Vae Victis

July 29, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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17-MAY-2008 Fort Huachuca, Arizona

Just like the old marching cadence, it’s the“Same old shit again” indeed. And now here I am marching my own Soldiers off to one of several pre-deployment briefings being held today. Most of it’s just the usual mandatory stuff, what to do in combat situations we might not actually get to see, thank God. Our unit is comprised of mostly Signal geeks and I.T guys, at least a third of them are fresh out of A.I.T and they’re pretty easy to pick out of the crowd: They all have this terrified look on their face like they think they’re about to die as soon as they get off the plane, and I have to laugh because that’s exactly how I felt right before my first deployment to Iraq. I feel bad for most of them, T.R.A.D.O.C fills their heads with all kinds of bullshit about kicking down doors and pretty much duct-taping their buddies back together while they’re screaming for Mommy. It’s mostly intended to remind them that while they’re being trained in a technical capacity, they’re still Soldiers in the United States Army and very well may wind up in combat nevertheless. I understand why they do it, but they rattle off about it so much to these kids that it almost becomes counter-productive: Instead of learning how to just do their damn jobs, they lose sleep over nightmares about explosions and gore.

I remember being that scared before my first trip to the Sand-Box, now as an NCO myself it’s my job to set them straight well before this one officially kicks off. This will be my second trip to Iraq, for most of these guys it’ll be their first. Hell, for a few of the senior members of leadership and Command, this will be their second or third. Serves ‘em right for voting Republican, but of course, it’s not like I’m going to be caught saying that out loud. These scared kids are having a Hell of a time with a very simple cadence that they should damn well know from day one, a few of them are too scared to even open their mouths. They just march, lost in their own minds. And I’m fine with this, so long as they hear me order Mark-Time and Halt when we arrive.

I’ve got my own shit to do, I’m only leading these guys to their briefings because I had to fill in for Sergeant First Class Parvis when he showed up drunk again. This isn’t anything new for him, sadly. If he weren’t such a sadistic, sexist piece of shit I just might consider feeling bad for the guy because he has such severe PTSD, but after the last time he staggered past me and asked if my “carpet matched the drapes,” he’s damn lucky I left the building when I did. Parvis is one of those senior NCOs who really shouldn’t be wearing the uniform anymore. Sure, I made my complaints and reports, just like policy tells us to, but it almost never amounts to anything. The best I can really do is try to stay the Hell away from him.

He made a complete inebriated ass of himself in from of the entire Company this morning though, and this was a rare performance indeed coming from him: Instead of the usual nasty remarks and barely intelligible swearing, I could swear I heard him choke on a string of desperate apologizing and frantic groveling for forgiveness from every Soldier standing in formation. There were a few audible snickers, I tried not to laugh at him myself, Parvis is known within the whole unit for his completely non-sober tirades about this-that-and-everything. They almost always end with the usual screaming at all of us over one person’s mistake, his way of mass punishment over trivial stuff as a way of asserting power over the rest of us knowing full well he barely had any real power of his own. Gee, I wonder why… This time was a bit of a spectacle, sure. I grew up with alcoholic relatives, the public sobbing and endless train of “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I swear I’ll change blah blah blah” has long since lost it’s effect on me, but now I can only stand by and watch.

This is the end for SFC Parvis, finally. Command can’t cover for him anymore after this and they know it, at least I hope so. He did his time in Iraq just like I did, and it broke him. It happens, that’s what war does to people. The ones with any brain cells in their skulls go talk to a shrink or a chaplain, Parvis came home and went balls-deep into a bottle. No more family, no more friends, just drinking buddies and an undeserved rank-patch that’s been begging to be torn off his faded uniform ever since. Eventually, two other NCOs “escorted” him behind the back parking lot to our Commanding Officer, there were a few awkward murmurs from the Company but nothing out of control. Parvis was still losing his shit, all I could make out was some frightened gibberish over finding a weird little photo inside his truck after the Flag went down yesterday.

He was crying so hard about this stupid picture he was hysterical. Eventually the MPs had to get him, hopefully dragging his ass to therapy this time. The rest of the senior NCOs put me in charge of my platoon for a day, I bet nothing would have pissed Parvis off more than seeing a female NCO taking charge. Not long after the morning melt-down, we were given marching orders to attend our required briefings.

Something tells me “Pervy-Parvis” won’t be joining us on our little vacation this time around, or ever again, for that matter.

This can only be a good thing for the rest of us.

2-JULY-2008 Joint Base Balad, Iraq

See, guys? It may be hotter than the Devil’s undying cunt in the shade out here, but it’s not really so bad, is it? Compared to other bases and F.O.Bs here in Iraq, J.B.B is practically a country-club. A giant Post Exchange complex, at least two DFACs, there’s even a movie theater.

The last time I was out here, I could barely walk fifteen feet on the sidewalk before alarms went off left-and-right over incoming mortars and rockets. One time I had to take a roaring piss inside the very concrete bunker I had been stuck in for 2 or 3 hours, I wasn’t permitted to leave until we finally stopped taking fire from whatever the Iraqis decided to throw at us for the time being. That’s kinda their thing, aside from road-side bombs: They launch things over the fence at seemingly random times for indeterminate amounts of time. Sometimes it’s just one rocket landing in a ditch and then we resume business as usual, sometimes it’s two or three days before we get to see our beds because it’s just non-stop.

Things seem to be winding down this trip, supposedly there’s a big exit strategy in play and this sad chapter of American military history is going to actually end soon, but this won’t exactly happen overnight. Things have to be repaired, restored, reclaimed or straight-up handed back to the people of Iraq with a great big smile on our faces. Hey, don’t get me wrong, I may be a card-carrying Democrat but I fucking get it, okay? Arguably, we probably never should have come here, but it’s not as easy as just packing up and leaving immediately.

A few of the new kids seem to be getting used to this kind of life, none of them have been called on to go kick down any doors or dismantle any bombs like their well-meaning Drill Sergeants warned them about.

We got word from back home that SFC Parvis has been in the hospital ever since we left the States. It could have been the daily intake of gin and tonic taking it’s toll on his already war-ravaged brain, but it looks like the poor bastard finally lost his fucking mind and won’t be “Being All that He Can’t Be” anymore. He’s in a heavy lock-up because supposedly, after two doctors came into his room to try and treat him, one male and one female, he attacked them both at once. Funny, whatever stupid prank picture that someone put in his car that day, it really set him off this time.

True, he should have just hung up that uniform the first time he came home instead of being such a relentless dick for the rest of his career, but goddamn… Now I really do feel bad for him, a little. I never liked him, not from the start, but he’s still just a person in the end.

A couple of us were chatting about it on a smoke-break outside, a couple of the other guys that knew him were having a bit of a laugh about it. I casually asked if the picture he was so worked up about was one of them fucking his ex-wife or something, received with the usual sarcastic laughter, except for two of them. Not one blink, not one word, not one single peep.

“Yeesh, guys, what’s YOUR problem? Parvis was an asshole, whoever set him off was doing the entire Army a favor.” One of the other guys barked.

One dude just kinda took a nervous breath and shrugged, then another drag from a cigarette. The other kid was much younger than that dude, a Private Gerard according to his name-patch, he threw his to the ground and walked off.

What the fuck?

I’ve seen young Soldiers behave oddly under stress before, usually much worse than a quiet little tantrum like this, but something about this guy and his tense demeanor caught me a bit off guard. Maybe he doesn’t like other military women very much, which is entirely his fucking problem and VERY MUCH not mine, but those guys I can usually tell right away. Misogynistic little shits usually won’t even look me in they eye when I’m talking to them. But THIS kid… the look he gave me before he took off behind the concrete t-wall… made my heart stop. It’s the middle of summer out here in Iraq, suddenly it feels like February in Maine.

I have been shot at, multiple times on many occasions. I have seen combat, in all it’s horrible glory, up close and personal.

But THIS genuinely scared me.

23-SEPTEMBER-2008 Joint Base Balad, Iraq

Our Commanding Officer is dead!

We haven’t done anything outside the wire aside from minor equipment maintenance, and he never came with us on a single one of those trips. He never went out and about much, the only times I ever saw him was either at the DFAC or in his office. Nothing like this ever happened the last time I deployed, when guys died it was either because of the local anger catching them in the form of a bomb or an ambush, or just a dumb-ass accident. We’re just Fobbits for fuck’s sake, none of us have seen any actual combat since our boots hit the ground out here!

The morning rotation found him on the floor behind his desk, like he fell out of his chair and just fucking died. No one was allowed near his office while investigators were working, some of them were asking us questions about him and how he got along with us. I barely ever spoke to him, on the few occasions I did it was just business. I knew he was from Indiana, I heard he had a wife and a little girl, but we were always so busy I barely ever saw the guy most of the time. I was on the night crew, my shift ended at 0100 hours and when our relief showed up we always walked back to our rooms as a group: This place is even more dangerous at night because there are almost no outside lights to speak of. Anything can happen out here.

It must have happened after we were relieved, but the graveyard shift swears up and down that they didn’t see or hear anything strange. The floor was sticky outside his door, which was unlocked when his body was found, but that was about it.

Sometimes guys lose their minds out here for seemingly no reason, a Soldier is technically more likely to kill themselves than die in combat. While Officers aren’t completely immune from the seemingly never-ending plague of suicide within the military, it’s very rare that Brass actually end their own lives.

After a few brief questions, I asked a CID guy if I could at least step into the building to go pee, and he let me. I had to hold my breath walking past that office door, dead bodies stink something fierce right from the get-go: Within hours after dying, your muscles release and you shit yourself. It’s not an urban legend, I’ve seen it happen before. After my first deployment, I just kinda learned to… well, “expect” death. It’s a cold, inhuman thing to think and feel, and I know it. I feel horrible about it sometimes, but I accepted it the moment I signed that enlistment contract. There’s nothing I can do now except hold my breath and hope to God I don’t catch a whiff of my C.O’s last “Commanding action.”

But I don’t. I don’t smell… shit.

I skulk past his door on my way to the ladies’ room with my lungs filled and my entire face scrunched up, I’m suddenly slapped upside the nostrils with the stench of burning garbage.

It’s not uncommon here in Iraq, sometimes that’s how the locals dispose of their trash. There’s a burn-pit here on J.B.B, but it’s way the Hell on the other side of the base. And J.B.B is HUGE! It’s practically two separate bases that are bisected by a large collective of air-strips and runways where C-130s and C-17s take-off and land constantly.

It smells like a burn-pit, and… something else.

10-OCTOBER-2008 Joint Base Balad, Iraq

We have a new C.O. on the way, but we don’t know much about him. Supposedly, some green-horned jack-off fresh out of West Point who wants to tell the entire Army what’s up. Yay, I just love barely competent and inexperienced fresh meat telling me how to do my job, but considering the circumstances of how he got the “promotion,” I’m not really in a position to complain.

I had to give the whole lot a sexual harassment briefing in the conference room, again. Sure, put that awkward burden on the only NCO in the building who so happened to have been born with a vagina… I’d like to think that they don’t MEAN to be insulting by appointing me for stuff like this, because these things have to be discussed and I understand why. I just can’t help but get this fucked up feeling that they’re not even taking this seriously at all, even though in the Army a male Soldier is just as likely, if not more-so, as a female, to be assaulted or harassed, none of them give a shit. Neither does the entire Department of Defense, for all anyone can rightly tell. “Same old shit again…” for the most part. I’m starting to think that the only real reason I’m actually subjecting everyone to Death-By-Powerpoint about a subject we all know and love is an attempt to distract everyone from walking in on our old Commander’s still unresolved death.

If that’s the case, then I get it. I could use a distraction, too.

We all could.

Throughout the entire briefing, however, I noticed that Gerard never once glanced up at the Powerpoint slides. He stared off into space like he was high off his ass on something, lost in wherever he happened to be in his own mind. I was nearly done anyway, but that didn’t stop the NCO sitting next to him from giving a swift little kick to his ankle, nothing hard just enough to force him to “wake the fuck up” as that NCO so delicately put it. Gerard jolted in his seat with an embarrassing little squeak of alarm, looked around at the others, then at me.

Poor kid, he belongs in some comic book store playing table-top games with his hygienically-challenged Cheeto-eating friends. Not on the other side of the planet, certainly not like this.

“Fuck it.” I sighed, waved the signature sheet in front of the whole room, and told them to sign it and get the fuck out. The NCO who woke Gerard wanted to take him outside for a little corrective PT, but I told him I can take care of it.

Everyone left the room, probably thinking I was going to do the something mean to Gerard, but really I just wanted to talk to him.

“What’s your problem?” I asked him.

He took breath, hesitated. I was about to ask him again when he cut me off before I could speak, but I don’t think he did it on purpose.

“I didn’t want to believe it,” His voice cracked, he was turning white before my eyes, “I … don’t usually believe in that kind of thing, but I felt like…” His jaw wagged open and closed a few times, like that of a fish, “I just had to try.”

