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Down the Pit

November 4, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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He knew it was there but couldn’t see it. The basement wasn’t wired for electricity yet and was completely dark save for the light from the stairs leading up to the kitchen. With the boxes in his arms blocking his view, Gil shuffled along the basement floor feeling for the pit… or was it a well? The house was over a hundred years old and he couldn’t be sure what the hole in the dirt floor was originally used for. He only knew it was in the middle of the basement, hewn out of ancient dirt, and about 2 feet wide—the perfect size for the wayward foot or ankle. Remembering this, he stopped and tripped on himself abruptly as his toes teetered over the edge–“Christ! I almost didn’t see that…” he murmured to himself as an errant fork and butter knife went flying, clanging, along the floor and into the abyss of the pit. He didn’t hear the items hit ground.

“Do we need any more dishes out of this one?” He yelled up, setting the box down beside the abyss.

“Just the cutlery set and mugs, babe, thanks!”

Ascending the stairs, he admitted, “Fork and knife are MIA. Lost them in a battle with the basement, down that big fucking hole. Sorry.”

“One night and the house is already winning. Great,” Jen responded cynically.

As they went to bed that night, Gil made a mental note to call a contractor about closing up the pit. Creaks and groans from the old house aside, the couple felt good about the new move and fell asleep peacefully on the blow up mattress upstairs.

In the next few days, several contractors came in and out, the couple finally settling with a local Joe. Unable to stay and babysit the contractor, Jen and Gil left him the keys, hoping to come home to some progress that evening after work.

Instead, they came home to an absolute mess. Damp, uneven pools of concrete were scattered throughout the basement along with some cracked wooden planking. Of course, the pit lay untouched, damp cement spread in wide semicircles around it. Angry, Gil called Jen down and they looked at the terrible job with the industrial flashlight. After leaving several angry voicemails that day to no response, they gave up on Joe contractor for the day. However, a week later they had still not heard from their contractor; they assumed they got swindled, and they were unsettled to know he still had their house keys. Once they realized nothing had been stolen from their home, they took their lumps, and lost deposit, and had the locks changed on their doors. They decided on another renovation project, giving up on the basement for the time being.

That night, Jen lay snoring and Gil was awake. Restless, his slightest movements bobbed the blow up mattress and woke Jen, so he decided to get up and watch some tv downstairs. Gil sifted through the static to find some infomercials that would make him drowsy. Around 1 am, he heard a scuffling in the basement. It sounded like boxes shifting on earth, slowly—almost imperceptibly. He turned the tv off and listened—the last shuffle and then silence. The empty echo bounced around in his head and he immediately became suspicious. What if the contractor had been down there hiding the whole time? Was it to steal their property… or for some more sinister purpose? Determined, Gil grabbed the industrial flashlight in his left hand, swung open the basement door and descended the stairs, picking up a baseball bat just removed from storage in his right.

Descending into the dark, Gil waited a moment for his eyes to adjust on the middle stair. The smell of damp earth filled his nostrils. Raising the bat in his right hand, he also lifted the flashlight in his left as he tried to scan the basement without going further. Realizing he must continue, he slowly forged on and as his foot met the floor, CRASH—a box seemingly fell over on its own and its contents slammed on the ground… rolling near the pit. What had caused all that movement? And that sound…that snaking whisper had to be from various objects from the box falling, bouncing, and echoing deep down into the abyss. A round, small shape with dimpled, tough skin seemed to descend, or jump, into the darkness of the hole. Did his old black basketball fall down into the pit? He remembered he had a throwback, orange basketball, not a black one. It had to be one of Jen’s things, now lost forever.

After rooting through the remainder of the box and searching the space for animals, Gil walked back toward the stairs and felt a distinct crunch underfoot. He lifted his slipper heel to find a broken picture frame. He and Jen smiled up from the photo, but the scribble left in the now dry cement beside it was foreboding. The print—or was it an animal track?—was smaller than a human hand and excessively thin. It seemed etched in like a signature made in wet cement. The “fingers” weren’t straight but crooked and measured about three inches long; each “finger” ended in a sharpened point. How had they missed this before? How had they been made in dry cement? He hastily threw a few of the broken boards over the opening and ran upstairs. He couldn’t bring himself to look down inside the hole that night. And he couldn’t tell Jen that, either. So he ignored the incident altogether.
A few days later, Jen had to do laundry—in the basement. Basket in her arms, she tried to get her task done as quickly as possible. The basement freaked her out and was starting to smell terrible. Returning to the first floor, she casually remarked:
“Gil, it smells like death down there. We really need to get that damn thing sealed up.”

“I know. It’s probably time to get serious about covering it again.”

“Did you see those weird markings in the cement? I can’t tell if its an animal that got in or…”

Gil froze. “Markings? There’s more than one?”

“Yeah. Like jagged, pointy sticks. You knew about it? Go check it out. I don’t remember them being there before.”

Even during the day it was dark and cavernous. Again, Gil descended, his cell phone light dimly lighting the path in front of him until there it was, the new print. It was a good two feet away from the first he saw last night… and closer to the stairs that led to the first floor. Three pointed edges of each indent this time were clawed deeper into the cement somehow. It had been dry for weeks now.

This time, he knew he had to look inside. The boards had already been removed from the opening and cast aside. He doubted that Jen had gotten close enough to do this due to the terrible smell. He took a few pictures of each print on his phone and held it out for light, avoiding the boxes and boards while slowly walking towards the hole in the ground. On the edge, he took a deep breath, and peered over.

Nothing. Nothing was there—just a dark hole in the ground. He listened for a moment and heard only eerie silence. He snapped a photo of it anyway with a bright flash, for reference, and stood back up and returned to daylight.

That night they lay on the mattress, a general ominous feeling settling over the two. Jen was vaguely uncomfortable with the shuffling sounds emanating from the basement, but Gil had a growing apprehension and fear.

