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Have you ever wondered at the mystery of sleep?

December 8, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Have you ever wondered at the mystery of sleep? That dark unknown of time when our conscious reality slips away and only slippery fragments of strange and obscure memories we call dreams occasionally cling to the outer reaches of our minds in a broken, hazy recording of this lost period of our lives?

In our waking moments, we moan and begrudge those elements that try to control our fleeting time awake; the daily jobs that fill our hours with rarely any visible impact on the world around us, the relationships we must adapt to and work on to maintain, the laws and queues and pathways and schedules and a million other things that curtail and bind us daily.

And yet, how easily we abandon this control we value so highly and moan about so often; every day, when we close our eyes.

In that respect, I guess we see it as an escape – a fleeting release from the daily realities of a life both thrust upon us and equally one we have enlisted into. Sleep. A state of nothingness that offers nothing except a cessation of the need to care.

Think about how we describe it: we ‘fall’ asleep, we ‘drift’ into unconsciousness, tiredness ‘overwhelms’ us. The act of sleep, to us, is an abandoning of control, of loosening our hands on the reins of our lives and giving ourselves over completely to a temporary oblivion. Like millions of others, I used to like that feeling, that drowsiness at the end of the day, sinking into the warm seclusion of blanket and pillow, unconsciously releasing the mental tethers to my body. Turning off at the end of the day.

Until now.

Until the day I didn’t sleep, or rather remembered that I do not sleep. That none of us, ever, truly, sleep.

I laid in bed. I adjusted my pillows. I moved the covers. I checked the messages on my phone and surfed the web for a while. Nothing. No drowsiness, no drooping of the eyelids, no slowdown of my thoughts, nothing I anticipated happening as it had thousands upon thousands of times before. Then a niggling sensation touched me; an errant thought from the basest, darkest part of my mind suddenly sparked into existence. It spread and grew, spilling out memories my conscious mind could not access during my waking hours, but which now, when I laid myself down to sleep, came tumbling back up like bile from the pit of my stomach to fill my mind with sick realisation. And with memory came understanding.

I was awake. I had ALWAYS been awake, just like everyone else in the world had ALWAYS BEEN AWAKE! Sleep was an illusion, a pre-programmed period of darkness in our memories, activated between a single blink of our eyes when we sought our beds to retreat into soothing unconsciousness. Every imagined period of sleep was this, a frozen sliver of personal time. I rose and looked back, leaving my body behind as my consciousness cut loose. I observed my body, wrapped in its covers, the shallow breathing, the closed eyelids. Empty, like a vehicle left with the engine idling waiting for its driver to return.

I turned and saw without eyes today’s handler arrive within the room. Mentally I gave it form, for in truth it had none. My mind conjured one to match the sullen hatred I felt for it, a dark storm cloud of smoke turning inward and devouring itself over and over without end, for that’s how I interpreted its actions. A formless beast that constantly drew things in, but gave nothing back.

I watched in frozen loathing as dark, thorny tendrils emerged from it’s roiling mass and moved toward my detached consciousness. Whilst pain is the remit of the body, it is the mind that interprets the signals, and my handler, as with all the handlers I had experienced before, were nothing if not experts in these sensations. I felt the searing touch of its joining, its own mental threads writhing through my mind, sending me off into wild tangents of thought and memory as it settled comfortably into my consciousness. The house guest of my mind sought sensation, and whilst it gave nothing of its own thoughts, its motives were always clear enough. The need to feel.

Bodiless, they had sought out beings such as we and, during those times when we believed we slept, soundly and untroubled in our beds, they settled upon our minds like a thick, oily slick, sliding into all the nooks and crannies of our being. Maybe they had never felt before, or had done so in some far and distant past and had grown beyond the limits of flesh, but now wanted to sample the sensation of feeling once more. And they had found us.

They didn’t want to risk us rejecting them, fighting them, as we would have in response to open subjugation, so they came at night, hidden outside our sight, our space, our time even, except for that moment when our bodies were required to rest yet our minds continue, and they had hijacked us en-masse. They have hidden that part of our lives from us, and in our enforced ignorance we have given that unknowing time of slavery a seemingly harmless name: sleep.

Only during that blink of time, when our consciousness frees itself from our bodies, do we remember. And with remembrance comes pain. It all comes flooding back, and they intend this too, for in these memories are all the things they have made us live through. This recollection alone brings a sharp, twisting agony to us that thrills them more than any other.

