The Mechanic

August 29, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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My boss is an absolute dipshit. Sorry, I hate to be so blunt but that’s just the way it is. My name is Sarah Collins and I work as a personal assistant for a private law firm. It’s probably safer for you if I don’t mention where. Anyway, back to my arsehole sleazebag of a boss. He’s a short, fat little man who walks around the office like a total bigshot, Rolex watch, Armani suit… you get the picture. He’s also got one of those ridiculous moustaches that look like a gerbil sleeps on you upper lip. He’s a completely sexist pig and treats me like garbage. To give you an example, the other day he walked past my desk and “pretended” to trip, spilling a giant glass of water over my white blouse, making my shirt see through. It was so embarrassing. I would have left ages ago if I didn’t need the money so much. Simon Jones is his name. He orders me around like a dog, with no respect or praise at all. But back to the point. The other day after his usual rounds of berating everyone in the office he headed to his private lift to whisk him away to the safety of his ridiculously large office. Yet, when he pressed the button, a screeching noise of metal on metal filled the room and smoke billowed through the closed doors of the elevators. It was broken, which, as you can imagine made for a pleasant morning for the rest of us. NOT. He stormed into my cubicle, his ‘stache twitching furiously. “I don’t care how you get it done, or how much it costs, but if that elevator isn’t fixed overnight it’s coming out of your pay!” he leaned closer. “Slut” he whispered. I lowered my gaze, my face burning ferociously. “Yes sir” I mumbled. Unfortunately this would mean that I would have to spend the rest of the day searching for a repair man.

*

After 2 hours of searching I had made no progress and realized I was screwed. When everyone had left the office and it turned to 9 PM my finger scrolled down the webpage further and further, but I thought it was pointless. What sort of mechanic is open past nine? My heart fluttered when I saw the next ad. It didn’t stand out and the wording was dull and boring but there it was: Mr. Mechanic – WE FIX EVERYTHING. It also said that they were available whenever needed. I called their number which was really unusual, 005 555 555. A voice picked up on the other end, male but no emotion whatsoever. “Hello Ms. Collins” it said. “Hey” I replied before getting straight to the point. He was patient and when I was finished he said: “I will depart shortly”. I thanked him and hung up. I didn’t realize then that I hadn’t mentioned my name yet. He arrived faster than I had expected. His grey overalls were matched by his grey cap that both sported the slogan on the website. He was tall and unusually slim and his eyes were dull and glassy like marbles. I led him to the elevator and told him that I’d be catching some sleep in my office. An hour later I woke at my desk, a pool of dribble formed at my mouth. The office was eerily quiet. I looked up and the mechanic was staring at me from the door to my cubicle. “All finished.” He said. “Great, you’re a lifesaver. What’s the charge?” I replied. He told me there was no fee as it was an extremely simple job. I thought he was joking but then he nodded at me took off his hat and left. I locked up and went home and dreamed of men with grey hair and glass eyes.

*

Simon Jones strolled around his office impatiently whilst drinking a glass of bourbon he had poured himself two hours earlier. He was waiting for the CEO of a competing company to arrive so they could attend lunch together and discuss the civility of their situation. In frustration he threw his glass against the wall and it shattered everywhere. The phone at his desk buzzed and he jogged over to pick it up. “Mr. Jones, the competition has arrived sir”. “Good” was all he said before slamming down the phone and heading to his elevator. He pressed the button and the doors slid open silently and smoothly. He smiled to himself and adjusted his tie around his bulbous neck. Whoever that dumb assistant of his had hired, they had done a good job. Jones took one step forward, but his foot found no purchase and he fell, screaming 34 stories down an elevator shaft to his death.

*

After my boss died, his brother took charge. He was a great guy who gave me a promotion and a pay raise. A touch of class. There was an investigation but when tested following the incident, the elevator functioned perfectly. I was asked to show the police the number and the webpage of the mechanic I had called but the page had disappeared and when I called the number in front of the police a mechanical voice informed us that the number did not exist. However, one warm evening I was walking back to my apartment and a grey van swerved around the corner. The glassy-eyed man was behind the wheel. It may have been my imagination but he turned quickly to me, doffed his hat and gave me the briefest of smiles before disappearing around the next corner. I never saw him again, but the words on his van, overalls, hat and webpage are forever stuck in my head. WE. FIX. EVERYTHING.

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Adelaida and Kruv

August 27, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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The realm was beauteous and plentiful, its people more so. No plague touched its borders, no famine its lands. War was seldom seen in this kingdom, whose peaceful lords ran their fortified estates in harmony with one another. The only problem was that peasants were treated harshly, scraping to live on the scraps of land provided to them by their lords. Besides this, the nobles were amiable and open with their dealings with one another, with one exception.

In the southernmost castle of this bountiful landscape lived an estranged baron and his wife. Though seldom seen, they were both said to be startlingly beautiful youths, albeit rather sallow. Despite this, the Baron Kruv and his young wife Adelaida were a reclusive couple, only leaving their citadel in the utmost emergency. They never attended holiday feasts or tourneys held by the noblemen. The knights of their court were seldom seen in the festive jousts.

It was therefore a shock when it was said that the baron was to throw a jousting tournament in honor of his wife’s naming day. There was to be a feast following the events of the day, which would continue late into the night and into the early hours of the next morning. The noble men and women were ecstatic for the event. Knights trained, ladies gossiped, and nobles prepared their families for the festivities.

All the while the smallfolk would notice caravans of food, decor, lavish cloths, and other such things passing through their towns, bound south to the domain of the baron. This change was very sudden and new for the people of the land, who fantasized about the celebration to come. The day of the feast approached quickly. Those of higher birth donned their best attire, knights bore their armor, and everyone from the northern domains all the way to the south packed and left for the journey to Castle Kruv.

As the numerous families traversed through foggy wetlands and dense woods, a startling sight met their eyes: the dark and grasping spires of Castle Kruv. Each dark stone tower clawed its way into the sky, casting a gloomy and dismal aura about the battlements. While none could deny the macabre aspects of the castle, it also had an air of beauty, with its lush birch forest and surrounding grounds. And although the castle was undeniably unsettling, it too had aspects of beauty in its cold stone walls. It was these sights that greeted the ecstatic nobles and knights, as they completed the final stretch to the festivities.

Upon entering Castel Kruv, the revelers were led to various wings of the estate, in which they could clean themselves and rest from their travels for the evening to come. An hour after the last guests arrived, a servant of the house announced that the first of the jousts were to begin promptly. Lords and ladies greeted each other exuberantly in the decorated halls of the mighty, elegant fortress as the knights and squires proceeded to the field where the joust was to be held.

The pageantry of the Kruv family hung proudly from the halls and streamed from the tops of walls and towers. The heraldry of knights flew from tents, horses, and tabards, and the excited chitterings of near a hundred high-borns could be heard through the entirety of the arena.
Finally, another herald in the service of the Kruv’s announced that his lord and lady would not be attending the jousts. He apologized hastily on behalf of his benefactors, and swiftly departed. A small cry of dissent sounded from the amassed guests, but was swiftly silenced as the castle’s master of arms entered the field to commence the first match.

Horses charged, lances broke, knights rolled in the dirt. The crowd cheered their favorites and booed their rivals, all the while gossiping and chatting away. By the time of the final match, everyone’s voice was hoarse from over-use, yet their enthusiasm did not wane. After the sun had started to set and the winner of the day’s events had been announced, the noble families retreated to their temporary chambers to prepare themselves for the evening’s feast.

