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O’Malley’s Family Restaurant

March 5, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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As younger siblings tend to do, I absolutely worshipped my older brother Calvin. He always seemed like the coolest person in the world to me. Everybody liked him. He was president of his class, a star baseball player, and just had an all around great personality. All the girls thought that he was such a stud, much to my surprise. And although he was older, Calvin wasn’t the stereotypical monster. I think that’s why we got along so well.

For one thing, he would never dream of hurting me in any way. When I told my psychiatrists this, they couldn’t believe it. An older brother that never once tortured his younger sister? There was no way one of those existed anywhere. But Calvin was different. His bedroom door was always open whenever I needed someone to talk to. He’d let me lie on his floor and listen to his records with him while he did his homework. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.

As the two of us grew up, in a small town in the middle of Rhode Island, we only became closer. Maybe it was because of our family situation, but we both needed each other greatly. Our father was an alcoholic. He’d come home drunk most of the time, and take out all of his anger on us. Calvin never let him get to me, though. He would let me sleep with him in his bed most nights, so I wouldn’t have to hear our parents fighting through the bedroom walls alone.

Our mother was helpless, but tried her hardest. She was controlled by him, and was stuck in a bad situation. She often thought about leaving with us, but with our control freak of a dad, it was out of the question. Sadly, Mom died when I was thirteen. The autopsy showed that she had had an overdose on painkillers. They ruled it as accidental, but I was never so sure. After she was gone, our father only got worse. It got so bad that the second he graduated, Calvin moved into an apartment on the other side of town, and took me with him. Our father barely protested. I’m pretty sure he never wanted kids in the first place.

From then on, it was just Calvin and I, on our own in the big world. He attended the local community college, and worked part time at a grocery store. It wasn’t the most glamorous thing, but it helped to get food on the table. I was hard to look after. I was deeply disturbed after such a tough childhood. I wasn’t good at making friends or being friendly. But my brother never turned his back on me. We were away from our broken home, and were happy just to have each other.

It’s at this point in our lives that we made the biggest mistake we ever could. The two of us didn’t know it at the time. But to this day, I still regret picking up that phone more than anything.

It was the end of summer, around 1976. The winds were brisk, as early September was approaching fast. Calvin and I had been on our own then for about two years. I was fifteen; he was nineteen. I remember that I was sitting at the kitchen table, finishing my homework. Calvin was working on fixing frozen TV dinners. The phone was in the living room. I jumped up immediately when it started to ring.

“Hello?” I asked into the receiver. It was Joey Malone. Joey was my brother’s best friend in high school. The two of them were practically joined at the hip, until they went their separate ways for college. Joey was in Miami, and I could hear the longing for his friend in his voice. After we caught up for a brief moment, he turned serious.

“Hey, lemme talk to your brother real quick,” Joey said. “I’ve got some news that I think he might like.” I rolled my eyes playfully and handed the receiver to Calvin. I could hear my brother laughing from the living room as he caught up with his old friend. They must have been on the phone for a good hour, because I had already taken our TV dinners out of the oven and had finished mine by time Calvin walked in.

“Hey, sorry about that, Laurel,” He smiled softly, taking a seat across from me. “Man, you’ll never believe what Joey’s been up to!” I cocked an eyebrow suspiciously.

“Is he locked up in prison already?” I joked.

“No, but he might as well be. His neighbors are going away for Labor Day weekend, and he’s throwing a monster party in their house while they’re gone! He’s invited us to come and crash it! Can you believe it?” He chuckled, taking a bite of frozen chicken.

I should have known right then that we shouldn’t go. It was illegal to break into someone’s home, but even more illegal to throw a party in it. I should have known that it wasn’t a good idea. But I was naïve, fifteen-year-old girl. So of course, I agreed.

Calvin and I planned to drive up to Joey’s house. It would take us a while from Rhode Island, but the two of us were so stoked, we didn’t even care. We spent the long car ride blasting the Doors on the radio, and singing the lyrics way off key. This was definitely when I felt most content. Little did I know the terror that we’d be thrown into later that night…if I had, I would have made Calvin turn the car around and drive off a cliff.

We had been in Calvin’s truck for who knows how long. It was around nine o’ clock that night when we noticed that we were in a nowhere land. Our map said we were in New Jersey, but it didn’t seem like it.

“Are you sure we aren’t lost?” I asked my brother as I chewed a wad of bubblegum. He kept his eyes firmly on the road ahead of us, nodding his head.

“Of course we aren’t. Joey told me the directions himself.” I rolled my eyes, blowing a bubble.

We must have been driving through nothing but trees for another hour before I finally declared that we were lost. My brother had the crazy idea that his best friend was some kind of genius, but I knew better. Calvin was getting tired. I was getting restless. I had been sitting in the same position for too long, and I couldn’t feel my legs.

“Can we please pull over somewhere?” I whined.

“Don’t you think I would have about two hours ago? There’s nowhere to pull over to.” Calvin replied, stifling a cough. It turned into a slight wheeze, which caused my ears to perk up.

“Are you okay?” I asked him, concern filling my voice. He nodded, brushing it off as just a tickle in his throat. Usually that would have been enough to disinterest me. But that night, I was on full alert. Calvin had really bad asthma. I’d almost lost him many times because of it, which was scary to think about. Almost as scary as the endless road in front of us.

It was about thirty minutes later that Calvin began to get frustrated.

“Shit,” He’d grumble to himself. “That jackass had no idea what he was talking about.” I didn’t reply. I knew he wouldn’t admit that I was right. I was beginning to feel really uncomfortable with our surroundings. It was weird that we had driven hours through nothing but trees, only seeing another passing car every fifty miles or so. I didn’t want to admit it, but I was scared. Where were we going to sleep? On the side of the road? Just the thought of that creeped me out.

Both of us were hungry. At one point, Calvin had asked me to check the map to see if there were any rest stops or motels anywhere close. There weren’t. Not until it was about ten thirty. Calvin was practically falling asleep at the wheel, when my eyes fell upon a small speck on our ancient looking map.

“Calvin! Get up!” I shook him, excitement rising in my voice. “There’s a restaurant coming up in about twenty miles!” His eyes popped open.

“Are you serious?” He asked.

“Yeah! There should be an exit up ahead somewhere.” I couldn’t believe our luck. It did strike me as odd that this was the only sign of civilization for hundreds of miles, but I was so hungry, I didn’t care. I gave Calvin the directions to the place. There weren’t any signs in the pitch-black forests, but I knew that we were getting close.

Pretty soon, Calvin turned, and there it was. The place looked like your typical 1950’s styled diner. It was a small building with large glass windows, making it easy to look inside. I could see a few people sitting down. Calvin parked on the dirt road outside. I jumped out anxiously, dying to stretch my legs. It was a lot colder in that area. I pulled a sweatshirt over my head, as Calvin buttoned up his jacket. I could smell coffee and homemade pie drifting out through the sliding glass door.

Calvin and I walked side by side. As I looked up at the sign, I noticed there was another part to it that I hadn’t seen before. It flickered every now and then in the moonlight:

O’MALLEY’S FAMILY RESTAURANT
(MOTEL ON EAST SIDE)

We stepped through the door. The floors were checkered, and the rows of red vinyl booths were almost all filled. There were a few bustly looking men over at the counter, sipping hot coffee out of mugs. A woman sat with her young daughter, the two of them giggling softly as the ate plates of pancakes. A group of teenagers in leather jackets stood over by the jukebox. One slipped a dime into it, and some ancient tune by Buddy Holly started to play.

An unbelievable feeling of dread immediately fell over me. It came out of nowhere, but it wouldn’t go away. I immediately regretted pulling up there.

I didn’t even hear the woman come up to us.

“Can I help you, kids?” Her voice was soft like butter. I glanced up and was met with the dark eyes of an elderly woman. She wore a red dress and matching shoes, a dirty apron draped over her front. Her apple doll face smiled down at us, her silver hair gleaming in the lights overhead. I didn’t speak. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t open my mouth.

“Yes, ma’am,” Calvin said with a smile. “We’d just like a quick bite to eat before we hit the road again.” He poked me in the back, and I nodded my head feebly in agreement.

“Well, come on in! My name is Millie, Millie O’Malley. Welcome to our restaurant. ” Her laugh had years of age visible in every syllable. Yet, it made me cringe.

“It’s nice to meet you, Millie. I’m Calvin Duncan, and this is my sister Laurel.” I still didn’t feel right as I reluctantly took her hand in mine. She was somebody’s grandmother. But something about her made me uneasy. I guess I got that way around anybody new that I met, but bad vibes were coming off of her.

“Laurel. That’s such a lovely name.” I managed a weak smile as Millie let out another laugh. “Well, I don’t want to keep you kids just standing around. Come on, I’ll find you two a booth.”

Calvin and Millie were talking up a storm. I hung behind them, pretending not to notice. I learned that Millie and her husband Ted had opened the restaurant a couple of years ago after retiring. She was the hostess, and he was the cook. They didn’t have any children, which is why Millie enjoyed it so much when younger people stopped in. Calvin was always so polite. He laughed at her jokes and told her our sob story. When she learned that we didn’t really have any parents, her expression changed. Almost to one of…delight.

