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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Father Lucie

September 18, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Hello. I’m Father Lucie and I’m a man of faith. I’m a man of the clergy and I believe in right and wrong, and nothing in between. I believe that a man’s soul is a precious thing; a fragile thing; and I’m self-employed in upholding that belief. I work in a private sector of the church; a sector founded and run solely by myself. The work I do is not unlike a legal conciliation service. I’m an arbitrator; I settle disputes of the soul.
I’m a SOUL man. And I’ve got a passion that burns for the job.

I’m here to share Jake Avery’s story with you, my most recent subject, for educational purposes. Everyone at some point in their life will cross paths with me or my work so it’s best learn about it now and save yourself the trouble of asking who I am, or what I’m doing barging in on your life at such an unexpected moment.
I’ll be there to help you, so remember to shut up and listen to what I have to say.
It’s probably going to be important.

Mine and Jake Avery’s story begins a while back in Jake’s hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. What happened was that Jake Avery killed somebody.
That’s the short version.
It was an accident, we all understand that, but honestly, it’s irrelevant. Jake avoided all consequences related to the accident, and this bothered people; important people. They were upset by how it all played out. And I’m not talking about the families torn up and destroyed by his mistake, God no, people a lot more important than that. When I say that Jake avoided all consequences related to the accident, I don’t mean he was found innocent in a court of law.
No, nothing that official.
Jake ran. He was scared, granted, but the upset parties I deal with weren’t concerned with his reasons, or personal qualms. They wanted justice. That’s where I came in. It was my job to help Jake to help himself. It was my job to smooth things out between him and the upset parties, as best as I could.

I’ll skip ahead a bit. Jake Avery eventually found himself in a 5×5 windowless concrete room, orange glowing in around the door, sat at a metal table on a metal chair. There’s a stink that wafts in when the letter box slot on the door slides open to deliver his food.
But we don’t talk about that.
On the metal table was a wax-sealed envelope, which he had opened, and in that envelope was a note. On the note, in decorative script, someone had written:
“Like a man, and on your own, work it out; I’ll send you home.”
I should tell you: I knew who wrote that note, but I can’t tell you why I couldn’t tell Jake that just yet. There were also two photographs that accompanied the envelope, but I’ll get into that in a moment too. It was my job to speak with Jake Avery every so often, to ask him why he was there in that room; to ask him why he was taken. He was angry at first that I couldn’t give him any clues; very angry, and would refuse to speak to me at all. He knew why he was there, he just didn’t want to admit it. Understandable, I suppose. He hadn’t even been given the chance to change out of his torn up clothes.

The first of the two photographs found in the envelope was a Mr Eric Luf’s passport photo. He was a Norwegian student living in Richmond with friends.
Jake killed him.
He was driving home from his parents’ house one misty night when he swerved to miss a Rottweiler standing in the middle of the road. The Rottweiler seemed to appear at the last moment and showed no signs of moving. Eric Luf was cycling in the opposite direction and was hit by Jake’s car; an unfortunate event no doubt.
Jake got out of his car to check on Eric only to find that Eric had been killed on impact. He was scared, understandably. Who wouldn’t have been?
The morticians report even shocked me.
What Jake did next though, is extremely vital to our story. He got back in his car and drove away. Now, Jake Avery was never caught for what he did; he hadn’t even known Eric’s name until he saw it written on the bottom of the passport photo in the envelope. The man honestly hadn’t slept a good night’s sleep since it happened.
Those terrible dreams. The ones that throw us out of our bed sticky with sweat and piss.
Eric’s shattered face with brain showing in the eye sockets visits Jake every night. But once again, my associates aren’t interested.

I would visit his 5×5 concrete room once a day. He sat at the desk with his back to the door and he always held Eric Luf’s photo in one hand, the note in the other; eyes flitting between them. My job was to approach him, and ask him the same thing every day:
“Why are you here Jake?”
He’d throw down the photo and note and respond something along the lines of “I don’t know goddammit, I already told you I don’t know! You tell me!”
At that point I’d leave the room and wait to ask him again the next day. My job wasn’t to force it out of him.
He had to figure it out on his own. He had to admit it.
‘Like a man, and on your own, work it out; I’ll send you home.’
On the fourth day however, when I visited Jake Avery’s stinking 5×5 cell, he was holding the second photograph in his hand; the one I haven’t explained to you yet. I had not yet seen him pay any attention to it. I’ll go through it quickly so I can get back to telling you what he said to me on that fourth day.