“Let me see those pictures again, Gil. It has to be some animal, like a possum or something, that’s making those noises. And they’re supposed to smell awful like that.”

He took out his phone in reply, and sorted through his images until he came across the three shots he had taken earlier. The first was the print nearest the stairs. Its gnarled fingers ended in points somehow cast deeper in the cement than the rest of it, almost like an ominous threat. The second photo was nearly identical, though more benign as it was further away. Gil flicked to the third photo, which he hadn’t shown her yet.

It was a photo dominated by dark, blurred edges. Flecks of light from the flash reacted with the dust motes in the swirling air, like gold and white snowflakes in a coal mine. Nothing could really be made out distinctly in the shot. Tired, Gil grabbed the phone back. Jen refused to let go of her grip: “What’s that in the corner?”

“Huh?” Gil frowned and held the phone closer. In the very corner of the photo, a midnight black, round object had two red dots in the center of it. At first sight it looked like flecks of rust-colored dust, but as Gil enlarged the photo you could see the lights belonged to the shape in the darkness, somehow discernible as more dark than the pit shadows itself. They were paired fairly close together in the middle of the black mass as he realized they were eyes. It had been staring at him the entire time he was looking in.

“What the fuck is that?” Jen uttered, her voice rising in fear.

Downstairs, the low shuffles in the basement turned to distinguished movements. Large boxes were being overthrown as if they weighed nothing, their contents clacking and banging along the damp earth.

They turned to each other, unsure if they should head off whatever creature was downstairs or just run.

“Just stay up here and I’ll check it out.”

“No fucking way, Gil. We need to get the fuck out of this house. This is bullshit, we just moved in and I can’t believe—”

“Shut up, take the bat and go out the front door. I’ll check it out, its only in the basement. If I don’t come out in 5 call animal control. It will be fine—its just an animal trapped in there.” Though, by this time, Gil was unsure what kind of creature he would meet.

As soon as their feet touched the floorboards, the basement shuffling ceased. Heightened, the couple tip-toed downstairs, floorboards anxiously creaking as Jen reached the front door, hurried out and hugged herself on the front lawn.

Grabbing a knife from the cutlery set and the industrial flashlight in the kitchen, Gil stood in front of the closed basement door in silence. He put his ear against the flimsy door and listened… just more silence. The temporary peace of the moment lulled him. Stepping back, he whirled open the door and shined his light on the stairs.

***

Five minutes passed, and no Gil. Jen started to panic and after 5 more, she called 9-1-1. A team arrived promptly and went inside the house, unable to understand her fear. After another 10 minutes, two policemen emerged.
“Ma’am, please just come with us” intoned two officers as they closed in to block her path into the house. Crashing through them, Jen rushed in, determined to see.

She snaked through the hallway, and then into the kitchen. She stops abruptly and slips on a sticky substance. It’s as if someone had thrown a full water balloon where the kitchen floor meets the stairs–but its a deep maroon red splatter, saturating the floor and walls.

A screech tears from Jen’s throat as she looks up and sees dozens of twisted, deformed, red prints strewn across the ceiling. They emerge from the basement ceiling and exit out the open back door into the night.

Credit To – Skyla2186

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Darkness

November 3, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Darkness surrounds me.

And cold.

And emptiness.

I lay in this void not knowing how long I have lain here, and in the initial grogginess of my awakening I know not why I am here. I turn my gaze from side to side, but can see nothing in the enveloping blackness. I can sense nothing – no sound, no light, no scent – beyond the feel of the smooth stone on which I am resting, and a constant pressure upon the entirety of my being.

I feel the coldness of the rock on which I lay seep into my being, and trace a finger across its surface. Delicate swirling patterns – almost too fine to be felt – whirl in the rock beneath my thawing fingertips, like an arcane language I am unable to discern. After a moment, spurred on by my frigid isolation, I begin to crawl forwards. In this darkness, I of course cannot know where I am going, though I feel an irresistible urge to press forward – as if I am being summoned by some far off voices united in a silent song. My progress is painful – my limbs weak through lack of use…

Just how long have I slept?

The pressure clinging to every inch of my form presses against me, weighs down upon me as if from many leagues above, and I am unable to move with any speed. Slowly – maybe as slowly as a glacier cutting through a valley – I edge ever forward towards my goal, though I still cannot know what it is.

I have an age to ponder my situation – to bat the cobwebs in my mind away from the memories underneath – though still I cannot. It is difficult to move, and difficult to think. I vaguely recollect images of the world above, of the stars shining in the vast, endless aether of the night’s sky. The memories feel so distant to me now. And just as I am on the cusp of penetrating the fog in my mind, my hand falls upon a small collection of stones. I pause here – startled by the sudden intrusion on the perfect plane I have been traversing – before tentatively reaching out ahead of me. Giddy euphoria envelops me as my hand brushes against the craggy surface of the wall in-front of me.

Finally.

Finally I have something on which to anchor myself. Something solid that lets me know there is an end, a periphery to this darkness in which I find myself. I stand, grasping the rough-hewn rock in my hand until my fingers ache. Now I have hold of something tangible, I do not wish to return to the emptiness behind me.

I take a moment to compose myself, and begin my ascent.

While the rocks beneath my fingers feel rough to the touch, they are slick, and I find myself digging my nails into each handhold to gain purchase. Though less than I once was, before I fell into the darkness, I still have the strength to heave my body up. I stare sightlessly above me, into the void, and climb.

Relentlessly.

I strive upward for what feels like an age until the blackness surrounding me begins to recede, and the cold falls away like a discarded robe. The blackness becomes a deep grey, then a hint of blue-green creeps into my vision. And still I climb.

