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July 5, 2014 at 12:00 PM
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1
Nobody was surprised when Old Man Billings disappeared. He’d been wandering off for years, blind drunk, turning up sprawled across somebody’s back porch or curled up in the bed of somebody’s pick-up a few days later. The longest I’d ever heard of him being gone was a week. That time he’d come back into town wearing another man’s hat, with a one-way bus ticket from Binghamton in his pocket. He could never remember how he’d gotten either. Everyone was pretty forgiving of his peculiarities. They said he’d taken some shrapnel in the head in Italy back in the day, and he’d never been right since. Anyway, he’s been gone for a lot longer than a week this time. A lot longer.

2
When the baby disappeared, that was a lot worse. A newborn, Al and Connie Mitchell’s first. He was only about a week old, home fresh from the hospital. It was like the Lindbergh kidnapping all over again. Only this time, there was no ladder up to his room, no ransom request, and no arrest. It was horrible. State cops came in, gave Al this really hard time, like he did it—killed and hid his own kid. The cops dug up their yard, questioned all the neighbors. The FBI showed up too, if you can believe it, all the way out here, but nothing was found by way of evidence. No fingerprints, no blood stains, nothing.

4
Kim and Mike had been going steady all year. Mike had a brand new Trans Am, cherry red, with the black firebird design on the hood. It was a real beauty, and he’d put in some long hours at his dad’s store to earn it. Anyway, what he liked most about it was that he could drive Kim anywhere she wanted to go. Across the state line for booze, mostly. Though I had heard they’d driven all the way to the Falls in one night, just to see the sunrise, for their first month’s anniversary. That’s the kind of stuff they did. Crazy romantics. Everybody took it for granted that they would get married when they graduated. They did find the car, eventually. Way out in Hickcock’s pasture, over by Millville. Nobody could understand that. It wasn’t on the way to either of their houses, and just about as far from the main road as you could get. The paper wrote it up in very technical language, but you knew what they meant. “Signs of a struggle,” “evidence of physical injury”—in layman’s terms, it was kind of a mess inside, and there was blood. Maybe Mike’s. Maybe Kim’s. Maybe both.

7
People were beginning to get a little freaked out. It didn’t seem like you were safe anywhere, whether you were a hobo wanderer like Billings, or safe in your bed in your own house with your parents and grandparents downstairs, like the Mitchell baby, or out in your car on a date, like poor Mike and Kim. Was it murder? Was it kidnappings? Was it the work of a lone maniac, or a cult, or were these disappearances completely unrelated? Nobody, not even the Feds, seemed to have an explanation. So all anybody could do was stick together, never going out alone, and parents keeping a real close eye on their kids. Stuff you’d normally do in the summer-time, like go for a bike ride, or walk down to the pool, or just hang out with your friends at the bandstand on a hot night, all that kind of thing stopped on a dime. Even things people tried to do to stay normal, like go to little league practice, ended when Mrs. Havens and the boys disappeared. She’d gone to walk her son Tommy and his friend Duane back from the softball field, and though people saw them leave, they never made it home.

14
In the absence of anything else to do to help, the local Baptists decided to hold a prayer vigil up at the lake, to pray for the return of our town’s lost sheep, or something like that. Pastor Stigile drove the church van, and his wife Carol came too, as well as the Allans and their two kids, and Mrs. Foster, who can’t drive herself anywhere anymore. They started out very early. The van was later found pretty far out of town, but nowhere near the lake. It was sitting at a slant, nose tipped into the ditch, by the side of the road. There was no trace of the Baptists, not even a handbag.

I happened to be walking uptown a few days after the van was found. I guess I shouldn’t have been out alone, considering, but a walk up Main Street, in the middle of the day, with traffic going by and all, didn’t seem like much of a risk. One thing that was a little troubling, though. My house is just outside the town limits, where the sign is. Glenwood, pop. 1,485. It’s an old sign that’s seen it’s share of buckshot, but as I came to it I noticed vandals had gotten it again, though with spray paint instead of shotguns, this time. In red, someone had crossed out the population number and scrawled a huge “0” over the whole face of the sign, voicing, perhaps, all our fears. Glenwood, population: zero.

I passed the car dealership further up the road, and I saw something moving in the back lot, out of the corner of my eye. I spun my head around to get a better look, thinking maybe it was the lone killer out to get me, but I saw it was just Bill Marshall, the insurance agent. He was in a brown suit and snap brim hat, and I noticed he had his camera around his neck and was making notes on a little pad.

I walked through the cars for sale at the front of the lot, and cars waiting for repairs or waiting to be picked up for repairs. In back, where Bill was, were a few junkers; cars that had been totaled in accidents, soon to be hauled to the scrap yard out on Porter Road. Bill Marshall is about forty, with light hair and eyes, and a thick sort of build. He was standing, I noticed, in front of a van, it’s round headlights staring back at him mutely. It was white on the top and blue on the sides, and it said “First Baptist Church” in white paint across the panels. Around it were saw horses that read “POLICE–DO NOT PASS” on their cross bars.

