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Those Fine Young Gentlemen, Part One: Cottoneye.rtf

July 1, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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This is part one of the Those Fine Young Gentleman series.

Cottoneye.rtf

Before I get started here let me say that I have to post this. That I need to share what I’ve found. It’s the same feeling you get when you drive by a car crash and have to look in horror at the mangled bodies of metal and flesh. I have to show you, you have to see, you need to see. I’ve only begun to sort through all the files but I’ll put them up…I have to. I like to fix computers in my free time, kinda like adult Legos. I’ve built quite a few of them for myself and friends and whenever something goes wrong I am the first person they call. Now most of the time it’s just user error or a bad antivirus letting some worm or other nefarious program munch on root files. Nothing I couldn’t handle and nothing really strange. That is until Brad brought me this laptop he bought at a flea market. It was some old world Dell, the monolith sized ones and just looking at it made me feel like an archaeologist finding some ancient relic.

He told me that he hadn’t had a chance to play around with it yet but the old guy had sold it to him for 15 bucks so he wasn’t expecting a miracle. He just wanted me to clean it out, do what I could to speed it up and load up some programs his daughter could use for school. If it was a wash oh well but he had complete faith in me. Now I told him I was a computer god but some things are beyond my powers, I promised to do what I could. As soon as I turned it on I knew I was in for hell. Just the load time to boot was snail slow. Once there I made an odd discovery, the computer wasn’t running Windows. It was using some home-brewed Linux OS called AsmoDos, I figured that this would actually save me some time, just wipe the drive and do a fresh install from one of the Windows 7 jump drives I had laying around. But I was pretty curious.

Making your own flavor of Linux was something I had tried to play around with but I was garbage at coding and working with kernels and all those sudo edits made my head hurt. Here this guy made his own, seemingly, working OS and it was running on this artifact from another time. I was impressed and wanted to see how the whole thing ran.There wasn’t a password on the home screen just a black and red tinted background with an enter icon. That was pretty odd but I clicked it and was immediately disappointed.

There wasn’t anything fancy about the UI at all, looked like a carbon copy of Ubuntu from way back in the day. Browsing around I found the normal saved pages, obligatory funny photos, a few tax papers (I resisted the urge to swipe the SSN…those days are over). Found out the guy who owned this heap of junk before was named David Osa. David wasn’t a very adventures guy, even his porn was pretty generic stuff, and also I found it in a folder labeled P0rnz. I couldn’t help but laugh at that. Then I ran into some odd stuff.

The first thing that I found was a program called S.N.I.P.E.R. It turned out to be a file over-writer, like a super trash can. However where a computer would normally write over a deleted file once, this program wrote over it 47 times. That’s more than the CIA. That is what you run when you want something GONE. Why on earth would he have something as heavy duty as that? I went back over the image files again, won’t lie I figured he must have some CP on here to warrant such a program but there was nothing, zip, nada. I did find the next unsettling thing however and boy did it lead to some unnerving shit.

It was a password protected folder called FYG, hidden inside a folder for Celtic soundscapes. Now bear in mind this is the first password protected anything I had come across. P0rnz, tax papers, hell the system itself, wide open but not this one folder. What was he hiding? I tried to crack it the normal way, guessing. Last name didn’t work, password didn’t work, neither did password spelled backward, David was at least smarter than that. I looked through some of my own programs but none of them could help me crack something on a Linux OS, they just weren’t set up for it.

On a hunch I got in touch with a buddy of mine who had been an avid Linux fan since I first met him. It didn’t take long to convince him that I was thinking about making the switch and was in need of his help with a pesky password problem. He sent me something he said should help and stressed to me that I was making the right choice, that windows was doomed, open source was the best yadda yadda yadda. Whatever he sent me opened up the terminal and apparently had super cow powers. I still don’t understand but it worked and I was able to open the folder. It held dozens of text files, chat logs, AVIs but nothing seemed that out there. Until I started reading.

I can’t tell you how odd and disturbing these things are. It seems David was talking with a group of people he called “Those Fine Young Gentlemen”, he kept a sort of journal on his thoughts about them. From those and what I’ve read so far it seems there are four of them, a Gentleman Charles, Gentleman Terry, Gentleman Jeff and Gentleman Albert. The first bit I came across started in a chat dump between David and Gentleman Terry.

D.O: Come on, you really expect me to believe that just because of some local news link.
G.T: U did waNt proof diDn’T you?
D.O: I wouldn’t call that proof G.T: what would u call it? u mitE Really want to OPEN this then(cottoneye.rtf) EnJoY -.-

~Gentleman Jeff (G.J) has joined the group~

G.J: Come now ol’ boys don’t you think that’s a little much, he’s been fun so far. Think he is really ready to leave the kiddie table?
G.T: wonT matter, He’s going to opEn it can’t help himsElf.
D.O: What the hell is this anyway?
G.T: What you wAnted, that pesky truth Remember?
D.O: I don’t get why you guys keep saying that’s what I wanted, I just want to know about Sarah. I know she was talking to you damn it, WHERE IS SHE!?
G.T: Truth comes in guarded Halves. Keep reading.
G.J: Don’t be such a bad show David, we’ve only been trying to help.

~David Osa (D.O) has left the group~

I tracked down the cottoneye.rtf file. Draw what you will from it but this whole thing just keeps getting more and more unsettling. (There is one photo embedded in the document, it’s of a beautiful sunset, broken up by dark jagged pines.)
———–Transcript of papers found in patient 0043’s room, after third escape attempt. ———–FWD to Doc. West along with suggestion to increase tridextropane by at least half, if not doubling the dose all together. ——————————————–
My name is Mark Chapman and I am not crazy. I know that’s not something a sane person would say but what sane person would believe me? I’ve told this, god, a thousand times and no one believes. My parents, their parents, my girlfriend, my own fucking brother! They won’t even come to visit me anymore. They don’t believe but I do. I believe in the man in the woods and the awful things he did to them.
Cops always wanted me to start at the beginning but they don’t have a god damn clue when that was. The camping trip? Nope! The flat tires before we even sat out? Try again! No this whole thing went back so much further. I had seen him before….we all had.

(There are pages and pages after this that just say “SPRINGVALE” in erratic, almost frantic lines.)

The trip was a bad idea, should have known since it was Jason who suggested it. Nothing went right; the car had problems from the get go and Alex, who had been in charge of the snacks and food and gear just fucking forgot to bring half that shit. In the end we sat out on some janky used tires and one tent to share for three days. The food was an easy fix it turned out and as we headed deeper into the woods toward the campground we were all in high spirits.

Just three old friends getting away for a while, like it used to be. God I miss them. After Jason had regaled us with another tale of how he had single handled helped this cop subdue a 450 pound meth addict, Alex started poking holes in his story. Jason hadn’t subdued anything more violent than a early bird buffet in his whole life but his stories were something else and watching him jump through hoops to keep up the act while Alex tossed question after question at him reminded me of how much things hadn’t changed. It was then, me lost in nostalgia with my head out the window, that I saw him.

It was just a flash, so quick i could almost believe that he was just another tree trunk but a glance into those eyes made me sure it wasn’t. They were so blue. Like a sailor’s dream of crisp Caribbean seas, twin holes of perfect summer Sunday sky set deep into an impossibly smooth face. That face was new born maggot white and looked like it was stretched thin, barely holding something back from busting out like puss from a boil.

Even though I didn’t see it then I knew he would be wearing a ratty old t-shirt that read “Mondays” with a sad cloud on it and no pants. Just long, pencil thin legs stabbing down from the end of the shirt as if it were some sort of dress. It took me a while to realize that the car had stopped and that I’d been screaming the whole time. Jason just looked at me while Alex kept shaking me and asking me if I was alright. Jason’s brown eyes asked one thing? “Mr. Monday?” my sobs must have answered him because he started to break down too. Alex stopped shaking me and curled up in the back seat, his eyes far away.

(At this point the review committee felt it necessary to include an excerpt from patient 0043’s previous therapy sessions with Dr. Amid)

Chapman continues to reference a “Mr. Monday” and while normally leery of discussing this topic, today he was very forthcoming. It would seem this whole construct began far back in his past, sometime in grade school. He talked about how he and the two victims, Alex and Jason, first encountered it one night. The three of them were exploring some abandoned apartment complex behind their school, Springvale if memory serves me right. Inside one of the upstairs rooms the three boys uncovered a dead man.

Chapman claims that the body had been long dead and I suspect that the whole traumatic event caused a lasting, shared delusion among the three. Instead of fleeing the building the three had taken up the idea that they would solve the man’s murder and began looking through the rooms for clues. It is at this point that Chapman varies his story many times. At one point he said they found a room full of candles and skinned cats, later he says that all the rooms were empty but covered in some bluish mold that would “breath”, being alone in the building turned into finding fleeting shadows ducking down halls. As he recounted running down seven flights of stairs only to open the door at the bottom and end up back at the floor they had left on, his mood became violently panicked. Chapman paced, ran his fingers through his hair, and openly sobs as he continued recounting the events in the abandoned apartments.

At some point the corpse started to follow them down the halls. Always just a little behind but getting closer with every turn they made. It wore a shirt that said I hate Mondays which I feel is where they derived the nickname. Finally Chapman, with some aura of triumph, told me how they had ended the nightmare by jumping from the third story window. He showed me the pins in his leg he had gotten after the fall. It was at this time that I managed to steer him to the events of that night in the woods.

His eyes grew far off but for the first time in our sessions he started where “Mr. Monday” found them in their car. Chapman told me how they had been forced to stay the night in their car because the engine wouldn’t turn over. The night didn’t feel as if it would be that cold and Jason had managed to improve their spirits by telling them a stories about his colorful life (I have had to listen to Chapman regale me of his friends exploits enough to know that these stories must have been something special in their friendship.) However as the moon continued to rise he claimed they all grew very aware of something outside the car. Something just outside their area of sight.

It was at 3am that the radio came on all by itself and blasted the music loud enough to wake them, he said the song was some dance mix of “Cotton eye Joe”. Startled Jason tried the engine again and flipped on the headlights. Only to find Mr. Monday there in front of the car. Chapman claimed that the creature just pushed through the window like it was made of water; that he only survived because he ran but when pressed as to why the others didn’t run, why only he saw this Mr. Monday, he became defensive as always. I pressed him with the evidence of his crime, hoping that maybe with his openness today we could have some breakthrough. It was, well less than desired. 0043 will remain in restraints until committee review.

(After this there are only what seem to be crime scene photos. They show a headless body slumped over the steering wheel of a car, another shows a torso without an arm or both legs and the last one shows a young man being pulled from the back seat of a car by police. His eyes are wild, his face covered in blood and he is wearing a shirt with a sad cloud that says “I hate Mondays”)

Credit To – R.A Brewster

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Unknown Variables

June 28, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Riggs put his hand up to shield his eyes from the midday sun, unused to any natural light source, as he gingerly stepped out of the crumbled wall of the facility. Dr. Geary, his research companion, took his hand and together they slowly walked back a few paces to assess the damage. It had been during a crucial biohazard particle analysis that the incident took place- amazing, truly, how the greatest and most terrible disasters can be caused by the smallest of provocations. In this instance, the whole thing began when a lab assistant failed to shut a decontamination unit door completely, which the state-of-the-art research compound took to mean the entire area was compromised, and the doctors were effectively locked inside of their own lab room surrounded by at least a dozen hazards.

Deeming it far too problematic for any lesser protocols- the army had a cold, calculated way of looking at things and then whitewashing them with semantics- the situation was considered Status Alpha Red, at which point they simply starting blowing the shit out of everything they could get to, using automated weapons that seemed to come from all directions. Smart enough to realize they were expendable, the two researchers made a break for the containment room’s closet and tried to remain as still as they could, essentially elbowed in against one another in their bulky biohazard suits. The screams of colleagues and staffers rang out horribly just outside their tiny shelter and though they were men of science, both prayed in any way they could that they would simply be… overlooked. Forgotten. SAFE. They stayed that way for hours, before venturing back out into the hulking remains of their sector.