The pressure on my skin lessens with each surge upwards, and I am able to register changes in light around me more and more. I can see the soapy, greenish-black rock to which I cling, and I begin to experience sounds again. There’s a rhythmic, slow churning surrounding me, almost like the heartbeat of the world.

Upwards I strive, ever upwards, towards the light above. I notice tiny creatures all around me. Though moving with more speed now the pressure is abating, I still move terribly slowly and they wheel, glide, dip, and weave joyously before me. I do not deign to imagine what such an insignificant intellect would think upon beholding me, though their movements bely deference, bordering on worship. I look into their bulging, unblinking eyes and see many emotions – Love and longing as they move towards me, fear and loathing as they move aside.

I continue rising towards the dazzling blue above me – can almost taste the air of the surface-world above. The greyish-green figures surge upwards alongside me and we all break the surface of the waves in unison.

The winds and the spray blast away the last vestiges of amnesia in my mind, and my purpose is as clear as the waters lapping at my shins. I feel the heat and the light of the tiny yellow star above upon my back, and flex my dreadful wings wide to catch its warmth. I snatch a few of my servants from the waves with claw and tentacle and feast on them. Even in pain and death, their song to me holds adoration and awe.

Long have I slept in the dark, cold, empty R’lyeh.

Now I am awake, and I hunger.

Credit To – Sue

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Little Glass Box

November 2, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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The pungent, acrid smell permeated the old home that was now mine; I knew that the smell would fade with time, and that I would become accustomed to it as time went on. It was a beautiful little two-story Victorian home in the heart of a small historic town in Virginia. With that being said, neighbors weren’t nearby. Therefore, I wasn’t bothered. I somewhat enjoyed the scent of the home, and was looking forward to learning about the history about the town.

I soon got to unpacking, eager to make the place feel more like home. After the death of my wife, my last home no longer felt like home, and only brought on painful memories. I only want to hide for a while; a few months, maybe a few years. I was hoping this place would do the trick.

It was getting close to 1 in the morning when I decided to relax for the rest of the night and leave the rest of the unpacking for the morning, and I sat down with a glass of wine, next to the fireplace. It was then that I heard the tapping. It was a slow, steady sound, almost as if something was hitting against the pipes down in the cellar. I’m not sure if it had been steady making the sound all day, or if it had just started. Now that it was calm and I was no longer dropping boxes or shoving furniture around, I could hear it distinctly.

I made note of where the sound was coming from down below, and then made my way to the cellar. The smell was even more potent down below due to the humidity; I worried at this point that the basement might be flooded due to the old pipes, and that the sound was from water leaking. I scurried down the basement stairs, clutching the railing on the way down, hoping that the old stairs wouldn’t give way.

I made it to the bottom, relieved to find that the floor was completely dry. I remembered that the pulley for the light was at the bottom of the staircase when I first viewed the home, so I reached for it. Dim light flooded the cellar, revealing an empty room, aside from the pipes, an old water heater, and a few wooden shelves along the wall. The smell of the old cellar was musty and old; it was the pungent smell of wood which had moistened and dried over many years.

I heard the tapping sound again, much louder now, reverberating against the pipes above. I searched the basement, only to discover a small chain, dangling from a hook, clanging against the pipes every time there was a gust of wind that blew from a small cellar window, which was opened. I closed the window, and pulled the chain down from the ceiling. The cellar went silent, and the air began to warm without the cool breeze from the open window.

I turned to head back upstairs, before something caught my eye. Along one of the shelves was a small, wooden cabinet, adorned with small onyx pull handles. I walked over, and opened the small doors. Inside, there was a beautiful stained glass box. It was rectangular in shape, and mostly red and purple. It looked to be an old jewelry box. It was particularly dusty, but with one swipe of my hand across the lid, the glass came clean, and the vibrant colors shone in the light.

I brought the box upstairs to clean it off, under running water. Dust had particularly collected at the bottom, regardless of the lid being closed at the time, which I found unusual. Once it was clean, I set it next to my desk. It was so colorful under my desk lamp, and it made me wonder why someone had left it there, and if the owner misses it now and wonders where it went. I pondered on how old it was, and if it had been passed down for many years. I finally headed to sleep at 2:15 AM that night, and fell asleep almost instantly.

I awoke the next morning very sore and not feeling rested at all, but rather feeling the effects of the hard work over the past few nights. I sat up, rubbing the back of my neck, and got up to retract the blinds. The sunlight shone bright through the window; it was then that I saw the little box again, gleaming in the sun. It was beautiful, and I couldn’t help but be absolutely mesmerized by it once again. I took a seat at my desk, and held the little box. It was clean, and almost perfect; it was free of almost all scratches. I was sitting, almost hypnotized by the little box in front of me, when a loud crash came from behind me. It was the sound of something crashing into my window, and it scared me to the extent where I dropped the box, letting it crash to the floor. It bounced off the carpet, undamaged, but left a small scrape on my leg in the process. I dashed to the window, and grimaced at the sight of the dead bird below.

I spent the rest of the day unpacking and decorating the house, after burying the bird out back, between two oak trees. I was exhausted by nightfall, and decided to head to sleep early. I was finally done emptying every box in the house, and it was still early, but I was more exhausted than I had ever been in my life. I fell into a deep slumber, once again.

The aching, radiating pain was unbearable, and it was the first thing I woke up to in the morning. I pulled aside the covers, only to find the cut on my leg now red and inflamed. I felt the area, and it was hot to the touch. “Shit…” I mumbled to myself, “It must be getting infected.” I stumbled to the bathroom, and retrieved the rubbing alcohol from the cabinet. I soaked a few cotton balls in the alcohol, and gently swabbed the area. I wasn’t worried; I knew I had my tetanus vaccine recently. So, I resorted to wrapping the wound and resting for the day. I knew that old box had much dirt and dust in it when I found it, so there’s no doubt it got in the wound. I was relieved that the box wasn’t damaged. It was so beautiful, and I wanted to keep it from getting damaged. I laid down to rest that night, with my leg in less pain than it had been before.

