A Moment of Horror

August 3, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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The following is a description of one exact point in time.

It is exactly 1:04:23.215 A.M.

On the second story of a quaint little home in suburbia is a hallway. The hallway begins at the top of the staircase and ends with a door. The oak of the portal and entry are stained smooth, comfortably conversing with the ashen paint surrounding its gateway. Inside aforesaid door is a master bedroom, occupied by a bed, occupied by a happily married couple. The ruby light of the alarm clock glows minimally in the corner, atop a matching oak nightstand. On the wall opposite the door hangs a window: blinds down, curtain pulled. The fan on the floor is turned to ON; an action engrained deeply from their previous city apartment, but now routine even in the quiet environs. The man and his wife are facing the same way: away from the tiresome glare of the clock. The man’s hand rests on his wife’s belly, which has a small bump.

Near the end of the hallway, the door closest to the master bedroom is wide open. The walls are half-painted baby-blue. A crib is mostly assembled in the middle of the room, atop a sheet of plastic that extends to all four walls. The radiance of the full moon breasts the thinly white blinds, illuminates the room, and pours gently into the hallway.

The next, and last, door in the hall is slightly ajar. Peeking through the crack lies an open bed, the covers hurriedly thrown across it, exposing the emptiness of it. Inside the room, at the foot of the bed, is a toy box. A few of the toy box’s occupants lie on the floor. On the wall opposite the bed is a closet, the door of which is open. The beams of the moon cast onto that wall, but could not penetrate the darkness of the open closet. Between the hanging shirts stood a shadowy figure no taller than four feet. Its eyes were fixated on the door to the hall.

Outside of this room, on the other side of the hallway, is the staircase. On the stair, facing the bottom, is a young boy. His face is contorted into panic; his eyes frozen in fear; his mouth slightly open. His right hand firmly gripped the wooden railing and his bare feet are pressed against the hard stair.

On the first floor of the house, around the corner from the bottom of the stairs, was the kitchen. The stainless steel appliances minimally reflected the moon; the angle of which only cast small amounts of light at the foot of each ground floor window. Between the island of many drawers and the stovetop stood a dark figure. Its presence could only be visible by the contrasted glimmer of sharp utensils and appliances surrounding it. The time on the microwave’s clock reads 00:00.

Connected to the kitchen is the family room. There is one large, cushioned recliner in the corner and a love seat across the wall, in the middle. In the middle of the family room is a coffee table. An empty coaster and several different brands of magazines lie on its surface. The window behind the love seat cast a dim light onto the TV on the opposite wall of the room, which reflected back onto the glass of the coffee table. Sitting on the loveseat is another shadowed figure.

On the far side of the family room is the entryway. The door to the outside is dead bolted. At the entrance is a welcome mat. The word ‘WELCOME’ is slightly obscured by three different pairs of shoes. On the wall to the left of the entrance is a coat closet; closed and locked without a key. The inside of the closet is completely empty; no warm garments to be found. However, on the floor of the closet is some loose oak flooring.

Underneath the unfastened floorboards is an open cellar. The air is thick. The ground is bare and cold. There are several wooden support beams that lead to the floor of the house. Across ceiling of the room are more wooden beams. Across one of these beams, in the center of the cellar, are three knots of old rope. The knots are tight and the beams on which they are fastened to show signs of wear and scratch near the fibrous ties. The ropes extends downwards to the floor, hooping around the necks of decomposed bodies. Hanging there: a man, a woman, a child – the previous owners.

Credit To – Jordan Louie

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#AllThatWeAre

August 1, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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First it was the gays. Then the Muslims. Then the terrorists. Then the gay terrorist Muslims. I don’t know. It’s hard to keep track of who you’re meant to be hating when you’re a straight, white male.

I put that as my Facebook status once. Thirty four likes. I felt like kind of a big deal. In a world so over-saturated with attention addicts, I don’t see the issue with indulging in the odd hit of pure, uncut validation once in a while. It’s a good rush.

There was a time when I thought the whole idea of social networking was juvenile. I saw every tweet, blog entry and status update as a child hanging from the monkey bars shouting at their mother for not looking. I’m not above that. No one is above that.

“Grow up!” – What does that even mean? At what age are you meant to stop enjoying positive reinforcements? Is “growing up” synonymous with being a jaded cynic? Forget that. Validate me. I’m going to be dead one day. Tell me that my observations are witty and relevant. Retweet me. Reblog me.

I walk through crowds, tangent and clothed, yet invisible and unimportant. Just like the rest of you. Some of you ‘peacock’ to get a second glance. A real life Facebook like.

“Let’s all peacock and blend in together, right?” – Seven retweets, twenty six likes.

No one will remember your name. They will all remember mine.

I catch the five fifteen train home and rarely get a seat.

“The train ride home is the only time it is socially acceptable to grind on strangers.” – Five retweets, seventeen Facebook likes.

