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Rose Rock

August 26, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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Rating: 7.3/10 (101 votes cast)

“Beatrice!” Hughbert yelled angrily from the kitchen table. “How many times I gotta remind you that I want my gravy on the mashed potatoes only? Never on my chicken!” Beatrice stood silently wide eyed near the kitchen sink, as her faded floral dress hanging loosely from her thin frame. Her tawny shoulder dull hair did little to accentuate her bland features as she continued to stare at her husband blankly.

Her mouth was always slightly agape and her eyes tended to exude a far off stare; often giving one the impression that she was not the “brightest.” Hughbert rolled up his soil stained shirt sleeves with annoyance. As he grabbed on to his overall straps he leant back in his cold metal chair. “Beatrice, look at this woman,” he said as he coolly grabbed a biscuit from off his dinner plate. “It’s cold! And my sweet tea which is supposed to be cold is warm!” He threw the biscuit on the plate in disgust as he snapped, “Can’t you do anything right?! Especially after I work so hard to take care of you! This is what I get – garbage.”

Beatrice gently padded forward across the linoleum floor. “I can throw it out to the pigs, if you don’t want it,” she said timidly. “I’m sorry,” she added as she dropped her head low. “Give – give this to the pigs?” snorted Hughbert. “What – and poison the animals? No way!”

Grumbling under his breath to himself, he leaned forward and picked up his fork and knife. He continued, “I’ll eat this trash. But if I ever keel over some day – you’ll know why Beatrice. Take some notes from one of those cooking shows or something. And for Pete’s sake – where’s the butter?!” Beatrice continued to wait upon every whim of Hughbert as he finished his meal under the pale fluorescent light bulbs.

This was a standard evening within the Wilkin household. Hughbert was a rather unsavory man to come across and often kept to himself. He refused to take part of society beyond the standard business on his farm. Beatrice herself was limited by him on when she was allowed to so much as leave the house for a trip to the local supermarket. Quite the controlling man, he allowed no one into their lives and never ventured outside of their small circle of privacy. To him, everyone was an imbecile and he had no time for idiots.

Later that same evening, chatter and laughter echoed from the small television set in the living room. Faint brown wallpaper splattered with little patterns of cacti adorned their living room walls. A small clock on the wall ticked on as Hughbert lounged in his favorite dusty armchair. Beatrice soaped and scrubbed away dutifully at the dishes in the kitchen all the while. Suddenly the doorbell rang.

“It’s 9 o’clock at night!” yelled Hughbert exasperatedly. “Who in their right mind would come all the way out here to bother a man within the comfort of his own home?” Beatrice had come to stand near the arm rest of the sofa out of curiosity. Hughbert lazily heaved himself out of his chair. Cocking and loading his shotgun, he sauntered to the front door. “What do you want?” questioned Hughbert as he threw open the door.
The porch light flickered as moths flew into the light, their frying in the heat emitting the only sound around them in the night air. Hughbert looked around and saw no one. “What’s that, Hughbert?” Beatrice was now by his side wearing a puzzled look upon her face. Directly in front of them sat a small black wooden box.

Hughbert bent down and lifted the lid. Blue silk lined the inside of the box. An old parchment styled flyer gently rested upon the contents of the box. Raising the flyer to the light he read aloud:

‘In honor of the town’s favorite farmer with the best produce, you are cordially invited to The Blue Corn Moon festival as Guest of Honor. Your special night of honor shall be celebrated on Saturday the 22nd at 7p.m. It is the Night of the Wolf. The enclosed necklace is a gem passed down from our ancestors. It is reserved only for the most honorable of our society. It is to be worn during the celebration.

Warmest Regards.

–The Town of Rose Rock’

“Ya see that Beatrice!” exclaimed Hughbert as he withdrew the necklace from the box. “Everyone around here appreciates all my hard work. Guest of Honor,” relished Hughbert as he placed the leather strap around his neck. A smooth oval stone dangled round the center of his chest. “Hughbert, it’s glowing,” said Beatrice wide eyed as she gazed at his necklace. Swirling white and blue light emitted from the stone.

Hughbert smiled greedily as he patted the stone. A smooth breeze blew through the warm night air. Hughbert sniffed the air and shouted “Beatrice! I suppose ya decided burning my dessert would be a great way to finish my night off – right?! Get your butt in that kitchen and do it right this time!” Beatrice hopped at his shouting and was already in the kitchen before he had finished yelling. Leaving the box on the ground, the screen door creaked on its hinges. He slammed the house door shut behind him and resumed his place in front of the tv for the night.

The night of the 22nd had arrived, and it was now 6:30p.m. “Beatrice, move it!” Hughbert shouted as he started the ignition to his rusty old truck. The engine rumbled as he sat waiting impatiently. Beatrice hurried down the front steps and slid quietly into her seat.

Her hair had been neatly braided to one side, a purple flower adorning her ear. She had even had time to apply some basic makeup for once. It made a tremendous difference which made Hughbert feel slightly uncomfortable. She gave a weak smile with her pale pink lips as he eyed her floral lavender dress. “Well,” began Hughbert “you look nice.” He put the truck in drive and sped out of their dirt driveway as he added, “For once, you won’t be a complete embarrassment.” Her smile fell as they drove down the road toward the center of town.

A series of large elaborate streamers of blue, white, and silver were dangling from every golden glowing street light. A large decadent sign hung above the main street entrance to the town square of Rose Rock which read, ‘Blue Corn Moon Festival.’ Hughbert had parked the truck alongside the road, and Beatrice followed him as they proceeded on foot to the center of the festivities. Confetti littered the streets as they made their way towards the large crowd before them. The entire town of Rose Rock had gathered together.

Children laughed and chased one another about with blazing sparklers in their hands. Women in their finest dresses discussed recipes over a large spread of homemade pies. Groups of people bobbed for apples out of old washtubs, as old women sampled one another’s homemade preserves and jams. The men of the town had mostly gathered round the barrels of Rose Rock ale. Laughing raucously, the men clinked their mugs together in cheers. A clown on stilts cut through the joyful crowd as a group of jugglers followed in his path.

Hughbert smoothed his hair to the side as the mayor of Rose Rock spotted him and exclaimed for all to hear, “Mr. Hughbert Wilkin! Our treasured guest of honor! Please – follow me! We have a beautiful evening prepared in celebration of our community’s finest contributor!” Hughbert chuckled shyly as he shrugged off the compliment. “Oh no, truly only the finest candidates are even considered for such a special occasion. And you have been deemed worthy by the whole town as the Guest of Honor for tonight. Please, come,” motioned the mayor as he led Hughbert and Beatrice to their seats.
The awkward couple were seated on stage in the center of the festival. As the mayor announced Hughbert’s arrival via microphone, the town sounded with roars of joy from all sides. A cream colored awning dripped in decorative white lights and shaded Hughbert and Beatrice under the late night sky. They reclined peacefully in the plush cushioned chairs provided for them. Sumptuous town dishes and desserts were laid before them as Hughbert’s glass was repeatedly emptied and immediately refilled with the crisp cold ale.

A series of performances were held throughout the night as Hughbert enjoyed his place above the rest of the town. He was clearly the best man in town-he knew it- and now the whole town agreed he was too. Clown acts, children’s plays, frenzied eating competitions, strongest man barrel lifting, timed corn shucking, and best face paint competitions were all judged by Hughbert. The night stretched on and hours later all of the food, ale, and excitement had finally made Hughbert’s eyes grow weary. He was ready to go lay in his beckoning bed at home.

Hughbert stood stretched his legs and yawned. The mayor quickly made his way over to Hughbert’s side. “Is there anything I can get for you Mr. Wilkin?” “Nah,” yawned Hughbert again. “I’m just real tired. I think I’m ready to call it a night now and head on back home.” “Oh, no, no, no,” gasped the mayor as he gently pushed Hughbert down into his seat. Hughbert looked at the fat old mayor bewilderedly.

“There is one last ‘special’ performance which has been made specifically for you. Please, enjoy the show. Then you may go if you like afterwards.” “Well, alright,” Hughbert agreed with some annoyance as he remained seated. The mayor walked over to the microphone. “All right Rose Rock,” said the mayor. “It’s time.”

With that, the mayor walked off stage. Everyone grew silent, not a sound was made. Four men walked on stage and removed the awning. Other attendants removed the table and Beatrice was whisked off into the crowd. The town rock for which it was named was brought on stage; a red boulder that was smooth all along the top. Hughbert was pulled from his chair and guided by two men to sit atop the boulder. Baffled, Hughbert sat quietly facing the crowd.

The moon was at its largest, high into the night sky. The beams of light made the necklace around his neck glow an even brighter shade of blue. “Hey!” shouted Hughbert to the crowd. “What’s going on here?” Not even crickets chirping in the grass could be heard. “This some kind of weird joke or something’?” Silence met his ears. Then, the crowd stirred.

Far in the back, the crowd parted in two all the way to the front of the stage where Hughbert sat. He could see a lone figure walking slowly towards him. As he watched the figure draw near, he saw that it was an Indian Chief. The man wore a large hat and loin cloth of matching blue and red feathers. Green face paint smeared his cheeks and pointed nose. Looking solemnly up at Hughbert, the Chief’s deep black eyes bore into his.
The chief removed a dead chicken dangling from his side and slit its throat. He waved the chicken rhythmically back and forth as it sprayed blood on the rock where Hughbert sat. The Chief began chanting in a language Hughbert could not understand. The Chief removed kernels of corn from a small pouch and threw them into the blood at the base of Rose Rock. “What in the hell kinda show is this supposed to be?!” yelled Hughbert angrily.
“Long ago when our ancestors settled this land,” the mayor explained from a gazebo loudly for all to hear, “they had to make a deal. To appease the spirits that claim this land, a blood sacrifice is required once a year. The Night of the Wolf is the night of the required sacrifice. Ya see,” went on the mayor now facing in Hughbert’s direction, “you were the lucky candidate chosen for the job this year. It is quite an honor, Mr. Wilkin.”
Hughbert’s head had begun to spin and he felt unnaturally sluggish and dizzy. A thick purple mist had begun to creep in on all sides of the town. “Feeling a little lightheaded?” questioned the mayor with a chuckle. The whole town let out a loud peel of laughter. Hughbert grabbed his head as he slumped to his side on the rock. “No!” shouted Hughbert, “No!” The laughter continued to fill his ears.

