Why Sarah Never Sleeps

August 19, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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There were too many doors in the upstairs hall. Sarah told her parents, but they couldn’t see it. They told her not to worry. They told her there was nothing there. But there was an extra door at the end of the upstairs hall. An extra yellow door, and it didn’t belong.

It was the color of disease, jaundiced and infected, with spidery black veins across its face. One perfect silver knob gleamed in its center above a shadowy keyhole, and it didn’t look right. The doorknob shone with a mirror’s finish, and caught the light from any angle, begging for Sarah to look its way. Sarah did her best to ignore it, but the door knew her name, and it whispered it when she drew near.

Saraaaahh . . . ” the door would rasp with a voice like dried leaves as tiny claws scraped against the other side. Tears would well in Sarah’s eyes as she’d hurry past, her arms laden with everything she’d need to get ready for the day.

Saraaaahh . . . ” it would call again before she’d shuffled out of range and closed the bathroom door, cutting off its paper-thin wails. When she’d creep from the bathroom to head downstairs, the door’s voice would follow her with a furious flurry of scraping claws and tormented howls. They lingered and gnawed in the back of her mind as she’d rush through breakfast so she could leave the house a few minutes sooner.

School became a blessing, an excuse to be someone somewhere else. At school she could forget the door. At school she could pretend her house was like everyone else’s, with the right number of doors and no eerie whispers. But at the end of the day it was still waiting for her at the end of the upstairs hall, with its mirror-ball knob and yellow face. She hated coming home and knowing it was there, but even more than that, she hated going to sleep, because in her dreams, she opened the door.

Every night, she stood before it, fighting the urge to reach out. Dread knotted her belly in anticipation of pain when her hand rose anyway to grasp the silver knob. Some nights it burned her like the driest ice. Other nights it seared like a red hot coal. Very occasionally, it did neither, instead turning and turning without ever opening the door, and she couldn’t stop turning it until she woke up.

When the door did open, it revealed a swirling vortex of shadow and sound, with a thousand voices crying in the darkness. The voices curled around her, crawling through her hair like spiders. She thrashed and swatted at their skittering whispers, but the words still tingled across her skin.

She never should have listened.

He sees . . . ” they said. “He hears . . . ” they moaned. “He hungers . . . ” they wept, and burrowed in her mind like worms. “The Hollow Man, the Hollow Man,” they echoed in her mind and screamed to her from the gaping vortex. “The Hollow Man . . . he hunts!

Sarah shot up with a scream that night, gasping and sweating, but alone in her bed. The clock’s crimson face said midnight had passed, but not by much. Darkness enveloped her room, except where a vestigial nightlight illumined the corner by her desk; it wasn’t much, but she felt better when she saw it.

She pulled the bedsheets over her head and pushed away the echoing voices. I’m fine, she swore, hugging her knees and rocking. It’s just a dream. They’re always dreams. The dreams will go away like they always do.

She started humming a song her mother used to sing when Sarah was smaller, small enough to need the nightlight, and the panic faded little by little with every note.

Just a dream. She repeated. Just a dream. Just a –

“Sarah?” Someone whispered from the hall.

Sarah froze.

“Sarah? Are you Sarah?” It was the voice of a girl not much younger than Sarah, and not at all like the voice she usually heard from the door at the end of the hall.

“Who . . . who are you?” Sarah whispered back from beneath the sheets.

“My name is Lizzie. Are you Sarah?”

Sarah didn’t move; she was terrified of leaving the safety of her cocoon. As the moments ticked past, however, an anxious curiosity emboldened her enough to peek out from the covers. What if it was another girl, she thought. She sounded just as scared as Sarah felt.

Sarah crawled from her bed clutching the sweat-damp night shirt she’d worn to sleep, and waited. When nothing happened, she stood up and tip-toed toward her bedroom door; toward the waiting yellow door, with the mirror-ball knob, on the wall at the end of the upstairs hall. When she stood before it, her stomach lurched, and for a moment she couldn’t tell if she was going to vomit, or faint.

“Please,” the door said in the young girl’s voice when Sarah got close. “Please, are you Sarah?”

Sarah opened her mouth to answer, but her voice was a tiny squeak of nothing. She pressed her palms to her cheeks and smeared away the tears before trying again.

“Yes,” she finally managed. “. . . I’m Sarah.”

“Please, let me in!” The door’s silvery knob shook violently, rattling as if locked and jostled by someone on the other side. Sarah stumbled back with a gasp, staring at the shuddering, alien knob.

“Let me in, Sarah, please! I can’t stay in here! Please help me! Let me in!”

Sarah dropped to her knees when her legs gave out, and she screamed when she looked at the door.

Level with the shadowy keyhole, below the rattling knob, she stared directly into a very human eye. Tears shimmered in the other eye, as they shimmered in Sarah’s. It darted around, wide and white with fear, as if searching through the hall. And then, without warning, the keyhole became shadow, and the silver knob stilled, and the girl on the other side of the door began to cry.

“Please, Sarah,” she pleaded. “He’s almost here.”

“The Hollow Man?” Sarah whispered as a chill slithered up her spine. Lizzie sobbed quietly. Sarah scooted closer to the door, her fear growing colder when the girl from the other side didn’t answer. “Lizzie?”

Silence fell, as if it had always been there. She couldn’t hear Lizzie crying anymore, and even the house was too quiet behind her.

Sarah put her ear near the door, and held her breath.

She waited. Minutes passed — but it couldn’t have been minutes.

Nothing moved. Nothing whispered. Nothing cried. Nothing stirred. She couldn’t hear anything but her own racing heart. Was she gone?

“Lizzie?” She tried again, afraid the Hollow Man had taken her.

He’s here . . . ” Lizzie whispered at last, almost in her ear, as though Lizzie’s lips pressed tight against the keyhole. “Please, let me in . . . .

Sarah’s head ached. The world was a little fuzzy around the edges, and it was harder to focus than before. She had to stand up. She didn’t dare touch the sickly door, but her legs felt too wobbly and weak to support her. She reached for the knob with a trembling hand.

Please, Sarah . . . .” Lizzie’s voice was getting smaller. “Please . . . .

Grasping the mirror-ball knob, she pulled herself up from the floor. It moved noiselessly beneath her hand, gliding without resistance, and opened the yellow door.

A lonely expanse of normal wall inched into view, and she felt sick. She worried at her thumb in confusion, and extended a trembling hand to touch the wall behind the door. It was solid. As solid and as normal as the wall at the end of the upstairs hall should be, but her stomach churned.

She gently closed the door, which issued a soft click as the latch sprang into place, and waited. She hardly dared to move or breathe as she listened to the night, waiting for the door to speak again.

Hours passed in oppressive silence — even though it couldn’t have been hours–, and the door had nothing to say. Sarah grew sleepy — too sleepy to keep standing. Too sleepy to remember why she was standing so still at the end of the upstairs hall. It was time to go to bed.

It’s just a dream, she remembered, turning away and rubbing at her eyes. They’re always dreams.

Shuffling to her bed was like swimming through Jell-O, and most of the way there she couldn’t keep her eyes open. Luckily, she knew the way.

The dreams will go away like they always do.

The crimson clock was broken when she rolled herself back in bed, its face declaring 12:16 AM to a room that only vaguely felt familiar, but she couldn’t bring herself to care when her eyes and body felt so heavy.

Sarah . . . , Lizzie whispered. But it couldn’t be a whisper.

Sarah, Lizzie whispered. Sarah, don’t wake up.

Sarah groaned a little.

Don’t wake up, Lizzie said, her voice echoing in Sarah’s mind.

Sarah frowned, and rolled on her back. She didn’t want to wake up. She wanted to stay asleep. Lizzie didn’t need to tell her not to wake, because not being awake was the whole point of being asleep.

For a long time, all was silence. Sarah’s mind drifted, and she felt herself grow lighter, as if getting ready to float up through the blackness that surrounded her. She could feel the cool sheets beneath her then, and for a moment she thought she heard the papery-thin rustle of leaves in her room.

He’s here . . . , Lizzie whispered at last. Please, don’t wake up . . . .