I return home from work at around five forty five every weekday, lock the front door, finish the last of my commutable cappuccino and place the cup in the recycling bin. I remove my tie and drape it over the coat hanger on my living room door. I undo the top button of my eight ninety nine shirt and breathe a sigh of relief that the working day is done. I pull my Iphone from my pocket and scroll absently for around five minutes and then I head to the basement.

It’s quite a nice basement. It’s spacious and insulated. The floor is laminated and kept clean and the walls are decorated with art prints and watercolour canvases. I paint some of them. Check out my Instagram when all of this is over, maybe you’ll like them. The smell isn’t great down there sometimes but that’s a means to an end. I can deal with the smell. Soundproofing. That’s the important part.

After entering my basement, I turn right and head to the far wall. There will always be two objects of interest that I approach. One of them will usually be moving, the other one silent. With my Iphone still in hand, I open the camera and hold it landscape, tapping the screen to gain focus. I take several shots just to make sure that I get a good one and then I lock the screen again.

The one that moves usually begs me to let them go. They bargain and they plead. Sometimes they come on to me. I gesture to the silent and still one tied up next to them. I pull out the swollen, black tongue and turn the gaunt, lifeless face towards them and remind them what they are. All that they are.

“It doesn’t matter how many followers you have on twitter when you’re tied to a radiator in my basement.” – Twelve retweets. I wish I could see their faces when they find out.

I make the live one watch as I fill the small bathtub in the corner with lye. I make them watch as I untie the dead one and drag them over to the tub and slide them in. I then leave the two of them together overnight. By the morning, all that’s left is a brownish, black sludge and a few brittle bones. It’s always too much for the live one to stomach. I tell them again, it’s all that they are. Sex, gender, race, religion, whatever. They all look the same after a night in my tub.

I have been documenting the whole thing from the start. Just a few more and my blog can go live. I don’t know what to call it yet. Social macabre? Maybe? I don’t know, I’m going to be critical of whatever name I choose. Either way, once I share it, the internet is going to explode. I’ll be viral. A social media pandemic infecting the feeds and personal profiles of people all over the world. They’ll forget the names of my art pieces but they will remember my name.

I might even get my own hashtag.

Credit To – Radarshine

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Knock

July 29, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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We all have that one story, don’t we? The one you grow up thinking about, but never actually grow the balls to tell anyone. Well this is my story. I don’t know what I’m hoping to accomplish by telling you. Maybe I’m looking for someone to tell me that I’m not insane, or maybe once I put it on paper it will…Hell, I don’t know. Just someone read this…just please.

Let me give you a little background. Twenty years ago when I was eight years old, still living with my mom. My friend Dave and I decided that we would brave “The House”. Now, The House was an abandoned two story home, that had been empty going on ten years, save for the occasional drug abuser that would sleep in it. However that’s not what made this particular house special. The standing rumor is what made it interesting.

For as long as I can remember adults in my neighborhood had told us, the children, that it was haunted. I’m sure it was just their way of getting us not to play in it though. Regardless, because of that, the house had a sort of ominous aura that hung around it. Just looking at that decaying building would give you the shivers. Although despite our inherent fear of the place, Dave and I decided we would explore this house We would become legends in our own right, at least that’s what we hoped.

It was Tuesday all those years ago, well past midnight, and both of our parents had fallen asleep. The two of us decided we would sneak out, you know, use the night as our cover. We agreed it would be best to meet up in front of The House. Still, I wish we hadn’t agreed to do it.

There I was…alone, waiting in front of The House for my friend. I couldn’t help but feel small when I looked at it. It might have been old, and the wood may have been rotting, but man did it look enormous. I bet even adults felt dwarfed by it. To keep myself from chickening out, I decided to think about something else while I waited; it was a little cold that night, which was the typical weather after a hard rain. “Ah, crap.” I muttered, noticing the mud that covered my shoes. I should have paid more attention to where I was stepping. “Mom is going to kill me when she…” my voice trailed off when I heard a dull thud from behind me. Sounded like someone knocked a door.

Was…was it the house, or was I just imagining things? I spun around expecting to see a hairy monster behind me, instead it was just The House; broken windows, splintered wood, and roof that had more than a few holes in it. Just the usual, nothing to panic about. I should have been relieved, but I found myself slightly shaken. Soon I would be stepping into one of the most feared places in our neighborhood. I wasn’t even inside yet, and I could already feel the slight tremor in my hand.

Before I could reconsider the mission Dave arrived. I quickly stuffed my hands into my pockets to hide the quiver. I could see his small figure bouncing up and down. The little jokester was skipping across the street. My fears were immediately replaced with giddy laughter. “You’re such a clown,” I managed to say in-between my giggles. We both reached out and shook hands, like his father had taught us. Luckily he didn’t notice the tremor.

Dave used his hands to smooth back his black hair, kind of like a greaser would in a cliched movie. “You ready for this?” He nodded towards the door. Typical Dave, he always tried to look cool. Whether it be riding his bike with no hands, or sneaking into an abandoned house, he never failed to give off the “I’m a badass” vibe.

