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Mary

April 5, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Allen hurriedly gulped down the last of his milk when he heard the doorbell ring.

“Mom! Chad and Mike are here, I’m leaving for school,” he shouted at the ceiling of the kitchen. He grabbed his backpack off the counter and headed for the door.

“Wait!” His mother rushed down the stairs, half stumbling in the process, stopping him just as he grabbed the door handle. She looked haggard and a worry line creased her brow. Red rimmed eyes gave testament to the fact that she had been crying for some time. His mother absentmindedly adjusted Allen’s scarf with a nervous, shaky hand. “Remember to hurry straight home today, okay?”

“I know, Mom. Mary’s coming today.” At the mention of Mary a choked sob escaped his mother’s throat. Not wanting to see her so distraught Allen tried to cheer her. “Look, why don’t I just stay home today?” he ventured.

“You can’t, honey. You know the rules,” she managed to squeeze out, fighting to quell even more tears. “Now hurry and go.” With that she gave Allen a quick hug, and opened the front door with a sharp jerk, much like yanking off a Band-Aid so as not to prolong the pain. With a forced smile she ushered Allen out into the cold. As she shut the door behind him her sobs returned unbidden. She collapsed against the door, unable to support her own weight. She slid slowly to the floor, the whole time murmuring through her tears, pleading, “Please don’t forget…please don’t forget…”

***

The brisk fall air sent an immediate shock to Allen’s system. He pulled his coat tighter around him, watching his breath curl away in wispy tendrils before turning his eyes to his fellow 3rd grade buddies.

Mike was wearing his usual cocky grin and the ever present glint of mischief was in his eyes. He was the trouble maker in the trio, and as such he was always up for an adventure. By rights of being younger (“Only by a month!” as he was always quick to point out) he was the defacto second in command behind Allen.

Then there was Chad. The kids at school had many names for Chad. They ranged in creativity from “Stupid-head” to “Chard the Tard”, but they all expressed the same point. Chad was slow. Allen’s mother had once told him the technical term for it. To the best of Allen’s recollection it was “high function-something idiot something”. The kids at school chose to focus on the idiot part. What mattered the most to Allen and Mike was that of all the people in Willow Falls, Chad was the most sincere, the most innocent. They took care of him like a younger brother.

“Chad…your shoes are untied again, man!” Allen cast an exasperated look towards Mike. “Why didn’t you help him out?”

Mike, looking hurt and indignant at the same time, responded, “I tried, but you know he only lets you do it.”

Allen let loose a sigh that clearly stated how heavy the burden of the world weighed on his shoulders and bent to tie Chad’s shoes.

“Loop once, loop twice, and it all looks nice!” Chad sang his shoe tying song as Allen went about the work. “Friends to the end,” he rhymed again once Allen had finished. Most people found Chad’s chosen manner of communication irritating, but to Allen and Mike it is was one of his more endearing qualities.

“Chad buddy, you really need to learn to do that on your own. I might not be around to help next time.” Allen’s gentle admonishment was met with a warm smile and enthusiastic nod of Chad’s head. “Alright, Triumphant Trio, off to school!”

“I’m not a fool, I go to school!” chimed Chad as he fell in with the others.

Together the three youngsters made their way down Birch Lane heading for Willow Falls Grade School. Willow Falls was a quaint little town, no more than 100 families, and thus the walk from Allen’s house to school was relatively short. The boys made good time, all the while chatting about whatever it is that interested boys of their age. Chad would chip in with a well-timed rhyme causing all three to laugh. Considering what day it was, the boys were in rather high spirits.

“…and that’s when I pulled her hair!” Mike was in full story telling mode as he regaled his two friends with his latest misadventure involving his neighbor Sally. Arms swung and hands gestured to emphasize every point by pantomiming his actions. Despite the cold, he was working up a nice flush in his eagerness to relate the tale. Allen listened intently, nodding sagaciously. Chad, not fully grasping all the nuances of the story, took his cues from Allen. “Then she got this weird look in her eyes and started leaning tor-,” Mike stopped talking abruptly.

Allen looked up to see what had made his friend pause. He saw it immediately. They were coming up on the gate. The malice emanating forth from the gate was so evident that even Chad was able to recognize it.

“Chad hate bad gate,” he stated in a choked whisper. Both Allen and Mike nodded their agreement to Chad’s simple assessment, but words failed the other two boys. This was The-Gate-That-No-One Opened. Standing 8’ tall, the gate loomed over any who passed by it. The truly intricate details that went into the ironwork were only visible upon close inspection, most however, never got that close. Even Mike, the brave one, would not come within more than a few feet of it. The hinges on the gate had long since rusted, and the gate had looked ready to topple over for years. But it had not. Instead it maintained its constant vigil, forever standing sentinel to that which was behind it.

On the other side of the gate a worn cobblestone path ran straight for 15’ or so before rounding a bend and disappearing behind the giant hedges. No one knew exactly where the path lead, for on the other side of The-Gate-That-No-One-Opened was The-Park-That-No-One-Entered. Located in the geographical center of Willow Falls, the true name of the park was lost in the annals of the town’s history. In the middle of the massive park, rising above the hedges and sitting on the crest of a hill, stood the willow tree. Some quirk in the lay of the land made the willow visible from anywhere in town while the rest of the park lay shrouded in secret behind the surrounding hedges. The town founders had likely seen the tree and named the town after it. That was just speculation of course, just as it was general consensus that the path behind the gate most likely led to the willow tree.

With an unspoken agreement the boys hastened their steps, eager to escape the unnatural silence and icy dread that overcame all who crossed the gate’s path.

“Maybe we should just go back home today.” This from Mike, the brave one.

“No, we have to go to school,” answered Allen. “You know the rules. We all do.”

“Yeah, but…” he let his protestation trail off and instead turned his attention to stepping on every dead leaf that came within reach of his feet.

“School’s the rule,” Chad intoned with his head hanging and hands in his pockets, the walking picture of dejection. The boys continued down Birch Lane.

***

It had been another typical day at WFGS. At recess some of the other 3rd grade boys had devised a new game. They thought it would be funny to stuff a sock down Chad’s pants and try to get him to chase his “tail”. Chad, always hoping to please, had gleefully complied. Misunderstanding their teasing laughter for encouragement had caused him to try all the more enthusiastically. If there was one talent Chad did have, it was his ability to completely focus on one task to the exclusion of all else. This only lent fuel to the laughter as he doggedly spun in circles, determined to catch the sock. Mike and Allen were quick to intervene. One of the boys was sporting a growing black eye where Allen had punched him. Mike, fresh from the principal’s office (“My second homeroom,” as he liked to call it), already had his name on the board.

“At least it wasn’t Pin the Card on the Tard again.”

“Yeah,” agreed Allen. “Hey don’t look now, but they’re at it again!”

Ignoring Allen’s advice, Mike whipped his head around just in time to catch Sally and her group of friends peeking his way. They quickly ducked their heads back together and returned to hushed whispers laced with intermittent giggles.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with Sally,” Mike said with a look of consternation on his face. “Ever since yesterday she’s been acting weird and looking at me funny. Maybe I-“

Mike was cut short as the 3 chimes of the P.A. system declared an upcoming message from Principal Ladsen. Ms. Shoemaker, with her stern hair bun and horn-rimmed glasses immediately set to shushing everyone. Due to what day it was, quiet and attention were quick in coming. The eyes and ears of the twenty-three nine year olds in her class were focused on the loud speaker in the corner. The same was true for every classroom throughout WFGS.
Some slight feedback was followed by a hiss and a pop, trailed by Principal Ladsen clearing his throat. Finally he began to speak.

