Shut That Damned Door!

February 12, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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My parents died in a car crash when I was fourteen.

Don’t feel bad for me or anything. I’ve made my peace with that years ago. Life with them was never great, but I do miss them. It’s just that if they taught me one thing it’s to not sit around wallowing in self-pity.

I just wish they hadn’t sent me to live with my Aunt Louise.

Anyone have that one family member that’s just a little strange, a little cut off from the rest of the family? Aunt Louise was ours. She was also our closest living relative. Dad’s family lived on the other side of the continent. Mom’s parents were both dead and she was an only child. Aunt Louise, her mother’s sister, actually, so my great-aunt, lived just an hour from where we did.

When my folks were alive, we rarely visited Aunt Louise, and to be perfectly honest, I half expected her to refuse to take me in. I was fully prepared to become a ward of the state, or move across the country, as soon as I heard that Children and Family services had contacted her about taking me in.

But she accepted. I’m not sure how willingly, or graciously, because I wasn’t privy to the phone conversation where she agreed to take me. I was surprised, though, at how nice she was to me the first three days I was there.

I want to make something clear; while Aunt Louise was cranky, odd, eccentric, uncouth, and several other less-than-flattering adjectives, she wasn’t a complete bitch. She had a rather abrupt, even abrasive, way of speaking, but she wasn’t cruel. I had never taken the time to really get to know her during my initial fourteen years, but I could tell that she mostly kept to herself and didn’t particularly like people, so naturally I assumed that she was a reclusive, curmudgeonly bitch.

Really, what surprised me most when I first moved in, it was how normal everything seemed. At least at first. Aunt Louise cooked, cleaned, watched TV, talked to neighbors on the phone, etc. just like anyone else would, and she told me right away that she had little in the way of expectations from me, or at least, none that my parents wouldn’t have; don’t stay out too late, let her know if you’re going to be late coming home, finish your homework before you watch TV, clean up after yourself, etc.

There was one rule, however, that was strange. And it stood out from the other rules in how strange it was. At first I tried not to worry about it; old people sometimes have peculiarities. I initially thought that was all this was. I was wrong.

She insisted that any time I entered or left a room, I was to shut the door behind me right away. It didn’t matter if I was only going to be in that room for a few seconds. If I entered a room, I was expected to immediately shut the door, and the same was true if I left it.

I often forgot this rule in my first week or so there. She never failed to remind me of it. “Shut that damned door!” she would yell, any time I forgot. It never seemed to matter where she was in the house, she could always tell when I had not shut a door just after opening it.

Her house was old, and my understanding is that she was not its first owner. She had lived in it since Mom was a girl. I had no idea how old it was. It could easily have been over a hundred, judging by its design and layout. It had two floors, a basement and a sub-basement. That last floor threw me for a bit of a loop when I discovered it existed. I was washing a load of my clothes when I noticed a door, closed, naturally, in the far wall of the utility room. The basement was unfinished, with mostly dirt flooring and bits and bobs stacked or piled or shelved everywhere. The only room you could really walk through without fear of stepping on something or knocking over a stack or pile was this laundry room, which was also the only tiled floor down there

The door I found in the basement had a board laid across it, easily moveable. It was as if Aunt Louise wanted a border there but not one that she couldn’t get past, if need be. My curiosity overtook me the second time I saw it, and I slid the board away from the door and tried it. It was locked.

This didn’t strike me as all that strange right away. That is, until I realized that this was the only room in the house, other than the doors leading outside, that Aunt Louise kept locked.

I asked her about it one day. She was cooking.

“The door in the basement?” she answered. “That’s the sub-basement. Not much down there. I mainly keep my preserves down there. It’s cool enough for them to keep.”

“Right,” I answered. This didn’t really explain why she kept it locked. “So if I ever wanted to take a look around down there…”

“For the love of Christ, boy, why would you want to do that?”

I noticed with that response that her face had changed. Aunt Louise mostly wore the same expression; a scowl like someone had just tracked mud onto her freshly-shampooed carpet. Again, she wasn’t as nasty as her expression indicated, but it was the expression she was most used to making, apparently.

But when she responded to my desire to see what was behind that door, her eyebrows raised and her mouth quivered for just a second before answering. It was so slight, others might not have noticed it, but by that time, I knew enough about Aunt Louise to equate that with a scream of horror.

I knew then that I had to see what was behind that door.

I’ve always been a curious type, you see. I’ve never been able to stay away from something that aroused my curiosity, even if my good sense told me better. I wanted nothing more after that than to see what was in that sub-basement.

But how was I to get around the lock? That was going to be an issue. Aunt Louise kept all her keys on a single ring. There weren’t that many of them, but I figured if the door to that sub-basement was anywhere, it was there.

I just had to find a way to take it from her.

This turned out not to be so simple. For one thing, it was not possible to get around the house without being heard. I couldn’t sneak from my bedroom to hers in order to sneak the keys without opening and closing all doors in between us; mine, the door in the far part of the hallway, and hers. Believe me, even if I simply left all doors open, she somehow knew. I once had to go to the bathroom in the night, and I forgot to close the hallway door. I had just made it to the bathroom when I heard her yell, even while asleep, “Shut that damned door!” I hurriedly turned back and went to close the hallway door, forgetting to close the bathroom door, and I heard it again: “Shut that damned door!”

For that matter, Aunt Louise’s room had a squeaky door that also had a catch to it, so when she opened it, it sounded like a choom-creeeeeeeeeeeeak. There was no opening of her door without her noticing.

So I forgot about the sub-basement door for a while. I placed my curiosity on the back burner and just tried to get along with the taciturn old woman for a while. Life got a bit easier. As long as I remembered to keep all doors shut at all times, the two of us got along famously. She didn’t get in my face about things, and I didn’t get in hers. It was a pretty silent house, but one that I got used to living in. I didn’t even think it strange anymore that every part of the house that one accessed through a door always had its door shut. It would have struck me as more odd if any doorway was ever left open.

Which brings me to the day Aunt Louise fell asleep while watching The Price is Right. It was a summer day, and pretty hot. Louise was slightly less worried about windows being open than doors, but she still tended to only open one at a time, and today she had just one open, one that wasn’t doing much at all to cool down a boxed-in house that had zero room for airflow thanks to Aunt Louise’s chief eccentricity. So, naturally, she fell asleep. And I saw my chance.

Her purse was at her feet. I was sitting in the chair directly beside hers, reading an Avengers comic book and trying to ignore the repeated calls of “Come oooooooon doooooown!” from the TV. I looked over at her, and saw that she was in a deep doze. Her hearing wasn’t the greatest even when she was awake, though she was far from deaf, but I figured in her snooze, there would be little chance she would hear the tiny noise of me rifling through her purse.

I found her keys almost immediately and headed for the stairwell. If she woke up when I opened the door, I would just claim I was doing a load of laundry. But she was unlikely to wake up unless I forgot to close the door, which by now I never did.

I headed down the stairs, for some reason tip-toeing even though I wasn’t yet at the place I had been shut out from. I felt absurdly guilty, despite the fact that Aunt Louise had never expressly forbidden me from doing what I was now doing.

The door to the basement was closed, of course, but unlocked, as always. I ducked through and closed it, waiting a few minutes, listening for a shifting of Aunt Louise’s frame in her chair, indicating she was getting up, or perhaps her voice calling to ask why I was in the basement.

Quietly, I crept for the laundry room, opened the door and closed it just as quick, slipping inside. I felt for the chain-pull for the light and pulled it. Low, eery light flickered through the room. I had never thought of the lighting in here as eery before, but I did now. There was something about this entire endeavor that felt wrong.

But my curiosity overrode my sense of caution. I crept toward the door and slid the board away from it. Aunt Louise had apparently put it back in place after the last time I had done this. The question of why she had done so played in my brain for a moment, but I ignored it and brought out the key ring.

I found the right key on the third try, and heard a loud chuck of the lock sliding away. I froze, heart beating in my chest, waiting to hear a cry from upstairs. Nothing.

The door opened silently as a ghost. There wasn’t any light to illuminate the staircase beyond. I didn’t even see a chain-pull for a light on the stairs. My brain was screaming at the rest of my body to turn around and forget this little adventure, but I paid it no heed and crept down the stairs, feeling along the wall for guidance.

It turned out there was a tiny amount of light, coming through vents in the ceiling. It wasn’t much, but I could see that there was a pull-string light, just a few feet from the foot of the stairs. Stupid place to put it; it should be right at the landing. But I walked down what appeared to be a fairly compact hallway and pulled the string. If possible, the light that flickered on was lower than the light from the laundry room. I could barely tell I’d turned it on.

I looked around and saw that, indeed, Aunt Louise did have rows of preserves down here. I was somewhat disappointed at the mundane answer to the mystery. For a moment, it seemed that the secret sub-basement was exactly what it was supposed to be.