Now for the first time in weeks, as the experiment had dictated them to stay inside the home-away-from-home that now lay in ruins, they felt the springy grass beneath their feet. Geary scanned cautiously for any sign of the military, but curiously, there was none. Checking the lab’s atmospheric scanner once more before abandoning it to the rubble, he gave a tentative sigh of relief. “I think we can take the suits off now,” he said. “We’re almost off the Fort property at this point, and I’m pretty sure all they’re going to do is either freak out the townspeople or alert the guys upstairs that we got away.”

“And they wouldn’t want THAT,” scoffed his colleague, removing his containment helmet and then, dancing around awkwardly on the lawn, the rest of his heavy outerwear. Geary did the same and both men laughed to each other, so relieved and yet so baffled, as they found themselves in nothing but sweat-soaked white t-shirts and matching government-issue shorts, plus their own shoes which they pulled back on. “But to be serious…” His fellow doctor furrowed his brow in thought. Now out of the plastic artificial skin he wore as a quantum loop researcher, he was merely Arthur Riggs the man, and it made him feel vulnerable to be this exposed and yet still so confined within the compound. “This is breaking protocol. They must have accounted for us by now. So why on God’s green earth is nobody around?”

All Jim Geary could do was shrug. “Look at it this way, Riggs- we dodged a bullet back there and the situation has been handled. I say we head on back to Frederick and when we get there, stay home. You gotta be missing that wife of yours.”

It was true- Arthur hadn’t been allowed much contact with the outside world during their classified scientific intensive, and even as tough as her position allowed her to be, his wife was one to worry. They met in basic training, even before she split off for the military sector, and he went on to follow the scientific path, and he was grateful that quick thinking had gotten them out of harm’s way and one step closer back to Sylvia. “Alright, let’s get moving then. I don’t like the way things look on the base… it makes me think they might have retreated due to the hazard breach.” The duo made their way to an unmanned exit station, scanned their handprints and finally had a chance to breathe easy once they were officially back amongst the civilians, the ones who had the luxury not to know too much about the delicate weaponry being toyed with in their own backyard.

Arthur swallowed hard, his mouth having grown dry, as they walked the familiar suburban path to his colleague’s unassuming grey condo and the beat-up Chevy in its driveway. Things seemed off to him the moment they re-entered civilization: cars stood motionless in the middle of streets, possessions haphazardly strewn on lawns alongside children’s toys and bikes, and yet no children. No sign of anyone. “Oh Christ…” he said shakily, “did they fail to cover the breach?”

Both men spotted it at the same time- the thick, white sheeting strewn across the inside of every house, stretched over the windows… and to make matters worse, the big plasticine cloths were draped over JIM’S house, the kind of tent an exterminator might put up, leaving it a rough blocky shape underneath white sheets. But this was no simple pesticide. This was the sort of protocol they’d been taught would be used in case the big hammer ever came down, if they ever needed to halt the spread of some kind of lab-created bioweapon. The driveway was empty. Geary started to hyperventilate and broke into a run.

His companion grabbed his arm and struggled to pull him back as they reached the front lawn. Arthur had a sick feeling in his stomach… as she went up in rank, the secrets Sylvia had to hide from him kept building and building, but she always made sure he knew that someday, things might get bad. VERY bad. FUBAR, she would say. Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition. And as he pulled Jim down to the curb, his voice nearly cracking as he protested that his elderly mother could still be at home, he knew that things had suddenly gotten very, very FUBAR.

“She isn’t THERE, Jim,” he tried to tell him, standing and starting to walk back from the house, frantically looking around for any sign of life and coming up empty. But the other man couldn’t get a grip. “She’s just an old woman, I… I can’t believe this! Is it… did we let a contagion loose out here?” His words were quick and desperate. Even as his friend defensively backed away into the street, starting to walk more and more briskly towards town in hope of making sense of a seemingly impossible circumstance, he just rambled on in terror. “If so, is she sick? And where’s the men in suits? Where the FUCK is anyb-“

There came a sudden loud, cracking shot in the air and Jim’s head snapped forward, deep crimson spreading over the pristine white of his t-shirt as his colleague stared wild-eyed at the sight of it. Several troops in thick gloves and murky grey gas masks emerged from the tree line and their leader, a silver-haired Colonel that Arthur recognized, lowered his gun. The broad, middle-aged man began a casual stroll down the hill towards the quickly retreating doctor and said in an almost amused tone, “He always comes back to his house, did you know that?”

FUBAR. The scientist inwardly thanked his wife, practically blessed her, for all the little tidbits of advice she’d given him over the couple years they’d been together, and he began to sprint just like she told him to- zig-zagging, then down the grassy embankment. Seemingly unfazed, the Colonel continued to give chase with his men not far behind him, apparently still intent on what he had to say. “Every day, just to check up on his mother. You scientists… you PEOPLE… are like clockwork!” Bullets began to whiz past as Arthur took a sharp couple of turns, all the while his mind racing along with him. What had they done? Had everybody been shuttled away into quarantine? If so, did this mean they could have been exposed to a virus themselves? He didn’t think much of that last one; they wore airtight suits, and frankly with the type of cosmic calamities they dealt with back at the lab, he would surely be showing symptoms by now.

The meeting place- oh sweet, brilliant Sylvia had thought of everything. He may have been the one with the degrees but she had brains when it came to a plan. If things ever DID go into total meltdown at Fort Detrick and it all went sideways, they were to meet up at the park’s leftmost gazebo, where the young scientist and the pretty blonde lieutenant shared their first kiss. He doubled back around and practically dove across someone’s backyard and into a tool shed just as the military grunts moved past, hoping like crazy that they would overlook what they’d already scanned with the devices in their hands. Probably after his heat signature. Jesus, what had they done? Had everyone simply gone mad?

A lone soldier rounded the corner as Arthur peeked out from behind the tin door. The man sighed and, looking around cautiously at first, lifted up his mask ever so slightly to take a sip from his canteen and straighten his goggles. “I’ve got nothing back here, sir, the target is lost.” The scientist tried to hide his gasps for air and stabilize himself against the cool dirt floor, which seemed to already be covered in shoe prints, probably from some poor bastard hunkered down in the soil when they were rounding civilians up, hiding like he was now.

His legs ached but his energy wasn’t fully spent; it must be a quarantine, he confirmed in his own mind. But they were in Frederick now, not its infamous Fort- so where was the CDC? In evacuating the sick people, how had two researchers in a closet merely been overlooked, and why was the military hunting them down? Arthur Riggs was floating in a sea of questions, and every time he tried to grab onto one it eluded him. Was it just what they knew, the bevy of above-top-secret projects on the base, that made them targets? As the footsteps grew faint and any soldiers outside remained out of view, he was haunted by the image of Jim Geary dead on the sidewalk, his glasses stained with blood and hanging askew from unseeing eyes. No- he wasn’t about to wait for a bullet with his name on it.

Once he thought the coast was clear enough, he snuck out of the shed and kept to the sides of fences and backs of eerily silent houses, gradually making his way to the town square and its nearby pavilion. To his wife, whatever condition she might be in. Already he had feared that beneath all that protective gear the soldiers hunting him were sick and this was their last gasp of humanity- to do their duty well before an unspeakable disease took them down for good, retching and delusional and god-knows-what-else out of the dozens of things he could think that they’d already cooked up. He didn’t care. He’d rather spend his final moments with the woman he loved in the throes of something his precious world of science had created, than to stay here and be gunned down in the street like a dog.

He reached the uncanny quiet of the park and spotted her at last- Sylvia sat there on the bench in the gazebo at the very end of the row, her hands removed from their military gloves and tightly gripping the bench in anticipation. How long had she waited for him? At least she had her armor on in case they decided to turn on one of their own. As Arthur neared, his eyes began to brim with tears as he saw the wooden floor of the structure was riddled with bullet holes, and Sylvia’s nose was raw and red, her eyes puffy beneath the goggles perched atop her helmet. Her skin looked pale and clammy, and when her gaze met his as he approached the steps, a look of utter misery passed between them.

They had played God with lab coats and germ particles and now Hell was unleashed on the innocent. Arthur barely had time to register his guilt and horror over Sylvia’s condition as he stumbled, grabbing the pavilion railing only to find it was already broken, and gave way under his weight. She stood and wordlessly unloaded her rifle into his chest, knocking him down onto the grass as he could only grunt in shock, then the vicious grip of pain took hold. She jumped down and leaned in towards him even as his hand reached out, her husband’s face a contorted grimace of confusion. Of betrayal.

“I’m not sick, Arthur,” she whispered, as if knowing his very thoughts. “If… if it’s really you.” She glanced away, fighting back any glimmer of emotion, knowing the rest of the troops would soon arrive to wrap the whole thing up. “So just… listen to me.”

His brain was struggling to stay on the surface of consciousness, grasping at anything he could, even in his disorientation. “I don’t know what the Hell you are and they… the rest of them have pretty much stopped caring by now. But I care. I care about my husband.” She sniffed but pushed her feelings away and looked down into his eyes. “And if you’re him, you need to listen to me in case any part of this makes it back to you tomorrow. You stop coming around here, understand? DON’T come back here. Go in the opposite direction… anywhere else… but you have to stop coming HERE.”

Arthur felt all his energy and senses melting away. “But… why?” he choked out, the taste of blood filling his mouth. “Were… we…. infected?”

She shook her head, showing a sad and tired smile, as she held up a hand to signal the Colonel and his troops to halt, then raised her voice to the gruff commanding one she put on for her fellow soldiers. “Doc, you didn’t GET sick. You were DEAD. You and your little pal Geary- both of you got shot up in the lab disaster at Fort Detrick. That was a week ago.” Sylvia pressed her teeth together, looking truly torn between what she had to do as a soldier and what she wanted to do as a wife. “And I dunno what particles or treatments or fuckin’ Frankenstein technology you were cooking up in there, but you keep coming back. The BOTH of you. We’re getting ready to militarize the Hell outta this whole place. And if you can, if you THINK you can, stop coming the fuck back already.”

Some of the other soldiers raised their voices in support. With her last chance fading, she lowered her words to little more than a whisper to the dying man. “Remember what I told you. Don’t come back here… run. Just. RUN.” Darkness swallowed Arthur Riggs, and he would hear no more.

Riggs put his hand up to shield his eyes from the midday sun, unused to any natural light source, as he gingerly stepped out of the facility. Dr. Geary, his research companion, took his hand and together they slowly walked back a few paces to assess the damage. It felt good to finally climb back out of the containment room closet and stretch their legs. Geary sighed, checking the lab’s atmospheric scanner once more before abandoning it to the rubble, and began removing his hazard suit. “I think we can take these off now.”

Dr. Riggs fumbled through the motions of taking off his helmet and suit… and yet he felt cool sweat begin to bead upon his skin, and there was a lump in his throat that he couldn’t account for. “We’re… we’re breaking protocol,” he managed to croak out. “You’d think they would have… checked for us by now. So why aren’t they here?” His voice became a slow, halting monotone, and a strange sense of desperation began to well up inside of him.

Geary shrugged. “Look at it this way, Riggs- we dodged a bullet back there and the situation has been handled.” Arthur felt a chill run through him when the word caught in his chest. “Bullet,” he repeated quietly to himself. Even in the warm glow of the sun he shivered.

“I say we head on back to Frederick and when we get there, stay home. You gotta be missing that wife of yours.” And though he desperately desired it, Arthur was overwhelmed with the feeling that neither of them should be going home. The urge to flee gripped him like an animal caught in a bear trap. Not to home. Not even to Sylvia. No… he couldn’t.

