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Hymn of Valor Cove

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your soldiers can take our warm skin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You mean were basically prisoners to these creatures?”

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

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

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

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

Credit To – Andrew Eden-Balfour

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What Was Underneath

November 15, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Salem, Massachusetts; Police Department – Public Records

CASE: Jason Duluth, Resident of Salem, Suspected victim of occult murder
STATUS: Case Closed
RULING: Accidental death due to rotted floorboards and delusions. No foul play involved.

SUMMARY OF EVIDENCE: Victim’s body. Crime scene and related evidence. Six (6) handwritten pages by victim dated just prior to death. Typed narrative by victim, publicly released by Chief of Police. Narrative is transcribed below.

“Well, Mr. Duluth, you should have your whole bathroom gutted, I’d say,” said the plumber. “But, that’s not my job.”
The plumber hiked up his pants as he stood. He had been peering at the pipes in my bathroom, and thought everything looked fine. Which was weird, because that didn’t help explain my water problem at all.
I paid him his fee, and he left, having been a waste of time and money. Well, except for suggesting I have my entire bathroom redone. That wasn’t a waste; that could prove to be useful advice later. It has been three days since the problems in my bathroom had started.
Three days ago, I was cleaning out my shower when I noticed that some of the tiles on the wall had cracked. I knew my house was old, but I thought the bathroom had been a fairly new renovation. According to my realtor, there was no reason for anything to be broken or old, at least in the bathroom. And yet, here I was, and my whole shower was literally rotting.
My shower has a shelf that is positioned about stomach height, and goes down to the floor. It’s more like a niche or an indent in the wall than a shelf, but it works just as well, and that was where I set my shampoo and soap and whatnot. That was where I had noticed the tiled wall cracking.
I had cleaned away some of the broken tiles, and found that the wooden shelf that supported the tiles was itself rotting. After some more exploration, I found out soon after that my bathroom’s framework was entirely made of wood, and it was all rotting. Especially the shelf.
That same day I tore the wooden the shelf away to see what wAs underneath. Beneath it I found, to my surprise, that there was a large, hollow space inside the walls of my bathroom, like a secret passageway. I poked a flashlight inside and looked around, but saw nothing more than insulation and more rotten wood; exactly what I expected to find in what I thought was a crawlspace. There was, however, something that caught my eye just inside the shelf. Right at the top, near where I had broken the board off, strange symbols were carved into the wood. They were fading with the rot, and most of them just looked like carved smudges, but a few stood out as being surprisingly well preserved.
I checked the board I had ripped out of the shelf and found that the underside, the part facing the empty area in the wall, also had these same syMbols. It occurred to me again that the bathroom had indeed been a recent addition to the house, but how long had this crawl space in the wall been there? I would have to ask the people I was renting it from, I thought to myself.
That was when the water troubles started. The same evening as when I pulled the old boards up, the water from the tap in the bathroom began to run brown with rust. At least, I assumed it was rust. I wondered if perhaps I had knocked a pipe or something during my explorations, but the visit from the plumber a couple days later showed these beliefs to be unfounded. And now here I was.
I wasn’t sure what to do now. All the problems were confined to my bathroom, which, unfortunately, had the only toilet in the house. I could still drink water and wash my hands in the kitchen sink, which wasn’t having any problems, but any attempt to shower proved futile, as the water still ran brown and stank of… something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. It wasn’t quite an iron smell, though that was there, too, but smelled more of… old. Rot.
Sometimes the toilet wouldn’t flush, either. Or it would get backed up for no reason. I had the plumber check that out, too, but he said there was nothing blocking it. Calling the local utility service didn’t do any help, either, as they had received no complaints about rusty water or stopped toilets, other than my own. They suggested I call a plumber, which of course I had already tried.
Things got worse, though. Sometimes I would get this awful stench rising up from the hole in the wall I had busted open. One of my friends, when I told him about the crawl space, suggested I stick a fan and a light inside of the space to dry it out, clear out any mold. That same friend, when confronted with the stench, said I should take bleach and spray it around inside. So I did.
That only made the smell worse, though. It wafted up, through the shower, despite the multiple fans I had inside of it. It got so bad that occasionally I had to leave my house entirely. It was the stink of something DEAD decaying, almost. But so much worse. The bleach did nothing.
I suspected that there might have been a raccoon trapped in the wall at some point, and it had died there, but another check by flashlight proved nothing of the sort; at least, nothing I could see. I did, however, find more symBols carved into the wall. I hadn’t noticed them before.
Two days later, a total of five days after I opened the wall, I began to think the smell was making me hallucinate. Sometimes, when I was looking in the mirror to comb my hair or brush my teeth, I would see something move out of the corner of my eye. Or there would be something off about my reflection that I couldn’t quite place. My eyes were too dark, or a freckle was in a different spot. One time I could have sworn I saw something dark, like a gas, coming out of the hole in the shower (which I hadn’t closed yet), but when I turned to face it, there was nothing. But the most real hallucination, though, was the thumping. I heard it sometimes, coming from beneath my feet. It was as if someone was stuck below me, trying to get out, banging on my bathroom floor. It shook me up a little bit, and I tried to stay out of my bathroom. But, having only one, I had to go back occasionally.
At that point, though, I had been a good five days without a shower, and my friends agreed to let me use theirs. They even talked me in to calling a renovation company to check out my bathroom. When I called the company, they said they’d look at it and give me an estimate on what it would cost to completely rebuild it. And of course, I let the plumber know he might need to install some pipes for me.
I was in my kitchen during most of the estimation process. At one point, though, the workers called me in to show me something. They had accidentally knocked a chunk out of the wall because it had been so rotted, but it wasn’t the rot that frightened them. They showed me the piece of wood they broke, and I saw, to my horror, that the backside was entirely covered in the same symboLs as the inside of the bathroom shelf. They left soon after that. One of the workers said there wasn’t a price I could pay to make him tear down the walls all the way. He said he was scared by wHAt was unDernEATH, whatever that was supposed to mean.
I wasn’t sure what to do after that. I called the people I was renting from, and they told me that they’d lower my cost until I got the bathroom fixed. It was an enticing deal, but I got the feeling that the bathroom would take a long time to fix, unless I did it myself, and I couldn’t do that to the people who were so nice to offer such a discount to me. So, I decided to do just that, and began fixing the bathroom myself.
I started by taking a sledgehammer to the walls, and knocked a huge chunk out of it. I needed to see what, exactly, was in there. There had to be something.
I finally put a hole in the wall that was big enough for me to crawl through, and I stepped inside the crawlspace. With my flashlight, I took a look around. The empty space wrapped all around my bathroom, and even went behind some of my other rooms, like a border to my house. It was surprisingly spacious, but it stunk of rotted wood and… something else. The stench of dEcay was there, strong as ever, but there was more to it than that. There was a chemical, salty smell, too. Sulfur, maybe?
I shot my flashlight around, looking at the walls of the craawl space, and noticed there were more symbosl, hundreds of them, lining the walls and floor on all sides. Many of them had been erased by rot ROT at this point, but they were there. I also suddenly realized what the workers might have meant by “What was IS undERn3ath.” The wooden boards that made up the floor of the crawlspace were a good foot or so below the floor level of the bathroom, meaning that my house was set above something else. And there was sometimes a gap in the wall, between some floorboards, that led to another empty space beneath the bathroom. Almost like a basement. But I didn’t have a basement DO TOO.
I got out of there as quickly as I could, stopping only once in the bathroom to look in the mirror. And what I saw terrrrified me.
In the mirror was a reflection of me, but it wasn’t me. The hair was too long, too greasy to be mine. My face was cut up and bruised BLACK AND BLUE. My eyes were sunken and glazed, and my arm was slashed in multiple places. I looked like a walking corpse YES in the reflection. But what was worse was the reflection of the hole in the bathroom wall.
The hole in the reflection was much, much darker than in real life, and if I looked hard enough, I thought I could see something standing in the shadows. It looked like a man, but he was so covered in shADows that I couldn’t make out any feetures besides his silhouette. Except his eyes. They were a bright crimson, but empty-looking. There was a hunger in them I didn’t like. He opened his mouth, then, and bared his teeth at me. They were long and sharp, like a vampire’s, and r3d with blood. My blood, YES I somehow knew. I got out of there as fast as I could.
I ran from my house, outside, and was surprised to see how dark it had gotten. The sun had been high in the sky when I entered the space between the walls. Now, it was beginning to set. Darkness would descend soon, and I didn’t want to be anywhere in my house when it did.
I ran, unthinking, not knowing where to go. I decided that maybe it was high time to look into what those symbOls were. It was time to go to the library, I figured. Maybe there would be something there about my house, too.
The streets were empty on the way to the library, and there was no one in the library, either ALONE. I could hear someone talking on a phone in the back, but that was it. I ran to the cultural section of the nonfiction books, thinking maybe the sYMbols were some sort of pagan practice or something.
It took me a while, but I finally found some of the SymbolS in a book about classic witchcraft and hoodoo. The smylobs depicted in the book were much crisper than that of the crawlspace walls, but they were fundamentally the same. That was when I figured out just what they were used for. They were protection charms.
It didn’t take long for me a get a grasp of what that meant. Reading further into it, I found that for hundreds of years, CHARMS symBOLs like the ones I had fouNd were used for keeping away or locking in evil spirits and monsters. And the more that were used, the more powerful the creature was supposed to be. And they all had to be perfect UNBROKEN, too, or the monster could escape… THE BINDS
Seven days ago (was it really that long? I couldn’t be sure), I had torn up a piece of wood that had been inexplicably rotten. It had sYMBols on it, symBOLs that I now knew were meant to lock something in. I had broken the chain. I had let something out. But that’s ridiculous, right?
It was impossible, I concluded! Monsters don’t exist, ghosts don’t exist, demons certainly don’t exist. And why would something be under my bathroom, of all places? It hadn’t always been a bathroom, though. But, still, I had seen it. The water, the smells, the distorted reflection, the bumping, the thing in the shadows YES YES YES. And the renovators had seen it, too. Or heard it. But the question remained, WHat was uNDerneath YES WHAT? I needed to know, and yet, I wanted to be as far away from it as possible.
I walked towards the library desk, hoping to ask someone about finding house records or records of strange events. The librarian loOKed up as I walked over, and she screamed.
“What? What’s wrong?” EVERYTHING I asked, trying to see my reflection in some glass behind her. The librarian moved backwards, edging towards her phone in the back room.
“Sir, your face. I need to call help for you. You’re… You’re all beaten up,” she responded, terrified SCARED STIFF. Responding to my blank look of confusion, she handed me a pocket mirror. I looked into it. I gasped when I saw what I looked like.
My face was exactly as it had looked in the mirror at home, horrible disfigured. In the mirror, my arms were sTill scratched up. But, lo0king at them without the miror, just looking, I couldn’t see a thing. I felt no pain that would go with the cuts and bruises I had sustained. But then came the kicker for dread… In the mirror, over my sHOulder, I could see the silhouette of a man, completely covered in shadows, save for his eyes and teeth. I dropped the mirror and spun around, fully realizing that nothing would be there. Of course, nothing was SOMETHING WAS.
I had lost time DID YOU. What had happened in those hours I had somehow spent in the wall? It had felt like minutes when I was there. But, nonetheless LESSTHENONE, I had lost time. And I was covered in scars that only others could see OR COULD YOU SEE THEM. I wasn’t sure what to do.
I ran home, hoping to find something in the walls to put an end to this YOU DID. When I got to the b=BAThroom, I looked in the mirror REFLECT YOURSELF, again seeing the silhouette in the shadows, watching me ALWAYS WATCHING. This time, there was a new bruise in my reflection. A bruise around my neck, like a noose. HANGMEN I turned around away from the mirror, and seeing no silhouette, I climbed into the wall, picking up the sledgehammer I dropped earlier. It was time to see what WHAT was WAS underneath UNDERNEATH. I climbed back out into my bATHroom
It wasn’t long before I broke through the floorboards and rotted wood, working my way into the space beneath my bathroom, smashing down through the floor. It was dark, and my flashlight flickered unpredictably as I first looked inside. It was a small space, smaller than I imagined, SAW but had an ominous feeling, like a great weight of DEAD dread was on my chest. I karefully dropped down into the small space, knowing it would be difficult to get out again. I looked around RED EYES.
There were no symbols MYBOLSS on the walls here, but, as I looked at the floor, DIRT FLOOR there was one, massive symbol DAMN PAGANS scrawled on the ground. I looked around, and noticed there was absolutely nothing elllllllse. No decaying body, no silhouette, nothing. It was dark SO DARK all around, and I looked up, into my btahroom. I had broken through the floor WHAT WAS UNDERNEATH, and the light above me faltered ominously. I thought for a second I saw the silhouette, IT WAS THERE smiling above me in the bathroom, but it was gone. What was I going to do now? WHERE WAS IT
I grabbed the leeeedge that was just above me, pulled myself up, into the bathroom. I looked around, eyeing the hole in the wall. Perhaps I really had been crazy the whole time, or there had been some sort of hallucinogenic gas in the space that I accidentally released. But, I looked in the mirror, and my face was HORRIBLE HORRIBLE normal. My chaotic experience was over. And it was dawn. DARKNESS OF NIGHT
How had I lost so much time, though? TIME IS RELATIVE When I went back to see the librarian later, sehe KNOWLEDGE CAN KILL claimed I had scratches, but there were none. YOU DIDN’T SEE HER Why were the symb0ls there, or were they there at all? Was I hallucinating? Was she hallucinating? What was that stench? Soo0o many questions unanswered, but I would hopefully put this all behind me now. I glanced in the mirror one more time, smiling TEETH LIKE DAGGERS to myself. Everything would be just fine. …—…
EVERYTHING DETERIORATES
EVERYTHING DECAYS
NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO N N N N N ——-………………………… 3VeryTTTHinGGG W0ulD bE ju5T FFIne …—… …—…
EVERYTHING
ROTS

