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The Secret of the Wanderer

November 9, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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Deep in the forest a cloaked figure glided past the ancient oak. It traveled silently through the forest searching for something. The setting sun cast long shadows over the trees, further throwing his face into darkness. The only distinguishable feature left by the dying sun was the soft orange light emanating from the folds of his cloak. Although no one knew the source of this light, it seemed to give off a sense of pure magic and joy for those who could obtain it. Stopping briefly to observe the crystalline faces in the pond and to hear the pleading voices of the whispering wind, the figure trudged on towards the twilight, trying to reach some end.

An owl screeched a warning to the nearby village as the figure swept through the forest. Most of the villagers knew to avoid this wandering spirit of the forest, but some of the younger ones were eager for a glimpse of the cloaked figure. A group of teenagers stood near the edge of the forest measuring the courage of each other. One boy named Cedric decided to head out in search of this spirit. He had heard the old story from the village elders. The spirit was said to be one of the ancient druids, entrusted to guard the object hidden beneath its cloak. As to the identity of the object, not even the wisest of the elders knew. The object was guessed to be everything from the heart of magic of the forest, to the source of all knowledge, to immortality. The villagers didn’t go near the forest for fear of the ghosts of those who tried to steal the object and failed. Cedric was determined to steal the object because he had a plan ready by the time the teenagers were huddled at the forest’s edge.

“I am going to steal the wraith’s magic, for I have a plan” he boasted to the audience.

“Well, does your plan involve becoming a ghost of the forest?” shouted James as his friend Nicholas laughed.

As the crowd began to jeer Cedric shouted over their heads, “I can attack the wraith with a sword my father gave me (though truth be told, Cedric stole it while his father was away). It’s powerful enough to control the dead.” The crowd stopped laughing as Cedric pulled out an old iron sword. “A witch spelled it so it can strike fear into the heart of any wraith.”

The crowd watched, horrified as Cedric went into the forest, spelled sword held high. He intended to make a fool of the spirit and claim his prize. Cedric didn’t care for knowledge, he hoped the wandering spirit had gold. Cedric marched along, his greed propelling him forward. As he passed beneath the trees he noticed they seemed to moan and groan like old bones rattling in the wind. The way the trees seemed to sigh made him imagine lost human souls trapped in their branches. Cedric knew he was imagining this as he walked along, ignoring the warning sighs of the wind. He came to a pond and was happy of the chance for a drink. He knelt down to drink when he got a horrible shock: the translucent face of a boy from his village stared back at him. The boy was older than Cedric and had disappeared from the village a year ago. Cedric hopelessly tried to pull him from the water until he realized a ghost was staring back at him. The listless eyes of the ghost seemed to be warning him to turn back. It was too late to go back now.

The immortal wanderer crept up behind the boy at the pond and waited. When Cedric realized the ghost was behind him he stood, brandishing his sword. “I do not fear you wraith”, he shouted, “This sword can harm the dead. Now give me your gold or -“

“What is it that you want?” rattled the hollow sound of death.

Taken aback, Cedric said, “I want that valuable object you’re hiding or else -“

“Take it”, gasped the tired old druid.

Cedric took the object as the withered old man walked off in the direction of the setting sun. The once immortal druid went West until he found an end to his wandering. Cedric, however, now had to guard the object. He started wandering the endless path of the forest, searching for the next greedy fool to come along. Cedric soon learned from the trapped souls of the forest that most who encountered the spirit chose death over the object, knowing they would take the burden of the wanderer if they knew the secret. As far as everyone but the wandering spirit knows, the object is immortality acquired by greed, because Cedric still wanders the forest to this day.

Credit: Treehugger14

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Admin Update 11/9/2015

November 9, 2015 at 10:57 AM

Hey guys, Derp here.

I’m sorry, but someone very important to me passed away this morning, and I need to take a few days to myself to deal with everything. Unfortunately, I have been scheduling on a day-to-day basis this past week, so this means that you guys will have a few days without fresh stories. I just don’t have the mental energy right now, particularly when considering the content of a lot of submissions.

I hope to only be gone for a few days, and thank you for your understanding.

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Summertime Nightmare

November 9, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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In the summer of 1985, my mother, sister, father, and myself moved into a rural farm house in Central Kentucky. The house was not in the greatest of shape but it did the job. Even though my father had served his country for 22 years, he never took the time to attend college or even a vocational course, so when he left the service, his options were few when it came to employment. He found a job fixing copy machines in the small city of Elizabethtown, KY and my mother found work at a clothing store. Needless to say, both my sister and I, who is 5 years older than me, were latch key kids.. .not out of the norm in the 80’s.

We were renting that house at the time and our landlord was an old crotchety man. He did little to nothing to help keep the house up but, given the low rent and the fact that we were just below the poverty line, it was acceptable. There was nothing extraordinary about this home. A basement, the middle floor, and the attic that had been converted to a master bedroom. As any 11 year old, the basement was not my favorite… always dark, always spooky. The washer and dryer were there, along with our large freezer. It was segmented by partial cement block walls, as if someone wanted to do something with it but never really got around to it.

The house had no air conditioning and a furnace that worked some of the time. We couldn’t afford anything more than fans in the summertime and space heaters in the winter. The house had been rented and left over and over again prior to us moving in and after that first year, it became clear why.

