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An Ordinary Day

September 19, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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It is just another day for anyone but me. Cars zip past on the highway just beyond my house. The sun is shining down and birds are singing the day’s glory just beyond my windowsill. I can see the leaves of an oak tree swaying in the wind outside. The entrancing deep green has my vision captive. Today would be beautiful, for anyone else. I desperately wish it was for me as well.

In my hallway, at my closed bedroom door, I can hear a scratching. It’s slow and meticulous, but ever-so constant and loud. It woke me up and it’s been going on for almost ten minutes now. I heard it yesterday morning and the morning before that. I’ve always been too afraid to check it out. It’s that scratching that keeps me plastered to the foot of my bed, watching out my window, knowing the sound will eventually break. No matter how scared the noise has made me, I can’t bring myself to find the source. I live all alone, there’s no one there but me.

“Elizabeth,” a voice whispers through the cracks of my flimsy barrier. The sound of my name startles me from my hypnotic gaze. I turn towards the door and my eyes latch onto the door handle. It’s just an ordinary door, with plain white paint and a bronze handle. The scratching gets louder and faster as I look on. My heart is racing in my chest. I’m too scared to ask who’s there. I’m too scared to respond at all, but the sound of nails dragging across the wood definitely sounds like it’s heavier than before. Somehow I wonder if it, whoever, whatever it is, knows I’m looking its way.

“Elizabeth,” It whispers a little louder. The voice is grainy but it floats on the air of my room, making it sound like it’s not beyond the door at all. It’s too hard to discern a gender from it. It barely sounds human. My heart jumps up into my throat as it pounds even harder. I’ve never heard my name with such intent, such malice. I don’t have a soul to watch my back, not in my house. My poor cat, Reios, the only friend I had in this hideous town, ran away just a few weeks back. I moved here to start a new life, but now it seems like I’m trapped in a never-ending nightmare.

This problem was escalating. The scratching was bad, but it always went away. Now it was saying my name? I locked all my doors and windows at night. I couldn’t imagine who or what was out there but it is to be too hard to deal with this madness every morning. With chargin, I get up from my bed, ready to face the terror that called out to me.

The scratching slows and my eyes shift downward. I see a shadow under the door, dark and unmoving. I watch it as I take a step and then another, my bare feet moving slowly and silently over the hardwood floor. The anger that prompted this action recedes into the fear that’s boiling in my stomach. I watch with widened eyes as the shadow moves a little to the left, dragging the noise with it. I can feel my night gown brushing the backs of my legs until I stop, right in front of the door. I can’t even reach for the handle. All I can do is stare at the shadow in front of me. The scratching drags on and my body quivers, no matter how hard I try to stop it.

Would this the day I would face this morning demon? Would I open the door and see what was there the entire time? Could I put an end to this mystery and see who had the gull to call my name?

Before I could even find the strength to reach for the knob, I watch as the shadow dances away from view. At my wits end, I yank the door open, and find nothing. The hallway is empty, but for a small table and a lamp. The sunlight from my bedroom window illuminates the area enough for me to see that it is just a normal hallway, the same one I’d left that night when I went to bed. Today is not the day of legends, it’s just another day.

Credit To – Nixie B. Vilda

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Father Lucie

September 18, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Hello. I’m Father Lucie and I’m a man of faith. I’m a man of the clergy and I believe in right and wrong, and nothing in between. I believe that a man’s soul is a precious thing; a fragile thing; and I’m self-employed in upholding that belief. I work in a private sector of the church; a sector founded and run solely by myself. The work I do is not unlike a legal conciliation service. I’m an arbitrator; I settle disputes of the soul.
I’m a SOUL man. And I’ve got a passion that burns for the job.

I’m here to share Jake Avery’s story with you, my most recent subject, for educational purposes. Everyone at some point in their life will cross paths with me or my work so it’s best learn about it now and save yourself the trouble of asking who I am, or what I’m doing barging in on your life at such an unexpected moment.
I’ll be there to help you, so remember to shut up and listen to what I have to say.
It’s probably going to be important.

Mine and Jake Avery’s story begins a while back in Jake’s hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. What happened was that Jake Avery killed somebody.
That’s the short version.
It was an accident, we all understand that, but honestly, it’s irrelevant. Jake avoided all consequences related to the accident, and this bothered people; important people. They were upset by how it all played out. And I’m not talking about the families torn up and destroyed by his mistake, God no, people a lot more important than that. When I say that Jake avoided all consequences related to the accident, I don’t mean he was found innocent in a court of law.
No, nothing that official.
Jake ran. He was scared, granted, but the upset parties I deal with weren’t concerned with his reasons, or personal qualms. They wanted justice. That’s where I came in. It was my job to help Jake to help himself. It was my job to smooth things out between him and the upset parties, as best as I could.

I’ll skip ahead a bit. Jake Avery eventually found himself in a 5×5 windowless concrete room, orange glowing in around the door, sat at a metal table on a metal chair. There’s a stink that wafts in when the letter box slot on the door slides open to deliver his food.
But we don’t talk about that.
On the metal table was a wax-sealed envelope, which he had opened, and in that envelope was a note. On the note, in decorative script, someone had written:
“Like a man, and on your own, work it out; I’ll send you home.”
I should tell you: I knew who wrote that note, but I can’t tell you why I couldn’t tell Jake that just yet. There were also two photographs that accompanied the envelope, but I’ll get into that in a moment too. It was my job to speak with Jake Avery every so often, to ask him why he was there in that room; to ask him why he was taken. He was angry at first that I couldn’t give him any clues; very angry, and would refuse to speak to me at all. He knew why he was there, he just didn’t want to admit it. Understandable, I suppose. He hadn’t even been given the chance to change out of his torn up clothes.

