The Bellringer

July 4, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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The school bell in the old high school rung like it does every night at 12 but nobody knows who rings it. Nobody knows why either. Some say that the bells are rung to call all of the spirits to the school, but that might just be part of an urban legend. I don’t know why the bell rings, but I do know who or what it is that’s ringing it. But to be honest, I wish I didn’t know. I wish I was just like everybody else who is left to wonder every night at twelve, who is ringing that damn bell?

The school was shut down in 1992 after a series of mysterious deaths took place inside the school. Some people in the town believed that it was haunted by the spirits of the teens who were killed in the school back in 1972. Some say they heard whispers as they walked by and some say they’ve seen people staring at them through the windows. Nobody was ever brave enough to spend over an hour in the school. The longest anybody had ever spent was forty five minutes and that was during the daylight, but myself and my partner, Charlie had agreed to spend an entire night in the school for our webshow ‘Ghosts Seekers.’

We came all the way from Australia and arrived at the school at 11:30, just before midnight. We gathered all of our equipment. Flashlights, cameras and everything else we used for our ghosts seeking. We entered the building, kicking the pile of empty bottles and soda cans on the way. I was up for the challenge, but deep down inside, I was secretly afraid and I know that Charlie was as well. I wish we knew what we were getting into.

“Hello!” Charlie yelled, his voice echoing through the school. We had our cameras on record and our flashlights in our right hands as we walked through the halls of the abandoned school. Everything was calm for the first fifteen minutes until we heard the sound of a locker closing. The sound echoed throughout the building. Every sound pretty much had an echo to it. We decided to follow the sound down the hall where the old gym was. According to our research, eight students were killed in the gym and we thought that would be a good place to start.

When we entered the gym, we could immediately feel that something was in there, we didn’t need our EMF to be sure. The air was cold and the sound from our walkie-talkie’s were nothing but static. Something was interfering with the signal. We at least had some light from the moon that shined through the large windows so it wasn’t completely dark. As we were walking through the gym, the bell in the bell tower went off…it must have been midnight. I saw the bell tower through the gym windows and at the time, I thought maybe I was imagining things because I saw someone up there. It was a silhouette of what appeared to be a man. I shook it off and continued what I was doing.

Despite the obvious fact of a presence, we weren’t getting much activity in the gym. No whispers, no footsteps, nothing. It wasn’t until we were heading out that something happened. A basketball suddenly came rolling towards us from the back of the room, an area where the light wasn’t shining. It was an old dusty ball and I admit that it had me feeling really uneasy about the situation. I was a veteran at ghost hunting but I had never experienced something like that. It wasn’t much though, compared to what happened next.

We were walking through the halls of the second floor when I noticed something weird about one of the rooms. I looked through the rectangular glass and I noticed a tv was on. It was strange because there was no power in the school. As I continued looking, I was startled by a sudden darkness that covered my view. It was just completely dark, as if someone or something were blocking it off.

“Ay mate,” I said to Charlie. “There’s someone in there.”

“No way there is,” Charlie said before looking through the glass himself. We were both shocked and the reason for that was because we never actually saw a spirit before. All we ever saw were dark shadows in the footage we caught. But this wasn’t a shadow, this was something more sinister. According to our research, this was the room where the killer shot himself. He was dressed in all black. When I looked back inside the room, the TV was off and whoever was standing in front of the door, was gone. It was standing there for over a minute and I was honestly ready to make a run for the door but Charlie kept me from doing so. I wish he hadn’t.

We continued walking through the halls, by this time, we were hearing all kinds of noises echoing throughout the school. We heard footsteps, lockers opening and closing and we heard loud crash noises that sounded as if something was being thrown. It seemed like the more we stayed in there, the weirder things would get. Charlie thought that if we split up, we’d be able to get more footage faster. ‘The more footage we get, the less time we’ll spend in here’ he claimed. Though I agreed with him, I didn’t think it was worth it. Nonetheless, I found myself wandering the halls alone.

“See anything weird yet, mate?” Charlie asked through his walkie-talkie. Thankfully, I wasn’t hearing or seeing anything strange. I kept walking down the halls, my flashlight suddenly started flickering. The batteries were just put in there, there was no way it could have been dying, but it did and I found myself alone in the dark. Or maybe I wasn’t alone.

“My bloody flashlight died,” I said into my walkie. No reply. “Charlie? Are you there?”

Static. Nothing but static. I could hear someone trying to say something.

“He’s behind you,” whispers from the walkie. I turned around, but I didn’t see or hear anything. I stood there in the dark, amazed I had yet to piss my pants. A minute or two later, I heard a scream that echoed through the halls. It was Charlie. I didn’t know what to do. I screamed his name, I called to him over the walkie-talkie but got no answer. I froze in fear and I didn’t move until I heard a voice echoing through the halls. It sounded as if they were far away, like on the other side of the school.

“Steve! Where are you?”

“I’m over here!” I yell. “I can’t see shit, mate!” I start walking and then suddenly…I was grabbed and pulled into the corner. I was screaming, tried to fight him off until I realized, it was Charlie. “Don’t do that, mate!” I yelled. “I heard you calling me, why didn’t you answer back?”

He had a strange look on his face, I could see in his eyes how terrified he was. “That wasn’t me, mate.” He said. “I never called you.”

We decided that the fame, ratings or any of that stuff was no longer worth it. We replaced the batteries in our flashlights and walked back to the front entrance. We reached the entrance minutes later, but for some reason, the door was locked. We kicked it, punched it, rammed it with our shoulders, but it would not open. We were trapped and we realized there was probably no way out. Somebody or something didn’t want us to leave. So we decided to stay put. We had our backs against the door and we didn’t move. I was greatly regretting ever stepping foot in that damn school and I’m sure Charlie was as well.

I woke up about thirty minutes later, I must have dozed off. I looked around, Charlie wasn’t anywhere in sight. “Charlie!” I whispered into my walkie. “Where the bloody hell are you?” No answer. Just static. I stood up on my feet and I noticed someone at the end of the hall. They were just standing there, about fifty feet away. “Charlie? Is that you, mate?” I started to walk slowly toward whomever it was. I heard my pulse beating, echoing through the halls. My breath, swiftly moving in and out of my mouth. My footsteps, faintly touching the floor.

As I got closer, I realized it was not Charlie at all. I stood still but I could still hear my pulse beating, my breath still moving swiftly in and out. He was just…staring at me. He was probably staring at me the whole time I was asleep, the whole time I was slowly walking toward him. He was in some black janitor suit and his face was pale with multiple stitches all over. His eyes were dark, I saw the evil within. His head was tilted sideways as he continued to stare.

I didn’t understand what it was I was looking at. I’ve never seen a spirit so real before, but he wasn’t just a spirit…he was a demon.

“RUN!” Something from my walkie yelled and it most certainly wasn’t Charlie. I ran, I didn’t know where I was running to, I just ran and I didn’t look back. I ran into a classroom on the other side of the school and I locked the door, knowing that if whatever it was was a spirit, a locked door wouldn’t stop it but it made sense at the time. I stayed in there for about ten minutes, it was dark and I didn’t know rather or not someone else was in the room with me.

“Steve? Steve it’s me!” It was coming from my walkie.

“Where the bloody hell are you Charlie?”

“I don’t know…I…I woke up in some room.”

“What room? Where are you, mate?”

I could hear him weeping through the walkie. “Steve…I’m scared,” he cried. I started tearing up myself, I never heard him cry like that before. I’d known him since we were 14 and I’d never heard that.

“It’ll be okay Charlie, we’ll be okay,” I cried, hoping I was right. He was weeping uncontrollably. I knew that something was wrong.

“You don’t understand, mate.” He cried. “Look to the right corner of the room.” I lifted my flashlight, I didn’t understand what the hell was going on. I pointed to the corner and I literally froze in fear. I dropped the walkie to the floor. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t…he was dead. Charlie was dead. “I’m sorry, mate.” That was the last time I ever spoke to him.

I didn’t understand how he died, there was no blood, no cuts or anything. I guess he saw something…something that literally took his breath away. I didn’t even think about how I was talking to him over my walkie even though he was clearly dead. The only thing I thought about was that my best friend of twenty years was gone and I didn’t know what to do next. I thought about it and I realized it must have happened when we split up. His scream, I kept thinking about his scream.

I lay there with his body and I woke up hours later to the sun shining upon my face. I’d never been so happy to see the sun. I figured it was over. I pulled out my phone and I was finally able to call the police. They arrived, and I was finally free of that school and whatever haunts it. I drove away, never looking back. That school needs to be burned down and hopefully it can kill the demon that lives within it.

I can’t go anywhere anymore without feeling like I’m being watched. I was traumatized and I still am. I saw what can never be unseen and no matter how many hours of therapy I go through, I’ll never be the same person I was before. I wonder if anyone ever seen Charlie through the windows, or even heard his whispers as they walk by. If they had, I hope they weren’t scared because Charlie was a great guy. If you ever see him, tell him Steve said hi and that he misses him dearly.

I don’t think I will ever forget what happened in that school. I would never forget the sound of that bell and I would never forget the demonic face of the thing that rings it. I could see him now, standing up on that bell tower, waiting for midnight and waiting for…his next victim.

Credit To – Clyde Jacobs

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Dear in the Headlights

July 4, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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The last time we saw Eric, the group of us were hanging out in our usual restaurant, pissing off the staff as usual by being too rowdy and mostly drinking coffee. We did order big appetizers now and then, and we tipped well, so when they waitresses did give us grief, it was mostly good-natured. I think the group of us weirdos were their nightly entertainment, truth be told.

We didn’t all meet there every night, of course. Some nights nobody showed up and other times it was close to the whole group. This particular night I think there was a half dozen or so. There were perhaps a dozen of us total, depending on who you considered the core group and who you considered hangers on. Eric was in that grey area between the two, until that night.

From the moment he came in the door, we knew something was horribly wrong. He could barely stand, and he was white as a sheet. His hands were shaking visibly, and you could see white all the way around his eyes. We made room for him fast, and Juju ordered coffee for him twice; black, in case he was drunk, and decaf, in case he was pissed off.

He was pissed off. Scared, and pissed off.

He didn’t say anything at first; I am not sure he could even understand our questions. I got a real bad sinking feeling in my stomach and I squirmed away from the overstuffed booth. I went to the door to the parking lot and took a look at his truck. Sure enough, there was something smeared all over the front. But in the lighting there I couldn’t be sure if it was blood. Choking down bile, I took an old napkin out of my pocket and swept it along the stain. Whatever it was hadn’t dried quiet yet. It was reddish, but mostly clear and shot through with black. Oil? I went back to the booth to hear what he had to say.

He blinked, hard, like he was trying to wake himself from a bad dream, and took off his trucker’s hat -a rare enough occurrence that we knew it was bad- to comb his greasy fingers through his unkempt, straw-colored, dirty hair. Finally he spoke, furrowing his brow. His gaze became intense, angry. “She’s fucking with me.”

I saw one or two of the others kind of relax a bit. Girl trouble, they were thinking, was that all? But I just set my jaw and stared at him. After a moment, he saw my eyes over his coffee cup and grimaced; maybe at the horrible coffee, maybe at me. “Fucking with me.” he clarified.

“Ruby?” I asked. That was the name of the last girl he had gone out with. I think.

He blinked in confusion for a second. “Ruby? Aw hell naw. I might have wanted to run her over with my truck but I never…” he trailed off. I saw some of the gang glancing at each other around the table. They were catching on.

