Mr. Teeth

November 16, 2014 at 12:00 AM
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 8.4/10 (203 votes cast)

People sometimes ask me what my first memory is. Invariably I lie, because I’m prone to avoid the explanation that comes with the truth. Maybe, from now on, if someone casually asks me “What is your first memory?” I will reach into my bag where there will be copies of this story and I will just hand one over. As they read it, their face will morph from confusion, into the furrowed brow of concern, and finally into the drop-jawed bewilderment that accompanies real fear.
In passing, I tell people that my first memory was of me standing on a stool in front of my kitchen window. It was just after dusk in winter and from where I stood, I could make out the black limbs of the skeletal beech tree that loomed from across the driveway. While that is indeed a real memory, it’s not the first one. If you want to hear about that, here it is:

There was an unfortunate series of incidences that happened in the town where I grew up during the summer of 1989. By incidences, I mean murders. I’m not talking about your run-of-the-mill bar brawl gone too far or an act of passionate revenge. No. The events that happened in Middleton were far more grotesque…. even more so because the victims were children.
I don’t remember the heatwave that had swept Middleton that summer, the pink droplets of melted ice cream on the simmering pavement, or old men reclined in overstuffed chairs in shady living rooms. These precious details were told to me through family members and friends of my parents. They all, to this day say that it was the hottest summer they have ever lived through.
To make the weather even more unbearable, there were weekly brownouts that year due to some oversights at the electric plant in Salem. As a result, homes and businesses would go for hours at a time without air conditioning. Popsicles were promptly sold out in every business after noon; magazines and newspapers weren’t read that summer; they were bought to be used as makeshift fans. It seemed that the only place where air-conditioning still remained during these outages was the car.
I’ve been told by relatives that it was not uncommon during that summer to find neighbors lounging back in their parked cars with the windows up, drinking a beer and listening to the radio. At times it was the only escape from the unbearable humidity and heat.
That’s why, when mothers would go shopping, it became impossible to pull their children from their cars. After all, the kids knew that the inside of whatever clothing or grocery store their mother had taken them to was probably as hot if not hotter than the parking lot. The coolest and best place to be was in the car, with the windows rolled up and that gentle whispering wind seeping through the vents.
With this setting in mind you can understand how “Mr. Teeth,” as he was later called by newspapers, had his pick of the litter, so to speak. He knew that in any given lot outside of a busy grocery or department store, there would be at least two or three cars where the children had been left inside.
One such car was parked outside of the Market Basket on the afternoon of June 3rd. Within sat Jeremy Hagger, a freckled eight year old with a pension for action figures. When Jeremy’s mother returned from her quick dash for butter, she found the back right door of the vehicle ajar, a Darth Vader doll left abandoned on the back seat.
News of the disappearance radiated through the town over the following week up until the day when a jogger noticed a small black Reebok laying in the grass on the edge of the reservoir. Not long afterward, Jeremy’s body was pulled from the brown water and sent to the morgue. It was there that doctors noted what appeared to be bite marks on the boy’s arms and neck.
Victim number two was Amanda DeMiller, a girl of seven who had fallen asleep on her way home from shopping with her mother on July 18th. As was common in those days, a parent might leave their sleeping child in the car once at home. Britta DeMiller, Amanda’s mother, later told police that with the house being as hot as it was, she had thought that Amanda would sleep better in the car with the sliding side door left open.
At some point Mrs. DeMiller looked out the window to see that Amanda was no longer in her seat. The family lived on a fairly wooded road leading into the forests of Middleton. Neighbors were widely separated from one another. Mr. and Mrs. DeMiller spent all of that night scouring the narrow back roads, knocking on the doors of the occasional houses.
After only a three day search, a local boy found Amanda’s body slumped in the corner of his tree house. Her throat was purple from strangulation and covered with bite marks. Her shoes were on the wrong feet. Anyway, that’s how the story goes.

That brings us to my first memory. My parents have since placed the date of this memory to around the third or fourth week of August. It had been about a month since Amanda DeMiller’s murder but no one had been apprehended. People in town were still on edge.
It was at that time, one afternoon when I sat in the front seat of my Mom’s rusty Toyota parked in the giant lot of Henry’s grocery store. I remember that there was a car parked on either side of my mother’s and in front of the Toyota was one of those corrals for shopping carts.
There was music playing quietly on the radio, Madonna maybe, and my hands were sticky from eating candy.
You may wonder how, with all of the horrors that had plagued Middleton that summer, my mother could have left me alone in the car. The fact is, she hadn’t. My older brother, Stephen (age 12 at the time) had been designated as my temporary guardian while she made an emergency stop for flour. It was this “temporary guardian” who decided that this was the perfect opportunity to run to the bookstore nearby to buy a deck of collectible cards. Before he dashed out of the backseat, I remember him saying something like “Don’t go anywhere!”
So there I sat, waiting for one or both of my family members to return. It was then that I saw him and it’s this part which is clear even to this day.
The halogen lamps had just come on all across the lot; they cast that greenish glow from just being turned on. The sky beyond the pines that bordered the market was streaked with pink and purple. It must have been around seven thirty. I remember first seeing him, standing there some 30 feet from the front of our car. Almost instantly, the music from the radio faded from my ears along with the sharp rattle of carriage wheels on the old pavement.
Transfixed, silent, I stared out the windshield at this lanky gaunt figure framed by pink and purple sky. Through a curtain of greasy black hair falling across his brow, I discerned a single eye; it seemed to sort of take on the green glow of those halogen lights. He tilted his head back a bit and the hint of a smile danced across his thin lips.
He must have stood and stared through the windshield at me, transfixed and spellbound as I was, for one whole minute. He then started a slow walk over to my side of the car, never taking his eye from mine. Once he was outside my door, he looked down his long beak-like nose at me. Then looking around, he began to wiggle the handle.
“Open up,” he said, looking down at me again.
I just stared at him without saying anything.
Again, “Open up.”
His long skeletal fingers left the door handle and started to dance across my window tapping here and there.
He crouched down so that he was at my level and started a sort of puppet show with his hands. His dirty fingers dashed across the glass like great pale spiders in a deadly battle. He looked at them and laughed making hissing and growling sounds.
As he made these sounds, his mouth opened up into a full grin and I had a look inside, at rows of long yellow teeth. They are, to this day, the longest and largest teeth I’ve ever seen. There were gaps between them and they reminded me vaguely of dirty piano keys. He seemed to be completely immersed in his spider battle, giggling and clawing at each of his hands.
At one point, he noticed that my window was open just a crack at the top, he looked at me grinning with those mighty teeth and crawled one of his hand spiders up to the space. I was openly sobbing at this point. He managed to squeeze the tips of four fingers through the opening. I caught a greasy whiff of unwashed clothes mingled with the sweet scent of blood.
“Come on! Open up,” he said, in a winy, pleading voice. “Open up.” He said this same sentence in a dozen different voices, from a girly voice to a thick lumberjack one.
By sheer luck, the woman who was parked on the passenger side of our car, returned with all four of her noisy kids in tow. Upon seeing her, the man scurried off in a ducked walk towards the cart corral where he smoothly stood up straight and walked off into the parking lot…but not before looking over his shoulder, gnashing those massive teeth, and catching me with one final blood-chilling stare.
The memory ends there. It was later explained to me that my brother had returned to the car to find me crying hysterically. No matter what he said to calm me through the glass, apparently, I wouldn’t unlock the doors. My mother returned soon after. She said that all I could manage to say through thick sobs was, “There was a man.” I just kept repeating it for hours after that. “There was a man.”
Like the insufferable heat, so too did the Middleton murders come to an end with the changing of the seasons.
Just two weeks after my parking lot encounter, the child killer (who was later identified as Raymond Sandler, age 29) was caught after taking a young girl from a birthday party at a roller rink in Beverly. A worker on his coffee break at the adjacent gas station saw a thin man lead the girl out the back door of the rink and attempt to force her into a red car. The worker called the cops and the car was pulled over on Route 128 just outside of Gloucester.
While I don’t remember it, I first made the connection between the man in the parking lot and “Mr. Teeth” by seeing my father’s newspaper on the coffee table the day after Sandler’s capture. There, in a large blown-up black and white, was the same ghastly face I’d seen just inches from mine with only a layer of glass separating us. Apparently, I didn’t make it to school the day I saw that newspaper on account of I couldn’t stop screaming.
Knowing that I had almost been a victim myself, my family and people around Middleton weren’t willing to tell me anything about the killer once I grew curious, years later. I suppose they didn’t want to freak me out more than I already was.
So, in high school, I did some of my own research. I learned that the Boston Globe had first coined the nickname “Mr. Teeth” both on account of Sandler’s unusually large incisors and his habit of biting the skin of his victims. His means of killing was almost exclusively strangulation. Due to his being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, Sandler was often delusional. As a result, his story regularly changed. However, after being asked several times, the number of murders he confessed to, while varying, never went above 10.
It was also noted in research on Sandler that he only hunted in the summertime. Some speculated that this was because of the easy access to children who had been left in cool cars while their parents went in to shop. Others suggested that the hot weather triggered something inside of Sandler, something that lay dormant during the fall and winter, then awoke once the temperature hit 80.
Who can say?
They years have softened that first memory a bit. I’m almost forty now and, while that hideous grin isn’t quite as distinct as it used to be, I still see it sometimes when I wake up at night, usually in the warmer months.
Someday, one of my two girls (who know nothing of the summer of ’89) may ask when they’re older, “Hey, Dad? What’s your first memory?” Maybe I’ll tell them about the time I was on the stool in my kitchen looking out at the old beech tree. Or maybe I’ll just say, “Teeth. I remember teeth.”