My experiences started on a Friday afternoon. Both my mother and father were working, my sister was at school. As for me, I was at home trying to recover from a flu that no one else in my school seemed to have. At the time, I got sick… a lot. Many nights, I would have chills and a fever but by the next day, I would be alright. My mother took me to the doctor repeatedly but they could never really pin point what the problem was.

The windows were open and the two box fans were going that hot July day. I was lying on the couch, watching one of our 3 channels that we could pick up with our roof mounted Radio Shack antenna. As I lay watching some old show, static began to overtake the television screen. Not bad at first, but then basically made it impossible to watch whatever horrible show was on at the time. I raised up, irked that I had to move. As the static became unbearable, both visually and to my hears, I made my way over to the large oak cabinet that contained the behemoth set. That was the day, the moment when I realized that this house would change me and I would never be the same.

I began messing with the wires on the back of the set. Checking connections and becoming worried that this snafu would prevent me from watching my afternoon cartoons and in 1985, G.I. JOE was not just entertainment, but a way of life for me. The t.v. was a kit set, by that I mean it came in pieces and my father literally put it together and installed it into the oak cabinet that took up way to much floor space. As I proceeded with my examination, I moved to the front of the t.v. pulling out the control panel and tried to make any adjustment that might bring it back to life. I leaned over and turned the set off. I was now just starring at it, pondering my next move.

As I looked at the blank, dark screen, all I could see was the reflection of the living room behind me. The light from the curtainless window made my surroundings in the tube all that much more clearer. Everything appeared normal behind me at first as my main focus was on my need to watch my upcoming cartoons but right at that moment, I noticed something out of place in that reflection. A man was sitting on the very couch that I had just left. The fear shot through me like a bolt of electricity. I spun my head around as fast as humanly possible to see… nothing. I stood up just as fast and scanned the room, my heart was racing. How did someone get in here without me hearing or seeing them. I cautiously made my way through the house, checking first, my sisters room, then mine… I slowly walked through the kitchen as it was the gateway to the rest of the home, including that basement.

I skipped that door, going instead to the one that led up to my parents room. I quietly moved up the stairs, trying to take in as much as I could. Still, I found nothing and no evidence that anyone was there. I finally made my way back to the kitchen and the basement door. I opened it with just enough space to flick on the light. Once they came on, I pushed the door open and peered down the stairs. That was enough for me. As I came back into the living room, I looked around and saw no more than the couch, chairs, and that overgrown t.v.

Sitting back on the couch, I started, to the best of my 11 year old brain could reason, to think about what exactly I had just seen. He looked to be in his late 40’s, in a black suit, black hair, long face ,and he was not looking at me, just looking forward with a blank stare. I tried to compose and reason with myself. I was a giant horror movie geek and I had just watched Poltergeist for 50th time that past weekend. It was a trick of light and shadow, and my imagination, I figured. It did not make sense that anyone could come in the house for one but also, why would they just sit down, get up, and leave. A ghost was out of the question as nothing had happened in the few months that we had lived there and besides, that was fiction. My final thought was, I am simply not seeing what I thought I saw. Once I had come to that conclusion, I was able to steady myself and refocus my attention to what really mattered, MY CARTOONS!

I walked over and pushed the power button back on. Low and behold, we have picture and sound! Just then, the phone rang. I hate to admit it, but I jumped just a little. It was my sister telling me that she was going to a friends house after school and to let mom know. I said o.k. and hung up the phone, not willing or wanting to know if my sister had anything else to say. After all, she was my sister and sibling rivalry was in full effect.

Leaning back on the couch, feeling that I just accomplished something great by returning to my programs, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. It was my bedroom door and it was slowly opening. Was it the wind? Did I check that room for the non existent intruder? Getting up, I made my way over, only to jump back when the door suddenly jutted open as if someone on the other side had grabbed the handle and decided to make a quick and forceful entrance into the living room.

I took two or three quick steps back. I could see directly into my bedroom. Once again, nothing. The calmness that I had obtained from my prior investigation had suddenly vanished. My heart rate was up, and although I knew I was sick, my sinuses had become fairly clear from the rush of adrenaline. ‘Hello’ I half heartedly spouted. No noise, nothing came from anywhere. Of course it didn’t, nothing was there. Stepping further back, I was amazed at myself and the level of fear that had taken control of me. I took a deep breath, attempting to readjust my brain to find a rational explanation to the non robber/ghost and to a door that up to a few seconds prior, had never done that before.

I decided that stepping outside was a good idea. I spent about 10 minutes playing with my dog and just looking around. The inside of the living room could be seen through the screen door but I decided that I would take one good look around. Laughing to myself, it dawned on me that there couldn’t be anyone in that house because my dog would have barked. She barked at everything from cars to a leaf that might have moved past her in an odd way. Needless to say, she was alert to the point of being irritating.

After walking around the outside of the place and coming to my senses, I made my way back in. I went directly to the kitchen, grabbed a Coke and a small bag of chips and sat myself down back in front of the idiot box. Then came the moment where I could no longer explain anything. Above me, from my parents room, I heard distinct footsteps, loud footsteps moving from one end of the room to the other. Back and forth they went. I stared at the ceiling, hoping it would stop but it didn’t. Instead they moved closer to the stairs. I moved to the doorway of the kitchen and listened as they proceeded to stomp down the steps. I was frozen, waiting and watching and then… nothing. Screaming as the attic door flew open was my next plan of attack. Not a great way of defending oneself, mind you, but that was the best I could come up with at the moment.