“Oh don’t worry about the dizziness Mr. Wilkin, that’s just from all the drugs we put in all your food and drink tonight!” exclaimed the mayor wearing a grin from ear to ear. The purple mist had completely swallowed the town; Hughbert could only see the crowd now. Everything around had faded. Suddenly the crowd fell silent as the rumbles of growls could be heard.

Hundreds of glaring yellow eyes peered out from the mist at the crowd. The stone around his neck glowed brilliantly as the eyes followed the blue glow through the mist; like ships in a storm to a lighthouse. The crowd continued to watch as the army of massive wolves gathered on stage encircling Hughbert. A wolf jumped onto his chest and howled loudly at the moon as the mist immediately retreated. “Nooooo!” screamed Hughbert as the wolves tore into his flesh from all angles. Unable to move now, the farmer was utterly defenseless.

The now clear sky and bright moon lit the entire event as the crowd remained stock still. “Beatrice!” shouted Hughbert for he had spotted her in the crowd. “Beatrice!” he yelled once again extending a bloody hand. “Help me!” The wolves continued to snarl and rip away at him. Beatrice snapped the clasp on her purse open and reaching in said, “Well, I remembered the butter this time for you!”

She proceeded to throw some sticks of butter that hit him squarely in the face. “It felt like centuries waiting for this night,” said Beatrice as she rolled her eyes and nudged a friend beside her. Eruptions of laughter broke out throughout the crowd. The Chief turned and exited through the parted crowd quietly into the night. The town’s people watched on with amusement as they waited for the spirits of the wolves to complete their ritual feast upon Rose Rock.

Credit To – miss ivory

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This is How the World Ends

August 26, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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What does it take to destroy a universe?

A cataclysm? Apocalypse? Do those things destroy a universe? No. We assume that the collapse of all we know is due to the effects of some fated, predicted catastrophe that strips daily life of all its rules, laws, and foundations. But that is our mistake. You see, these things are the effects of a universe in freefall. We mistake effects for cause, and spend all of our life searching for “signs of the apocalypse” so we can prevent was has already happened. Trust me, once you see the signs, it’s already too late.

We can conceive of what a destroyed universe might look like, but the cause is far beyond us. It is terrifying in its utter alienness. Because for the universe to be destroyed, there must be a fatal flaw in the processes we so certainly depend on. Or, perhaps more chillingly depending on your religious bent, there is something far larger than any of us waiting to turn off the light.

So, what does it take to destroy a universe?


I worked for DelSanto Labs for fifteen years. I had high hopes of reaching some heretofore unknown peak of human intellect and advancement with my tiny projects, plying my hands at the great unknowns. It was all a pipe dream until Dr. Swanson asked me to be her lab assistant for her latest project. In conspiratorial whispers she told me about their goals to model the macro level processes of cosmic organization, tracing the development of the laws that held our planet spinning in place. She showed me the lab, rows of gleaming and pricey equipment meant to provide a safe haven for a universe all their own. I was hooked, drunk on the potential for new knowledge and discovery.

Despite my eagerness, I resigned myself to my position as a lowly cog in the machine, not privy to the secret underpinnings of how you create a self-sustaining universe. Still, I glutted myself on the scientific morsels that dropped from their table as I dutifully kept notes and monitored the myriad displays for any important changes. I was a glorified scribe, a sentient computer program that recorded rote data day in and day out. “But we need the human element,” said Dr. Swanson, her passion dripping from her words. “We’re breaking the laws of computing, so I can’t trust a computer to see it.”

The goal was staggering; we sought to create an environment that would evolve, exist, and balance itself out much like our own universe. Of course, it was trying. How can you create a blank slate and build a working universe of physics and nature? That was the first hurdle and the one no one thought we would actually achieve. I mean, we were attempting to shatter every law of nature ever known or thought of, and even a few we did not even know we were breaking yet. It is a miracle—though I feel that is the precisely wrong word to describe it—that we ever achieved it. But they did. And I watched on with childlike wonder at the power of creation.

I watched on as they verified again and again their first major breakthrough. They had created a magnificent void, suspended through the well-calibrated workings of a dozen different machines. It was ultimately artificial, yet ultimately the most real thing that had ever existed. There was nothing to misperceive or misunderstand; it existed as pure nothingness. I found myself lost in that nothingness more times than I would like to admit, and I’m certain it nearly cost me my job. Some days I wish it had. I could have held onto my wonder and innocence, cursing the missed opportunity that became such a burden.

This breakthrough alone should have been enough for fame, notoriety, and the next decades worth of Nobel Prizes, but Dr. Swanson kept a tight lid on any information leaving the lab. She would not breathe a word of the breakthrough until she finally had what she wanted—a living model of the universe to be picked and pulled and ultimately deconstructed into omniscience. If anyone else found out, she would whisper with a paranoid glint in her eye, they might try to sabotage them. There was more luck than perseverance in the first success, and she would not let any meddle in her work. I think she also feared others would discover more quickly than she did if she ever revealed how to create such an impossible space. I was sworn to secrecy and diligence; I kept my promise for those of those until today.

The nothingness, while impressive, was not her ultimate goal. She needed to see how this blank slate of universal principles would ultimately order itself, which meant there needed to be something to order. With the boundaries and limits of the void faithfully maintained, she provided matter.

You’d be amazed at quickly existence begins. In some ways, I knew even then that time in that space was not like time in ours, but the speed at which order triumphed over chaos was still startling. The few atoms we spewed into the void hung there, initially lost and confused. There was no set of unbreakable principles that arranged their structure or gave them a purpose. Yet existence has a way of fighting, and over the course of a week, the matter began to assemble. It began to set itself apart according to rules that were unknown to science up until they sprung into existence under our watchful eyes. That patch of matter coalesced, drawn together by a strange magnetism that at once resembled our gravity, even as it denied the very fundamentals we learned to trust implicitly. The atoms clung together like survivors cast upon alien soil.

On Day 16, it exploded. The tiny bits of matter we introduced had reduced down, crushing in on top of themselves, fighting to develop a hierarchy of rules and existence. Finally, it ruptured into a brilliant glare on our monitoring equipment, a dozen different readings spiking to unimaginable limits before settling back to a new level of activity. I saw it happen, shielding my eyes from the brilliance. No matter what else happens, I can say I was one of the handful of humans alive that ever saw a universe bloom into existence. That is a beauty worth fighting for. The Little Bang, as we called it, marked a new beginning. Suddenly, the universe we had created had a shape and a purpose.

I typed pages and pages of notes, observing ever minute alteration or fluctuation. The silence of the void was replaced by a flurry of activity, most of it beyond my limited ability to understand. We had every sensor you can imagine pointed at it, taking temperature, electrical, ion, weight, size, gravity, radiation, and a dozen other metrics. I studied the recordings, but it was not my job to make interpretation, merely to dutifully record what I saw. I also had the boring task of calibrating the equipment nightly, an endeavor that took up the scant hours of time I had left. While others were engaged with manipulating that data, breaking it open and reading its secrets, I was merely a scribe and technician. They were the gatekeepers of the profound secrets of the universe, walking hurriedly, wide smiles stitched across their faces even as their eyes hung heavy with fatigue. They rode the high of exploration for longer than I thought possible, and it seemed the bounty was endless. Yet I am the one unfortunate enough to carry its burden.

Day 97 was another day of relatively little activity. It had been about nine weeks since everything settled into an orbit. We had hoped for galaxies upon galaxies, but the matter we provided generated only a few spinning hunks of dust and pinpoints of impossible light. The energy output was startling, but manageable. I left the camera trained on the tiny plantelets as I went about my night calibrations. There was something soothing about watching a small collection of planet orbit their sun—something omnipotent and existential about it. When I had gazed up at the stars before, from out on a beach or mountaintop, I had always felt so small and insignificant. With the stars of my universe, I felt unstoppable.

Pausing in my task, an odd change caught my eye. One of the quarter-sized blips of the planetlets had changed. It sat there, spinning slowly as I tried to figure out what was different. Clouds swirled over it like a milky marble, obscuring the surface from time to time. And then, there was a sudden sparkle of light beneath the clouds. As I watched, a softly glowing trail rippled across the planet, lighting up the tiny sector of space.

I rushed to the console, zooming in as far as I could see. And then I immediately called Dr. Swanson on the phone.

She did not believe me, of course. But, to her credit, she rushed into the lab and looked down at the screen. There it was before us, a network of lights covering the dark side of the planet. Eve as we watched, the sun rose and the lights faded from existence. But we knew what we had seen. She demanded I investigate further, and so I dutifully dialed in one of the cameras, stretching it to its technological limit. The closer we got, the clearer the organization became, the more distinct became the arches and solid forms of buildings. Most importantly, the more terrifying became our ultimate creation.

I turned my awe-filled face to study her, see her break into the same joyous wonder that I felt swelling within me. However, her face was pale, bloodless, and drawn. She stared at the screen with quivering eyes, and her voice was just above a whisper. “Shut it down.”

“What? We can’t do that—“

“We can’t have done this,” she whispered. Her words were haunted, spoken more to herself than anyone else. I saw true terror as she considered the implications of creating a whole group of people built in a lab. Organisms had never been the goal; they had been a risk, potentially creating something that could destroy everything we knew. I had sat in on the rigorous meetings about proper decontamination should any infectious agents appear. But these were not single-celled bacteria or unique viral agents. No, our trial run as God had resulted in impossible outcomes. Despite all our monitoring, we never realized that the birth of beings would leave no discernible ripple on the universe. We had missed it. “Shut it down,” she commanded again, her eyes finally leaving the screen. They were grim and determined.