Credit To – Daniel DuBois

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 8.4/10 (203 votes cast)

Metroid 2: Secret Worlds

November 6, 2014 at 12:00 AM
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 8.2/10 (263 votes cast)

A few months ago I was busy preparing to move to a new house when I came across something from my past.

I was going through my belongings, trying to figure out what to keep and what to discard, when I found an old shoebox stuffed down the back of my closet. Curious, I opened it up and found that it was full of CD’s. I flipped through them and realized that these were backups of files from over ten years ago.

I remembered that this was how I used to back up stuff before external hard drives became affordable enough for me to just start backing up with them.

I stopped packing and started checking out the CD’s on my computer. They were mostly full of stuff I’d collected off of the net like mp3s, roms and animated GIF’s.

I then came across a CD that was labeled ‘Conversations with Pahn’. I stared at the CD with some reservation for a moment before loading it into my computer.

The CD contained a bunch of images, a couple of audio files and some text dumps from a message board.
Looking over these files made me recall an incident that had occurred many years ago. It was an incident that had slipped from my mind until I saw that CD again.

Honestly, I was glad to have forgotten about it. It was a pretty freaky experience and to this day I still don’t know what to make of it.

It was 2004, I was in my last year of high school and I spent most of my free time being an admin for an emulation message board.

It wasn’t a particularly taxing job, I was one of three guys who were admins and the board itself was pretty niche, so we usually didn’t get a great deal of traffic.

Back then there wasn’t the bot problems you find on boards these days. Most of the time I just had to log in, check my messages, then browse through the forums to see if anyone was breaking any rules or just being a dick.

It was a pretty fun gig, I got the most enjoyment out of messing with persistent trolls.

Being an admin allowed me to change their avatars(I had pics of crying babies for such occasions) or edit their posts.

Usually I’d have them say stuff like “I suck”, “I cry into my pillow at night” or my personal favorite “I left my brain in the womb”.

Basically I used to get a real kick out of administrating justice on the board.

So one night a new guy registered to the forum and created a thread called “Need help to pull apart my nes”.

The following is from that thread:

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 1

I was slightly mystified by his question and I had some time to kill so I thought I’d ask him.

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 2

I almost laughed at this. I explained to Pahn what roms were and he got really excited.

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 3

I got the gist that he really wasn’t very technically savvy. Which was fair enough, we all had to start from somewhere.

After explaining to him about roms and emulators I didn’t hear back from him for a few days.

He then came back to the board and became a bit of a regular. He would mostly start threads in which he was asking questions about emulation problems he was having.

A lot of people didn’t have any time for him.

They felt that he was just an annoying person who asked dumb questions. I remember one night he started a thread about how he couldn’t get an emulator to read games he had downloaded. We then had to explain to him what a zip file was and how it worked.

One of the other admins was thinking of banning him. He didn’t like the fact that Pahn was starting up new threads about stuff that had been already answered in earlier threads.

I told him not to do that, I’d have a word with Pahn.
I don’t know why I decided to step in, I sort of felt bad for the kid I guess.
 I also felt a bit of a connection to him because he was one of the few people I’d run across who was also a fan of the RPG Suikoden.

So I told Pahn to check through the board before posting any questions that might have already been asked and answered. I then told him if he got really stuck to just private message me.

It wasn’t long before he started messaging me. At first he would just ask me questions.

Lots of questions.

Fortunately he seemed to be a quick study, I didn’t find myself having to explain things to him over and over again. So I wouldn’t say he was stupid, just green.

Soon enough he asked me for some game recommendations and this lead to us talking about what games we were playing. It was from there that we started having a correspondence over the next few months.
We only really talked about games and movies though, the only personal stuff that I knew about him was that he was 16 and he lived in London.

One night we were having a conversation about Metroid games. I’d just clocked Super Metroid for the millionth time and was thinking about dusting off the original Metroid and giving that a go.

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 4

It was a pretty well known glitch. Basically how it works is, if you are falling down a long shaft in some places in the game and then press the select button repeatedly really fast, you can make wall tiles disappear. If you go through the tunnel that is created you’ll end up outside the map.

You can then find rooms that are tile swaps of regular rooms, rooms that scroll repeatedly forever and rooms that look like they have been randomly thrown together.

Apart from using it to sequence break, it’s pretty pointless. It’s more of a novelty then anything else.

Some people started up a website devoted to the ‘Secret Worlds’. They were obsessed with mapping the whole thing out. Like they were explorers braving uncharted territory or something.

I tried it out myself once on my gameboy. I quickly got frustrated though after I kept getting stuck in walls when I moved between rooms.

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 5

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 6

I didn’t hear from Pahn for a couple of days after that. Then one night he sent me a message.

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 7

I taught Pahn how to take snapshots and upload them so that he could show me the stuff he was finding.

A few days later I got a message.

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds -8

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 9

After that I didn’t hear from him for about a week. Then one night I was on the message board and got the following message:

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 10

Pahn sent me the links and I looked over the images he had uploaded.

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 11

I knew straight away that this wasn’t a glitch.

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 12

I asked him where he had got the rom from and he gave me the address. When I checked it out, the page wasn’t there anymore. Which wasn’t really surprising. Back then rom websites were frequently popping up and being taken down almost immediately.

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 13

Just before I was about to go to bed I looked at the pictures again. It occurred to me that the words might form a sentence. I wrote the words down on a piece of paper and started trying out combinations. Eventually I came up with;

“HOW DARE YOU. STOP STEALING MY LEGACY.”

I thought it was a rather strange sentence. I couldn’t figure out why anyone would even bother hacking that message into the game, I didn’t even understand what it meant.

A few days later I got another message from Pahn.

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 14

I taught Pahn how to capture the audio and gave him my email address. I told him to attach the file there if he did manage to record any sounds from the game.

I thought about what Pahn had described to me and I had to admit that I was pretty impressed by the hack.
I also agreed with Pahn’s reasoning. If someone had bothered to put this much effort in, then it was likely that they had done more. It was just a matter of finding it.

Though I was surprised that I had never heard of the hack before. I started browsing through rom hack sites, trying to find the one that Pahn was playing. I didn’t have any luck so I asked around in a few IRC channels but no one had seen anything like what I was describing.

The following night I was browsing the message board when I noticed I had a new private message. I saw that it was from Pahn and opened it up.

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 15

The audio file finished downloading and I listened to it while I waited for Pahn to come back.

