Shadows of Bedzin

January 3, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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When I was young my grandmother used to tell me stories of her youth. When I was about the age of fourteen, she told me about her and my grandfather’s time in a Polish city by the name of Bedzin. She described Bedzin as a quaint city; it had been where she first met my grandfather, where they married, and where they planned to live for the rest of their days.

Their aspirations of a normal life were abruptly crushed in September of 1939 when Hitler’s armies invaded. By 1940 their beloved hometown had been transformed into a dirty ghetto where my grandparents were forced to work in German munition factories. By late 1940 my grandparents realized that there were fewer workers each day and decided it was time to get out. As soon as they had the chance, they joined about six others going into hiding.

They were welcomed into a local library were many others were supposedly hiding, the library had an attic were my grandparents believed some were hiding, but they were told that they would be staying in the basement with the other six. The basement was behind an old bookcase that covered a small door that was just large enough for an adult to crawl through. The space was made up of two rooms, one with a few cots and the other filled with stacks of books. They stayed in those two rooms for years, living in secrecy, never venturing out of that trapdoor. The librarian delivered food and water every night along with new books. They lived in relative peace for those few years, save for the occasional clamor of the war above seeping through the thin wood over their heads.

Eventually, the war caught up with them; the librarian had stopped bringing them food, fuel for their lanterns, and new reading material. There was no warning, only a loud blast, an earthquake-like shaking, and the sound of shattering glass and falling rubble. They had begun to ration what little food they had left, though the librarian had always brought them enough provisions to last them until the next night when he would return. After a day in the two room basement the food had run out and they decided that they would rather face the Nazis than stay down there and starve. They had tried the door but it was suck; they didn’t know whether it had been the bookcase still in front of it or if the building had collapsed and rubble blocked the door, but when they couldn’t open or knock down the door, some of their group began to panic.

Eventually they all returned to their cots, dejected and without hope, wondering whether they would ever get out of the basement. Their savior had become their damnation, and they had no way out. After about two days, the roof had begun to leak. The water was fetid and brown, but they had no other choice than to drink from the seemingly unending stream. The water had kept them alive, but it had also started give those who drank it symptoms of some kind of sickness. As they drank, my grandparents showed some concern; they had tried to convince the others to wait until they had filtered it and boiled it from the heat of the lantern, but they had been so thirsty that they disregarded her warnings and drank straight from the leak. As my grandparents cleansed their water, the others had become anxious, confused and agitated, constantly scratching at an itch that seemed to not cease and enveloped their entire body.

They had drunk the water for two days, and the other’s symptoms had grown worse and worse over that short time. It was on the third day that the others had grown too hungry. One of the others, a young woman of about twenty by the name of Cecylia had pounced on an old women named Agatha. Almost instantaneously, the others had joined in and pounced on the poor old women. They tore into her with teeth and nails, biting into her jugular and spraying blood onto the floor around them. My grandfather had grabbed my grandmother and pulled her into the next room that had been filled with books and a single cot that they had moved shortly after they had first arrived. Knowing that they would eventually lose interest in the old woman, my grandfather began stacking the books against the door. Within ten minutes, hundreds of books that they had accumulated over the years were stacked against the door and what had happened had finally sunk in.

My grandfather held my grandmother as she wept, and tried to console her, though he had no idea how. He had been just as frightened as she was, and had no idea how he would get them out of this.

The sickening slurping and crunching of bones had ceased as suddenly as it had begun, leaving only the sound of my grandmother’s weeping and the sound of aimless footsteps from the other room. All of the sudden, the footsteps stopped. My grandmother’s sobbing ceased as she pulled her head away from my grandfather’s chest as they listened anxiously for the footsteps to continue. They sat in absolute silence for minutes, only the faint glow of the lantern providing them any solace. My grandmother sighed as she wiped tears from her eyes, and as soon as she did she heard rapid footsteps. They both jumped as something from the other side slammed into the wall. They heard another crash, and another, until the sound of splintering wood had begun to accompany it. With another loud crash, a piece of wood flew from the wall, and a large crack had run through the wall to the floor. The dim glow of the lantern on the other side of the wall shined through the hole, and though they waited for another loud crash, it never came.