The second photograph was of a man called Eli Curf, a Romanian they think. The name was written below his face on the photo, just like Eric’s. Nobody really knows who he was, to be honest, and the body was never claimed.
I however, did know who he was.
It was on that same road that Eric died that Eli followed Jake to one cold Sunday night. Eli had bad intentions.
Very bad intentions.
Eli had been tailing Jake for about twenty minutes when Jake pulled into a gas station. Eli didn’t follow him and kept driving. He did a U-turn further up along the road and stopped under a street light on the shoulder.
Eli sat in his car facing towards the gas station and waited for the headlights of Jakes car to appear coming towards him. When they did he floored it and took off back down the road directly for Jake. Jake had no room to avoid the crash once he realized he was in trouble.
And so they crashed; man to man.
Metal to metal.
Face to pavement.
Jake survived and Eli died. It’s kind of funny when you think about it; in a tragic sort of way. Jake again, suffered little to no injury, except for a bad concussion, while Eli lay dead on the concrete at the end of a trail of his own face. Jake was lucky to be alive, really.
He stuck around for emergency services that time. I guess it was because it wasn’t his fault, technically. The men took him into the back of the ambulance, but he knew immediately that they weren’t doctors. I can tell you personally that that was obvious. I think it goes without saying that they didn’t bring him to a hospital; they brought him to me.

And now we’re back to the 5×5 concrete room that smelled like charred bodies, and back to Jake looking at the second photo; Eli’s photo; and me about to ask him the same question I’ve asked him once a day for the past four days:
“Why are you here, Jake”. But this time was different.
He dropped the photo and looked up at me, “Who are you?”
Really he wasn’t allowed to ask questions, but I decided to humour him in hope of getting an answer for my own question to come.
“I can’t tell you who we are.”
Jake brought his fist down on the desk in anger. I told him politely that if he did it again I wouldn’t hold myself back from slapping him. He regained his composure.“No. I meant who are you?”
“My name is Fr. Lucie. I’ve told you that before, Jake,” I replied. I knew that Jake knew my name; he had asked me before when he first arrived; he was asking because he thought I’d have a different answer, but I didn’t. Not right now.
With that out of the way I asked him:
“Why are you here, Jake?”
He seemed to have come to the end, and I was glad.
“Why do you want me to admit it? You know I know why I’m here, I wouldn’t be here otherwise, so why do I have to admit it to YOU!?”
I was getting somewhere now. I could feel it.
“You see Jake; your soul is in trouble. I’m here to help you. What you did to Eric Luf is inexcusable, and your confession is required by some very powerful people for you to be able to return home.”
I pointed to the note that read “Like a man, and on your own, work it out; I’ll send you home.” He looked at it for a moment and considered his options.
I wished he’d hurry up, to be honest. I wasn’t expecting him to take so long and I had others to visit.
After processing the note for a moment he came to a crossroad in his own head. He asked me:
“What do I have to do to go home?”
So I told him what he had to do.
I told him, “Jake, you need to let me into your soul to save you. I’m here to help you, I’m here to make things right for you, and the only way to do that is for you to grant me permission to your soul so I can mend what’s been broken.”
It’s mostly bullshit, but it sounds convincing and if I had told him that he needed to eat my shit he’d be lying under me — mouth open wide — before I could even squat.
All he could think about was getting out of that place at that point, and so he said without a second thought:
“Of course, just tell me what to say.”
So I told him, and he repeated almost word for word: “Fr. Lucie I killed Eric Luf. I grant you permission to my soul; to make me better and to make me a good person again.”
That was all I needed to hear. It was about time too. The hard part was over and done with and it was time to have some fun. I’d been waiting for that moment for four whole days, and boy had I been waiting. It was some good work I did on Jake too, some of my best. I deserved some leisure time.
A sort of ‘work hard; play hard’ kind of thing.
It’s what I live for.

As soon as he said the words I knew I could relax. I knew we’d worked our problem out and all parties would be happy.
“Jesus Christ, Jake, you took it out of me!”
He seemed confused, they usually do.
He said: “Do I get to go home?” Goddamn they ask the same thing every time!
“No, not just yet”, I replied; pointing at the note sitting on top of Eric Luf’s not yet collapsed face.
I dragged a chair over beside Jake; “Read it, what does it say?”
Now he seemed very confused, and he made me very angry with that stupid look on his face when he was. He picked it up with both hands, as he wouldn’t have been able to manage one, and replied.
“Like a man, and on your own, work it out; I’ll send you home.”
“Very good Jake,” I said, standing up and throwing my chair against the wall in one swift motion, “So work it out!”
I was standing over him now watching him fumble with the photos and note on the desk.
I had scared him.
I could see he was getting very stressed.
I watched him rearranging the photos pointlessly for a moment – he was afraid I would be angry if he asked me what to do – before grabbing them off of him and rearranging them as follows: Eric Luf’s name and photo to the left, the note in the middle and Eli Curf to the right of them. I stood back and folded my arms, excited to see what he’d do next.
“Work it out, Jake.”
He sat hunched over them for a moment before looking up at me like the pathetic monkey he was.
He frantically said “I don’t know what to d-”
Before he could finish I had flipped the table and everything on it across the room.
Jake Avery stayed sitting on the chair by himself and watched me jump onto the ground in front of the overturned table and photos.
He was a piece of work, I’m telling you.
I rearranged the notes and photos again on the ground in the corner of the smelly 5×5 room.
“Jake, get over here.”