“I won’t do that,” I said with more surety than I truly possessed. I was here to take my stand. Unfortunately, all my bravery was useless in the face of her absolute terror. I have played this scene through again and again in my head. I should have grabbed some piece of the equipment—something heavy and sturdy—and slung it at her head. I could have knocked her out, bound her. Ultimately, I would have had to kill her, I think. I should have barred the doors and made my last stand, buying those denizens a few extra days on their world. Eventually, the others would have broken through and shut it down. It was protocol, after all. Biological agents discovered? Violent decontamination.

But those hours or days in my universe might have bought them a generation for all I knew. Maybe I could have even got a speaker rigged up, spoken into the great void in hopes they could hear me. I doubt they would understand my English, but at least I could have warned them. What do you say to a doomed planet? Hug your children, tell your family you love them, do that thing you’ve been putting off. Enjoy life while you have it. I think that’s what I would have said. I think that’s what you say to a doomed world.

But none of that happened. Instead Dr. Swanson pulled the plug herself, and I watched the laws of the universe fall apart beneath our watching camera. The fields that had carefully cradled our test tube universe disappeared, and its own laws tore it to shreds. It fell prey to a world of laws and scientific rules that were not its own. The computer display showed me how the tiny planet came unglued at its core, flinging red hot streaks of magma across its surface. The stars fell from the sky, the lights went out. Whatever had once kept tiny people and their tiny lives safely anchored on their home gave way, and I tried not to notice the tiny particles floating throughout the faltering universe. The sun at the core of our system finally succumbed, and white hot heat purified whatever could have remained. I watched the temperature readings spike, then resolve back to the carefully maintained 73 degrees of our lab. A pile of ash and sludge caked the floor, the only remnants of what we had created in our foolishness.

I left DelSanto that day, the ringing of the emptiness echoing with me, and began the years-long process of ridding myself of the unbearable guilt. It was trips to therapists who considered me delusional, trial runs of alcohol and drugs that dulled the senses but left a howling ache where they had been. Medications were mostly useless. We destroyed the nothing, but I felt I carried it around deep inside my chest, an emptiness that no law of our world could hope to fill. As much as I would like to say I found the cure, that I somehow saved some sliver of that world, I cannot. Instead, I carry their burden daily and hope that counts for something, some memorial of a forgotten race destroyed by fear. Some nights, I imagine I hear their screams.

So, do you see now what it takes to destroy a universe? I can only hope that whoever is out there observing us is not quite so cowardly and fearful. Hopefully, they are as full of wonder as I was, brimming with joy and appreciation for the tiny world on their screen.

If not, well, I’ve seen how the end plays out. At least it will be quick.

Credit To – Katherine C

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What Doesn’t Kill You Will Come Back For You Later

August 24, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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[static sounds, with a click of a button. As the cassette rolls, a woman begins to speak]

There once was a girl who could sleep peacefully at night. She would curl up in her blankets without any fear, just rest in the fact that she was safe and sound. That girl was me.

[pauses. clears throat.]

I was five when I was adopted by my parents. They were a warm, loving couple. I lived a great life with them, never worrying they would hate me, and there were no siblings around either. My mom would put me to bed and read me the Giving Tree as much as I wanted, and my dad would be there in the morning to make me breakfast.

I remember, one night, when I was seven, I’d had a nightmare. Scared, I rushed out of my room and ran to theirs, jumping in their bed and pulling the covers over my head. It woke them up, of course, and they asked me what was wrong. I told them that, when I fell asleep, something had snuck into the room with me, just sitting there, whispering. Shaking their heads, they let me sleep there, since we were all too tired to do anything else.

The next night, believing what I had seen was a nightmare, I lay down and went to sleep. That is, until 3 in the morning, when I heard. [sharp breath] My eyes wide open, I heard muffled screaming, coming from my parents room. I wasn’t entirely sure what to do, so I lay there, my blankets drawn up to my face. The screaming faded after a while, but they were replaced by different sounds.

The sound of claws scraping across the tiled floor.

[static and stuttered, quaking breath]

It came closer and closer, the being closing in on my door. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I was close, pressed up to my door in no time. But it never came in. I-I could hear it, whispering, over and over. You’re in there; let me in. You’re in there; let me in!

But I didn’t move until the sun rose, and I knew it was gone.

[faint sobs. continues]

The police came by later that day, and the ambulance took… my parents away. I saw them, covered from sheets, in head to toe, and I tried to follow them. A police officer held me back, saying that they were gone. I told him no, they’re right there, on those beds. I asked him why there was a blanket drawn over their faces, but he just left me there, wrapped in my own blanket, sitting on the steps. [pause, break in voice] Alone.

I’m, uh… I’m 27 years old now. I graduated from college three years ago and I’m now on my own. I was passed around from foster family to foster family. It wasn’t all bad, but I was never the same afterwards. I wouldn’t sleep without the light on. And I never held a blanket over my head. Ever. It’s still the same today, only I have a battery-powered light source now, and not wasting electricity.

I don’t know if what I saw was real. The police told me someone had broken into the house and killed them brutally. I left it at that, for at the time, I was a mess. I wouldn’t eat or sleep. All I could think about was the whispering.

You’re in there; let me in!

It wasn’t human. It was rather obvious. But I told no one. I’m not entirely sure why, at the time, but it was probably for the best. They would have thought I was crazy. [small peal of false laughter]

But I’m telling you this because… because the bad dreams are coming back. I… I hear it, at my door again, whispering. It’ll, um, it’ll knock sometimes. It starts out quiet, but, then it gets louder. Louder. Louder. Louder and louder until the whole house feels like it’s shaking.

[frantic breathing, then calm]

And, last night it… Last night it came again. But this time, it… it opened my, um… my door, and- [crying, sniffling of nose] I heard the handle jiggle, slightly, and the click. The hinges didn’t make a noise, but I knew. I opened my eyes, and I saw darkness. Nothing but pitch black.

I’m here. It whispered only one more time. I’m here for you.

[sniffling and blowing nose]

They say… they say what, uh, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But… but I found that what doesn’t kill you will come back for you later.

It’s almost ten o’clock. My windows are closed and the main light is on.

[long pause]

If I don’t post anything on this tape in the morning, assume the worst.

[The tape audio stops. For a few second, you hear silence. Then, suddenly, the audio begins.]

[shuffling, quick movements and rough static]
i came. i told her i would.

[large, heavy, uneven breathing]

now, look behind you, in the door way.
[The audio stops. You look behind you and-]

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The Amateur

August 20, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Rating: 7.9/10 (106 votes cast)

The cold wet cement gritted beneath Leila’s black polished dress shoes. Her small countenance crossed the street as her silken green dress flounced along with her. Her black stockings and small grey overcoat had been added to her as the final touch with pride by her teary eyed mother hours ago. “Now remember Leila, your father and I have saved for years to afford this. You have the opportunity to bring honor to our family; to bring rest amongst our kind,” her mother had said. Mrs. Pocket had been smiling with mingled tears of joy and sorrow, as she had finished securing the last black button upon Leila’s coat.

“But mama, when will I see you again?” “Once you have completed the task you are being sent to carry out, then we can unite once more. You are the only one properly qualified for this task amongst us, so make us proud sweetheart. The creature has been given numerous warnings to remove itself from this land. This entire territory has always belonged to our kind. It is overstepping its boundaries. You need to eliminate it, so do your best and you will succeed.”

Leila clung desperately to her mother. “But mama! No! I can’t leave you and father.” Her mother had dabbed at her nose with a handkerchief as she sniffled. Mrs. Pocket stooped down to Leila’s height and held her hands tightly. “My dear, you must. This is for your own good, and more importantly, for the greater good of our kind. This is a rare opportunity that many could never even dream of having within their grasp. Your whole life will change for the better after this Leila. You must kill it.”

Her mother adjusted the bow amongst Leila’s mahogany curls and then stood up sharply. “Now, enough of this dreary farewell. The weather looks quite overcast and it’s time you be along your way my love. Write to us!” Her mother had blown a kiss to Leila as the stagecoach door had closed firmly behind the girl. After a few hours of traveling throughout the countryside, the footman had finally helped Leila down from the coach.

They crossed the street to Ms. Terri’s School for Girls. The finishing school was renowned around all of England. It was extremely expensive, impossible for most to gain admittance, and only a few students were permitted to attend the program at a time. All potential pupils were cross examined by the mistress of the institute herself for consideration. Only those which Ms. Terri deemed suitable and possessing the proper attributes, were even considered for enrollment. And now little Leila would have to take down some gruesome and monstrous creature, perhaps destroying the whole school along with it. The task before her was a daunting one, yet one she had no choice but to undertake.

It was here now at Ms. Terri’s front door that Leila anxiously awaited her new instructor as the footman rang the doorbell. Clouds swirled above them alluding to heavy rains to come. A bolt from the other side of the door came undone as the door swung open to reveal Ms. Terri. She was tall, slender, and clearly gorgeous. Rumors always abounded as to why such a pretty young woman remained unmarried. People supposed that she simply had no time for such frivolities. She had instead chosen to focus entirely on the noble task of improving the future ladies of England.

Her delicate nose rested between high cheekbones of blushing pink. Her unblemished pale skin stood out in contrast against her midnight black hair. She had allowed it to flow in a neat braid half way down her back, its healthy sheen visible in the street lights on that chill evening. Her mauve lips parted in a gentle smile to reveal dazzling white teeth. She thanked the footman for his services and paid him promptly with a few gold coins. Now all alone on the steps, Leila stood silently with her eyes down cast as she awaited instruction.