I said hello and he said hello, and he got his camera out and took a picture of the front of the van. The photo slid out of the Polaroid with a mechanical “whrr,” and he took it out the rest of the way and flapped it in the air, to dry it. There was a strong smell of chemicals.

He was squinting at the van, not puzzled, exactly—almost like he was smiling, but also like he was thinking. He’s a hard guy to get a read on. He smiles when he’s being serious and frowns when he’s telling you a joke. A real character.

“So what do you think about this, Rudy?” he asked me, nodding toward the van.

I shrugged. “What do the cops say?”

He squinted a little harder at the van, blowing on the picture now.

“I’m asking you,” he said. “Look at the vehicle, give me your opinion.”

I looked. It was the same, half-rusted out VW van I’d seen around town since I was a kid. A fixture at church socials and revival meetings. Pastor Stigile would load it up with parishioners on Easter Sunday and head for the hills for sunrise service. We were Presbyterians, so I’d never been inside the van, so I couldn’t say if anything on the inside was different. But it didn’t take a genius to see what the problem was.

The windshield was gone, broken out, and most of the other windows were too. Even though there was no sign of damage to the body of the van itself. I said as much to Bill.

He nodded gravely. He’d gone around to the side of it, and was taking another picture. Click, whrr.

“Take a look at this,” he said, waving me past the police barriers. Stepping around them, I peered inside the van through the torn remains of the safety glass. I looked for a long minute, then I moved forward, looking in the front, then to the rear, to check out the back window, too.

“It’s been cleaned,” I said. “There’s hardly any glass at all in there.”

Bill should his head slowly and puckered his lips, slowly wagging the photograph.

“Take another look. Tell me what you see.”

I looked. This time I looked all around, not just at the seats and the floor, but at the insides of the doors, and the window frames.

“There’s … shoe prints on the walls—dirty sneaker prints, and marks from the Reverend’s galoshes he always wears. There’s black marks from those all around the dashboard, and up where the rear-view mirror used to be, but it’s been broken off.”

Bill nodded again, blowing on his new picture. Then his teeth showed in what was either a wistful smile or a disdainful grimace.

“All the glass was found outside the vehicle. All over the road, and in the grass. That’s what the police report says.”

He was looking at me now, and watched my face change as I allowed what must have been the truth to penetrate.

Echoing my own thoughts, Bill said: “Now what do you suppose made those Baptists kick out the windows of that thing?”

It was an unsettling conversation. I had been on my way up to the Tastee-Freez to get an ice cream cone, but talking to Bill changed my mind. I thought about what he’d said all the way back home. What WOULD make them kick the windows out? And, maybe just as importantly, HOW could they? As Bill had gone on to say, “Old Lady Foster, two young kids–the tennis shoes–two middle-aged women and turkey-legs Pastor Stigile? Have you ever tried to kick the windows out of a vehicle, Rudy?” I admitted I hadn’t ever. He explained that it wasn’t easy, that he dealt with vehicles being stolen for joy-rides all the time. The kids that stole them would inevitably try to kick out the windows, just for fun, he said. And that those young, healthy, probably hopped-up teenagers could hardly ever manage it.

14
After the Baptists, things calmed down a little. There were no more disappearances, anyway, and people started to talk about the future, specifically, about the coming school year. The talk turned into an all-out debate that ended up down at the Grange Hall, with the whole town turning out to discuss it. It seemed the school board wanted to go ahead as though everything were normal, and but a majority of the parents wanted to wait to open the schools, to be sure their kids would be safe. It got pretty heated, with people yelling threats to pull their kids out of school for good, and the school board members yelling back that any kid kept home without an a medical excuse would be getting a visit from the County. You can see we were all in pretty bad shape; people around here aren’t really known for strong opinions or getting upset.

In the end, the board made the compromise that school would start in September, but that they would stagger the openings. Open the grade school first, then, if everything worked out, and there was no trouble, they’d open the middle school, then the high school. The FBI officials, who were also at the meeting, promised to search all the schools top to bottom, and station armed guards inside, for the first few days, at least.

357
That’s probably not an accurate number. Nobody’s really sure how many people were in the building at the time. And it doesn’t account for all the parents that ended up inside, or police or FBI that may have gone in afterwards. All anybody knows for certain is that there were 320 kids, 11 teachers, 4 school administrators, 2 janitors, and 6 FBI guards and policemen that were inside the grade school by 8:15 that Monday morning.

Everything started out okay. The more cautious parents brought their kids in themselves, but the school buses dropped the rest off like clockwork. As usual on the first day of kindergarten, Mrs. Dewey let parents stay a little while, and got the kids singing songs to distract them, so the parents could sneak out without the kids getting too upset. She’d been teaching kindergarten since my mom and dad went there, and I remember her doing the same thing when I was in her class.

