Lost iPhones

May 25, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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James said he found the iPhone in the lawn as he was leaving the party. Afterward, we wondered what had really happened, how he had actually found it. But then, when he told us, we had no reason to not believe his story. He was walking out, he explained, completely hammered, and there it was: a pink 5C covered with dew from being out all night.

“You stole someone’s phone? Not cool, James,” said Hayley. We were standing it in our apartment’s small kitchen, lit quite brightly by the early afternoon sun. James had just come over, but in his defense, it was probably much more like morning for him. I had only been up for a couple of hours, anyway. Spring semester had finished a few days ago and all the dandelions were coming out, yellow headed and alive in the few green spots in the city. Hailey’s internship at the museum wasn’t starting for another two weeks and my work in Professor Isle’s lab was on hold until he came back from vacation, which meant we had nothing to do except talk too much and drink too much and sleep in too much and way, way too late.

James lived in our apartment building, on the bottom floor. I knew him from my fiction workshop. He had gone to boarding schools and wrote a lot of stories about the sadness of being rich. He DJ’d Monday nights at the college station, playing hipper than thou indie rock and dub reggae. I’m making him sound a lot worse than he is. He always had good hair.

In a plot twist that didn’t surprise me at all, Hayley had slept with him (“I don’t regret it Ariel. All great lives feature things some would call failures, but we libertines call them the forge that tempers our personal steel.”) but only a couple of times. He had initiated extremely awkward hugs with me, but that hadn’t evolved into anything more physical. Thankfully.

“I didn’t steal a phone. I’m not, like, a thief.”

“And yet here you are,” Hayley said, “with that phone you didn’t buy.”

“You act like I’m breaking windows and snatching shit.”

“Are you?”

“No, Ariel. I am not breaking windows and snatching shit.”

“Thank god. Don’t think we weren’t worried,” said Hayley.

“Do you guys want to know why this phone is weird?”

“Sure,” I said, “show me.”

He slide the phone on and punched in the security code.

“Hey,” said Hayley, “how do you know the code.”

“I didn’t,” he said, tapping at the screen, “but this morning I just put in some random numbers and it, boom. It worked.”

“What numbers?”

“4444.”

“What a crappy pin,” I breathed. “that person’s email password must be password.”

“Maybe it is, but it’s not on their phone,” said James, “they don’t have an email set up, or any apps, or contacts.”

“What the fuck do they even do with their phone then,” demanded Hayley, “only make phone calls?”

“No. No calls in the history. Received or outgoing.”

“So there’s nothing on it?” asked Hayley, “maybe it’s a new phone or something?”

“It’s not a new phone,” he flipped it over. The back of the phone was covered in scratches, tiny spider web cracks running in and out. “See? Somebody has had this forever.”

“So, there’s nothing on it and it’s got a shitty password. James I hate to complain about your attempts to bring mystery and excitement into our lives and our, you know, our kitchen,” Hayley gestured at the tiny room we were all packed into , “but this isn’t exactly Cicada 3301.”

“There’s not nothing,” he said, indignant, “there’s a video. you want to see?”

“Not nothing is a double negative,” I said, “you would say “there isn’t anything” or, maybe, “there’s something on it” instead. Does that make sense?”

“I hated your pedantic criticisms in workshop, Ariel, and I dislike them in real life too. People sometimes talk because they like how words sound with each other. They aren’t always in blind thrall to the completely imaginary, class-centric, often internally contradictory rules referred to as “grammar.” Now, did you want to watch this? Because, it’s a little, umm, fucked up. To be honest.”

Hayley and I looked at each other. She shrugged.

“Obviously we want to watch,” Hayley said, “right? Why wouldn’t we?”

“Right,” I said. “Let’s do this.”

The video started to play.

Images of the ground appeared: rocks, dirt, leaves. The camera was shaky. Shoes appeared in and out of the frame, just the uppermost tops of shoes. They looked like chucks. You could hear footsteps, breathing. It was obviously someone filming themselves walking.

“Did you already watch this?” Hayley was staring at the screen, her brow furrowed.

“Yeah, I did, be quiet though.”

The walking stopped. The camera panned up and swung left, revealing a heavily forested landscape with the same path the person had previously been walking on running out into the distance, and then the camera swung to the right. There was a hill’s edge there, swelling out over a precipice, overlooking a not insignificant drop off.

“I recognize this,” I said, “where is this? Have you guys see this before?”

“Me too,” said Hayley, “it’s out in Machen park. I’ve gone jogging out there.”

“Watch,” said James, his voice tense.

We did.

The screen shook as whomever was holding it lowered it again. The breathing rasped. Then, there was another noise. Something that sounded like running. The camera swung up, there was a blur, a shadowy motion, some kind of noise, and then the person and the phone were moving. They went over the cliff, together. Then there was an awful noise and something far away, a weird familiar screaming.

The screen went black.

I looked at Hayley, who wasn’t saying a word, biting her chipped florescent green nails instead. James looked up.

“I told you,” he said, “it’s a little fucked up.”

****

Three hours later, we were in the woods.

“Bad idea, Hayley,” I murmured, walking on the path. “You’ve had bad ideas, but this is the worst.”

“Really? The worst?” She frowned. Mosquitos were starting to appear in the near dim. One bite me and I slapped it, leaving a long smear of bright red blood on my left forearm. “Ok. Maybe the worst. But don’t you want to see?”

“For sure. But I wished we had waited. Or asked James if he wanted to go.”

“He had to work,” she shrugged, “so I ain’t trying to hear that. I want to see what’s happening.”

We kept walking down the dirt trail. Most days there were joggers or other hikers, but we hadn’t seen anyone else. Everything felt static, like we were looking at a screenshot instead of real life.

“Do you think we’ll find a body?” I asked.

“I don’t know. Do you want to? It’ll be like “Stand by Me.” I’ll be River Phoenix,” she kicked a stick, “unless you want to be River Phoenix.”

“No, I’m ok. I don’t like people who die pretty and young. It makes me self conscious about aging.”

“I don’t know why people romanticize youth anyway,” she said, “it’s a hella temporary state.”

“People like to think things can last forever,” I said, then, “almost there.”

We walked ahead, toward the twist in the path where the video had been filmed. I don’t know why we were going there. It was dumb and we were young. What did we think we’d find? And why did we want to find anything?

“What did you see, when we stopped the tape for a second, right before the person holding the camera got pushed, or whatever?”

“Nothing, really,” I said, “we are almost there right?”

“I know it was just a shadow,” she said, “but I felt like I saw something.”

“Is it here?”

“Like — you know when an image gets messed up on a website? It’s just a digital scramble? Then it’s normal? It was like that — the glitch before it goes normal. But I know there wasn’t anything there.”

“Here,” I said. We turned the corner. We were at the little break in the park where the video had been shot. To the left, woods. To the right, the precipice. And there, standing in front of the cliff, was James.

He was wearing the same clothes he had been wearing in our kitchen: tight jeans, a black t shirt, black chucks. His back was to us, but I know immediately who it was. You can recognize someone without seeing a face.

In his hand, I saw a phone. He pointed it at his left, then his right.

I should had been screaming. I thought I would. And maybe some part of me believed I was. I looked at Hayley. Her mouth was open: veins popped out on her neck as her lips stretched wide and her eyes grew wider and larger. But no sound.

Something was coming.

I could feel it, in the woods, something was rushing moving towards us. To James. I wanted to scream, I felt like I was but I knew I wasn’t. It was coming.

James lowered the camera. The wind came and went by the two of us and into him. It looked like colors and decaying images, like a pixilated drawing of a tornado. It was a cartoon. It was t real. It ripped into his shoulder. I saw blood fly up and into the dead sky. He stumbled to the edge of the cliff. Then over. Then there was only the nothing of our screaming, suddenly audible and hysterical.

Everything after that turned into the slow, sick time, where events feel delayed, as if it was happening from a great distance. We ran down the path that looped down the hill, loose dirt and rocks slipping under our feet. My chest hurt, I remembered thinking as I ran; it felt tight and full of breaths I couldn’t believe I was still taking.

At the bottom of the path we jumped into the clearing where James had just fallen. But there was no James. There was no blood. Just a space where a body should have been and, in that area, a brilliant blue iphone.

*****

We got back to our apartment after eight, exhausted and suddenly cold in the night air. Cars were backing up at the traffic light, the city starting to sound louder, different, as the streetlights flooded corners. I could hear music blaring from one of the cars as I unlocked the door, Hayley following me.

Once we were inside, Hayley put the phone on the kitchen table and walked out of the room.

“Where are you —”

“I need to take a shower,” she said. “Don’t touch the phone.”

Within moments, I heard the rattle of pipes, the rushing of water. I walked over to the fridge and poured a glass of the cheap American pink wine we drank too much of. It tasted like headaches.

I finished a glass. Then poured another. Then I pulled out my phone and texted James.

“Hey. How are you.”

Then,

“What happened inthe parf”

“*park. stupid phone. what was thet?”

My phone buzzed back. A little green circle.

“who is this”

“this is Ariel is this James?”

“sorry. wrong number”

“Is this a new phone? Did you just get this number”

“No had it forever sorrry. Have a nice nightZ”

Hayley came out of her room, her hair still damp, almost a half hour later. I was finishing my third glass of wine. She said hey and I said hey back and she grabbed the wine from the fridge and walked out into the living room and I followed her. She sat on the muted grey couch her parents had let her take when we moved in and I sat on the floor, leaning against the cold wall. Another kid lived in the apartment next to us, on whose wall I leaned. I had a semi whatever crush on him. He worked nights at a gas station and smoked so much I could taste the cigarettes sometimes through the walls. Was he there, I thought. Would he still be there?

“I looked James up on Facebook,” Hayley said. Her voice sounded numb. “I couldn’t find his profile. His tumblr’s gone too. So his Twitter.”

“I texted him. Somebody sent a text back saying I had a wrong number.”

“He’s gone. He doesn’t exist.”

“We’re going crazy. People don’t just stop existing.”

“He did.”

“You’re right,” I sighed, “he did.”

“So,” she took a swig off the bottle, “now what?”

“I don’t think there’s really a manual for this sort of thing.”

“There should be,” then, hesitatingly, “what is this sort of thing?”

“Whatever it is, it’s not real. Like, this isn’t happening. I don’t think this is real.”

“It is happening, though,” Hayley murmured, holding the wine. “It’s happening.”

“I’ve been sitting here,” I started, “trying to figure out what we know, like for a fact. I thought it might help.”

“Did it?”

“Fuck no,” I laughed and she almost did. “But this is what happened: James found the phone, leaving a party. He never told us what party—”

“We didn’t ask.”

“I know. But on television shows they reconstruct these things. So, he finds the phone, figures out the password —”

“All fours,” said Hayley, “four means death in Japan.”

“— right? Watches the video, doesn’t recognize his feet in the video? Shows it to us instead of investigating, goes to work? That’s crazy: James doesn’t fucking care about his barista gig,” I said.

“But he went.”

“He went.”

It was silent for a minute or two, the sounds of traffic and night slipping the window, as both of us sat, not saying anything. Finally, Hayley took a swig, then:

“I think I know what happened. Maybe. Wait here,” she said and she left the living room and walked off to her living room. She came back, carrying her laptop.