“Oh, you poor things. Well, consider me your mother for the night.” She handed us our menus as I took a seat across from my brother in the booth. As she walked away, Calvin opened his with a smile.

“Isn’t she just the sweetest woman you’ve ever met?” He beamed, his light brown bangs falling over his eyes. I didn’t reply. I slouched down in my seat, not bothering to look at meal choices. I suddenly wasn’t hungry anymore. My eyes wandered elsewhere. I watched as the teenagers by the jukebox drank Cokes straight out of the bottle and talked amongst themselves.

“What’s the matter? Are you feeling okay?” Calvin asked, concern in his voice. I just nodded my head. I didn’t answer when he asked me what I wanted to eat. I knew that I was getting on his nerves, but I honestly couldn’t care less. When Millie came over to take our orders, I remained quiet. Calvin ordered us pancakes and hot chocolate with a warm smile. As she walked away, he turned back to me, his expression annoyed.

“What’s your deal tonight, Laurel? You’re acting like a little kid.” He snapped.

“Don’t you feel the least bit uncomfortable around her?” I raised an eyebrow. Calvin looked at me, confused.

“What are you talking about?”

“Mrs. O’Malley. Don’t you feel it? She’s weird. Something about her doesn’t seem right to me.” I don’t know how he couldn’t see it.

“She’s just being nice. God, stop acting stuck up and try to appreciate what she’s doing for us.” Calvin shot back harshly. I rolled my eyes and didn’t speak to him for the remainder of our meal. I now wish that I would have. I didn’t know then that that would be one of the last moments I would ever spend with my brother again.

When our food arrived, Calvin thanked Millie for me. I picked at my food and stared down at my shoes. Calvin pretended not to notice. We never fought. We would have squabbles, and this was one of them. Calvin was always so patient with me. But I wasn’t an easy kid to look after. I often wonder if that’s what got my father so angry. I had trust issues from growing up in a home where I didn’t feel safe. I came off as cold a lot of the time, and my brother was usually the only one who could comfort me. But even he sometimes got fed up.

“I’m going to the bathroom.” I spoke for the first time in half an hour. Calvin just nodded his head, taking a sip of his drink. I slid out of the vinyl booth and made my way to the back. I locked myself in a stall and stood against the wall. I don’t know how long I was in there. I just needed to be away from that table.

When I returned, however, Calvin was talking to Millie and who I assumed was her husband, Ted. He was a bigger man, with a few gray hairs still clinging to his balding head. His greasy apron hung over khaki pants and a green flannel shirt. They were all laughing about something, Calvin stopping to cough now and again. I walked over to the table as quietly as I could. Calvin looked up at me and smirked.

“Well, speak of the devil.” He joked, motioning for me to come sit by him. He must have forgiven me, or at least have been faking it in front of the O’Malley’s. I didn’t care. I clung to my brother tightly.

“I’ve been wondering what brought you kids all the way up here.” Millie said suddenly, her unsettling smile growing wider. “We don’t get many visitors up here.”

“We’re driving to Florida, to visit some old friends.” Calvin replied. “I’m glad that we found this place, though.” Millie glanced at Ted. He blinked, his expression changing to one of pleasure. They stayed silent for a moment, as if contemplating an answer.

“We’re a bit in the middle of nowhere, I guess,” Ted chuckled hoarsely. He was missing a few teeth. The remaining ones in his mouth were all yellow. I turned to look out the window. I watched the truck as the three of them continued to talk.

“Well, we’d really like to thank you folks for your kind hospitality. How much do I owe you?” Calvin asked, reaching for his wallet. Millie shook her head.

“No. It’s on the house.” When my brother tried to protest, she put a bony finger to his lip. He smiled in gratitude, getting up to leave. I jumped out of the booth and was just about to reach for the door, when Ted blocked my way.

“Hey, what do you kids think you’re doing? You can’t go driving out now. It’s nearly one o’ clock in the morning.” I wouldn’t know. There were no clocks or signs of time anywhere in the diner. It was like we were in the Twilight Zone. I glanced worriedly up at Calvin, trying to signal him to keep walking.

“You two look like you’ve been driving all day.” Ted continued. “I don’t think it would be wise to be behind the wheel when you’re tired. Come on in the back. We’ve got a nice little motel where you kids can stay until morning.” I froze. There was no way in hell that I was spending another second with those creeps.

“That’s alright,” I tried to object. “We’ll be fine.” But my brother wasn’t so sure.

“I don’t know, Laurel. I’m really tired, and you’re still underage. I don’t want to put our lives at risk by falling asleep at the wheel.” Calvin said feebly. I shook my head and grabbed his hand. He was stronger than me, though. I got pulled back onto the checkered floor.

“Calvin!” I tried to object. But he ignored me, and walked back to Millie.

“I think we’ll take a room for tonight.” He smiled, pushing me behind his back. Millie grinned and winked at her husband.

“Wonderful. Ted will show you two to the motel across the way. If you’ll give me your car keys, I can go fetch your luggage for you.” My mouth was dry. I watched as my brother pulled his keys out of his back pocket. I couldn’t believe it. I grabbed on to the back of Calvin’s jacket as I watched Millie walk outside. He just brushed me off.

I trailed behind hopelessly. Ted led us into another building a few feet away from the restaurant. It was smaller than the diner, but only by a little. It was also made entirely out of logs, as if Abe Lincoln had built it only weeks prior. He and Calvin were chatting away about who knows what. Ted pulled a key out of his pocket and quietly pushed the door open.

The inside of the motel was depressing. The walls were made completely out of wood, and portraits of mountain landscapes hung on them in rows. An oriental rug lay on the floor, just underneath the front desk. There was a guestbook, a cactus in a small pot and a vintage looking hand bell on top of it. I shuddered. There was a heavy draft in there, and it looked as if there had been vacancy for years.

“Well, this is the place. I don’t think its necessary to have you two sign in the guestbook, so I’ll show you up to your room.” Ted smiled, his grotesque teeth glimmering in the light. He led us up a staircase on the right side of the lobby.

The hallway was lit by a few mothy, overhead lamps. It was long, and just like the rest of the motel, wooden. There were about five rooms on each side of us, the doors closed. It was a bit dusty, which started up another round of quiet wheezing for Calvin. I rolled my eyes. He got us into this. I felt no sympathy.

“Ah. Here we are.” Ted finally exclaimed. He stood in front of a room and pulled open the door. There were two twin beds with quilt blankets and feathered pillows. The carpet was a rusty red, the wallpaper slightly peeling at the edges. Some more paintings of mountains and seasides hung around on pathetic looking nails. I swallowed thickly. Ted reached over me, placing a meaty hand on the light switch above my head. The room didn’t look any better, as it was flooded with an eerie, orange-ish light.

“It looks very homey. Thanks a lot, Ted.” Calvin smiled. I slowly descended inside and sat on one of the beds. I could distantly hear Ted telling my brother where the bathroom was, where to go for breakfast, things like that. I watched silently as Millie returned upstairs with our luggage. I must have zoned out for longer than I thought, because when I looked back, the door was closed and Calvin was unpacking our suitcases.

“We shouldn’t be here.” I spoke for the first time in what felt like forever. Calvin remained silent as he tossed me my pajamas.

“What are you going to tell Joey? We’re supposed to be at his house by tomorrow.” I heard my brother let out a loud sigh. It was the kind of sigh that your father might let out at the end of a long day.

Calvin must have sensed my uneasiness. He walked over slowly and took a seat beside me on the bed. I felt his arm wrap around my shoulder and squeeze it tightly. We didn’t say anything. He rested his chin on my shoulder. I could hear his raspy breathing in my ear.

“We’re going to be okay, Laurel. You need to sleep.” And with that, he kissed my cheek and turned back to his side of the room. We faced opposite directions as we undressed and got into our pajamas. I reluctantly slipped under the moth eaten blanket and cold sheets after sitting up in an uncomfortable silence for nearly half an hour. There was no way I was going to sleep. I looked up at the dirty ceiling for what felt like hours, listening to Calvin’s breathing.

I don’t know what time it was when I woke up. I must have dozed off, yet I don’t remember it. Calvin is what woke me up. I heard him hastily throw his quilt onto the floor. His breathing was labored, as if he had just ran a marathon. I lay up in bed.

“Cal? Are you okay?” I asked into the darkness. I didn’t get a response. The zipper to his suitcase was unzipped, and I heard my brother quickly rustling through his clothes. Eventually, he found what he was looking for and walked towards the door.

“I-I’m fine. I just need some fresh air.” Calvin gasped out, clutching his inhaler in his hand. Light flooded our room as he stepped into the hallway quietly. He had these episodes a lot. I always felt so helpless when he did. There was nothing I could do except watch with wide eyes as he struggled to breathe. I don’t know why I didn’t go after him, but I wish I would have. Those were the last words that I ever heard him speak.

He was out there for about twenty minutes before I finally walked out to check on him. It usually took him a little while to calm down from his asthma attacks.

But when I opened the door, Calvin wasn’t there.

My feet were freezing in the brisk hallway. I rubbed my arms as goose bumps started forming on my pale skin. Looking around, panic slowly started to rise in my throat. I checked in the bathroom to see if Calvin was in there. He wasn’t. There weren’t many places he could go.

