall, I had short brown hair, I played football. Except people always said I was a little unique. I was nicer. I paid more attention to people’s pain, their feelings, their stories. Maybe that attribute is why I did what I did. I got really curious about all the stories. I’m a sensible guy, and ghost stories just didn’t really add up to me. There’s no such thing as ghosts, I always thought.

So like a fool, I eventually brought up the subject at lunch one day. I said to my buddies, “You know what? I’ll do it.”

Instantly, Tre nearly flipped out. “No way, man! We were wrong before, don’t go there!”

Josh laughed. “It’ll be your funeral, man.”

“Don’t you remember? Everyone acts the exact same when they come outta there,” Tre continued breathlessly. “And the story’s the same! Ghost in the house, in the yard, on the driveway, somewhere in there, and it almost gets us!”

“Oh, come on! Nobody’s ever stuck around just for a moment, nobody’s ever tried to see who it was? Probably someone playing a prank. Don’t you think?”

“Can’t be a prank,” Tre answered, shaking his head. “Not the way it happens.”

“I know how it happens. You’ve told me eighty or ninety times now. Gets all cold, a weird ringing sound in the air, wah, wah, wah.”

“You ain’t listenin’, man! You could be the very first one that thing finally gets!”

“Gets?” I snorted. “As in kills?” Of course, that’s what some might say about me now. Others might say I was stolen, or trapped forever. That’s not how I see it.

Let me roll back a bit though. Well, as you expect, my friends all kept trying to convince me to stay away from 2104 Singing Court. The more they did, the more curious I got. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I was definitely going to visit the place. Tonight. It was Friday night, the best night. Against my friends’ wishes, I decided it was happening.

So that evening, after I and my parents ate dinner, watched the news and did all the other boring things that parents will do, they went off to bed. I kissed my mother good night. Then I tiptoed upstairs, picked up my spare backpack I’d filled with a little gear, and snuck out.

I made it easily to 2104 Singing Court in no time. The road was less than a five minute walk away. When I got there, the house looked just like it always did, old and peeling yet sturdy. Not much creaking and cracking. You could feel safe under that roof in a storm.

Tonight, something was different. I’d never actually seen the house at night. Was that it? I wasn’t sure, but something about the house seemed to draw me in further. That night I finally crossed the line I’d never crossed before, and started up the hill driveway.

The door opened easily. There was no lock in it. I entered, right into a small living room. Taking out my lantern and switching it on, I saw a pile of sticks in the corner closest to me, undoubtedly from the other visitors. I turned into a small hallway. There wasn’t a single cobweb around. I guessed, at the time, that everyone had knocked them down. I know different now of course, but at the time I was still naïve about the whole thing.

The next room was the kitchen. It looked like any ordinary old kitchen in the darkness, just without anything set up on the counter. There was even an old refrigerator sitting against one wall, with a stove on one side of it and a microwave secured above. Too bad there was no power. I could have brought some reheatable food if this house was still connected to the wires. I’d have to make do with the sandwiches I’d packed.

I chuckled to myself. “Everyone was right about this place. Sure is spooooooky,” I teased the house. There wasn’t anything interesting in here yet.

Then suddenly I felt something odd. It passed by so quickly, I couldn’t even tell what it was after it had gone. For a moment, I stood there wondering, and then I felt it again.

The floor! It was vibrating! It felt like something had just switched on. I wasn’t sure what it was. The vibrations crept up my legs, and I shivered, taking a step back. Then the noise came, blasting from out of nowhere, right in front of me. The ringing!

I reached into my pocket and yanked out my screeching cell phone. I swiped the caller icon and held it to my ear. “God dammit Tre, you scared me to death!” I cried in a harsh whisper. “If anyone sees me in here, they’ll call the-”

“Dude! I just hadda know if you actually did it. You’re in there? Right now?”

“Yeah, I’m here. This place is boring, man. It’s a little cold around here. I’m starting to think I might just take off in a few minutes.”

“Good, man, get outta there. Don’t stay! You really should leave, I mean like, right now!”

“I’m not falling for it. Nothing’s tried to attack me here. Unless the whole school’s in on some joke I don’t get, you’re all delusional.”

“I don’t care what you’re thinkin’. Just get outta there!”

“See ya, man.” I hung up with him still protesting at the other end, then started to laugh quietly. Imagine, everyone scared of this—of what?

Of shadows! There was nothing moving here but shadows. Everything else was deathly still. I looked around the kitchen one last time, then made my way back to the living room, where I’d put my bag. I changed my mind at that moment—I’d stay a bit. I had brought snacks, after all, and a book to pass the time. Mainly, I just wanted to stay long enough to encounter this “ghost” so I could tell everyone how crazy they were.

About an hour, that’s how long it usually took for them to leave. So I decided I’d stay two hours, and if nothing happened, then for certain I’d be going then. No reason to stay otherwise. I opened the compartment with the sandwiches and pulled out the little lunch bag I’d packed them in. I stopped short as I unzipped it.

There were two sandwiches. I’d packed three in there. But I shook away strange thoughts, realizing I’d probably left the last one on the counter at home. I’d get it later tonight after I went back. I pulled out one of the sandwiches—my favorite kind, mayo with cheese and cold turkey, Frank’s hot sauce, onions and spicy peanut sauce. Yeah, yeah, I know it sounds weird. Sue me.

I took a bite and opened up my favorite classic, Summer of the Monkeys.

I’d just gotten past the fourth chapter when I started hearing the sounds. Real sounds this time. Scratches against the side of the house, from the back yard.

I wasn’t afraid. I picked up a stick from the corner pile, switched on my lantern, and headed slowly for the back door. I wasn’t scared, but I also wasn’t an idiot or a daredevil. I held the stick out right in front of me, and moved about two miles an hour. This could be anything—maybe even a lurking animal. I had to be ready to defend myself.

I swung open the back door. Instantly the sounds grew louder. They were right outside the door, just around the edge of the door jamb. If I took one more step, the thing making the noise would be instantly to my left. I took a deep breath and my heart, I realized, was actually beating a little fast. I turned left, sidestepped out the door and raised the stick—

An instant before I saw what was there, the sounds faded and the tiny little white light that had apparently been there moments ago faded. Just like a flashlight shutting off. But even as I panted hard, struggling to keep a cool head, I realized that there was nothing in front of me. Nobody was hiding in the darkness, having just turned off their light—there was absolutely nothing.

“All right, that’s it,” I called out to the darkness. “Get out here!” Nothing stirred. Now I wasn’t only scared, I was angry too. I stepped quickly down the few crumbly brick stairs and took several steps out into the back yard.

I heard it again.

Scratch, scratch…

Now it was more like a shuffling sound. Not the sound of fingers scratching against the side of the house. More like footsteps, several feet out of my lantern’s range of sight, padding softly around in the grass.

Around… around…

Then it stopped. And it started again, and this time they were padding toward me.

The ringing sound started up slowly. The footsteps were close by, getting nearer, right in front of me, but the person, or thing, wasn’t close enough for my light to see them yet.

“H-hello?” I whispered, no longer feeling brave in the slightest. I saw something small floating in the air in front of me, just a few feet away. After a moment, as it came just a little closer, I realized it was fingers. A hand. A small hand reaching out for me. Slowly getting closer.

It was so pale. The ringing sound grew louder. It changed tones, shifted up and down, almost as if, could it be? No way.

