Bonfire

January 10, 2014 at 12:00 AM
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 7.2/10 (447 votes cast)

Murder is an incredibly human concept, when you think of it. All species kill; to protect their young, to cull those unfit, most often in order to stay alive- everyone needs to eat.
And yet, in nature, all causes of death are natural. We exist simply for existence’ sake. All victories, large and small, all worlds we build- everything we do, will die. Of course, it might be remembered, for a little while, by other, equally perishable beings. But, in the end, existence will cease to exist. That is the way of the world. All things come to an end. Eventually.
All ways of life die. Usually, of natural causes, so to speak. Occasionally, then, they die of something other than natural causes. And what is the word we have created, a stand-in for “other than natural causes”?
Murder.
A stupid word, when you think of it.
But an appropriate one.

******

The sky was a horribly dull grey-and-navy. The car loomed out of the shadows like some shiny, dusty monster. It was just a little way across the yard. It was the same car it had always been, but tonight it was dangerous. Even worse, it was unavoidable.
This was bad.
This was really, really bad.
And it was a sure thing.
A few months ago, crisis had been far away- horribly frightening, yes, but just another news item – but as the days turned to weeks it had edged closer, first on the news, (‘scenes some viewers may find disturbing’, though it was impossible to look away) – but the scenes of carnage had disappeared from screens once they realised that no solution was forthcoming -, then in rumours, rumours that had travelled, rumours distorted, then in real stories, of cousins and friends who had met their end. Then, it had been scary. It had been lock-your-doors-at-night, don’t-speak-about-it scary. That was because it was real, getting realer. The Internet is a liar, the news too, but what about Sue down the street who bawled in school thinking about her cousins, hoping they weren’t gone? Was she a liar? Were your own eyes deceiving you when you saw a boy little more than a child lose his grip on this life, gone before he could see the deaths all around him?
Oh, this was bad.
Oh, was it ever bad.
And it was happening. Tonight, it was happening.
They couldn’t help what they were about to do. They weren’t given a choice. They were trying to protect their family. They were trying to follow instruction, to do as asked, even if the instructions were coming from the other side.
But were there sides? No, she realised, there weren’t. It was the fire and they were the kindling.
Her uncle, her aunt, her godparents, they were trying to do their job. To protect their kids. They loved her, sure. But in this situation they were like game-show judges, the biggest phonies of them all. They would hate to see her go, but it was something that had to be done. They couldn’t help it.
They couldn’t help it.
She could see the look of desperation in those eyes, could understand it. They hardly believed that, if they did as told, everything would be OK. The villain never plays fair; the mastermind always finds the loophole. Everyone knew that. If comic books and action movies have taught us anything, it’s that the bad guy never plays by the rules. It’s common knowledge, that.
But, in all fairness, what choice did they have? This was no game, this was no movie. And they couldn’t help it. A thing like this, it had to be done.
We are the kindling, the voice in her head whispered.
But, no. They weren’t just the kindling. They were the weapon, too.
Oh, God, is this happening? Can this really happen? Am I dreaming? Am I in a coma?
But dreams scared her, so she pushed the thought away.
Scared of dreams, really? With all I’ve got to be afraid of?
“Ester, honey?” The voice was tentative, apologetic.
Oh, I hope you’re sorry. I hope you’re scared. I bet one’ll get you when you try to leave it’ll serve you-
But, no. That wasn’t fair.
Do you think what he’s planning is fair? What do you think about that?
No, it wasn’t fair, but none of this was.
Get out and run, girl. Take your chances in the wild.
And there would be chances in the wild. She was a strong girl, full of instinct, and the enemy kept to the towns. Oh, there’d be chances. And it wasn’t as if she hadn’t contemplated it, sure she had. It would be simple, easy, even.
But she couldn’t. Leaving would mean sure death for the family. She didn’t really care about the parents, they were mostly dead anyway, just walking shells. But the kids?
They were young, they had a life ahead – an uncertain one, but they had a chance of survival if she did as told.
Oh, she was going to miss them. Luckily they weren’t old enough for her treatment.
Casting call: Ages 13-25. Preferably, doomed.
They probably didn’t even know what was happening. Out here in the country, life continued as usual. They had enough canned goods stockpiled to last them years. It was true, the enemy kept to the towns. It was the threat of their approach that kept everyone subdued.
“Ester, honey?” Tentative, apologetic, irritating.
I hope he gets close enough to think he’ll make it. I hope his head comes clean off in their hands-
No. No, dammit! The thought wasn’t her own, and she knew it. In the last few days she had felt it in her head, her thoughts twisting and sifting. They were bad thoughts. They were angry thoughts, contemptuous thoughts. Worst of all, they were inviting thoughts. Whatever it was, it was in her head, and it wasn’t human. She had realised this, but had never spoken it aloud. Even in these times, the very idea was ridiculous. It was imperative that they maintain a sense of normalcy. If she told her aunt or her uncle, it might be the final straw, they might snap under the strain, and their kids needed them. At least one of them probably wouldn’t come back alive. They could drop her outside the city, but they had to be sure; they had to be positive that she wouldn’t run away-
that their sacrifice is received
Sacrifice? No. It was wrong to think that, but think it she did, and whether it was her own or not was immaterial; it was in there, it was not to be moved.
“Ester?”
She felt her feet shuffle across the rain-sodden yard toward the instrument of her destruction. She swung open the door and threw herself inside. Searched for the belt buckle. Found it. Pulled it across. Clicked it in.
This is the last time I’ll ever do this.
The action seemed to confirm in her head the truth of her imminent death. In belting herself in she seemed to, also, be sealing her fate. She was doomed, and she knew it.
This was bad. This was so, so bad.
The rain was night-time rain, not a fine mist all around, but heavy, separate, definite drops that dive-bombed the car as it pulled out the gate.
The same car, the same gate. All things as they should be.
Tears sprung fresh in her eyes. She didn’t care if he saw her upset anymore. She had been choking emotion down for weeks. She was about to die. She didn’t care if he was slightly uncomfortable. He didn’t seem it, anyway.
His eyes were bright, wide, awake, his grip on the steering wheel tight. In fact, everything about him seemed tight, wound-up,
Excited?
She wouldn’t allow herself to believe it, and the voice in her head was little more than a hiss, but it was soft and it was seductive; even more than that, even worse than that, it sounded right.
He didn’t look scared, not even upset, and, though he bore no smile, she somehow felt as though the absence of one was little more than formality. Somehow, he had convinced himself that this was simply an evening drive, a trip out for milk or teabags. Maybe he had to, to retain a grip on reality. That was alright; she had convinced herself it was aliens.
The raindrops attacked the sunroof and the night closed in as the small car skittered over the narrow and potholed back road. As they got closer to town, the road widened out, and the bumps became few.
It was disguisting how people continued as normal. Stockpiling food as though there was a severe weather warning. Chatting and gossiping.
They wouldn’t let their children leave the house, but the price of vegetables in Aldi was still the biggest piece of news.
People moving to the country to be nearer relatives that didn’t even exist.
It was all a cover story. It was all a lie.
There was silence in the car. She imagined herself saying something like “Can you believe this weather? In June?” and striking up a hearty conversation.
If I don’t talk now, I’ll never talk again.
But of course she wouldn’t talk. She couldn’t talk. Did it matter? She was about to find out what dying felt like. Another thought came to her, of her screaming “I’m too young to die!” and rattling the door lock. But it wasn’t funny. Under the circumstances, it felt completely horrible.
Then it occurred to her that perhaps it was in his head too. As she thought about it, it began to seem more and more like the logical conclusion. That maybe her uncle was driving along on auto pilot, seeing rainbows and ponies, not in control of himself but not aware of that either. It was nigh-certain that he had lost it. What happened when he got it back? Would he ever feel shame? Would he be plagued by nightmares perhaps? Believing that it was his fault that she would be gone?
That’s because it is his fault
The voice was back, and maybe the voice was right. All this talk of it being nobody’s fault, it was all over-the-top, soft-serve bullshit, anyway. It’s nobody’s fault if the world ends, sure. The ritual sacrifice of your niece? That’s another thing.
He’s weak. He always has been. They all are. Weak. When the cards are down, they’ll show their true colours. Good for nothing. Weak. Maybe the world’ll be better off without them.
Not them, us, she reminded herself. Not them, us. And it won’t be better. Mass murder leaves a stain on the world. Things are never better. Things only get worse.
Things only get worse.

But, of course, the only voice in his head was his own.
As he took the car over the road, he found himself surprisingly calm. Well, not really surprisingly. It was the most calm he’d been in weeks. And not without good reason, either. Finally, there was something he could do about his family’s situation. The weeks spent idle, fearing but being unable to do a thing, feeling like the worst damn excuse for a man ever created, they had been hell. Whatever they were headed into now had got to be some improvement. If he died, at least he could say he had tried to do something. He hadn’t given much thought to the girl. She had never been the most pleasant of people, and, given the circumstances, she was a small price to pay. She wasn’t his side of the family, anyway. Blood is thicker than water, his mother had always said, protect those you love. That was what he was doing. He was doing his job, the job he’d vowed to do. He had no choice. Now he could do something, and that was a good thing. Maybe, by Christmas, it would all be over. He felt good.