Cap adjusted his baseball cap. He put on a big smile and an exaggerated relaxed attitude, but he kept his voice low. “Funny you should say that, Rick. Kind of thought you might have hit a deer on the way here, the way you looked.” Nate glanced over at me right after he said that, but I held my gaze neutral. I could not be sure I’d seen blood on the front of his truck, and for that matter it didn’t look all dented up like it should have if he had grazed a deer. Besides, Eric was enough of a jerk that hitting deer didn’t faze him. Like most things, it just pissed him off.

Cap can handle himself in a fight, but the rest of us kind of braced. Juju looked at Eric all sympathetic, which was genuine, coming from her.

None of us expected Eric to start laughing. It kind of burst out of him, and we started to relax, thinking maybe this was some kind of ‘gotcha’. It was the kind of thing Eric would have pulled if he was a little smarter and a little less lazy. But the laughter went on too long, and it kinda started to sound like crying at the end there.

“Yeah, I hit a deer,” he said finally, as the laughter died out of him. “Dee Ee Ay Ar.” He let that sink in, while he drank his coffee.

Juju’s hand went to her mouth. She stared, silent, as the implications set in.

Cap’s expression grew dark, which was expected and bad. When he got serious, people got hurt. He was the main man to have on your side in a problem, but you didn’t ever want to be the problem. We weren’t sure just yet whether Eric was the problem, but the odds were not in his favor. Cap thought for a moment. “Is she in the truck?”

Eric shook his head, which Cap did not like.
“Is she lying on the road, Rick?”
A dark chuckle, and another head shake.
“Is she in the ground?”
Eric spoke this time. “Hell no.” He looked Nate right in the eye. “She’s up, walking around.”
Cap matched him glower for glower. “Is she hurt?”
Eric put down his cup and sat a moment, so we could all see the sincerity in his face. “No, she ain’t hurt, Nate. She ain’t hurt at all, because she’s dead.”

Now we all knew that what Eric was saying was impossible. But we also all knew he meant it. So that meant he had gone crazy.

We were all stunned into silence for a moment, and when the chatter started up, he held up a hand to halt it. He shrugged off his own anger – more like stored it away for a bit – and gestured for Eric to continue. We were his friends, after all, and we had all seen weird things. We had to make the effort to believe him.

“I blame Foghat.” He started with that, and a few of us chuckled and nodded. No one sane would ride with Eric at the best of times, but the song Slow Ride made him crazy behind the wheel. “I was taking the old valley highway into town specifically so I wouldn’t have to deal with idiots on the road. I guess I was a little loopy. It was a bad combination. There was no way anyone should have been on that road at that time of night, but there she was. A dear in my headlights.”

He gave each of us a sour look, and then continued. “You have to understand. It was not my fault. I was driving too fast, sure, and my reflexes were slow, sure. I admit that. But the thing is, she was too close to me too fast. Even on my best day, in broad daylight, at five miles under the speed limit, I still would have hit her. You have to understand that.”

We all nodded understanding we didn’t really feel.

Whether he swallowed our act or not was irrelevant. He continued; the pump had been primed. “I stood on the brakes, or as close to it as I could get without jackknifing the truck. I will never forget the way she looked. She had this funny expression on her face. Not fear, not exactly surprise. I saw it for a brief instant, and then her body bounced…” Unable to contain herself, Juju interrupted him with a quiet sob. Cap put his hand on her shoulder. I grimaced inwardly; whatever else happened, Eric was going to get a bust in the jaw for making her cry. But not here and now. Eric had the floor.

“I got out of the cab and ran back to the end of the truck. She… she was all broken and torn. Her eyes stared… I have EMT training, you know. So I checked. I checked for a pulse, you know. I wanted her to be alive so bad. If I had made a mistake, it would have been the other way. I would have thought she was alive when she wasn’t. But I didn’t make a mistake; I know that now.”

“My phone got no bars, which was no surprise. So I went back to the truck to get on the radio. Nothing but static, which was a surprise. It was weird. Even in the valley, I usually get reception on the radio. So what was I supposed to do? If I stayed where I was, I’d cause another accident, or someone would see her body on the road and swerve…”

“So I decided to put her in the truck. It wasn’t like I was going to make her any deader, you know? So I climbed back out of the cab, and looked to the back of the truck, and she was gone.”

“Now I know what you are thinking, because I was thinking it then, too. She was just stunned or something. She had gotten up and wandered off, maybe into the woods. I had to find her, or else she would just wander until she got eaten by a bear or something. I didn’t want her to suffer. So I set flares, went out into the woods with my lamp, and I must have wandered around yelling, “Hey! Girl!” for like an hour.

“I didn’t manage to do anything but spook myself. The woods were tall and black as pitch. Every snap of a twig was a bear or a wolf. My white breath puffing into the darkness was a reminder that I was alive, and that the girl was dead or dying. And the whole time, I was worried about some joyriding kids getting out onto that road and smacking into my truck or something.”

“I admit; by the time I got back to the truck, I was a wreck. I didn’t know what else to do, with no radio and no phone and no girl. I picked up my flares and started home. It was about a half hour later, when my nerves had just about started to calm down and my brain started to work, when I hit her again.”

We all glanced at each other. We could feel the crushing weight of guilt in his every word, so we could imagine what tricks his mind had played on that lonely road. In our glances, we conversed, with something like telepathy: should we stop him? Should we head out to the old road right now and look for the girl? In the end, we decided to let him talk.

“Just like before.” He was staring into his coffee like he could reheat it with his gaze. “Suddenly she was in front of me, too close for me to stop. My headlights washed over her, and this time I understood the expression on her face. It was glee.”

I couldn’t help shaking my head a little to myself. Rationalization. She had wanted to be hit, therefore it wasn’t his fault. I hoped to myself that therapy could fix denial this deep.

“The time after that, and the time after that, and each time, her face held more and more joy before it was mashed into oblivion. I started driving crazy slow, and finally traffic from behind caught up to me, a sea of traffic, honking, uncaring. I saw the exit to the diner, and here I am.”

Cap stood. He started pulling on his jacket.
Eric stood. He put a hand on Cap’s arm, but he pulled it back right quick when he saw the look Cap gave him. “You can’t go out there, man! You don’t understand what’s out there and neither do I!”

Cap simply said. “Sun’s up. We can find the body now. She’s got family somewhere. They deserve to know what happened.”

Eric ducked his head guiltily, then covered it with bravado. “I ain’t going out there again.”

“I don’t want you to. Stay here. Drink coffee. I will deal with this.”

Eric blinked, gratitude spread across his features, quickly followed by stubborn pride and …concern? I saw him try to think hard (also rare) and then he started laughing again. The sound was high, strained and completely fake. “I got you. Heh, I got you all. You should have seen the looks on your stupid faces. Hee hoo. Well, I’m going to be telling this one for a while. See you all later.” He squared his shoulders when Cap stepped into his path.

Eric looked away when Cap talked. “I am going up there anyway.”
Eric looked back at Cap. His eyes looked moist. “Not if I can stop you.” The two men squared shoulders at each other, and the thought occurred to me to clear furniture out of the way. It was at that moment that a couple of thankfully oblivious cops entered. Eric seized his chance and walked right out past them, almost brushing shoulders with them, and earning a suspicious glance. Cap, who had a long and unhappy history with cops, turned away. A moment later, Eric’s truck roared out of the parking lot, and I never saw him alive again.

Sourly, Cap came back to the booth and sat. “We should go out there”, “we should find that girl, say we happened upon whatever stain in the road there is where she got hit; followed it back to wherever her body is. It’s just the responsible thing to do.”

I nodded. “But we should hold up until those cops leave,” I said. “If the timetable on our story matches up with them being here, it could look bad.” Cap furrowed his brow, frustrated with having to wait, but he nodded.

For nearly an hour, we prodded our cold food and drank the bad coffee. The cops finally left; our communities’ finest were on the job again.

We settled the bill, and I stopped myself just before accidentally wiping my mouth on the sample of …whatever that I had taken from Eric’s truck. Whatever was on it was jet black now, with the barest hints of red. It was thicker now, congealed into something like syrup. It smelled strange; pungent but not completely unpleasant. It made me think of maggots. My stomach roiling, I discarded it in the nearest wastebasket.

It was at that moment that the little girl entered the restaurant. The waitstaff stopped and stared, stunned, as did we. She looked like seven kinds of Hell, and she was grinning as if she’d just been told to get ready to go to Disneyland. The only sound was static from the radio behind the counter.

Her feet were bare and covered, no caked, in mud. She carried a scuffed and torn pair of Mary Janes in one hand. Her clothes were nothing but rags, pasted to her form with a combination of mud and some darker substance. Maybe they had been a nice blue dress once; it was impossible to tell. You could even make out a pattern something like tire treads in places.

More disturbing to us who had heard Eric’s story was the fact that the girl, despite the condition of her clothes, looked perfectly fine. Every tooth was in place in her little head. Her hair was matted and streaked with mud, tangled with leaves, but it was all there. She didn’t have a bruise or scrape anywhere you could see. It was almost enough to make one think she was indeed part of some elaborate prank, if you hadn’t seen Eric’s eyes.

Her eyes were also strange. At first they looked like the perfect blue eyes you would expect on a little girl in a tv commercial, but after a moment you caught it. They did not track naturally; almost as if she were navigating by hearing alone, or some stranger sense. And she didn’t blink nearly often enough.

She pranced right up to the counter in front of us as if she was in her Sunday best; maybe she was. “Excuse me, miss,” she said cheerily. “Have you seen a truck driver come in here in the last hour or so?” The counter girl shook her head no, unsteadily. The statement was technically true. “How disappointing,” she said, flouncing a little in exaggerated frustration. “I really had been hoping to find my playmate. We were having so much fun.” I realized, as utter cold crept up my spine, that we weren’t looking at a little girl. We were looking at something that was pretending to be a little girl; something that had learned its mannerisms by rote, or which was recalling them from a distant memory.

Suddenly she cocked her head to one side, and made a beeline right for us. We parted like the Red Sea before Moses, and she proceeded to the wastebasket where I had discarded the sample. She plucked the napkin from it’s place and regarded it for a moment, not quite sniffing it, but with a similar cant to her shoulders. “He’s been here,” she said. “You can’t wipe me away that easily.”

With that she proceeded out the set of doors that Eric had used to reach the parking lot. She twirled in place a few times, and then headed off, skipping.

We all looked at each other. I think we all collectively decided, with something like telepathy, to act as if Eric had indeed pranked us with some elaborate joke. Juju tried to get him on the phone, but all of a sudden she couldn’t get any bars. We sat back down at the booth and tried over and over again. Eventually we got cell phone reception back, but calls to him went straight to voice mail.

We never did get up to the valley highway that day. I guess we figured there was nothing there for us to find.

Credit To – Kitsune9tails

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It’s All in Your Head

July 2, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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Everybody’s been looking for her.

