The Farnsworth Experiments

February 13, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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You may have heard of the Farnsworth experiments. My dad was one of the scientists involved. He rarely talked about it, and when he did he always said the rumors were overplayed. The team tried and failed, nothing more to it. He seemed to get annoyed at me asking him about it. When I kept it up, he eventually told me a brief account of what happened. It was the mid 80s and he was living in Albany, New York, pursuing his phD. This was a year or two after I was born. He began work on a government funded research project. The experiments were to be done under absolute secrecy. The goal was to test a 15 year old hypothesis that previous to this point seemed untestable. If it were true, then time travel was possible. They spent nearly a year working on the project, known only by it’s codename Farnsworth. They tried and tried, but found nothing. Then the project ended. There were no deaths or disappearances. There were no strange events around the region. The reason the government denied the project’s existence was purely embarrassment over funding something that in hindsight seemed so ridiculous. It felt good to know the truth. Whenever I heard someone retelling the story, I wished I could tell the real version, but I promised dad I wouldn’t, for the sake of his career. For the next few years, I didn’t really think about it. It was one little story, among many, sitting in the back of my mind. I went off to college, lived life, and never gave it a second thought.

A few months after I graduated, I drove up to Boston for Thanksgiving of ’06. Dad still lived in the same house that we lived in since I was maybe 10. Thanksgiving this year was smaller than years before. I was just me, dad, and my older sister Kate. It was a normal thanksgiving meal. Peas were in short supply, but I never much liked them anyway. Looking around the table, I felt deja vu. We all sat in our usual chairs, clustered around the part of the table not covered in papers and screens filled with incomprehensible equations. It nice to be back. Just when the meal was drawing to a close, there was a knock on the front door. I went to go open it. It was a man, maybe 60 years old. He looked very worn out. His grayish hair was a mess. He was unshaven. My dad came over and said,

“Bill, what are you doing here?”

The man walked in and shut the door behind him. Dad looked over to us and said,

“This is Bill Benson, an old colleague of mine.”

Bill looked at me and Kate, then back at my dad.

“John, is there somewhere we can talk, privately?”

“In my office, are you OK?”

“I don’t know.”

They walked away quickly. Kate and I waited for them to come back, very curious about what was going on. She seemed to remember him, just barley, from back in Albany. She must have been around four or five at the time. We kept looking down the hall to dad’s office, the door remained shut. No words possible to make out. After what felt like half an hour, Kate said,

“I have an idea.”

She led me upstairs to her old bedroom, situated right above dad’s office. She motioned to be quiet and pointed to a vent in the corner of the room. From it we could hear the muffled conversation. They were speaking in jargon. I heard a lot about oscillations. After maybe two to three minutes, I heard Bill Benson shout,

“You can’t hide! You have to face the truth!”

My dad replied, sounding more nervous than I had ever heard him,

“I don’t know why you went back.”

I got up from the floor quickly, hitting my head on a shelf with a loud thud. I heard the conversation stop. As me and Kate walked as quietly out of the room as we could, we heard footsteps downstairs. As we descended the old wooden flight of stairs, dad walked into view.

“How much did you hear?” He asked. I replied,

“We were there for maybe five minutes.”

He told us to sit down at the table. We went back to the dining room. Bill Benson sat too, taking some old notebooks off the seat of his chair and putting them on top of the cluttered side of the table. Dad took a deep breath and started to speak,

“Kate, Robert, I have some things I need to explain.”

He seemed to be very shaken up, but he was pushing through it to the best of his ability.

“You know how I’ve said I worked on the Farnsworth experiments when you both were really little. When I told you we failed, that was a lie. It worked, better than anyone could have expected. But there was a problem. A big problem. And now we don’t talk about it, we think about it as little as we can, and we never go back. That’s why we moved away from Albany. Now Bill’s problem is he went back. He shouldn’t have. We can’t get ourselves back involved.”

He looked at me and my sister.

“For your own good, don’t try any detective work. Live like I live, live like nothing ever happened. Those of us who ignore the past are fine. Now we are going to eat dessert like nothing happened. And we’re going to forget, OK?”

I nodded, though my head was filling with questions. Bill looked over at dad and said.

“I can’t just leave it like this, I tried for years. We have to find the ones they took. Emily might be out there, don’t you want to find her.”

Dad said,

“My wife is dead, she died in a car accident.”

Bill started to speak, but dad cut him off.

“If you want to stay for desert, stay. But if try to dredge things up that are meant to be forgotten, than you’re not welcome in my house.

I had never seen dad act like this before. Bill looked at him and said,

“I’m sorry John.”

He got up and walked through the adjoining living room and out the door, into the light snow. Dad took a deep breath and didn’t speak for maybe a minute. The he spoke,

“I’m sorry you had to see that, there’s nothing to worry about. I’ll get out the pumpkin pie.

We ate in pie in silence.

A few weeks later, after I had gotten over the shock of that night, I did some research on Bill Benson. At first I couldn’t find anything referencing him from within the past ten years. I found an old webpage for a university that listed a William C. Benson as a professor. The photo was definitely him. I ran the photo of him through face recognition and found two matches. The first was old. In it were five people, some in lab coats. Benson was on the left, looking much younger. His hair was neat. He was wearing street clothes, also neat. On the right were two women I didn’t recognize. They were the oldest of the group. In the middle were my parents. Dad, who looked nearly the same as after all those years, and mom, who I only remember from pictures. Above them was a banner saying Happy New Year ’85. The photo was taken a few months after I was born. I saved it. I then opened the second match. This picture of Benson must have been more recent. He looked like he had on thanksgiving, but older. His hair was grayer and longer. The photo had been taken in the dark with a flash, making the background hard to make out. The thing that struck me most about that picture was the look of absolute terror on his face. I closed the photo quickly. I saved it too. I then noticed that they came from the same source. It was a blog with the two photos as the only posts. There were no dates posted on posts. Whoever made the blog must have disabled them from showing.

As the weeks and months went by, I tried to forget all that had happened. Whenever I did think about it, I found myself filled with an equal mix of fear and curiosity. Forgetting over time became easier. I got a job in Tampa Florida. I was in and out of two relationships. Kate was living in New Jersey, working on her residency at big hospital. We never talked about it. I assumed she was trying to forget too. Dad never said anything about it. He was completely normal. I took up photography as a hobby, and was becoming pretty good. Four years after I met Benson, the family got back together for thanksgiving. I flew up from Florida to participate. This time there were more people. My aunt and uncle, a cousin, and Kate’s fiancee all showed up. It felt strange entering that old house. The memories flooded back to me. I was the last to arrive. The large dining room table was cleared of the clutter that had filed much of it in the past. I realized I was later than I thought, as thanksgiving dinner was nearly underway. I sat on the last untaken chair, the same chair Bill Benson had sat on. Any anxiety I felt began to fade after a few minutes. It was nice. I was with family. Dad was chatting about the goings on at MIT, his research, who was getting tenure. The usual things. I occasionally thought I heard some nervousness in his voice, but it was too subtle to really tell. We ate pumpkin pie. The next day I returned to florida. I felt relieved to step back into the warm Florida air.