I felt the sudden urge to throw my lantern at this figure, turn around and run back in as fast as I could, snatch up my bag and go. But I told myself I wasn’t like the others. They’d always told me I was different, and now this was the time to prove it! I wasn’t going to be frightened by something like this. I couldn’t run away—I had to figure out what this was! If I didn’t, I’d spend the rest of my life wishing I’d waited just one more minute, wondering forever, and it would destroy me, not knowing.

“Hello?!” I called, my voice a tiny squeak. I felt silly sounding like that, but under the circumstances I’m sure it was understandable.

The ringing slowly shifted tones, pitch wavering up and down…it grew louder…was it really? It was.

It wasn’t ringing—it was a voice. A singing voice!

The voice of a young girl. “Laaaaaaaaaa, laaa laaaaaaaaaa laaaaaaaaaa – laaaaaaaaaa laaa laaaaaaaaaa…”

My voice caught in my throat. Not fear—it wasn’t fear this time. I wanted to cry.

She sounded so sad. So dejected. As if she were crying for help, and nobody would listen.

The fingers slowly lowered. The padding sound began to back away. Everyone else ran away by now, I realized. I haven’t run yet. I’ve surprised it. The sound shuffled away slowly, and the soft singing voice began to fade into a shrill ringing again as it slowly left me.

“Wait!” I cried.

The sound stopped receding, and then the voice came back. “Laaaaaaaaaa, laaa laaaaaaaaaa, laaa laaaaaaaaaa, laaaaaaaaaa…”

Such beautiful sounds…

It slowly came closer. This time it didn’t have to reach out. I raised my hand to it, and after a few seconds of hesitation, I felt the softness of delicate fingers sliding into mine, another hand gently gripping mine. I held it. And then the rest of the ghost came into view.

A girl about my age. Almost as tall as I was. But she was like nobody I’d ever seen before. She was so pale, and so beautiful. Her eyes were blue and shiny, and her hair was long and white-blond, and as a breeze blew it gently toward me, it tickled my face with the softness of silk.

Whoa. She was already that close. She stared at me, gazed into my eyes, as if studying me. But she looked so scared. Why was she scared? It’s not like I was going to hurt her. Could anyone even hurt her?

“Please,” she whispered, her voice coming with the wind and just as soft.

“Wh-what?” I croaked, trembling all over.

“Please don’t run away,” she pleaded. And then she started to cry. “Please.”

And suddenly, just like that, I understood everything.

I gently squeezed her hand in mine. “Never,” I promised her in just as soft a whisper. Her tears still flowed, but she managed to stop crying just for a moment, and looked at me again.

She really wasn’t sure if I would run away or not.

After all, hadn’t everyone else already run off by now? All run away, when all she needed was the presence of another human being, someone to talk to? Someone who would listen to her…

“You’re different,” she managed through her tears.

“I know,” I responded. Nobody else had considered she might be more than some haunting phantom. Everyone always did say I was different. Kind. Always there to listen to and sympathize with someone’s pain. Even with the ghostly terror she had initially given me, I realized it was just a test. Just to make sure I was the right one. If I could stay there through the fear, then I certainly could stay forever.


Yeah, I know. You probably don’t understand. But with the way she begged me, I really couldn’t resist. “Please stay with me,” she pleaded. And the way she begged me, the way she pleaded with her eyes, I knew she did mean forever.

“Always,” I promised her. She fell sobbing into my arms and laid her head on my shoulder. I held her, comforting her through her tears, her pain, and when she finally stopped crying, she looked up at me. Her face was tearstained, but she was beautiful no matter what.

She held my hand, and slowly led me further into the back yard. Further away from the rest of the world.

As I left with her, I kept thinking about the other guys at my high school. I remembered their scornful, laughing faces. How they teased me, called me afraid.

Yes, I remember them laughing. And then I remember them looking much different, stone-cold, terrified. But not once had they looked sympathetic for the ghost. They weren’t like me. They had always told me that.

To this day, I still don’t regret that I was different from them all. Because I cared, while they simply ran from fear. Because they just didn’t know.

They say she was a ghost, a scary thing trying to get them. But all she wanted was…was the right person. Now she knows she’s found that person—she found me. And nobody else ever knew what happened to me. Nobody knew where I’d gone, why I disappeared.

I don’t care. They ran from her. They all ran from Sammy (that’s her name). Because none of them knew, poor fellas.

They didn’t know…

They didn’t know she was just lonely.

Credit To – Kroney-2 (William)

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Fun Town

January 18, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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As children, we often get ourselves into trouble by not listening to our parents or sneaking into places we shouldn’t be.

This is Nicole’s story.

September 22, 1988

Ever since she was a little girl, 14-year-old Nicole had a fascination of exploring unfamiliar places. For this expedition, she wanted to explore a patch of forest she recently discovered near her house. She brought along a flashlight in case there were any dark places worthy of investigation.

The forest was about two blocks down her street. A small dirt path winded through it, and there was still plenty of daylight to see everything. Nicole was giddy with anticipation of what lay ahead.

As she walked along the main path, separate trails split off into different directions.

“Well, I’ll be back another time,” Nicole said to herself. “Eventually, I’ll explore every one of these paths to see where they lead to.”

After wandering aimlessly for a while, she found herself in a dark, shady grove. Nothing more than a few trees surrounded her.

Nicole noticed something hidden among a tangled mass of branches. She whipped out her flashlight and shined it on the object. What she saw surprised her.

A sign with the words “FUN TOWN” written in bright red letters pointed towards a small passage among the trees.

Without a moment to lose, she ran down the path in a hurry to see what wonders were in store at Fun Town.

She arrived in a large, open field blanketed with fog. Her heart dropped when she saw the gates to Fun Town locked. Fun Town was closed, and looked like it had been closed for years. Nicole looked towards the carnival and desperately wished to see what it was like inside.

It was 6:30, and the sun was beginning to set. Nicole walked away in great disappointment.

Before she got past the trees, she heard a horrible screeching sound behind her. She turned around to find that the gates to Fun Town had mysteriously opened by themselves.

After checking to make sure no one was watching, she sprinted towards the gates and slipped past them.

Nicole found herself surrounded by old tents full of holes, rides threatening to fall apart, and food booths that smelled of rot and deterioration.

Fun Town was now a ghost town.

She walked around the carnival and saw all sorts of wonderful things gone to ruins. Among these was a funhouse with its once brilliant colors now faded and peeling, the infrastructure falling apart one rotten board at a time.

She walked around the grounds, peeking into tents, only to find boxes filled with junk and other trivial things all smelling of mildew.

Eventually, she came across an old sideshow tent with vintage freak posters lining the outside of it. One featured the 600-pound woman, another starred the man with half a body.

As Nicole walked past the posters, she noticed a funhouse mirror on the end. It was caked in mud and other questionable substances. She looked down and saw a small plaque just below the mirror. It read:


When she looked back up, her reflection was hellish. She saw herself as a living corpse with her eyes sunken into her head, skin crawling with maggots, and bones exposed.
She shrieked and looked away from the mirror.

Nicole shook it off and just assumed it was a prop used in a haunted house. She continued to explore the grounds for some time. It made her feel sad seeing all the beautifully painted buildings and rides all gone to waste. At one time, Fun Town must have been an amazing place for children of all ages. She wished she could have experienced it during its glory days.