I began to ponder whether or not I should call my mom at her place of work. However, I couldn’t imagine what would take place if I told her to please drive 20 miles back to the house because her son had basically lost his mind. Also, if she had, she would have told my dad and that for me, was a non starter. He was not one who liked to be bothered with… well… just about anything. So, my options were shrinking as my level of fear was rising.

Moving quickly back to the living room but with my eyes still focused on the attic door, I did not know what to do. Making my way back to the couch but this time, paying no mind to whatever was playing on the t.v., I asked out loud ‘who are you’? When I received no response, I realized that I was basically whispering.. I tried again, this time with more force in my voice, ‘WHO ARE YOU;!?! When I got nothing back, the thought that my 11 year old mind had come up with was simple. I was crazy and there was no stopping it now.

Staring at the screen door directly in front of me, I began to wonder if this was real. Perhaps I am not going crazy, perhaps there is something here and if that is the case, I don’t want to be around. I grabbed the phone and called my best friend. He had gotten home, having completed his day at school. It was a Friday and I told him that I was feeling better and I should stay the night at his house …hell, the entire weekend sounded pretty good. He asked his mom and she said yes. He then told me that he and his dad would pick me up in about an hour. Unfortunately, that hour would be too long of a wait.

I went to my room, packed some things, grabbed some Nintendo games and wrote my mom a note telling her that I was at my friend Jimmy’s house for the weekend. The explanation sounded pretty mature for the time. I even told her to have a good weekend and to contact me if she needed anything. There was no doubt in my mind that I was not waiting around for another two hours before she got off work, not to mention to 30 minutes it took for her to drive home. NO THANKS.

Rocking myself back and forth looking for my friends fathers car to pull up our overly long driveway, I was growing more and more anxious, but I knew my trauma, real or imagined was coming to an end. Sitting there, even with the t.v. on, I noticed that everything had become eerily quiet. Box fans were on full blast and the commercial on the t.v. was very loud but nothing seemed right. The air felt still, everything outside of the main noises of the electrical equipment was oddly quiet..it was almost bizarre. I turned both fans off and then the television. Suddenly, I was overcome with all the hairs on my body rising as if a low electrical current was going through me then it happened. I heard the one thing, the one thing that I absolutely, positively did not want to hear.. My name.

Jonathan… it was a slow whisper but loud enough to clearly make out whatever ‘it’ was saying. My breathing became so heavy and my heart was beating so fast that it was almost impossible for me to hear anything other than those two things..and yet, there it was again…Jonathaaann…, louder than before.. I was in shock, I grabbed my belongings that I was planning on taking with me and I ran. I ran all the way down the drive way, leaving the doors wide open. I stayed there for 35 minutes before my friend showed up with his dad.. When they got there, I requested that they go down the drive way so I might ‘check the doors’ to make sure I locked them. His father did so without one complaint.

After the weekend passed and I returned home after school on the following Monday, instead of having a peaceful existence, whatever the thing was, it systematically began to haunt every member of my immediate family. My mother kept having things moved around or go missing, my sister would hear whispers in her pillow and began to spend more and more time with her friends, basically moving in with one of her friends, and my father, well he would often see someone out of the corner of his eye. He would say he saw someone in the property, and one night, in the basement while he was working on something… That incident was the start of our move away from that house and Kentucky. Although he would never specifically say what happened, when it did, he began to plan our move. As for me, it called to me, I had horrible and disturbing nightmares, always taking place in the basement, and shadows would appear on the wall from time to time.

Many years have past since we lived there. The house has been remodeled from what I understand, and many people have came and went. No matter where I have lived, I will never forget what happened there and that incident is why I became a Paranormal Researcher…

Even after all of this time, when it’s a hot summer day, and I am alone.. I often put earbuds in and listen to music if for no other reason to make sure I never hear my name being called from the shadows again.

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Mr. Padewski’s Story

November 8, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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Mr. Padewski’s Story

Three years ago one of my colleagues, whom I consider a friend, uncharacteristically stopped coming to work.

Mr. Padewski was in his forties and was well-respected. Health-wise, he was a runner, and in impeccable shape. He had been working toward obtaining his Master’s Degree so I figured he most likely succeeded in taking a position elsewhere. I just thought it was odd that he didn’t tell any of his lunch buddies goodbye or anything. Some of us had known him for ten years.

His empty chair at the lunch table often evoked questions of his disappearance. “Hey, did Padewski win the lottery or something? Lucky prick doesn’t have to work anymore? Does anyone know if Padewski took another job or something? Did he die? What the hell happened to that dude?”

Nobody seemed to know anything. They knew what I knew. He never came back to work. I googled his name and found nothing. No social media presence, no criminal record, no newspaper articles, no obituary…nothing.

I literally ran into Mr. Padewski yesterday as I was entering and he was exiting a gas station. As we shook hands, he appeared pleased to see me, but his eyes were dull and teary. Quite frankly, his physical transformation all together was beyond shocking. He was thin three years ago, but has since lost a considerable amount of weight, which, aided in accentuating the wrinkled skin that sagged like melted wax from his face and bones. His once groomed and lively brown hair had turned light gray, long, and wet.

“Hey man, what happened to you?” I inquired with a warm cheerful smile.

