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January 2015 Discussion Post: Favorite Creepypastas of 2014

January 1, 2015 at 12:00 AM

Happy New Year, everyone!

2014 went by like lightning for me – I can hardly believe that it’s time for another new year. I want to thank you all for being a part of the awesome Creepypasta community over the past year, and I wish everyone the best of luck in 2015!

Now that my little episode of sentimentality is out of the way, I thought it might be interesting to look back on the last year of creepypastas and talk about which new stories were our favorites. Over 400 stories were posted on the main site in 2014, and of course there were also thousands more new pastas circulating on Crappypasta, the wiki, people’s Tumblrs, 4chan, Reddit, and beyond.

So for January’s discussion topic, I want to hear which Creepypastas were your favorites of 2014!

A few guidelines:

  • I’d prefer if you stick to stories posted in 2014. While we all know and love the classic Creepypastas, this isn’t the place to bring them up.
  • Your picks don’t have to be limited to stories that were posted on the this website, just as long as they were new this year. So 2014 stories from the Wiki, Reddit, etc are all fair game.
  • If the pasta that you’re talking about wasn’t posted here on creepypasta.com, please include a link to the story in your comment if possible. This way, anyone who hasn’t read the pasta in question can enjoy it as well!
  • Please give us some detail as to why you picked the story/stories that you did – don’t just drop a name and hit send, tell us what you liked about each story, why it stuck in your brain after reading, and why you felt it was deserving of recognition above all the rest.
  • As always, please be polite. Don’t insult each other if you disagree, and please don’t say rude things about authors or stories just because you don’t think someone’s pick was top-tier. Don’t fall into the trap of bringing down one person’s work in order to boost up your favorites. This post is to celebrate and talk about the stories that we really loved over the past year, not insult or mock the ones that we did not enjoy as much. Let’s not start 2015 with unnecessary negativity!

That said, have fun and once again – HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Crimson Fangs

December 31, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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“I’m so cold.”

This was the first thought that entered into Amber’s dazed consciousness. Her eyelids flickered open to see nothing but hazy darkness around her. Moaning softly, she struggled to raise her body from the prone position she lay in, wrapping her bare arms around herself in response to the strange chill that permeated the air. She blinked several times and brushed a wisp of dark hair from her face as her eyes began to adjust to the ethereal aura that filled the cold, empty room.

“What… Where am I? How did I get here?”

She pushed herself up on one knee and shuddered. The room was cold… so cold. She had no memory of how she had gotten here; no memory of the past few hours.

Slowly, Amber stood and looked around. “He-hello? Where am I? Is anyone here?” she called out, her tremulous voice echoing slightly in the bare room. Her normally active mind was in a blur she attempted to discern what was happening to her, and in her confusion, an icy fear began to grip her. “What’s going on?” She shuddered and wrapped her arms around herself again. “Come on Amber, think; what’s the last thing you remember?” She rubbed her eyes. “Eric… A bookstore… No, I can’t remember!”

Amber peered around again. A strange, faintly luminescent mist writhed about her, giving off just barely enough light to see the shapes of her surroundings. It was by this cold light that she noticed the door and a chill ran down her spine, although whether for excitement or dread she did not know. Amber walked cautiously over to the door and reached out to grasp the cold doorknob. Her mind burned with a strange fear that absorbed her thoughts as she held the handle. “What’s behind this door? What if it’s locked and I’m trapped here? Why am I even here? This room is so cold.”

Her heart pounding, Amber braced herself and gripped the doorknob tighter, slowly twisting it and pushing the door open. To her relief, it gave way; and yet, to her surprise, it made no sound. No squeaking of the hinges, no soft jingle as the doorknob turned in its socket. Just silence.
She swallowed the lump of anxiety in her throat and bit her lip as she pushed the silent door wide open and peered outside. She stepped out of the doorway and looked around. It was a hallway, stretching for many yards on both ends. It reminded her of the halls in those old Victorian mansions, except this one was totally bare. No pictures, no statues, no houseplants, not even wallpaper; just dark, cold walls and doors. Dozens of doors lined either side of the hallway, each one identical and each one as dark and silent as the one she had just stepped through.

Amber shuddered and ventured again, her voice still shaky, “Um… hello? Is… is anyone there?”

There was no answer except her voice reverberating along the dank walls. She clutched at her arms and hugged herself tighter, her heart racing. “Should I try to open one of those doors?”

Taking a cautious step further out, she reached towards the doorknob opposite her. However before she could grab hold of the handle, she froze, and a chill of pure terror rippled down her spine.

A sound had emanated from behind her in the room that she had just exited: a low, sibilant hiss.

A small whine of apprehension trickled from her throat and she turned, her eyes widening and her face turning pale. She began to shiver uncontrollably as she stared into the dark room. At first she saw nothing, nothing but the same cold blackness that had surrounded her. She continued to stare ahead, not daring to turn her eyes away as she waited.

