Beings of the Forests

January 28, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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This story was one of the scare stories my grandmother used to tell me as a child. I cannot verify its authenticity or provide any proof of it having originated from a real experience, except from the fact that nearly everyone in my mother’s family knew of the story and can relate it to me accurately to the slightest detail.

The story goes that there was a man of around 25 years named Paato, who was my maternal grandfather’s great uncle of some sort, or a relative in any case, and he used to live in a village somewhere. I should remind the readers that this story is from a time in when the subcontinent was still ruled by the British, and villages were few and far between, separated often by thick sub-continental jungles, and the roads network was nothing of the sort we are used to.

Paato was once invited to attend a wedding in another village once. He travelled to that village on foot during the day, and unfortunately, due to some delays it was already getting dark by the time he was only midway back to his own village. The path was a narrow one, winding through thick jungle and travelling on it after dark was quite dangerous, so Paato was getting quite nervous, aware of his surroundings more and more by the moment. Robbers and highwaymen were about the best he could hope to meet on the road, since tigers and other beasts often come out to hunt in the dark. He could not even run properly if that were to happen, since the dress he was wearing had pants that would surely trip him over (a ‘Dhoti’).

It was then when Paato came across a house in a sort of clearing in the middle of the jungle. There was a woman sitting outside the house, cooking something on a large pot and she called to him as he passed.

“Traveller! Would you like some food and a place to stay for the night?”

Paato was somewhat taken aback, since it was strange for a woman to be living alone in the middle of the jungle, and stranger yet, that she would invite a complete stranger passing by into her house for the night. However, these were times when people were often very hospitable, and grateful of having someplace safe to stay at for the night, Paato took up the offer.

Paato was fed a fair meal and the woman seemed to be friendly enough. The food and the warmth of the night put him at ease, so he started to become quite drowsy. The woman made a bed for him on the floor, choosing to sleep on the farther end of the fairly large room herself. Paato’s bed was made right up against a table on which rested the only source of light in the dark: A brightly burning candle. As he lay down he felt much too exhausted from the day to even get up and blow out the candle himself. He tried covering his face under the sheets, but that still did not help since there were tiny holes in his sheets through which he could still see the candle. He could also see the woman sitting down on her bed through a similar hole, still sitting up, so he asked her to kindly blow out the candle for him.

What he saw next quickly pushed out any semblance of drowsiness from his eyes and replaced it with gut wrenching, sickening, and petrifying terror.

His eye grew larger under the sheets as he saw the woman, sitting down stretch her arm slowly, steadily to cover the distance from her bed to his bed to the candle above it, and smother the flame. If the sight of the snake-like stretched out arm had not been frightening enough, the last view of the woman’s face as the light went out definitely was. Her face was twisted, terrible, with wide hungry eyes under which her wild hair that gave her the impression of a wild animal. She was looking right at him lying with as he lay there when the lights went out, with a wry smile curled on her face. It was the face of his death.

Paato lay there in utter shock for a little while, at loss of what to do. He could not simply run. He would never make it out of the house. The creature would be onto him in an instant with its stretching limbs. He could also not lay there for much longer. Who knew how long it would be before the creature did whatever it had lured him there for? So Paato thought up a plan; the best plan he could come up with given his situation.

“I … need to pee” he announced, hesitantly.

“Ok, the toilet is at the back of the house” said the thing.

“That’s ok,” he said “I can just do it in the bushes outside.

Saying this, he got up and went outside, squatting behind the bushes. The creature meanwhile, was at the door, looking at him each moment.

“Can you give me some privacy? I can’t go about my business like this!” he half-yelled, half pleaded from behind the bush.

The woman went back in the house after hearing that, which was lucky, since Paato needed every moment’s advantage he could get.

He quickly took off his pants—his dhoti to allow himself to sprint, quietly slipped out of the bush and started running as fast as he could. The thing realized what had happened though and came after him quickly enough. But Paato kept running, never looking back once even though the thing kept shouting at him to stop and come back. Finally, just as he seemed he would give up himself, the thing stopped chasing him. But it shouted something at him which re-froze Paato’s insides just before he was out of its earshot:

“You can run Paato! But my sister will be waiting up ahead to greet you! And she can run much faster than I can!”

This however was not true. Paato ran for what seemed like hours to him, but, there was no ‘sister’ lying in ambush on the path ahead. He made it back home just as the roosters were screeching. He was breathless, feverish and quite delirious.

I would like to say that it ended well for Paato, but it did not. He is said to have died of the fever he got that night, never recovering from the terror. But not before letting his family, and the village, know of the terrifying danger lying in wait for them in the dark jungles.

Recounted by
Salman Shahid Khan

Credit To – Salman Shahid Khan

(This is a part of a collection of real life horror stories and memoirs currently being collected and compiled by Salman Shahid Khan. For more, please visit and follow the writer’s blog here! )

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Hunting Grounds

January 27, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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I don’t really know how to start something like this, writing journal entries isn’t something I’d say I’m used to. Anyways, the doctors said it might help to get something down on paper so, it’s worth a try. I’ve been in this hospital for a few days now and, I haven’t really been able to do anything apart from write. They told me I had a near death experience, and say the traumatizing event triggered the memories and visions I’m now plagued with. After seeing the things I saw, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget them; I remember it all so vividly, every sound, every conversation, every feeling of terror, as if I’m still stuck in that nightmare. The events replay over and over again in my head without any end and, I haven’t been able to sleep. So, I’m writing down everything that happened, while it’s still clear in my mind. I’ll start from the beginning…

Everything happened about a few days ago when I was invited to go on a camping trip with my friends, Matt and Alex. Nothing over the top of course, we just wanted to spend a day or two in the wilderness, and I really just wanted to take a break from my busy work schedule. Matt suggested we check out the forest that surrounded the hunting cabin his family owned considering it was relatively close by and fairly easy to get to. Alex and I agreed, the idea seemed as good as any, and within the next day we all arrived at the property in Matt’s pickup. We didn’t waste any time and, after making sure everything was in check, we gathered our gear out of Matt’s truck and headed out towards the tree line, following a small path through the tall grass and up to the forest’s edge.

As we followed one another into the forest Matt took the lead, picking up a stick to walk with and humming the catchy tune of some infomercial. We headed north for about an hour or so, Alex cracked a few jokes which we laughed at but there wasn’t all that much conversation among us. It was still reasonably early in the morning and we mostly concentrated on walking without tripping over fallen branches and simply taking in the beautiful scenery that surrounded us. After a few hours, we stopped to rest and snack once or twice but continued our steady march into the wilderness shortly after. It wasn’t until later in the day when we came across something, out of the ordinary from the repetitive branches and foliage of the forest.