No one even knew there was anything wrong until parents showed up about lunch time to pick up the kindergartners, who only have a half day. The parents could hear the dismissal bell ringing inside the school, but when no one came out, they started going in. And then, when those parents didn’t come back out, all hell broke loose. The remaining parents called the cops, and more emergency personnel showed up and flooded into the building, but no one came out. Calls made inside were not answered; it was a dead line. The FBI showed up and locked the whole area down, and now no one is allowed onto school grounds until they can figure out what to do.

That’s been the situation for three days now. State officials have come in from Harrisburg, news people from as far away as California. They have cameras all around the school, as close as the Feds will let them get, anyway. There’s helicopters roaring overhead, so close they make the house shake. My mom jumps when she hears it, and makes some remark about her good china getting cracked in the cupboard from the vibrations. She’s not really worried about the dishes. She’s just nervous and distracted. She sighs a lot, and pretends to read her magazines, when she’s not furiously cleaning something or cooking something, to keep her hands and mind occupied.

Dad won’t let me watch TV or listen to the radio. It would upset Mom too much. She knew everybody that disappeared. That’s not too much of a surprise, I guess, in a place like this, where everybody knows everybody, and is probably related, to boot. Mom had known Old Man Billings all her life; she’d hosted Connie Mitchell’s baby shower. She’d babysat both Mike and Kim when they were little. And Mrs. Havens? They were best friends.

Without being able to watch TV, and not being allowed to go over to any of my friend’s houses, I don’t have a lot of choices. I try shooting a few baskets, but it’s hot and pretty boring to do by myself. I read a few of my comic books, without much enthusiasm. New comics are hard to get here, and I’ve read the ones I’ve got like a million times.

Finally, Dad takes pity on me. He calls Mom’s friend Betty Wetzel to come over and keep her company, since her husband, Lou, is out of town (he’s a truck driver) this week, and he knows she’d jump at the chance to not have to be alone. He and I walk uptown when she gets here. I think he’s just as glad to get out of the house as I am.

We’re on our way to the donut shop, and see a bunch of people in front of the hardware store. There’s a Zenith set up in the window. The people gathered around make room for us. We can’t hear anything, of course, through the window glass, but there’s a blonde news lady talking earnestly into a microphone, the wind blowing her silk scarf, explaining again, no doubt, about the tragedy unfolding in our little farm town. It’s pretty strange to see my old grade school, there, behind her, on TV.

I look back at my dad for a second. He’s wearing that expression I’ve seen on his face all summer. Worry, pulling and dragging at his face, glinting in his eyes, behind his thick glasses. He glances at me, but can’t even summon a brief, reassuring smile. I look back at the TV. The blonde lady is gone. Now there’s just the school in the background, the wind gusting through the trees, and a few emergency vehicles in view. A long, unbroken shot.

I turn back to my dad, to ask if he saw that too? But he’s not there. Nobody’s there. The street, the cars, the buildings, everything, just like before, but no people. I

Credit To – J.Faunch

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Echiridion Aetheri

July 4, 2014 at 12:00 PM
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This may seem a little strange for a story, however I assure you what I am about to describe to you happened to us. There were five people present when it happened, although they may have their own separate and independent accounts of the event. Apart from them, I seem to be the more analytical type. I took the liberty of cataloging the event in every detail; that I am able to recall anyway, and to the best of my ability.

Of the four friends present at the time the important parts took place, there was: Rachel, my finance, although we never intended on marrying traditionally. Cody, my best friend since middle-school. Teressa, Cody’s girlfriend, whom nobody in my close circle of friends particularly enjoyed the company off. Alex, a film student, although he did not personally own a camera at the time. Then finally, myself making five people in total.

In the weeks passing immediately after the time we came across it, the only notable event that would have “made a lasting effect” on anyone outside the five of us would have been the death of Alex’s great-uncle. This death was expected as he was in his late 70’s, and has suffered a stroke only weeks ago. We could not logically connect his death with our experiences, so we best assumed them unrelated.

Discussion about this event between us has since stopped. As this topic tends to bring about us a feeling of dread, trauma. Probably a form of post-traumatic stress. I don’t know. What I do know is information relating what we found, and that I am going to pass this information directly onto you. So that you may either seek it, or avoid it as you will.

Quite simply, what we found was a book. It was bound in what an inexperienced eye would call “leather”. However, it did not have the classic, leather smell that even the oldest books tend to keep over time. Much like the feel of a heavy rubber, but with the distinctive smell of freshly used gym-shoes. The book was in an archival condition, but was discolored with age. The spine had seven distinct raised ridges, an intended aesthetic feature of the binding process. The color of the book, was that of a fine chocolate. There were windowed divots pressed into the front cover that only reinforces such comparison.