She felt ill. Waves of fear rushed over her. It was the way they walked, lurching, stumbling. Not looking where they went.
Like zombies.
The look on each ones face. The look in each one’s eyes.
Not zombies, worse.
Because they had no human master. Because they hadn’t risen – they had never fallen in the first place. As out of control as they were, they were certainly in control. Intelligent. And, most definitely, alive.
As they neared the town, they began to see the first signs of it. The first time, it looked like road kill. Several close-together instances of it. For a while that was all there was. Death. Everywhere along the road. Some still whole by the hedges. Some run over by the influx of traffic tonight. Some-
“They’re not human.”
What do you know, she can talk!
There was no reply from the driver’s seat.
“They’re not human” Her eyes were wide and round, her face pale. She sat bolt upright, paralysed with fear.
Jesus Christ you said that already
She was starting to become annoying. He was glad that they were close to the finishing line.
“ Humans… they don’t.. they don’t”
Fuck sake spit it out
“They… they don’t rip, they don’t.. chew
“You don’t know that anyone is chewing anything” He laughed light-heartedly.
It broke her from her stupor.
“I do know! I know, you self-centred shit!”
“Well,” he glanced at her, a cruel grin playing on his lips, “to be honest, it doesn’t really matter how you die, does it?”
He turned back to face the road, full of satisfaction.
That shut the little bitch up.

She thought she might be sick.
This is happening. This is really happening. But why should it happen? Kill the bastard! It’s easy, I swear!
And the thought appealed to her, it really did. But, what if she killed him, and then died herself, of starvation?
There will be chances in the wild. Chances upon chances.
She didn’t want her final act to be murder. No surer way to get to hell.
Do you really still believe in God?
Well, if there was anything to convince her of the unknown, this was it.
And what if she couldn’t live with herself after what she had done?
You’re running out of time, honey.
She envisioned herself grabbing something- what? She could try and injure him with the belt buckle, or steer the car into a ditch and run away while he either bled to death or tried to figure out what had happened. Under normal circumstances it would be hard for a teenage girl to fight a grown man and win, but these weren’t normal circumstances. She had a feeling her little friend could keep him pacified. Now she imagined herself clobbering him to death while he sat there with a dopey grin on his face, and, while the idea was somewhat revolting, it wasn’t entirely unattractive.

Now they passed the large and dusty-brown sign reading, “Welcome to our town!”, and, in smaller font, “Keep it beautiful!” An illustration beneath showed a cartoon rabbit beside a bin and a smiling child.

And then they came, out of the darkness, delirious smiles painted on their faces, some lurching, wounded and bleeding, but happy nonetheless, some running, leaping, laughing. She saw a pair dancing a stumbling waltz.
They had almost reached their destination.
The packs ignored their car, something she didn’t understand at first; she had expected to be devoured before she ever reached the square. Then she understood.
They recognise one of their own.
They weren’t leaving every car alone, however. She saw a man and a woman cautiously pull out of a driveway, ready to flee if they saw anything. They didn’t see anything. The girls and the boys were on them, wrestling them out of the car (with surprising force for their bony pubescent arms), their eyes alight with glee, looking more ecstatic than ever. What they did next didn’t bear thinking about. The pair didn’t suffer for long.
As they got closer to the square, the fear started to ebb away, perhaps because of the certainty that there was nothing she could do to save herself. That, in its own, strange way, was a comforting thought. And the anger she felt wasn’t so painful, either. It was, actually, rather nice.
He’s never going to make it. Once I’m gone, he’ll never make it.
In spite of herself, she smiled.
The raindrops plummeted to earth still, but the night opened up. In the distance, a large bonfire burned. With it came the smell of burning hair. It emitted a bright orange glow on the horizon.
It’s beautiful.
So, she was going to die. This was the way to do it, wasn’t it? By the fire, surrounded by family and friends? She laughed.

He jumped. The good feeling was gone. His stomach felt sick and full of fear. He was a bag of nerves.
Oh, God, what if I don’t make it, what if I don’t get out alive? The girl’s lost it, she’s lost it, I’m in the car with a maniac, surrounded by maniacs, I’ll never make it, I’ll never make it did you see what they did to them, they’re roasting them, they’re burning them, they’re burning them alive she’s crazy she’ll kill me this isn’t right they promised, they promised I’d
The car came to a halt. He looked down. Everything seemed to be ok with the car, but the car would not go. Then he noticed the keys in his outstretched hand. Out the window. His hand stretched out the window. He made himself bring his hand back in, then whipped it out and flung the keys out the window.
Oh, God, what have you done?
Then he noticed the cars lined neatly beside him. On one side sat a woman. Her eyes had a deranged look about them. Identical triplets who looked about 14 and bore a dazed and drugged look were strapped to the back seat. Clearly, they hadn’t come so easily.
On the other side, he was shocked to find, was a girl about 17 who sat in the driver’s seat and gazed vacantly up at the fire. The cars stretched out in a line, then the line turned at both ends at a right angle, the completed formation being a square. In the centre, the bonfire blazed. In the centre, the bonfire screamed.
This is it. This is the end.
He looked at the girl, Ester. She smiled at him, a pained, human, knowing smile.

She felt pain. Terrible, horrible, pain. It burned, oh, God, in her bones, in her blood, it burned. The world was all in dull soft-focus. It had taken on an orange-yellow colour. Beside her, the man felt fear. She didn’t have to look at him to know. It was obvious when humans felt fear. You could taste it in the air. They were, by nature, an obvious race. A fearful race, too. She turned; she showed him the look he needed to see. It was small comfort to him, that she knew. Ah, well. Small comfort was better than no comfort in one’s final moments.
He saw the look change, and the fear overtook him. His mind wouldn’t stand the strain much longer.

A new civilisation. A young civilisation. They would raze this town to the ground. They would raze every city and build anew. Build up out of the ashes.
Ashes of the people who messed the world up so badly that there could be no reprieve, no return.
Someone had to intervene.
Earth’s future was in the hands of the young. The young had to learn.
Learn they would. And they would teach their children a new way.

The fire warmed her, and the fire was good, the fire made her strong. She could fight the pain; she could fight anything. She felt happy, happier than she had felt in weeks, and to feel happy was good. To feel strong was good. To escape was good.

The new world would be free of man’s imperfections. Unified as one body, there would be no wars. Every young brain educated to fully harness the people’s potential. Man was disloyal. The new people were not. There would be no betrayal, because the disloyal had shown their true colours. Had sent their own young to what they believed to be certain death.
They would be punished for their sins.

Not the kindling, the weapon.
She grinned at the man, but he didn’t grin back. It was a shame, it was a crying shame.
This is good.
This is really, really good
.

The bodies of the delivery men and women burned in the centre of town.
They had been punished.

At 9.08 that night in June, Ester lost her grip on this life.
He didn’t have time to think that he was going to make it.
His head came clean off in her hands.

The sky was a horribly dull grey-and-navy.
She was the same girl she had always been, but, tonight, she was dangerous.

Credit To – Sarah Denbrough

*This story was successfully rewritten after receiving feedback on Crappypasta – click here to read the original version.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 7.2/10 (447 votes cast)

The Silent Film Museum

January 2, 2014 at 12:00 AM
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 8.1/10 (242 votes cast)

I’ve always liked old horror movies, but I never really was a silent film enthusiast. I just found them too artsy and strange to really enjoy. It’s like watching a talkies era movie where everybody has been replaced by mimes and with awful camera quality. Though you have to respect movies like Nosferatu and The Golem for still being so iconic and getting Blu-ray releases, and thanks to internet forums I do have some knowledge on the matter.

Anyway, have you ever heard stories of those obscure Eastern-European museums that supposedly house all kinds of long lost prints? I did. And I thought it was unlikely too.

I was on vacation in Budapest to visit some distant relatives, which I hadn’t seen in years. My family has lived in the US since the 1910’s, so I had never even been in Hungary before, though my third cousin and his wife had come over to the US a couple of times. It was my first night in Budapest, and I was staying in a low-budget hotel just outside the inner city. When I woke up, the first thing I saw was the snow that gently covered everything outside. After getting up, I decided that I’d check out some famous landmarks first, since my appointment with my third cousin wasn’t until tomorrow

After seeing some famous landmarks and watching western-influenced buildings and Soviet concrete slabs make way for each other many times, I decided it was time go back to my hotel room. I was already nearing the area when I stumbled upon an advertisement.

It was a faded poster that drew my attention because of the strange black-and-white images on it, depicting a sad, mime-like face surrounded by what must have been stills from old movies. Above it there was some Cyrillic writing I couldn’t understand. Not very inviting. I was about to move on when I saw that there was a small English translation below, which said:

“Budapest Institute for Silent Film: Miracles of Modern Age!”

I chuckled. Didn’t seem very impressive. So I went on to my apartment and texted a bit with my colleagues, until I dropped myself on the bed, bored shitless. I studied the patterns on my bed sheets as I thought of everything I had seen today. But eventually even that didn’t save me from boredom, until the image of the old poster popped up in my head again. What was that thing for anyway?

Probably just some old movies, what else could it be? Books? Racing cars? The poster was obvious enough. Not that I’d would get to see any of that anyway, those prints had to be nearly dead. Or maybe I would, and it would be one of those crazy German flicks. I started to get curious. Maybe there would be some exclusives that were never put online.