Except…I could feel a puff of a warmish breeze that should not be possible down in the hard-packed earthen walls and cooler, subterranean air. The sense of wrongness was still there, and still strong, and I realized that the long row of shelves holding jars ended in a doorway at the end. A doorway that didn’t have a door.

I crept forward, arms in front of me, stepping carefully. The room beyond the door was dark and smelled musty. I couldn’t feel a source of the slightly warm air that was brushing against my skin. But I was noticing that the closer I got to that room, the warmer the air became.

By the time I was at the mouth of the tunnel (somehow I had started thinking of this place as a tunnel by this time), the air wasn’t just warm, it was humid. Fetid. The smell went from musty to moldy, to something even worse. I was assailed by that sense of wrongness stronger than ever. I had to get out of here. Why was I walking even closer?

There wasn’t much light, but I could see the outline of another door on the other side of the room. It was ajar. Seeing a door ajar in Aunt Louise’s house was like seeing a shattered window in anyone else’s. It was wrong. It was not meant to be. But then…I wasn’t precisely in Aunt Louise’s house anymore, was I? This tunnel was not built for this house. I knew that in my soul. It was here before. Long before. This was a place that had only become attached to Aunt Louise’s house by short-sighted builders, unaware of what they had unearthed. What they should have left buried.

It took me a moment to realize that the room beyond, the very room I was about to step into, was moving. The light was too dim to really see what was happening, but there was motion beyond it. Unceasing, slow, lazy motion. All along the walls, the floor. I could hear a slight squelching noise from its every corner. Things were crawling, expanding their pulpous flesh.

And looking at me. Daring me to cross that floor and shut the door on the far side, forever closing out what might be coming through it. I heard sucking sounds. Some formless, gelatinous presence stretched and flexed in the darkness.

In that moment, a sense of understanding came to me. I was not the first person to stand at this door. This door that could not be closed. Not the first person to see that other door, the one that was not meant to be, standing open on the other side, and knowing that it always would, until someone worked up the courage to cross the threshold and close it.

Aunt Louise had not had the courage, so she had fled, and kept every door in her house closed at all times, hoping against hope that keeping her doors closed at all times would alert her when whatever was beyond that damned door finally came for her.

I didn’t have the courage, either. I turned and fled, and never looked back. When I was sixteen I moved out of Aunt Louise’s and into a Halfway House. Once I was eighteen I got a job upstate, and moved there. I never went back to Aunt Louise’s and never called her, tried hard to not even think about her.

But I haven’t been successful. I still think back to the day I stood at that doorway, about the squelching, wriggling things that waited in the dark. And I wonder if Aunt Louise ever found the strength to cross the room and shut that damned door.

Credit To – WriterJosh

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February 9, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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I have no idea how much longer I’ll be able to do this. If I can no longer continue my aimless escape from simply running out of money, I could at least count my blessings. It’s too difficult for me to say in confidence why the visions I’ve been having are persistent. Either they’re a way for her to “salt the meat” per se, or a way for her to persuade me to keep my distance. However, they’ve become increasingly more vivid, so the best hypothesis is probably that she’s been toying with me. Calling for help doesn’t necessarily appear to be the smartest choice. Why? I don’t know if there are others like her, and such a claim is too farfetched for the police to believe.

I really should’ve just kept to myself. If only… Yeah, it wouldn’t have ended up like this. Why was I so stupid? It’s probably just that one person though. Otherwise, I may have seen more of them in the visions by now.

My first encounter with her was just earlier in Autumn this year. Of all times, it was during my first semester at Dourmsburg University. Where I first met this person, if that’s even an accurate term, was a place most people like myself would go because of the necessity. Like every other freshman in college, it was mandatory that I’d attend English 100 at some point to obtain a degree. Walking inside the classroom for the first time, it was already filled with people my age who I never met in my life. She was no exception.

Just as I sat down in this room full of strangers, the professor, with an extra dash of enthusiasm in his voice, introduced himself as “Professor Robinson.” Probably as an exercise for the students to begin getting to know one another, we would stand up one by one, tell the class our names, and one thing about ourselves. The teacher grinned, raised one eyebrow at me, and said that since I was late, I’d go first.

Standing up, the small sea of faces turned to me. With a tiny quiver in my jaw, I told the crowd, “Um, hi. My name is Billy Wisenor, and I don’t know anyone here.” Sitting down, my eyes caught several other students smirking and nodding. Other members of the class stood up as well, giving their names, and telling us things like their majors, hobbies, and more irrelevant facts about themselves.

The last of them, just one row in front and two seats to the left of where I sat, was more hesitant to stand than the rest. Where some of them took maybe a second to rise before the class, this ebony-haired student took a few seconds longer. Looking around the room as though she was scanning the room, she told us, “Hello.” She turned her head around the room once more, looking at us all individually. “I guess, um, I’m Allison Baker.” I’ve been noted in the past for my keen sense of hearing, so it’s not certain to me if others caught her murmuring, “I, I think… Allison.”

Usually, the lack of eloquence would’ve made me feel no such thing towards her. However, from the second when she first stood before us, I felt a strange fixation on this person. It was nothing remotely romantic, or even sexual. There was absolutely no desire on my part to even touch. It was her very lack of eloquence that repelled me from the thought. The attraction was more “magnetic,” so to speak. Somehow, she implanted something into my brain. It was unnatural because I’ve never felt this form of magnetism before. There were no urges to do, but only to follow.

At the second, stuttered mention of her name, her face began to redden. Initially, it seemed to be simple shyness. Her behavior sprouted confusion in me, and probably the other students there at what followed. We watched as she clenched her temples, and began to hyperventilate. With her extremely heavy breaths came tears going down her cheeks. Covering her face, she ran out of the room. Giving expressions of awe and confusion, the rest of us turned to one another, as if someone would have an answer to the obvious question.

We briefly debated among ourselves whether or not it was best for someone to check on this person. It was almost involuntarily that I shot up, insisting to go. Typically, someone like me would be slow to interacting with others. Thus, it struck me as especially odd since I had no arguing with myself about it. Somehow, it was like the instinct to search for food to quell hunger. If anything, this kind of response felt even more necessary.

At telling them that I’d go, that’s when my mind let in only a little bit of second thought. I knew not of her personality, so there was no way that could’ve compelled me. Hell, it wasn’t even the stranger’s appearance, as shallow as it would’ve been. If anything, this person appeared pretty plain, dressing in the current fashion of my still-teen age group. The only uncommon features of such were the locks of ebony, and a somewhat pale tone of flesh.

Still, I found myself leaving the classroom despite my waned sense of logic struggling to persuade me not to. Its efforts to persuade me that doing so would only end badly was quickly hushed. Only a moment of roaming through the hallways, and that hungry magnetism took over.

There was no way for me to know her whereabouts with my eyes, even though the whole campus was brightly lit with fluorescence. However, something else kicked in. It was a sense I never knew of before. It’s safe to say that it really wasn’t quite human. This was similar to tracking by smell, where there was somewhat of a given path before me. This track was really more of the feeling of the air. Everything else around that given path was left to be as is. The invisible road before me was that of a low, metallic sound that gave a scratching, electric pulse to the center of my brain. The consistent scraping against my pituitary gland was wearing out any ability to think cognitively. That magnetism was the only, and the closest thing to thought I was experiencing. Where this electric pathway felt colorful in nature, everything else was greying. It was a slow, crawling decay spreading from inside out. All sound was muffled nearly to the point of perfect silence as well, with the exception of a faint ringing.

As I continued to follow this trance-inducing road to the main lobby, my ears picked something up. Over the continuous ringing sound, there was a series of breathing that became louder while I walked. They were deep and sickly, as those of an old man with a terminal illness on his deathbed. The volume of this strange noise stopped increasing once it dominated the ringing. It wasn’t the only, or probably the strangest thing I’ve heard then.

Jesus Christ, I can’t tell if that was her peering from just out the window. If this is the last part of my story I’m able to tell you, please search for my remains at the Motel 6 in Stantron, Ohio. The Motel is on Oak Street, seven miles Northeast from the university. Even if I’ve completely disappeared, and I’m not able to complete this, you might at least find strands of DNA. I don’t see anything out my window now, but I think that was a silhouette looking at me from the distance. It’s too dark out to make anything out, but the shape looked distinctly like her. God, those eyes… Those glowing eyes shining at me… The tiny specs of lime green I saw through my window for just a moment, they were watching me! I’ve only started praying for my life. I don’t know what else I can do, but maybe continue my futile escape. I just hope someone heard me praying. I don’t see that alien figure now, even if it was pitch black outside. I’ll have to check out early, and run in the rain so hopefully, this “journal” of sorts isn’t lost.