“I don’t think we should go back to town at all, Geary,” he mumbled. “I think we should run.”

Credit To – TheJinx

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Him

June 25, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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I’ve kept this story from most people I know, as the ones I have told have deemed me absolutely insane. I’m seeking refuge here because most of you have seemed to have similar issues.

This happened about 2 years ago.

My mother died when I was 5 years old. She had been a frequent drug abuser and alcoholic. She verbally and physically abused my father, who was about as feminine and frail as a man could be. After 7 years of a broken relationship and constant abuse, she finally passed. My dad then came out to the public as a victim of abuse, and sought group therapy – which he took very well. After only a year and a half of therapy, my father was back on his feet, and to be honest (despite cliché) was the best parent I could’ve dreamt of. He raised me to be someone that none of my friends could be. He fulfilled his role as a father, and still maintained the motherly objective, nurturing me in that field as well. He was my go-to for breakups, bullies, confidence issues. My father was my role-model and my best friend.

The ‘incident’, as my father and I refer to it as, happened 3 years ago on the 6th of July 2012.

I was seventeen at the time, and went through a critical gaming phase which still pops up every now and again (I still love smashing n00bs on calladoots). I lay awake at 12midnight that night, and lay playing Angry Birds on my Samsung Galaxy S3 – I’m a nerd, I know – when the door to my room swung open.*

My father and I lived in a small, 2 bedroom apartment, which was more than enough to house the both of us. We kept up rent and sustained nutrition with my dad’s reasonable paying job, and went about our lives very happily. I had saved up enough money doing small jobs to afford a reasonable laptop and a desk to accompany it. My dad, equipped with the laptop his job provided for him, would often join me in a game of Age of Empires II, which we would spend hours on together. In the time that we weren’t playing (often 2 – 5am) I would sit alone and drink gallons of coffee, and of course, being a teenager, I never took my mugs to the kitchen.

*Through the door came, of course, my father. I quickly hid my phone and pretended to be asleep. He walked over to my desk, clumsily grabbed the few mugs, and slugged out of there. I sighed with relief and went on with my game for a few hours before getting hungry (yeah: I was playing temple run too). I quietly slipped out of my room, careful not to wake my resting father and moved along to the kitchen. The room was tremendously cold. I felt a horrible, sluggish feeling in my stomach. All of the windows to our apartment were wide open. This was a massive abnormality, not only was it the middle of winter, but the windows were hardly ever open any way. I set the kettle on and placed my hotdog in the microwave. Arms wrapped round my chest, I ninjad over to the windows and closed them all. I turned to get my food, when I noticed Him.

He stood at least 7 feet tall. His skin was as white as a sheet, and his figure was bony and malnourished. He was naked, yet, apart from his bodily shape, he resembled anything but a living creature. His head was tilted back, although his eyes were fixed upon me. They stood out, even in the dark as blood red. He held them as wide as I’ve ever seen a man open his eyes. He pinched his mouth to the bottom of his face, only seeming to elongate it. He showed no body language. His arms hung by his sides and he simply stared at me with this shocked (well… I assume it was shock) face.

We locked eyes for what seemed like forever before he turned and strode out the door – which I had personally locked – which stood wide open. I didn’t think much, letting the adrenaline drive me. I ran for the door, closing and locking it before heading back to the window to see if he would exit the building (we lived on the third floor).

Sure enough, there he was.

He leaped out of the apartment complex and strode over the street and simply hopped over the neighbor’s wall – a three meter tall wall. He gave nothing a second though, soon disappearing behind the houses and supposedly off into the night.

I burst through my father’s door and rampantly woke him. He awoke groggily, but he was quickly snapped ‘sober’ by my description of the events. No sleep was had that night. We sat talking about the night’s events until 9 when my dad had to be off for work.

“Did you lock the door?”

“Yes.”

“Are you sure?”

“YES.”

We could come up with no logical way this man could’ve entered the apartment. I decided to come up with an idea through trial and error.

“Okay, okay. What did you do after you got the dishes from my room?”

“What?”

I was obviously frustrated.

“You know! Around twelve you came in and got my coffee mugs!”

“I fell asleep at 10:30.”

My stomach fell to my feet and my heart rose to my throat. Nothing was said. We simply looked at each other. That man. That THING had been in our house since at least 11. We closed the case from there. Obviously we were dealing with something way out of our league. We decided not to tell the police, and tried living normally from then on.

It worked.

Despite the occasional nightmare, nothing changed. I finished high school, started college, and now I’m living by myself a whole country away from my father – this all took place in Scotland, I now live in Ireland. Everything was completely fine until a few hours ago. My girlfriend called me about a strange man she encountered in her house. After frantically questioning her on whether she was alright or not, she finally decided to come over. When she arrived, she told me about the man that was in her apartment. He matched the description of Him perfectly.

I don’t know what’s going on, my girlfriend is asleep on my couch, and honestly, I really don’t know how to deal with anything.

I’m hoping one of you do.

Update 1

So it’s been a day and my puzzle is already getting thousands more tiny pieces which I need to fit together. Before I continue, I’d like to note that I really appreciate the support coming through from the viewer’s side. My girlfriend is in an absolute state, yet somehow reading through some of the comments was enough to cheer her up, albeit a little bit.

Alright – back to business.

My girlfriend lay asleep for a few hours last night before being woken by terrible nightmares of Him. She was covered in a cold sweat and her heart rate flew for about 60 seconds before coming to a rest. Once she had finally calmed down, I explained what happened the night of ‘The Incident’. While I could literally see and feel the terror flowing through her, she nodded shakily and managed a tiny, “A-alright. What are we gonna do about it?”

We sat silent on my couch for a good ten minutes before my phone rang.
Dad: “Hello?” Me: “Dad?” Dad: “Oh my god. Henry, are you alright?”
His voice was speedy and discontent, as if he was focusing on something else completely.
Me: “Yeah. I guess you could say that…” Dad: “Well, I know this might dig up a body we decided to keep buried a long time ago. But do you remember ‘The Incident?’”
There was a long pause. I knew EXACTLY what had happened.
Me: “Are you sure you saw him?” Dad: “He matched every detail.”
Another pause.
Me: “Winter saw him too.” Dad: “Oh my god…”

My father went on to describe how the creature wasn’t as passive as I had described it. It seemed to approach him with the same long strides I saw that night, only more hesitant, before turning and dancing through the door again.

Me: “We’ve gotta meet up. Come to my apartment tomorrow. You remember where it is, right?” Dad: “Of course I do. I’ll be there ASAP.”

He hung up. Questions bounced throughout my head. Questions I still cannot answer. It’s about 10am here right now. If my father doesn’t take his time, he should arrive at around 7pm. Right now, on the other hand. I need to describe exactly what happened to Winter – I’ll present it first person so it’s slightly easier to follow.

“ The night was off to the same old boring routine. I sat on the couch and surfed the internet like any other night. The apartment was dark, as usual, and the TV was on in the background as usual. My cat, Mocking Bird, sat on my lap, and occasionally got up for a stroll. Nothing was out of the ordinary. It was around midnight that I got hungry.

I got up, put the TV off, and decided I would be off to bed after I got a snack. Mocking Bird left my lap and lay in his bed which was placed in the corner of the living room. I went round to the kitchen and started making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The kitchen was lit only by the light of the stove situated in the corner above my head, barely producing enough light to see beyond the counter, let alone throughout the apartment. After sloppily and tiredly finishing my midnight meal, I made my way to the bedroom. I could hear Mocking Bird playing with his bell in the living room as I passed. This was the comforting sound I heard every night before bed, it never failed to calm me down, even in the harshest of moods. I stood for a moment or two, just listening, smiling.

I opened the door to my bedroom and was greeted by a chilling wind and a disgusting smell. Oh my god. Had the cat gotten hold of another mouse and left it under my bed? My first move was for the windows which stood wide open. Closing them tightly, I dismissed the fact that they were open, blaming it on the strong draft and my negligence to check their complete sealing. Already annoyed, I made my way to the bed. Mocking Bird would often bring in his huntings from the nearby alleyway in and store them beneath my bed, the smell wasn’t something new. The sight however…
I reached out and ripped the carcass from underneath my bed. Mocking Bird’s dead body, mangled and mauled flew out and landed about a foot in front of me. The light coming in from the nearby street lamps was enough to illuminate the corpse. The first thing I noticed was that he no longer had his collar on. I lived alone with Mocking Bird. He was my only companion on the cold nights I couldn’t make it to Henry’s. Shortly after I got him, I bought a collar that would match my bracelet which I wear everywhere – a gift from my deceased mother. I sobbed at Mocking Bird’s side, still not pondering who or what could’ve done this.

When I heard the jingling of Mocking Bird’s bell at my bedroom door. There He stood, almost perfectly in line with the door.

I suppose it was because of adrenalin, but it almost appeared as my general field of view increased. I got him entirely in my sights. He stood slightly ajar and leaned over, keeping his head tilted backward, and his eyes locked on me. He held his posture like a mannequin frozen behind a store window – except for the gentle jingle of Mocking Bird’s bells in his left hand.

He held 2 things other that the bells. Along with them, was Mocking Bird’s collar. My tears only ran faster at this sight. This was enough for me to confirm he was the one who killed Mocking Bird. Feelings of dread, anger and sorrow flooded my body simultaneously, rendering me motionless. The other item He held was a plate, part of a dining set Henry got me for my birthday.

He strode toward me.

My natural reaction was to fall backwards and scurry, only to meet a wall blocking the way. As he reached a certain distance, suddenly, his entire body became animated, as if the gravity was withdrawn from him. He came within inches of my face, but never touched it, staying within range for me to see into his eyes.

The majority was a deep red. Yet in the centre of each eye, a black dot, about the size of the rear of a matchstick, stood idly. They seemed to lead on, as if pure space stood behind them. He then turned and ‘walked’ over to the door, once again turning when he reached it, staring in my general direction. After a moment of his staring, he leaned forward and locked eyes with me, releasing a gut wrenching yell, which sounded like a symphony of detuned harps and bells, accompanied by the screeches of burning men. He then backed up and strode off out my front door, which I distinctively remember shutting and locking (as I do every night), as if he was never there. “
Right.

So.

We have some similarities.

-The ridiculous china theft, still unexplained. -His ability to hide in plain sight. -The open windows. -And his actions which seem to have no ultimate goal.
One thing that is odd, however, is the fact that he acted aggressively (the yelling; slaughter of Mocking Bird) is new. He barely even came close to me in my encounter. Has he grown aggressive over the few years that have passed? Or is this a new being all together?

I’m ridiculously confused, riddled with questions, and need answers now.

Please. If anyone has an idea.

Help.

Update 2

My father arrived tired. I understand that he had been diving for more than 8 hours straight, but he seemed physically fatigued. His movements were slurred and slow. He kept repeating the phrase, “I’m tired. I’m tired.” After a while, I started getting annoyed. I led him to my bed and let him lay down while I took down what he had experienced.

**Again, I’ve used first person to tell his story**

“ Last year some really loud neighbors moved in. Really loud as in ‘blast Job For A Cowboy loud’. I’d had consistent issues since they moved in, even calling the police at one point (I’m a 50 year old man, cut me some slack). I remember lying awake sometimes until the young hours of the morning before calling the police.

This one night was particularly quiet. Almost eerily so. I can’t explain it, but there was just this feeling that something wasn’t right. I rose from my bed and entered your old room, then the bathroom, kitchen and generally inspected the living area to which the kitchen was attached. Nothing. Upon further inspection, though, I found that the two pillows you had left behind had vanished.

I shrugged everything off. Then around 12 o’clock, after reading a bit, I was off to bed. I lay down and closed my eyes. Merely seconds later, I was rudely awoken by a LOUD noise in my ears. I almost fell out of bed. It sounded like it was right next to me. I opened my eyes and quickly jumped from my bed, scrambling to the corner of the room. I scanned the area carefully.