Brown and yellow leaves covered the ground as autumn settled in. Nicole loved the crunching sound they made as she stepped on them. After passing through a midway of empty, decomposing carnival game booths, she found a red barn with the words “Petting Zoo” written above the door. She knew that no animals would be inside, but she decided to look inside anyway. Nothing was out of the ordinary in the barn. However, the smell was almost too much to bear. Rotting hay and feces was not a good combination.

It was so dark inside, that Nicole had to get out the flashlight to take a look around. It was very quiet inside the barn.

Suddenly, Nicole heard something rustling in the corner behind metal bars. She pointed her flashlight to see what it was. Her heart started racing when she saw a large, black figure hobbling towards her.

It was a horse with its ankles in iron shackles. The poor thing was in very bad shape. It was blind in both eyes and its back was U-shaped from so many people riding it. Bleeding whip slashes covered the horse’s body and it looked like it hadn’t eaten in weeks.

Near the horse’s stall was a box of feed. Nicole felt that feeding the horse the old food would not be a good idea, but it was all that was available. She grabbed a handful and held it up to the horse in the hopes that it could smell it. It slowly walked towards her and nibbled on it until it was all gone.

As Nicole got another handful, the horse began dry heaving. She backed away from it, her heart pounding in her chest. It gave a final heave and spewed vomit all over the floor. Nicole could feel the warm vomit soaking through her shoes. When she looked down…

she found herself standing in a puddle of blood.

The horse’s knees gave in, and it collapsed in a heap. She screamed in absolute terror and ran towards the front gate, refusing to look back.

When she made it to the front, she had to stop and catch her breath. Beads of sweat poured down her face as she tried to recover from the trauma.

It was now 8:00 and almost too dark to see.

Nicole turned on her flashlight and started heading out. She had had enough of Fun Town.

“Somebody, please! Help me!” The voice of a little girl in distress suddenly rang out.

It’s just a trick! Nicole thought to herself. She walked past the gates a little further.

The girl’s screams only grew louder.

What if there really is a girl in danger? Maybe she sneaked in after I did. What should I do? A strong sense of guilt made her turn around. I can’t just leave an innocent girl trapped in this terrible place. I have to help her! She went back into Fun Town to find where the voice was coming from.

Nicole heard the cries coming from an old mirror maze near the front gate. Bits and pieces of broken glass scattered the ground.

Despite her angst, Nicole forced herself to go inside and rescue the poor girl.

Without a moment to waste, she turned on her flashlight and started down the hall of mirrors.

As she made her way deeper into the maze, it got very dark. Most of the mirrors were either cracked or shattered. However, the mirrors towards the back were in perfect condition, as if no one had ever made it to the end.

She was getting close to the girl’s screams. As she turned the next corner, she found herself in a round room with mirrors surrounding her on all sides.

The cries had stopped.

She looked all around the room to try and find the girl. There was no sign of her anywhere.

Something was not right. The room was unnaturally cold. Nicole could see her breath. She was frightened and ready to go home. Just as she was about to leave…

she made a grim discovery.

The hall leading to the room was gone.

She was trapped.

Nicole punched one of the mirrors trying to escape. The glass broke, leaving her with nothing but lacerations on her hand for her efforts. She flashed her light on the mirror and screamed.

Blood was seeping through the cracks in the mirror.

The maze was alive.

Nicole started to panic. Hoping somebody was nearby, she started calling for help.

“Help me! Help me!”

She got a response back.

“Help me! Help me!”

The voice calling back was hers. There was a hint of…malice.

She looked into the mirrors, and froze.

All of her reflections smiled back at her.


The reflections shrieked with laughter:


The maze was a monster, mocking her cries for help. With no other options, she sat down against one of the mirrors, buried her head in her arms, and cried. The mirrors continued taunting and laughing at her.

Suddenly, the mirror Nicole was sitting against felt very warm and wet…

like the inside of a person’s mouth.

She could feel the ground move beneath her. The mirrors were closing in on her. If she didn’t act fast, she would be eaten alive.

She tried to break another mirror, but her hands were hurt too badly to continue. As she waited to accept her fate, the batteries in her flashlight died, leaving her in complete darkness.

Later that night, Nicole’s parents called the police, frantic about their daughter’s disappearance. A search party was organized to try and find Nicole in the woods.

After hours of searching, one of the police officers found a sign that read “FUN TOWN” among tangled branches. When he followed the direction the sign was pointing, he came to a large, open field…

nothing was there.

Photograph of the actual sign taken by the officer.

Photograph of the actual sign taken by the officer.

Credit To – A. L. Green

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Green Room

January 10, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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The air’s as cool as a fridge. The black, starless sky establishes a sense of isolation, which will only increase when I arrive at my destination. As I drive along a paved road, the streetlights become fewer in number. I turn down an unpaved backroad as a shortcut, with my patience already growing thin of this excursion.

The backroad continues for a good ten minutes, though it feels twice as long with my car jerking from a terrible, swerving road. By the end of the path, the headlights shine on a grimy, overgrown stone wall. This is where I stop, grasping my backpack and flashlight. I remove a cold, faded-silver revolver from the glove compartment. I check its wheel; six shots, still awaiting their use. As always, it goes in the right pocket.

There’s a brief walk around the wall before I reach the entrance to the structure. Along the way, the stone barrier is seen to be overgrown, claimed by the forest that surrounds it. Fallen leaves line the base of the structure, and continue to pile as I march along the fall night. When I turn a corner, I find myself at a clearing.

I walk away from the building to get a better view. I find a large, open lot, which now begins to sprout a series of bushes and patches of grass. When I find myself spaced away, I turn back to the structure, with my eyesight more adjusted to the darkness. A gray, symmetrical stone building stands before me, at least three floors high. I twitch with unease as I notice only two sets of windows line the front wall, which are both on the second floor. The walls appear to extend back for a good distance, half a football field, maybe. Its structure, material, and color suggest an older construction, but not one that’s ancient. I’m no architectural or historical expert, but a late 1800s age seems like a reasonable guess.

After taking in the sight, I approach the entrance: an arching, splintered, wooden door. It appears to have once been barred by a metal brace, but it’s been smashed to the ground. Above the doorframe is a few words, carved into stone. I shine the light on the text which reads “Winslow Theater and Performance Hall”. I can’t think of any other forsaken, abandoned building in the area, but I check my directions to make sure I’m not about to waste my time and sanity.

I open my phone, and view the bosses instructions:

“Winslow Theater, south of the old post office on south street. Pull down on Berrywood Lane, and just keep going until you reach a dirt road. Pull down that, as it’s quicker, and out of sight. After a bit longer, you’ll reach the place. Once there, head past the auditorium, and downstairs backstage. You’ll know where to go from there. If not, just follow the scent. If you can’t come back with a supply, then don’t bother coming back. If we catch you collecting, and not coming back to us, we’ll find you. We keep a count on the supply constantly.

Best of luck.


I place the phone back in my pocket and my eyes are overwhelmed by the returning dark in front of me. I blink for a minute, then enter through the wooden doors.

The box office is in the front lobby, its windows smashed, and its booth collecting nothing but dust. As I shine my light across the floor, I see it smeared with a collection of grass, leaves and darkened, brown mold color. The walls inside were once painted white, but are now stripped to a stone gray, just as the outside. I examine the room’s features for a brief minute before entering the main room.