I tried my best to sound nonchalant, “Only if you are, Davey.” The comment awarded me a slight snicker. Dave hated it when I called him Davey. He said it sounded girly, and that’s exactly why I used it. Rather than shoot a retort at me, he simply nudged me towards the house, and we began walking to the door. Our small feet made quiet echoes in the street, I was worried we might wake someone. If we had any doubts about what we were doing, that moment would have been the right time to bail out.

Of course, as per the norm, stupidity got the better of us. The second our feet hit the old steps, we knew there would be no turning back. “Think we should knock?” Dave joked. Seeing him act all cool somehow gave me courage, and so I knocked. What I heard made the hair on my neck stand at attention. The same thud I had heard from earlier reverberated through the door when my knuckles landed. I gulped loudly, but maintained an overall calm composure.

The two of us breathed in deeply, turned the door knob, and pushed the door open. We received a long drawn out creak as payment. I thought I was going to pee my pants, and Davey looked like he was about to shit a brick. Somehow we managed to keep our undies clean. It was dark, real dark. Neither one of had brought a flashlight, we didn’t want to accidentally wake up a neighbor by shining a light in their house. Given the circumstances, we decided it was best to use moonlight.

Our eyes were met with a dimly lit house, it took a minute to adjust to. The house was littered with trash, covered in graffiti, and was seemingly falling apart all over. And yet it didn’t seem as frightening as we were led to believe. Sure the darkness made it look spooky, but as I looked at the cracked marble floor, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my house. “Huh, this isn’t so bad.” It was me who broke the silence.

“Do you think the ghost will be pissed that we tracked mud in the house?” Dave laughed and pointed at the floor. Little footprints followed us all over the house. “Remind me to clean my shoes before I go back home.” I giggled at the thought. Here we are in the big spooky house, cracking jokes about muddy shoes. It was all fun and games. After familiarizing ourselves with the first floor – which consisted of an empty living room, a kitchen with rotted food in the cupboards, a bathroom with a disgusting toilet, and a curious looking locked door – we decided to explore the second floor.

We ascended the stairs together, Dave leading with his brave face on. The wooden stairs were old, much like the rest of the house, and each step left us wondering if it would collapse beneath us. “Think the ghost is up there?” I asked, half sincere.

Dave chuckled at the question, “Ghosts probably aren’t even real.” We had reached the end of the stairs, and were on the top floor. It wasn’t a big second story. Two hallways, one to the right and one to the left. Four rooms for the two of us to explore. “Let’s go left.” Dave suggested. So we went left, and into the first door on the right.

The door was already open, so we just peaked our heads in. The first thing I noticed was the hole in the roof. Moonlight was shining through it, and it gave us a faint light to survey the room with. It wasn’t a very kind room, actually it was kind of like my room. Probably big enough to have a bed, dresser, maybe a desk could fit in it too. We couldn’t see inside of the closet though, the light didn’t quite reach it. Dave looked at me, and I looked at him. “I bet there’s something cool in there. Let’s go look.” Dave suggested with a mischievous smile. Not sure what we were hoping for exactly. A treasure in a closet or something?

Just before I stepped into the room, I heard the familiar thud noise. The one that was made before, and when, I knocked on the door. My heart felt like it was going to stop. The noise was distant, but there was no mistaking it. My first instinct was to run, but I couldn’t leave Dave behind; he of course paid no mind to it. Hell, he was already in the room walking towards the closet. And it was at that moment that things went to hell, I never even had the chance to warn him.

The second Dave stepped foot in the center of the room, there was a frightening crack. He didn’t have time to react. The wood splintered, the ground beneath him gave way, and he fell through the floor. I nearly jumped out of my skin. Everything in front of me was crashing down. The wood was so old and decayed that it couldn’t even support Davey. Dust and dirt flew everywhere, by the time it was over, it was hard to breathe. Wait…Dave didn’t make a sound. Did he die on impact? Was he okay? My mind had never asked raced so faced. “Dave!” I shouted in-between coughs. “Dave are you okay?!” I repeated the question a few more times, and waited. After an agonizing minute I got my response.

“I’m okay,” he answered weakly. “Not a scratch on me.” I peered down the large hole that was now in front of me. Dust was everywhere, but as it cleared I could see him more clearly; there was Dave and he was completely intact. “And guess where I am?” I sighed deeply, glad that he hadn’t lot his sense of adventure. “I’m in the locked room, get down here, I’ll open the door for you.” He wiped the dirt off of his forehead and motioned for me to come down. I obediently turned around and headed for the stairs, preferring to take the safe route down.

As I reached the bottom of the stairs I noticed something odd. Were those big footprints always there? Two frighteningly large footprints had been left on the floor. There was something odd about them though…they didn’t look human. Too big, four toes, and they were round. My imagination quickly got the better of me, and I could feel the panic rising quickly. I was starting to feel nauseous, even more so when I realized the footsteps were leading to the room that Dave was in. I glanced at the front door, it was open. I could leave right now, run home, and tell my parents to call the police; we didn’t have cell phones back then. But I didn’t do any of that, I just kept walking towards the locked room.