Groggy at first, my eyes didn’t pick much up, but when they were clear, I noticed something that made my stomach turn.

The windows and my bedroom door were wide open. I reached over and retrieved any object I could think to use as a weapon, which ended up being a shoe – wow. I got up and walked toward the window, keeping my eyes locked on the door. It was around this time that I realized the sound was coming from next door. After securing the windows I thought for a moment. Rage built inside of me. I threw the shoe to the ground, and stormed out of my apartment, turning the lights on and closing the door behind me.

I banged furiously on the neighbor’s door. I had really had enough of this ridiculous bullshit. I waited for what seemed like forever, and when I was finally answered, it was by a half-asleep junkie. The apartment was dark and no sound was playing. I didn’t even say anything; I just looked at him in shock.

‘What do you want, old man?’

I apologized and headed back to my room.

My heart was racing at this point, and I was unsure of what to do. Heading back into my apartment, I was greeted by a sight that shook me like no other event that night. The lights were off and the windows were open. I walked into the apartment and sealed all of the windows. This was around the time I remembered ‘The Incident’. I sat on the couch, thinking for a few minutes, my head in my hands. Finally I decided to call you. I headed for my cell phone in my room and rang your number up.

‘Sorry. But the person you are trying to call does not exist.’

What?

This was my son’s phone number. There is no way in hell I could forget that. I turned to try the landline, when I saw Him. He stood by the kitchen, facing me. His eyes were almost glowing. We stared at each other for almost 3 minutes, when I looked away to hide. I stopped when I noticed him move.

He lunged in my direction, those same strides you described to me that night. As he reached the doorway, he stopped, staring again. I fell backwards, scrambling to find my shoe, which I had left in the living room. He leaned in closer and he froze completely. He released a scream which is still engraved in my mind. It was the sound of a million families losing their loved ones; the sound of an orchestra of darkness.

He finished screaming and then turned, striding off out my door.

Then I called you. “

Again we have the similarities.

He seems to just move as if he’s a ghost. He moves around people as if he isn’t even there. He stole things again, although it wasn’t plates or mugs. I’m growing increasingly suspicious of what he wants. Some people have suggested it may be the spirit of my deceased mother? Others suggest it may be some demon that just happens to follow me around.

No matter what he is: he’s proven that he has hostile intentions, and I do not plan on standing idly for much longer.

—————————————————-*The Following is by Winter*————————————————

Henry sat typing his dad’s story as his dad lay on his bed wheezing softly. At the time he didn’t think it was serious, after all he’d been driving for almost 8 hours straight and he is an older dude. All that changed when Mark (Henry’s dad) started clutching his chest and rolled off the bed.

Henry’s dad had had a heart attack.

It was at this point that I walked into the bedroom.

“Henry?”

“Winter, I-it’s dad, he’s had a stroke or something. Call an ambulance and bring the laptop!”

15 minutes later, the ambulance arrived. We hopped in Henry’s car and followed the ambulance to the hospital. The car ride had us discuss his dad for a bit. He kept mentioning ‘The Incident’ and ‘The Mugs’. Arriving at the hospital, we sat outside Mark’s room for hours, waiting in complete silence. Henry just stared at the wall. Not saying anything. I’m worried.

A few minutes ago the doctors let us in, one introduced himself as doctor Allen and explained that Mark’s condition doesn’t look good. “He’s in God’s hands now” he said as he left. Henry’s just sitting next to his Dad, he’s in complete despair. He blames everything on himself.

Henry’s role model… his hero is on his way to death

Final Update
This is my final update to this story.

I sat by the bed of my dying father, clutching his hand and praying that whatever might be dictating his death might have mercy. He was barely in his 50’s. He was my lasting role model; my best friend. All I could do is sit idly and watch as the most important person in my life dwindled away into nothing. The steady beeping of the cardiac monitor brought my sobbing to a halt. Maybe if I held onto his hand for long enough he wouldn’t die. Maybe if I hoped hard enough he wouldn’t die.

The realization that there was nothing I could do came along with the decrease in speed of the beeping. My sobbing turned into crying and my holding squeezing. Soon I was yelling for my dad not to leave me. My girlfriend was out getting snacks at this point. She’s so amazing. Always there for me in the worst of times. The doctors came in and asked me to leave, but I couldn’t; I had to be present whilst my father, the father that raised me single handedly, slipped away from life. I was standing at this point, yelling over at my father. My phone rang, but I ignored it. I hunched over my father’s body as the Cardiac Monitor flat lined.

He was gone.

I stormed out of the hospital room and sat on the benches. I curled up in the fetal position and continued crying. I blamed Him. I blamed that monster for the loss of my dad. I blamed him for giving my dad a heart attack. I blamed him for – the nurse came out with my phone, she said it wouldn’t stop ringing. I looked at the number. It was Winter. I answered.

“Hello?”

“Henry! I’m stuck in a car accident right outside your apartment! The car’s on fire and I can’t get out! My phone can’t reach the hospital, I don’t know why. Please! Send help!”

My stomach dropped. I informed the nurse and an ambulance quickly set off to her rescue. Rushing out toward the scene, I managed to slam my foot into the car’s window, breaking it open and enabling me to unlock and open the door. I pulled my singed girlfriend from the fire. She was coughing hysterically, but trying to say something. All I could make out was, “I love you” “It’s not your fault”. I shed no tears this time. The medics carried her onto a stretcher and into the ambulance. They took me along with to the hospital, where she died on arrival.

I got in my car outside and started driving. At first, I was unsure of where I was driving to, but it soon became apparent. I started the drive to my father’s apartment. My sorrow had been replaced with rage. My mind was set on finding out exactly what this thing was, and what it wanted. I made the eight hour drive with my eyes on the road. I didn’t budge from my objective.

I arrived soon after dark. I sat in the car and stared at the apartment complex. Memories flooded into my mind. Memories of Age of Empires with my father, staying up late, watching TV, just talking. My first girlfriend popped back into my head. Her name was Lizzy. I was twelve. We planned exactly where to meet so we could hug every day. We would sit around the back of the bathrooms and play Pokémon. Then one day she left me for my best friend Pete. Fuckin’ Lizzy. I remembered angrily storming into my room and sitting on my bed, folding my arms and staring at the ground, frowning. My dad walked in and sat beside me, sighing deeply, “Girls?” He went on to tell me his stories of girlfriends and how he got by without caving. He always made me feel better.

I sat for at least an hour just thinking of all these past events when I finally got up and entered the apartment complex. The front door wasn’t locked, it never was. I trod through the lounge and up the stairs, still remembering where every creek was. I walked down the hall until I arrived at number 14: my old apartment. The door was unlocked. I chuckled to myself. My dad was always reckless when it came to this. I quickly wiped the smile from my face and entered the apartment. I looked around and to my shock…

… The apartment was in ruins. Couches were turned, bedding was thrown about the floor, the fridge lay on the floor, the blinds were shredded, lamps lay on the ground, and even the ceiling light was broken from its position. I stared at the wreckage for a few seconds. There was no way this could’ve happened to my childhood home. I walked into my old room. It was spotless. Not because things weren’t thrown around, but because there was nothing to throw around. All of the things I left behind were gone. My shock grew greater and I quickly fell out of the room to check my father’s. Everything was a mess. The bed sheets were torn and lay on the floor, the bedside cupboard door was broken off and looked like it had been used to break through the window. I turned and re-entered the main area of the apartment.

I cried. I cried harder than when my father died. I cried harder than when Winter died. I cried harder than when I broke my leg for the first time. I curled up and cried on the floor like a five year old who can’t find their mum in the supermarket. I cried for maybe half an hour before I was reduced to sobbing. Then I heard something. I rose to my feet and listened. *scratch scratch. scratch scratch* I looked around for the source of the scratching and moved toward the kitchen. The scratching got louder, and then I realized it was coming from the wall. I listened along the wall until the scratching became it’s loudest. I thought about what I *could* do and made my decision. I moved back and thrust my foot through the wall. It came to pieces. I continued kicking and tearing at the door until I had made enough room to fit into what lay behind it. After doing so, I got my phone from my pocket and lit the area ahead of me as best I could. I couldn’t make out what was there at first, but I soon realized, and I can’t even explain what I felt.

In the corner of the small room stood a table. A small, wooden table. Atop it was a propped up photograph of me from when I was about 15 years old. Below the table, Was a large stained white cardboard sheet, on which my name was scribbled. Around the corner, all the pictures I had ever taken of myself, whether it be solo or with my friends, was pasted on the walls. I began crying again. In another corner of the room, another picture of my face was stuck to the wall. Around it, red lines were drawn to my closest friends, college mates, my girlfriend and of course, my father. 3 faces were crossed out, including my friend John, who committed suicide the year before, my girlfriend and my father. I couldn’t bear looking at this for very long and soon turned to see a small basket. I looked in the basket to find toys and other things I thought had just gone missing over time. Things that were small enough to have just lost.

I ran out of the room and fell to my knees, trying to hold back whatever food was trying to come out of my stomach, when the door opened. I looked up, and there he was. He stood exactly the same way I had first seen him.

He stood at least 7 feet tall. His skin was as white as a sheet, and his figure was bony and malnourished. He was naked, yet, apart from his bodily shape, he resembled anything but a living creature. His head was tilted back, although his eyes were fixed upon me. They stood out, even in the dark as blood red. He held them as wide as I’ve ever seen a man open his eyes. He pinched his mouth to the bottom of his face, only seeming to elongate it. He showed no body language. His arms hung by his sides and he simply stared at me with this shocked (well… I assume it was shock) face.

He turned to walk when I stood up and yelled at him. Words flowed from my mouth, I can’t even remember what I said. He stopped for a few seconds and then ran off, with those long, animated strides. I fell to my knees once more. Shortly after, I went down to my car and retrieved my laptop, bringing it upstairs.

I’m typing this message now, to anyone who may receive it. I’ve tied my bed sheets into a noose and soon I’ll be away from everything. No-one else has to die. One last life for the salvation of many.

Thank you all for accompanying me throughout thisjhaudhbhalushd

asdhkfluhubekbvsj—-ashieb

behind you

Credit To – Reddit: He_Coontbuster

This story was originally posted on /nosleep/ – it has been reposted here with explicit permission from the OP. You can see the original posts here, here, here and here if you so desire.

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The Deployment

June 24, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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May 4th, 2009

This is my first entry. I’m keeping this journal as part of my recovery. My therapist has recommended I start tracking my thoughts, observations and memories to help with my sessions. She believes the exercise of writing everything down will help me sort my memories into logical order. She says this will help me deal with the traumatic stress that’s put me in this hospital. I’m just hoping the migraines will stop.

I’ll start from the beginning, at least as far back as I can remember. My name is Thomas Anthony. My family calls me Tommy. I’m in the Air Force, stationed at Ramstein, Germany. I’ve been in for almost five years now but this was my first actual deployment. That’s rare these days- most of my buddies had already deployed at least once- but my unit hadn’t been tasked with supporting a combat mission until this past year.

I was understandably nervous when I was informed I’d be assigned to what was considered a “hot region” of Iraq. The area (whose name I won’t mention as it’s still sensitive information) was one of the more remote parts of the country, and it was known for daily mortar strikes, roadside IEDs, and RPG attacks. I was to be part of a 3 person communications team supporting a group of Special Forces operators.

My team would consist of Master Sergeant Jerry Fountain, our team lead and radio tech, Staff Sergeant Michael Ramos, our network tech, and myself, the designated satellite tech. Fountain was a decent enough supervisor. He could be gruff at times, but as long as the mission was running smoothly and the work got done he didn’t care too much about regulations. As for Ramos, he’s the guy I considered my best friend. We’d been neighbors in the dorms when I first got to Germany, and as we were both single young airmen in a foreign country, we’d quickly bonded over our mutual love for beer and European women. Nervous though I was, it was a relief to be heading out the door with people who I knew would have my back.