Two months later I got a call from Kate. Dad had disappeared. He hadn’t been coming into work. He wasn’t at his house. His car was in his driveway. There was a search for him. I flew out immediately. They combed the area.They scoured databases, but even with his name, face, thumbprint, and retina, they found nothing. After a month, they stopped looking. He was presumed dead. I wanted to tell the police everything I knew, but they wouldn’t believe me. Calling the Farnsworth experiments into it would be like blaming his disappearance on a UFO or the Bermuda triangle. I did tell them about Bill Benson. I said that if he was alive and anyone knew where he was, Benson would. I told them he was a professor at a local college around 15 years ago, but I didn’t remember which one. They quickly found it, Bridgewater State University. He taught physics and math there for ten years, before resigning. It was clear he hadn’t had any professorships after that. He’d complete dropped off of everyone’s radar. The one piece of information they could find about him was an apartment he had rented five years ago. It was in Albany New York. They couldn’t get any other information. To them, Bill Benson was a dead end. I knew dad was alive. He must have decided to go back, just like Bill. I had to find my dad and try to pull him out of whatever he was putting himself into.

On February 16, I decided to find Benson myself. In early morning I packed up my luggage and checked out of my Boston hotel. I scraped the ice off the windshield of my rental car and set off towards Albany. I didn’t tell anyone where I was going. The drive was a little under three hours. When I got there I checked into another hotel. I used a fake name. I don’t know why I did it, it just felt like the right thing to do. Later, I made my way to his old apartment, bringing my camera with me. After a short drive I found the building. I parked and walked in. I made my way to the main office and walked in.

“Can I help you? Said the woman behind the desk.

“Yes, can I ask you a few questions about someone who used to live here?”

“Is it about William Benson?” she replied.

“Yes it is.”

“I told the police everything, I don’t know where he went when he moved out. Are you a detective?”

“No, I’m John Bowen’s son.”

She nodded and said,

“You could talk to his old next door neighbors. He lived in apartment 108, the people in 107 still live there. I hope they find your father.”

I thanked her and left. After a quick look around I realized 100s were the basement. I walked down a short flight of stairs and into a long hallway. 107 was easy to find. I knocked on the door. The residents were a couple in their early 30s. A man and a woman named Kimberly and Al. I talked to them for a few minutes. They saw Benson as a bit of nut. They barley talked to him besides greetings in the hallway. As I was about to leave, Kimberly seemed to remember something and told me to wait. She ran into the apartment and came out a minute later with a small taped shut cardboard box.

“He told us if anyone trustworthy came looking for him, to give them this.” She said.

I thanked them both and returned to my car, ripping through the tape key. In it was a ridiculously old looking cell phone, a photograph, and a few pieces paper. I looked at the photograph first. I knew that photo. It was the New Years day photo. The exact same photo I had seen on the internet four years previously. Memories came flooding back. I thought of the day Bill Benson came to thanksgiving dinner, and what he had said. I took a deep breath. I looked at the papers. Sheet after sheet of random notes and equations. I then flipped open the cell phone. It turned on. I opened the list of contact, only one was listed. It was cell phone number under the name “call”. I did. It rang, once, twice, three times, then I heard a voice.

“Who is this?” Said the phone.

“It’s Robert Bowen” I replied.

“Good, meet me in half an hour in Washington park, I’ll be by the fountain.”

The call cut off. I knew it was Bill Benson. I remember his voice clearly. I put the contents of the box in my camera bag and the made my way by foot to the park. After a bit of walking, I saw a fountain in the distance. Snow lightly fell. As I got closer to the fountain I realized it was off, presumably for the winter. I brushed the snow off a bench and sat down waiting. After about 10 minutes, I saw someone walking towards me out of storm. It was him. Bill Benson sat down. He looked older than when I last saw him. His hair was completely gray. It looked like he hadn’t cut it for a while. He finally said,

“Someone came.”

“Have you seen my dad?” I asked.

He replied,

“No, but I’m trying to find him though.”

“What happened to him, where is he?”

Bill took a long pause then said,

“I don’t want to get you involved. I’m sorry I brought you into this, and I’m sorry I brought your John back into it. He was the only one of us who made a clean break.”

“What happened with the Farnsworth experiments, what is it that everybody has been trying to hide from me for my entire life?”

“It’s for your own good that I don’t tell you. Do you have the photograph from the box?”

I pulled the picture out. Bill took it and pointed to the woman on the far right.

“Disappeared, insane, disappeared, disappeared, oh and there’s me. I’m trying to find these people, not send more off.”

And with that he left, running away without another word. I snapped a picture of him as he disappeared over a hill. I looked to the ground and saw his footprints in the snow. I started following them before they were filled in. It felt like I had been following those footprints for an hour. They just kept going. Faint, but not quite filled in. I finally stopped to catch my breath. I was thinking Bill Benson must be keeping in great shape. He, in his 60s, was easily outpacing me, a 26 year old. Then a more unnerving thought came to mind. Washington park was less than half a square mile large. But I had been going straight for what must have been well over a mile. I wasn’t going in circles, was I? I also hadn’t seen the road in a long time. I began to look around. I was in the middle of a snowy wilderness. I was just in a city. How could I be here. The snow was starting to get pretty light. I pulled out my cell phone, no reception. Bill’s cell phone, no reception. I looked at the footprints. They were almost gone, but not quite. I kept going for maybe 20 more minutes until I found where they were going to. They stopped at an old building made of sheet metal. It looked to be two stories. It had one window and one door. That building gave me the creeps. I pulled out my camera and snapped a picture of it. I walked the perimeter, but saw no other ways in.

My head hurt like crazy. It was dark. Night. What the fuck just happened. Night. I was lying in the snow. I tried to think back. The last thing I could remember was the strange building. I took out my phone and looked at the time. 2:28 AM. I used the glow of my phone as a flashlight, illuminating only a few feet in front of me. The only thought in my head was get the fuck out of here. I didn’t know how to get back. I was shivering. I touched my head, feeling a sharp pain. I shined the phone light on my hand and saw blood. I decided just to start walking. I couldn’t stay in one place. Every time I stopped I felt like I was being watched. Eventually I saw a light in the distance. I felt a tremendous feeling of relief. It was civilization. As I grew closer, the light grew brighter. Only one light. It certainly wasn’t downtown Albany. Maybe it was a farmhouse. Somewhere warm and safe. I began to run, cellphone outstretched. I felt a sinking feeling as the source of the light grew more apparent. It was the sheet metal building. The light was coming from the one window. Then it turned off. The only light coming from my cellphone. The woods were completely still. I was frozen in place. I didn’t want to make a sound. The one door began to open, and I heard a familiar voice. It was Bill.

“Robert! Is that you?” said Bill as he stepped outside. I felt relieved.

“Get inside before you freeze to death!”

I walked in and following Bill. It was warm inside. The room was large and devoid of any furnishings. There were two flights of stairs, one going up and one going down.

“What is this place”? I asked.

“This was our home base, back in the 80s.”

“Is this where the experiments happened?”

“Yes, exactly”, said Bill, “Our lab was downstairs. Everything down there has been broken for a long time though.” “How did I get here from the middle of a city?” I asked.

“It would take me days to explain, just think of it as a result of the experiments.”

“Somebody knocked me out, how do you know we’re not in danger?”

“I’m sure it was a tree branch. This place has been calm for years. We’re safe.”

I was beginning to settle down slightly.

“I’m gonna get some coffee” said Bill. “You want some coffee?”

“Yeah, sure” I said.

