Blood of the Swine

July 12, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Rating: 7.9/10 (90 votes cast)

And the pig, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. You shall not eat any of their flesh, and you shall not touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you – Leviticus 11: 7-8

‘She is just around….’ Henrikkson lifted one hand from the wheel and twirled it slowly in the air, a puzzled frown creasing his broad features. ‘How do you say…twist maybe? Yes, that is it. Just around twist in trees, Mr Garett. She is not further now, five more minutes, ja?’ The man’s English was forced and stilted; Jake often had difficulty understanding what he meant. So instead of replying, he merely nodded and turned to gaze out of the rain-beaded window. The forest opened up briefly on his right, and he caught a glimpse of the Swedish countryside as it meandered past. Windswept and misty with rain, scatterings of spindly trees and mossy rocks marred an otherwise desolate hillside that stretched as far as the eye could see. Then it was gone, obscured once again by a great wall of black trees, leafless and densely packed, which ran the length of the rutted dirt track along which they now bumped.

Jake squinted into the murk, hoping to catch of glimpse of an elk, or perhaps even a wolf. Instead, his eyes found only long thin shapes stretching upwards into the withered branches. He frequently thought he caught glimpses of a dark bulk slipping between the thin trunks, seemingly keeping pace with the battered red Volvo as it snaked its way through the forest. But closer scrutiny always revealed nothing more than insubstantial shadows.

Henrikkson’s ‘’five more minutes’’ was closer to fifteen. The trail narrowed towards its end, and the foliage whipped at the windows, it scraped at the doors and snapped against the bonnet. Just how long had it been since the Swede had last taken a client to view the property anyway? Jake considered asking him, but thought better of it; it would only initiate another awkward conversation that he would have trouble understanding. Instead, he stared at his shoes, and wondered why he’d taken the time to polish them when he would no doubt end up traipsing through mud and who knew what else.

He glanced at his cell phone. No signal. No surprise really; it had been that way for hours now. The forest was silent around them; the only sounds the steady purr of the Volvo’s engine and his own heavy breathing. It was so isolated out here. Even with Henrikkson beside him, Jake felt completely and utterly alone.

Henrikkson looked at him curiously. Jake flashed the Swede a reassuring grin. It was an effort to mask his growing unease.

In truth, he was unsure why Mannsen & White, the London-based chartered surveyors he was interned to for the duration of the summer, had been so eager to fly him out to Strängnäs to view Brääkänburg Ranch. He’d seen a photo of the place – the one and only photo the company had on file – and the dark wood, sagging moss-covered roof and tiny shuttered windows had only served to heighten his confusion. Sure, the place was big, and there was the location to consider: the house was nestled deep within one of Sweden’s largest forests. But whether that last was a potential selling point or not, Jake didn’t know. He supposed it would depend on the client.

‘She is arrived Mr Garett.’ Henrikkson’s deep baritone voice interrupted Jake’s reverie. He looked up just as the car emerged from the ocean of trees into a relatively large clearing. The ranch slouched in the center; a dim, dilapidated structure that looked like it hadn’t been touched in a hundred years or so. It was comprised of two interconnected buildings: the main house, which consisted of two floors, and a narrower building of the same height, but with an overhanging and windowless upper floor. The structure joining the two was low and flat-roofed, only a single floor with one tiny window.

The sole window in the second building was unshuttered, the only one of its kind on the property, and as his gaze slid over it he felt a sudden awareness of scrutiny, as though unseen eyes were watching through that tiny pane of glass. Did the darkness suddenly become a shade lighter, as though a bulky shape that had been obscuring the window had just slipped away?

Off to the right of the house, an overgrown paddock teemed with leafy ferns and tall swaying grasses. Jake tried to imagine horses grazing there, but found he was unable to picture any animals in such a dreary environment. A withered tree was barely visible around the side of the house; small objects, shrivelled and brown, hung from its blighted branches.

A ramshackle, broken-down fence encircled the ranch. As the Volvo drove through the gate, which was hanging forlornly from one hinge, Jake was unable to suppress a slight shudder. It was as though they had left the real world, where cell phones worked and people actually existed, passing through into a forgotten place, forlorn and abandoned to the ravages of time.

‘Mr Garett?’ Henrikkson was holding the passenger door open for him. Jake hadn’t even realised they had stopped.

‘I’m sorry. I was lost in the…well, just lost in this place.’ The words sounded stupid even as they left his mouth, and he felt his ears turn red. Henrikkson, however, merely smiled and nodded his assertion. ‘Ja, she is…handsome, as you say in London England, ja?’

Handsome wasn’t the first word that sprung to mind for Jake. Neither was it beautiful or picturesque. As the Swede led him through the unkempt garden towards Brääkänburg Ranch, there was a single word resonating in Jake’s head.

Henrikkson’s mother was dead. An eighteen-wheeler had lost control and ploughed through the front of a grocery store. She’d been killed instantly. He received the call – and how he managed to get a signal out here Jake couldn’t begin to fathom – about ten minutes after they arrived at the property, turning his red Volvo around and heading straight back to Strängnäs – without Jake.

The original plan had been to spend the afternoon mapping and extensively photographing the ranch’s interior. In the morning, they would have combed the property for structural defects or weaknesses before finishing up by photographing the exterior and examining the surrounding land and establishing the boundaries. Obviously things had changed now. Jake understood completely, and he almost accepted the distraught Swede’s offer to reschedule and return to Strängnäs.


But his sense of responsibility prevailed, and he sent Henrikkson away with assurances that he’d be ready and waiting for the Swede to collect him at nine the next morning.

And then he was alone in that dreadful place. And it was truly dreadful. The interior was completely devoid of light, forcing him to rely solely on the thin beam of his LED card torch, and he was unable to force the shutters open, so damp-engorged and swollen was the wood.

The exterior was deceptive; the main house consisted of only two large rooms. The room on the first floor was empty save for three small box beds on either side, as well as a jumble of rags and sticks piled in one corner. A dark purple drape was drawn across the bed furthest from the staircase, but Jake couldn’t muster up the nerve to cross the somehow mournful room and pull it aside. Instead, he closed and latched the door – why was there a latch on the outside? – and returned to the ground floor room, which was furnished with ancient, rickety chairs and a long table that bowed in the center. There was another bundle of kindling stacked beneath it, bound in a tattered sheet. A closed fireplace was set in the far wall, and there was another box bed, this one larger than those above, on the left wall, with a dust-caked vanity and a small circular table nearby.

An ancient claw-footed bathtub nestled in another corner, the site of which made Jake uneasy. Something dark dangled over the lip, but he dared not look. He imagined shining the beam of his torch only to have it reflected back at him from a pair of jaundiced yellow eyes. He shuddered at the thought of something curled inside in that dreadful tub, waiting in silence and observing his every movement, with a single waif-like arm dangling over the edge. Just what had he seen at the window?

He hurriedly pushed the thoughts to the back of his mind before they could form, lest he allow his fears to fully take root.

Henrikkson had mentioned during the drive that they would be staying in the guest bedroom, which was apparently situated on the overhanging second floor of the other building. Even if it wasn’t, Jake would have rather spent a night in the forest than sleep in the funereal room above him, with its tiny beds and sombre drapes.

With that in mind, he hurried through the tunnel-like connecting structure, his shoes crunching on things he didn’t want to look at. Wooden crates were stacked all about him, and splinters tugged at the sleeves of his jacket like sharp fingers as he squeezed between them. The window here wasn’t shuttered after all, just thick with grime and dirt. Rubbing at it with his fingers did nothing except leave them stained black. At what he judged to be about halfway, he came across a stout wooden door. It looked out of place amidst the disrepair; the thick bar keeping it closed glinted in the torchlight, and felt smooth in his hands as he slid it aside.

He’d put the torch on a nearby crate to unbar the door, and as he snatched it up the slim beam slid across something huddled in the corner behind a stack of crates, an emaciated form crouched on stick-thin limbs. He screamed aloud and staggered away, the back of his legs colliding with a crate and sending him tumbling backwards.

The torch dropped to the floor, revealing the stack of crates and an empty corner.

He considered turning back, getting out of this terrible place before it drove him insane. He retrieved the torch, thankful that it hadn’t broken, and shone it on the closed door through which he’d entered. It seemed a mile away. No, to retreat through that oppressive darkness was unthinkable.

Come to think of it, hadn’t he left the door ajar? If so, why was it closed now?

‘Old houses,’ he whispered, shaking his head. The whole fucking place was probably listing. More than likely it was fit to collapse at any moment.

‘Fuck it.’ The loudness of his voice in the empty ranch surprised him, shocked him even. Unwilling to linger any longer in the lightless hell of the connecting building, he eased the door before him open and stepped through.

Jake flashed the torch across the walls and drew in a sharp breath, pressing himself against the door. A long, lupine skull snarled down at him from a hook above the window. On a three-legged table in the center of the room, the fleshless head of a great elk gazed impassively past him with empty eye sockets the size of snooker balls. Something brushed his shoulder, causing his heart to flutter like a trapped bird; a string of tiny, avian-looking skulls hanging from the doorframe.

In the corner to the left of the door, another of those curious piles of sticks and rags: this one was piled high and almost completely swathed in clothe, with only a two bone-white pieces of kindling protruding from the bottom. He gave it a wide birth as he moved into the room.

Then his gaze fell on the largest skull of them all, nailed above a lopsided doorway on the far side of the room: a monstrous boar, its snout ending in a pair of enormous yellowed tusks that curved upwards and out before turning back on themselves to point at the eye sockets. Dull snatches of light filtered through a small spot rubbed clean on the filthy window, throwing a dour grey blanket across the floor.

Something glistened wetly on the wood, a sporadic trail leading from the window to the doorway.

Jake approached the doorway, a listing frame curiously bereft of an actual door, fixated himself upon it, ignoring the hideous trinkets decorating the room. It led to an extremely narrow staircase; he would have been forced to stoop had he wished to proceed. That, however, was something he now had no desire to do. A rotten stench, a mixture of decay, urine and soiled hay wafted down, and the walls were curiously scuffed and chipped, as though something far too large for the cramped passage had regularly descended it.

Or ascended it, Jake thought. And perhaps whoever it was hasn’t come back down. Once again, he thought of the perceived shape at the window and failed to supress a shudder.

Then he noticed the book, resting on a battered stool in the corner of the room. It was thick and leathery looking, and as he approached it he realised it was resting atop something. He reached for it, wincing as his fingertips brushed the surprisingly smooth cover. The book felt…swollen, somehow. Like a latex glove filled with water.