“So, Miss Leila Pocket,” Ms. Terri stated flatly. “Yes ma’am. I am Miss Leila Pocket. Delighted to meet you,” said Leila with a polite curtsy. Putting a hand to her hip, Ms. Terri intensely stared at Leila with her smoky eyes, eyeballing the girl from head to toe. They stood in an awkward silence for a few seconds longer. The black and red laced corset on the instructor clasped so tightly to the woman’s torso, that it was a wonder to Leila as to how the woman could breathe. Her black skirts swooshed about her as she turned her back to the girl.

“The footman will bring your belongings to your room. One of your fellow pupils will show you how your room is to be kept. Tidiness will be observed at all times here at this school. I do not need to mention standards of cleanliness, as you were already briefed upon the subject at our last interview.” “Yes ma’am,” replied Leila absentmindedly as she followed the fast pace of the woman up the staircase. Leila turned over different methods of how to complete her mission in her head. The question ‘how?’ ran through her mind again and again.

“If you want to become a member of civilized society, you must reassess and alter your appearance immediately. Starting tomorrow, the maids will help you dress each morning and undress each evening. Breakfast is held at 7:30 am in the dining hall with the others. Your classes begin at 8:30 am. Just follow the rest of the girls around and you will fall into your schedule along the way. Quite simple to follow, I should say.” Ms. Terri added curtly.

As Leila was led up the large winding staircase, she saw that it opened to a large hallway. Upon taking a right, they were met with another hallway of ten rooms. Five rooms to the left faced five rooms across the hall to the right. They walked onward and Ms. Terri opened the last door to the left at the end of the hall. “These shall be your quarters for the duration of your stay here. I’ll see you downstairs for dinner at 6:30 pm sharp.” The woman’s large eyes flitted over Leila one last time as she then turned from the girl and made her way around the corner and out of sight.

Leila gasped at the elegance of her new room. A chandelier hung in the center of the room above a large fluffy pink carpet. Golden candelabras sat upon every ivory table top. A large four poster bed with curtains of pink and lavender rested across a large matching ivory vanity. The vanity was bedecked in an assortment of powders, rouges, pink and red glosses, ribbons, bows, perfumes, and silver brushes. A sofa that matched the candelabras was placed against the wall facing the only window to her room. Potted pink flowers adorned the outside of the window. Leila drew the deep maroon curtains closed.

The sight was breath taking as Leila walked over to run a hand over the cool hard surface of her bedside drawers. It was too bad that she would not get much time to enjoy the peace and quiet of the place. Since Leila still had some extra time left before dinner commenced, she decided to have a look around the rest of the building. She began to wander the hallway outside of her room and found many photos of young girls lining the walls. All of them were solemn faced as they posed in front of the school. “Well that was rather odd”, Leila thought to herself.

A photo of Ms. Terri was centered at the end of the hall near to Leila’s bedroom door. It had to be at least twenty years old from the looks of it. But, not so much as one wrinkle had yet crept onto the woman’s face presently. “She’s been instructing for at least thirty years now, from what I’ve heard,” said a gentle voice from behind Leila. A blond haired girl with large blue eyes stood behind Leila.

“I’m Samantha,” introduced the girl. “Oh, I’m Leila,” she returned politely. “I’ve been here one year now. Four more left for me before I graduate. Ms. Terri tries to make us all like perfect dolls,” Samantha indicated to her dress and perfectly brushed hair. “All of these,” she pointed to the photos on the walls, “these were her star pupils; her ‘perfect dolls’ that successfully graduated from her past years of teaching here.”

“I wonder why they all look so sad. Some of them were just small children. Rather odd,” remarked Leila. Samantha went on, “Well, each year Ms. Terri selects the top of the class and awards them £50,000.00 along with a ticket to Paris to further their studies. If they have enough intellect, they graduate early. Typically, all of her students go on to wed rich gentlemen over in France and never return to England. They become such snobs that not even their own families ever hear from them again.” “Not even so much as one letter?” questioned Leila.

“No not one, not once they graduate and move on from here,” replied Samantha. “How peculiar,” thought Leila aloud. “Perhaps we will grow to learn the strange ways of the rich upper class once we become them,” ventured Samantha. Leila shrugged. “How many other students are here with us?” “Right now it is just you, myself, and two other girls.”

Here Samantha stopped speaking abruptly. “Did you hear that?” “What?” Leila asked. “Be quiet-listen,” hissed Samantha. As they stood silently in the hall, they could hear heavy footsteps on the staircase. The footsteps thudded against each squeaky step when suddenly the footsteps stopped. Suddenly, children giggling could be heard echoing down the hallway.

A small red children’s top came spinning from around the corner, and continued to spin in the center of the hallway before them. “Who did that?” Leila asked in a whisper. “The other two girls are in their rooms. No one else is here except Ms. Terri and the servants preparing dinner downstairs…” Samantha’s voice trailed off as they continued to watch on. The giggling of little children could still be heard.

As Samantha stood fixated in place, Leila walked over to the spinning stop. Stooping down, she watched it spin for a moment, then picked it up and watched the toy continue to spin in her hand. The echoes of laughter stopped as a bell rang. “Oh that’s the dinner bell,” explained Samantha. “We must go to our seats at once or Ms. Terri will be quite cross with us. Let’s go.” Leila quickly pocketed the toy and followed her new acquaintance down the stairs.

At the dinner table as the first course was served, Ms. Terri pointed out that polite dinner conversation was appropriate at this time. “To start, I’ll introduce our newest member Miss Leila Pocket. She will be here with us for the next five years. These are Miss Samantha, Miss Carey, and Miss Abigail,” indicated their mistress. “Miss Abigail here has done exceedingly well at this institute. She already celebrated her graduation this Saturday-two years ahead of schedule!”

Abigail wore a smug smile as she tossed her long red hair over her shoulder. “Miss Abigail shall be leaving us early tomorrow morning and will go on to travel Europe. I know she will excel at her new school abroad. Very exciting,” finished Ms. Terri with a smile as she patted Abigail’s hand. “Ms. Terri,” interjected Leila. “I have a question.” “And what would that be?” responded the woman as she smoothed a cheesy spread across a crisp slice of bread.

“What other children are here with us in this building?” “What do you mean?” “There were children laughing and playing in the hallway upstairs.” “Oh, you are mistaken,” she responded coolly, not bothering to look up at Leila as she went on. “Everyone in this house is here at the dinner table before you. And the servants would never be so foolish as to venture upstairs playing children’s games.”

“Well then, who was playing with this upstairs?” questioned Leila as she produced the toy top for all to see at the dining table. At this, the woman stood up violently knocking her chair to the floor. “Where did you get that?” their instructor snapped. “As I told you ma’am, i-in the hallway upstairs.” Flinging herself across the table, their mistress snatched up the object, a glint of wildness in her eyes now. Clasping it close to her bosom, she glared around the dinner table. “There are no other children here at the moment save for you four. No toys are permitted at the table. And filthy lies of phantom children will not be tolerated here at this school! To your room!” shouted Ms. Terri. “At once!”

Fearfully, Leila made for her room. Once locked inside, she hugged a throw pillow to herself as she sat atop her golden yellow sofa. Candles flickered on her bedside table as the chandelier above twinkled dimly. A hand suddenly wrapped around Leila’s ankle from beneath the sofa and began to pull her down to her knees. Leila screamed in utter panic as she tried to undo the grip of the gray hand. A second gnarled hand protruded from beneath the sofa and began to claw at the wooden floorboards, dragging itself forward into the light.

“It will get you just like it got us,” the creature wheezed. It had the shape of a human but dark wrinkled skin covered it; its bulbous yellow eyes peered up at Leila as it held on firmly to the girl. As Leila glanced up, she saw dozens of handprints forming on the foggy window. “Run,” the creature cried coarsely. “Knock! Knock!” It was Samantha at the door. “May I come in?” Leila looked about the room but the creature had vanished altogether along with the handprints. Leila ran to the door and swung it open breathing heavily.

“Oh Leila, come now. It’s not that bad here. Like I said, you will get accustomed to life here.” Samantha comforted. “No, you don’t understand,” said Leila. “It’s different here, but it is nothing you can’t handle.” Responded Samantha as she squeezed Leila’s shoulder supportively. “What about the toy?” questioned Leila. Samantha shrugged, “Maybe the wind blew it into the hallway. Who knows? I just wanted to make sure you are okay. Here, I saved you this cookie.”

Samantha produced a large chocolate cookie from one of her skirt pockets and set it atop the vanity. “Try to get some sleep. I’ll see you in the morning,” smiled Samantha as she closed the door behind her. “I’ve got to figure this out and complete my mission already so I can get out of here,” thought Leila aloud. But how? As night fell over the city, Leila waited in her room for all to fall asleep. It was at this point that she planned to make her move.

Hurriedly, she donned her gloves, buttoned her jacket, and buckled her shoes into place. At the stroke of midnight, she grabbed a lit candle from her dresser and opened her door slightly to peer through the small crack. A streetlamp close by shed a soft white light into the hall. All else was dark and silent throughout the building. This was her chance and she had to take it now. The skeleton key to the building hung on a hook in the front hall; she would use it to quietly search the building unnoticed in the black of night to look for the dreaded creature.

As she tiptoed down the dark hall, a certain picture hanging near her caught her eye. Holding the candle to it, Leila could see the photo contained a young girl of about 10 years. The little girl was holding the red spinning toy top in her hand. The girl in the picture blinked. No, it could not be Leila thought as she stared more intently at the photo. But this time the little girl’s eyes widened as she raised a hand and pointed it toward the opening to the hallway.
A sudden noise made Leila freeze in place. Each step on the staircase was squeaking one at a time as someone slowly made their way up the darkened stairs. Leila quickly hid herself behind a large drawer ornamented with a large vase of flowers along the wall. Blowing out the candle, she breathed quietly as she watched on. A black figure reached the top of the stairs and turned the corner, slowly entering the hallway of rooms.