“Try what, Gerard?” Whatever he was afraid of, I could feel it. It was thickening the air all around me and in my own lungs as well. I don’t want to over-do it with this kid, but I’m starting to feel sick inside, “Do we need to have a chat with the First-Sergeant?” He shook his head, with lips flapping side to side from shaking so fervently.

“Are you thinking of hurting yourself?” As an NCO, I have to ask. It’s my job, and if HE DOES hurt himself, it’s my ass.

He shook his head one more time and scrunched up his face, like he was fighting to keep something the Hell out.

Oh Jesus Christ on crystal meth… He knows something.

“Gerard, please look at me.” I took a deep breath and tried to give him a reassuring nod, he looked like he was about ready to shit himself. He’s probably not used to NCOs actually being somewhat civil with him, which is unfortunately common among lower enlisted.

“Gerard,” I asked calmly, concerned, “Can you tell me what happened?”

His face went from white to red in about two seconds and his eyes widened like he was choking to death, I quickly took a step back because I wasn’t sure if he was about ready to hit me or have a seizure. What the fuck is eating him? No sooner did I yell out for help than Private Gerard hit the floor: Sure enough, he was actually having a fucking seizure.

Two other Soldiers ran into the conference room, tried to stabilize Gerard and stop him from accidentally injuring himself while I ran to Top’s office for the phone to call the Medics. I shoved past his opened door to discover him talking to the CID investigators before they noticed me coming in, just in time to hear one particular word so happen to slip from their mouths.

“Homicide.”

I can only assume they were following up regarding the Commander’s sudden death, seems a little fast if you ask me. I didn’t mean to interrupt them, I had no idea they were even here, but as soon as I alerted them to the matter of Gerard’s seizure they took off into the conference room for help.

When I reached across First-Sergeant’s desk for the phone, that’s when I saw the crime scene photos underhand. I’m no stranger to death, so the sight of his corpse in the pictures didn’t shock me all that much. There are politicians who think that women can’t handle the rigors and horrors of battle, yet they have no issue with sending us anyway.

There were holes in his uniform when they found him, but nothing to indicate what actually made them. Another photo had a note at the bottom of it, an investigator noticed that there wasn’t a whole lot of blood on the floor around the body. The third photo…

… Fucking Hell, man…

THAT was the photo that burned itself forever into my mind, THAT was when I knew that this wasn’t just someone getting pissed at him and beating him to death, or even having a stupid heart attack… that third photo was just an object found in his desk drawer with an evidence marker next to it.

“Found in victim’s desk: One Tarot card,” the notation read, “The Lovers, a major arcana card not usually interpreted as threatening. Only identifiable set of fingerprints on it belong to the victim.” I flipped the photo over for a second, just long enough to see something else written on the back, but that’s when Top came back into the office with the CID guys.

I snatched up the phone and kept slamming the buttons trying desperately to pretend it wasn’t working, but I don’t think they were buying it. They kicked me out of the office and grabbed the phone from me, but thankfully nobody noticed me tuck the photo up into the sleeve of my ACUs, I ran out just in time to catch a glimpse of Gerard. He wasn’t on the floor seizing anymore, but he was still visibly unwell.

He wouldn’t even look at me, but at least the medics were on it and looking after him. I guess someone else called from one of the other offices while I was fumbling through the murder photos of my dead boss, but one less corpse in here nevertheless, though, right?

Most of us were relived of duty for the rest of the day, they only kept a minimum crew of necessary personnel to continue operations. Top was pissed at me, I could see it in his face. I’m totally going to get an ear-full about it later, but at least Gerard was alive and being taken care of. The whole lot of us walked back toward our rooms quietly, no one really spoke to each other. I stopped at a road-side bunker telling everyone I needed a smoke-break, no one came to smoke with me. I guess this was their way of trying to show their disapproval of the situation, maybe a few of them even blamed me for Gerard’s mishap, but I was actually kinda hoping to have a moment alone.

I pulled out a smoke from my pocket, lit it, breathed it in deep. Goddamn, this is NOT how a deployment is supposed to work, especially not for a Company of tech-geeks with nothing better to do that stare at screens and code things! We’re just here to make sure the shit works, maybe turn it off and on again when it DOESN’T work, that’s it! Soldiers like US are where the term “Fobbit” comes from, we’re so sheltered and non-lethal that we almost never leave the proverbial “Shire” that is the main base. If we ever do wind up in combat, REAL combat, some shit has hit a really big fan! I re-enlisted into the Army Signal Corps because I was sick of being an MP that no one took seriously the first time I was here in 2005, boy was I misled.

Time to find out what is going on here, so I slid the now-bent photo out from inside my sleeve and had another look-over: I’ve seen Tarot cards before, every new age nerd brings a deck to a party to show off or to impress people with them. Some people have Bibles, others have Korans, then there are people with crystals and cards. I think they’re all bullshit, really, but this obviously meant something to SOMEONE, otherwise it wouldn’t have been left behind at the scene. The note was right, The Lovers card doesn’t usually have so-called bad-vibes in it.

There were two sentences on the back, each obviously written by two different people:

The first line read, “Why are their faces burnt out?” And upon re-examining the photo, I saw that there were in fact two neat little blackened circles where their faces were printed, any cigarette could have done this. They burns were precise, intentional, definitely not by accident. Someone MEANT to do this.

I flipped it back over to read the second line.

Upon reading it, though… my brain felt like it caught fire.

“Not this again! Secure the burn-pit site A.S.A.P.”

This has happened BEFORE?

13-OCTOBER-2008, Joint Base Balad, Iraq

Private Gerard is still in the hospital. He’s conscious, but he won’t eat or talk to anyone. CID has their eye on him, if he really does know something I’m pretty sure they’re going to find out about it. There’s talk of sending him back home, supposedly he has epilepsy. I’m no doctor, but I’m pretty sure that no one up and “catches” epilepsy while being deployed. It’s more likely that he’s always had it, but something probably set it off.

There have been a few intermittent rounds of indirect fire over the last day or so, but so far I don’t think anyone has been killed or injured. Even without the incoming mortars, though, I haven’t exactly been able to sleep very well. I have to force myself to shut my eyes at night, but it doesn’t help. I was never really that much of a drinker, but I could sure go for a beer right about now. No one has been talking to each other outside of duty since the murder, Gerard’s seizure only made things worse.

I can’t stop combing over this photo, either.

“Burn-pit site…”

“Not this again…”

I’ve been here on J.B.B before, back in 2005. It was an even bigger mess back then, wasn’t fixed up as nicely, comparatively speaking, as it is now. A few things have changed around a bit, some of the buildings have since been destroyed by mortars, on the whole I think I know how to get from one end of J.B.B to the other. I’ve been here long enough already, this is driving me nuts.

My shift always ends at 0100, without a flash-light at night I’m pretty-much blind.

I’m required to have at least two 30-round magazines and my M-16 with me at all times, just in case something does happen.

After I’m relieved for the night, tonight I’m doing to “get lost.”

Oh I’m going to catch SO MUCH SHIT for doing this if I get caught, but I feel like I have to.

“Burn-pit site…”

I can’t help myself.

15-OCTOBER-2008 Joint Base Balad, Iraq

Apparently, wandering off into the darkness all alone in a war zone wasn’t one of my better ideas. To be fair, there was no way for me to know a sand-storm was coming in the middle of the night because no one could see it until it was right on top of us. A sand-storm whipping up seemingly out of nowhere in Iraq. Gee, who’d have thought…

It was a VERY long hike from the fenced-off housing paddock to the area surrounding the burn pit. I didn’t exactly NEED my flashlight for the rest of the trip, I could smell my way over there in the dark just fine. They don’t really burn stuff at night if they can help it, the light of the fire attracts too much attention from the Iraqis. It was easy to creep behind t-walls and buildings once I was able to get away from the main roads. I snuck a cigarette or two along the way, periodically checking that I had my M-16 and both magazines close at hand, damn I was tense.

I accidentally disturbed a couple making out in a bunker. She looked scared, he looked pissed, I looked pretty stupid right about then and I knew it.

I smiled nervously, “Um… I won’t say anything if you won’t.”

They didn’t say anything at all, just stared at me looking extremely annoyed.

“Okay then, enjoy yourselves.” I left and didn’t look back, hearing only their gasps and groans.

That stuff happens out here all the time, it’s really not a big deal unless the wrong people start to notice it. More often than not, the Soldiers that hook up in a combat theater are actually married, but not to each other. I always found it a little fucked up that we have to have briefings about rape and sexual harassment practically every other week because Soldiers can’t figure out that it’s not okay to hurt one other, but somehow consensual sex between two men in uniform is so taboo that people actually get in trouble over it. And y’know, cheating on your spouse who’s waiting for you back home is perfectly fine too… Bastards.

Welcome to the Army: If it makes sense, it’s probably wrong.

Ultimately, though, that just means I need to be all the more careful out here in where I know I’m not supposed to be. I was an MP long enough to know the difference between someone who was lost and someone who was “lost.” And by lost, I of course mean trespassing. I continued into the void of the night, looking over my shoulder periodically. After a long, flat clearing of rock and gravel that seemed to make an awful lot of noise with every step, I came upon a chain link fence skirted by rusty concertina wire.

Well fuck, there’s only one way over this stuff.

I stripped the patches off my ACU jacket, took it off and threw it over the wire. Without the patches, I can’t be identified as it’s owner if someone finds it, but it also means the jacket itself is ruined. Whatever, Soldier: Stick to the mission. Climbing and hopping the fence, I proceeded exploring the area as quietly as possible until I noticed something odd straight off the bat.

The gravel under my boots didn’t crack as loudly when I stepped on it here and I couldn’t hear the whirring of the generators. I could see headlights of vehicles driving on base in the distance, but I couldn’t hear their engines anymore. Oh this feels SO WRONG right now, my instincts are telling me to go back but I kept telling myself that I had come too far and that I had to at least LOOK for something relevant. I had no idea what, but I’d probably know about it when I saw it.

And then, I did see it: A narrow circle of concrete t-walls, the very tall ones usually reserved for the base exterior walls or dividers meant to protect something from blast debris. The walls are covered in a patchy black coating of something, it could have been accumulating soot from being so close tot he burn-pit, but there’s no logical reason for this structure to be here all by itself in such an obscure location. People take things to the burn-pit to destroy them, not to protect them.

The t-walls were sticky to the touch and arranged very tightly together to form a sort of column, I began walking in a brisk circle around it’s circumference and not seeing any gaps between them. Well, there was one, about large enough to maybe fit my head through and look. I stared into the middle of the enclosure, raised my flashlight above my head and scanned the interior: There was only a pile of burnt garbage in the middle of the enclosure, that was it.

No, hold on, that CAN’T be it.

THIS is what needed to be secured “A.S.A.P?” A pile of burnt trash among an even BIGGER pile of burnt trash?

That’s when I noticed two things: Unlike the filth-coated exterior walls, which had already stained parts of my skin and clothes on contact, the inside walls were almost spotless. If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear this concrete structure was brand new.

Then the second thing.

The unscathed flash-drive atop the pile.

I couldn’t quite reach it.

I took the magazine out of my M-16 and attempted to knock it toward me with the butt-stock of the weapon. It’s a damn good thing no one can see me doing this, because the muzzle of the weapon is right at the base of my wrist, and it’s heavier than it looks. After two or three bumps without blowing my hand off, it comes tumbling close enough for me to reach down and pick it up, when some of the trash I jostled about fell from the top of the pile…

… to reveal a section of untouched cloth from some discontinued desert-cammo uniforms.

No one, literally NO ONE out here wears these anymore. How long has this pile been here and how come this flash-drive looks undamaged? Something IS fucked up about this place, but now that I got SOMETHING out of this trip I can finally leave now, and the sooner the better.

And no sooner did I stash the drive into the pocket of my ACU cap and re-sling my weapon, when I felt the wall of sand hit my face. It damn near knocked me flat on my ass, I reached for my cap to make sure it stayed on my head, and thankfully it did. I ran into the storm, but not very far before I made out the shape of my ACU jacket fluttering against the fence. I accidentally tore it in a few places trying to get it free, at this point I don’t even care about getting caught anymore. After the unsettling scene at the burn-pit, I just wanted to get back to my room and throw these ruined ACUs away. Getting caught might be a blessing in disguise, given the circumstances. There is no way in Hell I am going to be able to make my way back in this sandstorm alone.

This was a terrible idea.

I stumbled upon the road-side and found a concrete bunker I could duck into, hardly perfect cover but it sure beats being exposed out in the open. Once inside, I took the flash-drive out from my cap and took a quick look at the outer cover: It was sticky, but not like the t-walls. There was at one point a label affixed to one side that had since come off, but despite having sat out there for who knows how many years, the glue was still tacky to the touch. On the other side of the flash-drive, there were two words written hastily with a shaprie:

VaE viCtIs

Sounds Latin, and kinda familiar. I know I’ve heard this phrase somewhere before, but right now it escapes me. I’ll have plenty of time to check out the drive’s contents when I get back to my room, but for now I just need to lie low until this storm passes and hope that no one noticed me. The wind wasn’t beating quite so hard on the inside of the bunker as the outside, I took the opportunity to pull out a smoke and try to light it. I need some good-ol’ “Vitamin N” before I lose my fucking mind.