Reluctantly, a clearly terrified Jake made a noise a child would make and came over to where I was kneeling. He got down on all-fours and again, stared at the photos without a clue of what he was doing. I knelt there beside him for a minute before he went to rearrange them again for no reason; just to look like he was doing something.
I slapped his hand away and picked up the first photo; Eric Luf’s photo.
I held it up in front of us and said “Now, what does it mean, Jake. Look at the letters”
He wasn’t comfortable being so close to me, I could tell. My patience wearing thin, I thought I’d help him out a bit.
“Look at the letters!” I said, before proceeding to announce each character in Eric’s name out of order.
“See Jake, look at this: E – R – I – C – L – U – F. Now, watch: L – U – C – I – F – E – R.”
He looked at me like he knew, but he didn’t.
Not yet.
I picked up the second photo, Eli the Romanian’s photo, and I did what I did with the last.
Holding it up in front of myself and Jake I started reciting the letters.
“E – L – I – C – U – R – F, see how that works Jake? Now watch what I do with them:
“L – U – C – I – F – E – R.”
Jake sat back against the wall with this puzzled look on his face, scanning the two photos, as if it couldn’t be true.
“What does you mean?” he asked.
I got to my feet, delighted we’d eventually gotten past that part, and took a deep breath.
“Now, do me,” I said.
As if it couldn’t have gotten any worse.

He looked at me in bewilderment. “What do you me-”
I interrupted him before he could say something stupid again; “Do my name, like the other two.”
When he didn’t get the message I grabbed Eric’s photo from his hand and with my pen I wrote on the back my name:
‘Fr. Lucie’.
I gave it back and slowly he began reciting the letters; “F – R –”
“No,” I interrupted, “Skip that and go straight to the next part.”
I waited with my arms folded for him to begin, and then he did.
He recited my name: “L – U – C – I – F – E – R.”
The look on Jake’s face was priceless; hilarious. But the best was yet to come. He still had no idea. Sure he had worked out the names, but he didn’t fully understand what it meant yet.
“Well done Jake, you got it!” I said.
Still terribly confused, but happy I was not angry with him anymore, he replied:
“Do I get to go home now?”
At this point I was in stitches! I couldn’t contain myself! Jake – still terribly confused and not knowing what to do – started laughing with me. Wiping a tear from my eye I told him:
“Of course not!”
His expression changed suddenly, he was doing that face that he does. The stupid one I was telling you about
“What’s the matter, Jake?” He looked at me for a moment, waiting for me to break character and start cracking up again.
But I didn’t.
When he realized I was serious, he scrambled for the note I had written for him four days previously. He held it out and started reading:
“Like a man, and on your own, work it out; I’ll send you home.”
It’s good, isn’t it?
After reading it he looked up at me again; “You said I could go home.”
“Yes,” I replied. “I did say that.”
He thought very carefully about what he would say next, and then he attempted to read me the note again. I interrupted him halfway and finished the rhyme:
“… that’s right Jake, I’m a liar AND a poet!”

Exhausted by our conversation I had picked Jake’s chair up from where I’d thrown it against the wall and sat down on it facing him. I found my deck at the bottom of my pocket and lit a cigarette. Now he was shouting nonsense and insults at me from where he was sitting on the ground:
“What do you mean you’re a liar?! You said I could go home! I figured your damn puzzle out, just like you said!”
Jake had a whiney voice.
And yes, you’re dead right, the poor guy still didn’t get it!
I smiled at him throwing his little tantrum and waited for him to give me an opportunity to speak. I figured it would be better to let him get it all out of his system now; bottling up that kind of anger is bad for the soul.
I know.
When he quieted down for a second I told him:
“You can’t go home Jake. You don’t have one.”
That response didn’t go down well.
“What do you mean I don’t have a home?!” he demanded.
I thought about how I’d tell him, but I decided I’d just be completely blunt with him. I leaned back and got comfortable, getting ready to savour his reaction, and then I told him:
“You’re dead!”
In hindsight, perhaps I shouldn’t have told him like that. It’s a hard thing for anyone to swallow.
In retrospect, maybe I should have broken it to him slowly; eased him into it a little. God, I can be so rash sometimes. People are always telling me and I’m only starting to see it!
But oh well.
What’s said was said.