A worn path cut across our route, overgrown by tall grass and vegetation. It was barely visible, and we would’ve passed it if not for the break in the trees. We didn’t have a solid plan as to where we were going to set up camp for the night so, seeing as we weren’t in any immediate rush, we ended up following it. The path headed straight for quite a ways before it took a sharp turn to the right, reviling a clearing in the trees and an old, run down warehouse of sorts. We looked around for any sign or form of advertisement, but there either wasn’t any, or it had long since been swallowed up by the forest. I asked Matt if he knew about the building, but he denied it, just as surprised as me and Alex. I couldn’t blame him either, in retrospect Matt’s hunting cabin was barely used and the idea of there being some old abandoned building close to his property really didn’t surprise us that much.

I looked at my watch, it was 6PM and beginning to get dark. Matt must have noticed the time too and suggested we camp in the building for the night. I agreed, deciding sleeping on the flat warehouse floor would be more comfortable than the uneven forest floor. That and quite honestly, I was too tired to bother putting up a tent. Alex was less reluctant, being somewhat apprehensive about the whole idea, but soon caved after Matt told him he could sleep outside alone if he really wanted to. We walking up to the entrance and tried what was left of two battered doors that marked the building’s entry. They were already slightly open but stiff from being untouched for so long and we had to wrestle with their rusted hinges to gain entry.

The inside of the building was a barren shell of an old factory, broken and boarded windows, weathered paint, completely empty save for a few boxes and cobwebs here and there. We decided to set up a makeshift camp in the center of the main room and move the spare boxes around to sit on. We had been talking and joking around for a while, eating what food we brought with, when we heard a distant clash echo throughout the building. Our heads all glanced to the left where the sound seemed to have originated.

“You guys hear that?” Alex asked.

I shook my head, still listening, and Matt was about to say something when another clash echoed again, more faint, but unmistakably noticeable. Upon inspection, a small hallway branched off of the main room ending in a thick iron door with a small viewing window built into its center. The three of us headed towards the door after Matt and I each grabbed a flashlight from my bag, and waited, peering through the scratched window at a staircase leading down into complete darkness.

“Basement maybe?” Matt guessed, staring at the door.

A few silent moments passed before Alex stepped in, “Well whatever it was, it’s gone now, probably nothing lets g–”
Another clang cut him off pulling our attention back to the window. Again, no movement was visible in the darkness.

An unsettling silence fell over us…

“Let’s check it out” Matt said, already tugging on the handle, the hinges screeching loudly as the ancient door opened.

“Are you crazy!?” Alex exclaimed.

“Relax,” I said, “It’s probably just an animal, a raccoon maybe.”

“What, are you scared?” Matt teased jokingly. He laughed when Alex flipped him off and walked back towards the main room,

“Whatever, I’m going to bed, see you idiots in the morning.”

With that Matt began to slip through the door, “You coming or not?” he said, starting down the stairs. With nothing better to do, I placed a loose brick on the floor as a door stop and descended the stairs with him. When we reached the bottom, the air was, somewhat heavy, a musty odor hung around us that I could taste in the back of my throat.

As my eyes slowly adjusted to the absence of light, I could make out various pipes and vents that ran the length of the walls and ceilings. I shown my flashlight around us and found that we were in a small rectangular room about 15 feet wide. Three or four tunnels branched out of the walls in various directions and I aimed my light down the nearest one but saw nothing as the tunnel only stretched farther onward, seeming to go on forever.

“Which way do you think it came from?” Matt asked, staring into the darkness of the front tunnel.

“I don’t know man, does it even matter anymore?” I said flatly.

“What, you scared of the dark too?”

“No it’s just–”

“C’mon lets see what’s down here,” Matt called out before ducking down the passageway and disappearing in the darkness, the only thing visible being his own flashlight bobbing up and down. Being an idiot, I followed after him, keeping my eyes on the jumping light through the labyrinth of tunnels.

“Matt let’s just go back, this is getting ridiculous!” I called after him.

His words echoed down back to me, “Hey man I think I heard something over here…”

I saw the light dart to the left, likely another turn in the tunnel, and caught up only to find that his light was nowhere to be seen. I jogged forward a little more hoping to hear his footsteps or something just to point me in his direction. But there was nothing.

“Matt?” I called, “Matt you still there?” my voice bounced uselessly off the walls of the tunnel. I reassured myself it was probably just another one of his idiotic pranks, he always messed with me and Alex, but, something didn’t feel right about it. The feeling of dread grew in the pit of my stomach as I rounded yet another corner just to find more darkness, no light, and no familiar jump scare from Matt just, more tunnels.

Suddenly, the tunnel was filled with a bloodcurdling scream that seemed to come from everywhere around me, stopping me right in my tracks. But just as quickly as it started, it ended, as if cut short by an invisible force. I hesitantly called out to Matt again but there was no answer, only the occasional drip of water from the ceiling. It was at this moment, in this silence, when I heard it.

Footsteps.

I aimed my flashlight down the tunnel thinking it might be Matt running towards me. But as the sound grew louder, it seemed closer to something, running on all fours. Whatever it was, was coming towards me, and getting closer. Without waiting any longer, I dropped my flashlight on the ground and darted into the next passageway, hiding myself in the darkness. Moments passed and as the sounds grew louder I could hear whatever it was, panting and wheezing, seemingly more in pain then from exhaustion.

The flashlight on the ground illuminated the figure now at the mouth of the tunnel. I struggled to stay silent as I gazed at a horrid creature now only a few yards away from me. It was on all fours, its back twisted and bent at a grotesque angle to compensate for its longer back legs. Its skin was pale, bruised and battered, wrapped tight around its skeletal figure. Bones strained and cracked as it bent down to examine the light and it was now that I could see its face. What few strands of hair it had hung wet from its head and swayed as it breathed heavily through its crooked mouth. Unblinking eyes sunk back in its skull, and a glow hung in its pupils like that of a dog’s at night as it continued to study the alien instrument. It cocked its head slightly and the light illuminated more of its facial construction. You need to understand that this thing, was once human.

My heart raced and blood pounded in my ears so loud I prayed that it wouldn’t hear me, prayed those glowing orbs wouldn’t shift in my direction. Without warning it snapped its head upwards with such force an audible snap could be heard from within its neck. It listened for a moment, then let out an inhuman shriek that pierced my ears and echoed down tunnels in every direction, its neck and chest heaving to produce the disturbing noise. I shuddered as a faint echo of another shriek reverberated off the walls followed by another…and another…and another.

There was more than one.

The echoes were coming from everywhere, I couldn’t pinpoint where they were. The deformed being let out another shriek before taking off down the tunnel, leaving me more terrified than ever. I stayed in that corner for what seemed like hours, too petrified to move just listening, every so often hearing one of them howl far off down another tunnel. It was as if they were searching for me…Hunting me.