Who’s here? Sarah wondered as she steadily rose.

His hollow face, an eerie mask. With hollow voice at doors will ask. To be invited in to bask. Above his favored midnight task.

A strange tingling worked its way up Sarah’s body as Lizzie recited the haunting rhyme in a disconcerting monotone. Clarity inched its way toward her slowly, melting away the fog of sleep. Hadn’t she been dreaming? Was she still dreaming?

Something was wrong.

He’s waiting inches from your face. To be the first thing your eyes grace. But keep them shut, or else embrace. A hollow shell to take your place.

Cold dread seized Sarah’s heart with each new stanza, and she trembled with the weight of her mistake. For a moment, she swore she could feel the air stir above her, stale and strangely warm against her cheeks. Leaves rustled above her bed.

The yellow door, you always keep. He follows you to where you sleep. Into your room he then will creep. Your life and dreams for him to reap.

Lizzie’s voice became little more than a breath within Sarah’s mind, and the air cooled around her when a pressure lifted from her chest.

The leaves were in the hall.

The Hollow Man, above your bed. With hollow eyes, deep slumber fed. His hollow dreams may fill your head. But never peek, or you’ll be dead.

Everything was wrong.

Distantly, Sarah registered the sound of her parents screaming in their room, and felt tears sliding down her cheeks. No longer dream tears, she could feel the wet warmth as each one fell.

“. . . Mommy,” Sarah whispered, the sound paper-thin. “Daddy,” she rasped with a voice like dried leaves.

Lizzie? She thought, but Lizzie did not respond.

Silence fell over the house and Sarah knew nothing would ever be right again.

From the hall outside her bedroom door, Sarah heard the soft click as a latch sprang into place, and waited.

Silence filled the house again. The leaves were gone.

Sunlight peeked through the curtains, and the crimson clock said it was 7:45 AM before she felt it was safe enough to open her eyes and leave her room. The yellow door, with its mirror-ball knob, stared at her from the wall at the end of the upstairs hall, and the house was still too quiet. It was a different quiet than before, though, a different quiet than from her dream.

It was the quiet of a tomb.

Except, of course, for the occasional tapping, as if from tiny claws, from the other side of the yellow door.

Credit To – Death_by_Proxy

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Once, In Karachi

August 11, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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It was his first time in Karachi. The coastal city seemed to sprawl on forever, and for a little while he was concerned about getting lost there. But, fortunately he had a lot of friends accompanying him. One look at his them as they stood gathered there outside the bus station and he felt neither alone, nor afraid.

“Take one of these whistles with you!” said one of them, handing him a smooth silver whistle and moving on to the next person, handing him a whistle as well.

“What are these for?” he called to him.

“Well, since we’re dividing into small groups to explore, I thought it was a good idea for us to have a quick way to calling out to each other”

He looked back down at the whistle and then to everyone else slowly forming groups of different sizes. He was the only one travelling alone; Since he had a few relatives he wanted to meet, and a few traders he had to discuss terms with. ‘I had best get going’ he thought.

It was all a very boring affair. He wanted to finish his visits as quickly as possible so he could meet up with his friends and maybe go around the city seeing the sights. The British had left only a few years ago and the city had since become a model city for development and growth. It was called ‘the city of light’ and he wanted to see exactly why it was so.

It was already evening by the time he finished all his ‘work’. He was considering where to start looking for his friends when he was approached by a weak, aging woman.

“Could you help me carry these son, son?” she said, gesturing to a sack of rice. It looked heavy even by his standards and he was surprised the woman had actually managed to carry it at all.

“Sure gran. Where is your home, exactly?” he said, lifting the sack onto his back.

“Not far from here” she said, smiling sweetly.

There was something off about her smile but he kept following her anyway, dismissing it as his imagination.

It took him five minutes to toil to get to her house and he was grateful for it not being any farther. She offered him food as he sat on the threshold of her tiny house, trying to catch his breath. He tried to refuse, thinking he should probably be joining his friends soon, but she insisted.

“I really can’t let you go, son. You have helped this old woman. Besides, I have a real treat for you if you can do me just one more favour.” she said earnestly.

“What’s that?” he asked her, wondering if the favour was more donkey work.

“Well, you see… my son died last night”, she said, her face serious and strangely impassive. “…I am but an old woman and I do not have the strength to bathe him for the burial”

He felt shaken by the woman’s request, and a little embarrassed at wanting to get away from there. The helpless old woman was simply preparing for her son’s funeral.

“I’ll be honoured to help”, he said after a moment, resigning himself to do another good deed.

She thanked him profusely led him through a narrow corridor and into what appeared to be a rather austere lounge, seating him on a rug.

“I’ll get you some food first. You will need your strength” she said, bringing him a tray full of pilaf rice. “Let me know when you’re done” she said, and left him to go elsewhere.

He was grateful for the food. His stomach had been aching for a while now and some Pilaf was just the thing he needed. So, he dug in eagerly, searching the rice for some meat. He found a finger.

His body gave a shudder and he immediately spat out the rice he had been chewing. He held up the finger he had found to the light and realized beyond doubt that it really was a human finger. That woman was a cannibal. The horrifying realization hit him like a hammer and he dropped the finger out of shock.

And then, he realized that he had probably been lured there to be eaten.

He looked around him, searching for a way to escape. The woman was waiting outside, he knew, and he did not want to risk running through her. She could be carrying any number of weapons and he needed to be very, very careful about how he dealt with the situation from then on. One wrong move, and he could be the next guy to be made into pilaf rice.

So, the first thing he decided to do was to take all the rice he had scattered over the rug in shock, and sweep it all under the rug along with the finger. He threw some more rice under the rug to make it appear as if he’d eaten his fill and then called out to the woman, and told her that he was ready to bathe her son’s dead body.

She led him out back to a courtyard, where a dead body was indeed placed, covered by a large white sheet on a wooden bed. He wondered if that was really her son. Did she intend to eat her own son as well? Perhaps, the body was simply another one of her victims, and he was actually helping her clean him up for her next meal. The thought was chilling.

He was treading in dangerous territory he knew, so his senses became extremely alert to every single move the woman made. She was carrying an oil lantern and went over to stand by the body’s head holding up the lantern for light. He brought some water in a large steel bucket, and began to bathe the body, keeping an eye on the woman as best as he could.

The first thing he noticed was that the body was not very cold to the touch. Fresh kill, perhaps, he thought. Though a cold shiver ran through his spine, he concentrated on not letting any emotion show on his face. He required every single bit of concentration he could muster to stay in control of the situation, pouring water over the body slowly, and trying to adjust his eyes to the dark.

He quickly became aware of an advantage he had. With the woman standing at the head of the body, she cast a very sharp shadow across the walls and he could see if she moved slightly even with his back turned to her. He thought about it a bit and decided that if the woman really wanted to kill him then he might as well try to lure her into an attack.

So, he deliberately started working on the body with his back turned to her, keeping both eyes on her shadow as he worked. At any moment, he would see hand move, and would immediately counter-attack.

He saw what happened next quite clearly as shadows started to shift. The woman’s left arm slowly drew out something from within the folds of her clothes and raised it high to attack. At the same time something else happened just as slowly though. Something he had not been expecting. It felt like terror creeping up his limbs as he saw the body’s right arm move as well, drawing out something long and blunt from under the shroud.

He jumped away from them reflexively. Fortunately for him the old woman chose to strike at the same moment; her iron rod missed him by mere inches as she brought it down. Her son, who had sat up to reach him, was not so lucky. Her full-blooded swing hit him to the side of his skull and he was knocked out immediately from the hit.

He could not let her recover, either. He jumped right at her and delivered a kick straight into her chest. She was lifted clean off her feet and flew back into the wall. That was it. He did not check to see if either of them was still conscious. He ran out of the house as quickly as he could, covered in cold sweat and short of breath as he was. And as soon he reached the street, he found the whistle his friend had given him and started blowing as hard as he could.

It did not take very long for him to gather a crowd. Some of his friends arrived as well, and he quickly told them what had happened. The police arrived soon after, and began searching the house for the the woman and her son.