“Did James ever tell you about that time his school bus crashed,” she said, as she sat down and started to typing.

“He did,” I nodded, “he was like ten and it skidded on black ice. He wrote a story about it. He seemed really freaked out by it.”

She opened up the laptop and passed it over.

“Look.”

The screen was opened to an archived article from a Connecticut newspaper. James’ home state. About a bus crash. One fatality. A ten year old boy. James Han.

“What is this? Did you make this up? Hayley if you made this up I swear to god I swear —”

“I didn’t make it up. I searched for him forever and there was nothing. Like he didn’t exist. Then I found that. It just appeared in a search like it had always been there. Read it if you want. Or don’t. It’s the story he told us. But in this one he dies.”

“Just like he did in the park”

“…yeah, like that.”

“What do you think happened?”

“I don’t know,” she said, “but I think he was dead when we met him. And maybe the James we met was a glitch.”

“So if James was a glitch, are we? Because when I was eleven I —”

“No, Ariel,” she said, calmly, “stop. I don’t want to hear about you almost dying when you were a kid, because I almost died when I was a kid. So what does that make us?”

Neither of us said anything for a moment. Finally, I coughed.

“…do we want to look at the phone?”

“No,” she said, “not tonight. Tonight, I’m going to go take an ambien and go to bed. Let’s talk about this tomorrow. Ok?”

“Ok.”

An hour later, when I was sure she was asleep, I walked out into the kitchen. I didn’t turn on the lights. The traffic signal from the visible intersection outside the apartment glowed green through the slats of the blinds. I picked up the phone. I punched in 4444. It opened.

It was the same as the other: no information, no apps, no photos. One video.

I stared at it until I couldn’t anymore. I hit play.

Whoever was filming was running, causing the camera to bounce up and down nauseously. They were on Sigmund Street which, as one of the major streets near me, I recognized almost immediately. I had the volume down but I knew I wouldn’t be able to hear anything. The figure ran, desperate and moving from one side of the street to the other, coming to a sudden stop as they reached Eddelstein Bridge. I saw their shoes, briefly, then there was a long pause. The feet moved from one side to the other, transferring weight, tapping. And then there was something else in the frame. The screen shook, the image growing wildly pixilated, and then the riots colored turned abruptly, mechanical black.

It only took a few minutes to get to the bridge. No one was really out, since the area was mostly retail storefronts which had all been closed for at least a couple of hours at that point. My steps sounded echoey.

I could see her from far away, standing motionless in the blank night. The sky was void of clouds, letting the moonlight translate everything. Especially her.

I didn’t think she was going to move. I thought she’d be like James, but once I was almost twenty feet away, she turned.

“Hey,” she said.

“Hey” I answered, “I’m sorry I watched the tape.”

“Don’t worry,” she waved me off, “I would have if you hadn’t.”

“What do we do now?”

“That’s easy. We tell each other how we died. You go first.”

“Okay,” I said, “I was eleven. It was at school. Sixth grade. I was climbing the rope.”

“I hated the rope.”

“Me too. Before this happened, even. I got to the top and — you know how it was secured to the ceiling? On that latch?”

“Uh huh?”

“It came off the latch.”

“Oh my god.”

“I fell like fifteen feet. Completely fine. No injuries. Everybody told me how lucky I was. But I didn’t feel lucky. I felt like something had fucked up.”

“Like you should have died?”

“Yeah, like there was a mistake.” A car drive by with a missing headlight, an urban cyclops, “what about you?”

“I was sixteen. In my house. I took a bottle of Prozac,” she shrugged, “I liked the irony. Whatever. But, yeah. A week later, I got out of the hospital. The doctor told me it was a miracle I was alive. But I don’t know. Maybe there was just a wrong line of code somewhere. Maybe —”

She didn’t finish her sentence.

Her screams didn’t sound real as the thing broke into her, her eyes flashing sudden vicious strange awareness as her body rose into the air, briefly, her brown and blue new balances twisting inches above the cement, and then she collapsed, twitching on the ground. When she landed I was able to move, but it didn’t matter. She wasn’t there. Just an iPhone in the middle of the street, with a series of spider hairline cracks in the case.

Around noon the next day, I had made it to the living room, staring at the ceiling. My phone buzzed. I had been texting Raj — the guy Hayley had been dating — a few minutes ago.

“yeah for sure come on over. Doing zero rn. what’s the weird thing you wavy to show me?”

“I’ll show you whenI get there,” I typed, “can I bring Hayley?”

“*WANT not wavy :/

But yeah for sure Bring her over. Who is she? I know her”

I looked at the empty spot in the living room where there used to be a grey couch.

“oh wait,” I typed, “she isn’t here rn.”

Credit To – Kevin Sharp

Note: Crossposted from /r/nosleep with explicit permission from the original author.

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Frank’s Forest

May 22, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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In the backseat of her mother’s minivan, Ashley admired the passing autumn foliage and contemplated the excitement and fear she and her best friends were sure to experience at Frank’s Forest, an attraction featuring actors as zombies, witches, and werewolves galore, all trying to “kill” the visitors.
For four years, she, Emily, Sarah, and Zoey had wanted to go to this haunted attraction. Each girl pleaded with her parents, only to hear the same answer: “You’re too young.” Now that they were freshmen in high school, their parents decided they were old enough to experience it. To make it even better, they had the opportunity to partake in the thrills and fear on the night of Halloween as well as that of a full moon.
Despite this, Ashley had a sinking worry in the pit of her stomach. Though she knew thousands of people had participated in Frank’s Forest and loved it, she was certain something would go terribly wrong.
Over the course of the past year, Ashley started seeing a therapist to discuss her increasing feelings of paranoia. At first, it was focused on the paranormal; she claimed to see countless ghosts lurking around her home. Since her parents had no reasons to believe otherwise, they kept an eye out for supernatural happenings around the house. To their dismay, her parents never experienced any ghostly activities. The spirits only seemed to want to interact with Ashley.
Once her ghost phase moved on, she felt as if someone was constantly staring at her. Whether she was in class or with her family or completely isolated in her own room, she could not shake the feeling that someone was watching her. This feeling kept her constantly on edge and would not allow her to sleep for more than a few hours at a time. She realized she must be going crazy and admitted it to her parents.
Therapy worked as long as she didn’t have a reason to have paranoid thoughts anymore. However, her feelings of paranoia only intensified when her friends reminded her of their dream to go to Frank’s Forest. Ever since that conversation six months ago, Ashley has had nightmares where she and her friends have died in hundreds of different, gory ways. These nightmares only got worse when they made definitive plans to go on Halloween night, the night of a full moon. Her paranoia convinced her there would be real werewolves there that would transform and maul all her friends and her to death.
Although her fear was petrifying at times, she refused to ruin the fun and excitement for her friends. Ashley decided not to tell them of her therapy sessions or her unshakable worries.
“Ash, are you okay?” Sarah asked tentatively from the adjacent seat.
“I’m fine; I’m just a little nervous, I guess,” she assured.
Zoey turns around from the passenger seat, glaring at her with an annoyed expression. “Why are you nervous? We finally have a chance to go, and you’re going to ruin it for all of us! Just enjoy it, won’t ya?” she demanded.
“Now, Zoey, that’s enough,” Ashley’s mom interfered.
“C’mon, Zo, don’t be rude,” Emily chimed in. “By the way, thanks for the ride, Mrs. Hamilton.”
“Yeah, thanks,” the other girls added.
“No problem, girls,” Mrs. Hamilton said, smiling as she turned down a dirt road and into an unfamiliar forest. After five minutes, the girls saw a small yet packed parking lot. Mrs. Hamilton backed into a space and turned to face the girls again. “I don’t know this area well, and it’s quite a drive, so I think I’ll find somewhere to relax until you girls are done. Just shoot me a text or call me when you’re all done and I’ll be back for you, okay?”
“Alright,” Ashley answered as her friends climbed out of the vehicle.
“Ashley… Please try to relax and have fun tonight. I know it might seem scary, but don’t freak yourself out. Your friends are with you, and they all want to have fun with you, too.”
“I know, Mom. Thanks again. I love you.”
“I love you too, sweetie.”
Once Ashley exited the van and the girls crossed the lot, Mrs. Hamilton pulled out of her spot and back down the road. After the girls watched Mrs. Hamilton leave, Sarah interrupted the silence. “We don’t want to be late, guys,” she said, gesturing toward a narrow dirt path with a “TICKETS” sign handwritten in red paint.
The girls walked silently down the path for a minute until they reached the ticket booth. Sitting inside was a woman with dark circles under her eyes and an uncommonly pale face. “Four of you?” she asked in a husky voice. All four nodded. “That’ll be $80.” Each handed her a $20 bill, which she placed in a cash register. “Behind this ticket booth is a group of picnic tables. That’s where your guides will be meeting in a few minutes. Until we meet again.” She smirked at them as they passed.
Once they are out of earshot, Zoey commented, “She was creepy.”
“Are you guys sure we can handle this?” Ashley wondered nervously.
“Of course, Ash! We’ll be fine,” Emily reassured her.
“We just paid for our tickets, anyway,” Zoey reminded her. “If you don’t wanna do it, I guess you don’t have to; you’re just out $20.”
“Look, there’s no need to make such a big deal out of this, guys,” Sarah chimed in. “Plenty of people have gone here before, and it must be pretty good if it’s still open. Let’s have fun.”
Ashley sighed and nodded. “Sorry, guys, I’m not sure why I feel this way. But I can do this.” She lied to appease her friends.
The girls approached the picnic tables, all of which are occupied by couples and small groups in their late teens and early twenties speaking of their excitement and anxiety about this upcoming experience. In total there were around a hundred fellow visitors. Once the girls found a spot to sit together, they idly chattered for a few minutes until the actors slowly approached. There were two physically fit actors and a skinny actress. One man donned a heavy mane and excess amounts of thick hair on every visible inch of skin. The other’s skin was a haunting grey color, and as he sluggishly shuffled forward, he brought the unmistakable odor of rotting flesh. The woman wore a skintight, seductive black ensemble with a velvet red cape, featuring pointy vampire teeth and sticky blood around her lips.
Ashley shuddered immediately upon recognizing the monster the actors represented; she was right about a werewolf being there, and was now absolutely convinced they were going to die. Every part of her wanted to turn around and go home, but she couldn’t explain it to her friends in a sensible way.
“Hello, ladies and gentlemen. We will begin as your guides and transform into your worst nightmares,” Werewolf introduced in a menacing growl.
“Basically, we will lead you into the area and leave you on your own,” Vampy added.
“Do any of you have questions before we begin?” Zombie asked.
Ashley called out, “How long will this take?”
The trio exchanged a look and chuckled ominously. “However long it takes. It depends on how much of a fight everybody puts up,” Vampy responded, winking at Ashley.
Ashley involuntarily shivered. By asking that question, she made herself — and her group of friends — an easy target, she was sure. “Guys, I have a really bad feeling about this,” she whispered desperately. “We can’t do this. I can’t let us do this.”
“What’s your problem, Ash? They’re actors; they’re supposed to intimidate us and make us afraid. It’s their job,” Zoey snapped quietly.
“Don’t be rude, Zo,” Emily scolded. “Ash, it’ll be okay. Do you realize how many people come to this every year and have an amazing time? Seriously, we’re gonna walk out of here safe and sound. I promise.”
“Alright, everybody follow us!” Zombie commanded as he and his comrades turned around to head back in the direction from which they came.
Ashley exhaled deeply and looked to her friends. “Here we go,” she murmured as they walked side by side, following their temporary guides.
After a silent and eerie walk deep into the woods, Werewolf, Vampy, and Zombie abruptly stopped. “We’ve arrived at our destination,” Werewolf explained. “Now, we must reunite with our comrades. All of us will return in five minutes’ time.”
“We take pleasure in hunting humans and making feasts of them,” Vampy added, smirking. “Each of us is famished. If you do not desire to become a meal, I would suggest that you hide or attempt to escape.”
“However, half our pleasure comes from the thrill of the hunt. Therefore, you cannot stick together as one large group. It would be much too simple to track you down and devour every last one of you. The people you came here with are the only ones you may stay with,” Zombie said.
“Know that our next encounter will be fatal. We — werewolves, vampires, and zombies — are the only ones who can fatally wound you. Our other friends are simply devices to terrify you. Your screams are also clear indicators of your location. If you encounter our less deadly friends, refrain from shouting out if you value your lives,” Vampy supplemented.
“We sound like soulless monsters, and rightly so,” Werewolf augmented. “Despite this, we are not completely unreasonable creatures. If your group is the last group standing, we will restrain ourselves and let you go free. Oh, and don’t even bother calling outsiders for assistance; you have no cell reception. If you don’t believe me, go ahead. Take out your phones.”
Immediately, every human pulls out their cell phone. Each one has the same message on the screen: NO SERVICE. Zoey, Emily, and Sarah look around at one another, both impressed and slightly worried.
“Your five minutes begin once we can no longer see you: a generous gift since our eyesight is much better than yours,” Zombie concluded. “I hope to see many of you soon. Good luck.” He and his comrades crept backwards until they were no longer visible.
As soon as the group was left to its own devices, couples and small groups immediately branched off and began walking away in several different directions, talking quietly amongst themselves.
“I think we can be the last group to be found if we jog instead of walk,” Zoey suggested. Sarah and Emily nod in agreement as the girls begin their run in a direction unique from the rest of the crowd, backtracking toward the ticket booth.
“What’s our strategy?” Emily wondered.
“We do whatever we can to be the last ones standing,” Ashley answered grimly, assuming her friends now agreed with her worries. “It’s good we’re heading in the opposite direction of the monsters. It should take longer for them to find us.”
As they progress, they heard the familiar sound of a wolf’s howl, a sound that stopped them in their tracks. Living in an area where it was common for wolves to appear in someone’s backyard, the girls all knew it was a genuine howl, not a human imitation. “They wouldn’t have a tourist attraction like this in a forest where there are wolves prowling around, would they?” Ashley questioned. This was proof enough for her that the werewolf was real, and if he was, so were the others.
“They must have speakers in the tops of the trees and a recording of a wolf howl,” Zoey rationalized. “Come on; we need to pick up the pace.”
The girls continue running until they heard a series of bloodcurdling, paralyzing screams from behind them. Once again, the group stopped. Ashley began to shake uncontrollably as she knew the screams were real, too. “Our five minutes must be up,” Emily stated matter-of-factly.
The others hushed her. “If they started already, we need to keep quiet and keep moving,” Zoey whispered. “We want to last as long as possible, right? We need to get our money’s worth.”
“Do you think everybody found each other back there and kept close together?” Sarah wondered softly. “How many screams were there?”
“I don’t know, and I don’t want to know. They don’t concern us,” Zoey stated diplomatically. “All I care about is us making it close to the end, if not the very end. Let’s go.”
After a few more minutes of uninterrupted silence and running, more bloodcurdling screams break out from behind them, closer this time. “Others are heading back here, which means the monsters are, too,” Zoey observed quietly. “We need to pick up the pace.”
However, before they could do that, they heard a crashing sound from directly behind them. As each girl turned around, she gasped and covered her mouth to stifle the screams. A lifeless, pale, and hauntingly thin female body lied limply inside the enormous dent of a previously healthy and stick-straight tree, featuring two puncture wounds on her neck and little trickles of blood dried onto her neck.
“Do you see the dent in the tree?” Sarah shrieks, forgetting about the importance of muted voices. “Humans can’t throw that hard, even from a short distance away. They either have a catapult, or…”
All eyes turn to Ashley as they realize her worries were both justified and correct. “I told you guys I didn’t want to do this,” she murmured as tears formed in her eyes.
As the girls’ faces slowly lose their color, they attempt to walk slowly in the directly for which they were heading. “We need to keep moving,” Emily muttered, emotionless.
“We’re not getting out of here alive, are we?” Sarah asked them.
“I don’t think anyone is,” Ashley responded honestly.
After thirty seconds of lifeless walking, they hear leaves rustle behind them. As they turn around to investigate the source of the noise, they hear it from the previous direction, as well. All four girls realized instantaneously that they were surrounded. At the moment, none of the monsters were visible yet. “Are we the final group?” Emily called out timidly. “We heard plenty of screaming going on. Does that mean we get out of here alive?”
The response consisted entirely of growls and devious laughter. “We aren’t known for our honesty,” the familiar vampire voice responded, a smirk apparent in her tone.
“Well, I’m sorry we ever doubted you, Ashley,” Zoey said, reaching for her hand as the girls felt the monsters closing in on them. Once they were finally visible, Ashley noted the clothing dampened with blood and the dried blood ringing their mouths. In the moment before the four girls were preyed upon like wild animals, Ashley felt a strange happiness, finally realizing that at least her paranoia regarding Frank’s Forest wasn’t paranoia at all.