I awoke the next morning to a very unfamiliar, putrid smell. I pulled the covers off of me, and choked at the sight of my leg, almost retching. The scratched area had now swollen and had turned a putrid, blue-grey color. What shocked me the most, though, was the fact that it was no longer painful at all. It was just there, on my leg, only about an inch or two in circumference. The tissue looked completely dead. I was hours from any hospital, and no doctor’s offices were open, as it was Sunday. I cleaned and dressed the wound the best that I could that night.

I awoke the next morning, and was shocked to find that the wound had grown in size significantly, now taking up a quarter of my leg. It oozed with any slight touch, and the smell of tissue decay from the site was overwhelming. I went to brush my teeth later that same morning, and felt something rolling about in my mouth. I opened my mouth wide, only to find a large molar sitting atop my tongue. I then noticed that my tongue was now a blue-grey color, the same rancid color of my leg. Afraid for my life, I headed to the hospital, knowing I could wait no longer – but not before I threw the little box in my bag.

Once I arrived, I sat quietly in the waiting room, silent with fear, while awaiting my turn with the doctor. I examined the skin around my nails; the skin was now fraying at the cuticles and pulling back. With a slight pull at the nail, it fell off. One more pull, and another fell off. They began to come out as if nothing was holding them together at all. I then looked to my arms, and watched as blood vessels began to slowly become visible behind the skin of my arms. I glanced up briefly before turning around, but something caught my attention in the reflection of the glass in front of me. I glanced back at my reflection, and saw my own face, now sunken in and riddled with a marbled appearance. I looked lifeless. And with this, I began to scream.

Doctors tended to me almost immediately, shocked at the state that I was now in. I was whisked away on the gurney, down the narrow halls, into a room with bright lights above me. They examined my leg, then my hands, and every inch of my body. Then came the needles; I became a human pincushion, with lines of red streaming from my body. Vials of my blood were taken away, in order to be tested. Words like “sepsis”, “necrosis”, “hemorrhagic”, and “debridement” were exchanged between doctors, interns, and nurses alike. I was taken in for an MRI, and biopsies were taken from my wound, before I was finally reeled back into my room and left to rest.

It was a little under two hours later, when a single doctor from the group walked into the room, and pulled up a chair, staring at his paperwork, and only slipping glances my way. He seemed frightened, which frightened me. “I don’t really know how to tell you this so that you’ll understand….” he trailed off, “…because I don’t understand it myself.” I looked towards him, shaking, wanting him to continue, and afraid for my life. “Your body is breaking down your red blood cells at a rapid rate, causing you to have this…appearance. We tested your blood for viruses, any virus at all, and it came up clear. There are no signs of cancer or any tumors at all, and you don’t have a fever. In fact…your temperature is very low.” The doctor cleared his throat, as I looked on in bewilderment. “Your body is also releasing gases such as methane and hydrogen sulfide, which, in these levels, are really only characterized…..with the decomposition of the entire human body. I…can’t explain how you are alive right now.”

The doctor returned his gaze to mine. “Sir…have you any idea how this started?” Trembling, I pointed across the room. “That…that box” I told him, my voice quavering. He walked over, picked it up, and brought it back to me. “This?” he asked. He opened the lid. There was now a small piece of newspaper clipping inside of it. “Is this yours?” he asked, while handing it over to me. I shook my head no, knowing full well that it had not been there when I had originally found the box. I took the clipping from him, and opened it slowly. “MAN FALLS DOWN STAIRS AND BREAKS LEG; IS LEFT TO SUFFER AND FOUND DEAD BY FAMILY ONE MONTH LATER”, the heading said. Underneath the heading was a photograph of the man, and beside the man, was a photo of the house I now lived in. The story told how the man, Steven Cascio, had fallen and suffered a compound fracture in his left leg; since he was old frail, he was unable to gain enough strength to get back up the stairs, and died slowly, with his cries for help left unheard. He had been alive for at least four days before he died due to blood loss and infection. His family, who became worried about him, had found him in advanced stages of decomposition. Due to the state of his body, his family opted for cremation.

It was then that I knew what the dust at the bottom of the small box was.

It has now been almost one month, and I just keep rotting in this hospital bed. I can’t even remember the last day I had a pulse.

Credit To – Vacantia

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November 2014 Discussion Post: Creepy Comic Books + Related Giveaway!

November 1, 2014 at 12:00 AM

Over the past couple year and a half, we’ve slowly been accumulating lists of community recommendations for the best in creepy movies, games, books, and more – here’s the round up of all the related discussion posts thus far:

It’s probably obvious from the post title, but this month we’ll be adding to this series by discussing our favorite creepy comic books!

Please weigh in with your personal top picks for any comics that you can conceivably call ‘creepy’ – this includes topics like horror, zombies (even zombie superheroes!), paranormal and ghosts, esoteric magic and the supernatural, aliens, cryptozoology, etc. If you think that it’s a solid quality book and has themes that you could imagine showing up in a good Creepypasta, feel free to suggest away.

Obviously, please refrain from suggesting horror manga in this post, as that already has its own discussion topic here.

Webcomics are fine to suggest, and if possible, please remember to link to the webcomic’s URL in your comment.

I’ll periodically update this post to make a masterlist of the comic books suggested, as I’ve done with past posts.

As the entry deadline for the comic giveaway has passed, I’m putting the rest of this post under a cut.