It took two or three clicks of the lighter before I finally got a workable flame, I was well into getting a well-earned cherry on head of my cigarette … that I noticed the flame had illuminated something in my peripheral vision. Not just on one entrance of the bunker, but from both sides.

It wasn’t the storm playing tricks on my eyes.

I haven’t been drinking, either.

And no, there’s nothing “special” about my favorite brand of smokes.

I don’t care WHAT my personnel file says.

Those discontinued desert-cammo uniforms from the pile…

…were now wearing their discontinued boots.

I don’t remember what was going on or how long I was there, I don’t even remember getting into the back of an MP vehicle. But that’s where I woke up, with plastic zip-ties around my wrists and a huge cigarette burn on my shirt.

20-OCTOBER-2008 Joint Base Balad, Iraq

I’m not allowed to give briefings anymore, not for a while. On his way out of the hospital, Private Gerard sobbingly admitted that he was the one who put the picture in SFC Parvis’s truck. He had stumbled across some online forum, maybe a Facebook page, about bullshit urban legends like Slenderman, something with a really long title about “Normal Porn,” and a story about a psycho kid named Jeff… Come on, no one in their right mind thinks any of that shit is real, right? He said he got the idea from reading some discussions on the page, some of the members claiming to be current and former military obviously told him a screwed up kind of war story and maybe, in his desperation, he thought it was real. Whatever Parvis must have done to this kid, it must have been pretty serious for him to resort to actually trying out something he read about on the Internet somewhere, hoping that it would work.

Maybe in a weird way, it did. But it doesn’t matter for Gerard now, he’s on his way back to Arizona and being chaptered out of the Army for medical reasons. People are pissed off at me over it, even though there was no way for me to know he had this issue. All I did was ask him a question, there was no way for me to know that other NCOs had been pushing him as far as they did. I thought back to the note on the photo, “Not this again…” I guess Gerard isn’t alone in his desperation.

As for me, well, Top was already pretty on-edge about Gerard. So when the MPs carted my happy-ass to his doorstep at 0500 or so… the look on his face was almost kinda funny. I was forbidden from re-entering the office until “the smell was gone,” I assume he meant from my adventure in the burn-pit. I had to throw away that entire uniform ensemble, even my socks. I’ve been showering 3 times a day ever since the MPs released me, I still can’t get the stink of burning garbage out of my hair. I’m giving serious consideration to going all Demi Moore from GI Jane, but it’s technically against the rules for women to shave their heads according to Regulation AR 670-1.

But, y’know, trespassing and possible theft of government property are both fine.

I’m going to be under a very big microscope for the rest of my time in Iraq, I’m probably going to be on the roster for every single “random” piss-test for the rest of my military career after this. Top asked me if being an NCO was getting to me… I know what that means, I’m not stupid. As if by some miracle, there hasn’t been any official paperwork thrown at me, yet. The Army doesn’t exactly WANT female Soldiers, they’ve made that perfectly clear, but deep down they know that they need us. Especially female NCOs, there are too few of us and we’re too far in between. I think that’s the only thing saving me from getting shit-canned right now, and I’m in no position to complain, really.

I haven’t been able to bring myself to examine the contents of the flash-drive, I stashed it in my computer case as soon as I could and I can barely stand the thought of opening it. I stopped keeping the case under my bed and moved in into my locker. I know I’m being ridiculous, but the events of that night have me THAT freaked out about it. I don’t give a shit what that counselor says, bits of old cloth might fly around in a storm but they sure as shit don’t stand upright. ESPECIALLY with boots that no one has worn in-theater almost since the war began in ’03!

I want to let this all go, I really and truly do. I want nothing more than to forget this ever happened, go about the rest of the deployment without fucking up again, and move on with my life. Will that be possible as long as I’m in possession of this flash-drive, though?

1-DECEMBER-2008, F.O.B Warhorse, Iraq

I’ve managed to stay under the radar for a bit, but Top had me transferred to this hole-in-the-fucking-dirt Forward Observing Base. The food isn’t as nice, facilities for females are sketchy to the point of being non-existent, but he hasn’t yanked my rank, soooo… again, I can’t complain. I’m not here by myself, at least. One of the usual smoke-break crew is out here with me, Gerard’s friend, the new guy who didn’t say anything after we all found out about Parvis. He was a little stand-offish at first, but it turns out he’s a decent guy. This is also his second deployment, as well. I’m glad I’m not stuck out here with a bunch of noobs fresh out of A.I.T, the few young Soldiers who came out here with us seem to be adjusting well, for the most part. Sure, things get scary when indirect fire comes in, but they’ve been pretty lucky here in that there hasn’t been a whole lot of serious action at Warhorse.

It may be dull, but it may be just the reprieve I need to figure all of this out.

It took me a fair bit, but I finally worked up the nerve to dig out that flash-drive I found. It’s still sticky on the surface, still smells bad, too. My computer is an old piece-of-shit Compaq laptop, so if a virus fried it, I wouldn’t have been too bummed out about having to replace it like I’ve been meaning to do anyway. Every time I read the lettering on this thing, I swear it feels like it knows I’m holding it.

Fuck it, time to get this over with. What’s the worst thing that could possibly happen? Is a creepy Japanese bitch going to crawl out of my screen and attack me?

I plugged it into my computer, it read the drive just fine.

I ran quick virus-scan on it just to be sure, didn’t find anything.

Hmm, so far so good. No blue-screens or tentacles popping out.

Just three folders: Two with people’s names, probably personnel files, and a folder just marked with the Roman numerals signifying the number 6, a big bold VI.

The name on the first folder was Giles. It belonged to a Warrant Officer, an ordinary looking dude from somewhere on the coast of Massachusetts. Impressive record, for the most part: Time in Iraq and Afghanistan, did some consulting in Kuwait not long after 9/11, he had a Master’s degree and a super-ridiculously high security clearance. Should I be reading this or even talking about this guy? Damn, better not show this to CID…

The name on the second folder was Leveau. Another female Soldier, a rank of Specialist. Her record said she was from the outlying areas of New Orleans, but hadn’t lived there since Katrina. Her record mentioned something about her interest in the arts, she had some previous years of college but never finished. Nothing extraordinary or particularly attention-grabbing, and from the look of it not really a trouble-maker either, so what do the two have in common?

Are there some details in the third folder? The one designated VI?

Am I absolutely sure I want to open this?

Click.

There was one file in the folder, and ordinary .pdf document. Sure enough, it was an incident report dated from 2003. Apparently, these two were caught together in a rather… shall I just say, embarrassing manner. According to the report, no one is sure how long they were seeing each other, but Officers and Enlisted aren’t supposed to be that involved with each other according to the rules. Sure, this kind of thing happens sometimes, but was this really worth throwing into a pile of trash to be burned? The file said they they were both in the process of being officially legally processed, they were both detained and being held at…

…Joint Base Balad. Wait, what?

The file also said that before official proceedings could begin, they both escaped and committed suicide somewhere in an isolated area of J.B.B… near the burn-pit. The report was signed by Leveau’s Commanding Officer, an man named Major Summerfield.

Okay, THIS is what the fuss was about? A couple of lonely grown adults were caught fucking and killed themselves? The report didn’t explain any details about their alleged escape, nor the method used in their mutual self-termination. I can’t imagine that two people who had just been hailed off to jail would have access to their firearms so easily, so I’m pretty sure they didn’t shoot themselves.

Something’s not right about this, any of it.

As soon as I closed the report, another document emerged. I guess you have to read the first one before the other becomes active, but… that seems really silly. There was no visible icon, just the usual highlighted blue field and the text bearing only it’s name:

vae_victis

The second I saw it’s title, every nerve, muscle and instinct in my body was begging me, almost PLEADING WITH ME not to open it the file. The floor felt like it fell out from under me and I could have fallen into the depths of the Earth itself, and yet here it was plain as day right in front of my face. I became so tense that I was struggling to swallow, and nothing had even happened yet! I swear I could almost hear my brain yelling at me, “Don’t do it, don’t you dare fucking do it!”

Something else, though, despite my own best efforts to fight the urge, was compelling me. I held my breath for a second, closed my eyes and tried to gather myself. Surely, this is no more dangerous than anything else I’ve done out here so far, yes? As long as I’m in my room by myself, not out roaming around in the middle of the night making trouble… What’s the worst thing that could possibly happen? I’ve gone through too much to just give up now.

Click.

There’s no sound, just a series of papers falling down flat in front of the camera. Like someone is dropping them within the frame on purpose, maybe someone wants me to read them. They look real enough, the sound of ruffled stacks of paper seemed authentic. The first paper that I could make out clearly read “Autopsy Report” at the top, it bore an Army insignia stamp at the top right-hand side. The smaller text was indecipherable, but the camera crept a bit closer. The next paper, presumably the next page, showed a few marginal comments and notes written on it. I couldn’t make out all of it, but some sections of the report were underlined with a thick pen with a small note next to it on the side, all ending with a giant question mark. The next page, the same thing, more notations and more question marks. The NEXT page, one big note scrawled at the bottom of it, “Suicide?”

The next page had a small photo clipped to it. The resolution on my screen wasn’t so good, but I instantly recognized what it was: Two dead Soldiers, a man and a woman.

Both wearing now out-dated, discontinued desert-cammo.

More papers, more somewhat pixelated images of the scene, the camera creeping ever slowly closer. More notes scrawled on the pages, “This can’t be correct,” more questions in the margins, this time with a red pen. The next page, a photo of the dead man. There’s so much blood soaked in through his shirt-collar I almost couldn’t make out his rank. It was the Warrant Officer, this must be Giles. A note at the bottom, “So, he bashed his OWN skull in?”

Next picture, the woman. She’s lying on her stomach with her head rolled to one side. Her hair is tied back, but very messed up like someone tried to pull it out. Her natural red hair is so matted up from dried blood and sand from the ground, it almost looks like one solid… thing, on her head. I can’t see her face clearly, there’s a huge dried-up stain from her blood soaking into the ground. Another note at the bottom, “Blunt trauma to the head from behind, no weapon found.”

The next photo, the expression on Giles’s face when they found him. Once blue eyes now clouded up to a pale grey, porcelain white skin spotted with his own dried up blood. The inside of his mouth was starting to turn blue, highlighting where a few of his teeth that had been knocked out.

The next photo, Leveau is rolled onto her back exposing the garish abrasion wound on her face: Something hit her so hard, it tore a massive section of skin right off and exposed the pulpy flesh of her entire cheek. I won’t be eating any meat for a while, not after seeing that.

Next photo, Giles’s body is covered in boot-prints, they vary in size.

Next photo, Leveau’s wrist was twisted so hard that it broke, flopped on it’s side like a dead fish.

There’s no way in Hell they did this to themselves.

The photos were coming slightly faster, there were no more notes on them. Just pictures of their battered, violated bodies. Photo after photo, details of horrific injuries and close ups of seemingly random features. Next photo, Giles’s clouded eyes framed by the darkening skin of his eye-lids. Next photo, Leveau’s mouth is propped open slightly to emphasize the extent of the wound on her face. Next photo, dried blood. Next photo, Leveau’s eyes. Next photo, Giles’s hand reaching for Leveau. Next photo…

Enough, PLEASE!

The second I went to close my lap-top, the next sequence of the video began: A conversation between six men, more Soldiers. All wearing the old desert-cammo. They were gathered around one standing in the center, a middle aged black man wearing an Officer’s rank patch. From his age and the coloration of the insignia, I’m guessing that he’s a Major. Is this Major Summerfield? The other five stood quietly while only one other spoke to him, the conversation was garbled and distorted. I could just make out a few words being said by the Soldiers, intermittent mention of “betrayal,” “Humiliating,” and the one that made my stomach tighten, but I’m all to familiar with, “SLUT!”

But what sickened me even more, was the expression on the Major’s face when that word came out of someone’s mouth. A cocked eyebrow, and then… a nod. The only words out of the Major’s mouth I could make out were “I’ve never liked doing paperwork on people.” He sighed, glancing down at the floor, “Let’s try something a bit more effective.”

I think I just realized something. I think I know what, more appropriately WHO, killed the two.

What am I still doing with this flash-drive? I should bring it to the MPs… wait, and tell them how I came about finding it? But I can’t just do nothing at all, and so I went to pull the drive from my laptop when my computer’s volume skyrocketed with anguished and panicked screaming. My screen went berserk flashing choppy footage of a man being forcibly restrained, getting kicked and stomped on. A woman, also forcibly restrained by two other men, being repeatedly punched in her face and abdomen.

I hit every key I could think of and nothing would happen, their screams were so loud that my laptop actually started to vibrate on my desk, each wet smacking sound actually made it move a little. Holy shit just stop! NO MORE! Jesus, this is fucking awful! I couldn’t power it down, I couldn’t make it stop, it just wouldn’t stop!