When entering the auditorium, the room causes me to question my own perception. The space is far larger than I expected, with my light only shining a short distance before dimming away. Seats stretch as far as my flashlight can reach, all lined straight together, with their wood torn and scratched to disarray. I shine my light left and right, in which it reaches a wall on both sides. The darkness only stretches forward, with the space for an endless audience. There’s a single, clear lane for walking, bridging a gap for my walk. I’m reluctant, but I press on, knowing my desperation for this job.

As I walk the open lane, the empty seats stare back. Every chair is a set of eyes, ones that cut through the dark and witness my exposed state. My left hand keeps a firm grip on the flashlight, shining forward. My right hand remains against my right pocket, feeling the cold handle of my only defense. After passing at least thirty rows of seats, the light picks up the first view of the stage.

The stage, for the size of the room, is rather small. The arching floor of wood gives a feeling of confinement, a static prison in front of an invisible crowd. I traverse a small set of stairs offstage left, and walk towards the torn red curtain. A curious part of me wishes to turn, and see the stretch of darkness that I’ve traversed. The sane part of me, however, doesn’t want to witness the stare of black that lies behind. I delve through the curtains.

Backstage appears to be very simple: an empty, wooden-floored room, with doors on the left and right walls. Both doors lead to a stairway leading down, but I choose the right door, as it’s slightly closer to where I stand. Every step saved is cherished.

The downstairs halls are narrow, and are littered with tight corners. My breaths grow deeper, and cold sweat dampens the shirt beneath my jacket. Doors start to appear across the halls, but none appear to be the spot I’m looking for. I start to wonder if I’m just walking in circles, as I’ve turned in each direction at least twice. My left hand shakes as it holds the flashlight, and my right hand strains as it grips the revolver. The six shots are my best friends.

I turn a corner and a strong, piercing odor claims my sense of smell. The scent is chemical, with hints of tobacco, sulfur, and a surrounding aroma of smoke. There’s a windowed door at the end of the hall, and the smells grow as I approach. Despite me being close, my paranoia reaches overdrive. My ears sense occasional whispers. Patches of cold flash about my skin, while my heart beats to the point of pain.

“Shit,” I think to myself. They recommend that I wear a respirator when I enter the storage room, but in the midst of directions I have to remember, I forgot to get one for the trip. My walk into the room would have to be quick, for the sake of my lungs. The unnatural air in the storage room is preferable to the haunting halls, though.

I enter through the windowed door, and my senses are stunned for a split moment. I’m stopped in my step from the intense barrage of substances. The air feels much more cool and dense, to where it resembled the touch of fog. The door is rather heavy, in which it shuts behind me as I step into the center of the small room. The wooden walls are painted green, with a series of benches and chairs against them. There’s a chalkboard to my left as I turn from the door, one that’s covered in a think layer of dust.

Scattered about the room, on benches, chairs, and the floor, are white crates. None are labelled, and all are shut without any lock or seal. Many of them have their own scents, but the mixed odor of the entire room is too much for me to sense details. I take a deep breath for preparation, but an ache shoots off in my chest from the action. I rush to work.

The crates contain some of what I expected, but also materials that I’ve never witnessed before. First, I find the typical bags of cocaine, sheets and bottles of pills, and series of full-grown marijuana plants. As I continue to sift through, however, I come across substances that puzzle me; strange, almost alien-like plants, racks of needles filled with green fluid, vials of vibrantly colored liquids, and a few crates containing a black gel inside glass cubes. If my curiosity wasn’t outweighed by my fear, I could explore the containers for hours. I feel bad for whoever has the job of testing all this shit.

After loading my backpack with some medicine bottles, plant leaves, and a few needles, I turn back to the door. I’m left stunned with a sight: though the window, a light is on in the hallway.

I’m sure that electricity is impossible for this ruined, neglected theater. Yet, the light floods from the window, exposing the green walls of the room. I’m clutching the gun even tighter. I dart around for another escape, but the door I came through is the only exit.

As the light begins to fade, I move towards the door, with my gun drawn forward. I’m slowed by the sounds of footsteps above the room, stomping about in, what I guess is, the theater. S.W.A.T teams, I think to myself. I’m fucked, for sure. My only idea is to go through the halls, and find an exit about the other doors. If they lead nowhere, at least they can serve as a hiding place.

When the light is gone from the window, I press though the door. I’m prepared to fire when I see a figure stand, but I’m left still as my eyes fixate on it. A pale, dark-haired, frail woman appears at the end of the hall. Her naked self reveals an array of smooth, milk colored skin. She turns to me when my light shines, revealing a cold, expressionless face. I’m first shocked, but as she drifts closer to me, I find myself grow calm, entranced. She stares at me with glowing pearl eyes, ones that caress my consciousness. She stands no more than a few feet from me. I lower my gun.

“Hello,” she says, almost whispering. The voice is soft, yet it echoes throughout the hall, filling the space with an unfamiliar life. Rather than respond, I stand awe struck, staring. The woman, disregarding my silence, outstretches a hand to me.

“Will you perform with me?” she asks.

I’m still left speechless, but her voice causes me to act without reason, overwhelmed with curiosity. I place the gun in my pocket, and connect my hand with hers. A chill pulses through my arm at the touch, but not one that unsettles me. The sense feels more gentle and welcoming than fear. She leads me throughout the halls, looking forward. She begins to pick up her pace, in which I follow. She almost starts to run, until we encounter a stairway, one that’s lit from the room above. I shut my flashlight off, and the woman releases my hand. She turns back to me, smiles, and makes her way up the stairs. I follow, and my caution starts to rise. At the top of the stairs, with the light turning her figure into a silhouette, the woman speaks down to me.

“Break a leg,” she says before entering the room.

I hear many voices as she leaves. Shouting, cheering, and applause sound down the stairway. I start clutching the gun again. After scaling the stairs, I realize I’ve backtracked; I’m back at the stage.

The stage is illuminated by a series of unknown lights, spanning from the ceiling. On the stage now lies a wooden pole, lined with colorful ribbons and flowers. Two masked men wearing black clothing stand near the woman, who’s now center stage.

Being as quiet as I can, I move closer towards the open curtain, and peer out into the seats. I’m close to fainting when I see there’s an audience. A full audience. Every chair is occupied by formal dressed, wealthy-looking individuals. They stand, applauding as the woman poses on stage. It’s difficult for me to make out faces, but their ages span from as young as early twenties, to as much as seventy. All of their faces however, are as white as the woman’s, and they possess the same striking, pearl eyes. As far as I can tell, I’m unnoticed.

The crowd sits as the woman steps back to the pole. She lowers her arms down, standing straight against the wood. The two masked men approach her, and tie her arms against the pole. The woman remains smiling. I’m left both confused and concerned when one of the men leaves and returns with a jar, before pouring a clear liquid across the woman’s body. The crowd remains shushed.

At last, the other man returns with a torch. I’m about to gasp, but I hold a hand to my mouth to keep hidden. The woman pays no mind to the flame, audience, or myself. She keeps her eyes closed, sporting a smile as the flame touches her stomach. She ignites in a mere second. As the fire spreads about, darkening and stripping her bare skin, she screams. The crowd begins to follow with cheers, turning to a stand ovation. I don’t want to move, but one of the masked men looks to me. He stares, in which I start for my escape.