Lords and ladies clothed themselves in their finest raiments, planning to outdo each other in beauty and wealth. Long embroidered gowns of the finest silks and velvets were strewn about the shoulders of well-off women. Men in doublets of lavish textiles, decorated by the rarest gems, led their families through the torch lit halls of Castle Kruv, making their way to the heart of the fortified manor, the banquet hall. Rows of delicately carved tables lined with cushioned benches filled the room, save for a large central area serving for a dance floor.

Once everyone was seated, a loud musical flourish was played by the heralds of the castle to announce the entrance of the baron and his wife. The room became immediately hushed, all attention drawn to the ornately engraved door on the farthest wall of the room. The doors were pushed open, and in came a small stream of household servants, a few dressed in varying arrays of finery, handmaidens to the young baroness. A small escort of the castle’s resident knights followed behind, each sporting their colors on elaborately embroidered tunics. Finally came Kruv and Adelaida.

Lords and ladies alike gasped in stupor at the young nobles. Both were dressed in the colors of the Kruv family, red and grey. Both were also infinitely more stunningly beautiful in person than any of the stories had told.

Adelaida was a charming and spritely girl seemingly of around twenty years of age. Her hair fell in ebony ringlets around her shoulders and down her back. A circlet of silver inlaid with garnets rested lightly on the brow of her ivory flesh. Her dark lush ruby lips curved in a slight smile as she gazed over the crowd with stunningly pale green eyes. The long sleeves of her red gown almost brushed the ground, embroidered with intricate braided silver along the edges.

The other youth, Lord Kruv, was also pleasing to the eyes, causing the hearts of the younger maidens to skip a beat. His dark hair was worn short, though it still fell about his eyes. His strikingly pale skin mimicked his bride’s, unnatural for the location of their southern home. Kruv stood at an average height amongst his peers, yet he seemed to have dominating, almost feral air to him. His fine-boned, lupine face scanned the crowd of nobles assembled. He had no smile playing upon his lips, and bore a look of what seemed to be disinterest.

“My lords and ladies of the realm, I thank thee kindly for coming upon such short notice. My lady wife is very dear to me, and it greatly pleases both I and her that thou hast all arrived. It has been ages since we have had such a feast” rang out the voice of the baron, who proceeded to laugh deeply and unnervingly. Too late, the noblemen realized the knights of Kruv’s court had blocked off any means of escape from door or window. Lady Adelaida grinned fully now, revealing unnaturally sharp canine teeth. The handmaidens and servants of the baroness and baron began rushing through the crowds, snatching lords and ladies from their seats and dragging them to the corners of the hall to be fed upon. Surviving nobles fled to the exits futilely, blocked by the armed guards of the castle.

Many guests attempted to plead with the Baron and baroness, offering land, wealth, loyalty, and servitude. These attempts were made in vain however, and many of these whimpering lords and ladies became the blood-feast for the fair Lady Adelaida or her lover Kruv. Blood bedecked the banquet hall, and the court of Castle Kruv had a feast as none had ever seen before, nor ever had wished to see again. The peoples of the land reviled the southern realm of Kruv, yet no commoner complained to the liberation of the realm from their pompous liege lords.

It is still said amongst the peasants that any who wander past Castle Kruv on the darkest autumn night, shall hear the screams of those damned to a bloody fate amongst the vampires of Kruv’s court.

Credit To – Nefertam

This is a Crappypasta Success Story; it had a 100% upvote rate on its Crappypasta post (which can be seen here) and so it is being moved here with minor formatting/typo corrections. Admin Fail!

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Rose Rock

August 26, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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“Beatrice!” Hughbert yelled angrily from the kitchen table. “How many times I gotta remind you that I want my gravy on the mashed potatoes only? Never on my chicken!” Beatrice stood silently wide eyed near the kitchen sink, as her faded floral dress hanging loosely from her thin frame. Her tawny shoulder dull hair did little to accentuate her bland features as she continued to stare at her husband blankly.

Her mouth was always slightly agape and her eyes tended to exude a far off stare; often giving one the impression that she was not the “brightest.” Hughbert rolled up his soil stained shirt sleeves with annoyance. As he grabbed on to his overall straps he leant back in his cold metal chair. “Beatrice, look at this woman,” he said as he coolly grabbed a biscuit from off his dinner plate. “It’s cold! And my sweet tea which is supposed to be cold is warm!” He threw the biscuit on the plate in disgust as he snapped, “Can’t you do anything right?! Especially after I work so hard to take care of you! This is what I get – garbage.”

Beatrice gently padded forward across the linoleum floor. “I can throw it out to the pigs, if you don’t want it,” she said timidly. “I’m sorry,” she added as she dropped her head low. “Give – give this to the pigs?” snorted Hughbert. “What – and poison the animals? No way!”

Grumbling under his breath to himself, he leaned forward and picked up his fork and knife. He continued, “I’ll eat this trash. But if I ever keel over some day – you’ll know why Beatrice. Take some notes from one of those cooking shows or something. And for Pete’s sake – where’s the butter?!” Beatrice continued to wait upon every whim of Hughbert as he finished his meal under the pale fluorescent light bulbs.

This was a standard evening within the Wilkin household. Hughbert was a rather unsavory man to come across and often kept to himself. He refused to take part of society beyond the standard business on his farm. Beatrice herself was limited by him on when she was allowed to so much as leave the house for a trip to the local supermarket. Quite the controlling man, he allowed no one into their lives and never ventured outside of their small circle of privacy. To him, everyone was an imbecile and he had no time for idiots.

Later that same evening, chatter and laughter echoed from the small television set in the living room. Faint brown wallpaper splattered with little patterns of cacti adorned their living room walls. A small clock on the wall ticked on as Hughbert lounged in his favorite dusty armchair. Beatrice soaped and scrubbed away dutifully at the dishes in the kitchen all the while. Suddenly the doorbell rang.

“It’s 9 o’clock at night!” yelled Hughbert exasperatedly. “Who in their right mind would come all the way out here to bother a man within the comfort of his own home?” Beatrice had come to stand near the arm rest of the sofa out of curiosity. Hughbert lazily heaved himself out of his chair. Cocking and loading his shotgun, he sauntered to the front door. “What do you want?” questioned Hughbert as he threw open the door.
The porch light flickered as moths flew into the light, their frying in the heat emitting the only sound around them in the night air. Hughbert looked around and saw no one. “What’s that, Hughbert?” Beatrice was now by his side wearing a puzzled look upon her face. Directly in front of them sat a small black wooden box.

Hughbert bent down and lifted the lid. Blue silk lined the inside of the box. An old parchment styled flyer gently rested upon the contents of the box. Raising the flyer to the light he read aloud:

‘In honor of the town’s favorite farmer with the best produce, you are cordially invited to The Blue Corn Moon festival as Guest of Honor. Your special night of honor shall be celebrated on Saturday the 22nd at 7p.m. It is the Night of the Wolf. The enclosed necklace is a gem passed down from our ancestors. It is reserved only for the most honorable of our society. It is to be worn during the celebration.

Warmest Regards.

