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Elegy for Devil’s Lake

November 20, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Sit tight, my friends, as I weave a tale of magic and night. Let the fire burn low and let the wind howl through the ridges of this lake as the muses sign unto me, and the night speaks with my voice…
There was once a young man, who lived, worked, slept, and ate along the ridge of a great, dark lake; Devil’s Lake, in which he fished and drank. He was a wild man, in harmony with nature, loving all things in nature, alive or otherwise. But nature was not in harmony with him.
The man lived in peace with the world for many years, each day and night the same as the last. But one night was different. The day was normal for the man, and the sun set, just as it had for millennia before. The night settled in, and the wind whispered through the trees. All was at peace, for a time. And the moon rose, a bright eye high above the earth. But the moon, this night, was different. It glowed orange. The young man sat high on the cliff above Devil’s Lake, and watched with trepidation as this new moon rose.
He knew the orange moon was a natural occurrence, but this was not a natural day. This day was Hallow’s Eve, when the veil between this world and the next was thinnest. The ominous moon bearing down on him did not ease his fear. The moon appeared to have as face, and it watched, and waited.
The tall ridge of stone over the lake seemed to glow with the light of the moon, sparkling like a sheet of frosted glass. The ground below the man trembled slightly. Something was coming, he knew. But he did not know what. And for the first time in his life, he was truly afraid of the dark.
The lake below shimmered, still as the sky above, and placidly reflected the trees around it. But there was a ripple in still water, and something below the lake moved. The reflections of the trees and the moon far overhead broke into shards of glass, and the wind stopped humming. Everything was silent as the water broke.
Impossibly slowly, something appeared to be rising out of the water. The lake rippled as this new apparition, slow as ice, stretched its way higher and higher into this world.
What undulated out of the water was, at first, nothing but a single tentacle, sharpened into a spear at its tip. It was red like fire, and spotted with dark blotches of night. It wiggled slowly, quietly, almost unnoticeably as it slid between worlds. It shimmered in the moonlight. But there was some unmistakably off-set quality about it, something not of this world. And it most certainly wasn’t.
The man quaked, watching this monstrosity carefully. He had never seen anything like this before, but this was Hallow’s Eve. He prepared himself for what else might appear above the water, fastening himself in a protective leather suit and wielding a heavy stone axe. But even with his weapon, a feeling of deep dread settled in the pit of his stomach, and he waited…
Eventually, after what felt like weeks, the young man saw something more substantial than a tentacle float out of the water. It was, at first, nothing more than a red lump, as it was the base of the tentacle. The base, too, was covered in patches of nothing. Then the mass grew, and space itself seemed to spread apart to create a void for the beast to pass through. The young man saw that creature rising out of the water had ten thousand eyes.
The eyes were intelligent, large, and a deep yellow. They had slits like those of cats, but these slits were deeper, and showed a way into unimaginable horror. They darted around, watching everything, especially the young man. The ten thousand eyes circled the monster’s great head, and observed all, learning best how it could be destroyed.
Then came the smell, a scent like rotting fruit and decaying flesh that reached down into his throat, causing him to gag and taste something awful, something sulfuric and evil. The appearance of the devilish creature stopped the man cold in his tracks. He could feel a very real pressure in the air, like something building and growing…
And suddenly, there was a cacophony like metal scraping on metal poured from the spot broken in space within the lake, a sound like one hundred billion screams of torment and anguish. It was if Hell itself outpoured the very noise within it.
The beast climbed higher and higher into the air underneath the light of the orange moon, hauling more of its horrendous body out of that other world and into this plane, and now the man could see all of it, not just a tentacle. The rest of its body appeared to be decaying, and rotted flesh fell off its bones, if they could even be called that. But what was on the skin was worse still.
The man thought he could see faces, human faces, shift and form on the beast’s skin, and then disappear into nothing. What appeared to be mouths, mouths ringed with sharp, poisonous teeth, also moved freely on the abomination’s skin. The man also thought he could see other, more horrible things, but he was not sure. The man felt a crushing fear in his chest, the kind of terror that only comes with a brush with death.
Finally, after what the young man felt must have been years, the fiend reached the apex of its flight, and shuddered, and the air, the very fabric of reality seemed to shudder with it. The moon was at the very tip of its climb as well, and now began to descend. And the monster lowered with it, as if tied to the celestial body. The young man watched, and breathed a sigh of relief, seeing that he was not in any danger now. The worst was over, he thought.
The single tentacle of the brute, the one that had first broken the surface like shattered a mirror, felt the man’s change of heart. Taking this last opportunity, for the split second the man let his guard down, the creature struck. It lashed out like a whip, stabbing the man through the chest with the expertise of a master marksman.
The young man choked on blood as his eyes grew wide with horror, looking down to see a lava red tentacle impaled through his chest. The man’s blood splashed carelessly onto the rock cliff, poisoned by the creature’s filthy skin. The tentacle relaxed, and pulled out of the man’s body.
The young man fell to his knees as his life seeped away slowly, saturating the stones he sat upon. His gasped through the blood in his throat, and his eyes watched the demonic atrocity as it slid, silent now, beneath the still waves of the lake. One of its great eyes flicked around one last time, terrible fury reflected within, but also a great mirth. It did not have the opportunity to get fully into this world, but it was able to send… something else in. The man died quietly, his last breaths gurgling in his own blood.
Quietly, quieter than the grave, the beast sunk back into its lair. But, in its last moments in the world above, it watched its handiwork come to life. And it laughed a deep, evil laugh. The blood of its victim slowly began to gather in one spot, like a ghastly bubble. The gory mass of poisoned blood grew and swelled until it finally burst with a single, definitive blast. The forceful pop released hundreds, perhaps thousands, of small droplets of tainted blood into the night.
A droplet landed near the man’s glazed eyes, and began to change. It was no longer blood, but now the same color as the leviathan that had birthed it. It swirled and spun on its axis, until it became solid, and opened, revealing a single, yellow eye. And this happened over and over again, each and every droplet forming an eye.
As the man’s body finally ran cold, drained of blood, the droplets blinked as one, and slunk off into the darkness to find their next prey, and to wait. And nature watched, impassively, as the man’s body slowly decomposed over many days, and the rocks and trees grew around him. He became part of the earth that he loved. But the same cannot be said about his blood. That is a different story.
It is said that, sometimes, on some nights when the moon is full, if one stands in just the right spot on the cliff at Devil’s Lake, one can see a ripple when no wind has blown. The lake quivers, as if something massive beneath its surface is waiting, watching, for an opportunity to surface. And on some Hollow’s Eves, when the orange moon coincides with that dreaded night, it is spoken that one can see a red tentacle rise from the water to this very day, patiently awaiting a new chance to stretch into this world. The times haven’t been right yet. But someday they will. It’s only a matter of waiting.
And it is always a matter of waiting. The blood and the beast are patient. The eyes are growing in number as they find more sources of nourishment. Just how many there are today is impossible to tell. And they’re too small to ever be noticed; the size of a drop of blood, but more dangerous than any weapon. They may be in your house and you will never even know. They are out there, in the darkness.
The young man died alone on the ridge, and the earth reclaimed his body as its own. No one has spoken of him since, but all this has been recorded faithfully by the omnipresent night, the watchers in the darkness. And all this I can tell you, but let it be a warning; the night does you no harm. Do not be afraid of the dark. Be afraid of what lurks within it.