Craters in Her Face

November 1, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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I’ve always been an art enthusiast. I guess I inherited that from my grandmother. She had been a painter for many years, and tried her best to instill a love of the fine arts in me. I have many fond memories of trips to museums and galleries with her, gazing upon the countless beautiful and thought provoking pieces.
Sculpture and photography were nice, but I always had a special place in my heart for paintings. Especially old oil paintings. It’s hard to explain. There’s a sort of special property to paintings that you can only appreciate with your eyes in person. Photographs do them no justice. The way the light refracts off of the oil, and bounces back to your eyes give them a sort of life that no other medium can.

Well as much as I loved oil paintings, I was never much good myself. As a child, my grandmother tried giving me lessons. She’d create a breathtaking scenery, whilst the only thing I managed to make was a colossal mess.

Despite my apparent lack of talent in the oil painting department, it did not in the slightest diminish my love for the craft. My grandmother had a room dedicated to the paintings she had created or collected, which she dubbed “the gallery”. I spent hour upon hour in that room, staring in wonderment.

Despite my being a child, my grandmother had no qualms with leaving me alone in a room with tens of thousands of dollars worth of paintings. She knew I had far too much respect for them to damage them, even as a bouncy little girl. She did, however, have one rule that was to be strictly adhered to at all times in the gallery: if any paintings in the gallery are covered, you are NOT to uncover them. Not even to peek.

Now some might think this a strange rule, I certainly did as a girl, but there is reason behind it. Oil paints are very sensitive, and it’s possible the pieces she had covered up could be damaged if exposed to light, or various other factors.

But regardless of the reasoning, I made sure to follow that rule. Or at least I did, until the day my grandmother received her newest piece.

I remember arriving at my grandmother’s home for a visit and running straight for the gallery. I rounded the corner into the room when I was forced to screech to a halt. There, in the center of the room was an incredibly large painting, propped up by an easel and covered with a long, dark curtain.

I had never seen the piece before, and the sheer size of it astounded me. My curiosity overtook me for a moment, and I found myself slowly reaching out a tiny hand to unveil the mysterious piece. But just as my hand grasped the dark velvet, my grandmother entered the room, wearing a frown.

“Evelyn what are you doing? You know the rule about covered paintings!”

My hand instantly whipped back to my side and my head sulked at the realization of my actions.

“I’m sorry Grandma. I forgot. This painting, it’s so huge! What is it?!”

My grandmother’s expression softened and she placed a hand on my shoulder.

“This painting was just given to me by a friend. Her ill sister painted it shortly before passing away. She said she couldn’t bear to look at it because it made her too sad, so she gave it to me.”

“May I see it?” I asked.

“Perhaps later. It’s very sensitive because it’s in poor condition. I’m going to try to preserve it though. After I’m done, I’ll let you see it like with all the others.” she warmly responded.

Although my curiosity was not satisfied, I agreed and resigned myself to looking at all the other pieces in the gallery. Content that I would no longer cause any sort of mischief, my grandmother returned to the sitting room.

I lay there in the soft plush carpet, gazing at the works of art until my focus drifted. Despite how bad I knew it was to disobey my grandmother, my curiosity continued to burn hot in my chest. I had already stared at each and every piece in the gallery to detail, and had grown restless. I had to see what was beneath the curtain.

Holding my breath, and tiptoed over to the massive easel and grasped the soft fabric in my hand. I’d just peek for a moment. It wouldn’t hurt. Just long enough to quench this burning need to know.

I released the breath I was holding and quickly pulled the curtain aside. Immediately, I felt myself release a gasp. I had seen countless paintings of all genres and matters, but none so utterly disturbing as what lay before me.

The painting depicted what appeared to be a pale young women. Her skin was a sickly yellow, and appeared clammy and unwell. She wore a tattered ivory dress, and her long black hair flowed behind her, seemingly following wind sources from no particular direction.

She sat in anguish, with her hands held up to the side of her face, digging her long black nails into the flesh. As uncomfortable as the piece was as a whole, what really unnerved me was her eyes and mouth. Black, gaping holes sunk into her head where they should have been, and a thick, rust colored fluid seemed to leak from them.

Immediately I panicked and threw the curtain back over the horrid painting. I wanted to run screaming and crying straight to my grandmother, but I restrained myself. I knew that if I did that, she’d know I disobeyed her by looking under the curtain. So instead I gave myself a moment to regain my breath and composure before calmly joining my grandmother in the sitting room.

I never went into the gallery by myself again.
That is until my grandmother passed away, naming me the sole recipient of her painting collection.

The reading of the will was an uncomfortable enough experience on its own, but it was made worse by the fact that my jealous cousins were also present. My grandmother’s estate, belongings, and all of her life earnings were to be split evenly amongst the family. I however, was chosen to receive the paintings alone.

I knew this was because my grandmother knew of my great love for the art, and that I would be the only one not to sell all of them for the money. However, my cousins simply saw it as me inheriting nearly $80,000 in oil paintings, and not sharing a dime of it.

Oh, you can believe they tried to contest the will, but it was iron-clad, and despite their protests, I soon enough found myself transporting the pieces into my own home.

My boyfriend Edward and I had purchased a lovely Victorian style home two years prior, and I, following in my grandmother’s footsteps, had dedicated the long hallway and large room at the end of the third floor to hosting my own collection of paintings.

My grandmother had a great deal more paintings than I, but Edward and I managed to shuffle things around until everything had a cozy new home. Well, everything except for the one, nearly six foot tall canvas, wrapped methodically in several layers of brown paper and twine.

Instantly a knot formed in my stomach. I knew exactly which piece it was. The image of the tormented young woman with bloody caverns in her face flooded my mind, and I felt myself growing pale. Edward however, did not share the same unfortunate memory, and excitedly began unwrapping the piece.

I rushed forward to stop him, exclaiming how I wanted him to keep it wrapped, as it was a horrifically gruesome piece. However, by the time I reached him, he had already revealed the piece’s glossy surface.