The dim light just barely lit the image of the figure; she could not make out its face. Without warning, a large pair of black feathered wings spread out from behind it; the eyes were now glowing red. The winged creature looked about as it sniffed the air with a hint of suspicion. Taking a few steps forward, it entered into a room only to reemerge carrying the sleeping Abigail in its arms. The black wings wrapped around the pair as it slowly made its way down the squeaky staircase. The doors to the front parlor swung open as the fireplace within cast an eerie orange glow across the floorboards in the hall.

As the two passed through the open doors, Leila dared to follow them. She slid silently down the banister in the somber house, making sure to gently tiptoe over to peek into the room. “Youth, beauty, intellect, and grace; all shall forever be mine as your life’s blood I do taste,” proclaimed the beast. The winged creature proceeded to plunge a knife into the chest of the sleeping girl and began to devour her heart. Leila’s eyes widened in horror when suddenly, a hand from behind her firmly pressed against her mouth.

A servant woman still wearing her dirty apron was crouching quietly in the hallway with Leila as the gory scene continued in the parlor. Holding a finger to her lips, the servant indicated for Leila to follow her. They gently tiptoed back up the staircase and passed the hallway of rooms. They made their way over to a small door in a corner that led to the servant’s quarters up in the attic. Once shut up in a small shanty room the size of a closet, the servant lit a single candle and eyed Leila fearfully.

“You will have to leave here at once,” declared the woman. “Ms. Terri is the abomination that creeps across this school?!” Leila exclaimed thoroughly astounded. “Don’t let Ms. Terri know you have any idea about what just happened or you will meet the same fate. Tomorrow before breakfast, just get out and run from here.” “Why don’t you leave too?” questioned Leila incredulously.

“Us servants clean up after the blood and bodies. We know too much. If we tried to leave, she would kill us all too. If we stay and do as we’re told, then she allows us to live.” “What is she? A witch? A demon?” “Honestly, we have no idea. All we know is she stays youthful and lives forever by eating the hearts of pretty young girls like yourself.”

“She must be stopped!” cried Leila in utter disbelief. “Nothing can stop her,” continued the servant. “Not even the souls of the dead here that haunt this place can do anything. This place is a trap. Once you come here, you’re trapped.” “No,” refused Leila point blank. “I reject that there is no way to stop her. I will find a way.” The servant looked at Leila sadly as she could see the girl was determined to stay and fight. “I will find a way,” stated Leila with determination as she exited the room.

Leila lay awake in her bed with the curtains drawn until the next morning. Hours later, a knock at her door alerted her that it was time to begin her first day of lessons. Two servants entered and dressed Leila tightly into her lavender corset; the pink ribbons matched her rosy pink skirts beautifully. But Leila had only one thing on her mind, and that was to confront the monster that awaited her. Leila could not allow this creature to occupy the land of her kind; not after they had worked so long to live peacefully in the area.

Downstairs, Leila flopped unceremoniously into her chair in the dining room and stared unwaveringly at Ms. Terri. “Oh! Don’t you look like an absolute doll in that!” exclaimed the woman with a smile from across the breakfast table. With a straight face Leila did not acknowledge the woman’s compliment and bluntly asked, “Where is Abigail?” The smile Ms. Terri wore immediately fell and her eyebrows knitted into a frown. “I mentioned last night, Miss Pocket, that our Abigail had an early morning coach to catch today for her travels abroad.”

The woman stirred her tea, the spoon chinking lightly against the porcelain cup. “No slouching at the table Miss Pocket,” she snapped. “A polite ‘good morning’ to all at this table would also suffice young woman.” Leila continued to stare at her flatly in silence. “Well, I can see that we shall need to work on your social etiquette young lady,” said the woman with raised eyebrows over her tea cup. “I know what you did,” Leila stated angrily. The other two girls continued to eat their breakfast awkwardly in the midst of the unpleasant interaction.

“Oh really?” Ms. Terri asked in a tone of mockery. “And what would that be?” Leila slowly pushed her chair away from the table and stood up. “Funny how your portrait upstairs looks exactly the same as you do now,” Leila remarked slyly. “Some age more gracefully than others I suppose,” responded Ms. Terri clasping at the arm rests of her chair with white knuckles.

“How old are you exactly?” “I hardly find that to be any of your business,” snapped their instructor now growing visibly angrier by the second. Leila walked around the table to stand near the wall behind the woman. The newest addition of photos, now of Abigail, had been hung proudly on the wall for all to see. “Quite a lovely picture,” said Leila as she traced its frame with one finger. “I advise that you recall your manners and seat yourself at once. Do not touch that,” commanded Ms. Terri through clenched teeth.

“I wonder what would happen if I were to…” Leila trailed off as she snatched the photo from the wall and smashed it to the ground. The glass loudly shattered as Ms. Terri shrieked, “You stupid girl!” Leila looked down at the broken glass and torn picture to see that a sparkling mist was floating up into the air. A gentle sigh and “thank you,” emitted from the mist in Abigail’s voice. The mist dissipated.

Samantha and Carey were quickly ushered out of the room to take cover in the cellar by a servant girl. Ms. Terri’s glossy nails had turned long and black. “Don’t do that again,” whispered the woman in a very unnaturally deep tone of voice. “Oh-you mean don’t do this?” Leila mocked as she hurled another photo smashing to the ground. Again, a sparkling mist accompanied by a young girl’s sigh emitted from the wreckage. The woman’s hair immediately turned a dull white. Now her eyes glowed neon red.

Her black wings spread out from behind her as she stood up menacingly. “You will regret that.” “Oh, I think not,” Leila responded sneering at the creature before her. Making a mad dash for the hallway, Leila ran like lightning knocking down every photo along the way. They all came crashing down amidst shards of glass showers as swirls of trapped souls broke free of their prisons. Ms. Terri’s teeth had gone yellow and her skin had become a wrinkled shade of gray.

“Ugh, you really are an ugly thing aren’t you?” teased Leila as she ran up the stairs and continued to smash photos with glee. Loose hair billowing behind her, the woman swooped through the air with her great wings, landing with a thunderous clash against a china cabinet. “You will die for this girl!” the creature screamed as Leila ran to the end of the hallway of bedrooms. Grabbing the portrait of Ms. Terri herself, Leila held it high over her head. “You will never harm another soul again!” shouted the girl.
Then with all her might, she smashed the photo into the wall. Glass rained down as the portrait tore and burst into flames. “NO!” Ms. Terri shrieked as her body was enveloped in a burning blaze of red flames. “NO!” Leila stood before her and watched on as the creature finally fell into a heap of smoldering ashes. Wiping a few beads of sweat from her brow with the back of her arm, she made her way back down the stairs. “It’s all over!” she shouted. “It’s dead now!”

The servant who had hid Leila in her room the night before emerged from a closet. “Oh dear, look at you! Come, sit. You need a rest.” The servant stood alongside Leila and walked her over to take a seat on the sofa in the parlor. “That was so brave of you. I don’t know how you did it-but thank you,” said the woman in awe.

Leila tiredly rested her head on the woman’s shoulder as the servant patted her back comfortingly. “And look, not even a scratch on you,” remarked the woman bemusedly. At this, Leila opened her mouth in a smile to produce a sharp pair of perfect white fangs. “I know,” she retorted as she sank them into the woman’s neck. A few drops of blood oozed from the sides of Leila’s mouth as she stood to smooth her skirts. “Now that’s better.” The dead body of the servant remained slumped over and lifeless as Leila wiped away traces of blood from her face.

“No old magic hell hag is going to take over this territory as long as I am around,” remarked Leila to herself as she adjusted the bow in her hair. “Ms. Terri, such an amateur,” Leila snickered to herself as she made her way into the hallway. “My kind is fully back in control of this land now.” With a sigh of relief and feelings of a job well done, Leila went to find the others still hiding in the cellar. “Everybody, it’s safe to come out now!”

Credit To – miss ivory

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The Mask Boy

August 15, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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The Mask Boy
By: Isaac Cook

My hastily-packed belongings rattled in the trunk as I pulled into the driveway of the small, forest-embraced two storey building which I was now to call home. Getting out of my car, I walked towards the front door, all the while pushing away uneasy feelings–as the disrepair of the entire place was quite overwhelming. Entering, I noticed that the place looked rather dull. Not in an empty house way, but in a lifeless, abandoned way. A staircase stood in front of me, accompanied by a carpet that looked not far from the colour of cat vomit. Throughout the small hallways and rooms, I found forgotten furniture in what I presumed to be the living room, with a large window facing the front of the house, and finding a dusty old table set in the kitchen. I made my way back to the staircase that led up into darkness.

Ascending the staircase, I felt as though it could collapse if I put too much weight on it. I came to a short hallway with 2 doors. After a short amount of wondering, I discovered that one was a small closet, and the other was what I presumed to be a bedroom. Claiming it as mine, I unpacked my things. After a couple trips back out to the car and hauling my mattress and bed frame up the stairs, I stood quietly and absorbed the situation, as this was my first home.

This silence was quickly interrupted by a low-pitched scraping sound, coming from downstairs.

It was the subtlest of sounds but it didn’t matter, It still put me on edge. I peeked out from my bedroom door and looked right and left before slowly moving out from its false security, and down the stairs. Each step creaked and cracked as I made my way down, harshly working against my current predicament. Reaching the bottom of the staircase, I prepared myself for the worst.

I entered the soon to be kitchen where a table and chairs sat, except for one chair that was pulled up against the wall under an air vent. Slowly moving towards it, I investigated. The dust on the floor had left a trail where the chair had slid. Surrounding the chair were small oval-shaped prints in the light dust. I tried to follow them to their source, but my previous movement around the house had scratched any chance of that. Moving back to the chair, I decided to inspect the vent. I stood on the chair, peering into the air vent before realizing it was too dark too see anything. Pulling out my phone, I used the dull light of the screen to cut through the blackness. What I thought to be eyes that glowed in the darkness like embers were staring back at me. Just as I realized what I was looking at, I stumbled backwards off the chair, falling onto the kitchen floor. For brief seconds, I thought the sound of scampering echoed in the walls.