Credit To – Andrew Sova

This story is a Crappypasta Success Story – it was generally well-liked over at Crappypasta, and I feel that the author used the feedback that he received there to successfully rewrite the pasta. You may read the original Crappypasta post and comments here. Congratulations to the author!

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Who is Mary Weatherworth and What is She Doing in Your Mirror?

November 19, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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“This is breaking and entering,” said Delores.

“Not,” said one of her friends. “The older kids party here all the time.”

“So it’s only breaking and entering for the first person to do it?”

“If you’re too scared go home. Baby”

Delores opened the door, its brass handle gleaming like some sole survivor of decay. Diseased breath seeped out. Flowers carved above the fireplace bloomed in the moonlight. The beam of their flashlight conjured bottles and cans strewn about the floor, ghosts from parties past. They walked down a corridor past tall doors and peeling wallpaper. A clock kept time to the secret pulse of all things, ticking slower than it had the week before. As they were told, there was a mattress in one of the rooms. And a mirror.

“What are those things in the corner?”

“That’s the skin from little snakes. Go pick one up.”

“Condoms, gross!”

“Let’s not do this,” said Delores. “What if it’s true? Why do we even want to know? How can she see us if she has knives in her eyes?”

“I knew she’d chicken out.”

“Why can’t we do this at one of our houses?” said Delores.

“Because your mom would walk in with PBJs.”

The cruel derision of her friends silenced all protests. Death before displeasing your peers. Their reflection in an oval mirror vanished when they shut off the flashlight. “Mary Weatherworth come forth,” they said, quietly the first time, louder the next. The third time it fled their mouths and took on a life of its own like some blank check tossed into the abyss. A pinprick of light appeared and expanded. Delores’ friends fled.

What looked back. Three of them. White leather skin. Saucer eyes black and glossy. Featureless faces like the pupa stage of some malevolent becoming. Each clasped two daggers with stone handles, holding them with the blades pointed up.

Delores tried to scream but the muscles in her throat must have conspired against her, unless they were no longer under her control. She said the name again. About extra incantations the legend was silent.

The frame of the mirror glimmered from a sepia strobe within. The smell of pavement after a summer rain filled the room. The reflections’ hair blew from a breeze Delores could not feel. One of them cried. One laughed. Another extended a hand to the glass like an ape at the zoo, as though puzzled by its whereabouts, outraged by the ex nihilo curse of its existence in the way most humans are not.

Slowly they looked less blank, more like animate outlines. More like Delores.

A cacophony of voices told her she was the reflection, not them. Told her they would prove it, that the proof would make it so. They raised the daggers to shoulder level and pointed them at their eyes. With muscles suddenly freed Delores turned to run.

Calibrated to the dying clock, her frantic pounding on the door slowed down to primal beats. Her friends wouldn’t have locked it. She crouched and covered her face and the voices commanded her to observe the proof.

***

Years later, Delores keeps a blog:

The meme researcher is a paleontologist, digging through the soil of history and literature and art for common fossils, looking for connections between the earliest forms and their living descendants. Just because most people do this poorly and in pursuit of frivolous artifacts doesn’t call the whole enterprise into disrepute.

This is also a way of keeping my feet wet in Philosophy. I’m NOT interested in Mary Weatherworth as a supernatural phenomena but as a meme, a compact chunk of information. I’m studying how it gets passed on, how it competes in the meme pool (the pool of ideas or units of culture) and how it mutates and evolves. Please send me occult lore involving mirror-inhabiting entities who are blind.

I discovered the following on an Ana blog, a site devoted to unhealthy tips for losing weight. The meme was the least creepy thing I found there. Ana, as best I can tell, is the animistic force of anorexia. According to the hostess of this site it’s a positive lifestyle choice rather than an illness. I’ve emailed Zelda for more details about the following story (posted without permission).

“there was a aynshent rituel 2 defeet evil beings. a princess named Nica had her eyes gowjed out by hi preests. 1 wore a cote of black fethers. 1 wore a giant fish head. they chanted Ave de Pico Ancho, Ave de Pico Ancho, Ave de Pico Ancho. BY REEDING THIS SPELL U JUST OPENED THE WINDOW TO THE OTHER SIDE! ITS UR MIRROR!! the only way 2 close it is by sending this email to 97 people. if U dont Nica will appeer in ur mirror all covred with rotting skin and glowng eyes and PULL U THRU 2 B with her 4 EVER!!”

Notice how the summons “ave de pico ancho” has to be repeated three times just like “Mary Weatherworth come forth.” This meme spreads itself virus-like by using the same mechanism as mainstream religions and cults. 1) You are cursed. 2) To break the curse you have to spread the meme. My evidence that this story evolved from the Weatherworth meme as opposed to sharing a common ancestor is based on three considerations. The first involves the transformation of Nica’s eyes. Similar to the legend of Mary Weatherworth, the mutilation of her eyes had supernatural consequences. Hopefully Zelda will respond to my email and clarify the scope of Nica’s powers.

The name “Mary Weatherworth” wasn’t contained in the earliest versions of the story. It comes from a traveler persecuted in Oaxaca for powers of divination and unnatural acts with the local girls. Before a trial could proceed, an angry mob abducted her, blinded her, and threw her down a well. Then the town suffered a series of droughts until it was abandoned. The legend, spread by recipients of Mary Weatherworth’s affection, was that she appeared in the mirrors of her persecutors, haunting them, eventually driving them to suicide. The inhabitants of neighboring villages began fending off the apparition with strange rituals and even human sacrifices. (In case of emergency, kill a virgin.)