Now, my dear reader; as your humble narrator I should probably explain something to you all; in case you’re as God awfully dull as Jake Avery and haven’t caught on to what’s going on yet.
There never was an Eric Luf.
He doesn’t exist.
Never did.
Although don’t get too confused; Jake did actually kill someone with his car on that fateful night, it just wasn’t Mr Luf. I created Mr Luf for our story; an anagram of my own name for dramatic effect! It did work though, didn’t it? It gave a certain ‘oomph’ to the delivery, I thought.
Anyways; on that night, Jake did swerve to miss a dog and he did mow down a man on his bike. The difference is that in the real story, Jake Avery didn’t stop.
He ploughed straight through body and bike and into a ditch. A piece of fencing splintered and broke off into his chest, and that was the end of Jake.
He died.
He’s dead.
He went somewhere else that night when reality split into what happened, and what I allowed to happen.
Just for fun!
He was carried away with a sheet over his body; dead and blood still slipping out past the fence in his chest.
But he also drove home unharmed in his car.
So, basically I allowed Jake Avery some time to think about what he had done, to see what he’d do; like a test! The past couple of weeks he’s been living in an alternate reality. Kind of like purgatory, except purgatory’s just a silly myth. During this time I was judging him; weighing his soul.
Do you see what I’m saying?
Because I can’t just take anybody’s soul, there has to be a good reason.
I like to think that taking a soul is like cooking a steak. See God, as patient as he his, likes his steaks rare. He likes his steaks pure, quick off the pan without incident.
He likes them to be as close to what they were like coming off the cow as possible.
I like mine burnt to a crisp.

Now you’re probably starting to connect the dots.
Don’t do that.
You should never do that.
You’re probably thinking that Eli Curf wasn’t real, just like Eric.
Right?
Wrong.
I was Eli Curf. When I had finished cooking Jake’s soul, and decided it was ready to take off the pan, I drove head first into Mr Avery, along that same road where he had killed ‘Eric Luf’. In the alternate reality where Jake was dead, they had lowered his body into his grave just that morning.
I didn’t really need to do that, to be honest; it wasn’t entirely necessary. I could have just come to him in the middle of the night and dragged him by his hair into hell, but where’s the fun in that?
You’ve all probably guessed by now too, that my real name isn’t Fr. Lucie, and I’m not a priest.
Sorry about that.
It’s just another anagram for my real name; it’s just for show. An interesting way to tell Jake. To add a bit of depth to our story. Because that’s all it is really, isn’t it. A story?
Was Jake real, or was he just another character? Am I real, or am I just a quirky story-telling device?
Am I just a fairy-tale?
I have sleepless nights thinking about that sort of thing; honestly! Someone once said that the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist. But I didn’t convince anyone that I didn’t exist.
You all convinced yourselves.

I digress. When I explained all these details to Jake Avery he still didn’t believe me. Can you imagine? Jake didn’t want to believe me, but deep down I think he did. You notice when your soul is gone; it’s a feeling that’s hard to ignore. You can feel that something is missing.
I felt it. Jake felt it, even if he didn’t know it.
He was very distraught at this point in our conversation. I got up off my chair and went over to where he was sitting against the wall crying. I sat down in front of him and told him how much fun we were going to have together.
He wasn’t interested.
He spat in my face, and with that I smiled and picked him up off the floor by his throat. Two of my employees entered and I handed him over to them. They dragged him to the door, but before they left for the furnace I called to the now kicking and screaming Jake Avery.

Before I tell you what I said, I would bet your life that there was one thing that you missed; one detail you overlooked in our story.
I was so excited to tell Jake.
From the moment I met him I couldn’t wait. I could barely control myself from just blurting it out, being as rash as I am. Oh you’re going to love it too, I swear!
Eric Luf, Eli Curf, Fr Lucie, the note. It was all build-up; pawns to my joke.
Do you understand?
The build-up to the greatest punch line; the ultimate gag!
Possibly the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled? I don’t think so.
My employees held Jake at the door where I had called to him. He could feel the heat coming from the cracks now. The smell of burning flesh getting stronger. The smell of eternity.
He knew he was close.
He cried to me: “Where am I going, take me home! Who the fuck are you people!? Tell me who you are!”
He set it up perfectly! It couldn’t have been any better, not even if I had done it myself. I leaned into Jake’s ear.
I whispered to him:
“Jake, I’m the dog in the street.”