It didn’t want to, THEY didn’t want to.

They WANTED ME to see this.

Out of sheer panic, I started smashing my own laptop with the stock of my M-16. A few sparks and shards of plastic, but no more screams. No more fucked up photos of their corpses, no more back-room deals of vigilante violence, no… more…

I have to say something to someone. If I don’t, I’m probably going to lose my mind.

Turns out I didn’t have to, though.

The new guy, the quiet guy, had come to see me and I must not have heard him come in.

He startled me a bit, I was about to explain the situation when I noticed the tears in his eyes.

“I knew she didn’t kill herself.” He wept.

Is this shit ever going to stop?

28-DECEMBER-2008 F.O.B Warhorse, Iraq

I had been talking to the new guy, he was never exactly a new guy, he’d been in the Army for a while actually. At his highest rank, he was an E-6: Staff Sergeant. That was back in 2004. He knew SPC Leveau, they were in the same unit but in different Companies. They were classmates in A.I.T, they both arrived at their duty stations at the same time and both deployed to Iraq not long after the invasion.

They were friends.

He didn’t know Chief Giles all that well, he wasn’t officially attached to their mission but rather he would come by as something of a consultant for operations. He had no idea how Giles and Leveau met, but he knew that they were happy. Sure, Officers and Enlisted aren’t supposed to hook up… but who could blame two people for seeking some measure of warmth and comfort, some measure of sanity, in this sometimes Hellish place?

The only reason he knew about them seeing each other was because she confided in him, he said the smile on her face was enormous whenever she talked about him. New guy was married at the time, and thankfully NOT a douchebag, and so he didn’t pursue Leveau for a relationship and seemed genuinely happy that she had found someone.

Then she went off to meet him one night, and never returned.

The day she vanished, other Soldiers were looking mighty smug about something and a few were even giving each other high-fives. Leveau’s roommate, who supposedly was the one who turned them over to Major Summerfield, went on about lust and adultery being dreadful sins and that she needed to be “punished” for it. But according to the files, neither of them were married. Not to each other, not to anyone.

The military is full of Jesus-Freaks, some more zealous than others. I’d like to think that she didn’t know what she had actually done to them. In any case, Jesus doesn’t strike me as the type of guy who’d be down with murdering two people for being in love. Then again, there’s the entire Old Testament to consider…

For the rest of that deployment, Soldiers kept either dying or going nuts.

The first guy who died was ripped apart after a nasty explosion, even though he was the one standing farthest from the hidden road-side bomb when it detonated. The next guy was forcibly pulled out of a port-a-john after he had locked himself inside of it all night, and from the description he was built like Schwarzenegger. It took six MPs to drag him outside, all the while screaming “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! Take it, take it YOU CAN HAVE IT!” as he had ripped off chunks of his own skin. Major Summerfield said it was drugs, he spent the rest of his life homeless before he eventually killed himself. The Jesus-Freak roommate was found face down in a pool of her own blood at the doors of the base chapel… figures. Her uniform was full of weird holes that looked like something punctured the fabric, but didn’t break her skin.

When I asked him how many, aside from the roommate, that either died or lost their minds, he hesitated for a moment.

“I think there were five.” He whimpered, “Six if you want to count the roommate, but they each went home either in straight-jackets or body bags.”

“Who was the big dude apologizing to? The one who was dragged out of the toilet?”

 He shook his head, “I had no idea at the time.”

“Had?” I asked, “Do you have one NOW?”

He nodded, the tears came back.

“Yes, Sergeant, I do.” And he pointed at the fucked up flash-drive. “Leveau had a deck of Tarot cards, I found her deck the day after she went missing. I had to grab something of hers before they guys came by and bagged her stuff up, I knew… I just knew that something awful had happened to her, but no one would say anything to me. It ate me up inside the entire time I was deployed, I eventually, well… gave Major Summerfield a piece of my mind on her disappearance and here I am now just an E-3. My wife left me after my demotion, I guess she loved the pay-grade more than she did me.”

“What did he look like?”

“Oh, black dude in his forties. Not very talkative unless he’s in the center-stage and hates doing paperwork.”

Hates doing paperwork, so it was him in the footage…

“Where is he now?”

He sighed, “Retired as a Colonel, didn’t deserve to. He lives in Florida with his second wife and step kids. After we came home from THAT shit-storm, he was transferred elsewhere. Leveau’s family kept writing him angry letters and e-mails, he never answered a single one.”

I can’t say I’m at all surprised. There are some “leaders” in the Army, Officers or NCOs, that want all of the attention and “respect” but not one ounce of responsibility. I see it every day, assholes like Parvis and probably thousands of others. This was starting to make sense now, everyone who got a card or a picture with a couple’s faces burned out of it were people in positions of authority. Had I known about this earlier in my career, I probably would have saved myself A LOT of trouble. I know, that’s not a nice thing to say, especially right now. I’m starting to not care anymore.

“Why a photo or The Lovers’ card? How did THAT start?” I asked him, hoping he wouldn’t know.

And that’s when he started choking up, his face turned red and his face began to twitch. With a gasp, he tried to regain his composure.

“Because I was the first one who did it.”

Did he really just say this? He started crying even harder.

“What… the fuck are you talking about?”

“I was just… After weeks of not seeing or hearing from Leveau, I got so upset. She loved Giles so much, she hated having to hide it but they didn’t have much of a choice. No one really CHOOSES who they love, so I can see why having to keep it a secret ate her up inside. One day I just kind of ‘accepted’ that I’d never see her again, and after all the horrifying shit I had been hearing about how their bodies were found, of course I was angry! I…”

His eyes went blank and he stared off into space for a second, after a strained gasp he regained his thoughts.

“I took out The Lovers’ card and burned out their faces, I knew they were dead. Nobody would tell me, they didn’t exactly have to at that point. I was angry, it was kinda my own way of expressing my anger about it. At first I blamed them for, well, leaving me. I blame Major Summerfield for ending their lives, ending THEM… and maybe this sounds selfish, but for taking my friend away from ME.” He stared at the floor, tears falling onto it in steady little streams. “Would it have been so hard for him to have just done his fucking job? Suck it up, write out the paperwork and send them both home? Kick them out? No, let’’s murder them instead! THAT’S PERFECTLY FINE!” He was so upset he was shouting, and starting to scare me a little.

“I have to ask,” I sank into my desk-chair a little, I was very scared, “What did you do with the card you burned?”

“Bible-bitch took it from me, snatched it right out of my hands. I told her to leave me the fuck alone, I just wanted to work this all out for myself, but… some nonsense about fortune-tellers and sin. She never gave it back to me, she never had the chance. They found her in a blood-puddle two days later. No witnesses, no fingerprints, no external wounds. Not a thing.”

He stood up, collected himself and made for the door.

“I think I have to go.”

He left.

That was the last thing he ever said to me. The last time anyone saw him was a week before Christmas at the post office, said he had a Christmas card he needed to mail out, then after he did so he went back into his room and decided to dine on his M-16.

The card he mailed out went to Major Summerfield.

The only reason we found this out is because his wife found his body in their backyard yesterday, according to an e-mail from Brigade. No strange sounds, no animal bites, no external wounds.

They found him in his favorite deck-chair in the covered porch, lying there in a bathrobe that had a bunch of holes in it, clutching a printed stock photo of a seemingly ordinary couple with both of their faces completely burned out.

7-JANUARY-2009 Camp Liberty, Iraq

Our operations at F.O.B Warhorse have been shut down until further notice, all of our personnel were given orders to leave a few days after the suicide. They rounded us up at this megaplex of a base in Baghdad, we have to report in for formations twice a day and no one is allowed to go anywhere alone. Top has gotten weird about people disappearing ever since our C.O died, but the events at Warhorse didn’t help things.

Presumably as a gesture of trust, Top put me in charge of a small group of Soldiers and told me to make sure they didn’t go anywhere they weren’t supposed to, “like the burn-pit.”

Yes, he actually said that.

Haha, First Sergeant made a funny joke.

I’ve barely slept a wink ever since I opened that flash-drive, which despite coughing up the money for a brand new laptop, I haven’t been able to re-open since. Every time I plug it in, it just comes up as being empty. I’d have the other I.T geeks take a crack at it, but… not sure if it’s worth torturing them with whatever the fuck this is. Or worse, getting them killed over it.

I’m up to a pack and a half a day, no matter what I eat it always tastes disgusting. I even tried going cold turkey for a few days to see if my cigs were messing with my sense of taste, no effect.

We’re not even a third of the way done with this deployment and everyone already seems at their wit’s end. This could very well be wishful thinking on behalf of some of the troops, but there’s talk of sending people home early, notably anyone directly affected by the recent deaths. I’m thinking of volunteering to go, but so far it’s just a rumor.

A few days ago, I went to the shoppette for some snacks and a book, some things to keep myself entertained until this whole thing blows over (assuming it ever will.) Every shoppette has an aisle or a display table full of home decor type stuff, items to give Soldiers a taste of home. This one had a few desk-top photo frames for sale, one model had token pre-printed images of a happy couple that came with them.

There were only three or four of these things left, the others barely look like anyone had touched them at all. I bought one. I haven’t done anything with it just yet, I might not do anything at all.

This may be a foolhardy assumption on my part, but I think that says something about the power of fear in a closed social system like the Army. People who feel crushed by the weight of administrative incompetence or authoritarian abuses that they reach the point of desperation. It makes perfect sense why people resort to destroying some of these top-heavy, brass-grabbing figureheads that they can’t otherwise reason with or work around, usually they wind up doing it Fort Hood style: In a closed society where everyone is presumed guilty of something, I guess the only true crime is being caught.

Just like Giles and Leveau.

I think I’m starting to understand not only why their spirits can’t seem to rest, but why they’ve taken to killing people who misuse their positions, just like Major Summerfield. However, they have to be… I can’t believe I’m about to seriously say this and believe it, but… summoned.

I get it. I understand now. And I don’t think I can blame them.

18-FEBRUARY-2009 Camp Liberty, Iraq

Word from back home is that SFC Parvis finally killed himself: After a few more incidents of attacking his team of doctors, they took to sedating him regularly. After about a week and a half of this, he took his bed-sheet and twisted it around his neck until he basically strangled himself to death. This is going to sound awful, but given my history with him as my supervising NCO, I’m having a difficult time feeling bad for the guy. Still, suicide is an agonizing death any way you slice it.

Which got me thinking, if HE got a photo and that dude who locked himself in the port-a-john… Those two both LIVED, at least for a time, so what did they do differently?

It took me a while, but I think I have an idea:

They apologized.

For the most part, nobody truly WANTS to die. I’ve seen Soldiers under fire ducking behind cars or any kind of cover they can find while pleading someone or something, anything, for forgiveness. About half the time they call out for their mothers, it’s a basic psychology thing. They realize their own mortality, so some of them feel a need to kind of… repent, beg forgiveness for mistakes made. I don’t believe in God, but I have to admit, having seen these two… beings, including what they’re capable of, my mind is open to possibilities.

I still have that cheap little photo frame, but I can’t bring myself to do anything with it.

That flash-drive still won’t work anymore, I don’t know why I bothered keeping it.

My request to be sent home with the other grieving Soldiers was denied. Either they genuinely need the power of my estrogen-infused presence, or they’re punishing me still for Gerard’s mishap and my little adventure at the Balad burn-pit. Whatever, I survived one tour in this shit-hole already, I’ll just have to find a way to survive this trip.

3-APRIL-2009 Camp Liberty, Iraq

Since when are random bands of bored NCOs not worth their rank-patches allowed to barge into random rooms and do health-and-welfare searches?!?! This cock-bite came banging on my door just as I was getting ready to leave for the next formation without saying who he is or who he’s with, then when I answer the door he just pushed right past me like I wasn’t even there! Two of his subordinates tried to grab me, I managed to Sparta-Kick one of them back out the door and then that’s when mr big-stuff FINALLY decided to tell me that my room is being searched for contraband. Hey, I’m a female Soldier with a room entirely to myself and for all I know someone with ulterior motives is trying to break in, what would YOU think?

He was searching my stuff for about an hour, ripped my room the fuck apart, all he found were my smokes and my vibrator. Hey, I’m an adult and I have needs, too… Then he stands at my doorstep looking out at me like he was disappointed that that was all he found. He wanted to confiscate my favorite toy, but I guess he didn’t care for my proposition of letting him borrow it as long as he washed it off before he gave it back.

After he huffed and threw it back into the room, he muttered something about having a talk with my First Sergeant, and walked off smoking MY CIGARETTES with his cronies like he owns the entire damp encampment.

Thanks for making me miss morning formation, ass-bag.

Don’t worry, Sergeant whoever-the-fuck-you-think-you-are…

I’ve SO got you.

I’ll have a little present waiting for you next time, after I finish cleaning this up I’m going to “wrap it for you” and you’d better hope to God I don’t find out where your office is before I leave it in your desk drawer.

