The Piano’s Song

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

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

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

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

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

Credit To – Nate C.

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Beautiful

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I couldn’t take it anymore.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credit To – Kim Gabriele

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Remember To Turn On The Lights

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

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

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

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

Credit To – Infinita Furor

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Under The Blanket

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

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

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

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

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

My heart sunk when we looked under the desk.

The blanket was completely flat.

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

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

Credit To – Cori

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The House Job

June 2, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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I’ll first tell you what I do for a living, as it will bring some understanding to my situation. I run my own business, if you could call it that. I’ve thought of it more as a personal service. I break into the home or building of a client’s choice, destroy or steal whatever they want, provide proof of the action, then I get payed (quite substantially, if I may add). My clients usually take the form of a middle class man angered at their boss, or a recently dumped individual who wants revenge on their ex. Essentially, I do the work that one has the anger and desire to do, but doesn’t have the actual nerve to do it themselves. It payed well, and it gave me some interesting places to explore, so I’ve been quite content with the job.

About a few weeks ago, I received a usual call for what I expected to be a usual job.

The caller requested me to break into an abandoned home not too far from my area. He requested me to retrieve a few recordings of sorts. VHS tapes, cassettes, DVDs, they didn’t matter. All he really cared about was any that looked “interesting”, as he described. Despite the fact that information is important in my work, he didn’t tell me anything that would be useful for the search. He wouldn’t even tell me anything about himself, which almost made me turn the job down, until he offered me an unusually large payment.

When the caller had mentioned “abandoned home” I had expected the location to be shed away from the local population, and generally safe to break into during the day. To my frustrated surprise, the place was in the middle of the damn street, right along a string of other apartments and surrounding buildings, most of which were populated. People on the sidewalk strolled past it, not acknowledging its derelict state, sometimes being taken back by its derelict state.

I came back after dark, and it was just how I wanted it to be. No pedestrians anywhere, and there were no lights on in the surrounding structures. It appeared to be an easy target.

The home stood two stories, with a small attic at the highest point. I didn’t look like the most enjoyable place to live, even before it had aged. The best word I can think of to describe it’s living quality would probably be “confined.” It appeared to have only a single window, which was on the attic level. The front door (what I believed to be the only entrance) had an unnecessary amount of locks on it, all of which were now rusted away. It opened with a mere tap from my foot.

I should probably state here that though I don’t have nyctophobia or anything of the sort, I enjoy completely dark, abandoned buildings as much as the next wandering man. By my first step into the house, I wanted the job done fast. What I’m saying is that I was not paying attention to specific details at the time, of both the home and what may have been there.

When I had turned on my flashlight, the first room appeared entirely vacant of anything, as if it had been completely cleared after the departure of its residents. This was both good and bad, in my situation. This meant that the room was free of obstacles, but also meant that I would need to search more of the home, which I was wasn’t excited fo. There were other homes around, but I would be fine if I at least kept the noise to a decent level. The place hardly had windows, after all.

I had gone up the stairs to find a similar area: an empty room, with nothing that I was looking for. This meant further worse news: I would have to check the attic. Though I said I wasn’t severely frightened by the dark, I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a discomfort with tight spaces.

The attic was accessed by a standard pull-down stairway on the ceiling of the second story room. It took a couple of jerks to budge, but it came down without much resistance. A large cloud of dust covered my view for a few seconds, which made me realize how old th place really was. Each step of the stairway creaked tremendously, to where it became more irritating than unnerving.

The last step brought me inside the attic, which showed the only window in the house. A bit of moonlight shined down into the small room, which helped ease my tension by a near insignificant amount. Scanning the room, I had finally caught eye of a few boxes in the corner.

Three aged cardboard boxes, all packed with a number of old VHS tapes. No DVDs, though the place was so old that I didn’t expect to find any. I was still in a rush to get out of there so I didn’t take much time looking through them. I didn’t even pick out a few, I just grabbed the heaviest box and dragged it to the ladder. I didn’t realize exactly how much was in the box until I had dropped it to the floor, in which it made a rather loud crash that seemed impossible for its size. Some of the tapes were probably broken in this process, but I didn’t stop to chec. I just wanted to be out of there.

When I reached the bottom of the ladder, I didn’t bother putting it back up. This is where I first saw something strange. When picking the box back up, I saw a small red light in the corner of the room, like a sort of…dot. It wasn’t moving, but I still stormed to the stairs. I grew paranoid, so I didn’t care to investigate what it was.