[END OF TRANSCRIBED EVIDENCE]

POST-CASE REPORT: Filed by Chief of Police
They found the body two days after his death. The search began when he hadn’t shown up for work two days in a row and his boss complained. Jason Duluth had fallen into a crawlspace beneath his bathroom and suffered a broken neck, killing him instantly. We were quick to dismiss the case, saying that the strange symbols around the bathroom had nothing to do with the accidental death of Mr. Duluth. There was nothing occult about his death, not even the enormous symbol placed directly in the middle of the space Jason had fallen in to. I personally went into the crawlspace, something only I and Jason have done. It seemed completely normal, disregarding the symbols.
The official cause of death, as filed in the local court system by myself, was accidental death due to rotten floorboards and delusions. The doctors blamed some sort of paranoia or schizophrenia when Jason told his friends about strange bathroom troubles and seeing things in the mirror. His friends encouraged him to get help, but he never had the chance, even with the various companies he called to renovate the bathroom.
A few days before he died, he apparently would have bouts of insanity, huddling in his house and screaming at nothing. He would cut his arms and bang his head against the wall. He once attempted to hang himself, but the rope broke. When he was lucid, it seemed he tried to actively figure out what was in his house. Ultimately, of course, what was underneath turned out to be rotten floorboards.
Exploring the house, we found a letter written by Jason, showing strong signs of delusions and mental illness. It was written a day before he died. There was a lot about death hiding in the shadows of his crawlspace in the walls and below him, waiting. There was a lot about things seen in the mirror, and how he had to defend himself. He showed signs of having hallucinated strongly, even when he was lucid (if you want to call it that). He also wrote the above story on his computer before he died.
Though the events as he tells them do not directly correlate with the actual events leading up to his demise, there is some truth in what he says. The chaos of his final days is well reflected in the narrative he wrote, but there is one major difference. Jason never made it out of the space below his bathroom. His body was found there, sprawled on the ground, with pieces of the floor scattered around. He never broke through the floor with a sledgehammer. He tripped and fell, splintering the weakened floorboards, falling into what was underneath.
His visit to the library was the last reported sighting of him lucid before he died. The librarian said he was covered in cuts and bruises, and his eyes had a glazed look to them. She neglected to call the police after he left, assuming he went to a hospital. She claimed he was mostly rational.
Much about his final days is not known, or when or how he wrote the story above. There is one catch, though, that makes this otherwise depressing story of a man gone insane, possibly by gas poisoning, more interesting. When the librarian got her mirror back, a symbol was scratched into it. A symbol exactly like the one that Jason fell into, beneath his floor. The librarian also mentioned occasionally seeing a shadow with scarlet eyes and red teeth in the mirror Jason held, but she told us it disappeared after a while. She hasn’t called since. It is suspected Jason had some connection with the symbol in the mirror, possibly scratching it in while he had the mirror in his possession.
Even with all of this, something nags at my mind. The renovators that Jason called filed only one sentence about the house in their reports. “We cannot know what was underneath.” There is something about this cryptic sentence that bothers me. Is it impossible for us to know what was underneath, because we cannot grasp it, or because if we knew, it would destroy us? As in, opening it at all would release something…? How much of Jason’s tale is truth? What really happened in those days? No, I must be day-dreaming. That basement was filled to the brim with mind-altering gasses. These questions are preposterous.
Ah, anyway, it is a terrible story of a collectively shared, gas-induced delusion. But something still remains. Of the hundreds of thousands of symbols carved into the wall, some were broken, and, if it were a chain, this means the chain itself was broken. It would release something, then… Something that is now among us. What is -was- underneath, would no longer be underneath. It would be free. But that is, of course, ridiculous. The gas and this bizarre case are getting to me.
My condolences go out to the family and friends of Jason Duluth.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to call a plumber. There’s something wrong with my pipes.

