The House that Death Forgot

February 18, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Melinda hated driving at night. She did her best to avoid it. Short trips to the store if she just realized she ran out of tampons or had nothing for dinner after getting home; that sort of thing happened now and then. But she did her best not to go out after dark unless someone was coming to pick her up.

So, naturally, she found herself on the longest drive of her life tonight, with no moon, few stars, swirling clouds above her, and acres of forest on either side.

As so many unpleasant things in her life, this was her father’s fault. She hadn’t seen or spoken to the bastard in fifteen years, but just after falling asleep tonight…no, that was wrong. It would be yesterday by this time. Out of the blue, her phone rang, and his voice was on the other end.

“I need you, Mellie. Please come, now.” He’d said just that, and then the line went dead.

The old ass was probably drunk, but he’d never called her before, not since she was a child and he was still trying to convince her mother to take him back. It felt like she had been dreaming; waking up to hear his voice again after all these years. It sounded like he was crying. His voice sounded just the same as the last time she’d heard it.

As though in a dream, she had risen, dressed, and gotten in the car. She was well out of town and halfway to his old place before realizing that she had no way of knowing if he even still lived there. She received updates from her mother from time to time over the years about where he was. The last time she heard from her mother about him was seven years ago. Had he ever stayed in one place that long? Not to her recollection. She had been seven when her mother finally had enough and showed him the door. Prior to that, a move had come every few months. The house they had been living in was their longest stay in one place; a full sixteen months. It turned into two years after that, and then the next house had been the one she left when she moved out on her own. In all that time, she heard from him sporadically at best, and had finally decided it was best to simply forget about him.

Until tonight.

She had found out after a two-hour drive that she had been right to wonder if he was still in the same place. His last known address was a sketchy apartment in a low-income area of the town she had grown up in. Had he been number 24 or number 42? Maybe he was 14. It definitely had a four. It didn’t matter. His name wasn’t on any of the buzzers.

Bastard! Her drunk of a father had called her at night, all but demanding she come to him, for reasons he didn’t even feel were important enough to tell her over the phone, and then just expected that she would know where he lived now.

In a flurry of rage, she turned and marched back to her car, slamming the door and starting off in the direction she came. She was so angry she didn’t even look where she was going, and now she’d missed her turn-off.

The next thing she knew, she was on this lonely stretch of road. Cars were sparse, but she took some comfort in the fact that she would pass one every half-hour or so. Her dashboard clock now read 2:27 AM. She had been driving for more than five hours since leaving her house. At night.

Every five minutes or so she checked her cell phone. Ever since realizing she was lost, she had checked her phone and found no bars at all. She even stopped at a (closed, of course) gas station, just sure there should be some service around here somewhere, but nothing.

Take stock of your life, Mellie, she thought. You’re over thirty, you hate your job, you and your mother don’t get along, you haven’t seen or spoken to your father in just under half your life, you have no time for your friends or a relationship thanks to the aforementioned job you hate, and now here you are, trapped on a road you’ve never been on before, at night, and you can’t even so much as call AMA let alone check Google Maps. Smart lady you are.

She briefly considered stopping and flagging down the next car that passed. She quickly realized the futility of that plan. Any car on this road would also have no service. So there was nothing for it. She’d have to drive until she saw a house. She’d feel bad for waking someone up, but there was no choice. She needed to find her way back to the main highway.

But so far, all that she could see on either side was trees. Mile after mile of trees. No lights shining through the boughs. No sign that anyone had ever been here before, except that there was a road, and people were obviously still driving on it.

There weren’t even any road signs, other than the mile markers. Had she really found the middle of nowhere? She was just in the middle of this thought when her headlights illuminated something just up the road; a square, wooden sign, obviously made by someone other than the government. This wasn’t a gas/food/lodging sign, or a mile marker, or a distance-to sign. This looked like the kind of signs advertising a private business was nearby. She slowed down to read it:

Granny Royce’s Road House

Come stay the night at Granny’s!

She’ll take good care of you!

Room! Board! Low Prices!

Next Exit!

Her heart sped up. She certainly wasn’t interested in spending a night at Granny Royce’s, but every business had a phone. At the very least, she’d have a map, or know the way back to the highway. She decided she would stop there.

She almost missed the turn. Granny Royce’s Road House was buried at the back of a long, dirt driveway, secluded amid the trees. She was almost past the little dirt “road” that led back to it before realizing it was there. She skidded to a stop and turned in.

The little house lay ahead. It was two stories; looked to have about eight to ten rooms. Big for a home but small for anything announcing room and board. She got closer and looked for a vacancy sign; nothing. It wasn’t that the sign wasn’t lit; there was no sign. The porch light was on, and the front of the building was illuminated by that light, and by her headlights. No signs of any kind. She almost wondered if she’d gotten the wrong place, but she was certain that she had seen no other exits between this house and the sign announcing it.

She paused in the driveway and took out her cell again. Still no service. She did a quick search for any available wireless signals. To her complete lack of surprise, there were none. Not even any secured. There’s no one here but me, she thought. At this point, she wouldn’t be surprised to find the house empty, as well. But the light was on, and this was supposed to be a road house. Someone would be manning the front desk.

She got out of the car and headed for the front porch. As she turned around to make sure the lights flashed when she hit the lock button on her fob, she thought she could see a flash of movement in the trees. Something human-shaped. She stopped and looked again. Nothing. She decided she imagined it.

At the front door, she hesitated. If it really was a road house than she should be able to just go on in. But what if she got the wrong house? If she tried the door and just walked in, she could find herself arrested out here in Buttfuck, Nowhere.

Cautiously, she tried the knob. It turned. She pressed gently on the door. It opened. Relief flooded through her when she saw that she was in a small, but tastefully decorated foyer that had obviously been re-purposed as an admissions area. A quaint desk with an honest-to-god guest book had been placed in the far right corner, and some chairs had been set out, along with magazines on a table. She read the titles briefly–Mademoiselle, Blue Book, The New Country Life, Arts & Architecture–before turning her attention to the little desk.

There wasn’t a computer. That was a cute touch. It was like the house was from a past era. Perhaps old Granny Royce really didn’t like modern technology. There was, however, a little bell, just like there would have been in 1929. It wasn’t even the round silver kind you slapped to ring; it was a little porcelain hand-bell. This place was starting to out-cute her. Please let her have a phone, and please let it use the numberplan, not 50’s exchanges. She picked up the bell and gave it a shake.

For a while, nothing happened. Then she saw a light come on in the back room, and the shadow of an old woman sprang up on the wall. The shadow moved toward her, and within a few seconds she saw its owner; Granny Royce, who perhaps looked like every grandmother in every storybook ever.

“Well, goodness me,” she said. “My lands. Good morning deary. Pardon my tardiness but it’s been a while since we got guests at this hour. Can I take your name, honey?

Granny Royce was smallish, her grey hair tied in a neat bun behind her head, a dress that would have looked like it belonged to a senior citizen in the twenties, and a faded pink sweater. Melinda thought that she looked just like she would have wanted her own grandmother to look like, but her mother’s mother had died when she was young, and she’d never met her father’s mother. It almost hurt to deny this sweet little woman her business, but nevertheless, she had to get home.

“Actually, I’m sorry,” she began. “But the fact is I’m lost. I’m not even sure where I am in the direction of…”

“Oh, you poor thing,” said Granny Royce. “You just sit down and let me fix you some tea, or something. You must be cold.”

“Really, thank you, but I’m okay,” Melinda said, gently. “I just need to use the phone, if I could, or if you’ve got a map, even that would be lovely. I really only live a couple of hours from here…” She trailed off, not knowing if she was even right about that. She easily could have driven those five-plus hours in the wrong direction entirely.

“Oh dear,” said the little woman, sadly. “I’m sorry, honey, but the phone lines are down. As for a map, well…I used to have one, and if I look I still might, but it’s probably quite out of date by now. The highway moved since then, I know that much.”

Melinda’s heart sank. How could her luck get any worse? No phone, cell or land line, and no map. What could she do? She had to get back home. She was expected to work at 8 AM tomorrow. And why were the phone lines down? The weather was coldish but clear. Were they fixing a line nearby?

She told Granny Royce the name of her town, but Granny only said “Believe it or not, I’ve never heard of that town. What did you say the name was?” She told her again. “No, doesn’t ring a bell. I’m sorry. But I could not say which direction it’s in. Why don’t you stay the night, sweetie. I’ll give you a discount for your trouble.”

“Thank you. That’s very kind of you. But I have work tomorrow and I need to get back home. I’m not even sure why I’m out tonight. The only reason I had doesn’t seem to matter anymore.”

“Honey, I wouldn’t advise trying to drive back that far tonight,” Granny Royce said. “Why, it’s almost three in the morning, and you’ve not had any sleep. Maybe the lines will be up in the morning, and you can call your work and let them know you’ll be late.”

“That won’t work, either,” she replied. “I’m the opener. No one will be there. No, I’m sorry, I’ve really got to leave. I’ll head in the other direction until I find the road I was on.”

At that, Granny Royce’s expression, already one of kind concern, seemed to shift somewhat, to one of fear. She paused, looking at Melinda as though she wanted to say something else to keep her inside. Finally she said, reluctantly, “Alright, honey, if you’re sure. Just you be careful, now. Don’t speak to nobody until you’re back on the road.”

That last warning seemed a little silly. After all, what was Melinda, a little girl? She thanked Granny Royce for her kindness and headed back to the car.

About halfway to the car she remembered thinking she saw something moving in the trees. Her eyes scanned both sides of the secluded little cleared area she was in, looking for anything that appeared to be moving on its own, rather than being blown by the slight wind. She saw nothing. Satisfied, she headed for her car.

All four tires were flat. Goddammit! She leaned down and saw long slash marks on each tire. Someone in this little slice of Green Acres had slashed her tires in the time it took her to find out that she had no way of contacting anyone tonight.

Kids from a local farmhouse, gotta be, she thought grimly. Nothing else to do, so you might as well go out at night and slash tires. She stopped and let the reality sink in. She wasn’t going anywhere tonight. She had no choice now; she had to stay the night here until morning, when hopefully the phone lines would be up and she could call someone from work to ask them to go in for her, and then AMA to get her tires dealt with.

She sighed, then walked back in the house. She could hear Granny Royce as she was walking back to her room. She had already turned off the lights. Resigned to her fate, Melinda rang the little bell again.

“That you, miss?” she heard Granny Royce call.

“Yes, it’s me,” she answered. “Sorry to be a bother. My name is Melinda Orton. Sorry I never mentioned it before. I guess I will take a room for the night, if the offer’s still good.”

“Oh, of course it is, deary,” said Granny Royce, re-entering the room and turning the lights back on. “Melinda. Oh, that’s such a pretty name, honey. Well. Let’s get you situated. You put your name and arrival time in the book there and I’ll get you a key. All the boarding rooms are on the second floor, and there’s only a couple left.”

“There are others here?” This was surprising. Not a single car had been in the front lawn when she pulled in.

“Oh, yes, Miss Melinda.” Granny was puttering around in the adjacent room. “Mr. Norris, young Calvin, there’s a few of us here.” She came back out with a key in her hand. “Just out of curiosity, what made you change your mind?” She seemed to brighten as she asked the question, as though relieved that Melinda would stay after all.

“Oh, it’s probably just local kids getting kicks,” she said. “But I found my tires slashed.”

Granny stopped suddenly, her face twisted with concern and worry. Then she resumed, as though nothing was wrong. “Nothing to be done for it, I suppose,” she said, with an err of sadness.

“Well, not until morning, at any rate,” said Melinda. “Then hopefully the lines will be up.”

“Oh,” said Granny Royce, distractedly. “Yes, hopefully.” She led Melinda up the darkened staircase into an empty, quiet hall.

Or perhaps not so quiet. From one end of the hall came the muffled sound of someone crying.

Whoever it was, they were crying softly, not with anger, or petulance, or fear, but with deep sadness. It sounded as if crying was something this person was used to, but they were still unable to stop.

“Who is that?” she asked, pointing in the direction the crying was coming from.

“Oh, pay that no mind, honey,” said Granny. “That’s just Mr. Norris. He’s been like that a while. Older man, you understand. Not all there.” She tapped her temple.

“I understand,” Melinda replied, but wondered privately how an old, out-of-touch man would wind up at a road house. “Has he been here long?”

“A while, I’d say,” answered Granny. “Don’t really recall how long, exactly.”

How does he pay for room and board? “I guess he doesn’t drive,” she said to the old woman. “Actually, it doesn’t look like anyone else here has a car.”

Granny started at this, looking up with an almost guilty expression. “Oh, well,” she said. “That kind of thing is the business of the guests. I don’t ask about such things.” She turned the key in the lock of the room she had led Melinda to, and opened the door. Turning on the light, she showed Melinda the quaint little room. Melinda thought it looked like stepping into the past. She could swear this room would have looked modern in the early fifties, at the earliest.

Come to think of it, so could the rest of this place, she thought. No wireless service, no computer, that old bell. And those magazines, they looked new, but…

That thought was cut off as Granny put the key on the nightstand and started in with instructions. “Now, the bathroom is down the hallway there. You’ll be sharing with the whole floor, so please bare that in mind if you have to go. There’s a shower schedule on the door, as well. First come, first serve. You just add your name to the first available line and that’s the order the showers are in. I wouldn’t worry about that, if I were you, though. I’m sure you’ll be first in line. I get up at 6 AM sharp every morning and start breakfast, but you come on down whenever you’re ready and I’ll whip something up for you. Oh, and one last thing, my dear. I would strongly advise you not to leave the house until sun-up. You just never know what could happen out there. In the dark.”

“Of course,” she replied. I’d never go out there in the dark if I didn’t have to…She stopped that train of thought right out of the gate.

After a few moments, she was alone. Alone, without anything to wear to bed, and nothing to shower, brush her teeth, or hair with in the morning. She sat on the bed and looked out the window, which faced front. Her car still sat where she had left it, the only thing for miles that seemed like part of her world. And an expensive, over-large paperweight until I can get a hold of someone, she thought bitterly.