Our pre-deployment training was relatively uneventful- long 12 hour days of prepping our equipment and getting signed off on various training requirements. For the first several weeks I was able to distract myself and push the anxiety out of my head. I tried to stay positive and not dwell on the danger, but I couldn’t speak to my parents or any of my civilian friends without them bringing up stories they’d seen on the news about roadside ambushes and attacks. As time went on I found myself wanting to be out the door already. In my mind the sooner we left, the sooner we could start thinking about coming home.
When our move out date finally arrived, we loaded our bags full of gear and body armor and prepared ourselves for a series of long flights. We were in the four seat middle row of a mid-sized military shuttle. Fountain, being our team lead, helped himself to the corner seat, and it was up to Mendez and I to figure out who’d have to sit in the middle for the duration of our trip. “Not bitch”, I started- I didn’t even manage to get half way through before he cut me off- “You can’t call Not Bitch on a plane, dude. Come on.”

“Flip you for it then, got a quarter?” I offered.

“Shit, I don’t have any change. Didn’t think we’d be able to use it in the desert. Rock paper scissors will have to do.”
I agreed, and on three we both drew. I threw down paper, he did too.

“Again?”

“On three, one, two, three-”

I threw scissors this time, he threw rock.

“Damn it,” I muttered.

“Will you two just sit the fuck down?” asked Fountain. “You can play musical chairs later, we’ve got plenty of stops along the way.”

Ramos looked back at me and shrugged. “You can get out and stretch at Aviano.”

Aviano Italy would be our first stop, followed by stops at Qatar and Baghdad before we switched to a smaller aircraft for the last leg. “Sure,” I sighed, settling in next to Fountain’s large frame for the middle seat for the first part of our journey. I adjusted my seatbelt before reaching down to loosen my boots. As I finished I looked up and noticed a young woman walk up to the fourth seat next to Ramos. She wore her blonde hair in a tightly coiled bun high on the back of her head, and as she stowed one of her duffel bags in the overhead compartment I noticed how her Navy fatigues hugged her slender frame. I quickly darted my eyes away from her as she finished stowing her luggage so as not to be caught leering, and as I did I noticed the golden bars on her collar. “Ma’am,” said Ramos, introducing himself to the young officer as she took her seat next to him. She nodded curtly and smiled before strapping herself into her seat. Ramos looked over at me and quickly flashed me a quick thumbs up before mouthing the words “it’s on”.

‘Should’ve gone with paper’, I thought to myself. I decided to make the best of the long flight and try to get some sleep. My head was starting to ache for some reason, and as we had several stops left, I decided to take an Ambien to help me doze off quickly. We’d been given several of the sleeping pills by our flight medic who recommended them for long flights and sleepless nights in the desert. I placed one of the tiny pills in my hand and knocked it back, not bothering to wash it down with anything to drink.

I didn’t notice anything at first, but eventually I started to feel heavy. The last thing I remember before nodding off was looking over at the female officer. Ramos was chatting her ear off, pulling his usual moves, but I’d swear her dark eyes were fixed on me, staring at me as I fell asleep.

“Come on man!”

I awoke to find Ramos shaking me by the arm. Fountain was gone, he’d already grabbed his gear and disembarked, as had our new blonde friend and most of the rest of the shuttle.

“I don’t know how you slept through that landing, that was rough as hell,” he said.

I shook my head groggily, trying to shake off the effects of the pill. The disorientation was stronger than I’d expected.

“Damn it. Sorry. I took an Ambien, didn’t think it’d work so well.”

“Geez, you couldn’t wait to get into those huh?”

“Well,” I said. “You looked like you couldn’t wait to get into something yourself”.

He grinned. “Her name’s Sara. Wait for it- she’s going to the same site we are, she’s a comm officer!”

“No way. Seriously?”

“Oh, yeah.”

“You realize she’s an officer, right?”

His grin widened. “What goes deployed, stays deployed.”

“What happens when she dumps you for one of the spec ops dicks we’re working with,” I asked, “and you have to spend the rest of the tour hiding from her?”

“I’ll take that chance,” he replied. “Least it’ll be entertaining while it lasts.”

I sighed. He was right, I’d have taken that chance as well. Definitely should’ve gone with paper.

I have to cut this entry short- I’ve got therapy in a couple of minutes. Also, it’s hard to write at length about this stuff. Some of its hazy- and it takes a lot of effort to put it to paper. I feel like the more I think back on it, the more intense my migraines become. I’ll try to write more soon.

May 6th, 2009

I was discussing the last part of my transport over to our site. I remember arriving in Baghdad with Ramos, Fountain, and Sara, the new comm officer. The details are a little hazy, we didn’t spend much time there and the sun was setting when we touched down, all that really stands out it is the heat. Waiting in a hostile area waiting for our chinook helicopter to pick us up, we now had to carry our side arms along with full “battle rattle”- Kevlar vest, helmet, gloves, elbow pads, knee pads, the works. If there’s anything more miserable than standing around waiting for a helicopter in 110 degree weather wearing 40 pounds of armor over long sleeved camo, I don’t know it.

I take that back- these migraines are pretty high up there as far as misery is concerned. My therapist tells me I’m making steady progress, she says the pain and disorientation are the physical manifestation of some of the emotions I’ve been suppressing. Still doesn’t explain the memory loss though- I’m still struggling with parts of that.

Anyway, I remember trying to kill time by making small talk with Sara. Ramos had walked off to use the head, so I figured I’d try to figure out what kind of person she was. I just remember the nagging feeling that there was something out of place about her. I think I asked her a few questions, basic things like what unit she was with, where she was from, things like that. I don’t remember any of her answers. My head was still hurting pretty badly, come to think of it, I probably wasn’t able to pay her a lot of attention. I actually can’t even remember what her voice sounded like. Eventually Ramos must’ve come back. I wandered over to Fountain to ask him what he thought of her. The man was standing some distance from us, staring off into the distant night sky.
“So what do you think of blondie?” I asked him.

“What?” he answered distractedly, not bothering to look in my direction.

“The comm officer, what do you make of her?”

“Hell if I know”, he muttered, clearly still focusing his gaze on something in the distance. “Look there”, he said, gesturing with his head. I looked over in the direction he was indicating and noticed a small, bright light steadily approaching our position.

“That our ride?” I asked.

“You’d think so. Don’t know why they’d be all lit up though.”

I realized what he was getting at- there was no reason for our transport to be running their lights at all. We’d been briefed that we’d be traveling at night to minimize the possibility of detection- there was always the threat of hostiles in the area looking to shoot down a US aircraft and take some prisoners for their next grisly beheading video. I felt an anxious knot form in the pit of my stomach. There might have been a dozen reasons why our pilots would decide to approach with their lights on, but still, something felt wrong. Ramos walked up behind us as we watched the light grow closer and closer.

“Quieter than I thought it’d be, for a twin rotor”, he said.

That’s when I realized what was bothering me about the approaching aircraft- it was silent. Not quiet, not a dampened engine sound, but complete, dead silence…

Damn it, my nose just started bleeding- I’m trying not to get it on the page. I’ll pick this up tomorrow, I think, my migraine’s starting to act up again as well.

May 20th, 2009

I haven’t written anything in a couple of weeks. I haven’t been able to, the migraines have been too severe. It’s not just my head either- since I last wrote my nosebleeds have become a frequent, almost daily occurrence. I’m really anxious to work through all of these issues, it’s just been difficult and I think I’ve been cooped up in here for too long. I haven’t been able to get out and talk to anyone. I really felt like calling my parents the other day but my therapist advised against it, she told me at this stage I have to learn to deal with the repercussions of the accident before I can start reestablishing my past relationships. She’s always telling me that once I’m better, I’ll be ready to go out into the world and see it for what it is.

So I think the most important thing that I try to work through is the crash. As I mentioned, it’s difficult to think about it. I think part of me doesn’t want to remember the details, doesn’t want to relive the pain of what happened to me. But I have to- for my own sake, and out of respect for everyone else that didn’t survive the crash.

I’ll start with the things I do remember. I’ll try to write this out quickly as the pain in my head is starting to build up again. Already I feel like I want to smash my head into a wall and crack it open. Anyway. I don’t remember boarding the chopper. I don’t remember what I was doing or if I even realized at the time that it was going down. I mostly remember feelings. The anxiety of watching the white light come towards us as we stood waiting in the desert. Then another feeling, one I can’t quite place- I can best describe it as a sort of complete weightlessness, combined with complete and utter terror. I remember hearing screams, both my own, as well as others I couldn’t identify. Rationally thinking I suppose these could be from the moments as the chopper was about to go down- the last moments before the helicopter crash that ended my deployment and my best friend’s life.

Shock, confusion, devastation, emptiness. Those are the next feelings I remember- the ones that overtook me when I woke up here. Seven weeks to the day I was standing in the desert with my team waiting to board a transport to a remote part of Iraq, I woke up to find myself in a hospital bed in New Mexico. A nurse was there when I woke up. She grimly informed me that the chinook helicopter we’d boarded had been shot down by insurgents shortly after we’d taken off. The ensuing crash had claimed the lives of all of the passengers but me. I’d immediately retched as I heard the news, and unfortunately what followed was several minutes of painful attempts by my body to vomit. This led to me forcefully coughing up a stream of saliva mixed with viscous, dark blood.

The nurse had rushed to my side. Once my retching subsided she’d informed me that the extent of my injuries had been such that I’d been in and out of a coma several times as I’d been med-evac’ed out of Iraq and back through Europe before eventually being transferred to a military hospital at Cannon Air Force Base. I’d been in and out of surgery, received several blood transfusions, and been fed through an tube for most of that time. As such I didn’t have much in my stomach with which to produce much in the way of regular vomit. “Are my parents here?” I asked the nurse.

“They’ve been in to see you several times while you were unconscious” came the answer. “They’ve had to limit their contact with you though, as this next stage is crucial to your recovery.”

I sank back into my bed, unable to breath, or vomit, or even cry, and unable to process the grief that was surging through me. Fountain. Ramos. They were gone, ripped away in an instant. And not only them, but the pilots, there had to have been at least a couple of pilots on that chopper… And Sara.

The thought of her name, then, as it does now, sent a wave of intense pain through my skull.

I’m bleeding again. All over the place, this time. I’ve noticed since the transfusions that my blood seems a little darker than I ever remember it being before the crash. I’m certainly getting a good look at it on a regular basis these days. According to the nurse it’s a fairly common short term side effect from one of the surgeries I had while I was under.

I think this is it for today. No new progress, haven’t really remembered anything new, but at least I can take this entry with me to therapy this afternoon, I think it might help. I’m really hoping this might lead to a breakthrough soon.

May 28th, 2009

I haven’t made any progress this past week. I feel I’ve actually gotten worse. I really wanted to talk to my parents the other day, but I had to remind myself that this isn’t the way I want them to see me. I need to get better before I can start working on talking to people again.

This last week has been particularly difficult- I’ve been experiencing some vivid and disturbing dreams. I’ve had nightmares before, everyone has. But these are something else entirely. They don’t feel like dreams, they feel like I’m actually living through an event, experiencing every excruciating detail. They might not be so bad if not for the fact that they seem to relate to the crash. Or rather, my mind’s twisted interpretation of the crash.

In my dream, I’m floating, trapped in a bright beam of light. I struggle to get away, to move my hands and escape, but I can’t, I’m helpless, immobile. Next, I find myself restrained to some sort of cold, metallic surface. In my dream it feels rough, like my skin is lying on top of an oversized cheese grater. I’m no longer floating nor surrounded by light- this new place is almost completely hidden in shadows.