The search resulted in a few shocking discoveries as bones of over 50 people were found from the basement of the house. The woman, and her son were arrested. Apparently they had been luring people to the house and eating them for quite a while. Also, according to them, they were not the only ones. Not by a long shot.

Writer’s note: This true story comes from my maternal grandfather, and has been told from his point-of-view. I have tried to keep all the details intact.

Credit To – Salman Shahid Khan

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Dead and Buried

August 9, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Dead and Buried

I buried my grandfather last week. A deplorable man who made the lives of everyone around him miserable. He left me with nothing but bad memories and debt. I wished him dead every day till he passed away at the overdue age of ninety one. I was the one that cared for him, and I was the one that found him in his bed. He was sitting up, back against the headboard. His heart had given out on the spot, killing him before he even went to sleep. His eyes just seemed to stare at me, an angry stare he often gave in life. I was left with his estate, and I made sure that his funeral be as cheap and short as possible so that it cause little intrusion to the lives that were obliged to attend.

In ages past my name meant something. That name died with time, however nothing damaged the family name more than my grandfather. Spending the dwindling family coffers on occult artifacts and our reputation on the eccentric. With my parents untimely death when I was young, I am the last of my line. Yet because of my grandfather, all am left with is a decaying estate and near empty coffers. Yet even after I left him rotting in the ground of a cheap grave I could not get him out of my mind. My dreams kept bringing his memory back. I dreamed of darkness, I was laying down on my back my arms folded on my chest. I tried to move but found walls on either side of me, and another not six inches from my face. I still remember the smell of fresh earth and rot. I could feel my arms as they rubbed together, dry sagging and wrinkled. I tried to scream but my mouth was dry and my lungs refused to take in air. I tried to strike out with all my limbs but I found hard wood encompass me.

When I awoke from my nightmare I found myself on the floor of my bedroom. I felt my night terrors must have moved me out of my bed, but I could not get the dream out of my mind. I was resolved to rid myself of my grandfather once and for all. I sold every last item the man had owned. All the artifacts, all the books, and every bit of occult nonsense that he wasted his time and money on. I took any price I was given for I did not wish to spare another thought for him. The dreams did not stop, but grow worse. I was visiting an old school friend when another dream, or vision happened. Again I was in the darkness, the smell and feel of the cage I found myself in felt more real than ever. I could feel myself, every inch felt different. I could feel the age on me, and know this was the body of my Grandfather. In desperation I clawed at the wood in front of me, I could feel shocks of pain as my fingernails tore off my hands. When I awoke from this dream I saw the concern on my old friends face. He told me that in the middle of our conversation my personality changed. That I grow agitated and tried to leave in a hurry. He said it was like I forgotten where I was. It was only with his skill in diplomacy that he managed to get me to sit back down for a few moments more till I came out of whatever possessed me. I bid my friend an apology and left his company not a few moments after I assured him am myself again.

By the time I made it home I felt a weight on my mind. I felt I understood what was befalling me. Even after death my grandfather seeks to take what is mine. The horrors of my fate were not lost on me. His grave will be my grave, his rotting corpse will be the new home of my soul. Again that night I experienced the vision, I refused to sleep till it came. I could feel it coming, as if something was pulling my head, and my sight away. The Silence I felt that night drove me to madness, kicking and hitting as if having a tantrum.Yet it was all for naught as I could not escape. When I awoke after, I know my time was growing shorter. It was coming soon, the final switch. I refused to let that be the end, my Grandfather will not have his victory.

The Switch would be soon, I have little time to prepare. This letter will be my final testimony. By the time I finish writing I will have taken a number of medications that will put me in a deep sleep. I arranged with the last of the money in my name to be buried in the woods. I will not give the names of who I conspire with for such a task, but I know them to be trusted as long as the money is correct. When I awake, or when Grandfather awakes he will find that his cage is complete. I won’t let him win, he will share my fate and be trapped under the earth till our corpses rot!

Credit To – BlueHero

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August 4, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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I was one of those frail, sickly children for the vast majority of my early years. I was constantly being shuffled from physician to physician with one ailment or another; asthma, perpetual tonsillitis, severe allergies to everything. You name it I dealt with it at one point or another growing up. This meant that I spent a great deal of my formative years at home, in bed, miserably sick and more than a bit morose. There was an upside to this however, my father would often take time out of work to sit in my bedroom and read to me.

Some of my fondest memories as a child involved my father sitting in a chair next to my bed with one science fiction novel or another spread across his lap. I can’t count how many days were spent in such a fashion. I look back on it now and can’t help but smile when I picture that large man with his bushy beard, reading those thick novels to take my mind away from whatever was ailing me at the time. I was fortunate to come from a very loving home. My mother and father were extremely doting and focused all of their collective time and energy on raising their only son. I was particularly close to my father. We’ve all heard the old adage about Daddy’s girls and Momma’s boys, but that simply wasn’t the case in my experience.

Of course, every boy views his father as some larger than life, lantern jawed superhero, and I was no exception. My father was an enormous man, maybe six foot two and well over 250 pounds. He was an intimidating figure, and my childhood friends would often remark on just how large he was. He had very intense grayish blue eyes, brown hair that was slowly receding, and a thick red beard. But as intimidating as he may have appeared his demeanor, especially towards me, was always so calm and relaxed. He never once raised his voice within earshot, nor did I ever witness him use that great bulk of his to bully or intimidate. He was a kind soul, and spent all of his time letting his only son know just how much he was loved. He’d spend hours of his evenings after work in my room, sitting on the floor playing with my toys. I can’t help but chuckle when I picture that large man sitting cross legged on the floor with whatever superhero or mutant turtle I was interested in at that point. He even kept a small journal of all the funny little things I’d say and do, with some of his own musings remarking on just how quickly I was growing. I recall years later, when I was a man myself, reading that journal and being moved to tears by how deeply this man loved me.

Now my father was not a particularly religious man, in fact, if I had to peg his beliefs I’d say he was atheistic now that I have a grasp of such things. This was in direct conflict with how he was raised. He’d grown up in a very small town in North Carolina and was brought up in a very strict southern Baptist family. He remarked in the journal, just days after my birth, about how he found the Bible to be even more preposterous now that he had a child of his own. In particular the story of Isaac and Abraham did not sit well with my father. He couldn’t imagine any scenario in which he’d be willing to sacrifice his only son to some voice in his head. He was a very straightforward “logic and reason” type of guy. In addition to religion he absolutely abhorred superstitions and myths he made several comments about being leery of anyone that claimed to believe in aliens or ghost stories. Now he never made these statements to me directly he wanted me to come to my own conclusions regarding religion, superstition and the paranormal. But he did jot down all of these thoughts in that journal of his with the intention of giving me this book when I became a man myself. Unfortunately he never did get that opportunity.

As you can imagine, his death had a devastating impact on the course of my life. I remember vividly my mother coming into my room with tears and makeup streaming down her face. She cradled me in her arms and for the longest time simply rocked back and forth while sobbing silently to herself. Eventually she pulled herself together enough to tell me that my father’s small pickup truck had been struck on his drive home from work. The other vehicle involved was a semi, being driven by a man with too little sleep and too much alcohol in his system. He didn’t even know that he’d been involved in an accident until the officer responding to the crash pulled him from the wreckage of his own vehicle.

I was in shock, I was beyond consoling and honestly, I was furious. I was only five or six when my father passed, and in my mind all I could focus on was the fact that my dad had broken his promise. He would say to me, as he tucked me in at night, that I was his favorite thing in the world and he would always be there to make certain I was safe. It was repeated so often, night after night, that it almost became a mantra of his. But he made that promise and now he wouldn’t be around to keep it.

After my father’s death my mother was unable to afford the small three bedroom home nestled in the foothills of the mountains that I’d grown up in. We were forced to move to an older, run down part of town and needless to say it was just another factor contributing to the overwhelming sense of loss I was dealing with at the time. I hated the town, I hated the new school that I was required to attend when my health permitted, but most of all I hated our new home and the empty feeling it seemed to exude without my father’s presence. He’d never lived in that house, those walls had never heard that big guttural laugh of his, or sat idly by as he read to me during one of my many tilts with sickness. The house was a source of anxiety for me in those days. It was old, built sometime in the 1920’s my mother had told me. It was ancient, it was cold and everything about it seemed to be in a constant state of disrepair. The white paint was chipping in numerous spots on the exterior; the hardwood floors were warped and pockmarked throughout, even the grass outside remained a dismal brown year round.