Then it was there.

A tall, lithe form stood, almost as dark as the room it occupied, vaguely humanoid in shape, but otherwise indiscernible in the darkness. Amber slowly backed away from the door, every instinct in her body telling her to flee, and yet she could not. She stood transfixed, gazing back at the shadowy creature in the room.

The low, hissing breath wreathed out from the murky chamber… and it smiled. The darkness smiled, with two rows of long, glistening, crimson fangs.

Amber’s senses were suddenly awakened as a scream tore from her throat and she ran. Her mind became numb with fright, her body bent on survival as she raced down the hollow passageway. She could feel it behind her; it was so cold. Rows upon rows of doors flew by her as she ran, not caring or thinking about anything but flight… and the fangs. Her vision began to blur as her mind raced frantically. “There’s got to be a way out, there has to be some way to escape…”

She could hear the serpentine hiss echo around the halls. It was following her.

The hallway ended abruptly, bending sharply to her right. With no time to slow her acceleration, Amber slammed into the wall and staggered back, not even daring to look behind her as she turned down the other passageway.

Still the hissing followed.

Sweat had begun to drip down her forehead, mingling with tears of terror as she felt the overwhelming sensation of hope and energy draining from her. Her run slowed to a stagger, her mind blazing with a strange, hazy pain. Still she continued on, driven by fear. As she rounded another corner, she saw the unexpected.

A single, desperate ounce of hope sprung up within her at the sight of the small but bright light at the end of the dark hallway; she felt as though it were the first light she had seen in ages. Amber didn’t care where it led, as long as it took her away from here; away from the cold hissing, and from those glistening crimson fangs. With renewed energy Amber began to sprint towards the light.

The hissing continued.

Before she knew it the window of light stood before her, glowing brightly and proving a stark contrast to the dank, gray walls around it. Mustering every last bit of energy within her, Amber leaped, hoping to pass through the light and into freedom… but her hands slammed into a wall of glass.

She gasped and hit the window again, but it did not budge.

The hissing drew nearer.

She pounded at the window, murmuring frantically under her breath. “What’s going on? What is this?!”

It was so cold.

Her brain cleared long enough to notice something behind the window. It was a man, and he was looking at her. Her heart leaped for joy when she recognized him.

“Eric!” she screamed. “Eric, it’s me! Please open the window! Help me!”

But there came no response. Her fiancé simply sat staring at her, his expression one of grief, his eyes slightly misted with tears.
Amber smashed her fists against the window, pleading desperately, “Please, Eric, help me! It’s coming! Please… please help me!”
Still he made no reply.

The hissing…

Amber slumped to the floor, her fingernails scraping against the glass as she slid down the window. Tears streamed down her face and her heart raced like a locomotive as she curled up and wept. “Please, Eric… Save me…”

The hissing drew nearer.

~~~

….beep……beep……beep……

Eric sat in the bright hospital room, listening to the never-ending heart monitor and staring solemnly at the still and quiet body of his fiancée Amber. She lay on the bed, her once beautiful and intelligent blue eyes glazed over in a state of comatose.

It had been nearly four hours since they had found her lying unconscious on the floor in the back room of the old Eldridge Bookshop, her eyes wide open in shock, and a small book resting in her hand. No one had any idea of what had happened to her. The shopkeeper said that she seemed perfectly all right when she had entered, and that she had been perusing through a collection of antique books that they had just received before she suddenly just dropped without a sound.

Of course, there was that book that she had been clutching; that small, strange book simply titled “Crimson Fangs”. What was so strange was that no author or publishing year was listed anywhere on it, not to mention the fact that the pages were totally blank. But then again, Amber liked those kinds of oddities. She was always collecting those rare misprints and old books that were only published for one month back in the 18th century. She was funny in that way. Eric sighed and once again grasped her hand. It was so cold.

For all of the past four hours he had sat patiently by her bedside, staring into her blank eyes and often talking to her, reminiscing about their times together or about her favorite stories; anything to wake her from her state. But nothing helped. The doctors were puzzled about the fact that, other than being in a coma, her body was healthy. Her breathing and heart-rate were normal and there were no signs of a concussion, cardiac arrest, a stroke; anything.

Eric reached out and tenderly brushed a strand of dark, silky hair from her face. She was so beautiful, even with her face frozen in a still, emotionless stare. He wanted to see her smile again.

His thoughts were interrupted when the door opened. The doctor walked over and placed a gentle hand on Eric’s shoulder. “You’ve been in here for a long time. Perhaps you would like a break?”

Eric swallowed back the dryness in his throat and stroked Amber’s cold hand. “Y-yes, of course. I just can’t stand for her to be like this, all pale and…” He closed his eyes and shuddered before standing up. “You’ll let me know if anything happens to her, right?”

The doctor smiled warmly. “Certainly; now go get some rest.”

Eric nodded and turned, with one last long gaze at the motionless form of his beloved Amber before walking out the door.