The first of the two photographs found in the envelope was a Mr Eric Luf’s passport photo. He was a Norwegian student living in Richmond with friends.
Jake killed him.
He was driving home from his parents’ house one misty night when he swerved to miss a Rottweiler standing in the middle of the road. The Rottweiler seemed to appear at the last moment and showed no signs of moving. Eric Luf was cycling in the opposite direction and was hit by Jake’s car; an unfortunate event no doubt.
Jake got out of his car to check on Eric only to find that Eric had been killed on impact. He was scared, understandably. Who wouldn’t have been?
The morticians report even shocked me.
What Jake did next though, is extremely vital to our story. He got back in his car and drove away. Now, Jake Avery was never caught for what he did; he hadn’t even known Eric’s name until he saw it written on the bottom of the passport photo in the envelope. The man honestly hadn’t slept a good night’s sleep since it happened.
Those terrible dreams. The ones that throw us out of our bed sticky with sweat and piss.
Eric’s shattered face with brain showing in the eye sockets visits Jake every night. But once again, my associates aren’t interested.

I would visit his 5×5 concrete room once a day. He sat at the desk with his back to the door and he always held Eric Luf’s photo in one hand, the note in the other; eyes flitting between them. My job was to approach him, and ask him the same thing every day:
“Why are you here Jake?”
He’d throw down the photo and note and respond something along the lines of “I don’t know goddammit, I already told you I don’t know! You tell me!”
At that point I’d leave the room and wait to ask him again the next day. My job wasn’t to force it out of him.
He had to figure it out on his own. He had to admit it.
‘Like a man, and on your own, work it out; I’ll send you home.’
On the fourth day however, when I visited Jake Avery’s stinking 5×5 cell, he was holding the second photograph in his hand; the one I haven’t explained to you yet. I had not yet seen him pay any attention to it. I’ll go through it quickly so I can get back to telling you what he said to me on that fourth day.

The second photograph was of a man called Eli Curf, a Romanian they think. The name was written below his face on the photo, just like Eric’s. Nobody really knows who he was, to be honest, and the body was never claimed.
I however, did know who he was.
It was on that same road that Eric died that Eli followed Jake to one cold Sunday night. Eli had bad intentions.
Very bad intentions.
Eli had been tailing Jake for about twenty minutes when Jake pulled into a gas station. Eli didn’t follow him and kept driving. He did a U-turn further up along the road and stopped under a street light on the shoulder.
Eli sat in his car facing towards the gas station and waited for the headlights of Jakes car to appear coming towards him. When they did he floored it and took off back down the road directly for Jake. Jake had no room to avoid the crash once he realized he was in trouble.
And so they crashed; man to man.
Metal to metal.
Face to pavement.
Jake survived and Eli died. It’s kind of funny when you think about it; in a tragic sort of way. Jake again, suffered little to no injury, except for a bad concussion, while Eli lay dead on the concrete at the end of a trail of his own face. Jake was lucky to be alive, really.
He stuck around for emergency services that time. I guess it was because it wasn’t his fault, technically. The men took him into the back of the ambulance, but he knew immediately that they weren’t doctors. I can tell you personally that that was obvious. I think it goes without saying that they didn’t bring him to a hospital; they brought him to me.

And now we’re back to the 5×5 concrete room that smelled like charred bodies, and back to Jake looking at the second photo; Eli’s photo; and me about to ask him the same question I’ve asked him once a day for the past four days:
“Why are you here, Jake”. But this time was different.
He dropped the photo and looked up at me, “Who are you?”
Really he wasn’t allowed to ask questions, but I decided to humour him in hope of getting an answer for my own question to come.
“I can’t tell you who we are.”
Jake brought his fist down on the desk in anger. I told him politely that if he did it again I wouldn’t hold myself back from slapping him. He regained his composure.“No. I meant who are you?”
“My name is Fr. Lucie. I’ve told you that before, Jake,” I replied. I knew that Jake knew my name; he had asked me before when he first arrived; he was asking because he thought I’d have a different answer, but I didn’t. Not right now.
With that out of the way I asked him:
“Why are you here, Jake?”
He seemed to have come to the end, and I was glad.
“Why do you want me to admit it? You know I know why I’m here, I wouldn’t be here otherwise, so why do I have to admit it to YOU!?”
I was getting somewhere now. I could feel it.
“You see Jake; your soul is in trouble. I’m here to help you. What you did to Eric Luf is inexcusable, and your confession is required by some very powerful people for you to be able to return home.”
I pointed to the note that read “Like a man, and on your own, work it out; I’ll send you home.” He looked at it for a moment and considered his options.
I wished he’d hurry up, to be honest. I wasn’t expecting him to take so long and I had others to visit.
After processing the note for a moment he came to a crossroad in his own head. He asked me:
“What do I have to do to go home?”
So I told him what he had to do.
I told him, “Jake, you need to let me into your soul to save you. I’m here to help you, I’m here to make things right for you, and the only way to do that is for you to grant me permission to your soul so I can mend what’s been broken.”
It’s mostly bullshit, but it sounds convincing and if I had told him that he needed to eat my shit he’d be lying under me — mouth open wide — before I could even squat.
All he could think about was getting out of that place at that point, and so he said without a second thought:
“Of course, just tell me what to say.”
So I told him, and he repeated almost word for word: “Fr. Lucie I killed Eric Luf. I grant you permission to my soul; to make me better and to make me a good person again.”
That was all I needed to hear. It was about time too. The hard part was over and done with and it was time to have some fun. I’d been waiting for that moment for four whole days, and boy had I been waiting. It was some good work I did on Jake too, some of my best. I deserved some leisure time.
A sort of ‘work hard; play hard’ kind of thing.
It’s what I live for.

As soon as he said the words I knew I could relax. I knew we’d worked our problem out and all parties would be happy.
“Jesus Christ, Jake, you took it out of me!”
He seemed confused, they usually do.
He said: “Do I get to go home?” Goddamn they ask the same thing every time!
“No, not just yet”, I replied; pointing at the note sitting on top of Eric Luf’s not yet collapsed face.
I dragged a chair over beside Jake; “Read it, what does it say?”
Now he seemed very confused, and he made me very angry with that stupid look on his face when he was. He picked it up with both hands, as he wouldn’t have been able to manage one, and replied.
“Like a man, and on your own, work it out; I’ll send you home.”
“Very good Jake,” I said, standing up and throwing my chair against the wall in one swift motion, “So work it out!”
I was standing over him now watching him fumble with the photos and note on the desk.
I had scared him.
I could see he was getting very stressed.
I watched him rearranging the photos pointlessly for a moment – he was afraid I would be angry if he asked me what to do – before grabbing them off of him and rearranging them as follows: Eric Luf’s name and photo to the left, the note in the middle and Eli Curf to the right of them. I stood back and folded my arms, excited to see what he’d do next.
“Work it out, Jake.”
He sat hunched over them for a moment before looking up at me like the pathetic monkey he was.
He frantically said “I don’t know what to d-”
Before he could finish I had flipped the table and everything on it across the room.
Jake Avery stayed sitting on the chair by himself and watched me jump onto the ground in front of the overturned table and photos.
He was a piece of work, I’m telling you.
I rearranged the notes and photos again on the ground in the corner of the smelly 5×5 room.
“Jake, get over here.”