Pushing myself up and off the ground, I quickly glanced back up to the vent. Even if there were still something there, I couldn’t see it. What the hell was that? I thought. Standing up, I brushed off the dust and shock of the situation. I slid my phone into my pocket and proceeded to search through the wooden cabinets the kitchen.

Moldy cans of food that looked ripped open, rusted mousetraps and a wooden spoon. Any hope of finding something to take down whatever was in my new home was lost. After a long day of traveling and unpacking; It was late and I was exhausted to the point that I didn’t even care about whatever it was.

Lying down to bed with a cup of tea, I hoped to calm my nerves after the unsettling events of the day. I shut off my bedside lamp and held the tea close, as the aura of heat was soothing. I heard a scraping and a thump from downstairs that made me jump up to a sitting position. Just from instinct, I knew that this was not the house settling.

I sat there draped in blankets, swallowed in the darkness of the night, and waited. For a while I heard faint rustles and thumps coming from throughout the house. I turned on my bedside lamp to illuminate the room and remove at least some of my rising terrors. Just as I was about to lie back down, the bedroom door’s handle started to turn. I wouldn’t have noticed if it weren’t for the painful screeching it made. The screeching went on for what felt an eternity as I sat there, paralyzed with fear, until I heard the metallic click of the mechanism at its limit. Why didn’t I run? To be honest, I’d suffered from night terrors before, and wondered if this was one of them. As the door began to slowly drift open with a low squeal, I spastically shut off my bedroom lamp, dropping my tea mug onto the floor in the process, and huddled under the covers. The low squealing only stopped for a couple seconds following the commotion of my cowering. It continued until I heard the thud of the door knob hitting the wall. I could hear whatever — or whoever had opened the door slowly start to walk closer to my bed. Every footstep made a torturous creaking noise. Creak, creak, creak, creeeeak. It stopped right beside the bed. Images of a crazed serial killer, ready to plunge a knife into the hump of covers that was me flashed through my head. With a slow, torturous motion, I heard and felt it crawl under my bed. Through the thin mattress I could hear it breathing — raspy and low. I lay awake in terror as what felt like hours passed by.

I must have fallen asleep from pure exhaustion at some point, because I opened my eyes and sunlight gleamed through the door to the hallway. Quickly remembering the events of last night, I was once again engulfed in fear. Was it still under my bed?, I thought. With a spark of bravery or foolishness, I moved towards the edge of my bed. I saw a large stain from what I quickly realized was my tea from last night, but no mug. Disregarding this, I moved toward the unknown, slowly lowering my upside-down head over the bed’s edge. Quickly dropping it to the level where I could see beneath, I saw; nothing. Absolutely nothing. Was it a dream? No, it couldn’t have been a dream, my tea was all over the floor and I quite clearly remembered the long hours that I had spent terrified, sitting on my bed.

Determined to figure out what had happened last night, I slid my phone out from my pants pocket — I hadn’t bothered to change into anything comfortable last night– and looked once again under the bed, using the phone’s light, this time. My efforts were quickly halted as a horrible stench invaded my nostrils, making me gag. After getting myself together, I held my breath and pinched my nose to inspect the source of the horrible stench.

A large rat, ripped to pieces. Whatever came into my room last night was definitely real, and large enough to rip a rat to shreds. That scared me more than anything.

I cautiously cleaned up the mangled corpse and tossed it out to the the forest behind the house. Trying to push the current situation’s strangeness out of my mind, I cleaned myself up and got ready to do some errands in town.

The entire day I had conflicted feelings about the house;
I should be there and figure out what was going on, and if it’s something serious!
No, I should sell the house right now and leave while I’m alive!
It’s nothing, I shouldn’t be worried.

After all my errands were done, I made my way home. Seeing movement in the large front window of the living room, I slammed on the brakes, for what I saw made my stomach churn. A short figure stood in the centre of the window. Quickly pulling into the driveway and jumping out of the car, I ran inside. I was going to catch whatever this thing was.

Bursting through the door, I found myself face to face with it. Through a mask made of wood, covered in strange swirls of brown, green and red–ominous glowing eyes met mine. No taller than a small boy, It stood looking almost as stunned as I was. It wore a small burlap sack tied with a rope to make a makeshift backpack, and a tattered cloth around it’s waist. “H-hey little guy, w-where’d you come from?”, I asked, sweat dripping down my forehead. It emitted a quiet, high pitched giggle as it raised its hand, motioning for me to follow it. Even though I questioned the entire situation, I followed. The boy led me to the kitchen where he opened one of the low wooden cabinets. Crawling in, he slid out the wooden back of the cabinet to reveal a dark crawl space.

Watching as he crawled deep into the darkness, I hesitated. What in the bloody hell was I about to do? This thought was interrupted by the boy’s hand piercing through the darkness, holding my phone. I felt around my pockets and realized that I had left it on my bedside table before rushing out this morning. Watching me come to this realization, he emitted a high pitched giggle as he clicked the power button to cast a dull light throughout the crawl space, revealing his small figure once more. Was this a tactic to force me to follow him? Was he that smart?

I ducked my head as I crawled through the cobweb infested passage, overcome by a mix of curiosity and terror as we shuffled through the crawlspace. Beyond the boy’s figure in front of me–I could see that around the corner; there was light. Turning that corner, the passage opened up into a room no larger than a car, with another tunnel shrouded in darkness leading off to the left. Masks covered the walls, made from scraps of what looked like a combination of plant life and garbage, all bearing their own unique designs. Piles of miscellaneous items were scattered about the room. Examining the “creative works of art” that he had placed all along the walls, I extended my arm to touch one, hoping to gain a better understanding of what they were made of. Just I was about to, a shriek rang through the air. Before I could react, my arm was bleeding.

I looked toward the boy, as he stood there bearing what looked like an old makeshift knife. His eyes were thin and dark, and even through his mask I could tell that he was enraged. “Ah, fuck! If you didn’t want me to touch them, why didn’t you just say so!?”, I screamed at him, holding my arm and slowly backing away. Throwing my phone at me, he raised the hand with the bloody knife, pointing the its tip toward the tunnel that had led us into this hell. Without hesitation, I turned on my phone’s dull guidance and entered the darkness of the crawlspace. As I moved through the tunnel, there was a great deal of commotion behind me. Loud bangs and low-pitched groans that sounded almost like sobbing. This only quickened my pace. Exiting the nightmare into my kitchen, I grabbed my keys without a second thought, and left for the nearest hospital. The cut was too deep and that knife was too dirty for me to be able to treat it myself.


Three hours later, with a bandaged arm and the emergency room doctor’s numerous moronic questions about “self harm” playing through my mind, I slowly drove up to the nightmare I called home. Once more, the boy was in the front window, shrouded in darkness, but definitely there. Just as I saw him, he fled back into the shadows of the house. I drove the car up the short driveway and sat there for a moment. Letting out a long sigh — I opened the car door and walked towards the front steps.

As I entered, I couldn’t shake a sense of dread, knowing that the boy was still here. Searching the living room and kitchen for him, I found nothing. Although he was more than likely curled away in his crawlspace nightmare, I urged myself to search upstairs. Not particularly enjoying the thought of the closet, I decided to check my bedroom first. Lightly grasping the brass handle, I swung open the door in one swift motion. A mask lay on my bed. The design looked as though a toddler had tried to draw my face. I moved towards it and picked it up; It was surprisingly sturdy. Was this some sort of present from the boy? I had no idea. Holding it face-down in my hands I noticed what seemed to be vines fastened loosely to the back of the mask for securing it to the wearer’s head.

My investigation was interrupted by a creak of the floor behind me. I quickly twisted my neck around, revealing the boy, peeking through the doorway. Not knowing whether he was going to attack me for touching one of his masks again, I stood there, frozen. After some moments of us staring at each other, he pointed to the mask, and then to my head. Not seeing the harm in it, I lifted the mask up and slid it over my face. He let out his ever-so-childish giggle, and scampered off down the stairs. Peering through the two eye holes, I felt strangely accepted. At this point, the day had come and gone more quickly than I had realized. The air grew cool, and the life of the sky turned to a deep black. Setting the mask on my bedside table, closing my door, and getting under the covers, I drifted into sleep.

I awoke sometime in the night to the boy standing over me. His eyes glowed in the darkness with a mischievous glare that made me uneasy. I could once again hear his quiet, raspy breath under the mask he wore. Contrary to last night, I decided make my presence known.

As I slowly sat up, his eyes followed me. Turning on my bedside lamp to get a better understanding of the situation exposed his small form. Gesturing for me to follow, he slowly turned around and made his way down the stairs. I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, grabbed my phone, and shambled out into the darkness. Guided by the moonlight, I made my way down the stairs and into the kitchen, where my little friend was standing. Opening his passageway once more, we crawled in. Back in the same nightmare art museum, I made sure not to touch any of the masks, and for a moment, we simply stood and glared at each other. This moment was broken by a low giggle he let out before crouching down and crawling into the unexplored tunnel. I followed him, even though every instinct in my body told me to get the hell out of there.

My phone lit up another room, up ahead. I approached the opening as cautiously as I could. A coppery scent crept into the stale air of the crawl space. A freshly mangled rat lay in the corner of the small room. The boy looked to me almost as though awaiting some approval for his actions, which I did not feel, but I assured him that he’d done a good job, but that I was going back to sleep. He nodded, complying with my wishes. I headed out of the crawlspace and stumbled through the dark, back up to my still warm bed.

Every night for a week straight, he woke me in the middle of the night to show me his most recent kill, which was either a rat or squirrel. He’d stand beside me — breathing over me, until I got up and “approved” of his kill. Anything to keep whatever the hell he was happy.