The house only had two small bedrooms, a bathroom, a tiny dated kitchen and a musty little living room that seemed to be an afterthought in the builder’s original designs. I loathed that house; the floors creaked as everything settled at night, the windows were so old and grimy that they permitted very little light. My room was situated in the very back of the home and was so small that I had just enough room for my twin bed and a little dresser.

We’d been in the house for about six weeks when I started noticing some odd things happening, especially at night. I would come home from school to find that my bed, which had been made that morning, was in complete disarray. The clothes in my closet would sometimes be strewn across my room, much to my mother’s disapproval, and other small things like doors and windows seemingly opening and closing of their own volition. But the first truly unnerving occurrence that I can recall was just after my mom had tucked me in one night. I was staring at the ceiling, trying to decide if the water stain above my bed resembled a dog or something a bit more equestrian. I was beginning to nod off, catching myself closing my eye lids for a bit longer than was required to blink. My thoughts were slowly spiraling towards something that were closer to dreams when I heard a small scratching sound coming from the foot of my bed. At that time my bed was nestled in the corner of the room parallel to the doorway on one side and opposite my small closet that was a few feet from the foot board of the bed. I dismissed the sound as one of the many unexplained noises the house emitted at night and began drifting once more when I heard the noise again. This time it was louder and unmistakable as scratching, it was with a bit more purpose it seemed. I held my breath, closed my eyes, and focused all of my attention on deciphering that sound.

This time when it happened it was definitely louder and seemed to have a rhythm to it that just couldn’t be naturally occurring. It was almost like Morse code, like the scratching was meant to convey some kind of message. I got the feeling that it wasn’t trying to say “Ship in distress” or anything as mundane or typical as that. I can’t explain why, but the sound began to make me very uneasy as though it were malevolent in nature. The hair on the back of my neck began to rise without prompting and I found myself pulling the cover closer and closer to my chin. It would stop sporadically and then begin again with more fervor each time and always that same rhythm, scratch, scratch, scratch followed by a short pause and then scratch, scratch. I was frozen, completely fixated on this noise, but unable to call out to my mother whose bedroom was on the other side of the wall.

My mouth was dry and I was constantly moving my tongue around, swallowing to force something resembling moisture back into my mouth. Suddenly the scratching stopped, mid-sequence this time, and was replaced by the rattling of the closet doors. The closet was that old accordion style sliding type, with the wooden slats. I was amazed that the sound hadn’t prompted my mother to come in and see why I was out of bed. The rattling became more insistent, violent even, and that’s when I rediscovered the ability to scream. I yelled at the capacity my little lungs would permit until my room was flooded with light and I could make out my mother’s silhouette in the doorway.

“What’s wrong honey, what is it?” concern evident in my mother’s sleepy voice. I sat up in bed never taking my eyes off of the closet doors. “There’s someone in there mommy, in…in the closet”. She blinked a few times to clear the remaining fuzziness that sleep offers from her eyes and walked over to the closet. She flung the doors apart with a horrid screeching sound, and when it was clear that no boogeyman was immediately apparent, began shuffling the clothes hanging from the rod to show me there was no occupant. “See sweetheart, there’s no one in here it was just a bad dream”.

She closed the doors again crossed the hardwood floor and arranged herself at the foot of my bed. “It’s no surprise that you’re having nightmares son, considering…considering all that’s happened recently.” She patted my leg, and then reached up to smooth my disheveled hair. “I promise you, there’s no one in there”, she said. I was finally able to peel my attention away from the closet and meet her eyes, “I know there was” I said “there were some weird scratching noises and then the doors started to shake.” She stifled a yawn behind her fist and then patted my cheek as she rose from the edge of my bed. “Just a dream son, there’s no one in there, and there’s no one in the house but us.” “Now please, try to get some sleep, you have to go to school tomorrow and you don’t want to be nodding off in class.” She crossed the room and told me she loved me before she turned my bedroom light back off. I heard her mattress springs sigh as she got back into her bed and I laid down again myself.

I maneuvered myself as close to the wall and headboard as I could manage, pulled the cover up to my nose, and shut my eyes with such force that they squeezed tears down my cheeks. I tried to control my breathing and focus everything my sense of hearing had to offer for that sound. My heart was pounding so loudly in my ears that I barely heard the first scratch when the noise came again. I stopped breathing all together and waited for the next series of scratches to begin again. The minutes dragged by but the sound did not come again and at some point I fell into a rather fitful stage of sleep that was accompanied by nightmares.

Over the coming weeks the sound would come and go. There didn’t seem to be any pattern to it at all. There would be several nights in a row with absolutely nothing unusual occurring and then there would come a night when the scratching would start up as soon as I began to drift off and last until I screamed for my mother. This became something of a pattern, I wouldn’t say I became accustomed to it, but I knew that on those nights when the scratching started that all I had to do was yell for my mom and after she came in to take a look around I’d finally be able to sleep.
It had been three or four nights since the last time I’d heard the rhythmic scratching. I’d managed to fall asleep that night without event, maybe I’d been lulled into some false sense of security as it’d been several nights since the last “closet incident”. It was about 1 or so in the morning when I awoke with a start. I had fallen asleep on top of my covers and as soon as I became aware of being conscious I wrestled with trying to crawl underneath them. After much effort, I was finally able to get underneath the comfort and security of my sheets when I began to wonder what exactly had stirred me from the throngs of sleep. It was a cloudy night, so the limited amount of light permitted through my bedroom window was at an absolute minimum that night. I controlled my breathing, listening for that ominous sound and forced my eyes to scan the bedroom. And that’s when I saw it. Standing at the foot of my bed, in front of my slowly deteriorating closet doors was a very large form. It was so dark that I couldn’t make out whether this thing, this being, was facing my direction or not.

I couldn’t move, I couldn’t scream, I could barely even draw breath. All of my attention was on that form at the foot of my bed, I couldn’t look away, it’s as if my eye lids were taped open and I was forced that look in that direction. The form never moved, never even shifted from foot to foot. It simply stood there, massive and dark and seeming to fill the whole room. There was no scratching sound, no rattling of the closet doors, just this form standing stoically in the middle of my room. Amazingly I fell asleep. I can’t begin to imagine how that came to be. I just know that one minute I’m fixated with every fiber of my being on this figure in my room, and the next minute I’m opening my eyes to sunlight trickling in through my window and birds chirping outside as they went about their daily activities. What’s even more amazing is that I didn’t awake with that sense of terror that I’d grown accustomed to after a run in with the scratching sound, I even felt rested for the first time in months. This same thing happened again several times over the next couple of nights. I found myself waking in the middle of the night only to be confronted by the image of that large silent form at the foot of my bed. Again there was no scratching sound or rattling closet doors, just this figure standing there a few feet away. I never worked up the courage to yell for my mother or try to get a closer look at this shadow like form. I still wasn’t even certain if it was facing in my direction on the nights this occurred. I even began to wonder if perhaps this thing standing in my room at night had simply tired of causing a ruckus in my closet and accepted my presence in the house.

The next few weeks went by without anything of note occurring. I ate breakfast, went to school, came home and then went to bed. My health had hit a relative high point during that period of time and I was attending school on a regular basis for the first time in memory. At some point I even befriended one of the boys a few houses down and spent my evenings playing video games and the like at his house. I went to bed absolutely exhausted each night and woke the next morning well rested and looking forward to what the day might hold. I began to discount those terrifying events that had occurred in my room in the weeks prior as nothing more than my imagination.