I had to get out of there, I had to escape. The thought of what these things would do to me if I was found chilled me to the bone. So I did the only thing I could do. I grabbed the flashlight, and ran. Finding my way back was useless, I was completely lost, all I could do was run and pray for an exit of some sort. I kept my eyes forward as I ran quietly down the tunnel, constantly terrified that I would hear the ragged breathed and footfalls of one behind me at any moment. I was about to turn the next corner when my legs snagged on something in front of me and I fell headfirst into a puddle on the ground. In the dim light I could see the outline of a crumpled mass. My mind told myself not to look but, curiosity got the better of me and I grabbed my flashlight, shinning it down to my feet.

I immediately wished I hadn’t.

At my feet lay the body of…Matt. What was left of his mutilated corps was torn open, practically ripping him in two. His organs lay scattered around him and thick blood coated the wall and floor. I shook violently but dared not scream, fear overpowering the sickening sight of my dead friend sprawled on the ground in a heap of blood. Looking away, I got up and sprinted down the tunnels as quietly as I could, turning the flashlight off so as not to attract any more of those, things, I didn’t want to end up like Matt.

I ran for as long as I could even after my legs burned but, eventually, I had to stop. I doubled over, sore and exhausted, covered in sweat and consumed with fear. I heaved as bile rose in my throat delayed from before. My shirt and pants were covered in Matt’s blood and I breathed heavy, trying to regain what ounce of strength I had, shaking as I rose to my feet.

A slight crack sounded from my right…

My hair stood on end and I tried to turn my flash light on but it refused to work.

Another crack sounded, slightly closer…

I panicked and hit the top of the light repeatedly until finally it sparked to life illuminating a thing composed of the stuff of nightmare. Glowing pupils constricted as its eyes widened, lips curled back into a snarl revealing teeth stained with blood and rotted with decay. I inched back in fear as it shifted closer towards me, its shoulder cracking with each stride as if dislocated. My mind screamed at my legs to move, to run, get to out of there as fast as possible, but it wasn’t until the thing threw its head back and screamed to its other pack members that I was released from my terrified trance. I sprinted down the tunnel, fueled with adrenalin. Its head snapped back to me when it saw my movement. It snarled and bounded on all fours with inhuman speed.

I sprinted as fast I could, taking rights and lefts in the disorienting tunnels but its enraged screams were always right behind me. I couldn’t outrun it, I needed to hide or find something to defend myself with, even if fighting was useless. My eyes turned to the wall where rusted pipes ran its length and connected to the ground. In a desperate attempt I grabbed the nearest one and pulled with all my might hoping it would come off the wall with ease. My heart dropped as it moved only slightly and my arms burned as I pulled ruthlessly on the rusted pipe, the shrieks and screams of it, and now others, growing closer and closer.

Finally it came free just in time as the creature crashed around the corner. It lunged at me, arms outstretched and clawing the air. I braced myself and swung with what energy I had left, feeling it collide with the creature’s jaw. A sickening crunch echoed in the tunnel, and the being shrieking in pain and confusion. In blind furry it swatted me away with its arm, knocking me back against the wall so hard I saw stars. It moaned again, its head bent to the left at an absurd angle from where the pipe had collided, before collapsing on the ground. Movement caught my eye behind it, more of these, people, streamed around the corner, their pale bodies crashing into themselves, shrieking all the while. I turned and ran as best I could, clutching my now mangled arm from where I had been hit, only turning back to see them feeding on their fallen comrade. It’s screams of agony went unnoticed as it was now nothing more than food in their minds. It wasn’t long however, before they began to climb over each other to continue the chase, their wild eyes locked on me.

My vision blurred and blood pounded in my head as I ducked past another archway in the tunnel. I had long surpassed my athletic limits and was running on fear alone. I could hear their shrieks and cries just down the tunnel as they raced towards me, limbs and bone clashing as each one tried desperately to get the first bite.

I turned yet another corner and my heart stopped. A sliver of light illuminated the end of the tunnel, a drain pipe, just large enough for a child. There were only moments, seconds even, between me and the mass of deformed bodies that hurtled down the tunnel. There was no time to decide, I bolted for the opening and dived through the narrow space, crawling as fast as I could. It didn’t matter how much the hard pavement scratched and tore at my knees and arms, I was so close to escape but I knew they were right behind me clawing savagely for my legs, enraged by the instinct to feed.

Just as I was nearing the end of the opening, fingers dug into my ankle, bolts of pain shot up my leg and I screamed in agony. I felt something snap in my ankle as it snarled and drove its nails deeper into my skin. I yelled in anguish, struggling as I was pulled back down the pipe. With a last ditch effort I kicked as hard as I could with my free leg feeling it connect with something hard. It shrieked in more in anger than pain, only tightening its steel grip on my leg. I brought my foot down again and again desperately trying to free myself until it finally let go. I looked back to see a bloody tangle of arms and figures, savagely fighting to reach me as I pulled myself along the last remaining inches and fell…

This is where my memory begins to fade…

I remember hitting cold water and seeing the night sky. Too tired to do anything but lay in the water, I remember looking up to see glowing eyes staring back at me through the narrow opening before I welcomed rest, and blacked out…

I was found washed up on the side of a river half dead and suffering from hypothermia. My left ankle was broken and my right forearm completely shattered. I awoke later in the emergency room, doctors told me I was lucky to be alive and before long, police authorities came to question me. I told them everything but, my story was dismissed as a result of stress and shock. As I said before, I can’t sleep, every odd sound sends me into a state of panic, and I can’t deal with reliving every event of that day when I close my eyes. But the worst part, that terrorizes me even more, is that Alex is still there…and that door…

That door is still open.

Credit To – AStoryTeller

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The Blind Painter

January 26, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Some of the most amazing paintings I have ever seen are those of Thomas Allsman. He is a quiet man in his early sixties, and he lives alone in a small old house on the edge of town. Thomas is a portrait painter, the best any of us have ever seen. Each one of his paintings is a Mona Lisa, every little detail of your head, face, and upper body is exact. However, how he paints them is the question.

You see, Thomas Allsman has been completely blind since the day he was born. Somehow though, he can paint you. It’s as if he can “see” you when you’re sitting in front of him, having your portrait painted. How he discovered this ability, or how he can do it, is unknown, he will not tell. If you bring him payment, he will paint you, and he will paint you beautifully.

So I walked up to the front door of his house. I stood there, still and nervous. I was alone, as it is said he will not paint with others around. After a deep breath, I rang the doorbell. I waited a moment. Finally, he opened the door. His gray eyes looked over my head, and he was holding a cane.

“Mr. Allsman, my name is Luke, and I want to be…..” My voice trailed off in nervousness.
“To be painted, right?” He said. “Do you have money to pay me?”
“Of course, two hundred dollars.” I said

Thomas nodded and told me to come inside after I gave him the money. The house’s interior was nice and simple. I eyed a stack of books on a table. One was opened, and I could see it was written in braille. He lead me into a back room and told me to sit on a stool. Nothing was in the room except for a chair and canvas, the stool, and painting supplies. I sat down and he sat behind the canvas.