On the top of the book was a double-linked chain,\ which appeared to be made of brass, and at the end of that chain a heavy weight, I would say to be “several ounces”. This ensured that the chain was always dangling from the book pointing toward the ground. The “pendulum” was small for its weight, pointed, much like a rifle round, with the flat end having a tapered neck, where a thick brass wire was coiled around the head of it and feed through a hole where the chain was attached. The weight itself was elaborately engraved with seemingly random ornamental spirals, lines, and circles. The kind you would see normally painted fine pottery.

Trust me, we tried to remove it. It was very sturdy in its construction. Cody wanted to wear it as a necklace, and as all young-adults, we could care less about what parts an old book was missing. It wouldn’t come off. It was a very strong little tassel. We decided that we would take then entire book instead. We didn’t find this book in an old trunk, in an abandoned house or anything like that. It was laying on a shelf, with no cataloging markings, in the small genealogy section of our hometown library in [Classified-12], Michigan.

The book was honestly not that difficult to steal, as it seemed the book has not been cataloged. If it were cataloged, that would not have changed anything. Books in our library have easily identifiable and removable security strips in them. Not that they would risk damaging a book of this age with the addition of these security strips. I myself simply walked out of the front doors of this library with the book in my messenger bag. The agreement, in risk of getting cause stealing this book, was that I was able to keep it. Fair for me to have such an old and beautiful addition to my already decent home library.

It was titled “Enchiridion in Lux Aetherial”, meaning “Handbook of the Light Ethereal”, at least that is what online translation told me. However, the words “in Lux” and the “al” at the end of “Aetherial” were discolored. Not from old age, but more interestingly as the title on the binding was brushed with silver leaf. Those few letters appeared to be painted in a glossy walnut colored paint. However, did not detract from the overall style of the text. This seemed deliberate to us after short discussion. We, from that point, referred to the book as “Echiridion Aetheri” or “Ether Handbook”. Depending on the amount of latin we wanted to work into our lives on a given day.

It might seem strange to you, but we did not actually open the book until we returned to my place. In the heat of finding the book, we opened it up only to the front page, where the title was reinstated to look for stamps or stickers marking it as library property. Other than that we did not actually search through the book’s contents. The title on this front page was clear and the letters “in Lux” as well as the “al” were again, whitewashed and ultimately illegible. To the point you would only know the book’s title by looking at its binding.

While the book seemed to be well-kept, the pages told a different story. Thumbing through them, one could see varying sized dark brown splotches every couple of pages. Obviously stains from a liquid. At the time we presumed this to be blood, although now in hindsight, I realize it was too light to be blood. We never did get around to test it.

Now, the weird part. The book was not written in Latin or English. In fact, there were no recognizable roman characters in this book whatsoever. The text in this book was written in vertical columns from left to right. There was “whitespace” in between every few characters which may have been indicating the end of a word. There was no indicator for the end of a line or of a thought it seemed, and just went on for page after page. It included exactly 97 unique commonly recurring characters. Similar enough for us to draw a table for them, however there were countless other characters which may have represented words or concepts, similar to the Japanese kanji. Although the style of the writing was most likely not of oriental origin. The text was written in 51 columns on each page, with a spacer between every 17 columns, and was written on both the front and back sides of the paper. There was some space between the last vertical of text, and the edge of the paper, about and inch. This area on every page, with the exception of 28 full page art pieces. Within the text at intervals were many well lined, black and white diagrams of what I gathered to be minerals and gemstones in one part of the book. Plants and animals in another, and somewhere near the middle, a very precisely drawn and inked astrological diagram depicting seasons, and others representing the precession of the equinox and [Classified-12].

Also, the book contained quite a few “full page” lined and painted art pieces. The style was different from that of the book’s many diagrams in the sense that it was best described as flamboyant and brightly colored. Even in its age, the quality of the watercolor paints used, it had to be watercolor, were testament to the creator’s intentions of having this book survive for a very very long time. The text in the book seemed to be separated into 17 distinct sections, each made up of 19 – 34 pages, the book was 428 pages long, including the title page. This does count both sides of the paper used, meaning it was a book bound from 214 individual sheets. The book with binding was roughly 2 and a half inches thick, 10 and a half in height, and 6 and a half inches in width.

After a while, a few of us realized that what we had found might be just a legitimate “priceless artifact”. We eventually came upon doing the right thing, and went immediately to the only person we knew that could deal with a situation such as this. We called a history professor of mine at 10pm that night on November 17th of 2013, a Sunday. He told told us that he was already in bed reading, and that he was preparing his next week’s lesson plan. After giving him the details, the same I have just given you, thieving of the book included. He suggested that the book may have been a hoax, dropped off at the library for someone like us to pick up and make a media frenzy about.