What was beneath it caused his jaw to sag and his eyes to bulge: a cassette player. Blocky brown plastic with a pair of chunky headphones, it looked about thirty years old. But to see something even remotely technological, no matter how antediluvian, in this archaic place gave him pause.

There was a tape inside. If there had once been lettering on the buttons it had long since worn away, but his thumb lingered on one that was slightly larger than the rest.

Against his better judgement, Jake popped the headphones over his ears and pressed the button.

A chorus of shrill, inhuman shrieks howled in his ears, an impossibly fast rhythm accompanied by a relentless crashing and beating. It sounded like the world was tumbling down around him.

He was scrabbling to yank the headphones free, to silence the tearing dissonance, when the music slowed to a sonorous crawl. A voice, a deep baritone much like Henrikkson’s, began a slow intonation.

Jake’s Latin had been mediocre at best when he’d graduated university, and had only grown rustier since. But he was still able to recognise a couple of words being chanted, the pair preceding the main verse: terram porcum. Porcum was pig; that he did know. But terram…some reference to soil…to the earth perhaps?
A pig in the earth? Or a pig of the earth?

He looked down at the book in his other hand, clenched in a white-knuckle grip. He removed the headphones and set the cassette player back down on the stool without bothering to stop the tape.

Clamping the thin torch between his teeth, he stretched the strange cover taut to try and make out the tilted slew of lettering adorning it. His thumb brushed something in the top right corner. There was a number stitched there – how had he missed it?


Now what the hell did that mean? Jake returned his attention to the lettering. Even after stretching out the pliable cover, parts of the words remained missing, erased forever by time’s gnarled fingers.

Pulli eius la…ent sanguinem et ubi…ue cadaver fuerit …atim ade…

He flipped the book open to a random page near the middle and his jaw clenched, his teeth grating against the metal torch. The photograph was grainy and old, with yellowing corners and washed-out colours. But there was no colour anyway, not really, not in here, and its absence in no way detracted from the image – the main subject had been shot with unerring precision, and the angle was perfect.

Jake only wished it wasn’t.

The photograph had been taken in the room with the claw-footed bathtub. And now Jake understood why he felt such discomfort when gazing upon that battered relic, and more of its insidious purpose in the room.

Looking at the remains of her body, he thought the girl had been young; full breasts and shapely legs were stained with gore. Her arms were bound with a length of chain looped over a ceiling joist, from which she dangled above the bathtub. Matted ringlets fell to her shoulders, and her collarbones were sharp and pronounced.

Her face was hideously bruised and swollen. Had the photo been taken in better lighting, Jake was sure that her face would have been shaded all the hues of a setting sun.

But it was the ruin of her stomach that made him want to retch. It looked like a hollowed-out watermelon. Great chunks of flesh had been torn away, and pointed splinters of bone protruded from the remains of her abdomen.

The wound tapered inwards, as though whatever had inflicted this atrocity had been unable – or unwilling – to gnaw through completely. A memory of early childhood flashed through his mind. Standing in the rain, wearing his red wellingtons and holding his mother’s hand, watching as his uncle’s pigs wallowed in the mud. They’d been given pumpkins. The largest of them had gotten its snout stuck attempting to scoop out every last string of the gooey innards.

Then, they’d laughed until tears ran down their faces. Now, Jake wanted to cry for another reason entirely.

As if one spontaneous recollection of childhood had led to another, the meaning of the numbers on the book’s cover suddenly became clear. Staring at the gruesome photograph, unable to tear his eyes away, the verse ran through his head, the voice of his pastor reciting it like clockwork, again and again.

The book of Job, chapter 39, verse 30: Her young ones also suck up blood: and where the slain are, there is she.

That was God, talking about one of his creations. But which one? Who? Jake couldn’t remember.

He slammed the book shut, unable to bear the thought of hundreds more terrible photographs crowding the flimsy pages. The feel of the binding made him cringe. It was so soft, so smooth. So…fleshy. The despicable thing fell from his suddenly limp grasp as waves of realisation and revulsion crashed over him.

The cassette player screeched in the background, but it was the erratic beating of his heart that seemed to deafen him. Something was terribly, terribly wrong here. He had to get out. Now. He’d start walking back to Strängnäs, and Henrikkson would come across him in the morning and drive him far, far away from this terrible place.

A faint glimmer of hope began to sparkle somewhere deep inside of him. He was getting out of here, right now. This was the twenty-first century. Things like tourists and foreigners being strung up and butchered by xenophobic locals just didn’t happen anymore, unless it was in horror movies like The Hills Have Eyes or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

In the room above, something snorted, and Jake’s hope guttered and died.

It was a soggy sound, like water-on-the-lung, ripping through the veil of silence like a sharp blade through damp cardboard. A great bulk shifted on rotten timbers. Urine ran freely down Jake’s leg, the smell of it mingling with the sickly odours wafting through the doorway. As if in response, something stomped hard on the floor above, dislodging swirling clouds of dust from the ceiling.

Jake slumped against the panelled wall. His body was shaking and numb with fear, and tears streaked his dusty cheeks. The book lay open at his feet, just as a muscular Caucasian hung above the bathtub in the dull sepia photograph. His innards were hanging from the rafters like tinsel. The cassette player continued to drone from its perch in the corner. Around him, the ranch groaned.

Clack clack thud. The hollow knocking from above continued, echoing through the empty corridors of the darkened house; the sound of a mallet slamming against wood, or the solid tread of cloven hooves on ancient boards.

A thick, wet snuffle, halfway between a snort and a grunt, rolled down from above. An animal. There was a wild animal up there. A hungry animal, one which he would do well to get as far away from as possible.

He turned towards the door and choked on his next breath. His torch, the previously bright LED flickering weakly, slid across a skeletal form rising from the corner. Jake caught the merest hint of paper-thin skin stretched taut across sticklike bones, and thin legs which bent the wrong way at the knee, before the shape slipped through the half-open door in a flutter of black cloth.

The piles of rags and sticks. All around him. All over the house. Oh God.

A metallic clunk announced the replacing of the metal bar.

He was trapped.

Demanding his attention, a coarse scraping emanating from the tilted doorway, bare flesh dragged across mottled wood. The barnyard stench hit him in waves; the same scent he’d noticed earlier, now sickeningly rich and overpowering.

The very timbres of the house bellowed in protest as something forced itself between the narrow walls and down the tiny staircase. Jake flailed in desperation, and the torch slipped from his sweaty hands, hitting the wooden floor with a hollow clunk. There was nothing, no way out. No escape. He was going to die here, torn limb-from-limb in this tiny, lightless box, alone and pissing himself with fear.

He scrambled for the fallen torch, although it would do him little good except to illuminate the thing from above. But before his fingers found the handle, his outstretched palm brushed against something circular: something metal. Keeping the hand in place, he used the other to grab the torch and direct the beam at a rusted handle, almost invisible against the dark wooden floor.

Under closer scrutiny, the sides of the trapdoor swiftly resolved themselves. It was narrow, and he’d barely be able to squeeze through, but at least whatever was having trouble passing down the staircase wouldn’t be able to follow him. He hoped.

He set the torch down on the floor and eased the trapdoor open, wincing as the hinges squealed in protest, a noise which was immediately drowned out by a frenzy of movement on the stairs.

A stampede of motion followed by a huge thud as something cleared the last stairs and moved into the slightly more open hallway. Bone clacked against bone as the thing drew closer; a thick wet squeal, followed by a series of snuffles and grunts announced its immediate presence.

Jake was through the trapdoor up to his chest now, supporting himself on his elbows. He reached for the torch and, in the scant few seconds before he dropped through the hidden door – completely oblivious as to what was below – the beam of light languishing on the twisted doorway threw into hideous clarity a thing that was horror and grotesqueness given corporeal form.

Its vast bulk filled the hall completely. A hulking bear was his first thought, enraged at having somehow become trapped within the close confines of Brääkänburg Ranch. Its shaggy haunches supported this theory; its legs did not.

Bears didn’t walk on trotters, didn’t sway on spindly legs that bent backwards at the knee.

And bears didn’t have bony arms, longer than those of an orangutan, which ended in pale four-fingered hands. Swollen, engorged teats dangled from the thing’s hairless underbelly, speckled with lichen and moss and dripping with brine. Its stiffened ears scraped the low ceiling.

It lowered its snout, and Jake glimpsed rows of yellow incisors protruding from beneath its upper lip. A pair of curved tusks jutted from its lower jaw, their surface chipped and gouged. Its face was too terrible to behold, and dark eyes glinted with a malign intelligence.

It came at him faster than he could have imagined, dropping its head and thundering across the room, kicking up huge clouds of dust in its wake and bellowing in primordial rage.

Jake dropped backwards through the trapdoor. The back of his head cracked against stone. His vision swam. Somehow, over the shrill, bestial squeals emanating from above, he heard the steady drip of water. He tried to stretch his arms, but found only hard walls on either side. The space was tiny; he was unable even to fully extend his legs. The unyielding stone was slippery and damp beneath his fingertips, buried beneath layers of moss and mould. Darkness encroached on his vision, mercifully obscuring the hellish snouted face peering down at him.

The last thing he saw was a pale white balloon, leaning over the edge of the trapdoor. Why, it looked just like –

‘Wake up.’ Henrikkson spat. It was refreshing, no longer having to feign ignorance of the English language, but it remained a barb in his heart that he was forced to continue speaking it; it sullied his tongue, left him unclean.
No matter. The Swine would cleanse his tainted soul, as She had done so many times before.

‘Wake up.’ This time he followed with a savage backhand to the Englishman’s face that sent bloody spittle flying from his lips. Henrikkson leaned in close, so that he was inches from the Englishman’s face. ‘Your time has come, Jake Garett. Mannsen and White send their regards – your internship is quite obviously at an end.’

He yanked the Englishman forward and looped the chain around his wrists.
‘Now your blood is for Her. The Sow Who Dwells Beneath the Soil. The Bloody Swine, come forth anew to baptize us with her divine filth.’

All around him, the hoarse whispers and laughter of Her disciples echoed in the darkness. Their ancient bones creaked with the exertion of frantic movement.

Something snuffling and wet pressed against the back of his neck. Her heavy musk filled his nostrils, and a limb filthy with bristles brushed the small of his back. Henrikkson shivered in ecstasy, rejoicing beneath Her unholy touch.
It was time.