“Calvin?” I called out into the hallway. There was no response. I quietly walked back into our room and put on a pair of slippers. I snuck down the hallway and raced down the staircase. He wasn’t in the lobby either.

There is no worse feeling than being completely alone in a place that you don’t know. It’s even worse when the only person you want to comfort you isn’t there. One of the hallway lamps flickered overheard. I couldn’t help the tears that streamed down my face. My mind was racing with possibilities of where my dear brother could have gone. I wondered if he had stormed off and left because I was just that annoying. I was so caught up in my panic that I didn’t see what I had tripped on. I went flying face first onto the oriental carpet. As I turned my body around to try and ease the pain, my eyes widened in shock.

Calvin’s inhaler was lying on the ground. It was just outside the door to our room, where I had seen him go out earlier. It was then that I knew that something was seriously wrong.

Calvin wouldn’t leave that lying around by choice. He wouldn’t just drop it by accident. It suddenly dawned on me that wherever he went, he went unwillingly. I let out a sob. I called out his name one more time. I reached my shaking arm out and took the inhaler in my hands. I rolled the plastic around in my palm as I stood up, placing it in my pocket. We needed to get out of there. I didn’t care if he didn’t agree. Once I found I him, we’d drive away and never come back to this fucking freak show.

I dashed back into our room and grabbed the car keys off of the bedside table. I didn’t bother grabbing anything else. My only focus was getting the hell out of there. I tiptoed down the staircase, the wood creaking underneath my feet. Pushing open the door, I ran as fast as I could towards the diner, my only exit to the outside world. The lights were still on inside, much to my surprise. I tried not to pay attention to the menacing trees leaning over me as I raced to the back door. I was prepared to pound on it until my knuckles were red and bloody, but it opened almost immediately. I quietly slipped inside.

I could see Calvin’s truck on the other side of one of the clear glass windows. It looked so close, yet so far away. I don’t know how much adrenaline was pumping through my body at that exact moment, but it took every ounce of strength I had not to just bolt then and there. The only thing that stopped me was the sound of a metal object clattering to the tiled floor behind me. It echoed loudly into my ears.

As far as I could see, there was no one besides me in the building. All of the customers were long gone. I spun around quickly. The doors to the kitchen were closed. When I tried to pry one open, it was locked. I kicked it as hard as I possibly could. I screamed out into the emptiness of the diner, for somebody, anybody, to come help me. It felt like I’d been in there for years.

A dizzying wave of nausea overtook me. I heard that object clatter again, as well as a few barely audible whispers. Someone said “Shit!” and was quickly shushed. I had to hold my breath just to hear them again. Whatever it was was close by. My neck craned, trying to peer into the kitchen once more. The glass windows were hidden behind a black curtain, hung up so I couldn’t see inside. That had not been there earlier. I snuck around behind the counter and pressed my ear against the murky walls. There was a sudden silence. And then, the shuffling of feet on the tiled floor.

I don’t know what urged me to do it. It could’ve been the adrenaline, or the hopelessness that had overwhelmingly taken over my body that night. On the counter, there were rows of ketchup bottles and silverware. I grabbed a fork out from under a napkin and clutched it in my sweaty palms. I knew there was somebody, or something, behind that window. I wasn’t alone in there. I jammed the fork onto the glass. After about thirty seconds, the glass was starting to crack. I kept banging and banging it until it shattered in front of me. The millions of pieces seemed to fall in slow motion. I didn’t step back, though. For as I pulled away the sheet, nothing on earth could prepare me for what I was about to stumble on to.

A stream of smoke poured out through the broken glass. But even through it, I could see that the O’Malley’s kitchen was a typical diner kitchen. There were a few stoves and ovens. A refrigerator in the back held week’s worth of food. But that was not what caught my attention. The overwhelming stench of burning flesh filled my nostrils. I coughed and gagged, struggling hard to get a breath out. My eyes started to tear up. I flailed my arms in an attempt to clear a path, but found myself unsuccessful. The grotesque smell made me want to puke.

“Who’s there?” I recognized the voice. It was the voice of the man who had taken Calvin and I to our rooms a couple hours before. I didn’t make a sound. I still couldn’t see, but eventually the smoke cleared through the broken window. My watery eyes soon adjusted to the florescent lighting. My mouth fell open in horror.

Ted and Millie O’Malley stood in the middle of the kitchen. There was a silver pot, about the size of a record player, resting on a table in the center. It was the first time that I got a good look around me. Blood was splattered on every inch of the walls surrounding us. It dripped down in streams and formed small puddles on the floor. There was cleaver clutched in Ted’s meaty fist, gleaming menacingly in the light. Millie stood beside him, a wooden spoon at her side. It was wet and covered in what looked like oversized worms. Intestines. I didn’t speak.

My attention turned to the pot, still boiling and bubbling. I saw my brother’s pajamas strewn into a pile in the corner. I could see clumps of his hair sticking to the sides of the pot. My feet stayed frozen in place as the stench of his burning flesh filled my head and every inch of my body. My eyes burned. My mouth was dry. I couldn’t even utter a scream.

“Grab her!” Millie snarled in a cackling voice. Ted lunged for me, but I was too quick. The fat ass fell on his front, face first into a puddle of Calvin’s blood. Millie grabbed the cleaver and threw it at the door, just as I pried it open and ran like hell. I ran outside the diner and flung open the door to the truck, jamming the keys inside. I could make out Millie’s body racing towards me in the night, but I started the car up faster. It sputtered for a moment, and then shot out like a rocket. I had no experience with driving, but that was not my top priority. I needed to find help.

Tears were streaming down my face, blocking my vision. I was having a mental breakdown as I whisked unsteadily through the New Jersey trees. I let out howls of despair. Occasionally, I’d spit up whatever food I had left in my stomach. The smell of that flesh wouldn’t leave me. I’m sure I nearly drove off the road at least three times. But I didn’t care. They had killed Calvin. They had killed my brother, and chopped him up and fucking cooked him. I pounded my head on the wheel, the horn blasting into the night. I could feel the blood trickling down the side of my face, seeping into my hair. My vision was starting to show spots.

I don’t know how long I had driven until I finally found a car on the side of the road. There was a man kneeling down to examine one of his tires. I jerked to a stop and flew out of the truck, slamming the door behind me. Vomit clung to the sides of my mouth, dried blood on my face, tears still gushing like a waterfall. He was an older man, with a wrinkled face and skunk streaks in his dark hair. I frightened him, for he stood back in fear. I knew I looked like a mess, a drug addict, whatever. I sounded like one too.

“YOU NEED TO HELP ME! THEY KILLED MY BROTHER! THEY KILLED HIM THEY KILLED HIM THEY CHOPPED HIM UP AND THEY KILLED HIM!” I remember falling to my knees and howling in pain. The man tried to pry me back up but I thrashed around in his arms. He groaned loudly as I kicked right in the gut by accident. I could distantly hear his panicked voice trying to get an answer out of me.

“Who?” He yelled through a thick Jersey accent. “Who killed your brother?”

I shook my head rapidly, gasping for air. The wind pounded at my ears as I tried to speak. The last things I could make out were his eyes gleaming in the darkness as I wheezed out the name through the pain. I fell hard to the asphalt.

*

They tell me that I was practically frothing at the mouth when they found me. I had blacked out for a moment, and the cops assumed I was dead. But I woke up. I was screaming for Calvin, screaming for somebody to help him, screaming for someone to believe me. Yet, to this day, no one does.

O’Malley’s Family Restaurant had been torn down in the late 1950’s. Once word got out that the seemingly friendly owners trapped their victims in their motel and ate them, it was barricaded and destroyed. Theodore and Millicent O’Malley were given the death penalty in 1956, twenty years before my brother and I pulled up that summer night. I later learned that they had killed over twenty travelers who crossed their paths, including a gang of motorcycle riders, a group of teenage greasers, and a woman with her young daughter.

When the man who found me finally brought me over to the police, I was in hysterics. I was handcuffed and thrown into the back of a patrol car. They drove me back to the exit where Calvin and I had turned earlier that night. Where the restaurant had stood mere hours earlier was just an empty lot. The sign wasn’t there. The building had disappeared. There was no motel, no sign that anybody had been there for years. It was just an empty patch of dirt, no sign of life anywhere. No sign of Calvin. I tried to explain. I cried for what felt like years. Yet, no one believed me.

The police searched for months on end, but they never did find my brother’s body. His final resting place had vanished into thin air. They never found any evidence of anything. I still had Calvin’s inhaler, in the pocket of my sweatshirt. I can’t tell you the number of times I shoved it in those cop’s faces, telling them that it was the key to finding out where he was. But I was a lost cause. They even had the audacity to accuse me of murdering him. My case was eventually out ruled due to lack of evidence, but my years of pain never stopped. The judge was convinced that I was mental and needed to be locked away. So they threw me in here, which is where I have been since the early autumn of ‘76.

I’m a grown woman now, writing this story down as a cry for help. I’m hoping that somebody out there will believe me, someone who knows what I’m talking about. I swear to God that I am not insane. I felt it. I lived it. It survived it. It’s not all in my head, yet that has been what all of these doctors and psychiatrists have been trying to convince me for years.