Haley, my fiancée has been missing for over three weeks now, and I’m beginning to think the absolute worst has happened to her. I try not to let my mind drift to those kinds of rash thoughts, but sometimes I just can’t help myself. I catch myself thinking of just how close we were. We were one step away from our happily ever after, until it was abruptly interrupted by what happened. It’s kind of a blur, and I don’t even know where to begin with such a mess. It all just happened so quickly. In the blink of an eye, my whole life changed. It was like everything was spinning so fast that I couldn’t keep up with it, and when the world finally came to a screeching halt, inertia got the best of me, and gravity helped to pull me down. Before I could get back up to save whatever I could from falling over as well, I was surrounded by broken pieces and debris. I would scrape the bottoms of my feet as I would try to step around all the shattered glass, but somehow I’d always feel a piece of something shred the outer layer of my skin, and when I would try to remove it, I’d pierce my finger on the sharp object, and watch as the droplets of blood develop on the tip of my finger. There was too much to clean up; it was better to just sit in the middle, instead of trying to mend a broken piece of glass, because sometimes that’s how you wind up hurting yourself even more. How much more could I do to fix what was already broken? I would focus on mending my own wounds first, so that I wouldn’t hurt myself even more, but what about everything else? My world came crashing down the day she went missing, and besides not knowing how to help myself, the worst part was that I found myself bleeding all over for her again.

Exactly three weeks and four days have passed since I saw her last. The day before Haley disappeared, she was acting a little strange, to say the least. I found her sitting in the living room early that morning on the rug just staring at the wall.

“Haley?” I called out to her softly as I shuffled my bedroom slippers across the floor, “are you okay, baby?”

She didn’t reply. She just continued staring straight ahead, as though she was looking at another human being.

“Haley?” I said again as I plopped myself next to her, “what are you doing?”

She turned to me. “Go away,” she hissed, “they’re going to hear you.”

“What? Who’s going to hear me?” I asked in confused tone, “honey, there’s nobody there.”

“You don’t see them,” she whispered, “because you can’t hear them. Don’t worry. They can see you though. They’re talking about you right now.”

“Okay, well, that’s nice. How long have you been down here? Have you even been to sleep? I thought I heard you get up after I turned off the lights. Come on, come up to bed. I’ll go to sleep with you.”

“NO!” She jumped up and screamed, “THEY TOLD ME I CAN’T SLEEP. THEY TOLD ME IF I DID, THEN SOMETHING WOULD HAPPEN TO YOU. I HAVE TO STAY AWAKE TO PROTECT YOU.”

“Okay, who even is ‘they’? What are you talking about? Who do you think is talking to you? Don’t say things like that, you’re scaring me. You’re acting really weird. Nobody is going to hurt me. I’m fine, see? Come on, love. Come up to bed with me,” I coaxed her as I pulled her up off the floor. “You’re just a little tired. You’ll feel better after you get some rest.” I began to pull her towards the stairs.

“You’ll wake me up if something hurts you?”

“You’ll be close enough to hear me scream,” I joked with a laugh.

She frowned at me. “That’s not funny.”

“I’m sorry,” I said solemnly, “come on. Let’s just go to sleep.”

A couple of hours later, I suppose, I woke up to her wide eyed, and craning over me.

“AH- What the- Haley! What are you doing?” I asked as I sat up, “you nearly gave me a heart attack.

“I just wanted to make sure that you were still breathing,” she said as she laid a hand on my chest, and used the other to stroke my cheek.

“Why wouldn’t I be? I’m fine. Can you relax a little bit though? You’ve been acting kind of strange, and I don’t know what’s going on. What is all of this, Haley? Please explain it to me.”

“There’s no need,” she said with a smile, “because you’re safe.”

“Haley, if you’re just nervous because of the wedding, I totally get it, but this is just way out of left field here, and I don’t know where this is coming from, and frankly, you’re really kind of freaking me out.”

“It’s not the wedding, it’s them. I don’t think they want us to get married.”

I stiffened up and looked at her. “Okay. You need to tell me exactly who you think is talking to you, what they’re saying, and when they started talking to you.”

“None of that is important,” she rushed to assure me as she embraced me in a hug before swiftly leaving the room.

I didn’t want to upset her even more, or cause her to think about whatever “they” are, so I just decided to let it be. She seemed to be acting like her usual self for the rest of the day. It was about 5:30 p.m. when things started to get a little weird again.

“Haley!” I called up the stairs to her, “come down here.”

When there was no reply, I tried again, “Haley! Can you hear me?”

I couldn’t ignore the anxious feeling that suddenly resided in my stomach as I climbed up the stairs to see where she was. I walked slowly into our bedroom where I found her staring into the mirror on our dresser.

“Hey,” I said to her as I neared closer to her, “you okay? Didn’t you hear me calling for you downstairs?”

She didn’t say a word to me. She just kept staring. She leaned over, picked up her brush on the dresser, and began brushing her hair slowly, and began singing to herself.

“Haley. Stop. You’re starting to get on my nerves with this. If you’re not going to be honest with me, then don’t do this,” I said irritated as I ripped the brush out of her hand.

“I started hearing them years ago,” she whispered, not even making eye contact with me, “only now, they’re getting louder and louder. I can’t ignore them. They’re telling me to leave.”

“Honey,” I said as I sat down next to her, “why didn’t you tell you were hearing somebody talk to you before?”

“Because you can’t stop them,” she replied, “because you’d think I’m crazy.”

“Hey,” I said as I wrapped my arms around her, “don’t talk like that. There’s nothing you could say or do that could make me think that you’re crazy. You’re just you, and if you hear bad voices in your head, then we’re going to try our best to stop them from talking to you, okay?”

“Because they’re not in my head!” She screeched at me as she jumped up, “how do you know what’s in my head? They’re here. I hear them, and that’s all that counts. You and the rest of the world are just deaf to things you don’t understand! Just because YOU can’t see, or hear, or smell, or taste, or touch something, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist to anybody else!”

“Okay, Haley, let’s just take a few deep breaths, and-”

“Oh, no,” she said in between desperate gasps of air, “they’re telling me if I don’t leave you, they’re going to hurt you.”

“Nobody’s going to hurt me, baby. I promise. You’re okay, and I’m okay.”

“I’M NOT OKAY! NOW THEY’RE HURTING ME!” She hollered as she fell to the floor.

Suddenly sections of her flesh were spontaneously ripped open, like the buttons of a tight shirt popping loose. Her arms became all torn up, and revealed fresh, open wounds, as the skin that had been shed flapped around the sides of her arms like a white flag waving to surrender. Bruises suddenly appeared as well. The mixture of purple, red, black, and blue dots began miraculously spotting all the visible parts of her body. Her eyes went black, and her skin grew an eerie shade of white that was paler than my own. Her legs had gashing, gaping wounds with droplets of dainty blood running down them, as I could see her tendons appear. Her arms had been so damaged that I could swear I saw bits of her bones. My eyes dilated in disbelief at the sight that was occurring before my very eyes. It was as though I was watching her disintegrate before me.

“HELP ME!” She screamed in mortification as her voice broke off, “HEL-” she couldn’t quite get the entire phrase out again. Her tongue had twisted itself, as she screamed at the top of her lungs.

“HALEY!” I gasped as I dropped to my knees in front of her. Her forehead began dripping blood like a faucet that had sprung a leak through a small hole. My hands shook as I tried to touch her, but I couldn’t feel her. I forced my body forward to try to touch her again, but my hand went right through the woman that was in agony in front of me. She let out one final, eardrum-piercing screech in a voice that was not her own, before falling in defeat before me.

“I told you,” she breathed in a demonic, hoarse tone, “I warned you,” she said as she let her head fall to the ground and the carpet sop up more of the blood.

“HALEY?” I screamed as I picked up her body and shook her, “HALEY!” She wasn’t responding. “NO. PLEASE. DON’T DO THIS TO ME! NO!” I pulled her into my arms and sobbed into her hair. I knew she was gone. Her body, a hollow shell, was alien to me. Her lips that were once small and plump with pink had faded into a deep purple. Her skin was a bluish, grayish, white color. Her wounds still had blood pouring out of them, and that was the only part of her that still seemed to be alive. My hands, chest, and some parts of my face became smeared in blood as I held her and cried tears of glass that were so sharp and stung my eyes as they shattered down my cheeks. I had no explanation, and no reason why, all I was left with was a million of endless questions, and the corpse of the love of my life who might’ve been a stranger to me all along.

I gathered myself together, put her body back on the ground, and picked myself up to go downstairs and call the police. As I slowly dragged myself down the hallway to the stairs, my body had never felt heavier. My whole body felt foreign to me, and as simple a task as moving one’s feet is, my legs were as heavy as barbells, and were holding me down; they were so hard to move. My lungs felt like they were shrinking, and it was getting harder and harder to breathe. My arms were limp and hung down my sides. I made it down the stairs in one piece, and fell in despair into the counter tops in the kitchen. I let the tears ignite the sharp sparks in my eyes once again.

“Don’t you dare call anybody,” I heard an eerie tone whisper to me.

“W-what? W-w-who’s there?” I stammered.

“If you touch that phone,” another voice called out, “it’ll be the last thing you do.”

“W-who are you? W-where are you?” The syllables of the words shook almost as much as the rest of my body was as they rolled off my tongue.

“Be very careful with what you do next,” a third voice murmured, “because Haley’s grave has room for two.”

“WHOEVER YOU ARE,” I warned the voices I heard, “YOU BETTER SHOW YOURSELVES RIGHT NOW, OR I SWEAR I’LL CALL THE POLICE, AND YOU CAN DEAL WITH THEIR QUESTIONS INSTEAD OF MINE.”

“Oh, darling,” yet another voice said, “don’t kid yourself. If you call somebody, you’re next. We’ll gut you where it hurts the most.”

“DO YOUR WORST TO ME,” I dared them, “GO ON. DO IT. TEAR ME TO PIECES, RIP MY FLESH CLEAN OFF MY BODY,” I gasped and gasped for air as I felt myself begin to quiver. “YOU CAN’T HURT ME ANY MORE THAN I ALREADY AM. SO GO AHEAD. DO AS YOU PLEASE.”

The voices stopped. I waited for my body to begin to bust at the seams and bleed to death, or for one of my legs to be ripped off, or just about anything to cause me physical pain.
I wouldn’t mind being ripped or shredded; at least it’d be enough to take my mind off of the emotional damage I was taking on. After a few minutes of just standing there waiting for something to happen, I realized that nothing was probably going to happen. Maybe in the moment as I was amped on adrenaline, I was just hearing things in the back of my mind. I picked up the phone and dialed for the police to come investigate, and take Haley’s body.

As soon as I saw the red and blue flashing lights pull up to my house, pulled myself up off the couch and unlocked the door and let them in. As the police and the coroner made their way into my house with a stretcher, they stopped and asked me what happened. I explained as best as I could that something paranormal had happened, but wasn’t sure how. I explained to them the mysterious injuries, blood, and her body. I didn’t dare mention the voices. I led them up the stairs and into our bedroom. I turned on the light, and for the second time that day, a wave of shock coursed through my body, as though I had just been electrocuted; the mess, the blood, and she had vanished.

I hadn’t seen, nor heard from her since that day. I was confused, my mind was inundated with questions since the last time I saw her. The authorities thought I was losing my mind a little bit, since there were no remains for them to scrape up, but they still allowed me to fill out a missing person’s report. They told me she was alive if she could get up and walk away, but I wasn’t so sure it was her own two legs she was walking on. I was beginning to believe her about the voices, and that they were real, and now that she’s gone, I’m beginning to notice them for myself. I haven’t heard any voices talk to me since that night, though, except maybe for Haley’s ringing in my ear telling me that she told me so. I have a hard time functioning without her. It’s hard to eat without her sitting across with me, because now I have conversations with an empty chair. It’s hard to sleep without her, because I still reach for her every night. It’s hard to even think without her, because every last thought I have somehow brings me back to her. My body ached with agony twenty four hours a day. I just wanted to know where my Haley was.

