“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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Persecution

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.

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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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11 Miles

November 20, 2013 at 12:00 PM
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Do you have something that you truly, relentlessly desire? Despite your state of life, is there something else that you would go completely to the end of the world to get? Well lucky for you, there’s a way to achieve what you’re looking for and you won’t need to go to the end of the world to get it. But you will need to go somewhere, and the place may be too out of reach for some. It’s not far away, closer than one may believe but there’s requirements that some individuals may not possess.

First, whatever it is that you seek, know that you MUST seriously desire what you want. In your eyes, it should be something you need. If you begin the journey without the correct state of mind, you will surely fail as it will be near impossible to turn back once the journey starts. The second requirement is that you will need a vehicle of a sort. Most use a car, as it gives one a false feeling of protection which may be what get’s you through. There have been a select few that have used small motorized vehicle, such as an ATV or motorcycle, but this has proven to be quite difficult as the conditions of the journey can prove to be too bothersome even during it’s early stages.

Do not use a vehicle too large or noticeable, as you will need some of the cover of night to be most safe. Also while any sort of car will do, you may not want to choose the most expensive or cherished vehicle. You can take you slick new black Mercedes for the drive if you’d like, but don’t expect it to come out in a pristine state. Make sure your vehicle is completely fueled before beginning the drive.

The first task to accomplish is to locate the road. It doesn’t have a name, it’s not on the map, and technically, it doesn’t even exist. It will only show up if you’re looking for it at the right time, and you will only spot it if you know what to look for. Finally, you must be alone during the journey. You didn’t think you’d be able to go with a group did you?

It must be night when you begin. Choose the time of the night where you believe the roads are the least populated. Drive to any area that is just a stretch of road surrounded by woods. Here’s where you want to start paying close attention. If you’re looking for the road, it will turn up eventually, but you need to search for the road’s hint in order to pull down the right one. Once you’re close, you will see or feel the signs but what the signs will be will depend on what it is you desire.

For example, if you’re in search of wealth, you may spot shimmers on the empty branches of trees as if they resembled the shine of gold or diamonds. If you seek love, you may begin to see rose petals slowly dance in the light breeze, blowing in the road’s direction. If you seek revenge, you might sense an ever growing feeling of heat or anger in your body as you approach. Just know what it is you really want, and you’ll have no problem finding the turn.

Once you’re sure you’ve found the revealed road, take a deep breath, and turn down onto it.

At this point, you have officially started down the nameless road which bring you through 11 miles, leading to whatever it is you seek. Each mile will test your desire, and will expose if you really do want what you’re searching for. Before you go any further, stop the car and be wary of a few warnings:

Do not turn on a radio during the drive.

Do not use a phone during the drive (reception would be cut off anyway).

Do not open the windows during the drive. Make sure they are closed before you continue. If you are riding a vehicle without windows or a top, then prepare for the worst, as the odds are heavily against you.

Do not attempt to leave your vehicle at ANY time.

You’ll never want to exceed 30 miles per hour, unless you’re desperate to make it through a section of the road.

And most importantly, as with any drive, buckle up.

Feel free to prepare and make sure you’re ready. Once the road has been entered, time has stopped so you don’t need to worry about losing the night. Though you may not notice, you’re not actually in your own world anymore. Take one last moment to realize that once the first mile is over there is NO turning back. If you ponder turning back at all, know that you shouldn’t even be on the journey in the first place. Once all is done, start continuing on the road.

On the first mile, you won’t see much change. The road passes through mostly woods with a few miles being an exception. The air will turn a bit colder, in which you should turn your heating system if the vehicle has one. You won’t want to take your eyes off the road later. Take some time to calm any uneasiness by admiring some of the night sky. You’ll see it completely lined with stars, more than what you would ever believe possible. If the weather was cloudy beforehand, you’ll also notice that the sky is now clear.

On the second mile, the air will become even colder. This is primarily the reason why traveling in an open vehicle is very difficult. With each mile, the air will drop in temperature even if the season should be warm. If the air is too cold to bear, even with the heat on, your only option is to speed up. With each mile the road also becomes more complex, taking more turns and showing an increasing amount of road hazards. Be sure to always keep focused on the road in front of you in order to avoid as many bumps or obstacles as possible. Hitting a few rocks and potholes won’t hamper you’re progress too much, but you’ll want to keep in the best condition for as long as possible. If you’re vehicle is forced to a stop because of damage, then there’s nothing left you can do but eventually freeze to death.