It had been a long day of trying to clean up the house and doing the occasional errand, and I was ready for bed. I lay in my nest of covers and slowly drifted to sleep. As expected, the schedule repeated on this night; I awoke to his off-putting presence. At this point it wasn’t even surprising or disturbing. I entered the crawl space, all the while trying to not collapse with exhaustion. As we reached his collection of masks, I noticed that my tea mug sat carefully on the floor; steaming hot with my personal preference of green tea. Something to impress me? Paying no large amount attention to this, we kept moving on to the usual spot, where something tore my exhaustion away from me.

A smell so putrid that it made my throat burn surrounded me. I persisted, and came into the small crawl space. What the dim light of my phone revealed made me freeze. It was a human body, artistically surrounded by the rotting rodents of the past week, wearing a mask, and littered with stab wounds. Its stomach had been sliced open, revealing the large intestine. It lay motionless as we stood. The boy let out that ever so familiar giggle — but this time, it sent pure terror through my thoughts.

“Jesus Christ! You can’t do this; the rats and squirrels were one thing but this- this is fucking crazy!” I shouted. He blankly stared back up at me. Gesturing for me to leave, he crouched down over the body, and started to quietly cry. I left without remorse for him.


Opening my eyes the next morning, I heard the now-familiar sound: a low, long scrape coming from the downstairs kitchen, rumbling through the house. I sat up, feeling ever so groggy. As the events of the previous night set my thoughts racing, I realized that I had slept into the afternoon. Slowly moving down the staircase, I could see the paper-boy dropping off the weekly news. Reaching the bottom of the stairs, I opened the front door. Rushed by the cool morning air, I snagged the paper and moved back inside. Flipping through the numerous pages of politics, sports and local news; my eyes settled upon something that truly disturbed me. A piece of paper bearing the image of a man laid stapled to the paper. It read “Gerry Hall was reported missing in the early hours of this morning, after his wife witnessed “A dark figure rip him out of bed and drag him into the night”. If anyone knows the whereabouts of Gerry or was witness to any suspicious actions, please call…”.

Anxiety overtook my body. Clear images of the boy breaking into an innocent couple’s bedroom as they lay sleeping, snatching one of them from their slumber, flashed through my mind. What if someone saw where he took the body? I wouldn’t be suspected for this, but I certainly would be if the authorities found a body in the crawlspaces of my home–and all I had to defend myself with was a story of a masked, murderous boy living in my floors and walls.

Crumpling the missing persons report into my pocket, I moved towards the kitchen. The passage to the crawlspace slid open effortlessly. Feeling the musty air of my home’s innards, I felt my way through the dust, emerging out of the darkness, into the light and familiar sight of the boy’s masks. My mind was taken over by an urge to confirm my fears. My phone cast its trademark dull light across the walls as I went deeper into the boy’s home. The musty air mixed with the familiar scent of death as I neared the room of killings.

A figure crouched over the body. Noticing the light approaching, it turned around. To no surprise — it was the boy. Holding a knife in one hand and the innards of last night’s kill in the other, he tilted his head in confusion, as I must’ve looked like a maniac. I flashed a nervous smile at him, and continued to the body. Carefully pulling the mask off of the man, I compared his face to that of the man on the paper. Other than what I can only describe as terror and death on his face, the two were identical. The boy shot an annoyed glare at me, presumably because I had removed the mask from the lifeless doppelganger of the man on the page. Sliding it back onto the man, the boy returned to his task–which by sitting and watching for a few brief moments, I realised involved carefully taking apart the body peice by peice. The gruesome sight of this led me to flee back up to the light-bathed kitchen, mentally scarred by the display.

I spent most of the day sitting in the living room, contemplating what to do.


Night had almost engulfed the sky by the time I had gotten up from my mental session. Realizing that the only thing I had decided was that I was now going to call the boy, The Mask Boy, I moved upstairs to lie down early. I prayed to any higher being in the Universe that the mask boy wouldn’t awake me that night. Turning away these thoughts, I shut my eyes. I remained in this state for what felt like hours, until I heard a gentle creak outside my door. A feeling of dread swept over me as I rolled over and sat up to face it. As the door knob thudded against the wall, the mask boy appeared. Without needing his usual gestures for me to follow, I got up and walked with him down the stairs.

We silently entered the passage of darkness. Even from afar I could feel the rot of death, dancing in the back of my throat. Moving through his collection and closer to the source of the scent, I couldn’t help but feel as though I knew what was ahead. I watched the dark figure of the boy in front of me, until we stopped. Turning on the light of my phone, my fears were confirmed. Two more bodies lay next to the last: a man and a woman, both with shocked expressions. He looked up to me for approval. Giving him the pleasure of a slight nod, I exited the tomb. As I moved into the tunnel that would lead to my kitchen, his familiar giggle echoed from the depths of the crawlspace. My mind was so disturbed and worried for what the future might entail, I was surprised when I found myself standing over my bed. I collapsed into a world of nightmares.

Waking up the next day, I decided to leave the house. Making my way down the stairs, I noticed that the smell of rot and death was lightly drifting in the air. This bothered me, but not out of concern for anyone other than me noticing–because after all, I wasn’t planning to have company any time soon. Exiting the nightmare I called my home, I slid into my car and drove off.


At the end of the day, I found myself at a local bar. Usually I was quite social in these situations, but I felt not the slightest need to interact with anyone. Conversations echoed around me, hearty laughs battled my eardrums, and a fight even broke out at one point. All this as I sat; witness to the loneliness of my own thoughts.

Without the attention of a single person, I exited the bar silently.

The sun was just disappearing, and I felt the need to be back in the house. Even though it did hold my nightmares, it was strangely comforting. The haze of the drinks and night overwhelmed me as I drove through the darkened streets. Pulling up to the house, I was slightly disturbed to realize that the mask boy was not in the window as per usual. An uneasy feeling overtook me as I rested my hand on the front door of my home. I twisted and pulled, and the stench of rotting death swarmed me, stinging my eyes, burning my nostrils, and flaring in my throat.

Moving inward and up the stairs, I thought I faintly heard the mask boy’s giggle echo from behind the walls around me. This sort of behavior was odd for him, as he was usually very social and upfront with me. Reaching the top of the stairs, I turned and entered the dark door frame of my bedroom, collapsing into the bed.


Greeted by the bright sun of midday through trees overhead, I opened my eyes and realized that I was lying in a forest. I quickly sat up, instantly ridden with confusion and terror as I saw a dead body beside me, covered in stab wounds — bathing in a pool of blood. Noticing that my vision was slightly narrowed, I held my hands to my face in shock. A mask. A bloody makeshift knife lay in my left hand. Standing up and looking down, I saw that I wore nothing more than a cloth. My self-investigation was quickly interrupted as voices came from my right. Three hikers trotted along a dirt path–before bearing witness to what I’d done. Frantically looking around, I could see my home through the dense trees. I got up and ran faster than I ever have in my life, discarding the mask and knife onto the forest floor as I ran.

Reaching my home, I burst through the door and ran up the stairs. Knowing that I had to leave town, I began to pack my valuables. Running back down with a box full my things, I made it to the front door before noticing something through the living room window. The hikers were standing on the road in front of my home, all holding phones up to their heads. I panicked. I raced to the kitchen and practically dove into the mask boy’s passage, leaving my box of belongings behind. Ignoring the intensity of the stench, I hastily crawled through the dark, narrow space. I came into his room of masks, only to find him not there. Shuffling across the floor and into the second tunnel, the horrible smell attacked my senses like acid as I moved farther into the crawlspace.

Coming close to the source, I turned on my phone to illuminate the sea of darkness that lay in front of me: three bodies, decoratively surrounded by mangled rodents–but the mask boy was absent. I quickly turned around and fled the nightmarish tunnels.

Reaching the kitchen, I stood, frantically trying to think of a way out. I ran around the house looking for something, anything to aid me. As I passed by the living room window, I saw several police cruisers parked on the road outside. Officers were speaking with the hikers, anxiously glaring at my home and the forest surrounding it.

I had to leave- now.

Realizing that my only options were to stay here and go to prison for the rest of my life or run, I smashed open a window. Cutting myself on shattered glass, I lept through and ran into the forest.


I sat in a motel room just outside of town as an old TV flickered in front of me. “Police have confirmed the deaths of four missing locals: Gerry Hall, Jane & Phil Turner, and Charlie Smith. Gerry Hall and the Turner couple were found beneath a home outside of town in a crawlspace, while Charlie Smith was found in close vicinity to the home. Police say that the murders were very gruesome and that they have suspicions as to who is responsible.”

They know exactly who is responsible; there was enough evidence there that a fucking child could’ve pointed the finger at me. The house was listed under my name for Christ’s sake. They’re coming for me. I fled from that horrible place four days ago, and every night since, I’ve awakened to find him standing over me, gesturing for me to follow.

So far, I haven’t.

Credit To – Isaac Cook

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Room Number 17

August 11, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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This story is based off of real events that happened to me and my family while on our second vacation to Scotland. Names might be changed to keep our privacy and some details might be wrong, but for the rest, everything is what happened. Oh, and we all survived ;)

My parents dragged me towards the pillar where the tour guide would meet us. It was the second day of our two-week vacation to Scotland and right now we were in the capital city of Edinburgh. Our hotel had given us a few tips and things to visit over night and eventually, the three of us decided that we would go to the ‘Mercat Ghost Tour’ in the Edinburgh Dungeons. “Exciting for the entire family!” was what the hotel owner had said. In all honesty, I wasn’t such a fan of ghost stories. I didn’t like horror at all, actually. It was definitely not my favorite, nor could I take jumpscares. So I wasn’t that happy. My heart was pounding quite fast and if I were to see even the slightest scary thing, like a spider, I’d probably jump in my fathers’ arms to hide. No shame, I’m a scaredy-cat.