“Alright everyone, listen up,” he commenced rather unnecessarily. “We all know what day it is, so I need you all to go straight home. Don’t dally in front of the school, or stop on the playground. As soon as the bell rings, in about 5 minutes or so, you children get right back to your houses. That’s all.” Three chimes indicated the message was over.

The principal’s proclamation had set a noticeably somber mood through the halls of the school. In the back of the class, a small, timid hand raised slowly in the air.

“Yes, Stewart?” Ms. Shoemaker was slightly taken aback to actually have some form of interaction from the normally withdrawn Stewart. “What is it?”

“Ma’am, um…if it’s so important we go home right away…I mean…um…why can’t our parents just come pick us up?” His voice quavered quite a bit.

“Because,” she said around a sad, understanding sigh. “It’s not allowed. You all know what the Town Charter says. You know the rules, straight home.” As if to help punctuate her answer, the bell chose that moment to ring. She had to raise her voice to be heard over all the scooting chairs. “Now remember, children! Straight home!” Her voice had become shrill as it chased the children out the door, “Don’t forget!”

***

The halls of WFGS were eerily quiet. The chattering and general hubbub of an entire school’s worth of youngsters were replaced by grim looks and muttered whispers quickly hushed. The clatter of hundreds of shoes was supplanted by hesitant, slow steps, heading for the exits. Allen and the other members of his threesome followed along swept up in the silent, inexorable tide. Even Chad seemed to pick up and reciprocate the mood.

No one stopped at the playground. The usual groups did not gather at their usual spots. The hopscotch area was forsaken, children walking past it without a second glance. The words of the principal were heeded. The children had been trained well. They were prepared for this day. Within 5 minutes the school yard was completely deserted. The only sound came from a squeaky swing as the wind slowly pushed it back and forth.

***

The Triumphant Trio turned onto Birch Lane. Few words passed between them. Heads ducked, a few furtive glances exchanged. Every now and then a chilly fall breeze would whip around them, carrying a few leaves across the sidewalk. Other than that, the boys walked in silence.

Almost as if they could sense its presence, and all of the same mind, the boys crossed the street in order to skirt the gate. Despite his better judgment, Allen risked a glance. In the distance, on the hill, the willow tree danced in the wind. Its massive low hanging branches skipped across the ground. Allen imagined that he could hear the branches clacking together, even over this great distance, and to his young ears the noise sounded like macabre laughter. It gave Allen the impression that the tree was eager, full of glee for the upcoming events.

A shiver ran itself along the length of Allen’s spine, and he quickly jerked his gaze back down, staring at the pavement as he placed one foot in front of the other. He wished he hadn’t looked.

Soon, not as soon as they would have liked, the trio were outside Allen’s house. The air had already grown noticeably colder, and the light was starting to wane, fading faster than usual. Shadows of streetlamps and trees began stretching across the pavement, long skinny fingers searching, searching.

Mike, the brave one, barely looked at his friends as he gave them a perfunctory wave. He quickly turned on his heels and high-tailed it to his house across from Allen’s. Allen couldn’t blame him; he felt the urge to run home himself. He turned his attention to Chad.

“Alright, buddy. Remember, head straight home, okay?”

“I won’t be late for my dinner plate!” Allen couldn’t help but smile despite the situation.

“Straight home, Chad.” Chad gave Allen his usual grin and enthusiastic nod before turning and heading home. His house was at the end of Birch Lane, on the other side of the curve, just out of view. For a while Allen stood and watched, torn between walking his dear friend home and heading home himself. He had just made up his mind to escort Chad when his attention was drawn by a frantic banging.

He turned and looked at his house to see his mother pounding hectically away on the window. When she saw she had his attention she began forcefully gesturing, and the look in her eyes left no doubt about her intentions. Allen regretfully put all thoughts of chasing Chad from his mind and bounded up the stairs to his porch and into the safety of his home.

If Allen’s mother hadn’t gotten his attention in that instant, if he had just kept watching Chad as he rounded the curve, if he had looked a moment longer, he might have seen his best friend trip.

***

Chad had skinned his hands in the fall. It was okay, though, he fell often. He was used to it. His shoelaces had come undone again. They were the culprits behind his loss of balance! He looked around expectantly, waiting for Allen to tie his shoe for him. Then he remembered what Allen had said this morning. Allen wasn’t here to help him.

A fierce light of determination began to glow in Chad’s eyes. An idea began to formulate in his slow mind. He would tie his shoes himself and make Allen proud. With his giant grin on his face Chad eagerly set to work.

“Loop once, loop twice…”

***

Allen’s mother reached through the gap in the door and pulled her son into the house. She hugged him tightly. After she had satisfied herself that he was indeed real and home safely she pushed him out to arm’s length and glared at him.

“What in the world were you thinking?!” she demanded. “I told you to come straight home!”

“I was just going to make sure Chad got home and then I was going to run right back!” he protested.

“No Allen! No! You know the rules!”

“Okay, I’m sorry! I got it. Mary’s coming.”

***

Throughout the town of Willow Falls all the preparations for the night were the same. Doors were locked, curtains were drawn, and parents gathered up their children. They huddled together in whatever room they felt the most secure, hoping the events of the night would pass quickly. It was no different in Allen’s home.

He and his mother sat in the living room, lights dimmed. She hadn’t let him out of her sight since he’d gotten home. Every few seconds she looked his way, verifying he hadn’t disappeared.

***

Sometime between the late afternoon and dusk, Willow Falls changed. The cold deepened even more. Darkness seemed to envelope the town, bringing with it an unnatural silence. The wind slowed, and then eventually petered out altogether. No birds chirped, no squirrels squeaked. It was as if the town was a void, no sound, no movement, and at the epicenter of this lifeless black hole stood the willow tree.

In that dead, deafening silence, the town waited. In that silence, the heavy, oppressive silence, Time itself held its breath. And into that silence came a squeal. The cry of tortured metal reverberated throughout the town as centuries old rusted hinges were forced to grind against each other. On and on the sound came, setting nerves on edge and jaws to clenching. After an unbearable amount of time, the squealing thankfully stopped. The gate was open.

For half a heartbeat all was deathly still again. Then the whistling began. A slow haunting tune that carried on without end. A horribly unnatural sound that never paused for breath. It came under the doors, through the walls, found its way under pillows and through fingers, found its way in despite all efforts to keep it out. A ceaseless barrage of a nightmarish melody that searched out every soul, eroding strength and engendering despair. The whistling was the herald. Mary had come.

***

Allen and his mother clung to one another. Eyes were squeezed tightly shut against the terrible, incessant whistling. The tune blotted out all else, muted all thought, leaving only the desire to cower in fear.
When the first footstep was heard on their porch they both held their breath. Slow, even paces took the steps one at a time, not in the least of a hurry. One by one the heavy steps came closer to the door and stopped.

The knock came, causing his mother to jerk and let out a little scream. She squeezed Allen to her all the tighter, rocking back and forth, whispering “No no no…”to herself over and over again as if it were her mantra of protection.

Another knock, not at all ungentle, almost shy.

“Please…” came the voice, a little girl’s. “Please…let me in. It’s so cold, and I’m hungry.” It was a pitiful plea that tore at the heart.

A third knock.

His mother was in tears now as she pressed his head to her chest. “Just go away, Mary.” She quietly pleaded.

“Please, it’s so cold. I’m hungry.” A fourth knock. “Please…”

“Leave us alone!” his mother shouted, fear lending power to her voice. On the other side of the door came an infinitely disappointed sigh. The weighty footsteps turned and slowly receded back to the road, leaving them to their isolation. Allen and his mother shared a look that communicated much. They were relieved that their trial was passed, but they knew they were not the first, nor would they be the last.

The ritual was repeated again and again throughout Willow Falls. Always the timid knock, followed by a heart-wrenchingly pathetic plea for shelter from the cold. And always hungry, always so hungry. The whistling continued on.