I prepared myself for the horrible sight, but to my shock, it was different. The sickly girl in the white dress still stood, hair flowing in the non-present wind and hands digging into her cheeks, but the bloody craters were gone.

Instead, she now appeared to be a pretty little thing. She had soft pink cheeks, sparkling green eyes, and her lips parted daintily into a dreamy smile. I recognized the style immediately. This was my grandmother’s work. She had done an exceptional job covering over the old, horrific facade, however, if I inspected the piece closely, I could still see traces of the gruesome sight hiding right below the surface.

My grandmother had clearly worked painstakingly on the piece. To anyone who hadn’t seen the original, it actually did appear quite pleasant. I, however, hated it to my core. Edward on the other hand, was instantly in love.

The next few days consisted of us arguing over where the piece would be hung. We were out of room in the gallery, and he insisted upon hanging it on the large, blank wall on the far side of our bedroom. I of course wanted nothing to do with the piece, thus the fighting began.

Finally, we came to an agreement. I would let him hang the piece in our room for the time being, but I would begin looking for the family of the woman who originally painted the piece. Obviously, they wouldn’t want to look at it in its former state, as it forever captured the state of sickness in their beloved family member. But now, it was beautiful. It would memorialize her as she was before the sickness began changing her. Certainly they would want it back now!

Edward was hesitant, but agreed that returning it when I found the family would be the right thing to do. So it was that I prepared myself for a few weeks tops of having to gaze at the uncomfortable piece.

The piece went up, and despite my reservations, it actually wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. Without the bloody chasms, the threatening aura of the piece was gone, and I will admit that seeing my grandmother’s painting style made me a little happy.

And while it had taken a few days, I finally tracked down a phone number for the family. The daughter of the woman who had given the painting to my grandmother answered, and seemed excited when I told her of the relic from her aunt. She said she wanted the piece, but she needed some time to find a place for it. Excitedly, we both agreed to hand over the piece the following week.

My excitement however, quickly faded when I learned that Edward was going to be leaving town for the remainder of our time in possession of the piece, due to business. Displaying the piece was one thing, but being home alone with it was an entirely different situation. Despite my grandmother’s beautiful work, being alone in the same room with the piece always left me with an uncomfortable knot in my stomach.

So after kissing Edward goodbye, and locking the door, I immediately ran to the linen closet, where I promptly grabbed a sheet to throw over the creepy painting. I stormed into my bedroom, armed with the linen and a tack, and came to a halt in front of the piece.

It was very vague, and I needed to squint my eyes and lean in to notice it, but it appeared as though my grandmother’s paint had begun to crack and peel a bit, revealing glimpses of the rusty brown color hiding right below.

That was impossible though. The piece was nowhere near old enough for that to occur. Oil paint is famous for staying wet for a very long time. There are even some paintings from the middle ages that are still moist on the inside! There was no way the paint here should be peeling!

Just the sight of that gross, rusty paint made me feel ill. I immediately threw the sheet over it, and breathed a sigh of relief when I was no longer confronted with the eerie sight. I couldn’t give the painting back soon enough.

It was about this time that strange things began happening. Nothing huge and panic worthy. Just little things. Doors I could swear I had left open would be inexplicably closed, every so often I’d feel a soft gust of air as if someone had just walked by, and an occasional creak or groan, which weren’t all too uncommon in a home as old as mine.

Things continued on like this for the first few days Edward was gone. It was Wednesday. Edward would be back on Sunday, and we’d return the piece on Monday. As uncomfortable as I was, my goal was in sight, and I knew I’d make it.

A few more days passed, and things were going relatively well until I decided to look at the piece again. I had been on the phone with a shipping company earlier, trying to decide the best way to wrap and transport the piece. I figured that the cracking and peeling of the piece must have been due to improper preparation and handling, and wanted to avoid further damage. Hesitantly, I lifted the sheet for a quick assessment.

I immediately dropped the sheet once more, and backed away in a moment of panic. The paint had continued to deteriorate, and now even more of the seeping rust was breaking through the girl’s once lovely face, now leaving her with a grotesque, cracked open face.

It was at this point that I decided I needed to speak with the family once more. I dialed the number, and to my surprise, found that the woman who had gifted my grandmother with the piece all those years ago was still alive, and had answered the phone. Apprehensively, I told her about the piece, and she immediately invited me over to talk about it over tea.

Jumping at the opportunity to not be home alone with the piece, I grabbed my purse and immediately headed over. Upon arriving at the address, I was greeted at the door by a smiling old woman. She graciously welcomed me into the home, and in minutes we were settled in the front room with daintily painted teacups in our hands.

She released a long sigh before speaking.

“That painting should have been destroyed a long time ago.” she breathed sadly.

“You’ve seen it. It’s terrible and frightening. It’s the result of a very sick mind.”

She shifted her gaze down to her teacup before continuing.

“My sister had brain cancer. In its final stages, she became very ill mentally. When there was nothing more the doctors could do for her, they sent her home and told us to make her comfortable. She always loved painting, so we bought her the biggest canvas we could, and hoped to make her last moments happy ones.”

“But as you can see, they weren’t. Her mind was plagued by demons. She began withdrawing more and more into the madness of her own world, and it showed on the canvas. I actually walked in on her slashing her arms with a palette knife, and mixing her blood right into the paint.”

The image of the gross, rusty color oozing from the craters in the girl’s face flashed across my mind, and I had to set my cup down for fear of dropping it.

“I was going to get rid of it” the old woman continued “Burn it after my sister passed away. But your grandmother, ever the art enthusiast insisted on keeping it instead. I don’t know why. It’s a horribly dreadful piece.”

“And now, what’s worse, my daughter wants it back in our home. Please, I beg of you. Burn it. Burn it right to ashes. Destroy that accursed thing.”