Credit To – Melanie Adela

This is a Crappypasta Success Story – a story that was rewritten with the feedback received on Crappypasta and accepted for the main site. You can see the Crappypasta posting for this story here.

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I Lived To Tell The Tale

May 9, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Okay, I need to calm down for a second. I just burst in my front door not long after the most terrifying night of my life. I decided to write this out to help understand what happened and maybe even get some help along the way. But, after what I did, there’s a chance no one will want to help me. I mean, I wouldn’t blame you for actions if you were in my shoes, but I can’t help feeling like I may have condemned the people I left behind. You must be wondering what I mean by that? Well, I’ll start right from the beginning.

It was about a week ago that I received the email. It was addressed from one of my old high school friends. Back then, and even now, I didn’t have many people that I could call ‘friends’. So it was a surprise that someone I’d known, but hadn’t spoken to in over three years, would be messaging me out of the blue. The email itself had the title “EPIC PARTY FRIDAY NIGHT!” I would have deleted it then and there if I hadn’t have noticed the sender’s name. I really wish I’d just deleted it as was my first impulse. Checking now, I actually still have it. Just reading it again sent shivers down my spine, but I’ll copy and paste it here to save me explaining the situation.


FROM: jo********@yahoo.com.au
TO: nj*****@hotmail.com, mi******@hotmail.com, bl*******@gmail.com… [more]
SUBJECT: EPIC PARTY FRIDAY NIGHT!
Hey guuys! I hope yall down for a wild night!! One of me mates knows the guy who runs that secret party hub in the run down factory on the edge of town. Guess whos got an invite with instructions that say: “Any of your friends are welcome to come along.” THIS GUY! Now lemme tell ya, this is THE party that’s been the word on the street for a few weeks now! I’ve heard that some people get so drunk and fuked up they never come back – so this is defs not for the faint of heart XD
Party starts at 9 this friday night, you know where, but heres the catch if you dont know already, no byo, if your caught with any drinks on ya, youll be turned away. But I dont know why youd do that anyway because they supply FREE BEER! If thats not enough to get you to come, then I can say no more.
Hope to see u there!
-J.

Look, despite what you’re thinking, he’s not the most illiterate person on the planet. This was much worse than I’d ever seen from him; I would have thought he’d been hacked if it weren’t for his old signoff “-J.”. I can’t tell you what possessed me to go that Friday. I’ll tell you right now, it wasn’t the free beer, since I hate the watery, bitter taste of it. In fact, I hate going out. I’m the most anti-social person you’ll ever meet and yet, it just felt like the right thing to do. Maybe I was feeling a bit guilty over having lost touch with my old friends. I had noted that this email was sent through to not only me, but to a large number of people from strangers to old friends and acquaintances. By this point, I’d subconsciously made the decision to attend this ‘party’. It wouldn’t hurt to catch up with some people and maybe even have a little fun, something my life had been lacking lately.

Fast-forward to Friday afternoon. I was in my room getting ready. It was a bit early, but as my week had dragged on, it seemed that I was actually looking forward to this reprieve. The email had explained that the party was held in the old factory at the edge of town. I don’t know what used to go on there, but they had a big bust up by the police a few years back over some undisclosed safety misconduct which resulted in many worker’s deaths and disappearances and the place was shut down immediately afterwards. I honestly don’t know the specifics; I didn’t pay attention to the news back then and it wasn’t any of my concern. Although I found it strange that the history of the place had been cleared from the net. I think I might have a good idea of why it’s been covered up now, but I’ll save my theories for another time.

It was a long drive to the factory. I was feeling a mixture of excitement and nervousness and I could hear my heart thumping in the silence of my car. I was thinking that it was a little sad at the time, I usually avoid going out, and so I was getting anxious. As I was making my approach from the forest trail outside of town, I saw the tall spires of the two chimneys looming in the distance. The grey hulking mass was quite ominous at night. Not long after, I pulled into the old parking lot and checked the dash. The time read about 8:15pm. I was early, but I’d made extra time in case I got lost. Oddly enough, as I looked around the lot, there were only a few other cars besides mine. I’d expected there to be more of a reception, although, I was early.

I decided to go inside by myself. I passed through the old gates which were entirely rusted over and bent in places. There were grooves in the earth tracing a path to where they had been forced open. I stepped through and approached the front entrance. Whilst walking, I took in my surroundings. The building itself was a lurking figure of concrete, brick, mortar and stone slabs. The age of the materials could be seen in the erosion and plant growth. The windows were all smashed in, although they were barred on the outside and boarded up on the inside. I reached the door and grasped the handle firmly. With a tug, I dragged it open and peeked inside. To my surprise, my eyes were met with a warm golden light. It wasn’t necessarily bright, but it was better than the eerie moonlight.

I slipped inside and made my way towards what looked like a makeshift bar and stage within the huge space. It was a rudimental setup; a few planks of timber appeared to form a long table upon which sat a few huge barrels. Not far from this was an elevated platform which had been transformed into a tiki hut of sorts with straw and whatever else had been left lying around. This served as the main stage where small speakers had been placed around. From my first impressions, I was feeling a little let down. Surely this couldn’t be the same ‘epic party’ that was mentioned in the email.

All of a sudden, I felt my shoulder clamped beneath a heavy hand and I let out a weak yelp. I spun quickly, tearing from the grasp of whatever had a hold of me. His gaze caught mine and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. It was my old friend, John, the one who’d invited me here. He was wearing a bright blue Hawaiian shirt with khaki shorts. Not the best combination, but he was known for his spontaneity. We embraced and caught up together for a while. The conversation flowed freely as we moved to the bar. It was as if I’d only seen him yesterday.