***

Success! He had finally wrestled the tricky laces into a knot. Chad was extremely proud of himself, and he couldn’t wait to tell Allen. Chad stood with a rare smile of self-satisfaction. Few and far between were the moments when he accomplished something on his own.

It was then that he noticed the whistling. He had forgotten! His mother, the principal, Allen, they all had told him to go straight home, but he had tripped. He had been so focused on tying his shoes that he had lost track of time. His house was only two doors down. He could see his mother in the window screaming through the glass, willing him to get his feet moving. He could still make it home, he still had time.

He took a step. Too late.

“Please…” the voice came from behind him. He could see the despair in his mother’s face, hands clutched to her chest. She was sobbing. He knew he should run. He knew it, but he couldn’t make his body work. Fear paralyzed him. “Please look at me.”

“N-no…” he stammered. His heart raced in his chest. Tears flowed freely from his eyes, matching his mother’s.

“Look at me please!” the voice beseeched.

“I’m not supposed to. I should have gone home.” No rhyming now, he was too terrified. His eyes watched his mother through the window. Her face drained of all blood, her eyes rolled back, and she fell out of view. “Allen told me to go home. My momma is w-waiting.” By now his whole body was trembling.

“Look at me.” Not a plea anymore.

“Allen told me…” His slow mind, dimmed further by terror, barely registered the warm stain spreading down his pant leg.

“Look at me!” The final command sapped the last of his meager resistances. His body was no longer his own. He managed a few whimpers as he was forced to turn and look at Mary.

***

The whistling was different now. Still haunting, yet a subtle undertone was different. Something had changed.

Allen’s mother noticed it just as he had. She scooted to the window and pulled back the curtain just enough to peek out. She gasped, covering her mouth with her hand.

“Oh poor Martha!”

Martha? That was Chad’s mother! Panic filled Allen’s heart. Before his mother could react he yanked back the curtains so forcefully that they fell from the rods. There! Mary was just out of his field of vision, but he could clearly see the small inert form that was being dragged behind.

“Chad!” Allen beat his fists against the glass. “Chad!” Logic and reason were forgotten in worry for his best friend. He raced for the door, prepared to charge out into the cold. His mother was faster and tackled him from behind.

“No! Stop, Allen! You can’t help him, baby!” For a moment they wrestled around, but she used her superior weight to keep him pinned to the floor.

“I told him to go home! How did he forget?” Guilt and shame drained Allen of any energy he had left to fight his mother. “I should have walked him home! How did he forget?”

***

Somewhere in the middle of The-Park-That-No-One-Entered an innocent, simple-minded boy began to scream. It was a scream of anguish, a scream of terror, a scream of pain. The scream carried on until it was drowned out by another scream. This was the scream of tortured metal as the gate once again began its harsh journey. The whistling stopped. The gate closed, not to open for another year.

The wind began to blow, leaves began to skitter. Birds chirped and squirrels squeaked. It was as if Time began to breathe again and life returned to the dead void.

Somewhere another boy sat, lost within himself, lost to his grief. His eyes wide open, staring at all, seeing nothing.

“How could he forget?”

Loop once, loop twice…

Someone always forgets.

Credit To – The Fox God

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The Wolf and The Blade

April 4, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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In the end, I know that I’m damned. I’ve lost them twice over; once in failing to save them, and again in failing to avenge them. Whatever mercies God might have shown me for these troubles have surely been swallowed up in the magnitude of my failure. I can sense the end that’s coming for me, the scratching behind my eyes, the chill of the air that has nothing to do with this shattered bedroom window or the life that is leaking from my wounds. A part of me wishes I could simply bleed to death, but I know the violence I’ll suffer soon will be far more deserved.

I’ve quite run out of hope, and if you’re reading this, you might have as well. Maybe, like me, you were once one of the lucky ones, having never caught a glimpse beyond the veil. Maybe there was a time when this world still held moments of brightness and beauty when you could forget your troubles and feel honestly, truly safe. I wish that you could turn back. I wish you could unsee what you’ve see, slam shut this wretched door and go running back into the daylight. I wish you didn’t need the knowledge I have to offer.

But whoever or wherever you are, you do. I know it. This message wouldn’t have found you otherwise. Maybe you’ve woken in the presence of something other in the middle of the night. Maybe you’ve seen it from the corner of your eye when you linger alone in lightless places. Maybe you’ve heard it howling, first far off into the distance, then closer and closer as the nights grow longer. If you’ve had the faintest glimpse through the darkened mirror to what really waits for us on the other side, then you are in desperate need of what I am about to write, of the truth I can give you.

It can be hurt. It can be stopped. It can even be banished, for a time, and I suppose that means it can also be bound. I have my doubts in regards to any more permanent solutions; we’ve moved far beyond any crude suggestions of whether or not it can be killed. That is a mortal word, for mortal creatures, and whatever this thing once was, it hasn’t been mortal for a long time.

You must content yourself with what I have learned. A chance, no matter how small, is still a chance. If the least we can do is push it back, turn it aside, force it to slumber, then that is enough. You must understand that once it turns its gaze your way, you’re already dead. You must embrace this morbid truth as a gift. Wrap your arms tight around damnation and don’t let go. That’s the only chance you’ll ever have of saving the ones you love.

They are coming. I don’t have much time.

The first time I saw it was during my daughter Madison’s birthday party. She loved the park down the street from our home; a miniature forest on the banks of the Detroit River called ‘Elizabeth.’ The sprawling greenery was dotted with playgrounds and picnic tables and crumbling stone bridges crossing over the clear waters of the canals that ran into the city from the river. At the very edge of the park, a boardwalk had recently been raised, extending out over the calm waters, providing a view of the massive steel bridges that connected the city to the nearby river island of Gross Ile.

There was a small petting zoo there as well, in a clearing next to a playground, and that was where Madison had asked to have her birthday party. It wasn’t cheap; Victoria and I both had been saving for her seventh birthday some time in advance, and I’d even taken on a second job as a delivery driver on weekends to scrape up the extra cash.

We had wanted to do something special for our daughter. She’d been having an extremely difficult time in school, provoked by a lack of sleep brought on by vivid night terrors. We woke to the sound of her crying out almost every night, insisting that a crowd of people had been in the room with her. More than once we found her in the attic, sobbing as she rummaged through old boxes and bins that had belonged to the previous home owners in her sleep, searching for something she’d seen in a dream.

Madison was always unable to tell us what she’d been after upon waking from this fugue state. She would merely peer up at us sleepily, smile, and say, ‘I was looking for the fire.’

We’d been greatly concerned. Along with good counseling and more attention, we had hoped that throwing her an extravagant party might help take her mind off of things. The look on Madison’s face when we arrived at the petting zoo, all decked out in bright streamers and balloons wishing her a HAPPY BIRTHDAY! was worth all of my and her mother’s effort.

The children that came to her party were as appreciative as she. Victoria made small talk with the adults she recognized from school meetings and parent-teacher conferences, and quickly became friends with the ones she didn’t. I didn’t know any of these people; my work schedule allowed me just enough free time for my wife and daughter. I smiled at the pleasantries, laughed at the jokes, but my eyes were on Madison, the expression of wonder on her face as she and her friends took turns riding a miniature horse around a small carousel under the watchful gaze of its owner.

There was a moment, I think, when the animal saw the Grim standing in the bushes. It gave a panicked whiny, and then it was on its hind legs with Madison still in the saddle. I give credit it to the woman who owned the zoo; by the time I was in motion, heart pounding in my chest, she had already scooped my daughter off its back with one hand, while forcefully yanking down on the reins with the other. I shouted my daughter’s name over the alarmed yells of the children. I was at her side in a second, kneeling down to put my arms around her.