Now, Mr. Padewski was a great listener, a sensible man who often gave profound advice on matters, but he was never known to be an elaborate story teller. However, what he confessed to me outside of this gas station yesterday had every hair on my body flaring. I haven’t been able to think about anything else, and usually nothing really affects me.

He said, “Brandon, this is going sound strange, but it’s the horrible truth.”

I just smiled and shrugged not really knowing what else to do.

There was indescribable anguish in his tone, and so much pain poured from his face while conveying the following:

On the morning of December 4, 2012 I was taking a shower before work, just like I do every morning. Well, I heard someone pounding on the bathroom door. Brandon, I mean REALLY pounding. I could tell it was my oldest son as he began shouting, “Dad! Dad! Let me in!”

I yelled back to him, “Come in! The door shouldn’t be locked.”

I finished as fast as I could. While rinsing the last of the shampoo from my hair, my son’s voice echoed repeatedly throughout the bathroom, or maybe just my head. I kept hearing, “Dad! Dad! Let me in! – Dad! Dad! Let me in!”

I dried off and got partially dressed. I went straight for his bedroom. And there he was, my sixteen-year-old son, nestled gently underneath his cocoon of covers with his eyes closed.

I laughed a little as I said, “You know the door wasn’t locked, you could’ve just come right in.”

He didn’t stir.

I cleared my throat and made my voice more authoritative, “Wake up, Son. It’s time to get ready for school.”

He didn’t budge. He remained completely still. I got closer and shook his shoulder. He wasn’t breathing at all, and his body was like ice. I sat and stared at my son for several minutes before calling for my wife. He died unexpectedly and honestly Brandon I’ve had a really difficult time dealing with it ever since.

Mr. Padewski paused. He used the bottom of his shirt to sop up the streams on his cheeks.

I know my own son’s voice, and I heard it loud and clear. I heard it not even two minutes before entering his bedroom, yet the coroner said that my son had been deceased for several hours.

Author’s note: The family’s actual last name was changed to protect and respect them.

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Tapestry

November 8, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Despite Clare’s advancing years, he walked with smooth confidence up the narrow, infinite steps, which should have given trouble to one as ancient as he. He was notable, if for no other reason than his youthful figure: the locals had told me that he must be at least seventy or eighty at this point, but to see his powerful body, to hear his loud commanding voice, one would never guess his age. Indeed, his mansion matched his own vibrancy: the ancient thing would look brand new if it weren’t for the painfully outdated furnishings. As he gestured and flowed widely through the rooms of the house, it was clear he took a great pride in it, and had some deep love or connection to the place unfamiliar to a travelling investigator like myself.

Clare looked back at me, finishing his description of another dull oddity. His blue eyes were piercing, and I was jolted out of my internal monologue.

“Does it really interest you, Mr. Stanley? I must admit I don’t get many visitors. The place is quite out of the way, you know.” He spoke with an almost clichéd regal British accent, but his words boomed out with a deep bass, effortlessly projecting across the room. I nodded with feigned enthusiasm.

“Certainly, Mr. Clare, the house has a quality that is rarely seen these days. Your decorations” I said, gesturing to one particularly bland pastoral, “are most interesting.”

“Ah yes. Well, I wouldn’t say that particular piece is of my own taste. My wife did many of these.”

I resisted the urge to nervously grab at my tie, and broke eye contact with Clare. “Oh, I, uh—“

“She’s no longer with us.”

His words had a tone which was bizarre, and what I assumed to be remorse. Looking back up, I said “I’m sorry, Mr. Clare.”

He waved it off, dismissive. “Come. We’re about done the tour.”

After what seemed like another hour of walking through dreary, maze-like passageways, we finally arrived at the so-called den. Clare sat in a massive, gaudy chair—presumably his usual one. He gestured for me to sit across from him, and poured me some tea, left by an unseen servant. Looking up at him, I had to stifle a laugh.

The man sat, with almost mirrored similarity, in front of a life-sized portrait of himself. Apart from a few clothing differences, he looked exactly the same as the portrait—same age, and same sitting position, which is what made the image so comical. With how closely he resembled the portrait, it must have been painted very recently. I guessed the man had some modicum of self-love for him to have such a thing done when none would see it—no visitors, or even family.

Clare didn’t notice my temporary seizure of laughter, seemingly lost in unending descriptions of his manor. In a moment he broke, and we finally came to business.

“And you, sir, would like to stay in the place?” He looked suspicious, one eyebrow firmly up.

“Rent a room for a few days, sir. If you wouldn’t mind. I have such an interest in the…pieces you’ve collected…a-art pieces I mean…and I don’t feel the tour you’ve given me is enough—thorough though it was—to give me an…ehm…appreciation, you see.”

I felt my throat tightening, and my brow beginning to drip: Clare was so obviously not convinced. He didn’t mince words. “Are you sure that’s it, Stanley? Are you sure there isn’t something more?”

“Well I, uhm, don’t see what you, uh, could mean, s-sir…”

“I know Stanley. I can see. And I don’t blame you boy. Truly I don’t.”

“R-Really, sir?”

“Of course not!” He said in a sudden yell, leaping up from his chair to gesticulate wildly. “This house has me too! It has me! I’m enchanted. Of course you can’t appreciate such rich atmosphere with such a brief tour. You have to exist here. Yes, of course!”