My mother had taken on more hours at the furniture factory where she worked to help pay off some of the debt that accrued after my father’s death. On the nights she worked late I was to spend my evenings over at my new friend Ryan’s house until she returned home. I didn’t like to see my mother so tired from all of the extra work she was putting in, but I did enjoy getting to hang out with my friend and his rather expansive collection of video games (a luxury my mother simply couldn’t provide for me at the time). This routine of staying with Ryan’s family until my mother got off of work lasted for several weeks until my mother had an accident at work. She broke several bones in her right hand and wrist and was unable to work at all for the next few months, let alone pick up extra hours. She was obviously dismayed because just as it seemed our lives had begun to take on the normalcy that everyone expects, some unforeseen event once again caused that pattern to veer off course. She received some pretty heavy duty pain medication along with the cast on her arm and retired to bed early the night of her accident. I was permitted to watch television after I’d completed my homework, and then I went to bed myself after my favorite cartoons went off,

I’d been in bed for about half an hour, listening to the unusual sounds of my mother’s snoring from the next room when I thought I heard that all too familiar scratching sound from my closet. Initially I tried to ignore it, going so far as to covering my head with my pillow and forcing myself to sleep. After a few minutes I realized that this wasn’t working, the scratching sound never abated and only seemed to increase in tempo as the minutes passed. I was more angry than frightened at this point. It had been many weeks since the last time I’d had to deal with this and I’d begun to hope that it had stopped altogether.

After a few more minutes I finally came to the decision that I would open the closet door myself and finally put my mind at ease. It had to be a rat or something, there had to be some explanation and I was determined to find out. I pushed the cover towards the foot of my bed and began moving my feet towards the floor. As soon as my bare feet made contact with the cold hardwood the scratching sound ceased all together and was replaced with the violent shaking of the closet door. I let out an involuntary yelp as it had been a long time since I’d heard that sound, and I’d never seen it be so violent. The closet doors were rattling around with such force that I was afraid they would tear loose from their hinges. I lifted my feet back into bed and worked up the courage to begin yelling for my mother. “Mom…Mom please come here” I yelled with as much volume as I could muster. No response, not even the slightest break in her snoring, she was out cold. I yelled again and again, but to no avail. The moment I began yelling the shaking of the closet doors had ceased, as they usually do in this situation.

But my yelling wasn’t followed by the sound of my mother’s footsteps this time, and the doors began shaking once again. I didn’t know what to do, I was far too scared to get up and make a mad dash for my mother’s room, but my fearful screams seemed to have no effect. I began to sob, I’d reached a breaking point and I couldn’t help but pull my knees up to my chest and whimper. Suddenly the doors quit their frantic dance, they just stopped shaking altogether. I managed to lift my face from the protection of my knees and to my horror I saw the closet doors begin to slide apart. No more scratching, no more rattling, I was finally going to come face to face with my tormentor.

The doors finally opened all the way and I could see now that my clothes and the darkness within were shifting. I could just make out a hand part the clothes on the rack and felt bile rise in my stomach as I realized the skin on that hand was absolutely putrid. Gray and mottled and I now became aware of the most horrific stench I’d ever encountered. I wanted to spring from my bed and through my window, or pull the cover over my head and will this nightmare away. But I was completely transfixed, rooted in place, I couldn’t budge a muscle. I could now make out a torso in the space that my clothes once occupied it was covered in that same rotting flesh as the hand of course. Next, and most terrifying, I could make out two pools of absolute darkness that constituted the eyes on this nightmare. They were sunk down deep into the sockets of its face and were completely void of any emotion that I could discern. Just two black pits of emptiness. The creature had finally emerged from behind my shirts and jackets hanging from my closet rack.

It paused for a moment at the entrance to the closet, and seemed to size up the room. It was tall and impossibly skinny, almost to the point of being emaciated. The fingers and toes ended in long black ragged nails, nails that were almost talon like. Bits and pieces of flesh were missing over various parts of the creature’s body. I could clearly make out what appeared to be ribs in its torso, and the yellowing bone of one elbow. It had a few tufts of jet black hair protruding from its grotesque and bulbous head. Its mouth was wide and filled with small rows of teeth that came to points so sharp they looked like they’d been filed. Its nose was two little slits with absolutely no protrusion that I could discern.
It just stood in the doorway of my closet, smiling at me with those little sharp teeth and that unnaturally wide mouth. It stared at me as if it was trying to convey that it had all the time in the world and intended to drag out whatever horror was about to visit me. Suddenly the creature jerked its head to the side and seemed to sniff the air with that horrible little nose. The sniffing became more frantic and the creature kept jerking its head from side to side as if it’d caught a scent it wasn’t fond of and was trying to ascertain exactly where this odor was originating. That’s when I noticed movement from my peripheral, I was able to tear my eyes away from this monstrosity long enough to look to the corner of my room where I’d seen the sudden movement. And there, standing just feet away from me was that large dark ominous form.

It seemed even more massive than it had in previous encounters, and it also seemed to be radiating an intense anger. To my amazement this anger did not seem to be directed towards me, but at the creature now standing in front of my closet. The creature let out a hiss and then a sound akin to a whimper and took a step back when it noticed the large form standing in the corner of the room. I looked back at this dark figure standing so very close now, and for the first time I could make out distinguishing features. I realized that before this form had stood with its back to me on those nights it had appeared in my room, because now I could clearly make out a face, a face that was covered in course red hair. I could now see that this figure was a very large man with pale white skin and a receding hair line. But the most noticeable feature were the intense grayish blue eyes that I could make out even in the darkness of my room. Those eyes left the monster in my closet for just a moment and made contact with my own. This great big man standing in the center of my room, this great big man that I thought I would never see again, he smiled and then winked at me.

And with a burst of movement that my eyes could barely track he dove into the beast, driving it back into the depths of my closet, while the doors closed on them both. I sat on the edge of my bed, with tears in my eyes, and my mind racing to process what it had just witnessed. I finally broke my stupor long enough to race to my mother’s room and wake her. After a few moments of frantic shaking on my part, she finally swam to the surface of consciousness. When my face came into focus she immediately sat up out of bed and took me in her arms. “What is it sweetheart, what’s going on?” At this point I had begun to sob uncontrollably as she rocked me back and forth in her arms. I pulled myself together long enough to say “He kept his promise…he said he would always be there for me and he meant it”. My mother tried to get me to explain, but I just continued to cry into her shoulder as she rocked me back and forth. At some point I managed to fall asleep with my mother whispering words of comfort until I drifted off.

I never did hear another odd sound from my closet after that night, or any other part of the house for that matter. From that point forward things returned to normal and I felt as though a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders, I’d received some form of closure from the events that took place that night. I also knew that no matter what obstacles I might face in the years ahead, I would always have someone looking over my shoulder, ever ready to fulfill a promise made to a small sickly child.

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Bog of Whispers

August 2, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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My first twelve years of school had finally come to an end. Senior year, with its numerous college, federal financial aid, and scholarship forms was over, and there was a universal sigh of relief among my class as graduation neared. The time had finally come where I didn’t need to give a shit about school anymore, and in response to this, my friend William and I began to make plans for a weekend long canoe trip up on the Allagash river in northern Maine. We were avid canoers and fly-fishermen, spending last summer fishing up in the mountainous Rangeley Lakes Region. William and I had been planning this trip for quite some time, and with the phenomenal weather forecast this weekend, we had a perfect window of opportunity.

Directly after school that Friday, I drove over to Will’s house, having already packed up my things, and picked him up. He had overpacked, as usual, bringing two large backpacks. One of these was dedicated to food and socks, socks being especially important to William. He had once forgotten extra socks on a Boy Scout camping trip, and ended up wearing the same pair for three days. “You can never bring too many socks,” he always told me, being one of the many mantras he had adopted throughout the years. Will was funny in that sense, and I admired him for it.

We left Bangor around three o’clock in the afternoon, and made our way up the long stretch of Interstate 95. In Maine, there’s a point on this highway where all civilization seems to disappear in a flash. Between the cities of Bangor and Houlton (where we were headed), there’s basically nothing but land owned by paper companies. Locals call this area of the state the “North Woods,”and that’s exactly what it is. Miles of practically untouched wilderness, an idea that had always intrigued William and I. In these long stretches of forest, you could find numerous natural gems, hidden from the eyes of the world. I always thought that some of these places might be better off undiscovered, kept secret in the forest forever.