“Madison, are you alright?” I asked in a rush, trying to control my fear, my hands checking her for injury though I know she’d received none.

“I’m fine, daddy,” she said, laughing. “He just got spooked a little, that’s all.” I nodded, impressed with her courage, not able to summon any of my own.

“You’re right,” I said, calming myself down, not wanting to spoil her birthday. “The pony just got a little scared. I’m just glad you’re alright, sweetheart.” I pressed my lips to her forehead, making her pull away in giddy, mock disgust.

As I stood, ready to speak harshly with the owner, to demand an explanation, I saw it. It was standing deep in the wood line, almost totally obscured by the thick green forestry. For a moment my mind couldn’t comprehend what my eyes was seeing. I thought at first that some awful person had killed a dog and left its head in the branches of a tree. A moment later I thought

-Dead dogs can’t smile-

as its snout cracked open, thick ropes of drool cascading over jagged yellow teeth, splattering down onto a pale, bare chest streaked with dried mud and grass stains.

It leaned forward. Long, pale fingers gripping the trunk of the tree, curling into hateful claws. I was transfixed, my mouth open, barely hearing the sounds of the party going on around me. Even from a distance I could see smoke rising from where its fingers dug into the tree bark and the utter blackness of its pupils. I could feel the awful power of the hatred and malice behind its gaze.

It was looking at my daughter.

I blinked and pulled her close to me protectively. In that moment it was gone, leaving only a strange afterimage when I closed my eyes. “Daddy?” Madison asked, looking up at me quizzically. “Can I ride the pony again?”

“Uh…” I shook my head. “I think that’s enough pony rides for today, honey. It’s almost time for your presents.”

That was the distraction I needed. She squealed in delight at the idea, rushing over to her mother, nearly bowling her over in the process. Victoria looked over at me as my daughter begged for gifts, raising an eyebrow. I shrugged sheepishly. Madison wasn’t supposed to open her gifts for another fifteen minutes, but I didn’t care. I couldn’t let my daughter see how frightened I was.

I refused to look back at the part of the wood line for the remainder of her party. Perhaps my cowardice is what made them lost to me. Perhaps if I had of done what I should have done, charged at it howling like a beast, heedless of my own safety, shielded from its madness by the primal need to defend my progeny, I could have turned it away from us right then and there. Instead I did what any civilized man would do in my circumstances; I pretended like I hadn’t seen anything. I ignored it, and I ignored the sound of distant howling I heard that night as I tucked Madison into bed.

A week later I saw the creature again. Picking up my daughter from an afterschool program, I saw it standing next to a basketball pole on the playground. It was somehow bending the light around it, creating an unnatural shadow that kept it hidden from everyone’s sight other than my own. My daughter didn’t see it as she walked out of the school and into my car, chattering happily about the art project she’d been working on. I watched its gaze…no, not its gaze, its attention follow her languidly, like a predator stalking its prey. I drove away as quickly as I could. My heart beat so loud I thought it would explode against my ribcage.

The howling came again that night. It seemed closer than before.

Three days later Victoria went to wake my daughter for school, only to find that she was missing. Her bed was perfectly made, and a small folded note had been left by her bed. In childlike scribbles, with the crayons her mother and I had gotten for her birthday, she had drawn an impossibly thin figure, its snarling canine head thrown back, howling into nothingness. It stood on what was unmistakably a pile of crudely drawn stick-figure bodies, their eyes crossed out with violent black x’s, writhing on the page in the pale orange fire she had drawn over them.

“GRIM,” she had captioned simply, underscoring the words. “Don’t run, daddy.”

Do you have children? If not, then you cannot begin to understand the terror, the blind panic that overcame us when we knew our daughter was missing. Victoria was strong, like always, immediately calling the police, taking her fear and turning it into useful action, but she didn’t understand the sinister note that had been left behind. She didn’t understand that it had come after our daughter, and I had done nothing to stop it. Out of fear, I had ignored that monstrous presence, and now whatever it was had my Madison.

A day went by, then two, then a week. I joined in the search parties every day, forcing down my mounting sense of despair. I tramped through the woods, calling out with the others when I knew my daughter couldn’t hear me. Victoria only wept when she thought I wouldn’t notice. The gulf between us grew rapidly. I think she sensed the reality of my guilt, and though she must have known there was no logical reason, she rightly blamed me for this loss.

I began waking in the middle of the night to the sound of Victoria whimpering. Knowing that she wanted no comfort for me, I kept my eyes shut and pretended to sleep. On the ninth night since our daughter’s disappearance, I realized something was different. What I heard wasn’t the sound of heartbreak; it was the sound of terror, of an animal caught in a trap.

Instead of a howl from afar, I heard a low growl so close it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It was in the room, at the foot of the bed. I could heard its ragged panting, feel its weight as it put its long-fingered hands on the mattress and leaned over us. My wife’s whimpers grew hysterical; she whispered nonsensical, pleading gibberish, wringing her hands. I squeezed my eyes shut tight and rolled onto my side. I lay there, immobile, until the growling stopped, until the weight of those inhuman hands suddenly disappeared.

I was a coward when it was preparing to come for my daughter. I was a coward again when it was preparing to come for my wife. The next morning she looked at me, eyes bloodshot and wide with terror. “Did you hear him?” She whispered, trembling. “Did you hear what he asked me?”

I shook my head. God damn me to hell, I shook my head. “I didn’t hear anything. Try and get some sleep.” I left her. I went to work. I ignored it. Each night, I pretended that it wasn’t stalking into our bedroom to torment her, that it wasn’t close enough to touch. Out of terror of what my eyes would fall upon, I kept them tightly shut. I did not want to see. My love for my wife was overcome by fear, just as my love for my daughter had been.

Madison. Victoria. Please. You were the lights of my life. Forgive me.

Two weeks after Madison had disappeared, I woke to Victoria’s tears again. As I lay there, she slowly fell silent. After a few minutes of dead quiet, she made a strange snuffling noise low in her throat. A moment later it grew louder, a weak chuckle that seemed absurdly loud in our dark room. The sound terrified me even more then the fear of waking to fight it looming over my bed; the darkness that I once hid in suddenly felt horrifyingly oppressive as my wife’s laughter finally reached a crescendo of cackling madness.

I lurched from the bed, slipping on the sheets that had fallen to the floor. I hurled myself towards the light switch, hands stretched out like a blind man. I missed the switch entirely, running hard into the wall. I collapsed to the floor, stars bursting before my eyes. Victoria’s laughter had become a high pitched howl of animal pain; I heard a fleshy, tearing sound, a guttural chewing and gnawing that finally provoked a scream from my own lips. My hands scrabbled at the wall. They finally fell upon the switch and I hurriedly flipped on the lights.

I immediately wished I had kept them off. My wife was crouched on the bed, shaking and twitching as if in the midst of a seizure. Her wrists and arms were covered in violent bite marks, each one welling with bright arterial blood. Ruddy liquid oozed from the corners of her mouth, splattering over her nightgown, tracing violent patterns down her heaving chest. She looked at me through one eye that was bloodshot and manic, and another that was a bleeding, empty socket in her skull.

She threw back her head and howled. “I don’t have to see anymore!” She was holding her eye, her eye, nerve clusters hanging limply from it as it stared at me. “I don’t have to watch him feed!”

I shrieked as she hurled herself from the bed at me, closing my eyes, throwing my hands up to ward her off. She gripped the collar of my shirt and hauled me to my feet, the mania that was in her giving her impossible strength. “No!” I whimpered eyes shut tight against this new horror, trying as best I could to press myself through the wall and away from her. “No, no, no, no!”