–The Town of Rose Rock’

“Ya see that Beatrice!” exclaimed Hughbert as he withdrew the necklace from the box. “Everyone around here appreciates all my hard work. Guest of Honor,” relished Hughbert as he placed the leather strap around his neck. A smooth oval stone dangled round the center of his chest. “Hughbert, it’s glowing,” said Beatrice wide eyed as she gazed at his necklace. Swirling white and blue light emitted from the stone.

Hughbert smiled greedily as he patted the stone. A smooth breeze blew through the warm night air. Hughbert sniffed the air and shouted “Beatrice! I suppose ya decided burning my dessert would be a great way to finish my night off – right?! Get your butt in that kitchen and do it right this time!” Beatrice hopped at his shouting and was already in the kitchen before he had finished yelling. Leaving the box on the ground, the screen door creaked on its hinges. He slammed the house door shut behind him and resumed his place in front of the tv for the night.

The night of the 22nd had arrived, and it was now 6:30p.m. “Beatrice, move it!” Hughbert shouted as he started the ignition to his rusty old truck. The engine rumbled as he sat waiting impatiently. Beatrice hurried down the front steps and slid quietly into her seat.

Her hair had been neatly braided to one side, a purple flower adorning her ear. She had even had time to apply some basic makeup for once. It made a tremendous difference which made Hughbert feel slightly uncomfortable. She gave a weak smile with her pale pink lips as he eyed her floral lavender dress. “Well,” began Hughbert “you look nice.” He put the truck in drive and sped out of their dirt driveway as he added, “For once, you won’t be a complete embarrassment.” Her smile fell as they drove down the road toward the center of town.

A series of large elaborate streamers of blue, white, and silver were dangling from every golden glowing street light. A large decadent sign hung above the main street entrance to the town square of Rose Rock which read, ‘Blue Corn Moon Festival.’ Hughbert had parked the truck alongside the road, and Beatrice followed him as they proceeded on foot to the center of the festivities. Confetti littered the streets as they made their way towards the large crowd before them. The entire town of Rose Rock had gathered together.

Children laughed and chased one another about with blazing sparklers in their hands. Women in their finest dresses discussed recipes over a large spread of homemade pies. Groups of people bobbed for apples out of old washtubs, as old women sampled one another’s homemade preserves and jams. The men of the town had mostly gathered round the barrels of Rose Rock ale. Laughing raucously, the men clinked their mugs together in cheers. A clown on stilts cut through the joyful crowd as a group of jugglers followed in his path.

Hughbert smoothed his hair to the side as the mayor of Rose Rock spotted him and exclaimed for all to hear, “Mr. Hughbert Wilkin! Our treasured guest of honor! Please – follow me! We have a beautiful evening prepared in celebration of our community’s finest contributor!” Hughbert chuckled shyly as he shrugged off the compliment. “Oh no, truly only the finest candidates are even considered for such a special occasion. And you have been deemed worthy by the whole town as the Guest of Honor for tonight. Please, come,” motioned the mayor as he led Hughbert and Beatrice to their seats.
The awkward couple were seated on stage in the center of the festival. As the mayor announced Hughbert’s arrival via microphone, the town sounded with roars of joy from all sides. A cream colored awning dripped in decorative white lights and shaded Hughbert and Beatrice under the late night sky. They reclined peacefully in the plush cushioned chairs provided for them. Sumptuous town dishes and desserts were laid before them as Hughbert’s glass was repeatedly emptied and immediately refilled with the crisp cold ale.

A series of performances were held throughout the night as Hughbert enjoyed his place above the rest of the town. He was clearly the best man in town-he knew it- and now the whole town agreed he was too. Clown acts, children’s plays, frenzied eating competitions, strongest man barrel lifting, timed corn shucking, and best face paint competitions were all judged by Hughbert. The night stretched on and hours later all of the food, ale, and excitement had finally made Hughbert’s eyes grow weary. He was ready to go lay in his beckoning bed at home.

Hughbert stood stretched his legs and yawned. The mayor quickly made his way over to Hughbert’s side. “Is there anything I can get for you Mr. Wilkin?” “Nah,” yawned Hughbert again. “I’m just real tired. I think I’m ready to call it a night now and head on back home.” “Oh, no, no, no,” gasped the mayor as he gently pushed Hughbert down into his seat. Hughbert looked at the fat old mayor bewilderedly.

“There is one last ‘special’ performance which has been made specifically for you. Please, enjoy the show. Then you may go if you like afterwards.” “Well, alright,” Hughbert agreed with some annoyance as he remained seated. The mayor walked over to the microphone. “All right Rose Rock,” said the mayor. “It’s time.”

With that, the mayor walked off stage. Everyone grew silent, not a sound was made. Four men walked on stage and removed the awning. Other attendants removed the table and Beatrice was whisked off into the crowd. The town rock for which it was named was brought on stage; a red boulder that was smooth all along the top. Hughbert was pulled from his chair and guided by two men to sit atop the boulder. Baffled, Hughbert sat quietly facing the crowd.

The moon was at its largest, high into the night sky. The beams of light made the necklace around his neck glow an even brighter shade of blue. “Hey!” shouted Hughbert to the crowd. “What’s going on here?” Not even crickets chirping in the grass could be heard. “This some kind of weird joke or something’?” Silence met his ears. Then, the crowd stirred.

Far in the back, the crowd parted in two all the way to the front of the stage where Hughbert sat. He could see a lone figure walking slowly towards him. As he watched the figure draw near, he saw that it was an Indian Chief. The man wore a large hat and loin cloth of matching blue and red feathers. Green face paint smeared his cheeks and pointed nose. Looking solemnly up at Hughbert, the Chief’s deep black eyes bore into his.
The chief removed a dead chicken dangling from his side and slit its throat. He waved the chicken rhythmically back and forth as it sprayed blood on the rock where Hughbert sat. The Chief began chanting in a language Hughbert could not understand. The Chief removed kernels of corn from a small pouch and threw them into the blood at the base of Rose Rock. “What in the hell kinda show is this supposed to be?!” yelled Hughbert angrily.
“Long ago when our ancestors settled this land,” the mayor explained from a gazebo loudly for all to hear, “they had to make a deal. To appease the spirits that claim this land, a blood sacrifice is required once a year. The Night of the Wolf is the night of the required sacrifice. Ya see,” went on the mayor now facing in Hughbert’s direction, “you were the lucky candidate chosen for the job this year. It is quite an honor, Mr. Wilkin.”
Hughbert’s head had begun to spin and he felt unnaturally sluggish and dizzy. A thick purple mist had begun to creep in on all sides of the town. “Feeling a little lightheaded?” questioned the mayor with a chuckle. The whole town let out a loud peel of laughter. Hughbert grabbed his head as he slumped to his side on the rock. “No!” shouted Hughbert, “No!” The laughter continued to fill his ears.

“Oh don’t worry about the dizziness Mr. Wilkin, that’s just from all the drugs we put in all your food and drink tonight!” exclaimed the mayor wearing a grin from ear to ear. The purple mist had completely swallowed the town; Hughbert could only see the crowd now. Everything around had faded. Suddenly the crowd fell silent as the rumbles of growls could be heard.