So what’s the deal with mirrors? In the ancient world it was widely believed they were passageways to other realms. The most famous example is Detritus, a Gnostic philosopher, self-styled “prophet of the reflections,” possible author of the Gospel of Detritus, which was condemned by the early church fathers. He allegedly summoned an evil priestess in a mirror who told him the first one to blind him/herself would force the other to become the reflection. Perhaps it was a trick, but on which side should you err? He taught that owning a mirror was like opening a window during a pestilence. He wrote a tragedy about a kingdom invaded and vanquished by mirror warriors, its citizens too vain to dispense with them.

The simplest explanation for these tales is that scary stories conjoined with mirror stories. As they became more intriguing and outrageous they were repeated more often, making them the fittest in the meme pool, ensuring their survival. Let’s stick with that until something better comes along. Why are people so resistant to explanations in terms of chance mutation and layers of happenstance?

The diligent meme researcher must resist the ever-present temptation of assuming that legends have a factual basis. Interesting stories get passed on and mix with other interesting stories. It really is that simple.

My favorite version, if I had to pick only one, is the blank entity who absorbs the personality of the summoner, enslaving her in a parallel dimension in the mirror then taking her place in our world. The reflection proceeds to spread the lie that Mary Weatherworth is just a story, thereby enticing more to summon her. I’ve cataloged over sixty versions on this blog. The meme researcher’s work is never done.

Credit To – Petronius Jablonski

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Quick Note About Post/Link Bug – SQUASHED

November 17, 2014 at 5:36 PM

UPDATE: With the help of Nitro Themes, this bug has been fixed. Thank you!

Hi, everyone. I just wanted to give everyone a heads up that yes, I am aware of the weird bug that’s preventing direct-clicks to posts from loading properly all the time.

If you haven’t experienced it yet: for some people, attempting to click the post title directly will end up with the post either loading infinitely or redirecting to the main page. So as an example, clicking this link will either take you to the post but not ever load any content, or it will redirect and just dump you right back at the site index:

weird glitch one

However, if you use direct links (for example, clicking an individual post link from Google, Twitter, etc), click the comment link at the top of each post, or use the right-click-open-new-window, the pages and posts will load completely fine.

weird glitch workaround one

workaround 2

This bug showed up with another back-end glitch early this morning. While the back-end issue has been fixed, we are still attempting to figure out what’s causing the redirect for certain links. Hopefully, it will be fixed within a day, but even if not, please don’t panic! Just know that it is being worked on and there are multiple workarounds so that you can still read and comment on individual pasta pages.

Feedback on the new look is welcome, but be aware that if this issue is traced to the new theme and I can’t figure out how to squash this bug, this look won’t be sticking around.

Thanks for your patience, everyone.

Diloxodin

November 17, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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I awoke this morning with a dull ache in my head. I took two Excedrin and went about my day. It’s probably due to the change in pressure outside. It should pass as the day goes by.

Eight hours and four Excedrin later the pain has greatly intensified. I have made plans to go see the doctor later.

The doctor asks me some questions, and tells me that if the pain intensifies that she recommends an MRI. I agree. In the meantime she writes me out a prescription for Diloxodin. She explains that this medicine is fairly new, and warns me of the side-effects, including: fatigue, increased appetite, lucid dreams, and in rare cases auditory hallucinations, and death.

As soon as I get my subscription filled I take one as directed. Within five minutes the pain in my head has lessened greatly. Within ten my headache is completely gone.

I get ready for bed, and power down my laptop. I can hear the bathroom sink dripping. I didn’t notice it before, and get up to turn it off.

I drift off to sleep. I am awoken a few hours later by the sound of the bathroom sink dripping again. I turn it off, and assume that a valve must be loose. I can’t fix it right now, so I place a towel in the basin to muffle the noise.

I fall back to sleep when I hear a sound like someone letting out a sigh coming from the bathroom. I’m startled, and my eyes pop open. I lay in my bed listening. I hear water trickle onto porcelain, drip-drip-drip-drip-drip. I take a breath and make my way into the bathroom. I turn on the light to find the faucet completely shut off, and the towel still in the basin. I touch it, it’s barely wet. I chalk it up to side-effects of the Diloxodin, and head back to sleep.

The next morning I wake up, and take another pill as recommended. I notice that I don’t have a headache, and that I’m no longer hearing things. Still, I’ll tell my doctor after work.
The doctor said not to worry too much about the hallucinations, she said they weren’t that bad, but if they get worse that maybe I should cut back on the medication.

That night I unwind by reading The Amber Chronicles. I was well into the fifth chapter when I started hearing noises again. In the kitchen I hear a clack-clack-clack, as the sound of footsteps move across the floor. I push it out of my mind and continue reading. As I continue to read I begin to hear a faint static come from the direction I heard the footsteps. I put the book down, and listen. Soon, the static becomes whispers, and I am able to distinguish two different voices, but I can’t make out what they’re saying. I again tell myself that it’s the medicine, but nonetheless I go cautiously into the kitchen to check. I find nothing there.

I go to the bathroom to brush my teeth, and get ready for bed. As I’m in there, out of the corner of my eye I see something brown and lanky move past the doorway. My heart gets caught in my throat. I rationalize that it was due to the medication, but soon realize that nothing was mentioned about visual hallucinations. Cold beads of sweat begin to form on my body, and my hands begin to tremble.

With trepidation I peer my head around the door frame hoping that nothing will be there. My eyes peer into the darkness of the hallway, searching, then I see it. Hulking at the end of the hallway tall, and brown, and hunched over. Its presence menacing. I notice that it’s turned the other way, and that it can’t see me. I continue to stare at it until I notice something strange about it. Something familiar. I turn on the hallway light. I sigh in relief. It was just the coat rack. I decide to go to bed but leave the hallway light on.

When I awake the next morning I forgo taking my medicine, and decide to call into work. I have no headaches, and I don’t experience any hallucinations. I spend the day lying in bed and listening to the silence.

It’s been seven days since I’ve stopped taking the medicine, and everything is still normal. I had a sinus headache a few days ago, but that was it. It would now seem that I no longer need the medication. If this is the case, then I can be done with these pills and not have to worry about anymore side effects. I’ll hold onto the pills for a couple more day, and if I’m still doing well, I will flush ‘em.

My head is killing me. It’s worse than it’s ever been. I lie curled up in a fetal position, in my bed, in the pitch blackness, with my hands cupping my head. I’ve thrown up three times already. I don’t know if I should take the medicine, but I’ve been like this for I don’t know how long, and I’m afraid the pain might kill me.

I down the pill with a glass of water. It’s hard to keep from throwing up again. Almost immediately the pain subsides, and I can function again. I promptly call my doctor to set a scan at a local hospital.

The scan comes back normal. No dark spots, or swelling. Nothing to indicate what is causing the headaches. While I’m there I ask the attending physician if there’s anything else he could prescribe me for my headaches. He writes me out a scrip for Almotriptan, and sends me on my way.