At the moment, I’m continuing this from the lonely table of the mostly empty Denny’s I drove to. Other than the night staff, a couple other people eating and keeping to themselves, and me sitting at my booth, it’s pretty much dead in here. The only other sounds consist of clanging and sizzling from the kitchen, and the television broadcast being changed from the news to pure static. The broadcast itself died out from the very instant I sat down, and a pudgy, frizzy-haired waitress seems rather dumbfounded by it. With a frustrated look on her face, she keeps insisting that by changing the channel, the static will stop. Given that I know nothing about weather, I can’t make any educated guesses. However, given that there’s only a stream of heavy rain, it seemed uncanny to me. Where I’ll go after eating to help calm my nerves, I haven’t planned. Although I’m a bit soaked from running to and from my car in the heavy rain, my laptop is at least safe.

I continued down the hallway of the university. Along with the stream of breaths, my ears picked up bits of her voice. It was much like turning a dial to tune in to a radio station, but with no static. There were light, indistinguishable groans of hers going in and out, and then words.

The groans drifted into her saying, “Bake-ker… Servant of the… Its cry calls us.”

About to turn the corner to the next hallway to my left, I saw a shadow lurking against the wall of that hallway. Given how the lights in the school smothered every surface, how this occurred still makes me wonder. My pupils couldn’t catch a decent glimpse at its form though, seeing its dashing speed further down the hall just beyond me.

The strange, electric sensation to the core of my brain came to a sudden cease. A rather small, warm breeze that etched through the first layer of my skin approached me just as she did. How she appeared before me was beyond my expectations though. Even though she left the classroom red in the face with water going down her cheeks, she didn’t look as such in the halls. Her face was as pale as it was when class started. Her face was perfectly expressionless. It was as if she was never upset at all. As she came closer to me, I instinctively asked what happened. There was no reply from her, or even a passing glance.

She was walking at a far quicker pace than I could follow without going into a sort of light trot. I followed her back to class, and while she gained more distance from me, I heard another of those whisperings. Although she was several feet in front of me, it sounded as though she was centimeters from my ears. “Humankind does-sint know…surroundings. I see…all…time.” In between the words I could make out were more unintelligible murmurs, too vague to repeat. “Awaken, my… Awaken, and…demise.”

The inexplicably alluring girl closed the door behind her, allowing it to shut with a startling bang. Going back inside, my body rested back into where it sat before my search. I found myself staring at her more closely that time around, unsure if perhaps others felt that alien magnetism as well. Considering all the other students were seated, I couldn’t tell.

A few other students who were sitting near her asked how she was doing. With an oddly whimsical smirk, she assured them that she was fine. If anything, there seemed to be a hint of confusion in her voice as to why they were asking to begin with.

After so many confirmations, the professor continued with whatever lesson he had planned. I was still unusually fixated by this stranger’s presence. As intense as it was, I still couldn’t figure out why. Somehow, she beckoned me to come closer. It was perhaps a similar attraction a raccoon has to grabbing a shiny object before realizing its hand’s been caught in some painful trap.

Maybe I wasn’t the only one though. Near me, another guy in the class (whose name I’ll refuse to mention for respect of his family) was murmuring back and forth with her. Also trying to hear what the professor was saying was more than likely what hindered me from really picking up what they were saying. To my futile attempts, I could only try to give some of my attention to the lesson. The best I could do was eye contact, and hearing a quarter of the things he was saying. I’m not sure what it was, but I believe it was something regarding a persuasive paper.

The majority of my focus was hearing a proposal by the young man, roughly the same age as me, about dinner after school. She agreed. Be mindful that I never felt an ounce of jealousy. It only struck me as odd because to my recollection, the majority of young women were typically very selective. This one though, was definitely not typical. It also seemed odd that he’d have interest in someone so unstable, but then again, reason doesn’t always stop hormones.

After class was dismissed at roughly noon, everyone rose, Allison being the last. Something about her smile towards the young man she agreed to go with looked artificial. It was only a slight curl, but it wasn’t the way one would really smile. One side of her mouth was curling upward, but the very edge of that side pointed directly down. It even twitched here and there like some sudden spasm. It didn’t strike me until after certain events of their “date” that her agreeing could’ve been for some strange, other motive that no witness would be able to explain well afterwards.

At the entire class leaving the room, the odd magnetism began again. Following her seemingly frail being through the front door of the building, going to other classes I had that day didn’t matter. Attending them didn’t even go through my mind. The only instinct was to simply follow. The similar electric path before me was what lead me to my car. The entire time though, I watched as Allison got into hers without company, in another parking space just a few away from me.

Beginning to follow where she drove, the greyness of the infinite space around me greyed more than before. It darkened and dimmed by the yard. With that, a cease to my stream of thoughts took over, guiding my hands through each turn and such. It became apparent that whatever force did this didn’t quite have the capacity to signal, or even stop if she didn’t do so first.

The whispers from earlier came back, seeping through the radio in my car which I never had playing in the first place. They always spoke to me in riddles. Unlike moments in the past though, they were clearer. They were finally starting to be in complete sentences, only sometimes interrupted by indistinguishable mumbles. “Oh, little, unknowing Wise-seh-nor boy. You find yourself so fascinated. I can tell.”

This odd encounter while I was driving was different in another way as well. With the fading into a lifeless grey, my conscious mind felt as if it was shutting down. It was just like falling asleep, but immediately dreaming. Although I found myself in that sort of paralyzed state, my hands and feet still moved to drive along with her car. I saw something else in front of me. Just a few inches away from me, a translucent image of her face gathered from billions of tiny particles from above my head until they took a complete form. With the vague translucence of her appearance were some details of the highway I was swerving on to. As she resumed speaking, that faint ringing returned. It was a sound that accompanied her voice during this particular kind of encounter from that time forward.

Nearly sideswiping another car while changing to the lane just at my left, my skin tingled at her breath as she told me, “It wasn’t my intent-shin, but it happens almost at least once with eh-ver-y new place I go to. Perhaps it comes with what was given to me by…” The remainder of what she was saying went off into more mumbles, although I could see her lips moving in just the same fashion.

All I was seeing immediately disappeared. It was in a flash of time, but felt like far longer. My field of vision was engulfed by an odd face I couldn’t dare to call human. To my assumption, I didn’t see the entirety of the face. Perhaps I should be thankful I didn’t witness more of its form. It was pale as white paper. Staring directly at me were a pair of scowling, veiny, pure ebony eyes. They glared into my essence, planning something. Just below them was a nose-like appendage, though in shape, it looked to be more a beak. I didn’t see any kind of nostrils, or opening along it anywhere. It still hung down, shaped much like a sort of hook. It glared at me with such disdain, but needing at the same time.

At first, I couldn’t tell if what I’d hear was coming from the ghastly image I was seeing in my pseudo-unconscious state, or somewhere else entirely. To give the terrible image company though, for the first time, I heard a soul-shaking, horrified river of a single man screaming. It sounded like this person was driven completely out of their mind in terror that one could only imagine. I couldn’t pinpoint where it came from at first, but to my shock and misfortune, it would be a sound I’d recognize in the very near future.

Someone in the kitchen’s shouting. It’s a man’s raspy voice. Probably the cook. A loud burst from the kitchen with some kind of enormous splatter. Shit, I can’t see what it is. The waitress, the one with the frizzy hair… She ran back to the kitchen. Oh God, her screams… They’re so frantic. Mortified. Wait, no. What the Hell’s going on? They’ve gone silent, followed by the same sound. That burst with a huge splatter. Still can’t see. I hear her humming. Don’t forget where I’ve been.

Jesus, I don’t know which township I’m in. I know I’m being followed. There’s no way to reasonably deny it anymore. I hauled ass out of there. I’m sitting in some other motel I managed to find. I think it was about an hour’s worth of speeding, but I’m not sure. I think I spotted a couple roaches crawling across the floor, but it’ll have to do. It’s not like I’ll be sleeping here, like I’d be given enough time. I’m probably further from Stantron, Ohio, and a bit closer to Bumblefuck Nowhere. Judging by the significant lack of buildings compared to say Dourmsburg, yeah. Bumblefuck Nowhere sounds right. Would’ve been smarter to ask, but someone in this shit hole’s bound to remember me checking in as long as she only comes for me.

The vision of that hideous, unknown, pale face though… It couldn’t have been one of a man. Thank God though, I at least didn’t have to see it for very long. It vanished into nothing. The only things before me were black. Perfect black, and her piercing eyes staring into me.

Her cryptic murmurs kept moving into my ears like an unwanted guest. “…by The Raven.” She breathed heavily, and shouted at me. It sounded like Allison was clenching her teeth. “You don’t know the consequences of someone being in the wrong place at the wrong time, do you?” Speaking to me in a far more pleasant tone, the girl gave me an innocent giggle. “Then again, maybe I kinda wanted you to follow me. I like it when people have an interest.”

The abnormalities of my field of vision flashed into nonexistence. The feeling was that of sleeping in a position that would end up hurting your neck after a full seven hours. It was essentially that, but the sensation smothered my body. There was a bit of difficulty moving about in general from the beating soreness, and a small pool of sweat along my chest. Looking around, I didn’t find myself on the highway, or any road at all. At first, there was a lot of shock merely at realizing my car wasn’t even in motion. However, I found myself in the sun-dressed parking lot of some nearby park, surrounded by lively, green grass.