“Now son, I must warn you, sometimes I paint too far forward.” Thomas said. To far forward? What could that mean? Maybe he sometimes painted the wall behind the person, or the yard outside the house? I dismissed the comment, I had the feeling he wasn’t all there. He started painting. I sat there for what seemed like forever. Neither one of us said a word, and not once did Thomas look at me. His eyes were closed the whole time. Perhaps….he could see me in some way…..

Finally, he put his brush down. “It is done.” He said, and motioned me to come see. The painting was me alright, down to every hair on my head, but the state I was in was….horrible. I was laying on a wooden floor. My throat was sliced open, one of my arms was gone, and I was covered in what looked to be stab wounds, and bruises and blood. My eyes were glazed over and bloodshot. I was dead. Thomas painted me after I had been brutally murdered!? I was even wearing the same outfit I was currently wearing.

I stepped back. “Why did you paint this!? Why would you paint something so horrible happening to me!? Thomas looked down with a grim face.

“I told you, sometimes I paint too far forward.” I was confused. “What does that mean?” I asked. He looked back up at me. “Sometimes I paint something that hasn’t happened yet.”

Credit To – Mara

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Lights Out

January 23, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Once again the story is boring and hard to read. You miss your fifth grade reading book already.

Try as you might, you just can’t stay awake any longer. Your eyelids begin to close all by themselves and the text on the page grows fuzzy. When you realize you’ve read over an entire sentence and remember not a word of it, you decide it’s time for bed.

The usual routines go like clockwork. Wash the hands, brush the teeth (lazily, to preserve that sleepy haze in your brain), swish with mouthwash. Fifteen seconds instead of thirty, like the label says. You don’t care. You’re tired. Spit once, twice. Seems like mouthwash always wants to stay for good. Three times. One last pee before lights out.

Into the bedroom. You dig out your best PJ’s, and clean underwear for sleeping. It’s been really hot all day and the ones you’re wearing have that disgusting moistness to them.

Mom pokes her head in to remind you it’s bedtime, lets out a surprised “Oh” when she sees you’re way ahead of her for once. She gives you a kiss and bids you good night before disappearing down the hall, turning out the bathroom light that you forgot to turn out, yourself.

Dad’s already in bed. Leno delivers his opening monologue from the TV in the folks’ room. He usually konks out before the first commercial break, then the TV will go off and the house will be silent for the night.

All the lights in the house are off except in your bedroom. The street light outside burned out over a year ago and no one’s bothered to fix it, so the neighborhood seems to have vanished into a black void. Somehow it makes the house’s shadows thicker than they ought to be as they creep up the hallway toward your bedroom. You find yourself noticing every night now.

You turn to your bed, eyes instinctively dropping to the dark slit underneath. Except for that blackness, the entire room always looks deceptively cheerful when the light is on. Funny how you used to be scared of the closet when you were five. Dad used to tell you all the time that there was nothing hiding in the closet, and he was right.

You reach for the light switch by the door, eyes still locked on the underside of the bed. Somehow it stares back.

Your hand stops. Better not just yet. You turn on the bedside lamp first, then walk back across the room and flip the light switch. The room dims, but a safe yellow aura envelops the bed.

It’s only three feet to the mattress. Last summer Mom insisted on rearranging the entire house, including your room. The bed used to be tucked snugly in the corner; now it rests near the center of the room, with only the headboard leaning against a wall. Sleeping in it makes you feel exposed. Stepping near the shadow under the bed fills you with the sensation of teetering on the edge of a steep cliff or stepping too close to a lagoon filled with crocodiles. When it was in the corner you could get a full running start and dive under the covers.

You take a step toward the bed, diverting your eyes to the pillows. Don’t acknowledge it. It’s nothing to be afraid of. A figment of your over-active imagination. That’s all.

You clear the next two feet with a graceful bound, landing square on the center of the mattress. Climb under the comforter, tuck the bottom under your feet so there’s no way to reach in. Wrap yourself like a burrito. Nice and cozy. Except now you’re wide awake.

The hum of the air conditioner is a slight comfort. It’s deep and gentle, almost animal-like, and hopefully the only sound you’ll hear tonight. Soothing ambience always helps you get to sleep better.

You have to pee again. Not a lot, but just enough to keep you from falling asleep straight away. It always happens after all the lights are out and you’re neatly tucked into bed, but hours before your eyes have had time to adjust to the darkness.

You could probably leap clear of the bed and make it to the bathroom with little incident, but then you’d have to hope it didn’t decide to follow you. And sometimes it’s not under the bed. Sometimes it’s somewhere else in the house. You hear it wandering around out there on rare occasions, when everyone else is asleep. You almost bumped into it on the way to the kitchen late one night. Since then you’ve never set foot outside the room after bedtime for fear of being ambushed.

You decide to tough it out. You don’t have to pee that bad. Pulling the comforter up to your cheeks, you close your eyes and try to focus on the hum of the air conditioner.

Then it shuts off. The hum dies with a deep sigh and a dull “kathunk”. Silence.

Outside not a single leaf rustles. Your ears don’t even ring from the day’s noise. You start to wish for a car alarm, or a catfight, or the distant blare of a passing train. The house is dead calm. All you can do is lie there, wrapped in the comforter ever-tighter, and try to focus on the darkness behind your eyelids until you pass out.

Maybe you won’t hear it speak if you go to sleep quickly enough. The few times it spoke, it called you by name — it’s known your name from the beginning — and when it was sure you were listening intently, it giggled. Then it was quiet the rest of the night.

It doesn’t stir often enough for you to get used to it. Once or twice every other month. Usually you just hear its voice somewhere in your room, laughing quietly to itself — a soft voice, almost a whisper but not quite. It always sounds like it’s coming from the entire room, but you know its origin is under there, in the shadows. The worst part is its unbearably motherly tone, like its desire to do unspeakable things to you has escalated to adoration.

Just the thought of hearing it talk sends chills up your spine. You pull the comforter over your head, curling into a fetal position, eyes tightly shut.

You’re not sure how long you’ve been lying there, curled into a pitiful and slightly painful little ball. Your joints ache. Has an hour passed? A few minutes? Will daylight never come? You want to peek out of your haven to check the time, but the fear of seeing the thing staring back at you freezes every joint in your body. But if it were standing at the side of the bed just now, watching you, it makes no sense that it would only wait until you’d seen it to pounce on you, and a lot of good the comforter would do for protection.

The house is so deathly silent…maybe a little peek won’t hurt…

Your eyes have fully adjusted to the dark. Peering through a small hole between the covers and the mattress, you can discern every piece of furniture in your room, and every poster on the wall.

The bedside clock reads…eleven-oh-oh. Less than an hour has passed since you went to bed, but it appears you dozed off at some point. The house is just as unnervingly still as it was when you slipped away. Maybe the stillness, itself, jarred you to waking.

