Seaweed

October 4, 2014 at 12:00 PM
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My grandmother grew up in the slums of Prohibition-era Chicago. Her family lived in a small house near the harbor, and one of her earliest memories was of a particularly hot summer when, seeking respite from the heat, she and her sister discovered a seldom-used section of boardwalk near an abandoned warehouse. Every night for several weeks, the two girls would make their way down to the docks and sit together on the edge of the pier as the sun went down. My grandmother vividly, and for a time fondly, recalled the feel of the seaweed between her toes as she and her sister dangled their feet into the murky water.

It wasn’t until years later that she returned to the pier and found that the warehouse had been demolished. Curious, she made an inquiry with the Department of Planning and Development. Apparently, the warehouse had been owned for a time by the Mob, who was using it as a base of operations for a local prostitution racket. It had only been uncovered when an associate began ‘disposing’ of rival hookers by fitting them with concrete shoes and dumping them into the harbor. Investigating officers had recovered nearly two dozen bodies from the waters of a secluded pier nearby.

How had the bodies been discovered? A passing fisherman spotted some of the victims’ hair floating near the surface of the water, like seaweed.

Credit To – September Derleth

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Tales from a Glass Crypt, Volume 1

October 4, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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The submission is an interactive choose-your-fate adventure built with Twine, with music and illustrations:

Click here to begin your adventure!

Credit To – Written and illustrated by Romie Romak, sound design by Taylor Shechet, music by GRYPT

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Rose

October 3, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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I visit my mother sometimes in the home that she’s in. She’s not actually old, she’s only in her fifties. But she hasn’t been able to take care of herself since we lost my sister. It’s difficult visiting her because I have a separate family now. I was raised by a nice childless couple after my mother became ill. I think of them as my parents now. But still, sometimes I do feel as though I should spend time with the woman who raised me till I was ten.

It makes me glad to see her looking clean and put-together in the home. It’s the closest she’ll ever come to being healthy and normal. They give her daily showers and dress her carefully in her own clothes. But somehow wisps of hair always escape from the bun they put her hair in and form floating tendrils around her head. She lets me hold her hand but she never makes eye contact with me. Instead, her eyes roam around the room, almost as though she’s looking at something. Sometimes she smiles and mutters at the thing she’s looking at. And sometimes she giggles helplessly. It’s difficult to watch. But I visit her because a part of me still remembers the woman she used to be, and I did love that woman. I remember what it felt like to be her son.

She used to dote on me because she had a hard time getting pregnant before she had me. I still remember the early years before my sister was born. My mother would spend hours playing with me while my dad was at work. We would build Lego houses and pillow forts. She would let me help her when she cooked. But everything started to go wrong when my sister, Rose, was born. She had a spinal defect that paralyzed her from the neck down. My mother’s life began to revolve around taking care of Rose. Rose couldn’t sit up or move on her own. She could only crane her little neck back and forth. My mother used to fret about her choking to death. This worry was so constant, and so all-consuming it even trickled down to me. I remember sitting next to Rose and just watching her tiny chest rise and fall with each precarious breath. I was only seven at the time.

It was gradual at first, but my parents started fighting more and more. And one day when I was 9 I woke up to a different life. My dad had packed everything he owned and left in the night. Just like that, he was gone from my life. It was just me, my mom and my disabled sister. It was difficult for my mother to find work. I don’t think we had much in the way of savings. And Rose was a helpless two year old who couldn’t even sit up on her own. She couldn’t be left alone and we couldn’t afford care for her. I remember my mother crying a lot during that time. She would sit slumped on our threadbare sofa and cry. I didn’t know what I could do to help. So I tried to take care of Rose as much as I could. I would wheel her around the apartment in her pram and have long, silly conversations about her dolls. Sometimes my mom would sit and watch us, dry-eyed and wooden. I knew not to bother her no matter how badly her expressionless face frightened me. It was a difficult time but Rose and I were too young to realize quite how bleak our situation was. We still had our old toys. We still had a roof over our heads. We didn’t know about bills and rent.

But then things appeared to take a turn for the better. My mom finally managed to find a job. And miraculously, it was a job that would allow her to stay at home and take care of Rose. There was a grand old hotel in the town we lived in. It had been really popular a few decades ago but its popularity had waned over time till it had been turned into a kind of bed-sit that was quickly falling into disrepair. My mother’s new job was to take care of the dilapidated old building. She was glad to take the job and even more grateful to take on the free lodging that came with it.

It’s difficult to describe the excitement I felt when we moved into Fairmont Hotel. It was so much bigger than our cramped three-room apartment. The hotel was four stories high and every story stretched out into long carpeted corridors. The hotel’s sheer size was a kind of unfathomable mystery to me. I was awed by its moldy, moth-eaten grandeur. I loved the peeling cream wallpaper and the stained rust-coloured carpeting. And I loved the dusty old chandeliers that tinkled ominously every time a truck drove by. I felt as though I had wandered into a fairytale, like I was the prince of a forsaken castle like the Beast from Beauty and the Beast. Most of the units were unoccupied so the third and fourth floors were kept shut up. But I could roam freely on the second floor and that’s where I used to play whenever I was home from school. My favourite activity involved wheeling Rose in a mad dash along the corridors. She loved the feeling of moving at speed and she would shriek her little lungs out. My mother would tell us to be quiet but she would smile as she said it. For the first time, in years, there were no frown-lines on her forehead.

But the hotel did have an odd effect on Rose. She had always been a happy child, in spite of the many discomforts associated with her illness. But she became cranky and restive. She could prattle on quite fluently by then but whenever we asked her about what was bothering her she would become silent and cry or mutter incoherently about some old lady. She was also having trouble sleeping at night. The two of us shared a room and she would wake me up at night sometimes. It was invariably the same thing. I’d wake to find her whispering furiously, her head craned to the side as though she was looking at something. I learned from experience not to ask her about it because that would always make her cry about the “mean old lady”. She also started getting odd bruises on her legs. It was hard to imagine where she got the bruises since we were always with her. When we asked her about it she’d say the old lady pinched her.