He walked took flight of stairs that led up. After a minute or two I walked over to those stairs. I could see Bill boiling water on a wood burning stove. I walked over to the other staircase. I shined my phone light down the stairs, revealing an old wooden staircase. I flicked a light switch, causing the room to fill with light. It was a laboratory, with many devices I didn’t know the purpose of. I nervously walked through it. On the other side of the lab was another door. I tried it, it opened without resistance. I flicked another switch and saw another lab, very similar to the first, but a little bigger. I noticed a banner on the far wall. It was old and faded, but I could still make out what it said. Happy New Year ’85. I noticed on one table was an old notebook. I picked it up and opened it. It was lab notes. I began to read. A lot of it I didn’t understand, but one section was relatively clear. It was a series journal entries by one of the scientists. I don’t have the notes, but I’ll try my best to summarize what I read. Early entries are calm and optimistic. Lots of technical stuff. They ate pizza one night. Then there are the next few entries, more spaces out. They are mostly talking about an issue with oscillators. The tone is wearier. Then there’s a three month gap. The next entry was the last, and I remember it clearly word for word. It said “We’re being watched, I know it. I hate that hole”. I didn’t know what exactly it meant, but all my nerve seemed to leave. I wanted to go back upstairs. But first, I would take some pictures of the journal. It would only take a second. I took the camera out of my camera bag and turned it on. On the screen were flashing words, “out of memory”. That was strange. To fill my memory card up you would need a ridiculous number of photos. It was barley 7 percent full when I’d last looked. When did I last use the camera? Before I blacked out. I heard faint footsteps from far away.

“I’ve got coffee” shouted Bill.

“Be there in a minute” I shouted back.

My mind was now focused on this new peculiar problem. I began to scroll through my photos. Each picture had a number, the date it was taken, and its size on the screen around it. There was the picture of Bill’s old apartment building. There was Bill running over the hill. There was the metal building. There it was again, and again. How many pictures of it did I take. I must not have blacked out. I lost a portion of my memory. I Kept clicking through the pictures. I must have been taking them like mad. In the pictures, I walked back into the woods. There were ten or twenty of snow and trees. Then one of a man, Bill. He looked mad. I couldn’t remember any of this. I’m guessing he was mad that I followed him. He calmed down in the next few pictures. We then showed up back at the metal building. I had no idea why we went back. Bill opened the door and we went in.

“Coffee’s getting cold!”

“I’m almost done with something!”

The next few pictures were of the ground floor of the metal building. But it was filled with furniture. All of it looked like it had been falling apart for a long time. Where did it all go? I felt a chill go up my spine. The next photos were of the first lab. I must have been trying to document every machine. Finally I got to a photo where Bill reached for the door to the second lab. The room I’m in now. I must have gone through the same routine. Photographing everything. There was the banner. There were the lab notes. Then, one photo showed up that confused me. It was of another door. One I didn’t see anywhere in the room. The file size on this photo was 15.3 gigabytes.

“Are you coming? Don’t stay down there too long!

The file sizes were expanding with each image. The next was a look at the door from farther away. Then one of Bill opening the door, obviously straining himself. The screen on my camera labeled this photo as the fourth from the last. Three more. I pushed the button to see the next. It was Bill. He looked terrified. And then it hit me. This was the same photo I saw online four years ago. The background was too dark to make out what was in the third room. Whatever it was it was horrible, I could see it in his eyes.

“I’ll just bring the coffee down to you then!” Bill shouted calmly from two rooms away.

How could he be so calm after what he saw. How could he say everything was safe. My fingers shook, but I managed to move on to the next picture. It was a hole. Going deep deep down. The instant the light from the photo hit my eyes I felt a horrible feeling. I knew something was out there. Watching me. I felt it. I felt watched from every angle. I quickly pushed the button, I could’t stand looking at that picture for another second. The camera started loading the last picture. What flashed onto the screen shocked me more than anything in my life. Bill’s dead body, lying next to the whole. He was covered from head to toe in scratches and wounds. A pool of blood had formed around him, dripping down into the hole. The same expression from the previous photo locked on his pale dead face. I almost threw up. I pulled the batteries out of the camera. I felt too week to move. Then another thought came to mind. If Bill Benson was dead, who was it I had been taking to the last few hours. Who was it whose footsteps were coming from the second lab. I felt the watching return.

There was nowhere I could hide. I heard the footsteps grow louder. Bill, whatever thing was impersonating him was standing in the doorway. I could see through the disguise. The form I once saw as Bill was composed of grey wisps and tendrils, somehow forming one creature. Now I could see what was watching me. More and more of them Became clear. They moved in on me from all directions. They seemed formed themselves into millions of arms each grabbing me. I struggled with all my might, but I was helpless. They felt cold and horrible. Then they started to pull me across the room. I managed to get one glimpse of where they were pulling me, an open door. They were pulling me towards that hole. I struggles as they dragged me through the small doorway, past Bill’s body, closer and closer. Then they stopped. I don’t know how long I was held there. All I know is eventually I passed out from exhaustion.

I woke up in a field. I was alive. I still felt watched, but I was alive. Today, I’m back to living my life, the best that I can. They spared me. I don’t know why. Now I’m under a sort of house arrest if you will. I’m somewhere where I can’t make trouble. I’ve been here three years. It’s now 2013. I have a job, an apartment. They’re always there in the corner of my eye. Watching me. Every day. I haven’t told anyone. I don’t know why they do different things to different people. Some they watch, some they kill, and to some they do much worse. I’ve now concluded that the The Farnsworth experiment sought to find a means of time travel by drilling through another reality. But nobody considered what inhabitants it might have. I’ll end with a brief statement to the people who were in my old life.

My name is Robert Lawrence Bowen. I was born in 2084. I’m 29 years old. Dad, if you’re reading this, take your own advice. Kate, don’t come for me. That also goes for everyone back in Florida. By the time any of you read this I’ll be dead. Don’t try to save me. Don’t try to change the past, they won’t let you. The Farnsworth experiments have had many victims, don’t let yourself become one.

Credit To – James N.

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The Eternal Suicide

February 10, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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It seems archaic, putting pen to paper in this day and age. Hell it’s been so long that I am archaic. I figured after so long, I should at least retell my story on the off chance I succeed tonight. It’ll take some time but the true question is do YOU have the time to listen? Well, I have time, that’s all I truly have left: Time.

A military unit was sent into the heart of Africa to quell a rebellion that was causing problems around the area. They had holed themselves up in an area that the locals feared and only spoke of in hushed whispers. My squad was sent in to kill or disperse the rebels and for years I have cursed that day. Why did I ever volunteer for that mission? Why did I allow myself to want such a terrible burden? As they say, the road to hell is filled with good intentions.

The valley they had chosen was well defended. Surrounded by rocky walls, covered by thick foliage and only accessible by a thin crevice found underground, this place was a natural formed fortress.  Legend says that this place was once home to a man, a woman and their many daughters. The woman was young and beautiful and her children were equally so. As the years went by the mother began to age and the children grew more and more beautiful. One night, the eldest daughter and the mother were speaking in private as they often did. The daughter claimed she was even more beautiful than her mother. The mother laughed and told her that her beauty was unmatched but the daughter persisted and persuaded her to look into a nearby stream and see for herself. When the mother did she was horrified to find that she was indeed less beautiful than her daughter. Time had given her wrinkles, white brittle hair, and cloudy eyes. In a fit of rage she grabbed her daughter by the throat and shook her, she shook her screaming at her that she had stolen her beauty. The daughter tried to fight back but quickly succumbed to her once loving mother. After she was dead the mother looked once more into the stream and saw her beauty returned. Overjoyed she returned to her home, claiming the eldest daughter had left to find herself a husband.