I Googled what the phrase Vae Victis means, it is Latin after all. Basically it means “woe upon the vanquished.” Some barbarian conqueror first said it after his troops successfully sacked Rome and some of the aristocrats had the gall to come crying to him about it.

I guess that was his way of saying “Fuck you and your fucking city, you fucking lost so GET OVER IT!”

Well fuck you, too, buddy.

Vae fucking Victis!

10-APRIL-2009 Camp Liberty, Iraq

Top swears up and down that no one matching the description I gave him came to see him, but that a few other female Soldiers within the Company came to him voicing similar complaints. Unfortunately, none of them thought to get his name. I’m hoping that none of them were injured in the process, guys like that can be… dangerous. Many of the girls have requested new living arrangements because they’re scared, I don’t blame them at all. Top said he’ll look into it, but it might be a while.

I told him I could make room for one in my quarters, he said he’ll think about it.

It’s been a few days and this guy hasn’t come back, which is good because the last thing I need is one more reason to lose precious sleep, which I’m still be rely able to do still. When there aren’t bombs or rockets being thrown over the wire at us, I swear I’m still hearing those sickening screams in my head. Sergeant Douchebag who ransacked my room seemed to have completely missed the flash-drive as well as the then unused photo frame.

So yeah, I took the liberty of modifying the couple’s picture for him as a little “welcome back gift.” Or maybe I can’t just hand it to him, maybe he needs to find it? If so, I need to either find out where his Area of Operation is and make sure he gets it, or just stuff it somewhere in my room until he comes back. IF he comes back.

I feel like I’m sitting right on top of an IED, I still can’t believe I actually MADE ONE OF THESE! What am I supposed to do with it if I never see him again? Should I burn it? Maybe I should just take it outside and burn it right now… or will that just make something else happen? How do I know that they won’t just come after ME? I’m not so sure I want to encounter those two again, even though they didn’t physically hurt me the first time around, or the second, I probably should have thought about that before I burned the faces out of that stock-photo.

I was pretty pissed off when I did it, too. Maybe it needs the rage in order to work, maybe they feed of off it and use it to kill their victims.

I don’t know, I’m not sure that I WANT to know anymore.

I just want to go home.

17-MAY-2009 Camp Buehring, Kuwait

I can’t find it!

A few days after our re-deployment briefing, I was packing up my stuff to make my way out of this awful place. I’m certain that I packed it with my personal stuff, I checked on it daily! I kept it face-down with some of my books, and now I CAN’T FIND IT ANYWHERE!

What if someone else finds it and they die? Will… THEY kill an innocent person? Can they tell the difference between an asshole and an ordinary guy? I already know that they can operate outside of the Middle East when Summerfield got what he had coming, but … can they follow people? If so, I think I’ve drawn their attention plenty already.

Why do I feel like that IED I’ve been sitting on, waiting until that bastard came back, is about to go off?

I’ve been trying to keep myself distracted until it turns up. The others like to go off to the USO to play video games, but I just don’t feel like going anywhere. The last thing I want to do is play Call Of Duty with a bunch of macho meat-heads, for many of them that’s the closest they’ll ever come to seeing actual combat. Psh… then they have the nerve to go on about women not being able to hack it in the Army.

I’m too tired and too fucked up in the head right now to argue about it, I haven’t slept a wink since we got to Kuwait. It’s probably the sleep-deprivation, but I’m seeing shit out of the corners of my eyes and I swear on my life, it looks like flashes of old desert-cammo.

I’ve been trying to keep my mind occupied by reading books and playing games on my new laptop, I have a SNES emulator and some games that I used to play as a girl. I’m trying to kill the dread that keeps creeping up in my mind with cutesy shit like Mario and crappy Disney games, but it doesn’t seem to work. One minute I’m playing the old Sim City on my computer, the next, I see my old C.O on the screen, being repeatedly assailed by two pale figures, thrusting their hands… right into him. Right THROUGH his uniform… and inside his writhing body.

One time I was checking my e-mail, I was interrupted by two pairs of clouded eyes staring back at me, INTO me… followed by a blue-screen.

I have to find that picture, A.S.A.P.

20-MAY-2009 Camp Buehring, Kuwait

I still can’t find the picture.

I’ve been ordered to go to the clinic on the other side of camp. Apparently, I struck a Soldier who was trying to wake me for PT. I don’t remember doing it, and I apologized to him, he said he thought I was having a nightmare, but… so yeah, they gave me some valium.

I’m still afraid, even though I know I’m going home soon.

Valium doesn’t make you happy or sane, it just makes you not care anymore.

1-JUNE-2009 Camp Buehring, Kuwait

We’re getting on the plane tomorrow, thank God.

I can hear two people walking around the tents at night.

Everything I touch feels sticky.

I’ve gotta find that photo and get the fuck outta here!

2-JUNE-2009 Rammstein Air Force Base, Germany

I brought my assault-pack with me on the plane and took it into the bathroom during our re-fuel stop here in Germany, my pills are in there.

I went into the ladies’ room within the holding area to go take a piss followed by my meds.

You’re never going to believe what I found at the bottom of the main compartment.

Please, please whatever MP or CID guy reading this… don’t open that flash-drive! I don’t care who orders you to do it, don’t… fucking… open it. A Courts-Martial will be nothing compared to what they’ll do

CID Report: 3rd of June, 2009.

Deceased is a 28 year old caucasian female, rank of Sergeant (E-5) returning home from a particularly difficult deployment in Iraq. Other Soldiers describe the victim as bull-headed and mischievous, but an otherwise decent NCO who started showing signs of mental distress after the deaths of two people in the Company while deployed. Both deaths were ruled non-combat related, one an alleged homicide with no conclusive evidence as to what happened.

Body was found when a Soldier was sent to retrieve her well after boarding call. No screams were heard, so signs of a struggle have been observed, witnesses don’t recall anyone following her to the restroom. It should also be noted that the entire restroom surfaces, especially around the body, are sticky to the touch and there’s an almost overwhelming odor of burnt trash. Soldier’s supervising NCO told a story of a mishap at a burn-pit site in Iraq.

Victim’s uniform is full of hand-sized puncture-holes but there are no external wounds on the body itself. Bluing of the skin around the abdomen and noticeable amounts of blood emitted from her mouth, nose and ears, indicate massive internal injuries.

Found among the deceased: An assault pack full of books, a computer and some personal hygiene items. A photograph was found face down with the body, a paper image of a man and woman in an embrace, but their faces appear to have been burnt out with a lighter (victim appears to have been a heavy smoker.)

Aside from a hastily written journal entry, which has already been bagged for evidence, only one other object of interest was found among the deceased’s belongings.

A slightly damaged flash-drive with some Latin words written on it in place of a label:

“Vae Victis.”

Credit To – Egodram

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Hoarding

July 25, 2014 at 12:00 PM
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My aunt was a kind and benevolent woman. She was widowed, but never allowed her situation to get the better of her. She had a stern outlook on rules and etiquette, but a heart of platinum. She gave to charity even when she barely had enough for herself and she was loved by everyone… except for me.

My aunt wore a disguise. Her facade was so convincing I would love her for many years before.

Before.

Back in the days before I would often visit my aunts old house by the sea and would always be thrilled for the opportunity. She was an elder, but her house was never a bore. It was filled to the brim with knick-knacks and photo albums. Some in the town called her a hoarder, but she always preferred to be called a collector. A ‘collector of memories’ she would often tell me as we sat by the warmth of the fire that always bellowed in its stone cage. I would sit on the carpeted floor and listen quietly as she strung tales of the adventures of her youth. The stories of my young aunt clashed heavily with the frail figure I now saw rocking back and forth in her chair.

I was hooked on her stories and would not let her take me to my bed before hearing at least one. She also gave me free range in her home and there was plenty to explore. Her house had been built during the years of prohibition and the old place had been equipped with various nooks and crannies and the occasional hidden room or tunnel. The secret rooms were always dusty and filled with relics of years past. Whenever I asked her about a bottle cap or playbill I found littering the floors of the hidden storage spaces she would only tell me “Oh, sweetie, you know me…I never throw anything away!” then she would laugh and send me off with a sandwich or an apple in hand to go play some more.

I said before that she gave me free range of her house, but to be honest that was not completely true. There was ONE room that she forbade me from entering. “The basement is too old and dangerous, sweetie, you mustn’t ever venture down there, do you understand?” I would always smile and nod yes before going off on another adventure. Not that I forgot the room, I would often wonder what lay behind the old oak door that blocked me from my potential exploration. The door was always locked, though and I would lose interest very quickly.

That is how things went for a while until she started to show signs of mental illness. She began forgetting things. Small things at first…where she left her keys or that she had already bought eggs the day before. She still smiled through it all and would often dismiss her troubles by giving a simple “silly me, my head is full of rocks!” Although she never forgot her mantra “I never throw anything away” and would continue to tell me the stories attached to each object in her collection.

Her mental state slowly slipped away until she couldn’t even remember my name, let alone her own. I was in my early 20s by this point, but I continued to visit my beloved aunt up until the day she finally died from her illnesses. On one of the last days I spoke to her she was sitting in her chair by the fire as she had many times before and mumbling to herself. “Harold…Harold…Harold…” She was muttering my late uncle’s name over and over again. I knew little about my uncle, because he was one of the few topics she never spoke about, and to hear his name escape her lips for the first time since I could remember was shocking. “Auntie, do you want to say something about Uncle Harry?” I leaned in close and watched as a crooked smile went across her lips. Her teeth were yellow and brown in spots and obviously decaying with her age. She laughed for seemingly no reason and let out a raspy “I never throw anything away, child, never…” Then she just stared off into space and wouldn’t answer me. A few days later she died at the town’s hospital and we buried her the next day. Preparations had been in place for some time and the whole ordeal was over pretty quickly.
I learned a few weeks later that she had left the old house to me. I was very excited. This house meant the world to me and I decided to move in as soon as possible. I moved in a few days later and carried my bags up to what had once been my designated bedroom for when I visited. After all the boxes had been carried up I decided to look around my old playing ground. It was relatively the same as before, but age had withered it some. It would need some work, but I was up to the task if it was to restore my aunt home. I spent the next few weeks dusting and patching up the place and made a good amount of progress. The place was starting to look like it had 11-15 years ago. Her old knick-knacks still crowded every shelf and mantle in the house and that was just how I wanted it.

The only issue I had, though, was that at night the house made noises. I tried to tell myself they were just the sound of an old house settling and that I should ignore it. The sounds kept me awake however. I swore at time it sounded like rattling coming from the depths of the old estate. I even thought I heard grunts and voices at one point. This went on every night for weeks and I was getting less and less sleep.

One day while I was finishing up cleaning I noticed for the first time in years, the old basement door. I had grown so accustomed to it being off limits that I hadn’t even acknowledged it this entire time. However, now this was MY house and I had a right to finally see what secrets it held. Besides, I had to clean that room as well as the others. The door, however, was surely locked as it had been for years. I then caught sight of something shiny sitting atop the doorframe. I was a lot taller now than I had been as a child and assumed that is why I had not seen it before. I reached up and brought down a brass key. The key’s appearance conflicted with the rest of the house as it was shiny and polished without a speck of dust on it.

I slid the old key into the lock of the basement door and the tumblers moved with ease. The door creaked open and I was presented with wooden stairs that descended into darkness. I flicked the light switch on the wall, but a fuse must have been blown, because I was still staring at a black pit. I rushed and got a flashlight from my tool bag and was relived to find the batteries were still in working order. I shined the white ball of light into the basement and saw that the stairs themselves looked as if dust had been kicked around and the handrail was wiped clean. I descended the stairs and flicked my light from one side of the room to another. The room was filled with what seemed to be old science equipment. Beakers and test-tubes littered the tables and jars filled with various liquids and gels sat on the shelves. I wondered if my aunt had helped some old high school clean out their old science gear or something and was quite surprised to find this kind of stuff in her basement. There were other jars on the back shelves that seemed to hold organic tissue of some sort, I guess it was probably from frogs or pig fetuses as those where used in high school science classes sometimes.

Then my light landed on what appeared to be a large black box in the middle of the room. It was locked and I could see that little dust had fallen on it. I finally put together that my aunt must have been coming down here regularly when I went to sleep, hence why some of these objects had not been left alone long enough to gather dust. I walked towards the box and gave it a light kick, perhaps it was something from her travels? Or maybe it was just a bundle of old clothes she had put away for a rainy day.

As I kicked the box it moved. It moved not in the way an inanimate objects moves when force is applied to it, but as if something had moved from inside. I kicked it lightly again and it shook more violently this time. I thought I heard noises coming from the black mysterious object. The sounds seemed inhuman in nature and were mostly grunts and moans. The box was shaking more wildly now and I assumed that some animal had gotten stuck in it. My heart was pounding and my eyes were wide. I could feel my palms becoming clammy and sweat rolled down my cheek. This whole experience was so weird, so bizarre that I had no idea how to handle it. I saw that the box was locked with a sliding lock and I walked gingerly towards it. My hand was shaking but I managed to grab a hold of the latch and slide it so as to unlock the box.

