Don’t Answer Your Cell Phone While Driving

September 26, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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You’re speeding down a country road late at night through a slowly building fog, speeding because you’re tired and want to get home. Normally you wouldn’t even be here, but a colleague suggested this shortcut. You’re a lawyer at a firm that deals with work injuries, involuntary manslaughter, car accidents, and the like. Despite having your headlights on, visibility is starting to cut out as the fog slowly gets thicker. You’re just beginning to consider slowing down when your phone rings, interrupting your thoughts.

The man on the other end is gibbering about having been in some sort of car accident. You get calls like this all the time. The man is panicky, as they always are, and you’re waiting for him to take a breath so you can ask who he is.

The man’s voice suddenly stops, but you sense there’s something wrong, and so don’t say anything. After several seconds, he whispers, in an obviously terrified voice, “Who is this?”

You’re about to answer when suddenly, out of the fog, a body approaches and strikes your car. You slam on the brakes as the body arches away and disappears in the fog. You just hit somebody with your car.

This is bad. You were speeding through a fog with no visibility while talking on a cell phone. Your firm handles cases like this, but all you can really do is damage control. You start racking your brain, looking for an excuse that a court might buy when the thought comes to you: You may have just killed someone!

You jump out of your car, and, hanging up on whoever had called you, frantically try to dial your law firm’s senior partner. Really, you’re just punching numbers. You’re pretty panicky, and you just run straight ahead, looking for the body to see if whoever you just hit is still alive. The phone picks up on the other end, and you say, “Oh my God, I just hit someone with my car! I might’ve killed him! There’s this fog and it’s dark and I didn’t see him and I might have killed a man! What do I do? I can’t find his body because of the fog! What do I do?” You babble on for a few more seconds as you run down the road, looking for the body.

Suddenly you stop talking because you experience a shock of déjà vu — not a “sense” of it, but a “shock”. The words that you’re saying, the panicky, desperate descriptions you’re giving over the phone — these are the words you heard right before you hit the man. This is the phone call you received while driving down the road in the fog.

Into the phone, you whisper, “Who is this?”

On the other end, you hear a sharp bark, and the sound of tires squealing. Several seconds of silence. Then a car door opening, and the phone goes dead.

And where’s the body? You should have found it by now. You turn around to see how far you’ve come from your car. You can see the headlights about fifty meters away.

And they’re getting closer.

Credit To – Jim S.

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A Girl at Vale Station

September 22, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Michael ran.

He ran towards the subway, desperately hoping it won’t leave before he gets there. The next one won’t be around for another 10 minutes; such is the case with these late night trains. It has been a long day for him, and there was nothing more Michael want than release by sleep right now.

He made it in just before the doors closed and he managed a smile: a small victory amongst a lost day. He dumped his backpack on the chair beside him and took another seat himself. There were very few people in the train: some late night businessmen and workers rushing to get back to the welcoming comfort of their own respective beds. Michael’s eyelids did not agree with his brain to sleep when he gets home as he nodded off as soon as the train began to move, with the steady nod and hum of the train cradling Michael to dreamland.

He woke up to an empty train. Michael was puzzled: even this late in the night, there are people getting on and off at each station in this busy city. As he scanned around, however, he realized that there was indeed no one left on the subway in this carriage or the others. He glanced at the map of stations that showed which station they were approaching with a light. To his surprise, none of the lights were on. The train was speeding along even faster now. The world outside was a complete darkness. Only the occasional jerk told Michael the train was still moving forward. Michael tried his cell, but got no signals. He remembered that it was underground and felt slightly foolish. The train was just in a really dark tunnel that had one or two unfortunate bulbs blown out. There was nothing to fret over. Already, the forward jerk that signaled the train stopping began and Michael stood up to wait for the doors to open.

Yet they never did.

He waited, but the doors simply remained closed. There was no one on this abnormally small station platform. Some time ago the train must’ve re-surfaced, for he could see the city light in the distance, yet Michael knew the last station was underground. ‘Perhaps the train pulled away into a maintenance area’ he thought, until he saw the name ‘Vale’ station imprinted in bold letters on the far wall, like they have at every other station. But ‘Vale’ was not on the map. Before Michael could get a better look around, the train jerked again and it began to move forward once more.

A girl sat down in the next carriage.