After what felt like hours of sitting and waiting for another crash, my grandmother decided to stand and approach the hole in the wall. It was only big enough to fit a finger through, and gave a partial view of the next room. As she peered through the hole, she saw a mass of bodies lying near each other, their chest rising and falling. She looked down and saw another body, lying on the ground with an indentation in its head and a small river of red coming from its now closed eyes. It was Cecylia. She had caved her head in charging at the wall. In the very end of her field of vision, she could see an arm. Nothing else, just an arm. The arm was wrinkled and pale, missing a few portions and covered in bite marks where the arm still had skin to show them. She slowly backed away from the hole and sat on the cot, returning to the arms of my grandfather.

That night my grandfather put out the lantern in their room, wanting to conserve their fuel for as long as possible. Through the hole in the wall, she could see the faint glow of the other room’s lantern. She stood up and looked through the hole once again and saw nothing different; the others were still sleeping in a large pile and the two bodies were untouched. She looked back at the pile where the others were sleeping and saw that now only three were lying there. She gasped and stepped back. She knew that there should be four of them there. They came in with six others, two were dead, so where was the last one? She looked around the room but saw nothing. The lantern began to flicker and its glow began to die, but she continued to study the room. As the lantern gave off its final seconds of light, she saw a shadow in the corner, standing and staring at her. She watched the shadow until the lantern went out a few seconds later.

My grandmother never told me what had happened after that moment, just that they had pulled at the rotting wood above them, climbed out of the basement and saw a large pile of rats lying dead near a broken pipe spewing water. By the time they had escaped, the Russians had liberated Bedzin and freed them of the Nazi’s rule. My grandmother couldn’t see her hometown in the same light after she had escaped the basement, so my grandfather bought a house in a small village in Bosnia. That’s where they raised my mother, and where my mother raised me. My grandmother called them the Shadows of Bedzin, what she thought to be a fitting name. I agree, those people were no longer human, they were hosts to a horrendous disease, just a shell of their former selves.

I’m writing this because I now find myself in a similar situation. The year is 1993, and I am in hiding from the Scorpions Paramilitary organization who have begun to ethnically cleanse Bosnia. I’m hiding with eight others, and twenty minutes before I started writing this we heard a large explosion, followed by the sound of an earthquake, accompanied by the sound of rubble sliding and glass shattering. If I die, let it be known that the shadows of Bedzin, have become the shadows of Bosnia, but I was not one of them. I didn’t drink the water, I didn’t become a monster.

Credit To – Erik Clements

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I Sat On The Bus

January 2, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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I sat on the bus, on my way to school.

Listening to music, and paying little to no attention to the other students.

At one of the stops my mind snapped back to reality.

I looked towards the small house. Tommy’s house, I thought.

A hand slipped through the drapes of the window and waved the bus driver to move on.

‘He’s sick’, I thought, paying no large amount of attention to the situation.

The day flew by.

I watched the local news channel after school, and what I heard paralyzed me.

Tommy’s entire family was murdered that day by an unknown suspect.

After hearing this news, I moved back up to my room and quietly fell asleep.

——————————————-

The next day, I sat on the bus.

We drove past Tommy’s house and the bus driver, unaware of Tommy’s families fate, stopped at his home.

As I was about to get up and explain to her what had happened, something caught my eye.

A pale hand slipped through the drapes of the window, and waved the bus driver to move on.

I sat on the bus, terrified.

Credit To: Isaac Cook

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The Silence of the North Woods

January 1, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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The first thing I remember of my arrival in Ahtunowhiho, the small Native American village in the northern reaches of Minnesota, was the smell. The familiar aroma of soaked dirt permeated the air and was instantly noticeable as soon as the doors of the cramped, twelve-seater plane were opened. The runway that we landed on almost looked like it could have been constructed a month ago. Not at all because it looked new, but because it looked so…basic. Like it was built for my arrival only. The dirt runway stretched about 950 meters and was accompanied only by a small, one-story concrete building. I had come to this godforsaken no-mans land in order to do research for a book. I was an aspiring author and planned on writing a fictional story set in the wild and needed inspiration. I was also interested in the local legends of the area and the mysterious deaths that were rumored to have taken place near the town.

I was not excited about camping in the coldest regions of the country and being torn from my luxuries for 2 months, but I did it in the name of gathering useful information and becoming inspired. What I experienced though, is something I can barely bring myself to recollect.