The lid flung open and a black figure sprang up. I screamed. Or at least I tried and I fell backwards on my butt in the dusty ground. My flashlight fell from my hands and rolled away and I turned to bolt up the stairs that would lead me away from the horrid basement. I ran and ran until I was through the doorframe. I slammed the door behind me and locked it with the key that I had somehow managed to keep in hand. I felt a hard impact from the other side and my ears were polluted with the vile sounds of inhuman groans and the scratching of nails against wood. I ran to the phone and called the police.

By the time the authorities got to the house the noises had ceased. When they opened the door that found the thing had left long bloody scratch marks on the other side of the door. There were even some broken fingernails lodged in the wood. When they ventured further they found the body of the creature I had ran from in the dark. It had apparently died sometime between jumping out of the box and now. It was a man. His body was badly mutilated and was barely able to tell he was male. His skin was black and flaky and charred as if he had been in a fire. His eyelids and lips had been cut away and his tongue removed. One of his arms had been completely severed at the elbow and the autopsy revealed some minor organs had been removed. His genitals were horribly mangled and his bones showed signs of multiple breaks. His remaining teeth were cracked and jagged as if hit by a hammer. He had no hair as it had probably been burnt off in whatever fire had destroyed his skin. He had no toes on one foot and only half his fingers on his remaining hand. There were various chemicals found in his system that told us that he had gone through several heinous injections. He was nude except for a medical bracelet that had been fused to his wrist in the heat of the flames that had scarred him. It read ‘Harold’.
Upon hearing this I immediately remembered my aunt favorite mantra and my stomach became weak, “I never throw anything away”.

My uncle had gone missing over 15 years ago and was presumed dead. I never thought I would ever meet him. Old journals were found in the basement that revealed that my Aunts mental illness was worse than we could have ever imagined. It turns out that she thought her actions were justified under orders from God. She thought it was her duty to cleanse my uncle’s soul through continuous suffering and had trapped him down in the basement and tortured him for years. When I went down and unknowingly opened the door of his cage he wasn’t trying to chase me, but rather he was trying to escape the hell he had been confined to for 15 years…and I and locked him there. I had kept him in the basement and he died never being able to see the light of day again.

He died in the same hell he wanted nothing more than to escape from. I carry that guilt with me forever. I put her house for sale afterwards, but no one wanted to buy the house of the murderous woman who kept her husband in a box. The house burned down some years after, no one is sure if it was arson or an accident, but I didn’t care. When I heard the news I smiled.

I still have the key, though. A reminder that you can’t trust those you love the most at face value. A reminder that the person you hold in highest regard could be a devil in disguise. Besides, despite my animosity towards my aunt I cannot get myself to get rid of the key.
After all, I never throw anything away.

Credit To – Clever Boy

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Home Improvement

July 21, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Jim and Mary couldn’t wait to buy that house up in North Hill. They lived in it for one day and then they couldn’t wait to get outta that town, and they told me they’ll never move into another house for as long as they live. I couldn’t believe it when I heard it, ‘til Mary gave me the details. Jim won’t talk about it even if you threaten him.

It was a gorgeous old house like somethin’ out of a 1950’s suburban family show. Single story, two bedroom home with walk-in closets and a small cellar. Cozy, stylish. They weren’t sure if they were gonna buy at first, but the place was so cozy they couldn’t resist.

First night in the house they were sittin’ in bed, readin’, when they heard this racket in the neighborhood like somebody tearin’ concrete up with a sledgehammer. Whack whack whack whack. Jim and Mary worried it’d go on all night, but it only lasted five minutes. They figured a neighbor was doin’ a little home improvement before bed, shrugged and went back to readin’.

A while later they heard a spade shovelin’ dirt. That went on for almost an hour. Mary cracked a window but she couldn’t pinpoint where it was comin’ from. Then it stopped.

Not long after came a hammer drivin’ nails into wood, and the sound of a woman cryin’. She was beggin’, too, but the words were muffled like she had somethin’ in her mouth. Mary started gettin’ scared, but Jim assured her the neighbors were probably watchin’ a movie with the volume up real loud.

After ten minutes the hammerin’ stopped, but the cryin’ rose to miserable, terrified weepin’ and it sounded real close. Well now Jim was worried and he and Mary went out to the front yard, but they still couldn’t pinpoint the sound. They just got back inside when the woman started screamin’ at the top o’ her lungs. When the deafenin’ roar of a portable cement mixer echoed throughout the entire house, it finally hit Jim and Mary that the sounds were comin’ from their cellar.

Jim panicked. He grabbed his .357, ran to the kitchen with Mary at his heels, flipped the cellar light on and leapt down the cellar stairs. He got halfway down and froze.

The cellar was empty. And it was quiet.

They packed their things and left.

Not long after all this happened, Jim and Mary did a little research on the house’s history hopin’ it’d put their minds at ease. They found a headline from 1992 what dripped ice water down their backs. The last man to own that house was a quiet, timid carpenter who found out his wife had been sleepin’ with her party friends behind his back and laughin’ about it. When she came home one night the husband bound and gagged her, nailed her in a makeshift coffin, and buried her alive beneath the concrete cellar floor.

I’m not sayin’ I believe in ghosts or anythin’. But maybe houses got memories like people, and maybe they have a hard time forgettin’ certain things.

Credit To – Mike MacDee

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A Problem With Ants

July 17, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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:: TUESDAY ::

When it finds food, a single ant leaves a chemical trail which allows fellow ants to reach the same location with considerable ease. The chemical trail is strengthened with each passing ant, and soon enough hundreds can be seen in merry procession between their undisclosed palace and the occasional leftover.
Renée knew this because she once saw it, years ago, on a British documentary. The show was hosted by one handsome gentlemen, one that, she was not afraid to admit, made her blush. She admitted it to her friend. She admitted it to her daughter. She admitted it to her husband. Such confessions made her friend uncomfortable, her daughter angry and her husband, well, they had no effect on her husband. All for the better, she thought.
These memories came to her when she saw the tiniest of ants probing her dining room table for a reason to bring back a few friends. If Renée were to let it go, the reason would soon present itself in the form of a freshly baked pear pie, cooling down on top of the table.
Renée was expecting a few visits in the following days, regarding the recent disappearance of her husband, and so she couldn’t afford a problem with ants. That’s why she gave the black intruder an easy climb to her thumb, she let it stroll around for a bit, she let it find her nail, and then, only then, she smashed it between two nails. She was able to hear the most subtle and smooth of cracking sounds escaping the poor bastard. Renée smiled. Her hearing was still in impeccable shape.

:: WEDNESDAY ::

When preparing an infusion, great care must be taken with the temperature of the water and the time during which the herbs are left to brew. Fresh tea leaves call for water well bellow the boiling point, and should not be brewed for more than two minutes. Black tea needs boiling water, and to sit in it for around three minutes. Other herbs are more tolerant. They can be brewed in boiling water for up to seven minutes.
Renée knew this because she once heard a woman explaining it in one of those afternoon shows. At that particular moment, her bag of white tea, already dipped in hot water for far longer than it should, would probably be no better than dirt. She would need to prepare a new pot once the call was over.
“And that’s why I won’t make it today,” her daughter told her over the phone.
“That is quite a pity, Madeleine. I was looking forward to play with my grandson,” Renée replied. “I made you both a most delicious pear pie.”
“Will you forget about pie? We’ll be there Saturday. What did the police say?”
“About what, my dear?”
“About what? Are you shitting me? You called the police, didn’t you?”
“Madeleine, what have I told you time and again about your language?”
Her daughter was growing more impatient with each reply. “Have you called the police or not, mom?”
Renée hadn’t. She saw no purpose to it, of course, but others would. Her daughter most of all, and she didn’t want to upset her daughter, not in the slightest. “I am about to. You have no worries, no worries at all. How are things going for you with all the teaching?”
“My teaching? I don’t believe this. Father is missing, mom! Why are you always like this?”
At that moment, Renée noticed something wrong on top of her table, something wrong with her delicious pear pie. “You have a safe flight now, you ear?” she distraughtly told her daughter.
“For fuck’s sake, mom! I will call the police! Are you listening? I will do it, I will do it right now.”
“You do that, you do just that, my dear,” Renée replied, just before hanging up the phone. Her eyes were on all those black dots moving on top of the table, all those black dots moving all around the covered pie plate.
“Well, isn’t that a pity,” she told herself upon uncovering the pie and finding it swarming with ants.

:: THURSDAY ::

Port wine is a very sweet fortified wine that originates from the northern regions of Portugal. Although other countries produce wines similar to Port, they are not remotely comparable to the ones from those God blessed valleys that fall into the Douro river.
Renée knew this because her friend Justine brought her a few bottles of Ferreirinha from the liquor store. She didn’t even know how to say it, Fe-rrei-ri-n-ha, but it was the most delicious wine she had ever tasted, and one of the most expensives too. It was when the police officer started to look handsomer than it deserved, that she knew she had one more serving than was wise. Justine started laughing in the living room as Renée escorted the officer out.
“So, your daughter called the police,” said Justine, when they found themselves alone. “Not you?”
“So many wrong doings need their attention these days. I saw no reason to bother them.”
“Alphonse was a sweet man, Renée. I am sure he deserved more. Most unlike my own husband. I told you what he did?” Renée drew a sympathetic smile and drank a bit more wine. She knew the story by heart. “He went all unfaithful with me.”
“He did, didn’t he?”
“With a women full of youth.”
“Of course.”
“Twenty something.”
Renée corrected her. “Twenty three, you told me once. Or thrice.”
“Twenty three. All firm in her bosom and quick on her panties.” Renée laughed and Justine got up. “I feel indispose, Renée. I need to use your restroom.”
As Justine slowly walked out of the room, Renée raised her glass against the sun and stopped laughing. “Alphonse had a few secrets of his own, you know?”
Justine shouted from the restroom. “Did he, now?”
Renée knew she was now on the verge of tossing out too much of what she held inside. It was that darn sweet Ferreirinha, slowly taking her by the hand where she didn’t want to be taken, not with Justine, not with anyone. “He was having his way with children”, she said. Renée heard a small shriek from the restroom as response. “I was appalled too when I found out.”
“Oh, God!” shouted Justine.
“I confronted him, of course. No children, I told him. You must promise me, no children. And promise he did. He swore we would stop. Only he didn’t.”
“Oh, my God!” shouted Justine, louder than before.
“I found out he hadn’t stop a few years later. Oh, what fury did I unleash upon him. He cried and sobbed in front of me, but I was filled with rage. We are not monsters, I told him. And I repeated it, again and again, as I punished him. We are not monsters, Alphonse!”
That was the moment Justine screamed from behind her. Renée felt a shiver racing from her fragile skull to her osteoporosed toes. What happened next happened so fast that Renée’s hazed mind had trouble grasping it fully, and so only a few minutes after it was all over did she pick up the phone and called for an ambulance.

:: FRIDAY ::

Boric acid affects the metabolism of insects, and its dry powder form is abrasive to their exoskeletons. For this reason, it is a chemical commonly found in pest control poisons.
Renée knew this because the clerk at the local drug store told her as much when she went out to shop for something to deal with her ant problem. Renée was highly suspicious of industrial chemicals, and she used them as little as she could, but the former’s day incident was not to be ignored, specially not since the call came that morning.
And the call came to tell her Justine just passed away.
Renée was having a hard time remembering all the details from the previous afternoon. The little she remembered involved Justine crying Oh God! a few times over. At first Renée thought such was her reply to what she was hearing regarding Alphonse, but when she came running and screaming from the restroom, undergarment on her heels and a battalion of ants crawling up her legs, she knew otherwise. She had a strong visual recollection of Justine’s large body falling, arms raised like an alleluia. After that she remembered a handsome paramedic inside her house, taking her friend away with great care. “You’ll be all right, lady,” he told her. “You’ll be all well and good.”
From the damage in her living room, Renée was confident that Justine’s head went all the way into her porcelain’s dalmatian, but that was not what killed her, they said. She died from massive internal bleeding, they said. Preliminary observations suggest the bleeding was in her uterus, but an autopsy was needed, they said. Renée didn’t need an autopsy to know what caused the bleeding. She left her home immediately after the phone call, decided only to return when she had in her hands something like boric acid.
Once back inside her house, she proceeded with extreme caution. She had the restroom clean of ants the night before, with plenty of water and plenty of detergent. She now knew it wouldn’t be enough. She went there first, but the restroom had no sign of the small beasts. Cautiously, she inspected her kitchen, then the three bedrooms, then the study room, then all the cabinets and again the dining room. Every time she saw a crack in a wall or on the floor she would pour boric acid inside. But she didn’t find one ant, not a single one.
When she ran all out of house to search, she realized something. There was one place she didn’t look. “I see now,” she cried. “Oh, Alphonse, you monster! This is your doing!” She then went back to the study room, moved the carpet aside, and pulled open the trap door that lay beneath.