I didn’t know what to make of it, I’d never heard a gameboy make that kind of sound before.

At first it just sounded to me like a foghorn, but then another sound started to play over the top of the foghorn noise.

The other sound did seem familiar to me somehow, but I couldn’t quite place it. I found myself getting spooked so I quickly closed the file.

I got up and made myself a cup of coffee and a snack. By the time I got back to my computer 15 minutes had passed.

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 16

I waited a few more minutes but I didn’t get a response from Pahn. I got worried for a moment but then just figured either a friend or family member had come by and he was busy.

I surfed the net for a bit, did some Admin duties then checked my messages again. Pahn still hadn’t come back. I was pretty tired by that point so I shut down my computer and went to bed.

I got up early the next day and checked to see if Pahn had left me a message.

He still hadn’t gotten back to me.

I headed off for school and didn’t get home till the evening. After I grabbed a bite to eat I sat in front of the computer and checked my email and private messages. There was still nothing from Pahn.

I left a few more messages and waited for his response. Over the next few days he still didn’t get to me and I really started to freak out.

I skipped school for a few days and stuck pretty close to my computer. One afternoon, after performing some minor admin duties, I re-listened to the sound that Pahn had sent me.

I still couldn’t make out what it was so I started playing around with it in sound recorder. I sped it up a few times and realized that the foghorn sound might be the the music that plays right before you fight the Metroid Queen. As I continued to speed the sound file up I realized what the other sound was, someone was talking over the music.

I had to speed the sound up over ten times to get it to sound like it was playing at the right speed. Once I had done that I tried to make out what the voice was saying. I had to listen carefully a few times before I got it.

The first part was an introduction. Someone was saying “I am…” and after that was presumably their name. I couldn’t catch what it was though, it wasn’t an English name.

The second part of the sentence was clear enough though.

“Knock Knock, I am here.”

Needless to say I was quite unnerved at that point.

I hit the internet again, trying to find out anything I could about the version of Metroid 2 that Pahn had been playing. I emailed people at the “Secret Worlds” website, I posted messages on numerous emulation websites and I spoke to people on various IRC channels.

Most people though I was joking, the rest thought I was crazy.

It seemed no one knew what the hell I was talking about.

Then one night I got a private message.

Metroid 2 - Secret Worlds - 17

I was a bit startled. When I’d been going around asking questions about Metroid 2 I hadn’t been using Pesmerga as my username. Nor had I mentioned what message board I was from.

I replied back to the message, wanting to know who was messaging me and how they had found me. But the user never got back to me. After that night I kept an eye on the logs of user activity to see if he came back to the site, but he never did.

I then took the message’s advice and looked up the name Gunpei Yokoi.

It didn’t take me long to find out who he was.

It turns out that he was hugely influential at Nintendo. Some of the games he worked on included the original Donkey Kong, Mario Bros, Kid Icarus, Metroid and Metroid 2.

But what he is best known for is arguably his greatest creation, the Gameboy. It’s often described as his legacy.

I kept reading the article in fascination when I got to a section that was about his life after leaving Nintendo. Not long after he left Nintendo and started his own company, Gunpei Yokoi died in a car accident. I glanced at the date of his death and that gave me a shock. It was October the 4th, 1997. The same day that I got my last message from Pahn.

I listened to the sped up version of the audio Pahn had sent me and that’s when I knew that the first part of the message was “I am Gunpei Yokoi.”

It was after this realization that I went through a period, which went on for about a year, in which I flat out refused to answer a door unless the person identified themselves.

Over the next few months I scoured the internet for any news stories concerning a missing teenager in London.

There were several stories that would pop up but the details were so vague that any one of them, or none of them, could have been Pahn.

There was one story that did catch my attention. It was about a missing teenager who had been last seen at home.

His mother had left for work and she said that he had been on the computer in the lounge room.

When she returned several hours later the lounge room was empty but the computer and various other electrical appliances were still turned on. At first she thought that he might be in another part of the house, but when she checked she found that it was empty.

She then tried to call his mobile phone and that was when she discovered that his phone and wallet were by the computer. It was at this point that she called the police. They investigated and found no sign of disturbance in the house and nothing was missing, well except for the teenager. He had vanished without a trace.

I looked for more information online but couldn’t find anything else.

I contemplated getting in touch with the police in London. But one thing stopped me, there was no way I could think to word my story without sounding like a crazy person.

Even if I could figure out how to word it properly, and if this missing teen did happen to be Pahn, there was no information that I could give them that they wouldn’t get off of his computer anyway. And if it wasn’t Pahn then I would just be wasting their time and possibly end up in some sort of legal trouble.

The words ‘hindering a police investigation’ popped into my mind.

I went back through my conversations with Pahn to see if there were any clues to his real identity that I hadn’t noticed before. But there was nothing there that revealed anything I didn’t already know about him. It was then that I realized that I always just assumed that he was a ‘he’ in the first place.

But there was nothing in our conversations to dismiss the possibility that Pahn had been a female. The possibility of Pahn being female instantly made the task of finding Pahn twice as hard.

In the end I had to give up, I just didn’t know what I could possibly do. I took screenshots of all of my conversations with Pahn, copied the pics and sound files he had emailed me and burnt them onto a CD, just in case I ever needed them again.

Not long after that I finished high school and then started working.

Within a month I stopped being an admin. I still stuck around the board for a few more months, but by then I no longer had the free time to post with any regularity. Over the following years I got busy with life and everything that happened with Pahn drifted further and further from my mind.

I decided to write this all down and put it online in the hopes that after all these years someone might know something about what happened to Pahn, or know of the version of Metroid 2 that he found.

As I said at the beginning, I honestly don’t know what to make of this.

Is there a copy of Metroid 2 floating around the internet that’s haunted by the ghost of Gunpei Yokoi? And if you have the misfortune to stumble across it does he come to your door, angry that you have dared to defile his legacy?

I try not to think too much about it.

When it does cross my mind now I like to imagine that the whole thing was an elaborate hoax perpetuated by Pahn. That he set the whole thing up months in advance. He created the images and the audio files. He came onto the message board, pretending to be a technically inept teenager, when really he was brilliant with a pc.

He was user12345, he was the one who told me to look up Gunpei Yokoi.

I like to imagine that he is somewhere out there, still laughing about the wonderful joke he pulled all those years ago.

Sometimes I can almost convince myself that it was just a hoax.

I think that was how I was able to get to sleep at night in the months after I lost contact with Pahn.
And I think that telling myself that it was all a hoax now is going to come in real handy on those restless nights in the days to come.

Credit To – Yuber Neclord

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 8.2/10 (263 votes cast)

Never Answer the Door at Night

October 23, 2014 at 12:00 PM
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 8.7/10 (590 votes cast)

My father grew up on an Indian reservation in South Dakota. It is a place with few trees and even fewer people, and there has been little development since the place was settled many, many years ago. The people live in clusters of nearly uniform houses that were built by the government, and the only place to go shopping or see a movie is nearly two hours away. It’s hot in the summer, cold in the winter, and sometimes the wind blows for days without letting up. Even now, the people there have to be tough to survive. You look out for your friends, you help your neighbors, and you don’t forget your family.

His grandmother died when he was very young, but he’s told me that he retains one particularly vivid memory of her. It was winter and they were at the house together in the early evening, and she was cooking in the kitchen while he played with a deck of cards in the front room. He can’t quite recall what she looked like, but he can still remember the smell of the food that she was making that night. It’s funny how memory works that way. His parents, grandfather, and two older sisters had caught a ride into Rapid City to buy supplies before the first big storms came through, so it was just the two of them. She went on cooking and he went on playing with those cards until he’d lost track of time and it was pitch black outside.