Reluctantly, a clearly terrified Jake made a noise a child would make and came over to where I was kneeling. He got down on all-fours and again, stared at the photos without a clue of what he was doing. I knelt there beside him for a minute before he went to rearrange them again for no reason; just to look like he was doing something.
I slapped his hand away and picked up the first photo; Eric Luf’s photo.
I held it up in front of us and said “Now, what does it mean, Jake. Look at the letters”
He wasn’t comfortable being so close to me, I could tell. My patience wearing thin, I thought I’d help him out a bit.
“Look at the letters!” I said, before proceeding to announce each character in Eric’s name out of order.
“See Jake, look at this: E – R – I – C – L – U – F. Now, watch: L – U – C – I – F – E – R.”
He looked at me like he knew, but he didn’t.
Not yet.
I picked up the second photo, Eli the Romanian’s photo, and I did what I did with the last.
Holding it up in front of myself and Jake I started reciting the letters.
“E – L – I – C – U – R – F, see how that works Jake? Now watch what I do with them:
“L – U – C – I – F – E – R.”
Jake sat back against the wall with this puzzled look on his face, scanning the two photos, as if it couldn’t be true.
“What does you mean?” he asked.
I got to my feet, delighted we’d eventually gotten past that part, and took a deep breath.
“Now, do me,” I said.
As if it couldn’t have gotten any worse.

He looked at me in bewilderment. “What do you me-”
I interrupted him before he could say something stupid again; “Do my name, like the other two.”
When he didn’t get the message I grabbed Eric’s photo from his hand and with my pen I wrote on the back my name:
‘Fr. Lucie’.
I gave it back and slowly he began reciting the letters; “F – R –”
“No,” I interrupted, “Skip that and go straight to the next part.”
I waited with my arms folded for him to begin, and then he did.
He recited my name: “L – U – C – I – F – E – R.”
The look on Jake’s face was priceless; hilarious. But the best was yet to come. He still had no idea. Sure he had worked out the names, but he didn’t fully understand what it meant yet.
“Well done Jake, you got it!” I said.
Still terribly confused, but happy I was not angry with him anymore, he replied:
“Do I get to go home now?”
At this point I was in stitches! I couldn’t contain myself! Jake – still terribly confused and not knowing what to do – started laughing with me. Wiping a tear from my eye I told him:
“Of course not!”
His expression changed suddenly, he was doing that face that he does. The stupid one I was telling you about
“What’s the matter, Jake?” He looked at me for a moment, waiting for me to break character and start cracking up again.
But I didn’t.
When he realized I was serious, he scrambled for the note I had written for him four days previously. He held it out and started reading:
“Like a man, and on your own, work it out; I’ll send you home.”
It’s good, isn’t it?
After reading it he looked up at me again; “You said I could go home.”
“Yes,” I replied. “I did say that.”
He thought very carefully about what he would say next, and then he attempted to read me the note again. I interrupted him halfway and finished the rhyme:
“… that’s right Jake, I’m a liar AND a poet!”

Exhausted by our conversation I had picked Jake’s chair up from where I’d thrown it against the wall and sat down on it facing him. I found my deck at the bottom of my pocket and lit a cigarette. Now he was shouting nonsense and insults at me from where he was sitting on the ground:
“What do you mean you’re a liar?! You said I could go home! I figured your damn puzzle out, just like you said!”
Jake had a whiney voice.
And yes, you’re dead right, the poor guy still didn’t get it!
I smiled at him throwing his little tantrum and waited for him to give me an opportunity to speak. I figured it would be better to let him get it all out of his system now; bottling up that kind of anger is bad for the soul.
I know.
When he quieted down for a second I told him:
“You can’t go home Jake. You don’t have one.”
That response didn’t go down well.
“What do you mean I don’t have a home?!” he demanded.
I thought about how I’d tell him, but I decided I’d just be completely blunt with him. I leaned back and got comfortable, getting ready to savour his reaction, and then I told him:
“You’re dead!”
In hindsight, perhaps I shouldn’t have told him like that. It’s a hard thing for anyone to swallow.
In retrospect, maybe I should have broken it to him slowly; eased him into it a little. God, I can be so rash sometimes. People are always telling me and I’m only starting to see it!
But oh well.
What’s said was said.

Now, my dear reader; as your humble narrator I should probably explain something to you all; in case you’re as God awfully dull as Jake Avery and haven’t caught on to what’s going on yet.
There never was an Eric Luf.
He doesn’t exist.
Never did.
Although don’t get too confused; Jake did actually kill someone with his car on that fateful night, it just wasn’t Mr Luf. I created Mr Luf for our story; an anagram of my own name for dramatic effect! It did work though, didn’t it? It gave a certain ‘oomph’ to the delivery, I thought.
Anyways; on that night, Jake did swerve to miss a dog and he did mow down a man on his bike. The difference is that in the real story, Jake Avery didn’t stop.
He ploughed straight through body and bike and into a ditch. A piece of fencing splintered and broke off into his chest, and that was the end of Jake.
He died.
He’s dead.
He went somewhere else that night when reality split into what happened, and what I allowed to happen.
Just for fun!
He was carried away with a sheet over his body; dead and blood still slipping out past the fence in his chest.
But he also drove home unharmed in his car.
So, basically I allowed Jake Avery some time to think about what he had done, to see what he’d do; like a test! The past couple of weeks he’s been living in an alternate reality. Kind of like purgatory, except purgatory’s just a silly myth. During this time I was judging him; weighing his soul.
Do you see what I’m saying?
Because I can’t just take anybody’s soul, there has to be a good reason.
I like to think that taking a soul is like cooking a steak. See God, as patient as he his, likes his steaks rare. He likes his steaks pure, quick off the pan without incident.
He likes them to be as close to what they were like coming off the cow as possible.
I like mine burnt to a crisp.