I move around the curtain, feeling a warmth as I pass the burning flames. I leap off the stage, sprinting down the lanes of seats. I forget about my gun, flashlight, and the woman altogether. The crowd continues to cheer to insanity as I dash by, not giving a cent of mind to my escape. The woman’s screams continue to sound away until I reach the auditorium doors. Her voice is gone as soon as I grasp the door handle.

The woman’s and crowd’s silence is relieving. I’m bent on leaving the cursed place, but I’m confident in my experience being a spontaneous hallucination. I suspect that being exposed to the substances and chemicals could do almost anything. Who knows what kind of a trip could be forced? I turn for one last glance at the theater, suspecting my illusions to end.

Everyone in the audience, both old and young, is staring at me. The stage has gone dark, and at least a hundred sets of eyes are fixated on my petrified form. Their faces hold no life, no reaction, no care.

In a single moment, I find the senses to burst through the doors, and through the theater entrance as well. I stumble numerous times, as I’ve lost my flashlight, but I manage to make my way out to the open lot, where I first began. I wander about the open space as my eyes adjust to the darkness, and my mind adjusts to a safe reality.

As I catch my breath I’m reluctant to go back towards the stone walls, to my car. I stick as far away from the building as possible as I move.

I check the back seat, of course. I toss my bag to the passengers seat, start the engine, and pull out with a swerve. I lost my gun in my sprint, but unlike my skin and sanity, that’s replaceable.

I drive fast, but not to where it’s hazardous. The sight of paved roads ease my shaking a bit, but I’m left partially blind with the sharp memories scarred upon me. I focus on the relief of home, growing closer with every mile. I almost swerve off the road when a vibration hits my leg. I slam the breaks, bringing the car to an abrupt and dangerous halt. My phone’s going off, in which I take a much needed sigh of relief.

“H-Hello?” I say with short breath.

“Alec,” a deep, serious voice says, “Are you safe?”

I keep quiet for a few seconds, questioning the exact definition of “safe”.

“Yeah.”, I reply. “I think so.”

“Alright then. Get back to the warehouse ASAP. How much did you grab?”

“Enough to fill my backpack, which is an average size.”

“That will do, for your first. Leave it in there. Don’t even bother touching the bag until you get back. We’ll take it into our hands once it arrives. Depending on what you grabbed, there’s shit in there that will twist your mind to pieces. Try not to be too curious, or you’ll end up like one of our last initiates.”

I want to at least attempt to lighten the situation, so I curtail to my curiosity.

“What happened to him?”, I ask.

A long pause takes over the line, before the voice responds.

“He went back.”

The line goes dead. I focus on the road, and begin to drive. As the road becomes less rural with every mile, I glance at the backpack, eager to rid myself of the madness inside.

Credit To – Emeryy (Richard S.)

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Not Afraid of the Dark

December 26, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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I always have a torch in my pocket these days. I found a small LED one at an electronics store for a couple of bucks, and I keep it on me at all times. It’s actually really bright, despite the size. I bought five, the other four are placed in strategic locations around my house, so I can get to any of them quickly if need be. I won’t be caught in the dark again, you see. It’s bad enough that I see her every time I close my eyes, I don’t think I could handle seeing her again with my eyes open. But, I digress. Perhaps this would be better told from the start.

I used to work in an office building in town, for the public counter service of a Government Department that shall remain unnamed. The work was fine, it basically involved taking and checking applications, talking to the public about different services that our department provided, that sort of thing. Nothing out of the ordinary with the work, or my colleagues, who I got on very well with. The building, however…

To look at it from the outside, you wouldn’t think that it was any different from any of the surrounding office buildings. 12 stories tall, very square, flat sides etc. Nothing ostentatious, it was just a simple office building, like hundreds of others in my city. The building was slightly older than the surrounding ones, built in the 1980s (I think). There was the occasional draft, and the lights would flicker now and again, but no major problems. There were four elevators, one of which always seemed to be out of order. They’d fix one, and then another would inexplicably break. There was something with the electrics that would cause the doors to slam shut without warning sometimes, and they would occasionally drop slightly when you got in them. Nothing serious enough for the building owners to actually do anything about, but enough to be more than an annoyance.

The lifts used to give me the jibblies, even before all of this.

I used to take the stairs a lot. There were two stairwells, one on either side of the building. Both of them were fairly narrow, so if you were coming up and you met someone coming down, then you’d either need to wait in the stairwell bit by the doors into the different levels, or turn sideways and let them squeeze past. They tended to get a bit clogged if there was an evacuation for a fire alarm or something, but I was only on the 3rd floor, so it didn’t take too long for me to get from there to the ground, or vice versa. The stairwells were windowless, plain cement with pale yellow lights illuminating them, but fairly dimly. I think the building’s owners used crappy energy-saving bulbs to try and save some money.

There was a bathroom in each of the different stairwells, on every level. Men’s room in one stairwell, ladies’ in the other. The building managers installed combination locks on all of those doors after there was a peeping tom incident in the ladies’ one day, so only people who worked in the building could get in. There were different businesses and departments on each of the floors, and the locks all had different combinations, so you could only use the bathroom on your floor, you couldn’t go up or down a level to use another.

Because we were part of a Government Department, there was an emphasis on security. We all had swipe card access to get from the reception areas into the back office bit of my floor, and you also needed to remember your card if you were going to the bathroom. The doors to the stairwells had the same magnetic safety locks as the doors to the back area, and although you could get out by pushing a button to release the lock, you had to swipe your card to get into the floor from the stairwell. If you were in the bathroom there was a similar button to press to get back into the stairwell.

It’s hard to pinpoint when the trouble started. It’s not like somebody clicked their fingers and everything turned on like a light switch. I’m assuming you’ve heard the story about how a frog put in boiling water will jump straight out, but if you put the frog in cold water and bring it slowly to the boil it’ll stay in, happily boiling to death without realising. Had the situation gone from normal to messed up in a hurry, then I probably would have got the hell out of there, and quickly; but like they say, hindsight has 20/20 vision.

There was an imbalance of girls to guys who worked at my office, so I quite often had the men’s room to myself. Nothing like being able to go in peace, you know? The earliest occasion of anything weird happening I can remember, I was going off to the bathroom, which involved walking through the reception area. I pressed the button to let me into the stairwell, and was in the stairwell, keying in the code to let me into the mens’, and the stairwell door shut behind me. There was nothing out of the ordinary in this, the door was on one of those hinges which makes it close automatically. What was weird was that the second that door shut, I got a shiver up my spine. Everything was suddenly quiet, almost oppressively silent. The noise of the radio and the people in the waiting room had been completely cut off when the door shut, when normally you could hear things even when in the bathroom.

I didn’t think too much of it at the time, but I didn’t take my time as I normally might have. I got in, did what I needed to and got out of there, quickly. The feeling of unease faded as I came back into the brighter lights of the waiting room. From there, everything was normal for days, possibly weeks. I’m a little fuzzy on the actual time-frame, as a lot of the stuff that happened took place over a long-ish period of time. A few smallish things happened here and there; the odd cold spot, the odd shiver, (like when you feel you’re being watched), but I just put it down to stress, and kept going with my job and my life.