There was a knock at the door. Not a loud knock like the police, or the friendly kind of knock that a neighbor uses when he’s stopping by to borrow something. Just a slow, quiet tapping on the door. Tap, tap, tap, just like that. Naturally, he figured his family had made it back from the city, so he went right over to let them inside. Before he had a chance to reach the door, his frail, elderly grandmother grabbed him by the arm and pulled him away, like he was a rag doll. “Never answer the door at night,” she told him, covering his mouth so he couldn’t say anything. He could feel her arm trembling. There was no more knocking, but my father couldn’t shake the sense that there was someone familiar standing on the other side of that door, waiting to be let inside. When she finally let go of him, he asked her why she had stopped him. “Sometimes the dead try to come home,” she said. There were tears in her eyes.

His family didn’t return that night, and there was no phone service so they couldn’t call. When they made it back the following day, he learned that his grandfather had died from a heart attack during the trip. My father never said anything about the knocking, and neither did his grandmother. It was like it had never happened. His grandmother wasn’t the same after that and followed her husband to the grave just a few months later. My father was six years old.

It was much later when my father found himself alone at night during a particularly bad winter storm, the wind howling outside and the rest of his family stranded miles away. They had gone into the city that morning, and wouldn’t be able to come back until the storm let up and the roads were cleared. Eventually the electricity went out and the only light came from the stove they used for heating. The worst part of the storm lasted a few hours, but finally it got quiet outside as the wind slowed and the windows stopped rattling. Then the knock came again. That same tapping at the door from years before, like fingers just barely brushing against it. My father couldn’t bring himself to look out the window to see if anyone was standing outside, but for some reason, he found himself drawn to the door, like he had to open it. It was only when he felt the cold from beneath the door on his bare feet that he stopped. He called outside, asking who was there. “It’s me,” came the voice from the other side of the door. “Let me inside. It’s cold.” He recognized the voice, since it belonged to his eldest sister. He had his hand on the doorknob when his grandmother’s words came back to him, and the feel of her hand gripping his arm. Never answer the door at night. There were many things he could have asked his sister at that moment. He could have asked where his parents were, or why he hadn’t heard the car pull up when they were dropped off. He could have even asked why she needed to knock at all – they didn’t lock their doors on the reservation. He didn’t ask her any of those things. Instead, he told her to go around to the back and he would let her inside. Before he could say anything else, or even think anything else, he heard the knocking start at the back door, like she had been there the entire time. Instantly. Tap, tap, tap. He didn’t open the door, and spent the rest of the night curled up on the floor. His family had tried to return home earlier that evening and got into a car accident in the snow. His father had broken his leg in two places. His eldest sister had died, mangled in the wreck. He didn’t tell anyone what had happened, but he knew in his heart that sometimes the dead do try to come home.

My father was not afraid of what might have happened that night. When he told me the story, he was sorrowful. He always regretted that he lost his opportunity to see his sister one last time. I know that’s why he went home by himself and waited when my mother died. You don’t forget your family. I know he heard that knocking on the door, tap, tap, tap, like he remembered from his youth. I also know that he forgot something, very, very important. The fear in his grandmother’s voice on that cold winter night, and the way she held him with all her strength. Never answer the door at night. When we found him the next day, the front door was wide open and he had been torn limb from limb. There were no footprints in the snow.

Credit To – R. Holmes

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 8.7/10 (590 votes cast)

The Tourist

October 22, 2014 at 12:00 AM
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 7.7/10 (193 votes cast)

I’d never flown before. It was kind of peaceful, staring out of the little oval window to my right. It was the perfect time to think. I thought about the fight with my step father, and my mom begging me not to take this trip, siting news articles about missing and murdered locals. I thought about how I had pointed out that tourists hadn’t had any trouble. I thought about how I might find happiness and never come back.

We landed in Cardiff International around 9 pm, on time, and I decided to walk to my small hotel. After getting settled I wasn’t ready for sleep, so I decided to walk around for a bit. The streets surrounding my hotel were pretty, enough. Flower gardens along the sidewalk and clean streets.

But the streets just a little beyond were seedier than I had prepared for. The bums were out, occasionally trying to gain my attention, as walked by, in the hopes that the silly tourist had a little extra cash. The streets were lined with small shops, all them closed, and some for good, as well as unsavory looking bars, all wide open. As I was entertaining the thought of dipping into one, and charming an attractive Welsh man with false stories of my grandeur back in America, I heard a crash, ahead of me. It was the sound of a young man, 20, if not a teen, landing on top of a trash can. Trash bin? I made a mental note to ask someone. Behind him a young woman, wielding a wooden bat, and sporting enough tattoos and piercings to make my mother shake her head, was yelling at him in a thick Welsh accent, about attempting to steal, again. The man ran off into the night, the woman yelling after him. The woman abandoned her verbal assault, and began righting her trash can. Trash bin?

I think we both heard it, at the same time. A primal sound beneath a gurgle and the sound of feet pounding the damp cement. The young woman swung around, just in time, to catch the underside of the rabid, bloody man’s chin. His eyes rolled back, for a moment, before regaining his footing, and resuming his attack. I started yelling for help, and police. The girl started bashing the man’s head as he tried to claw and gnash at her. A few stepped out of the bar to catch the actions, and immediately jumped on their phones, calling cops, and taking pictures and videos. It wasn’t until the man laid still, his head like hamburger meat, that the lady backed off, bloodied, and shaking. I ran to her, and grabbed her arm to keep to her still. I asked if she was alright, and she yanked her arm from my grasp, muttering that she was fine. The local police arrived a moment later, and I was pulled several directions for witness statements. After a dizzying list of questions, I accepted a ride to my hotel, and only had enough reserved energy to shower and climb into bed.

My nightmares were dark and full of rabid, bloody people, trying to eat my flesh. I woke up feeling as if my energy was drained while I slept. I could only stomach coffee as I thought about the previous night, and the animalistic man. His dilated eyes and bloody mouth were enough to make me want to run home, but my curiosity about the young woman drug me out of my door. I wanted to see if she was okay, and if she had seen what I remember seeing. As I made my way through the old streets, I noticed they weren’t so intimidating during the day. The bars were closed, and the shops were open, a few people going in and out, little bells ringing. The bums were gone, likely run off by shop owners, and the street had been swept. I found the woman’s shop, open, luckily. I walked in and wasn’t quite expecting the scene. Deep colored walls, and a couple plush, dark, velvet couches, with a large skull-covered hookah perched on a small side table. Racks, everywhere, covered in clothes, purses, masks, and a lot of neon and dark furry things, unidentifiable by shape. Surrounding the check stand was a case full of movie replica weapons, and little racks of buttons and patches. I heard the young lady call, from the back, that she would be out in a moment, and I followed the sound of her voice. As i walked up the archway of the back room, I noticed a small apartment, before the view was blocked by the woman stepping through. Recognition loosened her smile, and she turned slightly sour at my appearance.

“Can I help you?” she asked. The tone in her voice suggested she didn’t care to help me. I wonder if I should ask her about the “trash can vs. trash bin” thing. Just to get the ball rolling. I decided, instead, to jump into it.

“That man, last night. Did you see his eyes and bloody mouth? Or did I imagine that”

“I saw it. Why?”

“Is that normal”

“Yes, all of us are born wild-eyed, and bloody mouthed. Most of us just hide it well” She rolled her eyes and began unpacking some boxes of clothing, behind the register. I think she was hoping I would leave after she made it obvious I was being ignored. I’m not normally so easily deterred, but my coffee filled stomach was starting to bother me, and it occurred to me that I hadn’t eaten in nearly 24 hours.

I left without another word and decided to try the cafe a block from my hotel. I still had so many questions about last night, but the boutique owner wasn’t the best conversationalist. I made a plan to talk to some of the bar patrons, tonight.

My plan was interrupted by a man screaming, just around the corner, ahead of me. Another man came running from the corner, ashen faced, and checking over his shoulder as he passed me. I ran to screams, and rounded the corner, only to get smacked in the face by the most horrific vision I had ever witnessed. A man and woman bent over a man’s body, holding him down and ripping pieces of flesh from his bones, shoving it in their mouths, while the living man screamed in terror and agony. I could feel my coffee coming up, and I let out a small cry. It was enough to gain the attention of the devourers, and they eyed me, for a moment, with curiosity and hunger. The woman went back to her meal, but the man wanted to move to greener pastures, as he lunged forward for me. I turned tail and ran, as fast as I could, back to the only place I knew.