I arrived at the top of the stairs, and I observed something else: that the house had another level, which I assumed to be a basement. There was another stairway leading downwards, that could only be seen if one was actually looking down the stairs at the second level. At the bottom of this stairway was another faint, but noticeable red dot. I was carrying the heavy box of tapes, so I didn’t have a hand to shine my flashlight on it (or on the previous one).

Then I tripped. There’s no other way of saying it. I tripped and tumbled down the entire fucking stairway, all the way back down to the first floor. I should’ve broken a leg or my back in the process, but the box of tapes actually managed to break my fall in some sort of miraculous way. The VHS tapes scattered all across the bottom of the stairs, and I didn’t want to take the time to retrieve them all. I picked up the three tapes that were closest to me. My body hurt like hell, but I was more focused on the fact that I had just made noise similar to a damned police raid.

I made it back to my car, and then my home, without issue. I woke up the next morning with aches all over, but I hadn’t gotten caught, which was what I cared about.

I called my client numerous times, and just as I had almost predicted, he never answered. The number he gave me didn’t even have an answering machine, as if it had been disconnected.

I was quite sure that this client was going to be a no-show, which made me grow quite frustrated. Most of the time, I’m able to steal other items during a raid, so a client not giving payment was never a typical issue. However, there was hardly anything to even look at (let alone steal) in that abandoned home, so I was left empty handed after all the frightful work I had gone through.

All I was left with was the tapes, which I decided to look at, just in case the client actually called back asking what I obtained.

I was surprised to find that I even still had a VHS player in my closet. Because the tapes had no forms of labels on them, I just played the first one on the stack of three

The first tape I played was just static for a few minutes. I was about to stop it when it actually did cut to a picture. There was a date on the lower left corner of the screen, which was August 2nd, 2010 (displayed as 8/2/10). It was footage of a small room, which was vacant of any furniture, and looked to be in degrading condition. The video appeared to be in a form of night vision, so the room must have been dark. It was lifeless footage until a door, close to the camera, opened.

A young woman walked through, and the door shut behind her as she walked in. She started yelling “Michael! Michael it’s me! Where are you?!”. She turned around in circles, searching for someone.There was a frantic, worried look of expression on her face. I would assume that this “Michael” would be her son, or other close person she was looking for. She waved her arms around in the dark before taking her phone out as a source of light. She walked to the end of the room and took a left at what appeared to be a stairway. The footag went to static a few seconds later.

Now, I had an idea of where this footage may have been taken, but I refused to believe it at the moment of watching the tape. I didn’t want to watch another just for that reason. Though, for my own safety, I had to know if my paranoia was correct.

The next tape started similar to the last: Static for a few minutes, then it cut to the footage. It was footage of another empty room, which appeared to be in the same decaying state as the last. This footage also had a date and time, but it was March 14th, 2013, more than a years difference. Someone came in from the small hallway leading into the room. This time, it was an older man. He actually had a flashlight this time, and looked to the roof. He pulled down a staircase that lead to an attic.

This was where I flipped shit. Those red lights, those dots in the corners of the rooms, they were cameras, and they were rolling. The “abandoned” house was rigged with them, more than I probably even saw. I at first believed it must have been some sort of police set-up in which I immediately checked all of my windows to see if my home was surrounded. I thankfully found nothing.

I went back to the tape, and the recording showed the man climbing up the ladder into the attic. He too looked as if he was looking for something (or someone), but he never actually spoke. He also never shined his flashlight around the room, so I doubt he even noticed the camera. A few seconds after he was in the attic, the footage ended, but I did notice something: Just moments before the footage ended, the camera moved, as if was picked up just at the last few seconds.

I went immediately to the third and final tape, as I wanted to know what else may have been looking at me in that house. This tape was viewing the stairway. It appeared zoomed in, like it was down another level but still focusing on the first to second floor. At the top of the stairs was the same man from the previous tape (with the same date of 3/14/13). Since I had dropped the tapes down the stairs when I collected them, I must have been lucky to grab two continuing tapes.

The man in the footage appeared injured this time. He clutched his left arm, which reveled to have blood running from it when I looked closely enough. He stumbled with each step as he progressed down to the first floor. When he was just about at the bottom step, he fell, probably out of exhaustion.

At the top of the stairway stood…something. It looked to be a person, about six feet tal, but I’m not going to make any assumptions that it was human. It walked down to the man, and then began to drag him by his uninjured arm. The man put up little struggle, which led to him being kicked in the head by the being.

It moved the man down the second staircase, the one I believed led to a form of basement. The figure was close enough to the camera to where I could see it’s face, or a least what was covering it. It wore a mask, which looked to be an aged rag, with holes cut for each eye and numerous tears everywhere else. The skin exposed by the tears was a dark, bloodied gray, which lead to me being more content that its face was covered. The thing stared at the camera for a moment, with blurred, yellow eyes that made myself even more uncomfortabl. It then picked up the camera, and turned it around to reveal a door at the bottom of the staircase.