I contemplate throwing the Diloxodin away, but change my mind. In case the Almotriptan doesn’t work.

Two days now, and everything is going better than expected. Not only are my headaches gone, but I’m in an overall better mood. I’m also more actively participating during work meetings.

Fifth day now, and I things are getting weird again. Despite not taking any of the Diloxodin I’m starting to experience auditory hallucinations. I can hear voices throughout the house. They sound like the low hums of television conversations in another room, intermingled with growls, but each discernible. If I concentrate I can count them. One, two, three, four. Four. That’s how many of them are out there moving about, waiting. They can only move in shadows. I don’t even know if they’re real. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Almotriptan caused hallucinations.

I called the doctor who prescribed me the Almotriptan and asked him if it’s known to cause any hallucinations, he says that it doesn’t. Not fully satisfied with the doctor’s answer I visit forums and try to ascertain rather or not anyone else has experienced any types of hallucinations while on Almotriptan. The most I got was that a few people got dizzy, or nauseated.

I call my doctor, and tell her about the Almotriptan I’m taking, and the hallucinations I’m having. She tells me that it might be that the Diloxodin is still in my system, and that everything should clear up as time progresses. In the meantime she suggests that I get blood work done, to see if the drug is still in my system, and also to speak with a psychiatrist. I agree, and after I hang up with her. I make an appointment with a local clinical shrink.

I have my lab work done, and go to see the shrink. We speak about the hallucinations I’ve been having, and he gives me some exercises to do when the hallucinations occur. He also writes a prescription for Clozapine. He tells me that it’s for people with schizophrenia, but that it should work in my situation. I don’t like the idea of taking more pills, but if it’ll stop the hallucinations I’ll try it.

Despite taking the pills I’m still hearing things, and seeing tall, brown, slender, hulking shapes move about the house out of my peripheral. I rationalize that the medicine needs a week to fully take effect. I just wish I could do something about the sound of the water dripping in the sink.

I know that the sounds I’m hearing aren’t real; the footsteps, the voices, the water dripping in the sink. But, if I were to apply a physical solution to a mental problem it might eliminate some of the hallucinations I’m having. The first thing I do is turn off the water under the bathroom sink. The dripping stops. Now I must figure a way to stop the footsteps. If I tell the hallucinations to leave, maybe they’ll no longer bother me. It’s unlikely, but it’s worth a shot.

I can hear them in the living room, mixing of low guttural voices, and the sloshing wet sounds. I step out into the hallway, and peer into the darkness. I see four of the brown things hunched over in the living room, their backs scraping the ceiling, long slender arms that come past their knees, and the sound of saliva dripping from their mouths.

I tell myself that it’s just the coat rack, and reach to over to turn on the light. As I do so my phone vibrates in my pocket. I answer it.
“Hello.”

“Hi, Mark. This is Dr. Jacobs. I’ve received the results back from your lab work. There is no trace of the Diloxodin in your blood.”

I stand there in horror, looking at the things in my living room.

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Mr. Teeth

November 16, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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People sometimes ask me what my first memory is. Invariably I lie, because I’m prone to avoid the explanation that comes with the truth. Maybe, from now on, if someone casually asks me “What is your first memory?” I will reach into my bag where there will be copies of this story and I will just hand one over. As they read it, their face will morph from confusion, into the furrowed brow of concern, and finally into the drop-jawed bewilderment that accompanies real fear.
In passing, I tell people that my first memory was of me standing on a stool in front of my kitchen window. It was just after dusk in winter and from where I stood, I could make out the black limbs of the skeletal beech tree that loomed from across the driveway. While that is indeed a real memory, it’s not the first one. If you want to hear about that, here it is:

There was an unfortunate series of incidences that happened in the town where I grew up during the summer of 1989. By incidences, I mean murders. I’m not talking about your run-of-the-mill bar brawl gone too far or an act of passionate revenge. No. The events that happened in Middleton were far more grotesque…. even more so because the victims were children.
I don’t remember the heatwave that had swept Middleton that summer, the pink droplets of melted ice cream on the simmering pavement, or old men reclined in overstuffed chairs in shady living rooms. These precious details were told to me through family members and friends of my parents. They all, to this day say that it was the hottest summer they have ever lived through.
To make the weather even more unbearable, there were weekly brownouts that year due to some oversights at the electric plant in Salem. As a result, homes and businesses would go for hours at a time without air conditioning. Popsicles were promptly sold out in every business after noon; magazines and newspapers weren’t read that summer; they were bought to be used as makeshift fans. It seemed that the only place where air-conditioning still remained during these outages was the car.
I’ve been told by relatives that it was not uncommon during that summer to find neighbors lounging back in their parked cars with the windows up, drinking a beer and listening to the radio. At times it was the only escape from the unbearable humidity and heat.
That’s why, when mothers would go shopping, it became impossible to pull their children from their cars. After all, the kids knew that the inside of whatever clothing or grocery store their mother had taken them to was probably as hot if not hotter than the parking lot. The coolest and best place to be was in the car, with the windows rolled up and that gentle whispering wind seeping through the vents.
With this setting in mind you can understand how “Mr. Teeth,” as he was later called by newspapers, had his pick of the litter, so to speak. He knew that in any given lot outside of a busy grocery or department store, there would be at least two or three cars where the children had been left inside.
One such car was parked outside of the Market Basket on the afternoon of June 3rd. Within sat Jeremy Hagger, a freckled eight year old with a pension for action figures. When Jeremy’s mother returned from her quick dash for butter, she found the back right door of the vehicle ajar, a Darth Vader doll left abandoned on the back seat.
News of the disappearance radiated through the town over the following week up until the day when a jogger noticed a small black Reebok laying in the grass on the edge of the reservoir. Not long afterward, Jeremy’s body was pulled from the brown water and sent to the morgue. It was there that doctors noted what appeared to be bite marks on the boy’s arms and neck.
Victim number two was Amanda DeMiller, a girl of seven who had fallen asleep on her way home from shopping with her mother on July 18th. As was common in those days, a parent might leave their sleeping child in the car once at home. Britta DeMiller, Amanda’s mother, later told police that with the house being as hot as it was, she had thought that Amanda would sleep better in the car with the sliding side door left open.
At some point Mrs. DeMiller looked out the window to see that Amanda was no longer in her seat. The family lived on a fairly wooded road leading into the forests of Middleton. Neighbors were widely separated from one another. Mr. and Mrs. DeMiller spent all of that night scouring the narrow back roads, knocking on the doors of the occasional houses.
After only a three day search, a local boy found Amanda’s body slumped in the corner of his tree house. Her throat was purple from strangulation and covered with bite marks. Her shoes were on the wrong feet. Anyway, that’s how the story goes.