Jake’s world was pain and darkness. His head throbbed like a tooth blackened by decay, and his shoulders felt as though they were on the verge of dislocation.

Because he was strung up by his arms – tight metal bit cruelly into his wrists. The floor was cold beneath his bare feet. No, not the floor: he was dangling above the bath, the balls of his feet barely touching the dirt-encrusted metal bottom.

Was that Henrikkson talking? If so, why was the Swede naked? Jake tried to call out to him, but found that his tongue was unwilling to cooperate. Something rattled in his mouth, and he tasted copper. His lips were crusted together.

The world swam again. Pain flared in his face. Henrikkson was standing before him, grasping Jake’s jaw with one hand and holding his own shrivelled penis with the other. The Swede grinned and fell to his knees, prostrating himself before some unseen deity.

Straw; filth; excrement: the barnyard scent hit him like a tsunami.

Thin forms scurried in the shadows, chittering and cackling but remaining always just out of sight, giving only fleeting glimpses of withered limbs and wisps of hair. He could barely hear their lunatic laughter over the high-pitched screams and violent shredding coming at him from a pair of battered speakers set up on the far side of the room.

Then he saw it rise from the shadows. It regarded him for seconds that felt like hours, snorting wetly and clacking its teeth.

It dropped to the floor with a thud that shook the room and came at him on all fours.

Its tusks gored his ribs, but he didn’t feel the pain. And by the time its damp snout snuffled against his navel, Jake didn’t even have the strength to scream.

Credit To – Tom Farr

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The Darrow Curse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless ‘em for savin’ my unworthy ass.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was sober now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

The doorknob rattled near outta its bolts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Harley’s dead already.

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

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

Credit To -Mike MacDee

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“Letter from the Ritual”

May 12, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Part I

Dear Emma,

It is five thirteen in the morning and this is all your fault. I’m at the top of Orpheus Street right now, waiting for a bus in the freezing cold. All the stars look bleached out in the dead black sky. This is the worst idea I’ve ever had.

I did see an opossum this morning, though. That was awesome. And mildly terrifying. Have you ever seen one of those? Be thankful if you haven’t. They have these tails. These long, weird tales. Not enough attention has been focused on opossums as nightmare fuel potential. Believe me, that potential exists.

Sorry. I have a tangent problem. You know that.

So, anyway, this is your fault. You’re the one who you kept telling me to read more creepypasta. Grow a pair, Stuart, you’d say. It’s just a scary story on the internet. That’s all. Read it. It’s not going to kill you.

Well, today is the day I find out.

Last night, I was alone and bored and trying to scare myself. My dad’s out of town at some convention in Las Vegas. I know I didn’t tell you. I’m sorry. I couldn’t. I know you, Em. I know you’d try to make me have a party and that’s the last thing I wanted. You know me. I hate everybody.

I keep having horrible thoughts of my father engaging in embarrassingly sordid and pedestrian Las Vegas behavior with all those other middle aged conventioneers. I see them as a drunk, bald, self-perpetuating conga line. Feral disasters away from their homes and flailing at girls half their age.

I thought after my mom died, I would have a better relationship with my dad. But all he does now is work. It’s like he’s terrified to have a conversation with me. I understand: I’m his devastatingly witty, charming, and well dressed son. I’d be intimated of me too.

But how charming can I be, you ask, if I stay in on Friday nights reading creepypasta alone? Still charming, girl. Still quite appealing.

These infuriating tangents will be the death of me.

Anyway, I read a ritual pasta last night called “Café des Poètes.” Have you read it? It takes forever to get creepy and winds up being more sad than anything else, but I liked it anyway. After I finished reading it, alone in my bed, my room lit up by my laptop, I thought, well, why not? What would happen if I followed the pasta directions? Has anybody ever done that? What do I have to lose, Em?

So that’s why I’m here, waiting for a bus. The pasta said it will appear after I wait for twenty minutes. It’s been fifteen. I haven’t seen a thing.

This letter I’m writing you, by the way, is part of the pasta. I’m supposed to stop and write a letter four times during this to my one true love. Hope you’re ok with being my true love. I don’t think Tad Zio is even aware of me. Also: he’s very straight. So tragically pretty and so mundanely straight. Slings and arrows we live through in this life, girl.

I don’t see a bus anywhere. This isn’t even a bus line. I’m beginning to think this pasta — spoiler — might not be true. There’s supposed to be a dude waiting with me on the corner, too. I’m not supposed to talk to him or look at him. Since he’s not here, that currently isn’t an issue. Which is good; this corner is actually pretty creepy. The streetlights are broken, kind of flickering, there’s this fog everywhere and it is frigid. Much colder than I thought it would be. I’m not wearing the right kind of clothes for this —

Oh. Oh, fuck. Oh, holy fuck. Someone is walking up to the corner. Holy fuck. They’re standing right next to me. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Oh, I wasn’t prepared for this. Not at all.

They aren’t saying anything. My hands are shaking. It’s hard to write. I can see my breath but I can’t see theirs, Em. I can’t see any breath.

There are lights. Coming from up the dead end street. It’s a bus. Jfc it’s a bus. It’s got black windows. The door just opened. I’m going in. Jfc.

Part II.

I’m still alive. I’m a diner, I guess. It’s a weird diner. Like, really weird.

I’m losing it, Em.

This place — let me describe the bus first. The bus: Jesus. The bus. The pasta said I wasn’t supposed to talk to anybody on the bus. Not hard. The bus was a horror movie.

The lights would go on and off in the aisle. When the lights were on, you could see the other passengers. I liked it better when you couldn’t.

There were probably fifteen other people on the bus. That *shudder* thing waiting with me at the bus stop didn’t get on. I had to walk past it to get to the bus door. It didn’t move. After I sat down in the bus (I gave the driver a dollar, I went to the thirteenth row, I followed the directions), I looked out the window. Even in the dim not-quite morning light I could see it. It was tall and black and moved in a weird way. Like all of its bones had been broken and put back together. Or maybe like it had stolen other bones and put them inside of it.

I saw it crawl into the sewer entrance. I don’t know how it fit. It bent, I think. And then the bus was gone, driving through what should have been recognizable streets. But they weren’t. They weren’t at all.

The pasta said my phone wouldn’t work. And it doesn’t. It just keeps telling me it’s searching for a network. So I have to try and remember these bullshit instructions perfectly. And it sucks. All the ritual pastas I’ve ever read are blending together. I can’t remember what I’m even supposed to say at this diner when they ask me for coffee.

But oh god: the bus.

These things in the seats. They had hoods up. Black clothes. But I saw things. Tentacles. I think I saw tentacles. I heard gurgling. One was dripping, for god’s sake. And the smell. The smell. The smell.

The bus driver stopped twice. At the third stop, I remembered I had to get off. I didn’t want to get off. I didn’t want to walk by those things. I finally stood up. They all looked. I didn’t. That was in the instructions: don’t look the passengers in the face. I tried to forget the instructions added, “if they have one.”

The aisle to the front of the bus felt like miles. Maybe longer? What’s a league? Is that strictly an underwater measurement? Whatever. It took longer than forever.

And then one of them said my name. Quietly. Very quietly. It said my name and my birthday. It said the name of my old dog. Its voice sounded like a toy someone had left out in the rain. They all began to repeat a litany of me, all my secrets, all my stories, all my life’s moments in a horrendously low clatter, and I just kept going until I got to the door.

I jumped out and the bus creaked away. The sky had gotten darker instead of lighter. I was on a street corner, surrounded by office buildings and closed storefronts. The diner I was looking for was across the street. I could hear traffic but I couldn’t see any. The diner sign buzzed a dizzy neon. I crossed the street and went in.

Now I’m here, waiting for a waitress. That’s the next part. There’s a couple of other people in here. They’re just staring at their cups of coffee. I’m not looking at anyone. The air is blue from cigarettes but nobody in here is smoking. Explain that, please. Explain anything.

I don’t know what’s going on. The waitress is coming. That’s what she said. Ha! That’s for you, girl. I’m trying to keep it together.

Part III

The waitress asked me what I would be drinking. Her eyes were sown shut. Thick black strings were sewn in and out of the lids. They blended in with her eyelashes. She sounded like she was she was on a three second delay. I could see her teeth when she talked. I could see all the stitches in her mouth too.

I told her I wanted my coffee black. Just black. She asked me if I was sure. I saw her pupils flitter back and forth. I repeated that I wanted it just black. She walked away. Her legs had awful scars up and down them, the way people used to draw on nylon lines.

The coffee came. I didn’t drink it. I’m pretty sure that’s what I was supposed to do. It’s hard to remember. An old man was sitting at the counter. I could tell he was watching me. I was remembering what you told me your therapist said, about how if you control your breathing, you can control your anxiety. Your therapist seems cool, Em. If I live through this, Ima need his number.

The old man stood up and walked over to me. His beard was yellow from nicotine. He put his hands on the table and his thick discolored nails tapped against the surface. He asked me what I wanted. I told him I what I was supposed to say: I wanted to know the words that would wake the dead.

He told me the address of a mailbox. I was to drop this letter in the mailbox. If I had followed the directions, I would then wake up in my bed. This whole thing would feel like a dream. But a week later, a letter would arrive in the mail. I would open the letter and read it in front of a picture of the one I wanted to return from the dead. And then they would.

But if I hadn’t followed the instructions correctly, my one true love would get this letter I’m writing in the mail the next day. And as for what would happen to me?

The old man smiled. His teeth fell out of his mouth, yellow and brown stained, clattering against the battered black and white tile floor.

You’ll find out, Stuart. You’ll find out.

I’m writing this in the back of a cab. There’s no meter. I gave the address of the mailbox. The city lights are bouncing against the windows. I’m I’m trying not to look at the driver’s eyes in the mirror. I’m getting ready for the end.

Part IV

This is the last part.

I’m at the mailbox. It’s in the middle of an empty lot. The taxi dropped me off here and idled for a moment; its hazards blinked and flashed. Tall weeds burst out of the pavement here. I see things that look like rats scurrying about. I hear the clicks of their nails on cement. The lot is in the middle of a series of abandoned buildings. There are things moving around behind the broken windows.

Dogs are barking somewhere. I can’t see them, but I think they’re getting closer. I circle around the mailbox three times. I repeat the words the pasta said three times: “See, the cruel Fates recall me, and sleep hides my swimming eyes.”

I think it’s from a poem, but when I googled it last night I couldn’t find a thing.

The echoing barking from the dogs is getting closer. I’m almost done with this letter.