It had gotten pretty late, and we were waiting at a small café with a nice view on the Mercat pillar. Eventually, the tour guide arrived together with a German family of four. The tour guide introduced himself and we started walking through the city. Edinburgh was beautiful. It was a pretty old city with a big history. The guide stopped every now and then at a building and taught / told us an interesting story, before continuing on walking. The German family took pictures of everything while me and mom listened carefully. Dad was taking pictures as well. We walked around the plaza, called “the Edinburgh Mile” and after walking for a while we reached a small street, nearly hidden from the public. It was barely visible and we stopped to look around a bit. We were surrounded by houses and flats, three-high each. The tour guide opened his bag and searched for the key to the building he’d take us in. After a while he found it. He opened the door and gestured us to enter.

The guide grabbed a lantern and started walking down some stairs. We followed him down the cellar-like stairs and the door closed shut behind us. Shivers ran down my spine as it was getting colder as the night grew older. Also because we went lower and lower underground. I looked over my shoulder at the door and nearly bumped in my father because we came to a sudden stop. The guide turned around and creepily looked at us. The dungeons appeared to be discovered quite recently. They had been closed off and forgotten due to the criminal world seeking refuge and dealing in the underground. The government wanted none of it and thus they closed it. Years passed and the dungeons got forgotten. At least, until recently, when someone found them by accident at the construction site of some building. Mercat took the opportunity to make it into the ghost tour it was now. There were prop bodies and lights hidden throughout the dungeon and if you listened carefully you could hear scary music playing in the distance. The guide focused his attention on us and started telling stories. I wasn’t completely there though, I was distracted. I felt cold and somehow… unsafe. I wanted to get out, even though there was nothing to worry about. I sought comfort in my mothers’ arms and tried to listen to the guide. But there was something… or someone… ominous around. I didn’t feel secure, it was as if we were being watched from behind. We continued and got even deeper inside the dungeons as the guide took us to a closed off section of the dungeons. It had been found by the workers of Mercat while cleaning out and preparing the dungeons for their tours. Apparently it was the safe-route from the Edinburgh Castle to the outside world. The route had been forgotten and hidden for ages until they found it. Story goes that two of the castle’s guards accidently blew up the tunnel by firing the cannon which indicated one o’clock at one A.M. instead of P.M. after having one or two beers too much. it fell of the wall and boom! Anyway, the tunnel was now closed off for visitors.

“Have I told you the story of Room 17?” Asked the tour guide. We all shook our heads, indicating he indeed hadn’t.
“Very well.” The guard put down the lantern on a rock and started his story. Again shivers ran down my spine, followed by a feeling of dread. I felt scared, anxious. But not unsafe. Not anymore.

“A long time ago, there was this hotel. Everybody forgot it’s name, location and city. But it’s around the city of Saint Andrews. The story goes the hotel had a haunted room, number 17. Of course, the room hadn’t always been haunted. It started in the 16th century. On a late autumn night, a young lady appeared at the hotel. She seemed cold and looked for a room to stay the night. The hotel owner had one free room, number 17. The girl thanked him and immediately went upstairs to sleep for the night. The next morning, the girl wasn’t awake for breakfast. She hadn’t come down for lunch either. Even though every guest needs their privacy, the hotel owner was getting worried that something had happened to the girl. The man walked up the stairs and knocked on the room door. He waited for an answer, but it stayed awfully quiet. He knocked on the door again, this time a bit louder. Still no answer. The man was getting very worried about the mysterious female now, so he decided to grab the spare room key and unlock the door. He walked down the stairs again, but as he went down to grab the key, he heard eerie whispers in his ear. He couldn’t understand what they were saying, something about a man clothed in all black. This scared the old man. He grabbed the key to room no. 17 and held it tight in his sweaty hands. He ran back up the stairs and knocked on the door one more time. No answer. He unlocked the door and turned the doorknob to the right. He carefully pushed open the door and called ‘miss? Excuse me, are you there?’ He took a quick peek around the half opened door but couldn’t see the bed yet. He now opened the door fully and walked in. On the bed, covered in a red pool of blood, the corpse of the mysterious female had been left for dead, murdered in cold blood. On the ceiling of the room was written “HELP” in the women’s blood. The old man gasped in fear and called for the town guards. To this day nobody knows who murdered the girl. The hotel owner couldn’t handle the feeling of guilt and closed the hotel for good. It wasn’t until 50 years later when a young family bought the empty house. There were way too many rooms for them, so they decided it would be a good idea to make it into a hotel. So they did. But as the husband of the family inspected every single room, he found one room with a strange, scary atmosphere. He didn’t feel safe at all in the room. He could swear he heard whispers in the room, telling him about a man clothed in black and murder. He shivered and shut the door. He numbered it room 17 and decided to never rent the room. The family earned good money off of the room, but never ever let anyone rent room 17.

The family got rich off of their hotel and the fantastic service. But never ever did they rent room 17. It turned spring, to summer, autumn, and winter again. But the winter was harsh and cold. Chances of surviving without food or a roof above your head were near to null. Every room in the hotel was full, except for room number 17.
The weather outside was harsh, it was snowing and the wind was sharp. It was close to midnight and the family’s husband was sitting in the bar drinking his final beer before closing the hotel door. Suddenly he could hear a weak knocking on the door. He grabbed a torch and opened the door. He looked straight into the eyes of a young woman and her child. They seemed very tired and cold. They were soaking wet of the snow and freezing. If he didn’t let them in, they would surely freeze to death. The husband had pledged to never let anyone stay in room 17, but decided it was better to let them stay than letting them freeze to death.
He let the woman in who thanked him dearly. He handed her the key to room 17 and shut the door. The woman and daughter went up the stairs and stayed the night in room 17. The husband went to his room and tried to sleep, but he couldn’t. His heart was pounding in fear, yet he didn’t know why. An hour passed and the man still couldn’t fall asleep when suddenly he heard a loud screech. It sounded like it was from a woman. He lit a candle and ran up the stairs. Every hotel guest had awoken from their slumber by the loud scream and everyone was looking out of their room doors to see what had happened. Everyone, but room 17. The hotel owner was shaking from head to toe as he opened the door to room 17. He walked inside and saw the woman sitting on a chair in the middle of the room, her eyes fixed on the ceiling in fear. She was completely terrified and paralyzed in fear. The daughter was lying dead on the floor. The husband knew that he had made a mistake. Rumor spread across the country like wildfire and soon, the entire nation knew about the hotel and the haunted room. The husband was never renting the room, ever again. Not even when it was freezing outside. He pledged it against his wife, his son, his grandmother and everybody else. Never.

Anyway, years passed and the hotel grew famous worldwide for its haunted room. Word reached the Vatican and a monk wanted to hear nothing of it. He thought it was all the biggest humbug and he was going to prove it with his own life. The monk travelled all the way to Scotland, to the hotel, just to prove it was all a hoax. The monk sought contact with the hotel owner and after discussing for a long while, the hotel owner decided to let the monk stay for one night, and one night only.

The monk took his belongings inside the room and the owner gave him two bells. One huge bell, which he could ring if he was in trouble. ‘DONNGGG’ It would sound. And a small bell, for if he needed something to eat or drink. ‘ding!’ it would sound.
Night fell over the city and the family’s husband stayed awake for the night, scared of what might happen to the monk. For hours he waited, but nothing happened. The hotel owner’s eyes grew heavy and he nearly fell asleep. Maybe he even did, until he got awoken by the sound of a bell.
‘ding!’ ‘ding!’ ‘ding!’ It was the small bell, being ringed over and over again. it got quicker and quicker, so the husband slowly made his way up the stairs. suddenly, the big bell rang. ‘DONGGGG!’ it sounded through the entire hotel. The husband now ran up the stairs and opened the room as quickly as he could. In the middle of the room, the monk was sitting in a chair, his eyes fixated on the ceiling in fear. In his hands, the small bell. In the corner of the room, the big bell. Way too far for him to have been able to ring it.
The hotel owners were now certain of the room being haunted, by the mysterious woman who had been murdered there ages ago. The hotel closed, the room numbers disappeared. Nobody knows what and where it is nowadays. have a good night.”

The tour guide let us out of the dungeon and we walked to the hotel together, still in shock of the finishing story as told by the guide. It was quite an amazing experience, yet we wouldn’t want to do it again. Way to scary, especially so late at night. We arrived at our hotel and stayed the night. The day after, we drove from Edinburgh to Crail.

Crail was a small fishing village located near Isle of May, famous for its huge population of puffins. We arrived at the hotel where we would stay the night. After walking around for the entire day, we made our way to the hotel and met up with the hotel owner. The year before, we’d been there as well and the man still remembered us. He was very nice and kind, and loved whiskey. Just like every real scot. He told us stories about when he was younger. The owner took us to our room, which he had reserved especially for us. It was a big room with a nice view on the sea. Strangely enough, it had no number on the door. I suddenly got a flashback of the year before, when we stayed here as well. We were having breakfast and got in a conversation with a man and women who had stayed the night in a room with ‘no number’. They’d had some weird experiences in the room. The woman woke up in the middle of the night because she felt something next to her, but her husband was gone. The bed was empty. Somehow, the husband had gone walking in his sleep and found his way to the stairs next to the bathroom. That’s at least what they told.

Anyway, the owner gave us the key and walked back downstairs with us. After more stories and folklore, he went to bed and we were left alone. It was getting midnight and the three of us decided to play a card game, called “last card plus”
My father had always been the more skeptical of us three when it came to ghosts. He didn’t really believe in them. As we played the game, he started telling jokes about the tour yesterday. Neither mom nor I liked it, since we did believe in ghosts. But whatever. We finished the first of seven rounds. Mom won, dad and I had to count the score of our leftover cards. I had 6 points and mom wrote it down. I looked at dad who had a weird grin on his face. He showed me his cards and I looked at the score of the cards together. Seventeen.
Mom and I glanced at eachother and laughed nervously. But the second round ended with dad having seventeen points. Again. His smile disappeared. At the third round, his smile was completely gone and at the end we counted our leftover points again. Dad’s face had turned white now. Seventeen points, three times in a row. And at that moment the lights went out.

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