“Screw it.” I thought. It couldn’t be worse than just sitting on my ass here the entire time, could it? So at about 3 o’clock I went back outside to where I saw the poster. The sad mime’s eyes greeted me from the distance and I could barely make out the address under all the stills. I will not display it here. I want nobody else to go through this, not even those who are morbidly curious to the point of stupidity.

After some research I finally found the location of the street on the map. The only thing I’ll say about it is that it was far out of Budapest itself. I took a bus ride through the snowy streets, beautiful fields and eventually the bus dropped me off at what looked like an old warehouse in quarter filled with old, featureless concrete buildings. This really didn’t seem like the place for an art museum. For a moment I considered just waiting for the next bus to pick me up again, but I was too curious now. I didn’t come all this way for nothing.

As I looked around a bit, I noticed that this part of the city seemed to quiet. I saw barely any people on the street, and when I did it was usually a homeless person quietly walking by, treating me as if I didn’t exist. The buildings looked faded, either out of use or just straight out abandoned.

A couple of empty streets later, I stood before what had to be the museum. With all the concrete architecture, it looked just like the other buildings. The windows were faded and scratched, there was graffiti on the walls and tiny cracks in the concrete walls, but it looked like it was still in use. Above the double doors there was a sign with Cyrillic text, probably with the title of the museum. After taking a deep breath, I opened one of the doors and stepped inside.

Inside, there was what looked like a receptionist’s lobby, but there was no one around. The walls were white, dirty and completely empty. Once again, I considered leaving now because this whole place was probably abandoned, but then I saw the lobby desk had a bell I could ring. I did, and the echo sent a chill down my spine. Who knew if this building was even inhabited? My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of footsteps grower louder. I turned around and saw a bearded man in an old business suit step into the room from the hallway.

He frowned at me with his coal black eyes with an emotion that was impossible to determine. After an awkward silence, he started talking rapidly in a Hungarian, wildly pointing his hands to the hallway and back at me. I tried to tell him that I couldn’t understand, but he was getting wilder by the second, shouting at me and forcing me near the door. Finally, I hastily grabbed some Forint bills from my pocket and showed it to him, and he seemed to calm down. After raising 5 fingers to determine how many bills he wanted, I was allowed to go inside.

I was led into a white hallway, which led to a room of silent film stills, one of which I recognized as Bela Lugosi, the man who played the iconic version of Dracula. However the text below (which was in Latin letters, for some reason) merely said Arisztid Olt – Az Élet királya. There were some other stills of more well-known movies, such as The Golem. One particularly strange still was of Orlok, the vampire from Nosferatu, gazing at the camera from and empty village. I did not recall seeing this in the original film, and I felt deeply unnerved by it, but I was about to discover that this was but the least strange of what this museum had to offer.

As I walked back into the hallway, I found that the receptionist was still on the other side of the hall, staring at me with his unblinking eyes, as if he wanted something from me. I waved at him, but nothing I did seemed to affect him. For a moment I considered walking up to him, but I couldn’t get myself to do it. After an awkward silence, I moved on to the next room.

A huge still of a man with jagged teeth and a top hat immediately caught my eye. It felt familiar, but I couldn’t bring myself to remember it.

“London after Midnight.” Spoke a creaking voice from behind me. I turned around and I saw and elderly man with a cane, smiling at me.

“Yes.” I said back to him. “I remember now. But it’s a lost film, isn’t it?”

“That’s what I thought.” He replied. “Until now.” He pointed to an encased film print below the still.

“That’s impossible. The last print burned down years ago!”

“Apparently not.”

“How would you know?”

“I am here on behalf of the NFPF, specifically to find to find this print. We had long giving up on recovering a film as searched for as this one, until last month I got a tip from an anonymous contributor that we might have overlooked some places.”

We were silent for a while, as I felt the weight of this matter sink in.

“So what happens next? I asked.”

“I’ve been trying to bargain with the…” He swallowed.

“…person running this place, but he doesn’t seem very responsive. I don’t know whether he even understands how valuable it is, how valuable anything in this museum is, really. He’s a rather eccentric man, I believe. He even played around with some cameras himself.”

He pointed towards an encased film roll in the corner of the room.

“Nothing I propose to him seems to get through his skull, I’m not sure to what extent he can even understand English. I’ve been arguing with him for days within this strange, isolated place, without progress…”

He fell silent. “One has to catch his breath now and then. You wait here, I’ll see if I can knock some sense into him.”

And so the old man left me in the company of the old, unnerving stills. After wandering some more around the museum, I discovered some more stills from famous films I had considered lost, such as Saved from the Titanic and Dracula’s Death. I quickly grew tired of this sterile, white environment with nothing but unnerving stills and walls of Cyrillic text to keep me company. I was already considering leaving when I heard a voice from directly behind me.

“We broadcast film now.”

Slowly turning around, I gazed directly into the receptionist’s emotionless face. How could I not have heard him coming?

“Jesus man, you scared me.” I whispered. The man frowned.

“We broadcast now.” He told me, slower and heavier this time. I should have ran right there right then, but being the idiot I was, I felt intimidated and followed him. He led me to what looked like some sort of mini-cinema. A small film projector with about 20 chairs, and no windows. He gestured that I should sit down, while he put a film in the projector. I squinted. It was the film that the old man had pointed to. What would he be up to now, anyway? But my thoughts were interrupted by the rattling of the projector, and the film started. There was a stylized title card which simply said:

“Baldrs Draumar”

Then the real movie began. I saw black-and-white shots of vast, abandoned cities, way more modern than could have been filmed at the time. Massive skyscrapers, cracked, decaying and covered in clay and dust. Immense suburbs flooded with sand, riddled with human skeletons. The sun shone brighter than I had ever seen, revealing every gruesome detail. My eyes were glued to the screen, this was unreal.

Then the movie abruptly cut to black, which awoke me from my trance. I looked around, and saw that the receptionist was gone. I heard that the projector was still running and sure enough, the film continued.

This time, the camera was slowly moving forward in a round hallway full of windows. It puzzled me, before I realized that it was an airplane, something else that was far too new for a silent film. As the camera kept moving forward and slowly swung up and down, I realized that it was meant to be in first person. I saw the camera pan down and focus on a watch…

…That looked exactly like mine. I didn’t know what to think of this. After a while, the camera went to the side and lowered itself, as if the person it was meant to represent was sitting down in one of the seats. Over time, I noticed that more and more of the person’s possessions were identical to mine. His briefcase, his clothes, and his wallet, which he opened, revealing a picture of my wife. I was paralyzed. For a moment, I considered that this whole experience had been some strange dream, but I knew, I knew that it couldn’t be. It felt too real.

I saw the plane take off, and for a time, nothing significant happened onscreen, but I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to see what was going to happen to me.

Suddenly, I noticed that the pattern of the clouds had changed. The plane was moving downwards. At first it was barely noticeable, but soon enough I saw small objects falling to the front of the plane. Slowly, I saw the people on the plane get more and more nervous, until they started to freak out, myself included. The camera started shaking wildly and speeding towards no particular place, faster and faster, until the light of the plane dimmed, and the screen went black in an instant.

I noticed that I was sweating as I slowly came out of my trance. I needed to get out of this place, right now. I ran out of the cinema like a cornered animal, through the halls with black and white stills until I reached the receptionist’s lobby, where I paused for a second to catch my breath.

I was about to open the door when I saw an abandoned walking stick, lying on the floor like it had been thrown away. The old man. When I realized what this meant, I sped out of the door. I never wanted to be near this place again, ever. After waiting anxiously at the bus stop, I took the bus back to the inner city. As I was walking back to my hotel, I noticed that the poster that led me to the museum was gone, vanished as if it never existed.

I’m at my third cousin’s house now. I’ve been staying here for a few weeks, trying to forget what happened. He and his family have been very hospitable and nice, but I feel that they are slowly getting tired of my presence. Eventually, I’ll have to take the plane back home. I have trouble sleeping at night because of what happened at the museum, and even with my family I don’t feel safe. Still, I’m trying to enjoy the days I spend here, because I know, that they will be my last.

Credit To – ArcticWolf

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 8.1/10 (242 votes cast)

Placidity Row

December 30, 2013 at 12:00 AM
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 5.8/10 (167 votes cast)

I’ve often thought it likely, though have no way to really prove, that in every sizable town in America there is at least one area that feels a bit strange somehow. Maybe it’s a single building that was witness to a grisly murder or maybe it’s a slum full of forgotten people with forgotten dreams. Either way, those who set foot in the area will often describe an overhanging sense of sadness or malaise or even evil. This is, of course, far from a rational feeling and yet when even animals seem to avoid the area or cars consistently break down there, it makes even the most skeptical observer start to wonder. In our town, the most well known of these areas is called Placidity Row.

It’s not some old wealthy area filled with haunted Victorian mansions, nor is it a rundown urban redline. Though, this damn city has quite enough of both. Placidity Row is a product of the construction boom of the prosperous 80s. It was the sort of green little enclave that songs like Pleasant Valley Sunday were written about- full of smiling neighbors, idyllic little picnic areas, and soccer moms driving SUVs. Within a couple of years of its construction, it was already garnering accolades as one of the best places for thirty something yuppies making it big in the city to move with their families. Easy access, good schools, Placidity Row had it all. Note how I said, “was” and “had.”