Despite the homeyness of the room, she felt an unwillingness to rise and shut off the light. Somehow the thought of going to sleep in this backward little room seemed unthinkable. So instead, she continued to sit and stare out the window.

A figure in black detached itself from the shadows of the trees and made its way to her car. The hell?! She jumped up and ran at the window. The figure was tall, and seemed to be wearing a cloak made of night. She saw as its arm extended. In its hand was a long, jagged dagger. It dragged the dagger across the side of her car, leaving a long gash-mark in the paint and metal.

“Hey!” she shouted. The figure kept dragging the dagger. She reached for the window to open it. It wouldn’t budge! She looked for a lock, but couldn’t see one. “Hey!” she yelled again. This time the figure raised its head. She could see the glint of two eyes under the hood. The figure raised the dagger, slowly, determinedly. It pointed it straight at her face.

She leaped away from the window and ran for the door. A noise on the other side stopped her. Footsteps. Dragging, shambling footsteps. And crying. The sound of a person for whom deep, longing sadness is a way of life. Mr. Norris! She waited. Somehow, she just felt that she should let the old man pass before she opened the door.

Before he got very far, however, she heard other footsteps, these much quicker and lighter, run up the stairs and stop near the door of her room. “Stop it!” hissed Granny Royce. “Go back in your room right now! You know better. She can’t see you yet. Hopefully she won’t have to at all. Now you go back in there. You’ve got no business being out at this hour anyway.”

What on Earth? How could that sweet old woman talk to another human that way, let alone an old man with a foggy mind? She almost opened the door right then, but somehow her hand stopped, and waited until the shuffling, crying man had made his way back down the hallway. She heard his door open.

She opened her own door just in time to see his foot, shod in a well-worn house-shoe, slide into his room. The door closed softly after him. That poor man, she thought. But now she was determined to find out what was going on. The punk outside in the Halloween costume slashing up her car, followed by Granny yelling at an old man, made her begin to understand that not all was well here.

She went back down to the front desk area, which was completely unlit except for the moonlight and porch light coming through the window. There was, however, a light on near the back room that Granny Royce had emerged from before. Melinda paused to take a look outside the front window. The maniac with the dagger was nowhere to be seen for the moment, but she was now determined that it was he that she had seen moving through the trees. He could have killed me!

She strode in the direction of the light, seeing that it was the light to the kitchen. She kept going, expecting to find Granny Royce still puttering about with whatever an old inn-keeper did with herself during the early hours of the morning.

Instead, she found Granny sitting with a young man of about twenty. He had dark hair, and a scruff of stubble, and was wearing a dark brown corduroy shirt and khaki’s, along with a pork-pie hat. He looked like he was ready to go sell newspapers on a street-corner in the thirties. He was quietly sipping tea while Granny was admonishing him from the other end of the table.

“Now that was a horrible thing to say!” she said. “When I was your age, young men minded their manners!”

“That’s a laugh, talking about my age,” muttered the young man with a sneer. “And just how old are you? Do you even remember?”

“Calvin Davidson, you are trouble, young man,” she hissed back. Neither had noticed Melinda yet. “One of these days you’re going to say something you’ll regret.”

“Oh, come on, Granny, what could I possibly say that will make things worse than they already are?” demanded Calvin. “I mean, look at old Mr. Norris up there! Both of us are ol…um, hullo, miss. I didn’t know we had anyone else here.” He had just seen Melinda.

“Uh, hi,” she said. She had the feeling she’d walked in on an old argument the two of them had had many times, and that did not concern her. Her fear and anger were forgotten for the moment. Calvin had been talking to Granny like a sullen kid, but something about what they were saying seemed…wrong.

“Can I help you, Melinda?” asked Granny Royce. “Is there something wrong with your room?”

That brought her back. “No,” she said. “The room is fine. But nothing else is! I mean, what on Earth do you even have a road house out here where it seems like no one ever stops? Why are most of the rooms full even though mine is the only car out there? Why did I hear you talking to Mr. Norris like he was a dog? And why would you want to make sure I didn’t see him?”

She got no further before Calvin cut her off. “Good lord, she’s not even been here a night and she can see it. Why did you even let her in, Granny? Why don’t you just bolt the door? Hell, if I could go take down that sign don’t you think I would have, by now? Lord love a duck.”

There’s something you don’t hear many young men say, thought Melinda. She decided to ignore Calvin for the moment, otherwise.

“And besides that, there’s someone out there! He’s the freak who slashed my tires and he’s been out there messing up my car since then! And you can’t even call the police! Are you gonna tell me you’ve never had vandals out here before?”

There was a long pause in the room. Neither Granny, nor Calvin, seemed willing to break it. Calvin scratched at his neck. For the first time, Melinda noticed a red slash at his throat, half-hidden by his collar. It looked like either a very fresh scar or a slightly healed wound.

“Listen, miss, I don’t know your name,” he finally said.

“Melinda,” she told him.

“Melinda,” he repeated. “Melinda, I think you should sit down. I have to tell you something that you may find…troubling.”

Melina did not like how he said that. She also didn’t like the way his tone had switched from sullen child to serious adult. He looked several years her junior, but he was talking to her like he was her uncle, or her boss.

He swallowed a sip of tea, and sighed. Then he looked her straight in the face and said: “The reason I don’t have a car out there is that when I got here, no one my age, in my line of work, would have owned a car. It would have seemed like an impossible dream.”

“What…what are you talking about?” she asked, hesitantly.

“I worked in a textile mill,” he said. “The mill was shut down by the time I got here. Most businesses were. So I struck out on my own; a drifter looking for what work I could find. And I stopped here. Forever.”

“Businesses were shut down…I don’t understand,” said Melinda. “We’re having a rough time of it right now, but businesses are mostly staying open…”

“Not then, they weren’t,” said Calvin, sadly. “I arrived here…in 1929.”

Melinda blinked. Something had exploded behind her eyes.

“This place was new, then,” said Granny. “My man and I had just opened it. And young Mr. Calvin was a sweet young lad of sixteen. I offered to take him on as hired help over my husband’s objections. Well, my husband was a well-meaning man, but he knew how to pinch a penny. T’was a year after I took Calvin on that Mr. Royce died. Calvin and I have been here ever since. And every few years or so, someone joins us.”

“Yep,” Calvin broke in. “Miss Tillie was first; she was a woman of ill repute who ran here, pregnant and scared that the man who’d run her trade up in New York was gonna find her and kill her. She and that baby…” He broke off, now seeming on the point of tears.

“And then,” said Granny. “There was Mr. Standish. He was a traveling minister. He doesn’t travel anymore.”

“Mr. Norris got here in ’69,” said Calvin. “His story is probably the worst. He was a…well, he was a bank-robber, you see. Carried a pistol. And he didn’t like learning how long we’d all been here.” He paused, stood and walked to the kitchen window. “He tried to leave on his own, you see. He ain’t the first to try it. That was me, actually. I warned him not to try, but he wouldn’t listen. But when he got outside…and he met him…”

“Calvin!” hissed Granny. “We don’t talk about this!”

“She’s gotta know,” said Calvin. “There’s no point in her finding out slowly.”

“There’s still a chance for her!” said Granny in a stage whisper. “All she has to do is wait until morning…”

“She’s not going to wait until morning,” said Calvin, with some remorse in his voice. “No one ever waits until morning. The fact that she came down here is proof enough of that. Besides, what good would that have really done her? Her car is useless. We have no phones here. There was no phone when this place went up, and there won’t never be a phone here. You know that.”

“Okay, everyone, stop!” Melinda shouted. “That’s enough! Now, you can’t keep me prisoner here, and I have no intention of staying any longer. Only that knife-wielding maniac out there is keeping me from running up the road this minute! Now, I need to know what’s really going on here and I need to know it now!”

“We’ve been telling you,” Calvin said. “Granny may not want you to know everything, but you need to. Because you won’t be leaving. Oh, we’re not trying to keep you prisoner. I don’t even care if you run out that door right now. But you’ll never leave this house again afterward.”

“Like hell I won’t!” yelled Melinda.

“Listen, child!” said Granny, rising from her spot at the table. “Listen, please! None of us mean you harm, my dear, not even Mr. Norris. There’s scant he can do anymore, and he knows it. That’s why he’s up there crying all the time. But we’re stuck here, all of us. I hoped there was a chance for you to run for it in the morning, but Calvin’s right. There’s no guarantee you’d be safe in the morning, anyhow.”

“What…the…hell…is wrong with this place!?” choked out Melinda. She was beginning to break down. she could feel the tears welling in her eyes.

“It was about a month after Mr. Royce died,” said Calvin. “When he came. He was wearing that long, black robe, and carrying that ridiculous dagger. I saw him when I was trimming the hedges in the back. I told him he needed to get out of here, because I didn’t like his look. He…he moved so fast I never saw it coming. And he got me, from here…” Calvin touched his neck. “To here.” He touched his lower abdomen on the opposite side from the neck slash. He began to undo his shirt.

Melinda almost vomited. Under his shirt was a long, ugly slash that went deep…and was still seeping blood. She could see bone, muscle and intestines wriggling within that mangled ruin.

“I died that night,” said Calvin. “But then I didn’t. The next thing I knew, I was being dragged into the house by Granny, and when I woke up I nearly scared her to death. She was sure that I was gone. The thing is, I was. But I was awake. I could talk, walk, do anything I could while alive. Well, except take any enjoyment or nourishment from food or drink anymore. I still drink that tea because it keeps my skin from turning ash-grey. I learned that about fifty years ago.”

“He didn’t go away, though,” Granny broke in. “I went out to deal with him, carrying my axe. He took my axe and buried it in my back. I won’t show you the wound, honey. Calvin shouldn’t have shown you his, either. No one should have to see it.”

“But that’s how he works, Melinda,” continued Calvin. “He’s got that knife, but if you try to use a weapon on him, he just…moves like he does and takes it from you. You never stand a chance. He’ll use whatever weapon you try to take him down with to end you. Mr. Norris learned that the hard way.”

“This…this is not happening!” Melinda was ready to break down. She had to hold it together. She had to get out of here, somehow. Nothing about this was right. Nothing about it could be real. It was all a dream; too much didn’t make sense. Her father calling her out of the blue. Her leaving to go to him without a second thought. Getting lost so quickly, and so irreversibly. No cell phone service anywhere on this road. This place, everything about it! She was dreaming; that had to be it. But if so, she was gonna survive this dream.

She turned and ran for the stairs. Her purse was still in her room, but she was going to grab it and go. She’d had enough. Protesting voices began babbling behind her; she cared not one whit.

Mr. Norris was waiting at the top of the stairs.

Contrary to Granny Royce’s description of him, he was not old at all. No more than about forty. But she saw instantly what she meant by “not all there”.

The top half of Mr. Norris’s head looked normal, like a reasonably attractive man with dark hair peppered with grey here and there. His eyes, a clear green, were moist with fresh tears.

The lower half of his face was a ruin of bone fragments, shredded muscle and blood. So much blood. His left side was similarly destroyed. His arm hung on a few hanging strings of muscle, his hip was just as much a mess of bone and blood as his face was. He kept his one good hand on the bannister as he shuffled toward her.

Behind him stood a young woman in a bra and a pair of panties. Her stomach was cut open, and looking out of the wound with bright, intelligent eyes was the mangled remains of a baby.

Melinda turned and bolted for the front door. Her hand had just closed around the knob when Calvin rushed up to her, placing his freezing cold hand over hers.

“They’re not going to hurt you,” he said quickly. “But he will. If you step out for so much as a moment, he will kill you, and it will hurt. And it will go on hurting. Forever. After a while you learn to function with the pain, but it never goes away.”

Sobbing, she asked the question she’d been afraid to ask since coming here. “Who is he?”

“We don’t know,” said Granny, from behind Calvin. “He just…came here, and he won’t go away. He likes to watch us, and do things to incite us to come out again. As soon as someone does, he hurts them more. But no matter how many times he kills us, we don’t die. Believe me when I say, we all wish we could.”

Melinda had had enough of this. She pushed Calvin away and threw open the door.

He was standing on the porch. The knife was held out in front of him, just at face-level. Melinda ran into him at a rush, the knife puncturing her right eye and its tip sliding on through, out the other side. She just managed to see the grinning, pure-white face of her killer, before everything went black.

A few hours later, the house erupted with screams from upstairs, as Melinda awoke to a world of pain, the like of which she’d never known.

Credit To – WriterJosh

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Six Pretty Petals

February 13, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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I woke up that Saturday morning to an unexpected breeze, cool and pleasant, against my cheek. I kept a fan on myself while I slept during the warmer seasons, but the fan was packed deep in my closet during the heart of winter.

I wiped my eyes and looked towards the source of the breeze. A yellow blur blocked some of the blinding light that broke through the sheer curtains. As my vision regained clarity, the yellow blur morphed into a lovely flower with six large, yellow petals.

Before college, I would have been terrified of waking up to a strange flower on my chest, but maturity left me more curious than scared. After meeting my best friend, Chelsea, a female sleight-of-hand magician, I had grown more willing to accept the unexpected. The flower was part of some intricate trick she would surprise me with later in the week. It was the only explanation that made sense, therefore I assumed it to be the correct one.

I made it through high school without uttering the ‘love’ word to any of my boyfriends, as my friends were so hasty to brag about doing. When it came to romance, it wasn’t something I let take over my life. My reputation around campus as an ice queen wasn’t entirely accurate, but it didn’t bother me. It helped me avoid the dating scene and keep focus on my G.P.A. My plan was set, and I was the only one responsible for executing it.

I was not a prude, but I was a realist. No spontaneous college guy would waste random romantic gestures on the control freak. Even if there was interest, a warm fire or a heated blanket were more romantic than any flower this far north. Winter wasn’t for color, it was for comfort. Still, it was a pretty flower.

The flower seemed healthy, but I could smell nothing. My nose was ice cold, and a fresh gust of air made me very aware of the liquid that was dripping from it. The breeze was coming from the window, open about an inch. I closed the window and touched my nose. My hands, warm from being tucked under my pillow, recoiled from the touch of my cold nose. It was no wonder I couldn’t smell the flower.

I set the flower on my nightstand, hoping a long hot shower would clear my head and warm up my nose enough to smell it. I saw a notification for a few unanswered texts from Chelsea, but I needed to wake up first.