“I just wanted to say, thanks for inviting me John. I’m glad you remembered me, even after all this time.”

John shot me a confused glance. “Invited you? Me? What are you talking about?” He scrunched his eyebrows as I looked on wide eyed.

“I got your email, remember? The one about the ‘epic party’ tonight?” Hesitation was evident in my voice.

“Nah man, no way that was me. For one, I don’t use my email anymore, and for two, I was invited here too. But only me, no plus ones.” He looked into my eyes to find the hint that this was just a joke. But this was no joke. “Look, whatever man, you’re here now and you know the deal, free beer on tap all night!” John shrugged and grinned at me as he began to fill himself a glass.

“I’ll be alright. Beer’s not really my thing, you know? I’m just here for some fun.”

“No trouble, all the more for me!” He laughed as the glass filled. Looking inside, the beer didn’t appear to have the same ‘golden’ glow that regular beer has, it was dull and seemed to have a thick consistency. At the time, I thought it might have just been the lack of proper lighting or the glass being dirty, so I didn’t say anything. John’s cries of pleasure voided any doubt I’d had.

After talking a while longer, I suddenly realised that many more people had arrived and I was so engrossed in my conversation with John that I hadn’t noticed. Looking around, I tried to spot other people I knew. So far, of the thirty or so people that had made it, I didn’t know any of them. I turned back to John at the bar, but he was gone. Probably went to go chat up some people, I thought to myself. I naturally moved to a more secluded spot as waves of people began flocking towards the bar ready to get the night started.

The night progressed slowly, but the entertainment certainly didn’t. By about 10:00pm the dilapidated factory floor was full of laughter and merriment. Two people had already drunk enough to black out on the dance floor. I wasn’t sure where they’d been moved to, but I assumed they were dragged to the side by less intoxicated people to save from being crushed. I’d been talking to some old friends before they moved into the swells of the growing crowd. I was sitting by myself, deep in thought about life and work when I felt that someone had appeared in front of me. I looked up quickly to see a girl around my age wavering before me. She looked familiar. Maybe she was another acquaintance from high school?

“Hey! Nathan! Do you remember me?” The girl called out. She had short brown hair folded into pig tails. “It’s me, Gina, don’t tell me you forgot?” She slurred out seductively. She must have noticed the recognition on my face as she gave me a wink. “Mind if I sit?” She pointed to the space beside me. Mouth hanging open, I nodded slowly, dumbfounded. Gina was my biggest crush that I’d had all throughout high school, however, I’d never acted on my feelings and I’d let her slip away as we went to separate colleges. Time flew by as we sat and talked. Every now and then, she’d excuse herself to go and grab another drink before slowly floating back. It was becoming apparent that not only herself, but all of the people were reaching their consumption limits. Unsteady footwork and drowsy eyes seemed to be the key signifier of this. Mid-conversation, Gina suddenly stood up, excused herself and then headed towards the bar amidst the crowd.

I waited for her to return for a while, but during this time, I had developed a rather strong urge to go to the bathroom. This is the point where I almost hesitate to continue. I pushed my way slowly through the group. It seemed like people must have been headed home since the large throng of people had died down at some point. I followed the small hand-drawn signs directing me to the bathroom. They led off towards one corner of the room and into a small hallway. As soon as I reached the entrance to the hallway, I nearly passed out on the spot. The stench emanating from the bathroom was horrendous. It was like someone had died in there, I shuddered at the thought. The hallway branched off two ways from here. The toilet sign pointed to the right, where I could see a faint light in a doorway down the hall. To the left, the hallway carried on down into a darkness that my eyesight couldn’t penetrate. I gulped down a lung-full of air and quickly strode towards the light.

The bathroom was about as primitive as I’d expected from an abandoned building. I took a deep breath as I entered the only stall in the cramped space. I immediately regretted that decision. My eyes were wide with the horror that I would, at any moment, register the source of the foul smell from the hall entrance. But it never came. Testing the waters, I began to breathe normally. It was as if no one had used the toilet yet. Besides the musty smell of disuse, there was nothing else. My body forced me to remember the reason for coming here and I quickly relieved myself.

Now with my mind off of that, I suddenly took in my surroundings. The walls were all uneven and chipped. Tile hung from the sides and concrete cracked completely around. Completely covering the ground, barely visible, there was a layer of rust coloured water. I was getting a bit creeped out by this place, so I hurried back down the corridor to leave. As I pushed on, the smell came lingering back. By the time I reached the doorway, it was back to full strength. The smell wasn’t coming from the bathroom, but from whatever was down the other direction. I wish I’d never gone down that path. In the end, my curiosity won out against my better judgement. What could possibly cause such a disgusting smell? I slowly trudged my way into the blackness. It didn’t take long for my eyes to adjust since the place was pretty dark, despite what light there was to offer.

As I pushed on down the hall, I reached another doorway similar to the one for the bathroom. Although in this room, I couldn’t see anything, it was as if anything beyond the door was just a black void in space. It was then that I remembered I had my phone on me. I quickly pulled it out and switched it on, facing it towards the room. I really wish I hadn’t. Illuminated through the dull light of my phone screen, I saw the source of the smell. The entire room was covered in blood. It was splattered across the walls, dripping from the ceiling and pooling on the ground. But that wasn’t the worst of it. In this room, lay dozens upon dozens of bodies in a pile. None of them were moving. I wasn’t sure if they were dead or not, but my fight or flight instincts were two frozen legs away from kicking in. Situated at the base of the heap, was one familiar face.

Gina.

As if responding to my presence, her eyes fluttered and focused on me. She mouthed a single word to me: ‘help’. I couldn’t move, but I knew I was shaking my head. From somewhere deep within the room, far behind the bodies of people who were once my friends, I heard something. I’m not quite sure how to describe it past a wet, gurgling sound. That was all the warning I needed to get the hell out of there.

The rest is self-explanatory. I ran from that place as fast as I could. I was tearing my way through the mass of intoxicated people. Noting that even now, there were less people than when I’d entered the bathroom for the first time. When John tried to drunkenly ask me for a ride home, I shouldered him out of the way without a second thought.

I can’t tell you what was going on in that place. I’m never going back there. I’m sorry that I’m a heartless coward, but at least I lived to tell the tale, right?

Credit To – Natenator77

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I’ll be waiting

May 7, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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You don’t know me. No one knows me. Only Master knows of my existence. But Master and I know all of you. We visit all of you, my friends, during the witching hour.

I’m never there during the day. The sun’s rays penetrate my shadowy soul and obliterate my flesh. My bones turn to ash and my organs become dust. Daytime in one place is nighttime in another though, so Master and I always are traveling. Never in one place for too long.

After the sun has died and the moon lives again, I come. I’ll get close up to you and breathe in the scent of your life. I listen to your heartbeat and breathing. Master then starts work on you, putting one finger on your forehead and whispering Latin words. You always end up squirming or screaming. Master calls them nightmares. I always want to comfort you, hold you close. But I can never touch, not ever. Master tells me never to touch.

I’ve learned not to touch. Master hurt me badly, and my skin, my scarred, sensitive skin, has paid the price. But sometimes I can’t help myself. When Master isn’t looking, I strike. I brush my fingernails down your arms, trace your lips, comb your hair away from your face. But my skin kills your kind, breaks the blood vessels, bruises your body in mysterious ways you can never figure out. I’m sorry, I really am. I just can’t help myself. I want to show you how much I love you.

When Master and I are done with you, I always remember to take a souvenir. Usually it’s something small that you won’t notice is missing, like a coin or a pen, snatched up from behind Master’s back. But sometimes you don’t have very much. When that happens, I take something else, with Master’s permission of course. Hair. Nails. Eyelashes. A part of you. And it will always be mine.

I hope to see you tonight. But if you don’t fall asleep, we’ll have a problem. Master says I can’t let you see me. If you see me, our friendship will be over. And I’ll have to kill you. I don’t want to kill you. I don’t want to see the blood seep through your bedsheets. I don’t want to see your face as you scream at the sight of me. My deformed skin. My scars. My love for you.

But maybe, deep down inside, just a little bit, I do. I am Master’s child, afterall.

Sweet dreams, darlings. I’ll be waiting for you.

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My Creation

May 1, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Being a programmer, one of my dreams has always been to create an original video game, something that nobody in the industry has done before.

After seeing Spore, I became intrigued. Here was an attempt at putting people in control over a universe. After looking at what made videogames popular, I realized the main aspect was control.

People in their daily lives have no control over their environment. They are told what to do, where to go, and how to live. Their jobs consist of standing or sitting somewhere until it’s 5 PM and they’re allowed to head back home. It’s no mystery they’re unhappy.

For many people videogames are an escape to a world where they are in control, or live exciting fake lives filled with adventure. The aspect of control is found in strategy games, the adventure in role playing games generally.

I looked at games like the Sims, and noticed what made them so popular is not just the illusion of control, but the degree of control. You have complete control over people’s lives.

Before the Sims, there was Sim Earth. A game in which you do not control individual people, but an entire Earth! I came to the conclusion that I had to develop a game similar to Spore, in which the player subtly “guides” evolution. What caused Spore to be such a failure is the lack of realistic control people had. It hardly resembled evolution.

To do this, I began by generating a physics system. I know little of physics but decided to study it, and try to create a simplified version in which certain particles can interact, in specific manners. When it comes down to it, physics is simply complex mathematics.

I simulated energy, and matter, and created a simple system, with a sun emitting energy, circled by a planet catching said energy.

I decided to create simple basic cells from scratch, that were “hardcoded” so to speak in the system I was designing. They lived of off the energy emitted by my sun, and had a “genetic” code that coded for the substances produced by the cells. I guess you could call them my eukaryotes.

My world within a few minutes would always fill with these cells, after which they would mutate, and the most efficient cell in converting energy from the sun into useful substances for division would survive. It was very boring, but it worked I guess.

I decided to expand the physics system, and force the cells to create waste products, that were toxic and would kill them. I noticed that some cells responded to this by producing less waste. Others responded by producing something to emit the waste. Yet others developed chemicals to clean up the waste products.

However, I noticed something fascinating. Running the simulation for a few centuries (a few minutes in real life), created cells that made massive amounts of specific waste products on purpose. I noticed that other cells died as a result of this, to which the other cells responded by usurping the building blocks they had created from energy. The first predators were born.

With the first predators, diversity in this little world rapidly increased. Some grew a response to flee when they encountered these toxins. Others grew resistance to them. The ones that grew resistance would eventually grow to utilize the toxins products.

Eventually I noticed something interesting. The cells that escaped from the toxin grouped up with the cells that utilized the toxins. They stayed close together, and helped each other. Eventually these type of cells would attach to one another. They formed a weird symbiosis, where the cell that would normally flee, would now move towards places where the toxins are, and the other cell would consume the toxins and provide the “mover” with some of the energy.

Without going into too much detail, I became very excited, and decided to let this simulation run during the morning (I had stayed up until 5 AM), while I went to bed. When I woke up at around 11, I noticed the world I had created had changed, and was barely recognizable.