“Don’t run, Jack,” my wife grunted. “Don’t run. There’s no place for any of us to hide.” She put her lips to my ear, teeth clenching painfully on my earlobe. “He isn’t going to get me. Not like he thinks. Not like he got Madison.” Her voice cracked, and through the madness I could hear my wife, afraid and utterly alone, struggling to push through the insanity that had gripped her. “The Grim,” she whispered. “Tlaloc, Baal-Hammon, Kronos, Moloch, Shugg’o’toth. They gave it a name to give it a form, but none of them are real. None of them are true.” She put a hand to my chest, and spoke to me with her own voice for the last time, strong and brave and beautiful. “Put it to the fire. They’ve been looking for him all this time. That was why Madison was searching; she heard the fire, and knew it would save us. Don’t run.”

And then she was gone, leaving me cringing on the floor. I opened my eyes to see her running full tilt towards our bedroom window. I think I cried out at the last, when she leapt through the narrow glass with all the grace of an Olympic diver. The shimmering sound of the pane breaking couldn’t overcome the dull thud I could hear as she struck the concrete driveway below.

The only sounds were the beating of my heart and my frantic breathing. I lay on the floor, my eyes drawn to the bloody splatters that led to the shattered window. I touched my collar where Victoria had grabbed me, my fingers coming away sticky with her blood. I wondered why no dogs outside were barking. I wondered if I this was a nightmare from which I’d soon wake. Slowly, using the wall for support, I dragged myself to my feet, unable to keep my legs from quivering as I stumbled across the floor. The silence was roaring around me; I could hear an insect-like buzzing coming from behind and before me, from within me, growing to a fever pitch as I finally reached the window.

The creature was there, standing over the broken, bleeding corpse that was my wife. I felt my terror run down my leg in a warm stream, my fingers digging into the shards of broken glass in a reflex that shot pain through my hands. I was frozen, transfixed by its attention as it stared up at me. I wanted nothing more than to turn tail and run. I wanted to flee into darkness and never look back, but that was impossible.

I blinked, I think, or managed to shut my eyes. I must have, because when I opened them, it was in the window before me.

Words cannot describe the nightmare. I screamed, like my wife had screamed, like I suddenly knew my child had screamed before she had been consumed. I knew because it told me, forcing the images into my brain, bursting my mind open behind my eyes, assaulting me with words and sounds and colors I could not understand and have no way to describe. I saw my wife, huddling in the dark, its shadow falling over her, dooming her to madness. I saw Madison’s last moments, felt her terror, the blind hope that her father might still arrive to save her from this monster. I heard her voice echoing in my head, over and over again.

It snarled and lunged, teeth snapping shut only inches from my face. I fled from the room, nearly slipping on the rug in the hall. I went for the stairs, ready to throw myself through the door to get outside if I had to, only to be confronted by its terrifying black eyes as it lumbered up the steps towards me on all fours, teeth bared and snarling. I spun round, using the bannister for momentum, tumbling blindly down the hall. The light in Madison’s room was on; without thinking I ran towards it, slamming the door shut behind me so violently it nearly broke the hinges, pushing my body against it to keep the horror out. I had a split second to take in the pink color of the walls and the brightly colored posters of ponies and Barbie dolls, a split second to hear her whispering in my head

-Don’t run, daddy-

before the door behind me splintered. An arm that was as filthy as it was pale whipped wildly about, searching for me. It brushed my cheek and I screamed, feeling as though my skin had been touched with fire, or the coldness of the void. The wall itself was coming apart behind me as I ran towards the attic door, flying up the creaking wooden steps towards the last possible sanctuary left me in the house.

I stumbled like a madman through cardboard boxes in the dark, barely able to pull the cord for the light bulb above me. Tears streaming down my face, I fought my way through the boxes and bins left over from the old home owners. Letters and paper litter were tossed through the air in my wake. I banged my shins painfully on an old wooden chest, heedless to the pain in the desperation of my flight.

There was a porthole on the wall at the end of the attic. Barely a foot in diameter, I clawed at it, managing to break the glass with an already bloodied fist. I pushed my face against it, screaming for help into a night that seemed intent on ignoring me. There was no echo for my cry. There was no sound at all. The night was dead, like Madison, like Victoria, like I soon would be, cut off forever from the land of the living.

I fell to my knees, sobbing, leaning over the chest I had run into. It came on like the nightmare it was, its bare feet leaving smoking footprints on the attic floor, yellow claws clicking on the hard wood, the blisteringly hot wind of its breath smashing aside the boxes and the debris and the mothballed furniture. There was nothing between it and me now, the floor covered in the papers that fell through the air. I was naked, exposed in the moment before the end of everything, a squeal of disbelief escaping my lips.

It showed me Madison again, how she had died. I won’t speak of it here. I saw how she had suffered. It had enjoyed her terror, as it was enjoying mine. It had devoured countless thousands of beings over its existence, and not all of them were even human. It wasn’t picky. It was only ever hungry, the grubs and ghosts that went about their pointless little lives at its feet oblivious to its predations until it was far too late. I saw all this as Madison screamed in front of me, dying again and again, her agony distilled down to the last second of her life when she realized no one was coming to save her; the moment she stopped crying for her father.

As it forced me to watch my child’s murder, something inside me changed. The scrabbling panic was still there, but behind it was anguish, enough pain to turn it into rage. I screamed at it, leaping to my feet, tearing at my face with bloody hands, ripping the clothes from my body. It pointed and me and barked; I felt the skin on my stomach blister instantly as I was slammed back against the chest. The edges of my shirt were smoking. My ribs felt as though they’d been singed from the inside out. I howled like a wounded animal, reaching behind me into the chest for something, anything, to cast in defiance at the demon before me.

My hands closed around what felt like a rough-hewn piece of wood. I pulled it out of the chest, holding it up in front of me. It was a short knife with a handle made of what looked like deer antler. The blade was sheathed in a simple leather cap, worn and cracked with age. Something had been carved into the handle; simple notches, hash marks and scratches, cut savagely yet cleanly into the bone.

As I held the blade, I felt Madison’s tiny hands circle around my chest. She stood behind me, her beautiful blonde hair spilling over my shoulder. She pressed her lips gently to my temple in a child’s kiss, leaning her head against mine. “I’ve missed you, baby,” I wept, unable to look at her. “I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry. I love you so much.”

And then she was gone, and it was only the Grim, its mouth opening wide to swallow me whole. I forced myself to my feet, swaying unevenly, holding the knife in one shaking hand. There were things on the peripheral of my vision, watching me, pressing eager hands against the thin barrier of reality. I saw that I was surrounded by them, even as I could sense their eagerness, their anticipation of what was about to happen.

I took a halting step toward it, and then another. My vision blurred like static on an old television set. The Grim was the only thing I could see; there was no looking away, no turning back. I think I said my daughter’s name. I broke into a run somehow, unsheathing the knife from its leather pouch. There was a snapping sound like a bone breaking. For a second, my fevered mind fancied that I saw it take a step back. For a second, I saw genuine, human surprise on that demonic face.

I was screaming by the time I reached it, eyes rolling back into my head, pissing myself in terror, foaming at the mouth, hallucinating, feeling as if my skin was being flayed from my body. The hand that held the blade was bleeding, veins bursting, skin blistering as the power within it roused slowly to waking. I raised the knife through the storm of madness the Grim brought with it, and that was enough.

We collided, the monster and I, sensations I have no words to describe overwhelming me. It filled my field of vision, its fingers gripping my face, embracing me, pulling me into a maw that opened wide, billowing with black smoke and the heat of a furnace. I heard another voice scream with me, another thousand voices, the reverberations shooting down through my arm so hard I thought it must have broken. An alien confidence suddenly gripped my mind, shattering the madness and the gut wrenching fear. In that moment the barrier in reality finally broke and they pressed in around me, their innocent blood shouting out for vengeance, steadying my hand, bellowing into my mind

-THE FIRE THE FIRE SEND IT TO THE FIRE!-

I howled out the words my daughter had dreamed, echoing the seething rage of the lost souls that danced like lightning on the edge of the blade, and let it fall.