They said I’ve imagined it all. All this medication pumping into my body has turned my brain to mush. But I know that I didn’t. It was too real to have possibly been a dream. The only thing I still have to remember that night by is Calvin’s inhaler. I hold it on to it every day, never letting it go. It’s the only thing I have to remind myself that my brother was real. It’s the only piece of evidence that I have. It’s the only part of him that they will never be able to take away from me.

You won’t find anything about the O’Malley’s or Calvin Duncan anywhere on the Internet. It’s as if it was a tragedy meant just for us. It’s as if the whole world wants to forget. Yet, there is a road down in the midst of New Jersey. If you turn at just the right spot, you might see the ghostly hue of a diner, filled with life and joy inside. Don’t be fooled; it isn’t real. Keep driving, and don’t look back. But if you do happen to see a boy in the window, with mousy brown hair, kind eyes and a loving smile, you should wave at him. You should yell out into the night that Laurel loves him and she misses him very much.

And you should tell him that she is sorry that she couldn’t have done more.

This post was uploaded by a patient from the Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in New Jersey.

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Bound

February 27, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Paul pulled the envelope out of his leather attaché case and settled into an uncomfortable chair behind a large writing desk. Late afternoon sun filtered in through the bay window but couldn’t defeat the dankness of the old house, nor the dreariness of his mood. Luckily, he had had the mind to pack a few battery powered lanterns, and one of them now provided enough illumination to examine his mother’s ornate handwriting on the back of the envelope.

“For Paul” it read. He traced the letters with his fingers, each one written with care and love. Pensively, he squeezed the bridge of his nose and released an exhausted breath. He had admittedly taken the loss of his mother very hard, as she was a kind, bright, thoughtful woman taken way before her time – but he was a lucky man, and had married a woman who exuded those same qualities and had been blessed with a daughter whose genes seemingly came from the women in his family.

He had received the envelope several weeks before at the allocation of mother’s will. Its content undoubtedly was a letter, most likely full of sage advice and love. He had agonized over opening it, though, as he was unable to come to terms with reading his mother’s final words, but his wife, Lauren, had finally convinced him that they might provide comfort rather than sadness.

With final resolve, he retrieved a dusty letter opener from the desk and began to read the handwritten letter.
__________________________

To my dearest Paul,

There are not enough words in the dictionary to express my love for you, Lauren, and your sweet baby Emily. I only hope that I have shown you that love over your twenty five years of life. My health may be fading, but know that I will always be with you, and that I’m sorry for what I’m about to reveal to you. I fear though that there isn’t enough forgiveness on God’s green Earth for what I’ve done.
If you are reading this, that means that my final will and testament have been executed and you are probably surprised to find that you are now the owner of a small farm house in Creekside, Pennsylvania. It is the house that I grew up in. Heed my words, Paul – Do not go to that house. Put the deed in the back of your safe, claim it as an asset, but otherwise forget that it exists. You may be curious to see the childhood home of your mother, but please – Do not go to that house.
I’m going to tell you why, Paul, and you may not have the same respect for me afterwards, but it is imperative that you understand the gravity of the situation.
My parents and I had moved from that house when I was around fifteen to live with Aunt June. However, when I was a few years younger than you are now, fresh out of college, I was offered a teaching position at a school a few towns over from that childhood home. You know my parents both passed away shortly after we had moved to California, and now I’m telling you that they too had left me that house in their will – but they never provided me with the knowledge I’m about to bestow upon you, my poor, sweet Paul.
Out of convenience, I moved into the house several weeks before summer ended. The town hadn’t changed much; it was still secluded, surrounded by forest, and its residents were still fairly strange and private. They did remember who I was, though, and they definitely remembered the accident that caused my family to leave.
As I was buying some groceries, the woman behind the counter recognized me and told me that I shouldn’t have come back and strongly suggested that I should turn around and leave right then and there. She grabbed me by the hand forcefully to express her urgency. There was a scar on her arm, just like the one I bear – the one I told you I got from falling off of my bike as a little girl. I was admittedly a little freaked out, but not enough to take her advice. That whole town is a little kooky, and at the time I thought I was being shunned for what happened when I was a teenager, but there was a fearfulness in her tone that has sat with me all these years.
The house had remained untouched for 8 years, and I spent that first day cleaning a thin film of dust off of everything. I was exhausted by nightfall, and, feeling that it was awkward to sleep in my parents’ old bedroom, I opted for my old one on the first floor. Because my room was small, my bed was flush against the wall, partially covering the only window in its length. A dresser and vanity were against the parallel wall. I remember collapsing into that bed that night, my body aching from moving boxes and cleaning.
I’m not sure what initially woke me up that night, Paul. I don’t recall a noise that pulled me from slumber, but I was overwhelmed by a feeling that I was not alone. Moonlight through the window cast shadows, but after a quick scan I knew the room was devoid of life save for me.
And then I saw it. In the vanity mirror. A reflection of the window. And looking in through the window was a creature that should not exist. That cannot be from this world. Too horrible for words. Just know, Paul, that this thing was evil. Even in the pale light you could see the vile intentions in its inky eyes and snarling, fanged mouth. It looked excited. And hungry. Its grey hands pressed against the glass, each elongated, alien finger leaving a filmy residue behind as it dragged its claw-like nails down the window.
My back was turned to it, my feet only a few inches away from its face – separated by a thin plane of glass. I watched it feverishly watch me through the mirror. Unable to tell if it was aware that I knew it was there, I nonetheless felt like it was waiting for me to move. I, however, was frozen with fear. Honestly, if something by the grace of God hadn’t stirred me from my sleep, the sound of its screeching nails would have woken me. I was able to quell a surprised reaction and remained still.
Maybe it was minutes, maybe it was hours, but the thing finally left.
I’d be lying to you if I told you that was the first time I ever saw it, though. I’m so sorry, Paul.
There are 3 creeks that run parallel in the woods that surround the town, a few miles apart from one another. Of all the rules given to us children of Creekside, the most important one was that we were not allowed to pass the second creek and we were strongly urged not to venture too far past the first one. My parents told me there were old foundations and wells that made it dangerous for us kids to play there and that several children had gone missing in the woods, but it was apparent that the adults of town never crossed the second creek either. A few people who had risked getting close to the second creek claimed they had seen ghosts amongst the trees, and that lore alone was enough to convince us kids to stay close to town.
My best friends growing up were Jimmy and Andy. Jimmy, you know, would later become your father, but Andy was always a bit of daredevil and troublemaker, and I was an impressionable young girl. One day, Andy has stolen a few of his dad’s cigarettes and the three of us went into the woods like a bunch of stupid hardasses to smoke them. Andy got the crazy idea that we needed to rebel even more and explore the woods past the second creek. Jimmy and I were scared, for it had been so engrained in us to never do it, but Andy was persuasive.
Andy crossed the ancient looking bridge over the second creek first, cigarette in mouth. Jimmy and I delayed across from him. It became clear that Jimmy wasn’t going to do it. He threw a rock at Andy, called him an idiot and started walking up the path towards town.
I begged Andy to come back with us, and I must have thrown my head back in frustration when he teased me. That’s when I saw it. The grey, gargoyle-like creature. It was perched in a tree, not too far away from where Andy was standing. It looked like a vulture eyeing its prey. I had barely started to scream when it leapt from the tree and tackled Andy to the ground.
Jimmy ran back to my side, but neither of us had any idea what to do, let alone how to comprehend the fear. I could hear Andy screaming and fighting, and I swear, Paul, that sound has never left my ears. I grabbed a rock and ran across the bridge. I hit the thing over the head, but it swiftly knocked me back into the water. I struggled but Jimmy pulled me out on the other side just in time to see the creature make off with Andy’s limp body through the trees.
I don’t know how long Jimmy and I sat there in shock, but the stars were out when we reached my house. We told our worried parents and the other adults who had gathered there our story. All of them seemed more shocked that Andy and I had crossed the creek than by descriptions of the creature. Jimmy’s mom let out a cry of relief when she realized her boy had not crossed – but my parents – my parents started packing up loose belongings and clothing hastily. We left town that night, and drove the whole way Aunt June’s, only stopping once, outside of Chicago. My parents died only sixth months later from a disease that doctors couldn’t identify.
I was young, and didn’t understand. Everything was a blur and I couldn’t discern one emotion and memory from another. At some point, I started believing that Andy had fallen in the creek and hit his head on a rock, and that my parents’ passing was an awful coincidence. It was easier to cope that way.
And then I saw that hideous face in the window like it had claimed me nearly a decade before and had been waiting for me ever since. I was relieved when it left, but fearful for I did not know where it had gone. I remained frozen the rest of the night.
Early the next morning, a knock came from the front door. I hesitated, gripped again by fear, but it was Jimmy. A nostalgic reunion was halted by his urgency to discuss something with me. I knew what it was before he even sat at the kitchen table. I wasn’t prepared for what he was about to tell me, though, Paul. I’ll spare you the details, and tell you only what you need to know.
This thing that lives in the woods has been there for a really long time, Jimmy says, far before the original settlement of Creekside. Nobody knows exactly where it came from, or much else about it, only that it was responsible for the vicious deaths of many of the town’s children. It likes young blood, Jimmy told me. Nobody could figure out a way to kill it either.
But the thing was conniving, and sentient, and realized that if the people left, its food would too. On the other hand, the townspeople feared that wherever they went, the creature would follow. So a deal had been made in blood. Anything that moved between the oval the second and third creek created belonged to the creature, and in turn, the creature would never harm anything that didn’t cross that boundary.
Jimmy told me I belonged to the creature because I had crossed the bridge, and my parents had been killed because they betrayed the pact. You see, Paul, it’s a curse. I know it’s hard to believe.
It didn’t take me long to make the decision to leave Creekside again. Jimmy didn’t know definitively what geographically bound the creature, but had done enough research to estimate that it only travelled within the confines of Creekside and nearby townships. He had also discovered similar tales of creatures around the world. These things are all over the place, and – I’m sorry, Paul. This is not important now. Check the files within your father’s study, they’ll tell you more than you need to know. Don’t delve too deep, though. It was his obsession with it that cost him his life – not the car accident I lied to you about. I’m so, so sorry.
Jimmy helped me throw a few boxes into my car, and promised to meet me again soon. I turned around a last time to share a moment of silent solitude with him before I got in my car. As I turned back, I could see terror transform his face. He called my name, but I didn’t have appropriate time to react. The creature bounded from the woods and leapt to the roof of my car.
It crouched, dropping its face to be even with mine. Sneering, its rancid breath smelled of dried blood. My knees weakened and buckled as Jimmy swooped in to tackle the thing off of the roof. Jimmy fought with all his might, but wasn’t a match and ended up crumpled a few feet away from me. In hysterics, I tried to flee but quickly found I had nowhere to run. The thing caught me promptly and dragged me into the woods with little effort. Jimmy composed himself enough to start running after us, screaming for me to make a deal. I lost consciousness before I could make sense of what Jimmy was telling me, a fleeting memory of Andy whispering in my mind.
Paul, please remember how much I love you as you struggle to manage the final parts of my story.
A small fire blinded me as I awoke on cold, damp ground, surrounded by trinkets of times gone by. An old wind up children’s toy. A few dog collars. Andy’s engraved lighter. Bones were littered everywhere.
The creature sat squat across from me, watching me zealously. It was muttering anxiously and rocking on its wolfish feet. I was surprised, as ancient as Jimmy told me this thing was, to find that it spoke English. “Spoiled,” it said, gravelly. “You spoiled.” I remember its coal eyes following me as I nervously brought myself to a sitting position. “I knew it was you. Too old now. Spoiled.”
I seemed to be in a cavern of some sort with two tunnels that faded to blackness, neither discernable as the exit. I haven’t forgotten its words, nor the look in its eyes when it stopped rocking. “You can’t leave. You are mine. You belong to me. You crossed the water. But you are too old to eat. You spoiled.”
Realizing the thing was contemplating over whether to kill me or not, Jimmy’s screams strained through my head, and I understand that he had meant for me to make a deal with the creature for my life. The creature liked to bargain. So I asked it, Paul, what it wanted in exchange for letting me go.
It thought awhile, before it smiled maliciously. It wanted one of my children, and one of my children’s children. I wondered if this thing had been around long enough to inspire Rumpelstiltskin. I don’t know, Paul, but I took that deal. I nodded my head, and agreed that when I had children, I would bring one of them to the creature, and if I had grandchildren – I would sacrifice one of them as well. It might seem like a rough bargain, but it would get two for letting one go.
You might be sickened now, Paul, but realize that after considering the offer thoughtfully, I simply intended to just never have children. I resolved to give up becoming a mother. I thought I had tricked it.
The creature took my hand, cutting its claw deep into my forearm creating a brand that would bond me for life. Then, it simply let me go. Jimmy, and several others he had gathered, waited at the bridge. None of them asked me how I survived, for they all knew by the scarlet letter on my arm.
As you know, Jimmy would leave Creekside and settle with me near Aunt June in California. On good conscience, I couldn’t sell the house and put another family in the vicinity of that evil thing. I had become resigned to the fact that I had to abandon the opportunity of motherhood, but could never bring myself to permanently and medically destroy the chance of pregnancy. I just couldn’t do it, Paul.
And Jimmy and I were careful, even after we married. But, several years later, I became pregnant with you. And your twin brother, Andrew.
I know that’s a shock. I’m not proud of what I did, Paul, and I regret never telling you about your brother. I knew, though, that the creature would take me, as it did my parents, if I betrayed our deal. The scar on my arm burned long before I gave birth to you. I took that baby, Paul, that infant, only a few days old. I took him back to Creekside and left him on the other side of the bridge on the second creek. I am unworthy of forgiveness, and to this day, the memory induces nausea and unbearable heartbreak. It was an evil thing for me to do, but it let me watch you grow up into the man you are. I’ve given you every ounce of goodness I could.
And that’s why I’m dying, Paul. I knew Lauren was with child a month before you announced it because the scar on my arm was on fire – reminding me of my dues. I can’t pay them this time. I can’t do that to you, or sweet Emily. I have lived my life, and only hope that I can be reunited with your father and Andrew on the other side. I fear that my actions have provided for more insidious consequences, however.
I will repeat my initial warning, Paul. Do not go to that house in Creekside. Only evil waits there. I can’t bear to imagine if the creature is able to reach Emily. Our sweet, sweet Emily.
I love you, Paul, with my whole heart.
I am so sorry, but do not deserve your forgiveness.
– Mom
_____________________