The being picked the man up, opened the door, and kicked the man inside of another room which appeared to be empty. The door was quickly shut once the man went in, and then the camera just viewed the door for the next few minutes. What was disturbing here, however, was the sounds.

Behind the door, there were many rapid scratching noises, as if the walls were being scraped. The injured man inside the room began to scream, and so did other voices. The other screams sounded inhuman, more animal-like than the screams of a person. The injured mans screams were quickly cut off after what sounded like the ripping of flesh and the snapping of ligaments. I thought at first that the man stopped screaming, but then I realized that all sound had then cut off from the footage.

The door to the room then opened, and inside the room were other creatures. They almost appeared human, but appeared very frail and gray, with no hairs on their heads or anywhere on their body. Their spines were painfully visible, and protruded from their bodies in an unnatural and excessive manner The ones near the end of the room began to climb up the walls and onto the ceiling. One of them began to turn around, but the footage ended and cut to static before its face could be revealed.

Naturally, I was terrified by this. I had just been inside that place, and I had been recorded in the same way.

I checked all my windows again, and locked them. I stayed indoors for a few days, keeping constant watch of if I was, well, being watched. I had burned the tapes, and when I was sure that I hadn’t left any sort of trail from my visit to that house, I had began to go out again. I occasionally took another job, but none that involved abandoned homes or structure.

Not much more than two weeks ago, I had received a package on my front door. I assumed this to be a payment from a recent client, as most would pay me by simply dropping off their part.

I opened it to find three VHS tapes, which appeared to be in new condition. They were each marked with a number, going from one to three.

I played the tape marked with “1″ first. It was footage of the same abandoned house as before, and it was the camera in the first empty room. A few minutes past, and then somebody entered. It was a younger man, who wore dark clothing as if he wanted to keep hidden.

It took only second to realize that this man was me, and that the tapes were of when I entered the home.

I went straight to tape number two. The second tape was a recording of the staircase, with the camera planted near the door to the basement. It showed me stumbling out the hallway to the stairs, with the box of tapes in both hands. I took a few steps down, then I watched myself trip and fall.

Except I didn’t actually trip. I was pushed.

A figure at the top of the stairs, wearing the same rag on its head as in the previous tapes, had slightly shoved me. It wasn’t enough force to where I could’ve felt him behind me, but enough to where I had lost my balance with the box in my hands.

The footage showed me jump back up to my feet with three tapes in hand, and running off screen, which was when I ran out of the house. The masked being only ran to the bottom of the staircase, and watched me run. It then walked slowly down the second flight of stairs and looked into the camera for a few seconds, and then the footage ended.

I was in more fear than when I had watched the previous tapes, and my paranoia of being followed became more severe.

It took every fiber of courage in my body to keep watching, and I played the final third tape.

This tape wasn’t from inside the abandoned house. It was being held by someone, and it was taken from outside, at a different location. The camera holder walked on a road for a few minutes, until focusing the camera on a single hous.

The house was my house, and whoever/whatever was filming let out a loud, sickening laugh, then the tape ended.

I’ve grown paranoid, and with good reason. I’m not huddled in the center of a room all day, but I don’t go out in public much anymore. Anytime I do, I feel like I see a masked figure out of the corner of my eye. Perhaps it’s just a fabrication of my mind, but I even sense it right next to me in some places.

There will be a few days where I hear a knock on my door, only to find a single tape on the doorstep. Each is very similar to the last. It’s always footage of my own home, usually during the day, but other times at night.

And with each tape, the camera is closer.

Credit To – Emeryy (Richard S.)

This is a Crappypasta Success Story – a story that was rewritten/reviewed and moved to the main site. You can see the original Crappypasta posting here. Admittedly, this is moving based on only a minor rewrite and my own change of heart about the story, as the initial post barely got any views for some reason and thus didn’t even have a chance at meeting the upvote requirement. Sometimes I just have to call ADMIN FAIL on myself!

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Rabbits in the Creek

June 1, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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I’m writing this because my family won’t talk about it anymore. I’m the only one who can’t seem to forget.

I was raised on the outskirts of Preston, a small town in southern Idaho with a population of around 5,000. My more immediate community was an isolated, dead-end dirt road called Bear Creek. Less than twenty families lived on the Bear Creek. I didn’t mind being so isolated. I grew up in the comfort of wide fields and close neighbors that only rural people know.