~~~

Amber sat by the window, staring up into the despondent face of her fiancé. She sobbed and reached up to weakly grasp at the sheet of glass that separated her from the one person that she loved and trusted most. So near, and yet so far.

“This has to be a dream. Wake up, Amber… Please wake up!”

Then he moved. She whipped her head up and stared with wide, desperate eyes as Eric stood and looked at her sadly before-

“No. No, it can’t be! He’s leaving me! He’s walking away!” She leaped up and screamed frantically, slamming her fists against the window, trying to get his attention, for him to finally notice her and save her. “No… No, please! Eric, don’t leave me! Please, don’t leave me!”

But he was gone. The window was empty.

Her breath heavy and her eyes hazy with tears, Amber once again slumped to the floor. Eric, her closest and dearest friend, the one person she could always count on to keep her safe, had abandoned her. Every last bit of hope had deserted her. She was alone; all alone in this cold, dark hallway. It was then that she noticed something was different about her surroundings. The hissing was gone. That horrible, chilling sound… there was nothing. Nothing but cold silence.

Amber held her breath, slowly turned her head…

And stared into the crimson-fanged grin.

~~~

A calm silence filled the bright hospital room, only broken by the steady beat of the heart monitor.

….beep……beep……beep……

Amber’s body lay, staring ahead blankly just as she had for the past four hours.

….beep……beep……beep…..

She blinked. Her eyes slowly shifted to look at the monitor.

….beep……beep……beep…………beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

She sat up, her black silky hair draping around her head like a nest of dead snakes. With one quick, stilted motion, she pried the oxygen mask from her face before her gaze turned to the door. There were the sounds of voices and footsteps outside. The light in the room flickered as a dark, ethereal mist began to writhe up from the floor. The doorknob rattled as it opened.

A low, sibilant hiss rasped out from Amber’s throat… and she smiled, with two rows of long, glistening, crimson fangs.

Credit To – Josh

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Tropical Storm Fay

December 30, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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The events in this story occurred on a warm & humid night in late August of 2008, the night after Tropical Storm Fay ripped through our town in Gadsden County, Florida. Looking back on this, I will say that the terror of that storm was nothing compared to what followed the night after the storm passed through our area.

The days prior to this storm making landfall here was a scary time. We had “heard” that it was coming in this direction, and we prepared for it, but in the back of our minds we thought, and hoped, that it would head elsewhere.

I mean, after all, this area had not been hit directly by any hurricane or tropical storm since Hurricane Kate in 1985. Considering this is Florida, this area had been lucky for the past 23 hurricane seasons and we had hoped to stay that way. However, there was something quite unusual about the path of this storm. It seemed to have made a deliberate path that covered the entire state of Florida.

The night after the storm was a very peculiar and unnervingly silent night. After the storm, the sheriff of our county ordered a mandatory curfew, asking that everyone please ensure that they remain indoors after dark until things were restored back to normal. Because of this, there were no cars on the highway which made it even more silent.

We live very close to a river that runs through this part of the county. Although the river is not close enough to see from the house, and a considerable walk through the woods, the storm had caused it to swell into a raging and violent river that was now literally in the woods behind our house.

Besides the distant sound of the raging water and the occasional eerie whisper of the wind blowing through the pines, there was nothing. It felt as if I was the last person on earth, but little did I know, I was not alone! Since the storm had passed, my parents decided to go stay with my elderly grandmother who lived alone and needed someone to be with her until the power was restored and things were back to normal.

I was 19 years old at the time, so this was ok with me, although the thought of being alone in the dark seemed a bit unnerving. There had been warnings on the radio of looting in the area, so as a precaution we mounted two outdoor trail cameras outside. We live in a highly secluded and wooded area, so I hoped that the chances of anyone coming here was low. One of the cameras was mounted above the back door and it was motion activated, therefore anyone (or any “thing”, in this case) coming up to the back door would trigger it to flash and take a picture. The other one was pointed towards the screen door of the front porch.

I was sitting in the living room, had a few candles burning in the room and the living room windows open. The storm had left behind a warm and sticky humidity in the air, and since the lack of power meant no air conditioning, the only relief was to have the windows open. I only wanted windows open in the room that I was in currently because the warnings on the radio had me pretty nervous.

As I was sitting there, trying to read with what little light the candles provided, I began to hear the faint sound of leaves crackling, as if something was coming. At that moment it sounded far away, but just close enough for me to hear it. I immediately blew out the candles as I instantly feared that it was the looters they warned us about on the radio. If that was the case, I did not want them to see me through the windows. I crouched down against the wall, sitting in complete darkness looking towards the window, hoping that maybe I could see if someone passed by.