Years passed, and once again the mother began to age. Slowly at first but then faster and faster she aged, growing feebler with each passing day. Again she took the now eldest daughter to the steam and spoke to her. Before the daughter could say a word she was strangled by her mother, and as her life faded away the mother’s beauty returned. Again and again she did this until she was left alone with her husband. One day the husband went for a walk with his wife and they came upon the same stream. As they spoke he tripped upon what he thought was a root. When he examined it he saw that it was a bone. The mother insisted it was merely an animal bone but her husband continued to look and soon found the remains of all of his daughters. Enraged he turned to look at his wife and saw that she was reaching for his throat as well. He quickly subdued her and then trapped her in a small cave at the far end of the little valley. He prayed the gods curse her with the immortality she so desperately wanted. The gods obliged him and since that day a small stream flowed from that cave. It was said to be the mother’s tears. Tears of sadness, regret, anger and even madness that flowed from that cave, from the woman cursed with immortality.

When my squad arrived at that cursed placed we knew nothing of the legends. We knew our mission and nothing else mattered. However, fate rarely has the same goals in mind for those it has power over. When we arrived, the rebels camp was destroyed, the smell of blood and gun powder pervaded through the air. We found bodies that were riddled with spears, knives or cut to ribbons. Nothing made sense; it was like a scene out of a western. We searched but found no sign of whom or what could have done this. We stopped our search by a stream and radioed in our findings. I knelt by a stream and drank heartily, washing my face and hair as I waited. As we awaited a reply, a solider to my left let out a gurgling choke, a spear had made its home through his throat. We immediately took arms and searched for who had thrown it. More spears flew, and two more soldiers fell dead. The remaining three of us ran towards the exit. War calls could be heard behind us and ahead of us. I ran for all I was worth, passing my comrades and reaching the exit, only to find the exit blocked by two men dressed in black. I opened fire with my gun and cut them down as I ran through the entrance. I looked back, to my dismay, I saw my friends speared and decapitated behind me. I pulled a grenade and threw it at the entrance with a scream of hatred. It did its job and the small entrance collapsed in on itself, but not before a spear was thrown and caught me in the chest. By some divine luck of the thrower it missed my protective plates and ran me through.

I collapsed on the cavern floor, bleeding profusely and screaming with all my might. I was trained in basic first aid but I ignored everything Id been taught and pulled the spear out of my chest. I could tell by the blood Id lost that I’d be dead before I could make it out. I did my best to staunch the bleeding and took some morphine to bring down the pain. After that I slowly got to my feet and stumbled out into the light before collapsing, welcoming the blackness that surrounded me.

I awoke in a hospital bed, hours later. Astonished, I sat upright and tore at the bandages till I saw the scar. A thin line over my heart was all that remained of the ghastly wound. I must have been babbling for quite some time because a nurse soon came over to ask what was wrong.

“I was stabbed through the heart with a spear! I CAN’T STILL BE ALIVE! IT’S IMPOSSIBLE!” I screamed, anger bleeding through my words.
“Sir, you had a simple slash wound. It barely reached your ribs. Please calm down.” She replied.
I couldn’t believe it. I ran from the hospital as soon as I was dressed. I booked the first flight I could find from that horrible country back home. I hitchhiked home and I never spoke of what happened to me. I couldn’t face it; I couldn’t believe that I had nearly died that day.

My dreams were haunted from that day on. I saw the spear impaled through my body again. Saw the remains of my comrades reaching out to me. Their eyes were full of spite at the fact that I had survived were they had not. Every night I woke screaming how sorry I was for surviving, for leaving them behind. Years passed by, far quicker than they should have. Ten years to the day and my body was still the same as it had been. My family aged but I still had the glow of youth I always did. The doctors called it a modern miracle: I couldn’t age!

At first I saw it as a gift, some cosmic repayment for seeing that place and losing so much there. Then one day, while driving with my family it happened. A semi truck ran a red light and slammed into the car, flipping us end over end. I was thrown from the back seat and skidded across the road like a rag doll. At first I thought another miracle had happened. I felt the pain of road rash and bruises that would accompany the bouncing around before that. Then I looked down and saw all the damage. My rib cage was obviously crushed, my leg was bent backwards at a horrible angle and a piece of the car had found its way through my throat. I lay there, once again welcoming the warm, dark embrace of death once more.
Again I woke in a hospital bed, groggy, exhausted and confused beyond belief. I looked over and saw a sheriff sitting beside my bed. He informed me that my family had died in the car accident and that by some miracle I had been spared. I looked myself over and saw my chest was back to normal, my neck was wrapped in gauze but when I tore it away all I found was a star shaped scar. I wept, I wept for hours. Screaming at everything and nothing, I wanted to die. I wanted the same fate as my family. Eventually I checked myself out and just started to wander around.

I never ate, yet I wasn’t hungry. I never drank, and yet I didn’t feel thirst. How many years went by, I’ll never know. Sixty? Seventy? I stopped keeping track. There I was, the man stuck in time, given the gift of life for all eternity, yet all I wanted was death. Everyone I knew was dead, and each night when I slept I saw their faces, twisted in death from trauma, age and most of all jealousy. They hated me and wanted to rip me apart. Each night I saw the same images and every time I’d wake with such fear and sorrow at my existence.

Now, as I sit here with all the time in the world, I want to warn you. Eternity is a long, LONG time. I’ve seen horrible things, and greatness. Now all I want to see is my tombstone. Holding the loaded shotgun to my throat, so that the shot will go straight through my head, for the eighth time tonight, I know now that this is nothing more than a curse. I know that this won’t end me, I know that every time I cut my head off it’ll stay alive till I pick it up and put it back on, and I know that each time I hold a grenade in my teeth it’ll just put me out for a little while. At this point that’s all spend my time on, it’s the only thing that I can do to keep the nightmares at bay. The eternal suicide, that what I think I’ll call this. Now if you excuse me, I have many more attempts before I resign myself to more nightmares.

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Farmer John

February 9, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Farmer John was dead and gone;
Hay-men watched his fields still:
Lumpy sacks that had for long
Drawn the crows in manner ill

Some had come to pull them down
But always failed in the task,
Bound to flee at hinted frown
Seen, they swore, in vacant mask

Passersby would scarce arrive —
Merely then to talk, no more:
“My, but crows do love those five – ”
“Strange, I thought them only four…”

Land forsook turned callous ear
To the murmur of the straw,
As the moon revolved the years
O’er the din of sated caw

Farmer John had died and gone,
Yet his hay-men still remained,
Soulless things to greet each dawn
Till such time as fate ordained:

Seasons turned their clothes to dust,
Naked truth at last reveal’d:
Gutted bodies, neatly stuffed
With straw had been resealed

‘Twas his family, time would show:
Wife and daughters, no mistake;
No one, though, would ever know
Who’d got John up on his stake.

Credit To – alapanamo

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Whispers

February 7, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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I’m posting this tonight in the hope that it will clear up the misunderstandings surrounding the disappearance of Debra Lindsay Caine, at the risk of my personal ridicule. Sticks and stones and all that. None of it will matter after tonight. Consider this my one pathetic attempt at an apology, if nothing else. It’s sort of my fault what happened.