:: SATURDAY ::

During the previous two decades, one hundred and fifty five people were reported missing in the nearby towns. Eighty three of them would not be found alive ever again.
Renée knew this because she and her husband tortured and killed each one in a secret compartment in their house. Truth be told, Renée was not part of all the torture and all the killing. She never touched children, of course, and when she found out Alphonse was doing it she resorted to everything she could to stop him. “Only monsters kill children, and we are not monsters,” she told him. He did succeed in killing nine sobbing infants, four boys and five girls. This was what a slightly drunk Renée was telling her daughter that Saturday afternoon. “So don’t come into my house talking about him like you would of a saint,” she cried, while savoring one more sip of Port.
Madeleine was covering her son’s ears with her hands. Then she told him, “Go to the study room, you go and you stay there until I go get you.” The boy did as he was told, and the door closed behind him. Renée went on with her story.
“I thought that last time would truly be his last, but then your boy was born, and this year he reached the age at which he picked them. I saw how he looked at my sweet grandson, I knew it in my heart that he would sooner or la – ” Madeleine stopped her with a violent slap. The wine glass shattered at the kiss of the floor, staining the carpets all over. She then held her mother by her arms and shook her like she was casting the devil away.
“Are you deranged? Are you fucking mad? What are you talking about? I’ll put you in a fucking institution! Where’s father? Where is my father?”
“I’m trying to explain it to you,” Renée begged. “What I did to your father, I did to protect your son, my grandson. I am not a monster.”
“A monster? You are telling me you are not a fucking monster?”
“The swearing, dear, please stop it.”
“Fuck the fucking swearing. Fuck you,” and she slapped her mother once more.
Her son cried from the open study door. “Mom?” Madeleine shouted him back. “Go back to that room and close the door.” The boy did as he was told.
“You go easy on your boy, Mad-” Madeleine slapped her again. And then again. Renée tasted something different from Port. She tasted blood. She looked up at her daughter and, for the first time, she was afraid.
Madeleine’s eyes were predators, her voice was a predator, each word a sharp claw. “You fucking tell me what you did to father, or, so help me God, I don’t know what I’ll do to you.”
Renée started to cry. “I killed him, of course,” she said. “I had to. I did it in our secret room. But then I got ants all over the house, and I went down there, and I found out his body was covered with them. It was his body that was bringing them, summoning them. He was commanding the ants, you see? And those ants killed Justine, Madeleine. You see what monster he is? Our dear Justine! But I went down there again, I confronted him one last time, yes I did. I took poison with me, and I poured it all over his body. We’ll be fine now, we’ll be safe, dear! It was boric acid!”
Renée stopped talking. Madeleine was still holding her by her harms, sketching bruises where her fingers touched. For a brief moment there was nothing but the sound of mother and daughter panting like they where one.
“Why are you doing this?” Madeleine asked, her eyes all tears. “Why?”
“You have always liked him better, Madeleine, but you loathed me. Why? He was the monster. He. Not me.”
The boy’s timid voice came once again from the study room. “Mom?”
Madeleine was getting ready to shout her son back to the study room, but then she saw his face. Only she didn’t see his face, she didn’t see his eyes, his nose or his mouth. All she could see was his head covered in black, the deep black of furious ants.
It took Renée fifteen minutes to get up from where her daughter left her when she ran from the house with her son in her arms. During that time the walls got slowly covered in black, as did the floor and the furniture. It was when the ants started to cover her whole body that she decided to go down the trap door one last time.
A few seconds later smoke started to come out. By evening the whole house was burnt to the ground.

:: SUNDAY ::

A severe burn victim is frequently placed in a medically induced coma. Typical analgesics are ineffective to relieve patients as they are treated. If awaken, these victims experience excruciating pain.
Madeleine knew this because she worked as a teaching anesthesiologist in a university hospital near the capital. Before, Madeleine used to work at her local hospital, but the new job payed better, and her husband worked nearby. For the past three years she lived a two hour flight away from her parents and her friends.
“Firefighters pulled your mother out before it was too late,” the doctor said. “But I won’t lie to you, Madeleine. With these burns, well, I don’t think she’ll make it.”
“I understand,” Madeleine replied.
“We will do our best. You know we will.”
Madeleine nodded. The doctor placed her next question with caution. “Madeleine, what happened?”
Madeleine didn’t answer. “I mean, the police came with her, and I’ve heard things, about bodies found beneath your house.”
“Not my fucking house.”
“I understand, but -”
“Listen, I know I shouldn’t, I know the rules, but can you find a way for me to stay with my mother tonight? Just for this one night? For old times sake.”
And this was how Renée got to see her daughter one last time. It wasn’t, however, the most pleasurable of experiences.
Late in the night, when the hospital’s roar calmed to a low hum, Madeleine disconnected her mother from all the monitors and alarms, then she woke her up from the coma. The suffering was probably unbearable, but Renée had her throat in such a condition it was impossible for her to scream. Madeleine knew this. She also knew the pain would rapidly throw her mother into a syncope, and so she gave her small adrenaline injections, enough to keep her awake and aware, not enough to shut down her heart.
That was all Madeleine did before siting in front of her mother’s bed. She didn’t speak. She didn’t touch. She just observed. She observed as her mother tried to move her burnt arms, as she tried to move her burnt fingers, as she tried to move her lipless mouth. Madeleine noticed how her mother never shed a tear from all the pain. She assumed her lacrimal canals were probably roasted meat at that point.
She wondered why she wasn’t crying herself.
Hours later the sun rose from the hills and Madeleine rose from the chair. Her mother followed her movements with fearful eyes. Madeleine wanted to say something, something painful, something final, but she felt empty, she couldn’t find the words, and so she returned her mother back into her coma and left the room.

:: EPILOGUE ::

Two months after her mother died, Madeleine lost her first patient. She was washing her hands when the chief surgeon came storming in. “What the hell happened in there?”
Madeleine’s reply came stone solid. “The correct dosage was administrated. Patient had unforeseeable allergic reaction.”
There was a problem with Madeleine’s reply. The problem with Madeleine’s reply lay in the fact that it was a lie. The truth was she had recently found out that she came from a house of monsters, and so she needed to test herself, she needed to know.
Now she knew.

Credit To – Rohnes Loraf

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The Darrow Curse

July 10, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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This story was transcribed by Randy Baker, editor of Penguin Books, during an interview with comedian Becky Somers at 4 p.m. on October 31st, 2013. Baker was orchestrating an urban legend anthology for Penguin Horror, and sought out Miss Somers after hearing that she was knowledgeable about the little-known Darrow Curse of Wheatleigh, Kansas. The interview took place in her home in St. Louis.

“The Darrow Curse” was one of many entries cut from the final edition of the anthology, for reasons Baker never explained. He’ll decline to comment when asked about it.

Celts used to believe the dead walked the earth between the last of October and the first o’ November. They called it Samhain or somethin’, and it was a lot like Halloween as we know it, where people’d dress up like the dead and make asses o’ themselves. But the Celts had a good reason for it: dead folks leave you alone if they think you’re dead, too. The dead, accordin’ to the Celts, are somethin’ to be feared and respected.

Already told this story a hundred times to the police and the shrinks and friends and family. But it’s been years since last I told it, and it seems appropriate to have someone get it down on paper on the eve o’ November First.

At the time I was goin’ steady with a wonderful fella named Harley Davies. He had a big heart, Harley did, and he loved to have a good time, but he never said much ‘cept if he was alone with you. Harley was only comfortable with crowds when he was onstage. He had a little sister named Sage who was even less inclined to talk to folks ‘cos mentally she was basically a child. Their mom and dad died in a car accident when they was little and Harley’d been takin’ care o’ Sage ever since. She followed him around like a puppy dog. The three of us was real close and we went everywhere together: a trio of dumb, drunk, perpetually bored twenty-somethin’s.

We formed a dinner theater troupe with our friends Teddy and Enoch in 1991: melodramas, murder mysteries, and hammed-up musical performances. Mainly played bars and restaurants in Laclede’s Landing, but we’d play anywhere if the price was right and the crowds agreeable. People mostly came for Harley — you put Harley in front of a piano and he caught fire — but Enoch’s off-color jokes and my skeezy wardrobe helped bring ‘em back every night. Sage had nasty stage fright and refused any part we offered, but she never missed a show.

We had friends in Colorado who gave us a ring one afternoon — good friends from college we used to have insane Halloween parties with, and who now run a fancy club in Aspenvale — and said they wanted to get together with us and set up a regular gig. Enoch and Teddy had stuff to take care of in St. Louis first, so me and Harley figured we’d drive out ahead of ‘em, and we couldn’t leave Sage behind if we put her in cement shoes and locked her in the basement.

Road trip wasn’t supposed to be that long, ‘specially with me drivin’ — Harley useta call me Breakneck Becky. Turned out he didn’t take as much care of his truck as he thought; so on October 31st, 1994, we was stranded on the I-70 in the middle o’ nowhere (or Kansas, if you’d rather call it that). It was only an hour before some nice trucker stopped by to give us a lift to the nearest town, which happened to be a Podunk farmin’ community called Wheatleigh. You can’t see it from the road because o’ the golden wheat fields guardin’ it like a castle wall.

Wheatleigh looked like the late nineteenth century had kept it as a souvenir. There wasn’t one paved road or light pole anywhere. Their phones probably still needed a switchboard operator. They didn’t even have a town sheriff: everyone knew everyone, so nobody could get away with nothin’, I guess. Harley found a modern mechanic there and they went to get his truck. Me and Sage toured the town and got to know the locals while waitin’ for Harley to get back.

The people was real friendly to strangers. Everyone welcomed us with a smile, asked what brought us around their humble community, offered us food, beer, or both. Despite the small population, the place was always pretty busy. The streets was always bustlin’ with trucks and tractors and people luggin’ supplies to and from the town center.

Mrs. Winston, the stout old farmer’s wife in charge o’ the inn, was happy to tell us all about the town’s history. Wheatleigh kept its economy goin’ for over a century with wool and wheat — it got its name for the bountiful wheat crop it’s churned out since the first house was built there. I pointed my thumb toward the huge field we saw on our way in and said I wasn’t surprised, and complimented how healthy and beautiful it looked.

Mr. and Mrs. Winston frowned and looked at each other. Mrs. Winston cleared her throat and pointed opposite where I had. “The Edisons raise their wheat crop up that way. What you saw was the Darrow place. Nobody uses that crop.”

“Is it just for show, then?” I laughed. Mrs. Winston ignored me and went on about the Wheatleigh sheep herders.

Harley and the mechanic came back with the truck pretty quick. The mechanic told us it would be in the shop for twenty-four hours or so, but he could fix ‘er up for cheap. On our way back to the main road we passed a cluster o’ little houses what looked like their roofs would collapse any minute, with a couple goats munchin’ grass in the nearest one’s front yard.

A crude scarecrow was propped in the middle o’ the yard with its burlap head hangin’ low as if it was prayin’, its eye and mouth holes stitched shut with black thread so it looked like it was sneerin’ like a fox. In a morbid touch, around the scarecrow’s neck was a hemp noose — not attached to nothin’, just severed and danglin’ like a necktie. Seemed an odd place for a scarecrow, since there wasn’t no crops in that yard, and I never heard tale o’ crows eatin’ goats.

While tourin’ the rest o’ the town we realized everybody in Wheatleigh had one o’ those things planted on their property somewhere, or was in the process of plantin’ one. When Harley asked Mr. Edison about ‘em, he told us an interestin’ story.

In the nineteenth century a serial killer known as the Harvest Phantom terrorized Wheatleigh for several years: every harvest season somebody would leave their home to run errands, only to turn up dead in the street, usually chopped up with sickle and axe. The yearly death tally ranged from as few as one to as many as five. The Harvest Phantom was revealed to be Tommy Darrow, the son of the big wheat crop owner. They never found out why he did what he did — the town was too hasty to lynch him.

After Darrow died, a plague o’ misfortune swept Wheatleigh every October, usually at the end o’ the month. Darrow’s mother was found drowned in the bathtub one year. Mr. Proctor’s sheep got sickly and started dyin’ for no reason. Houses caught fire and children went missin’. And everyone who tried to take over the Darrow property died in freak accidents, almost always while in the wheat fields: heart attacks, strokes, fallin’ on dangerous tools, one gruesome incident with a combine. People said it was the ghost o’ Tommy Darrow exactin’ revenge on the town for not givin’ him a proper trial; they even said his specter walked the streets at night on the 31st of October — the night he was lynched — and anybody who stayed out after dark would never be seen again. Not in one piece, anyway.

So they started puttin’ effigies on their property to ward him off, made in a scarecrow’s likeness, ‘cos the Harvest Phantom wore a burlap sack over his head that made him look like one, himself. The noose around the neck reminded the specter he was supposed to be dead and sent him back to his grave ‘fore he could kill again. Durin’ the harvest season, everyone erected their effigies in their front yards, and barred their doors and windows at 9 p.m., and they didn’t let nobody in or out no matter what ’til the sun came up. Since they started doin’ all that, and since the Darrow crop was shunned by everyone, there’d been no incidents.