He agreed to, at 6am early the next day, pick us up and would go to the paleobiology department of the college to radiometrically date the book as a group. After we didn’t sleep that night, we gathered up enough energy to head out with him to the college. When we arrived we were surprised to come upon a couple of his colleagues, other professors whom he informed and joined him to date the book properly. Using a small file, some of the “brassy” material of the chain weight was put into a small vial with liquid, and separately as well as a 1cm square of the paper used to write the book. Using an atomic mass spectrometer available at the institution, we dated the book to be roughly between 600 and 800 years old by the paper used, and 800 to 1400 years old by the brass pendulum. However, this did tell us the book was not in its original binding. Also while the paper was authentic, the printed Latin text on the titlepage was added much later in the book’s lifetime. Presumed the same time the binding was added.

We wanted the college to hold the book for us, so that no harm came to it. The professor insisted that we take it back home with us, as he said “I cannot guarantee its safety while it is on campus.”. The professor then added that he did not want to cause an uproar so soon, and would need to do some research, as well as us on where the book may have come from, sometime between the 10th and 14th centuries. Trust me, the 4 of us; Cody, Alex, my fiance and myself searched many encyclopedias, the society archives, and even the [Classified-12] records held by the [Classified-12 – – – – – -] for more than a week.

This was fine all, but it was no longer fun. It became real work, some of us became bored. Rachel stopped searching after a few days. I was started to lose interest as well. Cody however, decided that attempting to read the book was the best method of finding the originator. This made much more sense to me that what we had been doing. We both knew enough to grasp the concepts depicted in the diagrams of the handbook. We knew this would be a good place to start, as the names of astrological bodies haven’t changed all that much over the last 2000 years. Eventually, the professor joined in with us in an attempt decipher the book’s contents. Not long after that is when it happened.

It was 2am, December 4th, the 4 of us had been working late, Alex had already drifted off to sleep. I was also getting to that point, I decided to use the restroom, take a shower, and then head off to bed. Cody, at the time was my roommate, and he headed on after me. The book was laying on our research table, along with clips from old papers, and any other clues we could find. However, when I came out of the shower, he was still working on the decoding. I walked up and told him “Hey, we can get to this tomorrow. I’ve only gotten an hour of sleep a day for the last week working on this. I’m sure Teressa’s starting to worry about you.”. He looked up at me, in an reaction, half sorrow, and half amazement. I can’t quite say. He just keep beading into my eyes and then calmly smirked and said. “Your girl going in there or is it free?” referring to the shower.

He came back out, grabbed a bowl of cereal like he normally did before he went to bed. Lucky charms I do believe. I went to sleep, my room is nextdoor to his. We have always kept the doors to our rooms open. This was some sort of sick joke the two of us played where each couple would try to get the other hearing them fucking. Anyhow, this night, he closed his door. I kept mine open as usual, and Rachel came in wrapped in two towels like she did every time after she showered, one of them in her hair. We feel asleep rather quickly.

I woke up at about 4:30 am to the sound of a door closing. Our house was two story 3 bedroom, with half the living-room converted into another bedroom haphazardly barricaded by bedsheets strung up between the overhang. He left out the front door of the house, but he was attempting to be quiet about leaving. I had assumed that he was leaving with his girlfriend over to her place, like I had earlier vaguely suggested. 4 hours later I was woken up by Rachel waking up and getting dressed. Figuring that everyone else was gone, and that we had the house to ourselves, we ended up having sex, and didn’t really start our day until about 11am.

First thing after that, she went to use the restroom and then ended up making a pot of coffee for the both of us. She sat in the living room, and as I was coming downstairs she murmured the worse words I have ever heard a human being speak. “Where did you guys put the book last night?”. I naively responded by walking up to the table, pointing to it without looking at, saying “Right there.”. As I looked down coffee in hand, to my dismay, the book was not there. I didn’t panic immediately. I figured that Cody may have put it into its usual spot, an honest lectern with a lock. That was sitting within the same research table. I unlocked the desk to the table to open the lectern, which had a small hole in it to open the lid to the closed lectern drawer. It wasn’t in there either. I then pulled out my cellphone to call Cody, now with the assumption that he had taken the book with him to do research at Teressa’s house, in the afternoon. Not a big deal. That was until I had realized the ringing coming from the kitchen counter next to a half eaten bowl of lucky charms.

I went outside, his car was still parked across the street, and now the situation was starting to look a little urgent. Me an Rachel drove down to Teressa’s house to see if he was there. Teressa’s was not necessarily a far from where we were, about 10 or so blocks. Something Cody could have walked, but at 4 in the morning unlikely. We knocked on her door, and she told us that she had not hear from him in almost 4 days. I knew this already, but I thought he went there last night.

On the 21st of December, just a few days before Christmas, after looking for at least two weeks we found him. The state and local police, got involved after we filled a missing persons report. Shortly after, federal agents and [Classified-12] after he was found. The professor was the person we went to after Teressa. He helped us in filing the case. We don’t know if the book was ever found. For all we know it could be in a [Classified-12 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -].