Credit To – Andrew Sova

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Clouds

November 14, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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I suppose I should start with the basics. My name is Taylor Sant, I’m English of Cameroonian descent, aged 32, and I’ve been mining helium for the Hummingbird Corporation since I left college 16 years ago. My work is pretty exciting on one level – lots of space travel, and the helium platforms are often in some truly epic locations: they’re always positioned just within orbit of the chosen gas giant, and there are usually some incredible views. That’s not to say they’re all great, mind you – I did my apprenticeship on a platform over Jupiter, and between the dull brown clouds and the frequent ion storms it was pretty shit.
The work itself you’ll probably find uninteresting, though. I’m a in maintenance – it’s my job to fix anything that breaks, basically. It can be dangerous, but with health and safety these days that’s rare. There were normally only ever one or two accidental deaths on mining platforms per year, and that’s across the entire of human space.
Anyway, now you know me, here’s the story of why I’ve given up helium mining – and space altogether, really. I never plan to leave Earth again. But anyway, here it is.
Here’s the story of just what happened over Benten.

I was pretty excited when I first heard that was where I was being transferred to. Benten had only been discovered two years previously, and Hummingbird had immediately bought the property rights for the northwest quadrant, and built three top-of-the-range platforms over it. That was great news: the latest model was a marvel of modern engineering, really – comfortable, safe, and it looked awesome – much better all-round than the floating hunks of junk I’d nearly spent half my life on. The planet had a nice name, too – Benten is a Japanese goddess of fortune. The names don’t normally mean much unless you’re superstitious – I spent six months over one called Tartarus, and it was totally fine – but you still sort of feel more optimistic about the ones named after nice things.
And actually, it was all pretty great. I’d been appointed Maintenance Chief, so I got a pay bump. The 24 other crewmembers were fine, the foreman, this big Sikh called Singh, was a real nice guy, the quarters were comfortable, and the view was incredible. I can still say without a doubt that the vista from the landing platform was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. The gases were a beautiful pearlescent white, and when one of the other new arrivals said something about how it must be what heaven looks like, I was inclined to agree. I took a photo to show to my wife. I’ve deleted it since.

The new platform was absolutely fantastic – I was used to ones that broke down twice a day, but here I was only needed once or twice a week for anything major. I spent the rest of my time relaxing – an unexpected luxury – or repairing more minor things. One of the main problems on other platforms was the lack of working appliances – the maintenance teams had to spend so much time fixing the platform itself they couldn’t handle every broken dishwasher or entertainment terminal. The first couple of weeks, I was only saddened by the knowledge I’d eventually be transferred away.
Then there was the first suicide.

I was relaxing in my quarters when the machinery all stopped. Immediately I was running for the control room, because there are only two scenarios where all the extractors are switched off – a fatality, or the thing I was more worried about: catastrophic system failure. If the latter had happened, the whole platform was going down with all hands. There would be no time for repairs, or escape. That had never happened before, but that didn’t mean it couldn’t.
This is why I must confess to being slightly relieved when Singh told me that a man had fallen. Apparently Haaning, one of the miners I’d never really spoken to, had been heading along the gantry toward Extractor 03 when he’d just… fallen off. This felt fishy – the gantries all have railings on both sides, and are pretty bloody wide anyway. It was hard to imagine exactly what Haaning could have been doing to go over the side… unless, of course, it was intentional.
Singh asked around, and apparently Haaning’s wife had left him quite recently. The men still seemed pretty surprised, though – he had a reputation as being pretty tough. Still, suicide seemed the most likely explanation.
There was an air of sadness about the place for a while after that, as you’d expect, but it didn’t last too long. There was one small incident that spooked me a little in the days following Haaning’s death. Me and Ken de Groot, this young Dutch lad on his apprenticeship, as I’d once been over Jupiter, were suspended in harnesses over the side of Extractor 02, unjamming a cooling fan. It’s quite scary going out on the harnesses the first few times – after all, you’re dangling over an unimaginably huge drop – so Ken was pretty nervous. No need to be, normally – it’s really safe when you’re somewhere calm, and you couldn’t get more tranquil than Benten. I was just finishing up, when suddenly there was this weird noise. It was like this huge, mournful wail – incredibly deep, and faintly chilling.
‘What was that?’ Ken whispered, before calming himself. ‘Just the machines or something. Sorry.’
‘No,’ I said, looking down. ‘It came from beneath us…’
Ken looked at me, and then looked down as well. Suddenly, the seas of mist didn’t seem so nice. We hurried the rest of the job, and quickly got out of there.

After getting over the initial creepiness, Ken was pretty excited by the noise, and told anyone he could about it.
Most told him he was being silly, and it was just machinery. A couple wondered aloud if there could be something down there. One reaction particularly surprised me, though. Me and Ken were fixing the coffee machine in one of the observation lounges, and we noticed a miner, Borach, had been standing at the window and looking out at the mist the entire time we’d been working. When we’d finished up we went over and joined him, and Ken mentioned we once heard something in the clouds. Borach turned to him.
‘Yeah,’ he said. ‘There’s something down there, man.’
‘What do you mean?’ I asked.
‘I can feel it sometimes. There’s something down there. I think I caught a glimpse of it once.’
‘What is it?’ Ken asked.
‘How should I know? But it’s there. Down there.’

A week later I was rebooting one of the control room computers – some idiot had managed to infect it with a virus while on a seedier corner of the internet late one night – when I noticed Singh and some of the other control staff gathering around the main console.
‘Who’s on station there?’ Singh was asking as I sauntered over.
‘Jonah,’ one of the other staff replied.
Singh jabbed the comm button. ‘Jonah? What’s going on down there? Jonah?’
‘What’s happening?’ I asked Prager, Singh’s right-hand man. He was a right twat, but a good friend of mine.
‘Core temperature’s rising on Extractor 01. Guy posted to the local coolant station isn’t responding.’
‘Who is it?’
‘Jonah something-or-other. I don’t know him too well.’
‘You want me to go take a look?’
‘…Yeah, someone ought to. Singh, Sant’s gonna go take a look.’
Singh gave a vague thumbs-up. ‘Shut everything off, see if Borach’s alright.’
‘Borach, that was it,’ said Prager. ‘Jonah Borach. Weird guy.’
I didn’t connect what was happening to the odd conversation Ken and I had had with Borach until after I’d hurried over and shut the extractor down, and saw the open door. The coolant control rooms are about the size of a crane cockpit, and dangle out over the edge of the platform. They’re designed with a door on either end, so that when the platform’s being constructed you can put the gantry leading to it on either side. This means that in most, one door leads onto the gantry – and the other leads to a 10,000 mile drop. It was the latter that was open.