I don’t know what actually happened when the awakened knife touched that God forsaken form. I know only that it was forced out, shunted abruptly from here to nowhere, leaving only a long, furious howl to mark its passing. Its presence faded into nothingness as I made my way out of the attic, through the wreckage of my home and back into my bedroom. I cannot sense it at all as I compose this message, leaning against the wall, the blade that ended the matter lying next to me on the floor.

I was right to think that it was surprised. It hadn’t expected such a sudden, spirited resistance. The Grim had picked my family because it thought we would be easy prey. It didn’t think it would meet us here. It had thought we were gone forever after all these years, never to return, shattered and scattered when we left the bishop’s hand. I don’t even know what I’m typing anymore, or how I’m even able with the wounds I’ve suffered. I don’t know why it seemed so important to write this down, to send this out, to ensure that you knew the story. Perhaps, like me, you belong to the fire. Perhaps one day it will call to you like it called to US and you will have to answer. I pray for your sake you find courage sooner than I did.

I have failed to defeat the monster and avenge my loved ones. I understand that there can be no forgiveness for these sins, but I take a certain comfort in knowing I will have a second chance. I will meet it again. We will all meet it again, finding new meaning and purpose to our damnation on the edge of that ancient blade. Next time will be different. Next time, we’ll end it once and for all.

Soon the knife will be in my hand again. They’ve shown me the path forward, both a perfect punishment and penance for my fear. I will take the blade to my throat and release my hold on this life. I’ll join the lost in slumber, as one day maybe you will join them, until the hand that wields us ends the nightmare. When you hear it howling in the distance, come search for

ALMACIA

us. We won’t be far behind. We will be watching. We will be waiting.

The fire knows its own.

Credit To – IlluminatiExposed

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Hinges

April 3, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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When I turned eighteen, I lived in a small dorm at a college in the middle of Nevada. I had traveled down a few cities from my parents, and without a driver’s license, I couldn’t drive to and from their house to visit them every now and again.

The college was a good one and got me dead set on my career. The teachers were amazing and were always there to help me if I had a question or needed help. The dorms were nice, too. I felt right at home with my room and was able to get along with my roommate. I made great friends there; at least fifteen, I think. It’s been a pretty long time, so my memory is pretty fuzzy.

Honestly, despite what everyone else said, college would’ve been a walk in the park if it wasn’t for my biology class. Don’t get me wrong, I love biology. In fact, it was what I excelled in the most. I had wanted to become a surgeon when I was younger, so I had always tried my best in that class more than any other. But that’s not the point. What I’m trying to say is that it wasn’t the class, but instead the teacher that made my life hell that year.

Now, before you jump to any conclusions, let me set a few things straight about my teacher, Mr. Hines. No, he wasn’t a terrible teacher with no idea where the kidneys were located. He didn’t have two heads growing out of the base of his neck or an extra finger. He wasn’t a pervert or liked to touch little boys. Mr. Hines was, instead, a very polite teacher when I first knew him. He had nothing too obvious that stuck out of his body that shouldn’t have been there. In fact, until the middle of my first year, he seemed pretty normal. The only thing that everyone thought was strange about him was how he dressed.

Mr. Hines wore the same thing every day since the start of my college year. His outfit consisted of a dull brown trench coat that remained shut the entire time, black dress pants, black cotton gloves, and a pair of black polished dress shoes. He always had this wide striped lime and forest green scarf that wrapped around his face and his neck that only slightly muffled his voice. No one knew what color his eyes were because of the dark, thick lenses of the blind man’s glasses that he never took off. The only skin he actually showed was the small pale lines in between the straight, cheek-length stands of brown hair on his face. That is all he wore, day and night, winter and spring. Even on the hottest day of the year he continued to wear the outfit. Although I never even got to know what race he was, I assumed he could have been Caucasian.

No one cared about his wardrobe, just as long as he spoke loud, taught well, and didn’t cause trouble. He made it hard to teach sometimes, though. First of all, his lighting in the room was horrible. It was so dim in that room that I could barely see the notes in front of me. Second, he wouldn’t stop using small animals to cut open. I know it was biology, but we always cut something open every single day of the year. It made me start to wonder what he did with all the animal corpses after he was done. But besides that, he was a pretty good teacher. Hell, after the first semester of the year, he seemed like a friend to me with how politely and kindly he treated his students. The second semester was a different story, though.
Not even a quarter into the semester, someone had kidnapped the mascot, Jamie the Owl. Yes, we had an actual owl that we brought to games. Anyways, the college’s few police men searched every dorm, office, and room for the bird, but found nothing. They turned the whole entire building upside down looking for Jamie, with no success. The best they could find was a few feathers outside the building. Now, being a lover of mystery books and movies, I attempted to solve the case myself. I checked all over the dorm, snuck into offices, and even into classrooms at night. I was no better than the police.

After a week of snooping around, I gave up. I asked Mr. Hines who he thought took the owl, but all I got was a shrug.
“Whoever it was must be quite the trouble maker,” he said one day after a lesson, when we were alone. “Well do you have any suspects for snatching the owl?” I persisted, only to have another shrug. “Now, now, there is no need to go pointing fingers and spreading rumors. For all I know, you could have taken the poor bird.”
With his words on my mind, I had stopped my meddling and gone back to studying. I find it kind of strange now, for as soon I had stopped investigating, the first person disappeared.

A girl my age by the name of Alison had stopped coming to classes. We thought nothing of it at first; she was just sick with the flu or had a family emergency. We kept to those excuses until the police arrived. Detectives barged into biology one day, informing us that Alison hadn’t been seen in nearly a week. I watched as the days went by and the posters of her face kept piling up. I kept out of this one, because I knew that if I interfered in any way and I was caught, I would surely be a suspect of what could possibly be a murder. Then exactly two weeks after Alison had stopped coming to class, another girl went missing. Then another disappeared the week after, and then another the next day. Soon both boys and girls began disappearing day after day, and I was getting scared that I would be next. Curfew became earlier, police began patrolling the property at night, and students were being questioned. Detectives had interrogated me once, but they had gotten nothing out of me. Honestly, I had nothing to say. My friends had already started disappearing, and I was scared half to death.

After the seventh disappearance, they were announced that they were going to shut down the college and send everyone home. They had two days to pack and get ahold of their parents before the FBI came in to investigate. I prayed to God that those days would be peaceful and that nothing would hit the fan. Unfortunately, it wasn’t like that.

The night we started packing, I was woken up in the middle of the night by my roommate. She was in a full out panic by the time I was able register it was her and not some psycho killer. When I asked her why she was in such a state, she explained that her pet hamster, Tiddlebits, had escaped from his cage and ran out the door as she was entering. She wanted me to get the little rat, and couldn’t do it herself because she was too scared. Now, with any other person, I would have flipped that guy off and maybe even had kicked them out of my room, but my roommate is hot, and being an eighteen year old virgin with only two days of collage left wasn’t helping either. I idiotically agreed to go find the rodent in the middle of the night and in ankle high grass. I shrugged on my coat and walked outside. I later realized that as soon as I even took a look outside, I should have just gone back to bed, but the fact that I was woken up at two in the morning had fuzzed my common sense.