Chelsea was the sober sorority sister of Phi Sigma Sigma, and my best friend. She had never touched a drop of alcohol in her life and never planned to, though she had a sense of humor about it. “Why?” was a question she heard often and used as a way to challenge her ability to think quick. She claimed various rules of various religions at first before moving on to secret societies cult tenants forcing her to keep clean for her Master. For the past month, she has used that question as a study aid for her Death and Society class. She would claim that the victims of Insert Serial Killer’s Name Here were drunk and that she didn’t want to make herself an easy target. After recounting some of the more gruesome details from memory, even the most practiced partiers would spend more time eyeing their drinks and fellow party guests with suspicion than imbibing. She was passing the class with flying colors.

Chelsea was a sleight-of-hand magician, and Penn and Teller were her idols. Neither had ever taken a drink of alcohol, and neither ever would, for no reason other than they didn’t want to. She liked the idea and spent her time practicing sleight-of-hand by herself while other kids her age practiced the handsy stuff on each other. I was the control freak, she was the perfectionist, and both of us avoided deep relationships in lieu of our own personal interests and hobbies. We were best friends a week into English 301.

Chelsea was the designated driver, cock blocker and general care taker when the Phi Sigma Six went to parties. She asked for three things as payment: gas money, permission to perform magic tricks for the guys who struck out with us, and allowance to film any embarrassing shit we did (with a clause that none of it ended up on YouTube). I never got drunk enough to go viral, but New Year’s Eve was the one night of the year I caged the control freak completely. That Saturday was January 1st. I assumed Chelsea was the reason I woke up with a cracked window and a strange flower instead of a cracking headache and a strange frat boy. None of the normal signs of a hangover dragged me down and silently praised Chelsea for whichever of her magic tricks had prevented the normal symptoms. I remembered nothing.

The hot shower was fantastic. The hair on my legs was longer than I expected considering I had shaved prior to party the night before. An ex-boyfriend used to swear that his facial hair always seemed to grow in thicker and quicker after a night of heavy drinking. Not caring much about the cause, I recycled the diagnosis and slathered conditioner on my legs. After I washed and conditioned my hair, I turned the shower head to pulse and stood under the water, enjoying the sensation of water massaging the back of my neck while my hair draped over my face like a hot towel. One of the perks of a private dorm room: no roommate, no sharing the hot water.

After I brushed my hair and teeth, I returned to my bed to check my missed messages when three loud, rapid knocks pounded at my door. After the third knock, a sheet of paper slid through the gap at the bottom of my door. This was how the sorority passed along warnings about secret dorm inspections or frivolous gossip we didn’t trust texting. It was quick and anonymous. No one ever knew who was knocking. For secretive note passing, those three knocks were obnoxious in volume and left a feeling of creeping dread clinging to each and every goose bump that ran up my spine. That cold cape of unease never stayed with me until the end. Much later, I realized what was so unsettling about the situation:

One, my door was the only one that had been knocked on.

Two, I had heard no footsteps approaching (or leaving, for that matter), even though the floors in our building creaked if somebody so much as coughed.

I left the note on the floor, as if to punish it for ruining my calm. I checked that the padlock was in the locked position (a useless, but helpful symbol of safety) before I picked up my phone to check the text messages from Chelsea. The knocking returned most of the pre-shower tension. My subconscious would expect more knocking for hours just to avoid surprise if it happened again. The stress made it impossible to relax.

I paced around the room as I checked my phone. First I caught up on e-mails, the last of which was also from Chelsea. It contained an image that failed to download no matter how many times I touched the retry button. I let it be and scrolled through the text messages instead. These were the last few messages on my phone.

Me: see u in 5, doll! (Dec. 31, 2014 08:29 p.m.)
Chelsea: Who is that guy? Why is he trying to give you a flower? Can I do a trick on him or does he have potential? (Dec. 31, 2014 09:42 p.m.)
Me: says his name is ray! never seen him before, but Ana thinks he’s cute so no tricks yet! (Dec. 31, 2014 09:44 p.m.)
Chelsea: Do his eyes look strange to you, or are you too drunk to notice? (Dec. 31, 2014 09:45 p.m.)
Chelsea: Brit? Where the hell did you go? (Dec. 31, 2014 09:59 p.m.)
Chelsea: Hello? Are you in the bathroom? You need to practice so you aren’t puking drunk after one Angry Orchard! Just tell me if you find a ride or not. This party is L-A-M-E! (Dec. 31, 2014 10:49 p.m.)
Chelsea: Brit, seriously, where are you? I can’t find Melody or Sara. Ray keeps looking at me and his eyes are seriously fucked up. I’m getting creeped out. (Jan. 01, 2015 01:11 a.m.)
Chelsea: Holy fvk BRt I jus foudn melody, shes passd out or smthng. Wher are u?!?!?!?! (Jan. 01, 2015 01:42 a.m.)
Chelsea: BRIT! ANSWR ME!!! (Jan. 01, 2015 01:56 a.m.)
Chelsea:sixlovelypetalsdoesshelovemeordoesshenotsixlovelypetalsdoesshelovemeordoesshenotsixlovelypetalsdoesshelovemeordoesshenotsixlovelypetalsdoesshelovemeordoesshenotsixlovelypetalsdoesshelovemeordoesshenot (Jan. 01, 2015 4:03 a.m.)

By the time I read the last message, the chills in my back had returned ten-fold. My frantic pacing caused my thighs to ache. I made a mental note to call Melody later and make sure she was feeling better, but I needed to see Chelsea.

Chelsea didn’t just lose her cool. Ever. Getting us safely back to our rooms, passed out or otherwise, was what Chelsea did. She didn’t freak out over it, especially not to the point of it silencing her inner grammar Nazi. She had grown used to me shortening a couple of words and not using capital letters, but anything beyond that meant repercussions.

More terrifying than those three knocks were the last three text messages.
The first, broken and misspelled, like a drunk text sent to an ex booty call. She would have ignored me for a weekend on principle had I sent it to her.

The second, all capital letters with exclamation points for emphasis. That would have earned me a public conversation where she yelled at me just so my ears and shame could be uncomfortable as her eyes had been reading it.

And the third message. One long string of lower case letters. Gibberish at first, but after reading it back a few times it repeats the same message six times. ‘Six lovely petals. Does she love me or does she not.’ I had no idea what the fuck that was supposed to mean, or why Chelsea would have sent it.

My phone beeped and I had a fear spasm, as if I’d run into an invisible wall. A small arrow appeared at the top of my cell phone screen signifying a successful download. I forced myself to stand still and calm down before I opened it. The morning was spiraling into some sort of hell thanks to my inner control freak. I hoped a cricket chirping wouldn’t cause me to piss myself at the rate I was going.

The download was the image Chelsea had sent me, called NYE15-6Petals. I don’t know how long I sat with my thumb hovering over that text, unsure whether or not I had the guts left to open that image. I had to talk myself into thinking that it was some elaborate prank on Chelsea’s part to get back at me for disappearing on her last night. It took me longer to open it than I’m comfortable admitting.

The picture proved that Chelsea was not responsible for the flower. It was a picture of the six of us, the Phi Sigma Six. From left to right, we were Melody, Sara, Jolene, Anastasia, Chelsea, and me. All of us had yellow flowers behind our ears, and each one of those yellow bastards had six petals. I glanced at the flower on my night stand for a moment. Perhaps it was the fear, or seeing that all six of us had received one, but it no longer seemed beautiful or special. I sure as hell didn’t have the urge to smell it anymore.

Unable to keep still, I began pacing again. I glanced at the piece of paper on the floor. I wanted to look at that piece of paper about as much as I wanted to smell the flower, though I knew I would eventually look.

I had to look. To take control.

I looked back to the picture. Six of us smiling, unsure of the shenanigans the night still held. My eyes moved past our flower framed faces to the mirror behind us. In it, I saw the man who had taken the picture. He held Chelsea’s phone level with his chin. The flash in the mirror left little of his face recognizable and made his hand look thin, almost skeletal. His eyes, unaffected by the flash, were completely visible.

Chelsea had been right about Ray. His eyes were as disturbing as Chelsea’s texts described. Something was wrong with them. They whole of each eye looked black. Most people would have assumed the man wore contacts, but the blackness looked like deep, empty holes; the irises floated against the blackness like the rims of buckets floating at the bottom of the well. All six of us had red eye from the flash, but Ray’s eyes were matte. The flash didn’t just not touch them, it seemed to actively avoid them.

It could have been bad Photoshop. I wish I could say that, at any point, I had believed it was bad Photoshop.

Whether it was the growing fear in my gut or a trick from staring at the screen too long, I saw the eyes move, those pale irises staring right at me, and let out a high pitched shriek as I shoved the phone deep within the depths of my pillow pile. I was done with cryptic texts and strange images.

I couldn’t stop pacing. Again, I wanted to convince myself that Chelsea was trying out a new, albeit disturbing, magic trick on me. She had a tendency to surprise me with small pieces of tricks instead of running me through the patter and show of it all.

This was the finale of a good trick. It would explain the black, hollow eyes that light avoided, how the texts set up finding the picture, how the picture seemed to download on its own when I finished the texts. It all made sense if I could accept that Chelsea, as a magician, had secrets that she just couldn’t share. Once I saw the trick pieced together, it would all make sense.

Any other truth would break me.

At some point I had stopped pacing and had picked up the piece of paper. I was staring at the blank back side of it as I left my thoughts. Confused emotions made me dizzy while fear and reason, the angel and a devil on my shoulder, fought for control of my hands; fought for control of that precious, terrifying sheet of paper. The devil on my shoulder cooed that turning it over would reveal the secret and give me the answer Chelsea could not. The angel, meek but loud, screamed that turning it over meant I could never not turn it over.

I had always thought that my controlling nature made me a rational person, if a bit distant, but I was learning that fear turns a person’s every trait into a weapon. I was as naïve and stupid as any horror movie character I had yelled at over the years, because I could not let myself remain naïve and stupid.

I had to know. To take control.

I turned the piece of paper over.

5 CONFIRMED DEAD, 1 STILL MISSING AFTER SERIAL KILLER STRIKES CAMPUS NEW YEARS EVE PARTY
By Neil Palmer

January 3rd, 2015 – It has been three days since the Acacia Fraternity New Year’s Eve Party ended and two more students have been tragically added to the list of deceased. The bodies of Anastasia Higgins and Chelsea Fogg were found in their respective dorm rooms this morning, despite campus being under 24-hour surveillance and closed to all non-police and federal authorities as of January 1st.
The rooms of all six sorority sisters have been secured and are under observation. Melody Simmons and Sarah Rowland were found on the morning of January 1st by pledges assigned to aid them after the New Year’s Eve party. Jolene Robert’s body appeared in her bed the next day. There were no signs of forced entry and no reports of suspicious activity from officers on duty.

Ms. Higgins and Ms. Fogg each had strange yellow flowers on their chests, as with the previous victims. Two of the petals on Ms. Fogg’s flower had been removed, leaving four petals. One petal had been removed from of Ms. Higgins’, leaving five. Though the flower has not yet been identified, the picture below, pulled this morning off of Ms. Fogg’s phone, show that each flower has six petals. Authorities suspect that whoever was responsible for the flowers may have information and urge anybody with information to call 911 or the provided anonymous tip line as quickly as possible.

(In the middle of the page was the picture that Chelsea had emailed me, displaying the six of us smiling with those fucking flowers behind our ears. I wouldn’t let myself look at Ray’s face again. I forced myself to read on, despite tears blurring my vision.)

Britney Davidson is the last member of the Phi Sigma Six who remains unaccounted for. If criminal profiler theories that this is the work of a serial killer can be trusted, Ms. Davidson represents one more potential victim. Finding her is paramount to both saving her life and catching the person responsible for the deaths of her five sisters.

If anybody has any information regarding the whereabouts of Britney Davidson, please call the aforementioned numbers.

A service for the Phi Sigma Six will be held as soon as the campus is re-opened to the staff and students. Until then, free grief counseling and student support is being offered at the local YMCA.

Our thoughts and sympathies are with the families of all six young women and anyone else whose lives they have touched.

There was a picture of me on the bottom of the page, and some phone numbers.

I let the paper fall to the floor as my breath caught in my chest. My sisters were dead. My best friend was dead. The grief I felt for them, and the fear I should have felt knowing that I was next, both punctuated by the date at the top of the page.

It was January 3rd. I had been lost for three days, which meant that I had lost three days.

Somehow, I had ended up back in my own bed, the same as my sorority sisters. I hoped nobody had stuffed a piece of paper underneath any of their doors. I hoped that they had gone peacefully in their sleep. I hoped they had been ignorant to the fear coursing through me knowing that I was next.

Three knocks, much louder than the first, crumbled my nerves. The chills running up my spine grew hot with adrenaline. Tears streamed down my face. I couldn’t help myself from whimpering in short, ugly bursts. I turned towards my bed, ready to leap for the phone under my pillows and call 911.

I couldn’t take the first step. What I saw stopped the chills, the tears, the whimper, my breathing and time itself, for all I knew.

The window was cracked about an inch. The yellow flower with the six pretty petals was no longer on my night table. The yellow flower sat on my chest in a perfect spot to obstruct my vision if I were to open my eyes. Not a single petal had been removed.
The room had become claustrophobic and surrealistic in a hurry. I wasn’t sure if the version of me, who I thought of as the ‘real’ me, was asleep or dead. I wasn’t sure if I was a ghost, a dream, or having an out of body experience.

I had been vulnerable to whatever monster was responsible for the death of my friends the entire time, and I had been ignorant of that until I read that damn article. In trying to grasp control, I had broken the illusion and lost all of it. As vulnerable as the ‘real’ me lying in bed was, the part of me stuck staring at her would be the part that suffered.

I envied her, the ‘real’ me lying in that bed, relaxed and oblivious. She hadn’t spent the morning pacing around her room, slowly losing her mind. She hadn’t learned that her best friends had died. She had no idea that she would never be waking up, if she wasn’t already dead.