Apart and within our minds they create, picking apart our pasts and sorting through our memories. The experiences of our lives are laid out before them, which they shatter like eager children, constructing nightmarish worlds of jumbled thought and sensation. Most are fragmentary experiences, but some are shards; jagged edged thoughts and feelings tied to darker memories, and it is these our handlers seek to build our night-time worlds from. Then they loose us on these imaginary planes, living out new stories from our memories, teasing out new feelings for them to experience. Sometimes we live whole lives, but mostly it is the short, sharp thrills they seek, whose fleeting glimpse we catch only as flickers of forgotten terror in dreams of falling from great heights, or being hunted by the monsters of our subconscious. And, sometimes, we are killers ourselves, and we awake shivering, wondering what this says about us, when in truth it says more about them. They use us to fulfil these dark fantasies, but the confusion and the guilt becomes our own.

And, when they are finally done and have had their fill, they release their control, but not before burying these memories deep inside us. Some of these memories escape and seep out into our conscious minds. We call them ‘dreams’, and pay them little credence.

Would society survive if we all knew what happens when we close our eyes to seek the illusory escape of sleep? How could we continue to perform even the smallest action, maintain the semblance of order we have built for ourselves, if our waking moments were in a state of continual dread, awaiting that inevitable time when our frail minds and bodies give in to the demands of tiredness and become lost to us once more, to those…things…that use our lives and experiences to provide entertainment for their own?

For myself, here I stand, with the wind whipping around my legs, tugging at me, threatening to pull me over this roof edge as I gaze down the floors beneath to the grey monotony of the pavement below. I’m tired, so very tired, and soon I will rest. But it’s not enough, nowhere near enough. When I can hold on no longer and that final blink before sleep takes me, then I shall fall. There is no opportunity to test this theory, just a wild, final hope that my release will also serve as a warning to them. A message that, although they own us during that forever frozen moment of our nights, some of us remember, and this one will do more than just remember.

This nightmarish recall of all they have done to me in the past, these harsh memories they have hidden within me as they do to all of us, this…has given me power. The struggle to hold on to these ‘dreams’ has given me strength, trained me to hold on to all those thoughts they try to bury within us. I will use this last remaining strength when I fall, when today’s handler comes to call, and I will entwine my thoughts in theirs and hold them fast. And I will take it with me.

But before I do, I will mail this from my phone. Not many will believe it, most will think me mad, but enough may wonder and question. Most will throw away a few seconds thinking about it, then move on to another ‘story’, but some will ask themselves those questions that I myself asked, indeed that one question in particular that will plague you as you settle down to sleep tonight, but thankfully will plague me no longer:

Do you remember the precise moment you fall asleep?

Credit To – CharminglyShallow

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December 7, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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I would ask that before you read this you switch off all the lights in the house . As you will soon find out, you are perfectly safe.

We have always found comfort in light. For early man it provided security and protection from nocturnal predators and, in the form of fire, a source of warmth and sustenance. Even now it has the ability to make the unknown known, banish doubt and extinguish fear. So essential is light to the human condition, that its imagery has saturated biblical and secular works alike, inspiring countless philosophical and religious movements since time immemorial.

Over time though, our relationship to light has changed. From an animalistic dependence upon the day/night cycle, we slowly began to manipulate light and its sources, first through fire and then later on via electricity. Manipulation soon became mastery and, before long, it was possible to flood an entire room with its warm glow at the flick of a single switch. As this relationship changed however, and as light became more readily available and easily created, no-one ever thought to consider the implications.

There has always been a tentative balance between light and darkness. Manifest in nature as night and day, it was never simply the case that one could extinguish the other so totally as it can now. Even fire, which slowly creeps into existence and blossoms only as the sparks alight, never disturbed this balance. When a fire burns more fiercely the darkness may ebb and slink away, inhabiting corners and crevices, but it is never truly gone – only awaiting the fire’s inevitable decline and return to embers. Such sources of light always allowed time for denizens of the nocturnal hours to slink away and hide themselves. With electric lights and the advent of instant illumination however, such time no longer exists. In a literal flash, all darkness in a single place can now be dispersed and the things lurking within revealed.

For most nocturnal predators this is of course an inconvenience, but for one it is an opportunity.