Two suicides in such a short space of time was hugely unnerving – for obvious reasons – but at the same time rationally explainable. No-one knew much about Borach, so he could have been suffering depression. Maybe Haaning’s suicide just gave him the push he needed to take his own life. I’m sure I’d seen the idea of copycat suicide on a cop show or something, so that’s what I told myself. It was what Singh went for too, and the men accepted it. What other reason was there?
As a whole, the platform got over Borach’s death much quicker. He wasn’t as respected or liked as Haaning had been. Singh had given Prager, Doc Bargas (the platform physician), and myself the instruction to watch out for any odd behaviour.
I didn’t see any. That’s the weirdest thing. There was one particular event, a week or so after Borach’s death, that stuck in my mind. It was when I began to realise – to some degree – what was going on.
Me and some of the other maintenance guys had a game of poker in one of the lower observation decks. Me, Ken de Groot, Valya Proskurkin and Yunus Menderes – all men I’d gotten to know very well during my time there. They were good people, skilled technicians, nice enough guys. We were enjoying ourselves. We were happy.
And then Valya said: ‘You know, I saw something real weird when I was working on Extractor 01 the other day.’
‘Really?’ asked Ken. ‘What?’
‘I was in harness, doing the usual thing. Jammed fan, you know. And I fucking dropped my spanner – I hate it when that happens.’ We all nodded, sharing his feeling. It wasn’t just the irritation of having lost a tool. Whenever you dropped anything, you couldn’t help watching it fall. And that got you thinking about how high up you were. I’ll admit, I’ve had panic attacks over that in the past. Most men in my profession have. Anyway, Valya’s story:
‘Anyway, so I’m… so I’m watching it go down,’ he was saying. ‘And then…’ He breathed.
‘What, man?’ said Yunus. ‘Come on.’
‘Something moved. In the clouds. I saw something moving down there.’
Me and Ken looked at each other.
‘What was it?’ asked Yunus.
‘I don’t fucking know. But it looked pretty big. Moved like it was alive. You think something could live down there?’
‘I guess something could. But you’d think they’d have picked it up when they were surveying the planet.’
‘Yeah, you’d think. Maybe it was nothing.’
Neither me or Ken mentioned that Borach claimed to have seen something too. I can’t speak for Ken, but personally I just didn’t want to spook Valya. He seemed to think it was exciting, more than anything else. I am certain he was not thinking of killing himself any time soon.
And yet, the very next morning, he went out and – in full view of the control room – threw himself over the side.

‘So no-one has any bloody ideas?’ Singh shouted, pacing up and down in front of the platform’s remaining crew. He seemed angry, but I think he was scared. I was.
‘He didn’t seem depressed,’ I said. ‘He seemed the same as ever. I played poker with him last night.’
‘Yeah,’ agreed Yunus. ‘He even… I mean, when we were going back to our quarters, he mentioned something about how he couldn’t wait to get home. Why would he say that if he was going to… you know?’
Ken tapped my shoulder. He was too nervous to speak up about it himself.
‘There is something else, boss,’ I said. ‘I mean, it might be a stab in the dark, but…’
‘What?’
‘Before Borach killed himself, he mentioned to me and Ken that he’d thought he’d seen something… in the clouds.’
‘What do you mean?’ asked Prager.
‘He thought he’d seen something moving down there.’
‘I remember,’ said Doc Bargas suddenly. ‘He asked me if I thought something could be alive down there.’
‘And could something?’
‘In theory, yes, but it would have been picked up when they were surveying the planet.’
‘Right,’ said Singh. ‘And what you’re saying is, Proskurkin had seen something too?’
‘Yeah,’ said Yunus. ‘He did.’
‘… Right. Fuck.’
There was a silence.
‘Okay,’ Singh continued. ‘Has anyone else, uh… seen anything.’
Very slowly, a man at the back raised his hand. ‘I, uh, think I did.’
‘Okay, Nakao. Anyone else?’
No.
‘Right, you can all go. Doc, Prager, Sant and Nakao, I need to talk to you.’
We waited for everyone else to file out.
‘I think some of them were lying,’ Doc Bargas said. Singh’s face twitched.
‘You can understand why,’ I told the physician.
He grunted in agreement, and turned to Nakao. ‘Genjo, have you had any suicidal thoughts recently?’
‘No, Doc, I swear.’
‘How long ago did you see it, whatever it was?’
‘A couple days. I’m certain it was something, not just a trick of the light. I saw a solid form. And there was this noise. It was… I guess it was like whale-song.’
‘Huh,’ I said. ‘Me and Ken de Groot heard something like that a while ago.’
‘I think I’ve heard it too,’ said Prager. ‘I assumed it was just machinery.’
‘Well,’ said Bargas. ‘I have no idea what we should do. I don’t think we’ve got enough evidence for the company to accept there’s any danger. I’m not fully sure I accept it myself.’
There was a pause.
‘I guess we have to wait for something to happen.’

Doc Bargas placed Nakao on a suicide watch, which Nakao seemed thankful for. He definitely didn’t want to die.
The day after Singh addressed the crew, a miner jumped. It was Woods, one of the ones Bargas had thought were hiding having seen anything. After Woods’ death, two more miners approached Bargas and admitted to having lied the day before.
Two days after that, Singh disappeared.
It took a while for anyone to notice, everyone simply assuming he was somewhere else on the platform, but after a quick scan of the platform it was clear there was now only 20 living people on board, all of whom were crew, four crewmembers registered deceased, and one crewmember unaccounted for: Foreman Singh.

‘Okay,’ Prager said once I arrived in the control room the next day. Bargas couldn’t come because he was still watching over the other three to have seen the thing below. ‘I’ve contacted the company, and they’re going to send people to investigate. Until then, we have to keep working – they were damn hard to convince. Also, I’ve been looking at Singh’s logs. Here are the ones that stand out.’
He turned the monitor to me.

FOREMAN’S LOG – CYCLE 3E012, ORBIT 0003 – EARTHDATE 03/08/2368
Two deaths in such a short space of time. Fuck, that’ll look bad on my record. If they really were both suicides, though, I might just get away with it.
Everyone still slightly on edge. Told Bargas, Prager, Sant to keep eyes out for anyone else thinking of jumping.
Thought I saw something while I was inspecting Extractor 01. Something in clouds. Probably trick of light. Looked pretty solid though. Could something live down there?
Fan jam on E02, sorted. One broken key on E01 coolant terminal keyboard, not yet replaced.

‘That’s when he saw it,’ Prager said. ‘Here’s the one from yesterday evening.’

FOREMAN’S LOG – CYCLE 3E143, ORBIT 0003 – EARTHDATE 15/08/2368
No major incidents. Bargas says men on suicide watch are still normal. I feel fine. Company finally coming round – four suicides too many to not be suspicious. Sant’s theory disputed – they say they would’ve picked up any life forms ages ago. I agree.
Broken microwave in Lounge 04, sorted. It screams. Mariani dropped a screwdriver over the side, accepts liability for costs.

‘Seems normal,’ I said.
‘Yeah,’ Prager replied. ‘Except that.’ He tapped the screen, and I read the sentence he pointed at: It screams.
‘Oh,’ I said. ‘What the fuck does that mean?’
‘I don’t know. I don’t think I want to.’

The next morning, I was doing my exercises in my quarters when Doc Bargas ran in in a panic, his nose bloody.
He’d gone into the med-bay at about 5 AM, to wake up his three wards – they were all on an early-morning shift – and found one of them missing. The other two men didn’t realise he’d gone. Bargas was embarrassed when he told me this – he had cameras on their room, and should have noticed one of them get up in the night and go outside. But he hadn’t – Dahan had killed himself. He was still talking to the other two when something seemed to come over them. Before he knew what was happening they made a break for the exit. Nakao managed to make it, and went over the side as well. Bargas grabbed the other, Vilmos, who managed to punch him in the nose but was held down by two other miners who’d heard the commotion and sedated. As soon as he’d been restrained, Bargas had run to wake Prager and myself.
This was it – a chance to find out what was going on.

Prager had called the company again, and they’d agreed that seven suicides probably meant there was some external factor causing them, and that the platform would be temporarily shut down. The shuttle to evacuate the remaining men would arrive that evening. In the meantime, we were going to talk to Vilmos.
He was frantically struggling against his restraints when I got there. It was quite terrifying – he was clearly insane. I don’t think anyone in their right mind could show such ferocity.
‘We tried asking him stuff,’ one of the two miners with him said. ‘He won’t say anything.’
Bargas sedated him again, and the struggling stopped.
‘Vilmos,’ said Prager. ‘What’s going on?’
Vilmos didn’t respond.
‘Why do you want to kill yourself?’
Vilmos opened his mouth. ‘… I don’t.’
‘What? What do you mean?’
He didn’t respond. Prager shook his head.
‘Do you know who you are?’ asked Bargas.
‘Yes.’
‘What’s your name?’
‘Rajmund Vilmos.’
‘Where are we?’
‘Benten, we call it.’
‘What do you mean, ‘we call it’?’
‘Benten is not its name.’
‘What is its name?’
‘It hasn’t got one.’
‘… Okay.’ Bargas looked at me. Apparently it was my turn to try and get some sense out of him.
‘Alright, Vilmos,’ I said. ‘In his log, right before he jumped, Singh said something about it screaming. What…?’
‘It does!’ shouted Vilmos, interrupting me. ‘It screams!’
‘What screams?’
He looked at me, but did not answer.
‘What does it scream about?’
He didn’t answer.
‘Why do you want to kill yourself?’
‘I told you, I don’t.’
‘Well, how come you want to jump over the side then?’
Vilmos sighed. ‘How come you don’t?’