Now you’re probably starting to connect the dots.
Don’t do that.
You should never do that.
You’re probably thinking that Eli Curf wasn’t real, just like Eric.
Right?
Wrong.
I was Eli Curf. When I had finished cooking Jake’s soul, and decided it was ready to take off the pan, I drove head first into Mr Avery, along that same road where he had killed ‘Eric Luf’. In the alternate reality where Jake was dead, they had lowered his body into his grave just that morning.
I didn’t really need to do that, to be honest; it wasn’t entirely necessary. I could have just come to him in the middle of the night and dragged him by his hair into hell, but where’s the fun in that?
You’ve all probably guessed by now too, that my real name isn’t Fr. Lucie, and I’m not a priest.
Sorry about that.
It’s just another anagram for my real name; it’s just for show. An interesting way to tell Jake. To add a bit of depth to our story. Because that’s all it is really, isn’t it. A story?
Was Jake real, or was he just another character? Am I real, or am I just a quirky story-telling device?
Am I just a fairy-tale?
I have sleepless nights thinking about that sort of thing; honestly! Someone once said that the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist. But I didn’t convince anyone that I didn’t exist.
You all convinced yourselves.

I digress. When I explained all these details to Jake Avery he still didn’t believe me. Can you imagine? Jake didn’t want to believe me, but deep down I think he did. You notice when your soul is gone; it’s a feeling that’s hard to ignore. You can feel that something is missing.
I felt it. Jake felt it, even if he didn’t know it.
He was very distraught at this point in our conversation. I got up off my chair and went over to where he was sitting against the wall crying. I sat down in front of him and told him how much fun we were going to have together.
He wasn’t interested.
He spat in my face, and with that I smiled and picked him up off the floor by his throat. Two of my employees entered and I handed him over to them. They dragged him to the door, but before they left for the furnace I called to the now kicking and screaming Jake Avery.

Before I tell you what I said, I would bet your life that there was one thing that you missed; one detail you overlooked in our story.
I was so excited to tell Jake.
From the moment I met him I couldn’t wait. I could barely control myself from just blurting it out, being as rash as I am. Oh you’re going to love it too, I swear!
Eric Luf, Eli Curf, Fr Lucie, the note. It was all build-up; pawns to my joke.
Do you understand?
The build-up to the greatest punch line; the ultimate gag!
Possibly the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled? I don’t think so.
My employees held Jake at the door where I had called to him. He could feel the heat coming from the cracks now. The smell of burning flesh getting stronger. The smell of eternity.
He knew he was close.
He cried to me: “Where am I going, take me home! Who the fuck are you people!? Tell me who you are!”
He set it up perfectly! It couldn’t have been any better, not even if I had done it myself. I leaned into Jake’s ear.
I whispered to him:
“Jake, I’m the dog in the street.”

Credit To – Coffeey

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The Old Mill of Playland

September 17, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Sometimes I miss the dreamy sensations that came with childhood, like the excitement of visiting an amusement park. Back then they seemed like dreamlands nestled in reality, and it was as though no kid could wait to visit them. My younger brother and I were no exceptions. Whenever summertime rolled around, we would eagerly count down the days until Playland opened its gates.

Never heard of it? Playland is a very old amusement park in our hometown of Rye, New York, and it was always the place to be when we were kids. I made many fond memories at that park: the first time I rode the famous Dragon Coaster, playing frisbee on the park’s beach with my brother and father, and the night my crush kissed me on the cheek as we watched the fireworks display from the boardwalk. One particular memory, however, overshadows the rest.

It was the night our adult sister and her boyfriend had brought us to Playland. The four of us had spent the day riding the coasters, playing minigolf, and so on, but what my brother and I were really looking forward to was going on the dark rides (you know, those indoor rides through dark tunnels with different scenery and animatronics). At the time, there were rumors going around that all of Playland’s dark rides were going to be shut down, so we were adamant about paying them our final respects. My brother insisted on waiting until nightfall before riding them, so I assumed he wanted to go on the Zombie Castle or the Flying Witch first. But once the sun had disappeared behind the sealine, instead he hurried us to the tamest of the dark rides: Ye Old Mill. While the other two dark rides take you through castles infested with zombies and monsters, this one takes you on a boat ride through caves inhabited by Disney-esque gnomes and trolls. I asked him,

“You want to ride this one first? I thought you were our main thrill-seeker.”

“Yeah, I am,” He replied. “But I want to try something.” I could hear a bit of mischief in his voice.

“Try what?”

“I heard that if you go on this ride alone at night, you can see a ghost at one part!” Okay, so it was clearly only a rumor he had heard at school, but what would one expect from a 9-year-old? I (who was 11 at the time) just brushed it off, although I was, admittedly, a superstitious kid. “Just wait here, I’m going on first!” He turned to run to the ticket booth when our sister swiftly stepped in front of him.

“No you’re not!” She snapped. “Don’t you remember what happened last year?”

“Oh, yeah…” I muttered to myself. I had almost forgotten about the incident that had occurred on the ride looming above us, a tragedy that had played out like a horror story.

You see, Playland has a small record of deadly accidents, one of which occurred in 2005. A 7-year-old boy had gone on the Old Mill alone, having passed its minimum height requirement. His mother, who had been waiting outside, was terrified to find that the boat he was riding in returned empty. The news later broke out that authorities had discovered his body stuck beneath one of the conveyor belts used to move the boats, under more than 2 feet of water. There were no eyewitnesses to the accident and inspectors found nothing wrong with the ride itself, so it was believed that the boy became frightened and climbed out of the boat in an attempt to escape. According to the boy’s autopsy, the cause of his death wasn’t by drowning, but blunt force trauma to the head.

“He’ll be fine as long as he stays in the boat.” I said. Sis frowned at me as my brother nodded in agreement. Even though I understood why she was worried, I thought she was overreacting. The Old Mill was one of the safest rides in the park, and our little thrill-seeker didn’t scare easily.