It’s more than likely that, from time to time, you’ve seen it. If you’ve ever turned on a light in a completely dark room then certainly. For a split second, as the light flashes into existence, whilst your eyes are still adjusting, you may see its awful, gaunt figure and long spider-like limbs standing somewhere within the room. As quickly as it appears though, it disappears, blinking back into non-existence. It happens so quickly that you may have thought it a trick of the light, a chance interplay of furniture and fleeting shadows. Rest assured though, once the creature disappears it is gone and you are safe. Do not misunderstand this timidity, it is not so much the light which it abhors, but rather being seen. On the contrary, it is in fact drawn to light. When shrouded by darkness, it may cause the hair on the back of your neck to stand up, or give you the feeling of being watched, but in its present state it cannot act. It is only through light that it is given a form.

Of course, more often than not, when you turn a light on in a completely dark room, you will see no such spectral figure. As strange as this may sound, this is when you are in the most danger. The reason, you see, is that by turning on the light you have given it form but, unless you catch a glimpse of it, no a reason to leave. In such cases, especially if late at night or during the small hours of the morning, it is imperative that you check your surroundings completely, as the creature will not disappear until you catch sight of it. If you do, it will vanish just as before and you will be safe once more. If you do not however, it will stay there in the light, unseen.

If, for example, you where to go about your usual nightly routine without properly checking for it, perhaps read a few ghost stories on your laptop before bed, it will silently wait for you to once again switch off the light, only this time it won’t be so harmless.

Now then, it’s time to turn the lights back on.

Credit To – The Wanderer

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A Knock at the Door

December 6, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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On the 25th of November, 1941, my Great Uncle was killed when the HMS Barham blew up like a powder keg after being torpedoed by a German Submarine. The event was captured on film and is an horrific sight, as the men serving on the ship scrambled for their lives on the capsized hull, before the main magazine caught fire and exploded. When word got back to my gran, she was heartbroken having lost her dear brother.

Sifting through the memories of their love, she sat not long after, reading the letters my Great Uncle Frank had sent her while on the ship. As she wept inconsolably, she just could not let go of the pain. Surrounded by the letters like tombstones, anguished reminders of what had been lost, suddenly someone knocked at the front door. Yet there was no-one there, just an empty street at night. When my gran returned to the room where she had been crying for hours, something strange had happened – all the letters were gone, save for one, which my father now possesses.

I don’t know how true the story is, for grief can make illusions of the world, but I have read the letter, many times in fact. There is something curious about it, because it was signed twice by my Great Uncle. The second signature is undoubtedly his handwriting, and reads: “Don’t cry, sis. Always with you. – December 12th, 1941″, the same night someone came knocking at the door.

Credit To – Michael Whitehouse

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The Woman From the Beach

December 5, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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I still remember a nightmare I had when I was about five years old. I was near the ocean that I loved so much, with just my Dad and I playing on a swing set in the middle of an abandoned beach. Everything started out very innocently, I remember having the time of my life, smiling and laughing while playing with my Father. After what I recall as a couple minutes of fun, the scene started to develop a sense of unease and discomfort. The sunny, beautiful day turned dark and cloudy, even the once inviting swing set seemed to become slightly more sinister.

It started pouring intensely and stopped as suddenly as it began. My Dad at this point noticed my apparent discomfort and attempted to invigorate the once happy mood I was feeling. He started dancing around in the puddles of sand and water, while making funny faces at me. I began to start laughing again when suddenly, he bent over and placed his face in one of the larger puddles. My smile disappeared and I started to feel slightly hesitant, I called out to him softly after he hadn’t pulled up his face. A couple of seconds later he pulled up his head and turned toward me. At this point, I would start screaming and wake up in my childhood bedroom screaming my head off, feeling clammy and cold. My Father would always rush in to comfort me, and I was always filled with a great relief that his face was still intact.

When my Dad turned his head to look at me in my dream his face was gone. There was nothing left where his eye sockets, nose, and mouth used to be. His face was literally just a blank slate with sand dripping down from his chin. To this day, I am not sure why that dream has startled me so much that I remember it quite clearly twenty-seven years later. I am also unsure why the dream repeats itself most nights of the week, leaving me to wake up in a state of panic every time.