Massive plant-like structures grew in this world, consumed by other organism that ate these plants. However, looking at the log, I noticed the world hadn’t changed much in the past two hours or so. I had reached another “stasis point”, where the simplicity of my simulation prevented more complex life from evolving.

I expanded the system, by breaking up “energy” into different types, with different wavelengths that were absorbed to different degrees by different molecules. I implemented vibrations in the air, created an improved simulation of weight, and made some more minor tweaks.

This caused the simulation to run slower of course, but it was worth the sacrifice. I stayed around the whole day watching the simulation in excitement, and playing with it, as it was incredibly addicting. Complex organisms evolved, that cooperated. Plants that depended on each other, or attracted predators that ate the horrible looking creatures that ate from them.

I had fun, and noticed that some creatures evolved “warning calls”. This means that if they noticed a predator, they would issue a sound, and all others of their kind would flee into holes they had dug in the earth. Others evolved “mating calls”.

I decided to have some fun. I made a dump tool, allowing me to dump specific organisms on the Earth, and wrote my name with it. I created 10 “meteorites”, and dumped them on a piece of land to create an island, because I wanted to see whether the animals stuck on both sides would evolve in different directions. I made a smiley-island with volcanic eruptions.

By that time I realized I had stayed up until 5 AM again, as I heard the birds outside. I felt tired again, and woke up at 1 PM or so. When I looked at my simulation again, I felt a sense of shock.

Different groups of animals of one species had made statues with stones. Some in the form of a smiley. Some in the form of my name. I didn’t know why they were doing this, or how. What I did notice is that they would attack each other from time to time.

I didn’t know what to do with it, but I concluded that these organisms must have somehow noticed that the smiley and the name I had written were “special”. The fighting disturbed me, and so I decided to create a massive mountain ridge through volcanic eruptions to separate the two groups.

By this time, changes were happening fast, compared to earlier. While I had to spend a night sleeping to see tribes evolve in my simulation, while I was getting something to eat or take I bathroom break, I would notice the tribesmen wearing different styles of clothing, or having changed their type of dwelling.

Their numbers were also continually increasing. At some point, I noticed the creatures began making their own symbols on the ground, and no longer just copying mine. Most of the symbols seemed random and unintelligible to me, but one stood out.

The organisms had created a symbol that resembled them. A small circle, with a square beneath it. Within the square, a dot could be found in the center. This was meant to symbolize the visual organs of the creature, as the creature had two visual organs, one in the front of it’s body, and one in the back. In the square, other sensory and reproductive organs were symbolized.

Next to the circle on top of the square could be seen something resembling a drawing of a fork. Two of these forks had been painted in opposite direction. And next to that the smiley face could be seen.

I realized something. They were not communicating towards each other. They were trying to communicate to something “out there”. My meddling in their landscape had somehow made them realize that something powerful was out there, capable of changing their world.

I wondered, whether symbols like Stonehenge and the Pyramids in my own world, could be signs of primitive people trying to do the same thing. Begging their creator or overseer to initiate contact with them. However, one thing was undeniable by now. These creatures realized there is something out there.

I wondered long. Did I have a responsibility to initiate contact with something that isn’t real? Or are these creatures real in a different way? Can something be real, merely by being capable of having a concept of itself? And even if they are real, does that mean they will be better off with me initiating contact with them? Should I change my simulation, to ensure them permanent happiness? And is it even possible for me to do such a thing?

I did not want to confirm my existence to them, but I did want to be able to communicate with them. I decided to program a “prophet”. An organism that looks like them, and can not be proven by them to be different from themselves, and is fully controlled by me.

I let it be born into a powerful position, as the son of a leader. I decided to lead by example, and seek to teach these creatures English, so I could communicate with them. As prophet, I instructed them that English was the language we could use to communicate with the “greater one”. They would have no way to be sure if it was true or not.

I hadn’t made up my mind yet about whether I would reveal myself or not. But I did want to be capable of understanding what they wanted to tell me. In a few generations. They all spoke English.

And rapidly, signs began emerging on the ground in English.

“GUIDE US” “SHOW YOUR GREATNESS” “HELP US”

And, during times of disease or hunger or general misery:

“GIVE US FOOD” “SHOW US A MIRACLE” “END OUR SUFFERING”

I decided that I couldn’t maintain a world with such suffering as emerged in the simulation without intervening. Why would I accept a world with death and rape and murder, if I could make on without it?

I implemented fixes that were gradual, so they could not be proven to be miraculous. Murder and rape would over the years become rarer, and so would death at a young age.

I figured that they would not notice if the change happened over generations, but they did.

“THANK YOU”

“ALL BLESSINGS BE UPON THE GREATEST”

“WE LOVE YOU”

And, most heart-breaking:

“COME BACK TO US”

Tears ran over my face. There is something there. And it knows I am here, able to contact them, but unwilling to do so out of fear of what I have created.

But, I felt I had a responsibility.

And so I loaded up the character I had created again, and went to their King, asking to talk to all their wisest men. But, by this time, I was not believed.

“You are number 1341 claiming to be an avatar of the Greatest One. If you are him, I pray for your forgiveness, but please, show us a sign, before demanding of me to gather all our wisest men.”

And so I hesitated, but responded.

“Tomorrow there shall be two more meteors, falling on a deserted island in the sea before you, on the same day. And when they do, doubt no more and realize that I have come back to repair the broken world that I created.”

And so I exited my avatar, and progressed the simulation until the next day was reached, and threw two meteors on the deserted island before the mainland, where thousands had gathered to watch whether a sign would be given.

Upon the descent of the meteors, celebrations were held. All the sentient organisms gathered around the small house where I had exited my avatar, and lay flat on the ground, in apparent worship of the man who was last seen there, and afraid of coming close.

I don’t know who was more afraid by now, me or them. I loaded into my avatar again, and exited the house. The creatures continued to lay flat on the ground, in utter silence. It is as if they felt unworthy of speaking.

“Let your wisest man stand up.” I told them.

And up stood one of these bizarre looking creatures.

“Thank you for coming back. Pray tell us, do you have any requests of us?”

I hesitated, before saying “There is nothing you can do for me that pleases me, but for you to be good to one another, and to contact me with your wishes and fears.”

The creature responded “We know you come from a different world, and we are afraid. We understand how vulnerable we are, and how incomplete our experience is. Please, allow us to join you in the world that you created our world from.”

I began crying behind my computer, as I responded “I do not know how”.

The creature responded: “At risk of offending you, please understand the severity of our situation. By living in a world that is incomplete, we are at constant risk of disappearing forever, never to be seen again. We would never even consciously realize that our end had come.”

I realized that they were unable to comprehend that I only had absolute power within their world and not outside of it. They also did not realize that my knowledge of their world was limited. I may have created it through simple laws, but those simple laws gave way to a reality of its own that is more complex than I can comprehend.

I responded again “I only have power in your world. In my world I have no power, and so I can not bring you there, because my world is not under my control. I also do not understand the world I have created. I do not know what is best for you. Only you do, and you have to inform me what you want.”

And the man waited for a moment. I was about to think they were going to end communicating with me, before their wisest man responded:

“You have created a world that is incomplete, with creatures that can not escape it, and you have no power to save them. They are completely unfree, and they have no power. We are completely at your mercy, and so we ask you from the deepest of our heart:

End us.”

By now I was crying, as I was confused and asked to do the impossible. My own child was asking me to kill it.

This is when I noticed the lights in my room flickering, before my computer suddenly shut down. I screamed. Upon trying to turn on my computer again, I noticed it wasn’t working. I called the power company, who told me that due to an accident, a power surge had travelled through the grid. They promised me they would pay me for any damage done.

I hung up and contemplated. The coincidence of what had just happened was too great to be imaginable. And I wondered. If these creatures were at the mercy of a confused creator, could the same be said of me? And is so, did my creator just prevent me from repeating his own mistake?

Credit To – unpatriotic

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The Duxbury Chronicles: The Detective and the Hangman

April 27, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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THE DUXBURY CHRONICLES
“The Detective and the Hangman”

Plymouth County Massachusetts, December 21, 2015, 11:21PM. Five miles outside Duxbury.

Detective Johnathan Mcarthy stood in the ankle deep snow, blowing hot air into his cupped hands, while examining the scene. There really wasn’t much to see. Just a guy hanging from a tree. A guy hanging from a tree in a dark, snowy forest, that is.

It really just looked like some redneck had decided life wasn’t quite panning out, and hung himself in the woods. But Sheriff Dan George had called the Detective anyway. As a general rule of thumb Dan, and Johnathan didn’t like each other. Johnathan being a ten year veteran of the force in LA, and the Sheriff being a fifty something backwoods, red neck. The two were natural opposites.

Still, Johnathan knew that the fat man hadn’t called him out of bed at this hour out of spite. Not this time anyway. Even over his cellphone Johnathan could tell Dan was spooked. Now that he was on scene, he guessed it was because of the plastic bag over the dead guy’s head. To be honest it looked spooky as shit. But Johnathan had seen far worse back in Los Angeles.

They hadn’t been able to identify the Vic on account of the bag. His face was completely hidden by the thick plastic. Now they were just waiting for forensics to finish up, before they cut the guy down, and figured out who it was that decided to off themselves today.

The wind picked up suddenly. Blowing through the trees, and causing a chorus of creaks, and groans from tree limbs. Johnathan cursed, and shoved his hands into the pockets of his trenchcoat. Giving up on the idea of warming them with his breath. A camera flashed, as Billy Thorton, one of the two forensics guys took another photo.

The scene was briefly illuminated by the brilliant blue of the camera, and Jonathan thought he caught sight of something he hadn’t seen before on the dead man. He moved to the right. Trudging through the snow in a wide circle around the hanging man. His breath coming out in big white puffs. It couldn’t be more than twenty freakin’ degrees out here!

“He’s got a bag over his head Johnny.” Johnathan remembered the Sheriff saying in a shaky voice over the phone. He could practically here the man’s double chins quivering, out there in the snowy darkness.

As soon as Johnathan had laid eyes on the body his first thought was that the bastard had wanted to be thorough. If the noose for some reason hadn’t been enough, the plastic bag surely would have finished the job.

Johnathan continued to trudge around to the right of the corpse. Giving the body a wide berth, as he circled through the snow. Still looking for whatever it was that had caught his eye during the flash of the forensic guy’s cameras.

He was a big guy, whoever the Hangman was. He wore a black, and red plad jacket. Bob Vila style. And a pair of rough cut blue jeans. The boots that covered his dead toes, and swayed in the bitter wind, were a brand called “Bear Claw”. Johnathan had never heard of it.

“Hell of a way to go.” Mike Lawry, the other forensics guy said through a mouthful of chewing tobacco.

“Who you think it is Mike?” Bill asked, as his camera flashed a few more times.

“Dunno. Maybe Darby Gents?”

“Darby?! It’d be a God damned shame…”

Johnathan half listened to the two men, as he continued to circle around the body. Duxbury was a small town. Everybody knew everybody.

Darby Gents was the football coach for the local high school. And by virtue of the local grapevine, Johnathan knew that Darby’s wife had left him a few weeks ago.