That brings us to my first memory. My parents have since placed the date of this memory to around the third or fourth week of August. It had been about a month since Amanda DeMiller’s murder but no one had been apprehended. People in town were still on edge.
It was at that time, one afternoon when I sat in the front seat of my Mom’s rusty Toyota parked in the giant lot of Henry’s grocery store. I remember that there was a car parked on either side of my mother’s and in front of the Toyota was one of those corrals for shopping carts.
There was music playing quietly on the radio, Madonna maybe, and my hands were sticky from eating candy.
You may wonder how, with all of the horrors that had plagued Middleton that summer, my mother could have left me alone in the car. The fact is, she hadn’t. My older brother, Stephen (age 12 at the time) had been designated as my temporary guardian while she made an emergency stop for flour. It was this “temporary guardian” who decided that this was the perfect opportunity to run to the bookstore nearby to buy a deck of collectible cards. Before he dashed out of the backseat, I remember him saying something like “Don’t go anywhere!”
So there I sat, waiting for one or both of my family members to return. It was then that I saw him and it’s this part which is clear even to this day.
The halogen lamps had just come on all across the lot; they cast that greenish glow from just being turned on. The sky beyond the pines that bordered the market was streaked with pink and purple. It must have been around seven thirty. I remember first seeing him, standing there some 30 feet from the front of our car. Almost instantly, the music from the radio faded from my ears along with the sharp rattle of carriage wheels on the old pavement.
Transfixed, silent, I stared out the windshield at this lanky gaunt figure framed by pink and purple sky. Through a curtain of greasy black hair falling across his brow, I discerned a single eye; it seemed to sort of take on the green glow of those halogen lights. He tilted his head back a bit and the hint of a smile danced across his thin lips.
He must have stood and stared through the windshield at me, transfixed and spellbound as I was, for one whole minute. He then started a slow walk over to my side of the car, never taking his eye from mine. Once he was outside my door, he looked down his long beak-like nose at me. Then looking around, he began to wiggle the handle.
“Open up,” he said, looking down at me again.
I just stared at him without saying anything.
Again, “Open up.”
His long skeletal fingers left the door handle and started to dance across my window tapping here and there.
He crouched down so that he was at my level and started a sort of puppet show with his hands. His dirty fingers dashed across the glass like great pale spiders in a deadly battle. He looked at them and laughed making hissing and growling sounds.
As he made these sounds, his mouth opened up into a full grin and I had a look inside, at rows of long yellow teeth. They are, to this day, the longest and largest teeth I’ve ever seen. There were gaps between them and they reminded me vaguely of dirty piano keys. He seemed to be completely immersed in his spider battle, giggling and clawing at each of his hands.
At one point, he noticed that my window was open just a crack at the top, he looked at me grinning with those mighty teeth and crawled one of his hand spiders up to the space. I was openly sobbing at this point. He managed to squeeze the tips of four fingers through the opening. I caught a greasy whiff of unwashed clothes mingled with the sweet scent of blood.
“Come on! Open up,” he said, in a winy, pleading voice. “Open up.” He said this same sentence in a dozen different voices, from a girly voice to a thick lumberjack one.
By sheer luck, the woman who was parked on the passenger side of our car, returned with all four of her noisy kids in tow. Upon seeing her, the man scurried off in a ducked walk towards the cart corral where he smoothly stood up straight and walked off into the parking lot…but not before looking over his shoulder, gnashing those massive teeth, and catching me with one final blood-chilling stare.
The memory ends there. It was later explained to me that my brother had returned to the car to find me crying hysterically. No matter what he said to calm me through the glass, apparently, I wouldn’t unlock the doors. My mother returned soon after. She said that all I could manage to say through thick sobs was, “There was a man.” I just kept repeating it for hours after that. “There was a man.”
Like the insufferable heat, so too did the Middleton murders come to an end with the changing of the seasons.
Just two weeks after my parking lot encounter, the child killer (who was later identified as Raymond Sandler, age 29) was caught after taking a young girl from a birthday party at a roller rink in Beverly. A worker on his coffee break at the adjacent gas station saw a thin man lead the girl out the back door of the rink and attempt to force her into a red car. The worker called the cops and the car was pulled over on Route 128 just outside of Gloucester.
While I don’t remember it, I first made the connection between the man in the parking lot and “Mr. Teeth” by seeing my father’s newspaper on the coffee table the day after Sandler’s capture. There, in a large blown-up black and white, was the same ghastly face I’d seen just inches from mine with only a layer of glass separating us. Apparently, I didn’t make it to school the day I saw that newspaper on account of I couldn’t stop screaming.
Knowing that I had almost been a victim myself, my family and people around Middleton weren’t willing to tell me anything about the killer once I grew curious, years later. I suppose they didn’t want to freak me out more than I already was.
So, in high school, I did some of my own research. I learned that the Boston Globe had first coined the nickname “Mr. Teeth” both on account of Sandler’s unusually large incisors and his habit of biting the skin of his victims. His means of killing was almost exclusively strangulation. Due to his being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, Sandler was often delusional. As a result, his story regularly changed. However, after being asked several times, the number of murders he confessed to, while varying, never went above 10.
It was also noted in research on Sandler that he only hunted in the summertime. Some speculated that this was because of the easy access to children who had been left in cool cars while their parents went in to shop. Others suggested that the hot weather triggered something inside of Sandler, something that lay dormant during the fall and winter, then awoke once the temperature hit 80.
Who can say?
They years have softened that first memory a bit. I’m almost forty now and, while that hideous grin isn’t quite as distinct as it used to be, I still see it sometimes when I wake up at night, usually in the warmer months.
Someday, one of my two girls (who know nothing of the summer of ’89) may ask when they’re older, “Hey, Dad? What’s your first memory?” Maybe I’ll tell them about the time I was on the stool in my kitchen looking out at the old beech tree. Or maybe I’ll just say, “Teeth. I remember teeth.”

Credit To – Daniel DuBois

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Hymn of Valor Cove

November 16, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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When my father passed away; I received a journal given to us by our family attorney; stating that I was to receive this upon his death as stated in the will. Typical, I’m the only family member he has left and stayed in Valor Cove despite my desire to leave only because of dad and… Certain things that are out of my control; I opened up the journal to see that it had only one entry, and it was just this past month. I thought it was strange that my dad would be giving this to me, especially for one that barely even has a tenth of the notebook filled; but family is family, and according to the attorney, he explains that this journal was a way for my father to explain the things he was never able to explain while alive, and why I can never leave Valor Cove. As I opened the book and started to read; I started hearing the hymn that always played throughout the town, and always given sorrow to the townsfolk.