Even in her heyday, internet blogger Sugarcaine was just another web comedian. She was funnier than average and certainly skilled with a pen, but otherwise no more remarkable than the rest. For years the circumstances surrounding her disappearance were only occasionally mentioned, and only in the most obscure threads on a couple of forums. She would’ve been forgotten forever if those city workers hadn’t found the tape recorder last Monday.

Sugarcaine’s true identity was a boyishly cute redhead named Debra Lindsay Caine. Her sister Payton described her as, “…a bag fulla fists, nails, and opinions just looking for an excuse to burst open on somebody, nourished by beer and spite since our Papa died in ’91.”

Debra unintentionally began her career as a humor blogger when she let her friends talk her into setting up a MySpace account. She thought blogs were self-absorbed, whiny, and without substance, and thus used her MySpace page to parody the asinine ramblings of her peers. After a while she graduated to belittling popular culture and occasionally reviewing books, comics, movies, and whatever hate mail she received from her growing reader base.

She quickly realized people enjoyed her writing, and by mid-2005 she’d ditched her MySpace account and set up her own humor site, Sugarcaine Junction. Despite Debra’s more-than-decent writing the site was mediocre at best. Most ‘net junkies likely never knew she existed, much less that she’d vanished and possibly been murdered.

Until the city workers found the tape.

Sugarcaine Junction never failed to celebrate whatever holidays and festivals came its way, and its seasonal articles were usually the most eagerly anticipated. Debra composed surprisingly witty drinking songs for her Oktoberfest review, and a touching poem for Father’s Day that she refused to talk about afterward. For her 2005 Christmas rant she wrote a series of parodied Bible passages that broke her weekly hate mail record overnight.

Back then I was known as DeadAtFifty and counted among Sugarcaine’s regular readers. During the first week of October 2006 I suggested that she spend the night in the Daley family’s haunted house and write about the experience for her Halloween article. She announced to her readers that I was a child and a moron. I added a one-thousand-dollar prize to the mix. She eagerly accepted.

On the last week of October Debra announced she would make the hour-long drive to the Daley house for a “spooky sleepover”. She embarked on the evening of the 29th, encouraging her readers to “Stay tuned for the details of my thousand-dollar journey through the haunted Daley house!” I had every intention of awarding her the money, and I never would’ve mentioned the Daleys if I had known what would happen.

Debra always researched her subject before or after her “journeys” (as she called any experience she blogged about — “Stay tuned for the dirt on my journey through the latest Scorsese flick”), if only to make her praise/mockery of it all the more complete. In her apartment the police found stacks of newspaper clippings about the Daley family as far back as 1960: praise for Kevin Daley and the lives he saved as a firefighter; his marriage to sweetheart Naomi Welch in 1970; the birth of their son, Jeff in 1971; Jeff’s growing fame as an abstract artist at only twelve months of age; the rumors that Naomi deliberately dropped her son down the stairs and caused his borderline autism; and of course, the fruitless search for the bodies when the family vanished in 1982.

The bulk of the articles were testimonies from neighbors and friends about the last they saw of the Daleys. Jeff’s performance at school dwindled, but the work he produced in art class was as detailed as ever, depicting macabre realms of twisted abstract shapes and looming shadows — imagery he hadn’t produced since he was a toddler. He claimed that the “whisperers” made him draw these things. His only explanation for a “whisperer” was, “they follow me around my house — I can’t see them, but I know they’re there.”

I don’t think Jeff Daley was dreaming: I think his subconscious was a doorway to other worlds, and maybe his mother knew it and tried to kill him. If that’s the case, I wish she’d been just a little more persistent.

Kevin’s coworkers described him as “nervous, constantly on edge, like he was being followed by a lunatic and couldn’t shake him.” Naomi, normally known to greet her tavern’s patrons with bright smiles and warm hellos, seemed to have crawled into a shell and refused to come out. She took frequent bathroom breaks, only to curl up inside a toilet cubicle and cry with her hands over her ears. And then one day Jeff never showed at school, and his parents never showed at work. They’d vanished into thin air; and according to their neighbors, they didn’t go quietly.

Other articles described strange but seemingly unremarkable sights and sounds on the abandoned Daley property from 1989 to 2004. A few of those articles were so strange they were considered hoaxes or gross exaggerations.

A neighbor’s dog ran barking under the Daley porch. When it returned it spent the next two days whining and cowering and howling miserably for no reason. One morning the owners woke up and found the dog missing. It was never seen again.

A young couple claimed a silhouette in the shadows of the front yard whispered something at them as they walked past the house late one night. They couldn’t tell if there was someone there or not, and when they continued their walk the shape stalked them for several blocks before vanishing altogether.

Several mailmen gave identical accounts of hearing movement and gibbering voices inside the house while on their routes. One assumed it was the local pranksters and alerted the police. They never found anyone inside.

Earlier this week the city workers were preparing the house for demolition when they discovered the recorder under an old desk. Remembering the house’s history of missing persons, they turned it over to the police. The officer who received it — a friend of mine whose name will go unmentioned — had at one time been a Sugarcaine fan. I spent an entire evening listening to the tape at his place. To help spread this story around the web I’ve prepared a transcript of the recording for my own site, which you can read below.

*

[Tape begins with fifteen seconds of silence. Broken by husky female voice.]

“Don’t think I’ve ever been to this side of town before. Had to stop at a diner and get directions ‘cos I managed to get my stupid ass lost. Supposed to be an hour long drive, but it’ll be close to midnight by the time I find this dump.

“Oh, I told the lady I was coming to visit an old friend who lived in the Daleys’ neighborhood and she was happy to help me find my way. Imagine I won’t be well received if I go around telling everybody I’m spending my weekend breaking into other people’s houses. Even if the Daleys are too dead to give a shit.”

[Silence for eight seconds. A sigh.]

“I feel silly going through with this. On the plus side I’ll get to pay my rent for the next month.”

*

“It is now…eleven p.m. on the dot. Took me forever to find the stupid house. Kept turning down the wrong streets. Hard to miss it once you find the right one. The front yard is a jungle of wiry vines and three-foot grass infested with species of insects never before seen by man. You can’t even see the front door from the street this late at night ‘cos the shadows gulped it up.

“Parked two blocks away and walked. Gonna find a window to climb through. Hopefully won’t need to pick the back door ‘cos that’ll take forever. More as it develops.”

*

[Hollow footsteps on old wooden boards. A series of distorted thuds as the recorder rattles violently. Silence for sixteen seconds.]

“Tripped. Ow…It’s pitch black in here. Where’s my damn—?”

[Quiet shuffling for the next minute, and more footsteps. Debra releases an exhausted breath. Tape rattles slightly.]

“Okay, I’m in. My camp is set up in the…I guess this was the office. There’s a dusty old desk next to the window I just climbed through and a bookcase to the right of the door. Both are bare. I’m about to take my tour of the house. Camera ready, although this place isn’t much to look at. Keeping the flash off, so the pics might need to be tweaked when I get back. I ought to keep the flashlight off and just let my eyes adjust, but…yeah, I’m not gonna do that.”

[Two minutes of silence apart from footsteps and the occasional electronic shutter sound of a digital camera taking pictures. A cough.]