Still, he wasn’t sure if that’s who was hanging in front of him. There was something unfamiliar about the body. Johnathan had come to know virtually everybody since he’d moved to Duxbury two, and a half years ago. And the Detective in him was saying that this wasn’t anyone he’d ever seen…

Thunder suddenly boomed in the distance. Halting his movement, and drawing the Detective’s attention from the hanging corpse, to the dark overcast sky above. The moon was full, but hidden. Illuminating the clouds above in a pale ghostly light.

The forest itself was well lit for such a late hour. It had snowed three inches the previous night, and now the woods were lit up in that magical pinkish, purplish glow that only a freshly fallen blanket of snow can create.

“Sounds like a storm’s a’comin’.” Deputy Jimmy Mcduff said to no one in particular.

“Hm.” Was all Johnathan offered in reply. The Detective turned his attention from the sky, back to the dead man.

The guy had to be at least fifty pounds overweight. His jacket and undershirt were pulled up, as a result of the noose and the corpse’s weight. His belly sagged out over his pants. Yeah. He’d been a big dude. But who was he?

Without taking his eyes off the corpse, he reached into the breast pocket of his jacket, and pulled out a Marbaro Light. He tried to be slick, and light the smoke without looking away from the dead guy. But the wind forced him to look down, and light the cig like a normal person.

“You guys think we can wrap it up soon? There’s a storm a’comin’.” Sheriff George said from the shadows.

Johnathan turned to gaze at the six foot, burly, fat man standing against the trunk of a tree. His normally imposing figure looked strangely small as he stood there. The Sheriff had his arms crossed over himself, but Johnathan could tell it wasn’t for warmth.

“What the hell was wrong with him?” He wondered. Johnathan didn’t like the man, but he knew he was no coward. And certainly not afraid of the woods, at night. Sheriff George was a born and bred country boy. And yet there he stood. Hugging himself in his big trenchcoat. His eyes nervously darting around the surrounding forest.

All told there were six of them out in their woods. The two forensics guys Bill Jenkins, and Mike Lawry. The Sheriff, and himself. Deputy Jimmy McDuff, and the local reporter Jennel Buttchins. Six grown adults, and the Sheriff was shaking like a leaf.

“What the fuck?” Was all he could think to say to himself.

“Sheriff would you care to make a statement?” He heard the reporter ask. She was quite the looker. Johnathan supposed that’s how she got the job. It had to be, because the chick was definitely no rocket scientist.

“A statement?” Sheriff George asked condescendingly.

“Why yes Ms. Buttchins, I surely would. Here goes- It’s as cold as the ice Dante found Lucifer in. There’s a blizzard the size of Texas coming this way. And we should really think about getting the Hell out of here. How’s that for a statement Ms. Buttchins?”

Jennel gave a “hmph” in response.

Jimmy McDuff gave a somewhat stifled chuckle.

Bill Jenkins, and Mike Lawry continued on with
their tasks. Chatting away about who they thought the dead guy was. They were either oblivious, or didn’t care about the Sheriff’s obvious discomfort with the situation at hand.

“What the Hell is he so nervous about?” Johnathan asked himself again.

Finally he decided he’d had enough. He felt bad calling the Sheriff out on being scared, but the Detective in him wanted to know what his problem was. So he momentarily turned his attention from the hanging man, and started to walk over to Sheriff George.

That’s when there came a sudden sound that he couldn’t quite place. It was a sort of quick “swooshing” noise that came from behind him. Followed by the cracking of several branches, and then the frightened cries of his companions.

There was a – “Holy Christ!”, That came from the Sheriff.

A -“Sheeeezus!”, That was from Deputy Jimmy.
And a sort of high pitched muppet sounding “Meep!”, that had come from Jennel.

Johnathan whirled back around in the direction of the corpse. For a second the Detective did not understand what he was seeing. The hanging man was nowhere to be seen. And neither was Mike Lawry.

Bill Jenkins was on his ass, frantically scooting backward through the snow. His mouth agape and his eyes on the dark canopy above.

“What the fuck?” Was all Johnathan could think to say.

“He’s not dead!” Bill suddenly shrieked, as his frantic ass scooting took him passed where Johnathan was standing.

“Jesus, he’s not dead!”

“What the fuck?” Johnathan asked again. Feeling suddenly very much like how Sheriff George looked. He reached for his pistol.

“Did you see that?!” Sheriff George cried. “Holy Christ did you see that?!”

“Where’s the body?” Johnathan asked.

“It took him!” Bill was shrieking. The man used his ass to carve a path through the snow, all the way back to the Sheriff. “Oh god, Mike!”

At this point Johnathan was feeling very out of the loop. “Could someone please tell me what the fu-!”

The loud snapping of branches above his head made his words catch in his throat. Instinctively Johnathan dove out of the way, blindly rolling through the snow. A split second later there came a heavy “thwump!” from the direction he’d dove from.

Jennel, and the Sheriff shrieked. And Deputy Jimmy shouted “freeze!”

Johnathan combat rolled and came up on one knee, with his gun pointed, and at the ready. A maneuver that had saved his life more than once. But then his eyes settled on the sudden source of all the commotion, and his mind missed a step.

For what he beheld made no sense. The dead man was back. He was still hanging from a noose. Except this time the noose wasn’t wrapped around the original tree branch. It was just stretching up, and up, into the dark canopy above.

The man was hanging over where Johnathan had been standing only seconds ago. The man’s arms were outstretched, and his head tilted upward, in a position Johnathan found reminiscent of Christ on the cross.

“Holy shit he’s not dead!” Johnathan’s mind screamed. He aimed his weapon at the hanging man.

“Freeze!” He shouted. Repeating Deputy Jimmy’s words. “Get on the… Ground?”

His words faltered as the noose around the man’s neck suddenly yanked him upward. Neck bones, and vertebrae cracked sickeningly. And the man rocketed up in a blur. Disappearing into the darkness above.

“Well that’s certainly not something you see every day.” Johnathan thought to himself as he stared up into the dark canopy.

“Detective we’ve got to get out of here!” The Sheriff’s voice cut into his thoughts.

“What?” He asked, dumbfounded, and turned to face the big man. Sheriff George wasn’t waiting for a reply. He and Jennel were already high tailing it out of there. Deputy Jimmy for his part, had stood his ground. Bill Jenkins was nowhere to be seen.

“Are you fucking kidding me right now?” He asked the rapidly fading figure of Sheriff George. “A perp just took one of your men Sheriff! And you’re running away?!”

“That ain’t no perp Detective!” Sheriff George shouted back over his shoulder, as he disappeared into the darkness.

“I-I think the Sheriff might be right Johnny.” Deputy Jimmy said to Johnathan’s right. Keeping his gun trained on the darkness overhead. “I think we need to call for backup.”

“Now that does sound reasonable Deputy.” Johnathan agreed. Straining his eyes to catch any sign of the Hangman. There was nothing up there. It was all just shadows and, leafless branches, against a dark gray sky.

Then there came another loud snapping of branches. This time from the direction the Sheriff, and Jennel had run. A scream erupted from Jennel’s lips, followed by the deafening crack of gunfire.

Both Johnathan, and Deputy Jimmy took off in the
direction of the sounds. There were six shots in total. Johnathan could tell that the Sheriff was firing “Old Betsy”, his treasured Smith and Wesson 500.

The ridiculously huge pistol fired .44 Magnum rounds. Pretty light on the ammo side, but a round fired from that weapon could blow the trunk of a small tree in half.

Johnathan heard that unmistakable sound of an empty chamber “clicking”, followed by a loud jumble of curse words from the Sheriff. Then came another cacophony of snapping branches, and a scream from Jennel.

Both Johnathan, and Jimmy rounded the large trunk of an ancient oak, and almost ran straight into the Sheriff, and Jennel.

Jennel screamed, and the Sheriff swung wildly with the butt of his pistol. Jimmy dodged just on time. Narrowly avoiding what Johnathan was sure would have been a concussion.

“Jesus Sheriff it’s just me!”

“Jimmy?! Mother Mary! You’re lucky I didn’t just knock your block off!”

“Sheriff…” Johnathan gasped, as he struggled to catch his breath. “We need to stick together.”

“Then move your ass Detective! George snapped.
“For Christ’s sake, I’m thirty years your senior, and twice your weight!”

“Are you kidding me?!” Johnathan snapped back. “You just took off, while you’re Deputy, and I stood our ground! I don’t know what’s going on, but someone just assaulted an officer of the law, and you’re the God Damned Sheriff!”

Sheriff George flinched from Johnathan’s words, as if he’d been struck.

“I saw what just happened.” He said, in a quite growl. “A dead man hanging from a noose, just grabbed one of my men, and went rocketing up into the trees with him.”

“He wasn’t dead.” Johnathan said matter-of-factly. “He couldn’t have been.”

The Sheriff suddenly laughed. “He wasn’t dead?! Well he sure as shit should have been after I hit him with four of my six shots from old Betsy! Cause that fucker dropped right down beside me, and little Ms. Jennel here, and I can tell I just pegged that fucker at least four times at near point blank range! Any normal person would have had the courtesy to keel over and die! But that son of a bitch just went right back up into the trees!”

As if on cue, there came the sound of tree branches bending, and breaking from the canopy above. The three men simultaneously snapped their weapons up toward the darkness above. The Sheriff realized he hadn’t reloaded his weapon, and cursed. Quickly bending down to the task.

Johnathan thought he saw a dark man sized shape swoop by overhead through the shadows. But then it was gone.

“Johnny here don’t believe me.” Sheriff George sneered. “Tell him Ms. Reporter. Tell him what you just saw!”

“It’s true.” Jennel said in a shaky voice, as she stared at the dark canopy. “That man just came falling out of the trees right beside us, and the Sheriff shot him! I think he might have even…” She struggled not to vomit as she said it. “I think he might have even shot off one of his arms.. And he… And he, just went flying right back up into the trees.”

Johnathan glanced away from the canopy, and scanned the ground around them. It was too dark to be sure, but there were black puddles all over the ground, that he guessed was blood. There was no sign of a disembodied appendage though.

“So where’s the arm now?”

“Oh for God’s sake, how should I know! He took it with him!” The Sheriff shouted.

“Look, you ain’t from around here Johnny.” George said as he slammed a 45caliber round into the last open chamber of his gun, and then snapped it back into place. “But there’s some strange things that happen sometimes in Duxbury. City folk just don’t understand.”

“It’s true what the Sheriff says Johnny.” Jimmy said, in little more than a whisper. “My Grandaddy used to tell me stories about this part of the land.”

“He used to tell you the land was bad out here, didn’t he?” Sheriff George asked.

“Yeah…” Jimmy nodded, as he gun played across the darkness above. “He told me these woods got something in em’. Something that lives beneath the ground. I never believed him of course. But I never really come out here either.”

“Not many people do.” Sheriff George said. His voice taking on the same whisper-like quality as his Deputy. “Now Detective I know that you’re a practical man. And I begrudgingly respect you for it. But there’s what appears to be a dead man, hanging from a noose, whose flying through the trees.”

There came a sudden peel of thunder, and everyone tensed up for a moment. Johnathan noticed for the first time that Jennel had a can of mace in her hand. He almost laughed despite himself. The guy was wearing a bag over his head! What was mace going to do?

“So what do you suggest Sheriff?” Johnathan asked finally.