Still, we were happier than we’d been in a long time. And even though Rose was often pale and quiet, she was happy when I played with her.
But that’s how everything went wrong again. I have trouble talking about this. I can’t quite remember the exact details of what happened. It comes to me in flashes. But some of the images are etched in my mind. And I still see them over and over again whenever I close my eyes.

Rose and I were playing our favourite game. I was wheeling her along the corridor on the second floor. The second floor corridor curves lightly and then it leads into a spiral staircase that opens out to the lobby. Rose loved the thrill of it when I pretended to wheel her headlong into the curved wall at the end of the corridor, but of course at the last second I would pull her out to the side and we’d come to a halt in the landing of the staircase. We had been doing just that for around half an hour. I was starting to get tired from the running. But Rose begged for one last go. So I got behind the little pram and started wheeling her to the wall. Everything goes fuzzy from that point. I remember feeling exhausted. My arms felt like lead. But all the while my legs were pumping and pumping, and I was running faster and faster. The wall was rushing up at us like a blank white fist. I remember imagining us slamming into it. But of course I would pull out at the last moment. I always did. But something went wrong. Somehow I just couldn’t. I think it felt as though I had lost all control over my limbs. I think everything was foggy. The only thing I remember is that blank white wall rushing at us.

And I also remember the sound the pram made when it crumpled against the wall. There was a crack of broken plastic and then Rose was hurtling through the air like a rag doll. And she was falling down the stairs. When I close my eyes I still see her little neck coming into contact with the stairs and her body folding over her head. There was screaming everywhere. I think I was screaming. But my mother was too. She was sitting at the base of the spiral staircase with Rose’s crumpled little body in her arms and just screaming and screaming. It took everything I had to climb down to where my mother was sobbing over Rose’s body. She looked up at me but there was no recognition on her face. It was almost like she couldn’t see me through her tears.

And then the most incredible thing happened. There was a cough from the midst of my mother’s arms. And then another one. And then Rose’s lisping, toddler voice calling out for mom. But in the throes of her grief my mom was insensible to what was happening.

“Mom, mom! Rose is ok!” I had to yell it a few times before she would look at me.
“What?”
“I think she’s ok…” I pulled my mother’s arms loose and sure enough, Rose was blinking up at us, and amazingly she was smiling even though there was blood smeared on her face.
“How…” But another smile from Rose and she had forgotten everything. She was hugging Rose through her tears. I tried to hug Rose too but my mother wouldn’t let her go. I noticed there was blood dribbling down from Rose’s mouth and nose.
“Mom, there’s blood…”
“It’s nothing,” she said and rubbed the blood out with her sleeves. Rose’s neck turned oddly to the side as she did so.
“Mom, I think we should take her to a hospital.”
“Nonsense!” She bundled Rose up in her arms and carried her up. She was cooing to her like she was a little baby and Rose was chortling back happily.

I don’t quite like to think about the period that followed after. A part of me thinks I imagined it. But a part of me is terrified it really did happen. Rose was never the same after that day. There was something wrong with her. It’s possible she suffered some sort of internal damage from the fall. But somehow, I could never convince my mother to take her to the hospital. Her skin grew mottled and grey. And she started giving off a terrible smell. I had only ever smelled something like that once before. We had a dead skunk in the basement of my school and the smell filled our classroom with foulness before the cleaner removed the carcass. That’s what Rose smelled like. I don’t know if my mother realized it. But I think a part of her knew something was wrong. We used to live on the second floor near the few tenants the hotel had. But after Rose’s fall she moved us up to the fourth floor.

It was terrible living up on the fourth floor with my mother and Rose. The whole level was dusty and dark. Mom would only turn on the lights at the end where we lived. The rest of the corridor used to stretch out in complete darkness. It was like being buried alive, a sensation only compounded by the stench that clung to Rose’s tiny body. Rose scared me too. Her personality had changed. She hated me. I don’t know how I knew this. But I could sense it. Thankfully we no longer shared a room. Mother couldn’t bear to leave her alone at night so Rose slept with her in a tiny cot. I don’t know how my mother could ignore the smell that came off Rose in cloying waves.

I missed the old Rose. I missed her so much I even dreamed of her once. I was nodding off to sleep when it happened. She was sitting next to my bed like she never could when she was alive. And she was glowing and happy. But tears appeared in her eyes as she looked at me. And she reached out and touched my face. I felt a kind of peace I hadn’t known in a while but then she looked around in fright like she’d heard something.
“What is it?” I whispered.

“She’s here,” she said. And then she disappeared. I must have woken up at that point because I heard something too then, the sound of the door slowly creaking close. And I swear I heard the patter of a child’s tiny feet disappearing into my mother’s room. The sound filled me with a clammy kind of horror. I don’t know what I was imagining. But it wasn’t what I saw when I snuck over to peek into my mother’s room.

The room was completely dark, except for the street light streaming in through the window. My mother was sitting on the floor and playing with Rose. And Rose was sitting up and laughing. There was a cloth tied tightly round her throat, but her head still wobbled on her neck as she moved. They are batting at a tiny mouse together. And then Rose looked up and saw me. She went very still and a kind of hiss escaped from her blue, mottled lips. Mother looked up too.
“What are you doing out of bed?” she said.
“Mom why is Rose walking?”
“She’s cured. Can’t you see? She’s completely fine.” I couldn’t see my mother’s face in the darkness of the room but I could see Rose’s grey, sunken face. She didn’t look fine.
“Mom, can we take her to the doctor please? Please mom” I was whimpering and begging but I couldn’t help myself.
“Tell that thing to go away,” said Rose.
“Go!” Mom yelled at me.

My life was a kind of living hell after that. Rose would only walk about at night. She never left the room. No one saw her. No one knew what she looked like. During the day I had to go to school and pretend everything was fine at home. I knew Rose was too little to hurt me, but she worried me. I felt as though she was following me sometimes. I would hear that soft patter of tiny feet behind me but when I turned around there would be no one there.
And then one day, it finally happened. I was just about to run down the stairway when I heard a kind of gasp behind me. I spun around and came face to face with my mother. She was carrying Rose in her arms. Her face was pale and drawn. And her lips were drawn in a kind of grimace.