Somewhere around 2005, Placidity Row changed. Despite being less than 200 yards from a cell phone tower, phones in the area completely died. At most they would display zero bars but usually they wouldn’t turn on at all. Days with the power out began to outnumber days with power. Wi-fi access was out of the question even for the communications companies. GPS was completely nonfunctional and even newer model cars would stall out in the middle of the street.

If that had been the only issue, we might have blamed signal blocking lead deposits in the ground or something. It was only the beginning of Placidity Row’s strangeness, though. Even on those rare days when the power came on, refrigeration began to malfunction. No, not malfunction. A better term would be, “cease to have any physical effect.” Meat bought new and kept in the fridge would rot like it had been set out at room temperature. Milk would curdle the same way.

Even the open air seemed to be almost soaked with death. Bananas would go from lush green to brown in only half a day. An open can of soda would be flat within an hour.

In the 90s, EMTs and police began responding to an increasingly bizarre array of 911 calls. A housewife, Susan Kimura murders her two year-old cousin in an oven because the knocks on her walls “told her to.” Residents claimed that strange lights in the sky would lurk outside their windows until viewed and then fly off at seemingly impossible speeds. An old man was nearly beaten to death by neighborhood teenagers and one middle-aged woman because they were convinced that he was a sorcerer. City workers reported finding a flock of geese dead on the outskirts of the development. Animal control is still completely baffled as to what could possibly have killed them.

One year ago the entire city was in a panic as a seemingly healthy 20 year old woman from the Row turned up dead on the playground from what all signs pointed to as being a strain of the Ebola virus. Yet, just as mysteriously as she turned up, there were no other infections reported. Furthermore, when the poor woman’s body was delivered up for autopsy later that day, she seemed to have aged 70 years.

The most common unexplained incident at Placidity Row, though, has to have been reports of a team of phantom horsemen. They would race through the streets of the Row at incredible speed either in the afternoon or the middle of the night. Both people who were outside at the time and those indoors reported hearing the hoof beats and snorts of the horses but most often seeing nothing even when it sounded as though the horses were passing within feat of them. A minority reported a loud human voice uttering monosyllabic commands to the invisible beasts. Only five residents, however, reported actually seeing the phenomenon.

The five witnesses; an elderly couple, a single man in his mid thirties, and two siblings aged ten and eighteen, are all for the most part consistent in their description of the “apparition.” The witnesses all agree that the horses passed in such a blur that it is hard for them believe that they even saw anything at all. The woman, one Maria Knudsen, apparently something of a mystic, offered the suggestion to police that the witnesses in fact perceived the horses only with their mind’s eyes and recommends full psychic examinations on each witness. The department is “taking the suggestion under advisement.”

They also all describe a team of four horses, ranging from dark brown to black in color with a light grey horse in the lead. All the witnesses differ on the question of riders. The Knudsen’s claimed to see five separate riders for five separate horses, each of them seeming to be bald men of indeterminate race clothed in loose fitting fur robes (ranging from splendid and colorful to faded greyish brown) with brass circlets on their heads and long swords at their sides.

The other witnesses give a similar general description but only report seeing one to four riders, though all mention the lead rider. The thirty-five year-old man, Victor Kimura (a distant cousin of the Mrs. Susan Kimura who murdered her child), claimed that two or three identical riders seemed to motionlessly phase in and out between the horses before vanishing. Mr. Kimura admits that he was highly intoxicated at the time of his sighting, however.

Eight years after the first recorded anomaly at Placidity Row, all residents have moved elsewhere. The city prepared to demolish the subdivision before the houses became unsafe, having finally despaired of attracting new residents to the area. My sister, Sophie, and I are insurance investigators with World Farms. Ours was one of several companies that rushed to clear out the remaining Placidity Row accounts on its books. On August 19, 2013, our particular task was to investigate three houses on the south side of the Row and assess the losses they pose to the company.

We arrived at Sunshine Street, Placidity Row at 9 AM. Although the drive in from downtown had been pleasant and sunny, when we arrived at the Row (we parked outside of it and walked in) everything in the atmosphere of the place felt as odd as the various reports made it out to be. The air hung still and not a sound could be heard. Everywhere, there was a strong odor of burnt rubber that neither of us could place.

“Well, this still seems like a happenin’ place,” said Sophie as she swept her eyes over the line of faded-yet-identical-save-for-color houses. “I can’t imagine why nobody wants to live here anymore.”

“Well, if you’re looking for excitement, maybe you can dodge some falling roof beams in one of the condemned houses round here,” I said. “Or maybe we can get you an invisible pony ride.”

Sophie and I can be kind of brutal to one another sometimes. It’s only because we’ve seen so much weird shit over the years on this job. When I think back on all the times we’ve saved one another in the nick of time from some floor collapse in an abandoned apartment building or tweaked out squatter with a shotgun… But, I digress.

The first house on the list actually happened to be the former Lars and Maria Knudsen residence. Despite having been empty for the past seven years, the place was still remarkably neat and clean. The Knudsens were some of the last holdouts on the Row, insisting that the horsemen were only there to cleanse the land of the guilty or something like that.

Being in their 80s, the Knudsens wound up leaving many of their possessions and furniture behind them when they left for what I assume was assisted living. Oddly though, in a neighborhood where everything seemed to rot somehow, the Knudsens’ old furniture seemed like it had been recently dusted and polished.

“Think we’ve got squatters?” said Sophie.

“Unusually clean yet suicidal stalkers, maybe,” I said, half joking and half hoping that’s what it was because honestly this house was beginning to freak me out a bit.

My thumb hovered over the stun gun in my pocket as I climbed the unnaturally swept stairway. Sophie stayed behind to check the ground floor for water damage. I was relieved to find that the second floor hallway, at least, was a mess of peeled plaster and drywall chunks.

I made my way to what must have been the master bedroom, what I could tell was dried blood caked the walls. In the corner was a small altar where someone had been sacrificing what appeared from the skeletons to be pigeons and rats. It was some kind of Norse pagan ritual judging from the runes smeared above it.

In the center of the room where the bed used to be was a large blue binder. I picked it up and leafed through what appeared to be rough facsimiles of old Viking documents. I couldn’t read anything but the flat, medieval illustrations made the subject matter clear. The Knudsens were apparently Shamans of some kind desperately entreating the Norse gods to either punish the people of Placidity Row (based on the first few pages which see our horsemen friends descending on a battlefield of dismembered limbs) or to save them (based on the following pages, in which the horsemen seem to turn on the male and female Shaman figures and cause them to cower beneath what seemed to be an image of a pagan god.

As much as we needed this paycheck, Sophie and I decided not to be stereotypical horror movie victims that day and began the long, nervous walk back to our car. We took the binder with us, planning to look for where the Knudsen’s were staying.

We took the route that we thought would at least lead us to Bill Kitchener’s team from Workman’s Insurance for some safety in numbers. I gritted my teeth knowing what macho man Bill would say about us getting a little scared of an area that had reported no criminal activity in years. Sophie just smirked and pretended not to notice.

A few blocks up the road, we found Bill’s team. They were dead in middle of the street. They seemed to have aged 70 years just like that poor woman from the Row. Their bodies were covered in small cuts and lesions, but there none of them seemed to break the skin more than a little.

“I can’t imagine these cuts killing a bunch of healthy guys,” said Sophie.

Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a man with black hair in a heavy brown overcoat lurking in the shadows beside one of the garages. He bolted as soon as I turned my head. We tried to give chase but I could have sworn he was running at 40 miles per hour. He turned a corner far ahead of us and disappeared. Loud sounds of hoof beats on asphalt accompanied by fierce yells seemed to come from all directions at once. We ran for the nearest house, not even stopping to notice that the door should have been locked.

Inside we came face to face with an Asian man looking to be in his mid thirties wearing a heavy brown overcoat and shotguning a fourth of whiskey. In the corner lay the body of an elderly Asian woman who I could tell right away was Susan Kimura.

“Victor, why did you kill your cousin?” I said on a hunch.

As he lowered the bottle to speak, I nearly recoiled at the sight of Victor’s face. He was more than just a haggard drunk. He looked like he should not even be alive. His skin was gray and blotchy. The tacks under his dull bloodshot eyes were so deep you could see red. His gums were almost black and his teeth looked ready to fall out at the slightest touch.

Victor hurled the now empty bottle aside, not even flinching as it shattered. “The bitch isn’t my cousin, she’s my damn mother. Besides, you can’t kill what was already dead.”

“Look!” said Sophie. I turned to the foot of the stairs to see a bald, yet beautiful young Asian woman in fur robes with a brass circlet on her head.

“My son and I are what in English are called Wild Hunters. We are tasked with regularly weeding out the souls of the foolish and rewarding those who show deference to the name of the old gods,” said Susan. “I came to this barren and spiritually dead city hoping to make a mortal life for my infant son away from so much carnage. But Nordic Shamans sensed our presence and sought to use us to bring revival to this place. When I resisted, they cast a spell of madness over me and I turned my only boy into… this ungrateful pup.”