I sat there, continued listening for the sound but it seemed to have stopped for a few minutes. In some attempt to comfort my worried mind, I began thinking “perhaps it’s wildlife trying to get away from the swollen river”. Just to be safe and certain that it was not a person, I continued sitting there. For a while, all I could hear was the faint sound of the river rushing through the trees in the woods behind the house and the whispering pine trees swaying in the wind, the only two sounds that remained in my world at this dark and scary time.

For what felt like an hour, but was really only a matter of minutes, I started to hear the sound again, but this time it was closer. In addition to this, the sound of crackling leaves was not only closer but I began hearing this awful sound that sounded almost like that of a squealing pig or wild boar. The sound stopped for a moment, I thought perhaps it really is a wild boar, which is not uncommon in this area. I sat there, quite freaked out at this moment, and it was then that I realized I had not locked the back door.

I decided to get up and make my way back there to lock the door before whatever it was had a chance to get in.
When I walked towards the back, I saw a flash through the window which indicated that something was already at the back door, it was the flash from the outdoor camera mounted above the back door. Frozen in fear, I stood still for a moment in dead silence when I heard the sound of heavy boots in the utility room where the back door was. At this moment I felt sickly and terrified as I knew I was no longer alone, and that now someone was in here with me.

Was it looters? Was it someone here to cause me harm? All kinds of thoughts racing to my mind, including where I was going to run to.
I could barely make out the sight of a tall figure standing at the doorway. I had a flashlight in my hand, I turned it on and shined it towards the door to the utility room. It was then, I saw it, still today the most terrifying sight I’ve ever seen, burned into my mind forever. There stood a tall figure with the darkest pits in its eyes, a head full of small and goat-like horns, and hooves as its feet but yet when it walked it sounded as if a heavy man with boots was walking? Every time it exhaled, it sounded as if it were grunting.

It immediately charged at me, making a wheezy squealing sound. I ran into the guest bedroom, which was right beside where I was standing.
I ran in, slammed the door shut, propping against it to hold it closed. I was expecting a struggle, or at least for it to make an attempt to get in. Instead, after slamming the door all I heard was silence. Where did it go? Or more seriously, where did it come from? It appeared to come from the greatest depths of hell, was this satan himself?

For what felt like an eternity, I sat quietly against the door, waiting, hoping it was gone. I didn’t sleep at all for the remainder of that night. After daylight came, I decided that I had to at least check the house. I slowly opened the door, an inch at a time, and saw nothing there. I took one slow step at a time throughout the house and noticed nothing other than the back door wide open, swaying in the wind.

My thoughts were that nobody would believe this harrowing story, but I knew if I could retrieve the photo from the back door camera, then just maybe it would show everyone this hideous creature.

Several days later when power was restored, I connected the camera to my computer to pull up the photos. To my dismay, there was indeed one photo, but what it displayed was not what I saw in front of my very eyes. It showed a blurry orb-like object passing in front of the camera.

Still today I wonder, “What was it?” “Where did it come from and where did it go?” I never before saw anything like that here and never again has it showed its ugly face. However, I am forever haunted by it, I still wake up a lot of mornings at exactly 3:33 AM, coincidence? Every time I awake to the sight of 3:33 AM on my alarm clock, I have to wonder “Is it here?” “Is it somewhere close by, watching and waiting?”

Did this entity come here to send a message, or did it come to send a warning? Was it related in any way to this storm that seemed to deliberately trace its way to me? Perhaps these questions will never be answered, or perhaps the next time you awake at 3:33 AM, it could be somewhere in the room with you, hiding in the darkness around you, watching and waiting to show itself! I worry what kind of events will come along with the next big storm, but I will never forget what I saw the night after Tropical Storm Fay!

Credit To – Allen Q.

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Predator/Prey

December 29, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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After a night of carousing with his buddies, Billy was ready to head home.

“Are you sure you want to walk home by yourself?” asked Todd, “You’ve heard the rumors, right?”

“What rumors?” ask Billy.

“You know, the problem…with vampires.” He said that last word almost in a whisper.

“Oh God! Really? I can’t believe you’re taking that seriously.”

“Why shouldn’t I?”

“Because it’s ridiculous, that’s why! I need to scoot. It’s so late, the sun’s almost up.”

Todd shrugged. “Suit yourself, but if you get killed tonight, don’t say I didn’t warn ya.”

“I won’t say anything! I’ll be dead!” Billy called back as he started walking. The echoing laughter from the guys made him smile.