Paul put the letter down on the writing desk. He could distinguish disturbed and disgusted emotions amongst a primal fear and sadness. He couldn’t categorize and understand his thoughts.

He was unable to tell if these emotions were targeted towards his mother or himself.

His mother had made some awful and anguishing decisions, sure, but he probably should have read the letter before he brought his wife and daughter to this place.

Suddenly, his mother’s childhood house seemed a little darker. Dazed, he tried desperately to grasp the connotations of his mother’s letter.

The sound of glass smashing broke his stupor – The sound of glass shattering, the ferocity of his wife’s screams, and the fading wail of his daughter’s cries.

Credit To – Bnlala

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Incorporeal

February 26, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Recognition without context.

A wall. A painting. A fireplace. A lamp.

I see these things and I know them, but I do not know why. Who once told me what a fireplace is and what it is for? How do I recognize it without memory, and yet have visions in my mind’s eye of it crackling with light and warmth?

I fear the lighting of it for I have been nothing but a coldness. I feel as though I am made of drifts of snow dyed black by shadow and can feel my mind only in the darkness. That is why I sweep through the hallways at night and break the bulbs in the low lights. I cannot think while they are lit, and I must think. I must find an answer.

Something stirs.

It is a doll with black hair, dressed in pyjamas. I have seen the dolls before. This one is the smallest. It goes into the kitchen and I follow, keeping a reasonable distance. I am intrigued by the dolls and their clockwork movements – in and out of their beds, to and from the doors, sitting at the dining room table with their plates and cups. Their forms give them advantages I do not have, and I watch them often.

The doll goes to the kitchen while I follow behind. Its tiny body is radiant with sleep, and its shoeless feet make almost no noise as it goes to the refrigerator door and opens it. Light spills out onto the doll and onto me. I cannot have that, my mind has been so focused tonight. Anger and desperation surge within me, bracing me forward as I wrench the door handle from the little doll and slam the refrigerator shut.

This is when the doll falls into me. The force of the blow knocking it backwards, into the center of me. I feel its pulse, the rhythm of its heart, the soothing draw of its breath. My memory mingles with something inside of the little head, and I can see new green grass, streams full of fish, muddy rubber boots, a sky and a world beyond the upstairs, downstairs and basement of this place.

How desperate I am to see more! To take all of the memories inside of this doll and make them my own, expanding my knowledge and answering the secrets of this existence. But it is only seconds between the push that closes the door and the doll landing harshly on the stone floor.

It begins to wail, to sob, to mewl like an injured kitten.

I can hear the rest of them, marching down the stairs and leaving a trail of light behind them. There is little time to flee, so I open all of the cupboards at once, searching desperately for a corner of darkness to hide in before…

The electric light of the kitchen is switched on.

Credit To – Susan Eckland

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My Grandfather Suffered from Dementia

February 23, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Grandpa was 97 years old when he passed away.

He lived far from where his three children had settled. Grandma died when I was a small child, and he ended up remarrying another woman a few years later who demanded that he move out west so that she could be nearer to her sons. She was a piece of work, was Grandma Hester. We all wondered how Grandpa could stand her. It turns out that perhaps he could not.

We’re not precisely sure when he developed dementia, but it was probably years before we noticed it. He’d tell us about people he was speaking to, or visiting with, or a trip he took. Years later, after we learned he was suffering from dementia, we’d learn that conversation, that visit or that trip never actually happened. For all we really know, any story he told us from the last decade and a half leading up to his coming back east could be a false memory. We would have no way of knowing. Hester rarely communicated with us herself.