The door behind me creaked as it opened. My entire body felt as cold as my nose had been. The adrenaline was gone, no longer warming my limbs. Something more than fear froze me in place. All I felt was cold.

I would not move. I could not move.

Each shallow exhale turned into a thick cloud of fog in front of my face. My eyes were wide open and drying out in the intense cold. The room itself seemed to turn gray the colder I got. I heard a hiss behind me and a large cloud fog flew past my head, overtaking one of my own small breath clouds.

I could not react to whatever was behind me. Rather it was out of fear or something the thing behind me had done to me, I would never know. My bladder let loose to punctuate my lack of body control. The fresh piss felt like ice water as it flowed down my leg. It didn’t even take a cricket chirping.

A yellow blur slowly crept over my shoulder from my left peripheral. As my vision regained clarity, the yellow blur morphed into an ugly flower with one large, decayed yellow petal. My entire body was ice cold, but this time I could smell it; something like nail polish remover and moldy bread and sweet rot.

Holding the stem of the flower was a pale hand that looked thin and skeletal at first. I was wrong. The hand wasn’t skeletal; it was a skeleton’s hand.
A voice behind me spoke, a deep whisper louder than any of the knocks.

“Six lovely petals. Does she love me or does she not?”

No control.

I looked at my body one last time and offered a silent apology. I was going to be the reason we died, and I could do nothing to stop it.

I was powerless.

Powerless to resist the second skeleton hand as it grabbed my wrist and raised my hand to the flower.

Powerless to stop my fingers from pinching that last yellow petal and plucking it off.

Powerless to stop myself from saying “I love you not.”

——-

I woke up that Saturday morning to an unexpected breeze, cool and pleasant, against my cheek. Somewhere within the whoosh of the wind blowing through my window, I swear I heard a deep whisper.

“Good choice.”

Credit To – Rob E. Nichols

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Not All Secrets Are Taken To The Grave

February 11, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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I’ve always found it particularly difficult to start a story. It’s easy to end one, but ever since grade school when my teachers would make me write a short story, I could never make a good start. I suppose I’ll start by saying this is a story. A story about my best friend. He died about 2 years ago. He was in his living room, sitting, watching tv, and he had a heart attack. And boom. Just like that he’s dead. Gone. Bye bye. See you later. It was really shocking when I found out.

He was a hard working man who was a mechanic. He always was sweating from physical labor. It didn’t make any sense how he could have possibly died from a blocked artery. But I guess somethings aren’t always what they seem in this life. We went to his funeral. It was a simple service, family and friends of his showed up. We said a few words about him. We cried and all the usual stuff at a funeral. Then we put him in the ground. And we left.

I got over his death ok. I was sad for quite a while but I knew that he wouldn’t want me to sit there sad all the time. “Stop being a wuss and get on with your life,” he’d say. He was just that kind of guy, a tough, skinny guy, with a mouth full of lemon juice. His name was Tom. You could see him from miles around walking around with his big ego flaunting himself ’round like his sh*t didn’t stink. Hilariously enough, it usually didn’t.

As you can guess by that joke we were real close. As kids we were inseparable. We’d spend our nights and days causing trouble around our small town, ding dong ditching and throwing eggs at random old ladies and such. We grew up and I got married to a beautiful wife. He stayed single, preferring to be a one-night stand kind of guy. He even made me a special promise a long time ago.

“Percy,” he said, “if either one of us goes off to the big yonder before the other, the one that goes should come back and tell the other what it’s like up there in heaven.” I wasn’t to thrilled with the idea. “But I wouldn’t want you to come back. I want to find out for myself what the light is.” He grunted in annoyance.
“Ugh…fine. I still want one of us to come back though.” He scratched his nose in thought. “But only if we have something really really important to tell the other person. Like if they’re going to be in an accident or something.” We agreed and shook on it. It was a promise I know he couldn’t keep. But for a while I really wish he could. As I said though, I moved on with my life. He did however, keep his promise.

At sunset on a summer day, I sat in my living room, like I usually did, with my gorgeous wife cooking dinner in the kitchen. I had just finished an episode of Seinfeld and was lazily looking out my window at the oranges and dark pinks the sun was making on the clouds. Suddenly, I got a knock on my door. It was slow and quiet, and if I wasn’t paying attention, I would have thought it was a tree branch hitting the side of the house due to the wind. KNOCK. KNOCK. Plain as day. After about 4 knocks I got up from my chair and yelled, “I’m coming!” at the door. As walked toward it something didn’t feel right.

Like. Like I shouldn’t open the door. Like if I did harm would befall me. I ignored my feelings and went up to it and turned the knob. No one was there. Great. It was probably the damn neighbor kids. I stepped outside cautiously, looking for any sign of the little intruders. I was shocked out of my mind when I saw him standing there. It was my friend.

Albeit, not at all like he was when he was alive, but it was definitely him. He stood there, one leg shorter than the other, still wearing the suit he was buried in. His suit was torn and caked with dirt and moss. It was faded and smeared with stains of various body fluids. As for his body itself, it was literally skin and bones. His skin was no longer tanned from hours out in the sun, but now it was gray dry and cracked. It covered his bones and looked like someone had outlined them with sandpaper, and parts were curled up like cinnamon, revealing the red and white of his aged bones. The contours of his body were distorted like he had been molded out of wax, and his face was a shadow of what it was originally. It was a skull, the hair wisps of thin string and tangles of matted mud and old pieces of wood shavings. His ears and nose had decayed away, revealing morbid holes that looked like caves. His mouth was exposed, his lips long since parted, showing off his teeth and tongue. Entire parts of his lower set were completely gone, and I could see the divots where the teeth’s roots had once been.

But the eyes were the worst part. They had only partially decomposed, the water having seeped out long ago, but his irises and the white stayed behind, each eye looking like a deflated beach ball. The pupils stared blankly at me, as if they could steal my soul at any moment. I stood there in absolute shock and fear, completely paralyzed. He spoke, breaking the silence. “You didn’t think I could do it, did you.” His voice was weak and raspy like a smoker’s. And yet, even with him being so far away it was as if he was speaking right in my ear. When he opened his mouth, what should have been his tongue was replaced by a gob of black goo that squeezed out of his mouth flowed down his neck soaking what remained of his white undershirt.

I breathed out heavily, still looking at him, and said, “That isn’t possible. You’re supposed to be in your grave.” “I know you’re afraid,” he said, “but it really is me. We need to talk. Can I come inside?” I stepped aside and pointed my arms towards the door. He walked up slowly, his short leg dragging his long leg behind him. His arms swung around him. He struggled to breathe, his breath long and wheezing. I opened the door, resisting the urge to throw up as I got the first whiff of his odor. It wasn’t exactly like rotten meat, but more of a mold and dead rat smell mixed with a household cleaner. It burned my throat when I breathed it in. He went in, and fell upon my couch. My wife called from the kitchen. “Hon, who’s at the-”

“Nobody.” I said quickly cutting her off. “Just an old friend.”

“Ok dear.”she said, returning to her work.

I turned and walked back into the living room where Tom was waiting. “Well, well, I’ve been DYING to see you.” He said. He burst out in laughter at his pun. His laugh sounded like an old man choking on cotton.
I looked at him unhappily.
“Why are you here, Tom.”
“Funny you should ask. You remember our agreement, don’t you? Well I’m keeping it.”
“Yes, I can see that but how did you-”

“How did I come back? Well it’s simple really. If you want something bad enough you’ll get it.”
He turned towards the door and sighed.
“It’s time I tell you the news now. What I’ve come here to warn you about.”
I tapped my foot impatiently. “Well, what is it?”
He began to speak, but then he paused for a moment. He looked at me, his prune-for-eyes glinting. His eyes began to glare, and felt a great malevolent force emanating from him.
“You know Percy, I’ve been real lonely in that coffin. It’s cold. The bugs crawl all over you. And it’s boring lying there all the time. I’ve been hoping for company. You know, someone to lye with.”
I felt extremely uncomfortable at that moment.
“Tom, I have to live my life. I’ll go when I go. For now I need to say here with my wife.”
“No, no I’m aware of that. That’s the thing I’m going to warn you about. You see, I won’t be lonely for long.”
I stood there in confusion. “What you mean?”
“It’s your wife, Percy. She isn’t happy. Do you know what she’s doing right now?”
“No.” I said, looking at him concerned.
“She has a pistol, Percy. She’s planning to kill you with it. Then collect the insurance money.”
“How dare you.” I said accusatively
“It’s true, Percy.”
“She would never do that!”
“Fine. Don’t trust your friend. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

He got up from the couch, pieces of his hair falling on the floor. Clumps of mud joined them. He went to the door and opened it. He turned around before leaving .”See you soon.” He croaked. He went out and slammed the door. I sat down angrily on my recliner. I sat there and thought a while about what he said. How could he say such a thing? My wife! The woman I had been married to for 15 years, kill me? Impossible!
I looked up and saw my wife come out from the kitchen. She stopped and smiled at me. Then she drew out a gun from her pocket and cocked her head.

“Percy dear, dinner’s ready.”

Credit To – Evilkenevil77

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Allison

February 9, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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I have no idea how much longer I’ll be able to do this. If I can no longer continue my aimless escape from simply running out of money, I could at least count my blessings. It’s too difficult for me to say in confidence why the visions I’ve been having are persistent. Either they’re a way for her to “salt the meat” per se, or a way for her to persuade me to keep my distance. However, they’ve become increasingly more vivid, so the best hypothesis is probably that she’s been toying with me. Calling for help doesn’t necessarily appear to be the smartest choice. Why? I don’t know if there are others like her, and such a claim is too farfetched for the police to believe.

I really should’ve just kept to myself. If only… Yeah, it wouldn’t have ended up like this. Why was I so stupid? It’s probably just that one person though. Otherwise, I may have seen more of them in the visions by now.

My first encounter with her was just earlier in Autumn this year. Of all times, it was during my first semester at Dourmsburg University. Where I first met this person, if that’s even an accurate term, was a place most people like myself would go because of the necessity. Like every other freshman in college, it was mandatory that I’d attend English 100 at some point to obtain a degree. Walking inside the classroom for the first time, it was already filled with people my age who I never met in my life. She was no exception.

Just as I sat down in this room full of strangers, the professor, with an extra dash of enthusiasm in his voice, introduced himself as “Professor Robinson.” Probably as an exercise for the students to begin getting to know one another, we would stand up one by one, tell the class our names, and one thing about ourselves. The teacher grinned, raised one eyebrow at me, and said that since I was late, I’d go first.

Standing up, the small sea of faces turned to me. With a tiny quiver in my jaw, I told the crowd, “Um, hi. My name is Billy Wisenor, and I don’t know anyone here.” Sitting down, my eyes caught several other students smirking and nodding. Other members of the class stood up as well, giving their names, and telling us things like their majors, hobbies, and more irrelevant facts about themselves.

The last of them, just one row in front and two seats to the left of where I sat, was more hesitant to stand than the rest. Where some of them took maybe a second to rise before the class, this ebony-haired student took a few seconds longer. Looking around the room as though she was scanning the room, she told us, “Hello.” She turned her head around the room once more, looking at us all individually. “I guess, um, I’m Allison Baker.” I’ve been noted in the past for my keen sense of hearing, so it’s not certain to me if others caught her murmuring, “I, I think… Allison.”

Usually, the lack of eloquence would’ve made me feel no such thing towards her. However, from the second when she first stood before us, I felt a strange fixation on this person. It was nothing remotely romantic, or even sexual. There was absolutely no desire on my part to even touch. It was her very lack of eloquence that repelled me from the thought. The attraction was more “magnetic,” so to speak. Somehow, she implanted something into my brain. It was unnatural because I’ve never felt this form of magnetism before. There were no urges to do, but only to follow.

At the second, stuttered mention of her name, her face began to redden. Initially, it seemed to be simple shyness. Her behavior sprouted confusion in me, and probably the other students there at what followed. We watched as she clenched her temples, and began to hyperventilate. With her extremely heavy breaths came tears going down her cheeks. Covering her face, she ran out of the room. Giving expressions of awe and confusion, the rest of us turned to one another, as if someone would have an answer to the obvious question.

We briefly debated among ourselves whether or not it was best for someone to check on this person. It was almost involuntarily that I shot up, insisting to go. Typically, someone like me would be slow to interacting with others. Thus, it struck me as especially odd since I had no arguing with myself about it. Somehow, it was like the instinct to search for food to quell hunger. If anything, this kind of response felt even more necessary.

At telling them that I’d go, that’s when my mind let in only a little bit of second thought. I knew not of her personality, so there was no way that could’ve compelled me. Hell, it wasn’t even the stranger’s appearance, as shallow as it would’ve been. If anything, this person appeared pretty plain, dressing in the current fashion of my still-teen age group. The only uncommon features of such were the locks of ebony, and a somewhat pale tone of flesh.

Still, I found myself leaving the classroom despite my waned sense of logic struggling to persuade me not to. Its efforts to persuade me that doing so would only end badly was quickly hushed. Only a moment of roaming through the hallways, and that hungry magnetism took over.

There was no way for me to know her whereabouts with my eyes, even though the whole campus was brightly lit with fluorescence. However, something else kicked in. It was a sense I never knew of before. It’s safe to say that it really wasn’t quite human. This was similar to tracking by smell, where there was somewhat of a given path before me. This track was really more of the feeling of the air. Everything else around that given path was left to be as is. The invisible road before me was that of a low, metallic sound that gave a scratching, electric pulse to the center of my brain. The consistent scraping against my pituitary gland was wearing out any ability to think cognitively. That magnetism was the only, and the closest thing to thought I was experiencing. Where this electric pathway felt colorful in nature, everything else was greying. It was a slow, crawling decay spreading from inside out. All sound was muffled nearly to the point of perfect silence as well, with the exception of a faint ringing.

As I continued to follow this trance-inducing road to the main lobby, my ears picked something up. Over the continuous ringing sound, there was a series of breathing that became louder while I walked. They were deep and sickly, as those of an old man with a terminal illness on his deathbed. The volume of this strange noise stopped increasing once it dominated the ringing. It wasn’t the only, or probably the strangest thing I’ve heard then.