I don’t want to finish. I don’t want to put this in the mailbox. I don’t want to find out if I was right or wrong, if I remembered all the things I was supposed to do, if I said all the right things at the right time. Because I can’t imagine I did. I think I was supposed to say something to the cab driver. I’m worried I was supposed to do something else in the diner. Should I have sat in the fourteenth row on the bus as opposed to the thirteenth? All these parts could have gone wrong.

I can see the dogs now. And I was wrong: it’s just one dog. I mean, it’s not a dog, not exactly. It has too many heads for a dog. It’s snarling and I can see its teeth. They’re bright white, like bleached out stars in a dead black sky. I feel the heat coming in waves from under its spiky fur. It paces the perimeter, staring at me with all those dead computer screen colored eyes. I know have to stop writing. I know. This is the last part.

If you’re reading this, you know what happened. I’m pretty sure you’re going to be reading this. I was supposed to tell the cab driver thank you. I didn’t say anything to the cab driver. I just remembered.

I shouldn’t have done this. I just wanted to bring my mom back. That’s all. I shouldn’t have tried. We’re alive and then we’re dead and we shouldn’t pretend we can change a single fucking thing ever.

I’ll miss you, girl. Aways remember to look good. Fuck those wannabe normcore bitches. Look fantastic. And don’t read scary stories on the internet.

And this wasn’t your fault, Emma. I think I wrote that it was. It wasn’t. Don’t feel bad, Em. I’m going to mail the letter now. Don’t feel bad.

Credit To – Kevin Sharp

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April 1, 2014 at 6:00 AM
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Johnny ran as fast as was physically possible. He avoided trees and jumped over rocks and fallen branches, moved purely by instinct. In other circumstances, he wouldn’t even think that he was capable of such speed and reflexes, but right now Johnny couldn’t allow himself to think about that. Right now, he could not think of anything besides running. Running away from his pursuer. Running to his salvation.

When he judged he should be at a safe enough distance, Johnny stopped and swiftly threw himself behind a large bush. He needed to analyze the situation, plan his next move and, above all, he needed to locate his pursuer. Not being able to see the one chasing him was quickly overflowing his mind with desperation, making it harder and harder to think clearly. The other one could be far away, close behind or even hiding somewhere, waiting to catch Johhny in a trap. He had to make sure that he was safe – at least for the time being – so that he could take the right decision.

Hidden behind the bush, Johnny looked for an opening between the leaves and branches from where he could look at the ground before him without exposing himself. He then began the desperate task of trying to find his pursuer.

Johnny did everything he could to look in all directions, but there was no sign of the other one. Sweat – caused both from the heat of the run and from the state of nerves that he was in – started to run across his face. His heart was beating faster and faster, to the point that it seemed like it would jump right out of his chest at any moment. He wasn’t there. The one chasing him wasn’t there. Panic began to dominate his thoughts. He was hidden. Hidden somewhere Johnny couldn’t see. Waiting for the right moment to make his move. He had him trapped like a cat playing with a mouse, having fun just watching his victim becoming more and more desperate. Maybe he was, at that exact moment, sneaking from behind him, just about to grab him. Johnny quickly turned, certain that there would be someone right at his back. But there was no one.

The silence was becoming maddening, so Johnny decided he would start running again, as fast as possible. But just when he was getting up, he saw, through the bush, something moving ahead. There he was, his pursuer, walking with a disturbing calmness. Nevertheless, Johnny felt greatly relieved and was once again capable of thinking rationally. Now, he had to decide his next move. Should he remain hidden, hoping that the pursuer didn’t see him when he passed nearby? Or would it be best to risk another run, even though the other one seemed to be far less tired than he was? Johnny’s body, after all, was still exhausted from the previous run. His legs ached and he still hadn’t fully recovered his breath. Still, he wouldn’t let that keep him from running miles and miles if it came to that. He wouldn’t give in to exhaustion until he was safe. Because if he was caught… but he interrupted that thought immediately. Being caught was not an option.

Slowly and calmly, the predator approached. Had he spotted Johnny’s hiding place? If that was the case, he was doing a very good act, because he was looking in every direction, apparently still searching. It was time to decide: remain hidden or run. Just then, Johnny noticed that the pursuer seemed to be taking another direction. Was it a trick? One way or another, Johnny decided to take that chance and get out of there. He had already planned his route: first, he would leave the protection of the bush and hide behind a large tree that was in an opposite direction to where the pursuer was going. If he succeeded getting there without being seen, he could run in that direction pretty much safely.

Johnny took a big breath and waited for the right moment when the pursuer was looking the other way. As soon as the moment came, he jumped from behind the bush and ran towards the large tree, as fast and silently as he could. He pressed his back against the trunk of the tree and, with extreme caution, turned his head to see if his movement had been noticed. The pursuer didn’t appear to have heard or seen anything and was still walking in the other direction. Johnny released his breath, full of relief. He was practically safe now, as it would be very difficult to spot him now. Before going forward, he looked one more time at his previous hiding place, behind the bush. And, there, he saw something. Right at the spot where he had spent those desperate moments, something was sparkling with the sunlight. He took a better look and realized what it was. Apparently, at some point, in the short time that he was there, his cell phone had slipped from his pocket and fallen to the grass. Without hesitation, Johnny considered his cell phone as lost. There was no way he would risk being seen in the attempt of getting it back. It was just a cell phone, after all, and a really old one too.

The pursuer was quite far now. It was time to make his triumphal escape.

He had barely taken his first step when music started to play. Music that, to his horror, Johnny recognized immediately. It was his cell phone’s ringtone. He turned to look again at the place where the phone was, still not able to believe that destiny could be so ironically cruel. There was his cell phone, blinking, vibrating and ringing at maximum volume, as if it were an alarm accusing his escape. He hoped that the other one was too far away to hear, but he knew that was a silly thought. In that silent place, the music seemed impossibly loud. And, sure enough, the pursuer had already heard. He turned to look where the music was coming from and immediately spotted Johnny, partially hidden behind the tree. And Johnny, even from far away, was able to see his predator’s expression changing from doubt to a mixture of triumph and malice. Then, the other one started running towards Johnny, who had become inevitably paralyzed.

With great effort, Johnny forced his body to start moving again and began a frenetic run. Running like he had never run before, Johnny felt a glimpse of hope. He could still be faster than his pursuer. He could still beat him. But his muscles, exhausted from all the exercise, would not let their cries be ignored without a price. A cramp paralyzed his leg, making him trip and fall to the ground. He knew he had to get up quickly, but the confusion and pain – both from the cramp and the fall – wouldn’t let him.

Few seconds later, a shadow came over Johnny. He needn’t turn his face to understand what that meant. It was all over. The pursuer had caught up to him. He tried to find some kind of comfort thinking to himself that he had played his cards well and, if he had failed, he had only bad luck do blame. Of course, as much as he believed that, it still didn’t change the fact that his pursuer was right above him now. Johnny remained facing the ground. He wouldn’t give the other one the pleasure of looking him in the eyes when he did what he was going to do.

He felt the other one’s hand in his back.

“Gotcha! You’re it!” yelled the one that until now had been the pursuer, just as he started to run away from Johnny.

Johnny got up slowly, brushed the dirt of his clothes and looked fixedly to where the other was running. The pain was almost gone now. It was time for revenge.

Credit To – Daniel Moises

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Abigail’s Run

February 27, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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October 31st 1691

‘’Hurry,’’ Deliverance whispered, her voice softer than the light breeze which tousled her lank grey hair. ‘’Bury it, child, bury it deep.’’

Tucking a wayward strand of raven hair behind her ear, Abigail continued scooping up handfuls of soil and tossing them into the hole. Tears streaked her dirty cheeks, and her thighs were still damp with warm blood and tar-like ichor from the birthing. She glanced at her mother, and felt a tinge of fear at the worried expression upon the older woman’s face, a usually unreadable mask, completely devoid of emotion.

The thing in the hole squalled and shrieked with its newborn lungs, sending another chill of fear down Abigail’s spine. A spindly arm protruded from the dirt, grasping weakly at thin air before falling limply away. Sobbing, she dropped huge clods of soil atop it, until only its twisted spine and snake-like nose could be seen.

Soon even they were gone, and the hole was filled once more.

‘’Come, girl, we must be away.’’ Deliverance chided, putting an arm around her stricken daughter and leading her out from beneath the overhanging branches of the willow tree and back towards the house. ‘’It is done now. It’s over.’’
Abigail Hobbs, having buried her firstborn mere hours after its birth, could do little more than weep at the horror of it all.

October 31st 2005

Scores of children fill the streets: Vampires, werewolves, ghouls and gremlins galore. Sheeted ghosts gambol beneath the hazy glow of streetlights and luminous skeletons cavort amidst the shadows. And look, over there next to the birch on Ms Reeves’ lawn, why, is that the Frankenstein Monster? There he goes, staggering onto the sidewalk with a stiff-legged gait, his torn suit jacket flapping in the wind and his candy bucket swinging side-to-side. A clown in a pair of voluminous yellow pants dashes past him in a blur of colour, a painted, pallid mask with a bouncing red nose, the curls of a garish purple wig bobbing with each step. Jack o’ lanterns stand sentry on every porch and doorstep, taking in the colourful procession of costumes with gouged triangular eyes that flicker with a faint orange light. A gust of wind billows along the gutter, kicking up sun-bleached crisp packets, golden autumn leaves and a tattered yellow flyer. Witchcraft Heights Summer Fete, the bold type headline reads, below which the date August 12th is printed in flamboyant primary coloured lettering.

But of course, those dog days of summer are long gone. The days have grown short now, and long-legged shadows chase laughing children home from school, kicking up golden-brown storms of autumnal foliage as they play. And as the span of daylight withers and dies, so does the dark majesty of the bleakness ahead begin to bloom. The summer is dead and buried; the city is slipping into winter’s cruel grasp, where it will remain, a frozen snowflake of concrete and glass, until the thaws of spring. Now is the time when the darkness beneath the bed and the gloom beneath the stairs take on an altogether more sinister undertone; the time when the creaking you hear while tucked beneath the covers could easily be something with far too many limbs scuttling stealthily towards you; the time for ghost stories to be recounted in dimly lit bedrooms as the wind howls outside and rain sprays the window.