Probably our first clue that Grandpa wasn’t himself anymore happened a few weeks after he came back east to live with my parents. Most of the family had settled in one area; my wife and I lived in the south end of our city, as did one set of cousins, but my father and his two sisters all lived in the north, within driving distance of each other. A few of my aunts’ children had moved out of town, and my brother had as well, but there were still enough of us around that Grandpa could visit with. We would often have gatherings at my parents’ house where Grandpa would either hold court with some story or would go to sleep.

One afternoon, my daughter Breanne, who was in her late teens at the time, came in from playing with my cousin’s kids and sat down at the table, where Grandpa had been napping. He suddenly woke and smiled at her.

“Well, hello, Claudia!” he said, brightly. Claudia was my aunt; Dad’s youngest sister.

“I’m Breanne, Grandpa,” said my daughter.

“No,” said Grandpa, almost sounding offended. “You’re my daughter, Claudia.”

Later that same month, he told my aunts and uncles the story of how he came out east after living with Hester got to be too much. “I prayed to the Lord,” said Grandpa. “And the next thing I knew, Martin was there.” Martin was my father. I remembered him driving out to the tiny, cold house on a hill in Colorado to get Grandpa. He had not come due to any divine intervention. He had come because Grandpa called him in the night and pleaded with him to come get him.

We all loved Grandpa, but caring for him was not easy. For one thing, Grandpa had gotten it into his head that he was a young, single man with many years ahead of him, and the only thing missing was a young woman at his side. If he spoke for any length of time with a younger woman, he became convinced that she was in love with him, and that perhaps she should be his new bride. Hester was even still alive at this point. He had forgotten her utterly.

The women he made advances on included my mother, two of my cousins and my own wife. Thankfully, he couldn’t do much more than talk, so it was just a matter of politely changing the subject whenever he would start with that, but it got worse when he decided he could do things like take walks on his own or try to drive my father’s car.

Dad and Mom didn’t let him go on walks by himself, but that didn’t mean he didn’t sneak away sometimes when Dad was away and Mom was in the basement. He had to use a walker to get around, and simply couldn’t do stairs, but refused to admit this to anyone, including himself, leading to a lot of falls. He would also get confused as to where he was, or where he lived. At times, during his walks, he would attempt to find the old family home that he raised my father and aunts in, despite it having been long gone since before I was born. Dad picked him up from a police station, where he had been taken after some patrol officers saw him wandering around, clearly lost.

The time he tried to drive Dad’s car was after that. He decided that the reason he got lost is because he had to walk. He managed to get the E-break off and rolled right down the fairly steep incline outside my parents’ house, crashing into a fence. The damage was minimal, but after that incident, my parents realized he needed to be in a full time care facility.

He got worse after that.

My father visited him three times a week. I have no idea how often my aunts went, or if they even did. I tended to only go when there was a family gathering, and increasingly I began to realize that he had no clue who I was. He’d smile and greet me as though I was someone he had just met. He’d tell me about his children, describing them as “little kids”, and even going as far as to invent a friend who was looking after them while he was in this home with “all these old people.” Grandpa was 93 at the time. He was much older than many of the others who lived there. But somehow, they were the “old people”, while he was not.

But when I say he got worse, I mean he changed. The false memories, the refusal to acknowledge that he was elderly, the attempts to chat up ladies and inability to remember that his children were grown and that he had grandchildren and great-grandchildren had been a part of who he was for years, ever since his early 80’s.

But he had never been violent before. That changed one night when Dad was called to come to the facility quickly. Grandpa had wandered into the wrong room, and had come out screaming, raising his walker up in the air and slamming it into the ground, taking a few swings at people who tried to calm him down. He began accusing the staff of stealing his things. He was bellowing as loud as he could: “Give them back! Give them back!”

I wasn’t there for it, and I still have a hard time picturing it. Grandpa barely raised his voice above normal volume during the last decade of his life, except to laugh.

When Dad got there, they had gotten him into his room, and he was somewhat appeased. Somewhat. He had a can of Ensure in a tube sock, and almost hit my father in the head with it when he came in. He apologized (Dad was one of the few people he always recognized), and said he had been waiting for “the thief” to come back. “A man who’d steal from me’d just as soon kill me,” he explained. The Ensure-in-a-sock was his weapon to fend off the thief. He told Dad about the men who had come to give him all his things back. “They put it all back, just like it was,” he said. “Didn’t take ’em long.”

Later that night, he told Dad about how much it had scared Florence. He hated that she’d had to go through that. Florence was my grandmother; the one who died when I was six.

He finished by saying that Florence had gone somewhere, and when he went looking for her: “They told me she was dead. One day, they’re gonna come looking for me, and they’re gonna find me dead.” That was a jolt to my father. Grandpa had never, at any point before that, acknowledged his mortality, his advanced age, or the fact that he had probably no more than a handful of years left at best. Aging, and death, was something that happened to other people. But here he was, accepting that death was near.

That wasn’t the last night he mentioned the thief. He even gave the thief a name; Charlie Rosen. It was strange that he would invent a whole person, name included. He didn’t even name the friend who was looking after his kids. In fact, that person ceased to exist; Charlie Rosen had stolen his kids. Had killed Florence. Had come to his home in Colorado and routinely taunted him, beat him, and he even declared that Hester had been sleeping with him. He remembered her now, and was certain that she and Charlie were ganging up on him to make his life a living hell.

In the last six months of his life, he would become increasingly agitated. Dad could not have a single visit wherein Grandpa would not mention Charlie. And then the violence started up again.

In one visit, Grandpa accused Dad of being Charlie, and attacked him. After that, Dad’s visits dropped to once a week, and he didn’t stay long. Once, I went with him. It was the last time I saw my grandfather alive, and I will never forget it.

“Charlie was here again today,” Grandpa told us as soon as we arrived. “He told me I couldn’t leave this room anymore. He’s trapped me here.”

“Dad, this is where you live,” my father tried to explain. “See, here’s a picture of Mother. Why would Charlie let you keep that?”

“He killed your mother, you know,” said Grandpa. “Murdered her in her sleep.”

“Mother had an aneurysm,” said Dad. “You and I decided together to unplug the machine. She died in her sleep, but no one killed her.”

“No, no, it was Charlie.” Grandpa’s voice was not agitated. It was solid, like he knew for a fact what he was saying. “He poisoned her. Made something go wrong in her head. I didn’t know it then, but I realized it later, after he introduced me to Hester. Conned me into marrying her. He’s my personal demon, that Charlie.”

Dad finally had had enough. “There is no Charlie!” he said, nearly shouting. You aren’t supposed to correct people who have dementia; it just confuses them more and makes them upset. But my father forgot this in that moment. “Charlie is someone you made up! Mother died naturally, you met Hester at a coffee shop years after Mother died, and while she was not a nice woman, she was not unfaithful to you! Please, stop talking about Charlie!”

“Dear Lord in Heaven,” said Grandpa. “He got to you. He told you to say these things. You’re part of it too!”

“Uh, Grandpa,” I said. “Why don’t we start a game of checkers?” Usually he loved checkers.

“I don’t want to play any fucking checkers!” screamed Grandpa. I couldn’t have been more surprised if he’d hit me. Grandpa had never used profanity in his life. “By-words”, as he called them, were only used by bad men, as far as he was concerned. “Not with you! Not with him! Charlie Rosen’s pet demons! He comes to me every day. He talks to me about Florence. He taunts me. He reads my mind and he takes thoughts away and puts in new ones, worse ones. He tells me about how he rapes my little ones. How he and Hester keep them half-starved and chained in their basement. I can’t stop him! He can go inside my mind! He’s controlling me!”

We left after that, without saying goodbye.

Driving home, I almost wanted to cry. This kind, loving man was ending his days as a raving, violent lunatic. It wasn’t right. It wasn’t fair. What kind of monster was this Charlie?

That thought stopped me cold. For an instant, I had accepted that Charlie was real. Giving my head a shake, I resolved to think about something else. But an image of Charlie had been forming in my mind, beginning a few months back, when Grandpa had first started talking about him. I only now realized that when Grandpa spoke of this demonic man, I was picturing him in my mind, and I could see him as clearly as I could memories of real people.

I thought of the last time I had visited Grandpa in that tiny house in the mountains of Colorado, when I was a teenager, sitting at that little round table while Hester served us some of her inedible glop, and I would see a man standing in the corner of the kitchen, watching us eat. A tall, gangly man with leathery skin stretched over sharp-looking bone and corded muscle. Shaggy grey hair hanging down, obscuring the upper part of his face, his smile stretching like a knife-slash across his jaw.

I thought of the wedding. I was twelve years old. I met Hester for the first time. And standing a ways behind her was that same man. I remember a family gathering at the facility Grandpa was concurrently staying at. Didn’t we pass that man in the hall once?

No, of course not. These were just images my mind had cooked up the more Grandpa talked about this shady character that never existed. The brain can do that; insert false people in your memory just because you decide, subconsciously, to remember them. It doesn’t mean you’re insane; it’s just another way for your brain to play tricks on you. Grandpa had invented a person who he talked about with such conviction, as though Charlie was real. So my mind had conjured up a Charlie Rosen. But there was no Charlie Rosen.