We were a Mormon community. Very church centered. Very community centered. All the young girls, myself included, were part of the Young Women’s group. And all of the boys were members of the local Boy Scout troop (which doubled as a church group in our area). We had 4th of July parties at the local ballpark and swam in the nearby reservoir. It was a good, quiet community.

My house, a 92 year old farmhouse built by my great-great-grandfather, was situated on a small hill surrounded by a wide grass field on one side, and a snaking dirt road on the other. Across the road was the creek bottoms. Southern Idaho is categorized in a desert climate, so not much grows outside of the irrigated fields besides sage brush and burrs. The creek bottoms were the exception. The creek fed the growth of a thick tangle of pussy-willow bushes. In the late fall we used to go down into the bottoms and pick the white, cottony pussy-willow seeds to decorate the fences of our driveway.

Being so isolated, it wasn’t uncommon for animals to come down from the mountains. We had a female moose who brought her calf down and lived in our orchard every winter. And the occasional lion wasn’t unheard of either.

The summer when I turned eight (I remember because it was the same year as my baptism), a smaller mountain lion was spotted several times in our area. We weren’t worried. The big cats stayed away from the farms and usually moved on when the area didn’t yield enough food.

The same summer my neighbor, Payton, was working on his Eagle Scout project. He loved National Geographic, and thought it would be pretty cool to try putting together a National Geographic submission on our little creek bottoms. The young lion that happened to be in our area at the same time made him especially excited. He decided he wanted to try and get pictures of the lion and e-mailed the National Geographic team for advice.

They recommended setting up an automatic camera that takes shots every couple of seconds in an area the lion was known to visit. They also recommended setting some kind of bait so the lion was more likely to come by. No one in the creek liked the idea of live bait or carrion, so we came up with a different kind of bait.

We decided to set up an audio recording of a dying rabbit and play it on a loop through a set of speakers hidden in the willows. I remember when everyone was down in the bottoms testing the speakers, and I heard the noise for the first time. The sound of a dying rabbit is horrible. It’s been described as being almost identical to the sound of a screaming child. If you’ve never heard it yourself, there’s plenty of recordings available online. It’s worth a listen.

The camera was set up. The speakers were set up. Everything was perfect. Payton explained that he would allow the camera and recording to play uninterrupted for a week, and then he would go check on it. This would give time for our scent to fade from the bottoms and encourage the lion to come closer.

At first I was worried about the noise. It was a truly horrible noise, and our house was the closest to the set-up point in the bottoms. My father assured me that the noise wouldn’t reach as far as our house, and I was relieved when we arrived home that night and he was correct. The bottoms were far enough away that I couldn’t hear anything.

I remember Payton the next day at church. He was fidgety and excited to check on the equipment. But he had to wait a week, which everybody kept reminding him. He couldn’t risk going down too early and scaring the lion away for good.

That night I woke up to an awful noise. I sat ram-rod straight in my bed with my eyes wide in the dark, hands clutched so hard my palms bore the indent of my fingernails for hours after. I knew that noise. It was the recording of the rabbit. It sounded faint, and far off, like it really could have been coming from the bottoms. But that was impossible. Because the recording had been going all night the previous day and I hadn’t heard a thing.

I didn’t sleep that night. I was too scared to get out of bed and wake my parents. The recording played over and over again. I had the loop memorized. In the morning I stumbled into the kitchen for breakfast. My mom and dad were sitting at the kitchen table. They too had dark rings under their eyes. I hadn’t been the only one who’d heard it.

Mom was convinced that the equipment must have been broken. She wanted to go down into the bottoms to check it out. Dad refused. He was a kind, gentle man and didn’t want to stir up any unnecessary drama. He was sure there had been a strong wind last night, and the wind was carrying the noise farther than it’s natural reach. He told us to listen. We did. He was right, we couldn’t hear it now.

We forgot about it and went about our daily goings.

The next night, it happened again. I stayed up in bed with my back to the wall. The screaming was even louder than before. But this time something was different. It was lower pitched than I remember. And parts of the loop were slowed down, as if the recording were warped in places. At times the loop did not loop naturally, and instead picked up at a random place in the middle.

My mom didn’t mention anything at the breakfast table. But both her and my dad seemed tense.

The third night I mustered the courage to stand beside my bedroom window and look out into the yard. For a moment I stood, rooted to the spot, my hands shaking no matter how hard I clenched them. The noise sidled in through the cracks in the window. I watched the outline of the trees in the yard. Perfectly still. Not even the slightest breeze stirred their branches.