Hundreds of glaring yellow eyes peered out from the mist at the crowd. The stone around his neck glowed brilliantly as the eyes followed the blue glow through the mist; like ships in a storm to a lighthouse. The crowd continued to watch as the army of massive wolves gathered on stage encircling Hughbert. A wolf jumped onto his chest and howled loudly at the moon as the mist immediately retreated. “Nooooo!” screamed Hughbert as the wolves tore into his flesh from all angles. Unable to move now, the farmer was utterly defenseless.

The now clear sky and bright moon lit the entire event as the crowd remained stock still. “Beatrice!” shouted Hughbert for he had spotted her in the crowd. “Beatrice!” he yelled once again extending a bloody hand. “Help me!” The wolves continued to snarl and rip away at him. Beatrice snapped the clasp on her purse open and reaching in said, “Well, I remembered the butter this time for you!”

She proceeded to throw some sticks of butter that hit him squarely in the face. “It felt like centuries waiting for this night,” said Beatrice as she rolled her eyes and nudged a friend beside her. Eruptions of laughter broke out throughout the crowd. The Chief turned and exited through the parted crowd quietly into the night. The town’s people watched on with amusement as they waited for the spirits of the wolves to complete their ritual feast upon Rose Rock.

Credit To – miss ivory

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This is How the World Ends

August 26, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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What does it take to destroy a universe?

A cataclysm? Apocalypse? Do those things destroy a universe? No. We assume that the collapse of all we know is due to the effects of some fated, predicted catastrophe that strips daily life of all its rules, laws, and foundations. But that is our mistake. You see, these things are the effects of a universe in freefall. We mistake effects for cause, and spend all of our life searching for “signs of the apocalypse” so we can prevent was has already happened. Trust me, once you see the signs, it’s already too late.

We can conceive of what a destroyed universe might look like, but the cause is far beyond us. It is terrifying in its utter alienness. Because for the universe to be destroyed, there must be a fatal flaw in the processes we so certainly depend on. Or, perhaps more chillingly depending on your religious bent, there is something far larger than any of us waiting to turn off the light.

So, what does it take to destroy a universe?

_

I worked for DelSanto Labs for fifteen years. I had high hopes of reaching some heretofore unknown peak of human intellect and advancement with my tiny projects, plying my hands at the great unknowns. It was all a pipe dream until Dr. Swanson asked me to be her lab assistant for her latest project. In conspiratorial whispers she told me about their goals to model the macro level processes of cosmic organization, tracing the development of the laws that held our planet spinning in place. She showed me the lab, rows of gleaming and pricey equipment meant to provide a safe haven for a universe all their own. I was hooked, drunk on the potential for new knowledge and discovery.

Despite my eagerness, I resigned myself to my position as a lowly cog in the machine, not privy to the secret underpinnings of how you create a self-sustaining universe. Still, I glutted myself on the scientific morsels that dropped from their table as I dutifully kept notes and monitored the myriad displays for any important changes. I was a glorified scribe, a sentient computer program that recorded rote data day in and day out. “But we need the human element,” said Dr. Swanson, her passion dripping from her words. “We’re breaking the laws of computing, so I can’t trust a computer to see it.”

The goal was staggering; we sought to create an environment that would evolve, exist, and balance itself out much like our own universe. Of course, it was trying. How can you create a blank slate and build a working universe of physics and nature? That was the first hurdle and the one no one thought we would actually achieve. I mean, we were attempting to shatter every law of nature ever known or thought of, and even a few we did not even know we were breaking yet. It is a miracle—though I feel that is the precisely wrong word to describe it—that we ever achieved it. But they did. And I watched on with childlike wonder at the power of creation.

I watched on as they verified again and again their first major breakthrough. They had created a magnificent void, suspended through the well-calibrated workings of a dozen different machines. It was ultimately artificial, yet ultimately the most real thing that had ever existed. There was nothing to misperceive or misunderstand; it existed as pure nothingness. I found myself lost in that nothingness more times than I would like to admit, and I’m certain it nearly cost me my job. Some days I wish it had. I could have held onto my wonder and innocence, cursing the missed opportunity that became such a burden.

This breakthrough alone should have been enough for fame, notoriety, and the next decades worth of Nobel Prizes, but Dr. Swanson kept a tight lid on any information leaving the lab. She would not breathe a word of the breakthrough until she finally had what she wanted—a living model of the universe to be picked and pulled and ultimately deconstructed into omniscience. If anyone else found out, she would whisper with a paranoid glint in her eye, they might try to sabotage them. There was more luck than perseverance in the first success, and she would not let any meddle in her work. I think she also feared others would discover more quickly than she did if she ever revealed how to create such an impossible space. I was sworn to secrecy and diligence; I kept my promise for those of those until today.

The nothingness, while impressive, was not her ultimate goal. She needed to see how this blank slate of universal principles would ultimately order itself, which meant there needed to be something to order. With the boundaries and limits of the void faithfully maintained, she provided matter.

You’d be amazed at quickly existence begins. In some ways, I knew even then that time in that space was not like time in ours, but the speed at which order triumphed over chaos was still startling. The few atoms we spewed into the void hung there, initially lost and confused. There was no set of unbreakable principles that arranged their structure or gave them a purpose. Yet existence has a way of fighting, and over the course of a week, the matter began to assemble. It began to set itself apart according to rules that were unknown to science up until they sprung into existence under our watchful eyes. That patch of matter coalesced, drawn together by a strange magnetism that at once resembled our gravity, even as it denied the very fundamentals we learned to trust implicitly. The atoms clung together like survivors cast upon alien soil.

On Day 16, it exploded. The tiny bits of matter we introduced had reduced down, crushing in on top of themselves, fighting to develop a hierarchy of rules and existence. Finally, it ruptured into a brilliant glare on our monitoring equipment, a dozen different readings spiking to unimaginable limits before settling back to a new level of activity. I saw it happen, shielding my eyes from the brilliance. No matter what else happens, I can say I was one of the handful of humans alive that ever saw a universe bloom into existence. That is a beauty worth fighting for. The Little Bang, as we called it, marked a new beginning. Suddenly, the universe we had created had a shape and a purpose.

I typed pages and pages of notes, observing ever minute alteration or fluctuation. The silence of the void was replaced by a flurry of activity, most of it beyond my limited ability to understand. We had every sensor you can imagine pointed at it, taking temperature, electrical, ion, weight, size, gravity, radiation, and a dozen other metrics. I studied the recordings, but it was not my job to make interpretation, merely to dutifully record what I saw. I also had the boring task of calibrating the equipment nightly, an endeavor that took up the scant hours of time I had left. While others were engaged with manipulating that data, breaking it open and reading its secrets, I was merely a scribe and technician. They were the gatekeepers of the profound secrets of the universe, walking hurriedly, wide smiles stitched across their faces even as their eyes hung heavy with fatigue. They rode the high of exploration for longer than I thought possible, and it seemed the bounty was endless. Yet I am the one unfortunate enough to carry its burden.

Day 97 was another day of relatively little activity. It had been about nine weeks since everything settled into an orbit. We had hoped for galaxies upon galaxies, but the matter we provided generated only a few spinning hunks of dust and pinpoints of impossible light. The energy output was startling, but manageable. I left the camera trained on the tiny plantelets as I went about my night calibrations. There was something soothing about watching a small collection of planet orbit their sun—something omnipotent and existential about it. When I had gazed up at the stars before, from out on a beach or mountaintop, I had always felt so small and insignificant. With the stars of my universe, I felt unstoppable.