This morning was no exception, and I woke up to my sheets soaked with sweat and feeling the sticky aftermath of the nightmare. I sighed and struggled to my feet, noticing it was about time for me to wake up for work anyway. I was wiping the sleep from my eyes while I walked to the bathroom and with one half-open eyeball; I noticed my face in the mirror. I let out a startled cry when I realized my face was gone. I closed my eyes as tightly as I could and told myself to get a grip. I had just closed my eyes; obviously they still exist on my face. After a couple minutes of struggling with myself to not be such a wimp, I opened my eyes and saw that my face looked exactly the same as it had last night, if a little disheveled from sleep.

I laughed slightly to myself from my own paranoia and told myself my brain was just scaring me since the memory of my nightmare was so fresh. I went about the rest of my morning ritual: exercising, showering, eating, and feeding my cat. Even though I convinced myself logically what the cause of my mirror incident was, I still couldn’t shake my feeling of unease and avoided looking into any mirrors the entire morning.

It was a beautiful day, and because of my unexpectedly early awakening, I had extra time and decided to walk to work. I only worked about a half hour walk from my apartment in downtown Collegeville, Pennsylvania. It’s an adorable little town, so I greatly enjoyed my walk and soaked in all of the fabulous scenery. I consider myself to be a professional window shopper, since I’m consistently broke, and I used my talent to the fullest this morning to shake myself from my growing paranoia. While I was looking through the glass at a particularly adorable pair of cheetah print stilettos, I caught a glimpse of a woman with a blank, featureless face standing directly behind me. I gasped and quickly turned to face the woman. Once I turned I saw a woman standing behind me, with a perfectly normal face. I must have looked downright insane because she regarded me with a skeptical expression. I quickly apologized and shuffled to work.

The rest of my day at work was blissfully uneventful and I was eventually able to calm myself down and convince myself both blank face occurrences (this was the easiest way to refer to the incidents) were just a result of my overactive imagination. I walked home in a better mood than I had been all day and even treated myself by buying the stiletto’s from earlier (even if it would cost me gas money for the week). I live alone with two cats, Moe and Beevil, so I made myself dinner and fed my fur babies then settled in on my couch with a glass of Moscato and a new book.

I must have dozed off at some point during my reading because I awoke in a cold sweat from my torturous, repetitive nightmare. I attempted to calm myself by petting my adorable tortoise shell, Beevil, who was sitting on my lap. From my hand touching her she woke from her probably fifth nap of the day and looked up at me. I let out the loudest scream I could even imagine myself capable of and jumped about ten feet high. My poor, lovely kitty was missing her face. It didn’t appear to be a violent or malevolent occurrence; her face was just simply gone.

I quickly found the cat carrier, shoved her in and ran her straight to the vet, panicking and driving like a mad woman the entire way there. I rushed into the vet’s office and demanded my cat be examined right that second. Seeing my panicked demeanor, the vet quickly took us into a room and let my cat out of the carrier. She walked out of the pet carrier and looked up at me, with her beautiful green eyes looking right into mine. Her face was completely fine, I must have still been dreaming when I thought she had lost it. The vet was now looking at me curiously and asked what the issue seemed to be. Not wanting to appear insane, I made up a story of thinking she swallowed dental floss. The vet examined her, charged me a decent amount and sent us on our way telling me she would be perfectly fine. We drove home and I went straight to bed.

That incident happened about a week ago and since then the blank face occurrences have only gotten worse. I see a faceless woman standing behind me in every reflection I dare let myself view. I have stopped going to work or anywhere out in public because no matter how hard I try, I simply could not avoid each and every singly reflective surface. I would rather have been a shut-in then have to see that woman’s blank face again.

I had temporarily given my cats to my sister, terrified for their safety. I had also gotten rid of every single reflective surface in my house. I was honestly unaware if I am truly insane or if I really am being stalked by a faceless woman with the ability to change my perception of reality. Maybe I should have gone see a psychologist, maybe I was just overworked. Every time I started to think that way and decided to brave and go out into the world, I would relapse into a panic attack and ended up shivering violently under a blanket on my couch.

I had the dream again tonight, but it’s different. There’s the beach, the swing set, my father, and the rain, but this time there’s a woman. She is standing with her back to us the entire time and from what I can see of her she is about average height with long, matted dark hair. It hangs from her head in knotted, bloody patches. The skin on her arms and legs is pale and sickly in appearance, loosely hanging from her bones. She has many open sores that bleed profusely. She doesn’t turn around until my dad places his face in the water. Time seems to stand still as she moves over to him with her nasty, greasy hair covering her face. She places her hand on the back of his head and shoves it even further into the sand. I’m screaming at her to let him go, to leave him alone, but my voice disappears with the wind. She pushes his head even harder into the sand puddle, making it appear as though the sand is literally grinding away his face.