On the third mile, you may begin to spot silhouettes of human figures in the linings of trees. Pay no attention to them, even if they seem to get closer. It will be hard to resist peeking at their unnerving, distant appearance but know that they will reveal themselves later. At this mile, the road will become dirt if you weren’t driving on it in the beginning. Keep to the center of the path as it will become narrow and wide at random intervals. On a quick side note, should you ever attempt to turn around (despite the previous warnings) you’ll be left on a path which never ends. You would simply run out of fuel eventually, and be left to freeze in the cold conditions.

On the fourth mile, you will not only see more of the figures but you will begin to in a sense hear them. In the back of your mind, a very faint unintelligible whisper will echo. These will come and go, but you can’t stop them. If they become bothersome or distracting, try and tune them out by thinking of what it is you desire. Attempting to listen and determine what the voices are saying will only attract them to you, and you want to be far away from them as you can. They’ll be closer later, so there’s no use bringing them near you this early.

On the fifth mile, you will come to a clearing. The lining of trees to your left will disappear to reveal a lake with no end with a beaming, great moon over the water. The illumination from the moon will be so spectacular that the vehicle’s headlights will no longer be required. Restrain yourself from gazing at it. If you look at it’s light for even more than a few seconds the road in front of you will end, throwing your vehicle into the water in which you will freeze in mere minutes. The voices will be gone for this mile, but don’t rejoice yet. They’ll be back.

On the sixth mile, take into account that you are more than halfway done. Despite the progress, you may lose hope here. The stars will have disappeared at this point, leaving the sky an empty, black abyss. The clearing will have ended, leading you back into the woods. The only light you will have will be provided by your vehicles headlights, but they will flicker from time to time even if you’re sure they’re in perfect working order. If you have a radio in the vehicle, it will turn on here automatically. If you didn’t turn it off beforehand, it will produce an overwhelming screech that will send you off the path. A calm voice will then begin to speak about your greatest fears, what it is you horror in your life. It will speak in a way that will cause you to visualize its words in your mind, so don’t listen to it. If you begin to comprehend what it’s saying, the horrors will prove too much for you to stay on the road safely. Attempting to turn off the radio will prove no use.Speed up if you need to, just keep your mind off the voice as much as you can. As you approach the end of the mile, the voice will fade out of the speakers, leaving your ears at peace (for now).

On the seventh mile, the voices from the figures will return. It won’t sound like a whisper this time, but more like distant screams, growing closer with each second. At some point on this mile, you’ll hear one of them in your ear, as if one of them were right behind you. This is because one of the figures have found their way into your vehicle. Do not turn around. Their faces will shock you to a paralysis, leading you off the road. If you don’t draw attention to it, it will become uninterested, and hopefully leave. These beings are said to be ones who have traveled down this road before, but were not successful. They live the remainder of their existence suffering, in the darkness with their only goal being to bring other travelers down with them. It has been said from experience that these beings can’t physically harm you, so as long as they don’t cause you to wreck, you should be fine.

On the eighth mile, slow down if you’re going too fast. The road here takes very sharp turns, which if overshot will lead will throw the vehicle into a pit through the trees. The cold is near fatal here. If you were to have a glass or bottle of liquid in your vehicle, it would be solid in seconds. The heating system will have become completely obsolete. Your headlights will flicker more, sometimes shutting off for a few seconds. You should break if this happens, but do not completely stop. The figures will be following you at this point, and should you stop for too long, they will surround and trap your vehicle. More of their screams can be heard from outside your doors, sometimes even sounding of maniacal laughter. Their hands will claw at your windows, desperate to reach in and feel something living. Do not look at them. They won’t block your windshield, and the last thing you want to happen is to crash and be trapped with them. If you don’t make if from here, pray that it’s the freezing that ends you.

On the ninth mile, your vehicle will stall. The headlights will shut off, as will all other systems inside. There’s nothing you can do to prevent this. What you will need to do is close your eyes and immediately attempt to restart the vehicle. Keep your eyes closed, as the figures would have surely surrounded you at this point. The starting of the vehicle will frighten them, and they will all back away temporarily. This will give you a chance to start moving forward again. If you begin to hear the windows crack from their struggle, don’t lose focus. The beings can alter the vehicle but remember that they still do not have the strength to physically affect you. You will hear nothing but their voices rampage in your mind, as there could be anywhere between a dozen or a hundred after you now. Once you start the vehicle, floor it. Floor it so long as you can stay on the path.Once the mile’s done, the beings will retreat.