I didn’t know whether I should say something, or merely run away in the instant, and avoid the house for the rest of my life. The man had such a gleam in his eyes, and his sudden passion scared me deeply—you may laugh to read it, but at the time it was a real, affecting fear. But, instead of running, I remained motionless, and stared up at the raving man.

“I wouldn’t keep such an experience from anyone, dear boy! No, no! Stay here? Why of course, of course, I’ll give you a room for free!”

I just stared dumbly up at the old man for a moment. Then, not wanting to excite him any further, I quietly said “Thank you, si—”

“Don’t mention it! Just one thing.” I nodded, and clenched nervously. “Do not explore my basement. It is, uh…under construction at the moment.” The sudden fire in his eyes told me of his earnestness. I wordlessly agreed.

And so I gained unguarded access to the Clare mansion.

The basement door had a locking mechanism that would have been hard to penetrate some fifty or a hundred years ago. As it stood, my toolkit and lock-picking skills were enough to easily dislodge the door, and it swung back with a quiet smoothness.

Locating the basement had proved difficult enough thanks to the confusing, arbitrary layout of the mansion. Pile on that Clare’s insistence on accompanying me throughout the day, and talking endlessly about God only know what, and I had little opportunity to explore on my own. I was however sure that the basement was the lead I should seek, thanks to Clare’s overemphasis on it. So, after dark, when the master had gone to bed, I snuck out and spent a few hours wandering the halls, aided only by my small flashlight.

The stairs down were thin and ancient, clashing with the well-maintained central body of the house. They were also partially concealed in a blind spot between a door and a cupboard, making them almost impossible to find in the dark. The smooth cement walls produced a chill unfamiliar with the otherwise antiquated warmth of the place, and the door was thick and plain.

Inside it was dark, and I had to calm my thrashing heart with deep breathing. That adrenaline, that excitement, was all the inducement I needed to do the things I did. In frantic anticipation, I crept into the enveloping darkness.

My tiny light did little to illuminate the room. After taking a quick survey, I discovered a small sconce with a partially used torch still in it. I shined my light around the room, not wanting to reveal my presence by tampering with anything. As I directed the light upward, it seemed to reach farther and farther, like the room had no top. When it had reached the ceiling it glanced across something which to my utter horror, looked like a face. An angry, vicious, massive face.

I gasped and scrambled to the torch, hoping to illuminate the fiend. I deftly lit a match, and the torch surged with light. To my surprise, a series of further torches burst to light in sequence after the first. I made the vague assumption that this was done by some unseen mechanism, which I wasn’t particularly concerned with at the moment. I stared up at the place where the face had been, and had to laugh—not only at discovering my fears to be unnecessary, but also at the pure surreality of the scene before me.

The face I had seen belonged to a statue, and was not nearly so malevolent when fully illuminated. It was plain, with a vaguely masculine facial structure, which was the only clue to the statue’s gender thanks to its otherwise sexless form. It was monolithic, stretching to the top of the unbelievably tall ceiling of the chamber. The room itself was a large, mostly circular hall, which aside from the statue was empty. The walls were all rough stone, as though the door had simply led to a conveniently located cavern—in fact, it was like a different place entirely, and I wondered if I had somehow missed a step in the transition. The ceiling was so high above that it seemed impossible that a house lay just overtop, and the stairs I had descended didn’t seem like they should account for the height.

The statue was inexplicable, even for a noted art collector like Clare. It was placed at the far end of the room, facing the entrance like a guard. It smacked of those stereotypical Egyptian sculptures, the types one might find in the deep tomb of some Pharaoh. If it had ever held some sort of staff, it didn’t now—the left hand was missing, presumably fallen off at some point long ago. Behind where the arm should have been was a door, which looked to be made of sandstone.

Wanting to get a move on, I slinked past the statue, never taking my eyes off of it. As I went under it, I looked up at the unmoving giant, whispering “Huh, some guard.” Then I opened the sandstone door, which slid up surprisingly easily, and entered the next room.

The light from the previous chamber only illuminated a small circle, which I crept into cautiously. As soon as I passed the doorway, the sandstone slab slammed down behind me, and the room lit automatically. It was squatter but longer than the first chamber, like a grand hall. The room had walls of the same sandstone as the door, smooth and constant. Like the previous chamber it was almost entirely empty aside from a small, plain, out-of-place looking oak table and chair. On the chair sat Clare.

The moment I saw him, his eyes lit up with uncontrollable mirth. “Mister Stanley. You are simply so easy.”

I was caught with an uncomprehending confusion, mixed with a vague dread and guilt at being caught. His jovial reaction didn’t much calm me, and when he called me over, I bolted towards the closed door behind me. Unfortunately, it seemed like it couldn’t be opened from this side. As I scrabbled and dragged my hands across the smooth surface, Clare continued to laugh.

“Your efforts are really quite useless. Come, dear boy, come. Don’t be afraid. I expected such a thing, you see. Why would you think I’d mention my basement so artlessly? Did you really think I was so stupid, that I really wanted you to stay out of here? Come here, boy, I’ll explain it all to you.”

I finally moved forward, slowly and wordlessly. Clare sat casually in his night-robe, with his hair still askew from bed. I realized that his previous raving behaviour must have been an act of some sort, that he had been manipulating me the whole day.

“I know your type, Stanley. Yes, yes, sit down there. Your type, you see: curious. I get them sometimes, people that think the place is haunted.” He laughed at the notion. Laughed too hard. “Well, I know my tastes can be a bit unusual, but please.”