Like I said earlier, I got on very well with my colleagues and my boss. Most of us were of a similar age (mid-20s) and every now and again we’d go out for a few post-work drinks on a Friday, let loose a little and de-stress from the week. One Friday we’d closed up the public counter, and all the customers were gone, and we were packing up and getting ready to head out. I excused myself to use the mens’ room before we went out, but when I opened the stairwell door I noticed that it seemed dimmer than normal in the stairwell – the light at the top of the flight of stairs to the floor above had blown.

As I turned to the right to key in the code to the bathroom door, I saw something out of the corner of my eye, in the gloom at the top of the stairs. Something – and I can’t be any more descriptive than that – something flashed across my vision, A dark shape going from right to left from the door by the bathroom at the top of the stairs, around the corner to the next flight, out of my line of sight. It was fast, impossibly fast, like watching a movie and fast-forwarding to 4 times the normal speed. I couldn’t see any details, it was just a black shape, but it seemed darker than the lack of light surrounding it somehow. The movement was the worst though. Despite the speed, it didn’t seem to blur or sway at all, it was a scuttle more than anything.

I swung around, away from the bathroom door, and stood frozen at the bottom of the flight of stairs, staring transfixed up into the gloom at the top. I don’t know how long I stood there for, but I was frozen in place, too scared to move. The next thing I can remember, a hand clapped down on my shoulder. “(My name)! What are you doing man!?” It was my boss, come to find out what was taking so long. “There, there was… there was something” I stammered, trying to get the words out. My boss looked quizzically at me, one eyebrow raised. “What was it?” I turned to look up the stairs again. Everything seemed less dim than it had been a moment ago. “Nothing,” I replied, shaking my head. “Must have been a trick of the light. Been meaning to get my eyes tested.” “Then let’s get the hell out of here, and off for some drinks!” my boss exclaimed.

Later, at the bar, surrounded by my colleagues laughing and joking about the week’s events, everything seemed fine with the world. It was warm and bright in the bar, and my sense of dread had completely gone. Had I known what was to come, however, then I probably would have been feeling very different indeed…

Things seemed fairly normal for a while after that. I came back to work after the weekend, got on with my job, tried to put what I’d seen (or thought I’d seen, anyway) out of my mind. My job had some perks, one of which is that the Department would pay for an eye test and new glasses if you needed them, so I got that done. The optometrist said that my eyes hadn’t deteriorated at all in the five years since my previous eye test, but it was probably time for a new pair of glasses anyway. About a month after the last incident, I was heading to the gym after work, so I headed to the bathroom to get changed so I could run there. We’d turned out most of the lights, but it wasn’t dark yet outside so the place was still well-enough lit to see in, although not nearly as bright as with the lights on. Because the public reception area was shut for the day due to the time, I used the public bathroom attached to the waiting area to put on my gym clothes. I put my earbuds in, and cranked up the volume on my MP3 player, getting myself in the mood for the run, when I heard screaming.

It’s hard to describe exactly how it sounded – It was definitely female, but it sounded raw, like it came from a throat full of razorblades, if that makes any sense. It sounded impossibly loud and close, but at the same time like it was coming from miles away. I yanked out my earbuds, unlocked the door and sprinted out into the waiting room, fully expecting to see someone being murdered.

It was deserted. Completely empty, not a soul in sight. I looked around slowly, listening hard, trying to see or hear what had been screaming. I turned back towards the public bathroom from which I’d come, and I could see the mirror and myself in it – and I could see something dark looming over my shoulder.

I spun on the spot, bracing myself as I did so – but there was nothing there. I looked back to the mirror, but whatever had been there a second ago was gone. I scrambled for my swipe access cards, used them to open the door to the back part of the office, and ran in there, where my boss was sitting at his desk, packing up for the day. “Did you hear that!?” I half-shouted. He looked confused. “Hear what?”. “I heard someone screaming.” He got up quickly, and we walked into the waiting room, both listening hard. After minute, he turned to me. “I didn’t hear anything, (My Name),” he said. “Are you OK? you’ve seemed a little… off lately.” To his credit, my boss looked genuinely concerned. He was easily the best manager we’d ever had, and really looked after all of his staff. “If you need some time off, just let me know, you have plenty of leave saved up…” He left the offer hanging. “I… I don’t know.” I replied “I’ll let you know.” I turned, and headed for the lifts. The sense of unease and dread I had felt was back, and much harder to shake this time. What the hell was I seeing, or hearing? And what the hell could I do about it?

Like I said earlier, had this stuff happened all at the same time, I probably would have bailed on my job and tried to find somewhere else. For God knows what reason though, I decided to stick it out, see if things would get better. Benefits of hindsight, right?

Things started getting worse from there. I’d get chills walking through parts of the office, or while sitting at my desk. I put in requests to the property service to have the air-conditioning looked at, and everything came back as normal. The lights above my desk would flicker occasionally, no matter how many different bulbs I had maintenance swap out. I’d see shapes moving in dark corners on the edge of my vision, and they’d be gone when I turned to face them. My health started to deteriorate, I was jumpy and tired a lot, losing weight, and my workmates were noticing the change. I wasn’t sleeping well, my dreams were plagued by shapes moving in the darkness, just out of my line of sight. I had to leave the lights on at home when I tried to sleep, I was too scared of what would happen if I awoke in the dark.

As I mentally and physically grew weaker thanks to stress and worry about what was happening, whatever was chasing me seemed to get stronger, more real somehow. I started noticing details in the darkness – long, lank black hair, for example- nothing clear or corporeal enough for me to be able to give a real idea of an appearance, but enough to make me shudder, thinking about possibilities. More than once, I felt the brush of impossibly cold fingers across my shoulder, turning to find nobody there.

I almost quit several times, thinking back now I don’t know why the hell I didn’t just up and leave. I think I might have stayed out of a sense of misguided pride, I wanted to show I was tougher than whatever was tormenting me, or at least to find out why it was only targeting me. Nobody else had any issues at all, and they couldn’t understand my misgivings about being alone when I was at work now. I did try to look into the building’s history, but everything came up a blank. No skeletons in the closet, no suicides, absolutely nothing out of the ordinary at all. It made no sense, dammit!

Everything was about to come to a head, however, as we neared the Christmas season. One of the traditions of the workplace was a team photo every year. We would all get dressed up in our best to have the photo professionally taken, and then the photo would be blown up and hung out back. This year, though… They didn’t hang the photo. The day came and went as normal, we lined up together and had the photo taken, the photographer left, and we went about our day as normal. A week went by, and I came into work one morning, to find the team surrounding my boss’ desk, looking at something on it. As I entered, the team looked up from what was on the desk as one, and all looked towards me at the same time. Something was wrong, I could tell. Some of their faces showed puzzlement, some showed confusion, and more than a few showed some fear. Without a word, they filed away from the desk and went off to their own stations, with my Boss beckoning to me to come over.

On his desk was an A3 sized photo – the team photo. He gestured for me to take a look, and I did, naturally seeking myself out from the bunch. I had been sitting in a chair at the front row, so it was fairly easy to find myself. But, when I did… everything went cold. “What the hell is with this, (My Name)?” my boss asked, his voice quavering slightly. Whereas everyone else in the photo was completely normal and smiling brightly, my face was almost indescribable. When the photo had been taken I was smiling like everyone else, but here, here it looked like you were looking at my face through a fishbowl. I was distorted, stretched out. I looked in pain, my mouth stretched much wider than it would naturally go, eyes slightly crazed. And that wasn’t even the worst part.