Layered in my own body odor, it amazed me that I was even alive. Along with changing lanes without scrutiny of my surroundings, my last conscious memory before arriving was seeing my vehicle’s velocity edging on eighty miles per hour. No matter how much time passes though, I can’t seem to recall more of the drive. Even though logically, it shouldn’t come as a surprise, there lingers in a corner of my mind a foolish ounce of hope that I would.

Until then, it didn’t occur to me just how unnatural those sensations really were. One may argue I may have fallen asleep at the wheel, or experienced an episode of some mental illness. Either would suffice as explanations at first. Here’s what such a doubting party should consider though: mental illness has no tendency in my bloodlines, nor do I have any such experience with it, and only after awakening from this peculiar spell did I feel fatigue. Unlike coming out of any sleep, there was hardly any energy left in me to stand up, let alone get out of the car.

I could still look, and see what else my surroundings contained. Before I could take notice to anything really significant, more of her words reached out to me, a bit more faint that time around. “…wasn’t always like this. Un-know-ing Wisenor boy…Raven made…this way. Just…was desperate…came to me after…dying from…” It’s not entirely certain to me, but it sounded like I heard a sniffle before hearing her voice, “It’s so nice…have someone to open up to.” She gave me a dry chuckle. “Can’t…you for too long.”

After that, the voice faded into the gentle winds around my car. More whispers moaned against my car. Although words were even less possible to determine among these than within the previous mumblings, the chance of her being right there compelled me beyond denial. Jerking my eyes in that direction, I saw nothing. Although one may call it the wind, I wondered if it was her trying to send another message through her telepathy?

In that moment, as I began to try to piece together what she meant to tell me, there it was. Her car, and only one more were just a few spaces from mine. Spotting Allison and her unfortunate chaser on the bench a few yards away from me, my curiosity once again got the best of me. When I should’ve driven away, I found myself rolling down my window to listen in. In retrospect, attempting to drive away might not have done any good. If she managed to psychically take me here against my will, I only imagine she wouldn’t have let me go very far.

Remaining silent, and looking away from them, I heard her poor chaser ask, “Why did you want to go here instead?”

She replied, “I just thought somewhere more quiet, and…” She said nothing for a second. “Well, private, I guess.”

“Hmm, well, okay It just seemed a little weird that you texted me right before we left, saying you’d rather come to the park.”

“I guess I just wanted to talk. You know, get to know each other a little better. You’re nice. I can tell.”

“Really?” He sounded pleased, but not without doubt in the girl’s voice. “How?”

“Call it a hunch, or maybe you just have one of those faces.”

I looked over at them for a moment. He was reaching over to kiss her, but it didn’t phase me. I just had too strong of a sense of confidence that there was something she intended on me finding out.

She backed away. Allison told the classmate of ours, “I’m sorry. I’m just not comfortable with that.”

A bit of frustration was mixed into his voice. I couldn’t see the expression on his face very clearly, but I could hear it without any trouble. “Then what did you drag me out here for? You said you wanted privacy, right?”

Another sniffle came from her as she said, “I’m sorry.” Her words became completely devoid of emotion as she asked, “Let me ask you something.”

That was when I gave those two on the park bench my absolute attention. It didn’t matter if they noticed me. That tone, or lack thereof, had me intimidated, but far more fascinated.

Questions raced through my mind, creating a black cesspool of imaginative terror as to what she would do. The telepathic messages that woman projected to me were enough to drive anyone into a horrid panic attack. That growing cesspool from the bottom pit of my imagination could only inquire as to what else she was capable of. Not only that, but the distinct lack of anger in her voice struck me just as much. Perhaps she simply cut off from whatever quality of mercy she had left, and what she did to him would be a true illustration of such.

She asked with that flavorless voice, “Have you ever thought about what it’d be like if Earth lost its gravitational pull on an object?”

Hearing that felt like a legion of tiny, many-legged creatures from beneath the soil crawled through my car, and swarmed along me.

He let her know, “Um, I don’t get what you mean.”

Allison said nothing to him. Getting up from the bench, she went to the parking lot, giving me no passing glance. I still couldn’t help the strange premonition that she was completely aware of my presence, despite our perfect lack of interaction.

I assume her chaser was watching with me as she bend down just in front of his car. Gripping part of the bottom, she tugged against it. My jaw hung instantly. Even though the girl didn’t have much of any visible muscle mass on her, the shining, scarlet sports car was lifted into the air. What was far more ungodly was when she let go of it. Allison walked away from it, and the vehicle was slowly rotating on an axis, rising away from the ground by the inch. Completely unable to look away, I heard him shouting in between gasps. However, I was a bit too perplexed by the car to pay much attention to what he was saying until he quit stammering, and he was yelling louder.

Although I was still facing it, my eyes went back to the two youths. The strange girl’s companion was shouting, “What did you do to my fucking car!?” I watched as he slowly backed away from her with a ghostly white face. He was trying to create more sentences, but failed to do so in his own terror.

She continued speaking in that dead monotone, “Wait. Please.”

“N-No. I…” He stopped. His legs were shaking. The young man seemed as if he couldn’t move back any further. “I’m gonna go…”

Allison stood up, staring at him.

“I’m gonna go call th-th…”

Allison Baker stepped closer to him, still silent.

“I’m gonna call the…”

“Police? I’m sorry. I guess maybe I was wrong about you. Maybe I just thought you were cute.” She shrugged.

I can’t say if what happened to him was more bizarre than what occurred with the car floating continuously upward, but if his family gets a hold of this document, it may answer their questions. Hopefully, they’ll consider what I’m frantically recording.

As she stared at him more, his shape turned completely still. He said nothing, even though there was a look of unimaginable fear across his face. It sounds peculiar, but it honestly looked like he was frozen in time. I say “in time” only because he proved to be alive, but I haven’t doubt that he wished that wasn’t so. His motionless being gradually became a sky blue tint, generating a slight, but continuous buzzing noise. In maybe half a minute, the neon silhouette that was my classmate vanished into God-only-knows-where, sparking a powerful gust of wind. It sent Allison back a couple inches, and went far enough to strike my cheek.

Having absolutely no idea of what to make of such a thing, I attempted to start my car again. In my utter shock, I lost all ability to move my limbs about. They were rendered completely useless, husks of flesh without any nerves.

My expectations told me that not only did she know about my being there, but she intended on me being the next in line. I didn’t need to have evidence to more strongly believe that. Even though she was still facing in the same direction, it felt like she was watching me through the other side of her face. She was in fact doing so, as I found out.

While my tongue grew purely dry, I heard another whisper of hers through the radio. There was even the sensation of her palm stroking my cheek as the whisper of hers told me, “No, Billy. Not yet.”

That touch alone was so alien, and that was the only time she ever called me by my first name. If only it was the last time she’d call my name in general, I’d have a shot at having a piece of mind. It’d be extremely slim, but still some kind of chance.

I regret continuing to watch. Although what came back to the spot I’d been watching was clearly my classmate, it wasn’t remotely close to being the same person. Wind blew in the opposing directions, being intensely attracted to that spot from which he disappeared. Leaves and tiny bits of grass where sucked from every direction, flying towards that point. The silhouette of the same blue tint manifested from the air. The form was indeed still of the young man, but in a much different position. He was kneeling down, his spine arched back, and his hands on his face. Perhaps I could’ve started my car then. It didn’t occur to me to try once more then, but the fainted chance at driving away would’ve left me in far less awe.

The blue shape regained its distinct colors to make every correct detail of my classmate. When he was completely returned though, it didn’t seem like he was aware of it at all. In his own suddenly decayed mind, he was still wherever indescribable dimension she placed him in. He fell to the ground, curling up into the fetal position. The entire time, he was screaming at the top of his lungs. To my own fears, I recognized the sound. It was the very same as the one accompanying my vision of that ghastly, pale face with the veint, ebony eyes. He rolled from side to side, yelling incoherently. Clawing at his own eyes as though wishing to no longer see, he formed no words. There were only non-verbal expressions of mortal horror. As he still screamed, the classmate of mine began to foam at the mouth. I saw him doing so as he stayed on one side, and the bits of white foam dribbled from his mouth to the grass beneath him.

Like it was doing so on its own, my arm instantly shoved the key into the ignition. Effortlessly, I took off from the parking lot, and back on to the highway. At the time, the plan was to simply get away, and then contact the police. Then, it occurred to me. Exactly what would I tell them? How could I possibly describe what happened in a manner that they’d actually believe? The dreadful truth came lurking around the corner – there was no way. Although I saw all of these horrid things take place, this was the kind of tale you’d hear from a man who hadn’t bathed, or maybe even eaten in days from having his only choice of residence being the streets.