After exiting I-95, we navigated through Houlton and eastwards into the bumpy backroads of Aroostook County. It was around six o’clock at night now, and the sun was beginning to set in the pink sky. Will had since fallen asleep, his head jostling around as we drove through the poorly maintained dirt roads. Our campsite wasn’t too far away, and we would spend the night here before making our way to the Allagash tomorrow morning.

We reached the campsite at seven o’clock exactly. It wasn’t one of those big public campsites that you see full of tents and campers, but a simple, one acre lot containing a fire pit with brown, wooden benches, and an old lean-to in need of major repairs. Overall, the site was very remote, and the only things you could hear were the peeping frogs, and the sound of wind hitting the branches of trees. Will and I hopped out of the truck, set our things inside the lean-to, and hung our bear bag in a nearby tree. Clouds were coming into the sky, and the sun was now barely glowing through them.

“Dude, check this out,” Will said, having strayed off to the perimeter of the campsite. He had been exploring with his flashlight as I got our fire started.

“What is it?” I asked.

“I think it’s a trail or something,” he replied, pointing to what appeared to be a narrow, seemingly forgotten stretch of trail that extended into the forest. An old sign with the paint chipping off of it was sitting in front of the trailhead. I crouched down to see if I could read the sign, and Will pointed the flashlight towards it. I could barely make out the words “Hayno Bog” as I slowly deciphered the carved letters.

Curious, Will and I made our way down the thin trail, pushing through the brush. The ground soon became saturated with water, and I could barely make out the extensive meadow of sedges through the trees and darkness. The evening wind seemed to be swaying them back and forth, a motion that I found almost hypnotic. “Look at that,” I said to Will, noticing the sheer size of the bog. It seemed to extend far into the distance on all sides, creating a sort of aquatic prairie.

The trail ended at what appeared to be an old, rotting dock. It jutted out into a small pond, which paved through the center of the bog, getting narrower as it went deeper into the wetland. Will shined his flashlight around the area, trying to get some kind of perspective over the landscape.

“I don’t think I’ve seen anything like this before,” he told me,”It’s huge.”

“I know, “I replied, staring out into the distance. I felt oddly drawn to this area. Something about it had struck me. The way the sedges moved with the wind, and how the black, calm waters sat stagnant in the dark created an interesting feeling inside of me. I didn’t know if it was curiosity, fear, or even a sense of inner peace, but it felt as if the landscape was drawing me into itself. I squinted my eyes, trying to take in every detail of my surroundings. As I turned my head, I noticed something odd in the distant sedges. Something was rustling around, and for a split second, I saw what appeared to be a black figure rise up from the grass. Immediately, I blinked, and the hazy figure disappeared. I attributed this only to the darkness playing tricks on me, not thinking much of it.

“Hey, Eric, are you alright?” Will asked, noticing that I was staring off into space.

“Yes, yes I’m fine,” I replied, waking up from my daze, brushing off the illusion I had just seen.

“You wanna take the canoe out on this? The water’s pretty calm, and I’d like to explore a little bit.”

I hesitated at first, the image of the dark figure briefly resurfacing in my mind, but I again dismissed it. “Sure,” I replied, a sense of excitement overtaking what had originally been more comparable to dread.

* * *

It was around eight o’clock at night when Will and I set off into the stagnant, black waters of the bog. We had attached the flashlight to the bow of the canoe with a lashing, and it illuminated a good chunk of the landscape as we began rowing. I was sitting on the stern end of the craft, steering, while William sat on the bow end, leading the way through the darkening landscape. For a wetland, it was oddly silent as we moved deeper into the open, narrowing pond. The peeping frogs we had heard before now remained quiet, and the slight wind silently brushed over the sedges. The only audible sounds were our paddles breaching the surface of the water. An odd, uneasy feeling began to surge through my body, sending a shiver through my spine, but at the same time, I couldn’t help but admire my eerie surroundings. William seemed unaffected, occasionally running his hand through the water.

Not much longer after we set off, we approached what at first appeared to be a wall of sedges. After getting closer with the flashlight, we soon realized that the pond separated into two, narrow paths, one to the left, and one to the right. “Which one do you want to take?” I asked Will.

“Are you sure we should go on?” he replied, having taken on a more cautious approach to our excursion. “I mean, it’s getting pretty dark, and we left everything alone in the campsite. I want to make sure the bear bag hasn’t been raided by anything.”

I took note of William’s concerns, but conflicting feelings in my mind began to surface once more. An unexplainable urge to keep going took hold, and I responded to my friend in a calm and collected fashion. “The campsite’s fine, Will. I made sure the bear bag was hung the right way, and everything else is still locked in the car. And I just put new batteries in the flashlight, so there’s no need to worry about anything.”

He nodded considering what I had to say. “Alright, let’s take the left,” he responded after a bit of hesitation. His originally explorative nature seemed to be faltering somewhat, but not to the point where I was concerned. As he began to paddle again, I looked back in the direction we came. A dense fog was swallowing the landscape, obscuring my vision. I said nothing to my friend, even sensing myself smile at the mist, not understanding why.

We continued paddling into the left passage, bumping into the wall of sedges as we entered. Our canoe had difficulty navigating through the constant twists and turns, the starboard and port ends constantly bumping into the grass and mud. William would constantly stop paddling and look around, my silence unnerving him even more. I hadn’t spoken ever since we stopped to decide which way to go. The fog was beginning to overtake us, and Will had taken notice.

“Eric,” he said, turning around towards me, “Eric, we need to turn around, okay? I can’t see anything, and it’s going to be difficult getting back. Come on, let’s go back. You take the bow end and I’ll take the stern.”

I looked at him silently, the urge to move on now flaring in my body. It was as if the surreal bog landscape was getting to my head, to a point where my actions were becoming uncontrollable. Frustration took hold of my mind. “Will, we’re fine, alright?” I said, trying to keep my agitation to a minimum. “Let’s just keep going, okay?”

An angered look took over his face. “Are you fucking kidding me right now?! Eric, we can’t see five feet in front of us, and we’ve been moving through this goddamn channel for over forty minutes now! We’re going back, now!”

I stared at him, a crooked smile forming over my face. He didn’t understand. “We’re fine, Will,” I said, almost casually.

“What the hell is wrong with you?!” he yelled, the echo resounding over the bog. “You’ve haven’t said a word for the entire time we’ve been out here! And why are you smiling?!” He looked somewhat concerned about me, but my concern for him had been decreasing as we progressed through the bog. My only goal now was to press deeper into the foggy wetland. “Eric, let’s go back, okay? We need to get some rest for tomorrow.”

“No,” I replied almost immediately, my calm detached tone still present. I continued to stare at him in his frustration. I felt myself superior to Will in some unexplainable way.

“For Christ’s sake, Eric, we need to-”

“No!” I screamed in a voice very alien from my own. My casual tone had now turned into a deep, almost demonic roar. Will looked absolutely horrified. His body had completely frozen, his eyes and mouth wide open.

“Eric, what… what’s going on?” he asked, his voice trembling. “What… what was that?”

Anger took over me like an ancient instinct, and I forcefully made my way to the front of the canoe, almost tipping it in the process. William grabbed on to the side of the canoe, leaning backwards as I got right into his face. “We will keeping going,” I said to him in an agitated, raspy whisper, “and you will not get in my way. Got it?”

“What’s happening to you?” William asked, almost in tears as fear took over. “We’re canoeing the Allagash tomorrow, Eric. That’s why we’re here, remember?”

I instantly slapped William right across the face, his childish stalling getting in the way of my goals. I could feel the wind blowing faster through the ominous fog, the sedges silently bending back and forth. My rage was growing, and it was dismissing my past friendship with William. He didn’t understand, yet, at the same time, I didn’t understand either. The surreal movements of the bog made it seem as though it were one living, breathing organism. It was enticing me further into its own mind, through its own meandering, confusing channels of thought.