“That’s right. Just blame the geezers for everything like you always do,” said Victor from the kitchen where he sat on the floor nursing a headache. “If you hadn’t just given up maybe I wouldn’t have to drink to keep the call of the so-called gods out?”

“I have accepted my inability to escape fate. You are a fool and a drunk who keeps fruitlessly trying to kill his own mother,” said Susan.

“I truly do wish you guys luck on this little family squabble,” said Sophie. “But unless you’re going to let us go, I think my sister and I have a few pounds on you with Victor being a little too hammered at the moment.”

Susan stunned us with a laugh loud as a trumpet while the hoof beats began again in the distance. “I’d kill you before you took a step. But I prefer not to get my hands dirty when I can avoid it.” Susan pointed us toward the now open front door and the sight of Bill and his two coworkers coming up the lawn in Wild Hunter dress, longswords drawn.

Sophie and I decided to take our chances on being faster than the burly guys and bolted out of the door to the side of the yard. As we sprinted down the street as hard as we could, we could hear the hoof beats getting faster and faster. Sophie screamed and fell to the ground as a hurricane force wind blasted over her and just missed me. For a split second I could see the figures of what I assumed to be the Kimuras in the wind at the reigns. Bill caught up with Sophie, who just barely dodged his inexperienced lumberjack sword swing and tased him in the gut.

I ran in a serpentine pattern, attempting to avoid the other two Wild Hunters as long as possible while hearing the horses bearing closer behind us. One of them just barely grazed my thigh as I felt myself lifted off the ground at incredible speed. As I was being hurled to the ground a yard away, I could see that there were now two other figures on the phantom horses. They seemed to be rapidly jockeying for position with the Kimuras.

Just as Bill was about to finish Sophie off, the horses bore down on him like a train. All four of us who remained watched stunned as his suddenly bleeding body was launched at least 200 hundred yards in the air, landing with a sickening thud on the roof of a nearby house. The other two drones were finished off in similar fashion just as quickly and the horsemen took off south of us. As the hoof beats died down, I suddenly realized that my cell phone had begun working.

Perhaps I should thank Odin or Thor that Sophie and I got out of there with only minor cuts. We would later find out that the Knudsens had died earlier that day within minutes of one another in two separate nursing homes.

Now that the anomalies have started to die down a bit, the demolition of Placidity Row is proceeding as scheduled. Sources are divided on whether city government plans to declare the area a wilderness preserve (for animals that still refuse to go near it, of course) or whether it is now hearing bids for shopping malls and condos. I wish the poor suckers luck. Something tells me the tradition of the Wild Hunt is going to live on.

Credit To – Cosmo Fish

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 5.8/10 (167 votes cast)

Fine Russian Cuisine

December 24, 2013 at 12:00 AM
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 8.0/10 (322 votes cast)

You know that new kind of burger? The one made from cells taken from the skin of cows. Yeah, seems like the science teams and research labs finally created a way of making food from basically nothing, and you’d think that’d be a great thing, but I’m not so sure.

This isn’t the first time a project like this has sprung up. You’re probably thinking I’m screwing with you now, but I’m serious, it’s happened before. You’ve probably never heard of this, and like all things, there is a reason for this never being told. A rather… disturbing reason. Way back, into the Second World War, The Russian government realized they were struggling to feed their people. Children were sick, people were diseased and malnourished, many even tried to protest but, as history tells, they were quickly “silenced.” Of course, the government needed a solution that didn’t involve murdering all that spoke out, and fast. An unhappy populace leads to riots, violence and destruction after all, so they commissioned a small team of scientists to create… something. No real idea was given, so the science team was given free reign to do whatever they chose. Code-named “fine Russian cuisine”, in the end, they came up with a monstrous idea.

You know how cancer cells multiply and multiply when in the body? Well, the Russian science team thought they could use this sort of growth, found in tumors and other such awful diseases and inflictions,

As meat products.

Now, if tumor burgers sound bad enough, it gets far worse from here.

They created a sort of serum, made tumors spring up on animals like bubbles on a boiling pot of water. They needed something that they could grow the cells on.

Animals were out of the question, as they were needed to produce more and more food, so the first thing they ask the higher ups is not a lab, or a grant or something like that, they asked for permission to use prisoners of war as freaking Guiana pigs. So they try it out. They get results, and then, in the blink of an eye, only a few weeks into development, something catastrophic breaks the whole thing down.

Now you’re probably wondering how the hell I know this grotesque shit, but ill tell you.

I’ve been to the labs. When I learned from an anonymous source that this insanity was going down I just had to find where they did it, and sure enough, after months of searching around the Russian wilderness, I finally get a lead in this Russian town called Ust-Ilimsk. I talked around about “Russian cuisine” and on the second guy, I get a genuine response. It wasn’t a good one albeit, the guy spat at my feet and told me to “fuck off and die”, but it was still an indication that the labs were known around the town. I ask around, and I either get weird looks, shrugs, or scowls, until I meet one guy. Vasily, looked like he was in his late 80s, had a face like it’d been kicked by the hind legs of a horse, Had a sort of limp to go with it, but the man was a gold mine when it came to the project. He gave me the exact location, the way to get in, and even how long it would take to get there, and I was surprised, to say the least. Most people in the town didn’t even know, let alone want to talk about it, so I was a little suspicious. I asked him why he was giving me all this information, and he simply responds,

“There is something you must see.” In a throaty Russian accent.

“What… is it?” I reply tentatively, a little nervous now, with his cryptic message making me rather anxious

“You’ll see.”

And with that, he hobbled off. And I was left with the knowledge that there was something important… and possibly horrifying I needed to see up in that lab. Now, at this point, I had a choice. I either stay far the hell away from whatever the hell Vasily was speaking about, or I go and feed (no pun intended) my curiosity. Of course, curiosity won in that round, so I gathered up some supplies, a flashlight, some water, a map of the wilderness, stuff like that, in a rucksack, and drove off. It took about a day to reach the decrepit old tunnel. It was right up a rather long, steep climb up a rather intimidating mountain, like a spear among thumbtacks. The tunnel jutted out of the mountainside like a knife through butter. It was untouched, the little guard box at the side of it still had a gun and ammunition in it, with a little book opened at the side. I pressed a small button to open the large gate leading inside. It groaned and yawned open, the dust barley hanging on as the gate shuddered to life. I walked inside, and took the flashlight out of my bag. Turning it on lit up a long, dusty hallway, with a large, metal door at the back of it. I walked up, far less anxious than I was earlier, thinking that there probably wasn’t anything living in here for years. No sign of life, not even algae growing on the walls, or plants in the cracks. nothing.

I creaked open the door, and headed deeper into the heart of the facility. A few new paths sprung up in front of me. ‘Infirmary’, ‘canteen’, ‘labs’, ‘sleeping quarters’ and ‘holding cells’. I decided to check out the sleeping quarters first. Inside, was another hallway filled with doors to different rooms. Workers quarters 1-10, Scientist quarters 1-5, and warden’s quarters. I checked a few of the worker’s quarters, nothing but dusty beds and empty drawers. The scientists’ wards provided some more interesting results. 1 to 2 were empty, but three had a little tape player and 7 different tapes. I took them up and started listening to them as I looked along the winding passages. The speaker had a very familiar voice. I couldn’t put my finger on what, but I knew I had heard it before. The throatiness, the depth and pitch, all seemed eerily familiar.

“Day 1 of project ‘Russian cuisine’, the test subject, named Norman was injected with the serum to produce cancerous cells, slight discomfort, but no tumors grown. I’m still utterly ashamed at my colleague’s ideas to eat tumors, but at this time, it’s better than any other idea we’ve come up with. It’s either that or we starve. Artyom tells me that the workers don’t know what they’re working towards, probably for the best.”

After checking the other quarters I finally headed into the wardens room. It looked like all the others, dusty bed, open drawers, but there were two things that caught my eye. One was a little key card, with a label saying “cells” attached to it and the other was a note, scrawled in Russian. Knowing a little Russian myself, I attempted to translate it. What I found made me… nervous, to say the least.

“If you are reading this, run. This building has a fucking curse you can’t even hope to comprehend. The things I and the other men did will forever haunt these halls, and no priest will ever cleanse this place. Growths. Those satanic growths”

The end of that passage in particular made every synapse in my being simultaneously scream in one-voice ‘RUN!’ but my curiosity again caught hold of me like a choke chain. I rationalized again that this place was very, very abandoned, but at the same time… there was something very off about it.

I put in another tape. And the familiar voice played.

“Day 2. Growths have finally sprouted on the liver and intestine. We had to give a high dose of morphine to ‘Norman’, as his screaming was scaring the other scientists working. Extracting the tumors was easy enough, but we are struggling to think of ways of testing the potential products. Norman is now in holding, and presumably will die in the next few weeks. We will discuss with the chefs and talk about the ‘mystery meat’.”

I got out of the quarters and headed into the canteen. The empty rows upon rows of dining tables and benches spanned the huge hall. Empty plates, dirty knives and forks, everything again was untouched by time. Which was when I noticed an eerie hum coming from the kitchen.