It’s at this point she finally looks up at me and I realize she is the woman I’ve seen haunt me in every reflection; she had no face, just a blank space with bloody sores where her features should have been. The most terrifying part of this moment is that even though she had virtually no face, I could feel that she was smiling at me, taunting me and driving me insane. I woke up screaming and thrashing in my sheets like a wild woman. I bolted up in bed and immediately noticed my large mirror on my bureau has been uncovered. The minute my eyes meet my reflection, I see the faceless woman with her nasty, bloody hair, standing directly behind my head. I could feel her evil taunting grin pointing down toward me as I felt her hands cover my face.

I woke up again in my bed, relieved that last night was just an awful remix to my repetitive nightmare. My relief was short-lived as I reached up to rub the sleep away from my eyes and felt nothing where my eye socket should be. I feel an immense sense of terror about to overwhelm me, when I realized I could still see so my eyes had to be there! I rush to my bureau and uncovered my large mirror. I attempted to let out a scream at the image that confronted me but I was unable make any sound. My face was gone, where my blue eyes and full lips used to be; now there was nothing but a blank space that made me look like a deformed monster.

I don’t understand how I can still see and breathe, it’s as though there is a thin layer of skin over my facial features that enables me to feel normal, while looking like a freak on the outside. I have tried to cut off the layer of skin that seems to cover my face, only to feel an immense pain and see nothing revealed but blood. No matter how deep I cut, I never find the eye sockets or nose that I used to have. At least the nightmare has finally stopped; the woman from my dreams seems to have moved on to torture another poor soul.

Credit To – AirIn D

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Eleven Twenty-Six

December 3, 2014 at 11:26 PM
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A small, rainy town sits near a dense grove of trees as a series of streams run past and into the dark thicket beyond. There is newfound fear within the town of the approaching century. The growing popularity of gasoline powered automobiles and electric powered telephones are deemed an unnecessary change in the little town, with wild stories from the outside world only furthering their confusion and displeasure about the new inventions. This threat from the outside world is a drop of water in an ocean compared to the harsh realities within their tiny corner of the world. The time stands at eleven o’clock as the townspeople move about the dark streets as though it were the middle of the day.

The silent torment of inner dread is seen in every pair of eyes as they look upon one another with a strange kind of hopeless desperation. Their days pass by like any other but the fall of night had their worried glances reveal an old fear, untouched by time. They knew what was soon to happen and that their anguished cries would be useless. Eleven o’clock comes again. Twenty-six minutes more to wait. Every minute is counted in the heads of the people in the small town by the dark grove. Every night when the clock strikes eleven twenty-six, a collective sound of fear is heard before the inevitable silence as every person within the town succumb to a simultaneous slumber.

Nobody has been able to remain conscious after this time to bear witness to what goes on around them. To add to this strange event, all those in the slumber awaken together at exactly six fifteen every morning. The people born in the town refuse to leave and visitors are rare, but the ones who come across the little town tend to make their stay a transitory one after hearing the warnings from the townspeople. Those in the nearest town are aware of the curse, with people refusing to enter the dark grove after eleven twenty-six at night for fear of what might happen to them. Some believe their bodies will collapse after crossing the border and others believe they will witness horrors worse than their imaginations can conjure up. The residents here claim that it has not always been like this and one day it will return to good, much to the chagrin of outsiders who believe them to be in the company of delusions.

An elderly man, born in the cursed town, had one night decided to walk across the border and observe the town from the outside. He saw nothing at all for how far his eyes took him, but the view of the main street was not perceivable from his position and he returned to the grove the next day with nothing to tell.

A thirty year old man can be heard wailing into the night, every night as he wanders through the main street. He worries strenuously about what is being done to him as he sleeps and whether tonight will be the night they finally put an end to his life. Men seem to have the most reason to worry here. Nightmares of unfathomable horror and hopelessness fill their minds but leave the women dreaming of nothing but darkness. Some men have dreamed repeatedly of their wives hurling them over cliffs and drowning them in the deepest waters. Their thoughts have been twisted by this continual barrage of images and subsequently driven to desperate acts derived from a broken mind. Wives and lovers are left fleeing from the town in a blind panic as paranoia runs rampant among the men. Despite this unrest, all the people of the dark grove have agreed that they are not alone after they pass into the unknown sleep.