As I walked around the campus without a flashlight, I noticed that there were no crickets chirping. I found this odd because this place is known for the students’ inability to fall asleep due to the constant chirping of crickets.
After wandering around for about ten minutes or so, I suddenly stopped when I realized that I was being stupid. What were the chances of finding a small hamster in a campus half a mile wide? In fact, how did the rodent even escape his cage? It’s not like it could just open the cage by itself and crawl out. I sighed when I realized it was just a stupid prank pulled by my roommate. I turned around and immediately went back to the dorm. Just as my hand was about to grasp the doorknob, I heard the distinct sound of something squeal. At first I thought it was another student trying to pull a prank on me, seeing as it clearly came from the side of the building, so I just completely ignored it. But when I heard the sound again, I just sighed and went in to get the flashlight that I had so stupidly forgotten. I went back outside and slammed the door shut, ready to uncover the idiot who thought that this was real funny. I turned the corner and shined the light on the first giant mass that I saw, only to be surprised by what was there.

It was Mr. Hines, crouched down and holding Tiddlebits by one leg, watching it dangle and squeal. My first thought was to yell out, “Hey, Mr. Hines, you found it!” But my second thought was to ponder over how he had even gotten ahold of the hamster in the first place.
Mr. Hines didn’t seem to even notice that there was a flashlight in his face, and what he proceeded to do next confirmed it.
I watched for the first time in my life as person before me slowly pulled his scarf off to reveal bloody, torn skin where his lips should be. He opened his mouth, and seemed to sort of flex his lower jaw. He moved his head back, and his mouth seemed to get wider as he dangled the writhing, squealing hamster between his thumb and index finger. I noticed that he had no teeth, just the bloodied, torn gums. His jaw seemed to just unhinge itself from the rest of his skull, for his maw grew to the point where it looked like you could just barely fit a ruler in between his teeth.
Too terrified to move or say anything, I just stared in awe as long, needle thin fangs suddenly protruded out his gums. I nearly upchucked my dinner when I saw Hines take the ball of fur and drop it into his waiting mouth, snapping it shut and swallowing. I could see the legs of the hamster kick at his flesh as it slowly slid down his throat and hear the sound of its muffled squealing, only to be silenced when it hit the base of his neck. I gagged silently at the sight, not being able to believe what I had just witnessed. Was my teacher a monster? How was he able to do that with his teeth? Did he kill those seven people? These questions ran through my head as I watched his teeth sink back into his gums while his hands picked up his scarf.

Seeing as he hadn’t spotted me yet, I backed up a few feet, ready to dash back into my dorm and retell what had just happened. I’m sure they won’t believe me, but if I could just get someone to see behind that scarf, I could at least put him in a bad position.
But as I got ready to turn around, my roommate suddenly came around the corner shouting, “Did you find him yet?”
Hines’ head suddenly shot up while putting on the scarf, staring intently at her through his thick, black glasses. My roommate froze when she saw him before turning around and taking off. Wondering why he hadn’t seen me yet, I watched as the male sprinted off after her with the speed of a cheetah. He easily tackled to the ground. It was then that I regained all feeling in my legs once again and ran inside. Call me a coward, but I’m not ashamed of what I did. I had more to live for, and I wasn’t about to lose all that just to try to save someone who was most likely already dead. And to make things worse, right as I ran inside, I turned off the flashlight. It was only right then that Hinges seemed to spot me. His head twisted a hundred and eighty degrees, making a sickening crack. He gave me an evil grin, fangs coated with blood and bits of flesh.

I hid in my closet, clutching the switched off flashlight close to my chest. It would serve as a light source if I ever needed it and could leave a pretty good mark if used to bash someone’s head in. It must’ve been about three hours of hiding in the closet before I heard something outside the door. I was drifting off to sleep at that point, so the loud thump really gave me quite a scare.
I heard a loud crash, another thump, and a low growl. I held my breath, fearing that even a single gasp of air would alert him of my presence. “I know you’re here, boy,” I heard the thing growl, followed by a light sniffing sound. Could he sniff me out?
I felt my heart skip a beat when I heard him stop in his tracks. I watched in horror as the knob of the door lightly shook, before the whole door was kicked off its hinges.

“SURPRISE!” he shouted, grabbing me by my shirt. I screamed. He drug me out of the closet, laughing at my worthless attempt to kick my way out of his grasp. I immediately began to wonder why people weren’t hearing my screams. I pounded at his arm with the flashlight, desperate to make some form of damage. He wasn’t affected and threw me onto my own bed with one hand. He gave a bark of maniac laughter when I had started to belt out begs and pleas to be spared. He turned around quickly, spying the shards of glass that had been scattered from the force of him turning over the television. Just as he was about to bend over and grab it, though, I grabbed the end of his trench coat and yanked. Not prepared for what had happened, the monster’s arms bent back, allowing the sleeves to be yanked off and accidently knocking off his glasses at one point. I stopped and stared at his body, in a trance.

The monster’s body was disgusting. From the waist up was all skin and bones. The skin around his ribcage was stretched tight, looking as though it was about to tear if he grew any skinnier. His stomach was a deep bowl with absolutely no meat apparent at all on the bones that shaped it. The worst was his back, though. A large seam of dried blood caked the curved of his back where his spine was located, the red life force coating a straight line from the base of his neck to the tailbone. He bent over to cover his eyes, but when he did, large, sharp bones that made up his spine jutted out of the dried blood. The red, fresh, warm substance dripped off the five of six bones and landed back onto the dried, crusty blood. The monster groaned and lifted his hands of his face to stare at me. His eyes held no whites, but just an empty, dark gray pool that seemed to see right through me. He growled, obviously not pleased, and brung his back up to make it straight once again. The bones in his back sheathed back into his flesh.
It let out a ferocious growl and pounced on me, knocking my head onto the back wall with enough force to knock me out of consciousness.

I can’t remember much after that; only a dark room. I don’t know how long I had been there, either, for it all passed by in a blur. Some of what I can remember is seeing the monster carve the flesh off of my bear stomach. The FBI says I was lucky to survive. They had found me in the biology lab, strapped to the table with my liver, kidneys, one lung, a foot, and most of the skin on my stomach missing. They told me it was three days after they had closed down the building that I was finally discovered. The monster had apparently dissected me open like a frog and even took notes over my anatomy. I’ve read those notes, and I burned them the moment I got to the fifth sentence.

I am now thirty-seven. I never finished college, am still living with my parents, and can’t even stand the sight of blood. My life has gone to hell and I’m too much of a wreck to do anything about it. I sleep with all the lights on, knowing that the shining energy is the only way to keep him from finding me. My therapist suggested to me that I should write out my entire story to make me feel better, but recalling those memories just to type it down only made me feel worse. But I know that it’ll change once I post this. I know that if I do, I’ll be breaking the law. The FBI had made me swear secrecy, and I’ll be going to jail for the rest of my life if I share it.

But something tells me I won’t go to jail. I just know I won’t. You see, despite the confusion during that night in college, I was sure of one thing. Even though Hinges had left me during my endless torture, he had intended to come back. I’m sure of it. I had just been found before he could finish me off. I’ve tried telling the FBI this, but they have other things to worry about besides my safety, and they’ve seemed to have given up tracking down Hinges.

Hinges. That’s what I’ve been calling him ever since I had witnessed his jaw breaking away from the rest of his skull. It has sort of a ring to it. He seemed to think so, too.

As I write this story, I can feel him smiling at me from the shadows of my corner. He had found me after my light burned out, and he’s ready. So am I. I take a small glance at him from time to time, staring at his obscured eyes and unhinged jaw.

Credit To – Stripes

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April Fool’s Day Art: Jeff the Killer “OCs” Edition

April 2, 2014 at 6:21 AM

If you were around on April Fool’s Day, you probably noticed that – in addition to a large amount of parodypasta showing up – commenters were temporarily given the ability to ‘modify’ everyone’s favorite Crappypasta spin-off fodder, Jeff the Killer himself.