I wondered. Was electricity being supplied to this place? If so, why? What reason would the Russians have to supply this place with electricity? I headed into the kitchen, and found the hum was coming from the refrigerator. I shuddered to think what sick thing lurked behind the metal door, but I wanted to know now, I was already knee deep into it. It would be stupid to quit now. I placed my shaking hand on the cold handle, my heart pumping quicker and quicker, my anxiety levels through the roof, and I flung the door open.

Flesh.

Rows upon rows meaty, gross flesh. I nearly threw up, just barley reaching my mouth and covering it. The smell was unthinkable, like someone cut open a swine and left it’s insides to rot for a while. I immediately shut the door, and tried to catch my breath in the musky darkness. I decided to listen to another tape to try and calm my nerves, but it only made things worse.

“Day 3. We fed the meat to a couple of the men. They seemed to enjoy the burgers, though they did notice the so-called odd taste. Apparently like lamb, maybe even a bit of liver. We’ve decided to feed more people the meat, though I, like many others in the project are still skeptical of the health aspects from eating this… ghastly concoction. “

I was still hyperventilating after seeing the products of the experiments, but I pressed onto the labs. This is when things got even more gut-wrenchingly gruesome. There was crusted, dark blood on the little lab tables, more of the gross meat carelessly splayed, hacksaws, everything you might imagine in some kind of stereotypical horror flick. Again, the smell was unbearable; the sights made me want to spew, but the room saved the worst for last at the back. A little door with ‘testing’ on a little sign attached to it.

A gut feeling told me that this was going to be bad. I played a tape.

“Day 4. Our new subject tried to break free. A couple days of growing had completely warped his mind and physical appearance, which led him to try and attack some of the workers and myself, bastard bit me, he nearly broke out, so in the end we had to put it down. Describing in words what he looked like by the end of the endeavor would be like trying to describe an orphanage catching fire, so I will spare the details. One thing is for sure; I don’t want to work here anymore. The things we’ve created need to be stopped, but here I am trapped. I need help”

So I was back at that moment. My heart started racing, my whole body was shaking in terror, I knew this was going to be bad, and I knew whatever was waiting on the other side would be even worse than the cafeteria. I swung the door open, expecting the worst.

And what I got, was a small room, a glass window and another room, holding a chair. Nothing serious, I looked inside a little more, and suddenly saw a black mass sitting on top of the chair. Immediately I crouched down, fear spreading through my body.

Shit.

Shit shit shit, something was in here. The mass wasn’t moving, so I thought what ever it was, was either dead or asleep. I wanted to see what it was, I needed to know, Vasily’s cryptic message started to make sense, as my curiosity had been fueling my decisions every step of my exploration. I needed to see this, as started to feel like I was being guided by some otherworldly force, or at least that’s how I rationalize it. Looking back, I must have been insane to not run away after I opened the fridge, but who knows.

I crept up quietly, to check if it was breathing, and sure enough, not a sound. I relaxed a little and played another tape, the scientist now sounding a lot less healthy than the tape before, stopping to cough mid sentence, it sounded like he had gotten ill with something, and sure enough…

“Day 5. I’ve been infected. The things spread after you touch them, I can’t believe I didn’t realize, the workers that have eaten the meat have been ill with god knows what, it finally makes sense about what’s wrong with them. I have a… tumor growing out of my face, I think I’m going blind in one eye. The rest of my colleagues are holding me in my cell before they bring the doctors in to remove it. I try to tell them we need to stop, and if we continue feeding the workers the meat, we shall have dire consequences, but of course they wont listen. Poor bastards. More afraid of their own government chastising them than creating these abominations.”

It was then, that I finally put a light on the mass sitting in the chair. Something that looked human, but at the same time was something ungodly and unjust. Scars littered the face, which in itself had bulges the size of tennis balls coming out of various areas. It’s gums were bear, as its lips seemed to have been removed, showing large, broken teeth. The body was almost as bad, a skinny, withered figure, with only one, large, pulsating arm, tied to the chair.

God, tumors must have been growing in every muscle in his body. I looked at its eyes, black, distended, out of a proportion like some kind of messed up Picasso painting.

And the eyes looked back.

I jumped back and dropped my flashlight, screaming. The thing was alive, and it was looking right at me. It breathed in a heavy, throaty mix of a splutter and a cough, like a man being choked. It tried to struggle free, struggling and screaming in a disgusting guttural screech, its mouth wide open, and teeth bared at me. I ran to the door, but the thing broke free. It jumped on me, its one huge arm pinning me down as it tried to gnaw its knife-like teeth into me. I barely managed to grab my flashlight and hit the monstrosity in the head as hard as I could, and managed to get it off me. I didn’t stop hitting it until its face was merely a red smear on the floor, with my hands dripping with a mixture of blood, sweat, bile and tears. I sat down, almost completely depleted, my mind still racing and my heart still pounding. I tried to relax, and decided to put in the second last tape in the mean time.

“Day 14. I have been in the hospital for many days. My face still feels numb from the surgery, and things are worse off than ever. The tumors have been spreading amongst the workers, more and more people have had to be put into the cell blocks as we eat our own ungodly creation. I try and tell my colleges that we need to run, now, before we all turn into one of those damn things, but they don’t listen. So… I ended it. I ran out of the facility, and made sure that the door leading to the outside was closed for good. If the meat managed to make it out of the country… god knows what would happen. If anybody finds these tapes, get out. Now. Before you catch it”

I was confused. There were 7 tapes, yet the 6th seemed to conclude everything. Why was there another? Confused, I played the final tape. The voice was different, but still the same throaty speech.

“If you are listening to this, you are probably wondering about a few things. Why is this place being supplied with electricity? What are you looking for? What happened to the rest of the crew? It seems improbable, but the answer to all these questions lies behind the cell block door. I warn you, once you see it, run. Run out of the complex and shut the gate. You cant let even one of these disease mongers escape into the world. Good luck.”

After I had fully recovered after the assault, I headed for the final part of the complex. ‘Cells’ as I walked along the hallway, anxiety and dread building up ten-fold every single step I took towards the door at the back. This is what I needed to see. This is what I had worked up to, enduring horror after horror in this god forsaken complex. I stood in front of the steel door, and through the door I could hear noises. Growls, choking, spluttering. I could guess a few tumor farms were on the other side, nothing I couldn’t handle after dealing with the first. Throwing caution to the wind, I took out the key card, slid it through the locking mechanism, and opened the door.

Bodies, all huddled together, packing the room in its entirely, all deformed, all with pulsating, overgrown limbs, rocky teeth, red bloodied gums, and dead black eyes And all looking at me.

I ran, I dropped everything and ran as fast as possible to the light on the other end, a horde of the abominations hot on my trail, screaming, gnawing, biting, and swiping at everything they could, If I stopped even for a second, I would be ripped apart. Sweat was practically pouring out of me as I reached the end, and quickly pressed the button to shut the gate. They were still running, the gate wasn’t shutting fast enough, oh god, every one of them was going to get out!

Thump.

And the gate slammed shut. I could still hear their screeches and scratches against the metal gate. I kept running to the car, to terrified to even think about slowing down, the only thing in my mind being to get far the fuck away from there.

I don’t know what happened after that. I must have blacked out. When I came too, I was in my car, bloodied and beaten. The hotel owner gave me a hell of a funny look when I came back to wash the blood and bile all over me. I’ve not seen Vasily since the first time I saw him, and I’m writing this at the hotel.

My head hurts.

Oh god my head hurts.

I think I’ve been infected. Gross bumps have appeared all over my hands. My head feels heavy, and I feel weak. I’m probably going to have to… off myself, make sure the disease doesn’t spread, but at least my story was told.

God help anyone who finds me.

Credit To – Gentleman Walrus

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 8.0/10 (322 votes cast)

The McCarter House

December 4, 2013 at 12:00 AM
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 7.4/10 (502 votes cast)

The McCarter House in Greenburg, TN is fairly well-known by now, but at the time that my wife and I were looking to buy it, it was only infamous to the locals and we knew nothing about it. It is a pale, white farmhouse on a bald hill just off Baden’s Road in the Walnut Creek area of town. It might still be there, but hopefully it had been torn down by now. If you decide to go there, listen to this story as your word of warning first, and do not go
there during a full moon.

The house had been the scene of a horrific battle during the Zombie Apocalypse. Jim McCarter, his family and some of his neighbors had holed up there when the zombies rose up from the Walnut Creek cemetery. The attack was brutal. The McCarter clan were quickly surrounded by the living dead, and somehow the zombies were able to break open a door and get in. No one survived. The story behind this was particularly scandalous as there was a
church nearby where everyone else in the community was able to hide and successfully defend themselves from the zombies. Jim McCarter’s clan was banned from the church due to accusations made by Pastor Tom Olson claiming Jim had impregnated both of his twin daughters. Later, when everyone else was driving stakes through the brains of the dead in every graveyard they could find, Olson famously refused to do so, on the grounds that the
rising dead was part of God’s divine plan. God gave these men and women new life, and taking that away was nothing short of murder. That was the last straw for those who sided with Jim during the feud and they broke away from the church to fight at the McCarter house. They likely regretted that decision.