“Look, you two can just ride it together. The ghost might appear anyway, right?”

“Yeah guys,” Her boyfriend chimed in. “You can take it like a pair of ghostbusters!” The cheesiness of that line made me laugh, as did the face my brother made in response. I said to him,

“Sounds fine to me.” He just sighed in defeat.

“Oh, all right.” As my brother walked up to the booth, Sis put a hand on my shoulder and quietly said,

“Don’t let him do anything stupid, okay?” I turned to see her face dark with concern. Hell, she sounded like she expected us not to come back. What did she think our brother would do? Jump ship and hide in the scenery? Sounds silly, but it was technically possible. The Old Mill has narrow concrete paths running along the walls for staff access, so people could hop out of the sluggish boats and go exploring. To try and calm her down, I placed a hand on her shoulder and said,

“Okay, I won’t let him get eaten by the robot gnomes.”

“Oh, shut up and go already!” She gave me a playful rap over the head before checking out the nearby game booths with her boyfriend, leaving my brother and me to board the ride. With no line in front of us, it was only moments before we boarded one of the boats and were on our way into the Old Mill. Rounding the first bend, we were greeted by an animatronic gnome in mining gear perched on a pipe above us.

“Welcome to Playland Waterworks!” it announced in its usual Western accent. “We’re keepin’ it flowin’ down here! But stay in the boat and on the main waterways. There’s hungry trolls hiding in those back caverns!” With that, the boat drifted into the unlighted tunnels ahead.

Do you ever get the feeling that a room seems darker when you know it’s dark outside? Never having been on the Old Mill at night, I was getting that sense. Aside from the lights on the scenery, the tunnels were completely black. I tend to get a little anxious in really dark places since my eyesight isn’t the greatest, but being with my brother helped alleviate that anxiety. For the first couple minutes we just poked fun at the scenes we passed, which consisted of the gnomes performing generic mining duties: digging for gems, blasting stone with TNT, and accidentally blowing each other up (in the cartoony “covered-in-soot” way, of course). At one point I asked him,

“So, when’s this ghost supposed to appear again?”

“I don’t know.” He replied with a shrug. “But it wouldn’t be in here, it’s too bright. Maybe if we’re really quiet…” We had just entered a room full of mock machinery, the set brightly lit. Both of us went silent, so I just listened to the bouncy music playing over the speakers. I heard a sharp clicking sound a couple times as we passed through the room; assuming it was the music skipping or something, I ignored it and thought about the accident. That kid must’ve been really afraid of the dark, that or the “scarier” scenes got to him. But still, to frighten him enough to want to climb out of the boat…My contemplation abruptly ended when my brother turned excitedly towards me.

“This could be it! Get ready!” This is where the memory becomes more vivid for me, as though it happened last night. Ever since I was little, this particular part of the ride struck me as foreboding: as the boat made another turn, the comical music emanating from the machine room faded out, overtaken by the sound of gusty winds. A white strobe light flickered in the distance while faux thunder echoed through the corridor, creating the illusion of getting caught in a summer storm. The chilling atmosphere was amplified by light mist spraying about, surrounding us in a cool embrace. ‘There’s nothing here,’ I thought to myself, ‘Nothing here except us’. But then, I heard it again: Clickclickclick, just like in the last room. Without the music and voices of the animatrons, I could hear it more clearly; it reminded me of the sound a dog’s claws make when it walks across a hard floor. I glanced around, even though I couldn’t see a damn thing, and tried to locate the sound. Then it occurred to me that the only “floors” around were the paths alongside the boat…

“Hey, do you hear that?” I asked my brother.

“What?”

“That clicking sou-” A crash of thunder suddenly burst from the speakers, cutting me off and making my heart leap. But what frightened me more was that as soon as the thunder rang out, I thought I heard something splash in the water behind us.

“What? Did you hear the ghost?” My brother asked.

“N-no…” I stammered. Disappointed, he turned away from me without even noticing my unease. As our lonely vessel drifted beyond the stormy hall, I listened carefully for the clicking sound again. Clickclickclick; There it was, sure enough. ‘What the hell is that?’ I thought. I was beginning to think it was just in my head, but then I heard something else alongside it: Clack clack clack. It was just like the clicking, only…heavier. Sharper.

“Go back, please!” A worried voice warned us. I noticed we were drifting by the next scene: a gnome with a lantern waving at us from a small cliff. “Last chance! They’ll get ya for sure! Please, don’t go back there!” From that point forward, my imagination started to run away with me. I began to think the puppets were trying to warn us of some real, imminent danger, regardless of the fact that they were only reciting their usual lines. I wasn’t even focused on the scenery anymore, instead fearfully staring at the floor of the boat while my mind ran wild. If a ghost were haunting the ride, would it try to hurt us?

“I warn you, humans!” I heard one of the troll puppets shout. “Go away now!”

What if someone who had come in before us decided to hide in the scenery and scare whoever passed by? What if that person was dangerous? Or maybe, instead of some phantom or adolescent trickster, we were being watched by…something else?

“It’s too late now.” Another troll said, letting out a low, wicked laugh. I finally looked up, recognizing the scene in front of me: the troll was stationed next to a sharpened log suspended by vines; a trap. The log suddenly swung forward as the tunnel was engulfed in darkness, a crashing sound played moments later. Just before the crash, I let a scream slip out as I heard another splash. This time, it wasn’t as far behind.

“What?! What is it?!” My brother shouted back in surprise.

“D-didn’t you hear that?!” I stammered. “Something’s in here! In the water!” He paused a moment, as though to say he had been hearing something as well throughout the ride.