Grandpa died two months later. I remember the funeral like it was yesterday. I still wake up at night in a cold sweat, remembering.

Everything was normal at the start. My parents, my aunts and uncles, my wife and I, and our children, my brother and his wife, and their son, my cousins, their spouses and their children, we all gathered under the same roof for the first time in years. No one was missing. No one was out of town and couldn’t make it. Two of my cousins I hadn’t seen since they were children. It was nice to catch up with them.

The service was nice, as well. The pastor who served the spiritual needs at Grandpa’s facility was the officiator. Grandpa looked calm and peaceful, whole, so unlike what he had been in the last few months of life. I started to feel calm myself; Grandpa was where he belonged now, where the devils of his own fevered, decaying brain couldn’t get to him anymore.

And then we drove to the cemetery. The coffin was lowered. We all sprinkled a handful of dirt on the coffin and began our walk back to the cars. And then the gravedigger came out of the shadows to start shoveling the rest of the dirt. I could barely read the embroidered name tag on his coveralls. It looked like “C. Rose” or “C. Risen”. Or…no. It couldn’t be.

He was tall, gangly, with leathery skin, sharp-looking bones, corded muscle, long grey hair. And that smile. That smile that haunts my nightmares to this day.

I watched as this phantom dumped shovel-full after shovel-full of dirt on my grandfather’s coffin. He was laughing, softly, under his breath, but I have never heard such cruel laughter.

Today, I felt like I had to write all this down. To make sure I remember it all, before things get worse. Because today, my father called me to complain that Charlie was driving past his house and staring in his windows.

Credit To – WriterJosh

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I Found His Last Post

February 22, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Thanks for the info, niceguyphil13.

I started digging around for myself using my top internet sleuthing tools (aka cached Google results and WayBackMachine) and found some forum posts. He went by “BenjiMCFC93” and was quite prolific, it appears. Mostly just memes and arguing about WWE with people, but there’s one that really stands out.

I think it’s the last before he went missing. And – whoa. Did they ever even question the dad? I can’t find anything in the local news archives that even mentions K****.

///submitted Aug 28 by BenjiMCFC93
So I’m over at my Dad’s, I ask if I can use his work laptop for the internet because there’s nothing else to do here. He says sure, so I go up to his study, flip it open and there’s a browser window already open (I swear) with this string of emails. I know I shouldn’t have read them, but I didn’t even know Dad was seeing a therapist so I guess I was just concerned and wanted to check everything was okay. I really, really wish I hadn’t read them.

From: r*****@r****************.com
To: k*****@btinternet.co.uk
Subject: Your first session

Hi K****,
I hope you feel that you managed to get something out of our first meeting, despite the teething troubles we encountered in vocalising your memories and thoughts from that period. It’s not uncommon for people to struggle initially when trying to open up about traumatic experiences – it takes time. Eventually, I believe you’ll find it immensely beneficial to be able to talk to someone in person. Don’t be perturbed!

We can take the next session as slowly as you like. You’re in control, and you can choose to use our time together exactly as you like.

Best regards,
R*****

From: k*****@btinternet.co.uk
To: r*****@r****************.com
Re: Your first session

R*****,
I came away feeling quite frustrated, to be honest. I’m not sure what I expected of myself, or the situation as a whole, but I suppose I’d imaged it’d be easy to talk about everything.

Look, in honesty, I feel a lot of shame associated with my behaviours. It’s all very difficult to admit to myself, let alone try to explain to someone else.

If you’re open to the idea, can we try to talk about it on here first and pick up on it in person at my next session? I think it’d really help. I might be able to get that whole situation out onto a laptop screen more easily than I could through my mouth.

Best,
K****

From: r*****@r****************.com
To: k*****@btinternet.co.uk
Re: Re: Your first session

Absolutely, if that’s what you find most comfortable. We can pick up the conversation in person when you next come over, as you say.

R

From: k*****@btinternet.co.uk
To: r*****@r****************.com
Re: Re: Re: Your first session

Okay. Here goes.

As I mentioned, Ben and I were best friends from age 11. We’d spend a lot of time at each other’s houses or at the park, mucking around, making dens, fighting. Kid’s stuff. He was always the more mischievous of us, but we never did anything that I’d consider serious or dangerous in retrospect.

During third year of secondary school, Ben started acting differently. He was around my house a lot more, I’d say almost every weeknight and certainly both days of each weekend until quite late at night. My parents began to ask questions. I’d become slightly wary of him, too. The mischievous ideas he’d have suggested previously had given way to darker suggestions. He spent a long time trying to make a bomb using matches, tinfoil and various measures of fertilisers and cleaners from around my garage. I can remember being very worried I’d get in trouble if either of my parents came in and saw what we were doing, but being more worried about losing face with Ben if I suggested we stop.

One rare evening when I was over at his house for a change, he left the garage (where we’d been shooting paint tins with a BB gun), came back in a moment later with a kitchen knife, and told me to get in the chest freezer. That alone wasn’t alarming – we were regularly trying to scare each other like that. I laughed it off, but he continued the act for several minutes, insisting that I climb inside the chest freezer or he’d slit my throat. There was a peculiar intensity about him as he said it. Let me be totally clear: at no point was I under the impression that my life was genuinely in danger if I didn’t comply. But I could tell he really wanted me to believe it was, and I felt a unique anxiety at that. After what felt like far too long, he dropped the act and we continued shooting objects in his garage.

But the strange energy he had remained. I found it increasingly difficult to be around him, as did our other friends at school. We were on the verge of ostracising him completely when he told us that his parents had divorced. His mum had moved out and his brother had gone with her, leaving Ben and his dad. I remember my mother saying that explained everything when I told her. She told me it was probably a big deal for Ben to tell us, after apparently keeping it a secret from everyone for so long. An indication that he was back on the right track.

I suppose I saw it that way, too. With my teenager’s understanding of psychology, I waited the best part of a week for the old Ben to re-emerge, smiling and ready to come and play football with the rest of us on the school field. When he didn’t, I finally broached the subject. I told him I noticed he’d been acting differently for the past few months, and that I guessed the divorce must have been hard on him but he didn’t have to push me and other people away. He started crying. I think it was the first time I’d seen him cry. “It isn’t that,” he said.

He made us walk to the edge of the village, out in the woods, before he’d tell me what it was. He told me that around six months previously he’d seen a man in the supermarket who he’d stared at because of the way he pushed the trolley around, slumped over the bar like it was a Zimmer frame, and because his skin was so yellow. When his mum saw him staring she told him the man was probably terminally ill, and “didn’t look long for this world.” Those words, that particular choice of phrasing, always stayed with me, as I’m sure it stayed with Ben.

That same week, Ben said, he got out of bed one night to draw his curtains and noticed something out in the garden. It was the man from the supermarket, standing completely still in the middle of his back garden, looking straight up at him, arms by his sides. They held each other’s gaze for a second before Ben sprinted over to his light switch to turn it out, pulled his curtains shut and pulled the duvet over him. He could still feel the man looking at him, he said.

He wasn’t telling this story to scare me. Ben wasn’t such a good actor. His breathing was irregular, his voice wavered and broke, and tears kept creeping into his eyes. Whatever Ben saw, or thought he saw, had evidently profoundly affected him. If I were telling you about this in person – and as we’ve established in our first session it’s extremely unlikely I’d be able to get this far – you’d certainly see the same signs from me.

It happened once every couple of weeks, Ben told me. Almost enough time would pass for him to start relaxing and explaining it away with logic, then he’s see the man again, looking up at him through his bedroom window from the garden, alone and unknowable in the pitch darkness. He never told his mum or dad about it, he said. Telling them would be admitting to himself that it was really happening. I was the first and only person he’d spoken to about it.

There was more. He’d been having terrible nightmares since the first time. One night he dreamed he was preparing to hang himself in the back garden and videotaping a message to his parents while he did it. There was a recurring dream in which he’d find a girl’s body in a bin bag, limbs cut off and emerging from the bag at strange angles. I couldn’t think of anything to say for a long time after he stopped talking. Finally, he said “I just don’t know what’s going on anymore.”

I believed him, inasmuch as I believed he was seeing something, and it was causing him a lot of emotional distress. So when he asked if I’d stay over, I did feel scared. But I also felt I might somehow be able to understand what was going on, explain it, and make everything magically return to normality for Ben.

It would have been late November. We were watching a Bond movie with his dad downstairs, eating chow mein on our laps. Over the course of the night the things he’d told me had slipped to the back of my mind. Ben seemed to relax around his dad, and became someone more like the kid I used to climb trees with in the woods. I started to consider the possibility that what Ben told me wasn’t true – specifically, that he couldn’t own up to the truth, which was that it was the divorce that had rattled him so much. It was easier to invent something fearsome to explain his emotional state than it was to deal with the raw wounds of his parents’ separation.

I’d become quite set on that idea when Ben asked his dad if we could all stay up and watch the boxing at 12AM, live from Vegas. “Not a chance,” his dad replied, laughing. It was a school night for us, and a work night for him, he pointed out. But Ben pushed again for it. And again. It quickly turned into an outright argument between the two of them. I looked down at the patterns of oil and soy sauce on my plate until it simmered down. Ben really didn’t want to go to bed, that much was clear. But he was swimming against the tide with this one.