The woman met me with a scowl.

“What the hell do you want, now?” she asked, as I slammed her door shut and spun the lock into place.

“What the feck do you think your doin’?” She shouted, grabbing her bat, and heading for me.

“NO! WAIT! There are more of those people out there! Please, I can’t go back out there, we have to lock the doors!” My defense was validated by immediate pounding and growling behind my back, which only intensified the woman’s aggressive stance.

“You brought them here? You twat! Are you trying to get us both killed?”

“They were EATING a man! Eating his skin while he was still alive! What are they?” I yelled, over the din of the beast just outside of the thick wood door. I couldn’t stop the tears brimming my eyes. The woman’s features softened, slightly, at the sight of my tears, but her voice held the same tone.

“Stop your sniveling, it’s not helping anyone. Throw the locks on those windows” She nodded to one side of the doors and she headed for the other, swinging down iron locks, and pulling the windows shut. I followed suit, and bit back my tears as I struggled a little with the awkward locks I’d never, before, encountered. Eventually, i got all of my windows locked and covered. When I turned around, the woman was back at her counter, hanging up and redialing the phone.

“I can’t get through to emergency services, the line is engaged. Looks like we’re on our own for the time being.”

I could feel the tears welling up, again, and my stomach felt like it was imploding. I couldn’t tell if it was from hunger, or anxiety, now. I went and sat on the purple, velvety couch, and regretted not being able to appreciate the sandalwood smell and soft cushion. I took a few deep breaths and tried to sort my thoughts. We needed a plan. I needed food. I decided to ask if she had food, when it occurred to me that I didn’t even know her name.

“My name is Deanna.” I volunteered, hoping she would return the response with her own name. She shot me an annoyed look, instead.

“That’s nice.” She didn’t look like it was nice.

“What’s your name?” I asked

She gave an exaggerated sigh. “Chloe” she said, obviously not wanting to have a conversation.

I sat in silence for a while, a little afraid to ask for anything. Chloe disappeared into the apartment, but I was afraid to follow. Surviving meant not pissing off my very edgy apocalypse partner. After a while, Chloe returned with two cups of tea, offering me one without speaking. I thanked her, quietly, and sipped it. I wasn’t about to tell her I didn’t like tea. I drank it, anyway, and it helped my stomach, a little. Chloe returned, again, with two bowls of chili, and some bread. I fought my urge to shove the food in my face as quickly as possible. I took great pains to eat normal sized spoonfuls of chili, and chew my bread. I thanked Chloe, and received a curt “Welcome” in return.

The banging had stopped, nearly an hour before, but the screams in the streets were still audible. I didn’t want to look.

“Could we turn on a radio, or something?” I asked, hoping to drown out the noise.

“You want us to draw attention to ourselves? Feck that. You can go outside and hold up a sign that says “Free Food”, but I’m staying quiet.”

I went back to shutting up, and pulled my legs to my chest, tucking my chin between my knees. I thought about the fight with my step-father, and about my mother’s warnings. I thought about my pursuit of happiness, and how I may never come back.

“Chloe? Do you think these things have anything to do with stories about disappeared and murdered people that have been popping up, lately?”

“Maybe. Those stories were in the countryside, though. Miles from here. We weren’t too worried about it.”

“Maybe they just discovered the city. It’s a much bigger…food source.” I cringed.

“You’re probably right. Doesn’t change much, though. We don’t know what’s going on, or why, so I guess we just sit here and wait for the military to roll through.”

“You think they’ll come?” I asked, hopeful

“They always do, in the movies. Only place I’ve seen this kind of thing, before.”

That was fair, I guessed, and warmth of the food in my stomach made my eyes heavy. As I drifted off, I asked “Chloe? Is it called a trash can or a trash bin, here?”

“Bin.” She replied, and I fell asleep.

I awoke, in the evening, to the sound of one of the windows shattering. I saw Chloe, to my left, leap off of her couch, shaking off sleep. She ran for her bat, and began battering the bodies pushing through the curtains. One slipped through the left edge of the curtain, and I recognized the woman from the street. More bloody than before, she ran at me, hands clawed, and mouth wide, emitting the same gurgling howl heard the night before. I ran, my eyes darting around for a weapon. I spotted a replica hatchet, from a movie i didn’t recognize the name of, and snatched it up. I was immediately thankful for how solid it felt. I buried the hatchet in the woman’s unblocked face, but she continued, unaffected. My arm, however, certainly noticed the impact and it took a second to regroup before yanking my ill-chosen weapon from her skull. I swung, again, but my aim wasn’t as true, as the blade slid past her cheek and hit her shoulder. I stumbled away, backing into the counter. There was statue to my right, some kind of Greek or Roman goddess. I didn’t have a lot of options. I could only hope it was heavy enough to damage. It was. I swung, as hard as I could manage, down on top of the cannibal’s head, and she stumbled. YES! I swung, again, and again, until she laid still, her skull cracked, and her brain looking much like this morning’s chili.

Chloe called for me from the window, struggling with the two men trying to push their way in. I jumped into the row, and we managed to beat them back. Chloe yelled for me to her, and grabbed a hold of a large painting on the wall. It was painted on wood, thankfully, and we put it up to the window. With limited resources, we had to wedge it in. but it would do for the moment.

A bloody Chloe, short of breath, stumbled back to her little apartment. This time I followed, feeling a bit more worthy. Chloe was leaned over the sink of her kitchenette, washing the blood from her arms. I noticed the gash in her arm.

“You’re bleeding!” I practically shouted, unsure of what else to do.

“Well spotted.” She bit, sarcastically, wincing a little as the water ran over her wound. “I think I cut myself on the glass, pushing the freaks out. Grab me the alcohol out of the cabinet, will you?” She nodded so a small separated room, which turned out to be the bathroom. I found the alcohol and some rags, and we made a makeshift bandage.

Chloe collapsed onto one of the couches, and reached into the drawer on the table, beside here. She pulled out a gun. The thing looked ancient, and too big. It had one of those chambers that spun around, and the little hammer in the back. It reminded me of something a cowboy would draw in a stand-off.

“It was my grandpa’s.” she said. “It shoot’s.” in answer to my look of doubt. “Here”, she said, handing me the piece, “I’m obviously no good, I can barely lift it. I need to rest, you man the fort.”
She snorted something, almost like a laugh, and with a labored breath, she drifted off. How much blood had she lost? When her breathing got heavy, I left her in peace. I figured I’d look around the shop, a bit, while I had time to myself. I found some matches and a pack of candles in a junk drawer, near the sink. It was a good thing, because the shop was nearly black with the curtains drawn and a window boarded up. I looked at the furry things first. There were vests, leg warmers, hats, and gloves. Some were glittery, and some lit up with rainbow LEDs. In a corner, there was a collection of latex clothing, with hints at BDSM. I decided to avoid that corner. One wall was adorned with gas masks, goggles, and masquerade masks. I tried on an elaborate white mask, covered in feathers and pearls. Who buys this stuff? It was obvious this wasn’t a Halloween shop. I guess I’ll never understand people.

I heard Chloe moan a bit, in the bedroom. I went to check on her. Before I made it to the dimly lit archway, leading into the apartment, I heard a familiar gurgling coming from inside. My stomach dropped. My pace slowed and I drew the gun, pulling back the hammer like they do on TV.
“Chloe?” I called quietly?
I hesitated at the doorway. I was rewarded with a response, but the one I hoped for, as a wild-eyed, bloody-mouthed Chloe jumped in front of me. I reacted by pulling the trigger on the heavy pistol. The impact knocked us both backward, but I was faster to recover, grabbing the door, and swinging it shut, on her. I grabbed a cushioned chair from nearby and wedged it beneath the handle. Chloe howled and screamed from the other side, banging, mercilessly, on the door. Unfortunately, her wild noises drew the attention of her beastly brethren in the streets and they began assemble at the front of the store, pounding on the windows, door, and painting-covered hole. As the board fell from the sill, it ripped the curtain down with it, revealing a few howling silhouettes, and an outline of street lights. I was trapped. I fired at the shadows, knocking one back, and only stumbling from the kick. I was feeling a bit more confident, now, and fired at another, barely losing my footing. I fired again, almost giggling as I hit one in the head, effectively exploding part of his skull, and dropping him. As I sent another bullet flying, it dawned on me that I had only one bullet left. Any hope of ammo was trapped in the apartment with my short-lived companion. As a handful more figures poured through the window, I ducked behind a rack, in the darkness. I had to make a decision. Do I fire my last bullet, and attempt to escape? Or save myself from a long and painful death? As I weighed my options, I heard the gurgling voices multiply. I made a decision. With iron resolve, I pulled my legs to my chest, and tucked my chin between my knees. I put the gun to my head. I thought about my step-father, and my mom. I thought about how I was never coming back.