He hadn’t been walking long when he heard something rustling in the dark. He stopped and looked around. The noise also stopped. He cursed his own paranoia and continued, but he couldn’t shake that…feeling. A moment later, he heard it again, louder. His fear turned to anger.

“Who’s out there?!” he roared. Nobody answered. He told himself he was just being stupid and the best thing to do either way was get home as quickly as possible. He was just about to turn around when something charged him from the shadows. It happened so fast, he had no time to brace himself as the hulking figure hit him like a freight train. The next thing he knew, he was pinned to the ground by a burly man with a look of crazed hatred on his face. His eyes burned with a mixture of fury and disgust.

“Who the hell are you?” Billy demanded.

“Who do you think?” he said in a low, hoarse voice.

And then, Billy knew. This was the killer everybody had been whispering about. The vampire problem wasn’t just a rumor. The man reached in his toolbelt and took out two items that sent a wave of panic through Billy. He squirmed violently, but it was no use. His attacker was too strong. He shoved the wooden stake against Billy’s chest and raised the hammer high. Billy screamed in terror, his fangs glistening in the moonlight.

Credit To: E. Alan Rahn

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Playing with the Devil (A Hitori Kakurenbo Short Film)

December 28, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Figuring out what to do with your little sister’s new Christmas doll? Look no further…

Presenting “Playing with the Devil” short film based on true accounts from Hitori Kakurnbo. While home alone, three sisters conduct a Japanese ritual of Hitori Kakurenbo or “One Man Tag” with their beloved doll. Terror ensues as the girls realize that one should never play a game with the Devil.

Playing with the Devil (Award Winning Short Horror Film based on Japanese Ritual Hitori Kakurenbo)

This is a video pasta. If the embedded video is not loading for you, please click the link above to go directly to the video’s YouTube page and try watching it there.

Credit To – facebook.com/mr.bixby

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White Christmas

December 27, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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“Fuck, it’s cold.” You would think I’d be used to it by now.

Pulling my scarf a little tighter, I take one last drag off my cigarette and flick it to the ground, crushing it underfoot. I watch as it flares for a moment — a fleeting fight for life — before quickly fading to black on the frozen ground. Last one. I had checked all the nearby shops, and there were none left. There wasn’t much of anything left after the looting. Goodbye, old friend.

I give the nearby landscape a quick once over, surveying it as I do every time I come out for a smoke. Snow. Everywhere, snow. With a great sigh, I pull the glove off my right hand, fumbling in my pocket for the photo. Their photo. It’s all I have left. My girls. I stare at it until my hand begins to burn, then gently return it to my pocket, shoving my glove back on roughly. God damn snow.

Turning around to face the building, I reach for the cold metal handle, pausing a moment to read the sign on the door.

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
KEY WEST, FLORIDA

This used to be a forecast center. We’d sit around predicting the weather for locals and tourists alike — well, mostly the tourists. The locals could always pretty much predict the weather themselves. Warm. Sunny. Sometimes rainy, with the occasional hurricane to keep things lively. After the snow came, though, there didn’t seem to be much point in going through the motions of forecasting. We did it for a while. We thought the snow was temporary. We thought it was some weather anomaly that would evolve after a few days. Maybe a week at the outside. We were wrong. It’s only ever snow. Snow, and a balmy 28°F.

Turning the handle, I give the door a yank, and it opens with a groan. Everything is frozen these days, even the doors. The door is set in a wall of square glass panes, which have been covered with plastic and blankets, in an attempt to better insulate the building. I walk quickly through the chilly lobby. The coldest part of the building, it’s become something of a storage room. There are piles of things in disarray on either side of me — the only clear path is to the door. At the far end of the room is another door, better insulated than the first. Passing through, I close it quickly behind me. I hang my coat, scarf, gloves and hat on hooks opposite the door, and head down the hallway. Turning the corner, I enter the main part of the building. We call it the bullpen.

The building wasn’t always like this. It used to be individual offices and other rooms, but when the snow came, it changed everything — for everyone. Now, instead of sitting in our offices, forecasting the weather, we all sit at desks in one big space — for shared warmth, as much as anything else — and try to figure out what the hell happened.

Bill looks up as I enter the room, greeting me with a nod.

“How is it out there, John?” he asks.

“Oh, you know,” I reply. “Cold.”

I head for my desk — back center of the pen — and plop down in my chair, hoping my short break will have given me fresh eyes, but after six months of this, there is little chance of that. I lean back in my chair, close my eyes and rub my temples, internally reviewing what I know.