A thick pine forest surrounded the runway entirely, with only one solitary trail leading to the main village. I could see patches of unmelted snow that punctuated the landscape and gave the entire area a perpetual moisture. I was still taking in the surroundings when my bags were stripped from my hands and loaded into a pickup truck by a thick, robust man who looked to be about 6’6. Just as my mouth opened to object, a much smaller man stepped out from the truck and came to meet me. “Patrick MacLaren?” He said curtly. “Y-Yes?” I was too startled by the bear of a man who had loaded my bags to give an articulate response. “Afternoon, I’ll be helping you settle in. As soon as your possessions are taken care of we’ll take a drive to the town.” The Bear never said a word and effortlessly tossed the rest of my luggage (which I had considered quite heavy) into the bed of the pickup. The shorter man motioned for me to get into the passenger seat of the truck and shut the door. The Bear hopped into the bed of the pickup and I swear to God the entire vehicle lurched like a boulder had been dropped in. The shorter man hopped into the driver’s side, and before I had time to say anything, hit the gas like he had no time to waste.

“Now that we’re off, I suppose we have time to give you the details. My name is Adrian, I’ll be showing you around and getting you settled in your new lodgings.” I continued scanning the forests. I could just barely make out small clearings that were spaced out every couple hundred yards. “Alright,” I responded “Hey, how did you know my na-” I stopped. Something had just briefly flashed through my peripheral vision. As I turned to look, I was greeted with the same comforting but somehow menacing pines. “Your name? Easy. You’re the only one who’s come here in weeks. We don’t get many tourists around these parts. There was only one name on the ledger and only one man on the plane. I put two and two together.” This left me unsettled, but it made sense. The town is secluded, and had little to offer a normal person.

We soon arrived at Ahtunowhiho and I was checked into the Inn. My room was a loft on the second floor and every item in it seemed to be cloaked in a thin layer of dust. “Oh well,” I thought, “I’ll only be staying here for one night” I was brought down to the lobby to meet my guide. The man I’d be sharing a tent with for a month. “Patrick,” the short man said “This is Abraham, he’ll be your guide in the wilderness and he’ll give you an insight to the more….in-depth aspects of our culture.” I extended a hand, which he firmly shook. “Nice to meet you.” Abraham said with a nearly expressionless face. “Well then. Now that the introductions are over, I’d say you both better get a good nights sleep. You’ll need it.”

The frigid morning air chilled me to the core. Even under 3 layers I was shivering and could barely feel my nose. Abe and I set out on a small trail and walked for about an hour before we got to our camp site. Something wasn’t right. My guide seemed tense. Overly so. Constantly whipping his head to face something that I never could see, never letting his guard down. Our camp site was in the middle of a large clearing next to a half-frozen lake. I didn’t like being in the dead-center of the meadow; it made me feel so..vulnerable. After the tent was pitched I went on a short walk around the vicinity. I couldn’t shake this feeling of being followed. This eerie veil hung over the very atmosphere of the place. Every time I was sure something would be behind me I would turn to find absolutely nothing. Yet every time I tried focusing on the beautiful scenery, the more haunting it became.

By nightfall I was already regretting this trip. In addition to the lingering paranoia, winds had picked up. Not strong, but just enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand upright. We made a fire and cooked some beans in a pot, but whenever I finally felt relaxed, i’d see something that would make my blood run cold. A figure just barely visible darting into the forest, a twig snapping a few yards behind me. Just something, that would put me on edge again. Abe and I climbed back into the tent and bundled ourselves into sleeping bags. It felt good to be out of the open, but the sobering reality that the only thing separating me from the outside was a thin piece of fabric settled in as well.

I fell asleep surprisingly soon but was woken up by the wind. It was no longer an eerie breeze, but a vehement, blustering storm. The tent was flapping and shaking wildly, and I could hear the trees and grass swaying and rustling violently. I tried to ignore it and buried myself in my sleeping bag, but several minutes later, I heard something that guaranteed me no sleep for the rest of the night. I could hear the wind calling something. The only way recognized this was because the wind had a pattern. The whistling repeated in a way that was unmistakably a voice. After listening for several minutes I could make out what it was calling. DeFago. I had no idea what it meant, but it sounded like a name. “De-FAAAay-go, De-FaaAAAAay-goooo.”

I could barely contain myself. I rolled onto my other side to face Abe. “Do you fucking hear tha-” When I looked over at him, he was huddled in the corner of the tent, shaking, with his head buried in his knees. “Abraham, What the hell is this?!” He didn’t look up. “Hey, you alright? what the fuck is going on?!” Still nothing. I moved toward him and touched his shoulder, which caused him to snap his head up at me, with a look of the most genuine terror I have ever seen. “W-We have to go, have to go now. Now. Have to go. We have to go now.” He stammered. “It’s not safe, we have to go.” As he said this he began to get up and move toward the tent flap.