Three weeks and six days into Haley being gone, I received a phone call from the police department saying that they had found her, and that I needed to come right away. I was flooded with joy and relief as I got behind the wheel of my car and pulled out of the driveway. Ten minutes later, I parked in the lot of the police department, and hurried in to see Haley. I couldn’t wait to be in her arms again. My jubilance was interrupted by the two officers who’d been at my house the night Haley went missing, with matching grave, sorrowful expressions.

I had pictured her in white.
Her dark, choppy, hair infused with the colors and mysteries of the night would be flowing down her bare shoulders. Her cheeks would match the shade of a dusty rose, and would stand for everything her middle name bore. Graceful, elegant, beautiful, and unique; a rose. I imagined her dress being as beautiful as it was when I first saw her in it, and not the way I last saw it. Plastered. Absolutely covered in blood. The stains had faded into a dark rust, to match my misery, and wallowed away with the rest of my being. Her dress, her beautiful dress, had been torn all up the side, and the layers were ripped apart, they drifted out at different lengths, and became uneven and sloppy. Her dress went from an innocent white, to a heartsick ecru lined with evidence woven into the once flawless seams of the fabric.
I expected to see Haley coming down the aisle on our wedding day.
I just didn’t expect her to be in a casket.

***********************************************

I spent weeks in nothing but distress. I was hollow from the inside out, except for my heart, which constantly fell as harshly as an anchor tossed overboard piercing the still ocean. I couldn’t sleep. I would roll over onto her side of the bed, and even wear her favorite shirt. When I’d get up, I’d catch glimpses of myself in the mirror, and I knew that the person I once was died alongside my love. She had been cremated since the service we had for her. She was sitting in a little urn on our dresser now. The fact that she had been reduced to nothing more than a pile of ash just broke my heart. Those were the same arms that embraced me every morning, and the same eyes that mirrored the way I look at her, in utter disbelief that this perfect human being loved me back. Never again would I see her smile or laugh. I would never get to feel her arms wrap around my back and hold me tightly. My eyes were constantly red, puffy, and swollen from all the crying and grieving I’d been doing. My nose was bright red and stuffy. My throat harbored a grueling tension, as though an entire ball of yarn had been wrapped on the inside and outside of it tightly. As I was getting ready for bed that night, I ran my hands over the smooth varnish of the chestnut wood, as I usually did.

“Goodnight, my love,” I whispered to her.

I fell into bed, and wrapped the covers around me. As I began to drift off, I heard a tapping sound at the window. Figuring it was nothing more than one of my now frequent hallucinations, I ignored it and fell asleep.

I was awoken to somebody’s hand run softly across my face. As I opened my eyes, and turned on the lamp that was sitting on my nightstand, I jumped up to a sitting position.

“Haley!” I yelled in complete mortification, “is that you?”

She smiled at me. “Who else but, lovey?”

I jerked my head to the side to look at the urn on my dresser. It was gone. My eyes filled with tears as I smiled and tried to jump out of the blankets and into her arms, but I couldn’t move.

“Haley,” I said, “where have you been? You’re supposed to be dead. We had your funeral and everything. Why can’t I move? Can you please just pick me up or something? I just want you close to me right now.”

“And you’ll be getting even closer to me than you were before,” she said with an eerie grin.

That’s when I noticed. Her smile had gone black, her eyes were red, electrified, and starving for demolition. Her voice wasn’t as sweet as I remembered it to be.
“You’ve been in pain,” she said as she got off the foot of the bed and moved closer to me, “I wouldn’t want you to be in pain. I don’t want you to suffer. Why don’t you come with me to a place where you’ll never feel misery again?”

“What..? No. Don’t try and play mind games with me. You’re not answering my questions,” I said, “what happened to you? You’re supposed to be dead.”

“Well, here I am,” she said, “now enough with the funny business, let’s go. I love you,” she moved closer to me, “let me take you by the hand and isolate you in a painless eternity.”

“But I am safe. I won’t suffer anymore because you’re here. I thought I lost you, and you know what? You’re not being very compassionate. You’d think that you’d be a little more enthusiastic about seeing me again: your fiancée, remember?”

“Oh, how could I forget,” she stated as she pulled a silver knife from the sleeve of her jacket, “you wanted to be with me forever, and now you will be. I just want to make you happy. You’re going to be okay. You’re making an eternal promise to me right now,” she said, “so that our love doesn’t die with you.

“What do you mean?” I shrieked as my voice climbed up an octave.

“Don’t you love me?”

“Yes, but-”

“Then ’til death do us ‘part,” she said as she slid the knife closer to my chest, “I don’t want to lose you.”

“You won’t lose me!” I yelled, “what are you talking about?”

She leaned in closer to me. “The voices in my head,” she whispered to me as her eyes caught fire, “are of those belonging to the dead.”

“Haley, I-”

Credit To – GreyC333

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The old woman’s words

June 27, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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1.

‘Nobody likes you. Nobody ever has and nobody ever will.’

‘Not true…’

‘Yes it is. Why would you think otherwise? What’s there to like about you?’

‘What do you know about me? Can’t you just leave me alone?’

‘People just pretend to like you, but everyone hates you.’

I’m sitting in the back of the bus, there are no passengers but me and her. Her words are poison. I see her every day. And every day she tries to break me down with her words.

‘You don’t know me,’ I tell her.

‘Oh but I do. I know everything about you. Even the small things. For instance I know that you take off your shoes every time after you enter your house. Oh yes…’

I look at the old woman. I feel very disturbed by what she just said to me. Is she following me? She doesn’t take her eyes off me.

‘Keep following me around and I’ll call the police.’

She doesn’t respond and keeps staring at me. A grin appears on her face.

‘Just leave me alone.’ I say as I get out of my seat to get off the bus. It’s not my stop yet, but I don’t want to stay on the bus with this woman. Her presence feels very familiar, but creeps me out regardless. I walk towards the door as the bus starts to slow down.

‘This isn’t your stop yet. Where are you going? It’s not like you have any friends or family to go to. Nobody wants to see you.’

I don’t reply to her. I just want to get off the bus as soon as possible. The bus stops and the doors open. I don’t greet the driver and get out. I start walking and the bus drives on. The streets and pavements are empty. As the bus passes me, I look at the window and see the old woman still staring at me. I can see her lips moving and I can make out some of her words.

‘I’ll be watching you,’ is what she says.

I don’t understand why the woman is doing this to me. I don’t know her, but for some reason she knows me. I get lost in my thoughts as I walk home. It’s supposed to be a 20 minute walk, but in a blink of the eye I arrive. I snap out of my thoughts and realize that I’m in front of my house. I look around a few times to see if the woman is somewhere, hiding in the bushes or behind a car. But there’s nobody around.

The streets still are completely empty. I take off my shoes, open the door and go in, closing the door behind me. I lean against the door and close my eyes. I shouldn’t let her words get to me. But her everyday demeanor is messing with my mind. As I stand there, I don’t notice that someone has been ringing the doorbell for minutes now.

2.

That’s not a doorbell. The door of my room blazes open and a wall of light blasts through the opening, almost blinding me. There’s a person standing in the doorway.

‘Good morning dear, time to wake up! I’ll be waiting for you downstairs.’

‘Yeah, thanks. I’ll get up.’

‘Breakfast is ready,’ my wife says as she walks off.

Close the goddamn door then. I turn off the alarm clock and get up. I feel bad. Every morning I feel bad. These dreams are getting to me, they’re breaking my spirit. They started about 2 months ago and I haven’t been able to live normally since. At first they didn’t bother me, dreams happen. But every night the same kind of dreams? Every night, seeing the same old woman, hearing insults over and over… it gets to me. Then on top of that, I’ve been feeling that I’m not appreciated by anyone. Not even by my own wife. I haven’t had energy for a long time.

I go downstairs after having showered and getting dressed to find my wife sitting at the breakfast table. She looks at me as I sit down and start eating.

‘How you feeling today Jeff?’ Joanna asks as she looks up from the newspaper.

‘I’m fine,’ I respond to her.

‘Yeah? Did you sleep okay? You look pretty tired.’

‘I said I’m fine, really.’

She keeps looking at me. It bothers me.

‘What? Why are you looking at me like that?’

She takes off her reading glasses and puts them down on the table.

‘Alright dear, it’s just that I’ve heard you talk in your sleep for a while now. I worry about you. I mean, I don’t want to be annoying or anything but I find the things you say in your sleep… a bit disturbing.’

I look at her and ask: ‘What am I saying then?’

‘Well… I wrote down a few things,’ she says as she takes a piece of paper out of her pocket and unfolds it.

‘You might want to read them for yourself.’

‘I don’t want to read them for myself. Just tell me what I’m supposedly saying in my sleep.’

She puts on her reading glasses again and starts reading with a frown.

‘Okay. You are saying that you are totally fucking useless. You tell yourself that everybody hates you, that you’re better off not existing. You hate yourself. Then you also say that nobody will ever love you. Everybody is useless except…’

I cut her off during that last sentence and grab the note from her hand, I crumple it up and put it in my pocket. ‘You’re making this up! Why would you say these things to me?’

‘I’m not making this up, sweetie. I love you and I worry about you.’

‘Yeah right,’ I say as I get up from the table, ‘stuff like this really shows how much you love me. I’m off to work.’

I grab my coat and leave the house. It’s pouring outside. I walk towards the bus stop with my head down, my hands in my pocket, able to feel the crumpled note in my pocket. Did I really say all that?
I stand underneath the small shelter at the bus stop, looking at the drops of rain that fall on the pavement. My head aches. Normally I wouldn’t take the bus, but my brother borrowed our car to go on vacation. He left a few weeks ago. It hasn’t been that bad to go to work using public transportation though, it’s just that I don’t feel comfortable being in the same bus that appears in my dreams. I live in constant fear, irrational as it may be, that this old woman will appear in the seat behind me or next to me.

As the bus arrives, I look through the windows to see if she’s there. But to my great relief, she’s not. I get in and prepare myself for a mentally exhausting day.

3.

Cubicles. A lot of people fear ending up in one, the hopes and dreams that they had as a kid lost and soon forgotten for they will spend an eternity working in that cubicle. I for one don’t mind working in one. It gives me the rest that I need, it makes it possible for me not having to interact with colleagues.

As I sit in my workspace I stare at my screen. My mind drifts off to my dreams and the way I’ve been feeling the past weeks. I woke up one morning with an ache in my neck and a headache stronger than I had ever felt before. I had a nightmare that night. I can’t remember much from the dream, except that I was in a room and I couldn’t move. I wasn’t alone, there were people around me. But of course I can’t remember the details of the dream. It’s normal to forget what a dream is about.

Every night the same type of dreams however, 5 or 6 every night, will help to remember what they were about. And that for 8 weeks. More than 250 dreams where my self-esteem is broken into pieces have made me question my own qualities and the value of my existence. And after each restless night I have to start the same routine where my colleagues don’t appreciate my work, people on the street ignore my existence and then I come home to a wife who says to love me still, while deep down inside I know that she’s just pretending.

For hours I had been sitting at my desk, overthinking things. I went out during lunch time to take a walk, hoping that the fresh air would do me some good. But who the hell was I kidding. It was raining.