Right at that moment, the old woman’s daughter walked into the room.

“Mother! What is wrong with you? We have almost nothing to remember Aunt Marnie by, and when something she made with her own hands finally resurfaces in our life, you say to burn it?!”

“It’s a bad painting Sarah. It’s dark, and it’s angry, and it holds all the ugliness of the disease that took your Aunt from us.”

“No! It’s not! Evelyn here said that her grandmother restored it! It’s beautiful now, and I want to display it in our home to honor Aunt Marnie. You’re my mother, and I love you, but this is my home, and I want the painting. That’s final.”

By this point, the atmosphere in the home had gotten quite awkward, so I readily thanked them for the tea, and made my way back home. My newfound knowledge about the piece making me even less eager to keep it in my bedroom.

Without realizing it, I had spent far more time visiting the old woman than I had expected. That paired with the sizable drive back home, I found night to have already fallen by the time I finally arrived on my front porch. The house was empty and quiet, and confirmed my decision to sleep in the guest room that night.

Edward would be back the next day. Silly as I felt, just one night in the guest room wouldn’t kill me. I snuggled down with a good book, and read until I felt my eyes growing heavy. It had been a while since I had felt this at ease. I was quite happy to have made the decision to sleep away from the dreadful painting.

Within moments, I found myself drifting off to a peaceful sleep. However, this did not last. What I assume to be several hours later, I awoke to the sound of a slamming door. I jolted awake, my heart racing. I was home alone, and feared for a burglar.

I immediately began scoping the room for something I could use as a weapon. Thinking quickly, I pulled down the pole that was holding up the curtain, and wielded it like a staff.

Slowly, I crept through the doorway, keeping as silent as possible. The only thing I could hear was the sound of my own heart rapidly beating in my ears. Strangely, nothing in the house was amiss. I stood in the hallway pondering a moment before deciding which direction to move in.

My first instinct was to reach for the light switch, but if there was an intruder, hitting the light would immediately give away my position. So I decided to navigate in the dark. I knew my own home better than a thief would, so if I moved quietly, I’d have the element of surprise on my side.

Just then I had to muffle a scream as the door to my bedroom at the end of the hall slammed shut. Then the sound of weeping filled the home. It was sad, and distant, but it was definitely coming from my room.

Acting on instinct instead of logic, I hit the light switch in the hall, and went to investigate. Slowly, and as quietly as I could, I cracked open the door. The light from the hallway spilled into the dark room, and immediately, the weeping stopped.

I held my breath for a moment, not sure of what would happen next. That’s when my eyes fell upon the painting.

The sheet lay crumpled beneath it. I know it was covered the last time I had seen it, yet there it was, strewn across the floor.

Shaking, I pushed the door open further, allowing more light to spill into the room. The oil painting on the far end of the room illuminated, hungrily refracting the beam of light that now shone across it.

The last flecks of flesh colored paint my grandmother had painstakingly applied to the topcoat had crumbled away, once more revealing the horrifying visage I remember from my childhood.

I froze for a moment, overwhelmed by the same disgust that had captured me all those years ago the first time I laid eyes on the piece. That sickly yellow skin, those long black nails, the inexplicable wind that defied natural law. It all looked so terrifyingly real in the faint light.

Those deep oozing craters… Wait. Oozing? Oh my God. There’s no way. The craters in her face were actually oozing that horrible rusty material. It was impossible, but those deep, dark crevices were literally dripping with the stuff. I could see it seep out of the canvas and hear the splatters on the hardwood floors below.

I knew I should run, but my feet seemed glued to their place. I tried to calm my heavy, raspy breathes, however, I soon realized that they weren’t mine… I held my breath for a moment, and the scratchy exhales continued. I focused my gaze on the abomination on the wall, and released a silent scream.

The painting was moving. The woman’s bony, misshapen chest was jaggedly rising and falling in sync with the heavy breathing that now filled the room. My eyes widened in terror as my worst fear came to light. The painting slowly began to lurch. The shape of a crater filled head began to push through the canvas as if it were merely a sheet of spandex.

As the wretched figure began to force its way through, I finally regained my senses. I slammed the door shut and began running down the hall. I had only made it a few feet before I heard an enormous thud. The canvas had fallen off the wall. And at that precise moment, the wailing resumed. This time so loud I physically had to cover my hears.

Right as I rounded the corner, I shrieked in fear as I was immersed in total blackness. I tried desperately to orient myself, but my night vision had only just started to develop. In a panic, I continued forward with my hands outstretched, hoping to find the banister that lead downstairs.

A jolt of terror ran up my spine when I heard the creak of a door opening, followed by the sound of something heavy thumping, then dragging down the hall. The weeping had turned into wild shrieks, and were so loud they were disorienting. I nearly fell down the stairs when my hands finally grasped the banister.

As quickly as I could, I began racing down the stairs. The thumping and dragging sounded closer now. It was moving far faster than I thought. When I got to the bottom of the staircase, I felt for the side table on the right and threw it to the ground, hoping to slow it down.

Something was off now though. The shrieking had stopped. It was silent. No thumping, no dragging. Just silent. For some reason this scared me even more. So I ran as quickly as I could, despite the dark, straight for the front door.

Right as I was mere feet from grasping the handle, I felt my feet give out from underneath me. Something bony and cold had wrapped itself around my ankle. I fought wildly to break free as the sound of heavy breathing filled the room loudly again. I saw the form of something large and dark approaching me, and I swung wildly with my hands.

I felt them dig into something cold and moist. In disgust, I used all my might to push it back, and break through the front door, slamming it shut behind me.

I didn’t stop running until the sun had begun to rise. When I finally stopped, I collapsed on the ground, panting heavily. I raised my hand to wipe my brow, but stopped. I had been so focused on fleeing up until now that I hadn’t taken a moment to look at my hand. It was covered in a dark, rusty material, and tangled in several strands of long, black hair.