The door was open, and I could see shadows dancing on the door frame. There were two shadows, one big one small. The larger shadow was pounding into the smaller one. I could hear the blows landing. Thump…thump, thump thump. Each time it hit, Dave would whimper. I was frozen in place. The door was only a few feet away, but I couldn’t bring myself to take another step. I wanted to save my friend, but I just couldn’t move. I could only stand there and watch the shadows. “Please..sto-” Smash. The last hit was harder than any of the others ones, I could hear the bones break from where I was standing. Dave’s shadow stopped moving. The larger shadow picked up the frail little body, and began slashing into it with what looked like a blade. A dark liquid splashed onto the door, and started oozing towards the floor. I wanted to puke.

I could feel hot liquid running down my pants. Must have been scared enough to piss myself. I looked at the floor and saw the puddle that I had made. It was time to leave. I took one last glance at the door, and what I saw when I looked up still haunts me today. A large humanoid figure stood in the door way holding Dave’s body. It was too dark to see it clearly, but I got a peak at its eyes; its big blue eyes. Big and blue like the ocean, and the waves were rippling with rage.

I wanted to leave. No, I needed to leave but my legs refused to move. They were anchored to the floor, fear had stopped them completely. My heart on the other hand was moving, it was moving very fast. Reluctantly I stood there…staring at the monster that was holding my dead friend. It didn’t take long for our eyes to meet. We stood there in a eternal staring contest, I was too afraid to blink. I remember thinking that if I closed my eyes I would never open them again.

It was only after two long minutes that I could finally feel my legs again, so I slowly took a step back. The monster mimicked my movements by stepping forward each time I took a step back. My heart sunk when I realized what it was doing. Every molecule in my body was telling me to turn around and sprint, but could I really outrun this monstrosity? No, there was no way. I decided to keep my pace, buy myself time until I got to the door.

Once we reached the living room it dropped Dave, outstretched its arms towards me, and grinned. It was the single most wicked thing I had experienced in my life. The monster’s grin, from corner to corner, reached both of its eyes. His teeth were long, white, like a shark. We were almost at the door, but he was no longer mimicking my steps.

For each step I took, he took two. Step by step he was closing the gap. The moonlight from the window shined on his outstretched arm. Its hand was human-like, only there was something off about it. The nails were long, the skin was rotted, and some of the flesh looked like it had scratched off. It was enough to make me dizzy. Soon I could hear it breathing. Each breath was labored, it was almost wheezing. One more step and I would see its entire body in the moonlight. I didn’t want that.

The thought alone was enough to make me turn, grab the door knob, throw it open, and rush out of the house. I didn’t dare look over my shoulder until there was some distance between the two of us. I expected to turn around and see the monster lumbering after me, but surprisingly it wasn’t. The monster never came out of the house. It didn’t chase me down the street. It didn’t rip me to pieces. It just stood there, on the porch, waving goodbye. Its malformed hand slowly rocking back and forth, with the same deranged smile on its face.

A few days later, when the police report was made public, my parents told me that the monster was, “Just a hobo on drugs.” The police had found Dave’s body next to a dead homeless man. Apparently he had overdosed shortly after I had left. I try to tell myself that I was just imagining things, and that there was no monster, but I don’t know what to believe. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, I can’t get that fucking smile out of my head. I’m done with this, if I write anymore I’ll start having nightmares again. Food’s here anyway, I just heard a knock at the door.

Credit To – I_Own_Cows

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Phase 3

July 26, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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My name is Dr. Miranda Solomon. Until yesterday I was a clinical research scientist for Apollyon Pharmaceuticals. I believe it is morally imperative that I warn the public about a new drug that will soon be available. DO NOT, under any circumstances, take Cyvalopram, which is being marketed as an anti-anxiety medication under the trade name Calmoprax in the United States. Patients enrolled in clinical trials of this drug experienced severe side effects, including death. Worse than death, really.

The animal trials were promising. So were the initial phases of human clinical trials. Of the small groups who initially took the drug, only 8% of the patients experienced side effects, all of which were very minor: headaches, nausea, the usual things that are often listed in the warnings for many medications. It wasn’t until Phase 3 of the trials that the side effects became troubling.

The company enrolled a total 2453 patients at four clinical research sites across the United States. I made frequent visits to each site in order to monitor the trials. The problem began at Site 2.