Pausing in my task, an odd change caught my eye. One of the quarter-sized blips of the planetlets had changed. It sat there, spinning slowly as I tried to figure out what was different. Clouds swirled over it like a milky marble, obscuring the surface from time to time. And then, there was a sudden sparkle of light beneath the clouds. As I watched, a softly glowing trail rippled across the planet, lighting up the tiny sector of space.

I rushed to the console, zooming in as far as I could see. And then I immediately called Dr. Swanson on the phone.

She did not believe me, of course. But, to her credit, she rushed into the lab and looked down at the screen. There it was before us, a network of lights covering the dark side of the planet. Eve as we watched, the sun rose and the lights faded from existence. But we knew what we had seen. She demanded I investigate further, and so I dutifully dialed in one of the cameras, stretching it to its technological limit. The closer we got, the clearer the organization became, the more distinct became the arches and solid forms of buildings. Most importantly, the more terrifying became our ultimate creation.

I turned my awe-filled face to study her, see her break into the same joyous wonder that I felt swelling within me. However, her face was pale, bloodless, and drawn. She stared at the screen with quivering eyes, and her voice was just above a whisper. “Shut it down.”

“What? We can’t do that—“

“We can’t have done this,” she whispered. Her words were haunted, spoken more to herself than anyone else. I saw true terror as she considered the implications of creating a whole group of people built in a lab. Organisms had never been the goal; they had been a risk, potentially creating something that could destroy everything we knew. I had sat in on the rigorous meetings about proper decontamination should any infectious agents appear. But these were not single-celled bacteria or unique viral agents. No, our trial run as God had resulted in impossible outcomes. Despite all our monitoring, we never realized that the birth of beings would leave no discernible ripple on the universe. We had missed it. “Shut it down,” she commanded again, her eyes finally leaving the screen. They were grim and determined.

“I won’t do that,” I said with more surety than I truly possessed. I was here to take my stand. Unfortunately, all my bravery was useless in the face of her absolute terror. I have played this scene through again and again in my head. I should have grabbed some piece of the equipment—something heavy and sturdy—and slung it at her head. I could have knocked her out, bound her. Ultimately, I would have had to kill her, I think. I should have barred the doors and made my last stand, buying those denizens a few extra days on their world. Eventually, the others would have broken through and shut it down. It was protocol, after all. Biological agents discovered? Violent decontamination.

But those hours or days in my universe might have bought them a generation for all I knew. Maybe I could have even got a speaker rigged up, spoken into the great void in hopes they could hear me. I doubt they would understand my English, but at least I could have warned them. What do you say to a doomed planet? Hug your children, tell your family you love them, do that thing you’ve been putting off. Enjoy life while you have it. I think that’s what I would have said. I think that’s what you say to a doomed world.

But none of that happened. Instead Dr. Swanson pulled the plug herself, and I watched the laws of the universe fall apart beneath our watching camera. The fields that had carefully cradled our test tube universe disappeared, and its own laws tore it to shreds. It fell prey to a world of laws and scientific rules that were not its own. The computer display showed me how the tiny planet came unglued at its core, flinging red hot streaks of magma across its surface. The stars fell from the sky, the lights went out. Whatever had once kept tiny people and their tiny lives safely anchored on their home gave way, and I tried not to notice the tiny particles floating throughout the faltering universe. The sun at the core of our system finally succumbed, and white hot heat purified whatever could have remained. I watched the temperature readings spike, then resolve back to the carefully maintained 73 degrees of our lab. A pile of ash and sludge caked the floor, the only remnants of what we had created in our foolishness.

I left DelSanto that day, the ringing of the emptiness echoing with me, and began the years-long process of ridding myself of the unbearable guilt. It was trips to therapists who considered me delusional, trial runs of alcohol and drugs that dulled the senses but left a howling ache where they had been. Medications were mostly useless. We destroyed the nothing, but I felt I carried it around deep inside my chest, an emptiness that no law of our world could hope to fill. As much as I would like to say I found the cure, that I somehow saved some sliver of that world, I cannot. Instead, I carry their burden daily and hope that counts for something, some memorial of a forgotten race destroyed by fear. Some nights, I imagine I hear their screams.

So, do you see now what it takes to destroy a universe? I can only hope that whoever is out there observing us is not quite so cowardly and fearful. Hopefully, they are as full of wonder as I was, brimming with joy and appreciation for the tiny world on their screen.

If not, well, I’ve seen how the end plays out. At least it will be quick.

Credit To – Katherine C

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What Doesn’t Kill You Will Come Back For You Later

August 24, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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[static sounds, with a click of a button. As the cassette rolls, a woman begins to speak]

There once was a girl who could sleep peacefully at night. She would curl up in her blankets without any fear, just rest in the fact that she was safe and sound. That girl was me.

[pauses. clears throat.]

I was five when I was adopted by my parents. They were a warm, loving couple. I lived a great life with them, never worrying they would hate me, and there were no siblings around either. My mom would put me to bed and read me the Giving Tree as much as I wanted, and my dad would be there in the morning to make me breakfast.

I remember, one night, when I was seven, I’d had a nightmare. Scared, I rushed out of my room and ran to theirs, jumping in their bed and pulling the covers over my head. It woke them up, of course, and they asked me what was wrong. I told them that, when I fell asleep, something had snuck into the room with me, just sitting there, whispering. Shaking their heads, they let me sleep there, since we were all too tired to do anything else.

The next night, believing what I had seen was a nightmare, I lay down and went to sleep. That is, until 3 in the morning, when I heard. [sharp breath] My eyes wide open, I heard muffled screaming, coming from my parents room. I wasn’t entirely sure what to do, so I lay there, my blankets drawn up to my face. The screaming faded after a while, but they were replaced by different sounds.

The sound of claws scraping across the tiled floor.

[static and stuttered, quaking breath]

It came closer and closer, the being closing in on my door. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I was close, pressed up to my door in no time. But it never came in. I-I could hear it, whispering, over and over. You’re in there; let me in. You’re in there; let me in!

But I didn’t move until the sun rose, and I knew it was gone.

[faint sobs. continues]

The police came by later that day, and the ambulance took… my parents away. I saw them, covered from sheets, in head to toe, and I tried to follow them. A police officer held me back, saying that they were gone. I told him no, they’re right there, on those beds. I asked him why there was a blanket drawn over their faces, but he just left me there, wrapped in my own blanket, sitting on the steps. [pause, break in voice] Alone.

I’m, uh… I’m 27 years old now. I graduated from college three years ago and I’m now on my own. I was passed around from foster family to foster family. It wasn’t all bad, but I was never the same afterwards. I wouldn’t sleep without the light on. And I never held a blanket over my head. Ever. It’s still the same today, only I have a battery-powered light source now, and not wasting electricity.

I don’t know if what I saw was real. The police told me someone had broken into the house and killed them brutally. I left it at that, for at the time, I was a mess. I wouldn’t eat or sleep. All I could think about was the whispering.

You’re in there; let me in!

It wasn’t human. It was rather obvious. But I told no one. I’m not entirely sure why, at the time, but it was probably for the best. They would have thought I was crazy. [small peal of false laughter]

But I’m telling you this because… because the bad dreams are coming back. I… I hear it, at my door again, whispering. It’ll, um, it’ll knock sometimes. It starts out quiet, but, then it gets louder. Louder. Louder. Louder and louder until the whole house feels like it’s shaking.