Tonight is Halloween and Brandon Knight is running late. Out of work by seven and home by quarter to eight, with just enough time to shower and freshen up before meeting his girlfriend, Kathy. That’s the plan, and everything is running on schedule until a pair of young mothers arrive in search of outfits for their toddlers. Of course they spend twenty-five minutes debating whether to dress the excitable children as pirates or astronauts, before predictably settling on a pair of witches instead, and of course it is twenty-past-seven by the time Brandon has ushered the squealing children from the store and locked up.

So now a quandary presents itself; does he rush home to shower and run the risk of showing up late, or does he head over to Kathy’s place early but smelling like something stagnant that has crawled from the depths of the town dump? It’s the clothes that finally do it for Brandon; he can’t take Kathy on a date in his Craft Castle uniform. After all, isn’t it bad enough that he spends eight hours a day five days a week wearing a cap so orange it’s practically luminous and a lime green polo shirt trimmed with sunburst yellow?

He has almost resigned himself to the fact that he will be arriving late at Kathy’s when inspiration strikes; he will take the Pumpkin Trail, the Grinning Pathway. He will walk the Witches’ Draw. To hell with the stories – something flitted across the edge of his vision, a scuttling mass of pale sticklike limbs – and to hell with the fact that they kept him awake for hours when he was younger. Right now, the path through the pumpkin patch that grows almost the entire length of the vacant lot between East Willamette and Mill Street has one distinct advantage which illuminates Brandon’s mind like a spotlight: it cuts his journey down from forty-five minutes to a mere twenty-five. Perfect. He’ll definitely make it on time now.

So instead of crossing, Brandon hangs left on East Willamette. A gaggle of zombie cheerleaders giggle as he passes them by, their prom queen faces and coltish legs stained crimson with streaks of gore, but he pays them no heed, and throws only a perfunctory glance over his shoulder upon arriving at the high-boarded wooden fence – I could hear them whispering to me, they had mouths that nobody had carved – before stopping at the loose plank that every kid in Salem knows, the one that every kid in Salem avoids. When he was younger, on the days he’d been late out of school and the shadows had grown long, he would run past that tilted piece of wood as fast as his feet would carry him, convinced that something sinister lurked beyond.

But of course, that was years ago. Tonight, he simply holds the plank aside and squeezes his slim body through the gap into vacant lot.

The black asphalt trail at Brandon’s feet snakes ahead of him like a discarded liquorice whip, curving around an old, blackened tree stump before disappearing into the impossibly tall stalks of corn. Most of them are little more than shrivelled brown husks now, wilting and falling apart, but they are still packed tightly enough to obscure whatever lies beyond them. Brandon pulls his hood up, adjusts his rucksack and bulls on ahead.

Back on East Willamette, the teenage zombies are heading to a house party a couple blocks over. Jennifer Fisher, an ample-chested med school student dressed as an undead nurse, lingers to peer into the gap in the fence the guy in the flannel jacket just ducked through. She thinks he’s sort of cute and likes the way his wavy hair hangs down past his shoulders, despite the dorky looking cap he’s wearing. If he’s slipped behind there to smoke a joint or something and is still there, then she’ll invite him to come along with them. She leans forward and sure enough there he is, squatting with his cap off and his back to her in the shadow of something that looks a lot like stalks of corn.

Jennifer grew up in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. She’s never heard the stories about Abigail’s Run; she doesn’t know any better. She calls out to the boy and his head whips around to face her.

A long scabrous tongue rasps across a lipless mouth. Maggots writhe amidst decaying flesh and a fly with shattered wings crawls laboriously across an unblinking eye. Something terribly thin, crouched on stick-like limbs with faint wisps of hair hanging from its mottled scalp, turns its gaze upon her.
The bottle of Smirnoff Ice she has been carrying slips from her grasp and shatters on the pavement, drenching her new sneakers and slicing her ankles. The thing that Jennifer mistook for a boy darts away into the gently swaying stalks, and only then does Jennifer realise the source of the shrill sound she can hear. It’s her; she’s screaming.

Husks of corn cling to Brandon’s jacket and jeans like withered brown spiders, and he has somehow lost his luminous cap, the absurdity of which he finds quite amusing. Pushing the last of the cornstalks aside, he emerges once more into the – relatively – open air and gasps at a sight long imagined but never witnessed.

A knobbed alley of pumpkins stretches as far as the eye can see, flanked on either side by high-boarded fences that tower over him. Some of the pumpkins are the size of his skull; some are larger than his Great Dane, Alaska. But all of them share a single defining characteristic: they have all been carved. Jagged mouths zigzag across bulging orange skin, sly knowing smiles lurk beneath slanted triangular eyes and distended ovals scream in perpetual terror. Some are more elaborate than others, and Brandon’s gaze lingers for several seconds on a bloated pumpkin with downturned eyes and a drooping mouth growing near his feet. Without fully knowing why, he stomps on it, smashing through ribbed skin and soft innards with ease. The entire thing caves inwards and orange tinted liquid begins to seep from the wreckage, yet those downturned eyes continue to stare up at him.

He can’t quite discern whether those eyes belong to a face that is weeping or laughing. He decides that it doesn’t matter, and that he really doesn’t care. Does a pumpkin even have a face, or is it a head? Can you have a head without a face?

As he tentatively picks his way through the sprawling pumpkin patch – for some reason, stomping that first pumpkin has made him uncharacteristically nervous – Brandon begins to wonder why the fences on either side of him are so damn high. North Willamette is lined with those looming townhouses, the ones with stone gargoyles crouched on the eaves that look about five-hundred-years old, yet the fence that runs as far as he can see does little to mirror their gothic architecture. No wrought iron gates, no elaborate iron railings, just those huge, imposing panels. They must be thirteen, no, fourteen feet high, and he can barely make out anything beyond their impassive brown finish. Their height, combined with the narrowness of the grinning pathway, leaves him feeling trapped and claustrophobic.

Strangely enough, it doesn’t leave him feeling alone.

It can smell the meat on the wind, and when it presses the object in its hand to the slits on its face, the pungent stench increases tenfold. It moves silently on all fours through the cornstalks like a scurrying rat, contorting its rake-like body so that its chin faces the sky and arching its spine in anticipation. Stick-thin limbs protrude at odd angles as it hurries towards the children. Towards its precious children. Exploding from the corn in a silent flurry of motion, it snaps its torso around and twists itself backwards.

Now it walks like the meat.

The light is fading, but its eyes are milky white and attuned to lightlessness after years of crawling through tunnels of Stygian blackness; they pick out every detail of its surroundings with the precision of a hunting Kit Fox. It hobbles forwards, forked tongue lashing the air. Husks of corn are caught in the folds of its decaying skin, and pieces of flesh have been ripped away by errant stalks to expose the yellowing bone beneath. A beetle crawls through a hole in its cheek, and is immediately torn apart by rows of shattered teeth, filed to points during long hours spent in places beneath the city upon which light has never shone. Pus oozes from open sores and angry red wounds writhe with clusters of fat yellow larvae.

At the edge of the orange carpet, it stops. It falls to its knees and shrieks, tattered, disused vocal cords rasping and screeching in a choir of shrill insanity.

It holds the broken body of one of its many children. Fat chunks slip through slim fingers and frail palms sticky with mush and liquid pound the ground in agony. It looks into the funereal eyes of its dead child and howls in atavistic fury. With bones cracking and joints grating, it drops down to all fours and shoots away into the darkness.

The wind is picking up now, and it carries to Brandon the shrill screams of gleeful children, high-pitched shrieks of excitement mixed with giggles of glee. He smiles ruefully as he walks, keeping one hand on the fence so as not to lose his footing, remembering how long it’s been since he was that small, running from door-to-door dressed in a long red trench coat and his dad’s fedora. Spawn was always his favourite comic book character.

He is startled from his reverie by the thing almost directly in front of him; he would have walked straight into it had he not looked up just at that precise moment.

Before him is a pumpkin the size of a small dumpster, its gargantuan bulk spilling across the Pumpkin Trail and threatening to bar his way. It has been carved with the visage of a mirthful clown, and the young man can almost see the mummer’s flabby jowls quivering with silent laughter.

But he’s been walking for a good fifteen minutes now, so he must be nearing the end of the Witches’ Draw. He’ll be damned if he’s going to let an overgrown vegetable – or fruit, whatever the hell a pumpkin is – stand in his way. He scrambles up the side of the thing, using its laughing mouth as a foothold, and is about to slide over it when a thought strikes him.

Maybe he can stand on the giant clown to peer over that soaring fence. A quick peek won’t hurt, just enough to satisfy his gnawing curiosity. He boosts himself up, his fingers scrabbling for purchase against the fleshy orange surface, and manages to pull himself up.

Before he can lean forward to peer over the fence, something flickers across the edge of his vision, and he feels a sudden awareness of scrutiny. Turning to his left and squinting into the darkness he finds nothing, and is about to turn away when a dark shape flits from the shadows.

Whatever it is, it’s moving low to the ground, like a dog or a cat, except a lot larger. It picks its way through the pumpkins with ease and fluidity, limbs turning at all angles and feet reaching high above its shoulders as it sweeps down the trail. A brief spell of moonlight gives him a true glimpse of its emaciated form and drawn, pallid skin, and warm urine seeps through his jeans. Whatever that thing is, it could have crawled straight out of the potholing-gone-wrong horror flick he’d watched with Kirsty over the summer.

Brandon loses sight of it, and for a second he allows himself to believe it an imagined terror, one born of far too many Hellraiser comics and late-night readings of Clive Barker novels. Then the creature leans forward, squatting atop a lumpy pumpkin…and looks straight at him. Unable to process the horror of its face, Brandon snaps his gaze downwards, towards those terribly-thin arms, and balks at the familiar orange cap clenched in one of its hands.

Before it has even begun to scuttle towards him, Brandon is leaping from the giant pumpkin and sprinting in the opposite direction.

From the window of 168 North Willamette’s drawing room, Augustus Dowell, seated in a plush leather recliner, watches his red Doberman pinscher, Maxwell, lope about the garden. He takes a sip from the glass of bourbon cupped in his hand, his watery eyes never leaving the hound. In the process of ferreting through the carefully-maintained bushes lining the rear of the garden, the Doberman freezes, its wiry body going rigid and its ears standing erect, and whips its head to the side. Seconds later, it launches itself at the fence, standing on its hind legs with its forepaws scrabbling against the wooden panels and barking ferociously. Augustus’s attention immediately shifts to the top of the fence, scanning the wicker dolls that hang lifelessly there. He lets out a deep breath he hasn’t realised he is holding after counting the seventh doll. Yes, they are all there; everything is in place, meaning that his property, and by extension his family, are protected.
Whatever is going on beyond his boundaries is none of his business, nor is it any of his concern.