A 55-year old male began experiencing severe insomnia after taking a 100mg dose of Cyvalopram once daily for six weeks. He checked into the emergency room of the county hospital, reporting that he hadn’t slept in ten days. He was also experiencing hallucinations and psychosis related to this lack of sleep. Upon admission to the hospital, he was prescribed several different sedatives, often in combination, none of which were effective. Within twelve hours, he fell into a coma. Brain death was pronounced five days later, and he was removed from life support. Vital functions ceased, and a resident called the time of death. The patient’s body was transported to the morgue. However, employees in the morgue reported hearing strange noises from one of the units several hours later. They opened the unit, and patient crawled out, disoriented and incoherent. This incident was captured on morgue security cameras, and I have attached the video file to this email.

The patient was rushed back to the emergency room, where he became agitated, and had to be restrained. He became increasingly violent, despite multiple attempts at sedation, eventually breaking free of the restraints and injuring several hospital staff members. Hospital security officers fired a total of eight shots at the patient, and he was pronounced dead (again).

I obtained the patient’s medical files, including the autopsy report. The initial cause of death was listed as “Undetermined–possibly related to acute insomnia.” The attending physician in the emergency room added a note that the resident who first pronounced the time of death must have made an error and had been put on probation. The autopsy findings included apparent massive alterations in brain chemistry, which left the patient’s body unable to produce any of the hormones required for sleep, or other normal functions.

Please see the attached file, “CRF0058469,” for greater detail about this incident, including the clinical trial records, patient medical records (including autopsy report), witness statements, and photographic records of the injured hospital staff members.

I presented this information to my superiors at Apollyon. Manufacture of the drug was halted, and a massive investigation began, the details of which can be found in the attached file, “Investigation.” No adulteration, contamination, or other problems with the manufacturing process were discovered. The R&D group was unable to determine whether the drug could have caused the hormonal changes the patient experienced. The clinical trial had continued during this time, with a warning for the staff to watch for any patients reporting insomnia, and remove them from the study. Manufacturing resumed, and at one meeting I attended, the Marketing VP said, “A lot of drugs cause insomnia. We’ll just put it in the list of side effects.”

I reported this incident to the FDA, and sent my contact all of the information related to it. He agreed with the company’s assessment that the incident “may have been an isolated adverse reaction,” and that “the evidence was inconclusive to support the hypothesis that the patient’s symptoms had been caused by Cyvalopram.” I received similar responses when I escalated the report to his superiors.
Two weeks later, Site 1 reported removing a patient from the study due to self reports of insomnia. This patient was a 23-year old female who reported three consecutive days without sleep. She had been taking a 50mg dose of Cyvalopram once daily for four weeks. Site 1 staff members told her to stop taking the drug, and sent her to the nearest emergency room for evaluation. She was found to be healthy, and sent home. However, the next day, her mother found her collapsed on the floor of their living room, apparently in a coma. She was transported back to the hospital, where she remained in a coma for six days, until she was declared brain dead. Cessation of all vital functions also ceased shortly thereafter. However, within four hours, she awoke, though she was incapable of coherent speech. She quickly became agitated and violent, and was restrained and moved to the psychiatric ward of the hospital. She was then removed to a maximum security psychiatric facility, where she remains. Please see the attached file, “CRF0098537” for greater detail.

In total, 27 incidents were reported, each with the same presentation and clinical course (see attached files). Though this is only 1.1% of the total study population, I find it deeply disturbing. I presented my concerns to my superiors, and to the FDA, but I was told that the percentage fell within acceptable limits for risk.

I disagree. If the study numbers are extrapolated, and the percentage applied to the entire population of the United States (approximately 313.9 million people, as of this writing), the projections become appalling: 3.5 million people could be affected by this drug in such a manner as I’ve described.

Despite all of this, Cyvalopram was approved for sale yesterday. The company has projected that it will break all of the previous sales records for anti-anxiety medications.

I’ve presented this information to government authorities, and to all of the mainstream media outlets. My phone calls and emails have been ignored; the reporter I spoke with in person at my local Fox affiliate laughed me out of her office. You’re my last hope of making this information known to the public. I hope you will post my remarks, along with the attached evidence, to your website. I have also created a video record of these remarks, which can be found at the link listed below.

I doubt you’ll hear from me again; I believe I’m being watched and followed by Apollyon agents. Please make sure the public knows not to take Cyvalopram.

Sincerely,
Miranda Solomon, PhD
Clinical Research Scientist II
Apollyon Pharmaceuticals