Jesus Christ, I can’t tell if that was her peering from just out the window. If this is the last part of my story I’m able to tell you, please search for my remains at the Motel 6 in Stantron, Ohio. The Motel is on Oak Street, seven miles Northeast from the university. Even if I’ve completely disappeared, and I’m not able to complete this, you might at least find strands of DNA. I don’t see anything out my window now, but I think that was a silhouette looking at me from the distance. It’s too dark out to make anything out, but the shape looked distinctly like her. God, those eyes… Those glowing eyes shining at me… The tiny specs of lime green I saw through my window for just a moment, they were watching me! I’ve only started praying for my life. I don’t know what else I can do, but maybe continue my futile escape. I just hope someone heard me praying. I don’t see that alien figure now, even if it was pitch black outside. I’ll have to check out early, and run in the rain so hopefully, this “journal” of sorts isn’t lost.

At the moment, I’m continuing this from the lonely table of the mostly empty Denny’s I drove to. Other than the night staff, a couple other people eating and keeping to themselves, and me sitting at my booth, it’s pretty much dead in here. The only other sounds consist of clanging and sizzling from the kitchen, and the television broadcast being changed from the news to pure static. The broadcast itself died out from the very instant I sat down, and a pudgy, frizzy-haired waitress seems rather dumbfounded by it. With a frustrated look on her face, she keeps insisting that by changing the channel, the static will stop. Given that I know nothing about weather, I can’t make any educated guesses. However, given that there’s only a stream of heavy rain, it seemed uncanny to me. Where I’ll go after eating to help calm my nerves, I haven’t planned. Although I’m a bit soaked from running to and from my car in the heavy rain, my laptop is at least safe.

I continued down the hallway of the university. Along with the stream of breaths, my ears picked up bits of her voice. It was much like turning a dial to tune in to a radio station, but with no static. There were light, indistinguishable groans of hers going in and out, and then words.

The groans drifted into her saying, “Bake-ker… Servant of the… Its cry calls us.”

About to turn the corner to the next hallway to my left, I saw a shadow lurking against the wall of that hallway. Given how the lights in the school smothered every surface, how this occurred still makes me wonder. My pupils couldn’t catch a decent glimpse at its form though, seeing its dashing speed further down the hall just beyond me.

The strange, electric sensation to the core of my brain came to a sudden cease. A rather small, warm breeze that etched through the first layer of my skin approached me just as she did. How she appeared before me was beyond my expectations though. Even though she left the classroom red in the face with water going down her cheeks, she didn’t look as such in the halls. Her face was as pale as it was when class started. Her face was perfectly expressionless. It was as if she was never upset at all. As she came closer to me, I instinctively asked what happened. There was no reply from her, or even a passing glance.

She was walking at a far quicker pace than I could follow without going into a sort of light trot. I followed her back to class, and while she gained more distance from me, I heard another of those whisperings. Although she was several feet in front of me, it sounded as though she was centimeters from my ears. “Humankind does-sint know…surroundings. I see…all…time.” In between the words I could make out were more unintelligible murmurs, too vague to repeat. “Awaken, my… Awaken, and…demise.”

The inexplicably alluring girl closed the door behind her, allowing it to shut with a startling bang. Going back inside, my body rested back into where it sat before my search. I found myself staring at her more closely that time around, unsure if perhaps others felt that alien magnetism as well. Considering all the other students were seated, I couldn’t tell.

A few other students who were sitting near her asked how she was doing. With an oddly whimsical smirk, she assured them that she was fine. If anything, there seemed to be a hint of confusion in her voice as to why they were asking to begin with.

After so many confirmations, the professor continued with whatever lesson he had planned. I was still unusually fixated by this stranger’s presence. As intense as it was, I still couldn’t figure out why. Somehow, she beckoned me to come closer. It was perhaps a similar attraction a raccoon has to grabbing a shiny object before realizing its hand’s been caught in some painful trap.

Maybe I wasn’t the only one though. Near me, another guy in the class (whose name I’ll refuse to mention for respect of his family) was murmuring back and forth with her. Also trying to hear what the professor was saying was more than likely what hindered me from really picking up what they were saying. To my futile attempts, I could only try to give some of my attention to the lesson. The best I could do was eye contact, and hearing a quarter of the things he was saying. I’m not sure what it was, but I believe it was something regarding a persuasive paper.

The majority of my focus was hearing a proposal by the young man, roughly the same age as me, about dinner after school. She agreed. Be mindful that I never felt an ounce of jealousy. It only struck me as odd because to my recollection, the majority of young women were typically very selective. This one though, was definitely not typical. It also seemed odd that he’d have interest in someone so unstable, but then again, reason doesn’t always stop hormones.

After class was dismissed at roughly noon, everyone rose, Allison being the last. Something about her smile towards the young man she agreed to go with looked artificial. It was only a slight curl, but it wasn’t the way one would really smile. One side of her mouth was curling upward, but the very edge of that side pointed directly down. It even twitched here and there like some sudden spasm. It didn’t strike me until after certain events of their “date” that her agreeing could’ve been for some strange, other motive that no witness would be able to explain well afterwards.

At the entire class leaving the room, the odd magnetism began again. Following her seemingly frail being through the front door of the building, going to other classes I had that day didn’t matter. Attending them didn’t even go through my mind. The only instinct was to simply follow. The similar electric path before me was what lead me to my car. The entire time though, I watched as Allison got into hers without company, in another parking space just a few away from me.

Beginning to follow where she drove, the greyness of the infinite space around me greyed more than before. It darkened and dimmed by the yard. With that, a cease to my stream of thoughts took over, guiding my hands through each turn and such. It became apparent that whatever force did this didn’t quite have the capacity to signal, or even stop if she didn’t do so first.

The whispers from earlier came back, seeping through the radio in my car which I never had playing in the first place. They always spoke to me in riddles. Unlike moments in the past though, they were clearer. They were finally starting to be in complete sentences, only sometimes interrupted by indistinguishable mumbles. “Oh, little, unknowing Wise-seh-nor boy. You find yourself so fascinated. I can tell.”

This odd encounter while I was driving was different in another way as well. With the fading into a lifeless grey, my conscious mind felt as if it was shutting down. It was just like falling asleep, but immediately dreaming. Although I found myself in that sort of paralyzed state, my hands and feet still moved to drive along with her car. I saw something else in front of me. Just a few inches away from me, a translucent image of her face gathered from billions of tiny particles from above my head until they took a complete form. With the vague translucence of her appearance were some details of the highway I was swerving on to. As she resumed speaking, that faint ringing returned. It was a sound that accompanied her voice during this particular kind of encounter from that time forward.

Nearly sideswiping another car while changing to the lane just at my left, my skin tingled at her breath as she told me, “It wasn’t my intent-shin, but it happens almost at least once with eh-ver-y new place I go to. Perhaps it comes with what was given to me by…” The remainder of what she was saying went off into more mumbles, although I could see her lips moving in just the same fashion.

All I was seeing immediately disappeared. It was in a flash of time, but felt like far longer. My field of vision was engulfed by an odd face I couldn’t dare to call human. To my assumption, I didn’t see the entirety of the face. Perhaps I should be thankful I didn’t witness more of its form. It was pale as white paper. Staring directly at me were a pair of scowling, veiny, pure ebony eyes. They glared into my essence, planning something. Just below them was a nose-like appendage, though in shape, it looked to be more a beak. I didn’t see any kind of nostrils, or opening along it anywhere. It still hung down, shaped much like a sort of hook. It glared at me with such disdain, but needing at the same time.

At first, I couldn’t tell if what I’d hear was coming from the ghastly image I was seeing in my pseudo-unconscious state, or somewhere else entirely. To give the terrible image company though, for the first time, I heard a soul-shaking, horrified river of a single man screaming. It sounded like this person was driven completely out of their mind in terror that one could only imagine. I couldn’t pinpoint where it came from at first, but to my shock and misfortune, it would be a sound I’d recognize in the very near future.

Someone in the kitchen’s shouting. It’s a man’s raspy voice. Probably the cook. A loud burst from the kitchen with some kind of enormous splatter. Shit, I can’t see what it is. The waitress, the one with the frizzy hair… She ran back to the kitchen. Oh God, her screams… They’re so frantic. Mortified. Wait, no. What the Hell’s going on? They’ve gone silent, followed by the same sound. That burst with a huge splatter. Still can’t see. I hear her humming. Don’t forget where I’ve been.

Jesus, I don’t know which township I’m in. I know I’m being followed. There’s no way to reasonably deny it anymore. I hauled ass out of there. I’m sitting in some other motel I managed to find. I think it was about an hour’s worth of speeding, but I’m not sure. I think I spotted a couple roaches crawling across the floor, but it’ll have to do. It’s not like I’ll be sleeping here, like I’d be given enough time. I’m probably further from Stantron, Ohio, and a bit closer to Bumblefuck Nowhere. Judging by the significant lack of buildings compared to say Dourmsburg, yeah. Bumblefuck Nowhere sounds right. Would’ve been smarter to ask, but someone in this shit hole’s bound to remember me checking in as long as she only comes for me.

The vision of that hideous, unknown, pale face though… It couldn’t have been one of a man. Thank God though, I at least didn’t have to see it for very long. It vanished into nothing. The only things before me were black. Perfect black, and her piercing eyes staring into me.

Her cryptic murmurs kept moving into my ears like an unwanted guest. “…by The Raven.” She breathed heavily, and shouted at me. It sounded like Allison was clenching her teeth. “You don’t know the consequences of someone being in the wrong place at the wrong time, do you?” Speaking to me in a far more pleasant tone, the girl gave me an innocent giggle. “Then again, maybe I kinda wanted you to follow me. I like it when people have an interest.”

The abnormalities of my field of vision flashed into nonexistence. The feeling was that of sleeping in a position that would end up hurting your neck after a full seven hours. It was essentially that, but the sensation smothered my body. There was a bit of difficulty moving about in general from the beating soreness, and a small pool of sweat along my chest. Looking around, I didn’t find myself on the highway, or any road at all. At first, there was a lot of shock merely at realizing my car wasn’t even in motion. However, I found myself in the sun-dressed parking lot of some nearby park, surrounded by lively, green grass.

Layered in my own body odor, it amazed me that I was even alive. Along with changing lanes without scrutiny of my surroundings, my last conscious memory before arriving was seeing my vehicle’s velocity edging on eighty miles per hour. No matter how much time passes though, I can’t seem to recall more of the drive. Even though logically, it shouldn’t come as a surprise, there lingers in a corner of my mind a foolish ounce of hope that I would.

Until then, it didn’t occur to me just how unnatural those sensations really were. One may argue I may have fallen asleep at the wheel, or experienced an episode of some mental illness. Either would suffice as explanations at first. Here’s what such a doubting party should consider though: mental illness has no tendency in my bloodlines, nor do I have any such experience with it, and only after awakening from this peculiar spell did I feel fatigue. Unlike coming out of any sleep, there was hardly any energy left in me to stand up, let alone get out of the car.

I could still look, and see what else my surroundings contained. Before I could take notice to anything really significant, more of her words reached out to me, a bit more faint that time around. “…wasn’t always like this. Un-know-ing Wisenor boy…Raven made…this way. Just…was desperate…came to me after…dying from…” It’s not entirely certain to me, but it sounded like I heard a sniffle before hearing her voice, “It’s so nice…have someone to open up to.” She gave me a dry chuckle. “Can’t…you for too long.”

After that, the voice faded into the gentle winds around my car. More whispers moaned against my car. Although words were even less possible to determine among these than within the previous mumblings, the chance of her being right there compelled me beyond denial. Jerking my eyes in that direction, I saw nothing. Although one may call it the wind, I wondered if it was her trying to send another message through her telepathy?

In that moment, as I began to try to piece together what she meant to tell me, there it was. Her car, and only one more were just a few spaces from mine. Spotting Allison and her unfortunate chaser on the bench a few yards away from me, my curiosity once again got the best of me. When I should’ve driven away, I found myself rolling down my window to listen in. In retrospect, attempting to drive away might not have done any good. If she managed to psychically take me here against my will, I only imagine she wouldn’t have let me go very far.

Remaining silent, and looking away from them, I heard her poor chaser ask, “Why did you want to go here instead?”

She replied, “I just thought somewhere more quiet, and…” She said nothing for a second. “Well, private, I guess.”

“Hmm, well, okay It just seemed a little weird that you texted me right before we left, saying you’d rather come to the park.”

“I guess I just wanted to talk. You know, get to know each other a little better. You’re nice. I can tell.”

“Really?” He sounded pleased, but not without doubt in the girl’s voice. “How?”

“Call it a hunch, or maybe you just have one of those faces.”

I looked over at them for a moment. He was reaching over to kiss her, but it didn’t phase me. I just had too strong of a sense of confidence that there was something she intended on me finding out.

She backed away. Allison told the classmate of ours, “I’m sorry. I’m just not comfortable with that.”

A bit of frustration was mixed into his voice. I couldn’t see the expression on his face very clearly, but I could hear it without any trouble. “Then what did you drag me out here for? You said you wanted privacy, right?”

Another sniffle came from her as she said, “I’m sorry.” Her words became completely devoid of emotion as she asked, “Let me ask you something.”

That was when I gave those two on the park bench my absolute attention. It didn’t matter if they noticed me. That tone, or lack thereof, had me intimidated, but far more fascinated.

Questions raced through my mind, creating a black cesspool of imaginative terror as to what she would do. The telepathic messages that woman projected to me were enough to drive anyone into a horrid panic attack. That growing cesspool from the bottom pit of my imagination could only inquire as to what else she was capable of. Not only that, but the distinct lack of anger in her voice struck me just as much. Perhaps she simply cut off from whatever quality of mercy she had left, and what she did to him would be a true illustration of such.

She asked with that flavorless voice, “Have you ever thought about what it’d be like if Earth lost its gravitational pull on an object?”

Hearing that felt like a legion of tiny, many-legged creatures from beneath the soil crawled through my car, and swarmed along me.

He let her know, “Um, I don’t get what you mean.”

Allison said nothing to him. Getting up from the bench, she went to the parking lot, giving me no passing glance. I still couldn’t help the strange premonition that she was completely aware of my presence, despite our perfect lack of interaction.