As promised, here’s the round-up of everyone’s submitted Jeff edits. I don’t believe that I missed anyone, but if I somehow skipped your image, I’m sorry!

Click on a thumbnail to see the full size; the name in the caption is the handle of the commenter who posted the image in question.

I hope that you guys had fun making these, and Happy April Fool’s Day!


Noises

April 2, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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David Andrew Kinyon had a problem. He was nine years old, and still only four feet tall, making him shorter than all the boys, and even some of the girls in his class, a mortifying fact that he preferred to never speak of. David Andrew Kinyon also had a far more pressing and persistent issue. He suffered from a remarkably skittish personality, and even the simplest prank scares could easily reduce him to tears. Despite this unfortunate temperament, David had the unhealthy habit of reading stories that would scare him out of his wits; the strange thing was, he couldn’t seem to stop reading them. The idea of the unknown fascinated him, and he was filled with the wonder that only a child could experience about how much we really knew about the world around us, and what ghastly creatures might watch us while we sleep.

That fascination melted away completely when David had to climb into bed and turn off his night light, plunging himself into darkness, alone. When David found himself staring wide-eyed into the darkness, he could feel his heart pound faster and his breath catch on its way up his throat. Most of the time he would be able to quiet his fears, and simply huddle into the safety of his blankets until sleep claimed him; he would awake the next day refreshed and completely unscathed, and proceed to laugh at himself for his fears.

Yet there were still the times when David Andrew Kinyon was unable to fall asleep, and as he continued to stare into the darkness of his room, pure, undiluted fear would begin to run through his veins as he tried to identify shapes in the dark that didn’t seem to belong in his room. All the monsters he had ever read about would run through his brain and leer at him from different corners of his room. Those nights were the worst, when he was forced to endure the late night terrors on his own, too proud to cry out for his mother, who would simply turn on the light and enfold him in her warm, loving arms. Those were the nights when David found himself trapped between the exhaustion that begged him to sleep, and the fear that kept him awake better than any form of caffeine ever could.

Tonight was one of those nights. The moment David turned on his side after what had felt like an eternity of trying to fall asleep and saw that it was already 11:00 p.m., he knew that it was going to be a long and scary night. It didn’t help that he had to wake up for school the next day. He tried to listen to the sound of the washing machine and using it to help lull him to sleep, and it proved effective until he became irritated by the clicking noises that occasionally issued from it. His heightened awareness of the washing machine became a nuisance, and he frowned in annoyance. The blankets draped over his body began to feel too hot, and David considered kicking them off to assist him in falling asleep more quickly. Yet with his entire body exposed to the darkness of his room, David found himself feeling deeply unnerved and vulnerable to the malevolent forces that could be waiting right by his bed. Quickly he pulled the covers over himself again, as if worried some entity under his bed may have taken advantage of the moment to pull the blankets away from him. He swathed his body in the blankets, forming a makeshift cocoon, all thoughts of discomfort fleeing from his mind. The warmth and the almost peaceful silence began to comfort him, and David found himself finally drifting off into merciful sleep.
Suddenly, a noise sounded from within his walls that made his blood turn to ice.

A clicking, rhythmic tapping noise. This was no mere settling of the house, and no figment of David Andrew Kinyon’s imagination would be able to invoke the fear that caused his entire body to become paralyzed by fear as the magnitude of something unexplainable and dangerous being in such close proximity to his little nine-year-old self hit him. David did what any normal child would; he cried out for his mother. However, terror had stolen his voice away, and the only thing he could manage was a faint squeak that quickly dissipated into inky blackness around him. The noise continued, and David curled himself into a ball, trying to make himself as small as possible. Tears leaked out of his eyes as he realized he was absolutely defenseless, and he prayed to God that all this was nothing more than an extremely vivid dream that he would wake up from in no time.

As abruptly as they had begun, the noises stopped. David Andrew Kinyon let out a quiet sigh. In the silence, he could hear the washing machine again, churning through his clothes. Yet David remained afraid, taking in rapid, shallow breaths, worried that something might be trying to hear him. He cast a terrified look at the wall behind him, the source of the sound. He had to make sure that this was just his imagination, and the only way he would be able to prove it was by knocking back. So he took a deep breath, rapped his knuckles on the wall, and waited.

There was a second of silence, and then the clicking, tapping noise began anew. Fear shot through little David’s veins; something was inside his walls.

David Andrew Kinyon lay in bed, frozen by fear. The realization that he could nothing to escape this creature was crushing, but his fear of death and his desperation screamed at him to do something to live. David fell completely silent, praying that if the thing thought he had fallen asleep, it would leave him alone. He could not move; he could not scream; the only thing he could do was remain absolutely, completely still.

Yet the tapping noise continued, apparently uncaring of the circumstances beyond the walls. David’s eyebrows contracted, and he frowned. Surely an intelligent creature would have stopped by now, realizing that it had done enough to terrify its victim. Cautiously, he rapped on the wall again, yet the clicking showed no signs of ceasing.
Suddenly, the washing machine stopped, and with it stopped that terrible noise.
David Andrew Kinyon nearly cried in relief; it had been his washing machine all along! The noises were the sounds of water dripping from a potentially leaky pipe located in his wall. Sighing in relief, David contentedly snuggled down into his blankets and prepared to enjoy what was a well-deserved good night’s sleep.

When the tapping sounded up again, David managed to ignore it at first. He assumed it was the washing machine making its last run. It was nothing to worry about.
Suddenly, David Andrew Kinyon’s eyes snapped open.
The washing machine had long ago ceased.
David’s mind screamed at him IMPOSSIBLE
“There’s no such thing as monsters, there’s no such thing as monsters… ” David repeated frantically to himself; tears streamed down his cheeks as the tapping noise traveled from behind his wall to, somehow inexplicably, below his bed. Admitting defeat, David balled his blankets around him and began to sob in despair as the tapping traveled closer and closer to the edge of his bed.

A thin, emaciated hand with impossibly long nails gently, almost lovingly, peeled away the blankets, and David Andrew Kinyon finally found his voice to scream.

Credit To – Nini Li

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People

April 1, 2014 at 11:00 PM
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You lay in your bed quietly. Your window is open, a light breeze flowing through. You stare up at the ceiling, watching time pass by. Why is it so hard to sleep? you silently wonder, tapping your heel impatiently, waiting for oblivion to overcome you. You haven’t been able to sleep for ages, and it’s been almost 3 days since you got some shut-eye.

Laying here, your senses are heightened, the quiet rustling and hooting of the occasional owl ringing in hypersound. Your eyes have fully adjusted to the dark, allowing you to see every detail in the bedroom around you.

You suddenly hear a creak. Thinking it’s just your dumb dog walking around at night, you push your head under your pillow and groan.

Another creak, followed by a crash. You jump up, grabbing the gun from your bedside table. “Who the hell is there?!!” You shout, aiming around the room wildly.

There is something out your window. It crawls through the hole, its face white, with singed black brows and a bloody red smile. Its hair is long, black, and matted. It wears a white hoodie, smeared with black substance you can only guess to be blood. It rushes in on you, tackling and ramming you into the bed, hissing 4 words into your ear:

“JUST.. GO.. TO.. SLEEP!”

You look up into the things eyes, and you push yourself up, staring at it. “Who the hell do you think you are?! Barging into my room like this?!”

The thing stares at you. “Wait.. what?”

You stare at it angrily. “And why the FUCK did you tell me to go to sleep?! I mean, for all I know, I might have just been about to drift off, but NOOOO, YOU have to go show up!”

It starts to walk to the window. “I-I’ll just be on my way.. heh–” He dives out the window, running into the night.

You plop the gun onto your desk and lay back down on the bed, sighing and speaking aloud. “Jeezus.. People these days.”

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