‘’Augustus, bring Maxwell inside will you?’’ His wife, Constance, asks from the landing. ‘’He’s making an ever-so frightful racket.’’

‘’Of course dear.’’ Augustus replies, glancing a final time at the wood-and-wire constructs dangling from the fence before turning away. ‘’I’ll fetch him in right away.’’

Brandon, his uneven breathing becoming ragged, finds time between bouts of mind-numbing terror to curse himself for dropping out of Phys. Ed. If he’d never met Kathy in the art block that night, and subsequently decided to switch subjects, perhaps he wouldn’t be so damn unfit. The thought of her spurs him on, though, allowing him to draw upon reserves of energy he had thought long since expended.

He dares not turn around, lest that skulking thing be inches away from him, reaching for him with skeletal arms and-

Brandon barrels straight into the corn and for several seconds doesn’t understand what’s happening, batting at the stalks all around him in fear before he realises. This patch of cornstalks must mirror the one at the entrance he used, forming a barrier of sorts between the pumpkins and the real world. Meaning that he’s almost at the exit.

His joy is short lived as something hurtles past him and bare skin brushes the leg of his jeans.

He staggers to the side until his shoulder connects with the fence. Biting down a curse, he whips his head around, expecting the creature to be beside him. He can’t hear a thing, which is much more disconcerting than if he were to able hear it moving about. At least then he’d know where it was.

With his back to the fence and one splayed hand feeling the way forward, he inches slowly to the left, fearful of making even the slightest sound. His heart is thudding somewhere in his throat, and adrenaline is coursing through his veins like electricity. Everywhere he looks he expects to see it, leering out of the corn towards him. A subtle shift directly ahead causes him to freeze; a stealthy scratching that sounds as though it is directly beside him. His sodden boxer shorts become damper still. Suddenly, the thing has him, he can feel its spindly fingers scrabbling against his leg-

His phone. His phone is vibrating. Frantically trying to wrestle it from the pocket of his jeans, all the while aware of every subtle movement around him, he succeeds in doing so just as the incoming call notification shifts from vibration to an audible tone. Brandon does the first thing that comes to mind.

He turns and throws the phone as hard and as far as he can, back in the direction from which he came. It begins to wail and jingle as it spins through the air, and something shifts in the corn to his right – to his immediate right, inches away – and shoots off after it.

All pretence of stealth abandoned, Brandon smashes his way through the corn, bursting free of the clinging stalks seconds later and almost running head first into the chain-link gate that bars the exit onto Centre Street. There are signs covering the gate, so he can’t see them, but he can hear the blessed sounds of children shouting, parents chatting, and sirens wailing. Even the incessant hooting of impatient taxi drivers sounds like music to his ears.

Brandon scrambles up the chain-link and thuds down onto the pavement, narrowly missing a passing group of children and their parental escorts, who throw him scornful you-should-know-better-at-your-age looks, seconds before something crashes against the gate from the other side. He whips around, horrified, and begins to back away as various sections of the chain-link begin to subtly sag inwards, as though something were testing for a point of weakness.

He can’t see anything through the gate; signs and notices cover it entirely, having been crammed together side-by-side. WARNING CONSTRUCTION IN PROGRESS, one reads; UNSAFE SURFACES screams another in bright red lettering. A vivid red and yellow PRIVATE PROPERTY – DO NOT ENTER board runs the length of the gate, and as Brandon’s eyes shift to the right of it his pupils dilate and his heart drums a frantic tattoo against his ribcage.

Staring through the small slit between the PRIVATE PROPERTY board and its neighbour, a green heptagon with oriental lettering, is a listless, pupil-less white eye; below it, the vaguest impression of a row of pointed teeth clasping the chain-link and something serpentine and dark snaking along the side of the sign. Slim, hairless fingers scrabble at the links like pale overgrown spiders.

Brandon staggers away in horror and instead of finding the sidewalk his foot finds only empty space. Pinwheeling his arms but unable to keep his balance, he tumbles backwards.

Sahj Patel is on his way back to the depot when the man – a kid, just a kid really – falls backwards in front of his bus. He’s only four miles-per-hour over the speed limit, but at this distance he doesn’t have a hope in hell of stopping in time.

Something crunches sickeningly beneath the wheels, an elderly lady at the rear of the bus screams and a mother hugs her son to her chest. Sahj is out of the vehicle in seconds, but the way one of the wheels nestles in the kid’s chest tells him that he is already too late.

Only while he waits for an ambulance, tears streaming down his face and breath coming in huge wracking sobs, does he realise exactly where on Centre Street he is: the entrance to that accursed alley. Witches’ Draw, they had called it when Sahj was a child. Of all the places, he thinks, and slams his fist against the gate in frustration, tearing down a cluster of small wicker figures hung there by children in his anger.

Behind the gate, in the softly swaying stalks of long-dead corn, something stirs. A sickly crescent grin splits a pair of scabrous lips.

Free at last.

Credit To – Tom Farr

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The Harbinger Experiment

December 20, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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The world we live in is full of things we don’t understand. Being the curious humans that we are, we naturally try and seek these things out. Doing so has lead us to remarkable discoveries and inventions that we never could have imagined a hundred years ago. We have defeated disease, built to the sky itself and even created machines that could take us beyond the clouds and into the stars. If our ancestors could see us and what we have created, I’m sure many of them would see us as gods.

Our innate curiosity and lust for knowledge has not always led us to greatness, however. True evil and darkness have also been uncovered in humanities conquest of knowledge. And in the end, I fear this evil will be our doom.
I do not say this from the standpoint of a great philosopher who has sat and simply pondered things either, no, I say this because I have seen it; experienced it. I was a part of it.

The event I am about to relay to you is true in its entirety, this I swear. I feel certain that this will fall on deaf ears and many of you will believe this to be just another spooky story meant to give you cheap thrills, but I promise you that this is neither my intent nor my purpose. The purpose of this story is to simply warn you of what lurks beyond the veil of what we can see and understand; to show you what awaits us in the darkness. Even if I myself don’t understand it.

What I am about to tell you has happened, and I feel certain it will happen again.

In 1971 a not-so-well-known scientist began preparations for an extremely secretive project known simply as “The Harbinger Experiment”. I would like to keep the identity of the scientist a secret for personal reasons, so throughout this recounting I will refer to him as “Zimmerman”. Zimmerman’s background is unclear at best beyond 1971. All that is known about him before that time is that he had grown up somewhere in Maryland with a strange fascination of the occult and supernatural. This later made him an outcast among his fellow scientists due to how scoffed upon the metaphysical was (and still is) at the time. Zimmerman’s opinions concerning the “other worldly” were not the sole cause for him being an outcast though; it was his methods that made him widely unaccepted among his peers. Zimmerman was well known during his time for being ruthless and cold beyond measure. He never cared about the means; all that mattered to him was results, and if he predicted the results to be valuable enough, anything would be worth obtaining them. It was this insatiable and brutal lust for the truth that made him feared among those that knew of him. And the few that knew of him and did not fear him believed in him and followed him and his work closely.

The word harbinger itself has such a mysterious and intimidating taste to it. Maybe it’s the way it rolls from our tongues or maybe it’s simply due to its association with the project, but the word always seems to carry a certain amount of doom with it. Which would make sense, the word itself means to warn or forebode. I can’t imagine Zimmerman’s reason for giving the experiment this title, but in retrospect, it fits perfectly.

Zimmerman came to a select few (me being one of them), he told us he was working on “something big” and that he needed people who could keep confidentiality and not spread idle gossip of his work. While he did not fully trust some of us, he did know that we were professionals and that for some reason or another, we were all in dire need of employment. I had worked at the local clinic as a doctor, but I was caught stealing medication and was promptly fired. This left a very dark mark on my resume, so work was hard to find. I was also a native to Alaska and lived near where the experiment would take place, so I guess you could say I was a convenient choice. As you can imagine, I jumped at the opportunity. It was hard not to when I saw the payout.

Fifteen of us were hired in total. Some were colleagues of his that has been working with him for a while, some were maintenance workers and a few were hired as “private security”. I was the only medical professional to be hired. It is still a wonder to me how he even attained the funds necessary for the experiment, I would not be wholly surprised if his financing was not entirely legal. But legal or not, I needed the money and he was paying. Looking back, it’s a decision I have come to regret.

After Zimmerman obtained his money, he used it to buy a relatively large plot of land deep in the frozen wilderness of Alaska. And upon that piece of land Zimmerman built a concrete structure, not dissimilar to a bunker in fact. The sole difference being that its goal was to keep any potential damage contained within the structure rather than keeping it out, as he put it. Most of the structure dug underneath the earth which had the effect of making the underground complex seem so much smaller than it really was from the outside, as would be expected. There was only one way of entering and leaving the underground structure, and it was via a ladder that lead from a small unassuming concrete building on the surface (Which I will refer to from now on as the entrance building for convenience.) to the network below. After everyone had gone to bed at night, the hatch that contained the ladder would be sealed off with a very large and thick metal lid. Zimmerman was very strict about this. Located not too far away from the entrance building was a series of wooden cabins that would serve as the sleeping quarters for the staff Zimmerman had hired.

Compared to entrance building standing on the surface, the underground system was massive. At the center of the complex was the control room. This is where all the facilities electronics and such were linked to, this included security cameras, lights and door controls. Consoles, monitors and computers lined the walls of this large central chamber. This is also where the ladder in the entrance building connected to in the underground complex.

Connected to the control room were three doors; one lead to a smaller room that served as the infirmary, another door lead to a break room and the last door lead into the hallways. The hallways are where the complex began to feel extremely eerie. They were for some reason laid out in an extremely confusing scheme that led in circles and to complete dead ends. These hallways made up a vast majority of the complex and it would be very easy to get lost in the maze if you were unfamiliar with the complex.

But if you knew where you were going you would find yourself standing before one of three 8 by 8 foot rooms before long. Each room had a camera hooked up to one of the corners of the room and all three of those cameras were connected to a corresponding monitor in the control room. Cameras were also scattered throughout the hallways so that whoever was watching their corresponding monitor could see anywhere they wanted to when they wanted to.

Thick metal doors stood at the entrance to each of the three 8 by 8 foot rooms and in order to open them you would have to enter a four digit code into a panel located near the door.