The same anxiety from this morning takes over while waiting for the bus to take me home. But once again, the woman isn’t there. I haven’t spoken to many people at work and I feel tired as usual. As I return home and enter the house, I greet my wife who is sitting at the dinner table.

‘Your brother called. He said he’ll bring back the car tonight after 9,’ she says.

‘Okay, thanks. By the way, I’m not very hungry. I just want to get some rest.’

‘Are you alright though? You know I didn’t want to bother you this morning with that note. I just want to take care of you.’

‘I’m alright,’ I lie to her. I go straight upstairs to our bedroom. I close the curtains quickly, making them shift back and forth for a little while. I lay down on the bed situated in front of the window. With a restless mind troubling me, it takes hours to fall asleep.

4.

‘I told you that everyone hated you. Did you see the way everybody was looking at you at work? How nobody wanted to talk to you? How everyone tried to avoid you?’

‘It’s not true.’

‘Do you believe that? You really are stupid. By the way… who were you looking for yesterday at your front door?’

‘What? I wasn’t looking for anyone.’

‘Oh but you were though, I saw you. I was there.’

I’m in the city park, although I don’t remember how I ended up here. The old woman is here as well. I’m not entirely sure where she came from. She just appeared. I look at her while she’s talking to me.

The woman has very few facial expression. I always assumed that she was old, judging by her grey hair, however she doesn’t have that many wrinkles. I think it’s her creaky voice that creates the impression of an old woman. Her eyes are empty, there’s no life in them at all. When she talks, only her mouth moves, it seems like the rest of her face is glued stuck.

‘Is there a reason why you are stalking me?’ I hesitantly ask her.

‘I have my reasons. I just have to do it,’ she replies.

I get off the bench I had been sitting on and walk away. I look over my shoulder to see if she is following me, but she isn’t. She just stands there with her head tilted.

‘Going somewhere?’ I hear her ask from behind me as I walk in the other direction. I stop and turn around to look at her, but… nothing. She’s gone.

I turn back to keep walking. My heart skips a beat when I turn and I look straight into the woman’s dark, cold, wide opened eyes. She grabs me firmly by both arms and starts talking.

‘I’ll find you again, you know. You’ll never get rid of me. I’ll break you in a million useless pieces and I’ll make sure that you’ll never be whole again.’

She lets go of my arms and throws me hard on the ground. I knock my head on the solid rock pathway and I slowly lose consciousness.

5.

I wake up on the floor of my room. Unclear as to how I managed to roll this far out of bed, I sit up. Another nightmare. I look at the alarm clock on my nightstand and see that it’s not even past 11 PM. As I glance past the clock on the nightstand, I notice that my wife isn’t in bed yet.

Sigh… I stand up and go to the bathroom to get some water. Even though it’s still early night, I don’t want to go to sleep again. As I splash some water in my face and look at my pale face in the mirror, I can hear some voices downstairs. My wife is still up and talking to someone. I listen to the voices, but I can only pick up some of the things they’re saying.

‘I’m worried about him still. I think he’s even hallucinating sometimes.’

‘It’s not your fault.’

‘But it is though, he’s my husband…’

‘I know he is. And he’s my brother… I also remember how he was before and… he changed.’

‘You think I should do something?’

‘You can’t control the man’s dreams…’

‘…but he changed so much. And I never expected him to turn out like this.’

‘We just have to accept him for who he is now. Unless you want to involve some doctors in this.’

‘Shouldn’t I intervene myself? It’s getting worse every day. And I told you about all those things I wrote down. All I wanted in life was a husband who would love me more than anything.’

I’m not sure what I just heard. The way my wife and brother are talking about me. Over the weeks I’ve been getting more and more convinced that the old woman from my dreams might be right.
I smack myself in the face. Stop it! It’s crazy to think that way, because damn… a dream is just a fucking dream. But everyone around me is either disappointed in me, or thinks I’m worthless. Everywhere, at work, at home. Even on the streets people look away as I pass.

Confused, I walk back to my room, closing the door behind me. There’s a small glimmer of light shining through the curtains which I hadn’t closed properly before. I know where the light is coming from. Our room is situated above the toolshed that I built years ago. I installed a backyard light system as well which turns on as soon as it gets dark outside. I suppose I should get some rest anyway. I walk towards my bed and the curtains and grab them.

Just before shutting them, I notice a bit of movement in the light outside. I take a closer look to see what’s moving in the distance. Is it the garden gate that’s open? No, it can’t be. It’s always locked.
It takes me short while to realize that I’m not staring in the distance… I notice that I’m looking right at a pale face, just centimeters away from me. I stumble backwards and lose my balance as I recognize the face of the woman standing in front of the window.

‘Did you hear the way they were talking about you? I told you that everybody hated you. Do you believe me now? Do you finally get it?’

Her voice sounds muffled through the window, but the fear she normally gives me only got worse.

‘You can’t be here. I’m not asleep, I’m awake… I’m awake…’ I say as I slap myself in the face, trying to convince myself of my own words.

‘Yes, indeed you are,’ she says to me, ‘and so am I.’

I get off the ground and sprint towards my door. I pull the door handle, but the door doesn’t open. I bash on the door, shouting to my wife and brother.

‘They can’t hear you,’ she says with a voice suddenly as clear as crystal.

I turn around and notice that the woman is now in my room. Her black clothing makes her posture very hard to see as the only light that’s shining into the room is the glimmer from the backyard lighting. Her face however, is clearly visible, almost illuminating. I see her gliding towards me, barely moving any limbs to get herself forward. She moves very slowly and keeps speaking to me with only her mouth moving.

‘They will not help you. You don’t live up to anyone’s expectations. You’re a burden to them and to everyone around you. You’d be better off killing yourself. Or I could do it for you.’

‘No! Get away from me!’ I shout to her as she is almost face to face with me.

Suddenly she jolts forward and grabs me by the neck, choke holding me. I try to release myself from her grip, but she’s unnaturally strong. I can’t breathe anymore…

‘Why?…’ I whimper out with my last breath.

‘I’m doing the world a favor. You’re totally fucking useless, remember?’

6.

‘Jeff?!’

‘Get him up from the ground! Put him on the bed!’

Their voices echo through my head as I slowly regain my vision.

‘Joanna? Clarence?’ I whisper.

‘Yes dear, it’s us. What happened to you? You were shouting so we ran upstairs and we found you laying on the floor…’

I look at the faces of my wife and brother.

‘Jeff? What happened?’ my wife asks again.

‘It was her… she tried to choke me. The woman from my dreams…’ I tell her.

Joanna looks at my brother. He nods to her.

‘We’re going to get you some help, get you to a doctor,’ she says.

‘I don’t need a doctor. I’m not crazy! I need a… a… a gun, a weapon or something, so I can get rid of the creep! It’s her who did this to me! We need the police or… you know. Someone.’

‘Jeff, we know what’s best for you. We’re going to get you fixed up okay? Get you safe again.’

‘But she’ll find me!’

‘No she won’t, I will make sure of that, I promise,’ my wife says. ‘Now, get up and get dressed so we can go to the doctor. The doctor can help.’

I hesitantly get up, get dressed and follow them downstairs.

‘You’ll be driving, Clarence?’

‘Yeah, I will.’

The three of us get in the car and drive off. I sit in the back of the car, my arms folded. I’m looking around nervously, trying to ignore the burning feeling of discomfort that’s rushing through my head. She’s going to get me before we arrive at the doctor. I know it.

‘Jeff, it’s going to be a long drive, so take some rest. That’ll keep your mind off things,’ my wife says, trying to get me back in my comfort zone.

‘I don’t feel like taking some rest,’ I reply to her while I unfold my arms. I stick my hands in my pocket and feel something. Oh right… that stupid note. I take it out of my pocket, unfold it and read through it. I didn’t even think about it reading it for myself before.

7.

————————————————————————————

Dream talk:
I’m fucking useless.
I’m totally fucking useless.
Why am I even alive?
I don’t care about them.
Everybody hates me.
Nobody will ever love me.
Everybody is useless except my wife.
I deserve it all.
It’s better this way.
People only pretend to like me, but they hate me.
I don’t blame them.
I’m better off dead.

————————————————————————————

Reading the note gives me some very disturbed feelings. The things I read in the artsy handwriting of my wife match up with the things the old creep tells me. I keep staring at the words… Something isn’t right.

‘What you got there, dear?’ my wife asks me.

‘It’s the note you wrote. You know? With the things I supposedly said in my sleep?’

‘Will you stop looking at that? It’s not helping,’ my brother says as he looks over his shoulder at me.

‘Keep your eyes on the road please…’ I tell him.

‘It’s just weird… this list of things. I mean, I’m starting to believe that I actually said them while I was asleep. Because…’ I pause to look up from the note to my wife who turned herself in her seat towards me.

‘…the woman in my dream tells me these things as well. And I was believing what she said. But something on the note doesn’t match with the rest.’

My wife keeps looking at the note, then turns her gaze towards me.

‘Like what?..’

‘You never noticed that this whole list consists of me hating everything and everyone, including… well… especially myself, yet I happen to speak positively about you?’

My wife looks at my brother. He keeps his eyes stuck on the road.

‘You just love me that much. I know you do, and I’m so happy that you do,’ she replies.

‘Maybe… I just think it’s weird.’

‘We’re here. This is the address, right?’ my brother says as the car stops. My wife nods. He gets out and opens the door for me. I get out, leaving the note on the backseat of the car. He slams the car door shut and lays his hand on my shoulder. Joanna wraps her arm around mine. We walk towards the freestanding building we parked in front of. The house in front of us is old, but in a good state. It’s not in the city, that’s for sure, but I don’t recognize the immediate surrounding area.

‘What’s this building?’ I ask.

‘It’s where we’ll fix everything,’ my wife replies.

We walk up the stairs and she knocks on the big door of the dark building. This can’t be a hospital. I want to ask again what kind of building it actually is, but as soon as I want to open my mouth to talk, the light turns on inside. A silhouette, visible through the glass window of the door moves towards the entrance.

‘Say Joanna, this doesn’t really look like a hospital or doctor’s office. Are you sure we’re at the right address?’ my brother asks as he looks at my wife.

She doesn’t respond to him and I can feel my wife’s grip around my arm tightening. I look at her. My brother is still looking at her as well, slightly confused by her sudden change in behavior. I try to move my arm a little bit so she would loosen her grip, but she doesn’t even look in my direction as I do so. She keeps looking at the silhouette that’s slowly getting closer and as the door opens I can make out a familiar face. One that I don’t like to see. One that makes me panic.

‘That’s her! We have to leave! Now! She’s the one that’s been doing all of this to me!’ I shout. My brother looks away from me, and turns his eyes towards the strange figure that appeared in the open doorway. I feel paralyzed and can’t move, my brother lets go of my shoulder, switching his gaze between the woman and Joanna.

‘Hello doctor,’ my wife says.

The woman speaks with her creaky voice while looking at me, tilting her head: ‘Good evening. Oh. I remember you. How are you feeling?’

I don’t dare to say anything to the woman who’s been haunting me. I turn to my wife and brother.

‘Please, get me away from her.’

‘Joanna, what’s going on?’ my brother asks. A few seconds of silence pass.

Without replying to him, Joanna reaches inside her jacket pocket and pulls out a gun. She puts the side of the gun in front of my face and shoots Clarence through the head without a second of hesitation. My eyes grow large as the noise of the gun rumbles through my ears, followed by a loud high pitched tone caused by the loud bang. My brother falls over sideways onto the hard stone tiles covering the steps of the stairs.