On the tenth mile, the voices of the beings will stop. If you were to look in your rear-view mirror (do not actually do this), you will see them following you but not as if they were chasing. They’re watching you as if they were seeing you off. As you go down the tenth mile, the road will be smoother as if you were back on the first mile. The figures will be lining the sides of the path ahead of you. They won’t be after you, but they will watch you as you pass. Some have theorized that the beings are impressed here, that you have come a long way on the journey to what you desire. This is false. They are not impressed, but they are happy. They are happy you are about to approach the next mile. They are happy because you are most likely going to your death.

On the eleventh and final mile, everything in your vehicle will lose power, as it did on the ninth mile. The vehicle would normally be immobile, but you will still be moving. An unknown force will be pulling you forward. In the darkness, you will see a growing red light up ahead, as if it were a light at the end of a tunnel.

Close your eyes, and cover them. Do whatever it takes to make sure you do not see what you are about to go through. Covering your ears would also be helpful, but keeping your eyes cover should be a higher priority.

The red light is another clearing, but there’s no moon or lake this time. Once it’s entered, unrelenting and inconceivable noises will sound from all directions. No amount of bravery and conditioning will spare you from these sounds. The cold will turn to a merciless heat, burning all parts of the vehicle. You will feel the illusion of the flesh being burned off your bones, that every part of you is being destroyed as you travel through screams and audible suffering. As long as you keep your eyes closed, and resist the urge to see where you are, you will survive through the suffering. This will last a total of 31 seconds but many fail to keep their vision closed during that time and are left to the worst fate of the road. Where is this mile located? Those who have survived do not know. Some have named it “the transmission from hell” but whether it’s part of hell is debatable.

After the final mile, power will return to your car. Stop the vehicle. Take a moment to possibly regain some of your sanity. Let the screaming in your ears begin to fade and know that you have nearly completed your journey with the hardest task overcome.

Breathe, and begin to drive forward once again.

After only a kilometer, your vehicle will arrive at a dead end. Stop here and don’t attempt to move again. Nothing will happen right this second but do not be disappointed. Relax and close your eyes. Imagine in your mind what it is you’ve desired this entire time. It will most likely still be the same as when you entered, but with some this desire may actually change through making this journey. Think about what it was that you went through such terrifying and difficult means to acquire and imagine possessing it in your hands.

Once you have completely visualized this, slowly open your eyes.

You will then find yourself at the beginning of the unnamed road, where you first began. This may confuse you, but know that you are finished. Your task is done. Your mind will then turn to your reward. If what you desired was material, check in the back seat or in the trunk if the object is larger. If the object was small enough it might already be in your pocket. If what you desired was non-material, then do not be disappointed if the change is not immediate. Turn back to where you came from, and you will find in your life that what you wanted is there. You may have found the love of your dreams. You may have gained unnatural, unimaginable power. You may have put your most hated enemy to the most satisfying revenge possible. You will have no doubt gained what you deserved.

So now that the task is done, what’s the catch? Is your vehicle cursed? Is there something your about to lose? Is your death imminent? The answer to all is no, of course. You’ve done the challenge. You’ve proved worthy of what you desire. As stated before, the sounds of the eleventh mile will continue to exist in your mind, potentially causing you some vivid and unusual nightmares but these should prove as nothing compared to what you’ve gained.

Now, one last question: Is there something else you desire? Are you not yet satisfied? After all, you’re left right back where you started. The road’s right in front of you, so are you up for another drive?

If so, buckle up, and just move forward.

Credit To – Richard Southard

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“There might be some noise.”

November 13, 2013 at 12:00 PM
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“There might be some noise.”

That’s what she had said. A phrase that did not even begin to describe what we heard every night. Those agonized screams; nothing a human should ever make.

We had just signed the contract and wanted to go from house to house to introduce ourselves to the neighbors. Hers was the door to our right, the first door we knocked on. “J&K” was written on the doorbell in fancy letters.

She must have been around sixty but her pale skin and the large dark rings around her eyes made her look at least a decade older.

“I’m Kristina,” she said. “And I want to apologize in advance. My husband is not really well and sometimes there might be some noise.”

“No problem,” I said.

“Really,” she said. “Jonathan is not very well. But please don’t call the police on us.”

“Of course, we understand.”

“He is on his bed. I can show him to you.”

“It’s okay,” I said. “We will drop by another time.”

We turned to leave. She stopped us.

“Really, please believe me. He really is just sick. He is not dangerous.”

Claire and I exchanged glances.

“That’s okay,” Claire said. “Don’t worry about us.”