No. No, that isn’t it. That isn’t it at all. The house isn’t completely still. Though the floor of your room is draped in blackness as far out as the hallway, you swear you spot a twitch of movement. Sudden and swift, like something darting out of view to avoid detection.

The voice whispers your name. You’re not sure you heard it at first — not because it’s so quiet, but because part of your mind is trying so desperately to shut it out. Your throat seals up. You feel all the blood drain from your face as you pinpoint the source at the foot of the bed.

“The hunger’s too much to bear,” it whispers.

Resistance is beyond you now: terror has taken control of your body. You stare down the comforter toward your feet.

It’s looking at you. Peering over the lumps in the sheets, staring with two sightless slits in a dry, shriveled, hairless head. Its mouth stretches into an insane grin, like those found on the embalmed faces behind museum glass. How long has it been watching you?

You want to scream and pull your feet back from the thing’s horrible face, but your legs ignore the command again and again, even as those ghastly fingers slither onto the mattress and take hold of the right foot. Even as it pulls your foot closer and stuffs it, still wrapped in the comforter, into that gaping, grinning mouth. It has no teeth. It has no teeth but its nails are like razor chisels. It has no teeth so it minces its food by hand.

With a horrified cry you break free of your trance and reel your legs in, ducking under the comforter. You scream again and again, calling for help, but all that comes out is sobbing incoherence. It’s climbing onto the bed now, clawing at the covers, its bony arms reaching inside, searching for something to grab a hold of. It’s going to drag you onto the floor, and from there you daren’t think. You swat its hands away frantically, screaming at the feel of its leathery skin, gagging at the smell of its cold, rancid breath as it whispers in your ears through the comforter, madly repeating with awful glee, “It’s too much to bear! It’s too much to bear!”

Light floods the room. Still sobbing and kicking, you suddenly realize you’re alone on the bed. At the door, Dad stands with his hand on the light switch and a concerned look on his face. He speaks, but what you hear is unintelligible at first.

Your eyes jump from one end of the room to the other. It’s nowhere to be found. Your skin still shudders from its touch, and that graveyard stench still lingers in your nostrils, but the moment you acknowledge either sensation it vanishes.

Dad’s voice draws your attention back to the door. Now Mom is there, too, asking about the noise. The moment Dad mentions bad dreams she’s sitting on the bed with her arms around you, kissing you gently on the head and asking if you’re all right.

You want more than anything to throw your arms around them both and cry. Instead, with a nod and a sniffle you play along, admitting your dreams haven’t shaken you up this badly in a while, but swearing that you’re okay now. Confident they’ve chased the demons off once again, Mom and Dad kiss you goodnight and plunge you back into darkness.

Monsters are never real to adults. They always find an explanation. Something you ate. Reading scary stories or watching scary movies before bed. Your overactive imagination. The solution is always attention or medication or visits to a psychiatrist. They’re never real.

Maybe it’ll get you someday, and it’ll be the grown-ups’ fault. Mom and Dad will come into their “imaginative” child’s room one day and find it mysteriously empty, or perhaps they’ll turn on the lights and find the thing there instead, sitting on the bed with a bloated belly and that horrible eyeless grin.

They may come up with an explanation for that, too.

You curl up under the comforter again, eyes closed, mind struggling to shut out the unnerving silence. Sleep may yet find you if your thoughts remain on mundane subjects, like school. Mom suggested it once when you were seven, and it always seemed to work. But now you may never sleep again.

The thing giggles.

You open your eyes partway to scan the floor for movement, but it’ll be hours before they adjust to the darkness again. Pulling the covers over your head like before, you curl into a ball and wait.

The room is silent the rest of the night.

Credit To – Mike MacDee

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The Writer’s Ink

January 22, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Jonathan sat trembling in the dark. He stared at nothing, his eyes not penetrating the circle of blackness that surrounded him. A single lamp illuminated the round table he sat at, allowing him enough light to see the edges of it and nothing more. A tea pot and half-empty cup sat in the centre. With a trembling hand he reached toward it and took it towards his lips, not truly looking at it as he drank. He set the cup down on a plate. The cup rattled against it, the only sound save for the thunder that rumbled in the distance.

He heard a switch flick. Jonathan shut his eyes for a moment, temporarily blinded by the harshness of the light that filled the room. He opened them again to see a small, white kitchen. A single window and two doors broke the array of cabinets the covered the walls.

Standing in an open door was Chris, Jonathan’s friend and housemate. He had a hand on the light switch.

“John, what are you doing? It’s after midnight!” Chris asked.

Jonathan kept staring forward and didn’t reply.

“John, answer me. This is the third time I’ve caught you up like this. What are you doing?”

After a moment’s pause Jonathan replied, speaking in a dry, quiet voice. “I had the dream again.” He still stared unblinking toward the window, though he didn’t seem to notice what was behind it. Chris flinched.

For months now, Jonathan had been experiencing the same recurring dream. In it, he stood outside his own life, looking in at it. He saw himself live his own life, going through the same daily routine and experiences over and over again. However, something about it all seemed unreal. All his actions were artificial, all his conversations seemed planned. A strange feeling that something wasn’t quite right filled him and grew and grew. Slowly, and so gradually he barely noticed, his actions were replaced with words. Instead of seeing things happen he read them in a massive wall of text that described his every movement. His conversations came in quotation marks which he read instead of spoke. Soon his entire life seemed to be a novel, running forward toward a conclusion that was always surrounded in haze. When he got to the end, he always awoke, but the feeling never left. Even sometimes when he was awake he began to lose his feelings of normality. For brief moments, barely noticeable, he saw objects described in text rather than in their own form, and his own movements seemed to be described by a nameless narrator.

Chris sighed and walked forward. He rested a hand on Jonathan’s shoulder and spoke in a reassuring voice. “Listen, John, I know you are worried. But you have to remember, it’s just a dream! You have been very stressed lately and started having nightmares. It happens, and its nothing to worry about.”

Jonathan chuckled slightly. “Oh no, no it isn’t.”

“What do you mean? Look, John, get back to sleep. You’re starting to worry me.”

For the first time that night, Jonathan stood and faced Chris. He was taller than Chris, and the shadow he cast obstructed Chris’ face. “Don’t tell me you haven’t had that feeling! That creeping, inching suspicion that something isn’t right? Doesn’t everything just seem too dramatic, too convenient? THIS ISN’T HOW REALITY SHOULD BE! THIS ISN’T HOW PEOPLE SHOULD BE SPEAKING, IT ISN’T HOW THEY ACT!” Jonathan realized he was shouting and stopped. He breathed heavily and tried to calm down, resting his head in his hands.

Chris looked at him with worried eyes. “Alright, John, here’s what we are going to do. Just go back to sleep for now. Tomorrow we are going to make an appointment with Dr. Limestone. She helped you with the dreams before, and…”

“No.” Jonathan said, shaking his head. “No, I am not going back to Dr. Limestone! She isn’t going to fix this, she isn’t going to solve the problem. She isn’t part of it and I don’t even think she is a character.”