Regardless, I was making an aimless escape down a fifty-five miles per hour speed limit, but carelessly going seventy-eight. In a frenzy, I swerved around cars, and heard that horrible murmuring again. It said to me, as if giving an urgent command, “A seek-cret is sacred, unknowing Wisenor.”

That was what distracted me, and caused a bit of a plight. It distracted me from changing lanes on to the exit I needed to take at the time. So, rather than safely turn down the bend towards Dourmsburg, I lost control, finding myself waking up sitting in my halted car. I probably would’ve continued to speed recklessly, I admit, if it weren’t for the fact that my car was stuck in a ditch, and smoking from the engine itself. From then on, that little Chrysler of mine wasn’t useable anymore.

Having found out that walking for me became incredibly difficult, I hobbled out the driver’s side. Ignoring the wreckage and the immense soreness in my back, I took my feeble body down the highway, and managed to get a ride from some stranger passing by who had to be vaguely in her fifties. As one may expect, she asked if I knew anything about the Chrysler only yards from where I was limping. Keeping my self-respect, the answer given was a no.

The stranger agreed to take me home at first, but then insisted on driving me to the Dourmsburg General Hospital. I tried to protest, but the greying woman would hear nothing of the sort. Being taken in, I heard loud cries from a nearby wing of the hospital. Only thinking about how long I’d have to stay in a hospital gown and how long the crippling pain would last, I thought nothing of them.

Periodically though, I’d hear the agonized cries now and again, and it certainly didn’t ease the pains along my spine. They echoed through the dark hallways of that part of the hospital, haunting me like a vengeful banshee as I tried desperately to sleep. They at least did so until two to three nurses and a doctor rushed down that very hall.

Usually, I didn’t hear what they said in their worried tone of voice, but once, I managed to catch something during one of these incidents. It was one of the practitioners saying, “Jesus, another sedative?”

Beginning to recognize whose screaming that probably was, I lost all muscular contraction. Except for my breathing and blinking, everything outside of the brain seemed completely dead, lying still on the hospital bed. Everything around me greyed. It became just as lifeless in color just as the rest of the world around me did when I instinctively searched for Allison on my first encounter.

A faint, playful giggle came down the hall, and towards the room I stayed in. My eyes pivoted to the open door. There she was, leaning against the frame with an even more playful smirk across her face. She was the only remotely colorful thing in sight. It made me think that it was just how badly she may have wanted the attention strictly to herself.

“Come on, Wisenor.” She took a couple steps closer to me. I had no real way of determining if this was a true, physical manifestation, or simply another telepathic vision. “You know it was…” Allison put the tip of her pointer finger against her chin. “Necessary. He was gonna expose me, or try to, anyway. I don’t need people thinking I’m some kind of freak.” She walked over, sitting on the edge of my bed. “Right? You understand.” She gave me a much bigger smile, bigger than I’ve ever imagined seeing her give to anyone. “Of course you do, and that’s why I can trust you not to tell anyone, right?” She gripped the top of my head, and stared into my eyes.

Having no idea what would happen, I found myself speechless. All I was able to do was give a stupid look.

Outside of what wide variety of horrifying things I pictured her doing to me, she simply nodded my head for me. Along with this, she gave a badly-done impression of me. “‘Of course, Allison. I won’t tell anyone, even if they’d believe me anyway. That’s ‘cause you’re my beeeeest friend!’” She chuckled, and smiled even wider. “Aww, that’s so sweet of you! So good to know I picked someone I could trust.”

She let go, turned her back to me, and walked to the exit of the room. Looking back at me, she winked, and left. That wasn’t the end of it though.

Minutes after her being gone, I still layed there, paralyzed only in terror at the thought of her coming back. The only thing that seemed completely safe to do until the color of my surroundings returned was to face away from the door, and be as still as possible. I was too terrified to respond to other people, including the nurse who came in shortly afterwards to check on me. She greeted me, but didn’t take very long to leave me be, assuming my damaged body as asleep. There was a little bit of remorse in me for not even giving her the chance at a hello. From then on, I wondered from time to time what she looked like?

Waiting even more, the ghastly sound of her whispers came to me again. The noises were a stalking lioness. They murmured in a purely calm tone, “San-nih-ty, unknowing Wisenor? What is that, really?” Her voice seemed to be hovering just behind and above me, though I never heard any more footsteps except for my nurse. “I suppose…once like that. It was before I was visited, see.” That was when I at least dared to do something. Even though it wasn’t much, my shaking hands smothered my ears, only failing to block out the sound. She chuckled, devoid of any enthusiasm. “I’m afraid… Yes, afraid it’s time to face… Time to face reality.”

I anticipated more from her, but there was nothing. Despite the color of my atmosphere fading back in, I had very little comfort throughout the night. It wasn’t nearly enough to sleep. By morning, my eyes were hanging to the point where I had no choice. When I finally woke up, I had a different nurse that night, and at least she was kind enough to humor me, and keep my door locked. Well, she at least said she did.

For the next few nights, I waited for another visit from Allison. At that point, it only seemed inevitable. Maybe my paranoia was only growing though. Every night, I’d question as to whether or not the world around me was dimming into that same grey to let me know of her presence. It only became darker with the night, as nature intended.

It later came to my realization that for those past few nights, the crying that echoed down the halls were no more. During a visit from the nurse for that particular night, I asked who it was that cried so much during the previous nights. Confident in the person’s identity, I needed the confirmation. At first, she only said it was one of the patients admitted earlier, and to the psychiatric ward. I used the name of the classmate of mine who formerly pursued Allison. A look of astonishment came to her visage, and she asked how I knew. Although such information is usually confidential (or I assume that it is), perhaps it was the astonishment itself that compelled her to break that rule.

Explaining that I recognized the voice since it was that of my former classmate, it was my inquiry as to whether he was okay. She sighed, telling me he’s as okay as he’ll ever be. She also insisted I promise to keep what she was going to tell me a secret. With my agreeing, she told me that from some unknown cause, he went into a hysterical period of screaming, and was anonymously given an ambulance. He was given more and more sedatives throughout the day, and examined intensely for whatever caused his condition. The cause, unfortunately, was not specified at all. Although she doesn’t have much involvement with the patient herself anymore because of the transfer to the psychiatric ward, she told me that his condition has rendered him to a vegetative state. The nurse gave me her condolences for the classmate she inferred I had an acquaintanceship with.

The remainder of my stay in Dourmsburg General Hospital was that of gradual peace. Although I still had trouble getting to sleep, the periods of time in which I did sleep increased from one to three hours a night. They believed that the sleepless stress was caused by the crash itself, and thus, prescribed me sleeping pills with my muscle relaxants and pain killers. It was only a stay of a week total in that hospital, but the hospital itself wasn’t actually located in the city. Although the name did indeed include “Dourmsburg,” the location of the building itself was really in one of the suburbs just outside of the city. Specifically, it was Jovial Springs, Pennsylvania, and thus, no longer had bus lines.

You see, now is where the car I’ve been driving originates. I had a decent sum of money, but only enough for so much food and gas, not close enough for any kind of vehicle. Released from the hospital at just after one in the afternoon, I decided to spend the remainder of the day around local eateries. After so much eating and window shopping, the beautiful Moon at last made its return. With the nightly dark covering everything, it seemed like the perfect time to take the chance. In my high school years, I suppose my uncle thought that there’d be a time where I just might need such knowledge. It was knowledge I applied in a quiet parking lot to hot wire one of the empty cars.

I’m not certain if the police are anywhere close to catching me for stealing a small, orange Ford, the model of which I’ve no knowledge. There was no manual for it to be found. It got me this far away from danger though, and frankly, that’s all I care about at the moment. It’s a pipe dream, but it may even be possible to start anew at Stantron University.

I don’t know what that sound is. I didn’t hear any other cars pull up here tonight. It’s just been me typing. The staff? No, can’t be. There’s only a couple staff, and they’d only come around this way if I call. Still, there are footsteps just outside my door. Although it’s dark, the glowing screen in front of me is growing dim. It must be her. It has to be Allison. I can hear her playful giggle just outside my bedroom door. The footsteps stopped. Her shadow is still. Oh, God, I can’t… Wait, unless…the window!

Credit To – Dylon Winfield

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Imminent Graves

February 5, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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I sigh at the sight of the open lake, a field of black liquid, with waves that cling a sticky gel to the tips of my boots. The shores of the small beach are covered with a series of gray patterns, outlines of the waves that wash about. The sun’s out, which is a surprise both pleasant and disappointing. The warmth is a welcomed perk, though I’m always praying for precipitation.

It rains, on occasion. Some plant life’s still around, by the looks of it. This lake area has been the first place in weeks in which I’ve seen a living tree. Perhaps they’ve only just come here, in the last few days. I look upon the tree line at the opposite shore, and I can see the larger portions of a city. It appears to be in ruins. I can see decayed towers and small clouds of smoke. From what I heard, the visitors hit the larger cities first. The survivalists I ran into on the road told me to head for woodlands. I can’t see why. The water lies just as black and dead here as it did in New York. The sun exposes the calm, tar-colored surface of the liquid body, reflecting the work of the ravenous visitors.