When we found him, we were all in a state of shock. The police were confused, as were we. My fiance had to leave, and Teressa was crying. Alex ended up writing a report for the police and the federal agents who showed up not long after. He was found, still alive thankfully, in a storage unit not far outside of the city. Cody was a medical student, but he was an unsuccessful dropout. I can’t blame him for that. Cody had pumped blood into a bag, rather crudely, from supplies of questionable origin. He had made a duplicate of the book, the entire book, on heavy weight canvas, written in his own blood. He had lost so much blood that he was not able to respond when he was found. After a short while [an] [Classified-12] ambulance picked him up taking him to some kind of [Wellness] [Classified-12] Center not far from [Classified-12 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -]. The federal agents confiscated all of the photocopied pages of the book, as well as most of the manuscripts that he had written in relation to [Classified-12 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -].

The media did not cover this story, and the “Enchiridion in Lux Aetherial” is now lost to us. The only part of the book we have that remains, are the notes that were confiscated and then returned to us after [Classified-12 – – – -] searched our house. Cody, is now in a [Wellness] [Classified-12] Center for his condition. The last time we spoke to him, the only coherent things we could muster from his garbled speech was, “She stands at the edge of space, solidity congealing blood, a formless star, nothing begat her, motionless, still, she stands… she stands at the edge of space… she stands… she stands at the edge of space.”. With that, we [Classified-12 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -]. hope that you don’t come across these same horrors. I don’t know if there was already something wrong with him or what, but if it could trigger him like that, then… I just don’t know.

Credit To – Xyeunliatbhs

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The Piano’s Song

July 3, 2014 at 12:00 PM
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She sits upright before us, like a tree trunk still and dynamic, and her frail fingers are placed alert on the ivory. Her old lungs fill and release once as the room slowly revolves around. We are dark icy planets to her sun. Then patiently, softly, from somewhere deep down in the black wood there forms a melody. It’s caramel. It burrows down into our bodies and paralyzes us; it’s like warm, sedative water poured slowly down our necks – it trickles down our spine, earthly and heavenly, easing red knotted muscles, spreading its nirvana everywhere. The room melts a little, the clocks slow a little. And she sits resolute. Her eyes are closed and her fingers dance like spiders over the small black and white keys of the piano. Does she know her power? Does she hear her Sirens’ sound? Or is it only her fingers who could understand?… is it such that the entirety of her grace is reserved solely for the gods and clouds above?

She has us so fully in her grasp – so deep in this euphoria that we dare not move when, after the sweet song fades into nonexistence, she opens her eyes. She scans the room, counts our heads with her bony finger, and smiles. Then she returns to the keys. With yet another all-encompassing breath, she sets her fingers free on the instrument.

The tune begins like spring; tiny pale flowers open wide and silver streams flow crisp and cool. A dazzling mountain breeze sweeps over our shoulders and we are free, oh so free, flying through the night… But, despite our earnest effort to ignore it, something is wrong. Something has been corrupted. A missed note?

No, there lurks something monstrous here – something ugly and black and hidden like a tumor. She peers out at her audience, that witchy smile burning bright upon her face. We feel the music ooze through our veins. It’s overpowering. We feel it enter our chest, slip into the heart. We feel it thicken. It stings. It hurts. Every organ fights the corruption. But it’s too late. It’s too late… Our blood becomes ice.

As our minds dissolve away, we hear the song’s unending glory; we feel the twist of its dagger in our backs. We see the witch’s cold hands stretching out to ravage our souls – and we taste the red smoke of hell… Away into the darkness the sweet music takes us.

Credit To – Nate C.

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Beautiful

July 3, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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There are milestones in your life that you never forget, and renting your first apartment is one of them. What can I say about mine? It was quaint, cheap, and had enough space that I could fit a bed if I really crammed the mattress against the wall. It wasn’t the glorious, romantic idea of moving out, but I could afford it, and that’s what really mattered.
I remember taking the rusted key from my broad-shouldered, heavy bearded landlord, and oddly enough, I couldn’t keep the sting of cold electricity from running up my spine. I’m not superstitious, but I’d be a liar if I said that it didn’t frighten me. I should’ve left there; just let it go and walked away, but I didn’t.
“It’s a nice room. I really can’t understand why no one would want to rent it.” He answered, a frown of confusion lining his features.
I remember giving a shrug, thanking him politely, and scooting my way out the door.

Making my way up the stairs, I glanced between the cracks of each step to see the pebbled sidewalk below. Several of the boards were wound tight with duct tape, holding them together. Even the slightest bit of weight caused them bend precariously, giving an aching squeak. It would’ve been so easy to break them, but luckily, I didn’t.