I hear screams, pained, agonized screams. They sound like they’re coming from a person around middle age. I hear a loud whirring sound, like a hummingbird made out of razor blades – the screams grow louder, then they’re replaced by a type of gurgling sound, then something that sounds like leaking, like water pouring out of an overflowing bucket.

I try to turn my head, to look around and find the source of the screams, but I’m unable to control my body, I can’t move a single muscle. Suddenly I’m aware that I’m not alone. I can’t see or hear them, but I can tell there are several presences in the room. They aren’t people, at least it doesn’t feel like they’re people, they feel like something monstrous and inhuman. I can feel them in the dream, standing next to me. I suddenly realize I’m not wearing any clothes.

As my mind processes this I see what looks like a hand pass above me- I get a good look at it for just a second. It’s long and shiny, reflecting light like crude oil. There are just four fingers on the hand, each of them ends in a sharp point, not a nail or a claw, but like the fingers were each filed down to sharp edges. Another four fingered hand appears, this one reaches for my face. I try once again to move away, but I’m frozen. The sharp hand rakes into my mouth, past the lips and teeth, and steps into the soft flesh of my gums. Another hand appears and does the same to my lower jaw, then the two hands violently rip my mouth open. I’m now able to make a sound, and I hear my own screams fill the dark space.

I hear the whirring sound again- the noise of the razor blade hummingbird draws closer and closer- I can hear it inside my mouth now- I’m still screaming, but the noise changes as the hummingbirds wings slice through my tongue and into the back of my throat…
That’s when I wake up. It’s always at that same part of the dream, and the dream is always the same. It scares the hell out of me. I don’t know what kind of meds they gave me during the surgery but I’m starting to wish they hadn’t. Hell, I don’t even know what kind of surgery it was that I needed. Come to think of it- I’d found it strange at first that I would’ve been flown stateside so quickly given the extent of my injuries, but the nurse explained to me that I’d been placed within the Air Force’s most capable traumatic stress treatment facility. I didn’t even know that dedicated facilities for dealing with what I was facing existed, but I was as relieved as I could be.

I know I’m just being paranoid, I don’t mean to be. I just really need to be able to sleep. I need to focus on my mental recovery, and I can’t do that when I’m falling apart.

June 15th, 2009

I’ve had the nightmare every single night for the past several weeks. Same details. Same dream. I really need to talk to someone. I’ve asked, even demanded to be allowed to talk to my parents but my therapist won’t let me do it.

At first I thought I was just being paranoid, just letting the pressure get to me. I know I’ve been through a lot, I know people crack, but there’s something really strange going on. I started thinking about it. The Air Force doesn’t maintain a regional hospital at Cannon Air Force Base. And even if they did, why would they have brought me here instead of letting me rehab back in Germany? I thought it was so I could be closer to my family but that’s not it because they aren’t even letting me see them. What possible reason could they have for this?

I talked to my therapist about it today, and as I expected she told me that these concerns are the result of paranoia that’s common to people who’ve experienced that types of things that I have. My migraine started up in the middle of her explanation, and as it did I noticed something- my therapist looks exactly like Sara did.

June 16th, 2009

Goddamn it, the migraines are NOT getting any better, I didn’t even think the pain could be worse but it is. Half the time I can’t think straight at all… And the nosebleeds, my god. Starting to wonder if I should just walk around with tampons jammed into my nostrils at all times. The color of my blood still frightens me as well. I’d all but gotten used to seeing it look a bit dark after a nosebleed, but this morning I nicked myself shaving. The blood that poured down my jaw wasn’t dark- it was completely black, like a trickle of crude oil was escaping my face.

I’m really worried now about the long term side effects of the medicine or whatever it was they gave me after the surgery. Maybe I’m having a bad reaction to something. I don’t know. I need to ask my nurse about this. I’ll bring it up this evening when I see her, for now I can’t really write or think anymore, I need to lay my head down.

June 17th, 2009

There’s something seriously wrong with me. I had the dream again last night. Worse, when I woke up I sat up in my bed and looked over- Ramos and Fountain were there, standing at the foot of my bed, staring at me. Something was wrong with their eyes. They looked hollow at first, but after staring at them for a moment I realized that they were completely dark and empty, like twin tar pits sitting on their faces, staring back at me.

As I gazed back at them in horror my migraine kicked in again, worse than it’s ever been. I felt wet trails forming and running from my eyes down my cheeks, and I thought I was somehow crying, like maybe I was so terrified that I’d just burst into tears. I reached up to touch my face and realized it was blood running from the corner of my eyes. The same jet black oily blood I’d noticed yesterday was now running from my tear ducts. I looked from the dark substance on my fingertips back to the foot of the bed, but there was no one there.

I frantically pressed the button next to my bed to summon the nurse to my room. She arrived a few moments later and immediately went about wiping the blood from my face. I told her what I’d seen.

“It’s a visual hallucination”, she responded calmly. “They’re common in individuals like yourself, who’ve experienced stressful situations. They’re also common in people who are sleep deprived. You can see how you might be seriously partial to something like this.”

“And the blood?” I asked, desperate for reassurance.

“Haemolacria-” she said, as she delicately wiped my left eye- “Is a condition that affects about 8 percent of men- it causes blood to leak out through your tear ducts.” She continued to explain the condition, but by this time I wasn’t listening. I’d just noticed her fingers. My nurse has four fingers on each hand instead of five.

June 18th, 2009

I know what I saw yesterday. More frightening than that however, is the fact that this morning, when I went to write in my journal, I found all of the pages with my earlier entries empty. It’s like they were never there- there’s no evidence of the missing pages- it’s like someone just replaced my journal with a completely new one. Someone seems to be going through some degree of trouble to make me think I’m crazy.

But I know what I saw. I can re-write those pages from memory if I have to, and in fact I think I should. I’m starting to be able to focus through the migraines, and even the thought of getting the pages covered with blood won’t stop me. There’s something wrong with me, and I think I finally know what it is.

June 24th, 2009

This morning I finally had the guts to do something I’ve been afraid to do for a long time. I went into the bathroom and examined myself- there are no surgery scars, no incision marks, no evidence of any surgical procedures performed anywhere on my body, except for one specific location. I used a flashlight to look inside my throat in front of the bathroom mirror. There, past my tongue in the back of my throat, I can see a long straight scar. I now know what I feared is true. They weren’t dreams. They were memories.

My best friend wasn’t killed by a plane crash, or by insurgents. Neither were any of the others on that chopper. They were all taken- by someone or something- against their will. I have no idea if they’re actually dead or not but whatever happened to them is not going to happen to me. Tonight I’m leaving this place- I’m fairly confident I’ve got the nurse’s schedule memorized, as soon as she’s clear I’m just going to bolt. If I can make it to the ground floor of this building, I think I have a shot. From there I can make a run for one of the building’s fire exits. Hopefully I can find some sort of hiding place or get far enough from the building to where I can plan my next move. I don’t know how far outside of this hospital this thing, whatever it is, goes, but I’m not taking any chances.

Mom, Dad, I’m mailing you this so you know exactly what happened to me in Iraq. If you’ve come across this journal and haven’t heard from me, then I don’t know what’s happened but I can only imagine it’s the worst. I’m sorry, I love you, I should’ve paid more attention when you told me how dangerous it was over there. Please, if you don’t hear from me, contact Ramos’ mom and let her know about all this, Fountain’s wife too, they all have to know what’s going on. I have to go now, before I lose focus and my migraines take me again. God, they’re getting worse suddenly. I can see them all in my head. I can hear them too- they’re saying something but the words aren’t clear… I need to go.

Love always,
Tommy

Credit To – Griffin Cologne

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The Space Above the Closet

June 22, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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My room is tiny. Of course, that’s because it was built for efficiency. I don’t know if you’ve ever stayed in a dorm room, or even seen one for that matter, but I can tell you after having lived in one for the past four years: they’re built like stackable sardine containers. My five star, luxury quality, thousands of dollars per semester, individual dorm room measures in at a whopping 9×12 feet! I mean it’s practically a suite in the Hilton!

You’re right, sarcasm doesn’t read easily in a diary.

Diary.

Journal?

I’m a 22 year old grown ass woman writing in a notebook. It doesn’t matter what I call you – you’re still a goddamn diary.

Ha, ha! Goddamn Diary. That’s what I’ll call you – instead of “Dear Diary” I mean. It’ll be like my signature ‘thing’ when anthropologists of the future find this and examine my precious words for ‘cultural meaning.’

I’m sorry; I digress. Let’s start again shall we?

Goddamn Diary,

As I was saying, my room is a tiny little shit box. But that isn’t the problem, not really anyway. Like I said, I’ve lived here for four years now and if I’m being honest, it’s not the size of my room that’s bothering me. It’s not really the room at all, actually. It’s the space above the closet.

The Space Above the Closet…. Jesus, how ominous. Wow, I feel crazy even writing this. I sound like some kind of nutcase. But I don’t know, I guess I feel like if I write it all down everything will make sense and I won’t have to worry about it anymore and I can just burn this stupid notebook and then I won’t have to concern myself with ruminations about the anthropologists of the future, or if I should call you a diary or a journal or a fucking papyrus leaf.

Honestly, I just need to write this down because maybe… maybe on paper it will be sane-sounding.

I guess I should start from the beginning. Okay, well… right. The space above the closet.

Remember how I said my room is roughly 9 foot by 12 foot? Well, it’s arranged so that one entire 12 foot long wall is used up by bookshelves and a small desk, and on the opposite wall there’s a single bed (it’s actually pretty comfy with a topper on it, honestly). Anyway, the closet is basically just a large wooden box that fills the space between the end of the bed and the wall where the door is. All of this is mostly irrelevant except I can’t explain the space above the closet without a clear image of how the room is set up.

Now, the closet was built in such a way that it’s not quite as tall as the room. As a result, there’s a narrow space between the top of the closet and the ceiling – it’s wide enough that you could store books there, I guess. Or extra blankets or something. But nothing much more than that.

I’ve never stored things there. It just never seemed right. I don’t know why exactly – well, now I have an idea – but when I first moved in I just felt sort of like it was an inappropriate spot to keep any junk. This of course is deeply, deeply bizarre, since I’m probably the least tidy person in the entire universe. No empty space is safe from the wrath of my book and DVD hoarding! Regardless, I never felt right putting anything above that closet.

My first three years in this room passed without incident. I would live in it for both school semesters, pack up my things in April after exams, go home for the summer, return inevitably to the same exact room because the Housing office at my university has zero interest in making things interesting. School would go on as school does. My room would get messier, I would accumulate more books and the stacks of written-the-night-before essays would get higher. Oh, by the way – I’m a history major. Philosophy minor. Engineering dropout. I know: go me! I’m training to be a well-read and clever intellectual. I’ll be happy to discuss Kantian ethics with you between Grande non-fat mocha-whatever-the-fuck orders. Point being, I own a lot of books, and I write a lot of essays.

Anyway, one day a few weeks ago I was in the middle of a very important Netflix binge when an annoyingly persistent knock on the door interrupted my nearly nine hour marathon of the X-Files. I panicked of course because – being me – I had completely forgotten the Resident Assistant was supposed to be by for inspections and my room was a certified disaster. I mean full throttle, Sharknado 3D, empty wine bottles, stacks of crumby dishes, probably tiny dead mouse bodies in the heat register disaster. And I mean, cut me some slack because I had also just finished slogging through a backlog of something like 30 000 words worth of essays and all I wanted to do was eat Nutella toast and lust after Scully’s hair colour. So sue me.

My immediate reaction was to just take the hit. Let the RA come in, give me a dirty look and then write me up for “uncleanliness,” but my deeply buried, ancient evolutionary, uterus-owning, home-maker sense must have kicked in and I have to say, I pulled off some kind of The Flash shit in that moment and when the RA came in she just said, “Cool. See you later,” and that was it. No uncleanliness sanction for me.