A drone flies overhead. I catch its orange trail of burned fuel as it flashes by. The mist of energy floats down on the surface of sand next to me, singeing the branches of the trees as it passes. I turn away from the dead lake. I feel a tense dryness in my throat.

I walk a trail, different from the one I took to the shore. The path is lined with more trees, most being stripped of their color and contents. Skeletal branches extend from torn and scratched trunks. Fallen leaves still paint the ground in a brown and tan slew. I spot scraps of metal and black dust about the woods. It’s what the visitors leave behind with their drones and pods. I haven’t spotted any large technology, so far. Yet, I’ve been unable to encounter another living creature in the past few days.

A slight pain begins to arise in my lower spine, which grows as my pack swings behind my shoulders. My watch died a few days ago. Due to near-constant lack of sun, I’m left questioning how long I’ve been traveling. I’m about to sit for a rest, but a ringing nearby keeps me on my feet. I turn in circles, twice.

There’s a scratchy, radio-like sound, one that spikes a tension in my ears. After making another three-sixty, I spot a small, tube-like device implanted in the woods, a bit off the path. A series of antennas extend from its upper end, with the lower portion pitched into the soil. It’s their technology, no doubt, but this device is unfamiliar. I’m curious to step closer, but moving a even a few feet towards it makes the ringing twice as bad. It loud ring continues, sending an acute sting through my earlobes. I move forward on the path, with quicker feet.

A burning surges through the desert that is my throat. I glance back to see a final view of the tar lake, with a gray forest lining each side of me. A sharp pain is now pulsing in my tailbone, and I sense a familiar soreness in my feet. After a few more minutes of travel, I come across a red house. It’s a surprising size, with two floors, a porch on each end, and numerous windows lining the side I can view. The structure is what I’d consider a lake house, an attractive home for the temporary resident. The path before me leads to the front porch, which holds a a single, white-colored door. I approach, and I see that much of the brick-red paint appears to be scraped, and half of the windows are stained with a colored substance. Some are cracked.

I stop when the door opens. I’m no more than fifty feet away from the deck, when a older, white bearded man stands in the doorway. He remains in the doorframe, holding a pistol in his right hand and keeping his left arm behind the wall. He appears to squint at the sight of me.

“Hold up!”, he shouts in a breathy, hoarse voice. “Stay still! There are explosives about the ground where you stand, and my fingers are right on the switch!.”

“Easy!”, I shout back, holding up my arms and keeping calm to avoid tension. “I’m not staying, I’m just pass-“

“What are you doing around here? Where do you come from?”

“I’ve walked from the city, from the south. I left for safety, but I came here in search of water.”

“Ain’t no water here! They came and shit over it weeks ago! You should’ve known.”

“You’re the first human I’ve encountered in over a week. I don’t have any sources to go by. Now, I don’t want anything from you. I’m just going to walk back, just in the direction behin-“

“The city, that’s where you’re coming from? Lot of news about there. They say the people are being possessed there, or something. What’s to say you’re not one of them?!”

“What do you mean?”

“One of them alien imposters! You come here to trick me out, boy?!”

“No! I don’t know what you speak of. I haven’t heard any news about ‘observers’.”

“Step around, slowly, into the yard to the left. My hand’s still on the switch, so don’t try any tricky shit.”

I move, stepping towards an open, clear yard. I keep my hands up, though my eyes remain locked on the man. He glares at me, now aiming his pistol in my direction. I can’t make out the specifics of his face, but his eyes are what intrigue me. They appear dark, abyssal. I want to sprint away, yet I’m not one to gamble on caution.

“Right here?”, I say, stopping near the center of the field.

“Yes”, the man says, moving his pistol down. Another drone flies by, in which I look to it. When I look back to the man, I see his head has remained still.

“So what now? I think it’s safe to say I’m not here to steal from you.”

“No. No, I suppose you’re right.”

The man steps out of the doorframe, and heads to the edge of the deck. He shows a smile to me. I smile back, yet my hands move close to my revolver in my pocket.

“Your hand’s of the switch”, I say, relaxing my hand. “There weren’t any explosives to begin with, were there?”

“You’re right, boy.”, he says, nodding with a smile. His eyes are black, indeed. They make me tremble. “You have nothing to worry about.”

A sting pierces the right side of my neck, with the cold entrance of a metallic surface. The object is removed before I can turn my head to look. I swing around, in which my vision is half as effective. The gray world around me becomes unclear, as I see a blurred figure standing before me. After appearing to step back, it approaches with slow steps. I see a series of white flashes before my vision disappears.

The world lies black, like tar.

A pressure is placed on my wrists, as well as my ankles. I hear sounds of faint clinks before opening my eyes, which ache as light floods over my lenses. The light comes from a window in front of me. I can see a view of the sunset, on a tree line at the end of a field. A few more clouds have appeared, since I was last outside.

The room becomes clear, which appears to be rather simple. The walls are covered in a scratched green paint, sporting a flowery wallpaper that brings an ironic prettiness. To the left of me lies an aged, torn sofa, stained with a possible mold. To the right lies a splintered coffee table. A cracked plate rests at its center.

I’m in a wooden chair, with my legs restrained in front, arms behind. My limbs are clasped together with some form of metal cuffs. The sun reflects off the restraints. I make the initial tugs for freedom, which is meant with an unsurprising defeat. I sense the restraints grip tighter, as a larger strain is placed on my wrists and ankles as I finish struggling.

“You don’t know what you’re even trying to escape.”, a voice says from behind, calm in its approach.

Before I turn my head back, a man steps in front of me. He appears middle-aged, dressed in a white coat, black slacks, and dark brown, formal shoes. He has medical gloves on, and is holding a small, cylinder-shaped container.

I look to his eyes, in which I’m struck with a coldness in my blood. Replacing his eyes are two, pitch-colored pools of black. They pulse with an ooze, like they’re about to bleed dark tears down onto my forehead.

“Don’t be frightened. You’re only late, to what should’ve been done already. You don’t have to suffer in this land, anymore.”

He moves around me, and begins running his fingers about my neck and head. He feels at my throat, temples, jaw, pulse, and at the tip of my spine. A chill pressure follows his fingers.

“Sorry I had to lure you in like that, boy.”, another voice says, approaching from behind again. It belongs to the older man from before. He steps in front of the window. His eyes are indeed the same, casting the same nightmarish gaze that I imagined when I first saw him.

“I didn’t mean to frighten or trick you. I just didn’t expect to see someone like ya. I thought our job was just about done.”

“Your throat must be immensely dry.”, the middle-aged ‘man’ says. “How long have you gone without water? Hours? Days, perhaps? I haven’t yet been able to study how long you can go without sustenance. Given the rapid loss of human life, I wouldn’t suspect long. It’s pitiful, really.”

“That’s what he was looking for, when I saw him.”, the older one says. “That’s when I was sure he was human. The scanner picked him up even before then.”

“You won’t last out here, not for much longer. We’ve drained most of this place. Then again, so have your people.”

I look about the room again, and then out the window. The sunset’s just beginning to fade.

“Who are you?”, I ask in a shaky voice. “Please, tell me, what is happening?”

“Acceleration.”, the middle-aged one says. “We’ve sped up the little time that’s left, on nature’s clock. Now that this place is dying, we’re taking and saving what we can. A few others are like you, running, in panic. Almost everyone’s out, now, and you will be as well.”

The middle-aged one steps in front of me again, and opens the container. Inside the case is a small, metal clasp object, combined with a form of syringe. A micro-point lines at the end of the narrow piece, one that feeds into a gray, dust-like substance. I only have a second to examine it before the man moves behind me, with the object in hand.

“Wait! Wait!”, I shout, tugging at my restraints as they continue to grow tighter. My ankles and arms grow numb from the pressure. “What’s that?!”

“Relax”, the man says, his voice no louder than a whisper. “If I explained to you, it would only unnerve you more. Don’t struggle. There’s no need to escape from rescue.”

“No, stop! What are you doing?!”

“For years, you have lived on nothing but an imminent grave. You all have. We have foreseen this, and we have come. Now, close your eyes. The pain will be unusual, but short.”

I don’t listen. I start to breath relentless air, shaking like mad. The older one starts to speak, but his words fly over me. A pinch goes through the back of my neck, in which the rest of my body is shot with a strange, chilling energy. I lose all sense of my limbs.

“You’ll sleep, for a while. But you’ll wake up, soon.”

I look up to the window, as color begins to fade from my vision. I see the open field as a sheer gray. I begin to spot large, sphere-shaped structures beginning to descend upon the field and beyond. They cast beams of light, on the field and surrounding woods. My vision then goes black.

The dryness in my throat subsides. I sense a thick, slow-moving liquid begin to bleed away from my eyes.

Credit To – Emeryy (Richard S.)