It was a well-known fact that women did not dream here, so when one cold morning a twenty-eight year old woman ran out into the street shouting about the dream she had during the unknown sleep, it sent a shock wave through the town. The sea of gasps and murmurs surrounded the woman as questioning eyes focused on only her. She was different to the others now and more people feared her as the concerned and curious looks quickly turned to expressions of confusion and terror. She was pestered endlessly about her dreams from that day on and she insisted that the only dream she had each night was a recurring one, but many accused her of being deceptive. Some even claimed she remained awake as they slept and somehow had a part in the unknown atrocities.

She told the truth about dreaming of the same thing every night but she had also lied to the people about the contents of her recurring dream. The images of the translucent forms of the townspeople; her family and friends, wandering aimlessly through blackened streets like they were not even aware they existed in the world, plagued her dreams every night. The last thing she wanted to do was to unleash real panic among the people so she told them she merely dreamed of walking along a sunny beach, but she could see the suspicion in their eyes, suppressed only by their fear of the unknown.

She had the same dream the next night. Once again the static forms of the townspeople littered the streets before her, not really seeing anything as they stared ahead through lifeless eyes. The dream would usually end with her collapsing into a pile on the ground and awaking in her bed, but she remained standing as she continued to observe the spectacle before her. Something was different this time around. There was a shift in the air as she looked all around her. It had never gone on for this long and she was almost wishing her body would collapse so she could wake up in her bed with the morning light on her arm. Dark patches began to appear next to each person, wandering along with them. She moved her head forward as she blinked, trying to focus on whatever was attached to the townspeople. She watched for only a few seconds more before she took a step back and almost fell over some clutter on the ground behind her, sending something rattling away as she breathed out loudly through her teeth.

She looked up to see that they had all stopped, now standing motionless as the dark spots appeared to detach themselves and move slowly towards her. They flickered erratically, making her wonder if they really existed and if they were even capable of harm. She stumbled back, cutting her arm upon a nail that stuck out from the side of the door frame as she watched them move closer.

She frowned as she peered down at the gash along her arm. She had never felt pain in her dreams before but the sting and burn from the cut was very real. She placed her left hand over the wound as the realization that she was not dreaming wrought a strange kind of calm over her. She did not see a face from the dark forms that enclosed her but she could feel her body dying the closer they came, like years were being stripped from her as every moment passed. Her head rolled forward as her chin rested on her chest with her body remaining upright in a perfect standing position. She did not know how they had killed her but at some undetermined point she suddenly knew she would never wake up in her bed again. She could not remember if they even touched her but it seemed unimportant in that particular moment. She drifted upwards, not even knowing if she was even herself anymore as she watched her body remain standing on the ground as some unknown part of her exited this world.

She did not feel at ease anymore as she watched in horror as her earthly body looked up at her with a blank expression as it reached its arms up towards her as far as humanly possible. She stared into the eyes of the empty shell of her former self. She did not know what moved the body now but she could see past the lifeless expression as its eyes quivered underneath the calm mask. She wondered if the same fate had befallen the townspeople, and they simply walked around with some unknown entity possessing their bodies. She wondered if there was any part of them that still remained.

She could not stop herself from rising now and she was not sure if she even wanted to stop it. She could feel more and more of who she was disappear as her memories faded without apology. Before she closed her eyes to accept her fate, she glanced down once more to see her human shell smile sadly up at her before collapsing to the floor. The dark forms had disappeared as the dull light of dawn began to fill the little room.

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The Cinematographer

December 3, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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The paranormal was something that the three of us felt we were beyond. We all liked to think of ourselves as educated, and when we got into arguments we felt near invincible. But, when Martin insisted we fuck around with his fat older brother’s laptop full of occult pictures and docs (and when he promised to involve some of his best weed), the three of us decided to meet up in Jon’s basement, hallowed smoking ground.