That was it. He stopped speaking altogether after that. I don’t know what happened to him – they put him in a separate compartment on the shuttle, and when Prager last emailed me he said he couldn’t find any information on a Rajmund Vilmos anywhere after that day. As the shuttle pulled away, I breathed a sigh of relief, and looked at the disappearing form of the platform. Without thinking, I looked down at the clouds. There was something moving down there.

I still don’t know what happened on Benten. Prager emails me a lot – him, Doc Bargas, Ken de Groot and one or two of the surviving miners are still trying to find out what happened there, but getting nowhere. Apparently every other platform on the planet was shut down about a year later, and Benten was declared a no-fly zone. I don’t know why. I don’t know what happened.
But that’s why I’m never going into space again. There are too many unknowns. Some people like that – I once did, back in the days when they were constantly discovering these new, incredible things: I remember the pictures of planets made of diamond, planets with seas of liquid metal, and other astonishing, unbelievable things. There was a real beauty to the universe, and that’s what people think of nowadays when they think of space travel.
But there are other things, the things that can’t be explained. There’s reportedly a system on the outer edge of Chinese space which no ship has ever returned from. There’s a planet in Orion’s Belt where the colony had to be abandoned after consistent reports of “whispering” in the night, and poltergeist-like occurrences. And then there’s a planet named Benten, where seven men jumped to their deaths after seeing something in the clouds.
These things terrify me more than you can imagine.

Credit To – George Sherlaw

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Camping with Black Eyed Kids

November 13, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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My encounter with black eyed kids. Please share. I’d like to know other people’s thoughts. Thank you.

First, a quick intro about myself.

I’m a 26 years old, male. I work at a small private college in Michigan. I’m a normal, average guy. I like hockey, HBO shows, kayaking, and hiking/camping. I have a girlfriend, love my dad and sister, and have a pet dog named Bear. While I keep an open mind, I don’t believe in ghosts, aliens, big-foot, and am not even too sure about God. The way I see it, if I haven’t encountered it first hand or seen documented, verifiable proof then I keep a healthy amount of skepticism. There is one thing I do believe in now that I never did before, hell I didn’t even know about it before – black freaking eye kids.

As I said earlier, I love(ed) to hike and camp. For reasons too introspective to get into fully here I just loved the solitude, peace, and serenity the outdoors provided me. My life is not overly stressful, chaotic, or dramatic, but every once in a while a man needs to get away from it all. Being alone in the wilderness gave me the opportunity to clear my head, be introspective, consider the facts of life. I loved the beauty of the natural world, and I try to appreciate the small and big things, from the smallest clover to the biggest mountain. Beauty is all around us. In a way, I think it’s my belief in beauty that has helped me cope as well as I have with what I’m about to share. In late August of 2010 I set out for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore located along Lake Michigan. I had schedule five days off of work, and I planned on making the most of it. Sleeping Bear is one of my favorite parks in lower Michigan. I know it to be a great place for some solitude, and having usually been abandoned by sun worshipers by mid August I knew I’d have most of the park to myself. So, I wasn’t surprised when I arrived the fist day, found my usually parking spot, a sand parking lot just yards from the lake, and didn’t see another person.

As I sat on the hood of my car, overlooking the beach and the lake, I remember breathing deeply and saying aloud “thank God for solitude.” I ate lunch, walked down the beach and put my bare feet into the water. Cold. Very cold. It didn’t matter to me though, because I didn’t come to swim. I came to hike, and to camp. I came to, as was my tradition, sit by a warm fire on a cool night, sipping on my flask of whiskey, enjoying the sounds of the forest. However, this peaceful tradition didn’t happen. The proper procedure when camping at a state or national park, if you’ve never been, is to check in at a ranger station. There you pay your fees, obtain your backcountry pass, if you’re going to be camping in the backcountry as I always do, and give the rangers your information: license plate number, make and model of your car, etc. After my quick stop off at the beach to eat my lunch, I headed to the nearby, a fifteen or so minute drive, and get my affairs in order.

The Platte River Ranger Station is manned until mid October, I think, so it was open and I didn’t have to travel to the main station a ½ hours drive north. I park in the station’s parking lot, and walk into the office. The ranger and I spoke for a little and he asks me for my license plate number. I knew he was going to ask, but I still forgot to write it down before I went in, so I walk back out toward my car, and I see two kids sitting at a bench just in front of where I’m parked. They weren’t there when I parked, and I didn’t notice them when I walked in to the station, but at this point in time I’m still on cloud nine. I’m happy to be on vacation, so I take no real notice. I walk to the back of my car, jot down the license plate number and walk back to office. I take care of business in the office and step out and walk to the connecting bathroom. The backcountry area I’m staying at, White Pine, has a pit-toilet, think port a john but just with a deep hole in the ground, but I’d like to use a real bathroom while I can. I go into the restroom and go into the empty stall.

As I’m taking care of my business, I hear the bathroom door open. I hear whispered voices. It’s a small bathroom, but I can’t make-out what the voices are saying. I can tell they’re kid’s voices though, and I figure it’s the kids I saw near my car earlier. No biggie, right? I finish up, and open the stall door. Sure enough, there are the two kids standing outside the stall. I remember saying, “it’s all yours.” As I walked to the sink. The kids just stood there. When you think about it now, in reading, the situation seems a little spooky, but at the time, and if you were in the situation yourself I’d bet that you wouldn’t be the slightest bit worried and neither was I. I was my hands, and glance in the mirror, only to notice the kids are looking right at me. This is the first time, but certainly not the last time, on this trip that my spine tingles with fear. The god damn kids have completely black eyes. No whites to their eyes at all. Like I said, this is a pretty small bathroom and they were not more than three feet away. At first I can’t do or say anything. I am literally frozen with fear. The water runs over my hands, but I can’t feel it. I’m so deep inside my head at this moment that all I can hear are my thoughts, which were something like “Ahhhhhh!.” All joking aside, I was petrified.

It was only when one of the kids, a brown haired boy that I would guess was around twelve took a step toward me that my fight or flight instincts took over control from my fear. I turned off the water, why I bothered I don’t know habit I guess, and moved a step back from the kids and toward the door. Seemingly sensing my fear the boy didn’t take another step toward me. Instead he stopped, on retrospect I can guess he was trying to keep from frightening me too much – didn’t work kid!

“Can you help us?” That’s what the boy said when one of us finally spoke. For a moment I did want to help.

I consider myself a pretty nice guy. I’d go out of my way to help pregnant women carry groceries to their car. I’d rescue cats from trees if the situation arose, and for a while I thought that is why I wanted to help those creepy kids. I thought, my sheer decency was what made me, despite my better judgment, and despite my fear want to help them. Only since I began researching the BEK’s do I realize that I didn’t want to help those kids, but whatever, magical, mystical voo-doo, power they have made me want to help them. I can’t tell you with any certainty how long I stood motionless thinking about helping those kids, but it seemed like an eternity. Finally, like a physical shaking of my brain I said “No, Not right now. I gotta go.” And then I left the bathroom.

I remember in that two seconds my back was turned on those kids to me leaving the bathroom I felt certain I was going to die. I thought as soon as my back was turned they were going to tear me to shreds. It was with knee buckling relief that I left the bathroom and walked out into the midday sun. I walked the fifteen or so feet to my car, on noodle like legs, too afraid to look behind me. I fumbled for my keys and unlocked my door, sat down, closed the door and locked it. Only then, in the safety of my locked car, did I feel safe enough to look back toward the bathroom. Damned if the little bastards weren’t standing just outside the bathroom staring at me with the big, black soul sucking eyes.

I want to take moment to explain a little bit more about myself. I’m not a big man, but I’m not small either. I’m six foot, with shoes on I always say, and am around 185 pounds. What I’m saying is I can take a couple twelve year olds in a fight (I assume, having never actually fought any twelve year olds since I was twelve myself). In my hiking, I’ve encountered odd people before. I’ve turned a bend in a trail only to startle a huge grizzly bear. I’ve been lost, once, and ran out of water, once, and I even had a tree fall in the middle of my campsite during a gale swept night in Tennessee –as I was drifting off to sleep! However, not a single event in my life scared me nearly as much as those kids.