My mom announced that she would be going to visit her sisters in town the next day, and would probably spend the night there. She invited me to come along, but I was a daddy’s girl at heart and chose to stay at the farm. I took mom’s place beside dad in their bed that night but even that didn’t help. I don’t think my dad was asleep either, for he was unnaturally still the whole night.

We began to hear the noise during the day too. I was drawing with chalk on the sidewalk when it happened. My shoulders tensed and the hairs on the back of my neck prickled. There was only one scream. A short, high pitched one. And then the recording fell silent. It happened again several times throughout the day, but never the whole loop. Just clips from it.

Later that evening Payton’s dad came up the driveway on his 4-wheeler. He said he was looking for their dog, a sweet yellow lab who had been missing since that morning. Dad said he was sorry, and that we hadn’t seen her. I stared at him, silently begging him to mention the recording. But he didn’t. He was a quiet man after all. He didn’t want to bring up any unnecessary drama.

Mom stayed away the whole week. Dad and I didn’t sleep. By Saturday the screaming could be heard constantly, though it seemed to have deviated from the familiar loop entirely. I didn’t recognize any of it. Sometimes the screams were thin and long, other times they were hardly more than growls. Once, while my dad had been heating up meat loaf for lunch, the noise rose into such a rancorous din that he dropped the plate and it shattered. I pressed my hands over my ears where I sat at the table and squeezed my eyes shut, but it didn’t help. The noise forced its way in through the cracks of my fingers and pinched my throat and rattled in my ribcage. The din lasted for a whole minute, then fell silent.

Dad was shaking. That was the last we heard of the noise that day.

Payton came by Saturday evening to ask permission to cross our road to collect the equipment. He was so excited. I watched him disappear into the creek bottoms with a sense of tired relief. After the equipment was gone, it would all stop. I couldn’t wait to get a full nights sleep.

Not a minute later I spotted Payton coming back up from the creek. I was confused. It had taken us much longer to set up the camera and speakers, so I’d only assumed it would take just as long to collect them. My breath stilled when Payton came closer. He didn’t look right. His eyes were wide and his face pale. Something wet dribbled from his chin and onto his shirt; I later realized it was vomit. My dad caught him before he fell and demanded to know what had happened.

Payton couldn’t speak. He just cried.

We called his dad. I looked after Payton as both my dad and his dad went into the bottoms. They were gone a long time. When they returned, their faces were grim. And they smelled funny. I noticed red on my dad’s hands. I asked what was wrong but they brushed right passed me and immediately called the police.

Nobody would tell me what had happened. I sat on the couch as a blur of neighbors and police officers swirled around me. At one point an officer placed something on the kitchen table and left. I looked into the kitchen curiously. It was the camera from the bottoms.

I wish I hadn’t looked.

The camera was a little banged up. Tiny scratches and dents covered the plastic casing. When I lifted it my hands stuck to the plastic. Something tacky and odorous covered the screen, but it turned on fine.

The first set of photos were normal. Just the pussy-willows cast green in the glow of the night setting. As I continued to click through them they quickly became strange. At one point the camera angle changed, as if the camera had been knocked from its post. Grass now obscured most of the frame. Flecks of red appeared on the lens and remained for the rest of the sets. One photo made me pause.

There was a figure in this one. Or half of a figure as most of the upper torso hadn’t made it into the frame. I thought it could be human. But it didn’t look like it should be standing upright. It’s legs were twisted, like an animal, and it seemed to be having difficulty supporting itself in an upright position. Beside the legs a long, thin arm hung. Whatever it was must have been stooped over, for its fingertips hung below its crooked knees.

The next set was different. It was as if the camera had been picked up, and was now being held. The first photo was of the bottoms at night. The next startled me. I had to look closely before deciding what it was. A rabbit had been laid in the bushes, but its ears and most of its scalp had been peeled away. The next was of the same rabbit, but a thin, dark hand was holding it up against the sky. It’s limp body hung like something from a nightmare.

In the following photos more rabbits joined the one, each with their ears and scalp removed. Then a cat. Then more cats. Then a dog, the yellow lab. Then the lion. The following photo was of seven rabbits, three cats, one dog, and the lion all laid out in a row facing the same way. Their arms and legs had been arranged as if they were marching. Like some parade. All of their scalps had been removed and tiny white glints of their skulls could be seen.

The last photo was overly bright. Like the photo had been taken too close with the flash on. An eye dominated the frame, but it was yellowed and crusty, and had a bar pupil like a horse. In the bottom corner the edge of a mouth could be seen. No lips. Just teeth. Sharp and little, with wide gaps of red gum between them.

I wish I hadn’t looked.

I heard my dad talking to the police outside. They said the speakers had malfunctioned. The recording had only played the first night.

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