“Mom?”
“No. I am not your mother.” She shoved at me as she spoke. I grabbed at her, but all I managed to grip was Rose’s grey, rotten body. I felt myself losing my balance and as I fell, Rose tumbled down with me. Mom screamed for Rose as we fell. But it was too late. Rose’s little body broke my fall and was crushed in the process.

Mother has never been the same since. I couldn’t quite bring myself to tell the police that she pushed me. But they still took her away and put her in a home. Everyone assumed Rose had been dead for weeks. I was forced to see a psychologist. But they managed to find me a good new home.

Still, I try to visit mother as much as I can. But I think a part of her still hates me for causing Rose’s first accident. I think she pinches me sometimes, though I’ve never caught her doing it. I feel sharp pangs of pain sometimes when I sit with her. And she always laughs when it happens and mutters and coos at something only she can see. I try not to mind, though my arms and thighs are always blue and black with bruises after I visit her.

Credit To – Monica

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The Hunt

September 30, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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I froze; my feet became glued to the frost covered ground. My chest tightened in fear and anxiety. I could hear my heartbeat in my ears; my pulse could be felt in my fingertips. The sound of my blood rushing in my ears drowned out every other sound. It was so loud I could hear nothing else.

I willed myself to calm. With great effort, began to slow my breathing, in through the nose, out through the mouth. While it still came in shallow bursts but it was easier now, and my burning lungs began to no longer reject the cool autumn air.

The crack of a stick broke me out of my attempt of calm. My pulse began to race again as the fear and adrenaline began to spike. I pushed my stiff legs back into movement.

“Don’t stop!” I screamed internally. If I stopped, I would be done, I would die. I ran deeper into the forest, surrounding myself with the burning reds and oranges. The trees appeared to be on fire in the pre-sunset light.

I could hear his footsteps begin to pick up speed. Mine began to slow in response. No, this could not be happening, not when I was so close to escaping fate. If I don’t keep going nothing would save me.

“Push.” I screamed at myself. As his footsteps become louder, I pick up speed in response. I hear him even more clearly, he must be close.

I stop and hide behind a large gnarled oak tree, my back pressed into the gritty bark. I tried to cover myself behind the changing leaves of a partially broken branch.

I hear him come to a stop and I stifle the sound of my breathing. He is so close, then I see him come around the side of the tree walking to the clearing, his face was flushed and primal and his breath was as heavy as mine.. How did such a portly man give such a chase in this molted terrain?

He was so close to my hiding spot I can feel his rancid breath. I pounced on him, grabbing him; finally I slit his throat and removed his tracking device. Then I smiled, I was safe, no one would know about me. I began to hum as I headed home to my cottage in the woods.
I love the thrill of the hunt.

Credit To – Ahriannah

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A Promise of the Heart

September 27, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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A PROMISE OF THE HEART
———————-

My first love was a pretty girl
with golden hair and skin of pearl.
We thought our meeting one of chance,
our senses caught in that first glance,
and watched our love unfurl.

Our lives entwined at dizzying rate,
as if our love was set by fate,
and none were taken by surprise
when talk of marriage did arise
and soon we’d set a date.

The engagement ring I slipped upon her hand
was an expensive golden band
topped in the centre with a ruby, sullen red
as if from some heart it had been fed
to suit the love she did demand.

For though gentle in her looks so fair
a passion dwelt far under there.
A will of iron and mood to match,
and though she was indeed a catch,
I often wondered at her stare.

For day by day I saw her look
at that ring, the time she took,
and then glance at me as if to say
“I’ve caught you now, you can’t get away”
like a fish, pierced upon on a hook.

And then one night as we lay in bed
In a simple monotone she’d said,
“Promise me your heart forever
that on this ring, not even death will sever
the love that holds us in its stead.”

At this her hand had gripped mine tight
as if to bind me to my words that night,
and laughing, I’d repeated them
addressing that dark and solemn gem,
‘fore sleep had stole my sight.


A month before the wedding day,
she fell ill, and wasted fast away.
I sat beside her bed and wept,
as my love, adrift in illness, slept
but could no longer stay.

I held her hand as she passed on,
until the light in her eyes had gone.
and wiping back a final tear
I promised all those who stood near
she would be the only one.

Before her death, to all she’d stressed
she wished in her bridal gown be dressed,
and so buried in silken white
as if a princess waiting for her knight
laying peaceful at her rest.

Admiring her serene face,
her head rounded by her veil of lace
I looked down to where her hands they lay,
and following her final say,
the ruby ring took pride of place.

Love, however, will have its sport,
and turned my promise into naught.
So it was I loved once more
a girl whose charms I did adore,
for time is long, and memory short.

Her beauty was not marred
by a nature dark and hard
instead her mood was light,
her eyes both kind and bright
and she healed a heart once scarred.

Happy times with her had led,
to me thinking things long since fled,
of a future spent just her and me,
and I knew she’d eagerly agree.
So made my mind that we should wed.

But on the day that I proposed,
dreams of my first love now deposed
began to fill my every night
with visions wove of sickly fright,
of her displeasure now disclosed.

Asleep, I’d dream of a graveyard’s gloom,
and me, in the trappings of a groom.
Thus dressed, I’d hear a happy cheer
coming from a church door near
and walk in, to some unknown doom.

A church aisle stretched far ahead,
each row populated with the dead,
and whilst the organ wailed within
they threw confetti of corpses skin
as I stumbled to my love to wed.

They looked at me with empty eyes,
their sockets round and black inside,
A need to flee, to simply run,
but my steps would only lead me on,
until I stood beside the bride.

A vice like grip would take my hand,
and there in frozen terror stand.
My bride would then turn her head,
a worm riddled mockery of she now dead,
my first love’s wedding now at hand.

Every night the self same dream
’til my sanity now stretched the seam
and every night I saw it clear
the thing that she had held most dear,
the ring and its ruddy gleam.

Maybe I was mad by now
but I knew the dreams had showed me how
to finally free myself from she
whose spirit would not let me be,
and so I made a vow.