###

“This email, along with the files and video statement, was posted to an “alternative news” website last night,” the Marketing VP explained to the group of executives, after they had finished watching the video. “Mostly the site is full of crazy conspiracy theories, like “the President is a reptilian alien” and other bullshit, but this has been getting some traction. The video version of her statement has over 100,000 views on YouTube so far.”
“I’ve already got the lawyers on it,” the CFO said. “They’re going get YouTube to take the video down, and they’re making the usual threats to the conspiracy site.”
“But it’s out there,” the CEO said. “People have already seen it; copied the information to other places. What are we going to do about that?”
“Discredit her?” the Marketing VP suggested. “What do we have on her? Does anyone even know where she is?”
“Representatives of the company stopped by Dr. Solomon’s house early this morning,” the CFO said. “They found her dead. Gunshot wound to the head.”
“Self inflicted?” the CEO asked.
“Undetermined. They couldn’t find a gun anywhere.”
The CEO looked around the conference table. “Ok, which of you did it?” The executives laughed, though no one took credit.
“The team left a gun there to make it look like suicide,” the CFO said. “The local cops are so inept that they won’t look any further. Once she’s discovered, we’ll release some statement saying she’d been behaving erratically and was put on leave to seek counseling or something. PR, get your team started on that.” The VP of Public Relations nodded.
“Now,” the CFO continued. “I have some projections regarding the effect this could have on sales.” He clicked over to a PowerPoint presentation, and guided the group through several slides full of charts and graphs. “In the end, I predict only a 9% revenue loss for this product in the coming fiscal year, when compared to initial projections. That decreases to 7% the following year, and so on, as people forget about all this.”
“We will have to add “coma” and “psychosis” to the list of rare side effects, but overall, I think we should be fine,” the Marketing VP said.
“What a fucking shitstorm,” the CEO said. “But I guess that’s all we can do. Should we have breakfast brought in?”

Credit To – Amanda Butler

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Warning Sign

July 16, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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My wife and I were driving down a dark road, on our way to Colorado for our honeymoon. It had to be around midnight and I’d been driving for hours. My wife was fast asleep in the back seat and I had nobody to talk to, so I listened to the radio to keep me from dozing off. They were playing “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by The Beach Boys, a song that I’ve loved since I were a young boy. I was singing along to the tune as quietly as I could, trying not to wake my wife. That’s when it suddenly got foggy out, the snow that we were warned about started falling and the radio turned to static. The fact that we were the only ones on the road was very unsettling. We hadn’t seen another car since we drove by that gas station almost two hours before. It was frightening to say the least.

I continued driving despite the fact that I could barely see. Static continued to restrain the radio from playing my favorite childhood song. I don’t know why, maybe it was the fact that it was really foggy out, but I felt that something bad was bound to happen. The radio was getting louder even though I had turned the thing off. I was hearing voices, they were coming from the radio. I thought that I was hearing things because I was dreadfully tired. It sounded like a woman, her voice echoed out of the radio.

“Evil lies ahead,” she said.

I was looking down at the radio, trying to get it to turn off. When I looked up at the road, a woman in a white gown walked right in front of my car. It was unexpected, I looked away for only a second. I stopped the car and pulled over to the side of the road. My wife had woken up at that point. “I hit someone,” I told her. I was in shock and kind of nervous to get out of the car and see. My wife and I both got out of the car and walked over to where I hit her. She wasn’t there. We looked around but there was no sign of anything. No blood, no body…just nothing. I know I wasn’t going crazy. I saw her and I felt as her body rolled over the top of my car. My wife assumed that I wasn’t getting enough sleep so she suggested that she finish the dive to Colorado. I agreed and we got back into the car and drove off.

Almost two hours later, I was listening to the radio, unable to sleep, as my wife was driving. The radio again, turned to static and the clear roads were suddenly foggy. I immediately felt that something was wrong and that something bad was about to happen. I couldn’t really see anything but the road due to the fog, but I noticed someone standing in the middle of the road.

“Stop!” I screamed. She stopped the car, the woman was just ten feet ahead of us. “It’s her,” I said. “It’s the woman I hit.”

“I don’t see anyone,” she said, glaring out at the road. Somehow she couldn’t see her but I did. The woman was in a white gown and she was probably in her forties. I wasn’t losing my mind like my wife thought I was. The woman spoke and what she said had me shivering in fear.

“Evil lies ahead.”

I looked at my wife, she was oblivious to what was going on. I didn’t understand why she wasn’t seeing or hearing what I was but I wish she had, now more than ever. I tried to convince her that something bad was about to happen. I tried to convince her that someone was trying to warn us, but it was too late. We saw the headlights coming at the very last second.

I woke up hours later in a dark room. The only source of light was coming from the small rectangular window that barely invited in the sunlight. It was clear that I was in a basement but the question was where. The first thing I noticed was that my wife wasn’t with me. I quickly jumped out of the bed, just to fall right to the floor. My right leg was…gone. It was cut off from the knee down. It was then that I noticed how in pain I was. I screamed for my wife, fearing that something bad had happened to her. I lay helplessly on the floor until I heard the basement door creak open, followed by footsteps. I pressed my back against the basement wall and I wait for what seemed like an eternity.

“Mr. Edmund, you really should be in bed,” a man said, helping me to the bed. He was wearing a lab coat so I assumed he was a doctor.

“Where is she?” I asked. “My wife.” He put his hand on my forehead, noticing how high my temperature was.

“You should calm down Mr. Edmund, you’re burning up.”

“I want to know where my wife is,” I said. “I’m not calming down until I found out.”

He took off his glasses and put them in his pocket. “She’s dead Mr. Edmund,” he said. “I’m sorry but her injuries were too severe.”