Angered, William lunged at me, violently rocking the canoe back and forth. He tried tackling me, but as a result, the craft tipped over upside down, forcing Will and I into the murky, dark waters. It was much deeper than I had originally thought, the turbid water going over my head. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion, the swamping of the canoe, my own body being submerged under water. I remained under there for what seemed like minutes, far longer than I could hold my breath. I opened my eyes, looking into the bog’s pitch black inner body. The surface and the bottom were invisible, and it felt like I was being suspended in a state of nothingness.

Suddenly, the underwater ambience began to reassemble itself. Gradually, the sounds of moving water became almost silent whispers. They gradually grew louder and louder, and I began to understand their messages. “Let me in,” they cried in chaotic intervals. “Embrace me. Let me in. Let me in.” Distraught, uncanny wails soon arose from the depths. At first, they seemed inhuman, but as they got louder, they appeared to resemble the desperate cries of an infant and an adult female meshed together. These sounds pierced my mind, and I could feel my thoughts begin to tear apart, my mind beginning to split into a thousand pieces. I was oddly intrigued by this experience, rather than fearful. The subterranean landscape was showing me sights I had never seen before, its disturbed, surreal mind inserting itself into my own. Images began to flood my head, millions passing through by the minute Cold, dead hands sticking out of the meadow of sedges, a child’s deceased body decaying at the bottom of the bog, a deer struggling to make its way out of a muddy demise, those were some of the images I witnessed. The landscape was revealing its twisted worship of death and decay to me, a new knowledge that I accepted without question. “We will become one,” it whispered to me. “One in death.”

A burning pain surged through my lungs, and I quickly made for the surface, emerging right next to the overturned canoe. The fog was now dense, and I could only see about five feet in front of me. To make matters worse, our flashlight had been swallowed by the bog, my only light being what little moonlight shone through the mist. I was still driven to keep moving through the bog, however. I needed to reach my unconscious destination.

Abruptly, I heard thrashing in the water, which was followed by the sounds of heavy breathing and bloodcurdling screams. They belonged to William, and I simply watched as he struggled to grab onto the surrounding sedges, completely disregarding the canoe.

“Stop it! Stop it, please!” he yelled. “What do you want from me?! What do you want from me!?” Will fearfully scurried onto the meadow of sedges, his body soaked and shaking, his head darting in all directions. He ran away into the fog, struggling to make it through the layers of mud. “What’s going on!?” I heard him scream from a distance. And then he was gone, leaving me with the bog’s silence. My sympathy for William had been declining ever since we set off into the bog, its influence growing stronger and stronger in my mind. I was driven to let the landscape lead me further within itself, and my friend was clearly resisting the drive’s affect on his own thoughts.

I swam over to the canoe and tipped it back up. A single oar was floating under the craft, and I threw it in before struggling to get myself in. It took me awhile, but I eventually got into the back, and paddled myself onward through the foggy, narrow channel. Without any light, I had to use the sedges as a guide through the constant twists and turns. The bog was now much more than a natural landscape.

Eventually, the channel opened up. The sedges started to disappear behind the ominous fog, and I was soon surrounded by open water on all sides. This gave off the illusion of an ocean, and my new surroundings were incomprehensible to me. The sensations going through my body were completely alien, and I started to panic somewhat. I didn’t know which way was left, right, forward, or backwards. It felt like the bog was stealing my spatial awareness, giving it the creative freedom to alter itself. The only thing I could do now was paddle on, and let the bog carry me through its mind. There was no going back.

In the distance, I made out what looked to be a small, worn down wooden dock jutting off a plain of sedges. The large pond seemed to end here. I attributed this to the bog’s illusions at first, but on closer inspection, the landing was in fact real. I paddled up to it, noticing the decaying, brown wood. A worn out, metal spoke stuck out of the top, and a tattered strand of rope was tied to it. I tied the canoe to the dock, and stepped onto the decrepit structure. It was surprisingly sturdy, although it made a horrific creaking noise that echoed throughout the the wetland. I looked back towards the opaque, unending water, noticing how it remained calm, mirroring nothing but blackness. Suddenly, feelings of insecurity surged through my mind. I felt like I was being watched through the silence.

Fearful, I made for the sedges, sinking in the almost knee deep mud. The terrain was difficult to navigate through, and a crescendo of paranoia grew inside me. My original mesmerization with the landscape was now turning to dread as I became stuck in the muddy meadow. “Help,” I yelled, “Help!” A harsh wind began to howl, and I could feel the sedges rub against my body. I darted my head around, trying to find some way out, but there was only fog. Something, however, caught my eye. To my left, the grass had been indented, making a gap in the meadow. There was something in the gap, and I stared at it for a moment. Strangely, my fear began to recede, and I made my way over to the indent, wrestling through the mud. The thing I had seen from a distance was now coming into view. What I saw initially shocked me, however, these feelings soon turned to a grotesque acceptance, even celebration. It was William, lying face up, the sedges gently caressing his dead, mutilated body. Massive cuts had been etched onto his arms and chest, and his throat had been slit on both sides, creating a triangular shape. Blood was streaming out of his wide open mouth, a look of absolute terror on his face. He would become one with the bog soon enough, in his death and decay. William would finally understand the logic that he denied in his fear, and his body would become part of the landscape’s mesmerizing illusions.

I turned around and looked out across the vast pond I had paddled through. The fog had lifted moderately, and I could see where I’d entered through the channel. The shape of the bog’s mind was revealing itself to me, and my drive was more powerful than ever. My body began to shake and tremble, and the sound of ominous whispers started to seize my being once more. “Come to me. Let me in. Come to me…”

Slowly, my head turned towards the left side of the pond. The whispers began to grow in volume, becoming more demanding by the minute. “Let me in. Let me in! Let me in!” The wind began blowing faster and faster, blustering the sedges completely sideways, the black water now forming violent waves. Frantic feminine cries echoed through what was left of the fog. The bog’s mind was becoming more visible to me by the minute, its disturbed psyche again penetrating itself into my own. Complete chaos began to ensue, the winds becoming heavy gusts, and the cries and voices becoming deafening. Yet I still stood next to William’s body, immersing myself in these elements.

In the midst of all of this, my eyes started to focus on something in the distant sedges. I could barely make out a familiar black, shadow-like figure slowly rise from the grass. It stood there in the chaos, staring straight at me. In the darkness, I saw its arm rise, and its hand begin to beckon. All sensation, feeling, and thought in my body came to a turbulent halt as I watched the shadow call to me. The time had finally come. Everything was coming into place.

I slowly stepped through the distraught, desperate screams of the bog’s unconscious, moving towards the rippling water. My union with the bog’s mind was imminent. I kept my eyes focused on the shadow, its being appearing and disappearing from my eyesight. I could feel the water embrace my ankles as I made my way into the muddy, sinister depths. I kept going deeper and deeper, letting the bog welcome my disassembled consciousness into the sentience of the landscape. I soon was up to my neck, and finally, my head went beneath the surface. The water began to drag me further under, its aquatic hands bringing my body down to the muddy, decaying bottom. My lungs were now on fire, and I knew that death was imminent. I felt my back hit the bottom, sinking into the layers of mud. My arms brushed against something, something eerily familiar. I observed my underwater surroundings, seconds from death….

The last thing I felt were the cold bodies against my own…

Credit To – Bryce Neal

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The Nightcrawler

August 1, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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I remember it being a very typical day. So typical and dull that the details of what happened previous to the “incident” completely slip my mind.

It was at around 2:30am – 3:00am and I was walking home. The sun wasn’t up yet and the stars were blocked out by the heavy grey clouds swirling above me in the sky.

I recall walking down the street, the damp asphalt beneath my feet. The air was wet, humid and had a metallic taste to it. I could smell a storm coming on. Then, sure enough it started to rain. The lampost lights were dim. I couldn’t see very well in the dark so I decided I would take the subway to get home and to avoid getting completely soaked down to the bone.

As I walked that early morning I saw no one. The occasional car passed by every 5 minutes or so, but other than that it was lifeless. Who would be out in such weather at such a time anyway? No one but me, the foolish young woman that so happened to pick a night job, of course.

As I went down the stairway to the underground metro station that was the nearest, I noticed it was deserted. I felt out of place and slightly disturbed in a way.