No one had been in the house since, except for a government cleanup crew that sanitized the property and fixed the broken door that lead to the massacre. It had stagnated in real estate listings until my wife and I decided to buy it. We were dirt poor, as the economy after the Apocalypse was still in the dumps, and the only thing we could afford was to either take this house or keep sneaking into motels at night. The real estate company was so desperate to get rid of it that they waived the down payment and processing fees. We were very thankful, because this house was considerably cheaper than our apartment back in Marron City. My wife was 6 months pregnant with twins, and this meant more money and space to raise our kids.

While the real estate company promised lightning speed processing to get us the deed, we made arrangements to stay with a neighbor, a retiree named Charlie Bunyon, until we got our house. We paid him a little money for room and board, and to borrow his truck and hands to get the furniture everyone was throwing out onto their curbs. He was happy to do it, and happy to see new people in the neighborhood here, but he warned us that the community was
still very superstitious and set in their ways, even after the Apocalypse. Taking that house might create some problems with them.

At the time, I noticed he seemed nervous about something else too, but he never told us what it was, and I paid it no attention.

While I was getting my new job set up at Ogle’s Lumberyard across town, my wife and Charlie went out to collect furniture from the curbs. The economy here was so bad that trash pickup was MONTHLY, but the residents around Walnut Creek were quite friendly to my wife and let her take what she wanted. Once they learned where she was moving into, though, like Charlie
said, their reactions ranged from restraint to religious paranoia. One lady even closed the door on my wife and had to explain herself through the mail slot, saying, “I’m sorry, but I was loyal to Pastor Olson and I still am today. I don’t care if he’s dead, I want nothin’ to do with Jim McCarter.”

Later in the day, the real estate company called her to pick up the deed and keys. By the time I got done from work, I had a new house to come home to and a bunch of crappy furniture all stacked up in my living room. My wife told me about how our neighbors reacted and proselytized, and even though we knew to expect it, I found it weird because my new co-workers did the same thing to me. This house had a wider reputation than we expected. We nearly forgot all about it as we got to work putting furniture in place and cleaning up the couch to sleep in… until we found a note under a couch cushion that Charlie had slipped in there.

It said very plainly, “I didn’t want to say anything while we were driving, but please do not stay in that house. You need to LEAVE before the full moon.” It seemed like he wanted to tell us more but ran out of room. I crumpled the note and tossed it immediately. You have to understand neither my wife or I are religious, particularly after what we suffered during the Zombie Apocalypse, and this old school superstition was more than a little irritating to us. If they want to think we’re blaspheming against some crazy, old preacher and his flock of sheep, then that’s their problem, not ours.

That night, and I thought nothing of it at the time, I woke up at about 3:30 in the morning just briefly because I thought I heard some furniture shuffling around. I figured it was just my wife getting up and navigating the darkness to the bathroom.

Two weeks from that night, we would be fleeing for our lives. In those two weeks, and I’ll condense the details down, we settled into a daily routine of trying to get set up at the house. I went to work all day and my wife would try to get more of what we needed. It was a struggle for her, because I wouldn’t get paid for two weeks and we didn’t want to bother with our ignorant neighbors. At first, she tried getting around on foot, but our twins were too much of a strain for her small body and she often couldn’t get much done most days. In the meantime, I was trying to rack up as many hours as I could at work so I could better afford what we needed.

To say we struggled barely describes how hard it was for us. I wasn’t getting any real sleep on that couch. I kept waking up hearing things, and later seeing things moving in the darkness. My wife did too, and it wrecked havoc on our sanity. We were both losing sight of reality and fighting at any chance we got. We broke our backs in the day, fought each other to tears at night, and slept for only a couple hours until we heard the sounds again. The first few nights it was just footsteps and something brushing against the furniture, then it soon evolved to louder footsteps and the sound of furniture moving.

Then I started to hear moaning, and it froze me from the inside out as I remembered the last time I heard that sound. It sounded just like the moaning I heard for three days being barricaded in a basement during the Zombie Apocalypse. I panicked, thinking a stray survivor zombie had gotten in (which, while rare, was not unheard of in those days), I jumped out of the couch and turned the lights on… only to find nothing but one irate,
pregnant wife who had finally just gotten to sleep.

I should have suspected more at that time, and things would be different today if I did, but I still rationalized it as the strain of our daily lives affecting us at night.

Two nights later, our bickering came to a boil and my wife stormed to the kitchen to leave the house. I grabbed her and tried to slap her, but I hit the bottle of Mr. Clean and spilled the entire contents on the floor instead. We decided to go to sleep right then. Again we heard noises, louder now than ever, saw thicker shadows moving in the darkness, and only got sleep near dawn.

Not long after dawn, my wife shook me awake in a panic and pointed to the Mr. Clean mess on the kitchen floor. There were footprints in it. Neither of us had been in the kitchen once we tried to go to bed. We then saw the furniture in the living room had been moved. Someone really WAS in our house that night.

Our day picked up a bit when Charlie dropped by with a (possibly) new king-sized mattress for us. We talked for a bit and he said he felt bad for the community “spooking” us or imposing any “nonsense” on us. He then left as quick as he could. We never saw him again.

We moved the mattress upstairs, and while it was definitely more comfortable, we still didn’t get any sleep. Every night the sounds and moaning got louder, the shadow outlines got thicker, and every morning the furniture would be moved or turned over. When the lights came on, there was nothing, but then I would feel something was staring at me, leering, like it didn’t know any other way to let me know it didn’t like me.

Then one night, it was too loud to mistake it for something else. Something was in our house. I took my gun with me as I got to the stairs, and the moonlight shining on the bald hill as it got closer to the full phase made it undeniable that someone was in our house… but this time he brought his friends too. I saw maybe a dozen and a half figures downstairs and I was prepared to open fire, but when I turned the light on to better see them, again, there was no one in there and the furniture had been moved even further than before. I thought I was going insane, I KNOW I saw people downstairs, but the light, the one truth left in the world, showed no one there.

I turned the light off again, and they came back like they never left, but this time they were slowly making their way up the stairs to me. In the bright moonlight, I could almost make out body parts and faces, but I chickened out and turned the light back on and kept it on overnight. I was still too stubborn to admit my house was apparently haunted, so I still
simply summed it up that the lack of sleep and our problems was taking its toll on me.

I ended up sleeping until mid-afternoon the next day. I missed nearly a full day of work and while my boss was understanding on the phone, he also laid it out straight for me that he could not afford to pay an employee who didn’t show up. My wife and I talked about going to a doctor, but we both realized there was nothing that could be done until I got my paycheck after work tomorrow. I just needed more sleep, and it wasn’t hard to knock back out later.

That night I dreamt that my wife and I were inside the Walnut Creek church. I was the Pastor there and my wife was giving birth to two girls on the narthex. The birth was a success and I kept wandering around the shrouded, cloudy church with all these random people filling the pews and hallways. When I went back to the narthex, my twins were already school-age. I kept changing my direction and attention to one thing after another, and every time I turned around to see my girls again, they got older and older. I wandered through the hallways again, but this time the parishioners were unhappy because something happened. I go back to the narthex and my girls, barely adult age now, were both pregnant.

Then the congregation started freaking out, but I didn’t know what it was until someone told me it was a zombie attack. We built defenses for the doors, but we couldn’t finish them because my wife appeared out of the misty hallway to tell me our daughters went out onto the fields. They were trying to get to the McCarter House. I went after them and got lost in the grey fog that was overwhelming everything.

The next thing I saw, I was in my bedroom and I was staring at a man sitting on my bed that I had never seen before. I felt like I was angry with him, but that I wasn’t in control either. He was cowering in the corner. I got on my knees to get closer to him, and when my face was close to his, he pulled a gun out of nowhere and shot me in the face. The gun rang out loud and I woke up.

But when I woke up, I could still hear the gun ringing in my ears. A real shot had been fired. Then I heard my wife scream “HONEY! HONEY!” while she was out on the stairs.

I ran to her… and there they were. Dozens of zombies, shuffling in the moonlight, disappearing in the shadows, moving the furniture, and slowly making their way up to us. She fired several more times, but none of them fell or even reacted. Before I knew it, one of them was trying to grab me, and I could feel a small push on my shoulders, but when my wife turned the lights on, they were gone. The room was as empty as it should’ve been and I
let out a mighty roar of frustration and lunacy.

Now we had no choice, we HAD to leave the house, but we still had no options until I got paid today. When morning came, I did my best to focus on just getting through the day so I could get my money and we could leave, but just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, I ended up leaving the lumberyard with a pink slip instead of a paycheck. Again, I’ll spare you details, but let’s just say I listened to one too many haunted house jokes and I DEFINITELY deserved to get fired for what I did. In my desperation, I drove throughout the town and started begging door to door for money. It was pathetic, and I came home extremely late, empty handed.

That night was the last night before the full moon and the worst fight I’d ever had with my wife. It was almost midnight before we both calmed down and tried to come up with a plan. We were just going to leave the lights on everywhere, sleep as best we could, and pack the car in the morning.

But then, at the stroke of midnight, all the lights suddenly shut off. If you’re wondering why, its because I planned to pay the electric bill before I got home. We tried to just run for it, but we were already surrounded by zombies on the hill. The moonlight was almost sunlight and not only could I see every part of every corpse coming after us, I could see THROUGH them, and they all had bullet holes in their heads.