“The house is a really roomy two-story deal. Oh, there you are, you elusive stairs…The carpet’s been all torn up except for one corner of the living room, so the floor’s all crusty wooden boards.”

[Footsteps. Loud, human-like shriek of pain from the rusty hinges of a door. Debra lets out a startled gasp, curses.]

“…a moldy bathroom untouched since nineteen eighty-two…”

[Several coughs as the camera clicks. More squeaking hinges, significantly quieter. More camera clicks.]

“Ugh, goddamn wolf spiders everywhere!”

[Seven minutes pass with footsteps, camera clicks, and Debra’s coughs the only sounds; halfway through, hollow thunks of boots on wooden stairs, and footsteps change to loud, unhealthy creaks. Now and then Debra makes various comments on the house’s layout.]

“[unintelligible muttering] —dust in this place is murdering me. Second floor is rickety as hell. Here’s hoping the building doesn’t collapse on me in the night.”

[Hollow thunks again as she returns to the first floor. At the ten minute mark, dead silence for approximately twenty seconds. Debra exhales.]

“I think that’s it for the tour. I’m off to sleep with the spiders.”

[Silence for two minutes. Debra whispers to herself inquisitively. Wooden clunking.]

“Found a loose board in the office floor. ‘Previously-pried-up’ loose. I’ll have to check that out tomorrow morning.”

[Clomp of steel-toe boots carelessly tossed onto wooden floor. Rustling of thick cloth. Coughing.]

“Ah, god, I can’t breathe in this place…Awright, time for bed. We’ll finish up our notes tomorrow. G’night!”

*

[Recorder rattles. Debra begins to say something, only gets the first syllable before going quiet again. Silence for another minute.]

“There’s something in here…”

[Pit-pat of bare feet. Silence. Door creaks shut. Rustling.]

“Fuckin’ rats. I knew it. I hear ‘em scuttling in the living room walls. I shoulda brought a cot.”

*

[Exasperated sigh.]

“Okay, well, I won’t be sleeping tonight after all, so I’m pryin’ that board up to pass the time. More as it develops.”

[Recorder rattles as it is set aside. For the next five minutes there’s nothing but fingernails and something metallic — possibly a Swiss army knife — scratching into wood, and occasionally a clunk. A gasp, and the clatter of a small object. Debra’s bare footsteps move out of range. Another minute of silence. Debra says something too far away to make out and seems to wait for a response. She repeats herself, louder.]

“Who’s there?”

[Nothing for a minute and a half. Creak of the office door closing. Pit-pat of bare feet returns. The tape rattles.]

“I’m losing my mind. I could swear I heard—”

[Silence. The scratching and clunking returns, and moments later there’s a wooden clatter like a board being tossed aside.]

“Gotcha!”

[Paper rustling.]

“Um…”

[More paper rustling. Silence.]

“Um, there’s…drawings. Wadded drawings stuffed into this little space beneath the loose board. I think they’re Jeff Daley’s pictures. When he was five he used to draw his bad dreams to…No, these can’t be real. The detail is—?”

[Crumpling: wadded paper being unraveled and then flattened out. Debra speaks quietly, almost inaudibly, as if reading something aloud to herself.]

“Don’t listen. It’s not Daddy. It’s not Daddy. It’s not…”

[Silence. A deep, trembling breath.]

“Okay, um…Okay, this isn’t funny anymore.”

[A distant sound, possibly out in the hall, and a shrill gasp. Two minutes and forty seconds of silence.]

“[incoherent mumbling] –not funny.”

[The sound again, within five feet of the recorder: a human voice speaking almost above a whisper. It says a single word difficult to make out, but sounds like Debra’s name. The recorder rattles violently as it hits the floor.]

“It’s not funny! Stop it!”

[Silence. Pit-pat of bare feet leaving the room. Three minutes pass with no sounds except a periodic thump deep within the house and Debra shouting angrily. The footsteps return. Heavy slam of the office door. Quiet sobbing within three feet of the recorder, and nothing else for another minute.]

“[speaking too quietly to register on the recorder: her throat has tightened up]”

[The sobbing stops abruptly as Debra holds her breath. The voice speaks again as quietly as before, from inside the room. Feet scrambling across the floor. The office window shrieks as it is torn open. The rest of the tape is silence.]

*

Debra posted an update the same night. There was no trace of her usual snide narrative, and she exchanged punchy one-liners for razor-edged curses. She wanted someone (me) to apologize to her for what she believed to be a perverse Halloween prank. She’d managed to keep one of the drawings she found under the loose floorboard and included a hi-res scan in her rant, condemning it as an obvious attempt by a barely capable adult artist to reproduce the work of an eight-year-old retard.

Drawn entirely in black crayon, it resembled a caricature of someone’s living room as done by Salvador Dali. At the center stood a dark shape with a grayish head misshapen like in a funhouse mirror, making it impossible to tell if it was supposed to be human or not. The thing stared right at the viewer over its shoulder with two empty black holes for eyes. Three more of the things stood beyond it, also staring at the viewer — it was as if the act of drawing the scene had grabbed their attention. Although their faces were amorphous mushes of white and gray, the three in the background seemed to be smiling. And it really did suggest a level of artistic finesse beyond that of an eight-year-old boy, but the style matched Jeff Daley’s other drawings.

Debra and I both got our share of hate mail after that blog. Half her readers thought I was an asshole for setting her up for such a nasty trick. The other half thought Debra was pulling a hammed-up Halloween prank of her own, and when her next two updates erratically described how the sounds in the Daley house had followed her home, everyone became all the more certain of this. They still believed it was a joke when she failed to make a single update for two weeks afterward.

On November 4th in the middle of the afternoon, Debra had called her sister, Payton. She was blubbering so much Payton couldn’t understand a word she said at first.

“She let loose with the heartbroke drunk routine. Said she was sorry for missing my wedding, sorry for always being a spiteful bitch when we were growing up, sorry for kicking our dog when she was twelve — apologizing for all kinds of silly stuff like a desperate sinner at confession.

“She stopped to catch her breath, and I heard somebody else in the room with her talking quiet like they didn’t want me to hear. I asked if she wanted me to come over. She started sobbing again and said, ‘I hear Daddy, but it isn’t Daddy.’ Then she hung up and I called the police. They didn’t find anybody when they got there. I was talking to her only minutes before.”

Most folks still think Debra’s abduction by the whispering stalkers of Jeff Daley’s nightmares is a hoax orchestrated by Debra or by some other sick individual. The tape has been “proven” a fake by one ignorant skeptic after another, and it won’t be long before Sugarcaine Junction fades into obscurity once again. I hope to prevent this, not because I feel pity for Debra Lindsay Caine, though I really do pity her; but because I hope to prevent others from vanishing like she vanished, and like the city workers who found the tape vanished, and like my friend vanished. They mark their territory — like they marked the Daley house and the tape — and they can smell anything that comes in contact with it. Once they smell you, they hunt you like bloodhounds until they’ve marked you, too.

They call to you softly like they’re afraid to talk too loud — sometimes two rooms away, sometimes right next to you. They imitate people you’re closest to. Maybe they think it’s funny. But you can’t listen to them. You have to shut them out, otherwise you’ll be too scared to open your eyes or move a muscle. You won’t have the chance to kill yourself before they drag you to whatever unholy hell Debra Lindsay Caine was taken to.

 

I have to go take a bath with my toaster now. Mother has been calling to me for the last hour, even though she’s been dead for five years.