Only the Moon saw me leave
at midnight on my wedding eve
to the graveyard, to where she lay,
to dig at all that miserable clay
and from her hand that ring to cleave!

I no longer wondered if I should,
only knowing that I would.
So gripped with anger and nascent fear
I hunted she I once held dear,
until the spade struck wood.

I clambered in that hellish hole,
and looked upon my wretched goal,
all to claim back that cur-sed ring
and end the nightmares of that…thing
that stalked my dreams and wracked my soul.

And then, as if in part the devil’s jest
the hallowed silence was unseemly blessed
by the maddening calling of my phone,
that incessant, demanding drone,
and to my head the phone I pressed.

My new fiancee’s voice filled my ear,
her voice too fresh and crystal clear
to be heard in such an awful place
amongst this deathly quiet race,
but still I stopped to hear.

She gushed about a gift she’d found,
left on her bed and simply bound.
From me she’d known it must have come,
for its beauty had near struck her dumb:
a golden ring with ruby round.

What words I said I do not know,
mind gone blank and thoughts gone slow.
A single, dreadful thought was left
and with that spade the lid I heft.
To see what horror was below.

There she lay in rotting glory,
her nails and hair grown long and hoary.
A Cinderella bound in death
whose stench, not looks, now took ones breath.
A bride in some horrific story.

She wore a torn and mildewed gown,
of mottled green and rancid brown;
her flesh and skin picked clean
by time and morbid things obscene,
bearing swollen maggots for a crown.

With wild eyes I cast around
within the casket and surrounding ground,
but no ring I saw in that horrid place,
just a rictus grin on that mocking face,
‘til I heard a shallow, beating sound.

I followed the noise to whence it came,
real or not, it meant the same.
The odd sound that my attention caught,
was not the thing that I had sought,
and then I saw the source of blame.

The sight was of no wedding band
but in seeing I knew myself full damned.
For in that grisly meeting,
I saw my own heart beating,
grasped tightly in her bony hand!

Now here I sit in broken dread
in the grave of one thought long since dead.
To her, a promise made on my heart,
was an oath from which she would not part,
and from me now has all hope fled.

For around the grave stand figures tall
spades held in bony hands of all.
A burial party just for me
and my first love for eternity,
and on me clumps of dirt now fall.

I shall write these words and place them near
whilst time is left, I’ll state it clear.
Make no promises you cannot keep
for in truth the dead, they do not sleep,
and a broken word is much to fear.

The author has also uploaded a spoken version of this pasta, viewable here:


A Promise of the Heart

If the embed does not work for you, please click the link to view the video on its YouTube page.

Credit To – Charmingly Shallow

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A Cold Love Story

September 24, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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A Cold Love Story by Liam Vickers

I sent the text to my friend max, reading, “Dude, are you at school?” The bus was already a good 20 minutes late.

It was late November, and it was cold.

So damn cold.

My eyes burned against the outside air, and each intake of breath was like swallowing razor blades. Everything was dim, tinted a dull blue, and all was eerily still, seemingly frozen in time. Mercury in the thermometers had settled to the bottom, refusing to budge.

I could see my breath as it shimmered against the thin air, warping and climbing upwards in despair before vanishing. Even the trees, long dead, with crooked, empty limbs, appeared to be shaking against the cold. Frost and ice glinted sharply in the faded sunlight, clinging on and threatening to overtake the trees. The occasional glimmer of sunlight was nothing short of an ironic and cruel sight as its warmth could not be felt. It seemed so distant, its hazy blue glow so utterly small and insignificant against the frozen vastness. The crunch of snow could be heard as I walked – a crisp, sharp sound cutting through what was otherwise dead silence before disappearing into the oblivion with nothing to return an echo.

I stopped for a minute.

It seemed as if I was the only one in this world; a world of cold, of stillness, of nothingness. Neither the heat of a friend, nor the joy of their company existed here.

I was taking a note of all this with my eyes closed, so as the keep them from freezing, when I began to hear the crunching of snow. It was Sarah. I always met her at the bus stop, or had been anyway, for the past two weeks. I was glad of it too. I used to hang out with my good friend Jenna, but she hadn’t been showing up for the past week or so and now it was just Sarah to keep me company.

I opened my eyes slowly, wincing at the frosty wind. I could see Sarah walking towards me, pace slow and steady. Her balance wasn’t affected in the slightest by the now increasing gusts of frigid air whipping snowflakes around like small needles. She wore a fuzzy wool purple hat that sat lazily atop of her head. It didn’t obscure her face at all however, and I could still see her eyes of the purest blue you could imagine. They were only highlighted by her flushed red cheeks, no doubt due to the cold. She was absolutely beautiful . . . sweet and funny too, but for some reason, I never really saw her with any friends. I suppose this was because she had just moved in. That and because all the guys I knew were too afraid to even talk to her.

I guess that’s why she was stuck with me all the time. In fact, she actually seemed incredibly lonely when I wasn’t with her.

I suddenly snapped out of my thoughts to realize that I was staring at her. She saw me looking and gave a slight giggle with an exaggerated wave. I quickly blushed and only managed to choke out an awkward “hey” before turning away.

I quickly whirled back around however as I realized that something was wrong. She was wearing nothing but a t-shirt, a pair of short shorts and her backpack. I practically tripped over myself as I ran to her.

“Sarah, what are you doing?!” I cried. She stood in front of me, shivering and taking short staggered breaths. Her attire was certainly strange, but there was something else wrong too. Something was different about her.

“Did you walk all the way here like this?!” I asked, dumbfounded.

She had said earlier that her house was a good 20 minute walk from the bus stop.

“John is worrying about me!” She cried, her face lighting up as her eyes widened and stared straight into mine. She paused for a minute before sheepishly continuing, “I thought . . . maybe I could use your coat.” Her voice trailed off as she looked down at the ground.

I couldn’t believe it! I had on several layers of jackets and I was still freezing! I couldn’t even imagine how cold she must have been!

“Oh my God! Sarah! Of course!” I cried, taking off layer after layer and wrapping her in them. “Did you not have enough time to grab a jacket!?” I asked incredulously, now down to just a t-shirt myself. “You must be freezing, and the bus is already really late, you had plenty of time!”