[frantic breathing, then calm]

And, last night it… Last night it came again. But this time, it… it opened my, um… my door, and- [crying, sniffling of nose] I heard the handle jiggle, slightly, and the click. The hinges didn’t make a noise, but I knew. I opened my eyes, and I saw darkness. Nothing but pitch black.

I’m here. It whispered only one more time. I’m here for you.

[sniffling and blowing nose]

They say… they say what, uh, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But… but I found that what doesn’t kill you will come back for you later.

It’s almost ten o’clock. My windows are closed and the main light is on.

[long pause]

If I don’t post anything on this tape in the morning, assume the worst.

[The tape audio stops. For a few second, you hear silence. Then, suddenly, the audio begins.]

[shuffling, quick movements and rough static]
hello.
i came. i told her i would.
now…

[large, heavy, uneven breathing]

now, look behind you, in the door way.
[The audio stops. You look behind you and-]

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The Amateur

August 20, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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The cold wet cement gritted beneath Leila’s black polished dress shoes. Her small countenance crossed the street as her silken green dress flounced along with her. Her black stockings and small grey overcoat had been added to her as the final touch with pride by her teary eyed mother hours ago. “Now remember Leila, your father and I have saved for years to afford this. You have the opportunity to bring honor to our family; to bring rest amongst our kind,” her mother had said. Mrs. Pocket had been smiling with mingled tears of joy and sorrow, as she had finished securing the last black button upon Leila’s coat.

“But mama, when will I see you again?” “Once you have completed the task you are being sent to carry out, then we can unite once more. You are the only one properly qualified for this task amongst us, so make us proud sweetheart. The creature has been given numerous warnings to remove itself from this land. This entire territory has always belonged to our kind. It is overstepping its boundaries. You need to eliminate it, so do your best and you will succeed.”

Leila clung desperately to her mother. “But mama! No! I can’t leave you and father.” Her mother had dabbed at her nose with a handkerchief as she sniffled. Mrs. Pocket stooped down to Leila’s height and held her hands tightly. “My dear, you must. This is for your own good, and more importantly, for the greater good of our kind. This is a rare opportunity that many could never even dream of having within their grasp. Your whole life will change for the better after this Leila. You must kill it.”

Her mother adjusted the bow amongst Leila’s mahogany curls and then stood up sharply. “Now, enough of this dreary farewell. The weather looks quite overcast and it’s time you be along your way my love. Write to us!” Her mother had blown a kiss to Leila as the stagecoach door had closed firmly behind the girl. After a few hours of traveling throughout the countryside, the footman had finally helped Leila down from the coach.

They crossed the street to Ms. Terri’s School for Girls. The finishing school was renowned around all of England. It was extremely expensive, impossible for most to gain admittance, and only a few students were permitted to attend the program at a time. All potential pupils were cross examined by the mistress of the institute herself for consideration. Only those which Ms. Terri deemed suitable and possessing the proper attributes, were even considered for enrollment. And now little Leila would have to take down some gruesome and monstrous creature, perhaps destroying the whole school along with it. The task before her was a daunting one, yet one she had no choice but to undertake.

It was here now at Ms. Terri’s front door that Leila anxiously awaited her new instructor as the footman rang the doorbell. Clouds swirled above them alluding to heavy rains to come. A bolt from the other side of the door came undone as the door swung open to reveal Ms. Terri. She was tall, slender, and clearly gorgeous. Rumors always abounded as to why such a pretty young woman remained unmarried. People supposed that she simply had no time for such frivolities. She had instead chosen to focus entirely on the noble task of improving the future ladies of England.

Her delicate nose rested between high cheekbones of blushing pink. Her unblemished pale skin stood out in contrast against her midnight black hair. She had allowed it to flow in a neat braid half way down her back, its healthy sheen visible in the street lights on that chill evening. Her mauve lips parted in a gentle smile to reveal dazzling white teeth. She thanked the footman for his services and paid him promptly with a few gold coins. Now all alone on the steps, Leila stood silently with her eyes down cast as she awaited instruction.

“So, Miss Leila Pocket,” Ms. Terri stated flatly. “Yes ma’am. I am Miss Leila Pocket. Delighted to meet you,” said Leila with a polite curtsy. Putting a hand to her hip, Ms. Terri intensely stared at Leila with her smoky eyes, eyeballing the girl from head to toe. They stood in an awkward silence for a few seconds longer. The black and red laced corset on the instructor clasped so tightly to the woman’s torso, that it was a wonder to Leila as to how the woman could breathe. Her black skirts swooshed about her as she turned her back to the girl.

“The footman will bring your belongings to your room. One of your fellow pupils will show you how your room is to be kept. Tidiness will be observed at all times here at this school. I do not need to mention standards of cleanliness, as you were already briefed upon the subject at our last interview.” “Yes ma’am,” replied Leila absentmindedly as she followed the fast pace of the woman up the staircase. Leila turned over different methods of how to complete her mission in her head. The question ‘how?’ ran through her mind again and again.

“If you want to become a member of civilized society, you must reassess and alter your appearance immediately. Starting tomorrow, the maids will help you dress each morning and undress each evening. Breakfast is held at 7:30 am in the dining hall with the others. Your classes begin at 8:30 am. Just follow the rest of the girls around and you will fall into your schedule along the way. Quite simple to follow, I should say.” Ms. Terri added curtly.

As Leila was led up the large winding staircase, she saw that it opened to a large hallway. Upon taking a right, they were met with another hallway of ten rooms. Five rooms to the left faced five rooms across the hall to the right. They walked onward and Ms. Terri opened the last door to the left at the end of the hall. “These shall be your quarters for the duration of your stay here. I’ll see you downstairs for dinner at 6:30 pm sharp.” The woman’s large eyes flitted over Leila one last time as she then turned from the girl and made her way around the corner and out of sight.

Leila gasped at the elegance of her new room. A chandelier hung in the center of the room above a large fluffy pink carpet. Golden candelabras sat upon every ivory table top. A large four poster bed with curtains of pink and lavender rested across a large matching ivory vanity. The vanity was bedecked in an assortment of powders, rouges, pink and red glosses, ribbons, bows, perfumes, and silver brushes. A sofa that matched the candelabras was placed against the wall facing the only window to her room. Potted pink flowers adorned the outside of the window. Leila drew the deep maroon curtains closed.

The sight was breath taking as Leila walked over to run a hand over the cool hard surface of her bedside drawers. It was too bad that she would not get much time to enjoy the peace and quiet of the place. Since Leila still had some extra time left before dinner commenced, she decided to have a look around the rest of the building. She began to wander the hallway outside of her room and found many photos of young girls lining the walls. All of them were solemn faced as they posed in front of the school. “Well that was rather odd”, Leila thought to herself.

A photo of Ms. Terri was centered at the end of the hall near to Leila’s bedroom door. It had to be at least twenty years old from the looks of it. But, not so much as one wrinkle had yet crept onto the woman’s face presently. “She’s been instructing for at least thirty years now, from what I’ve heard,” said a gentle voice from behind Leila. A blond haired girl with large blue eyes stood behind Leila.