I opened the door. It was solid wood with a faded brass mailbox, though one thing that caught my eye was a post-it stuck right at my eye-level to welcome me to the building. Apparently, there was one other person living in the building below me, though my landlord never remembered seeing them.
Welcome! I hope you find the apartment to your liking. ~ Your Neighbor Downstairs.
Taking the small piece of paper, I stuffed it in my pocket, before reaching for my key. Finally, it seemed like I found someone who didn’t creep me out, though the good feelings didn’t last long. As I slid the key into the lock, the brown rust specked off onto my hand, and I sneered in disgust, pulling back to brush it off.

With a forced crack of old wood, I saw the inside. Yellow tiles lined the floor, and a white, cracked ceiling was above me. It had a bedroom, a bathroom the size of a broom closet, a living area with a window that only showed the bricks of the building next door, and a filthy kitchen, complete with overflowing ant traps.

Giving a sigh, I could only stuff my hands into my pockets, crinkling the post-it, before setting down my bag. The apartment had already been paid for, and I couldn’t back out then… or rather I refused to, being the stubborn pain in the neck I grew up to be.

I stayed there for several months and after a cleaning storm and some furnishings, it began to look like a home. During the day that is. At night, my apartment was always a different story.
I’d lie in my bed, pull my covers up to my chin and get the most anxious chills. My hands would shake, and my stomach held the warning pressure of an exploding bladder, but that was never the case. Sometimes I’d be paralyzed with fear, never understanding why. In the darkness, all I could see was the white lights of my digital clock, and the single red eye of the smoke detector perched on the ceiling.

I tried to think nothing of it, but the feeling only began to get worse.
One night, as I lay in bed with insomnia’s cloudiness filling my head, I heard noises from beneath my bed. I was used to it, often-hearing music, or the sound of clicking, as my downstairs neighbor used his computer at every hour of the day. I knew the sound of typing keys, and sometimes I’d see the blue glow coming from his window when I came back late at night. However, that night, something about it made me nauseous. I listened to it, squirming with an antsy disgust.

I couldn’t take it anymore.

I threw my legs over the side of the bed, and stood up. I had to stop that clicking. It was driving me crazy, and all I wanted to do was sleep. I couldn’t remember a time when I had been that angry, but lack of sleep tends to do that to people.
I made my way down the stairs, each one giving the horrid grinding sound of duct tape rubbing against itself, but I didn’t care. I was tired, angry, and I’d stop that clicking, no matter what it took. With each step, I felt my heart pounding, but the antsy feeling began to consume me. I didn’t know if I was going to vomit or pass out, but I refused to do either until that clicking was gone.

Going to the door of my neighbor, I was inches from the door handle, when I heard the sound of breaking glass and a scream of pain. Through my hazy mind, I threw the door open and made my way into the apartment. It was dark, and I could barely see anything, though the notes of a song I couldn’t name reached my ears. I saw the familiar blue glow coming from one of the rooms, and I followed it like a moth to a flame.

What I found has burned itself into my mind, and I’ll never forget it. On a wall, wasn’t just a small laptop, but several monstrous monitors that spread across it, there were nine of them, all neatly lined up to surround a single, decrepit swivel chair placed by a desk, with a keyboard.
I reached over, my mind forgetting any weariness it was suffering before, as I touched one of the keys. I recoiled quickly, finding it newly sticky, and I felt my stomach pushing towards further nausea, but within seconds, the monitors lit up bright, leaving me temporarily blinded and blinking back spots. Once my sight returned to me, I stared at the monitors as one by one, they loaded to show different places in my apartment. Bedroom, living room, bathroom, kitchen, front door… they were all there, and I began shaking, looking around for any sign of the neighbor, I’ve never met.

Everything was dead, and I felt around blindly for a light switch, only to find that there was none. The computers seemed to be their only source of light, and I tore my eyes away from them as soon as I could manage it.
Granted, the clicking had stopped, but the music continued to play, coming from the bedroom. The same song looped itself over and over, each time the guitar began with its cheerful chords frightened me further.
I ran as fast as I could towards the door, nearly tripping over pizza boxes and carelessly discarded books. All I knew was that I had to get away from it; the blinding monitors, the overwhelming stench of mold, the sticky keyboard…

Everything that happened for the rest of that night happened in a blur of panic. I packed my bags, and left as soon as I could. Apparently, they never found the creep, he escaped before I could get into his apartment. The only trace of him was that broken basement window, and blood-soaked shards of glass.

My stomach turns just thinking about it, now, to be honest.

One thing I do remember from my experience happened as I went to leave the apartment and my creepy neighbor for good. I had my bags thrown over my shoulder, weighing me down to exhaustion, when I saw a small square stuck to the inside of my door, staring me in the face just daring me to leave.
Written in maniac scrawl were song lyrics that still keep me from listening to the radio. I’ll never forget it. The song that had been looping in the monster’s bedroom that night gave me one more challenge, before I opened the door, never to look back.