“Stop, no! We are not going out there. I don’t know what the hell is happening but going out there is the last thing I am doing.” He was not phased by this whatsoever and continued crawling over me. As he reached for the zipper, I grabbed his arm. “Abe! You cannot leave me out here!” He continued to wrestle with the zipper and I grabbed his other shoulder and tried to keep him settled. He grew even more frantic and delivered a strong kick to my chest. I let go of him and fell back down to the tent floor. He opened the tent flap and ran off into the night. “Are you insane?! You can’t leave me out here!” I screamed out at him. I quickly lost sight of him. When I looked out into the night, I was stunned by what I saw. The air was still. The trees and grass were motionless.

“This is impossible.” I thought. Seconds ago the entire tent was being ravaged by a windstorm. Even worse, the wind became silent. I heard screaming, and identified it as Abe. It drew off into the distance and became inaudible. I wanted to cry. I zipped the tent flap up faster than I had ever done anything in my life and huddled in the corner, listening to the intense silence that hung over the outside.

I awoke surprised. Not startled by anything, but surprised. Surprised that I somehow fell asleep, even while gripped by the most intense fear I have ever felt in my life. After making sure that there was nothing outside waiting for me, I gathered my courage and stepped outside. The morning air was crisp and as freezing as ever. My mission was to make it back to Ahtunowhiho. I didn’t bother getting the tent. I simply did not care. All I grabbed was my knife, a jacket, and a few granola bars before heading out. I noticed that, in the patches of snow, there were foot prints. At first resembling human footsteps, but then becoming…distorted. They became longer, more stretched out. After a while I was sure that they were not foot prints coming from a human, not even an animal. The longest set of these prints I saw was roughly five feet. In fact, my own imagination couldn’t create a monster with feet of this caliber.

Then it dawned on me. They weren’t foot prints. I mean they were at first; I could see the pattern of the bottom of Abe’s boots imprinted in the snow. But the long ones? Absolutely not. No, they were drag marks.

The long tracks in the snow were evidence of Abraham’s futile resistance of being pulled and dragged by something. “Oh my God,” I whispered to myself. I sprinted out of the meadow with a pace that would rival olympic. I turned what was once an hour long hike into a 35 minute dash. I wanted to throw my guts up by the time I reached the village. I was greeted by several caring townspeople and was escorted to the local tavern for some hot food and a drink.

An older native of the town sat down with me and listened to my account of the events. “I swear to God, my life, and every dead ancestor I have ever had, that what I am saying is true.” I expected skepticism, but received genuine concern from the man. I think this may have troubled me even more.

“I see.” He responded. “The- the name. What was the name being called?” I tried to recollect what I had heard. “I don’t know. Defay- something? DeFayg..DeFago. DeFago! That’s it.” The look on the man’s face told a story on it’s own. “Why? Does that mean something? Is it important at all?” The man remained silent for a few seconds before responding. “DeFago…was a prominent hunter. He lived many years ago. Before I was born. One night, he never returned. The same night, a horrible storm came over the entire region.” He quickly ended the sentence and looked down at the table, looking as though he had made a mistake. I was frustrated at this horribly vague and seemingly useless information. I could tell he was hold something back. Something important. “And? What happened? How is that important? What the hell does this all mean?” I responded rather aggressively. The old man sat still as a statue for what seemed like ages, but finally whispered “The Wendigo…” Every head in the tavern simultaneously turned and glared at the back of the man’s head. And then turned to me.

“What the hell is the Wendigo?” The tavern patrons continued glaring at the both of us with a twisted look of suspicion and fear. Even The Bear looked worried. Reluctantly, the old man responded “It is something we try to escape…” My look of confusion at his answer must have spurred him into elaborating, “The legend holds that it survives on the flesh of humans. It may have even been human once before, but no longer. It is a vile creature that stands taller than any man and can strip the flesh from bones. It grows stronger with the very acknowledgement of it’s existence, and seems to have returned from whatever darkness it has hidden in for so long.” He paused, “Before, the Wendigo only took several people a year. We simply accepted it as life.” The man turned to face the rest of the tavern goers, “Over time, the town vowed to adopt a silence. Never to speak of or even acknowledge the Wendigo, and soon, miraculously, the abductions waned.”