Michael didn’t notice her at first, for he was embroiled in trying to find out where he was. Even though they were outside now, the location system did not seem to work; his phone still had no signal and it was already 11 p.m. Fatigue was about to overtake him when he noticed her. She was dressed in a shabby grey dress, her straight obsidian hair obscuring her face. She faced downwards, as if the cure of cancer was growing between her toenails. He could have sworn there was no one in the carriages around him when he looked through the glass doors on either side of his carriage, but maybe the tiredness clouded his vision. Then the girl tilted her head, paused, and then turned completely upright to stare right at him. Michael worked as a camp director on a really remote place before and felt crept out before, but this stare truly chilled him to the bones. The stare was vacant, not at all helped by her abnormally large, grey eyes and her large pale face. Her mouth was either so small that Michael couldn’t see it or it didn’t exist at all. Even though she was at the far end of the other carriage and the train was moving at breakneck speed, Michael felt an imminent sense of danger. He shrugged it off as paranoia at night.

He shouldn’t have.

The train was pulling into another stop after what seemed to be an eternity. Michael made the mistake of looking outside and there she was. Standing on the platform, beneath the big words ‘Vale’ station, was the girl with the shabby dress. He tried to avoid eye contact, but noticed through his peripheral vision she was still staring right at him. He quickly turned around as the train moved again, and there she was sitting there staring, now just a few feet away in his carriage.The train began to speed up again. There was simply no way. She couldn’t have moved so fast. The doors never opened. She looked up and stared at him blankly.

“What the fuck do you want?” Michael’s voice was smaller than he’d anticipated.

She stared.

Then she stood up, and Michael almost fell: where her mouth should be, there was nothing. It was just smooth, pale skin. Her face twisted into what would be a smile if she had a mouth, and Michael watched in fear as she strode towards him. ‘She must have been in some sort of accident; maybe she just wants help’. Michael thought, trying to comfort himself as he back away ever so slightly. ‘It’s just a dream.’ He thought, ‘She doesn’t want to hurt me; we don’t even know each other. She must-‘

The train rode silently on.

Michael woke with a start. He looked around, puzzled as to why there was no one else left on the train. He felt the train began to slow down and he stood up to wait for the doors to open.

They never did.

Credit To – Bill Yang

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Father Lucie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credit To – Coffeey

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Taps

September 14, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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As a child, I had always thought I knew what true fear was. The fear of something hiding under your bed, or in your closet. Hell, I thought clowns were the scariest shit there was. Of course, I hadn’t known the feeling of real fear; hadn’t experienced it, until I was twelve.
They say people are most afraid of the unknown, of things they can’t quite explain, things they can’t see. Unexplainable sounds in the dark, paranoid thoughts of monsters creeping in the unoccupied spots of their bedroom. These are the things that people are most afraid of, so they say. This wasn’t exactly true for my case. Sure, sounds in the darkness were a factor, but I knew the source behind the sounds. Oh, I knew. And the knowledge of the source drove terror into me, like a mallet rhythmically driving a nail into me, over and over and over.
I don’t know how it started. It was as if a switch was flipped in her and suddenly she became an uncontrollable marionette (oh, the irony). My father tried to stop her, but she persisted and he eventually gave up trying. I suggested that he call the police, or tell the neighbours, but he dismissed twelve year-old me, and told me he didn’t trust “those corrupt government lackeys” and sure as hell didn’t want the neighbours finding out. They’d have immediately called “that wretched three number hotline”. Besides, he told me, she isn’t harming either of us. I had hoped it would stay that way. She sure didn’t seem like my mom anymore, and I told him so. He yelled at me and scolded me, calling me foolish. I wanted to shout back at him, telling him he has no idea how scared I am every night, hearing her, but I didn’t.

Mother was fine in the morning and for most of the afternoon as well. Although she was always in bed, occasionally sitting up just to stare at the blank wall a few feet past the foot of her bed, she seemed as fine as her condition would deem it. Father was at work. He usually works until two in the morning or so. When my mother first started acting weird, he was afraid to leave me alone, so he took a few days off from work. He didn’t dare hire a babysitter, he trusted those people just as much as he trusted the government. After a few days, he figured it was safe enough to leave me at home, alone with her, and resumed leaving for work every morning. Take care of your mother, he would always tell me before he left. I simply nodded, when in reality, instead of taking care of her, I hid from her. But for the most part, she was fine until evening.
It was only at night, when I’m huddled under the covers in my bedroom, that she begins acting up. That’s when the noises start. I would hear her get out of bed in my parent’s bedroom, and hear her crawl across the hall, making her way to my bedroom. After the first night, I always remembered to keep my door locked. She would crawl; I would hear her crawl, all the way to the front of my bedroom door.
And then the tapping began.
They were just light taps, like how a student would knock at the door of the principal’s office. But the taps, they went on for some time. Just a constant steady tap. I remember clamping my eyes shut, trying to ignore it and go to sleep, and after almost an hour of tapping. It stopped, and I slowly opened my eyes. That’s when I realized the door wasn’t locked, and there she was, at the foot of my bed, just standing there. Staring at me. The fear I felt was real. And it sure wasn’t caused by the unknown. My eyes were open, looking at my own mother (that was merely a label at this point) stare at me. There was something unnatural about her eyes; I think it was her pupils. They were dilated to the point of being dots. Just little black dots.
There she was, just staring at me, not doing anything else. She didn’t hurt me. She just stood there. But there was something terrifying about it. Maybe it was her eyes. Maybe it did have something to do with the unknown. Not knowing what she would do next. Not knowing if she would spring at me, and attack. But nothing had happened. My father eventually came home from work and was greeted with the sight of his wife (only a label now), and his son, covered in sweat and fear.