I assume her chaser was watching with me as she bend down just in front of his car. Gripping part of the bottom, she tugged against it. My jaw hung instantly. Even though the girl didn’t have much of any visible muscle mass on her, the shining, scarlet sports car was lifted into the air. What was far more ungodly was when she let go of it. Allison walked away from it, and the vehicle was slowly rotating on an axis, rising away from the ground by the inch. Completely unable to look away, I heard him shouting in between gasps. However, I was a bit too perplexed by the car to pay much attention to what he was saying until he quit stammering, and he was yelling louder.

Although I was still facing it, my eyes went back to the two youths. The strange girl’s companion was shouting, “What did you do to my fucking car!?” I watched as he slowly backed away from her with a ghostly white face. He was trying to create more sentences, but failed to do so in his own terror.

She continued speaking in that dead monotone, “Wait. Please.”

“N-No. I…” He stopped. His legs were shaking. The young man seemed as if he couldn’t move back any further. “I’m gonna go…”

Allison stood up, staring at him.

“I’m gonna go call th-th…”

Allison Baker stepped closer to him, still silent.

“I’m gonna call the…”

“Police? I’m sorry. I guess maybe I was wrong about you. Maybe I just thought you were cute.” She shrugged.

I can’t say if what happened to him was more bizarre than what occurred with the car floating continuously upward, but if his family gets a hold of this document, it may answer their questions. Hopefully, they’ll consider what I’m frantically recording.

As she stared at him more, his shape turned completely still. He said nothing, even though there was a look of unimaginable fear across his face. It sounds peculiar, but it honestly looked like he was frozen in time. I say “in time” only because he proved to be alive, but I haven’t doubt that he wished that wasn’t so. His motionless being gradually became a sky blue tint, generating a slight, but continuous buzzing noise. In maybe half a minute, the neon silhouette that was my classmate vanished into God-only-knows-where, sparking a powerful gust of wind. It sent Allison back a couple inches, and went far enough to strike my cheek.

Having absolutely no idea of what to make of such a thing, I attempted to start my car again. In my utter shock, I lost all ability to move my limbs about. They were rendered completely useless, husks of flesh without any nerves.

My expectations told me that not only did she know about my being there, but she intended on me being the next in line. I didn’t need to have evidence to more strongly believe that. Even though she was still facing in the same direction, it felt like she was watching me through the other side of her face. She was in fact doing so, as I found out.

While my tongue grew purely dry, I heard another whisper of hers through the radio. There was even the sensation of her palm stroking my cheek as the whisper of hers told me, “No, Billy. Not yet.”

That touch alone was so alien, and that was the only time she ever called me by my first name. If only it was the last time she’d call my name in general, I’d have a shot at having a piece of mind. It’d be extremely slim, but still some kind of chance.

I regret continuing to watch. Although what came back to the spot I’d been watching was clearly my classmate, it wasn’t remotely close to being the same person. Wind blew in the opposing directions, being intensely attracted to that spot from which he disappeared. Leaves and tiny bits of grass where sucked from every direction, flying towards that point. The silhouette of the same blue tint manifested from the air. The form was indeed still of the young man, but in a much different position. He was kneeling down, his spine arched back, and his hands on his face. Perhaps I could’ve started my car then. It didn’t occur to me to try once more then, but the fainted chance at driving away would’ve left me in far less awe.

The blue shape regained its distinct colors to make every correct detail of my classmate. When he was completely returned though, it didn’t seem like he was aware of it at all. In his own suddenly decayed mind, he was still wherever indescribable dimension she placed him in. He fell to the ground, curling up into the fetal position. The entire time, he was screaming at the top of his lungs. To my own fears, I recognized the sound. It was the very same as the one accompanying my vision of that ghastly, pale face with the veint, ebony eyes. He rolled from side to side, yelling incoherently. Clawing at his own eyes as though wishing to no longer see, he formed no words. There were only non-verbal expressions of mortal horror. As he still screamed, the classmate of mine began to foam at the mouth. I saw him doing so as he stayed on one side, and the bits of white foam dribbled from his mouth to the grass beneath him.

Like it was doing so on its own, my arm instantly shoved the key into the ignition. Effortlessly, I took off from the parking lot, and back on to the highway. At the time, the plan was to simply get away, and then contact the police. Then, it occurred to me. Exactly what would I tell them? How could I possibly describe what happened in a manner that they’d actually believe? The dreadful truth came lurking around the corner – there was no way. Although I saw all of these horrid things take place, this was the kind of tale you’d hear from a man who hadn’t bathed, or maybe even eaten in days from having his only choice of residence being the streets.

Regardless, I was making an aimless escape down a fifty-five miles per hour speed limit, but carelessly going seventy-eight. In a frenzy, I swerved around cars, and heard that horrible murmuring again. It said to me, as if giving an urgent command, “A seek-cret is sacred, unknowing Wisenor.”

That was what distracted me, and caused a bit of a plight. It distracted me from changing lanes on to the exit I needed to take at the time. So, rather than safely turn down the bend towards Dourmsburg, I lost control, finding myself waking up sitting in my halted car. I probably would’ve continued to speed recklessly, I admit, if it weren’t for the fact that my car was stuck in a ditch, and smoking from the engine itself. From then on, that little Chrysler of mine wasn’t useable anymore.

Having found out that walking for me became incredibly difficult, I hobbled out the driver’s side. Ignoring the wreckage and the immense soreness in my back, I took my feeble body down the highway, and managed to get a ride from some stranger passing by who had to be vaguely in her fifties. As one may expect, she asked if I knew anything about the Chrysler only yards from where I was limping. Keeping my self-respect, the answer given was a no.

The stranger agreed to take me home at first, but then insisted on driving me to the Dourmsburg General Hospital. I tried to protest, but the greying woman would hear nothing of the sort. Being taken in, I heard loud cries from a nearby wing of the hospital. Only thinking about how long I’d have to stay in a hospital gown and how long the crippling pain would last, I thought nothing of them.

Periodically though, I’d hear the agonized cries now and again, and it certainly didn’t ease the pains along my spine. They echoed through the dark hallways of that part of the hospital, haunting me like a vengeful banshee as I tried desperately to sleep. They at least did so until two to three nurses and a doctor rushed down that very hall.

Usually, I didn’t hear what they said in their worried tone of voice, but once, I managed to catch something during one of these incidents. It was one of the practitioners saying, “Jesus, another sedative?”

Beginning to recognize whose screaming that probably was, I lost all muscular contraction. Except for my breathing and blinking, everything outside of the brain seemed completely dead, lying still on the hospital bed. Everything around me greyed. It became just as lifeless in color just as the rest of the world around me did when I instinctively searched for Allison on my first encounter.

A faint, playful giggle came down the hall, and towards the room I stayed in. My eyes pivoted to the open door. There she was, leaning against the frame with an even more playful smirk across her face. She was the only remotely colorful thing in sight. It made me think that it was just how badly she may have wanted the attention strictly to herself.

“Come on, Wisenor.” She took a couple steps closer to me. I had no real way of determining if this was a true, physical manifestation, or simply another telepathic vision. “You know it was…” Allison put the tip of her pointer finger against her chin. “Necessary. He was gonna expose me, or try to, anyway. I don’t need people thinking I’m some kind of freak.” She walked over, sitting on the edge of my bed. “Right? You understand.” She gave me a much bigger smile, bigger than I’ve ever imagined seeing her give to anyone. “Of course you do, and that’s why I can trust you not to tell anyone, right?” She gripped the top of my head, and stared into my eyes.

Having no idea what would happen, I found myself speechless. All I was able to do was give a stupid look.

Outside of what wide variety of horrifying things I pictured her doing to me, she simply nodded my head for me. Along with this, she gave a badly-done impression of me. “‘Of course, Allison. I won’t tell anyone, even if they’d believe me anyway. That’s ‘cause you’re my beeeeest friend!’” She chuckled, and smiled even wider. “Aww, that’s so sweet of you! So good to know I picked someone I could trust.”

She let go, turned her back to me, and walked to the exit of the room. Looking back at me, she winked, and left. That wasn’t the end of it though.

Minutes after her being gone, I still layed there, paralyzed only in terror at the thought of her coming back. The only thing that seemed completely safe to do until the color of my surroundings returned was to face away from the door, and be as still as possible. I was too terrified to respond to other people, including the nurse who came in shortly afterwards to check on me. She greeted me, but didn’t take very long to leave me be, assuming my damaged body as asleep. There was a little bit of remorse in me for not even giving her the chance at a hello. From then on, I wondered from time to time what she looked like?

Waiting even more, the ghastly sound of her whispers came to me again. The noises were a stalking lioness. They murmured in a purely calm tone, “San-nih-ty, unknowing Wisenor? What is that, really?” Her voice seemed to be hovering just behind and above me, though I never heard any more footsteps except for my nurse. “I suppose…once like that. It was before I was visited, see.” That was when I at least dared to do something. Even though it wasn’t much, my shaking hands smothered my ears, only failing to block out the sound. She chuckled, devoid of any enthusiasm. “I’m afraid… Yes, afraid it’s time to face… Time to face reality.”

I anticipated more from her, but there was nothing. Despite the color of my atmosphere fading back in, I had very little comfort throughout the night. It wasn’t nearly enough to sleep. By morning, my eyes were hanging to the point where I had no choice. When I finally woke up, I had a different nurse that night, and at least she was kind enough to humor me, and keep my door locked. Well, she at least said she did.

For the next few nights, I waited for another visit from Allison. At that point, it only seemed inevitable. Maybe my paranoia was only growing though. Every night, I’d question as to whether or not the world around me was dimming into that same grey to let me know of her presence. It only became darker with the night, as nature intended.

It later came to my realization that for those past few nights, the crying that echoed down the halls were no more. During a visit from the nurse for that particular night, I asked who it was that cried so much during the previous nights. Confident in the person’s identity, I needed the confirmation. At first, she only said it was one of the patients admitted earlier, and to the psychiatric ward. I used the name of the classmate of mine who formerly pursued Allison. A look of astonishment came to her visage, and she asked how I knew. Although such information is usually confidential (or I assume that it is), perhaps it was the astonishment itself that compelled her to break that rule.

Explaining that I recognized the voice since it was that of my former classmate, it was my inquiry as to whether he was okay. She sighed, telling me he’s as okay as he’ll ever be. She also insisted I promise to keep what she was going to tell me a secret. With my agreeing, she told me that from some unknown cause, he went into a hysterical period of screaming, and was anonymously given an ambulance. He was given more and more sedatives throughout the day, and examined intensely for whatever caused his condition. The cause, unfortunately, was not specified at all. Although she doesn’t have much involvement with the patient herself anymore because of the transfer to the psychiatric ward, she told me that his condition has rendered him to a vegetative state. The nurse gave me her condolences for the classmate she inferred I had an acquaintanceship with.

The remainder of my stay in Dourmsburg General Hospital was that of gradual peace. Although I still had trouble getting to sleep, the periods of time in which I did sleep increased from one to three hours a night. They believed that the sleepless stress was caused by the crash itself, and thus, prescribed me sleeping pills with my muscle relaxants and pain killers. It was only a stay of a week total in that hospital, but the hospital itself wasn’t actually located in the city. Although the name did indeed include “Dourmsburg,” the location of the building itself was really in one of the suburbs just outside of the city. Specifically, it was Jovial Springs, Pennsylvania, and thus, no longer had bus lines.

You see, now is where the car I’ve been driving originates. I had a decent sum of money, but only enough for so much food and gas, not close enough for any kind of vehicle. Released from the hospital at just after one in the afternoon, I decided to spend the remainder of the day around local eateries. After so much eating and window shopping, the beautiful Moon at last made its return. With the nightly dark covering everything, it seemed like the perfect time to take the chance. In my high school years, I suppose my uncle thought that there’d be a time where I just might need such knowledge. It was knowledge I applied in a quiet parking lot to hot wire one of the empty cars.

I’m not certain if the police are anywhere close to catching me for stealing a small, orange Ford, the model of which I’ve no knowledge. There was no manual for it to be found. It got me this far away from danger though, and frankly, that’s all I care about at the moment. It’s a pipe dream, but it may even be possible to start anew at Stantron University.

I don’t know what that sound is. I didn’t hear any other cars pull up here tonight. It’s just been me typing. The staff? No, can’t be. There’s only a couple staff, and they’d only come around this way if I call. Still, there are footsteps just outside my door. Although it’s dark, the glowing screen in front of me is growing dim. It must be her. It has to be Allison. I can hear her playful giggle just outside my bedroom door. The footsteps stopped. Her shadow is still. Oh, God, I can’t… Wait, unless…the window!

Credit To – Dylon Winfield

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Detention

February 8, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Detention. Joel hated detention. Detention and Mr. Briars. And his classmates. Detention, Mr. Briars and his classmates. And school in general. Pretty much anything and anyone associated with school he hated. Not that he showed it though – he was pretty good at playing the game in company and to his parents, but that didn’t do anything to reduce his dislike of it all.

Detention was at number one though on his list of hates.

Mr. Briars had unceremoniously picked him out at the end of his final class of the day for some minor infraction, dumping him in an empty classroom with orders to read a book silently, with the added kicker that he couldn’t leave until he’d finished it. He hadn’t argued. Mr. Briars had it in for him for some reason, always singling him out, always watching him from the corner of his eye. Whatever. Going with the flow seemed the best option to deal with the asshole for the time being.

Joel turned the book over in his hands. It was a light, slim book, the cover a garish cartoon picture of various men dressed in green tights and tunics carrying a variety of swords and wooden staffs, except for the one stood in the middle of the group holding a bow and bearing a wide smile on a blond moustached face beneath a hood. Joel groaned inwardly as he read the title in typical olde english font emblazoned across the top:


A TALE OF SHERWOOD FOREST
A Choose Your Own Fate Adventure


Great, he thought sarcastically, it was one of those books, the kind where you had to select from a set of options and flip to another page depending on your choice. On and on until your character died or achieved some kind of bullshit goal. The last time he’d read one of these he must’ve been ten or eleven, and even then he’d grown bored with it and hadn’t finished. Mr. Briars would probably test him on it when he came back like the unapologetic shit he was though so he’d best just get it over with. Slouching back in his chair, Joel turned to the first page.