I didn’t want to believe it but I had no choice but to. I thought about her as a memory, that’s all she’ll ever be now. I thought about the beautiful wedding we just had, how beautiful and happy she looked. She was dead and I felt like the four years that we had known each other was all for nothing. “Where is she?” I asked, wiping the tears from my eyes.

“She’s at the morgue, about thirty minutes from here.”

“I wanna see her,” I said.

“Mr. Edmund, you’re not in the shape to go anywhere,” he said. “Now eat up, I’m sure you’re hungry.” He put a plate on the nightstand.

“I wanna see her!” I yelled before he walked away.

He stopped and turned around. “You really shouldn’t yell, Mr. Edmund, he said. “You just might wake the dead.” He laughed before walking up the stairs. I got out of bed and hopped my way up the stairs just to find out that the door was locked. The guy was clearly hiding something and I had to find out if it had anything to do with my wife.

Hours later, as the day shifted into night, I was in bed, thinking about my wife when I heard the door creak open. I heard no footsteps this time. I got out of bed and crawled my way to the stairs. I looked up and I saw the door open but nobody was there. I hopped up the stairs and I walked through the door. I was in the living room and it was strangely decorated with old furniture. It seemed as if I went back in time to the 60’s. Something strange was going on and I had no idea what it was. It got even more confusing when I noticed the picture that sat on the table stand. It was a family photo of the man with a young boy and a woman who I assumed was his wife. It was the woman that I’d seen on the road. I don’t know how it was possible but it was her.

I had a feeling that my wife was somewhere in the house so I walked around to see if I could find her. I walked into the kitchen and I noticed a trail of blood coming from the refrigerator. I walked slowly to the door and I opened it. What I saw was just despicable and it painted a picture in my mind that I would have to live with for the rest of my life. There were limbs inside, cold bloody limbs. I would never have known that they were the severed limbs of my wife if it weren’t for the ring that I proposed to her with. I thought about the food I’d eaten earlier and I instantly vomited. I knew there was something about that guy, something seemed off. I heard the floor creak behind me and I turned around to see that phyco fuck behind me, swinging a baseball bat that I couldn’t dodge in time.

I woke up hours later back in the basement. The pain I felt in my leg was unbearable. I couldn’t move because my arms were strapped to the bed and even if I could move, I’d fall flat to the floor. My left leg was gone. He cut off my other leg and he was slowly killing me. My mouth was covered with duct tape so I couldn’t scream even if I wanted to.

“Oh good, you’re awake.” He was standing at my side, eating a piece of meat that I would assume was my leg. “You wanna know something?” He asked me. “You taste good.” I was just imaging my hands wrapped around his neck and slowly killing him. “Haven’t you ever wondered what you’d taste like? Well I guess you probably already know.”

He ripped the tape off my mouth, I didn’t even notice how painful it was. “I’ll fucking kill you” was the first thing I said. I wasn’t sure how I’d do it without any legs and being strapped to a bed but murdering him in the most vicious way was all that I could think about.

“I’ve eaten many people in my life, Mr. Edmund, but I would say you take the cake.”

“You’re sick and you belong in hell.”

“I’m already in hell Mr. Edmund,” he said with a creepy smile. “I killed myself back in 1964, right after I ate my wife and son.” I didn’t believe him of course, I figured it was part of his sick mind.

“Why don’t you just kill me? Get it over with.”

“Well Mr. Edmund, I learned that human flesh tastes a lot better fresh. So I’m gonna keep you alive for a while.” He stood from his chair. “Get some sleep Mr. Edmund, I think you’ll taste a lot better when you do.” He walked up the stairs and closed the door.

I was prepared to die, I’m honestly still surprised that I’m not now. There was a sudden knock at the door hours later and I yelled as loud as I could, hoping they could hear me. A group of men then came running down the stairs and they helped me out of the bed and out of that house. I was lucky that they spotted my car on the side of the road and followed the tracks that led them to the house. It was a miracle.

I was surprised to find out that the house was actually abandoned and that nobody had lived there since a doctor by the name of James Conway had brutally murdered and eaten his wife and child before taking his own life. The severed pieces of my wife were found in the old refrigerator and they weren’t the only ones found. There were many people who were reported missing in the area but were never found over the last 50 years. Nobody believes me when I told them that it was James Conway who killed my wife and ate my legs. I guess they believed that a copycat killer was on the loose. There were more victims after me and I’m sure there will be many more in the future. I’ll warn you though, you’re not safe in the northern parts of Colorado. If you see any warning signs, a woman in a white gown telling you that something evil lies ahead, drive the opposite direction and never look back.