After a couple bowls the three of us stared into the glow of the HP screen, clicking through folders labeled “Demons”, “Rituals-life”, “Rituals-strength”, “Hexes”, “Phasing”, “Lucid Dreaming”. Every folder was full of sketchy Polaroid pictures of pale figures with twisted triangular faces and fingers like twigs, long pieces of text containing foreign languages and symbols, and intricate diagrams for sigils and sacrifices. It was some mind-bending shit for stoned 17-year-olds. We found a project in a folder labeled “Summoning”; it contained tons of pictures and diagrams for calling things to this world- from hell, from other dimensions, from something that one image referred to as “the else”- and we picked one at random to mess around with and laugh through.

The diagram called for little prep. We needed only light some incense and say some incantations, all in some language that none of us had heard of. The entity that the diagram described lived in some place referred to as “over the wall” and tons of red text littered the picture. It all warned of dealing with the entity, of its numerous powers, and it included short accounts of the lives it had ruined (including a pretty sick one about a woman whose guts it had removed and played with, and a few more involving figures without eyes found wandering the scene of the summoning). The thing was a curious being, but impatient. it liked stalking us humans, watching, observing, before it grew more malicious, started taking us, experimenting on us, driving us to do things for it, seeing what made us squeal or cry or bleed.

We got everything set up and Jon volunteered to read off of the screen. Let me tell you, watching Jon fumble through that booga-booga language was the highlight of the night. We laughed through the whole thing, Jon tripping over words and destroying some through his own chuckles. Even when Martin put up hands to settle us down, the snickers would get through and flare back into laughs. I decided to pull out my camera then. It had become tradition to film these basement sessions, and it seemed Jon was going for an Academy Award.

We sort of gave up with the laptop after the camera came out; we were getting bored and Jon ran out of words to read. Eventually we all started passing the camera around and speaking into it directly, kind of doing the That 70s Show round table thing. We’d say something “intelligent”, “revelatory”, or “funny” and then pass the camera on. It was a way of documenting some indispensible hilarity to look back on the next day.

The night passed quick. I remember turning on the TV, and at some point Martin and I packed up the laptop and walked back to his house so Jon could pass out on his couch, but events leaked in and out of memory after the night in question.

The next morning I woke up to find my phone full of unread texts and missed calls, all from Jon. The gist of the messages was “get your ass over here,” and the voice delivering the voicemails wasn’t that of the easy stoner I was used to dealing with. He spoke in unconnected, short clips, a lopsided train of thought: “found it downstairs…for fun, you know…supposed to…just thought I’d…I found it, in the camera…to see…you need to see…supposed to be fun. Just over here, get over here please.” Jon sounded completely stern, almost lifeless, something that set a million little alarm bells off in my head. I went to find Martin, who had also gotten a phone-full of messages, and we returned to Jon’s house.

We found him upstairs in the TV room. He’d hooked up my camera left over from last night and was watching the new stuff we’d recorded, pausing and fast-forwarding, stopping every now and then to watch. Martin and I crept into the room and took places quietly on the couch. We didn’t want to interrupt.

The footage played on about as I’d remembered it happening, and I watched as the Jon onscreen recited the incantations. Coming from his mouth they sounded entirely made up, yet rhythmic, like poems from some other country. In the video, we’d been cracking up, and the sound of chocked laughs and giggles bounced around the room, but watching it again made me feel weird, like I was seeing and hearing something I shouldn’t be, almost like snuff. I looked at Martin and then to Jon. Jon’s stone face, Martin’s mouth, slightly agape, and the feeling that I was watching something forbidden made me feel like it had been a mistake to record last night.

I finally asked Jon what was up, why he called us, why he seemed so somber, and he gave a cold answer, a knowing answer: “keep watching”. So we did.

The night on the tape played out, filing in memory gaps here and there as it played. It ran to the point where we started talking into the camera and passing it around. Jon looked as though he’d snap on either of us at any moment, so I didn’t dare ask what we were looking for. Finally, in the video, I passed off the camera and Jon hit pause.

“See? See? Well?” Jon alternated a stare, almost accusingly, between where Martin and I were watching and the TV screen itself. I glanced at Martin and he shook his head. On the screen we were all sitting together on Jon’s couch throwing up rock-n-roll devil horns with our hands, stoned out of our minds. I stared at the image for a few fruitless seconds, but then it hit me like a train. I saw what Jon called us over to see, and it made me feel nauseous. Jon said it before I could: “Who the fuck is holding the camera?”

Credit To – Jared Quaglieri

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