So, there I am, in my car, staring at those kids, and them staring at me. I can’t take my stare away from them, and they start for my car. Startled to my senses, I turn the key, throw it in reverse, and get the hell out of there. I drive off, not daring to look in the rearview mirror. I know that if I do look back that I’ll see those black eyes looking back at me. I turn onto the main road and head the short drive north to my camp site. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, why the hell are you still camping! To be honest I can’t tell you why. I was just so much in shock that I wasn’t really thinking. It wasn’t until I was parked in the sand lot, at the head of the White Pine trail that my brain started functioning again. The drive home would only take three hours. I could make it home in time for dinner, but for some reason I talked myself out of it. Sitting in my car, in the sun, on the beach has a way of taking away all bad feelings.

I just talked away my better judgment. I won’t be doing that again. It’s around three o’clock, and I know that the sun will start to set in around three or four hours, so I know I should head toward my camping spot. It’s not a very long walk from the parking lot to the White Pine backcountry campground, but it will take around 45 minutes, leaving me just a couple hours to set up camp, gather fire wood, cook dinner and eat before nightfall. Fuck it, I remember saying to myself. I get my pack out of my backseat and take off down the trail.

Now, there are two ways to access the White Pine campground from where I was parked. I could either head through the woods, or I could walk along the beach. The wooded trail is quicker, and shorter, and the beach trail is harder on the legs and lungs (walking with a fifty pound pack in the sand is no picnic). However, considering what I just went through I decided to go along the beach. It was the more open, brighter, kinder trail.
To reach the campsite from the beach trail, you have to turn away from the lake and go about ½ a mile into the woods. Reaching my campsite, I find it, unfortunately, completely empty. The campground has seven sites, I think, and not a one of them was taken. Usually this would be a happy thing to me, but this time I wished for all my might for a little company. I pick a site hidden fairly well from the trail, feeling that I didn’t need anyone walking along to spot my tent.

I unpack and set up my ultra-light one person tent, put down my sleeping pad, and unroll my zero degree rated mummy-bag. Taking my walking stick, a sawed off hockey stick, and a folding knife with me, I head into the forest to gather fire wood. I pile up a good sized pile, three times larger than I think I’ll need, and proceed to light a fire. I cook my food, and eat, all the while watching the sun set through the trees. What is normally a beautiful, warming sight to me, now only brings dread. I do not want to be out here I suddenly realize. I finish eating quickly and decide to gather even more firewood. I do not want to run out in the middle of the night. As the darkness descends upon the woods and my campsite, I get the fire going, and riffle through my pack looking for my flask. This was a situation that called for a little liquid courage. I hit it hard. In the woods the sun sets at first slower then you think and then near the end it just kind of falls out of the sky, and is gone in a blink. So it did that night.

Sitting next to the fire, I decide to move my tent closer to me, so I click on my flash light, and move my tent until it is right behind the small bench next to the fire ring. I like having the tent behind me, protecting my back as I saw it. I’m glad I decided to gather more firewood because I’m burning through it quickly keeping the fire as high as I am. Even though it is early Autumn and the temperature was probably in the 40’s I was hot sitting so close to such a big fire.

Part of getting away from it all for me, is to leave my phone in the car. In civilization I don’t use a watch. I just look at my cell. However, this night I wish I had my cell on me, not to call someone there is no service, but to check the time. I wanted it to be late. I wanted the night to fly by, and give me the security of morning. I finished the whiskey, and wished that I had brought the bottle with me from the car. The spirits had done their job though, and I was a bit calmer. Also, praise be to god, I was feeling sleepy too. Though the rules say, don’t go to bed with your fire burning, I sure as hell was not going to sleep with out the fire. I got in my tent, leaving the flap open, with just the bug flap closed, so I could see the fire, and tried to sleep.

I don’t know how long I lay there before slept found me, but I did eventually drift off. Thankfully, I can’t remember having any dreams. I woke to a dead fire, and the early dusk light coming in. I have to say I was slightly surprised to be alive.

As dawn turned in to day I felt more and more foolish for the fear I felt yesterday. Being a usually calm, cool, and collected guy I couldn’t explain the intense dread and fear I felt when I saw those kids, but I did my best to ignore it, and I explained away their eyes pretty easily. I told myself the kids were camping at the Platte River campground, same location as the ranger station I registered at. They had some colored contact lenses and were playing a joke. Simple. Possible, even probably considering the alternative. I ate breakfast and then made a, upon hindsight, horrible decision. I decided to stay another night.
After breakfast, I gathered firewood, so that I wouldn’t have to gather any when I got back for the evening. My pile of wood at a towering height, I hiked back to my car, along the wooded trail (I was feeling awfully, stupidly brave that morning).

I arrived at my car, and decided to go to the Dune Climb. The Dune Climb is a trail that begins at a towering dune and ends 1 ½ miles away at Lake Michigan. This hike was uneventful, but beautiful providing me even more determination not to let myself be scared off by some stupid kids with contact lenses. I got back to my car from the round trip hike right around 1:00. I got out my small camp stove and cooked some soup. Finished with lunch, I decided that next I would take the scenic drive, I forget the name of the road, that is part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It’s a winding drive with several scenic and educational pull offs. It’s relaxing and beautiful. I finished with that around 3:00, and I decided I would head to Traverse City, just a 45 minute drive away, and do a little shopping and grab an early dinner at a nice steak house. This is not something I normally do while camping but after the previous nights events, I decided to treat myself.

Traverse City is a nice town to visit, if you ever have the chance (just a recommendation). I went to this steak house just outside of Traverse around 4:30, figuring a quick dinner, an 45 minute drive and an hour walk would get me to my camp at just about dusk. But that’s not what happened. The restaurant was packed! I got a table fairly quickly but the service was very slow. In the end I didn’t get out of the restaurant until dusk. Cursing myself it began to rain as I drove back to the trail head parking lot. By the time I was at the lot and parked it was full blown nighttime. Sitting in the parking lot, listening to the wind, and the rain I was pretty damn scared again. I think that if nearly all of my gear wasn’t still at the campsite then I would have just drove home and said screw it. However, I couldn’t abandon several hundred dollars worth of camping equipment because I was scared. I’m not a pussy.

I gear up: flashlight, pocket knife, water bottle, headlamp, and walking stick. Again I had two options, through the woods or along the beach. The storm clouds blocked out most of the star and moon light so I would have been kidding myself to think that the beach would have been better lit, but it was still more open, and provided me with a better feeling, so I took the beach path. The path is only a mile and a half long along the beach and then another ½ mile into the woods to the campsite. I figured, if I hustled, I could be at my campsite in just over ½ an hour.
I turn on my headlamp and move off down the beach. The wind is hitting pretty hard, and it’ pretty damn cold, but I’m prepared. My coat has a nice rain shell and I’m not getting too wet.
Hiking in the dark is not smart in the best of circumstances. In this area there are cougars and bear, both rare, but the real danger is getting lost, or stumbling over something and injuring yourself. However, I wasn’t too worried about any of that. The animals are so rare in that area it’d take very bad luck to get bothered by them, and the beach was clear of most debris that I might trip on. What had me worried was a creeping sensation of paranoia.

As I walked the sensation of paranoia and dread grew. I stopped every ten feet or so to look around, lighting the tall grass, next to the beach and before the woods, with my headlamp. I opened my jaw and listened, you can hear better with your mouth slightly open, but I saw nothing and heard nothing. I’d walk another ten feet and just know that someone was watching me. It was hard to hear anything over the lapping waves of the lake and the howling wind of the storm, but I swear I heard voices in the tall grass.
I’d been walking probably 1/2 an hour and I new I would be meeting off with the trail leading into the woods, and to my campsite any second now, but then my world fell apart. Having one of my strongest moments of feeling watched I turned around, facing the direction I came, and there they were.

The boy who spoke to me earlier couldn’t have been more than five feet away, and the other boy, the quiet boy, was standing slightly behind him. Each of the boys stood motionless. Staring. Just staring. At this moment, I’m not sure I have the ability to put my terror into words. The best way I can describe it is to say I felt like I was dying. I felt like I was in the hospital and the doctor just told me I had moments to live. The talkative boy moved toward me.
The only light on the beach came from my headlamp. Neither kid had any sort of flashlight. My led beam flashed across their faces, reflecting grotesquely in their large dark eyes. The waves crashed, and the wind blew.