She shook her head. “I wanted to use yours!” She giggled, wrapping her arms around herself and the jackets she was now wearing, smiling with eyes closed. I was taken completely aback. This wasn’t like her at all.

“You-” I stammered, “you did this on purpose?”

“I’ve never felt so close to you.” She smiled, leaning her head on her shoulder. My mind was racing. I had NO idea what to say to that.

“Sarah, why are you acting so strange all of a sudden?” I asked. She didn’t respond at first, and didn’t seem to have heard my question.

“Awww! Won’t you be cold now!?” She suddenly cried, forcefully grabbing my hands in hers. My mouth moved but words were nowhere to be found.

“It’s . . . It’s ok, haha, I’ll just freeze to death.” I finally joked as I often do when I’m uncomfortable. Her face erupted in horror, her eyes going wider than I’d ever seen.

“No!” She screamed in anguish, beginning to unzip my jackets, meaning to give them back.

“No! Haha, I was joking!” I cried, grabbing her arms to stop her. The instant my hands closed around her, her face flushed bright red and she stopped in her tracks.

“John.” She stammered.

“You need them more than I do.” I laughed awkwardly, sickening concern encroaching on my heart.

Her face changed then . . . Distorting . . . Twisting, and giving the widest smile I had ever seen. I found myself backing up and letting go of her arms. Her smile was misplaced somehow, erroneous and deranged. It crawled across her face like a disease and just kept spreading. Her eyes didn’t blink and stared straight towards me but weren’t really focused on anything.
The areas in which they normally seemed to sparkle now seemed dull and flat. It was incredibly disturbing, so much so that I began to sweat despite the cold.

“So, are you ready for school?” I asked nervously, trying desperately to change the subject or do anything to get rid of that smile.

“School?” She questioned, straight faced, her eyes slowly coming back to focus, “We don’t have school today, silly. It’s a snow day because of the storm that’s coming.” She giggled.

“What?!” I cried, “Gosh dangit! I didn’t get an email or anything!”

She said nothing, but looked at the ground guiltily. Then I saw it. A smile began to slowly carve out her cheeks.

I was dumbfounded.

“Did . . . Did you . . .” I started.

“I wouldn’t have been able to see you if you knew there was no school.” She said, matter-of-factly, as that twisted grin continued to stretch her face further and further, eating away at her pale skin. The wind howled and crystalline needles bit at my exposed skin.

Suddenly, she laughed, grabbing onto my waist.

“You better stay close,” she giggled, “otherwise you’ll catch a cold!” My mind was in full retreat mode now as I began backing up.

I tried to wiggle free of her grasp saying, “Haha, yeah, I guess. I think I’ll go home now and maybe get some more coats, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow then if the weather improves. Ok?”

Seemingly not hearing me, she snuggled in closer and closed her eyes. My hands were in the air, my body rigid and taut as my heart convulsed with unease. I drew several shaky breaths and looked down at her. Her smile now appeared . . . rather peaceful?

“Is this really all that bad?” I thought to myself. “A lot of guys I know would do anything to be in this position. She just wanted to see me was all . . . Yeah! It’s actually really sweet, albeit a little drastic.”

I relaxed a little, almost hugging her back, when I suddenly saw the dark crimson stains on her arms. My muscles tensed.

I choked, my voice faltering as I stammered, “Is that blood?”

Ignoring the question, she pressed herself even closer and looked up at me.

“Let’s go to your house!” She squealed, her face like a child’s on Christmas. “Don’t you need your coats? I’ll take them for you!” She grabbed my hand, looking at me to lead the way. Her big blue eyes glimmered with hope. I felt sick, torn between concern and fear.

But surely she was just having an off day, or messing with me in a cruel drawn out joke. It didn’t really matter though. We can’t stay out here forever, I thought to myself.

Taking a deep breath, I slowly nodded my head and began walking towards my house. She clung to me tightly as we walked and I tried desperately not to shiver and send her on another episode. We were nearly to my driveway when I got the text back from Max. I awkwardly wiggled my phone out of my pocket with my left hand as my right was still in Sarah’s vice grip.

I was still walking as I brought the phone up when I was suddenly jerked back, almost losing my balance on the slick ice.

I turned around to see that Sarah had stopped cold, her hands gripped so tight around my own that I could almost hear the bones breaking. I let out a gasp of pain and tried to pull my hand free, but she wouldn’t allow it. Her expression had gone dark, hair draping over her face.

“Who’s that?” She said, the usual cheer all but gone from her voice.

“It’s- . . . It’s Max! My friend?” I gasped still cringing in pain as I opened the message from him, “He was just telling me about-”

My blood froze. I stared at the screen as my chest tightened.

“Telling you what?” Her voice cut through the crisp air.

“Just about . . . How much he likes snow.” I lied.

Slowly, her cute face reappeared and her grip lightened as she smiled at me. We began walking again.

“You know, I like snow too.” She said coyly.

I didn’t even hear her; I was too busy staring at what was on the screen.

It read, “Yeah, of course I’m at school! Where the hell are you?”

I turned to look at Sarah, my hands beginning to shake, having nothing to do with the cold. I’m sure my face showed my horror and confusion but if she saw, she didn’t let on as she met my gaze with a cutesy smile. Her murky black hair was partially obscuring her left eye, making the right seem all the more piercing as its frozen blue hue searched my face. I could feel its chilling gaze stabbing at my numb skin.

“Who would you rather hang out with?” She said, still a hint of malice in her quiet voice.

“What? I stammered.

“Max. Is he a good friend of yours?” She said, looking away.

“Yeah, I guess?” I replied nervously, “I mean, I’ve known him for a while.”

Her hands slowly balled into tight fists, nearly crushing my own hand as she muttered something under her breath. Then she turned into my driveway and started walking down.

Leading ME.

How did she know when to turn? How did she know this was my driveway?!

I yanked my hand from hers with all of my might and took a few steps back.

“Sarah,” I said trying to keep my voice strong, “Where is the bus?”

She looked devastated, staring at her empty hand, not saying a word. Her irises shook slightly, her face becoming hollow, whatever color she had disintegrating into a grey slag.