The days following that incident, I had always kept my door locked. I double-check the lock even to this day. Of course, that didn’t stop the tapping sounds. Sometimes I swear they weren’t even coming from outside my door. Sometimes it felt like they were coming from the window, or the closet, or even under my damn bed. Fear of the unknown, that’s always how it is, one way or another, I suppose.
That was when I had my first encounter with true fear, at the age of twelve. Every day after that, the door was always locked. Eventually my mother passed away (cardiac arrest right outside my bedroom, my father opted to bury her in the backyard, can’t go trusting those morticians now), and I moved out. I tried to convince my father to live with me, but he refuses to let go of our old house; he was always a stubborn man.

Life has gotten much better for me since. I landed a high-paying job at a law firm, and next week I have a date with this beaut of a woman I met a few days back.
But, every single night before I fall asleep, as I lay under a new set of covers I bought, I could almost swear.
I swear I could still hear the tapping noises.

Credit To – Kevin Liu

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The Fermi Paradox

September 13, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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As astronomers began to dig deeper into the cosmos, a puzzling question arose. In a universe as vast and ancient as our own, why can’t we find any signs of other intelligent life? We have already discovered a number of Earth-like planets, and it’s estimated that there are thousands if not millions of planets throughout the galaxy that could support life as we know it. Presumably, at least a few would give rise to advanced alien civilizations, and we should be able to detect such civilizations by listening for radio signals that are too complex and organized to be of natural origin. After all, anyone within 100 light-years of the sun could detect us through the broadcasts emanating from Earth, so why couldn’t it work the other way around?

Yet whenever we listen for these signals, we only hear silence. There is nothing. Nothing but the chaotic emissions of pulsars, gamma ray bursters, and other natural sources.

Scientists refer to this as the Fermi Paradox. Given the seeming statistical certainty there being alien civilizations, why can’t we find any? Why do we seem to be so special? It wouldn’t be a matter of signals fading over distance – we can detect the faint glow of galaxies millions of light-years away that have long since ceased to exist. There have been a number of proposed explanations. Maybe Earth truly is unique after all. Maybe aliens don’t use radio waves.

However, some scientists fear a different possibility. Perhaps advanced civilizations invariably destroy themselves before being able to broadcast for any meaningful amount of time. It could be nuclear war, or it could be an environmental catastrophe. Whatever it is, this theory speculates, within a couple short centuries of becoming advanced enough to harness radio waves, intelligent life is doomed to obliterate itself. The window of time during which it could send – and receive – radio broadcasts is but a blink of the eye on a cosmic timeframe, and if the signals arrived at the world of another intelligent species, it would likely be too early, or too late.

If this is true, humanity is simply another iteration in an infinite cycle of doomed civilizations that repeats itself all across the cosmos. Despite all our achievements and accomplishments, we will all die a painful collective death, perhaps within our lifetime. And just as we are unaware of our alien predecessors on distant worlds, future intelligent life on a system but 20 light years away will never know we even existed. Who knows? We tried sending targeted broadcasts to various star clusters, but perhaps others did the same. We’ve tried securing a form of symbolic immortality by sending probes carrying our life story into interstellar space, but perhaps the universe is littered with such mementos to dead races, all launched in the same, vain hope of being remembered by the cosmos. Why would we be so special?

Of course, this proposal could be false. There is no real scientific evidence either way. It is all an intellectual parlor game for astronomers, right? Perhaps. But the next time you read about climate change, the next time you learn about how close we have come to the brink of nuclear war at times, the next time you hear about an emerging crisis with North Korea or Iran…

Look up at the stars, and remember the Fermi Paradox…

Credit To – W. H. Lane

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Colorado Fishing Trip

September 12, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Our trip started in late February as my three friends, John, Steve, Max, and I drove my truck deep into the backwoods of Boxwood Gulch to follow the North Fork of the South Platte River. Steve owned a cabin up in the backcountry, so we left my truck there and began our 57 mile hike into the wooded terrain following the river.