“Help us.”

I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t move. I could barely breathe. The boy moved closer. The quiet boy stepped to the side, almost like he was slowly circling behind me, and that broke the spell.

“I’m not fucking helping you,” I said.
“We’re lost. We can’t find our campsite.”
“Is this a game,” I asked, even though I knew it wasn’t.
“Take us with you. Please. We’ll die out here. We’re afraid. ”

I call bull-shit on that one. They’re scared, I thought to myself? I’m scared. You’re the one with the creepy eyes, the vacant hollow voices. You’re the ones with the fish-eye stare.
The quiet boy moved a little more. He was now standing beside me, just a couple feet away. The talkative boy was still in front of me, blocking the way I had come, blocking the path back to my car. Then things got even weirder.

“Okay, you can come with me,” I said.

I don’t even remember thinking the words. They just came out. The talkative boy smiled and he reached to take my hand. The fight or flight response hit me so hard it was like a physical punch to the stomach. I recoiled at the sight of this little monster trying to take my hand. Before I even realize it, I’m running down the beach. I’m sprinting away from the little bastards, and my car as fast as I can.
I don’t’ look behind me. I don’t know if they’re following me or not, and I don’t want to know. All I know is that I need to run faster. I’m in decent shape, but given any normal circumstance I would never have been able to run so quickly for so long on a beach.

My head lamp bouncing up and down, I see the off-shoot-trail leading from the beach into the woods. Without much thought, if any, I take the trail and head into the woods.
My senses finally returning to me, I jump off the trail and move a little ways into the woods. I turn off my head lamp, and lie down among some tall grass. I watch the trail waiting to see the kids following. I waited, in the rain, and cold for god knows how long. A couple hours at least. No kids.

The cold was slowly creeping in. I wasn’t sure if I was shivering because of the adrenaline, the fear, or the cold, but I do know I was starting to freeze. I had to leave my concealment and make way to shelter. I had two options. The tent and sleeping bag, or the car.

The car meant safety. It meant home. However, it also meant that I would have to walk a mile and a half, in the dark with god knows who or what waiting for me.
The tent meant warmth, and shelter from the elements. It meant exposure to the kids. If the kids knew where I was hiking, and when, then they’d know where I was camping. Right?
It was an impossible decision. It was a choice of the lesser of two evils. I chose the tent. I just couldn’t force myself to go back along the wooded trail, and I sure as hell wasn’t going back along the beach. I crossed my fingers and prayed that the little bastards didn’t know where my tent was. I got up, found the trail, and sprinted the ½ mile to the campground. As I ran a thought occurred. Maybe someone will have hiked in during the way. Maybe I’ll have company.

There was no life at the campground. When I arrived at the campground, I made a wide circle of it, looking both for other campers and for the little devils. I saw nothing and no one.
I made my way, as quietly as possible, to my tent. I unzipped the fly, and crawled in. I thought briefly about a fire, but decided that would be more of a signal to the kids then deterrence. My clothes were sopping wet and I was still very cold. I had to take them off. My pack is leaning against a tree about fifteen feet from my tent. Inside are clean, dry clothes, sealed tightly in a wet bag. However, now that I’m inside the tent I’m sure as hell not going back out. The tent gave me some sense of security even though it wasn’t in any way secure.
Now naked, I crawl inside my mummy bag. I’d like to say how much I hate that it’s called a mummy bag. After a few moments I warm up, but the shivering takes another 1/3 hour or so to subside. As I’m lying there, I’m wishing so much that I had that bottle of whiskey in my car.

The rain plays against the leaves of the trees, and the wind creaks the branches. Under the best of circumstances this is a night where a person’s mind can get away from them. For me, it was utter terror. My imagination made every creak, every howl of the wind into something sinister. As the hours passed, and my adrenaline faded I felt immensely tired. I wanted so badly just to fall asleep. In sleep I wouldn’t know I was being eviscerated. I’d either wake up or I wouldn’t.

I thought it was a nightmare at first. When I heard the voice, say – something, I thought I was dreaming. But then sleep cleared from my head and I realized I was awake. It was still night, and the storm was still biting.

“Help us,” an unmistakable voice said.

I couldn’t help it. It was a gut reaction. I screamed. I lay naked, my mummy bag zipped up to my chin. I was completely helpless. I felt like a newborn baby, my fate completely held in the hands of others.

“Please let us in.”
“No,” I screeched, and then again, “no!”
“It’s so cold. Please let us in, Mr.”

I stopped replying and could only sob. Like a heartbroken teenage girl. Like a woman who just learned her sister died. I sobbed. I was so uncontrollably scared that I think it helped me not pay attention to the kids demands. At least not fully.

“Let us in.”

I tugged the pull string on the hood of my mummy bag until I was completely enveloped. I just kept repeating, not daring to listen to the kids, the word “no.” No, no, no ,no, no, no, no. I waited for death. I knew it was coming. Any second and I’d be ripped to shreds.
The kid kept saying something, but I wasn’t listening. I wouldn’t listen.

I knew how overwhelming their hypnotic power was. I did everything I could not to listen. I kept chanting my mantra. Kept howling my “no’s.”
I don’t know when I fell asleep, but the next thing I know I startle awake. The sun is shining, and I’m alive. I don’t know how, but I’m alive. I look around my small tent and I don’t see anything amiss on the inside. It takes me several minutes to gather the courage necessary to unzip the tent fly, but finally I do. I peak my head out, but see no one. Naked, I run to my pack, and grab my clothes in the dry-bag. I toss some clothes on and race back to the tent. I tear it down in a matter of moments. I pack my sleeping back, and pad and tent onto my pack, and take off down the trail. I decide one more time to take the beach trail. In the sun, and warmth of the morning it’s an entirely different trail. The only moment I’m given pause is when I come across a duck with what seems to be it’s heart torn out. I took a photo with a disposable camera in my pack, and move on.

I arrive at my car and find it unmolested. I get in and drive home.
It’s been almost two entire months since this happened, but I still remember it all like it was yesterday. I haven’t gone camping since, and I don’t’ know if I’ll ever feel safe hiking again. Maybe I’ll go camping again sometime in the future, but I’m bringing a friend. No more going it alone.

I, thankfully, haven’t seen any more black eye kids. I don’t want to posit on what they are. I don’t want to think about whether they are demons, or monsters, aliens, or hybrids. I was interested at first. I did some research because I wanted to know if I was crazy. I don’t care what you think they are. I don’t care why they are. I just wanted to know that I wasn’t the only one who has had this experience. I’m not, and I’m thankful for that.

My advice if you ever do encounter a BEK, don’t listen to it to speak. Don’t be polite in case they’re just weird kids. Don’t question their validity. Don’t worry about looking silly, or that others will think you’re crazy. Just run. Run and don’t look back.

Credit To – David Krabs

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Submissions Are Open… Now! +Please Vote On Theme

November 12, 2014 at 12:00 AM

OPEN SUBMISSION PERIOD

First of all, I want to thank everyone for being patient. I’ve mentioned this to a lot of authors privately, but after the site upgrades and server move, a number of back-end functions managed to break themselves. Obviously, for security reasons, I didn’t want to announce this while it was still ongoing, but suffice to say that there was a period of time where I really couldn’t perform many important functions, much less feel comfortable re-opening submissions (honestly, the submission page probably wouldn’t even have worked properly even if I had enabled the form).

I think that everything is in working order now, though, so I don’t foresee any huge catastrophes if I turn on the submission form. Uh, knocking on wood, of course…

Since this period is opening almost half a month after I initially wanted to see it open, I’m going to also extend it further than originally intended.

SUBMISSIONS WILL BE OPEN FROM TODAY UNTIL JANUARY 15TH, 2015.

This should mean that submissions are open during the entire winter break for the college students in the crowd, so I hope that those of you who were planning on giving us some Creepypasta during your holiday will find this sufficient.

Also, this is implied, but I’m going to say it outright as well: this means that all previous submissions from the Summer 2014 open period have been read and processed. If you did not get an email response, this means that your story in its current state was rejected. Please visit the FAQ for a detailed explanation on why I do not send out individual rejection emails – and please know that if you still insist on messaging me asking about your story even after this announcement, I will not reply. This is all covered in the FAQ and submission page details, so I’m not going to repeat myself here.