My spine turned to ice once it all finally dawned on me… We weren’t haunted with the ghosts of the McCarters, we were haunted with the ghosts of the zombies who died here.

We ran back inside and barricaded the doors behind us, but they just passed right through. In my madness, I tried to shoot them in the head again, but how do you kill something that had already died twice? The moonlight made them strong and we had nowhere to go but the master bedroom. We tried again to barricade the door, but it was no use. Nothing could stop them anymore, and I succumbed to darkness just before they swarmed over me.

Now here’s the part of the story that’s REALLY unbelievable. Obviously, I didn’t die,

instead I woke up the next morning without a scratch on me. I was ready to rejoice until I saw my wife was already up and crying hysterically. Without giving too much detail, she “informed” me that our unborn twins had died during the night… and it wasn’t for a physical or natural reason either.

We didn’t bother packing, we just left right then and there before we got to see what they were like at full strength.

That was three years ago. At this point, after an exhaustive amount of research, I THINK I figured out what happened. During the original zombie attack in Walnut Creek, Pastor Olson’s twins, still in love with Jim, had a dramatic change of heart and broke out of the church to be with him. No one knows whatever happened to them, and to Olson, this was the final straw in his feud with Jim. Olson went out onto the field and waded through the zombie horde to get to the McCarter House. HE was the one who broke the door and let the zombies in, and he became a zombie himself as a result. I also think he was the one leering at me in the darkness all those nights, and I think he was the one who took our daughters from us.

Maybe Olson was right, maybe zombies really were newly evolved creatures that deserved to live and feed as they naturally do just like everyone else. Who would’ve thought “ghost logic” could apply to the living dead?

You can go visit the house if you want, but do not go during the full moon. In fact, don’t go anywhere near a battle site anywhere. If it happened to us, it can happen to you. These zombies don’t eat flesh anymore, they eat souls.

Credit To – J.S. Lawhead

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 7.4/10 (502 votes cast)

The Doll Cemetery

December 1, 2013 at 12:00 AM
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 8.2/10 (226 votes cast)

They called it the doll cemetery. It was a small valley, barren and deserted, behind a hill that hid it from the sight of the town. Nothing grew on its arid soil; the few trees that had tried were long dead, turned into wooden skeletons that stretched their hooked fingers to the sky above.

The reason for that name was clear to anyone who visited the place. It had indeed the grim, gloomy air of old cemeteries, completely uncomforting. However, its guests were not underground, neither walled in narrow recesses. They stood in plain sight, fully exposed to eyes and weather.

There were dolls of every kind and size, of every fashion, style and era. Ancient misses with painted porcelain faces, whose richly embroidered dresses were now reduced to mouldy rags. Cheap ragdolls, or what was left of them, their smiles faded but still visible on their deformed, swollen faces. Elegant catwalk models, ten inches tall, who once possessed clothes and accessories, and now stood naked and twisted into unlikely poses. Child dolls that had once walked, cried or called their mommies, and now laid motionless, silent, often mutilated.

Some of those that had been there longer, were stuck to the ground or tied to the trees with iron wires, now corroded by rust, or with ribbons and strings that time had worn and faded. Most, though, had simply been left on the ground, and many of them had been pushed around by the wind or rain, gathering in some hollow as if in a sad common grave.

No one knew who had placed the first doll there, or why. Even for the eldest of the town it was a question without answer, but somehow it had started a sort of tradition. There were still girls who, forced to separate from their favourite doll, past beyond any chance of repair, asked for her to be brought there, among her peers. But doing it was a task for parents, because no child ever ventured there, not even for a dare.

The doll cemetery was a grim and sad place even in the full light of a summer day, but in the night, or even worst in one of those dull days threatening rain, when clouds cast a grey light over the whole place, it was impossible to walk through it and not be overwhelmed by a feeling of anguish, as if each of those little, abandoned bodies hosted a soul, silently screaming all of its torment to the ears of the living.

Like any respectable graveyard, the doll cemetery had a caretaker, or at least that is what the old homeless man who had found shelter in the badly assembled shack right in the middle of the valley was said to be.

They said that during the day he walked around the place, whispering incomprehensible words to the dolls, as if to comfort them, and that at night he went back to his shack and, behind the window – or in the doorframe in the hot summer nights – stood vigilant as if protecting a sacred place from whatever intruder.

The townsfolk believed he was crazy, but harmless, especially because he never left the valley, and whoever wanted to find him always knew where he was.
But in truth nobody ever wanted to find him.

At least until the girls disappeared.

They were three friends, fifteen years old, always together since nursery school. Once teens, they spent more time together than with their respective families, from the morning meeting to go to school to the late evening goodbye to go to sleep – unless they managed to do that together as well – with short and infrequent interruptions for meals.

The day when their parents could not find them in their rooms, their first thought was that they had secretly left, maybe by the window, to get together and do some of their mischief. It wouldn’t have been the first time.

When they weren’t back for lunch or dinner, and late at night none of the houses they could go back to had seen them come, worry started to spread in their families, and soon in the whole town.

They thought about an accident, something so serious that they weren’t even able to call. Groups of volunteers were formed, and they searched for the girls everywhere, in the town and around it. But they didn’t go behind the hill, why should they?

It was only when none of them brought back any news that the mother of one of the three remembered, shocked, what her daughter had told her a week, maybe ten days ago, failing to elicit her attention. What she had said about the caretaker of the doll cemetery.

He had molested them, so the girl had said to a mother that didn’t care to listen, knowing how frequently her daughter made up unbelievable stories to feed her lust for attention. He had approached them late at night, she had explained, he had tried to make them follow him, he had tried to touch them, but they had fled.

The parents of the second girl said they had heard nothing of that. They accused the poor woman, dumping on her the blame for what might have happened. They aroused the spirits of their neighbours, and declared themselves ready to tear that shack down, if that could help to find their daughter.

But for the father of the third girl, a widower with a meek face and a large body, the report had been no news. His daughter, too, had told him the same thing. But it couldn’t have happened. That man never went into the town, everybody knew, and the girl had sworn she had never set foot in the cemetery. Clearly it must be a misunderstanding, maybe a prank, he kept repeating. Going there would be just a waste of time.

No one listened to him.

They accused him of being a craven, of not caring about his daughter’s fate. After all, when had he ever cared, always away for work, with the poor girl left alone to her own devices? And the pressure that had been on the woman shifted on him. She might have been shallow, but he was a man, he ought to have done something, immediately, before the worst happened.

His words, his apparent attempts to clear the homeless man, were worth nothing, except maybe to exacerbate the people even more. A compact group of men, armed with a wrath they deemed right and with bad intentions, joined the parents of the girls to go to the doll cemetery, in the unshakable belief that the girls would be found there.

And they were.

The first, the one who had said nothing to her parents, had been tied to a tree with iron wire. With her arms open wide to the heavens, her calm face, her head dangling forward on her broken neck, she looked like an angel who wanted to keep vigil on that place of death, now real.

Cries of rage rose from the crowd, who started to march faster. Still, even before such evidence, the widower kept saying that it was impossible, that the caretaker couldn’t have done that.

The second girl was halfway to the centre of the valley. She was sat on the ground, her back leaning on a trunk, her arms limps at her sides. Her ears had been ripped away from her head, violently, and rivulets of blood painted her face, running down her cheeks. A fabric ribbon, that maybe once had been light green, had been tied over her mouth. It would have been a poor gag, if she had still been able to talk.

The dramatically belated rescuers started to run. Maybe there was still a chance to save the last girl, even though her very father, surely out of his mind by now, was shouting for them to stop, to stay away from the shack.

And there, on the door, they found the last one, the widower’s daughter. She had been thrown to the ground with no regard, in a tangled heap. Her face was livid and bloody, her clothes marked by little round stains. Her mouth was open wide in a scream she would never be able to utter, because her tongue lied aside, in a pool of blood that looked like some beast had walked on it. But for sure no beast, not a real one, had done that to her.
No one wanted to hear anything else. The shouted ramblings of the widower got lost in those of the crowd, inciting itself to avenge the girls. The man stepped back as someone kicked down the door of the shack, then everybody else did the same when the stench coming from within assaulted them like a living beast, as if it had been lurking in wait behind those weak planks.

No revenge would ever take place.

The caretaker of the doll cemetery lied lifeless on the floor of what had been his home. His skin was livid, his body swollen, and a pool of dried blood surrounded his head like a macabre halo. He had been dead for days, weeks maybe.

Silence suddenly fell on the crowd. Nothing could be heard, except the gulps of those who had lost their daughters, and the flutter of the wings of some bird, or maybe the sound of small footsteps moving away. Glances where exchanged, full of questions nobody wanted to speak and answers nobody wanted to hear. Then all eyes converged on the only one who had never wanted to go there, who was now walking away slowly, looking down, clutching his chest with his hands.

They saw him stumble toward the hill, then suddenly stop to free the hem of his trousers from the hand of a doll, that must have got stuck into it. They saw him tremble as he shook his leg, as if in panic, then turn around, and disappear behind the hill at a brisk step.

From that day, nobody set foot in the doll cemetery anymore.

Credit To – CMT

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 8.2/10 (226 votes cast)