“Y-you better not be joking!” He was trying to sound tough, but he couldn’t mask the fear in his voice. The trepidation I had felt since the stormy hall had finally overtaken me. I was on the brink of tears, glancing every which way to find the source of that godforsaken sound of claws on stone. I hoped and prayed that we would come to a tunnel with more light and fast–
Clickclickclick

I held my breath, frozen in terror. Whatever was making that sound was right beside the boat. For the first time, I heard it breathing; it took in quiet, shallow, croaking gasps as if it was struggling for air. It wasn’t the mournful moaning of a child’s spirit, however. No, it didn’t even sound human…I had to know. Despite the temptation to just hide my face in my sweaty hands, I had to know what in God’s name was following us. Summoning whatever little courage I had, I slowly turned my head to the path on my left. Fear pierced my heart as I met the incandescent gaze of two green, unblinking eyes. They were wide and blank like those of an angler fish, but I couldn’t make out the head they were attached to. I heard its claws lightly click against the concrete as it crept alongside the boat, its eyes locked onto me. Shivering, I took in only quick, stilted breaths, afraid that any sudden movement or sound would cause it to attack. I wanted to warn my brother and tell him not to move, but before I could…

“What’s that noise?” He asked meekly. I heard his body shift as he turned to face me. Suddenly, he let out a scream, clearly seeing what I saw. The creature immediately averted its eyes from me and locked onto my terrified brother, responding to his scream with a loud hiss. It darted past me and leapt towards him at alarming speed. My brother cried and screamed in pain, snapping me out of my fear-induced paralysis. Without thinking, I reached out to pull the infernal thing off of him, fumbling in the darkness until I got a hold of it. It wasn’t very big, but it was powerful. The rough scales that made up its exterior dug into my skin as it writhed and squirmed relentlessly in my arms. I was about to throw it overboard when I suddenly felt several claws strike me across the face. I shrieked and clasped my hands to my face as the damn creature slipped free.

“Get it away!!” My brother cried. “It’s going to kill us!!” Wiping my eyes of what was either blood or tears, I turned around to see those faint green eyes burning into mine. All at once I felt a churning blend of fear and rage, and as it approached again I swung my leg as hard as I could. The creature let out what sounded like a gasp as my foot slammed against it. Realizing I had the upper hand, I rushed forward and kicked at it again, and again, and again before backing towards my sobbing brother. Still unable to see anything in the darkness but those eyes, I watched as they unsteadily turned from us and disappeared over the rear of the boat with a splash. To my relief, the boat was just starting to pass one of the next scenes, offering us just enough light to see.

“Quick, it’s gone! Get out of the boat!” Thanks to the adrenaline coursing through me, I was able to pull myself onto the concrete walkway beside the set and my brother after me. I could see his wounds in the dim, orange light. His legs were scratched up as was his chest, visible through his torn shirt. But his worst injury was on his left arm, drenched in blood; he was tightly clutching a large mark between the wrist and elbow.

“It bit me!” He sobbed repeatedly. There was no way in hell we could stay any longer.

“Come on, we need to get help!” I choked out, trying to catch my breath. Thankfully, he was still able to walk. By sticking close to the wall, we were able to find our way to the next set without falling off the narrow walkway. The scene was of a troll cutting down a tree, so I knew we were close to the end of the ride. “Don’t worry, we’re almost there! Almost…”

Clack clack clack.

The familiar sound stopped us in our tracks. I began to tremble, ready to sob out of utter disbelief. ‘No, no that’s not real!’ I told myself. But what followed was unmistakable: a furious, hissing roar right behind us. Instinctively I turned around, just in time to see another glowing pair of eyes charging in our direction.

“RUN!” I screamed. We bolted towards the end of the set as the second creature entered the room. I looked back for a moment to see how far behind it was, catching a blurry glimpse of its appearance. It was some ungodly animal, larger than the other one, clawing its way toward us like an enraged crocodile. Its eyes burned bright yellow-orange like twin torches, and its teeth seemed to be bared and jagged. All I could see of the body itself was a greyish-red color, but I wasn’t about to stop to get a closer look. My brother and I scrambled into another black corridor, the longest in the entire ride, and saw the light of the last set visible at the end of it. I thought we were in the home stretch, but the next thing I knew, something clamped onto my right leg. I fell forward and hit my head against the floor, calling out to my brother and reaching out with my arms.

“What happened?! Hurry!” He cried.

“I can’t!” I cried back. I felt the creature tug on me, sending a splitting pain through my leg. Thinking I had been bitten as well, I looked behind and saw that the glowing eyes weren’t that close to me at all. I quickly realized that it had ensnared me with some kind of appendage. With his arm hurt, my brother couldn’t pull back, which left only one option. “Get help! Get out and get help, now!”

“What?! But it’ll–!”

“Go now! Run!” With that, I heard my brother’s crying grow fainter and fainter as he hurried to the end of the tunnel. The beast growled as it tugged on me again, pulling me closer to what would certainly be my demise. I desperately felt around for anything to grab onto or use as a weapon, to no avail. I tried to grip the edge of the walkway and pull myself free, my mind overrun with thoughts of my family, the memories of that park, and the child with whom I was about to share a final resting place…

Then, the creature’s growling became a dry hiss, croaky and shallow like that of its smaller counterpart. Its tugging was more frequent, but not quite as strong. It wasn’t clear to me then, but I now believe that it was losing its breath. In one last attempt to escape, I kicked at my right leg with my left, trying to hit the spot where its extra set of jaws had latched on. Again, and again, and again I kicked with all the strength I could muster. Finally, unable to last above the surface any longer, the creature released my leg and leapt into the water. I watched the fiery glow of its eyes fade as it swam back into the depths of the Old Mill. Fearing that it would return, I didn’t waste any time trying to get away. As I crawled toward the light of the last set, battered and bleeding, all the trauma I had endured suddenly caught up with me. My head throbbed violently and my arms grew weak, the whole world melting into a bleary mess before my eyes. The last I recall of this nightmarish memory is the glint of a flashlight, the garbled voices of Playland staff members, and the last animatronic gnome shouting, “I warned ya! I warned ya!

I awoke the next day in a hospital bed. My dear younger brother was in the bed next to mine, still asleep. I would learn later that day that he had stumbled out of the ride pale and hysterical, screaming over and over that there was a monster in the ride and that I was going to die. God in heaven…Our little thrill-seeker got so, so much more than what he bargained for. We all did. The authorities later concluded that we had been attacked by wild dogs that had somehow found their way into the ride. What other explanation could they give? There haven’t been any incidents like this since then, so I can only assume the real culprits no longer reside in the Old Mill. Only God knows what they were or where they are now. Those soulless, incandescent eyes continue to haunt me, and perhaps they always will. Even more haunting, though, are the terrified cries of my brother. It brings me to tears to think what could have happened if I had let him get on that ride alone.