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At Any Price

January 30, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Fame. Who doesn’t want it? Maybe some people prefer to stay out of the limelight, but not me. I crave being famous, seek it, fantasize about it endlessly. I can’t stop thinking about it and all the power and worth it would bring to my boring, terrible life. The world would know me all over. Fans would wait in line just for a chance to see me or take my picture. I would be in the newspapers, online, twitter, all media. Almost everyone in the world would at least have heard my name.

The problem was, I had no talent which could make me famous. I can’t sing, dance, write, play sports, and I’m by no means beautiful or a genius. And I didn’t even want to be famous for those things. To me, even those talents seemed too ordinary. There are thousands of people with those abilities. No, I wanted something even more. Unfortunately, there just isn’t much demand for a plain, ordinary, 20-something woman without a single thing special about her. Brown hair, pale skin, totally ordinary face. My life was so completely miserable that I never smiled, something my co-workers felt the need to remind me of constantly. Gee, thanks for pointing that out. I had no idea I never smiled. Perhaps if they could step into my shoes they would stop smiling, too. I am just like almost every other woman my age, except even the plainest of the plain had at least one thing they were good at. Not me. Ms. Average. So boring and unremarkable. How could I ever even dream of being anyone special? It was ludicrous. And yet I couldn’t stop. All day, every day I thought about having a better life. It was my first thought in the morning and my last thought at night. How could I have been given such a desire, and then, have no way of making it a reality? It was cruelly unfair.

I became obsessed. Soon the thoughts took over almost every moment of my day. It began to drive me crazy, just a little at first, then more and more as my obsession took hold. I knew I was losing it. What to do? What would you do in my place? I went to a psychiatrist, he just wanted to talk about having low self-esteem and being happy with what I had. How dare he? Did he not hear what was consuming my days and nights? Did he not understand? Be happy with what I had. That advice was so ridiculous it was infuriating. Oh, the rage building inside me. You can’t begin to imagine. Such a desire and no way to bring it to fruition. And medication? Worthless. All it did was make my brain foggy and sleepy. How can I even begin to describe this obsession? Imagine having to think about oxygen, water, or food every minute of your life. This wasn’t just a desire. It was a need. I had to be famous or I would have to end my life. I couldn’t go on this way. Something had to be done.

My mind began spiraling off into unhealthy directions. Who or what could help me with my insane need? What could I possibly do? Try to become a witch and cast a spell on the whole world and make them see me as something I really wasn’t? Ludicrous. Dumb to even consider it. And yet…thinking about the occult made me have another thought. A terrible thought. Could I? Could I follow through with my horrific, evil plan? The more obsessed I became, the more real the idea became. What did I really want? What could I give up in order to fulfill my deepest need?

It was sick. A small part of me knew that, but I couldn’t get my mind off my plan. I knew what had to be done. I would do it and reap the consequences later. Determined, I went to the store and purchased a ouija board. It was the best way I could think of to accomplish what I had to do. Alone in my small, cheap apartment I turned out the lights and set up a ring of candles. Lighting them one by one, I felt a sense of relief I hadn’t felt in years. Finally, I was taking action. Damn the repercussions. This was the only way, and it wasn’t my fault I had been driven to it. I sat in the center of the candles with the ouija board. I’d never used one before, having heard that it was dangerous and that one could never tell what evil forces you might be inviting into your life. But that was what I was counting on. Evil forces to help me carry out my plan.

I asked out loud, “Is there anyone or anything here with me now?”

The planchette began to move slowly. I knew that I wasn’t moving it. This task was too important to fool around. Slowly, the planchette spelled, I A M .

“Who are you?” I asked. Moving a little faster now, it touched the letters, T H E O N E Y O U W A N T.

“Can you help me?” I needed to know for sure. The planchette spun to “yes.”

My palms were sweaty but I was more than ready to see this through. “Do you know what I want?” It answered F A M E. I started to freak out a bit. This was for real. But I knew I could do this, I just had to be specific. I needed to get exactly what I was seeking or all of this was worthless.

I took a deep breath and announced, “You have to guarantee that I will be one of the most famous women ever. People will boast about seeing me. Men will be grateful for the chance to even gaze upon upon my face for a few moments. I will be known around the world for many years to come and my fame will be unparalleled. I don’t care if I have to move through time to get it. Put me in the past. Push me towards the future. Make this happen at any time at all. I don’t care where I am. Make me special and famous.”

Fame…beauty…desire…worth. I would finally be someone special. I would stand out in this messy, grubby little world as better than, someone to be talked about and admired. Better than all those sad, old, ugly women with their pathetic lives that came and went without notice. I would be recognized and adored, just as I always wanted. I would be remembered. It was worth any price. Any.

“Can you do that for me? Tomorrow? Can I wake up tomorrow with all of these things?”

The planchette moved and stopped on “yes.”

I felt a breath of hope and joy move through me like never before. This was it. I could have what I needed. All my longing, my need to be famous for years and years, was about to be fulfilled. Stunned with happiness, I asked one final question.

“What is the price?’ Because there is always a price for such things.


My heart froze, but I’d known it was coming. I’m sure I wasn’t the first person to sell their soul to the devil to get what they needed. No matter, I told myself. It would all be worth it. I would follow through on this terrifying plan. All that mattered was that my greatest desire be granted.

I whispered, “Agreed.”

And so it was done. I had made a pact with the devil. There would be no turning back, no begging to undo this, no hope of changing the course to come. And I didn’t want to. When I woke tomorrow, my wonderful and special life would start. All the pain would be over and the rewards would begin.

I laid down in the middle of the candles, afraid to sleep in my room lest I wake and find this was all a dream. Of course, I could wake up tomorrow in a mansion or on a private jet traveling to a destination beyond my wildest dreams. It could be anywhere. I sank into a deep, peaceful sleep with a curious smile on my face. A smile. It felt so good. How long had it been since I had smiled?

When I woke up, I could still feel the strange little smile on my face. It took a moment for my eyes to adjust to my surroundings. The faint outline of a handsome young man gazing upon my face in wonder became clear. I couldn’t believe it. Yes! This was the start of my sweet fame. Oh, how I’d longed for this moment and finally it was here. Another face came into view. This was a woman looking at me with a dazed expression. Probably jealous, I told myself smugly. Who wouldn’t be? She looked like the ordinary person I had once been.

I started to hear sounds around me, quietly at first, then rushing to fill my head. I could hear hushed conversations and footsteps echoing throughout what sounded like a great hall. Was I queen living in a castle? I needed to know. I tried to look around the room, but found that I couldn’t. I tried to move my head to see, but it was stuck in place. What was happening? This wasn’t right. I couldn’t even blink. Something was wrong! How could I be famous if I couldn’t even move?

I tried to open my mouth to speak, but it was as if it was sealed shut. I couldn’t move anything. My mind panicked and I tried to breathe deeply, but my lungs were not responding. It was as if my whole body was encased in cement. Nothing was working and I couldn’t feel a thing. All I could do was think.

Another group came into view. This group contained what looked like a family, with small children. “She’s amazing,” the mother said. “Yes”, the father responded. ” II never thought I’d ever get to see her in real life.” They turned to each other and shared a smile. What was happening? I’m amazing but I can’t move? I gave up my immortal soul for this? Years and years of…what?

Another person walked in front of me, an old man with kind eyes who gazed at me thoughtfully. “You know,” he mused to the docent, “I’ve looked at the Mona Lisa a hundred times but I still can’t figure out what the strange smile on her face means. I’ve always wondered what she was thinking about when this picture was created.”

The horror crushed me as I thought of my future. Forever trapped on a canvas. Famous and admired, just like I begged. My last thought, before I descended into true madness, was – never make a deal with the devil. He’ll give you everything you want…and then some.

Credit To – Lucy C.

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January 28, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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He stumbled. He knew the way, or at least he was reasonably sure he did, but he had a hard time staying on track.

He fell. He decided to just stay there for a minute, and catch his breath. When he got up, a moan escaped his lips; he didn’t hurt, exactly, but he was frustrated. He looked up at the afternoon sun, and didn’t remember it getting so late. Where did the time go?

He just shrugged and walked it off. Home. That was his thought process; I have to get home.

He’d been drunk before, of course. There were times where he couldn’t remember events from a night of revelry, but he’d never had a substantial blackout before. For the life of him, he couldn’t remember what had happened between doing shots at the bar and stumbling around now, at least sixteen hours later. Was he asleep? Where were his friends?

Why did he have only one shoe?

He thought about asking the woman sitting in the park bench. Asking her what? He forgot.

He was so confused, but he felt that he couldn’t possibly still be drunk.

“My god,” he thought, “am I sick?”

The lady on the park bench was pretty. He moved in her direction. She looked past him.

He loomed over her, and she continued to ignore him.

“Hey,” he tried to say, but his words came out a gasp. Tongue tied, he stood there, trying to ask a simple question without appearing to be a fool or simpleton. He just needed to use her phone, if she had one. He grew nervous and agitated; it was like he was stuck in a dream, and he couldn’t get the words out.