“Where the hell is the bus Sarah!?” I yelled. “Why didn’t it ever come?!”

She looked up at me. “No . . . school . . . today.” She muttered to herself, eyes once again distant and dim as she fumbled around and tried to reach for my hands blindly.

“Yes we do Sarah! We do have school!” I cried, further backing up, “The bus should’ve been at the stop, but it never came!”

“It wanted . . . just the two of us.” She mumbled, face blank and emotionless.

“And why do you have your backpack if you weren’t planning on going to school? How do you know where I live?!” I was becoming hysterical now.

She chose to ignore all if this and instead found my hands again, gripping them tightly and smiling crookedly. In the most unnatural way, she didn’t seem to be feeling emotions, and yet carved them into her own face all the same. It was as if she was trying to imitate expressions she had seen others express.

“I’m cold,” She said, “we should go inside.”

I took a few long breaths and tried to calm myself down. It must have just been a misunderstanding. Max was probably just messing with me! It wouldn’t be unlike him to joke around like that and get me all worked up about missing a school day that didn’t exist. He was the one lying, and I had lashed out at Sarah who was just trying to be nice! Right? I’m not even sure if I believed it myself, but it was better than thinking of the alternatives.

“I’m sorry,” I sighed, then, fumbling for words to make her feel better, I choked out, “Thanks . . . Thanks for being with me.”

My heart warmed as I saw her face shift ever so slightly. As if waking from a dream, her eyes glanced around, taking in her surroundings for the first time. Her sunken lifeless features slowly ebbed away as, for the first time today, a believable smile flickered into view. One that didn’t appear forced or fueled by delusions.

When her eyes cleared, focused on me, and realized that I was smiling back, she blushed profusely and turned away. I laughed at that and she started to giggle too.

Her eyes suddenly flicked down to her hands which were still gripping mine. She let out a little squeal and dropped them, burying her face in her palms, apologizing over and over. Her black hair meandered around aimlessly in the wind, doing little to hide her embarrassed face.

This was the Sarah I knew: the girl who had trouble talking to other people, the girl who always had a bewildered look about her as if the world was shifting under her feet, the girl who hadn’t been able to look me in the eye for several days when we first met. She never talked about herself; she didn’t seem to want to. She would always listen though. And when she did, her eyes always seemed less piercing, less haunted, and I was certain that she could sit silently for hours while I spoke. Before the events of today, I had still known something was off about her, about the way she listened so devotedly. I could always see a faint emotion shift her features, but it was now finally clear what I had been looking at: relief. When she listened, she appeared relieved, so incredibly comforted to be free of her own thoughts. It was absolutely heart wrenching, but it also served to make her previous demeanor of a few minutes ago all the more out of place. She hadn’t listened at all; she appeared to be trapped in her own mind.

As we began walking down the driveway to my house, I looked at her and took a heavy breath, calming my nerves. I only hoped that her strange behavior had subsided for good. We trudged through the slowly accumulating snow. I had been too lazy to shovel it with my parents having left for Hawaii a week ago. Ironically, as much as it pissed me off to imagine them on a beach while I was stuck here, I was actually glad that neither of them would be home for a few days so I wouldn’t have to explain Sarah to them. I would just be all too like them to try and make things weird if I brought a girl over.

We reached the door and I fumbled for my key, eventually unlocking the door and jumping inside before too much warm air escaped into the bitter cold. I immediately started up a fire, not really realizing how cold I had been until that moment. I looked over at Sarah taking off the jackets and folding them neatly before placing them down gingerly by the entrance. Her movements were strained, her spindly limbs tired and weak. She appeared to have a normal mental state now, but as she finished up and her eyes glanced at me, I couldn’t help but tense a little.

“Hey . . . Sarah?” I asked slowly, my heart going dark and beginning to pound, distrust and fear suddenly reclaiming me. I had to know.

I nervously continued, “Could you maybe go to my room and get me a hoodie?” My pulse was racing and my breath quickened. If she could . . .

“Anything for John!” She cried with a big smile, turning to go. She took several steps further into the house. Her pale form walked deliberately at first, but her pace gradually devolved into a strained staggering motion before she eventually came to a complete halt. Still facing away from me, her icy voice quietly seeped out, “But, I don’t know where your room is.”

I felt a huge wave of relief. Thank God! I felt bad for ever doubting her, for giving her such a dumb test.

I laughed, “Haha, sorry, that’s right, it’s up the st-“. I suddenly stopped myself. “You know what?” I chuckled, “I’ll just go get it. I need to stop being so lazy anyway.”

What was wrong with me? I apparently still felt like I couldn’t trust her! Stupid. Stupid! But I just couldn’t stop myself. I didn’t believe her. I wanted to know if there was really no school, I wanted to know why she had been acting so strange. The only thing holding me back was the fear of such a question bringing back that other smile. That deranged face.

So I just kept quiet, instead asking if she wanted some hot chocolate.

Her eyes lit up, “is that even a question?” She laughed. Her ghoulish posture slackened slightly as she turned to face me.

I smiled and moved into the kitchen starting a pot of water to boil. “Would you mind watching this for a second?” I asked.

“Don’t you worry,” She joked, “no one watches water better than me!”

I laughed and ran up the stairs to my room. I grabbed my doorknob only to recoil in shock. It was freezing! I could feel a draft of frozen air seeping out from under my door. I gingerly grabbed the handle with my fingertips and slowly opened it, letting lose a blast of frigid air. It felt like a window had been left open, but as I checked, they were all closed. Now that I thought about it, I remembered my room being freezing that morning as well and really quite drafty for the past week or so. I was only really noticing it now that today was so particularly cold. I would probably have to sleep downstairs by the fire until I could figure out the problem. I quickly grabbed my hoodie and closed the door to my room so I wouldn’t let all of the heat out of the house. I walked back down the stairs and into the kitchen, but Sarah was gone. The pot was boiling over, spilling water onto the floor. I quickly ran and shut off the heat, cursing under my breath as some of the scalding liquid splashed onto me. I grabbed some towels and began soaking up the mess. I finally got it all cleaned up when I thought I could hear shuffling on the kitchen floor.