‘Jesus!’ I yell out.

I pull my arm out of her grip and back away from her towards my brother. I kneel next to Clarence and look at him. My hand shakes as I move it over my brother’s body.

‘Shush honey, everything will be okay soon. Don’t worry about a thing,’ my wife says as I sit there in the cold. I take Clarence’s hand and feel his pulse.

As I look up to Joanna, she continues talking to the old woman, her eyes still focused on me and my brother she just shot.

‘Things didn’t go the way I wanted them to. Can you help me out?’

‘You know there’s no refunds on my services, right?’ the old woman replies calmly and appears to be unmoved by what just passed on her doorstep.

‘I know, I’ll pay you. Just… help me out.’

‘Alright then. I’m not going to take care of that body though.’

‘Understood.’

‘Just give me one second,’ she says while turning around to shuffle back inside. I slowly get on my feet and want to run away, run to the car to drive away and find a way to call the police, but as soon as I stand up straight, Joanna points her gun at me.

‘Please don’t run,’ she says coldly, with a slight tremble in her voice.

‘Found it!’ the woman shouts from inside the building. She shuffles back to the door and holds up her arm. ‘It’s easier to get him inside this way.’

I look at the object she’s holding and as soon as I see the needle in her hand, she jumps forward and smashes the thing in my neck. I drop down on the stairs, next to my brother.

Darkness takes me…

8.

My head… I want to hold my head and try to pressure away the headache, but I can’t move my arms. What is this? I slowly open my eyes and try to make out objects in the room. I look to my left and I manage to identify some cutting tools. To the right of me is a chair. I know this room.

‘Don’t hate me for this, please.’

‘Who said that?’

The high pitched beep is still rushing through my ears as I try to recognize the voice. I lift my head to look around the room. My vision is getting clearer by the second. At the end of the table I’m strapped onto I see a familiar face.

‘Joanna? What’s going on?’

‘I never wished for this to happen… I just wanted you to love me more,’ she says while her eyes start tearing up. She still has the gun in her hand and she’s shuffling around on the spot uncomfortably.

‘What did you do to me?’

She walks to the side of the table. She grabs my hand and talks.

‘I wanted you to love me more. You never loved me enough. You had so much love to give to everything and everyone in life. But not to me…’

I look in her eyes which are tearing up.

‘Why did you make me do this?! Why did you hate me?!’ she suddenly yells at me with a touch of hysteria in her voice. She throws the gun on the floor and clenches her hands around the edge of the table.

‘What did you do to me? And what did I do?’

She looks away from me and smirks. ‘What did you do? Do you hear yourself?’

She drops down on her knees next to the table and holds my hand while cracking her neck: ‘I… never got the feeling that you truly appreciated me. I… did everything for you. But why would you hate me then?’

‘I never hated you…’ I tell her.

‘Yes you did! You did so often! Of course you will never admit it!’ she shouted.

I look at her, and she just stares right back at me. I don’t know what’s going on anymore. I don’t even recognize her like this. A silence rushes through the room for minutes. I don’t dare to breathe too loudly or say anything. Joanna tries to hold back more tears while she keeps looking at my hand which she still hasn’t let go of.

Suddenly the sound of a door opening tears up the silence and both of us turn our heads towards the door. We all know who’s entering the room. The same shady old character that’s been creeping me out for a long time. She stands still in the doorway.

‘Shall we?’ she says.

‘Yes. Yes, help me out,’ my wife says to her.

The old woman moves around the room slowly while she starts talking. My body goes completely numb from seeing the figure this close to me, especially now that I can’t defend myself or run.

‘An interesting one, this guy. I got years of experience with this kind of stuff. I even reconstructed my own body and face. But thousands of operations on my resume and I’ve never ever seen a case like this before. I mean… did I mess up? I might’ve.’

She rushes towards me after speaking and bends over me, taking my head in her hands, examining it.

‘Yes… I think I might’ve messed up this time. But, accidents happen. Mistakes happen. I’m human after all. Well, 40% human, 60% plastic and chemicals,’ she says with a grin while turning her head to look at my wife.

‘What did you do to me…’ I ask her.

My wife gets up and walks back to the end of the table. The old woman turns back to look at me, breathing heavily. She still doesn’t let go of my head.

‘You see that woman over there? She is the most messed up human I’ve seen in a long time. She tells me that you don’t love her enough. I tell her that she could be right. Or wrong. Whatever she wants to hear, that’s exactly what I will tell her. She comes to me and asks me if I could mess things up in your brain. She asks me to screw up the way you feel about things. Basically, she wanted me to make you love her more.’

‘Is this true?’ I look at my wife. She stands at the end of the table, and nods. She then rises her hand and slowly gives a thumbs up, combined with an awkward smile. The old woman forces my gaze back on her.

‘It didn’t turn out too well for you, I guess. Instead of making you love her more, I apparently accidentally ended up destroying your ability to recognize acceptance and love from others. You didn’t even know how to express your own feelings that remained anymore. All that was left was a destroyed self-esteem and even self-hatred. Oops.’

I keep listening to the woman, unable to reply to her. Her hands are still wrapped around my head, the only part of my body that’s not strapped down. She continues talking.

‘She was supposed to get a husband that had nothing but love to give to her. However, at what cost…’

I find the courage to ask her another thing…

‘Why were you haunting my dreams? You terrorized me for weeks, you wore me down until I had nothing left to live for. You followed me everywhere. You even tried to choke me to death tonight.’

She falls silent for a short while. I can hear Joanna sobbing softly in the background.

‘That’s interesting. That wasn’t my intention at all. I just receive the money and do my work. You didn’t tell me that I was involved in his dreams and hallucinations,’ she says while letting go of my head and turning towards my wife.

‘I didn’t know it was you,’ Joanna says.

She turns to face me again.

‘I suppose you don’t remember waking up during my little experiment?’

‘I don’t. But I dreamt about this room before. I couldn’t remember where I had seen it. But now I do remember. I also remember the first time I saw your face,’ I reply to her.

‘Yes… Interesting. It seems your destroyed self-esteem and inability to recognize acceptance took the form of the one person you saw, the moment they were being triggered.’

‘Which was you…’

‘Interesting,’ she says again.

Everything that has happened in the past weeks is rushing through my head. I lay silent, simply staring at the ceiling, trying to collect my thoughts and organize them. But it’s no good. My mind is completely numb.

‘Time for me to fix things,’ the old woman says.

‘Can you make sure he doesn’t remember anything from what happened?’

‘That won’t be easy, but I’ll see what I can do.’

‘Everything will be okay, sweetie,’ my wife assures me. I don’t respond to her.

‘I don’t expect you to forgive me. I only expect you to love me even more when this is all over.’

My wife is insane. Still I can’t blame her. I’m not even mad at her. I should be, but I’m not. After all, I do love her a lot. I close my eyes and realize that they did in fact achieve the goal of their previous experiment on me. I feel another sting in my neck and I let the darkness take me again.

9.

‘Jeff! Wake up!’

I open my eyes and notice that my face is stuck to the car window. My wife is looking at me from her seat while I rub the sleep out of my eyes. I sit up straight and greet her.

‘Hey sweetheart.’

‘Hi darling,’ my wife replies, ‘I didn’t want to wake you, but we just got home. You slept so long.’

‘Did I? What time is it?’ I ask her as I look around, trying to remember why we’re in the car.
Joanna looks at her wrist watch and tells me its 10 AM in the morning. She smiles at me and I smile back at her.

‘That was quite the night out for you. You got so drunk that I almost had to carry you back to the car. Good thing I was the designated driver,’ she says, laughing.

‘Oh damn, that’s embarrassing. I can’t remember anything from last night. You’re the best, though! I don’t think there’s any wife better than you.’

‘Oh sweetie, you’re just saying that. Come on, let’s go inside.’

I step out of the car. There’s a cold wind rushing around outside which gives me the chills. I close the car door but before I slam it shut I see something on the rear seat. It’s a small piece of crumpled paper. I take it and unfold it.

I read through it and I can’t help but nervously laugh at the little note.

‘Hey Joanna! Check this out! I found a weird note.’

She stands beside me and reads the text that’s written on it as well.

‘Isn’t this your handwriting, dear?’

She takes the piece of paper out of my hand and looks at it.

‘Indeed it is. It doesn’t matter though, just forget you even found it. You’ll do that for me, won’t you?’

‘Sure. Anything for you. Let me get our coats though, are they in the trunk?’ I reply and I walk towards the trunk of the car.

‘No! No no no! Leave our coats in the car. Don’t open the trunk, I will take care of it,’ Joanna urges me. She grabs my arm and playfully pulls me towards the house. She opens the door and I take off my shoes.

‘For the life of me, I can’t remember the last time I slept this well,’ I say to her before I close the door behind us.

Credit To – TvanK

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Click The Link

June 26, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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I had always loved horror movies. In my younger days I may not have realized it, but I was a glutton for the terror that the films would instill in me. I subconsciously loved how they kept me up at night, small fearful eyes scanning my bedroom shadows for whatever sort of creature may be calling the darkness its home. It was to the point where I would wake up in the early hours of the morning, around 1 a.m. or so, to sneak into the living room and watch the late night screamers that would air. Often I would get caught by my mother or father about a half hour into my shenanigans, seated on the couch and wrapped in my ‘blankie’ while clutching a teddy bear with eyes fixated on the television screen. I would be sent to bed immediately, told that my punishment would come in the morning. It never did, my parents too tired at the time to actually remember apprehending me. On a rare occasion though, I’d manage to make it all the way through a film, from the time I’d slipped into the couch to the moment the credits rolled. At that point, the trudge back to my bedroom was a mad dash of fright, trying to evade any and all monsters or buggaboos that, in my impressionable mind, would grab at me and take me away. I was always successful in the return trip. It made me feel like Indiana Jones.

I don’t love horror films anymore. Not after what happened.

I was in college when the event occurred. While most people associate university with wild parties, copious amounts of alcohol, and finding as many people to have anonymous sex with, my version of the experience was more… tame by those standards. The evenings not spent furiously pouring over my projects and class work were spent with my one true love. My Netflix account. From the moment my last class of the day ended, I was wrapped in the sweet embrace the internet had waiting for me. I would return to my dorm, slip into my bedroom and into something more comfortable, and spend until about 4 in the morning watching whatever horrors the streaming site had available to me. And for the price of $7.99 a month, it was the best, and most cheap, addiction I’d ever encountered.

The people I chose to interact with when I wasn’t glued to my laptop were often of the same ilk that I was. Individuals who were just as obsessive over movies. We loved to be scared, and we often spoke of it. We compared reviews, discussed theories, and often got together to partake in these pieces of nightmare fuel, usually once a week on a Saturday in a grand marathon session that was catered by the local pizza place and a large snack trip before hand to prepare for when we were sick of the smell of grease and cheese. Many of us were members of a horror-enthusiast forum, to meet and talk with more people who shared our twisted ideas of entertainment. I’ve since removed myself completely from that site.

Due to the vast duration of time that I’d been with my Netflix account, I’d practically exhausted their selection of movies to stream that were of my tastes. I’d watched the classics, the cult favorites, the flops, the silent, the screamers, the spookers, the slashers, the foreign.. Short of paying extra for a DVD plan, my partner in crime was becoming repetitive. I’d even resorted to watching the 1-stars, the films that were too terrible to even consider horror but still somehow made the list, filled with poorly-crafted CG effects that were more terrifying than the monsters they were trying to scare me with. I lamented this to my forum-mates, complaining of the lack of fresh choices upon the site that filled my browser history. Many of my friends from school were having the same problems, and were voicing their woes within the same thread that I had begun.