All she did was dismissively grunt in his general direction.

He knew when to take a hint, so he kept walking towards home.

He wasn’t tired, but annoyed and hungry. There was a shadowy spot underneath an old oak; he liked how the moss hung to give shade. He sat down, leaning against the trunk. He looked back towards the hotel, but couldn’t see it. Where were his friends? What had happened to the bachelor party? He didn’t remember walking so far, but things had been a mess since waking up.

His eyes wandered the streets around him, and he thought it odd how there was absolutely no vehicle traffic. Cars had stopped in some places, and the roads were completely clear in others. Vaguely, he registered the sounds of alarms and horns blaring in the distance. He saw a lot of folks walking, not seemingly in a hurry, and completely unconcerned about the heat of the day.

He drifted off, tired of thinking, tired of trying to remember and piece it all together.

Awareness floated back to him on the beams of a full moon. He was walking again. Just as confused as earlier, at least he was no longer hungry. He found it odd that he was now barefoot, but he didn’t dwell on it.

He had to get home.

He smiled a little as he remembered being this drunk once before. He was being led back to the hotel from a night on River Street by his less-inebriated friends. He became obsessed with the fact that his wife was missing. “Where did she go? IS SHE OKAY?” he yelled, and he lit out to find her at a full-trot. A keystone cops moment followed, wherein he ran circles around the old weathered brick building that housed a nightclub, chased by four of his closest and dearest. When he finally stopped running (he found her safe and sound hugging a lamp post) the almost-sober of the group ushered the concerned parties to the suite before police could be involved.

Lost in thought, he tripped over something on the shoulder of the interstate.

Wait. The interstate?

Headlights in the distance illuminated his path. He looked down at what nearly made him fall. He couldn’t tell for sure what it was, but it was slippery and smelled delicious.

“A food truck accident?” he thought.

He shambled on towards the headlights, intending to wave them down for a ride. He reached out to them, waving his hands.

The car swerved towards him, and didn’t slow down.

Confusion turned to anger when a side-mirror grazed his arm. He spun around, and landed in the ditch. The car kept going, red taillights in the distance weaving around other vehicles in the dark.

Anger added itself to the perpetual confusion and frustration. He tried to get up, but found his left arm uncooperative. He roared in fury, and slowly got back to his feet.

He looked down, and in the moonlight, his arm hung limply. It was twisted and obviously broken.

“Wow. I must really be blitzed,” he hazily thought.

There was no pain.

He walked on.

Slowly, the miles melted away as surely as his thoughts. Blackouts became more common. Words became disjointed images in his mind, and soon the only two things that he knew were hunger and the need to go home.

Time became a blur, discomfort became a constant companion, and anger colored everything with a hazy white film. Days became nights, and strangers shambled beside him. He didn’t speak. After it became obvious that they would ignore him, he began to return the favor.

He finally recognized the exit ramp for home.

He left the pack of weary travelers that had both welcomed and spurned him, and he refused to rest until he could do so in his own bed.

His wife and children would be worried sick, and the Missus would probably be angry that he hadn’t called. She never really wanted him to go off to Savannah with the boys for the bachelor party, anyway.

These thoughts seeped in and leaked out just as quickly, and it was hard to concentrate. He vaguely remembered being upset that she hadn’t come looking for him, but these complex ideas, too, just became images.

Home. Hunger. Eat when I get there. Rest when I get home. One foot in front of the other, fall down. Get up. Keep going. Home.




Longing for her.

Longing for home.


He couldn’t get inside. The front door wouldn’t open. He knocked with his good arm. He beat at the door with both arms in a slow-motion frenzy as frustration mounted and became anger.

Ever present, under his roiling emotions, that hunger kept gnawing at him.

“I’m home, let me in,” he thought he said, but the reality was that only a growl escaped his dried, cracked lips.

He heard crying from inside. Something was wrong! The need to feed flared white-hot, and his fury peaked. He knocked louder, and he yelled for her to let him inside. His arms flailed against the door, and his growls became a constant moan.

Finally, the door opened, and there she was.

He saw a flash of light, but he never realized it was the flash of a muzzle. The sound of thunder that echoed into the pines and elms surrounding their secluded country house never reached his ears; he finally stopped walking, moaning, and longing.

“There will be others. Close the door and let’s get the barricade back in place before they get here.”

“We need to bury him, mama! He’s been missing since this thing started, but now he’s home, and we need to take care of Dad!”

“That’s not your daddy any more, baby. He died weeks ago.”

Under the cover of darkness, as quietly as they could, they laid him to rest next to other family members. Each of them in that shallow makeshift cemetery had been driven by longing and hunger; each of them had been looking for a missing piece of themselves that could only be found back home.

Credit To – Nick O’Caliban

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Late Night Television

January 27, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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It’s Friday evening. Your parents are away for the weekend, and they left you in charge of looking after your little brother while they’re gone. At age seventeen, you’re more than capable of making sure a nine-year-old doesn’t get himself killed. Even though it’s a quarter until midnight, neither of you have hit the hay yet. At the moment, you’re in your room catching up on some homework and he’s downstairs watching television in the living room.

Your bedroom is directly above the living room, so you can always hear the TV through your thin floors. Every action movie, every reality show, every infomercial comes in loud and clear to you. It used to annoy the hell out of you, but you’ve grown accustomed to working with the sound in the background. It hardly ever gets so clamorous as to be distracting. If it does, you just descend your house’s only set of steps and ask whoever’s down there to lower the volume. Or, if you’re feeling lazy, you just holler your request at the floor. They can usually hear you.

Although you’re focused on your work, you’re quite aware of what your brother’s watching. You think it’s a vintage crime drama or something. At the moment you can hear one character, presumably a mob boss or something like that, bragging about how his gang is going to thrash their rivals in an upcoming brawl.

“We’re gonna pound them 'til they look like a newspaper: Black, white, and red all over!” Your brother roars with laughter at that one. Only a kid with his level of maturity could somehow milk a chuckle out of that overplayed pun.

“Ya got that right, Lupo!” one of his underlings exclaims.

Another character says, with a timid voice, “I ain’t sure if we should go through with this. Don’t really seem right to me.” More laughter from your brother.

“You got a problem with the plan?” the head mobster asks. You can tell he’s ticked.

At this point, you’re beginning to lose concentration on your work. You’re curious as to what this show or movie is about.

The other answers tentatively, “No, I just think we oughta—” His words are cut short by what sounds like a scuffle. There’s a shout, and then a succession of whams like someone is being bludgeoned with a baseball bat. Your brother giggles again. You have no idea what’s supposed to be funny.

The reluctant character—whoever’s being roughed up— keeps begging for mercy, but the one hurting him does not relent. The strikes just keep coming. The victim lets out one final plea, but falls silent after you hear something snap, like a broken bone. A sickening crunch immediately follows, accompanied by yet another bay of laughter. After clearing his throat, the leader speaks again. “Anybody else have any objections?” he asks.

No one does. In the silence, you can hear your brother snickering.

The boss speaks up again. “Well, glad that’s out of the way.” He sighs. “Aw, jeez, now I’m all bloody.” That line gets your brother in stitches. He must not get what’s happening, if he thinks that’s funny, you think.

“Gimme me a towel and a bucket of water, Frankie,” the honcho orders. “Then we can toss this piece ‘a crap out on the street. Even the rats gotta eat, am I right?” Your brother bursts out laughing like he’d just heard the funniest joke in history.

This time, your brother's hysterics continue for a little less than a minute, growing noisier by the second. This is getting weird.

You feel a little sick to your stomach. Your older sibling instincts kick in, and you realize your brother shouldn’t be watching some freaky murder flick so late. He shouldn’t be watching it at all, really. It’ll give him nightmares. Heck, if the thing is as brutal as it sounds, it’d probably keep you awake at night, too. Yelling at him to come up and go to bed yields no response. Stubborn kid. You try again. No reply. Perhaps he fell asleep on the couch. You decide to go downstairs and carry him up to his bed.

You push away from your desk and leave your room. The noise from the television stops abruptly as you walk down the hall towards the staircase. Downstairs, it’s dark. The TV’s not on. Your brother’s not on the couch in front of it. You call out his name. No one answers. He’s not in any of the rooms on the ground floor.

Suddenly alarmed, you sprint upstairs to his room and peek in. You find him snoring soundly next to his nightlight. He must’ve gone to sleep a while ago, since there’s no way he could have snuck past you from downstairs undetected. In any case, you’re relieved that he’s all right, and glad he wasn’t poisoning his mind with some horrific late-night televised drivel. Positively relieved, until you realize that there’s no way he could have been watching the television only a few moments ago.

An icy chill runs down your spine. You hear laughter behind you; it’s that same laughter from downstairs that you'd assumed belonged to your brother. Now it is much, much closer.

Credit To – Insaniac

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