There was something standing behind me. Again, to the eye it was nothing more distinct than a dark shape; no details could be made out but the way it loomed over me, it was… meanacing, malevolent even. The hair on the back of my neck rose as I looked at the photo. “I don’t have a clue, (boss’ name). Something up with the camera lens maybe?” I had considered telling him the truth, that there was something that seemed to be after me, but that’s a good way to end up as ‘the crazy guy’ in the office. As things were, I wasn’t even completely sure that I wasn’t already the crazy guy. The photo went in the bin.

The next day, I found myself posted to a different part of the office – the banking room. For security purposes, the banking room was completely internal & windowless, with swipe-card access in from the back area of the office. Once inside, the doors would lock magnetically, and you had to push a button on the wall in order to release the locks to get out. My boss thought some time away from the counter would do me some good, and he’d arranged for an appointment with work-provided counselling services for me. An hour or so into the day, I felt a chill settle into the room. I looked at the thermostat on the wall, and was surprised to see it unchanged. Then, the lights began to flicker. They flicked on and off, on and off again. I spun on my chair, looking for a cause, but finding none. I spun back towards the desk – and came face to face with a nightmare.

The dark shape was on the desk. I recoiled in horror, pushing my chair back to the opposite wall, trying to put some distance between myself and it, but the room was small, and I hit the shelves lining the wall behind me, tumbling to the floor as I did so. For the first time ever, I could clearly see detail in the darkness, which would seem to solidify for a split second after the lights flickered off, and then fade in the light when they came back on again. The figure was a girl. At least, it was the semblance of a girl, she could have been anywhere between 16 and 50. She was crouched in a squatting position on the desk, knees near her head, hands on the flat desktop, long hair hanging down over her features. She seemed to be looking past me, but then the head turned – slowly, ever so slowly – and her gaze met mine. Oh, god, those eyes! They were entirely black, but in different shades, so you could make out the different parts – where the white would normally be, the iris, the pupils. Those eyes were full of madness, of hatred; and of hunger – the perverse, unsettling hunger of a thing that desired something sitting just outside it’s grasp.

A single tear rolled down my quivering cheek as I looked up towards this horror. With every flicker of the light, she seemed to grow more solid, more real; as if feeding off the darkness and my fear in turn. Her grin crept slowly, hungrily across her face, impossibly wide, and the eyes grew more crazed and viscious and larger in turn. She opened her mouth, baring long, sharp teeth, and looked as if she was trying to say something, but all that came from her throat was a hungry, dangerous growl – like nails on a chalkboard. I tried to call out in turn, but nothing came from my throat – nothing except a pathetic, frightened whimper.

Without taking my gaze from that nightmarish face, I struggled to get my feet under me. I didn’t dare look away, for fear she would be upon me. I’d seen how fast this thing could move in the darkness. staying as close to the wall as I could, I backed slowly, ever so slowly away, towards the door. Her gaze followed me, as she cocked her head slightly to the side, as if trying to figure out what I was doing. As I reached the door, I fumbled behind me for the button that would release the magnetic lock, and hopefully release me from the confines of the suddenly oppressively small room. I reached for it – and my hand hit the light switch.

The room plunged into darkness. I froze, all of a sudden feeling hot, wet, stinking breath on the back of my neck. It smelled like death and decay and corruption, and somehow of an aching, burning hunger. “MINE…NOW…” a voice rasped in my ear. I found the ability to scream, as pain shot through my body.

I don’t remember much of what happened next, for which I’m truly grateful. I think my brain has tried to block some of it out. My colleagues heard my screams and came running. They found me in the corner of the room, flailing my bleeding arms and gibbering madly. An ambulance was called, and I was sedated and taken to hospital. I had deep scratches all over my arms and torso, and bite marks on my wrists. The doctors decided that I’d had some sort of psychotic break and done it myself, because after all – who else could have done it? There was nobody in the room with me when I was found. I tried to point out that the bites didn’t look like my teeth, and that there was no blood or skin under my nails, but they didn’t listen.

The wounds eventually healed and became scars. My boss – good guy that he is – arranged for me to work for a separate part of the department, one in the brand new, well lit building. I remained in touch with some of my former workmates, although some of them now regarded me -perhaps not too wrongly of them – as a freak.

Since that day, I’ve never let myself be in the dark without at least some form of illumination. Most of the time I’ll stay in brightly-lit rooms, or outside in the sunshine. She can’t get to me in the light, and although she’s strong, she’s not yet strong enough to come out of the darkness. I think she wants to get me, and if she managed to catch me and finish me off, then maybe she’ll be strong enough to walk in the light.

So you see it’s not the dark that I’m afraid of. Not at all. It’s what lurks in the dark, watching, waiting; that’s what terrifies me. I think that she’s from somewhere beyond, somewhere behind the darkness, and was trying to get from there to here.

And I think that somehow, I let her in.

Credit To – Abtrogdor

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November 26, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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The oldest continuously operated theme park in the United States: Lake Compounds.

The place opened in 1846 but its history reaches back even further to the 1600s. Mattatuck Indian tribe leader Chief John Compound sold his territory to a group of white settlers. A few days later, John Compound had drowned in the lake after attempting to cross it.

Now under property of Gad Norton and Isaac Pierce, the land was first used as an area to test explosives, but later transformed it into a theme park. As the park expanded, so did its reputation.

Lake Compounds is notorious, however, with a variety of tragic deaths that have occurred over the past 30 years. The first death was in 1981, when a teenage girl fell out of one of the roller coasters after attempting to stand inside of her cart due to a safety bar malfunction.

Later in 2000, a young boy drowned in the lake unnoticed by lifeguards. His body was found almost half an hour later, curled up at the bottom. He died in the hospital about a week later. Before his death, he mentioned that it felt like something was pulling him to the bottom, though park officials figured that his foot was probably caught in some underwater flora that had grown in considerable length.

A year later, a maintenance worker was decapitated by one of the roller coasters as he was trimming weeds near the track. Little did he know, this was during the ride’s testing hours. Because he was wearing earplugs, he could not hear the speeding train coming towards him.

The most recent guest death was in 2004, when the branch of a dead tree broke off and struck a 5 year old child near the mini-golf course, killing him instantly.

The head general manager of the park at this time, Travis Byrnes, started to behave more strangely as noticed by fellow employees. Some days he’d show up hours late, or not at all. He would interact less with his fellow workers, and constant nervous, fidgety anxiety started to replace his regular light-hearted, down to earth demeanor.

This erratic behavior ended when he eventually committed suicide by purposefully plummeting his car off a highway not far from the actual park. His family, friends, and co-workers speculated that it probably was because of all the stressful deaths and lawsuits he had to deal with.

Because of its notable history of violent deaths, Lake Compounds has revised its policies to very strict levels to ensure safety. Since then, there have been no deaths in the park for 10 years.

Well, reported deaths that is.

Lake Compounds operates from May to September but reopens during October for their Halloween theme titled “The Haunted Graveyard.” On the weekends, the park opens at night and guests can go on rides (besides the water park) or walk through the optional haunted trail.

The haunted trail is about a 45-minute walk through houses, graveyards, catacombs, and other horror-themed sets. Employee members dress up in frightening costumes and scare guests for a thrilling experience.