I looked up form my food, trying to process what I was hearing “And DeFago?” The man nodded, “DeFago was the one man who attempted to conquer the Wendigo. Like I said, he never returned.” But there was one more thing. One thing that didn’t add up. Abraham.

Why was he so disturbed? Why was he driven insane by the wind and why did he frantically dart into the night like a madman? “What did Abraham have to do with any of this?” A somber look came over the man’s face. “It’s time for you to go home. Adrian can arrange for your flight to be rescheduled for tomorrow morning.” I got up to leave and as I walked through the door, the bar patrons never shifted their gaze from me.

I wanted answers, but I was exhausted and already overwhelmed by this impossible information. After weighing my options, I decided that I had to spend another night out in the woods. To this day I have no idea what came over me. I can’t imagine what could have motivated me to spend a night in the belly of the beast, that not twelve hours before, had abducted and most likely killed an innocent man. Whether it was the goal of being able to write about my experiences, a need for closure, or pure delirium, something, made me go back out there.

My walk through the woods was even worse, because this time I was alone. I didn’t even try to convince someone to go with me. Something told me that I had doomed the entire town just by raising this monster from the dead. Breaking the silence. The ever-present voyeuristic and dreadful paranoia was now piled on with a load of guilt. I finally made it to my camping grounds and noticed that not much had changed. The looming trees remained standing and the sickening drag marks on the snow still sat on the ground. I couldn’t take it. I kicked the snow over to erase the marks and footprints.

I followed the tracks, continuing to erase them, to the tree line. The edge of the meadow. I could see the kicked up dust and dirt in the woods. But there was something else. A massive wound on a tree. Like someone had taken a jack-hammer through it. And on another one just a few feet further, looked like a massive claw-mark. Almost like when a wolf marks their territory. But this looked as if something had just scraped it while walking through the forrest. I felt sick. I went back to my tent and waited for nightfall.

The wind picked up again. Not nearly as bad, but still enough to shake the tent. I knew it was time. I stood up and got out of the tent. The night was illuminated by a soft but passing moonlight, as the clouds repeatedly obscured it from view. This time, the wind had a physical effect. I could see the trees swaying softly and the grass pressed over in one direction. I couldn’t tell if this was comforting or not. I switched on my flashlight and scanned the perimeter. Nothing. After standing in the wind for a while longer I decided to go back in my tent and wait some more. I turned on my heel and nearly fainted at what I saw.

There it was…standing directly behind the tent. It towered at least a foot taller than me, and looked straight down with eyes like a hawk. It’s head resembled that of a human, but had teeth like a canine. In place of a nose, there was a short, bulldog-like snout, and long, wispy, facial hair sat on it’s face. I could see pointy ears poking through the long, grayish-black mane that ended just before it’s waist, with locks of hair hanging over it’s shoulders. But it’s arms. Oh God it’s arms. They were incredibly long, with it’s fingers ending below its knees. It’s fingernails looked as though they could carve through steel. The body was lean and sinewy, with a pale gray complexion hidden under a very thin layer of hair and fur. The lower body looked as though it was covered by torn cloth wrapped around the waist, and I could see a fragment of the leather jacket worn by my former guide. I knew what it was. there was no mistaking it. It was what I was told of, WARNED of.

It was the Wendigo.

My voice was lost. I could barely breathe let alone form a coherent thought. I didn’t know what to do. I took half a step back, but before my foot even touched the ground, it suddenly crouched and leaped over the tent on all fours, knocking into me and ripping through my side with it’s massive talons. I scrambled to get away and began to frantically crawl towards the tree line. Violently snarling, it grabbed my leg and pulled me back at least five feet. My god it’s strength was incredible. I was nearly lifted off the ground by the force.

I rolled onto my back and met it’s gaze yet again. I could see it’s hot breath steaming out of its nose in the cold night air. It let out a blood curdling screech and pounced for me. I rolled, with great pain, several feet away, narrowly missing the creature’s fatal strike. On its fours, it turned to face me again. I pulled out my knife, faced it upwards, and closed my eyes. This was it. I would die, but at least get one good shot in. It leaped for me, but was impeded by the blade. I heard the knife stick into the right side of it’s chest, causing the monster to release a foul screech a mere foot from my ears. It’s breath stunk of rotting flesh and stale blood and nearly made me vomit.