The presently accepted account of events goes like this. A little more than six months ago, on Christmas Day, by sheer chance — some complete and utter fluke — at precisely 08:17, GMT -05:00, everywhere around the world, you could hear the opening strains of Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.” All at once, everywhere in the world, every radio station, every internet music service, every CD player played that song. It didn’t matter if those particular people or cultures celebrated Christmas. It happened everywhere, without discrimination. Even people who hadn’t been listening to music swear their radios switched on. Crosby sang about dreaming of a white Christmas, and that’s what we did. Everyone, everywhere around the world, all at once, fell instantly asleep, and we all dreamed of a magical, snow covered world. By all accounts, we were only out for maybe three minutes, and, when we woke, it was snowing. Everywhere. All at once.

It started slowly. Beautiful, fluffy snowflakes fell like confectioners sugar from the sky, and soon everything was covered in a blanket of white. No one worried until the next day. Even in tropical places like this, on Christmas Day, the Christmas snow seemed like a Christmas miracle. In the harsh light of December 26th, though, it was just snow. And it was cold.

Now early July, it’s more than that. The world’s infrastructure has begun to collapse. For a while, the northernmost regions of the world fared well easily, but now they find themselves faltering as their goods and services from southern suppliers dry up. The closer you get to the equator, the more prevalent the death. We just weren’t prepared for anything like this. Give us a couple days of snow, and we’ll manage. But this. This is something else entirely, and people just couldn’t stay warm. Most equatorial survivors have set off on treks to naturally colder climates, in hope of salvation, but it’s not an easy journey, and many of them won’t make it. Even if they do, at this point, there’s no telling how much longer those places can hold out. Current models project a year at most.

Sitting up, I open my eyes and look around the room. There are three of us now, and nine empty desks. Those desks used to belong to people, but they all either headed north with their families, in search of hope, or perished in the cold. Or both. Bill and Marcus are old bachelors, and don’t have family to lose or protect. Sometimes, in moments of weakness, I envy them that. But not really. Most days, those memories are all that keep me going. I just want answers. Shaking my head, I try to dislodge the thoughts of my family. Must focus.

Marcus comes into the room and looks at me expectantly. That look means he’s been out to clean off the radar and get the generator going.

“Alright, guys.” I address the room. “Fire it up.”

Being so far south, we lost power early on. Luckily, Bill is an avid survivalist, and had a generator and a huge stockpile of gas on hand, not to mention food, and other supplies and equipment. He was the first one to leave home and set up shop here. He’s the reason we have heat. He’s the reason we’re still alive.

We do this once a week. There has never been anything. It’s only ever snow. I let the ritual continue, because it gives them hope. But it’s only ever snow.

“John.” Bill’s gruff voice penetrates my thoughts. “There’s something.”

I stand bolt upright. In six months, there has never been anything. It can’t be.

Thumbing the photo in my pocket, I quickly cross the bullpen and stand at Bill’s side. He points to an island northwest of us.

“Oh, my God.” The precipitation over Wisteria Island is gone. There is a break in the snow, but it doesn’t seem to be spreading. It’s like there’s a Wisteria Island-shaped hole on the screen.

“I’m going over there.” I run to the door and start to layer on my outdoor clothes. Bill and Marcus are close behind.

“John! Be reasonable. You don’t know what’s happening out there. We should continue to observe the event from here,” Bill pleads with me.

“You should continue to observe the event from here. But I am going out there.”

“John, there’s no need to risk your life for this. If we just use a little more caution, we can figure it out safely,” Marcus reasons.

“There’s no time, Marcus. Thank you both for your concern, but if the weather has changed somewhere, I need to know why. If we figure that out, maybe we can save some lives.” I finger the photo in my pocket again. I will not be swayed from this. I couldn’t save my family, but there’s a chance now that I can save others, and I won’t ignore that just to keep myself safe.

“Please understand. I have to do this.”

Marcus nods.

“Alright,” Bill sighs. “We’ll stay here and keep the radar going. Take these with you.” He hands me an assortment of gear, which I shove into my pockets.

“Please try to be safe,” Marcus adds.

I say my goodbyes and trudge out into the snow, heading toward the bight. Normally a twenty minute walk, in this weather, it takes much longer, and I have ample time to survey the carnage. I think the three of us are the only people left alive on the island. The continued snow has destroyed most buildings, and the continued cold has killed those who didn’t flee north. Bodies pepper the streets.

There is a marina at the end of the island. Like everything else, it’s in shambles. Some of the boats have receded into the water under the weight of the snow. Others have been used as vessels of attempted escape. As I approach the marina’s small office building, I see that the windows are broken, and the door stands ajar. I’m not the first to come in search of a boat. I grab a handful of the keys that remain in the office. I use the tag on each key to check the associated boat. Number 17, gone. Number 24, gone. Number 8, sunk. Number 14, gone. Number 31, maybe.