The long white tiled hall that led to the main underground area was empty. Nothing but echoes and a certain humming to accompany my footsteps could be heard. I paid for a ticket at the booth and went through the machine to go sit on an empty bench near the tracks. I waited patiently in silence.

There were no trains there. Worst of all, there were absolutely no other people there besides myself. Never had I felt so alone in my entire life.

The neon lights on the walls flickered in the big empty space. I could see small insects flying and bumping into them multiple times ignorantly. I crossed my ankles and bit my lip staring up at the many pipes sticking out of the ceiling above. I waited for one of the trains to come by. Any of them. Any at all. But none ever did. It had been so long that I’d lost count of the minutes.

After a while, something caught my eye. A small blinking red light at the other end of the station. I got up and walked over to it narrowing my glare, attempting to find out what it indicated.

After getting a bit closer I noticed it stated that this station was closed due to repairs. I thought “Why not lock the entrances then? Would’ve saved me a lot of wasted time” But that’s when I remembered that there were no doors to lock. The area was open to the public at all times. Also, the machines worked so it didn’t seem to be closed. Anyone could’ve just come in and make the same mistake I’d made. But, I didn’t see anyone else so I felt a bit embarrassed.

I sighed and told myself that walking in the rain would have to do, turning on my heels and heading for the exit once again.

As I was leaving, I heard a sudden booming sound before seeing nothing but darkness. The shock of the moment got to me and I jumped up a bit clutching at my chest with one hand. I was startled and confused as to what was going on. I widened my eyes and noticed the lights had been turned off.

Could there have been an automatic switch that flipped off at a certain pre-set time? In any case, this wasn’t very practical. Not one bit. I took a deep breath, knowing I would have to find a way out somehow.

It’s just one of those challenges life faces you with to see if you can manage. You just have to get out of it. It’s like a test in a way.

I called out “Hello?” once or twice, but was left without an answer. So, I finally decided to get a move on and head out of there. But, there were tracks nearby and I didn’t want to fall in by mistake wandering around blindly in the dark.

I thought about this for a little while before deciding to get on all fours and feel where I was with my hands so I wouldn’t fall or bump into anything. I started crawling around the dusty ground. I searched for a wall, desperate to try and reach a light switch of some sort.

In that one moment that felt like an eternity, I litterally felt like I was nowhere. Like I wasn’t even part of the world I knew anymore. It was all so surreal. The feeling wasn’t quite “right”.

I couldn’t see of course, so I focused on listening to what was around me to get an idea on where I was. There was a constant dripping, myself breathing quite loudly in panic, metal pipes creaking and the blinking red light in the distance. Those were the things I noticed the most.

I wanted to be back in my warmly lit apartment, telling myself that I had made it and everything was “okay”. But sadly, you have to get through the problematic situation before that. Imagining being out of there made things even worse in a sense. Because, I really didn’t even really feel like I would ever get out of there. I felt trapped and lost in an unknown place.

My hands intensively scanned the floor, practically sweeping it clean. My fingers then felt a hard wall in front of me. I couldn’t help but exhale quietly in relief. I spread my arms widely on the rough surface to find a switch. Sadly, there was nothing of the sort. They must’ve kept the switches in a control room or something.

I hit the wall with my fist in anger and major disapointment. That’s when the strangest thing happened. A few seconds after my punch was heard, another one sounded through the station, a bit louder than mine had been. I stood dead in my tracks and took a gulp before hesitantly turning around. I couldn’t see anything but the little red blinking light. It was the only thing still on, proving to me that I’d not lost my vision. I figured it must’ve been an echo from my punch or something and ignored it shaking my head.

I walked along the wall quickly to try and find a door to some place other than where I was. There was sure to be a switch in a storage closet. So, I followed the wall, tapping it every second to make sure I was still walking straight.

That’s when my knees hit something hard, probably a bench. I decided to sit down for a bit and calm down. There was nothing else to do and I didn’t know what to think anymore. Must have been about 3:45am by now. I tried to comfort myself thinking that the sun only came up in a little while. But then I realized I was underground so I wouldn’t even be able to see its light from where I was.

That thought was a total let down.

I sat there for a bit wondering what I would do, which would be the best course of action to take. I thought about it for a few seconds before a certain feeling tugged at my throat. It was as though I was being watched. Quite closely too. I was too afraid to move or even breathe. I hadn’t thought about it but, what if something really was down here with me in the dark?

I held my breath and looked around, still unable to see anything but the little blinking light. I couldn’t hear anything but the regular eeriness of the place. Other than that, everything seemed pretty quiet. But the feeling wouldn’t leave me alone. If anything, it was growing stronger by the second. I looked to my left, at the edge of my seat, leaning forward. The bench on my side was all shaky from my trembling. Then I realized it was strange that the other side of the bench wasn’t. So, I slowly looked to my right…

That’s when I saw it.

There is no other way for me to describe it than “Horrific”. And that isn’t even close to pin-pointing it well enough.It’s one of those things to take your breath away (and not in a good way) or make your heart stop beating right the second you lock eyes with it.

It was a pitch black silhouette. Darker than dark. As if it’d never seen the light. Even though we were already in the darkness, I could tell. That’s how I’d identify it. And that wasn’t the worst part. What made me paralyzed with fear… Those utterly mortifying eyes. They were a bright shade of yellow and wide open. Brighter than any car headlights, but small and perfectly round. They would hauntingly glow as it stared at me without making a peep or any movement what-so-ever. It wouldn’t even blink.

It couldn’t have been human. No doubt, it was something else entirely.

I tried to tell myself it wasn’t real. I tried to convince myself it was a reflection of some sort. But, what reflection? We were in the dark already. There was no source of light to reflect. A million questions swam across my mind in a single second. What did it want? Had it been watching me the whole time? Was it an animal? Why wasn’t it moving? etc.

I looked away in disbelief then as soon as I looked back, more afraid than ever, I found it had silently moved and was now about a heads length away from my own, still staring at me in complete silence. I jumped back and ran. I ran for my life ignoring everything around me. The sounds, the posts, the tracks, all of it. Nothing was important anymore. Nothing mattered but getting out of there alive.

As I ran I heard banging on the walls. As if something was trying to get my attention. But I wouldn’t dare look back. I located where I was by positioning myself in my mind, seeing where the red light was and making a mental path for the exit, which I could’ve done in the first place, just that it had only now occured to me.

I ran down the empty hall as the banging got louder and louder behind me, then slower and slower before suddenly ceasing. I was terrified. No other feeling. As I got closer to the exit, stumbling on the stairs, I heard a deathly shriek. So high-pitched and loud that I had to cover my ears to keep going. It got in my head and I can only say I’ll never forget it. That was proof to me that it was definitely “NOT human”. It sounded like a cross between a dying rabbit and a hawks screech. But it was much longer and somehow different.

I finally reached the surface after a few minutes as the sun began to rise. I cried with relief and fell to the ground exhausted. I was so happy to be out of there. I was safe. I didn’t feel like it would follow but I kept running anyway.

I never used subways again. And I never found out what that “thing” was. Nor do I ever want to.

I still think about it every now and then. It never left my mind. It was too real to be dismissed by my memory. It wasn’t a dream. And it was not a nightmare. It was a terror far worse and beyond that.

Even though it has been many years since then, I can still picture it. Its lifeless stare. I see its eyes when I close my own. And I feel its presence when I’m all alone. The feeling of emptiness and quiet. I can’t take it. I do many things today to try and forget that experience. But, I don’t think I ever really will.

Was it responsible for the lights switching off? What exactly were its intentions? How did it make that noise? …

I fear I may never get the answers to my questions. But at least, I can give you this advice. This warning. “Beware the Nightcrawler”.

That’s what I decided to call it after a while. I thought it deserved to be recognized and have a proper name (Not that it’s really all that proper). In any case that is what I picked.

It carries the stench of death. It stares blankly as would a lifless corpse. It stalks its prey, hiding in the shadows. The only source of light in its world of darkness, eyes of ghostly yellow. It never blinks. It always watches. It may even still watch me to this day.

And that thought, will truly haunt me forever.

Credit To – S.W.

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