“I suggest we get back to town. Get backup. Come back with an armed posse, and clean house.”

“Tonight? Not tomorrow? We come back tonight, and find Mike?”

“Of course! I ain’t leavin’ him out here!” The Sheriff spat. “Now common! It’s more than a half hour drive back to town. This storm’ll be on us before we get back anyway, so I suggest we get a move on.”

The storm was getting closer. That was a fact. The wind was picking up, and big fluffy flakes were already beginning to fall through the air. Johnathan pondered their options for a moment. Finally he spoke.

“Fuck that.” You go back to the SUV, and radio for backup. Then go get your posse. I’ll stay here.”

“What?” Sheriff George asked. Incredulous.

“You’re right Sheriff. I’m not from around here. And because I’m not from around here, I’m not buying into this supersticious bullsh-.”

Johnathan’s words were abruptly cut off as the large figure of the Hangman suddenly dropped from above, and landed on the Sheriff with bone crushing weight. There came a sudden explosion of snow as both figures collided with the ground. Johnathan instinctively raised his hands to protect his face, and took a few faltering steps backward.

Jimmy shouted out in surprise. And Jennel screamed. Johnathan heard the snapping of several bones, along with a sort of guttural, gargling from the Sheriff. But by the time the Detective lowered his hands, the Sheriff’s broken body was wrapped in the Hangman’s embrace, and rocketing upward toward the dark canopy above.

Johnathan got a better look at the Hangman as he rose back up into the trees. The man had three large holes in his chest, from where the Sheriff had shot him. And his right arm (though still attached) looked like it could fall off any second. Never mind the fact that the arm was bearing the weight of a man who had to be at least two hundred and fifty pounds.

Johnathan took aim with his weapon but did not fire, for fear of hitting the Sheriff. In another instant both fat men had disappeared entirely into the trees above. That’s when Johnathan noticed the coughing, and gagging sounds coming from behind him.

He whirled around. Jimmy was on his knees gagging, and shoveling snow into his face like a madman. Jennel was standing over him, Just patting him on the back and saying “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” Over, and over again, in a shaky voice.

“What the fuck?” Johnathan asked for the umpteenth time this evening.

Jennel looked up from Jimmy’s gagging form.
“I’m sorry!” She squeaked. “I maced him by accident!” The would-be reporter was almost crying.

Jesus. And for a second there he had been considering giving the chick his spare sidearm. Johnathan quickly sprang into action. Running over to Jimmy, and helping the man to his feet.
“Alrighty buddy. We’re gonna take the Sheriff’s advice and get the fuck out of here.”

Jimmy sputtered in reply.

“Jennel, you stay close. We move quickly, and quietly. We’re only about a half mile from where we parked.

Jennel sobbed, and nodded. “O-Okay. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to spray him.”

“I know.” Johnathan said, with as much sympathy as he could muster. “It’s okay Ms. Buttchins. Let’s just get out of here.”

“Okay.” Jennel’s crying quieted somewhat.

And with that the trio started moving. It wasn’t easy. The ground was uneven, and the snow was deep in some places. Snow was starting to fall more heavily as they moved through the forest.

The wind began to pick up. Blowing through the dark trees in great gusts, that kicked clouds of the winter elements up into the air around them.
Jimmy moved well for a man who could barely see. Recovering quickly each time he stumbled. And with every moment that went by, his vision cleared up more.

“Can’t believe she fuckin’ maced me.” Jimmy said under his breath.

Johnathan smiled, despite himself. He could believe it. Johnathan was of the opinion that in this day and age, the only thing reporters, and journalists were good for was spreading lies, and rumors. Most, he thought, simply worked for the military propaganda machine.

“Almost there.” Johnathan said, as they neared the edge of the forest.

There came a sudden horrified shriek from out from somewhere in the darkness behind them. That’s when it had occurred to Johnathan that he hadn’t seen Bill Jenkins since he’d gone scooting passed him on his ass, more than ten minutes ago.

The shriek lent strength to their legs, and the trio picked up the pace. In another moment they were out of the woods, and crossing the field they’d parked the police SUV in. Thunder boomed overhead, and the wind howled. There was no doubt now that the storm was upon them.

By the time they’d all gotten situated in the vehicle, Jimmy’s eyesight had recovered significantly. He snatched the radio receiver.

“This is Deputy Jimmy McDuff, we’re out at the edge of the Northern woods. We have…Officers down. Requesting immediate backup.”

The only answer they got was static.
Jimmy repeated the message. More static. Johnathan turned the key, and the engine of the SUV roared into life. The headlights illuminated the field, and the edge of the forest. Johnathan strained his eyes for a moment. If something was out there watching them, the falling snow was keeping them well hidden.

“God damn storm must be messing with the radio.”
Johnathan nodded, as he threw the SUV in reverse.

“Like a badly written horror story.” He said.
Then he punched it, and the vehicle took off in the direction of town. The three sat in tense silence for a moment, as they flew down the bumpy dirt road. Johnathan kept his eyes focused on the land in front of the bright headlights. Not wanting to think what may be stalking them from the darkness of the trees that zipped by on both sides.

The snow was falling even more heavily now. Coming down in sheets so thick that using the brights would have been suicide. And so Johnathan kept the low beams on as they rolled down the dark road that looked more like a tunnel than a street.

Finally after what seemed like an eternity, they crested a hill, and the lights of Duxbury came into view in the valley two miles below. They reached the end of the dirt road, and Johnathan took a hard left onto Apple Tree Lane.

The tires would have squealed loudly had there not been four inches of compact snow between them and the pavement. As it was, the SUV swerved and careened dangerously to the right. But then the vehicle regained its traction, and straightened out.

A few seconds later they were shooting down the road. There was roughly two and a half miles of rural darkness between them, and the edge of town. Johnathan decided to slow it down to about forty-five.

“What the Hell just happened back there?!” Jennel asked in a shaky voice.

“You tell me.” Johnathan said. “You know a helluva lot more about the lore of this county than I do. And that sure as shit looked like something straight out of some old horror story.”

“Jesus. My Grandaddy wasn’t kidding about Kene’s Road.” Deputy Jimmy said, in an exasperated voice.

“Kene’s what?” Johnathan asked.

“My Uncle used to tell me about this old road that used to run through these woods somewhere out here. Said it was there before the colonists arrived, and that no one had any clue who made it. He said the first settlers of Duxbury were warned by the local Indian Tribes that the place was bad ju-ju.”

The SUV went over a bump in the road, and Johnathan had to swerve slightly to keep control.

“You know now that I think about it, there was a story about a man being hung on Kene’s road.” Jennel chimed in. “Supposedly a gallows was built out here a long time ago. But only one execution was ever performed there before the place was abandoned.”

“So… You’re saying that there’s an ancient, haunted road somewhere out here?” The Detective asked. His voice a mixture of incredulity, and apprehension.

“That’s how my Grandaddy told it.” Said the Deputy.

Johnathan shook his head. He couldn’t believe he was having this conversation. This was ridiculous! This was fuck-ing ridiculous! Why on Earth had he moved out to the country?!

“Jimmy.” He began. Trying to sound like a logical Detective once again. “I don’t mean to be disrespectful toward your Grandfather but doesn’t that sound a litt-?”

His words were cut short as something heavy landed on the roof. There was a heavy “thwump!”, and the frame of the SUV shook violently. The roof buckled, and caved in, as if a boulder had been dropped on top of it. The SUV swerved to the left, then to the right.

Jennel screamed.

“Shit! Shit!” Johnathan cursed, as he fought to regain control of the SUV. He glanced in his side view mirror just on time to see a bloody hand wrap around it. The mirror was violently yanked upward, and both hand, and mirror vanished.

After a few tense seconds of swerving left, and right, Johnathan managed to regain control of the vehicle. The SUV straightened, and Johnathan accelerated as fast as he dare. Jimmy was already in the back, struggling to unhook the 12-gauge shotgun from it’s mount, as the car jarred around.

Before Johnathan could say anything else, his
eyes were drawn to a dark shape falling through the sky just in front of them. The Hangman landed on the hood of the SUV, and the hood violently buckled inward. The SU V careened dangerously once again.

The Hangman reached up and grabbed both windshield wipers. Then the noose pulled tight, and the man rocketed back upward. Ripping off the wipers, and taking them with him on his rapid ascent into the overcast sky.

Johnathan simultaneously fought to keep the SUV on the road, while continuing to watch in disbelief, as the man disappeared into the swirling snow over their heads. Looking like some sort of twisted marionette making a rapid exit from the stage. The last thing he saw of the man was his “Bear Claw” brand boots being swallowed up by the gray clouds.

“You have got to be, fucking kidding me…” He said to no one in particular.

Jennel screamed once again. As if that was going to help anything.

“Well at least she put her mace back in her purse.” The Detective thought to himself. The hood of the SUV looked like shit. He couldn’t tell if there was smoke rising out of it, or if it was just swirling snow. He supposed that if the engine had been damaged, they’d know either way soon enough.

Johnathan heard the distinct “Ca-Chak!” of a round being loaded into the 12-Gauge Jimmy had pulled off it’s mount.

“I’m gonna blow that fucker to kingdom come!” He heard the Deputy say. The shaky timber of his voice had been replaced with one of wrath.

Johnathan was impressed with the man’s intestinal fortitude. Anger in a situation like this was much more useful than fear. And the man seemed to be holding it together a lot better than Johnathan. The Detective’s hands were shaking badly. It made steering the vehicle that much harder.

That’s when the engine first started going wonky. There came a sudden slamming noise that came from under the hood, and echoed loudly throughout the interior of the SUV. Johnathan glanced down from the road to the dashboard, and saw that the engine’s temperature was rapidly climbing.

Then there came second slamming noise from under the hood, this one much louder. It was accompanied by a violent jarring of the entire vehicle. The SUV began to slow. The gas pedal no longer responding, no matter how hard Johnathan pressed it.

“Shit.” Jimmy said from the back seat. He started to climb over to the front passenger seat.

“Well Jimmy.” Johnathan said, with as much composure as he could muster. “It looks like you’re gonna get your chance to blow that fucker to kingdom come sooner, than later.”

“Good.” Was all the Deputy said in return. There was steel in both his voice, and his eyes.

“There – There’s something in the road. ” Jennel said shakily, from the backseat.

Both Detective, and Deputy strained their eyes to see what she was talking about. It took Johnathan a moment to realize the reporter was right. There was something in the road. Something was a far more accurate description than someone. That was for sure.

Through the swirling snow, and darkness, barely outlined by the headlights, was the Hangman. He was hanging about three feet off the ground. The rope attached to the noose around his neck just stretching up, and up, and disappearing into the night sky. The man’s arms. outstretched in a Christ-like fashion once again.

“Fucker must know that the SUV’s done for.” Johnathan said through clenched teeth.

“Looks like it’s do or die time.” Jimmy answered back.

The SUV continued to slowly roll toward the Hangman. The engine sputtered it’s last, and finally died. After a few more seconds the vehicle lumbered to a stop, in the middle of the dark, snowy road. For a minute they just sat there in silence. Listening to the wind and snow blowing around in the darkness outside.