###

Credit To – Mike MacDee

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The Little Old Lady and The Puzzling Puzzle

February 6, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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There was once a little old lady who lived all alone in a little old house. With her husband gone, and her children with families of their own this little old lady had not much to do with her time left. In fact, she was almost always doing the same thing, every day, all day. She would sit at her little old table and complete her little old puzzles.

One day the little old lady was looking high and low for a new puzzle to complete as her collection of uncompleted puzzles was dwindling. After a long while looking she had found two uncompleted puzzles, one of which was a cat, the other however was quite complex. From what she could gather from the box, with her very poor eyesight, was that the second puzzle was of an old man, about her age sitting near a lake doing a puzzle. The picture on the box made her smile, as the lake shown reminded her of the lake her husband loved to visit once a month to go fishing. It had always comforted her to know that he died doing what he loved.

She had made her decision, tossing the cat puzzle aside she promptly shuffled into the lounge and took her place at the coffee table. Taking one last look at the box she noticed something odd, a shadow coming from behind a tree, and it most certainly wasn’t the trees shadow. With her poor eyesight she wasn’t in any condition to make it out from such a small picture, and decided it’d be easy to see once the puzzle was made. With that she tossed the lid aside and started places pieces in front of her. It was after connecting twelve or so pieces that she noticed something quite peculiar. The puzzle she was making had no match to the picture on the box. They were completely different, she could already tell the scene she was making was an indoor scene, instead of the outdoor scene on the box. She was a little miffed but decided to continue and not let it ruin her fun.

On she went with the puzzle, she took few breaks and continued late into the night. This was one of the biggest puzzles she’d ever taken her hand to, she had guessed at around 300 pieces. This was a lot for this little old lady, she was used to doing small puzzles with owls and grapes in them. She had never done a scene like this before. The hour was late when she scuffled off into bed with a half complete puzzle sitting on the table. As she was lying there in bed she couldn’t shake the feeling like she’d seen that puzzle before, or at least the scene it depicted. As she drifted off to sleep she decided that it must be somewhere she visited as a young girl or as a young lady. Whatever it was, she was certain that she’d been there before.

The little old lady arose early that morning, eager to continue her puzzling puzzle. She sat in the lounge with her tea and toast, staring at her half completed puzzle, trying to make out the scene. But she just couldn’t place it. She decided there was only one thing for it, she must complete that puzzle lickety-split. So on she went with her puzzling puzzle and by 12 o’clock she was three quarters the way through it and instead of stopping for lunch, on she went, determined to have it done in the next hour or so.

There were but 20 pieces remaining when it hit her, the previous few key pieces finally relieved the depicted scene. She gasped as she noticed that the puzzle she was making depicted the very room she was sitting in. After sitting silently for a while she decided that it must be a custom puzzle someone had made, though why someone would make a puzzle of her lounge confused her, but in her mind that was the only explanation. She proceeded slower than before and started placing the remaining 20 pieces into the very centre of the puzzle, which she decided, if she was indeed seeing it correctly, would make up the coffee table and the couch she was sitting on.

With the last 8 pieces in hand she slowly fitted them to the very centre of the puzzle. What they revealed chilled her to her very core. The scene was indeed her lounge and in the very centre was her couch and coffee table and sitting there on the couch was a little old lady doing a puzzle. Quickly darting her eyes around the puzzle, her mouth agape, she noticed, in the puzzle, a shadow at the window. A shadow that was very much like the one on the box.

The detectives at the scene couldn’t immediately tell how she had died, all they knew was that she was found face down next to the puzzle box, the cover of which had changed. It now showed a little old lady completing a puzzle in the comfort of her little old lounge.

Credit To – Octodonk

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The Invitation

February 5, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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They call him “The Hatter”. His face is only a rumor. His body is an urban legend. But, his intentions are always clear; once the invitation arrives, he will be waiting, likely with a knowing smile and lashing tongue.

Marcus was an unexceptional man. He worked eight hours a day in some indistinct office, punching numbers, balancing accounts, and taking phone calls. He kept to himself, preferring to spend his evenings alone, sinking into a good book rather than the revelries of bars and nightclubs. Though he had his eyes set on Janet from accounting, Marcus seldom spoke with her, and their relationship was best described as accidental.

Ever a creature of habit, Marcus was a predictable man, always living under an invisibly ticking clock. He would wake up every morning at 6:30 AM, never sleeping a minute under or over. He would shave, shower, and cook a simple breakfast of faintly buttered rye toast and coffee. Two slices on his plate, two sugars in his coffee, and Marcus was ready to go. He drove to work, clocked in, and stayed in the same place for eight hours, leaving only to eat lunch or use the bathroom. Sometimes his coworkers would drop in for a casual conversation, but this happened with increasing rarity. He’d drive home, change into his pajamas, and cook a simple meal of meat, potatoes, and some greenery if he felt adventurous. For him, excitement and color came through carrots and peas. Then, at exactly 11:00 PM, Marcus went to sleep, never to rise until the next morning. Marcus was boring, and he liked it that way. The Hatter had other plans.

After a grey day at work, Marcus was ready for new reading material. Perhaps his issue of Reader’s Digest had arrived, or perhaps his family had sent him an early Christmas card. He needed some entertainment, and with a brisk walk approached his mailbox. Sure enough, a pile of letters waited for him, and like a vulture with an affinity for milk toast, Marcus scooped these up, taking great care to conceal his treasures from the pouring rain. Dripping and dashing, he gingerly slammed the door shut, unceremoniously tossing his coat over a nearby chair.

Sadly, it seems Marcus would be met with disappointment this evening. Instead of his favorite magazine or warm greetings, he found bills, advertisements, and one pamphlet about his local Congressman several months too early. In the hopes that he had missed something, he flipped through the stack again and again, only to be met in vain. Then, he heard the faint swish of a letter landing on the floor.

The Hatter was terribly fond of grand gestures, and the invitations to his party are always carefully hidden. Whether hidden with care or in plain sight, he made sure his potential guests always found their letter in time, and Marcus was no exception. He’d been watching Marcus, and he eagerly awaited his response.

The letter was small, no larger than a Christmas card. It was addressed to Marcus in clear, elaborate cursive, and the return address was his own house. This is The Hatter’s way, for both the destination and the starting point come together in his plans. Perhaps placing the letter back in the mail can drive off his eye. Perhaps it is another of the Hatter’s games, silently mocking his prey that there is no escape. Either way, Marcus opened the letter. It offered no resistance; it longed to be opened.

Inside, he found a simple card, embroidered with shades of red and gold lettering. He saw the shine of golden script on both sides, and casually turned the invitation over. The reverse side held a date and a time; April 14th, 2:31 PM. Curiously, he glanced at the other side. And there it was, in bold print.

You should sit.

This phrase is The Hatter’s invitation. It is a simple command, no more threatening than asking to continue breathing. But to follow the instruction is to answer the Hatter’s call, and many fall into this gentle trap. Marcus knew no better, and sat down, pondering the strange letter. A single footstep echoed behind him. Perhaps a cup of tea would calm him down. Was he nervous? No, strangely not. He had forgotten his movement to the kitchen, a momentary amnesia as he brewed a steaming pot of Earl Grey.

As the moist aroma wafted through the room, he felt an intense relaxation. He could hear a faint bubbling amidst the silence of his home, and with each pop an excitement began to overtake him. Perhaps I have been too hasty, he thought to himself. I hardly give my coworkers the time of day.