Number 31 is covered enough that it’s not completely full of snow. I clear out enough snow to climb in, prime the fuel line, shove the key in place and give it a turn. The key doesn’t budge. Damn.

I continue through the keys until I find another promising boat. Number 15. This time the key turns, but it won’t start.

Last key. Last boat. Lucky number 3. It’s full of snow, but still properly afloat. I dig out a hole near the controls and hop in. Key turns. I let the engine power up, and, heavy on the choke, I try the ignition. Nothing. I’m hopeful, though. Number three. My girls. This is the one. I try again, and the boat roars to life. Deeply relieved, I pull her gently out of the marina.

Even at my slow pace, it doesn’t take long to cross through the 600 yards of saltwater slush to the island. I beach the boat and climb out onto the shore. It is utterly bizarre. It’s like spring has come to the island. The sky is clear, and the snow is melting — but everywhere else, the snow remains. I can stick my hand out off the side of the island and catch snow. I’ve never seen anything like it.

I walk the perimeter of the island. It’s not a big island by any stretch, so it’s a quick walk. Aside from the weather, nothing seems out of place. I stare out at the water for a while, looking towards Key West. Snow. I turn around to face the central part of this small island. The snow is melting, glistening in the sunlight and sliding off the Australian pines. Christmas Tree Island, we call it.

A particularly shiny reflection catches my eye. In the sunshine, it winks at me brightly, from the very center of the island. I rush inward to investigate, navigating the thick pines as quickly as I can. I reach the middle of the island to find a metallic object sticking out of the melting snow. It’s a circle, like a wheel of sorts. I begin moving the snow away with my gloved hands. Bit by bit, the object reveals itself. Raised platform. Bigger round object beneath the wheel. Writing: RECONSTITUTION. Latches. Hinges.

It’s a door. More precisely, it’s a hatch. What the hell? I’ve been to this island so many times. This has never been here before.

I turn the wheel, and it moves easily. Pulling on it, I try opening the hatch, but it’s stuck. The seal must be frozen still. I pull with all my strength, to no avail. I give it a kick, and then sit on the platform to catch my breath. After a minute, I’m back on my feet, pulling again. With a great pop, the hatch finally gives, throwing me backwards onto the ground. I scramble to examine the now open hatch. There is a ladder leading down into the darkness. I can’t tell how far down the ladder reaches, or what I might find once I’m down there.

Fumbling with the photo in my pocket, I gather up my courage. I’ve come this far. I climb over the side of the hatch and onto the ladder, beginning my descent. As the surface light fades, I am enveloped in darkness. It’s unnerving, but I keep moving. The descent feels neverending. Finally, I begin to see light below me. At the end of the ladder, I find myself at one end of a small hallway. The first thing I notice is the warmth. It’s warm here. There is heat. I peel off my outdoor clothes, which are, by now, nearly soaked through, and leave them in a pile by the ladder.

The well lit hallway is not very long. I follow it around a corner, where it exits into a large, bright room. The room is full of machines with blinking lights, beeping incessantly. There is an older man moving frantically about the room, fidgeting first with one machine, then another, then another, and so forth, clucking unhappily to himself. Lines are etched deeply into his face. His spray of unruly white hair makes him look like a mad scientist.

What the hell?

He is so preoccupied with his machines, he doesn’t see me. I watch him, mouth agape. I have no idea what’s happening here.

“Warning! Perimeter breach! Warning! Intruder alert!” A machine near the man responds to my presence.

“Shut up, you,” the man says, in a thick Scottish accent, banging on the machine in an attempt to silence the alarm. “I told you before, there’s no —”

He looks up then, noticing me for the first time. His eyes grow wide. Jumping to his feet, he crosses the room and addresses me angrily.

“Who are you? How did you get down here? You can’t be here!”

“Who am I?” I respond. “Who are you? What the hell is this place?”

“You first! How did you find me?” he asks accusingly.

“There is a sizable hatch in the middle of this tiny island. It wasn’t rocket science.”

“Oh, damn. The cloaking device must be on the blink, too.”

“The —? Cloaking —?”

He dismisses my confusion with a wave of his hand.

“Cloaking device. Yes.”

“Which is why I’ve never seen the hatch before today.”

“Yes.”

“Who are you? What the hell is this place?”

I repeat my original questions, and he considers me for a moment. Then he takes a deep breath, calming visibly.

“Okay. It won’t matter soon enough anyway. My name is Michael. And this is The Reconstitution.” He returns to his work.

“Reconstitution? What the hell does that even mean?”

“To reconstitute something is to return it to it’s origina—”

“No! I know what reconstitute means. What the hell is The Reconstitution?”

“Ah, yes. The Reconstitution is an automated global population management system. We’ve been around for ages, constantly evolving with available technologies. We’ve even invented a few ourselves. Our current system is really top notch. You should have seen some of our earlier implementations. They were just crude.”

“Automated global population management system? In precisely what way do you manage the population?”

“We protect the population from destroying itself.”