Credit To – Amanda Lawrence

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 7.7/10 (193 votes cast)

Living With The Lewis’

October 17, 2014 at 12:00 PM
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 7.6/10 (209 votes cast)

The Lewis’ moved into my home – our home I suppose, although it felt less than homely when filled with strangers – on November 16th without enough warning for me to adequately adjust to the change. The reality of the shifting number of occupied rooms hit forcefully and less than comfortably when I heard the sound of various carriages arriving on our driveway. I peeked out of my window atop the tower where I liked to seclude myself and watched as Father Lewis, both a paternal and occupational title, ventured forth from the transport accompanied by his wife, Violet, and their daughter, Clarissa. She was young, a nine or ten year old child to an early thirty-something pair of parents. Their appearance was not rich, but not poor, more comfortable with room for the occasional luxury which showed in their ability to carry all their worldly possessions from the carriages into the house in two trips. As I observed and formed judgments I expected to hear my name ringing through the old hallways, demanding my presence be made to greet the latest additions and I braced myself for it, holding on to each second of solitude as if it was my last, which it surely would be with Clarissa. I made peace with the idea of her following me around constantly, demanding I read her a book or fetch her one from the shelves that she could not reach in the library – although I wasn’t entirely sure if she’d been taught to read and if not, she would request of me, with no room for refusal, that I read it aloud to her. I practiced blocking out the sound of her tantrums, stomping up the creaking wooden stairs and slamming her bedroom door so hard a painting or two would surely fall off the wall and lose its ancient, dust covered beauty.

What was odd, however, was that I had heard nothing but the Lewis’ voices even after the carriages and long since left the driveway. It was unusual but I paid it no more mind than it deserved and decided that everyone must be in the grounds or in the furthest rooms away meaning they were not made aware of the family’s arrival. This opportunity was immediately taken to mean my avoidance of human contact and potential disdain towards them was allowed to continue and so I picked up my book and continued reading. Hours went by and no one came to investigate my part of the house – I say mine because I was the only one to venture to it except when I was to be summoned and even then my summoner would not stay long; there is a nasty chill in the air, Miss, I do not like it one bit. Now please, hurry yourself to the kitchen and let us eat by the stove so that I may shed this ghostly chill, old Mrs. Norris, our plump-as-can-be cook, would say. I found amusement in her believing the cold air to be that of a supernatural occurrence when clearly it would be due to the window being almost permanently ajar – I liked to seat myself in the bay window wrapped in blankets which kept me mostly impervious to the frosty breeze. Where some like it hot, others prefer it positively tundral.

The low growling erupting from my stomach was not concealed beneath the blankets and so, with an almost completely melted candle, I decided it was finally time to weather the storm and venture downstairs to the kitchen. With a handful of excuses, overflowing amounts of counterfeit apologies and regrets, and with just a dash of physical reflexes in case a ladle was thrown my way, I arrived at the kitchen door. Listening to the voices I determined that the Lewis’ were not sat at the old but sturdy log table where I always took my meals, but instead used the dining room. This was confirmed by the piles of dusty yellow sheets piled against the wall that we used to cover the tables and chairs in there to protect them from inevitable aging. The only time the cloths were removed were when we had important guests so it made sense that the new arrivals would think of themselves as such and wish to dine in such a place. I eavesdropped for a few moments as they ate in relative silence, occasionally one adult enquiring to the other about the tasks that were to be done over the coming days or Clarissa asking a question she could have probably figured out the answer to herself. After coming to the conclusion that they were a nice but boring family, I reserved my ears to picking up the sound of Mrs. Norris or any other staff but nothing was heard and to me this was a sign to leave my introduction to the Lewis’ being left until the next day as we were all tired – there are a lot of stairs up to my part of the house and many words for my brain to comprehend upon each page of my many books. Retiring myself to this decision, I quietly pushed the door to the kitchen open and sought about a bowl in which to ladle some stew into which I then took back to my winter wonderland. However, something caught my ears and stopped me dead out of curiosity and pricked up my ears.

“Father, whatever happened to that family?” Clarissa was not old enough to take note of the severity of the look between her parents. Violet’s eyes made it very clear she did not wish the truth to be known to her daughter who was not at a decently senior age to hear such details, details which I only knew of from overhearing the stable boy and master discussing the matter as they cleaned the stables and took the horses out for one last ride before they were relocated.

“Bad things, sweet, bad things which you need not hear about for a long time.” Father Lewis looked to his wife to determine whether he had avoided the question well enough. He was successful, at least for the first stage of questioning.

“But what if the bad things happen again to us? What if the bad thing comes along and it happens because I don’t know what is good and what is bad like the man in the newspaper who ate that bad plant and died because he didn’t know it was bad.” Clarissa made me feel old and vastly superior with her limited and repetitive vocabulary. Luckily no one heard me sigh at the fourth ‘bad’.

“I can assure you the bad things that happened to them will not be the end of us. You’re always safe when we are around.” For all of Father Lewis’ shortcomings he was surprisingly good at reassurance. I heard later he visited the patients closest to death and the local town hospital when not tending to his Godly duties and helped their passing.

“I’m sure everyone thinks that and yet bad things still happen.” One short coming of the Lewis daughter was that sometimes she became very stubborn and the probability of it happening was always uncertain except when one did not wish her to be. Violet sighed at another family dinner being dampened by her daughter wishing to know something she shouldn’t.

“Sweetheart please, now is not the time to discuss such things. Today is a happy day and your father and I wish to keep it that way. How about we converse over more exciting topics, hmm? What about school, are you excited to attend new classes?”

“I suppose but I’d be more interesting to know what happened h—“

“Clarissa I insist you leave this conversation well alone, you are too young and need not concern yourself with the past now please, engage us as we wish or finish your dinner in silence.” Violet was the steadfast to Father Lewis’ persuadable.

“Yes, Mother.” Clarissa lowered her head and swirled small chunks of stew around her bowl, occasionally eating a few and waiting until a more appropriate time to bring the topic up again. The encounter assured me to not provoke Violet’s short-tempered side as much as I could help it and so I left to eat my dinner in peace before retiring for the night.

The next day was spent like most others; sitting in my bay window reading my books and avoiding all human contact to the point of it becoming a game; I enjoyed the idea of seeing how long I could go without being noticed and so resigned myself to invisibility until I was inevitably called down and scolded for my subtlety. After a morning and afternoon had gone by I found it odd that no one had raised the alarm over my potential disappearance but I just put it down to a simple case of all the staff being busy helping the Lewis’ get settled and, seeing as I have always been the independent sort, I liked being left to my own devices so I did not complain.

Days passed much the same way but I made sure to not be completely silent when I ventured to the more communal parts of the house, just so everyone would know I was still alive and present. On the fourth day after the Lewis’ arrived, it was decided that they would take a trip into the town to investigate and collect supplies, all of which I had overheard while scrounging for some breakfast. I was glad of the news as it was nicely sunny and warm and I wished to take a wander through the nearby forest, as I often did on the nicest days which came few and far between sometimes, and did not wish for my experience to be marred by any immature presence asking questions. The next course of action was to hasten my way back upstairs with as little sound as possible lest I be invited to town and have no excuse to decline, and to keep an eye out from my window until the family carriage was out of sight. My plan was going swimmingly until I heard footsteps ascending the stairs towards my door, a feeling of dread and nausea washing over me as I realised they were not familiar – for I had been in this house long enough to memorise and recognise the sound of each person’s footfalls – and these being rather quiet they therefore belonged to little Clarissa. I held my breath as I heard her wander around everywhere but my room and just as the idea that she may get bored and leave occurred in my thoughts, she touched the door handle and it relinquished its power.