Credit To – Coffeey

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Mould

August 31, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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My best friend was in Pompeii.

I wasn’t, of course, or I wouldn’t be standing here staring down at a museum display titled “A BLAST FROM THE PAST!!!” A kitsch red LED volcano flickering gently in the background, flinging deep shadows across expressions of abject misery behind a velvet rope for the small children to point sticky fingers at. Speakers rumble in the distance. One little girl bursts into inconsolable howling at the sight; or perhaps it’s the ruddy glowering threat that the same’s imminent to be visited on us. I like her immensely. Her father carries her out.

In fact, some years before Pompeii’s last days came about I had found myself dutifully lugging my scant possessions down the road with tail tucked between my legs; off to marry, of all things. That’s what you did back then when your family saw fit to offload you; and should be the match be prestigious enough “poof!” you were magically absolved of the past to boot – not even the neighbours could sneer behind closed doors anymore. Far away and footsore, then. Out of sour, miserably small mind and all that.

The distance didn’t matter, of course; my best friend and I were soul mates. I never ventured far before I could feel the line drawing me back in, calling me home. Our simpatico a secret treasure; far too precious to sport on your sleeve because so rare, as much then as now. Women don’t ever seem to connect, not truly. They’ve sharp noses for challenge, and too readily recognise and condemn what lurks within. How are you expected to place faith in a mysterious threatening other when personal trust barely stretches so far as you could throw yourself?

But we had somehow weathered that giggly, prickly rivalry of youth when any second double-edged friendship can slide into outright envious warfare, sparking bitter feuds to last the ages. I’d no reason on earth to disbelieve we would hobble on together into our decline, achieving that comfortable state where it no longer matters what hell your crumbling shell resembles or how it’s dressed.

And then at last two alike minds could tentatively reach out and clasp hands; honouring other, recognising self.

And she … she helped me. My best friend helped me when nobody else could. There’d not been another soul under all the wide skies like her: the natural outcast, the outsider; none other to so much as recognise my peril. Even I ascertained the threat only vaguely. To me it was no more than a dim line of smoke barely noticed, way off in the distance. Who could see harm in the tiny cough of a newly arrived baby?

Afterward, there were never any accusations of crime: where’s the point when it burns in every eye until the very air ignites? For decency’s sake I had to abandon home and trudge into the unknown to join some fat bastard I’d never met in holy matrimony.

Thus I escaped Pompeii, and so my name has changed over and again along with the multitudes of the living, heaving world. But not so those who were there, left mute and encysted. Not her. And it grieves me deeply to recall how pertly she’d once turned up her nose at donning a nicer dress, at playing along, her flat refusal in short to be any damn thing but herself; because now she never will be.

But she remains my best friend. Our hold is firm. Every time I am squeezed into life, thrust out into the world through blood and muck she is the very first thing I feel: before light, before air. And that’s when I remember Pompeii. I even used to hear her murmuring, sealed away down there. So I guess in a way I’m no more than myself, either.

They went and dug up the town – many many years later, of course. Avid for knowledge, sick enough for sensation to go grubbing around in the dirt. They mixed buckets of cold plaster on site, their improvised wooden paddles going round and round in the thin early Mediterranean light. It would have been hard messy work; arm muscles already burning, shoulders stuffed with ache and complaint. Shoes splattered for the wife to shriek at when they got home.

With long thin tools they drilled down to Pompeii’s lost people, who cried out with joy at that first hint of sunlight and air. Finally after all this crushing immobile time there came to the buried hope of rescue, of freedom. I heard my best friend, as the drill whined its way through pumice and compressed ash. While flakes of burned building sifted down onto her. Everyone and their lives were down there: my family, all those sullen despised neighbours; and in fact I’ve recognised familiar contortions in the frozen grimaces at the museum; but I’ve never heard any of the others. What do I care for them, anyhow? None of them ever helped me.

I heard my friend weeping, too overburdened to bear it.

But those who had not yet managed to go mad sealed down in the dark had another thing coming, for in went the plaster. The merest golden hint of the wild free sky gleaming in – oh sweet heaven yes, deliver us! Do you remember birds? I remember birds – but then a deluge of thick icy cold clotted down the tube and salvation was blotted out. Thrashing in the dark, screams turning to heavy choked gurgles as the narrow space filled.