Looking back on it, I realize now that this was the worst mistake I could have ever made. Had I not started that thread, some of us might have still remained among the living, finding new ways to garner our thrills.

ScreamQueen69 (her username from the forum, as I won’t refer to anyone by their true name to protect families) had approached us at the meeting grounds the following day. Our usual location of gathering was behind a campus building, an area of concrete that sloped downwards to a door that we all assumed led to the art department basement, the top of the wall that enclosed our cold stone hill blocked off by fence so none could accidentally fall and injure themselves. As our group sat and talked, SQ had arrived, looking a little worse for wear. There were dark circles under her eyes, looking tired, and her face was pale. She often looked so bright and sunkissed, full of energy.

She had said that shortly after she posted on the forums the night before, she’d been contacted by another member asking if she wanted to watch something that, as she spoke and gave airquotes with her fingers, would ‘change the genre for her forever’, and then proceeded to send her a link to an obscure site she’d never heard of before. TweenWolf rolled his eyes, suggesting that they were only trying to suggest a film for her to watch and that she was being crazy for ignoring them. I was growing concerned, however, as she recounted that though she originally ignored the person, they sent her messages constantly afterwards. They started out mild enough, along the lines of “did you watch it?” and “what did you think?” and as the night went on, they got more violent. SQ showed me the chat history, and towards the end it seemed that her chat partner, named BehyndYew, was getting more and more agitated. The messages were becoming desperate.

‘Did you click the link yet?’
‘You should click the link. You won’t regret it.’
‘Click the link.’
‘Click on the damn link already.’
‘CLICK THE FUCKING LINK.’
‘CLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINKCLICKTHELINK’

It was at that point that I grew incredibly concerned for my friend. No one else had received these messages, only her. My only advice to her was to ignore it and perhaps stay off the site for a few days. If this person didn’t see her online, perhaps they would lose interest and back off. It wasn’t the case however, as SQ would come to us for the next couple of days looking more and more haggard, saying that she couldn’t rest at night. BehyndYew was still messaging her, and at this point it was just a repeat of the original link, pasted over and over and over.

She was starting to get emails sent to her school email account. She didn’t know how they’d gotten it, her email address wasn’t listed on the forum, and it wasn’t even the same one she’d registered to the site with. The sender would be blank, the subject line empty, and the message was always the same. ‘CLICK THE LINK’. Her inbox was flooded with at least a hundred emails by the time she returned from classes, all the same.

And then texts. An unknown number of all zeroes, at all hours of the day. ‘CLICK THE LINK’. Even when her phone was on silent, the sound would still ring out. It was turned off and it would ring. She would remove the battery completely and still be startled by the noise of her text tone. She had submerged her phone in water to try and damage it and get rid of the noise. Still it rang. She had put it in the microwave and turned it on for five minutes, knowing that if the appliance was broken she would have to pay for a replacement, seeing as the appliance was provided by the dorm building. Even burnt and melted in places, the battery removed and fried, it rang. It was getting to the point where SQ was growing more and more frazzled, each and every cell phone going off around her causing her to shriek.

By the fifth day, she hadn’t shown up to lunch. Most of us assumed she was just trying to catch up on sleep from the incident keeping her up at night. We didn’t realize she had died until two days later when her roommate complained about a smell coming from her room.

The police blocked off the dorm room, and her roommate was moved out to live with someone else in the building. They ruled it as a suicide, claiming that SQ had overdosed on sleeping pills. She had been found slumped over on her desk in front of her laptop, with the forum pulled up on her browser.

I had managed to worm my way into her room a few days after cleanup had ended. Her family lived on the other side of the country and wouldn’t be in for another day or two to gather her things, and I had convinced the building RA that ScreamQueen69 had been in possession of a few of my items and I just needed to get them back before they were mistakenly removed with her belongings. The RA had left me there, saying that the doors would lock behind me once I left. Alone in the room where my friend had passed, I removed the laptop from her desk, not wanting to sit in her death-throne, and moved it over to the bed. SQ never kept her items password protected and left herself logged in on everything, so it was easy enough to turn the computer on and navigate my way back to the very forum she had been looking at when she died. I had found my way to her inbox, looking at the hundreds of message from her apparent ‘stalker’, when I noticed something different.

Out of the mass of links, one of them was purple. It had been clicked.

I grew curious. What was it about this movie that made this person so obsessive to show it to SQ? Was it the thing that had driven SQ to kill herself?

I clicked the link.

At first, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. The video was dark, as though it were trying to slowly process the images. Then things were starting to come into focus. A desk. Posters on the wall. A person sitting on the bed. A person standing behind them with a large, toothy grin. It was at this point that I realized I was staring at my own face, sitting in SQ’s bedroom, her posters behind me.

The webcam light was on.

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Too long at the cliff

June 21, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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-I-

For too long have I been standing here on top of this cliff. Days turn to nights and back. I have asked myself so many times what I’ve been doing here. I told myself I was thinking. Thinking about a lot of things. There have been so many things that have kept my mind occupied for such a long time. My hands are placed firmly on the cold metal railing.

For some reason I can’t let go of the railing, though it’s not that I want to. Down below me stretches an ocean, filling the entire horizon. The sound of the waves hitting the rocks should calm me down, but it doesn’t. The light breeze that blows through my hair should cool me off during the day, but it doesn’t. The same breeze should give me chills during the night, but it doesn’t. I feel nothing.

Nothing but worry and anger.

I feel no need to go back home. I prefer the nights over the days, although it is always calm and quiet here regardless of the time of day. During the time that I’ve been standing here, I’ve only spoken with one person. Well, I didn’t actually speak with him. He spoke to me.

A man approached me earlier this evening. He was walking his dog. It was a young man who needed someone to talk to. Or at least he needed someone to listen to his story. The man told me that he wanted to die. He felt that life had abandoned him and didn’t see the purpose to live anymore. His name was John.

John was a young man in his 20s who grew up with a loving family. He had a longtime girlfriend of the same age. And even though he had always loved them so much, lately he felt nothing anymore. He was on a moral crossroad. So many times had he contemplated taking his own life. But then he reminded himself of what he would leave behind if he carried out what he wanted to do so badly.

I didn’t say much to the man. I nodded at the right moment and looked in his eyes that were tearing while he was talking. His story would’ve been depressing to any person in a normal state of mind. But not to me. I turned my eyes away from him and looked down at the ocean again. He continued talking.

I’m not listening anymore. I used to be a compassionate person before, always ready to help someone who needed it. Now, not so much. I don’t have any idea why he thought I was the right person to talk to about his problems. He keeps talking, he keeps asking me if I’m listening to him, but I don’t respond.

Disappointed, he leaves. From the corner of my eye I watch him turn around, taking his dog with him. I can hear the sound of his footsteps gradually getting further away from me. Until the sound stops.

It’s silent for a moment, save for the sounds of the waves and the wind. Until I hear footsteps return. Footsteps moving at an increasing pace towards me. A dog barking. I close my eyes, sigh and listen to the sound of John jumping over the railing off the cliff.

-II-

It’s late September now. The trees that are spread around each side of the cliff are letting go of their brown leaves. The wind catches the leaves and blows them into my direction, some of them stick to my coat before another gust of wind takes them away, into the ocean that still lies calmly in front of me.

It’s been a short while since I saw this guy John. I’m still not sure what he was thinking. It is a strange feeling. Was he trying to make me feel guilty? He probably came here to end his life, but wasn’t expecting to see anyone. Perhaps I was the final hope that could help him get his life back on track, even if it was just by listening to his story. Maybe he felt that he couldn’t talk to anyone close and dear to him and I was that one person that he thought he could confide in so he could be convinced not to do what he was planning to do in the first place.

Guilt. I still feel none of it.

I look up to the sky and notice that grey clouds have formed above my head. The area is gradually getting darker and the wind stops blowing. I assume there will be rain soon. Maybe a storm. It hasn’t rained in a while. If it’s going to rain, I better find some shelter. Perhaps the trees on the side of the cliff will keep me dry, or at least keep me from becoming completely soaked.

I turn around and slowly walk to one of the bigger trees situated at the start of the cliff. I sit down underneath the big arms and make myself comfortable. From here I can see the railing of the cliff. The clouds in the sky and the slowly lurking darkness in the area resemble the darkness I have in my head. I try to remind myself of the beauty of this place.

It starts raining now. I can hear small drops falling on the deck of leaves above my head. I listen to the sound and close my eyes. The relaxing music of the rain goes on uninterrupted for a few minutes until it mixes with the sound of an engine roaring, tires screeching and a woman talking on the phone.

I open my eyes and look at the source of the noise that suddenly arose in the otherwise calm and relaxing area.
The raindrops reflect the red and blue flashing lights on top of the police car. A woman, shielding her head with a hat exits the car and starts what looks like a search for something or someone. I don’t get up. I merely sit there, watching what is happening. The police officer walks along the railing of the cliff. She doesn’t seem to notice me. At least, not instantly. She’s inspecting the railing, the ground and the ocean below. The way she stands at the railing reminds me of myself not that long ago, when I saw the man.

She turns around and notices me staring at her. The young woman approaches me, she looks pretty for as far as I can see by the flashing lights of the car.

-III-

‘What are you doing here? It’s raining, shouldn’t you go home or something?’

I don’t want to reply to her. I turn my gaze away from her and look back at the railing where she was standing before.

‘Hey? I asked you a question.’

I look back at her and reply with a question of my own.

‘Are you looking for John?’

The young woman, obviously surprised by my sudden question hesitates to answer.

‘Do you know him?’ she replies.

‘No. I don’t.’

‘Alright, I would like you to come with me to the station. I have a few questions that I would like you to answer.’

Once again, I turn my gaze away from her as a sign of unwillingness. Without looking at her, I reply.

‘I told you I don’t know this John. But if you’re looking for him, he’s down there somewhere, in the ocean. He jumped down a little while ago.’

The woman moves away from me and thinks for a while. She then puts her hand on her belt and replies to me.

‘I’m going to have to ask you again to come with me. Either voluntarily or involuntarily, the choice is yours.’

I look at her face for a few seconds.

‘Fine, I’ll go with you. I don’t know what you expect from me, but okay.’

‘Just step in the car please.’

As I step into the back of the car, the woman uses the car’s communication system to call for backup to inspect the cliff and its surroundings for the missing person called John.

-IV-

‘Something tells me that you know more about this missing person than you are telling me,’ she says as she sits down in front of me in the interrogation chamber.

I don’t look at her. I’m sitting in front of her with my hands folded. I don’t want to reply to her. It was a bad idea to reply to her the way I did. If only I didn’t say this guy’s name. John. Fuck you John. If it wasn’t because of you, I wouldn’t be here right now.

‘What do you know about John, a man who went missing not too long ago?’

‘I told you already that I don’t know this John you’re talking about.’

‘Then tell me what you were doing at the place he wrote about in the last communication to his family?’

I sighed.

‘I was just standing there, thinking about things, alright? Then all of a sudden he showed up out of nowhere with his dog and started talking to me. I didn’t respond to him, all I did was look at him.’

‘Okay, and then what happened?’

‘He left.’

‘And…?’