I remember when I first arrived at the complex how badly the hallways frightened me. I have always been claustrophobic you see, and those hallways were so very narrow. The noise (Or, more accurately, the lack of noise) was also a tremendous source of fear for me in those bleak, narrow hallways. It was always so unnaturally silent, as if the entire world had stopped moving. It really made you feel like you were trapped down there. Thankfully though, I only rarely ventured into those hallways for I was the only medical professional in the facility and I had virtually no reason to go into them.

In the beginning I found it so peculiar that Zimmerman would ask for a medical professional like me on a project like this but by the time it was all over, I understood why.

The official purpose of the Harbinger experiment was to test and observe the effects of extended isolation on the human mind. This is what was listed on reports being sent out at least. But unbeknownst to all those who were not participating in the project, excluding the subjects, the true purpose was much darker.

Like I said before, Zimmerman had always had an obsession with the occult and supernatural. He sought to prove himself to those who did not believe in him. He wanted physical proof that the supernatural was a real phenomenon, and he wanted to be the first one to attain said proof.
The true purpose of the Harbinger experiment was to find proof of the metaphysical; a world we could not see. The thought of doing this was naturally a tad bit daunting and even scary, but it was Zimmerman’s method of doing so that was truly terrifying. Zimmerman believed that he would be able to open a portal between worlds momentarily, allowing three random ‘entities’ to cross over to our world, and each one these beings would be trapped within one of the three rooms.

Zimmerman had the theory that any “entity” would try and latch onto the nearest living thing that had the capacity for it. He wanted to use this “technique” to trap a spirit in a physical form by allowing it to enter a living being that had been injected with compound mixture of Zimmerman’s creation.

In theory, this compound would keep the entity from simply leaving whatever it was attached to; the only way it would be able to leave a host who had been injected with the compound was through death. According to Zimmerman, the host would have to be something living, with a will strong enough to survive the possession. And there is only one known species that possess the amount of will required for this; humans.

Zimmerman had also done something to ensure that the entities would only enter the three rooms and that there would only be one entity in each room, though I cannot say I know what exactly he did. In fact, I know next to nothing when it comes to how Zimmerman managed to do what he did. He liked to keep his methodology a secret to his most trusted and himself, most likely due to his paranoia that someone would steal his ideas and take credit for the success of said ideas.

If I had known that this was the true purpose before I signed up, I may have reconsidered. But Zimmerman decided not to tell us until we were all gathered at his “fortress”. Even if any of us wanted to leave, I doubt we would have been allowed to do so. The security team Zimmerman had hired was loyal to him and the payout; it is not unlikely that Zimmerman had given them the order to now allow anyone to leave.

There were three different subjects included in the experiment, all were native to Alaska and each one was lured into the project under the belief that they would be participating in a harmless study of the effect of isolation on the human mind, as I mentioned before. Which is why none of the subjects objected when they realized that they would be confined to one of the three rooms that I mentioned earlier. The first subject was a young man; he was apparently out of work and desperately needed the money that had been offered for participating in the study. The second was a woman; by looking at her, I could tell she was an addict of some sort. The third and final subject was an older man, a drifter if I had to guess. One thing that they all had in common was that none of them had any family or friends left. In short, no one would miss them, which is why they were chosen for the project.

I am sorry, I wish I could supply more information about the subjects, but all of this has been drawn from memory and I was given little information on the three to begin with.

The experiment did not officially begin until 1987, 16 years after its original announcement. I was eager to begin, so I packed up and headed out to the complex as soon as I could. I arrived at the compound a week before the subjects had even signed up, and a whole month before the project even began.

I was not the first to arrive by any means. When I got there, Zimmerman, his colleagues and the security team had already arrived. I suppose you could say I was the first among the people Zimmerman did not trust to arrive.

Everyone had arrived about a week before the experiment began. There was a noticeable rift between those who were there simply for the money (like me) and those who were followers of Zimmerman.


On October 15th, 1987, all the preparations were in place. The subjects had been sealed in their rooms, the cameras, lights and speakers were fully operational and all the staff members had settled in; the time had come for the experiment to officially begin.

Zimmerman asked everyone to report to the control room around 9 pm to witness the beginning of the experiment, he wanted everyone to be present when he proved that all his theories had been correct and that he was not just a mad man; he wanted us all to see the fruits of his labor. When everyone had finally gathered in the large control room, Zimmerman turned to us and simply said: “Observe”. He then turned his back to us, leaned into the microphone that would project his voice through the three rooms and then he began chanting in a strange language that I feel certain no one but Zimmerman could understand.

We all observed the three large monitors on the wall, silently waiting for something to happen. The subjects all stood in their room, dumbstruck by Zimmerman’s chanting, staring at the monitors with confused expressions on their faces. After about five minutes, I felt something… Awful. I cannot explain what exactly it was, but a horrible feeling of dread washed over me, riddling me with fear. It was then that the ground actually began to shake subtly and the lights began to flicker. Zimmerman continued chanting into the microphone as if nothing was off or wrong while the subjects began dashing around their rooms, screaming for help. Then suddenly the ground stopped shaking and the monitor’s image turned into static.
The air began to become very heavy as we all stared at the monitors, waiting for them to regain their image and show us what was happening or had happened in those three rooms.

For a while all was silent, but then there was screaming. The screams of a woman going through unbearable pain and terror began to echo through the compound. The similar screams of men began to coincide with woman’s terrified screams and together they mixed into an awful symphony of pain and fear that beat mercilessly into our ears.

Those of us who were here for the money began to give each other scared looks while those loyal to Zimmerman seemed completely unphased. We wanted to leave and never come back to this awful place but we all knew deep down that Zimmerman would never allow that to happen. We were here for the long haul, there was no escape.

It was 10:13 pm when the screaming finally stopped; the monitors had yet to reveal to us what had occurred in those three rooms. As soon as the screaming ended Zimmerman stood and dismissed us all for the night, adding that we were all forbidden to come back into the compound until 10:00 am tomorrow morning, not like any of us wanted too. We all solemnly made our way out of the compound and towards the cabins and settled in for the night. I feel it is safe to say that not all of us slept well that night, and I was not one of them.

The following morning all of the staff had arrived at the entrance building. We all stood inside exchanging tired or nervous looks as we waited for Zimmerman to arrive and open the hatch that concealed the ladder. I could see palpable fear in the eyes of some of us while others did not seem to have been even remotely affected by what happened last night. Zimmerman showed up five minutes after 10:00, apologizing for his tardiness as he came through the door of the entrance building. He opened the hatch and, without any hesitation, began descending the ladder downwards into the black abyss. He almost seemed enthusiastic.

I was the first to follow behind Zimmerman’s dark descent into the facility. It seemed that the farther I climbed down the more the darkness closed in on me, as if it were trying to swallow me whole. And as I climbed deeper I couldn’t help but feel that this place was… different somehow. While before there was only the unsettling concrete hallways and rooms, now there was something else… Something made the eeriness feel so real and personified. I felt like a horrible and gruesome scene awaited us down there, but I continued climbing downward, despite my fear and my hesitation. This was no longer just a spooky bunker, there was darkness and malevolence in the air, a true evil now lived here, and I could feel it. We all could.

I finally felt my foot touch ground and let out a silent sigh of relief to be on solid ground. Almost as if on cue, the light bulbs came alive, dousing the room in their warm and welcome light. Zimmerman must have turned on the power, I thought. I allowed myself to take a couple seconds to examine the control room. It was exactly as we had left it last night, for which I gave a silent and thankful prayer. It was almost as if nothing unusual had ever happened. I shook myself from my thoughts as I remembered the static filled monitors from the night before. I let my eyes slowly make their way towards the monitors on the wall, anticipating the grim and fearful scenes that would be on them.

My attention was first grabbed by monitor one and three, which were still pure static. It would have been a small relief, but then the motionless image on monitor two caught my eye. Room two was entirely still and everything seemed entirely untouched. I couldn’t help but gasp as I noticed the only thing that was different; the woman lay in the center of the small concrete room, an expression of fear and terror was frozen into her gaunt face as she lay silent and lifeless on her back.

Zimmerman expression turned angry when he saw this, he ordered that second monitor be turned off, and it was. We didn’t ask why, it’s not like any of us wanted to see the dreadful scene any longer. He also ordered that if the images in monitors one and three did not return within the next two hours, the security team would be sent to investigate the rooms. The security team nodded at hearing this. They made it seem as if they had no fear, but I could see it in their eyes.

The subtly loud tick tock of the clock was the only sound that echoed through the control room while I stared at the monitors. An hour and fifty minutes had gone by, and static was still all that occupied monitor one and three. All of the other staff members were working except me, this was due to the fact that the project had been completely injury free thus far, so I essentially had nothing to do but wait for someone to hurt themselves.

Zimmerman, a couple of his colleagues and I were the only ones that occupied the room. They quietly chatted amongst each other on the other side of the room while I spent my time reading and pondering the situation I currently found myself in. I had clearly made a mistake coming here, the corpse lying in room two was evidence enough of this. And god only knew what awaited us in rooms one and three.

My thoughts were soon interrupted as monitor three’s image returned.

The clear image now displayed on the screen made everyone’s eyes noticeably widen. What was displayed on the monitor was… horrifying. A humanoid… thing stood in the center of the room staring directly at the camera, unmoving. It was wearing the jumpsuit that subject three had been issued, but this clearly was not the same man that had entered the room. What caught my attention first were its eyes. They were solid black and twice the size of normal human eyes; they seemed so… so endless and so cold. Its head had also grown with the eyes in such a symmetrical and unsettling manner. The being had also shed all of the hair it once had and even from the monitor I could see how unnaturally smooth and clear its skin was. It had also seemingly grown in height and stature, which could be seen in the fact that the jumpsuit was now obviously far too small for its wearer. Its limbs had grown especially long; its arms hung almost as low as the creature’s knees.

What we were looking at was in no way the same man we had sent inside.

Fear; fear was all I felt as I continued to stare into the monitor at the thing in the room. And my fear seemed to be shared by those around me, which made me feel kind of good. It may sound awful, but it was a bit satisfying to see that Zimmerman and his colleagues could feel fear too. But at the same time it was worrying because this showed that this was not part of Zimmerman’s “plan”. Something had gone wrong.

We all stared into the monitor at the thing despite our fear; it was almost as if we were in a trance. My already present fear began to grow and spread rapidly through my body as I became lost in the creatures eyes, trapped in its terrifyingly hypnotic gaze.

After what felt like forever, I managed to break eye contact with the creature and divert my attention from the monitor and when I did so I felt my fear levels drop considerably.