June 8th, 2009
My town has a very storied history that would certainly make a lot of historians beam with excitement; an important town in South Carolina during the days our country was collection of thirteen colonies, a battle site during the civil war in which the Unions drove out the Confederate forces with their tales between their legs, hell, it was even believed that pirates during the 17th century used the area that became Valor Cove as a hideout from authority. With that said, it often baffled my growing up here that the townspeople always given off the aura of uneasiness and sorry; like they wanted to leave this place but couldn’t.

As a 12 year old kid, I often took it as grown-ups being grown-ups so I never really bothered to ask why they were so gloomy. More often than not I would be playing at the local beach with the other kids and my younger brothers Reggie, age 10, and Warren, age 8, as there wasn’t much form of local entertainment that would keep us entertained outside of TV which our parents profoundly disapprove of. It was the sixties, so what constitutes fun was pretty limited. Reggie would often try to act all macho by being the star player whenever we play soccer with a few of the kids on the beach, always winning due to being bigger than the other kids, while Warren would simply just build sand castles. “Come on Clayton,” Reggie yelled at a distance, as I was sitting at a nearby table reading a book. “Put down that book and come play with us! We need one more man to play soccer!”

“Why don’t you ask Warren,” I responded with a sigh. “In case you haven’t noticed I am busy with something.”

“Fine bookworm; hey little bro, we need one more person, so come place with us.”

Warren doesn’t talk much since he’s always had bad social skills, but I heard the sounds of the children laughing and shouting goal a lot so I took the guess that Warren agreed to play with them. “Aw crap,” one of the neighborhood children cried out. “The ball is in the water!”

I looked over to the water and headed over to see what was up; apparently one of the neighborhood kids Olive had kicked it badly and it ended up a hundred feet away from the shoreline. “Sorry guys,” she said with a pout on her face. “I mishandled it.”

“No sweat,” Reggie responded. “We can just simply swim over to it.”

“Wait a minute Reggie,” another one of the kids said nervously. “Our parents never told us to go into the water, especially if we heard a certain sound.” I know what he was talking about; there’s an odd rule that the adults would always give the children when it comes to playing at the beach. Never go into the water when the hymn is heard, or you will be dragged to the bottom by nature stirred.

The hymn it refers to is something of a mystery to us kids but is known in the region; there will always be a soothing melody that is heard throughout the entire town as if the sound was being carried by the wind at random times, but nobody, not even the adults had any idea what it was… No, that’s not right; I always get the feeling that they know what it is, but they just simply refuse to tell us for whatever reason. “Oh come on you actually don’t believe in that do you?” Reggie laughed; he, Olive and two other kids jumped into the waters to get the ball, though I think they only used that as an excuse to go into the water. “Shit it is freezing! Let’s just get the ball before I chatter my teeth into dust!”

It looks as though Olive and Reggie were the only ones swimming towards the ball while Tara and John were relaxing in the wave. Suddenly, we heard something that sent a shiver through my entire body. It was a song of sorts, but I couldn’t make out the words because the waves drown them out, but I can definitely hear its pitches. It was very soothing, yet at the same time filled with such sorrow; like the singers were filled with no hope. It mesmerized me to the point that I wasn’t even paying attention to the surrounding around me, and I think everybody was in the same boat. All of the sudden, I heard this scream piercing through my eardrums which snapped me out of the trance; it was Olive who made the scream. I darted my head in the general direction. Out of the four who went into the water, only Reggie and Olive were visible above the water. “What happened; where’s John and Tara?!” I yelled at the two.

“We don’t know; something pulled them under and now there is blood everywhere!” Reggie responded. I couldn’t see it, but I did notice that the water being washed on shore has a dark red hue to it now; my god, did a group of sharks wonder into the cove? Everything was all at a haze as I tried to make sense of what was happening. “Oh god I felt something rubbing against my leg!”

“We need to swim out of here before—“Just like that Olive was pulled under by something that we can’t see.

“Olive;” Reggie yelped, even though he was only fifty feet away from us, I won’t forget the look of sheer terror Reggie’s eyes were illuminating. I wouldn’t even begin imagining myself in his situation. “I’m going after her.”

“Are you crazy?!” I yelled at Reggie, amidst the chorus of the other children begging Reggie to not stick around and swim to shore. “If you try and play hero now you’ll fucking die!” Of course my words fell on deaf ears as he just simply dived. God damn it, that idiot. Why does he do this crap all the time, trying to act all macho and be the center of attention? We all kept screaming for Reggie to swim to shore; but no one volunteered to go after him as they didn’t want to find out what is hiding in the waters and be potentially eaten. Warren was completely panicking as the minutes basically ticked by; I was forced to restrain him, kicking and screaming to let him go as Reggie is still under there. I really didn’t want to believe Reggie could possibly be dead; but there is no way I would be risking Warren’s life, not now, not ever. I was able to calm him down for a brief moment, but then Warren gasped when he spotted something washing on shore. When I saw what it was, I can already feel my heart trying to burst out of my chest from agony.

It was a couple of sneakers, both completely soaked in seawater and having a lot of red splotches of blood on them. From the looks of it they came from two people… Oh god no; one of them was Reggie’s, I recognize that mustard stain anywhere and those doodles he did on his own pair. There was simply no point in denying it now; Reggie is gone. Whatever was lurking beneath the water killed my little brother and the other kids; I was so stunned that I completely lost my grip on Warren, he ran towards the sneaker crying and screaming. All the other kids came rushing to him; some of them crying with him, others looking like deer in headlights. I just stood there; everything around me was in a complete blur, I heard adults coming towards the beach from downtown, trying their best to console the kids. My parents came over; my father hugging me tightly while mother went to go get Warren. All the while I heard the same hymn that was being sung, but this time I can hear the words more clearly.

O praise the graceful lord by blood
For then our souls be clean of sin
We brought its wrath and drowned in flood
Our sins pulled us down with a thud
Forgive us great lord and our kin
Your soldiers can take our warm skin.
I wasn’t able to sleep for a second after the incident, but for some reason I don’t think it was due to the loss of my brother; there was something… Ominous, and scary about the words in that hymn; what does it mean by the phrase ‘by blood’, what was this wrath that caused a flood. But the most troubling question thing I kept thinking about was that last verse.

Your soldiers can take our warm skin.