My ears rang, but I somehow got to my feet and began a desperate, adrenalin fueled sprint to the tree line. As my hearing returned, I listened to the monster snarling with anger behind me. I hoped against hope that it hadn’t begun to chase after me; if it did, I was done for. I made it to the edge of the forest and dodged several of the massive pines, while continuing to hold my bleeding abdomen. I could make out the trail in the dim moonlight and summed up all the strength I had to make it there.

I never slowed my pace, for fear that if I let up for even a second, I’d be back in the arms of the beast. I ran out onto the trail and was instantly assaulted by a blinding light and a force that felt as if an elephant had rammed into me. Before I knew it, I was flying, and landed with a thud onto the dirt road. I opened my eyes and saw three figures. Two of them, were natives of Ahtunowhiho, stepping out the truck they had just hit me with, the other, was the Wendigo. It was standing silhouetted against the moon at the edge of the dirt path opposite of me. It ripped the knife out form it’s chest and dropped it on the ground with almost an air of arrogance. I tried to get to my feet but felt fiery, staggering pain in my left leg. One of the men helped me get to my feet and practically dragged me to the vehicle and tossed me into the truck bed like I was a sack of potatoes. The force of landing on my broken leg brought tears to my eyes, but I was just to relieved to care. The man who brought me to the truck was The Bear. I didn’t have to see his face to know who that body and personality belonged to.

The other man stood in terror in front of the monster, raising a pistol before him. Before he could pull the trigger, the Wendigo grabbed the mans leg and dragged him off into the woods. I could hear screaming, and the sound of boots scraping against earth and snow.

I don’t remember what happened after that. I woke up in a hospital in Minneapolis, where a pretty nurse told me in a comforting voice that I was brought here by helicopter after a man found me on a trail. Apparently I was attacked by a bear on a rock climbing expedition. I knew it was completely untrue, but I just nodded my head and on the pillow.

Now i’m here, many years later, with a family of my own. I realized I could never publish what I saw in a book. If it really does grow strong with belief of it’s existence, I just couldn’t. Who knows what i’ve doomed Ahtunowhiho to after going hunting for this thing. Generations of torment from the Wendigo? I don’t know. Writing this here, putting it on this site…gives me closure in a way. Just letting it out and being able to tell my story…helps. At least here no one will take it seriously.

I learned just a few years ago, after researching the small town, that DeFago, the hunter, was Abraham’s great-grandfather, and that Abraham’s own daughter was taken by the Wendigo ten years before I arrived in the town. I felt bad that he died in the way he did, but maybe now he’s with her somewhere. I like to think that.

Some people can move on from traumatic events. I guess in a way I have. I still get paranoid when the wind picks up. I can’t stand going on camping trips, and to this day, on some nights… I swear I can still hear the wind calling my name.

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No Body, No Crime: A Cheery Holiday Tale

December 21, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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The neighborhood always was a tight-knit community. The gatehouse kept out all the wrong people, and the rotation of retiree guards provided a second filter for the riff-raff.

Most homes went for over half a million, but a few sold in the quarter-mil range. All of those, they were in the back, all on one cul de sac.

They all used the community pool.

It came as a bit of a scandal, then, when it wasn’t one of those houses that went into foreclosure.

It came as a bit of a scandal, then, when it wasn’t one of those houses that had the owners go missing.

They vanished.

They didn’t just disappear into thin air, though, oh, no. That would have been preferred.

They let the grass go, first. Neighborhood association letters and fines and summons piled up. It was quite scandalous when they actually lit a little fire in their driveway, burning all the notices.

In a further act of defiance, they stopped taking their trash to the curb.

So it was a relief when the young family of three who lived there just…left.

All their possessions, except a suitcase each and one of their cars, poof. Gone.

“Internet money,” the whispers went. “They never really belonged here at all,” people said. “I heard they found their minivan in long term parking at the airport,” they claimed.

That part was true. They did. And nothing else.

Meanwhile, the bank foreclosed. The yard was tended to by the neighborhood association, the house went on the market.

More new money moved in, but they seemed a respectable sort, so they were welcomed to Mallard Street. As it happened, they settled in right around Halloween, just in time for the kids to trick-or-treat and the parents to mingle at a couple of parties.

The first time the Jones met the Emersons, right next door, everyone was enjoying drinks, hilarious costumes, and the most delicious barbeque ever tasted, served from what was probably the largest, most complex smoker anyone had ever seen.