I decided to let her be the startled one, which she sure was as her eyes met upon me sat wrapped in blankets in my window, and I only paid her any mind when she ruined the silence.

“Who are you?” She inquired with no trace of manners or knowledge of how to properly address.

“A resident of this house.” I said with a cool tongue although I was having mixed emotions on the inside.

“But we live here.” She did not understand the concept of joint living.

“I’ve noticed.”

“My name’s Clarissa.” She did not seem frightened anymore and her dismayed look turned to a friendlier disposition.

“Of this I am aware.” I smiled back but kept my eyes cold. More footsteps were heard coming up the stairs.

“You talk funny.” She giggled and it eased me a little more. Her innocence was mildly amusing.

“I’m glad you find me so entertaining.” After this Father Lewis arrived in the doorway and his face turned to only just concealed worry as he gazed from his daughter to the slightly open window by which I was sat.

“Sweetheart, what are you doing up here?” His urgency surprised me enough to close my book. The fact that he did not acknowledge my presence and introduce himself was noted too.

“I was just exploring, Father. This is our new house after all.” Clarissa kept smiling at me and I found myself returning the gesture.

“You cannot be up here, it’s not safe.” Father Lewis went to grab her hand but she halted in place.

“But you said I was always safe with you and Mother. Why is it not safe in here? Is this where the bad thing happened?” At this my book was placed on the ledge ready to have my attention later as it was fully absorbed in the events unfolding in front of me. What ‘bad thing’ could Clarissa possibly be referencing?

“You do not need to know just please, do not come up here, ever. We need to leave for town now Clari so let us go.” Father Lewis tried to turn and leave but his daughter’s feet were rooted to the spot.

“No Father I wish to know, I wish to know what happened to that girl and this room?”

“Darling, is she coming?” Violet called up from a lower level of the house and the urgency increased exponentially in Father Lewis.

“I shall tell you this and only this Clari and then we must leave. A young girl once lived here before us and due to some unknown tragedy, she fell from that window and perished. Now please let us go, your mother does not like to be kept waiting, you know that well enough.”

“Did she look like that girl, Father?” Clarissa pointed in my direction. Father Lewis looked directly at me, through me, yet it was like I was not there and his horror only matched my confusion.

“Clarissa, there is no one there.”

Credit To – WBM

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 7.6/10 (209 votes cast)

Foreverness

October 14, 2014 at 12:00 PM
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 8.7/10 (489 votes cast)

Eliza was in her bed upstairs. Mother cleaned her up. She made her look very pretty. Like sheʼs sleeping.

I donʼt know why we didnʼt expect this to happen. Not because of the way she was. More because of what we did to her.

My brother James and I, we always knew tell there was something unusual about her. When she was born, she never once cried. Mother and Father thought she may have had scarlet fever. Dr. Coffett, our family doctor, made house calls regularly for the first four years of her life. I overheard him telling my parents what he thought was wrong with her. He called it “Neurasthenia”. He thought it seemed to explain her symptoms: the quietness, the staring straight across the room, never seeming to notice you even if you were right in front of her. And the long bouts of mumbling after Mother put her to bed at night.

I was five when she was born. James was nearly seven. What was odd was that our entire family has chestnut brown hair, but Elizaʼs grew in blonde.

As far as Eliza and I went, we werenʼt very alike at all. Apart from the way we look (my eyes are Kelly green, and Elizaʼs were steel gray, as Father put it), I was always told I was bold, the adventurer type. Mr. Ainsworth, my schoolteacher, once told me, “Martha, you got a lotta gumption. Thatʼs a rare thing for a girl to have. You put that to good use, youʼll be all right.” One of my favorite things to do was climbing trees as high as I could go. Iʼd leave a marker at the spot (usually a ribbon), and return to see if I could climb higher. I always tried to get Eliza to come out to see if sheʼd be a good climber like me, but she’d never listen.

No one in the family knew if she would ever change. We wondered how she would get on in the world as a grown-up if she never spoke to anyone or asked for help. Once I overheard Mother and Father talk about sending Eliza away. To a special school if she didnʼt come out of whatever she was in.

To our surprise, she did. Even stranger than her behavior was how abruptly it stopped after four years. Like coming out of a dream, she transformed. Once sullen and absent, she suddenly became a lively and sociable girl. It was Christmas Day.

Father had gone out all day Christmas Eve, and came back with gifts for the three of us. We were to wait until morning for them. James and I argued. Eliza said nothing.

Christmas morning arrived. The three of us went downstairs to join Mother and Father for breakfast. Ham, eggs, and tea, our Christmas tradition. After breakfast, we went into the living room and waited on the couch. Father had us close our eyes, and placed the gifts in our hands. James was given a brass pocket compass. The arrow quivered as he smiled down at it. I got a jade necklace. The cloudy green stone was sanded in the shape of a heart. I fell in love with it. Eliza, however, did not have anything put in her hands. Father said, “Eliza, open your eyes.” We looked. Father was holding a kitten. Tawny brown, with faded white stripes and gray-green eyes, the tiny thing looked up at Eliza as her eyes filled with tears. “Oh Father, thank you! Thank you!” she sobbed, kneeling on the floor as the kitten tottered over to her. We all looked at each other. We couldnʼt remember the last time Eliza had spoken of her own accord.

As I watched her cradle the kitten, I smiled. I couldnʼt help but marvel at the look she had in her eyes as she stared at the kitten’s gray-green ones.

Sometimes, I would look in her eyes, and see something that made my spine tingle. I couldnʼt always see it. But sometimes I could. It was darkness. Some deep abyss in her black pupils, something that made me think of only one word: foreverness. I couldnʼt stand looking at them for too long. James saw it too. Once, I tried to explain it to Mother. She smacked me on the behind and told me I was a sinner.

But now, watching her, I saw something different. There was some happiness, unearthly happiness in her pupils. The darkness wasnʼt there. In fact, I felt like I could see light coming from them, like a glowing sun.

She named it Eirene. None of us knew where on earth she had gotten the name from. Eliza said she read it at school.

From then on, Eliza and Eirene were rarely without one another. The two would sleep, eat, and sometimes bathe together. Eliza constantly tried to bring Eirene to school, only to be caught by my Mother or Father.

For two years she beamed when she was with the cat, and sobbed when it had to stay outside because it had gotten ear mites or something. In two years, we nearly forget how Eliza used to be. We were happy. Until Eliza fell ill.

Like a plague of locusts, the darkness that once surrounded her swarmed in again. The hours of idle staring, the incoherent muttering, and the sinister, cavernous look in her eyes returned. She began ignoring our parents and had to be forced out of bed to school. The only difference was that the darkness she emitted wasnʼt quite as dark as before. At least not when she had Eirene.
We were quickly trained to respond to her removed looks and sinister demeanor by shooing Eirene into the room, while we watched from the doorway. Eliza would notice the cat, and her eyes would glass over. Her brow uncrossed. She smiled at the little thing, cradling it in her arms.

Dr. Coffett determined her Neurasthenia had been addled by a nasty gastrointestinal infection. He would treat her as best he could, but we were to watch her for signs she was getting worse. Eliza was confined to her bed.

For weeks she remained as she was, never quite cheerful but never distraught either. Eirene stayed upstairs with her, unless she needed to go outside for the bathroom.

It was one of these times when it happened. I was with Mother and Father in the kitchen, while James was in the front yard. Eirene was at the back door, meowing gently. Her brown tail quivered, a sign that she needed to go out. “Martha, would you mind taking Eirene out to the woods?” Mother asked. I got up from my homework and strode to the back door.