This trail is located in the backwoods perimeter, wedged between the employee services building and the large mountain that makes up the west side of the park.

October of 2012 my friend Rick and I decided to go through the trail. At the front admissions gate the employee recommended we start the trail first before going on rides because the line for the trail could last as long as 2 hours.

It was obvious that the guy in the ticket booth gave everyone this information, since the line was already stretched by the time we rushed there. The wait wasn’t too long, though. We already reached the entrance to the trail in about half an hour.

While we waited in line, a Vincent Price-like voice over the intercom stated the rules. It was obviously a recording on loop, that must have repeated over 50 times while we waited, up to the point where I started to recite the damn speech out of sheer boredom.

When we reached the entrance, some young, disinterested female employee dressed in a shoddy cloak restated the rules to us in the most monotonous tone I’ve ever heard. Poor girl, I thought to myself. Must suck being paid a minimum wage to repeat the same sentence over and over to a ton of people on a late Friday night.

The first part of the trail was a medieval themed set. Stonewalls resembling the architecture of an old, worn down castle lined either side of the path. Red light bulbs in the shape of torches patterned the walls, giving the path a red ambience. Gargoyles were perched atop various pillars, smiling down at us. Costumed cast members were dressed up as druids and other religious zealots, repeating god knows what type of bible versus over and over.

This section wasn’t very scary of course, though I do admit it was very cool to look at. A very eerie song played in the background; it sounded like a combination of Gregorian chants, a church organ, and heavy drums.

We then reached what seemed to have been a torture room. Stretching tables, iron maidens, spiked pits, and cauldrons of boiling water made up the set as painful screams were heard in the background. Must have been just a recording of employees. A tall, muscular cast member dressed as an executioner stood at the end of the corridor. Axe in hand, he beckoned for us to continue down the trail.

The medieval themed section was over, and now the trail transformed into some Aztec-themed, jungle ruins. A vast amount of vegetation surrounded the path, difficult for me to tell if they were real plants or not. Stone statues of ritualistic Aztec idols decorated the area. A track of tribal music repeated in the background, equipped with the sounds of birds tweeting and monkeys hollering.

The large bushes and trees made it perfect for employees, who were dressed in tribal gear, to jump out and shock us. One of them scared us so unexpectedly that I actually slipped backwards and fell to the ground. Instead of helping me up of course, Rick just laughed at me. We were always assholes to each other; it’s how we pretty much became friends.

The next portion of the trail was a graveyard, which was the most open area out of the whole trail since fake walls didn’t surround it. The graveyard’s area was a large square, so the walkway was in a zigzag fashion to cover the interior of the yard.

Several tombstones were visible to look at, most with humorous text on them such as, “Here lies Sir Thomas Drake, who stepped on the gas pedal instead of the brake.” Corny as hell, but it lightened the mood for those who were scared.

We were almost finished with the graveyard bit when I stopped, and reached into my pockets. “My wallet’s gone.”

“Do you remember when you last had it?” Rick instinctively asked.

“Dude I don’t know. It’s probably somewhere back there.” I pointed down the other direction of the path from where we walked previously.

“Let’s go find it then, come on.”

We had to push through groups of guests who walked in the opposite direction as us while we walked back, resulting in dirty looks and comments on how we weren’t following the rules. I didn’t pay them any mind. I just wanted to find my wallet.

When we reached the jungle-themed area again, it occurred to me that my wallet might have fallen out of my pocket when I slipped to the ground. We traversed through thick leaves hoping to find the exact spot but the darkness of the night didn’t make things any easier.

As we walked, I kept thinking to myself that something wasn’t the same. The path we were walking on didn’t look familiar at all. I was still walking on a clearly defined dirt road lined with a rope fence, but I saw nothing else that resembled the set we ventured through earlier.

The path suddenly halted, as an enormous, bushy tree blocked the end of it. Dead end? On a trail like this? Without giving it much thought I squeezed my way between the branches and leaves, hoping that I would end up back on the normal trail when I made it through. Branches whipped my face and leaves brushed against my body. I could hear Rick following me from behind.

After what seemed to be a couple of minutes, I made it through and was in an open space again.

“Man where the hell are we?” I asked Rick. I turned around to see if he made it through, but no one was there. I called his name out again. No answer. Dumbass probably came out some other end so I began to walk along the stretch of trees and bushes.

I definitely was not on the main trail anymore, probably along the outskirts where guests weren’t permitted to go. I was hoping to find some costumed member so I could ask how to get back to where I was supposed to be but I couldn’t find anyone. Was I that far off course?

I continued on, frantically looking in every direction hoping to find something that could take me to where I wanted to go. I was hoping to hear sounds from the attraction itself like background music, sound effects, or the screaming of guests. But the only sounds I heard were my footsteps on the dirt ground, the chirping of the crickets, and the drum-like beats of my heart.

I started to panic. I had no idea where I was going in these god-forsaken woods. With each step I felt as if I was wandering farther and farther from the park. I nearly started to run and bellow for help, but who would hear me?

Then, I heard it. A gurgled cry that elevated into a blood-curdling scream. A scream as mentally jarring as it was physically. Rick’s scream.

I bolted towards the direction from where the sound came. Hadn’t it been for the illumination of the moon, I might have ran straight into a tree. The longer I ran, the longer the scream dragged on. I could hear it coming closer… closer…

Then the screaming stopped, but I was still running, my feet pounding the ground in a rhythmic fashion. I could see a light in the distance. It was a lamppost.

The lamppost’s bright yellow light illuminated anything within 10 feet of it. I looked on the dirt ground and saw Rick. I recognized him by his gray hoodie and dark blue jeans.

His right arm was twisted across the front of his body. His left arm bent backwards at the elbow. His legs were sprawled out and contorted. Dark, crimson blood pooled where his head was. Wait, no. Where his head was supposed to be.

My whole body went stiff. My skin tingled from the cold sweat that surrounded every inch of me. I could feel bile climbing up my throat. I quickly turned and looked away, squeezing my eyes shut. I felt like vomiting, but it just wouldn’t come out.

When I finally had the courage to open my eyes, I did so extremely slowly. Bit by bit, I turned back to Rick’s body. That’s when I saw it.

It was a man. A tall stature, broad shoulders, long arms. A ghost-white dress shirt covered its physically imposing body, complemented by a thick, black tie and black dress pants. Bloodstained gauze wrapped around its head that covered everything but its eyes and mouth. Those soul-piercing, hungry eyes stared me down. That awful smile, adorned with crooked yellow teeth. Drooling. Groaning.

In its right hand was my wallet. In the left hand hung Rick’s head. Eyes rolled back, mouth gaping, fresh blood dripping from his neck and pooling onto the ground.

It was almost a blur at that point. All I remembered was running for my dear life, finding my way back on the trail, pushing through other people, and making it to the exit. I screamed for someone to help, but the theme park’s Halloween-themed occasion had voided any real concern for my wellbeing. Guests looked at me like I was just some nut playing pranks.

I didn’t know whom to tell. Nobody would have believed me if I told them what I saw, considering that it happened in a haunted attraction. I couldn’t just tell anyone there. I needed to take it one step further.

I contacted the authorities, and told them everything that I saw. They looked through the entire proximity, including the haunted trail itself as well as the rest of the surrounding woods.

They found nothing.

No blood.

No body.


Credit To – PalerLaze

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