“Oh no! John!” Sarah suddenly cried from directly behind me, making me jump out of my skin. I whirled around to face her. She was holding her backpack, seemingly empty now as she slung it back over her shoulder.

“What were you doing?” I asked, my eyes narrowing.

As soon as I said it, I immediately regretted doing so. I began to see her eyes frost over as she searched for an answer; her face becoming sunken, lifeless, her personality flipping.

“No! It’s alright!” I cried desperately, handing a mug to her, “uh . . . do you want marshmallows? Look! I have cute little bunny shaped ones!”

This snapped her out of it, and she squealed in delight as I showed her the bag. “Look at the little sugary mammals!” She giggled.

I laughed as I started to make the hot chocolate. I was so torn and confused, I really liked her like this . . . but where had that other side of her come from? It scared the shit out of me. I had to watch everything I said and did to keep her as the Sarah I knew. Or, thought I knew anyway.

It was about 12:00 now.

“The school would’ve called by now to report me absent if there had been a school day.” I thought to myself. I let myself relax a little more, looking over at Sarah as she sipped delicately on her hot chocolate. Her hat was still goofily perched on her head. I smiled and reached over the table to her, adjusting it so that it was at least sitting straight.

“There,” I said, sitting back down and grinning, “That’s better.”
She stared wide eyed back at me, her cheeks going red, trying in vain to keep from smiling.

Suddenly, from within her backpack, her phone rang. I couldn’t help but face palm as I heard the ringtone.

“Bruno Mars?!” I laughed as her face broke out in horror. “You’re just as bad as my mom!” I continued, “I can’t believe you two have the same ringtone! Hahaha!” She practically squealed in embarrassment and fished around in her backpack, quickly tearing out the battery.

She sheepishly put the battery in her pocket and looked down at her feet. “Do you want to . . .” She asked nervously, “maybe walk to the bus stop with me tomorrow?”

“Trying to change the subject eh?” I playfully jeered. Her face just grew even redder as her hands fumbled hastily with her shirt. I couldn’t help myself, it was impossible to say no to her like this. Any fears from before were buried deep in the back of my mind.

My giggles slowly died out and I gave a slight nod, saying, “Yeah, sure.”

“Great!” She cried, suddenly bolting out of her chair and running to the door. “I’ve uh- got to do something now!”

“I’ll be here tomorrow at 6:00!” She called back as she disappeared into the frozen wasteland, shutting the door behind her. I sat stunned for a good minute. Where the hell did that come from? She hadn’t even taken a coat with her! Imagining her in just a t-shirt in that brutal cold made me want to run after her, but I knew she was long gone by that point.

I lazed around for a few hours, did some chemistry homework, and even shot Max another text saying, “I’m serious man, we didn’t have school today right?” But he never got back to me. He rarely checked his phone anyway though, so I brushed it off, opting to sit and watch TV rather than simply wait for his lazy ass to reply. I was absent mindedly watching some sort of documentary when my phone finally buzzed. Picking it up, I realized that it had just run out of batteries. Max still hadn’t responded. Groaning, I stood up and picked up my house phone. I would just have to call him at home. I punched in his number and brought the phone to my ear.

Dial tone.

I tried again.

Dial tone.

Frustrated, I looked at the monitor.

“No service.” It read.

What? It was a landline! “How is that even possible?” I grumbled to myself. “Must have something to do with the storm.”

I sighed and tossed the phone, plopping back down onto the couch. I realized that I should have been checking the news to see if they had any insight into the possibility of school tomorrow.

I flipped to the channel, and my heart practically stopped.

I only heard the tail end,

“. . . Not releasing images or further details on the bus incident.”

Then the camera switched and they began talking about the highway conditions. I felt an absolutely horrible sickness gripping me. “It couldn’t be. Could it? Surely that little dialog I heard couldn’t have been talking about that. Not about the bus on my route.”

“That would be ridiculous! I’m not even sure what I heard!” I tried in vain to calm myself down, but I quickly realized that I HAD to know for sure. A strong wind suddenly gusted outside and the house shook, tremors being sent down every dark hallway. I stood up from my couch slowly, glancing at the snow beginning to plaster against the windows. Although grey and dull, the flakes seemed to glow against the oppressive darkness as nighttime fell. The frozen slag piled up as distortive structures slowly spread across the once perfectly clear glass.

I secured every layer I could find and suited up, grabbing my flashlight and taking several deep breaths. The frigid night air seemed to ripple with heat distortion as the door swung open, falling stagnant again as I stepped outside. I locked the door behind me and fumbled the keys into my pocket with shaking hands. I began walking the route the bus would’ve taken, my pace slow, the sickness growing worse with every crunch of snow under my feet.

“The school didn’t report you absent.” That’s because the phone is dead! “Max was just playing a joke.” Then why didn’t he ever text back?! Nothing I said to myself made me feel any better.

The dim light from my house was becoming more and more distant now, disappearing altogether as I turned a corner, now just me and the flurry of snow. The skeletal trees surrounding me groaned against the wind, their twisted black shapes silhouetted against the deep blue hue of the night. I hadn’t seen another house for some time now. The families in my neighborhood were exceedingly spread apart and the empty stretches of road seemed to snake on forever at points. More often than not, the snowplows didn’t even find the time to drive as deep into the community as I was going.

It was snowing quite heavily, but I was still certain I would be able to faintly see the tracks of the bus if it had driven anywhere. Despite this, I hadn’t seen its tracks for over a mile. Ordinary cars never usually drove up the way I was walking, and yet I noticed that the roadway was layered with the tracks of smaller vehicles. They looked fresh. That’s when I saw something up ahead, barely visible in the haze.

Lights. Flashing red and blue just ahead around the next bend. Whatever sanity I had left was quickly draining. I approached the lights and peaked around the corner. I didn’t want to believe it, but the sight that greeted me was something I had known I would find all along.