“John, what are you talking about? A character in what?”

“THE BOOK! Don’t you get it yet? I don’t know if it’s a comedy, or a drama, or what… But we are all part of it, and I don’t think she is.” That was the most horrifying part of his dreams. He felt as if hundreds of eyes were reading the text along with him, learning his every movement as if they were plot points in a story. He still had the feeling at that very moment, that in a strange, twisted way, he was being watched.

Chris stared at him, not knowing what to say. Jonathan stood up out of his chair and faced him, holding his hands in front of himself as if pleading Chris to understand. The tea cup fell from his hand, shattering on the ground. “Look, isn’t this all just too convenient? Doesn’t it ever feel that way? Listen to that thunder. Doesn’t it seem like a perfect setting? And everything is like that! The lights when you entered, the tea cup, by god, even the way I’m standing! This isn’t how things work! They don’t come together to make themes! Weather shouldn’t just suit my mood like this. Do you not see it!?”

Chris was taken aback. “Well uhh… John, that’s all just ridiculous. Storms happen, whether you are angry or not. The tea cup was an accident, and we can get a new one. Now what is this about Dr. Limestone? What do you mean she isn’t a character?”

Jonathan went back to holding his head in his hands. “I know I am not going to see the doctor because she hasn’t been described. I have no idea what she looks like.”

“What?”

“If this was real life, then there would hundreds of little, insignificant things happening. I would know dozens of people and unimportant details. But this isn’t real life, and anything that isn’t part of the story won’t be described. I am not going to see Dr. Limestone. Outside of this conversation, she doesn’t exist, and we don’t even know what she looks like.”

“John, that’s ridiculous! This is beside the point…”

“Really? Describe her.”

Chris opened his mouth to respond, then stopped. He realized he truly had no idea.

“Well, she was a psychiatrist…”

“that had helped me with the dreams before? Is that what you were going to say? Because that was established for this conversation. You have no idea what she looks like, do you?”

Chris paused. That was exactly what he was going to say, down to referring to Jonathan in the third person. It did seem odd. “Well that doesn’t mean anything! We’ve just forgotten, that’s all. We haven’t seen her in months. Anyway, it isn’t important, what is important is that…” Chris said.

“STOP TRYING TO RATIONALIZE WHAT SHOULDN’T BE! There is no reason for us not to know what she looks like. It’s just a freaking plot device, that’s all it is. Even what you just did there, trying to change the topic to hide parts that haven’t been fleshed out! This isn’t how people act Chris.”

“Well, all right, but still that doesn’t mean anything. It’s just one person.”

“Oh really? Describe our neighbor’s to me. Describe your PARENTS. Describe anyone who isn’t directly related to this conversation, and I will believe you.”

Chris stared at him in shock, not knowing what to say. He searched his mind for anything, for his neighbours face, for his parent’s image, and found nothing. Over and over again he tried and came up blank.

“Well… Oh god… I don’t know. Maybe we are all just tired.” Chris said.

“Thank you Chris. Haha, Chris or Christ, my want to be protector and savior, who shines a light into my darkness! Nice imagery there, eh? Just like the storm? Alright then. What did you have for breakfast this morning?”

“I don’t know! It’s not important!”

“EXACTLY! ITS NOT IMPORTANT! We don’t know anything that isn’t directly important. Why is that? Why the hell should that be? It’s just too god damn convenient! Look, if this is actually a house we have been living in, you should be able to answer me this question at least. What is behind that door?” Jonathan pointed toward the closed door at the other end of the kitchen.

“I… I don’t know. I don’t know what to say.”

“Exactly! There is no reason for two people who have lived in a household for years to not know what is behind a single door. It just wasn’t relevant when you turned on the lights, so it wasn’t described. ”

“Alright John, alright. Say you are right and we are just in a story, what then? Do we open the door?”

“I don’t know. It is there for a reason now, we have drawn attention to it. Now there has to be something important.”

“Oh god, so now you think just be talking about things we can influence the freaking universe? That’s insane.”

“No, it must be! Look, it’s like the tea. I had the tea so that the rattling glass and the broken cup could represent my emotions. Now that we have drawn attention to that door, it must represent something. This is how it works, yes? You turned on the light, flooding light into my darkness, but I denied it and put you into my shadow.” For a second he closed his eyes. He hadn’t seen Chris hit the switch, but the words “he had a hand on the light switch” flooded his mind in black lettering. “It’s all foreshadowing! So when the kitchen had two doors, one open and one closed, there is something important behind the closed one. Chekov’s Gun, right? You came in from one to help me sort this out in part one. Part two occurs behind that door.”

“Well what then, should we open it?”

“I don’t know. We don’t know what is behind it. We don’t even know what type of story this is!”

“That’s true… This could be a drama, an action, a comedy… That wouldn’t be too bad. Perhaps this is all just a joke!”

“Really? You want to live in a comedy? Do you realize people would be laughing at us, our every move? What if we are just two buffoons for people to mock? God, If we were just two cartoonish idiots, would we even have the intelligence to tell?”

“I… I hadn’t thought of that. It is still better then a tragedy.”

“I… I don’t know. Look, we can work this out. It can’t be an action, neither of us really knows how to fight or carries any weapons.” Jonathan spoke, realizing he established it as fact as he said it. “I don’t think it is a comedy, because we would probably be able to remember funnier things happening. Then again, maybe we wouldn’t as part of the plot… I don’t know.”

“Hopefully it’s a drama, or a romance. Imagine if this entire thing was just to set us up with some perfect woman?” Chris said hopefully.

“I don’t know. Look, we should be able to tell what this is from our surroundings. The writing and descriptions should reflect what the plot is. We should see foreshadowing, maybe we can pick it out.” A slow realization began to dawn on Jonathan. Though he kept guessing, in his heart he knew exactly what sort of story he was in.

“Alright, well then what can we learn from this kitchen?” Chris asked.

Jonathan thought for a moment. “Everything in this conversation, and the things we have talked about, revolve around myself. I think it is safe to say I am the main character here.”

“Alright” Chris said, nodding and following along. “Then what has happened to you recently?”

“I’m worried Chris. With the thunder, the darkness, the nightmares, the falling cup… I don’t think this is a happy story. Something bad is going to happen, and it is going to happen soon.” As he spoke, thunder once again boomed on the horizon, and a flash of lightning filled the window with jagged light.

Chris swallowed. “Alright then. Do we open the door? Neither of us knows what is behind it, I think it’s safe to say we weren’t supposed to know. Somehow you’ve broken the mold. What do we do?”

Jonathan squeezed his eyes closed and gripped the back of his chair. He hadn’t even realized he had stood behind it. His knuckles turned white. Finally, he spoke. “If this is the sort of story I think it is, I don’t think we have a choice. Either we go through that door and figure out what is behind it, or it is going to come and get us. If we are the main characters, then we should be safe. Usually they survive.”