If only you saw what I can see,
You’ll understand why I want you so desperately.
Right now I’m looking at you and I can’t believe,
You don’t know,
You don’t know you’re beautiful.
That’s what makes you beautiful.

Credit To – Kim Gabriele

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Remember To Turn On The Lights

July 1, 2014 at 12:00 PM
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I walked into the bed and breakfast tired as ever. First I entered the bathroom, turned on the light and washed up. I was too exhausted to turn on the rest of the lights in the room so it was a little dark. My bag was thrown under what appeared to be a full length mirror. There was not enough light to make out all of my features, but I could make out the basic shape of my body in the reflection. It’s not like it mattered. I was going to bed anyways so I didn’t need to check myself out. I could see my reflection out of the corner of my eye following me as a shuffled around the room, as it should. As soon as my head hit my pillow I was out.

A few hours later I was feeling a bit chilly. I felt a breeze on my face. I thought that someone must have left the window open. When I got up and scoured the walls for a window all I found was sheetrock covered in tacky wall paper. To get a better view I walk over by my bag and turned on the light switch. When I looked toward my bag to get a jacket, I found the source of the breeze.

That was no mirror, it was a window, and it was open. What ever was on the other side of that window was now in my room…..A heard a noise coming from the bathroom.

I found myself wishing I had turned the lights on sooner.

Credit To – Infinita Furor

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Under The Blanket

June 2, 2014 at 12:00 PM
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Looking back, I’d say I had a pretty enjoyable childhood, nothing bad ever happened to me. I barely ever got sick, never broke any bones, or got into fights with my cousins when I visited. I was basically a picture perfect child, not to brag. Except, one time when I was visiting my older cousins I experienced the strangest event, and even today, I still can’t tell myself that it was just my imagination.

I was probably about six years old at the time, but I still remember everything about that night like it was yesterday. I was climbing trees with my cousins most of the day, and when it got dark, we went inside. My aunt and uncle went out for dinner so it was just us left in the old house. And then I suggested it, “Let’s play hide and seek!” Sometimes I wonder how it would have been if I hadn’t suggested that.

Either way, it was Alex’s turn to be it first since he lost ‘rock, paper, scissors,’ and Ray and I scattered to find a hiding place. First, I tried squeezing behind the sofa, my favourite hiding spot, but it was closer to the wall than normal. As lanky as I was as, I couldn’t fit that time. Alex was half way done counting, so as a last resort I ran into their bedroom and looked around, trying to find any place to hide, obvious or not. Thankfully, the room was quite messy, so I figured that if I hid under the desk, I would blend in enough. Anything was better than being caught without a hiding spot. As I was about to dive under the desk, I noticed my other cousin, Ray, had already beat me there. I could see some of her long dark hair peeking out from beneath the blanket she was hiding under. Alex was almost done counting, so I had no choice but to join Ray.

I said to let me under the blanket with her, but when I reached out to pull some of it over me she scooted away. I scooted closer and reached out again whispering a really long ‘pleaaase,’ but she jerked away to completely avoid my touch. Fine, I thought, I guess that’s fair anyway, since she was here before me, it makes sense for me to be the one to be caught first. I teasingly whispered that I could see her hair anyways, and she rustled around in the blanket trying to cover it, not succeeding. When I looked around from my hiding spot, I could see that it was definitely a good place, with some boxes blocking the view of the door around the corner, so if someone just gave a quick glance over the room, they wouldn’t have seen us. I leaned over and whispered how this was a really good hiding spot. Ray rustled around under the blanket in response. Then suddenly I heard Alex walk into the room, he looked around, checking under the bunk beds, right across from the desk. I held my breath. He got up and walked to the closet, checking in there, before going back out of the room. I let out a quiet sigh of relief, and whispered to Ray how close that was. Ray rustled under the blanket again.

From outside the room, I heard both Alex and Ray shout the traditional, “OLLIE OLLIE OXEN FREE!” from the other room. So I started to get up, proud of not having lost hide and seek, and said come on to Ray, but she didn’t move from under the blanket.
That’s when I realised that I had heard both of my cousins call for me to come out. I backtracked in my mind to realise that only my two cousins and I were home. Panic fell over me as I ran to the other room as fast as I could and saw both of my cousins standing right there. I tried to explain to them as fast as I could that someone else was in the room with me, and they of course, being older, were reluctant to believe me. I tried pulling them to the hiding spot so I could prove it to them, and it took some actual pulling, but I finally got them there.

My heart sunk when we looked under the desk.

The blanket was completely flat.

My cousins laughed at me as I frantically I searched the whole room, top to bottom, and scoured the boxes next to the desk for any trace of the figure, or anything I could have mistaken it for, with no luck.

It was gone. And still, many years later, I have no explanation of what it could have been, and frankly, I’m glad I never got to see what was underneath that blanket.

Credit To – Cori

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