There, surrounded by ambulances and police cars, a mangled mess of metal and shattered glass, sat the bus I had been taking for nearly four years, jutting sideways out of a ditch. The windows were caked with blood which was still a dark crimson red, preserved perfectly in the cold. The once hot, steaming liquid had frozen solid to the splintered glass, encircling small bullet sized holes. The ambulances were stuffed with body bags as the surrounding street was scattered with a few severed limbs. I swore I could see steam softly rising from the dead white appendages as they were ever so slowly covered in drifting snow. I tried to listen to what the officers were saying, but, not daring to get to close, I could only make out a few words and jumbled phrases:

“Hacksaw.”

“Removed post-mortem.”

And one that made my stomach churn, “A few pieces missing.”

Realizing how downright suspicious I looked, I began sprinting back to my house, trying to keep my stomach down as my heart lurched rapidly. I reached my front door and frantically fumbled for the key with my numb fingers, looking behind me into the inky darkness. I finally got the key in the lock and turned it, but then I heard a sound, a knock on glass. It was coming from above me.

I looked up slowly, heart pounding. There, in the window above me, the window to my room, I couldn’t see much of anything. The light was off.

Which was a problem because I knew I had left it on.

But then I could make out some sort of shadowy smudge on the window. I was straining to see what it was when it suddenly moved, backing away into the darkness and it was only when this happened that I knew what I had been looking at.

Sarah’s pale, ghastly form had been pressed up against the glass, smiling down at me with a grin that splintered her face in half.

The realization made me stumble back, fear negating my ability to breathe for a second. How the hell did she get in?! I creaked the door open slowly, ready to run back to the police at any moment.

“S . . . S-Sarah?” I called into the house, hearing it echo down the dark empty hallways, “What . . . what are you doing in here?” My voice trailed off. What the hell was I doing?! I needed to run! Run now! My mind screamed at me. As a wind gust shrieked outside and blasted me with cold air, I watched the dim moonlight dance through the empty rooms of the house. If Sarah was still inside, she didn’t say anything and her silence continued as the wind howled and the house groaned.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

Something was beginning to roll down the stairs from the top. Something heavy. From my position, I could only see the base of the stairs, so I could only listen as the sound grew closer and louder.

Then it happened. A pale, mangled form came tumbling down the last few steps and smashed onto the ground, its limbs horribly twisted and broken. Crimson globs speckled the soiled ground where it now lay. Its arms and legs seemed to radiate a ghastly white, splayed out like a spider on the shadowy ground. Heavy blood oozed from it silently in the darkness. It had no head.

Then I could make out footsteps. My body was frozen, my heart spasming erratically. I couldn’t take my eyes off the corpse.

I eventually heard Sarah’s voice quietly echoing down the staircase, “You didn’t give me time to prepare this one like the others.”

I tried to say something but nothing came out. Not even a squeak.

“After all, you said he was special to you.” She continued, coming into view; hacksaw in one hand, a ghoulish head in the other. Its expression was so distorted in terror that I didn’t immediately recognize it as Max’s. His mouth was stretched horribly agape, almost as if unhinged, a horrific scream forever imprinted on his face as his eyes stared straight ahead, wide and unblinking.

I couldn’t take the sight of it. I fell to the ground in utter shock. I tried to scream in anguish, but as before, I couldn’t make a sound and simply dry heaved into my hands.

Then I felt a hand on my shoulder.

“There there,” Sarah cooed, “Are you feeling sick? Catch a cold? Sarah will make John all better! And John will love Sarah for it.”

She gently lifted me to my feet, dropping Max’s head and the hacksaw and in turn grabbing my hands. I was in shock no doubt. My limbs felt numb and distant; I couldn’t think or move. I was just standing there, shaking violently. She gave me a big hug, wrapping herself around me and smiling crookedly. Her movements were all wrong, disturbingly inhuman, as if she was a puppet controlling her own strings. Her blue eyes should have been highlighted by the dark crimson blood splattered on her, and yet they appeared just as grey as her skin, sinking into her face, enclosed by darkness.

Her frigid hands slowly grabbed mine again, and she began leading me up the stairs, making sweet noises and whispering, “Sssshhh it’s ok. All you need is me.” I followed in a trance-like state, not really processing anything, stuck on the horrors I had just seen. Max’s disfigured head, his broken body, tumbling down the stairs like a rag doll. The bus, the bodies everywhere.

Next thing I knew, I was on my bed with Sarah sitting close next to me, holding my hands in her lap, her face a contorted grinning mess. “It’s cold in here you know.” She said, blushing as her eyes remained dull and lifeless. “Maybe if you just held me.”

I managed to choke out two words, “My . . . Friends.” My eyes began watering.

“Sshhhh,” She swooned, maneuvering to sit on top of me, “John’s friends are all here.”

I shook my head.

“Mrs. Bus driver lady is over there!” She assured me, pointing to a mangled bloody mess in the dark corner of my room. Through my bleary vision, I could make out a ghastly set of eyes staring lifelessly ahead from within the mound of flesh. The sight was horrendous and I turned my head away, gagging some more.

“You don’t need anyone but me,” she continued, “but I didn’t want John getting lonely either. So I kept your friends here.” She began stroking my hair. “Most of Jenna is in your closet.”

“I cut a hole in your roof so she could stay there for longer.” Sarah giggled, “Room temperature is no good for friends; it must be cold like outside. I’ve let her be with you all week, it’s my turn now.”

I began thrashing around, trying to scream but only letting out strangled squeaks. I couldn’t take any more of this! She giggled and interlaced her fingers with mine, pinning my arms down and bringing her face inches away, grinning from ear to ear. Her head was tilted to one side, her dull grey eyes swirling with darkness.

“Only me to love now.” She whispered, “John loves me now.”

I shook my head violently.

“No.” I croaked out.

“You’re so funny!” She laughed, “John loves me, and I love John! So much!” She leaned her forehead against mine. “Much more than his parents. His parents wanted to leave him, but I made them stay with John. Made them stay . . .”

Her hand moved and gestured to under my bed.

Then she kissed me.

Credit To: Liam Vickers

This story is a Crappypasta Success Story – it was generally well-liked over at Crappypasta, and I feel that the author used the feedback that he received there to successfully rewrite the pasta. You may read the original Crappypasta post and comments here. Congratulations to the author!

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