But to get back to the point: when I was in the middle of my miracle tidying frenzy, I didn’t have time to be worried about the space above the closet and my uneasiness about putting things there. All I knew was that I had a lot of dirty dishes that needed a hiding place and the closet space was it. So I stacked a couple bowls and some plates on top of each other and I shoved them as far toward the wall on top of the closet as my arm would reach, so they weren’t visible. All the rest of the clutter, including the nearly empty wine bottles, got spirited away into the drawers under my bed (and that, kids, is how all my socks got purple stains on them).

Truth be told, I actually kind of forgot about those dishes on top of the closet for a while. When the RA left I went straight back to my X-Files binge and I didn’t remember the dishes until the following morning when I woke up. Okay… it was afternoon. Don’t judge me.

Well, luckily that same day an urge struck me to tidy my room. Actually tidy it. Maybe with exams approaching I felt like a clean room would make for a clean mind – ha, right. In any case, I wanted a clean room. While I was deciding where to begin, I suddenly remembered the dirty dishes above my closet and thought that washing them would put me off to a good start. So I climbed on top my bed, reached all the way back to where I had pushed the stack of dirties, and felt… and felt… I was confused. I stood on my toes and looked into the crevice. I even got a flashlight and inspected the space (although that was unnecessary because I could see all the way to the wall as it was); I shook my head, perplexed, wondering if I had already cleaned the dishes. Perhaps I had picked up a new habit – sleep cleaning (as convenient as that would be it seemed an unlikely explanation).

Sleep cleaning or not, whatever the explanation, the dishes were undoubtedly no longer above the closet.

I plunked down on my bed, thoroughly weirded out. Then I looked around my room, wondering if maybe I had already retrieved the dishes and simply forgotten about it. I mean… maybe too much Netflix really does burn holes in the brain, who knows? But I didn’t see the dishes anywhere. I checked my drawers too, and besides my newly wine-stained socks, no dishes were to be found. I left my room and padded barefoot down the hallway to the little communal kitchen where I looked through every cupboard – thinking maybe I had imagined the dirty dishes entirely – but none of my personally labelled plates and bowls were around.

(Oh and by the way, you’d be stupid not to label things at university. That shit isn’t just for summer camp; labelling is serious business.)

I meandered back to my room, all the way quite literally scratching my head at the Case of the Missing Dishes. If I were Mulder I would have been thrilled about the missing dishes! An X-File in the making! But instead I was just confused.

So I did what every good university student does when a problem can’t be solved; I decided to take a nap.

Of course, as a fourth year student I am required to occasionally appear responsible. As such, I set an alarm on my phone so that I wouldn’t sleep longer than half an hour, laid down on my bed, took one last, weirded-out look at that spot above the closet, and closed my eyes.

Only to be woken up by a HUGE crashing sound fifteen minutes later.

I jolted awake, smacking my head on the wall beside my bed, and frantically looking around for the source of the noise.

In that moment of panic I swear I saw a quick, shadowy movement above the closet but that could have been my imagination. What really mattered, though, what really caught my attention, was the pile of broken dishes on the floor beside the foot of my bed.
A pile that for everything in the world looked just like it was in the right spot to have been shoved from the top of the closet.

What’s more, though, is that although the two bowls and few plates were in shards, they were all impeccably clean. Not a crumb or butter smear or layer of dried milk to be found.

I know you must be wondering… Goddamn Diary… how does a person rationalize such an event? Well, let me tell you – as a proud Engineering dropout turned Arts student and certified horror/sci-fi lover – a vague knowledge of dark matter theory combined with a philosophical mindset and a propensity for concocting creepy tales does not always a rational person make! Luckily, that same combination of characteristics meant I could refrain from spiralling instantly into crippling fear. I thought to myself: okay, so I just experienced some seriously weird physics anomaly/generally creepy shit, but this is my zone. I totally got this. In fact, my first instinct was to ask myself WHAT HORROR MOVIE IS THIS FROM AND HOW DOES IT END? Because I was sure I must have managed to produce some paranormal activity using only the power of my imagination à la The Apparition (or à la the Philip Experiment if you want to go ‘real life’ on that shit). I mean if anyone could do it, it would be me – I’ve seen enough bad Hollywood ghost movies.

But I can’t deny that I was a little bit freaked-out. At some point my rationality did kick back in and I decided (stupidly) that I must have just…. somehow not seen the dishes earlier and they were, like, on the very edge or something and they just… fell off the top of the closet? I ignored the fact that such an explanation made little to no sense, and that it still didn’t explain the fact that all the dish shards appeared to be spotless. But that tenuous explanation made just as much sense as me magically creating a creepy, dish-cleaning, top-of-closet dwelling ghost with the power of my mind.

Then my phone alarm went off and that of course startled me. A girl just can’t catch a break when dishes are involved.

Needless to say I tracked down a neighbor who owned a broom, cleaned up the pathetic little pile of impeccably clean but irreparably shattered glass and went back to ignoring the space above the closet.

But I had trouble sleeping that night.

And the next.

And the next.

I had trouble sleeping for a week after that incident because I couldn’t stop thinking about the shadowy crevice and the incident with the dishes.

So a week and half after what I now call The Dish Day, on a sunny Saturday morning when most other 22 year olds were probably nursing hangovers, I decided to run some experiments on the space above the closet.

The first test I did was with a piece of paper. Just a simple, blank piece of printer paper with nothing written on it and no marks. I placed it on top of the closet and pushed it as far back toward the wall as I could. Then I sat on my bed, started the stopwatch app on my phone, and waited.

At 14 minutes and 22 seconds, the piece of paper was shoved from the top of the closet by some unseen force. Before it even landed on the ground I had bolted to my feet atop the bed to catch the mysterious culprit in action – by this point I was thinking, maybe rats were to blame? Again, unlikely story.

But the crevice was empty.

Disappointed, I retrieved the piece of paper from the ground and examined it. Nothing had changed – no marks had appeared, it was not torn, in fact it wasn’t even wrinkled or creased.

I resolved to continue my experimenting. I decided the blank paper was kind of like a control and that I would use the same sheet at the end of my experimenting to try and make the whole stupid process a little bit more legit.

So I set aside the first sheet of paper and grabbed another. This time, I wrote something on it. Just my name, in large, black letters, all caps, across the middle of the page:

“R I P L E Y”

(Yes, I am named after Sigourney Weaver’s character in Alien. Complaints go to my mother).

Once again, I placed the paper on top of the closet as far back as I could reach, started the stopwatch app, and waited. This time I stayed standing.

I stayed standing for 23 minutes and 11 seconds watching that paper and it didn’t so much as flutter. Exasperated, I flopped down on my bed.

Two second later, the paper flew off the top of the closet.

I scrambled to retrieve it from the floor and when I did, I was disappointed to find that it had not been altered. Not to be discouraged so easily, however, I decided to add something to the writing and try again.

“Hello, my name is
R I P L E Y”

Once again I positioned the paper atop the closet and started the stopwatch.

At exactly 13 minutes the paper fluttered from the crevice to the ground. It was writing side down when I retrieved it.

I turned it over.
My writing was gone. And when I say gone, I mean gone without a trace. I had written my message in permanent marker and not a single spot was left on the page. Not so much as a faint shadow of lettering.

In tiny, neat, penciled freehand, however, on the very bottom of the page, were two words:

“I know”

Well, I nearly completely lost my shit. I had no idea what to do. Prior to conducting my little experiment I had every intention of continuing until I could figure out what was going on with my closet crevice. But those two little words freaked me out so much that I simply grabbed my coat and my purse, threw on some shoes and went for a walk to clear my head.

Halfway around the block I realized I had to go back. I had to dig deeper. I asked myself, “What would Dana Scully do?” Well, she would investigate the occurrence as if it were a rationally explainable phenomenon until something undeniable led her to believe otherwise.

But Fox Mulder… Well… what would Mulder do? I bet if the X-Files were set in 2015 the first thing Mulder would do would be to Google paranormal phenomenon relating to closets.

So that’s what I did. I went immediately home, and all the while deliberately avoiding any glances toward the mysterious closet space, I typed into Chrome “paranormal closet”.

Some results came up. The first result was a site dedicated to helping people come out of the closet by comparing the experience of realizing homosexuality to that of experiencing the paranormal. I mean…. I’ve never had to come out of the closet but the article was pretty convincing. There was also a reddit thread entitled “Old Man in my Closet”… I didn’t click on it. And a few youtube videos, presumably shoddy attempts at special effects, showing “paranormal closet occurrences” but none of them resembled my invisible closet-top-dwelling companion – er, whatever. After a few more attempts at various internet searches, I just gave up; resolving that I was on my own with this one and leaning heavily toward the Dana Scully approach – I would explore every option before writing it all off as a personally experienced X-File phenomenon. I would continue to experiment with the closet space, exchanging letters with the mysterious void.

Retrospectively, maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.

Maybe the Mulder approach would have allowed me to forget about The Dish Day and those two words, “I know.” Maybe Mulder would have just been able to chalk it all up to a bizarre, fascinating experience and then let it go. Move on.

But no. I decided to be Scully. I decided to push it.

I grabbed the piece of paper with “I know” written on it and decided to keep it as proof. For everyone else it would just look like two words on a piece of paper, but to me it was solid evidence of my experience. I didn’t want to risk losing it.

I picked a third piece of paper from my shelf and wrote on it:

“WHAT’S YOUR NAME?”

I delivered the paper to the top of the closet, sat on my bed, and started the stop watch.

At 10 minutes and 35 seconds the paper floated from the top of the closet – this time directly onto the bed instead of the floor.

“Not important,” it read. My writing was gone. I decided to use the same piece of paper for the next question. Directly under the closet-being’s writing I scribbled:

“ARE YOU REAL?”

At 6 minutes and 15 seconds, the paper landed on my bed, blank once again except for the answer:

“Evidently so.”

I thought to myself, “Ahh so the closet is a smartass, then,” and scribbled my next question:

“IF YOU’RE REAL, WHY CAN’T I SEE YOU?”

At the 4 minute and 21 second mark, the paper landed with the response:

“Ever seen gravity?”

I wrote: “TOUCHE” and nothing else, wondering what the response would be. After only 3 minutes and 51 seconds, the paper fluttered back to me:

“Do ask something interesting, please.” A smartass indeed.

“HOW ARE YOU DOING THIS?”
The response came at the 2 minute mark.
“Ours is a special ability.”
“OURS? THERE’S MORE THAN ONE OF YOU?”
After only 1 minute and 3 seconds the answer was, “Unnecessary question. Ask another.”

I suddenly felt anxious. I had been at ease for most of the process, odd as that may sound, but the clear eagerness of the demand “ask another” gave me pause. Should I continue? Was I getting into something dangerous? I began the process unconvinced that even one of the strange closet entities existed and now I was being told by some invisible force that there may be multiple unseen beings living on top of my closet, communicating with me through a piece of paper, from which my own writing kept magically disappearing.

I actually felt afraid. But I sent another message. I stupidly sent another message.
“WHO ARE YOU?”

The answer this time was almost instantaneous. I barely had time to start the stopwatch app before the paper floated off the closet and landed before me. What I read there made no sense; it seemed such a bizarre answer to the question, and while I was staring at the page trying to get my brain to work I felt a building sense of anxiety creeping from my toes to my ears – a tingling sense of danger building in my spine.

“Too late. First letter of each sentence. Read the solution aloud, please. I’ll tell you who I am if you complete this task.”

It was the longest sentence the closet had returned. It was also the weirdest. Stupidly I ignored my sense of mounting panic, desperate to complete the task and solve the mystery. “I am Dana Scully I am Dana Scully,” I kept chanting in my head.