What were these soldiers; and what did it mean by taking our warm skin? I didn’t even want to think about it as I tried my best to close my eyes, my skin still crawling now that the hymn is playing in my head repeatedly like a broken record player. The whole town held a memorial for Reggie, Olive, John, and Tara at the beach, in which the parents talked about how much the kids were special and how losing them was such a blow not only to themselves by to the community. The Police Chief then got his turn to speak; like everybody else, he explained how much he’ll miss the kids, saying a special thing about each of the kids, but what caught my attention is that he said the kids were attacked by a Bull Shark, and that the local coast guard were able to hunt down the shark and kill it.

I had a lot of problems with that idea; there were no warnings about shark sightings on the radio, this town is nowhere near the known hotspot for shark activity Myrtle Beach, and how did they figure it was a shark attack anyhow? The police never recovered the bodies, so there is no way to tell how my little brother died. I would figure that my father would raise an objection, seeing as how he works as a local fisherman and knows a lot about these waters, so I looked at him. Not a single word escaped his mouth; he was even nodding in agreement with the chief. I didn’t understood it back then; why he was keeping silence about the obvious flaw with the Chief’s statements, but I was a kid back then so I really didn’t have much of a voice to object to.

For the next few years or so, Valor Cove tried its best to return to its form of normalcy; but I wasn’t being fooled, I can sense that the adults were hiding something about that incident but every time I brought it up they shot me down saying I should move on, even the now grown-up kids who were there with me on that day shot me down multiple times. Due to my sense of distrust with the community I started to become an outsider to them; they still talk to me and I do have friends but I know that my bond with the town was severely strained. Warren had it worse though; after the incident, it was like his state of mind had deteriorated, he never talked to anyone but me and our parents, he needed to get a lot of psychological therapy, and I thought he was going to go insane. He also had repeated nightmares that we would often talk to me about, saying they were real, of course I didn’t believe him but I really couldn’t blame him for thinking that way.

His nightmares would always involve beings that he called ‘Fish Men’, watching over him while he lay in bed. He told me he couldn’t see much since it was always dark; but he did explain that he always heard some sort of mumbling, like they were trying to communicate with him or with each other. I basically just took it as his mind slowly going over the cliff; he was there at the incident and saw them disappear with his own eyes, and he took it much harder than everyone else, even me. One day, five years after the accident while Warren and I were talking about the dreams at Hospitality, the local diner; a very clean cut guy who looked like came out of Ivy League basically butted into our conversation. “Uhm, can I help you sir?” I asked him annoyingly.

“Oh goodness me I’m sorry,” he said while adjusting his glasses. I can already tell that this guy annoys me. “Where are my manners, my name is Claus Butler, I am currently doing research on urban legends and folklore in the Southeast, and I couldn’t help but hearing in on your story.”

“Uh yeah, it’s a pleasure to meet you Mr. Butler.” I responded. “I’m Clayton Roads and this is my little brother Warren; now if you don’t mind me asking, why does our conversation warrant your attention?”

“Your fish men story, I’ve heard a lot of rumors around the state about these creatures being seen along the coastline, but nobody seems to be able to bring forth much information about them, not even what they look like. A few people I met in Charleston suggested I should go here for my research; it’s a shame that so far I have come up with dead ends though, your dreams about these fish men are in fact the only clue I had.”

For someone who looks cut out for medical school, he sure does have an interest in boogeyman tales. Though I think he could be of some use in finding out some information about the hymn. I explained to him about the weird rule this town has and the hymn itself; though I purposely neglected to inform him about that attack on the beach, the last thing I want to do is to have my brother’s name be plastered in books about some urban legends. Of course he positively beamed about this new mystery. “Fascinating, very fascinating indeed,” he said while making notes. “I’ll definitely be staying here for a while to find out more about Valor Cove’s mystery.”

He thanked me as he left the diner, he explained to me shortly before he left that he’ll be staying at the local inn while he digs up for any info regarding this mystery, so if I ever wanted to make any inquiries I would know where he be. Of course; I never really took up on his offer as I didn’t consider the hymn to be that important, and more importantly, I didn’t think it had to do with what happened five years ago. Strangely though, despite him saying that he’ll be staying in town; not once have I ever seen him anywhere in Valor Cove; not at the café, not at the library, not even at the beach. I just took it as him being extremely busy and invested in his research, so I wasn’t bothered by it in the slightest. In hindsight that was a mistake.

Seven months after I first met Mr. Butler I arrived at the beach to pay my respects after I finished cleaning my dad’s fishing vessel; it was night time so I had to use my flashlight to illuminate the beach and see where I’m going. The memories of that day never leaving my mind for a second, not the attacks, not the blood soaked shoes, not that mysterious hymn. I was standing in front of the makeshift memorial statue that commemorates the lost lives of Reggie and the other three; it was a simple looking thing, the shoes being bolted to a large slab of rock and having a plaque. The slab was buried up to the top so only shoes would be visible –don’t ask me why they did that as I wasn’t involved with the construction of it-, unfortunately it resulted in a lot of rocks and pebbles covering the surface and the plaque, so I brushed them off to read it:

May the lord watch these blessed souls in the afterlife; and let them live on in our memories.
 

Reginald F. Roads: April 1. 1952- September 9. 1962
 

Johnathan I. Andrews: November 12. 1951- September 9. 1962
 

Olive S. Park: May 19. 1953- September 9. 1962

Tara H. Willow- October 4. 1952- September 9. 1962
Ugh, again with the lord stuff. I know it’s referencing Jesus Christ, but thanks to that damn hymn I now associate the lord with something that wants my skin; in any case I headed my way back to downtown, the sounding of rocks scraping together beneath every step I took was permeating throughout the cove as if I were in an echo chamber. When I passed by the inn Mr. Butler was staying in, I noticed something rather peculiar: one of the upper floor rooms was lit up and the window was wide open… Wait, it doesn’t look like its wide open, it looks like it was broken into; was somebody trying to break into the inn? Against my better judgment I thought I should go take a look and see if something happened to Mr. Butler, as well as Mr. and Mrs. Doven; the couple had owned the inn ever since they moved down here from Virginia after Mr. Doven returned from the Second World War according to my dad, they were very nice people and always treated my little brother and I like we were their own grandkids.