“There certainly are rumours, Mr. Clare.”

“Well, yes, fine. So I show those people. That it isn’t haunted, or anything of the sort, see? Look for yourself! Does it look haunted?”

I shook my head, obviously lying. “But, Mr. Clare. What about those other rumours? Rumours a…about your family?”

“Of course it doesn’t,” he said, ignoring me, “This is part of the experience, this vault of mine. To get to experience this mansion, and let it affect you, you must be here. Here is the place!” He laughed again, jumping up. “Here, here! You’ll love it here. Lots of room! See the walls here. Imported, you know. The be—”

Not an act, after all. Luckily, I was always prepared with my trusted adventurer’s backpack. I reached back, thinking I’d got the machete, but I was mistaken. Towards Clare’s turned head came my hammer, making a satisfying crunch on impact. I realized I must have mixed up the two items accidentally. I made a mental note to reorganize the pack later.

Clare quickly fell to the ground, face-first in a growing pool of blood. I looked at the hammer in dismay, seeing that it dented slightly on Clare’s thick skull. It wasn’t meant for violence, but it did the trick in any case. I wasn’t sure if Clare was alive or not, and I wasn’t particularly keen to check. Ignoring the body, I doubled back to the closed door he had trapped me with. Indeed, despite my best efforts, I couldn’t jar the thing with hands alone. I drew out a thin crowbar, intended for just such a purpose, and pried at the door’s bottom crack. After a considerable effort, I was able to lift the door fully open. Then I wedged it with a nearby rock, in case it decided to lock itself again.

I was determined, you see. I certainly wasn’t ready to give up on my “exploration,” and without hesitation I moved down the long hall towards the next sandstone slab. This, identical to the first, was just as easy to open, and I used the same method of jamming to ensure my escape route.

Thus ensued a long series of rooms and hallways, similar in style to the first but all varying in shape and composition. Each had the same lighting system which made it easy to navigate through them, and at the end of each was the same sandstone slab. The immensity of the whole construction clashed with its apparent uselessness, as no room had much of anything noteworthy within it—though some did have bizarre items on the walls, like thick shafts zigzagging everywhere, and occasional holes that looked like massive spouts. As I moved through hall after arbitrary hall, I felt my excitement grow more and more, dreading and anticipating whatever could possibly be at the end.

I travelled for what felt like a half hour, after which I came on a chamber larger than all the others, and starkly different. The entire room seemed devoted to a large construction facing the entrance. It was placed on, or perhaps composed the opposite wall, and was not made of sandstone. The backing seemed to be some sort of fabric, which was a ruddy red or plum in colour depending on how the fire-light decided to cast it. On it were thick black tendrils, what I would describe as over-sized threads though they looked more like vines of pitch. The threads all lead to a centre clump, and though they were arranged in a symmetrical, and what I might even describe as a fascinating or alluring presentation, they didn’t seem to form any picture or outline. The closest impression I got was that of some large, black flower, though this was a vague notion at best. The mass of tendrils sat above something that appeared to be an altar, with twinned free-standing torches placed by its sides. These torches, like the rest in this underground vault, burst to life in succession after I lit the first in the room.

I approached the central altar, which was placed on top of a raised platform. Climbing the few steps, I saw yet another door placed off to the side, and relished in the anticipation of even more exploration. On top of the steps I gave a brief glance at the altar itself, which was smooth and plain. Then I moved towards to mass of threads, and felt a stab of horror when I saw the thing more clearly.

The first and most disturbing image was that the tendrils moved. It was subtle, almost unnoticeable, but it was clear as I came closer. The mass shifted slightly at irregular intervals and in arbitrary directions, giving it the resemblance of some blind, stupid lifeform.

However, I was an adventurer extraordinaire, and I certainly wasn’t going to let a little fear halt my investigation. The mass seemed harmless enough, so I moved up to it, close enough to touch it.

I realized that the tendrils which seemed thick as vines actually were made of tiny threads. These threads clumped together in a way that made them seem like one mass, when they were really quite small. I reached out to touch a section of thread, but the very moment my fingers touched he substance, the whole mass made a brief shudder, and I heard a small gasp.

I froze, paralyzed with fear and confusion. Then, like an avalanche the epiphany came to me. Unthinking, I hurriedly started separating out great swathes of thread, unburying the surface I now felt underneath.

What I found was, of course, a human face, though much too pale. The bright eyes looked up at me, signalling an obvious intense, quiet fear. It was a child, though I couldn’t guess at an exact age: at any moment the face looked ten or fifteen. I could only see a brief section of clothing by the child’s neckline before it became covered in hair. There seemed to be a sort of white robe or gown, and indeed when I looked down to the child’s feet, I could see a trail of white fabric.

I assumed by the way the soft voice had sounded that the child was a boy, and looking at his face, one could see it as masculine, if one were to stretch every definition and understanding of “male.” The poor boy had, somehow, been restrained here and his hair—though more hair than a human should be able to produce in a lifetime—had been threaded into the wall behind him. Despite the monstrosity of the act, I must admit that the job was done with a careful, artful—what I might even call gentle—hand, threading the hair in a thoughtful, thorough manner. It was clear how disturbing it was to the boy though. You could see the fear in his eyes.

I reached down to pat his head, and though he recoiled I persisted, saying in the softest, gentlest tone I could, “Here now, don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you. I’m going to help you,” followed by the biggest smile I could muster. The boy still looked afraid, but calmed somewhat. “So,” I said, trying to fathom how I could possibly free the lad, “what’s your name?”