The cold was so intense that my breath frosted out of my lungs in a rush, painfully colder than the surrounding air. I was sped to hospital where conscientious staff irrigated my abdominal cavity with warm saline and, when I shuddered and flailed awake, rather gleefully announced that I’d been dead for four whole minutes. Gathered excitedly about my bed they were so very proud of resuscitating me, and didn’t at all understand why I wept.

I think I tried to rush to my friend and gather her in my arms, straining to pull her from her prison. But four minutes was just not long enough. I still heard her shrieking hysterically for succour, as they all must have screamed; those who waited so long in the dark and ought to have been saved. As the frigid killing cold consumed them. Not only a new sensation but a final one, filling up everything until cold was all there was left, and it went on forever.

As the plaster stiffened so did they; and although I still feel her drawing me home I have heard my best friend’s voice no more. She inhabits a hard, silent place in my mind now. And she’s so profoundly cold.

And I, who deserved it so much less; I have lived my quiet times over and over. Always plagued with poor circulation, chill at the fingertips, at risk of losing them, I gravitate to warmer climes. Never too close to anybody. I have borne children. I’ve sat blissfully in the sunlight. I visit the museum countless times, to stand and look on my friend’s horror-stricken face.

All I dare hope is that I might well be unto my best friend as she has been to me. And so the unchanging frozen scar on my soul which is forever entombed may, in her, bloom.

Credit To – BP Gregory

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The Wicker House

August 30, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Of course everyone claiming residence in Arthur’s Wake knows tales associated with the Wicker House. It seems that every small province plays host to some structure of ill repute which, as if by supernatural magnetism, draws rumor of ghosts and bogies, wrapping the timber and stone of its foundation in a shroud of darkness and horror. In Arthur’s Wake, the Wicker House fills this odious task.

Scant days after arriving in town, while taking the time to familiarize myself with the local watering hole and its residents, I became introduced to the well known superstitions surrounding the Wicker House. As a man of science, I knew any truths to be found in these outlandish stories were likely embellished to points unrecognizable. Nothing was first hand; all experiences were from a friend who knew a fellow who may have seen something. It is the provincial mind which transforms wild dogs into wolves that walk like men and interprets astronomical phenomena as harbingers of certain doom. Still, my curiosity sufficiently piqued, I endeavored to better inform myself upon the subject through more objective means. To my great surprise, while failing to confirm the more supernatural claims of the tales, the town records in the basement of the local library did provide aspect to a most sinister reality all their own.

The house was built in 1920 by the millionaire Tomas Wicker who, in addition to being both a successful oil prospector and fishing magnate, was by all accounts completely insane. No one knows what first drew Wicker to Arthur’s Wake. Some speculate this as the first outward sign of his impending madness. What is known was that the foundations of the house which would come to assume his name were poured almost immediately upon his arrival.

The structure was supremely modest for a man of Wicker’s means, rising a mere two stories in height and composed of scarcely a dozen rooms plus cellar and attic for storage. The house was built on Blackwood Drive, a major tributary of the town’s main street, and close to the industrial center, such as it was. The plot itself consisted of about a quarter acre, the yard home to a few blossoming trees and a small garden, the whole of which was surrounded by a high wrought iron fence accessed by a similar gate. The posts of this formidable perimeter were topped by wicked spikes to discourage would-be trespassers. Construction concluded rapidly and the autumn of 1920 saw Wicker take up residence in the house accompanied by a maid, groundsman, and his wife.

The lady of the house quickly became the subject of gossip among the townsfolk. During the construction Wicker had boarded his wife in parts unknown. None could recall when she arrived at the house; one day she was simply there. As the groundskeeper cared for the exterior yard and garden and the maid handled all domestic chores including trips to market, the lady was herself never seen to exit the house. Due to this complete lack of socialization, the townsfolk did not learn so much about the woman as her Christian name. The servants themselves shed no light upon the subject. The man hailed from a remote part of the Dark Continent and the woman appeared to be a mixed-breed, vaguely of the Orient. Wicker had acquired the service of each while abroad for business dealings and neither spoke a word of English. Naturally, the Lady Wicker was the object of most persistent rumor.

Early speculation was she suffered from some exotic malady which left her drawn and bedridden. These theories were repudiated by those few who would occasionally spy her from the street. In each case she was seen exclusively at night, staring forlornly through the second story window of what was assumed to be her bedchamber, lit only by candlelight from within and to all appearances the picture of health. Additionally, there was little chance the typically damp and sunless climate of the Wake would be prescribed to improve one’s constitution by even the most inept of physicians. As common folk are wont to do, with a logical explanation absent more fantastic theories were crafted. Some began to speculate the woman was a witch, others an enslaved angel won by Wicker whilst dicing with Satan. What all who observed her agreed upon was her singular beauty.