Welcome Adventurer!
You have come seeking fame and fortune by joining Robin Hood’s merry men! Tarry not in the woods though, hold fast to your decisions, and you shall find the goal you seek!

Joel snorted derisively before continuing on to the first section:


1.
Sunlight pierces the canopy of trees high above you, sending shafts of light through the sky of leaves to illuminate your path. You entered Sherwood Forest but a short time ago, and already it is as if the woods have swallowed you whole. You have on you your trusty sword, three days worth of provisions, flint and tinder, plus a warm cloak which seems a burden on such a fine summer’s day.

The forest path is wide, the day pleasant, and your heart beats strongly in your chest. Today is the day when you shall achieve your goal. You will find Sir Robin of Locksley, the fabled Robin Hood, and join his troupe of merry men!

It’s not long before you come upon a fork in the path. To the left it curls off toward an area of the forest where a villager told you a small river runs through, but that there are plenty of man-made fordings available should you look. To the right the path is more or less straight, but appears to head into a dark, dense part of the forest which looks rather foreboding.

If you wish to go left toward the river, turn to 8.
If you wish to go right down the ominous forest path, turn to 11.

It read like any one of these books he’d picked up before. Joel looked at the options. Only an idiot goes looking for trouble in dark and foreboding places he thought, and wasn’t a river crossing and a contest a part of the Robin Hood legend? He chose accordingly.


8.
Before you even see the river, your ears pick out the sound of swift running water somewhere up ahead. You quicken your pace, eager to both see the source of the sound, but also to splash some water in your face to relieve yourself of some of the heat you feel from such a long walk.

You pass a large, gnarled oak tree and finally see the fast flowing river, the sunlight bouncing off it’s surface, and is that a fish or two you see slicing around beneath? Kneeling by the bank, you dip your cloth into the cool, refreshing water, then lift it and place it gingerly on the back of your neck. The initial cold is a shock, but a welcome one, and you feel the coolness spread through your body. The bigger shock though is when you hear a loud voice calling from across the way!

“Ho Stranger! If you seek to cross this river, you must first pass me!”

You look up in surprise and see a giant of a man, dressed in a dark brown leather jerkin with hands almost as big as the thick beard upon his rugged face, stood on the opposite bank next to a large log which breasts the river. In his right hand stands a long, thick piece of wood. You recognise it as a quarterstaff, and that he must be none other than Little John himself, one of the fabled merry men you seek!

In an instant you understand his meaning, and looking next to the large log on your side of the bank is another quarterstaff, obviously for the use of travellers such as you. Finally a chance to prove yourself! Despite your eagerness however, he does look rather large, and you wonder at your chances.

If you wish to fight Little John, turn to 15.
If you wish to return the way you came and try the other path, turn to 11.

Ha! He knew it. Barely in and he was already dealing with one of the merry men. Joel wanted this over with, so going back wasn’t an option. Best to carry on forward and get it done.


15.
Eagerly you sweep the quarterstaff up into your hand and approach the log bridge. As you step on carefully, so does Little John, easily twirling the quarterstaff in his hands. You wonder to yourself how many people have come this way before, only to find themselves unceremoniously beaten and pushed into the river. That your opponent is confident there is no doubt, but if the stories are true his naivety is just as strong as his biceps. Should you fight fairly, or trick him somehow?

If you still wish to retreat and try the other path, turn to 11.
If you wish to fight fairly, turn to 18.
If you wish to cheat, turn to 23.

Now that was an interesting option, he thought. Again, going back wasn’t going to happen. Of the other two choices though, Joel knew which one he leant towards. Fighting fairly may be the more honorable way, but to him the result was always the key factor to his way of thinking.


23.
As you approach him, you raise your quarterstaff in what you hope is a defensive position. He smiles good-humouredly, rolls his shoulders to loosen himself up, winks, and quickly raises his staff for an almighty blow. As his staff reaches its peak, you pretend to look past him and shout: “Bear!”

His head whips round to check, instantly forgetting about you. You take your chance, raise your staff high, and aim a truly thunderous whack across his skull!

Your arms vibrate with the impact and you think you’re going to drop the staff. Nervously you watch as Little John turns his head back to face you. His face moves quickly from confusion, to anger, and then dazed. He falls to his knees, and topples off the log, but is still able in his daze to roughly grab at a protruding broken branch on the underside of the trunk.

The cold water returns him partly to his senses, and he slowly grins up at you before speaking:

“Well done stranger! Robin has need of men with sense as well as strength. Give me your hand and I’ll take you to him.”

If you offer him your hand, turn to 26.
If you wait for him to climb back up himself, turn to 31.

It was a difficult choice Joel realised. Offering to help him up would put him in a dangerous position. Off balance, Little John could pull him into the water or anything. Joel could see the way the book was heading though. Once you bested an opponent in this fairy tale land of good and evil, you always fell back on the honourable option. He thought it a load of crap, but the answer the book was expecting was obvious at this point.


26.
You look down at Little John, bedraggled and wet and being buffeted by the river, and offer your hand to help him up. As he reaches up to grasp your hand though, you instead wrap your offered hand once more around the quarterstaff and drive it’s end into his face, catching him off-guard.

You feel the impact resonate up the wood as his nose shatters beneath the blow. He bellows in rage and agony, one hand moving to cover his now bloody face. You quickly strike at his remaining hand holding onto the branch under the log and hear the satisfying crack of broken bone. He yells once more and releases his hold, the river quickly drawing him under and away. You watch him struggle for a short while, then throw both quarterstaffs into the water and carry on your way.

Turn to 28.

Okay, thought Joel, what the hell just happened?!

He hadn’t expected that at all. Thinking about it though, it made a lot of sense. Who knew what Little John might’ve tried? His character’s response was sensible – he’d lulled his opponent and then acted, removing a potential danger. Joel found himself warming to this book.


28.
The path on the other side of the river is barely visible, and so obviously not a commonly used means of moving through Sherwood Forest. Logically therefore it must be a route used only by the Merry Men and Robin Hood himself!

Gradually the path grows narrower, the trees thinner and closer together on each side until finally the path appears to be a corridor of trees, leading to a dead end but with two large arches with a bowman stood in front of each. They look like twins, an image reinforced by them both speaking at the same time and with the same words as you approach.

“Greetings Stranger. You have bested Little John, but wisdom is as valuable as skill with weapons in Robin’s camp. Behind us lie two ways forward. One leads on to the camp, the other to a hidden pit filled with wooden stakes. You may ask one of us a single question, but beware, one of us will lie and the other tell the truth. Which route do you choose?”

You try to pick out any differences in the paths beyond the arches from where you stand, but they look identical. Your only choices appear to be to ask the bowmen or take a chance and pick a route at random.

If you take the left arch, turn to 36.
If you take the right arch, turn to 38.
If you ask one of the bowmen which archway leads to the camp, turn to 42.
If you ask one of the bowmen which archway the other bowman will say leads to the camp, turn to 62.
If you use intimidation on the bowmen, turn to 49.

Now that was a curious last option Joel thought. The first two random choices didn’t appeal, and whilst he was confident in his logic what the right choice was, he was drawn to the last action. It made a lot more sense to him, skipping the need to risk a correct answer against one he could guarantee if approached right.


49.
You walk slowly up to one of the bowman, rubbing your chin thoughtfully as if thinking of an appropriate question. Abruptly you draw your sword, catching them off guard and grabbing the nearest from behind, placing your blade against his throat before the other can react. The one you are holding trembles beneath your grip, whilst the other watches you nervously, fingering his bow.

If you ask the bowmen to tell you which arch leads to the camp or you’ll kill the one you’re holding, turn to 43.
If you kill the bowman you are holding immediately, turn to 47.

Another interesting set of options. That threats were useful Joel knew from past experience, but only if the other guy knew you’d carry them out. Carl in fifth grade had learnt that lesson the hard way. The answer was obvious.


47.
Without a flicker of emotion, you draw your sword across the throat of the man you are holding. He gurgles in alarm as the flesh parts and blood pours forth from the wound across his neck. Dropping him to the floor to breathe his last, you point your blade at the stomach of the other bowman.

If you ask the remaining bowmen to tell you now which arch leads to the camp, turn to 56.
If you force the bowman to go ahead of you by swordpoint through one of the arches, turn to 53.

Both choices would work, Joel thought casually, but one of them obviously added an element of insurance to his character’s survival.


53.
Prodding the remaining bowman with the point of your now bloody sword, you state coldly that what happened to his friend can quite easily happen to him and that he will now lead you through the correct archway to the camp.

Reluctantly, he moves toward the right arch.

If you follow the remaining bowman through the arch, turn to 68.
If you first run the remaining bowman through with your sword, killing him, turn to 65.

Joel was torn at this one; it wasn’t as obvious an answer as the last. Keeping the remaining bowman alive added an element of risk if he tried to escape, but then how far did the man’s loyalty to Robin Hood and his cause go? So far as to pick the wrong archway even, thus risking his own life? Despite the risks, having the captive bowman along gave Joel more options he realised.


68.
The bowman has been stumbling ahead of you forlornly at swordpoint for a few minutes when you notice his furtive glances back and the slowing of his pace. Prepared, you wait until he makes his move. Ten steps later he spins and makes a grab for your sword. You efficiently stab him through the stomach, then kick his shuddering body off your blade. As he falls backward the earth ahead of you gives way and his body falls into the trap you had previously been warned about. Skirting the edge you look down to see his bloody and broken form pierced upon multiple sharpened stakes, one piercing his cheek and exiting his mouth and giving him a permanently shocked expression. Content he is dead, you make your way back along the path to the two arches. You take some time to dig a shallow grave a little way from the arches and bury the bowman you killed earlier, covering the mound with additional loose leaves and sticks. Once happy with your work, you turn and take the left archway.

Turn to 22.

He’d known he was right to keep him alive! Additional resources were a useful buffer between himself and unpleasant situations, like the friends he’d cultivated at school. As long as they could be controlled or manipulated, they were handy to have around. Those that weren’t could be discarded easily enough later on should the need arise.


22.
You’ve been walking along the path for a while now and decide to take a rest and eat some of your food. Looking around you find a suitable tree stump and sit down, digging out from your bag half a loaf and a wedge of strong cheese wrapped in linen. You take a large bite of each and wash them down with some water from the skin hanging from your belt. Whilst you are eating you pull out the letter that lay beside the bread in your bag. Opening it, you read once more the instructions given to you yesterday:

“Hail and well met!

You have come recommended by Prince John himself, as a man who can get things done. Most in these parts have heard of the bandit in the woods, the one who calls himself ‘Robin Hood’. He claims himself a champion of the people, but in truth he is nothing more than a common criminal. However, his vile lies amongst the unwashed and uneducated masses have proven impossible to overcome of late; no one is willing to come forward and provide information on this scoundrel.

Therefore, I need you to enter Sherwood Forest and infiltrate his camp. He has broken the rule of law, as have his followers, and they must be treated accordingly. Robin Hood must be executed and evidence brought back to me of his demise. Deal with the others as you see fit. Succeed and the rewards will be great; fail and they will most likely kill you.

Good Fortune!

The Sheriff of Nottingham”

You fold the message back up and ponder what you should do with it whilst you enjoy the remainder of your meal. If found on you, the merry men will treat you harshly. By the same token, it would be useful as evidence of your true siding should you encounter any of the Sheriff’s men. You also realise, if used correctly, it could be planted as evidence against another within the camp, thus sowing division and discord.

If you burn the letter, turn to 78.
If you keep the letter, turn to 103.

Suddenly a lot more things made sense to Joel. Sure, the character in the book wanted to join the merry men, but his motives had never been fully spelt out before. The fact he actually worked for the Sheriff of Nottingham appealed to Joel. It was far more interesting to be a manipulative spy than a two dimensional woodland terrorist. He also liked the idea of keeping the letter. It would be a risk for his character, but he was guessing an option would come up later to plant it in the camp, or Little John might make another appearance and if he still had the letter in his possession one of the options given might be to plant it on Little John himself as a means of discrediting him and any accusations he might make against Joel.


103.
You carefully place the folded letter back in your bag, stretch your weary muscles, and continue down the path.

Gradually your nose begins to pick out the smells of roasting pig and your ears the faint crackle of a campfire and the bustle of people. The path you’re on twists sharply ahead, and as you follow it round you suddenly find yourself facing a reasonably sized encampment. Makeshift huts and canopies of thick hide stretch between a rough circle of trees surrounding a large campfire, a boar roasting on the spit above it. Moving in and around the camp you see a fair number of people, somewhere between twenty and thirty, engaged in various activities. Some are checking their bows, a few engaged in mock sword battles, whilst others are mending tunics and shoes. Your eyes though are drawn to one man sat before the fire, a large hood covering his face as two people sit either side talking earnestly to him in low whispers.

You go to move forward when you feel the sharp point of an arrow tip sticking into the small of your back. Turning your head slightly you see a stranger with a drawn bow behind you, who then reaches round and removes the sword from your scabbard. He does not speak but prods you in the back a couple of times with the arrow, indicating for you to move. Slowly you walk forward toward the fire and the hooded man.

If you want to try and escape, turn to 92.
If you simply continue forward, turn to 79.

Why try to escape, thought Joel. His character was where he wanted to be, and he doubted it would end well if his character tried to escape with a drawn bow pressing a sharp arrow into his back. No, now was the time to see how things would play out now he’d reached his target.


79.
As you get closer to the fire, the two men talking to the hooded man notice you and fall silent, turning to look hard faced at you. The hooded man reaches up slowly and pulls his hood back, turning to face you. His golden hair and moustache would’ve been enough identification, but the sardonic grin and twinkle in his eyes introduces him far better than any spoken word: the Earl of Locksley, Robin Hood himself.

He waves back the man behind you, appraising you for a moment in silence, and then offers his hand. You reach forward and shake it, and he laughs heartily, slapping you on the shoulder.