He just stared up at me, either unable to talk or unfamiliar with my language. Either way, it wasn’t much use talking. I knew the only way I could free him.

I softly said “Don’t worry, I can get you out of here.” Then I grabbed the hair behind him, prodigious though it was, into a condensed handful close to his back. He gasped in surprise, but I calmed him down with pleasant sounds and words. Then I reached back, and located my machete (successfully this time). With a big wind-up, I sliced through the hair.

I didn’t think to warn the boy for some reason. I had expected the hair to take a number of chops to get through anyway, but to my surprise it all cut apart in a single stroke, and I almost fell over from all the excess forward momentum. The stuff didn’t feel like how I’d expected. It cut more like butter, or…I don’t know, something similar. As I looked down, I felt my heart drop. There was blood spilling everywhere.

The boy screamed out, a sharp, piercing, all-encompassing sound. I looked around, feeling my whole body shake violently as I stared at the river of blood pooling on the floor. The boy had slumped over, and lay in a heap. I realized that I must have cut him accidentally, very badly. In a panic, I rushed over to apply what little first aid I knew. But, on moving the still-considerable length of hair off his back, I could not locate a single wound, though his back was covered with blood.

It was then that I realized: it was his hair. His hair was bleeding.

Indeed, looking at the wall, I saw thick fountains of blood falling from the leftover mass of hair. The stuff twitched—twitched like severed body parts, and curled up like dried tentacles. Staring, uncomprehending, I looked down at the boy. He muttered and gasped, and cried horribly. I did what I could, tearing a piece of thick fabric off my clothing and using it to tie the ends of the hair up, which stopped the blood-flow somewhat.

There was another violent shake, and I realized it wasn’t just me but the whole room that vibrated. This, as I now properly sensed, was accompanied by the most horrific, brain-stabbing, blood-curdling scream I have ever heard. It was like the mix of a growl and a shriek, piercing and guttural rasping combined to an impossibly loud degree.

I didn’t hesitate for a moment. I picked the boy up, and held him in both my arms, so his head rested on my forearm and his legs dangled over the other side. He was light, surprisingly so—in fact, he was almost weightless. I had some base, instinctual urge to protect him—I couldn’t describe it, but I knew, just knew that I had to get him out of that place.

Before I could start moving, a sound from below stopped me. What I feared was the rasping of the unknown thing was just the door behind, opening by itself. I almost didn’t want to see what was through it, and I didn’t have to look: when it had opened a crack, dark liquid, thick like tar, flowed into the room, covering the floor with a sticky black covering. The smell was foul like rot, and I hesitated moving any farther as I descended the stairs. But the boy still shivered and cried in my arms, so I lost all my fear, and plunged in.

It was even thicker than I had expected, and clung to the bottom of my feet aggressively. I could still hear that horrid roaring at frequent intervals, each time seemingly closer, and the liquid made it difficult to move. I started into a run, which only amounted to a stumbling walk, and finally made it past the first door.

The tar was much thinner here, and I crushed the rock that had been holding the doorway open, thereby slamming it down. The mechanism to open the door seemed to be thereby broken somehow, and the ooze couldn’t pass through. Relieved, I rushed through this next room, after which (if I remembered correctly) there was another eight. As I ran, I heard a splashing sound behind me, and in outraged confusion I looked back to see the tar cascading out of the spouts in the wall. Out of hundreds of spouts.

It couldn’t reach me before I slammed the door on it, but I knew that it could enter any of the rooms through those spouts. I only ran faster, trying to outpace the liquid death, but after every room I passed, it gained on me bit by bit. By the time I had reached the room just before the hall where I’d met Clare, I only barely managed to close the door before the ooze overtook me. It was already falling when I turned to run.

This room was a thin hallway, long as the others but with a low, cramped ceiling. It was filling faster than the previous rooms, and before I was halfway through, the tar came up to my waist. It was almost impossible to move, and I had to hold the boy up high over my head, though he still got splattered by the falling streams. The walls, once bright yellow, were now covered in the black muck, and matched its colour. The torches were long put out, and the only light was the faint torchlight from the next room, which seemed to stretch farther and farther away.

The liquid was up to my neck, and I clambered wildly for the door. I didn’t want to attempt to swim through the dense sludge, and I could feel my body being pulled down where I had thought there was floor. I could feel my limbs burning and dying. I just about gave up.

With a sudden surge, the sludge burst out into the next room, carrying me with it. The larger volume of the hall gave plenty of space for the liquid to wash out, and I managed to regain my balance. I still held the boy in my arms, in an iron grip. He occasionally gasped and moaned, but seemed otherwise insensible. I rushed to the exit of the basement, sure I could make it out before the sludge got me.

I felt the vague sense of something missing as I entered the last chamber, or rather, the entrance chamber. I thought nothing of it and rushed into the room, headlong for the exit. That’s when I heard the growl, the scream again. It was so loud I was sure my eardrums would burst, and I kneeled to the ground, unable to cover my ears due to their current luggage. Then I looked up, tears streaming down my face.

The statue, that damned statue, was looking back down. As I stared its mouth opened, gapingly wide, and the scream it made was the grinding of stone-on-stone amplified from deep inside it. I stared up, and met its eyes, which were wide, deep, and black like the tar. In a slow, grinding movement, it brought up its feet to trample us.