“You — protect —?”

“Indeed, yes. We monitor the planet’s population for signs of impending self-destruction. You don’t seem to mean to destroy each other, or the planet, generally, but that’s the way it always trends. World leaders observed this early on, and The Reconstitution was developed cooperatively among them. As I said, our early methods were — well, not what our current methods are, but we’ve always gotten the job done.”

“I’m sorry, I still don’t understand. What job is that?”

“Ah, I apologize if I’ve not been clear. We monitor the population for signs of self-destruction — we have a specific, refined criteria — and when we observe all the signs, we reset you.”

“You — reset —?”

“Indeed, yes. We reset you back to a point where you may choose a different trajectory. Don’t worry, you don’t even know. We reset you, and the world continues on. No harm done.”

“No harm —? What do you call what’s happening out there? People are dead. My family. People are dead.”

“Ah, yes. Well, it would seem our program had a bit of a hiccup.”

“A—?” I am speechless. He continues on.

“Yes, you see, when the program is functioning properly, it gives a warning signal that reconstitution is about to commence. It is programmed to choose something culturally relevant and comforting to the population. You’ll remember hearing ‘White Christmas’? Yes. Well, normally there is the warning signal, and you all fall asleep. The program resets you, you wake up, and you’re happier, friendlier, and none the wiser. The world continues on. No harm done.”

“Wha—?”

“Yes,” he continues, “This time, the program glitched. It happens from time to time, but quite infrequently. You heard the warning signal, and you all fell asleep, but the reconstitution failed, and the program became stuck. I remain down here at all times, preserved in a sleep chamber, and the program is set to wake me if it cannot correct itself after a period of six months. So, here I am!” He sounds almost gleeful.

“It —? You —?” I can barely process the things Michael is telling me. Fingering the photo in my pocket, I think of my girls. Given everything unbelievable that has happened in recent days, what makes this any different? I let it all sink in.

“What about the snow?” I ask him finally.

“Nanobots.”

“Nanobots?”

“Indeed, yes. Nanobots are our currently accepted method of reconstitution. During the process, the nanobots materialize as required, and disappear again quite quickly. While our reconstitution bots are cold and white, they’re not generally present in the quantities required to resemble snow. However, because the program glitched during their distribution process, they simply kept accumulating. Ergo — snow.”

“But I’ve seen it! It is snow. I saw it melting above us maybe an hour ago now.”

“Not melting. Retreating. I’ve been working on repairing the program, using the island as a small scale testing site for development purposes.”

This guy is mad. Utterly and completely mad. Still, it was a more plausible theory than anything I — or anyone else — had been able to come up with in the six months since the snow came.

“Let’s just say everything you’ve told me is true. How can you do this? You can’t control people like this. It’s not up to you to decide the fate of people’s lives.”

“Actually, you’re correct. It’s not up to me. It’s up to the program, and the specific criteria we’ve developed and refined over centuries.”

“So, you’re saying it’s up to a machine. A machine controls the fate of every person on this planet.”

“Indeed, yes.”

“No. No! Stop what you’re doing. I can’t let you do this.” I pull a flare gun out of my pocket and aim it at him. It’s the only thing I have that’s of any use in this situation.

Michael looks confused and alarmed.

“I’m not sure you understand. Once I fix this, and complete the reconstitution successfully, everything will be like it was before the glitch. Everyone will be restored. Your family will be restored. And they’ll have no memory of this.”

I falter. My family. My girls. I could have them back, and it would be like none of this ever happened. God, I want that so badly. I lower my gun, and think of my wife. She would hate this. She was so beautiful. She had such a good heart. This is wrong, and I know it, and she would know it. If it were her standing here, she wouldn’t even hesitate. No. I raise my gun again.

“No. This ends here. Step away from the machines.”

“I’m sorry,” Michael says. “That’s not going to happen.”

Before I can react, I see him push a button on a console, and the room begins to spin. I fall to my knees, then keel over. Everything goes black.

***

I feel my consciousness returning. Instinctively, I bring my hand to my head. It hurts so — Oh. No, it’s fine. I must have been dreaming.

I feel another hand on my head, and I open my eyes in alarm.

“Are you alright, love? You seem to have had a bit of a start,” Stella says, kissing my forehead.

“I — I’m fine.” As far as I can tell, anyway.

The bedroom door swings open suddenly, and the girls come bounding in and on to the bed.

“It’s Christmas! It’s Christmas!” they shout, jumping up and down on us.

Stella laughs happily.

“Merry Christmas, my love!” she says, kissing me softly.

What is wrong with me? I shake my head, trying to clear away the lingering feeling of unease left by the dream I can’t remember. It’s Christmas.

“Merry Christmas, my girls!” I exclaim, hugging them all. “Shall we go see what Santa’s left for us?” As we make our way down the stairs, I hear the opening strains of Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” float in through our open windows.

Credit To – Ashe Abbott

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