Credit To – Jake Engel

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A Figure in Gray

July 15, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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A Figure in Gray

If you have spent any length of time in the United States, you owe it to yourself to play the 1985 arcade classic, Paperboy. In it, you assume the role of a preteen boy tasked with completing his daily paper route. For whatever reason, your hero’s beat is a particularly rough neighborhood. Its streets teem with aggressive drivers who would rather hit a cyclist than their brakes. On the sidewalks, bratty children steer kamikaze RC cars into passers-by — modern-day drone pilots in their larval form. Elsewhere, skateboarding adrenaline junkies find their greatest thrill in demolishing live obstacles like your paperboy. In some cases, your character will be accosted by a knife-wielding madman who comes charging out of a house and pursues at tremendous speed, inevitably catching your hero and robbing him of a precious life.

Taken as a whole, the game makes for an effective satire of Reagan-era America. It captures the needless paranoia of the suburbs, where people fear the harm some stranger or foreign power will inflict on them, without realizing the vanity — in all senses of the word — behind such a phobia. It shows the violence and cruelty of the average American percolating behind the facade of white picket fences and well-maintained lawns. Most importantly, it reveals how far some people will go to make a buck — or be compelled to go, for socioeconomic reasons beyond their control.

It would be troubling to consider these situations if the game didn’t make it all so damn funny. Odds are you will laugh too much while playing to think about many of the concerns the game raises. Perhaps it succeeds too well at its own satirical objectives.

You would be forgiven for assuming that the same merry cynicism found in Paperboy would carry over to its ’90s console sequel, Paperboy 2. Indeed, the second entry in the series contains every bit as much unnecessary peril — and consequent weird humor — as the first. You guide your choice of paperboy or papergirl through a suburban gauntlet featuring a whole new cast of memorable hostiles. A hermit holed up in a moat-ringed castle bombards you with cannon fire as you pass. Overzealous guard dogs chase you down the street. Roasting pigs, knocked off the spit by a misfired newspaper, do the same — evidently being grilled alive before your intervention, and none too happy with your interference. Runaway baby carriages, in a nod to the overpopulation worries of the modern world, mow you down if you are not attentive enough. Scarecrows, once hit with a paper, break from their stakes and ambush you, one hand raised in a Fascist salute all the while. The absurdity in Paperboy 2 runs high thanks to the game’s colorful cast.

Although perhaps “colorful” is not the right word…

As you play through the opening stages of Paperboy 2, you will notice one character who does not seem to belong, for he is, literally and figuratively, anything but colorful. He will first catch your eye because his palette is without color — he is the only person in the game rendered entirely in monochrome. He wears a gray sweatsuit. His neat and unremarkable hair is black. His stark white skin, however, is especially arresting, given the more nuanced flesh tones seen everywhere else in-game. His actions, too, are comparably bland. If left undisturbed, the figure in gray simply walks down his driveway, deposits a garbage can at the curb, then turns around and walks back to his house. If struck with a paper, he only freezes in his tracks. No attacks, no surprises. He is shockingly mundane in this world of cannons and mobile scarecrows.

If you have some knowledge of ’90s news curiosities, you might be able to excavate the unusual case of one Dennis R— from your memory banks. Assuming the national news outlets had the story straight, and reported it accordingly, Mr. R— was an actuary — or some other specialist whose profession hinges on the unchallenged yet specious assumption that the future will be like the past — who woke up one night, dismembered his infant twin sons and his wife of eight years, and brought their remains to the curb in a metal garbage can alongside all the other refuse of suburban life. The mechanical arm of the waste collection truck had not detected the can’s abnormal weight, and the landfill, too, was none the wiser. It was entirely possible that nobody would have noticed the absence of Mrs. R— and her children, had the local library not begun to seek compensation for a long overdue book that Mrs. R— never had the chance to return. Alas, Mr. R— was never properly sentenced, as he was killed in prison by other inmates before his trial could be finished.

Recalling this story, you might begin to sense a resemblance between the late Mr. R— and the figure in gray; indeed, after a cursory image search for his photograph on the internet, you would be impressed by how uncanny a likeness a few pixels can produce. You might even begin to suspect that the satire of the Paperboy series is alive and well in the second installment. Here the game designers have given you a world of crime and violence and fright, and yet the most horrible thing in it is something as innocuous as a man taking out his trash. Here all the paranoid suburbanites target a kid on a bicycle, as if he or she posed any actual threat, while the real danger lurks next door. You might speculate that Paperboy 2 is a satire of complacency, where prosperity and habit inure the average American against diligence and introspection, where the idealized image of the suburb discourages its residents from looking beyond the glistening veneer of civilization, and scrutinizing themselves or others. Even you, the attentive player, were fooled — did you think to inspect the gray figure’s garbage can for pixelated limbs? Of course not. Why would you? The world you find yourself in does little to suggest you should have. Therefore, through the inclusion of this nonchalant figure in gray, the game makes you complicit in the poisonous mindsets that suburban America incubates — a mature critique indeed for such an early video game.

Yet if you were to praise the developers of Paperboy 2 for their clever stunt, not one of them would take credit for it. For none of them would admit to drawing or programming the figure in gray. In fact, none of them would remember putting him into the game.

Credit To – Lex Joy

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