The gentle flow of hot tea pouring into his mug brought feelings of joyous guilt, and unfamiliar thoughts flew into Marcus’ head. I should reach out to them. After all, what harm is a new friend? A silent sip, and a beaming grin crossed his face. In some dark place, The Hatter returned the gesture.

The next day, Marcus rose at 6:00 AM. He sprung out of bed with an unknown energy. Surely, he had been rejuvenated, and his blood felt hot and bubbly. Such an exceptional blend of Earl Grey, he thought to himself. This morning it was eggs and bacon. He didn’t remember buying those, but who was he to argue?

At the office, his coworkers found a completely alien Marcus. He went out of his way to ask people how they were doing, hold doors, and tell jokes. Even his boss went along with it, and Marcus became the life of the party. His charm was contagious, and over the course of a month, the stagehand had gone center stage. He knew their names now; Janet, her sister, Clara, Andrew, Gary, and his boss, Everett. Every day, he had another cup of tea, often brewing pots for his coworkers during lulls in paperwork. They had grown to love Marcus, and The Hatter enjoyed the show.

He would go out with them, though he cared little for clubs. Instead, he would take his new friends to comedy clubs, or invite them to the local theatre. He showed them culture, and for reasons unknown, they loved it. All the while, the burning feeling flowed through his veins.

One day, Marcus realized something dire; despite his new friends, he had never invited them to his home. Even Janet had never seen his home, and no one seemed to notice but him. He knew he had to rectify this. During their lunch break, he proposed a classy gathering of olden times; a tea party. His infectious charm did the work for him, and his friends all agreed to such a lovely gesture. And so, on April 14th at 2:31 PM, five guests stepped through his door, and six pairs of footsteps echoed through his home.
With grand gestures and an elaborate table set, Marcus greeted them, the smile on his face as broad as always. Ever the gentlemen, he offered Janet a seat before all else, and she beamed at how lucky she was. Then, clasping his hands together, he addressed his friends.

“You should sit.” As they obeyed, they were gone. No longer were they Marcus, nor Janet, nor any of their friends. There was only The Hatter, and he had waited long for this entertainment.

Suddenly, Marcus’ grin widened to sickening proportions, and the guests followed suit. Janet’s sister had come along, and as the guests sat at the dinner table, she placed herself on the dinner table, lying back and sighing. They looked on hungrily, and The Hatter deemed that they should say their prayers before their meal. Then, their forks and knives dug into her, severing raw flesh and spurting blood.

Their gory meal continued, and it devolved into frenzy, with guests forsaking their utensils and biting at her. They shredded her like wild animals, bits of flesh and blood caking to their fine dress and teeth. As she was devoured, they all smiled, including the eviscerated remnants of her sister, an unnatural force keeping her alive until The Hatter deemed she had suffered enough, her mind trapped helpless and silently screaming within her own body.

You may die now. As she had her moment to scream, Marcus bit down on her throat, her shriek devolved into a gurgle. Janet scooped up a severed finger, placing it in her mouth. With inhuman strength, she chewed and swallowed, stifling a giggle. Clara’s face inhumanely twisted back into a grin, cracking bone and holding far too wide. She was The Hatter’s now.

Yet The Hatter’s party was far from over, and the guests were ready for his party games. While Marcus escorted their boss into the kitchen, Janet pounced on Gary, her hands on his throat. She viciously slammed his skull on the floor, holding him down, though they all knew it was too late already. His face draining, Janet slowly eased a fork in each of his eyes, gore and white slime oozing and pouring down his cheeks. All the while, Andrew observed, clapping his hands excitedly.

Marcus offered his boss a cup of tea, still stuffed and dripping with the blood of Janet’s sister. Against his will, he smiled.

“That would be ever so lovely!” His consciousness clawed and scraped inside his skull. Please God, let me go. Let me out! HELP ME! His screams echoed inside, but not a sound could escape, a prisoner in his own mind. Perhaps Marcus could hear his plight; perhaps not. Either way, he set the kettle on the oven, and switched the burner on. As blue flames lapped the No, NO, PLEASE DON’T DO THIS teapot, Marcus reached for his meat cleaver. As man who regularly dined on meaJUST LET ME GO PLEASEt and potatoes nightly, his tools for carving flesh were remarkably advanced. Unfortunately for Everett, their usage today would not be for beef or chicken.

As the kettle came to a boil, Marcus smiled. He raised the pot above his head, and Andrew’s cheering and applause could be heard in the other room.

“Your tea’s ready!” exclaimed Marcus as he poured the boiling water over Everett’s head, searing and peeling away flesh and hair. Amused, The Hatter released him, and his screams came free just in time for Marcus’ cleaver to strike his chest. The Hatter forced his blow to strike true and strong, and Everett’s heart beat for the last time. But time was wasting, and Marcus got returned to his task of severing his former boss’ limbs.

Upstairs, Andrew and Janet had made their way to Marcus’ bathroom, all the while dragging Gary’s body. Andrew’s fate, deemed The Hatter, would be the most merciful. Andrew began to fill the tub, water sloshing and splashing. He’d decided that icy cold would be best, and PLEASE DON’T THEY DIDN’T DO ANYTHING more hot water was far from original. All the while, Janet gnawed at Gary’s neck, her dark appetite not yet sated from her sister. From below, Marcus shouted up.

“Janet? Are you almost done up there?”

She cupped her hands, glancing out into the hall. “Yes, I shouldn’t be more than a minute!” Her internal screams had broken down into uncontrollable sobbing, and she begged for someone to save her. Only The Hatter heard.

With the tub full of frigid water, Andrew smiled externally. He knew his fate, and LOOK AWAY FOR GOD SAKES LOOK AWAY their terrible host was not yet satisfied. Andrew plunged his head beneath the icy water, and The Hatter released him just in time for Janet’s hands to force him further in, pressing his face against the bathtub’s surface. Arctic waters rushed into his lungs, and each painful gasp only brought more flowing in. Violent bubbles danced to the water’s surface, and Janet’s lips ran red with ruby droplets. Andrew’s screams were little more than a humming whisper, and he heard DON’T DO IT PLEASE the same whispering command that had damned Clara. You may die now.

His crumpled body draped into the tub, Janet left the two bodies behind, making her way downstairs. Marcus was waiting, holding the same tea pot he’d seared Everett’s flesh with only minutes before. She smiled, giving a curtsy.

“Oh, Marcus, this was such a lovely party.”

He just kept beaming, raising the pot high before striking Janet’s head with it. She fell to the ground, and Marcus loomed over her. He hit her again and again until the pot could take no more, cast iron FOR GOD SAKES SOMEONE HELP crumpling from the repeated impacts. A terrible strength poured through Marcus. Leaning down, he kissed what remained of Janet’s head gently. And then, The Hatter released him.

Regaining control of his body, Marcus gripped Janet’s hands, holding them one last time. He collapsed into quiet sobs, praying to no one in particular for this to just be some awful dream. He wanted to wake up at 6:30 AM, sit eight hours in his cubicle, and know none of them. He just wanted them to be safe again. Then, Marcus felt a hand slowly rest on his shoulder, and The Hatter’s invitation came again. Like the original letter, it could come from anywhere, and it will always find a way to reach the intended recipient, such as this story. You should sit.

Credit To – M.L. Zane

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