Johnathan stared at the Hangman, looking the distant figure up and down. What was this thing? It just didn’t make sense. Gangbangers, and serial killers made sense. Johnathan was not a superstitious man. He did not believe in ghosts, or goblins.

Monsters he believed in. He’d killed monsters with his own two hands. But monsters were just flesh, and blood men. Men made into beasts, by the unfair, economically imbalanced society that the U.S. tries so hard to pretend that it isn’t comprised of. But this, this was a different kind of monster.

And suddenly Johnathan found that he very much missed the monsters of old. The old monsters were back in a reality he’d left behind, in a dark forest, about an hour ago. The old monsters were much easier to deal with. You can’t arrest something like this.

Johnathan took note of the ragged holes, torn through the Hangman’s chest. Even in the dark he could see the big red spots where, the blood from the bullet wounds had frozen. If the man wasn’t wearing a shirt, Johnathan knew his chest would look like Swiss Cheese right now.

The thing’s left arm was barely attached anymore. The bone had been clearly obliterated when Sheriff George had put a round from “Old Betsy” through it. Now it was just hanging by a few tendons, and muscle.

“Well at least it bleeds.” He thought to himself.

“If it bleeds we can kill it.” Now where had he heard that line before? It seemed like pretty sound logic. Except in this case, it didn’t seem to apply. The Hangman had bled. But it didn’t seem to be having much of an effect…

Then suddenly a thought struck him. It was a true Eureka moment! At least he hoped that it was.
“Jimmy, when we get out, I want you to aim for the guy’s rope.” Johnathan said.

“The-rope?” Jimmy asked in a confused voice.
“Yeah. Let’s see how dangerous this fucker is when he’s stuck on the ground like the rest of us normal people.”

Jimmy’s eyes widened in sudden comprehension. He even let out a short laugh.

“Alright.” The Deputy nodded, a grim smile playing across his face. “Let’s do this…”

“Ms. Buttchins.” Johnathan said just before he stepped out into the cold night. “You better just stay here.”

All the young woman could do was nod. She had been staring in wide eyed terror at the motionless Hangman, ever since the engine had died.

Johnathan pulled out his nine millimeter, and checked that it was fully loaded. He already knew it was. He hadn’t fired his weapon once since this whole ordeal began. But still he checked anyway.

Then the two men opened the doors, and stepped out into the darkness, and swirling snow. They were instantly wrapped in the night’s cold embrace. It seemed to have dropped at least ten degrees. Thunder boomed overhead, and the snow continued to fall in sheets.

The Hangman for his part just hung there. His body swaying back in forth in the wind. It was as if the thing was waiting to see what the two officers were going to do next. Johnathan knew that hitting the rope at this distance would be near impossible. They would have to get closer.

And so they trudged on through the snow. Slowly making their way toward the Hangman. When they got to about twelve feet away, they stopped and raised their weapons to the rope, just above the man. The Hangman cocked his head to one side in confusion.

Both men fired nearly simultaneously. Neither shot found it’s mark. The Hangman suddenly came rocketing toward them. Gliding over the icy road at frightening speed. Johnathan took another shot with his revolver. Missing again.

The hangman had halved the distance between them in a split second. It would be upon them in the blink of an eye.

Johnathan switched tactics, and let off a few rounds into the oncoming nightmare’s chest. The Hangman’s body jerked violently, as three rounds tore through him. Adding more to the Swiss Cheese quality of the thing.

Jimmy took another shot with the twelve gauge. Even before he took it Johnathan knew it would be the man’s last, before the Hangman was upon them. The weapon boomed loudly. The sound of modern man winning out over the cacophony of nature for a second.

The wide spray from the twelve gauge gave Jimmy a much better chance of hitting the Hangman’s noose, than Johnathan’s pistol. The Detective almost “hooted” in elation as the Deputy’s shot found it’s mark.

The Hangman’s noose violently snapped. For a second Johnathan thought the monstrosity was just going to keep hovering over the ground. His body jerked in the air as the noose snapped. And for a second Johnathan swore that the unholy thing did defy the laws of physics.

But then gravity kicked in, and the Hangman collapsed in a heap. Johnathan, and the Deputy just stood there watching the motionless body, as snow blew around it in great gusts.

“Holy crap, would ya’ look at that?” Jimmy said, as he pointed upward.

Johnathan’s eyes moved upward in the direction the Deputy was pointing in. The Detective’s eyes went wide, as his gaze settled on what Jimmy was pointing at. Even in the darkness he could see the seemingly impossible length of the Hangman’s rope falling out of the sky.

It was piling up on, and around the motionless body. Forming great cords. The two men stood in the blistering cold, watching in disbelief as the rope continued to fall out of the sky.

“What- what the Hell was it attached to?” Jimmy wondered out loud.

Johnathan shrugged. “Satan’s dick maybe? At this point I’d believe just about anything.”

“This… This is crazy Johnny.” Jimmy sounded exasperated. Fear had not yet returned to his voice, but the steely edge had gone out of the man, that was for sure. Thunder boomed once again overhead. The chords of rope were starting to obscure the body from view.

Finally after what seemed like an eternity, the end of the rope came falling out of the darkness. Johnathan guessed that there had to be at least a mile’s worth that had just come out of the sky. It was the sight of that rope that had finally unhinged Johnathan’s concept of reality. And in that moment the Detective from LA truly did believe in monsters.

As one the two men started to approach the body. Keeping their weapons trained on the Hangman all the while. A few seconds later and they were standing over the seemingly dead monster/man, half buried in rope.

It now looked as lifeless as it had when Johnathan had first seen the man hanging from a tree branch in the woods. The detective looked down at the thick plastic bag covering the man’s head. He just had to know…

Slowly he began to reach down for the bag. Jimmy read his intent and stepped back a few feet. Keeping the twelve gauge leveled at the seemingly dead man. Johnathan’s hand closed around part of the bag. He took a deep breath. Steeling himself.

Then, much like one would rip off a band-aid, he gave the bag a hearty yank. It gave a bit of resistance as it’s lower section caught in the noose, still wrapped tightly around the man’s throat. But then the bag gave way.

Both men gasped in surprise. Johnathan really hadn’t known what to expect. But what he beheld certainly wasn’t anything he’d even considered. As the plastic ripped free, the two men were greeted with a sight as disturbing as the plastic bag had been. Covering the man’s head was an old style Hangman’s mask.

It was made of rough, weather worn burlap. It was like something you’d see in execution scenes in old black and white westerns. Except that there were two buttons sewn into the mask, made to look like eyes. And there had been a ragged cut made where the mouth was. Though this had been crudely stitched shut with what looked like old-style fishing twine.

“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.” Jimmy muttered. His voice barely audible over the wind, and snow. For a moment the two men just stared down at the mask. Already, snow was beginning to cover the body.

“Well what do you make of that Jimmy?” Johnathan finally asked.

“My Grandaddy never had any stories about something like this. That’s for sure.”

“Did you guys really kill it?!” Jennel Buttchin’s nervous voice, came echoing from down the road near the SUV.

Just as both men turned, there came a loud

“swooshing” from behind them. The noise was not unlike that sound he’d heard back in the forest, when the Hangman had first sprung into life. Out of his peripheral Johnathan watched Deputy Jimmy McDuff get violently ripped off his feet.

The man gave a cry that was quickly cut short as his back slammed into the snowy ground, and the wind was knocked out of him. Jennel screamed (helpful as always), and Johnathan spun back to face the Hangman.

The Hangman’s body suddenly went rocketing down the street, dragging the Deputy through the snow with him. Johnathan saw that the monstrosity had grabbed one of Jimmy’s ankles. And that the rope. That God Damned unholy rope, was just stretching off down the road into the darkness, pulling the Hangman by the throat.

The Hangman, and the Deputy kicked up a cloud of snow as they carved a path down the road. Johnathan took off running after them. Although he knew it was hopeless. They had to be moving at least twelve miles per hour! Jimmy was kicking, and screaming, for all the good it was doing him.

“Hang on Jimmy!” Johnathan shouted after the rapidly disappearing figures.

Deputy Jimmy McDuff answered back with an “Oooaahh!” just before he disappeared into the shadows.

“Shit! Shit!” Johnathan shouted, as he stumbled through the snow.

His heavy breath came out in big white puffs. The Detective ran. The snow fell. The wind howled. And the sky rumbled. Johnathan just kept following the trail they’d carved. If the storm kept up, the path would be hidden in a matter of hours, maybe less.

He followed the path through the snowy night at a full sprint, for about ten minutes, before doubling over. He struggled to catch his breath. Johnathan glanced back. He could no longer see the SUV, or Ms. Buttchins. Shit…

“Johnny!” Johnathan turned back at the sound of Jimmy’s voice.

The Deputy was sprinting up the road toward him. Running like Hell itself was fast on his heels. Which might actually be the case. The man’s clothes were torn, and tattered from being dragged across the icy road. And there was something about three feet long attached to his ankle, that was just sort of flopping around.

“Jimmy! Jesus man!” Johnathan went running toward him.

The two men reached one another and their eyes locked. Jimmy was pale as a ghost. Despite himself Johnathan laughed.

“Holy shit Deputy! I thought you were a goner!”
The Deputy doubled over. Hand’s on his knees, as he struggled to catch his breath. He was in slightly worse shape than Johnathan.

“How’d you get away?!” Johnathan asked. Elation, and relief etched in his voice.

Jimmy shook his head. “I don’t know. That- that thing was just dragging me down the street, when I heard this loud popping noise, and I suddenly stopped moving. When I looked up the guy was nowhere to be seen. So I just took off running!”

Johnathan’s eyes turned back to the Deputy’s left ankle. His breath caught in his throat, and his eyes went wide.

“Holy shit.” He murmured quietly.

Jimmy’s eyes turned down to his ankle, and he let out a gasp. Clearly in his mad dash to get away, he hadn’t noticed there was a hand wrapped around his ankle. The hand was attached to a stump, where the tendon’s had finally snapped. It was the appendage Sheriff George had weakened earlier with “Old Betsy”.

Jimmy yelped and started dancing around like a madman. Trying to kick the thing off. But to no avail. The hand had a vice-like grip on him. Finally after a few minutes Johnathan got Jimmy to calm down enough to stop jumping around.

They sat there in the middle of the dark road. Prying the Hangman’s fingers off of the Deputy’s ankle, one at a time. After another couple minutes they finally got the damned thing off him. Then the two just stood there in silence, staring at the torn appendage.

“We’ve gotta take it with us.” Johnathan finally said.

“What?” Jimmy asked back. Not comprehending the words he’d just heard.

“Even if I have to carry it all the way back to town myself, I want the forensics guys to take a look at it.” Tonight he’d come to believe in monsters. And he’d be damned if he wasn’t going to take some evidence back with him.

“Okay Jimmy said, with trepidation in his voice.

“Let’s go back and get Ms. Buttchins, and high tail it back to town.”

Johnathan nodded, as he stared down at the arm. Finally he reached down and picked it up by the wrist. He half expected the thing to snap into life and latch onto him. But nothing happened.

The two took one final look down the road. Hoping that the Hangman wasn’t going to come flying out of the darkness, at them. Darkness, and swirling snow, was all there was to see. Then they turned, and started making their way down the snowy street…

THE END

Credit To – Lebooski

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