‘He ran towards the railing where I was standing and he jumped off.’

‘You saw him jump?’

‘No. I had my eyes closed. I could just hear his footsteps and the sound of something or someone going over the railing.’

‘And you didn’t think it was something you should report to the police?’

‘I told you, I didn’t see anything. And I wasn’t thinking straight.’

It’s not any of my business anyway. She starts writing in her notebook, writing down everything that I’m saying. I can see her concentrate while she’s flipping through her notes. She can’t keep me here. There’s nothing that links me to this John figure, except my vague story.

‘Can I go now?’

She looks up from her notes and looks into my eyes.

‘Fill in this form with your contact details so I can contact you when I have more questions for you.’
Reluctantly, I take the piece of paper from her and start filling in my details. Name… phone number… I don’t have my phone with me. So there’s no way she can contact me. I hand the paper back to her after filling in all the required fields and get up from my seat. She gets up as well and walks to the door to open it for me. Without thanking her I leave the interrogation room.

She proceeds to escort me to the reception desk.

‘Process this form for me, please. Put it in the John case file,’ she says to the file clerk.

The file clerk looks at the form and back at Sandra, which is her name I picked up from her notebook in the interrogation room. He frowns and puts the paper on his desk.

‘You’re free to go for now,’ she says when she turns towards me.

‘But don’t stray too far away from here. And stay away from that cliff.’

I don’t reply to her and walk away. I’ve had enough interaction for one day. I just want to return to the one place where I can think quietly. The one place where I can focus on myself without getting bothered by other people’s problems.

-V-

I walk along the gloomy forest road. The road that lies in front of me is very familiar. It feels like ages since I first walked here. The sound rising from under my feet is that of cracking sticks and crunchy leaves. The last time I passed through this road was by car. Escorted in a police car for doing what? Nothing is what. Sitting under a tree shielding myself from the rain. Now I can finally walk and think clearly again. Or at least… I try to do so.

The worry that clouded my own mind before the John incident has faded and has taken the form of thoughts about what is going to happen to me in this situation. But it’s not something I want to think about. I walked this road before to clear my head. I want that feeling back.

I remember why I went for a walk here in the first place. At first it was unclear to me. I thought I was going here to commit suicide. But that wasn’t it. I had no reason whatsoever to kill myself.
That place. The cliff, and the forest road heading up to it have been part of my life for a long time. They hold very good memories. During the time that I was standing at the cliff I was attempting to let memories resurface. Memories of my good life.

But I was waiting for something else the last time I was there. Waiting for a revelation or a certain clarity to drive away the worry and the emptiness.

It hadn’t been raining much the evening I got picked up by her. Not enough to make the sand and dust road soggy, but just enough to reinforce the smell of leaves and nature. It was an enjoyable smell. I let the wind blow through my hair and listen to the vague sound of birds singing in the distance. It’s around midday now and I walked straight from the police station back to this place.

My eyes don’t deceive me. There are multiple cars parked in front of the cliff, yellow tape is wrapped around two trees, creating the idea of a blocked path. There are multiple men and women walking around the area. I approach the tape and try to see what’s going on around the cliff area.
I lift the tape and walk underneath. Most of the police offers are distracted with their private conversations, except for one.

‘Didn’t I tell you not to go here anymore?’

Sandra approaches me and grabs me firmly by the arm.

‘What the hell do you think you are doing? This is an official crime scene and you can’t cross the tape.’

‘I just want to go the place I feel comfortable,’ I tell her.

‘And I told you that you should stay away from here. But in any case, I’m glad you came here. I’ve been trying to call you to ask you to come to the police station to answer a few more of my questions, but you haven’t been picking up your phone.’

‘I’m not obliged to have my phone with me. Can’t you just leave me alone? I don’t want to have anything more to do with this situation.’

‘Well that’s a bit too late I’m afraid. Get in the car, we’re going back to the station.’

Damn it! Just leave me the fuck alone already, I’m getting so tired of it! I pull my arm out of her grip and walk away from her, towards the railing of the cliff. Yet I don’t get too far because Sandra grabs both my arms this time and drags me back towards one of the cars.

‘Get in there and shut up,’ she says before she slams the door shut and gets in the front seat. While we drive off down the road, she continues talking to me. I look at her eyes through the rear view mirror. She keeps her eyes focused front.

‘Listen, let’s talk reasonably. I don’t know what’s going on with you, but obviously you’re not in a very good state of mind. However things don’t look too good for you. We just managed to fish our missing person John out of the water a couple of hours ago. Now there aren’t any suspects so far except for you, who happened to know the deceased’s name, his exact location of death and on top of that there’s your appearance on the scene. Twice.’

‘What do you want me to say? I’ve already said everything I wanted to say to you. Do you want me to repeat it again? I don’t know this John. He started talking to me and then one minute after he disappeared from my view. Why do you want to pin this on me so badly?’
She fell silent. She didn’t speak another word during the trip to the police station.

-VI-

The evidence box she put in front of me on the table was almost overflowing with items. Sandra stands next to the box, looking at me for a little while. She opens the box and starts taking out some items, looking for one specific item so it seems.

‘John was carrying a note on him, similar to the one we found at his house. He had it packed in an airtight plastic bag. It was addressed to his girlfriend. Let’s read through it.’

————————————————————————————

Dear Linda,

I shouldn’t have done what I did.
I blame the alcohol and the pills.
Never have I felt so bad.
I want to take back the things I said and did.
But it’s too late now.
I want to see you again.
I want to talk to you.

-John

————————————————————————————

‘So?’

‘Come on. We find this note, addressed from John to a certain Linda. And then we find you next to the place where he died. And which name did you write on the contact form? First name: Linda. Coincidence?’

‘What are you implying? That I threw him off the cliff because of something he supposedly did to me?’

‘I’m not implying anything. I simply want you to tell me the truth about John and how you two are connected.’

‘We aren’t connected. He threw himself off the cliff, I keep telling you that.’

‘Very well, next item. What I have here is a picture of him and of someone who looks very similar to you, which we also found in that plastic bag. Take a look.’

I take the picture that she’s holding in front of me and look at it. The picture looks very familiar. It’s one of the memories I tried to resurface during my days and nights at the cliff. One of the good memories that I was hoping would temporarily drive away the anger, coldness and detachment. Something that would keep me patient. But as hard as I tried, I couldn’t resurface it then.

But now, looking at this picture… I remember the day well. It was the day I brought John to the cliff for the first time. I wanted to show it to him, because the place was very valuable to me.

‘What are you not telling me, Linda?’

I sigh.

‘I’ve told you nothing but the truth so far. The John that jumped off the cliff was not the John I knew. The John I knew had his life in order, the one that jumped I didn’t recognize anymore. He turned into an entirely different person, one that I don’t know. I didn’t do anything to him.’

She looks up from her notebook and I see that she’s about to ask another question. But I want to ask her a question of my own. She opens her mouth and I quickly start talking before she can bring out a word.

‘I would like to ask you a question if I may.’

‘Be my guest,’ she replies with a frown.

‘What I’m curious about is: how many bodies did you discover at the cliff?’

Sandra looks at me, suppressing a surprised look caused by my question.

‘We found one. Are you saying that there are more?’

‘What I’m saying is that I’m pretty sure that John is not the only one who found his end on the bottom of the cliff.’

She continues looking at me for a few seconds and hesitates to write in her notebook. She then gets out of her seat and walks out the room. Before she closes the door, she says:

‘You stay right there.’

I don’t respond to what she says. I’m done here.

-VII-

‘Don’t let her leave,’ she says to the guard on the other side of the door.

Sandra walks out of the room with a pace faster than normal. She runs to several co-workers to tell them that they should immediately check out the bottom of the cliff again for more bodies. While she is instructing the group, the file clerk at the registrations desk gets out of his work area. The man started only 2 weeks ago and wasn’t very experienced. He looks a bit nervous as he tries to get Sandra’s attention, who is only focused on rallying some troops to swipe the cliff for more bodies.
He decides to wait until she finishes her short briefing before tapping her on the shoulder to get her attention.

‘What is it?’ she says.

The man hesitates to speak, because he realizes that now might not be the best time to come with something that would seem so insignificant compared to the briefing that Sandra just gave. He speaks up anyway.

‘Yesterday you came to me and asked me to file this contact form for you.’

‘Yes, what of it?’

‘Well the thing is that… well of course I’m new here and you guys know things better than the new guys usually, but uhm…’

‘Come on, what is it?’

‘Yeah, alright. You gave me this empty form and I don’t really know what to do with it. It didn’t make sense to me to put it in a high profile missing person’s case file, but I didn’t want to throw it away either. I mean you filled in your own details and all, but…’

Perplexed she looks at the man. She grabs the form from his hand before he finishes his sentence and looks at it. Empty.

She turns around without replying to the clerk and runs back to the interrogation room, where the guard is still guarding the door. She opens the door and looks around the room where the table and the evidence box are placed. But there’s no girl to be found in the room.

‘Where’s the girl?’

‘What girl?’ the guard replies.

She looks at the man with a confused look on her face.

‘Sandra, you’ve been all alone in that room with your box of evidence. Are you feeling alright?’

‘No… I don’t think I am. But I think I know whose body we are going to find at the bottom of that cliff.’

-VIII-

A man approached me earlier that evening. He was walking his dog. It was a young man who needed someone to talk to. Or at least he needed someone to listen to his story. The man told me that he wanted to die. He felt that life had abandoned him and didn’t see the purpose to live anymore. His name was John.

John was a young man in his 20s who grew up with a loving family. He had a longtime girlfriend of the same age. And even though he had always loved them so much, lately he felt nothing anymore. He was on a moral crossroad. So many times had he contemplated taking his own life. But then he reminded himself of what he would leave behind if he carried out what he wanted to do so badly.

I didn’t say much to the man. I nodded at the right moment and looked in his eyes that were tearing while he was talking. His story would’ve been depressing to any person in a normal state of mind. But not to me. I turned my eyes away from him and looked down at the ocean again. He continued talking.

‘It wasn’t my intention to kill you. It was just the alcohol I think. And the pills. It was an accident. You know I always loved you, right? I don’t know what came over me that night. I… I think I need someone to help me. Help me figure out my problems please.’

I wasn’t listening anymore. I used to be a compassionate person before, always ready to help someone who needed it. Then, not so much. I didn’t have any idea why he thought I was the right person to talk to about his problems. He kept talking, he kept asking me if I was listening to him, but I didn’t respond.

‘Please, Linda. Respond to me. I know you can hear me, what are those pills doing to me? But you can’t be real. I saw you fall off the cliff. I pushed you off. Damn, what have I done?.. Please talk to me. Linda?..

Linda?..

…Linda…’

Disappointed, he left. From the corner of my eye I watched him turn around, taking his dog with him. I could hear the sound of his footsteps gradually getting further away from me. Until the sound stopped.

It was silent for a moment, save for the sounds of the waves and the wind. Until I heard footsteps return. Footsteps moving at an increasing pace towards me. A dog barking. I closed my eyes, sighed and listened to the sound of John jumping over the railing off the cliff.

I knew he would eventually come back here.

I had been waiting for him to show up. And I was hoping that he could see me, just so I could be the final one he would see before taking his own life. I suppose that in the end it wasn’t such a bad idea to talk to Sandra either. At least there’s a chance that my own body will be recovered and I can have a proper burial.

Oh that cliff… For too long have I stood on top of that cliff.

Credit To – TvanK

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