“Sure?” Kristine asked.

“Sure,” I said.

We felt her stare on our backs while we walked down the small path back towards the street.

The moving van came a week later. Our life was thrown into the center of the empty living room.

The day was soaking our shirts with sweat, but we were happy. A new place. The perfect place!

We had pizza and beer and walked in celebration around the house. Singing and dancing we enjoyed our new home.

That’s when we saw him the first time, in Kristine’s house. Ground floor, the window just opposite my new office.

He was wrapped into a blanket up to a chest. Blue pajamas. Wrinkled eyelids deeply shut. A white table with bandages and medicine stood to his side.

Jonathan. Hair and skin so gray that I wondered whether he had been alive when they built the pyramids.

The door in his room opened. We quickly walked on.

It was at precisely 11:45 pm. We were just getting ready for bed; Claire in the bathroom and I already on the bed and waiting for her.

Those screams. The word agony does not even begin to describe them.

There were no words; just guttural sounds, roaring and moaning, like an animal hoping for death.

His screams stopped exactly at midnight.

“Did it stop?”

“I hope so.”

“My god,” Claire said. “What’s wrong with him?”

I shook my head.

“No idea.”

“I hope it’s not every night like that.”

“I’m sure it won’t.”

I was wrong.

I used my office the next day. Only for a short while, but long enough to stare at the open window opposite my own and long enough to feel a nervous cold run up my spine.

Jonathan lay there all day. His eyes closed and his hands on top of the blanket. No sound. No move.

Still like a statue during the day. Screams of agony at night.

More and more I found myself in that office at night. I pretended to work but in truth I was watching.

At around 11pm Kristine would always enter the room. She held a bowl and then closed the windows and curtains. Fifteen minutes before midnight we would hear his screams again. From midnight on – silence.

We learned to listen to loud music. Drums and choir vocals worked well to cover the screams.

It was a Sunday, just two weeks after we had moved in. Claire had seen Kristine leave early in the morning. Kristine came back just before noon. I was outside when her car pulled into the driveway with boxes stuffed into the back of her car.

I took a few steps up her driveway.

“Do you need help?”

“No,” Kristine said. “I never need help.”

She walked around the car and stood in front of the back window.

“Anything else?”

“It’s okay,” I said.

“Jonathan is fine. You hear me? He is fine.”

“Okay.”

“We don’t need your help.”

“Okay.”

I turned to walk back to our house.

“And,” Kristine said. “As said, I’m sorry for the noise.”

That night I had the lights off and waited for her to come.

Kristine entered the room but her sleeve caught on the door handle. The bowl fell from her hands. That’s why she must have forgotten about the curtain.

She cursed and quickly left the room.

When she was back she had another bowl and set it down on the white table.

She pulled the blanket aside.

She placed a large strap over his chest.

She chained his arms and legs to the bed.

She placed another strap over his forehead and pulled it tight.

Kristine froze half-way while turning back towards the table. Quickly she ran towards the window. She glanced outside, first to the right and left, and then towards my window. Her eyes seemed to scan the darkness inside the room. Then she pulled the curtains shut.

It was another week later. Claire saw Kristine sitting on her own doorstep. Kristine was holding her side. The left side of her face seemed limp.

“Are you okay?”

“Sure,” Kristine said. “I’m always okay. Just a bit dizzy.”

Claire walked up the driveway.

“Do you need help?”

Kristine jumped to her feet but quickly felt for the wall.

“No!” she screamed. “We never need help!”

The door slammed shut behind her.

Claire was upset and angry. And still she was worried too.

I wanted to get our minds of those things. We watched TV rather than the window.

We only noticed half an hour after midnight that we hadn’t heard any screams.

I checked the window. He was there, on his bed, soundly asleep.

The room was dark. I guess that’s why I only noticed it in the morning:

Red stains all over his clothes.

The police said that half their basement was filled with empty baby food glasses.

They found Kristine’s upper half on the living room floor. A stroke, that’s what they said.

They found Kristine’s lower half on the bedroom floor, right next to him.

His body, they said, was long cold. Still they couldn’t find a cause of death.

Their burial was a week later. Urns buried in deep holes.

There were not many people at the burial. No friends, no family, just neighbors. It was one of the other neighbors that told me about it. He said he heard it from a friend.

He heard that the cremation was done faster than is customary. Normally they take two or three days.

But for Kristine and Jonathan, he said, it was done the next day.

“They didn’t even wait with the cremation until morning,” he said. “They did it just after midnight.”

Credit To – Anton Scheller

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