We had all of our camping and fishing gear packed, and enough food to hopefully last us the 3 day journey both ways. The pre-spawn bass wouldn’t be an easy catch once we reached the hole, but if we were going to endure this brutal cold, we wouldn’t go home without a fight. As we first set out in the early morning, a few light snowflakes began to fall. The terrain was heavily wooded and uneven making for slow going, but the cool mountain air rustled through the trees and sunlight streamed through the canopy, making the snowflakes glint and shimmer as birds chirped overhead. It was going to be a near perfect trip.

We stopped for a quick rest a few hours in. The weather had been slowly worsening since we had left, but it was only then that we realized how bad it had really gotten. The snow was whipping around us in a blinding flurry as the wind howled. The crooked, mangled trees creaked and swayed violently, almost threatening to snap in two. The ground had already accumulated a good 6 inches of snow.

It was about midday, but the sky was black.

And I don’t mean dark due to the ever intensifying storm; I mean that in between the gaps in the clouds, there was no blue, just solid black.

None of us really made a note of it at the time as it was hard to notice through the thick cascade of snow and the limited visibility. After continuing our hike for some time however, it became all too apparent that something was wrong.

In addition to the sky, we also realized that there was nothing in the distance.

There should have been some mountains or something like there had been at the start, but no matter which way we turned, the world only seemed to extend fifty or so feet around us, then it disappeared into the blizzard.

It was nighttime now, or at least, it was dark out. My watch however, read 2:00 in the afternoon.

As we walked forward, new things slowly came into view, but everything behind us disappeared, and although we could progress further, we couldn’t seem to double back. Once we left something behind us, we couldn’t reach it again. Steve had forgotten his lighter a little while back when we stopped to eat, but when we tried to turn around and go back, we were greeted by a wall of snow and fog impossible to see through.

Our flashlight’s beams didn’t penetrate the fog; they stopped as they hit it as if it was a physical wall. Tendrils of vapor danced across the indistinct surface, and the grey void behind it seemed to extend into eternity.

Curious, Steve slowly reached out and moved his hand into the fog. First his fingertips disappeared, and then his whole hand vanished into the haze. We all stood in disbelief, looking at the wall which was impossibly tall and extended as far as we could see. There was no real gradient to it. Things didn’t fade into the distance, there was a clear line where the wall began, and nothing was visible beyond that point. We were making a note of all this when Steve muttered something.

“What was that?” I asked.

“I . . .” He stammered, “I can’t feel my hand.”

He said this slowly, as if realizing it as he said it. Puzzled, he retracted his hand slowly, and then screamed.

His glove was shredded, almost disintegrated, and his hand looked like it had been forced through a wood chipper. Deep gashes revealed white bone underneath, and what fingers were left were stripped clean. We all panicked.

“Oh God, Oh God! This is bad!” Max cried.

Steve simply stood clutching what was left of his hand and hyperventilating. We had to get him to a hospital or he would certainly bleed to death, but we were almost a day’s walk from Steve’s cabin which was already remote enough. We were all frantically checking our phones for a signal when the worst happened.

Steve fainted. His eyes closed, his legs buckled, and he fell forward . . . into the fog.

None of us noticed at first, but when we finally did, all we could see were his legs protruding from the mist. We immediately, without thinking, rushed to pull him out. We grabbed his legs and strained to drag him back into view. Before we even saw him however, we immediately regretted doing so. We somehow knew what we would find.

The thing we dragged out was not Steve. Not anymore.

All of his skin was cleaved off, his ribcage ripped open with his entrails spilling out, and his face instantly burned into my vision, becoming an afterimage that haunts me to this day. Not merely because it was horrendously mutilated, not merely because his eyes had been torn out leaving only empty sockets, but because it smiled at me. A big wide smile that started small, but the gashes in his face allowed it to literally stretch . . . from ear . . . to ear.

Max screamed and shoved Steve’s mangled body back into the fog. We ran as fast as we could, the only way we could, deeper into the woods. Just as before, the snow and fog parted before us, but swallowed up everything we left behind. As we ran and ran, the scenery around us began to slowly change, the trees surrounding us were now withered and dead; the grass was flattened and bleached white.

In fact, everything around us was lifeless and dull. Colors had all but disappeared leaving only shades of grey and an intensified feeling of loneliness and death.

“Guys,” I shouted while I ran, not daring to stop for even a minute, “We can’t turn around and go straight back, but maybe we can circle around back to Steve’s cabin. Then we can get the truck and get the hell out of here!”