I hurled my body in whatever direction I could, careful to land on my back and not crush the boy. The foot came down with a crash, causing a large splash of muck. I scrambled, and pushed myself up using my elbows. The colossus was readying for another attack, raising its massive leg out of the tar with a schlick, and I ran back as quickly as I could. Unfortunately I had jumped towards a side wall away from the exit, and the sludge was again building. As the powerful leg came down I became trapped between it and the stone wall, with only a few feet of space. I trembled violently in desperation and exhaustion, and held the boy close up to my chest.

The colossus shuddered, and I prepared for the extreme killing pressure. I waited, and held the boy tight, and it never came. I shook in extreme fear, and looked up. The giant was posed in its killing posture, and its eyes stared directly at mine. But it didn’t move.

I looked around, uncomprehending. The sludge was still rising, and I knew I had to move, but some deep instinct made me stay still. Then I finally noticed it: the boy’s leg lay against the stone of the statue.

I couldn’t understand it, but I took advantage all the same. I crept under the stone trunks of the monster, holding the boy out against its leg at all times. The boy’s body lolled and flopped with unconscious weight, and I made sure to hold him firmly to the stone against all my desires to flee. Once I had crossed under the giant’s legs and reached the child’s body out as far as I could, I grasped him back to my chest and ran.

As soon as the boy lost contact with the monster, the beast started grinding again, following through with his previous attack. I hurtled towards the door, focusing my sight directly on that exit. As I made it past the threshold the boy shuddered, and I felt a massive impact through the door behind me, blocking the opening with a tumble of rocks. I didn’t look back again and quickly made my way through the house, somehow finding the exit without paying much attention, and being jolted to my senses as I burst forth into fresh air.

I brought the boy some distance and laid him on the soft grass. The house burst into a geyser of filth, and sheets of sludge fell all down its sides, covering it in fountaining muck. But I didn’t pay this more than a glance, and instead looked down at the boy.

His eyes were bright and dazed. He was looking all around at the outside, which I figured he had probably never seen before. The sky was overcast, a soft bluish gray, and a cool wind blew gently. He took in all that was around him, seeming to forget the drying muck and blood on him, the torturous injury.

I grasped him by the shoulders, and he looked directly into my eyes, and his gaze was like piercing, like it went into my body and soul, and he just stared at me like that, and in the most unforgettable look he gave a soft smile.

Then, he shuddered again, and fell to dust in my arms.

Credit: Ree

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The Doctor Killer

November 7, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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Everyone knows that flying is one of the statistically safest activities one can do. That does not mean the inhabitants of the skies remain accident-free, however. Each aircraft has a reputation which gives one clues as to its safety and dependability. Some artificial birds cannot avoid unfavorable rapport in their relationships with their potential passengers, and even their pilots. An inauspicious wind blew through the V-Tail Bonanza in the olden days. Despite this aircraft’s best efforts to shutter its own occupants down into the concoction of clay, silt, or sand which would end their lives, this low wing Beech monoplane was a mere portend to the modern day kamikaze of craft which climb the common air. Recently a new plane, one with small control surfaces (and consequently high landing speeds) has ended more lives in less time than the old shaky master ever could. Thus the Cirrus bedimmed the old Bonanza’s reputation as a plane to be feared for its formidably defiant spirit. The old name stuck though. A title earned by luring those inexperienced pilots in by flaunting its spacious leather interior in front of their fortunes. Such coaxed naivety; tempted ineptitude reared by sleek lines and a smiling salesman with a set of keys. The doctor killer.

Crash.

There was no surprise. None whatsoever. The crash happened quickly in the beautiful high-altitude landscapes of the mountains just behind the doctor’s home airport. Investigators were called by those who heard the distressed broadcast and arrived at the alpine field within a couple days. What they saw was well documented on their cameras and in their journals, all while continuously being crosschecked against their expert opinion. A very hard emergency landing due to the low-lift altitude had smacked the plain against the ground and torn it to pieces. The damage to the field and the wreckage trail all matched up with an inexperienced hurried decent. Although they never liked to see someone die, the team of investigative agents from the FAA and NTSB were so unastonished that they barely batted an eye. They did however think the particular model of plane that crashed was pretty sleek. It had every latest gizmo: the full airplane parachute, full glass panel, and even its own black box. This little vocal store was interesting, and although it was not on the list for checks in a general aviation incident, the team decided to give the box a listen, if for no other reason than to evaluate the quality of the condensed technology against that of black boxes in bigger jets.

They all gathered around and pressed ‘play’ on the analyzing software the bent recording device was hooked up to. Marvelous and clear, the voices of the dead around them were personified through the speaker. They heard the same radio call the tower had picked up a couple days earlier. The pilot knew he was going down, and struggled to remember the setup procedures for a quick touchdown. Then they heard the pilot confirm successful gear deployment. Next they heard him say under his breath to flare, at seemingly the correct time in the sequence. Now they froze and listened closely, waiting for the ripping and tearing of the plane. In only moments the physician verbally confirmed the aircraft had come to a complete stop. A perfect landing.

This time around, the doctor killer was innocent. Someone had done a perfect job of disintegrating the plane after it landed, making it look like, even to experts, that it had caught dirt at high speeds. The investigators really, really hoped, at least for the rest of their lives, that it was indeed…someone.

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