I gleaned much of this information from archives of the local paper, especially one curiosity piece which was accompanied by a photograph of the lady in question. The scene was just as I had heard described, the single lonely prisoner peering through the window and across that terrible iron fence into the darkness of the night. The photograph was muddled due to the quality of the prehistoric equipment and the lack of natural light, effectively obscuring the lady’s features. Indeed it was difficult to distinguish whether the blurred form was in fact human, though it did project an impression of unmistakable femininity. And yet, even through that grayish haze I could perceive a certain piercing, almost hypnotic quality of her eyes.

Wicker himself was something of a mystery though considerably less so than his bride. An attractive man, tall, dark haired and well featured, many a young woman found herself unequivocally jealous of the seldom observed Lady Wicker. Though often away for long periods on business excursions, at home Wicker would frequent the only drinking establishment in the Wake, an illicit locale consistently ignored by the well-bribed police force charged with upholding Prohibition. Although he had no one in town that might be explicitly named ‘friend’ Wicker was known to purchase drinks for the house on his occasions of patronage and was as such engaged in conversation by no few number of fellow revelers.
It never took long for Wicker’s tongue to be sufficiently loosened at which time he would regale his latest passel of hangers-on with fantastic stories of his journeys abroad; forbidden hoodoo rights in the Caribbean, strange tribal sacrifices in the heart of Africa, dead men who walked in Eastern Europe, and countless others, each one stranger and blacker than the last. Though Wicker never spoke of his wife directly, these tales only served to expound upon the rumors of her origins.

Things progressed much in this way for some five years. Wicker would travel and carouse upon his return. The servants went about their business without comment or complaint. The townsfolk gossiped. The lady remained a shut-in. The horror occurred without warning.
The events that took place on the eve of Samhain, nineteen hundred and twenty-five have gone down in the history of Arthur’s Wake as unembellished fact. Among the town records I discovered the report of the patrolmen dispatched to respond to the disturbance at the Wicker House. I will summarize its contents directly.

Tomas Wicker returned from his latest trip abroad on the thirty-first of October. Having stopped briefly at home, he arrived at the aforementioned drinking establishment in a clearly agitated state. The always impeccably dressed Wicker was sloppily garbed, one shirt tail hanging out of his trousers, shoes scuffed beyond repair. It was obvious he had not recently bathed or shaved, his well-groomed hair was mussed, and his eyes were bloodshot and wild. Approaching the bar he apprehended an entire bottle of liquor, took several long swallows without use of a glass, and ignored all attempts of other patrons to engage him in conversation. Taking a final drink from the bottle he placed his wallet and the entirety of its contents on the bar, smashed the now almost empty receptacle upon the ground and exited with the astonished eyes of all present following him. That this entire portion of the episode occurred within a completely illegal establishment is not lost on me, although it apparently was on the investigating patrolmen. As I have said, they were well bribed.

That no mortal eye remains which observed what happened next is surely proof of a merciful God. The two patrolmen who first came upon the scene were summoned by terrified reports of shrill cries and demonic cackles. Long-term veterans and hard men both they were nevertheless ill prepared for what they would soon find at the Wicker House. Armed with a lantern and clubs in hand the men carefully approached the dwelling now ominously quiet.

The great iron gate was open askew as was the oaken door at the top of the steps leading to the interior of the house. Receiving no response to their shouted inquiries, the patrolmen cautiously entered the foyer and proceeded to search the ground floor. They found the first horror in the kitchen. The maid had been tied with thick hemp rope to a large table, limbs spread and secured to each of the four legs. She was naked, the butcher knife which had been used to slit her throat permanently sheathed in her heart. Glistening blood dripped from the cruel altar, slowly pooling on the floor while tell-tale splatters painted the walls like macabre decoration. The patrolmen shared a glance of mutual, unbelieving dread, tightened their grips upon their clubs and continued to search the premises in complete, terrified silence.

Having determined the cellar empty through a brief yet understandably taut examination, they exited the back door to the yard and discovered the groundsman’s body. A thick wooden stake had been erected in the center of the garden and crossed by a perpendicular beam. The man hung naked, suspended from the crossbeam by spikes harshly driven through his wrists and ankles in a grotesque simulacrum of Christ’s crucifixion. He had been disemboweled, ropey innards pouring out of his belly dripping blood and excrement.

Horrified, the patrolmen reluctantly agreed that a premature conclusion of their search to summon reinforcements would provide a very dangerous murderer a chance at escape. The men reentered the house and agonizingly proceeded up the winding stair to the second floor. Systematically they searched each room, uncovering nothing until only one remained; the bedchamber of the elusive Lady Wicker.