The Jones family were the newcomers, and they raved about the dinner and hospitality, and Mr. Jones asked about the smoker. James Emerson, proprietor of the region’s largest packinghouse, explained that he competed in barbeque cook-offs for fun, and he nicknamed his smoker the “Long Pig.” He liked to share his talents with friends, family, and neighbors at all major holidays and excuses to throw a party. “Everyone likes to come over for my dinners. Good fences don’t make good neighbors,” he’d joke, “good sauces do!”

“Just wait until Thanksgiving,” he winked. “We won’t be doing turkey. I have something special planned.”

Everyone got on famously.

Thanksgiving arrived.

The Emersons invited all of Mallard street, and quite a few folks from other places in the gated community (but no one from that cul de sac) for a Black Friday Night Party.

The smoker could be smelled all the way up at the guard shack starting Wednesday night.

As promised, the barbeque was amazing; Mr. Emerson had saved the youngest, tenderest of quality meats for the holiday season.

“What are you thankful for?” Mr. Jones asked as he enjoyed a plate, savoring each bite because he took the last available serving.

“New, respectable neighbors,” Mr. Emerson responded, stealing a glance at his wife and seeing her smirk where the Jones family couldn’t see. “I’m incredibly thankful that we’ve run out of the terrible ones.”

“Now that the freezer is empty, dear, I think we’ll switch to beef for the Christmas party,” Mrs. Emerson commented, offhandedly.

Everyone chatted and dined as the Long Pig ticked and popped, cooling in the November chill.

Credit To – Nick O’Caliban

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The Warning

December 12, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Endless.

Dark.

That was the road in front of me, stretching out farther than the eye could see in this inky blackness. Not a star in the sky tonight, and the moon seemed to be hiding from view as well. That was okay because I actually preferred the dark stretch- I found it calming to drive the narrow strip alone in the night.

It wasn’t often I had the opportunity to drive it and visit my parents is the country, and I was excited to see them. It had been a long time…too long. Being an only child, my parents had been devastated when I informed them I was moving to the city. With that being said, they of course supported me and invited me to visit often, which is how I found myself driving out after work. It was a long weekend, so I could stay Friday and Saturday and head back to the city on Sunday to have some me time.

The road had been fun when I was a child- the hills and bumps always had me lifted off my seat, giggling and shouting “wheee!” Every time we hit a large hill, my stomach would drop. I smiled at the memory, speeding up a little, intending to replicate the experience. The radio blasted a pop song, up way too loud to be good for anyone’s ears, but let’s be honest- it wasn’t like the music was that good anyway.

I checked the speedometer. I pressed a little harder on the gas, confident that I could maneuver this particular road with little danger. My car loyally leapt over the hills, bouncing me off my seat time after time. I laughed as my stomach flipped and flipped. I saw a curve up ahead and I started to gently hit my brakes. Just as I was going through the curve, a flash of blue up ahead caught my eye.

“Stop!” Someone screamed. My reaction to seeing a person standing in the middle of the road was to stop immediately to avoid hitting them. When I saw it was a young girl, I felt a wave of guilt crash over me. I almost hit that girl! I admonished myself. Her dress was a pale blue, torn at the hem and at the shoulder. The tear in the shoulder neatly matched the scratch on her arm, so I guessed she must have been running and caught a branch. Her hair was wet, matted down on one side, and she looked panicked. I felt sorry for her, but I was also scared. Did I help this girl? What was she doing in the middle of the road at this time of night? She stared at the car for a second, and then began screaming again.

“Help me! You have to help me! He’s going to kill me!” she cried, running toward the car. I had the doors locked, but her sudden movement had me reaching for the lock button. I glanced around but I didn’t see anyone else. Suddenly, I saw a man break through the bushes on the left. He was tall, with dark hair and a thick beard. Most importantly though, he was covered in blood and holding a knife. He seemed to look around for a minute, taking in the car’s bright lights, and then noticed the girl. He started in the direction of the car, obviously going after the young girl who was frantically pulling at the door handle.

“Please!” she cried, tears pouring down her face. More afraid of the bloody bearded man than the child, I pressed the unlock button hurriedly.

“Get in! Get in!!” I practically screamed, my heart racing. The man was so close to the car now, any second he was going to reach it and kill us both. The girl slammed the door shut and locked it just as the man reached the front of the car.

“Get out of the car!” he screamed, banging his fists against the hood. The girl cowered in the seat, taking in the environment of the car and stealing a glance at me. She didn’t respond to him.

“Get out of the car right now! It’s for your own good.” He said emphatically, banging his fists on the hood again, knife gleaming in the headlights and the glare momentarily blinding me. Suddenly, he began to move from the front of the car to the driver’s side window.