***

When Edward returned, he found the home to have been targeted by burglars. The place was trashed, but it was rather odd. Only one thing in the entire home had been stolen. He noticed that the large, lovely painted my grandmother had restored was nowhere to be found.

The police came by, and told me I was lucky to have escaped. I just nodded and kept quiet. After all, a burglary was the only logical explanation, right? This was a fairly textbook case, you see. A large, Victorian home full of valuable paintings makes a tempting target for thieves.

There was however, one detail about the case that seemed to have everyone baffled. All throughout the home there were trails of a dark, rusty fluid. Lab reports later confirmed it to be a strange combination of paint and old, rotten blood.

I’m not much a fan of paintings anymore. Edward and I sold the gallery, and are using the money to plan our wedding and are currently looking for a new home. I told him that I have trouble sleeping here because I have nightmares about the break in, but the truth is, we never did find the painting.

And some nights, I’ll lay in bed, moments away from drifting off, and I’ll swear I hear the sound of distant, raspy breaths.

Credit To – Madame Macabre

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Danza de los Muertos

October 31, 2014 at 12:00 PM
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The stiff autumn wind bullied brittle leaves across the sidewalk and into the empty street on Angela’s way home from the daycare center. She wrapped her too-thin cardigan tightly around her as the leaves were marched swiftly to the opposite curb. Their colors had drained from bright fingerpaint yellows, oranges, and reds to a dull, crunchy brown. Once they danced, she thought. Now, they merely scuttle. Her brow furrowed for what felt like the hundredth time that day as she wrenched the cardigan even tighter. Her pace became brisk to match the air, her heels making curt interjections with each step. She tried to warm her mood with thoughts of hot apple cider and pumpkin spice lattes, but the cold kept rushing back in. Mrs. Weaver’s condescending scowl would return without warning, and the memory of her supervisor’s resentment cut through Angela, biting her, and making her wince.

Decrepit jack-o-lanterns sagged on many of the front stoops of houses and businesses that Angela passed. Their sunken eye sockets and sagging mouths seemed to cry out, “Help us! Save us!” but she knew there was no hope for them. Most had been smashed the night before, a post-Halloween “tradition” celebrated by local kids. Those that remained would be left to rot until a distant garbage day, their blackened insides becoming nests for insects. Don’t worry, Angela responded to the refugee pumpkins, even the best of us end up covered in bugs. Her mood was degrading along with the afternoon light; the sky was now a flat, cloud-covered gray with no sunset colors in sight. The street lamps began to blink on. There was plenty of natural light left for Angela to see, but the hazy gray sky would be black in less than an hour. For now, the lamps provided only ambiance and a low humming. In her irritation, Angela was more focused on the latter, and she walked even faster now, concentrating on the clack-clack conversation that her feet were having – until music interrupted them.

Down the street the wail of a trumpet was making its way towards Angela. It was soon accompanied by a guitar, then a chorus of shouts, laughter, and clapping hands. Appearing at the end of the block was a mass of colors, defiantly challenging their drab surroundings. As they drew closer, Angela could make out the chic-a chic-a of maracas and snake-like rattle of castanets. A mariachi band? Angela’s brow beetling once again wonder what could be coming up the middle of the street.

The troop was much closer now, and Angela stared at them, impressed by their numbers: thirty to fifty at least. The men wore sombreros and black suits with shiny brass buttons, the women long dresses with ruffles upon ruffles. Some carried instruments, others sang, and all were dancing. No face was left uncovered—they were near enough now that Angela could see that every person was either wearing full face paint or a mask. Many were hyper-realistic skulls adorned with roses and gemstones. The music was enchanting. Angela found herself dazed in wonder, her mind lost in the crowd of celebrators. Then, to her surprise, she was in the crowd.

A man’s gloved hand grasped hers and pulled her in, spinning her off balance. She stumbled but was immediately in the arms of another masked figure. At first she was stiff and reluctant, but she soon gave in to the dance. She let the twirling dancers envelop her. The vibrant skirts dazzled her with their flower garden of colors and the way they flew through the air, twisting and fluttering over the ground. She allowed herself to let go and was swept up into the thrum of the many guitars and the arms of yet another dancer. Together they spun, faster and faster, until Angela was certain she must be floating, her eyes closed in pure elation, laughing as if she were drunk on delight.

Then, her foot found the hem of one of those flying dresses, and she tumbled into her partner, knocking them both down. She looked at him, giggling with apologies, only to have the laughter sucked from her lungs. His mask had been pulled askew as they toppled, and what lay underneath was unlike any face Angela had seen outside of a museum. His skin was mummified, papery and dead; his eyes, sunk into their sockets, were dark, horrid remnants yet blazed with an unnatural knowing. He calmly replaced the mask and stood. Angela stayed frozen on the ground as the man reached out a hand to her. He seemed to speak, but the mariachi music was too loud, suddenly crazed and out of tune. She clambered backward toward the curb as more dancers turned to look at her, their skeleton faces now too realistic for mere face paint; the roses in their hair black and crumbling like ash.

Angela’s fingertips found the curb. She pulled herself up and bolted, ignoring the cluster of outstretched hands. The terrible music faded with each stride, and she slowed to glance over her shoulder. She watched intently as the mob danced onward into the dusk and out of sight. She stopped, gulping cold air that clawed at her lungs. Her body tingled with needles as she tried desperately to steady her breath. The sky was now dark enough for the street lamps to be necessary, and she was thankful for the light. Hot chocolate had just begun to settle into the forefront of Angela’s thoughts when an icy wind knocked it away. The gale carried the final notes of a trumpet to Angela’s ear. “Come with us,” the song whispered. “Join the dance.”

She ran.

Credit To – Vixen666

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