“Usually? Not always?”

“Usually.”

Chris looked at Jonathan, then toward the door. “Alright then, we might as well get it over with. If I am the sidekick here, I guess that’s my job. I’m Christ anyway, right? I bring light into dark areas? I’m the sacrifice?”

“Chris! Don’t joke about that! Look, I don’t know…”

“Don’t worry! Like you said, we are safe, right? We are the main characters. We never die in the first act. Maybe it will just end up being a big joke anyway.”

Though he was still terrified, Jonathan slowly nodded. He couldn’t help but think that, by breaking their own plot line, they would no longer be safe as the heroes in a story. He feared to voice the complaint, as by saying it, he knew he would make it fact. He watched Christ walk forward and open the door carefully. The hinges squeaked as it opened, and a cloud of dust came into the kitchen. It was clear the door hadn’t been opened for a long, long time.

Beyond the door was near pitch black. Chris reached into a nearby drawer and took out a flash light. He turned it on and shone it into the darkness beyond, revealing a narrow wooden staircase that descended between two stone walls. He walked slowly down the stairs. Jonathan came behind him and followed into the unknown darkness.

Chris reached the end of the stairwell and paused. He turned to face into a small room, shining his light around.

“Dear.. Dear god John. This isn’t a comedy. This is a horror.”

Jonathan followed his gaze to find his worst fears confirmed. The floor of the room was covered with fine black dirt. Scattered across it were dozens of broken bones and skeletons along with ancient weapons. The walls were covered with blood red writing scrawled in dozens of languages, from ancient runes to modern letters in languages neither person could understand.

“RUN CHRIS! WE SOULDN’T HAVE COME HERE!” Jonathan shouted as he sprinted up the stairs. The entire building began shaking. The low rumbling he had once thought was thunder became a continuous noise that seemed to come from every direction at once. He ran toward the kitchen, but stopped in the doorway. The cabinets at the far end of the kitchen began to lose their form. They blurred then turned into written words, becoming replaced with descriptions of themselves. “Large white cabinet, with a silver handle. Small thin cabinet, with a golden handle. Electric oven, four stoves on top, black wit rnis of stl as black mltae slag asdf sdg
dsg sdfsdg&helli
p;” sdg dsg sdfg

sdgf gf

f
sd

d
The letters began to slide down, mixing and forming indecipherable gibberish before disappearing into an ever growing sea of inky darkness. Jonathan realized that, having found out the truth and broken his role, he had removed the very thing that held his plot together. By going outside his own story he had destroyed his fictional universe.

Chris didn’t stop when Jonathan did. He ran into Jonathan’s back, and they both fell forward. Chris didn’t seem to notice what was happening and crawled forward, calling to Jonathan to keep running.

“NO! DON’T GO IN THERE! IT ISN’T REAL!” Jonathan shouted. Chris screamed as he finally saw walls melt around him. He crawled and clawed back towards the stairwell, but was overcome by the descending wall of letters. His feet began to change slowly. His face contorted in a look of incomprehensible horror as he saw his legs dissolve into letters, then disappear forever. He kept crawling forward, but nothing he could do would change his fate.

Jonathan watched in terror as his friend dissolved into oblivion. The very universe he lived in was dissolving around him. He turned and began to run down the stairs again, preferring the horror of the skeletons to the certain death in the kitchen.

He stumbled at the bottom and collapsed onto the dirt floor. His head scraped along the ground, forming a long gouge over his right eye that blinded it with blood. With his good eye he turned to see his fate. The oncoming wall of letters kept coming down the stairs, then stopped at the base. The letters molded together, filling in all the white space and forming a black wall. Jonathan felt it, and realized it became part of the same stone wall that now surrounded him. Using the dropped flashlight he looked around. He was trapped in a square stone room no more than twenty feet across.

Jonathan sat in the centre of the room, not knowing what to do. Time seemed to slip away, and he had no knowledge of its passing. He had no idea if he was there for minutes, or days, or years, or even centuries. He simply remained trapped alone in the darkness. Though he may have guessed he was there for days, the flashlight never dimmed, and the blood never stopped pouring from his head. There was nothing for him to do and he felt no reason to move.

Alone with an eternity to himself, he began to contemplate what had happened. He thought oh his own life, of his existence, and how he had come to be. He thought about himself. It seemed wrong to think that way.’Himself’ implied he was an actual living being, and he wasn’t sure if that was truly fitting. It suited him more to think in the third person, as he would have been written in the story. Was it fair to say he was ever anything more then that, a fictional creation?

His thoughts turned to the room. He had no idea where he was, or how the poor souls who had become the skeletons that surrounded him had found their way into the small, black cell. Perhaps he would join them. Perhaps someone else would come to inhabit the small space, and he would be gone forever. Perhaps it had already happened, and without a sense of time he hadn’t realized it. The thought sent a chill down his spine. He didn’t know what was worse- an eternal life in a cage, or simply ceasing to exist with no sign that he ever was. With no sense of time in this strange world, who was to say that it hadn’t already happened? Perhaps both were true in their own way. He realized he needed to leave some kind of permanent mark, so that somehow, maybe, another person might know he existed. He had to tell his story. With all the time imaginable to spare, and no time at all to lose, he thought about what he had to do.

After some time, though he had no idea how much, he stood up again. As if compelled by an unseen force, he walked toward the wall. He dipped his hand in the blood that flowed down his face and put it on the stone. He made lines which formed letters, then the letters formed words, and finally the words formed a story.

It began “Jonathan sat trembling in the dark…”

Credit To – Eric

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Just Your Typical Saturday Night

January 19, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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​It’s Saturday night and I’m home alone playing a video game. Not exactly the exciting partying life you’d expect from a college student, but what else could I do? My parents had the car. In fact, my parents drove off to Maine for a mini-vacation, and while I’m heating up a frozen pizza for dinner, they’re probably stuffing their faces with lobster. It’s okay though; they originally didn’t want to go without me when I told them I had an English paper to write this weekend, but I told them I preferred to be alone so I could focus on the paper.

​I wasn’t writing it now, though. It was around 7 o’ clock. Not really late, but since it was winter it was already dark out, so I decided to take advantage of the darkness and play my “Resident Evil” video game. It was a horror/suspense game centered around a zombie infestation, and to maximize my playing experience I always played at night when it was dark out, shutting off all the lights inside, as well as making sure there was no excess noise anywhere (read: my parents are asleep). It might sound like a stupid thing to do, but you don’t know true terror until you’re in a dark open space and the only thing visible is your big screen TV showing a zombie slowly limping toward you.