Credit To – ClockworkCreeper

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Ordinary Nights

September 16, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Dusk will find me in fits.

A pinching feeling of dread washes over me as my eyes sweep across this room. Soft, low lights etch out details of a crew of sweet stuffed animals entrusted with the task of keeping watch over me as I sleep. The purity and nostalgia they represent are to serve as comfort so that I can drift away into slumber nary a care.

My gaze then shifts beyond my bed and toward my bedroom door that is open wide, inviting the lamplight from the living room as well. I have done all that I know how to incorporate as much soothing light to illuminate the very dark corners that could harbor secrets in this heavy, black night air. If I bring everything that could be hidden to to the light, then there will be no occasion for surprise, and I will surely be safe.

And I know, I know this to be true. I know I am safe, that nothing I fear is reality. There isn’t such hogwash as the Bogeyman, and truly young adults should no longer fear such ridiculous fables. The things that go bump in the night are nothing more than a collection of what children fear the most. I am not a child. By that logic, I am showing myself to be oh so very pathetic. I pay rent here. I own this room.

I didn’t invite anyone else to stay the night. Therefore, I know that I am alone. I am safe. I am safe, and now I choose to close my eyes and go to sleep. When I wake up, I shall roll out of bed and carry out a brand new day whilst feeling the sting of quiet humiliation as sunlight replaces the need for night lights and outshines the wimpy light that these 60 watt bulbs give off.

Just as last night, and the night before…

But all I am doing this to keep her away from me always. And I have done all I can do. So by the time I am done saying good night to each member of my plush army I will be sound asleep….

…my eyelids flutter open and my chest dips as if it had caved in. I cannot inhale as easily as I could upon achieving slumber. My mind fumbles groggily, spinning out of urgency; out of panic.

“Get up!” I try to whisper. I hope to rouse myself into action, calming myself and settling into a new position, for I am sure that I am simply recovering from a nightmare…

But my body continues to lie still, and my voice lurks trapped still within my throat.

“Get Up!” I attempt to plea. I cannot turn my head. My shoulders are pinned heavily to this mattress. I am wide awake, my heart quickens itself readying to flee in search of safety. I can see my bedroom door, still open. The door has not moved at all and nothing has been touched. I know the effort to be futile, so I attempt to shut my eyes and wait for this nightmare to pass. Because that’s what is happening. It’s just my mind playing tricks, and nothing more than that.

I shut my eyes in search of calm and rest; but alas, they cannot be found.

I cannot breathe.

My heart is rallying against its confinement in this ribcage. I am certain that my chest wall may explode from all the pressure. I can feel the weight bear down further and further still, mocking me. She rests gleefully in her folklore, but I am very familiar with her presence. The hag comes to visit at the worst of times; an unwelcome acquaintance sharing my bed and stealing precious moments where I could be sleeping if I weren’t fighting for control of my mind while silently begging for freedom to move about on my own free will.

I desperately attempt to move the right side of my hip or force my right shoulder to rise as the weight intensifies. I blink as hot tears of agony stream steadily down the corners of my eyes. Shadows dance in the corners — a taunting marionette — where the light cannot tread.

I hear steady breathing against my own shallow gasps. I become dizzy and the room begins to twirl…

…Did my sheets just hiss?

My body is frozen, stiff, and it is no longer mine.

The hag has settled in to pay me a visit again. This sickening void of terror and isolation is the gift that she comes bearing, for no one will ever be able to grasp what I am going through. Most people cannot and will not ever believe that something so strange can ever truly happen.

The back of my skull digs further into to pillow and my neck constricts to that my belabored breathing becomes even more difficult. I try desperately to let out even just one sound. A single sound can then lead the way for the smallest of movement. If one or the other can be achieved, then I can free myself from the spell and I can then return to safety.

The clock records what an onlooker would judge only to be a young woman fast asleep in her bed. The rhythm taps out the minutes that slide away from me as Nothing happens.

Nothing has eyes all on me as the hag lets her chin rest atop mine like a jilted lover who has come to visit in the shadows the night affords. We share the same breath, nose touching mine, eyes preying upon my deepest thoughts and ripping my soul to shreds. These tears are an offering unto her. Soon, if I am lucky, the salty liquid will dampen my hair and loose the bond that my head has entered pact with my bedsheets.

Upholding an agreement that the rest of me did not ever recall striking.
The hag shakily cups her hands gently behind my neck slithers upward, taking gentle hold of my head. Her hands offer no comfort that human contact would give. There is no reassurance in this all consuming grasp. These familiar eyes gazing into my own are a most hideous sight, as a child of Nothing cannot contain a soul. All warmth is gone as I peer into those blackened and vacant orbs — the birthplace of my nightmares. My body begins to fall completely numb, and a crooked, unnatural, other worldly grin spreads deliberately across the hag’s face just as all other times before.

If I only understood what she wanted…
I would give her absolutely anything if it meant she would never come and visit me again.

She curls her feet underneath her pelvis, pushing down on my stomach and causing my diaphragm to constrict. All hope fades away. Those listless, ravenous eyes recognize something in mine, something they desperately long for. Her pitted and rotting cheeks moving closer to mine, my nose fills with the stench of musty Earth and decaying flesh. Head tilting and neck cracking in twisting and jerking motions, lacking the fluidity of those of the Land of the Living, she attempts — my deepest horrors realized right then — to hold onto me in search of what she so greedily seeks.

One simple kiss, solidifying my exit from this life and sinking instead to the oddly tempting promise of Nothing…

One simple night in which Nothing can belong with Someone.

Frenetically I keep demanding — over and over — of my right shoulder to buck her off of my torso, push her away, break her captivating embrace — her hypnotizing, awful intent. Such inhuman strength — an eerily tantalizing thought of just giving up and agreeing to stay, because why keep fighting? — could suggest that I will never be free so long as this oppressive darkness ensues.

But this has happened in times passed, and I know if I just want it badly enough I can end what is sure to happen.