John and Max nodded their heads and we turned 90 degrees right and continued running. Eventually, we ran through what appeared to be a herd of deer. All of which were laying on the ground. Grey and lifeless, hacked to pieces. Blood soaked the snow covered ground.
As we ran through the heard, dodging corpses, it was hard not to notice that their dead lifeless eyes seemed to follow us.

When we felt confident enough that we wouldn’t be doubling back on ourselves, we turned towards Steve’s Cabin – towards safety.

We ran for at least another hour, eventually however, none of us could run any longer. Our bodies simply wouldn’t allow it, and we were forced to stop. After some time, Max, John and I managed to get a fire going despite the snow and damp tinder. We had hoped that it would bring some sense of warmth and security, but we were wrong.

The flames were a bright orange hue, bleeding some color into the greyscale world. It clearly did not belong, nor did we.

The longer the flames crackled and popped, the more we began to hear something: distant and quite at first, but slowly growing closer, louder, and more numerous. A chorus of bloodcurdling wails and moans soon filled the stagnant air around us.

Focused on the fire and pretending to be safe, mesmerized by its beauty, we didn’t immediately notice a mangled deer carcass slowly dragging itself out of the fog and into view.
Nor did we notice the second . . . nor the third.

Finally, we snapped out of our trance just in time to scramble to our feet in terror as a myriad of different animal carcasses clambered out of the fog, drawn to the strange light of the fire. We were intruders in their world. I was paralyzed by fear, unable to breath. The corpses moved with a surreal and broken haphazard toss of limbs, as if poorly animated puppets.

I turned to my friends to find that they were no longer beside me. They had taken off running, leaving me behind. I turned around to run after them, but something grabbed me by my shoulder. I didn’t need to turn around to know what it was. I could tell by the hand gripping my shoulder. A hand that looked as though it had gone through a wood chipper.

I flailed and managed to free myself before it could get a good grip on me and took off running. I didn’t look back. No way did I want to see that face of what was once my friend.

I could no longer see John or Max, and I assumed that they must have been ahead of me, but I was the one with the keys to the truck and Steve had the keys to the cabin! They wouldn’t be any safer if I couldn’t meet up with them, so I ran and ran faster and for longer than any human could possibly do under normal circumstances.

Finally, after god knows how long, I could faintly make out a structure in the distance. It was the cabin. I felt a twinge of hope. The wails continued to ring out in the night air, but I seemed to have a lead on them at the time.

I reached the truck, unlocked it, and jumped inside. I scanned the area for Max or John, but could see neither. I couldn’t just leave them, but I couldn’t wait forever either! I sat sweating and shaking nervously as the wails grew closer and louder. I had just about made up my mind to leave when I could suddenly make out someone sprinting towards me. It looked like Max! I started up the truck and motioned for him to run faster.

But for some reason . . . I found myself subconsciously pressing the switch to my left, locking all of the doors.

My instinct told me that something was wrong. I looked down at my hands, they were shaking like crazy.

I looked back up and Max’s horribly mutilated face was pressed up against the driver’s window, staring at me, smiling. He was trying to open the door.

I slammed my foot on the gas and drove off, shaking like a madman and holding back the vomit.

As I drove home, the sky slowly brightened back up into a blue hue and I could eventually see the sun breaking through the clouds. It was 9:00 in the morning. I began to see other cars on the road and the people inside waved at me as I waved at them. Nice normal people. I went straight home and asked my girlfriend to marry me.

I’m sorry. That’s just not true.

I’m sitting in my house now, door locked and barricaded, windows boarded up, and I’m writing this story . . . and I felt happy for the first time in a long time writing that ending. I hardly even remember what a blue sky looks like, but I just wanted to picture it in my mind one last time. I just needed to imagine a happier world, because in reality, that’s not how it ended.

The truth is, as I drove, the sky did not brighten up, the sun did not reappear, and the fog still surrounded me as it now surrounds my house. I hear wailing all around and knocks at my door constantly, and when I look through the peephole, all I ever see is some THING smiling at me. The stench of death is everywhere. The phone doesn’t work, the TV and radio broadcast nothing but static. I hear the locks on my door being undone at night and I must constantly keep watch and re-lock them. I’m simply waiting for the night they get into my house when I forget the check the door, or when they break through a window, or when I wake up in the middle of the night to see them next to me. Their smiles . . . inches away from my face.

Credit To: Liam Vickers

This story is a Crappypasta Success Story – it got such a positive reception over at Crappypasta that it’s being moved here to the main site. You may read the original Crappypasta post and comments here. Congratulations to the author and thanks to the Crappypasta community for the save!

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