When we went up to his room to pull out the futon, I was trying to think of way to tell him it was okay to be angry, or sad, or even scared after the divorce, without suggesting I didn’t believe what he’d told me out at the woods. Before I could get anything out, he looked at me nervously and asked if I wanted to check the garden with him from the window. I didn’t know what to say. I wasn’t sure whether to go along with it, or to confront him directly in the hope that the reality check would help him resolve whatever he was going through. Inevitably, I did neither. We walked over to the window, looked down into the garden below, and saw no one. Ben sighed in relief, then jabbed me in the kidney to try and scare me. We drew the curtains, talked about which girls from school we fancied with the lights off for a while, then both drifted off to sleep.

I woke up a few hours later needing to pee, having had a couple of cokes after dinner. The bathroom was to the left of Ben’s room, and around a corner, and I made my way to it without turning on any lights. I remember not wanting to wake Ben’s dad, since he’d been so vocal about getting a good night’s sleep for work the following morning. The only light in the bathroom was the moonlight from outside, so I think that drew my eye in the window’s direction. I remember choosing to glance out into the garden to reinforce the belief that there was no one there, as we sometimes check the corners of a dark room to strengthen the belief that we’re safe. And, honest to God R*****, I saw him. I saw the man.

He was standing in the middle of the lawn, next to the washing line, absolutely still, in what looked like tracksuit bottoms and a tweed jacket. He wasn’t looking up at me, but over at Ben’s room. The window, with its curtains pulled. Staring at it.
I rushed back to Ben’s room and woke him up to tell him. I simply said “he’s out there.” I won’t ever forget the look on his face. We both crept over to the window, pulled back a corner of curtain and looked down to see his ill-looking face already staring in our direction. He wasn’t quite expressionless, though almost. I remember seeing what looked like sadness in the faint moonlight. Ben started to cry. He tugged the curtain in place again, dragged the duvet off his bed and pulled me into the corner of the room with him, where we sat hugging out knees, the duvet covering us completely. Neither of us spoke. Ben sobbed. I knew then what he had meant when he said he could feel the man looking at him still.

It was just over a week later that Ben went missing. December 7th, just before the Christmas holidays. As I mentioned yesterday, they never found him.

From: r*****@r****************.com
To: k*****@btinternet.co.uk
Re: Re: Re: Re: Your first session

How awful that must have been for you. It must have taken a tremendous amount of bravery to endure that period, and more still to open up and talk about it now.

As painful as those memories are to access, I hope you’re encouraged by the fact you’ve been able to relay them to me. I’m curious – did you mention your experiences prior to Ben’s disappearance to anyone afterwards?

R

From: k*****@btinternet.co.uk
To: r*****@r****************.com
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Your first session

It was extremely difficult. The school put on an assembly to explain to everyone what had happened, but I got a nosebleed almost instantly and had to leave. There were flyers around the entire area for weeks after, perhaps months. I hated having to see his face wherever I went, becoming more and more weathered as time went on. I understood why the flyers were there, but it seemed sick to me at the time. I suppose I’d accepted quite early on that he was gone. That he would not be found.

The police came over to my house one evening to talk to me, and I did try to talk about the night I’d stayed over the week before, and about what he’d told me, but I didn’t get the impression they took it very seriously. They were more concerned with his hangout spots, where he might go to if he wanted to run away. He hadn’t taken anything with him if he had run away, though. Not even shoes. There was no sign of a forced entry in his house, nothing out of place in his room. I’d heard these things via a friend in school whose dad played golf with Ben’s dad, so looking back they weren’t concrete truths. But I do remember everyone, the school, the police, and his parents, all talking as if Ben had run away, rather than been taken, in the weeks following his disappearance.

From: r*****@r****************.com
To: k*****@btinternet.co.uk
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Your first session

We’ve covered a lot of ground here, K****. I think it would be best if we continued this in person, and thus avoid the risk of overwhelming ourselves and losing focus. This has been a vital first step.

R

///submitted Aug 28 by BenjiMCFC93
I know I shouldn’t have read it. I totally get that. But I can’t un-read it now, and it’s all freaked me out so much I don’t know what to do.

Here’s the thing: my dad has NEVER mentioned anyone called Ben from when he was younger. He had two best friends, Gareth and Tom, the three of them met at pre-school and went through the whole education system together. I’ve met them both loads of times. They send me birthday cards. None of them have ever mentioned anyone called Ben.

Also: dad definitely didn’t grow up in a village near some woods. He’s from Walker, in inner-city Newcastle. There just aren’t any woods there, not now and not when he was a kid.

Then there’s the part where he mentions his “behaviours”. I’m guessing, but I think he must be talking about something that happened before Mum left. One night my sister went downstairs to pick up a book she’d left in the lounge, and found dad in there, with all the lights off, just standing. It scared the shit out of her. She screamed and turned on the lights, asked him what the hell he was doing down there like. He just mumbled something and stayed there. Rachael left him to it, I guess she must have wanted to go back to sleep and pretend it hadn’t occurred.

It happened a few more times – once mum found him in the garden in his dressing gown at 5 in the morning after she’d woken up and realised he wasn’t in bed. Then there was the night I woke up and found him in my room, standing by my bed, looking at me. We thought it was sleepwalking, but after things between him and mum got worse, man… idk.

And, I mean… Ben’s my name. Obviously. So that story he tells the therapist bloke really gets to me. Why would he lie? I honestly don’t know what to do, guys. Should I bring it up with him?
Advice?!

Credit To – Man1ac

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I Plan to Delete My YouTube Channel

February 21, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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My name is Chloe. I am a twenty-two-year-old college student from Minneapolis, and I am addicted to the internet. I keep a YouTube channel that I update every month with parodies of popular TV shows and the occasional video in which I address my viewers directly. Lately, however, something truly bizarre has been disrupting my channel.

It was the morning after I had uploaded a new video to my channel. It had been a thank-you to my viewers for helping me reach 100,000 subscribers, along with a montage of myself doing silly things my fans had suggested in the comments. So it came as a surprise when I checked how many views the video had and found it had more dislikes than likes. I had always put a lot of work into my videos, and my subscribers were fiercely loyal, so I failed to see how a video made specifically for them could be received so poorly. Looking through the comments, I saw dozens of phrases like “I don’t get it” and “What’s this supposed to be?” When I scrolled back up to the video, I realized it was not the one I had uploaded last night.

The video I had uploaded was five minutes long, with the title, “THANK YOU!” The video on my screen now was sixteen minutes long, and its title was just a time stamp. I went back to the previous page and saw that the real video was indeed on my channel, but this anomaly had been uploaded since then. Curious to see what it was, I clicked on the video and began to watch. My screen showed a girl busily typing away at a computer: me. Nothing happened for the entire duration of the video, and it ended abruptly and without explanation. I realized I must have left my camera running while I was editing “THANK YOU!” and somehow uploaded the junk footage with the intended video. After posting a comment apologizing for my mistake, I grabbed my textbooks and went to school for the day. I would delete the video when I had time that evening.

When I got home, I spent the next few hours finishing my homework and tidying my room. I ate a quick supper cobbled together from random stuff in the fridge, and got right back to work on my channel. I glared with frustration at the screen when I found that another unwanted video had been uploaded. This one was just over three hours long. It began with me lying on the floor, flipping through a textbook. Later, it showed me walking around my room, reorganizing my bookshelf and picking up the clothes I had worn yesterday. Near the end of the video, I walked out of the room, probably to get some supper.

What was going on with my computer? I had not even touched it since this morning. I had to do something about that camera, or it would only have been a matter of time before a video was posted of me changing my clothes or drying off after a shower. I delved into the innards of my laptop, trying to find the cancerous bit of code responsible for those accidental videos. I must have gone through every program and file three times over, but everything seemed to be in order. I gave up around midnight. I had a class at 8:30 the next morning, and I needed sleep. I put a sheet of paper in front of my camera so that, even if it did upload another video, my viewers would not see anything I did not want them to see. Exhausted, I turned off the lights and went to sleep.

I checked my channel before school the next morning. For some reason, it was exploding with activity. Every time I clicked the refresh button, the latest upload on my channel had a hundred new views. But how could a six-hour video with a solid black thumbnail and a time stamp for a title be so popular? I started the video, but nothing appeared to be happening. I looked in the comments for an explanation:

“Have you lost it? Why would you post this?”

“What happened to the old videos? Is this some kind of joke?”

“I don’t know what’s going on…”

(Reply) “Do you see it?”

(Reply) “See what?”

(Reply) “30:18. Watch closely.”

I skipped half an hour into the video, staring hard at the seemingly dead screen. Suddenly, it looked like something was moving. It was a hardly visible black-on-black shift that only lasted a few seconds, but when it was over, I could recognize the faint outlines in the darkness. It was my room, and the movement had been me, shifting in my sleep. How could the camera have seen this? Was the paper I had put in front of it not thick enough?

When the Chloe in the video shifted again, I froze. The camera angle in this video was different from the others. My bed could not be seen from my camera. This video had been taken from my bedroom window.

Credit To – Chloe Duchamp

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