“I’m Samantha,” introduced the girl. “Oh, I’m Leila,” she returned politely. “I’ve been here one year now. Four more left for me before I graduate. Ms. Terri tries to make us all like perfect dolls,” Samantha indicated to her dress and perfectly brushed hair. “All of these,” she pointed to the photos on the walls, “these were her star pupils; her ‘perfect dolls’ that successfully graduated from her past years of teaching here.”

“I wonder why they all look so sad. Some of them were just small children. Rather odd,” remarked Leila. Samantha went on, “Well, each year Ms. Terri selects the top of the class and awards them £50,000.00 along with a ticket to Paris to further their studies. If they have enough intellect, they graduate early. Typically, all of her students go on to wed rich gentlemen over in France and never return to England. They become such snobs that not even their own families ever hear from them again.” “Not even so much as one letter?” questioned Leila.

“No not one, not once they graduate and move on from here,” replied Samantha. “How peculiar,” thought Leila aloud. “Perhaps we will grow to learn the strange ways of the rich upper class once we become them,” ventured Samantha. Leila shrugged. “How many other students are here with us?” “Right now it is just you, myself, and two other girls.”

Here Samantha stopped speaking abruptly. “Did you hear that?” “What?” Leila asked. “Be quiet-listen,” hissed Samantha. As they stood silently in the hall, they could hear heavy footsteps on the staircase. The footsteps thudded against each squeaky step when suddenly the footsteps stopped. Suddenly, children giggling could be heard echoing down the hallway.

A small red children’s top came spinning from around the corner, and continued to spin in the center of the hallway before them. “Who did that?” Leila asked in a whisper. “The other two girls are in their rooms. No one else is here except Ms. Terri and the servants preparing dinner downstairs…” Samantha’s voice trailed off as they continued to watch on. The giggling of little children could still be heard.

As Samantha stood fixated in place, Leila walked over to the spinning stop. Stooping down, she watched it spin for a moment, then picked it up and watched the toy continue to spin in her hand. The echoes of laughter stopped as a bell rang. “Oh that’s the dinner bell,” explained Samantha. “We must go to our seats at once or Ms. Terri will be quite cross with us. Let’s go.” Leila quickly pocketed the toy and followed her new acquaintance down the stairs.

At the dinner table as the first course was served, Ms. Terri pointed out that polite dinner conversation was appropriate at this time. “To start, I’ll introduce our newest member Miss Leila Pocket. She will be here with us for the next five years. These are Miss Samantha, Miss Carey, and Miss Abigail,” indicated their mistress. “Miss Abigail here has done exceedingly well at this institute. She already celebrated her graduation this Saturday-two years ahead of schedule!”

Abigail wore a smug smile as she tossed her long red hair over her shoulder. “Miss Abigail shall be leaving us early tomorrow morning and will go on to travel Europe. I know she will excel at her new school abroad. Very exciting,” finished Ms. Terri with a smile as she patted Abigail’s hand. “Ms. Terri,” interjected Leila. “I have a question.” “And what would that be?” responded the woman as she smoothed a cheesy spread across a crisp slice of bread.

“What other children are here with us in this building?” “What do you mean?” “There were children laughing and playing in the hallway upstairs.” “Oh, you are mistaken,” she responded coolly, not bothering to look up at Leila as she went on. “Everyone in this house is here at the dinner table before you. And the servants would never be so foolish as to venture upstairs playing children’s games.”

“Well then, who was playing with this upstairs?” questioned Leila as she produced the toy top for all to see at the dining table. At this, the woman stood up violently knocking her chair to the floor. “Where did you get that?” their instructor snapped. “As I told you ma’am, i-in the hallway upstairs.” Flinging herself across the table, their mistress snatched up the object, a glint of wildness in her eyes now. Clasping it close to her bosom, she glared around the dinner table. “There are no other children here at the moment save for you four. No toys are permitted at the table. And filthy lies of phantom children will not be tolerated here at this school! To your room!” shouted Ms. Terri. “At once!”

Fearfully, Leila made for her room. Once locked inside, she hugged a throw pillow to herself as she sat atop her golden yellow sofa. Candles flickered on her bedside table as the chandelier above twinkled dimly. A hand suddenly wrapped around Leila’s ankle from beneath the sofa and began to pull her down to her knees. Leila screamed in utter panic as she tried to undo the grip of the gray hand. A second gnarled hand protruded from beneath the sofa and began to claw at the wooden floorboards, dragging itself forward into the light.

“It will get you just like it got us,” the creature wheezed. It had the shape of a human but dark wrinkled skin covered it; its bulbous yellow eyes peered up at Leila as it held on firmly to the girl. As Leila glanced up, she saw dozens of handprints forming on the foggy window. “Run,” the creature cried coarsely. “Knock! Knock!” It was Samantha at the door. “May I come in?” Leila looked about the room but the creature had vanished altogether along with the handprints. Leila ran to the door and swung it open breathing heavily.

“Oh Leila, come now. It’s not that bad here. Like I said, you will get accustomed to life here.” Samantha comforted. “No, you don’t understand,” said Leila. “It’s different here, but it is nothing you can’t handle.” Responded Samantha as she squeezed Leila’s shoulder supportively. “What about the toy?” questioned Leila. Samantha shrugged, “Maybe the wind blew it into the hallway. Who knows? I just wanted to make sure you are okay. Here, I saved you this cookie.”

Samantha produced a large chocolate cookie from one of her skirt pockets and set it atop the vanity. “Try to get some sleep. I’ll see you in the morning,” smiled Samantha as she closed the door behind her. “I’ve got to figure this out and complete my mission already so I can get out of here,” thought Leila aloud. But how? As night fell over the city, Leila waited in her room for all to fall asleep. It was at this point that she planned to make her move.

Hurriedly, she donned her gloves, buttoned her jacket, and buckled her shoes into place. At the stroke of midnight, she grabbed a lit candle from her dresser and opened her door slightly to peer through the small crack. A streetlamp close by shed a soft white light into the hall. All else was dark and silent throughout the building. This was her chance and she had to take it now. The skeleton key to the building hung on a hook in the front hall; she would use it to quietly search the building unnoticed in the black of night to look for the dreaded creature.

As she tiptoed down the dark hall, a certain picture hanging near her caught her eye. Holding the candle to it, Leila could see the photo contained a young girl of about 10 years. The little girl was holding the red spinning toy top in her hand. The girl in the picture blinked. No, it could not be Leila thought as she stared more intently at the photo. But this time the little girl’s eyes widened as she raised a hand and pointed it toward the opening to the hallway.
A sudden noise made Leila freeze in place. Each step on the staircase was squeaking one at a time as someone slowly made their way up the darkened stairs. Leila quickly hid herself behind a large drawer ornamented with a large vase of flowers along the wall. Blowing out the candle, she breathed quietly as she watched on. A black figure reached the top of the stairs and turned the corner, slowly entering the hallway of rooms.

The dim light just barely lit the image of the figure; she could not make out its face. Without warning, a large pair of black feathered wings spread out from behind it; the eyes were now glowing red. The winged creature looked about as it sniffed the air with a hint of suspicion. Taking a few steps forward, it entered into a room only to reemerge carrying the sleeping Abigail in its arms. The black wings wrapped around the pair as it slowly made its way down the squeaky staircase. The doors to the front parlor swung open as the fireplace within cast an eerie orange glow across the floorboards in the hall.