“Welcome friend! To get this far you must’ve bested Little John and the twins. This shows you have both strength of character and wisdom, both qualities I look for in my merry men. As you see, we do not live comfortably, but we live well enough. The forest provides whilst we work to topple the Sheriff and behind him Prince John. Now, as well as robbing the rich, there are other roles in the camp which need to be done. You have the look of a smithy or a cook to me. Which do you fancy?”

If you choose to work with the blacksmith, turn to 6.
If you choose to work with the cook, turn to 112.

Sure, thought Joel, blacksmithing offered easy access to weapons and the opportunity to thin the herd of Robin’s lackeys with them, but it would be a slow process he guessed and would place his character under growing suspicion the more bodies that turned up. No, if his character was to succeed, a quiet, unassuming role in camp would be the ideal place to start.


112.
“Excellent! Come with me to meet our resident cook. Ho! Friar Tuck! You were complaining just this morning about needing help, and see if I haven’t answered your lament already!”

Robin leads you round to the other side of the fire where sits an overly large man in a friar’s robes, stirring a large pot of vegetables over a smaller fire. He looks up from sipping from a wooden ladle, his cheeks ruddy and his eyes bright.

“Well bless my soul, my prayers have been answered! No time like the present, come help me with this evenings meal. Go gather some herbs for the stew I’m preparing to go alongside the meat.”

He points vaguely off to the side, returning his attention to the pot. You look over to where he pointed, noticing a small herb garden he must be cultivating. Grabbing a clay bowl nearby, you walk over and start picking handfuls of herb leaves. As you do so though you notice in the undergrowth nearby a wild plant growing whose leaves you know to be deadly if consumed in even the smallest quantity.

If you return with just the herb leaves, turn to 130.
If you return with leaves from both the herb and poisonous plant, turn to 109.

Yes, this is good, thought Joel. A subtle attack that could incapacitate some, if not all, the merry men at once. It was ideal. He’d done something similar with his step-father, crushing sleeping tablets into his drink before he’d driven to work one morning, and that had gone quite well.


109.
You walk back over casually, being careful to keep the clay bowl hidden by your body to avoid the Friar’s eyes noticing the difference in leaves. Grabbing a pestle and mortar, you quickly grind the leaves down until they are the same unidentifiable shreds. You pass the mortar to the Friar and he favours you with a pleasant smile of thanks, before pouring the contents into his cooking pot.

Turn to 72.

This should be interesting, thought Joel, eagerly turning the pages now.


72.
To your delight the entire camp partakes of the stew prepared by the Friar before attacking the roasting pig, all sat round the campfire engaging in friendly banter and conversation in it’s warm, orange glow. You also accept a bowl when offered but are careful to dispose of it’s contents whilst pretending to eat it.

It’s not long before the first merry man staggers to his feet, clutching his stomach, his breath rasping from his mouth. Several of his fellows dash over to see if they can help, though you see a few themselves stagger as they do so. The first man falls to his knees, coughing blood from grimaced lips, his eyes bulging in their sockets. He collapses prone on his side, choking weakly on the blood spilling from his mouth, then stops.

Others are now complaining loudly of agonising pains, one going so far as to stagger uncontrollably into the fire, knocking the roast pig to one side and catching himself on fire. He shrieks in agony as the flames pour up his legs and arms, melting his clothes and skin. A few short steps and he drops to the ground. None have come to his aid though as the carnage continues throughout the camp. Bodies now litter the floor in various states of painful disarray following their individual death throes, gouts of blood abundant everywhere within the light of the flickering flames.

You pick your way through the bodies, looking for Robin. As the only one with a hood, it doesn’t take long to find him. Surprisingly he still breathes, though with difficulty through blood-speckled lips. He has propped himself up against a log as you walk over, his eyes displaying that he knows what has befallen him and his men.

“And so my dream ends, struck down from within by a traitor.” He coughs up a little more blood, but struggles to continue speaking despite the obvious pain he is in.

“If any honour exists within you, please grant me this final boon. Bury me here with my loyal men and true. Do not make me a spectacle for the Sheriff I beg!”

A final cough rips up through his throat, spilling blood and bile down his green tunic. Robin Hood and his Merry Men are no more.

If you accede to his final request and bury him with his men, turn to 74.
If you ignore his request and return with evidence to the Sheriff, turn to 164.

Joel laughed darkly. Well that was surprisingly easy. He’d worried that it might’ve come down to some kind of stupid single combat in the end. Violence had it’s place as a tool, but it still had that element of unpredictability. Far better to plan and strike when least expected if at all possible. So, what to do with Robin Hood’s body? Much like his stepfather’s when he’d idly viewed it lying in state, a corpse was just a corpse, a bag of meat and bones with no rights to further affect the living with its demands. The only function it had now was if it’s demise could be of benefit to those still alive.


164.
Rolling Robin Hood’s body over with your foot, you examine his eyes for any further sign of life, then drag it over to a nearby tree stump. After some effort you prop his body in place, his neck and head now resting on its flat top. You grab a large axe from the blacksmith’s hut, rest the blade gently against his neck for aiming, then raise it high above your head and bring it swiftly down.

The blade easily cleaves through, blood spurting from the gaping wound as his head rolls down next to the stump. With effort, you rip the hood from his now decapitated body slumped down against the tree, and wrap his head within it. That done, you take one last look around the camp for any survivors, then pick one of the huts to sleep in till morning.

You awake refreshed and upon exiting the hut are once more greeted by the cold corpses of the now unmerry men surrounding what remains of the spent campfire. Flies are already buzzing around them and the stench of death will soon become unbearable. A quick search later you have gathered enough food and water for the return journey to Nottingham.

If you take the path you used to enter the camp back to Nottingham, turn to 128.
If you decide to go deeper into the forest, turn to 58.

Again, another no-brainer. The job was done as far as Joel was concerned, and once your goals are achieved, that was an end of it. No reason to go looking for trouble.


128.
The Sheriff is ecstatic at your return and the evidence you bring, throwing a large banquet in your honour and showering you with gold. He also mentions that Prince John has decreed that on the successful completion of your mission you will be both knighted and awarded all the lands previously owned by the late Earl of Locksley.

Three days later, dressed in the fine garb of a nobleman and with your own servants, the Sheriff bids you farewell from his castle as you leave to take up your new position. As you pass under the gates of the drawbridge, you look up to the battlements and nod in parting to the grey face watching, the dead eyes of Robin Hood gazing down upon you from atop a spike.

The End

Now turn to 154.

What, there’s more? Probably a recommendation to read more of the books in the series, thought Joel. He had to admit though, he’d liked this book despite his initial distaste for it. It appealed to him somehow, the answers more in line with his way of thinking. To his surprise he found he was interested in seeing what the other books in the line had to offer.


154.
Congratulations on completing the story adventurer, but your adventures don’t have to stop there!

If you reached this result straight through without cheating (we’ll know if you have), and are interested in continuing your adventures, ask the teacher who gave you this book for more details. They recognised something special in you, and we’re always on the look out for young people with a unique way of looking at the world!

Your government needs people like you, and we can offer you REAL LIFE adventures you wouldn’t believe! Training in all the cool skills you’ve read in this book and more, and the opportunity to travel the world!

If you’re interested, please turn to the inside of the back cover and fill in your name and address in the space provided before returning the book.

See you soon adventurer!

Joel smiled to himself, a genuine one for a change rather than the one he mainly employed when in social situations. He pulled a pen from the bag at his feet and turned to the inside of the back cover. As he started to write his name though, the thick paper tore. Joel swore under his breath and tried again slightly further along from the tear. The same thing happened. Biting his lip to control his annoyance, he looked closer. The paper was far flimsier than it should’ve been, and was that writing visible underneath? Curious now, he tore the paper away and read what was written there:


Thank you for your interest.

You have decided to further your adventures with us. Not all are selected however and there is one final requirement for your application. If you look closer at the cover of this book, you will find it has two plastic layers.

Before returning this book to the teacher who gave it to you, please peel off the thin layer on top of the book just prior to handing it over, being careful not to touch the cover with your bare hands once you have done so.
One to two weeks after your teachers death we will contact you further.


Mr. Briars sat alone in his office, looking through a pile of student folders for new candidates. Two years he’d been at the school, two whole fucking years, dealing with pre-pubescent teens who thought they knew everything and their asshole parents at PTA meetings. Out of six possibles over that time, only Joel had come closest. Shame. He’d had a good feeling about Joel. He had potential.

Despite all the psych profiles and observation, it still came down to the book as the final test in stage one recruitment. Despite your promise, you fail the book, then your journey ended there. Literally. One advantage of the psychology of the kids the agency were trying to recruit – if they failed the test they were also the most likely candidates for teenage suicide, so closing the loop was easy.

He looked over at Joel’s book on the corner of his desk. Each candidate had their own book, tailored to them specifically and supplied by the agency when they were to be tested. Company rules stated he wasn’t allowed to read them himself, just hold on to them for a day after the test and wait for a call. If the call came, the candidate had got through, otherwise he just burnt the book, waited a month, and then staged the kid’s suicide. Again, it was a shame the call hadn’t come through. Joel had shown a lot of promise.

Sighing, he leant across his desk and picked the book up, turning it over in his hands, seeing Robin Hood’s face beaming up at him amongst his gang of merry men. Yup, a real shame.

Putting the book in his bag for disposal, he stood and went to the bathroom to wash his hands; the kid must’ve spilt his soft drink on the cover or something judging by the stickiness. Yeah, he had potential alright, but obviously tidiness wasn’t part of it.

Credit To – CharminglyShallow

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Katie’s Song

February 4, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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You ever have a song pop into your head that you just didn’t want to hear? Whatever song you’re thinking of, mine’s worse: it’s Katie’s song.

Katie.

Yeah, I knew her.

The parts of my life where our paths cross flash before my eyes: Katie eyeballing me in class; Katie putting her hand on my leg on the bus; Katie and I staining each other’s clothes; Katie stretching out the collar of my shirt as I pull away from her. There she is, showing up at my apartment, unannounced, uninvited, in my mind’s eye the way it happened. But I don’t want to see it. I shut my eyes and the images won’t go away.

It’s three in the morning and I should be in bed. Katie’s thinking the same thing and wants to keep me company.

There’s a knock at my door. My heart starts racing. Whatever this is can’t be good. Good news doesn’t knock no your door at three in the morning. I go to check the peephole knowing full well that whoever’s on the other side has heard the floorboards creak. Another knock raps away.

I check the peephole. It’s Katie. Of course it’s Katie. How’d she get in the building? I open the door.

“What are you doing here?” I hear myself say.

“So, no ‘hello’?” she says.

Her eyes are stuck on the spin cycle, I can tell she’s flying on something and it pisses me off.

“Aren’t you going to invite me in,” she says.

“You show up here at three A.M., high as the fucking moon and you expect me to invite you in?”

“I’m not high. I’ve been drinking a little…”

“You know what? No.”

“No?” I can tell my rejection hurts her, it excites me a little.

She wasn’t expecting to not be let in. The thought never crossed her mind. But if I let her in now, I know that I’m implicitly telling her that it’s okay to pull this shit. And once it’s okay it’ll happen again and again …

“Go home, Katie.”

I start to close the door but she slaps against it with an open palm.

“Please,” she says, “I can’t go home. I just need a place to crash, I swear I won’t bother you.”

“That’s not my problem, I don’t even know you right now,” I say and the door closes. I take a look through the peephole and I can see she’s just standing there stunned. She crosses her arms unsure of what to do. Some weak part of me starts to crack, she looks vulnerable, devastated. It’s almost irresistible. But I need to be strong here. I have a point to prove, a valid point, an absolutely essential one.

I stand by the door, listening to her heels clip clop slowly, unsurely down the hall towards the exit door. When I hear it open and fall shut, I hit the sack.

But she doesn’t let me sleep.

I can hear her pacing in the loose stones between my building and the one next to it. Lot of shady characters in that building, mine’s the nice one, but it hardly matters because if either one of them caught fire, the other is fucked, they’re that close. And no matter how nice my building is or once was, the one closest to it taints it. Guilt by association —

I lose my train of thought.

Katie’s phone goes off right beneath my window, that stupid ringtone, Katie’s song.

Why doesn’t she answer it?

It’s cold out there, I know, and she’s not exactly dressed for it. I wish she would just go away, just go home. My mind screams, nobody wants you here. But that’s guilt tripping Katie, she’s just trying to make me feel bad for not letting her in.

Damn ringtone, there it goes again.

Christ, answer it!

But she doesn’t. Had enough of it so I stick in some earplugs, they do just a good enough job to cover her pacing, disturbing loose stones.

I can still hear her though. Pacing, banging and scratching against the stucco wall trying to get my attention. I can hear her muffled pleas through the window but I only smile to myself knowing that I’ve won. Your guilt trips are meaningless, powerless against me.

I hear Katie’s song once more before drifting off with a smile on my face but wondering why she doesn’t answer it.

At eight o’clock I look out my window with puffy eyes and creased skin. I can see about a half dozen people in and out of uniform in the dark, narrow space between the buildings. They’re kicking up one hell of a racket and they don’t seem to care too much that they’re waking everybody up because they’re examining the body of a dead girl.

A dead girl named Katie.

She was strangled, stabbed, murdered. Looking out the window I can’t un-see her lying atop the loose stones no matter how tight I close my eyes.

I follow the investigation on the news. Police have no suspects. Before too long the story goes away. And all this time I’ve never been able to get that song out of my head. I hear it when I’m driving, I hear it when I’m working, it pops into my head in the shower so I start humming and whistling the tune just before a shadow darts behind the curtain.

And now it’s three in the morning and I’m hearing it again with my own ears.

I can hear it playing outside my window. I always hated that song, but this time it isn’t driving me crazy. This time it’s a banshee’s cry, the chimes of a grandfather clock at the crossroads of infinity. ‘The bell tolls for thee,’ the thought comes in to my head from out of nowhere. This time, it makes my throat go dry.

“I’ve lived with the guilt,” I say to no one in particular, “isn’t that enough?”

But the only response is Katie’s song. I’m talking to myself here, but not for long. I know what’s coming. I try to brace for it and will it away. But there’s nothing I can do, my mind can’t turn back time or turn away a ghost. And then it comes.

I hear a knock at the door.

Credit To – Lucas Klaukien

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