​So I’m playing my game, sucked up in the moment, and terrified as my character is making his way through an abandoned zombified subway station, when the phone rings from the kitchen and scares me half to death. “Thank God my parents put the volume on super-extra-loud before they left so I wouldn’t miss their calls,” I thought to myself as I went and got the phone, only to see “MEMBER SERVCS” show up on the Caller I.D. I was pretty mad, not only did these people interrupt my game and scare me, they already called this morning and left a message on the answering machine trying to ‘lower my mortgage interest rate’ or some bullshit like that. I picked up and before some woman could finish saying hello, I angrily shouted “I’m not interested in lowering my fucking interest rate, you made me die in my game, stop fucking calling my house” and hung up.

​Since my gaming ritual was disturbed, I took the opportunity to eat the pizza I made and browse the internet for a few minutes (and took the battery out of that stupid phone and threw it across the room. I actually think I broke it). I had to take advantage of being home alone, so I decided to continue playing my game, but a minute after shutting off the lights and getting back into the perfect atmosphere, I heard the sound of my gate opening outside. I paused the game and quietly snuck upstairs to look out the window to try to see who came. Upon looking out, I saw a Con Edison truck double parked outside. I saw a figure make its way back to the front of the house coming from the side, and shrugged it off as a Con Ed employee and doing a scan. (Con Edison is our electricity provider and they do that once a month: just come by and scan something on the side of the house to check how much electricity has been used, or so my Mom told me once.) I continued to spy on the guy, waiting for him to leave, but he paused in front of the house, looking at the device in his hands. After a few seconds, he made his way to the front door and rang the bell.

​I considered not answering, hoping he’d just leave. Sad to say, but I was a coward. I lived in New York and this guy could be some psychopath trying to kill or rob me. That shit happens all the time here, check the news. After about thirty seconds, he rang the bell again. I built up some resolve: I was a twenty year old college student, and I was a pretty big guy, worse comes to worse I just close the door on him and call the cops. (Call from the phone whose battery I just broke. Not a great move considering I left my cell phone in the car, 5 hours away) Besides, this guy probably just wanted to ask a question or tell me something trivial, he worked for Con Ed for god’s sake.

I rushed back down to the first floor and opened the window next to the door, casually saying “Hey sorry I was in the bathroom. What’s up?” I inspected the guy since I could see his face clearly now. Pretty decent looking guy, he was white and had average brown eyes and unkempt inch-long dark brown hair that was almost black (maybe it was the lighting; the place was still dark from when I was gaming). He wore what looked like a standard Con Ed uniform and held the scanning device under his arm. Probably around 30 years old. He had a friendly smile and seemed to be full of energy, despite working so late on a weekend; he probably wasn’t married or had any kids.

“Sorry to disturb you,” he said, “but there seem to be some abnormalities with current running in your house. Can I come in and take a look at your fuse box?”

I hesitated. He wanted to come inside. I took another look at his uniform and snuck a glance at his van. After a few seconds I reluctantly muttered “Uhhh yeah sure.”

I unlocked and opened the door and ran over to turn some lamps on. The Con Ed guy came inside, pushed the door closed, and enthusiastically said “Thanks. I’ll try to make this quick.” I led him downstairs to the fuse box, and as we passed the TV, with my game still on pause from the phone call, the Con Ed guy said “Oh wow Resident Evil. My kid loves this game.”

I was pretty shocked at this, in a curious way. I stole another glance at this guy’s face. He still looked young enough for me to reason that he didn’t have kids. Normally I’m not good at judging superficial characteristics, because I just don’t pay attention to them, but I really thought I had this guy pegged. Not only did he have more energy than I figured a parent oh a young kid could have, but he genuinely looked 30. (And since I’d just been playing my game, my observational senses were heightened. Trust me, I was in survive-a-zombie-apocalypse mode.) If this guy was 30 like I thought, then his son would be maybe 12 years old, assuming he him at age 18. Resident Evil wasn’t a game 12 year olds should be playing.

“Oh really?” I feigned innocence. “Do you play with him?” I figure this would give me some indication of how old his son could be.

“Her,” he corrected. “No, she plays on her own. Oh I see it.” He opened the fuse box and started messing around with its contents.

‘Her?’ I thought to myself. I hardly encounter female gamers, and definitely not ones who play horror genre, let alone being so young. But whatever.

“I’ll need to work on this for a bit,” the Con Ed guy said as he interrupted my thoughts, and pulled a few tools out of his pocket. He mentioned something about what the abnormality in the current was, but honestly I didn’t understand.

After a few minutes of awkward silence and me just standing around watching him work, I decided to offer him a beverage. “Could I get you a bottle of water or something?”

“Sure that’d be great,” he said. “It’ll just be a few more minutes; I think I found the problem.”

I walked upstairs and took my time getting the water. I wasn’t in a rush to go back down there with him. When I got the bottle and went back to the stairs, I noticed the front door leading outside was slightly open. The last time I saw the door was when the Con Ed guy came in, and I was sure he closed it. Did someone come in? I looked around first floor and even went upstairs, just half-checking upstairs though, it was scary up there in the dark, especially with the thought of a stranger lurking around somewhere (although I strangely took comfort in the Con Ed guy being in the house so that I wasn’t alone).

I shrugged it off; half-hoping it was just my imagination. The thing is, we had Sloman’s Shield protecting our house, so that if the door was opened the system would make a beeping sound that I would have heard, even from the basement. It was definitely working, because I heard the beep when I opened the door for the Con Ed guy. I closed and even locked the door, and went back downstairs and offered the Con Ed guy his bottle of water. He seemed to be finished, since he was putting his tools back into his pocket.

“Thanks,” he said as I gave him the water. After drinking a bit, he said “I fixed the problem, everything should be running smoothly now.”

“Well thanks then” I said, leading the way back upstairs. I wondered if things weren’t running smoothly all this time. Everything seemed fine. The microwave was weaker than usual: we had to heat things up longer than we normally would, but we just attributed that to the microwave being 5 years old and needing replacing.

My mind already off this night’s interruption, I started considering whether or not I should continue to play my game or if I should work on my paper, when what I saw something bewildered me. The front door was slightly open again.

The door pushed opened slowly. Why didn’t the alarm make its usual beep? A young woman around my age entered, wearing the same uniform as the Con Ed guy, but it looked too big for her. She glanced behind me before looking at me, but when our eyes locked she drew a hideous contorted smile on her face. I froze. The combination of her evil gaze and the presence of the man behind me filled me with a sinking feeling in my stomach.

I slowly backed my way into a wall so that they were both in my field of vision. The man stood in place looking at me, but he lost the energy he carried before. He looked older, his face now visibly worn from age. He was no longer smiling. He had a serious, almost sad look in his once vibrant eyes. Turning my attention back to the woman who closed the distance between us, I noticed both of her hands held something. In one hand she held a gun, and in the other hand she held a cell phone that had a case eerily similar to mine.

“What do you want?” I asked in desperation.

“Don’t worry sweetie,” the woman’s familiar voice said as she held the gun up and released the safety. “We’re not here to lower your interest rates.”

Credit To – Tariq R.

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