“Please get out of the car.” He pleaded, his voice a little different this time, almost begging for her to get out of the car. I looked at him and noticed for the first time that he was looking at me.

“Please get out. You’ve made a mistake. You don’t know what-“

I felt something hard and cold slide through my lower ribs. I cried out in pain and looked at the girl incredulously. With a malicious smile, she slowly began to twist the knife.

Me.

He had been warning me.

Credit To – K.R. Shann
Credit Link – K.R. Shann on Facebook

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Dancing Dead

December 2, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Jake shouldn’t be outside tonight. Let alone walk through the woods by himself.
But he’s just gonna drop by his friend’s house real quick to pick up his phone, which he forgot there a few days ago. How much harm can that really do?
A damp, blue tinted fog silently prowls the night, meandering through the towering trees. The moon has deprived the sun of its throne in the sky and the repetitive sound of his sneakers hitting the dirt road is the only thing accompanying him. With the soft harmonies of solitude cascading through the forest comes complete tranquility.
You can really tell that there’s almost no one outside right now. A different kind of smell drifts with the wind and a different kind of air fills his lungs each time he takes a breath. The sensation of undisturbed nature is a pretty rare thing nowadays. Maybe the rumors of this night and why you should stay inside was all made up by people who wanted to enjoy this once every year.

A bush rustles somewhere behind him.
Jake stops in his tracks and pricks up his ears. Nothing but the distant hooting of an owl. Trying not to make anything of it, he continues walking the narrow path in front of him. He only gets to take a couple of steps, though, before he hears another rustle, and freezes instantly. The sound is a little closer to him this time, but when he spins around to face the bush, he sees nothing. Must be a squirrel or something. Maybe a cute little fox. The bottom line is: it’s nothing to worry about.

Jake presses on, but the air that fills his lungs is now flavored with paranoia, which pumps out through his veins like a malicious virus. He tries to calm himself down, but when the third rustle comes, there’s no doubt that he’s scared. He quickens his pace and keeps his eyes steadily on the road.
Maybe he should have stayed inside. He could have just gone to get his phone in the morning. Why does he always feel the need to be a rebellious idiot?

That was a footstep.
Yep, that was definitely a freaking footstep landing a few meters behind him. He knows now that something is there in the forest with him—something that’s not a cute little animal. But he won’t look back. That’s what you should never do.
Instead, Jake keeps walking determinedly towards the edge of the woods with fear rising up inside of him like in a thermostat. The rhythmical footsteps keep closing up on him. It seems like no matter how fast he walks, the footsteps behind him are set to always walk just a little bit faster. He can’t get away from them.
And when he starts hearing the wheezing breathing filled with gurgling fluid from the unknown being creeping up on him, panic breaks loose.
Jake runs. He runs as fast as anyone of his height and weight can, but he knows in the back of his mind that it won’t be enough. The thing behind him keeps the same rhythm to its footsteps but now moves like a galloping horse—inhumanly fast.
The rapid and shallow breathing coming down his neck sounds excited, and he can almost hear a little bit of crazed laughter emitting from his pursuer. The trees of the forest fly by quickly, and the outer parts of Jake’s vision blurs. He feels the air around him get colder, and the light from the moon getting choked by dark clouds.
A hand violently grabs his hood, and his head is thrown forward before he falls heavily to the ground.

Jake slowly turns his head as he lies there, helpless.
He is met by a lucid pair of big white eyes, and the tall body of a man, looming over him. The man’s hair is disheveled and under the long, dark coat, his skin is pale and filled with deep cuts. The mere presence of his lacerated soul makes Jake dizzy.
Even now, while standing still, the man taps his feet in that same rhythm, and the shaky smile on his face expresses maniacal delight. He bends over slowly and takes Jake’s hand. His fingers feels bony and frozen. Then, all of a sudden, an electric feeling bolts through Jake. It’s like nothing he’s ever felt before. Jake stands up with eyes wide open and feels euphoria flow through him. The rhythm seizes him.
And while preserving the peace and silence of nature, he and the man dance away through the forest together.

It is said in Jake’s town that once every year, the dead rise from their graves. For one night, the ones who lived miserable lives get the chance to experience fun. And what better way to have fun than through dancing? The children are taught to stay inside on this night, however.
Because everyone knows that dancing is better when you’re two.

Credit To – Daniel. S

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