First letter of each sentence? I used to love these silly puzzle games. I wracked my brain to remember the entire conversation but after some scribbling, I recalled all of it:

HELLO, MY NAME IS RIPLEY.
I know.
WHAT’S YOUR NAME?
Not important.
ARE YOU REAL?
Evidently so.
IF YOU’RE REAL, WHY CAN’T I SEE YOU?
Ever seen gravity?
TOUCHE.
Do ask something interesting, please.
HOW ARE YOU DOING THIS?
Ours is a special ability.
OURS? THERE’S MORE THAN ONE OF YOU?
Unnecessary question. Ask another.
WHO ARE YOU?
Too late….

But when I was finished, I isolated all the first letters and the message didn’t make any sense: “HIWNAEIETDHOOUWT.” Total nonsense.

Then it dawned on me – maybe just use every first letter of the responses; after all, if there’s a hidden message, how could I have had any part in it if I didn’t know it in the first place?

I arranged all of the letters from the closet’s response into a line.

My heart sank. A lump rose in my throat. My palms started to sweat.

INEEDOUT.
I. Need. Out.

For some insane reason, even though the message was already creepy enough that I should have stopped, that I should have torn up the page and gone straight to the Housing office to switch rooms, some insane, visceral urge to complete the task and a sweeping desire to solve the mystery overwhelmed me and I read out loud:

“I need out.”

The room instantly fell eerily silent. It seemed a vacuum had formed in my little dorm room. Simultaneously all the air seemed to be sucked from my lungs and a freezing cold seized me by the shoulders as I watched a swirling shadow gather in the space above the closet and spill over the edge into the room; spiralling and creeping toward me like an inky fog.

I couldn’t breathe.

I couldn’t move.

I couldn’t think.

I could only sit there, watching the fog approach me and engulf first my legs, then my torso, then my neck and soon everything was blackness and burning cold and indecipherable, painful silence.

And then I woke up here, in this… void. Only this little notebook was here when I opened my eyes. I can’t see my body and I don’t appear to have any corporeal form but I still feel like myself. And I can somehow write this, and I can somehow see.

When I woke up I saw out into my bedroom. From above. From on top of the closet.

I saw a thing that looks like me, that looks just like Ripley.

When it sensed that I was awake, the thing that looks like me climbed onto my bed and peered into the space above the closet where I am trapped and said in a voice that sounds just like mine but with different, stiffer inflections, “Hello, my name is Ripley. That’s who I am. Now you have your answer. You’re welcome for the notebook.”

I wanted to respond, wanted to yell that NO! I AM RIPLEY! You’re not Ripley! You aren’t me! I don’t want this stupid notebook, I want you to let me go!

But I couldn’t.

I can only write. And presumably push things off the top of the closet. Or make them disappear temporarily. Or erase things.

And now that thing from the top of the closet is walking around as me; and it’s going to keep up the pretense. So I’m writing this tale down and maybe someday, when the fake Ripley leaves and someone else moves into this room, I will push this book off the top of the closet.

And maybe that someone will start reading, thinking it’s all a bizarre mishap. And maybe they’ll become interested in my story.

Maybe they’ll be a thrill seeker willing to test the boundaries. Maybe they’ll be a curious fan of the X-Files. Maybe they’ll want to talk to me. Maybe they’ll tell me their name.

But I’ll already know it.

And my task will be to lure them…. To trick them into saying aloud that I….

I Need Out.

Credit To – Emerald Lee

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If I had the sight to see all the things that troubled me

June 20, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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I was tossing and turning in my bed, and even after a long day at work, I couldn’t get to sleep. It wasn’t a lack of space; my bed was king size and I slept alone. But there was something that felt strange and uneasy. For example, I always sleep with a window open, to allow the wind to come in and provide some chill in these warm summer nights. But on this particular night, there was no wind. And yet, the trees were swaying, harder than they’d swayed when the wind was there.

I decided that there was no use in staying in bed if I couldn’t sleep, but at the same time, I didn’t want to get up. I wasn’t thirsty or hungry, and I didn’t need the toilet, so I just turned the TV on and hoped that once I had watched enough crappy TV for that night, I would fall asleep, and turn the TV off in the morning.

There was nothing good on the TV. I flicked through a few channels, which made me feel sleepy on it’s own, but I had to settle for some cartoon, which I can’t even remember the name of. I grabbed my phone to check the time. It was 01:04. Luckily, I didn’t have to go to work in the morning as it was my day off, but I still didn’t like getting up late, because I liked the mornings and going out for breakfast. At this rate, I probably wouldn’t get enough sleep to even get a morning coffee at the local coffee shop.

*BANG BANG BANG*.

Three solid knocks. They were the loudest knocks anyone could ever hope to hear. I always made sure that my doors were locked, and the windows were shit. Whoever it was wasn’t getting in without a key or someone opening it from inside. My heart was pounding from the volume and strength of the knocks; it felt like someone was trying to break the door down. Nonetheless, I got up from my bed and crept over to the landing.

From up there, I could see the doorway. With streetlights lighting all up my road, I could see outlines and shadows in the doorway even in the pitch black darkness. Someone who knocked that hard obviously needed something, and yet when I looked down, I couldn’t see anything. Not even a silhouette.

I decided it best not to call out. Perhaps it was one of my drunk neighbours knocking on their door. After all, I lived alone, and the walls were paper thin. I could hear their fridge running through a wall, and a different floor. So, it wasn’t impossible that the knocks were for them.

*BANG BANG BANG*.

Three more knocks, as aggressive as the first came pounding again. This time, it was clear that it was on my door. My palms were sweating. My pyjamas combined with the warm night made me feel sweaty and sticky. I wasn’t scared, at least not until I went back to the landing.

From up there, I looked down. Something was shaking the door handle viciously. And yet there was still no silhouette. What the hell could it be? A child not big enough to appear above the glass? No, what would a kid be doing pounding my door so hard.
A drunk? Even then, I’d be able to see them. The door was clearly locked, as if it wasn’t, anyone shaking the handle would have got in.

I rushed back into my bedroom, and like a little child, tried to hide under the covers as I got my phone. I frantically dialled the police, even though nothing had really happened. My fingers were sweating and I could hear the dial tone loud and clear through the quietness of the night, now that the knocking had gone.
“Hello, emergency servi-”

The door opened.

Whatever was trying to get in had managed to break the handle and get in through the front door. They slammed the front door shut and for a second, I thought maybe it was a drunk neighbour playing around after having ten too many drinks. Something was in my house with me, and I was too scared to face it. I even kept a baseball bat under my bed in case of intruders, but for some reason, I was already frightened out of my wits. I clambered under my covers and waited for whatever it was to do what it was going to do.

*THUD THUD*

The sound of heavy footsteps echoed through my house as the intruder came upstairs. I tried my best to control my breathing; heavy breathing would give any position away, both through sound and in movement. I tried to nudge myself towards the wall as much as I could, as there was a slight gap between the wall and my bed, where if I was lucky, I could lodge myself in. Just as I managed to position myself, with the quilt ruffled so as to not look suspicious, my bedroom door creaked open slowly.

If this was a funny joke, it was no longer funny. It hadn’t been for a while, but the sudden reality had hit me. If it was someone I knew, they wouldn’t have broken in, or at least stated their identity. Like, “Hey son it’s me!” or “Yo Bro, it’s Jack!”. No. The thing was silent, and as I heard my door open, I did my best to lie as still as I could without exposing any part of my body. It was hard to breathe under the covers, but I had to keep my feet, hands and head under or I’d be seen.

The door hit the wall, and my visitor had either entered the room with me, or gone somewhere else to scare me. The TV was still on, the crappy cartoon blaring out at a low volume, but in the silence of my breathing, it seemed as loud as the knocks I had heard earlier. I dared not look. The TV remote was on my bedside table, and I had my phone in my hand, thankfully disconnected from the 999 call. I didn’t want them to think I was wasting their time.

“The results are in! Voting has now closed!”
Hold on. That was some reality TV show. I was watching a cartoon channel. My eyes widened and I almost screamed, but I remembered that any movement or noise would be my end. SOMETHING HAD CHANGED THE CHANNEL. And yet, they were still oblivious that I was in the room with them. I must have been doing a good job keeping still, but who would just BREAK IN to a house to watch a talent show?

I had to see what was in the room with me. My phone showed that it was 01:12. 8 minutes had passed, but it seemed like an eternity. I had to make it discreet. Without making too much noise, I lifted the covers. I could see the door, wide open on the far side of the room.

The light from the TV blared across the room, almost blinding me after being in the darkness. But there was nothing standing in the doorway, nor by the door. Thought, just as I lowered the covers. Something rustled by my bed. I don’t own any pets, so it wasn’t a cat or anything. The TV was still on, and I lifted the covers slowly again. The floor creaked slightly on one of the loose wood panels as my enemy walked across my field of sight and back out the door.

Whatever it was, it was fucking with my mind. They broke in, came into my room and sat by my feet, changed the channel and then just got up to leave. The menacing figure came into view now, with the TV’s light exposing it. This creature was of average height, with pale skin, and it walked with a sort of limp.

I had never seen anything like it. It had long claws that resembled daggers. The legs were thin but somewhat muscly. The head was like that of a humans, but pale like the moon with no hair and a few scratches. It had all but made it out of my doorway, when it stopped in it’s tracks. I lowered the covers slightly, so that I could still see him but he could not see me. Not in such lighting.

Without even rotating it’s body, it turned it’s neck like an owl. I winced, still submerged under the covers out of fear. I was praying for him to leave, ‘just fuck off!’ I was thinking throughout my head. But it wasn’t going to make him leave sooner. Sweat dripped down my body and I was almost shaking. I saw what came in my house and I could do nothing but lie there or watch it. Curiosity killed the cat, but for some reason, I still watched it.

As it’s neck turned, I could start seeing the face. A cold chill filled the room, and it wasn’t the wind. It was fear. And I saw it. The face of my fate. His mouth jagged with teeth of uneven shapes and sizes, but all sharp and threatening. His nose and ears pointy but also uneven.

But it was the eyes that made me almost wet myself at the age of 24. The eyes were a bright orange, like the sun, though looking into them didn’t blind me. We made eye contact. If I dropped the cover, he would see me. But I was almost shaking out of fear of sure death. As I stared intently into the eyes, he almost scowled, then frowned, then turned his head slightly. He took a step towards the bed, his claws dangling from his arms.

“This is it,” I felt to myself, as I almost started crying. The creature was just about to open the covers and find me, but a sound from downstairs stopped it in it’s tracks. The neighbour’s dog started barking, and the menacing creature ran out of my room, my eyes fixed on him as he pegged it outside. I heard my stairs trampled, and the front door slam shut again, with a broken handle.

I was finally alone again. I couldn’t stay in the house though. I had a busted door, I was close to shitting myself and I was almost mince meat for some pale zombie-like creature. I quickly changed clothes, still trembling. Once that was done, I put on some shoes and grabbed my car keys. I peered outside the front door to see if anyone was there, but it was clear. My car was only a few yards away from the garden path. If I could make it in there, I could drive away from anything pursuing me.

I managed to make it, thankfully. I didn’t know where to go, but I drove. Far away from the house. Banging kept going through my mind, as did the sound of the door handle. I was now no longer at all sleepy. I drove maybe a mile away, when I saw a local hotel with it’s neon lights flickering in the distance. I decided that I would stay the night there, and call the police from there.

Fast forward to the payment. I’d bought a room for the night, and I had just managed to get inside. I rang the police, told them what had happened and they said they would check the house, but wondered why I hadn’t rang before I went to the hotel. I didn’t know how to reply, but I thanked them, with a sigh of relief and an uneasy smile. I needed to get some sleep.

And that’s where my story ends. In safety at a hotel, 3 floors up, with the police checking my house. It’s 03:32, and I’ve written this account of my tale, still somewhat shaken up. I also pray that none of you have to experience such a thing. Good night.

*BANG BANG BANG*…

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