“In all the time since, you never once had a nighttime emergency?” said Harley. “Or gone out for a midnight stroll, even?”

Mr. Edison looked at his feet for a moment, then said, “I had a rotten day one Halloween when it was past curfew. Got to feeling spiteful and told Sarah I was going to work on the tractor to let off some steam, ghostly killer legends be damned. The panic attack this induced in my sweet little Sarah is something I never wanna see again.

“When she calmed down, she told me her great grandfather was once the town physician. The Proctors’ youngest son was sick with fever one Halloween night, and needed treatment. Doc gave them instructions over the phone, but they insisted on a house call; he decided the boy’s health was more important than some archaic superstition, so he packed up his little doctor’s bag, said ‘Be right back!’ to his family, and scurried out the door.”

Mr. Edison took a moment to puff on his pipe, never lookin’ any of us in the eye. When he was sure we was all listenin’ intently, he said, “They found him the next morning in front of his house, slit groin to throat and gutted like a hog. He’d died stepping out of his yard.”

Not believin’ a word of it, I made some dumb remark about hirin’ Mr. Edison as our troupe storyteller. We had a good laugh, then we left the Edison place in search of any ol’ way to kill the next sixteen hours.

Suffice it to say, there ain’t much to do in a podunk town like Wheatleigh ‘cept drink and fornicate, and with Sage taggin’ along, the second was outta the question. So around 7 p.m., when the clouds slithered ‘round the moon and strangled most o’ the light out of it, we found ourselves on the road leadin’ up Wheatleigh Hill to the Darrow house. It stood in front o’ the shunned field like a soldier guardin’ the gate to a forbidden castle. It was only a minute’s walk from the main road and Harley thought it’d be fun to go check it out.

Front door wasn’t locked, so we let ourselves in, hopin’ to find some creepy souvenir to show our friends in Aspenvale. All the furniture was intact like nobody’d touched the place for a century. We turned into children: ran up and down the halls, makin’ a mess o’ the place and scarin’ the piss outta each other. After a while we mellowed out, passed around a fat joint, shot the breeze, reminisced. Sage checked her watch and got flustered when she saw it was ten ’til 9 p.m., when the town would go into lockdown. We considered bein’ festive and stayin’ the night in the spooky ol’ Darrow house, but Sage didn’t like that idea one bit, so we raced to the Winston place.

We shacked up at the inn for the night and indulged ourselves on the free beer Mr. Winston was nice enough to offer us (that tall old fella was a spittin’ image o’ the one in that American Gothic paintin’). We didn’t get shit-faced exactly, but we was already high and gettin’ more obnoxious by the minute, be sure o’ that. God bless those Winstons and their kindness and patience, and their good humor when we joked to their faces about their town and the backwards yokels that lived there. They just smiled and laughed with us, like they’d heard it all before from the last dumbass city folk who’d passed through.

God bless ‘em for savin’ my unworthy ass.

It was MY stupid goddamned idea to show the populace o’ Wheatleigh how to have fun on Halloween. Thanks to their rigid superstitions about the harvest season, nobody in that town ever knew what Trick or Treats was, or at least never got to practice it. After my fourth beer I pitched the idea of goin’ door-to-door Trick-or-Treatin’, and scarin’ people, and makin’ a general nuisance of ourselves. Harley and Sage giggled like the hatter and hare at the thought of it.

We decided NOT to tell the Winstons, for fear they’d have heart attacks and spoil our fun before it started, so we planned to sneak out the kitchen door while they read quietly in the lobby. It was 10 p.m. when we was set to leave, and when my clumsy ass tripped and stumbled into the pretty potted plant in the hall between lobby and kitchen.

SMASH. Beautiful vase and moist dirt scattered in billions o’ little pieces all over the hallway.

Mrs. Winston was heartbroke: the vase was a gift from a great aunt she was real fond of, and though she insisted it was all right, I could see her eyes wellin’ up with tears as she knelt to clean up the mess. This was the cherry to top our sundae o’ callous rudeness and drunken stupidity, and I said so and apologized for what assholes we’d been. I insisted on cleanin’ it up myself and promised to make it up to her somehow. She wasn’t exactly touched, but she appreciated my sincerity (I ain’t the worst actress in the world, despite what the St. Louis newspapers say).

So Harley and Sage snuck off without me to get a head start, with my promise that I’d catch up as soon as I was able. They slipped out the kitchen door and onto the dark, abandoned streets of Wheatleigh. I figured it’d take a half hour makin’ that hall as spotless as we found it.

I wasn’t five minutes into my chore when someone screamed two blocks up the road from the inn — a loud, guttural, throat-tearin’ scream that sounded like Harley.

At the second scream I was on my feet and runnin’ to the kitchen door. Mrs. Winston was smaller and stouter than me, but she had a farmhand’s muscle and stopped me like a wall o’ bricks: she leapt between me and the door, threw the bolts in place, turned and held me fast with steel hands.

“Don’t you dare,” she said over the third scream. She didn’t yell or nothin’. She said it calm and cold like she knew I’d obey.

I kicked and twisted and writhed and screamed. I fought ’til I was exhausted; she was planted so firm it was like wrestlin’ a slab o’ concrete. “That’s Harley!” I shouted. “Lemme go! That’s Harley!”

“What the hell they doin’ on the streets this late?” said Mrs. Winston, her voice hollow now, her eyes bulgin’ in a mix o’ horror and outrage.

There wasn’t a fourth scream. The town was quiet ‘cept for the rustle o’ trees swayin’ in the wind and my own short, feral, sniffly breaths.

I was sober now.

“Nothin’ to be done,” she kept sayin’ sadly. “Just wait ’til mornin’. Nothin’ to be done.”

I backed away from her, pointin’ a finger at her like I could magically turn it into a gun anytime I wanted. “This ain’t funny, you hillbilly bitch,” I growled. “Joke’s over, y’hear me?”

“Nothin’ to be done,” she said, shakin’ her head, her face wincin’ in sympathy.

“You better hope my Harley and Sage ain’t hurt.”

“Just wait ’til mornin’, Sweetheart. Nothin’ to be–”

I stamped my foot on the floor and shrieked for her to shut the fuck up ’til I erupted like a sob volcano. She moved toward me to take me in her arms, still sayin’ that same line over and over.

“Just wait ’til mornin’. Nothin’ to be done.”

Mr. Winston was sittin’ in his chair in the lobby when I tore away from his wife and made a mad dash to the front door. I didn’t realize he’d moved there from the couch, where he’d sat readin’ before; and I didn’t notice the coach gun in his lap ’til he leapt to his feet and pointed both barrels right at my nose. I froze with my hand an inch from the door lock.

His gentle face was hard as stone now, his eyes red and hot. “Back up from that door, Miss,” he said, “and set yourself down.”

I musta looked like a big-mouthed bass just then, my eyes buggin’ outta my head, mouth openin’ and closin’ and nothin’ comin’ out. He told me again, and I stepped back three paces.

“You people are insane,” I whined. “What if Harley’s hurt? What about sweet little Sage? You gonna just leave ‘em there in the street?”

Somewhere out back o’ the house, another sound joined the rustlin’ of the trees: a hideous brayin’ sound that wasn’t quite breathin’ and wasn’t quite gaspin’.

We heard the kitchen doorknob rattle like someone was tryin’ to tear the door off its hinges. Then BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM as somebody’s fist pummeled the door in its frame.

Again. BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM.

The three of us stood there, not movin’. My feet started pointin’ down the hall, but my eyes went to Mr. Winston and his shotgun. Both was still watchin’ me hard.

The breathin’ faded away to silence as the source moved away from the kitchen door. It returned a few seconds later, louder and clearer as it approached the lobby door.

The doorknob rattled near outta its bolts.

BAM BAM BAM went somebody’s fist against the door. Now I realized what the breathin’ sound was: terrified, exhausted, inconsolable sobs.

I shouted Harley’s name and moved for the door, but Mr. Winston stepped between us, pressin’ the shotgun to my throat. His eyes was empty and dead like a doll’s. He’d blow my head off without a second thought.

“Please,” I almost managed to say without blubberin’. “Why’re you doin’ this? Let him in for god’s sake! He could be hurt!”

“Your Harley’s dead already,” said Mr. Winston.

“He’s right there on your doorstep!” I shrieked, spittin’ like a maniac.

“Right now that door’s a floodgate, and Tommy Darrow the flood. Understand? Better to have two dead than five.”

The sobbin’ continued as Harley clawed at the doorknob. I shot a pleadin’ look at Mrs. Winston, and it dawned on me that she’d been shuttin’ all the curtains in the lobby while her husband kept my attention.

A new rustlin’ sound, different from the trees: the Winstons had bushes lined up under the front-most windows of the lobby. Two windows left of the lobby door, the bushes rustled. Then there was a thud.

Harley’s grimacin’ face appeared at the bottom of the window, like he’d dragged himself to it. He looked right at me, his face splashed with red, his wet eyes bulgin’ out of the sockets with terror. He started bangin’ a blood-sopped hand weakly against the glass just as I ran to the window.

Mrs. Winston beat me there and grabbed me, wrestlin’ my hands away from the window latch. I started callin’ her every filthy name I ever heard at the top o’ my lungs.

She stumbled and lost her grip on my wrists; I threw her to the floor and clawed at the window latch, to fling open the window and drag Harley inside where he’d be warm and safe; to squeeze him in my arms and soak up all his pain and fear. I rattled off a chain o’ sweet, comfortin’ words through the glass, which mighta come out as utter nonsense, I’m not real sure. I was lookin’ at Harley again when I heard Mr. Winston shoutin’ his last warnin’ ten feet to my right, his coach gun starin’ right at my head.

I got a perfect moonlit view o’ the Winstons’ front yard through the window just as my thumb started to flip the latch open.

I still heard Mr. Winston’s voice echoin’ in my skull when I fainted, and later when I awoke at the Salina Regional Health Center — those words he’d spoke earlier, over the frantic bangin’ on the door and the ungodly sobbin’ on the stoop.

Your Harley’s dead already.

Standin’ over the windowsill, I saw Harley’s bloody face starin’ at my stomach, still bug-eyed, still grimacin’. I saw his left hand, still weakly rappin’ against the window, smearin’ blood all over it, the fingers limp.

I saw the thing that held ‘em both like cheap Halloween props as it squatted in the bushes, its burlap face grinnin’ up at me with a crooked, stitched-up mouth.

Credit To -Mike MacDee

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(My Attempt at) Two-Sentence Horror Stories

May 24, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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While up late working at your computer, you see one of those disgusting, many-legged house centipedes skittering around on your floor, and resolve to kill it before it gets away. Wielding a rolled-up magazine, you chase the centipede under the bed; but as you stick your arm and head into the dark void beneath the bed skirts, you are seized with a sharp, sudden dread and quickly withdraw back into the brightly-lit room… only to discover that now, they are everywhere.

Tanya awoke to the sound of some talk show murmuring unintelligibly from the half-muted speakers of her alarm clock/radio, and reached across blearily to shut it off. It wasn’t until her hand brushed over a cold, clammy something resting on top of her nightstand that she remembered she was in a hotel room, and it didn’t have a radio.

Someone had told Jason that if he put a small animal in the microwave, it would explode, and Jason (having always been a little bastard) tested this claim on his older sister’s pet rabbit; however, though he watched for nearly an hour, all that happened was that the rabbit became more and more frantic in the enclosed space, until an exasperated Jason sullenly opened the little door to return the rabbit to its cage. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), no one had told Jason that you had to turn on the microwave to achieve this effect, or how deeply into a tiny, exposed wrist a pissed-off rabbit could bite.

Brandon stayed up until 3am playing on Xbox Live with his friend Dustin, both boys chatting, yelling, and provoking each other over their headsets the entire time. The next morning, when Brandon called to arrange a playdate, Dustin’s mother answered the phone and tearfully informed him that Dustin had died choking on a wad of bubble gum – at 9pm the previous night.

Suzie received a realistic, talking baby doll as a Christmas gift from her father that year. However, try as she might, the doll couldn’t fill the void left behind by the baby that Suzie’s father had killed and buried in the basement after discovering the seventeen-year-old’s unplanned pregnancy.

Over his car radio, Marcus heard the DJ announce that a serial killer with short blond hair and a skull tattooed on his right cheek had recently escaped from a nearby prison. He frowned and anxiously placed one hand on the pistol he kept at his hip, as the young woman in his passenger seat gazed at his profile with mounting terror and prepared to do God only knew what in her panic.

Don’t think of a pink elephant: it’s the oldest trick in the book, as soon as you read that phrase, a pink elephant immediately pops into your head. Now, don’t think of a sanity-devouring psychic parasite attached to the back of your mind like a shadow: what little time you have left will be more pleasantly spent forgetting that one of those just popped into your head, too.

Credit To – InfernalNightmare333

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