After a short while, Zimmerman ordered his security team to make their way to subject ones door just as he said he would do. The security team left without question, armed only with batons and pistols.

I focused my attention on watching the men progress through the hallways towards subject ones room via the cameras. Even through the not-so-high-quality cameras, it wasn’t hard to tell that these men were afraid of what awaited them. Their heads were downcast as they walked; they did not possess the same confidence within them that they did when this project began. They looked like scared boys being sent off to a terrible war.
Eventually, they made it to the door. We had perfect vision of them and the door via the hallway camera. One of them said something through one of their walkie-talkies and made a motion towards the camera, in response one of Zimmerman’s colleagues buzzed the door open, the men already had their pistols out by the time the button was pushed.

Slowly, the door began to open. We all watched eagerly as the men began to approach the door, guns aimed inside. Suddenly and without warning, there was a loud shriek. And as something bounded out of the room at the men, the monitor turned into static. Immediately, we could hear screaming echoing down the hallways followed shortly after by the distinct sound of gunshots.

We could do nothing but wait. After a couple minutes, the screaming and gunshots stopped. We all waited and prayed, hoping that whatever bounded at them from the room would not be the one to return to the control room.

After a couple more minutes, three of the men came back, carrying with them the corpse of the fourth. He had massive cuts covering his chest and his face was shredded; you couldn’t even tell who he was anymore or even that he was human. I was used to gore being a doctor and all, so I felt somewhat unphased by the mass of shredded flesh and bloodied meat they carried with them. But many of the others went pale and vomited. The security team all wore emotionless expressions and eyes filled with terror. One of the men finally looked up at us; he stared at us for a while with those wide eyes of his. “It’s dead” he finally managed to mutter in a shaken and scared voice.


A couple hours went by. The dead man’s name was Frank; he was buried outside in the cold, Alaskan ground. Two of the men were unharmed, physically at least. The third was alive, but only barely. His body was covered in bloody slashes and one of his eyes had been gouged out. I managed to stabilize him, but only just. The other two men vaguely explained what happened. Apparently, subject one leaped out at Frank after the door had opened; only it wasn’t really subject one anymore. According to them, it had a hideously contorted face and long sharp claws.

They claim to have shot it over a dozen times before it fell dead, and then they emptied another dozen bullets into it just to be sure it was really dead.

Only once it was dead did they come back.

After tending to the wounded man, I went to investigate the monitors. As afraid as I was of seeing what those monitors may hold, I needed to see. Subject three was the only one left now and I needed to see it and make sure the creature was still in his room. It seemed to be more like a jail cell than an ordinary room at this point though, which was probably a good thing.

The cameras displaying subject ones room and the hallway outside it still displayed a static filled screen. No one was sent to repair them or investigate; we just had to hope that subject one was well and truly dead.

Monitor three’s image was exactly the same as I had left it; subject three was still staring directly into the camera at us. He was still in the exact same position and if it were not for the small fan in the corner of the room, I would think I was looking at a still image. In a way, I felt relief at seeing this; relief that he was still in his room and had not escaped while no one was looking.

After everything quieted down, I noticed something especially unusual. There was a… strange sound emanating from somewhere. At first, it was barely noticeable. The only reason I heard it was because of how extremely quiet it was in the infirmary. But as time went by, it slowly began to increase in volume. After about an hour, it was loud enough that everyone else could hear it too. And after a couple more hours its volume had increased so much that we could determine what the noise was. It was a song; one of the staff members identified it as “Living in the Sunlight” by Tiny Tim. Apparently, his father loved the song and listened to it frequently. The song seemed to be on a loop and kept replaying itself. Although we were able to identify the noise, we remained unable to identify its source. We knew that it wasn’t coming from the speakers because we had turned them off, it seemed to be emitting from the walls themselves.

More time ticked by as we all began to become increasingly agitated by the song; I spent most of my time in the infirmary attending to Frank or in the control room. Fear hung in the air and the presence of unmistakable darkness and evil was no doubt its source. Subject three still had not moved; he had kept his unblinking gaze fixed on the camera the entire time. It always felt like he was staring directly at me, no matter where I was in the room. I think this effect was also felt by others due to the fact that they seemed to move around the room a lot and for seemingly no reason.
After a few hours, the song was so loud that people almost had to shout in order to communicate. We had been trying to find its source so that we could turn the song off, but it was to no avail; the source was completely unidentifiable. This added a level of extreme irritation to our already very present fear.

It was around 8:30 that the ground itself began to shake once again; just as it had done the previous night. Panic began to spread among my fellow employees and I as the shaking grew in intensity.

During this, I had the sudden instinctual feeling to look over at subject three’s monitor. It was gone. Almost as if on cue, the power went out. And thankfully, the song did as well.

Ever since the security team came back, panic had been slowly building up among the staff, and Zimmerman was powerless to stop it. When those lights went out, the calm projections that everyone had been trying to maintain left us and the fear in all our hearts took over.

The emergency backup lights kicked on shortly after the power went out, which I gave a silent thankful prayer for. The lights were dim, but they still allowed me to see a lot.

Total panic seized us as many of my fellow staff members began screaming and rushing to the ladder in an attempt to escape. But too many were trying to use it at once and no one was able to get very far on the ladder without someone else pulling them to the floor and taking their place. Zimmerman was shouting for everyone to calm down, but his dominating and intimidating personality had no effect here, and his demands fell upon deaf ears. It was total chaos. It wasn’t long until people actually started hurting each other in their desperate attempts to get up that ladder and out of this place; I could only stand against the wall and wait for my opportunity to escape up the ladder.

All the screams were soon silenced as the familiar hum of that unsettling song began to rise in volume again, only much quicker this time. And this time, it was clear that the noise was coming directly from the maze-like corridors. People stopped fighting and shouting as all our attention shifted to the door that led into the hallways.

The song quickly got louder than it had ever been before which forced many of us to cup our ears with our hands in a an attempt to silence the noise. Then, suddenly, the song just completely stopped.

Silence. That was all that filled the room as we all stared at the thick metal door in anticipation for what was coming. It felt like ages had gone by, but in reality it was probably only seconds before the silence was broken.

The door suddenly and violently burst open and the music started again, louder than it had ever been before. The suddenness and the volume of this caused many of us to recoil by falling to the ground and grabbing our ears in an attempt to block out the noise. I glanced up for just a second and in the doorway stood a tall, smooth skinned figure with long limbs and eyes so dark and malevolent that you could clearly see them in the dim lighting.

After I got my bearings, I looked upwards at the creature once again just in time to see the thing pick up and rip Zimmerman in half in one fluid movement, dousing the room and everyone in it with his blood, intestines and organs. I was no stranger to gore, but the sight of that was too much for me to bear: I hunched over immediately after seeing this and vomited all over the cold cement floor.

That ladder is my only hope of survival… I thought to myself as I forced myself to a standing position. And as my eyes rose along with the rest of me, I could see the thing ripping and tearing through the people as they scattered in attempt to escape it. It was distracted, and as awful as it sounds, this was my only chance to get up that ladder. I forced my legs to move towards the ladder, trying to block out the terrified screams of my fellow staff members and the unbearably loud music. I could hear gunshots coinciding with the screams and terrible sounds of flesh being ripped apart somewhere in the mess of noise. I reached my hands outwards and felt a wave of relief wash over me as my fingers came into contact with the hard metal rungs of the ladder. I gripped them and began to climb upwards as quickly as I could in my disoriented state, all the while praying that the monster would not see me and pull me off the ladder and back into the slaughter.

It felt like at any moment I would feel one of its smooth hands wrap around my ankles and pull me to my death, but I eventually made it to the top. There was no question in my mind, I had to close the hatch and seal that thing down there; even if it meant certain death for my colleagues. I could not allow that thing to escape. I gripped the thick metal lid and began to push with all my might in an attempt to seal the underground complex off.
Despite how dense and sturdy it was, the lid was surprisingly easy to move and did not take very much effort to push it over the hatch, even in my weakened state. In seconds, the hatch was completely covered by the dense metal lid.

I collapsed on my side and began to vomit some more as exhaustion over took me. And as I lay there, I realized something; aside from my labored breaths, the only thing I could hear was the faint echo of that song from down below.

I felt as though I would lose more of my sanity if I continued to lay there and listen to that song, so I once again forced myself to my feet and began to make my way to the wooden lodge I had stayed in the previous night. It was where I had left my baggage and also where I had left the keys to my truck.


Of the fifteen staff members that took part in that forsaken experiment, I am the only one who survived. I have never returned to the awful place where all of this happened, and I don’t intend to. The project was very secretive and Zimmerman was the only one who knew all the details of it. And, as far as I know, no one is aware of my involvement aside from me. In fact, I am probably the only one who knows what the Harbinger experiment truly was, let alone what actually happened.

By now, you are probably wondering why I have told all of you about something none of you should be aware of. Maybe you’re expecting me to give you a speech about not messing with things you don’t understand or something along those lines. I hope not, for I have no speech to give or lesson to impart.

I began hearing a noise earlier today. Almost immediately I recognized the noise as a very haunting and familiar song. I didn’t even try to trace it to its source; I knew it would be pointless. And as the day has progressed, the song has increased in volume. It’s loud enough now that I can very clearly make out the lyrics. I am completely unable to escape Tiny Tim’s voice; it has followed me everywhere I have gone.
Subject three is coming for me, and I know my time left in this world is extremely limited now.

I guess you could say that I just wanted to tell the tale of the Harbinger experiment before it was lost forever. I hope that you will take some lesson from what I have recounted to you, but I think we both know you won’t.

Let’s be honest, you don’t believe a word of what I’ve just told you. And I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t believe me if I were you.
To you, this is nothing more than something to get your cheap thrills from. You were probably mindlessly surfing the internet when you clicked a link and found yourself here, wherever here may be, reading this story.
And to be honest, I don’t care if you believe me or not.
Even if you do, it probably won’t stop you from trying to uncover the truth of a darkness that few of us have ever seen. It certainly never stopped Zimmerman. If you want a lesson, look at what happened to him when he went seeking the truth.
I pray that none of you will ever discover this truth; I pray that none of you ever have to see the evil I have seen. I hope you all get to live in ignorance of what lies beyond the veil of what we can understand.
It’s here now. I can feel its black eyes burning into me just as I could all those years ago.
I am as much to blame as Zimmerman is for the monstrosity that is now free to roam the world, even if I was not the one to create it.
I’m sorry,
Please forgive me.

Credit To – Zyon J

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