When I went inside I noticed that nobody appeared to have been home; Mr. and Mrs. Doven are completely absent and the only sounds I can hear are coming from upstairs, so headed my way up there. There was this strange odor permeating the hallways, to best describe it was like a mixture of sea water and rotten fish, a smell that for those who never been on a fishing vessel would easily feel nauseated by. One of the doors at the end of the hallway is basically wide open; I really hope that isn’t Mr. Butler’s room, because it would mean that there really is some thief in here. Never the less, curiosity got the better of me and I slowly walked my way into the room. But before I even made a single step; a familiar sound came from outside:

O praise the graceful lord by blood
For then our souls be clean of sin
We brought its wrath and drowned in flood
Our sins pulled us down with a thud
Forgive us great lord and our kin
Your soldiers can take our warm skin.
God damn it not that hymn again, I tried my best to ignore it as I made my way in. The room looked like it had a major fight ravaging through the place; furniture thrown everywhere, broken glass on the floor, bed turned on its side, even scratch marks on the wall. That was the strangest thing about what happened in this room, if it was a simple thief, the state of the room would make me believe that some giant animal beast was in here. “Holy crap,” I silently whispered to myself as I inspected the main room to find any trace of life, “what the hell happened here?” As I finished looking around I heard sounds coming from behind the bathroom door; to best describe it sounded like loud chewing, gurgling, and twigs being snapped. My gut immediately told me that this was bad, something definitely ominous was lurking in there; I don’t know why I let my curiosity got the better of me, but I went to the bathroom and pulled the door wide open, hoping to surprise this bad guy and take care of him; what I saw in there immediately made all the blood drained from my body and made me frozen in place.

In the bathtub, there was a body that was completely opened up with its insides almost cleaned out, but I didn’t need to see the face to know who the corpse was laying in the bathtub: It was Mr. Butler, and he had the expression of seeing a terrifying monster, which was exactly what I was looking at now. It was something I will never forget. The thing standing in the bathtub with the body was this thing that can only be best described as a fish man; standing what looked to be over six feet tall, covered in scales that illuminated shades of blue and deep green in the bathroom light, webbed fingers with claws that would easily rip open my body if it wanted to, but it’s head… Oh god; its head. Going up from the upper arm, the scales gave way to exposed human skin, and its head looked like human being, but its mouth was replaced with wide fish lips that bared shark-like fangs, and its eyes were slightly misaligned. But that wasn’t the thing that made me horrified, what did was the face. I know that face from anywhere, even after all these years; I can never forget the face of my little brother.

Jesus fucking Christ; why does this thing have Reggie’s face? That question kept running around my head while I just stood there like a frozen idiot, its fish eyes staring right back at me, cocking its head left and right. It just stood there like it was scanning me or something, not even moving a muscle; I finally mustered up enough courage to have some word come tumbling out of my mouth. “R-Reg… Reggie?”

In an instant the thing immediately let out a bone rattling scream; without thought or reason I just bolted out of the room and down the hallway, all the while I can hear the thing chasing me; “Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit,” I cussed like a sailor having a heart attack. I nearly tripped on the stairwell and made a bee dash towards the door, bolting out and running towards my house without even glancing back to see if that thing was chasing. I was still cussing when I reached my house and immediately barged inside, slamming the door shut behind me and locking the doors. I collapsed onto the floor and vomited; of course all that sound I made woken up my parents and Warren, who basically came rushing downstairs wondering what the hell was going on?

“What’s going on,” my father asked sternly. “Did you cause some sort of trouble?”

“Dad,” I lost control of my volume at that point. “There’s a monster at the Doven in that ate a visitor from Charleston; we have to warn the sheriff about this!”

“What are you talking about,” my mother asked. “There’s no such thing as monsters. Wait a minute, Clayton, are you taking drugs?”

“I’m not taking any god damn drugs! There is this thing that has Reggie’s face and tried to kill me, we have to warn the sheriff about this before-.” Before I could finish, that thing burst through the doorways. I crawled backwards into the family so that I would not take my eyes off it. “That’s the creature with Reggie’s face! We have to go now!”

But I began to notice something’s deeply wrong here; mom, dad and Warren aren’t running away from the creature, in fact they were petting it like it was some sort of pet. “I’m sorry son,” Dad sighed. “I didn’t mean for Clayton to scare you.”

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing; why the hell is mom and dad treating that thing like it is Reggie? “What are you doing?!” I yelled. “That thing killed Mr. Butler!”

“We know,” Warren silently said. “He was killed as food for Reggie and the other soldiers.”

Soldiers; what did he mean by that? There is no army base anywhere near Valor Cove unless… Are they referring to the soldiers in the hymn? Oh good god, now I understood what it meant by taking our warm skin. “W-what are these things?”

“Hush boy,” my father silently scolded me, “these are our punishments from the lord for bringing destruction upon the seas centuries ago, and now we must stay here and protect them from escaping and being unleashed on the world.”

“You mean were basically prisoners to these creatures?”

“These are not creatures,” Mom said with a sunken look. “They are your brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents, lovers and friends that have lived in Valor Cove.”

That thing really is Reggie? No… I refuse to believe it, I just can’t accept it. But then the hymn started with my parents and brother singing that damn hymn, showing that they have accepted their fates of being prisoners to this town till they reach the grave; but I heard more of the hymn this time, as I only just realize there is a second verse.

O praise the graceful lord by blood
For then our souls be clean of sin
We brought its wrath and drowned in flood
Our sins pulled us down with a thud
Forgive us great lord and our kin
Your soldiers can take our warm skin.
Soldiers born from human and sea
Only knowing the lords deep rage
Feeding them man to hear our plea
If they come to land, end we’ll see
Now we are the soldier’s great cage
Forever more; on the lords’ stage.

I closed the book and let out a deep sigh; I never knew my dad had gone through this hell when he first experienced this. I always thought that he was just simply jaded without any good reason; but being raised with the customs in Valor Cove like I have at such an early age, I guess after what happened they decided to be more truthful with future generations about the soldiers we are bound to hold. I put the book down and looked behind me to see the corpse of some poor hitchhiker who unfortunately picked a ride whose destination was for this town. Ah well; better for the food to be foreigners then the townsfolk. The hymn was still playing from god knows where; meaning that it is feeding time, no doubt the other townsfolk grabbing the corpses of other people that are not from here. I grabbed the body and headed down the stairs and out the house towards the beach; thank god this corpse isn’t heavy, otherwise I would throw out my back. Once I reached the beach there was a lot of people huddling together to see the corpses line up, about twelve in total; it looks like this will be able to least our soldiers for at least a year. I placed the corpse down and joined with the other townsfolk, waiting and watching as the fish men, carrying the faces of those they ate, started to come out of the water with their webbed feet splashing against the rocks and headed towards the corpses where they started to eat. Looking back on my dad’s journal entry, I have accepted that my fate is to remain here in this town till the end of my days, making sure to be the great cage as I watch Uncle Reggie and Uncle Warren eating the corpse I offered, knowing that if they were to leave and spread, humanity would end.

Credit To – Andrew Eden-Balfour

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