At the border where our backyard met the woods, I sat on the grass, looking up at the sky. It was bright blue, almost devoid of clouds. I tried to find shapes every time one happened by. It must have been so warm, the grass so soft, I fell asleep.

BANG

I jumped up from the grass, looking around wildly, to see James near the back of the house. He saw me and grinned. “Hey Martha, didnʼt see you there!” he said.

“James what are you doing?” I yelled at him. “You scared me half to death!”

“Iʼm sorry, but like I said, I didnʼt see you.” He was holding Fatherʼs rifle, the tip still smoking.

“You can be really rotten sometimes.” I glanced over at the woods. “Whereʼs Eirene?”

“What?”

“Eirene, James!” I shouted, a panic rising inside me. “Eirene, I took her out here to the woods! Where is she?”

Jamesʼ face went white. “I…I donʼt know…” He looked over at the woods.

Without another word I sprinted into the trees. “WHERE DID YOU SHOOT?” I screamed, searching the brush covered floor.

“Uh…over there!” he shouted, “Somewhere over there!”

I didnʼt need to look where he was pointing, though. My eyes caught a brown gray mass near the base of an oak tree. I skidded to my knees. Eirene was lying there, panting, red muck clinging to the fur on her left side. Her legs twitched, and her eyes stared up at her forehead. Seeing me, she meowed.

James ran up to my side. “Oh…no…” he said. “Oh no, oh no, what did I do?”

Eireneʼs breathing quickened, became more shallow. We both kneeled there, frozen, watching blood dribble out of her side and disappear under the leaves. She looked up at me. I saw pain and fear there, like a fear of something ominous, something inevitable. Then they lolled back to their place, looking straight ahead, and stopped.

At that moment, adrenaline rushed through me, driving out my frozen shock. I scooped Eirene up and bolted out of the woods to the house. Maybe it was the tears burning my eyes or my concentration on that back door I had to reach, but I didnʼt see Eliza watching me from her bed behind the upstairs window.

*

Dr. Coffett arrived later that afternoon. Eliza had been overcome with a bout of vomiting, only this time she started vomiting blood. Dr. Coffett told us this had to do with ulcers in the lining of her stomach.

Eirene was wrapped in linen and placed in a shoebox. Mother asks us not to tell Eliza what had happened. She didnʼt want her condition getting any worse.

We could smell the vomit from her room. It seemed to float through the entire house. She made horrible retching sounds through the evening. Mother and Father and Dr. Coffett stayed up there with her. We all wondered why she didnʼt ask for Eirene.

At 10:16, and as crickets and peepers chirped outside, Dr. Coffett came down the stairs. “Iʼm very sorry to have to tell you this,” he said to James and I, “but your little sister has died. I know you both loved her very much, and I know she loved you as well.” With that, he donned a black bowler hat and left without a goodbye.

James and I went silently up the stairs to Elizaʼs room. It was just opposite Jamesʼ. Inside, Mother and Father were leaning over Elizaʼs bed, crying. Mother beckoned us in for a final goodbye, and there we all wept.

Sleep didnʼt come easily to me that night. Mother and Father told us they were leaving her in her bed for the night, and would make arrangements for her tomorrow. I laid in bed for what felt like hours, until finally, I slept.

I woke up. Not knowing why though, the house seemed quiet. I stared off into the pitch black, waiting to fall back into sleep.

Martha…

My stomach dropped. Did I really hear something? Was it my name? My spine tingled as I pricked my ears up, waiting for anything.

Martha…

My breath caught in my throat. I heard that, clearly, drifting into my room from down the hall where Elizaʼs and Jamesʼ bedrooms were. A door creaked open, and with it, an acrid smell wafted into my room. I choked. The smell was metallic, like that brown rusty water we sometimes get in the drinking fountain at school. My eyes had adjusted to the dim of the room, helped along by the moonlight casting in through the window behind me. I stared, transfixed, at the open door. Beyond it, I couldnʼt see. But I could hear…something…

shhhook

shhhook

My ears strained to pick up the sound. My sweat chilled me as it soaked the linen of my pajamas and grew cold. The metallic smell grew stronger, stinging my nostrils. I gagged, but my eyes never left the doorway.

shhhook

shhhook

The sound was growing louder. My body was pressed against the backboard, trembling. I tried to scream for my parents, but only a hoarse squeaking left me.

shhhook

shhhook

It was right outside my room. The smell was making my head spin. It was a familiar smell, but worse than I had ever known it. This made me realize what it was. When I realized, I let out a high-pitched moan. My throat dried up.

It was the smell of vomit, saturated with blood.

Eliza dragged herself around the doorway. She was wearing the nightgown we had dressed her in. The white fabric was covered in a gray and red mess. Curdled chunks of food and bits of intestine dripped from her chin. Her face was ashen-white and sunken, and her blonde hair was stuck around her mouth. But her eyes frightened me more than anything. The steel gray irises of her eyes were whited over from the hours of disuse, but her pupils were blacker than anything I could have ever imagined. She dragged herself by the arms along the floor, leaving a trail of steaming vomit and blood behind her. She reached my bed, and slowly pulled herself up over the side, never taking her eyes off me.

Martha…

I held my breath, knowing if I breathed again, the full power of that odor would kill me right here.
She yanked my bedsheets as she hoisted herself on top of me, closer…closer…

Now sheʼs here, inches from my face, that smell of decay burning my eyes, the red and gray stew spilling onto my chest and neck. I stared into her eyes.

In them I saw nothing. I saw the coldest, outermost limits of foreverness. I saw the void.

You…killed her…

“No!” I screamed, “I didnʼt kill her! I didnʼt, please! I didnʼt see James had the gun! Iʼm sorry! I didnʼt mean to let her die! Please! PLEASE!

This last word I screamed. Her pupils grew bigger, grew around me, swallowed me whole, and I fell out of the universe and into the abyss, forever.

“Wake up…” My Fatherʼs voice. “Martha, wake up…”

I opened my eyes. I was staring at a ceiling. My ceiling. In front of it were my Mother and Father. They looked down at me, concerned, as I groggily tried to put words together. “You had a bad dream, sweetheart,” said my Mother. “You were crying.” I swiveled my head. My wall. I swiveled it back. The underside of my bed.

“Eliza…she was here…” I said, trying to fight off dizziness.

“No, sweetheart, sheʼs in her room.” Mother starts to tear up. “I know how hard this must be for you. Itʼs hard for all of us. But weʼre still a family, and we still love each other.”

“Would you like to sleep in our bed tonight?” asked my father. “Come on, honey, letʼs go.” He picks me up, my hands absently reaching around his neck to hang on.

Lying between the two of them, their warm bodies holding me in place, I canʼt think of anything but sleep.

*

Sunlight poured in the windows when I woke up. I looked down to the end of the bed at an unfamiliar wall, and an unfamiliar door. Then I noticed my parents on either side of me. The fuzzy memory of being carried came back to me. With that, the dream came back. Eliza was alive. She was in my room. I fell into her eyes. I canʼt remember anything more than that.

I slid to the foot of the bed, and hopped off, careful not to wake my parents. I tiptoed down the hall, past my room, and stopped outside Elizaʼs. There she was, lying on her bed with her eyes closed, in her clean white nightgown. I sighed.

Turning around, I walked into Jamesʼ room. I wanted to wake him to tell him about my dream, and ask him if he wanted to come with me outside to pick flowers for Eliza before my parents wake up. That would make them happy.

“James, wake up,” I said, pulling off the covers, “I want to tell you ab-”

James was lying on his back. His eyes were gouged out. His jaw was ripped halfway off his face, leaving him with a gaping openmouthed scream.

I stepped back. My knees buckled, and I hit my head on the foot of his bed. The world swam in front of me as I lay there on the floor. I stared out through the door into Elizaʼs room, where I saw her lying there, her head turned towards me. She had a smile on her face, and her eyes were open. In her black pupils I saw a deep abyss. It made me think of a word: foreverness.

Credit To – Colin’s Home for the Damned

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 8.7/10 (489 votes cast)
Try a free sample Personal Astrology Profile!