As the two passed through the open doors, Leila dared to follow them. She slid silently down the banister in the somber house, making sure to gently tiptoe over to peek into the room. “Youth, beauty, intellect, and grace; all shall forever be mine as your life’s blood I do taste,” proclaimed the beast. The winged creature proceeded to plunge a knife into the chest of the sleeping girl and began to devour her heart. Leila’s eyes widened in horror when suddenly, a hand from behind her firmly pressed against her mouth.

A servant woman still wearing her dirty apron was crouching quietly in the hallway with Leila as the gory scene continued in the parlor. Holding a finger to her lips, the servant indicated for Leila to follow her. They gently tiptoed back up the staircase and passed the hallway of rooms. They made their way over to a small door in a corner that led to the servant’s quarters up in the attic. Once shut up in a small shanty room the size of a closet, the servant lit a single candle and eyed Leila fearfully.

“You will have to leave here at once,” declared the woman. “Ms. Terri is the abomination that creeps across this school?!” Leila exclaimed thoroughly astounded. “Don’t let Ms. Terri know you have any idea about what just happened or you will meet the same fate. Tomorrow before breakfast, just get out and run from here.” “Why don’t you leave too?” questioned Leila incredulously.

“Us servants clean up after the blood and bodies. We know too much. If we tried to leave, she would kill us all too. If we stay and do as we’re told, then she allows us to live.” “What is she? A witch? A demon?” “Honestly, we have no idea. All we know is she stays youthful and lives forever by eating the hearts of pretty young girls like yourself.”

“She must be stopped!” cried Leila in utter disbelief. “Nothing can stop her,” continued the servant. “Not even the souls of the dead here that haunt this place can do anything. This place is a trap. Once you come here, you’re trapped.” “No,” refused Leila point blank. “I reject that there is no way to stop her. I will find a way.” The servant looked at Leila sadly as she could see the girl was determined to stay and fight. “I will find a way,” stated Leila with determination as she exited the room.

Leila lay awake in her bed with the curtains drawn until the next morning. Hours later, a knock at her door alerted her that it was time to begin her first day of lessons. Two servants entered and dressed Leila tightly into her lavender corset; the pink ribbons matched her rosy pink skirts beautifully. But Leila had only one thing on her mind, and that was to confront the monster that awaited her. Leila could not allow this creature to occupy the land of her kind; not after they had worked so long to live peacefully in the area.

Downstairs, Leila flopped unceremoniously into her chair in the dining room and stared unwaveringly at Ms. Terri. “Oh! Don’t you look like an absolute doll in that!” exclaimed the woman with a smile from across the breakfast table. With a straight face Leila did not acknowledge the woman’s compliment and bluntly asked, “Where is Abigail?” The smile Ms. Terri wore immediately fell and her eyebrows knitted into a frown. “I mentioned last night, Miss Pocket, that our Abigail had an early morning coach to catch today for her travels abroad.”

The woman stirred her tea, the spoon chinking lightly against the porcelain cup. “No slouching at the table Miss Pocket,” she snapped. “A polite ‘good morning’ to all at this table would also suffice young woman.” Leila continued to stare at her flatly in silence. “Well, I can see that we shall need to work on your social etiquette young lady,” said the woman with raised eyebrows over her tea cup. “I know what you did,” Leila stated angrily. The other two girls continued to eat their breakfast awkwardly in the midst of the unpleasant interaction.

“Oh really?” Ms. Terri asked in a tone of mockery. “And what would that be?” Leila slowly pushed her chair away from the table and stood up. “Funny how your portrait upstairs looks exactly the same as you do now,” Leila remarked slyly. “Some age more gracefully than others I suppose,” responded Ms. Terri clasping at the arm rests of her chair with white knuckles.

“How old are you exactly?” “I hardly find that to be any of your business,” snapped their instructor now growing visibly angrier by the second. Leila walked around the table to stand near the wall behind the woman. The newest addition of photos, now of Abigail, had been hung proudly on the wall for all to see. “Quite a lovely picture,” said Leila as she traced its frame with one finger. “I advise that you recall your manners and seat yourself at once. Do not touch that,” commanded Ms. Terri through clenched teeth.

“I wonder what would happen if I were to…” Leila trailed off as she snatched the photo from the wall and smashed it to the ground. The glass loudly shattered as Ms. Terri shrieked, “You stupid girl!” Leila looked down at the broken glass and torn picture to see that a sparkling mist was floating up into the air. A gentle sigh and “thank you,” emitted from the mist in Abigail’s voice. The mist dissipated.

Samantha and Carey were quickly ushered out of the room to take cover in the cellar by a servant girl. Ms. Terri’s glossy nails had turned long and black. “Don’t do that again,” whispered the woman in a very unnaturally deep tone of voice. “Oh-you mean don’t do this?” Leila mocked as she hurled another photo smashing to the ground. Again, a sparkling mist accompanied by a young girl’s sigh emitted from the wreckage. The woman’s hair immediately turned a dull white. Now her eyes glowed neon red.

Her black wings spread out from behind her as she stood up menacingly. “You will regret that.” “Oh, I think not,” Leila responded sneering at the creature before her. Making a mad dash for the hallway, Leila ran like lightning knocking down every photo along the way. They all came crashing down amidst shards of glass showers as swirls of trapped souls broke free of their prisons. Ms. Terri’s teeth had gone yellow and her skin had become a wrinkled shade of gray.

“Ugh, you really are an ugly thing aren’t you?” teased Leila as she ran up the stairs and continued to smash photos with glee. Loose hair billowing behind her, the woman swooped through the air with her great wings, landing with a thunderous clash against a china cabinet. “You will die for this girl!” the creature screamed as Leila ran to the end of the hallway of bedrooms. Grabbing the portrait of Ms. Terri herself, Leila held it high over her head. “You will never harm another soul again!” shouted the girl.
Then with all her might, she smashed the photo into the wall. Glass rained down as the portrait tore and burst into flames. “NO!” Ms. Terri shrieked as her body was enveloped in a burning blaze of red flames. “NO!” Leila stood before her and watched on as the creature finally fell into a heap of smoldering ashes. Wiping a few beads of sweat from her brow with the back of her arm, she made her way back down the stairs. “It’s all over!” she shouted. “It’s dead now!”

The servant who had hid Leila in her room the night before emerged from a closet. “Oh dear, look at you! Come, sit. You need a rest.” The servant stood alongside Leila and walked her over to take a seat on the sofa in the parlor. “That was so brave of you. I don’t know how you did it-but thank you,” said the woman in awe.

Leila tiredly rested her head on the woman’s shoulder as the servant patted her back comfortingly. “And look, not even a scratch on you,” remarked the woman bemusedly. At this, Leila opened her mouth in a smile to produce a sharp pair of perfect white fangs. “I know,” she retorted as she sank them into the woman’s neck. A few drops of blood oozed from the sides of Leila’s mouth as she stood to smooth her skirts. “Now that’s better.” The dead body of the servant remained slumped over and lifeless as Leila wiped away traces of blood from her face.

“No old magic hell hag is going to take over this territory as long as I am around,” remarked Leila to herself as she adjusted the bow in her hair. “Ms. Terri, such an amateur,” Leila snickered to herself as she made her way into the hallway. “My kind is fully back in control of this land now.” With a sigh of relief and feelings of a job well done, Leila went to find the others still hiding in the cellar. “Everybody, it’s safe to come out now!”

Credit To – miss ivory

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