Eyes wide, heart pounding wildly the lead man slowly eased the latch. Raising their clubs the men burst through the door and stopped dumbfounded. The room was completely dark and empty, devoid of trappings or furniture of any kind. By the thin beam of their lantern light the men saw that strange occult symbols had been scrawled on every surface of the room though those on the far wall had been somehow marred. Of the murderous Tomas Wicker or his mysterious wife there was no sign.

A noise from above alerted the men to their quarry’s location. Returning to the hall, they spied a trap door operated by a string which, when pulled, revealed a ladder leading up into the lightless storage space of the attic. The two patrolmen stared at the entrance yawning black and wide as the maw of some infernal creature, beckoning fools to wander to their doom. Unable to decide who would proceed first, the men threw evens. The unlucky loser took the lantern and ascended the ladder.

He stopped halfway through the aperture, lantern held high to better diffuse its light and ready to beat a hasty retreat to the relative safety of the hallway below. The attic was in a state of disorder, strange souvenirs of Wicker’s trips abroad stacked haphazardly throughout. The constable slowly played his beam about, gradually revealing each disjointed mound of clutter. At last the light fell upon the attic’s far corner revealing the huddled gibbering mass of the man they sought.

Or what had been the man. Indeed whatever reason serves to separate man from beast had, sensing it was no longer a suitable dwelling place, fled the form of Tomas Wicker. The handsome features were gone, replaced by deeply sunken cheeks and a hideous grin. As the patrolman stared terrified, he could see the creature was covered in the blood of his victims left below. Hands about his knees, Wicker slowly rocked, babbling to himself.

Joined by his fellow, the constables steadily advanced. Arms outstretched they readied to seize the thing that had been Tomas Wicker when his mad eyes shifted upon them and the muttering stopped. In a moment of seeming clarity he whispered, “She’s gone,” before emitting a maniacal howl and leaping to his feet. Taken aback, the patrolmen hesitated, affording the lunatic room to bound past them to the window and hurl himself through the glass. His desperate shriek gave way to a sickening thud.

The men rushed to the broken window. Far below by the light of the moon they saw the body of Tomas Wicker jerk spastically, impaled by the wicked spikes atop the iron wall. By the time the patrolmen descended from the attic, the hideous motion had mercifully stopped.

The remainder of the report is, compared to the extraordinary events that had thus far taken place, remarkably mundane. Determining that the murderer was indeed dead the patrolmen called for reinforcements. The house was searched in detail and much speculation was made regarding the fantastic totems and fetishes populating every nook and cranny. All who set foot on the premises were in unanimous agreement that Tomas Wicker was unequivocally mad. Most confounding of all, there was no sign to what fate befell the mysterious Lady Wicker. Taking the lunatic’s final utterance as related by the patrolmen, the investigators deduced that the lady, tired of being regularly abandoned, had fled to parts unknown during Wicker’s latest trip abroad. Upon his return the shock had been enough to push the man into a murderous rage. Since virtually nothing was known of the woman, neither whence she came nor even her proper name, no search was mounted and the case dismissed.

It is from this point that the tale departs from the realm of logical reason to instead delve into the twisted byways of urban legend. About a month after the death of Tomas Wicker was when the disappearances began, the investigation of which ultimately lead to my arrival in Arthur’s Wake.

Parents would put their children to bed at night and find them gone the next morning. Exhaustive searches of the Wake uncovered nothing. Strangers new to the town were accosted, imprisoned and, in one instance, lynched by a frightened mob. Some questionable “evidence” was found on the man’s body after the fact, and the police happily declared the case closed with the suspect too dead to proclaim his innocence. That the pattern of disappearances has continued for more than sixty years would suggest they were mistaken.

I have been unable to identify the first to claim seeing a strange light emitted from the long abandoned window of the Lady Wicker’s bedchamber, nor the one who swore he heard the sound of children playing as he hurriedly passed the accursed house. I do know that the tales have spread and grown to the point they are not so easily dismissed. Shortly, I will ascertain any truth to them that may be.

Slender tendrils of fog quest hungrily between my feet like living things as I approach the ruins of the Wicker House. Pushing through the rusted iron gate, a trick of the moonlight suggests a soft glow emanating from the second story window as if from a candle lit within and, were it not impossible, the visage of a beautiful woman stares down and smiles at me approvingly. My hand tightens on the knob as children’s laughter reaches my ears. I open the door.

Credit To – Shadowswimmer77

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