Suddenly space and time rip apart from each other. Flashes of light strike and fill my vision, and the powerful force behind it quakes — consuming my entire body. The shriek that had been held back for now several hours finally releases itself.

All that exists is that silent scream, now given its brief chance to speak. The only thing that can be heard is weak and shrill…but it is just enough to bring me back from the throne room to Nowhere and slam me back into my own bed.

My right shoulder moves ever so slightly from its position, and I escape from under this weight. The hag will not have me tonight.

4:37 A.M. and I am free.

I shudder as I wail. These nights occur often and without mercy. I cast a glance at my little army of teddy bears and other stuffed animals. I lean against them as my eyes continue relentlessly leaking. My body is wracked with sobs as I know there exists not a single person who can help me. There is not a person, pill, or potion in this world who can make all of the nights filled with fear of never returning from Nowhere end.

All who can know of the confusion, terror, and wonder of what happens is no one at all.

*The phenomena that causes these sensations and visualizations is called sleep paralysis, a commonly misunderstood event that mainly occurs at least once in a person’s life. However, due to my own neurological complications, I experience sleep paralysis very frequently and may go months having Ordinary Nights such as this, and often times opt to choose not to sleep at all, which has induced atypical psychosis from sleep deprivation in the past. There is no treatment for this or any form of sleep paralysis. The experience detailed uses descriptive language for interest. The account itself is 100% authentic.

Credit To – Danielle Nicole

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Backyard Zombie

September 15, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Gruesome University Presents: Backyard Zombie

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

Additionally, for the sake of impatient types and/or those who find long credits unnecessary because they read quickly: the opening credits last until about the four minute mark. While I’m not trying to tell you guys to ignore the credits, I just don’t want people to miss out on the actual story because they got bored and closed the window during the prolonged credit sequence.

Credit To – Truby Chiaviello

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Taps

September 14, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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As a child, I had always thought I knew what true fear was. The fear of something hiding under your bed, or in your closet. Hell, I thought clowns were the scariest shit there was. Of course, I hadn’t known the feeling of real fear; hadn’t experienced it, until I was twelve.
They say people are most afraid of the unknown, of things they can’t quite explain, things they can’t see. Unexplainable sounds in the dark, paranoid thoughts of monsters creeping in the unoccupied spots of their bedroom. These are the things that people are most afraid of, so they say. This wasn’t exactly true for my case. Sure, sounds in the darkness were a factor, but I knew the source behind the sounds. Oh, I knew. And the knowledge of the source drove terror into me, like a mallet rhythmically driving a nail into me, over and over and over.
I don’t know how it started. It was as if a switch was flipped in her and suddenly she became an uncontrollable marionette (oh, the irony). My father tried to stop her, but she persisted and he eventually gave up trying. I suggested that he call the police, or tell the neighbours, but he dismissed twelve year-old me, and told me he didn’t trust “those corrupt government lackeys” and sure as hell didn’t want the neighbours finding out. They’d have immediately called “that wretched three number hotline”. Besides, he told me, she isn’t harming either of us. I had hoped it would stay that way. She sure didn’t seem like my mom anymore, and I told him so. He yelled at me and scolded me, calling me foolish. I wanted to shout back at him, telling him he has no idea how scared I am every night, hearing her, but I didn’t.

Mother was fine in the morning and for most of the afternoon as well. Although she was always in bed, occasionally sitting up just to stare at the blank wall a few feet past the foot of her bed, she seemed as fine as her condition would deem it. Father was at work. He usually works until two in the morning or so. When my mother first started acting weird, he was afraid to leave me alone, so he took a few days off from work. He didn’t dare hire a babysitter, he trusted those people just as much as he trusted the government. After a few days, he figured it was safe enough to leave me at home, alone with her, and resumed leaving for work every morning. Take care of your mother, he would always tell me before he left. I simply nodded, when in reality, instead of taking care of her, I hid from her. But for the most part, she was fine until evening.
It was only at night, when I’m huddled under the covers in my bedroom, that she begins acting up. That’s when the noises start. I would hear her get out of bed in my parent’s bedroom, and hear her crawl across the hall, making her way to my bedroom. After the first night, I always remembered to keep my door locked. She would crawl; I would hear her crawl, all the way to the front of my bedroom door.
And then the tapping began.
They were just light taps, like how a student would knock at the door of the principal’s office. But the taps, they went on for some time. Just a constant steady tap. I remember clamping my eyes shut, trying to ignore it and go to sleep, and after almost an hour of tapping. It stopped, and I slowly opened my eyes. That’s when I realized the door wasn’t locked, and there she was, at the foot of my bed, just standing there. Staring at me. The fear I felt was real. And it sure wasn’t caused by the unknown. My eyes were open, looking at my own mother (that was merely a label at this point) stare at me. There was something unnatural about her eyes; I think it was her pupils. They were dilated to the point of being dots. Just little black dots.
There she was, just staring at me, not doing anything else. She didn’t hurt me. She just stood there. But there was something terrifying about it. Maybe it was her eyes. Maybe it did have something to do with the unknown. Not knowing what she would do next. Not knowing if she would spring at me, and attack. But nothing had happened. My father eventually came home from work and was greeted with the sight of his wife (only a label now), and his son, covered in sweat and fear.

The days following that incident, I had always kept my door locked. I double-check the lock even to this day. Of course, that didn’t stop the tapping sounds. Sometimes I swear they weren’t even coming from outside my door. Sometimes it felt like they were coming from the window, or the closet, or even under my damn bed. Fear of the unknown, that’s always how it is, one way or another, I suppose.
That was when I had my first encounter with true fear, at the age of twelve. Every day after that, the door was always locked. Eventually my mother passed away (cardiac arrest right outside my bedroom, my father opted to bury her in the backyard, can’t go trusting those morticians now), and I moved out. I tried to convince my father to live with me, but he refuses to let go of our old house; he was always a stubborn man.

Life has gotten much better for me since. I landed a high-paying job at a law firm, and next week I have a date with this beaut of a woman I met a few days back.
But, every single night before I fall asleep, as I lay under a new set of covers I bought, I could almost swear.
I swear I could still hear the tapping noises.

Credit To – Kevin Liu

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