If your story was rejected, please do a rewrite before re-submitting. We have a large list of volunteer beta readers here, please consider contacting one (or more) of them to help you refine your pasta! Remember, there is no rush. This submission period may be two months long, but even if you miss the January 15th deadline, there will be more opportunities to submit your stories. Please make sure that you are 100% satisfied with your pasta before sending it in!

THEME OPINION POLL

Secondly, opinions on the Halloween theme were very divided – a lot of you seemed to really like it, while many others absolutely hated it. Since there wasn’t a huge (voiced) trend either way, I’d like to have an anonymous poll where you guys can tell me where you’d like to go from here in regards to the theme. There are three options, and I think they’re all pretty self-explanatory, so without further ado…

[POLL HAS BEEN CLOSED. RESULTS WERE OVERWHELMINGLY FOR A NEW THEME THAT ISN’T THE HALLOWEEN THEME!]

The Void

November 12, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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“Take off the blindfolds,” they said as I started to gain consciousness once again. When they took it off, I shielded my eyes for a second to keep the blinding light out of my eyes. Once my eyes adjusted, I looked around to figure out what was going on. I looked at myself to see that I was kneeling on the ground—very sandy ground at that—and stood up to get a better look at the area.

After wiping the sand off of my shorts, I looked around to see that I was on a very small and sandy island with eleven of us altogether (including me). Six of them were like me, confused and just standing up. The other four watched us get up, all of them armed with baseball bats and one of them with a bandana covering his mouth. The strangest thing about the place, however, was that the island appeared to be surrounded by some kind of polluted water, as it was a shade of light black; maybe an oil spill or something?

“Oh no,” one of the others exclaimed to no one in particular, “no, I already did this once, and I am NOT doing this again!” With that, he charged towards the armed guy with the bandana, who simply took three steps out of the way, causing the man to end up tackling an armed guy behind him, sending them both in the water. I expected a splash and instinctively covered my face to avoid the dirty water from getting all over it, except there wasn’t a splash. I glanced back just in time to see their feet drop down into the “water”. I walked over and peeked over the edge carefully to see both of them silently falling and falling and falling and falling until no one could see them anymore.

The guy in the bandana, who was over glancing over the edge at this point, swore to himself—presumably from the loss of one of his few men and one of his prisoners.

“What the…?” one of the other prisoners asked. At this point all of the other prisoners, except for me, were looking around in hopes of an answer from one of the three other captors, who, as you would expect, were a bit more alert this time.

“Well, that isn’t exactly how I wanted this introduction to go, but I guess we’ll just have to live with it.” The man in the bandana said, still glancing over the edge. I felt like pushing him down there with the other two, but for some reason part of me said to stay and listen to what he had to say.

“Welcome, gentlemen, to The Void. Now you probably have many questions right now, but I am afraid that I will not be able to answer any until you do a small favor for my friends and I here. If you would please look behind yourselves.”

All five of us turned our heads to see the impossible; there were objects just floating in the middle of the air. Planks of wood, blocks of concrete, boulders, and many other solid objects were suspended in the air. They all seemed to be lined up in a way, and they all slowly ascended upwards. It was like a bridge or a path that had a lot of gaps, and was made of many different materials. At the zenith of this path was some strange, orange crystal that shined in the sunlight.

“That orange crystal that you see is called a Void Crystal. As you can see here, the path to it is very dangerous. That is why we gathered you five here; we wish for you to jump and climb the objects and obtain that crystal for us. If you can do this successfully, then we shall return you to your home. You will never have to deal with us ever again.”

That last part didn’t seem very truthful to me, considering how that guy exclaimed how he already did this once before and then proceeded to tackle one of the armed guys into The Void with him.

“What if we fall into this…Void thing? What happens to us if we fall down there, like those two other guys?” one of the younger prisoners asked.

“Well,” the bandana man said, “We don’t know exactly what happens. We can confirm that you don’t die, as you literally can’t die from falling, and we’ve found out that your senses start to numb as you fall. We presume that you fall forever, but we can’t be entirely sure at this point.”

That answer surprised me. I figured that if you fell, you would die of falling or, if not falling, starvation or something. They made it sound like you actually go somewhere once you fall far enough. Even so, he made it clear that you don’t want to fall.

“You there,” the bandana guy said, pointing to a young boy next to me, “you go first. We’ve watched you jump from rooftop to rooftop in your hometown; this shouldn’t be much different than that.”

I watched as the boy, who looked to be about fifteen, slowly get up and walk over to the edge of the island where the path started. He took a deep breath, let it out, and then leaped towards the first object. He managed to grab a hold of the debris, but he had a hard time getting himself on top of it. Eventually he scaled it and leapt to another piece, landing on top of it. On the third jump, however, he tripped on his last step and fell. I heard him scream for a few seconds before it was abruptly cut off, renewing the silence that had remained before.

“This is messed up,” an older prisoner declared, “you just made that kid kill himself! I am not going to do the same.” With that, he went over to one of the armed guys and punched him in the lower jaw. The armed guy quickly swung his bat several times and beat down the man. A few seconds ago, the man was standing up just fine. Now he was on the ground being beat down mercilessly by a guy with a baseball bat.

The armed guy stopped after a bit, leaving the prisoner to curl up in pain on the sandy ground of the floating island. After that, the man in the bandana walked over, picked up the prisoner, and threw him into The Void. He turned around and looked at all of our faces, which were now filled with fear and panic.

“Alright, let’s see…who should go next…” he said, walking in front of each of us. “Eany, meany, miney, mo. Catch a tiger by the toe. If it hollers let it go. Eany, meany, miney…” His finger was pointed at me with the last word coming out of his mouth. “Mo. You can go next.”

I gulped and felt a part of me die. Reluctantly, I walked over to the start of the path and looked at all of the floating debris. I had past experience of stuff like this, but I haven’t done it for a good three years ever since I broke my leg doing it. My leg was healed now, but I knew that I was still rusty on my skills. Nevertheless, I took a few steps back and sprinted forward.

I leapt forward and landed on the wood plank. I looked over to a block of concrete to my right that looked like it had been ripped out of a sidewalk. I jumped and managed to grip onto an end of it. I began pulling myself up, which turned out to be quite an effort considering that there was nothing on top of the concrete block to grip onto. It took me a few minutes, but I finally managed to get myself up onto the block.

I looked towards the Void Crystal, glowing brighter as I ventured closer towards it, and saw it was only four things of debris away. This was where the young boy had failed, however, and I was fearful that I would suffer from the same fate. I took a breath and looked at the next floating object. It appeared to be a metal door, but it was tilted at a seventy-five degree angle. I would have to grab onto the top of the door to prevent myself from sliding down it and straight into The Void.

I took two steps back, ran forward, and jumped right at the edge. I landed but instantly started sliding down the door as I failed to grip onto the top. In a panic I tried reaching up to get a grip even though I knew it was pointless. Half of my body was already off of the door when I realized, in that split-second, that I could grip the doorknob. I got one hand on the knob and held on for dear life. A few seconds later, I had most of my body dangling off of the door, my arm feeling like it was being torn as it was the only thing holding my whole body weight.

Quickly I got my other hand the door knob. And there I was, both hands gripping onto the door knob and me just dangling there, unable to get a better grip then the one that I had right now. I was stuck. There was no visible way for me to get a grip on the top of the door from here without getting myself killed.

Behind me I heard a commotion going on; I tilted my head back towards the island to see what was happening. The three prisoners were trying to fight the two armed guys while the man in the bandana simply watched it go down. From what I saw, it seemed like the prisoners were losing and would probably be thrown into The Void. Nobody would be getting the crystal. At least no one in our group.

Knowing there was no hope for me, and that I was just stalling the inevitable, I let go of my grip on the door and accepted my fate. Once I was in The Void, everything around me just turned black and all other things disappeared. Just pure blackness. I couldn’t even see my own hands when I held them out in front of me. After a few minutes in The Void, I didn’t even feel like I was falling anymore. Just kind of floating. Suspended in nothingness. Slowly, I realized that I was losing my senses: I couldn’t see, I wasn’t hearing anything, I didn’t feel the wind on my back from falling anymore. I had lost complete touch with the world.

Eventually I started feeling lightheaded, and very tired. I closed my eyes—or at least I think I did, as I couldn’t feel or see anything—and started drifting off into sleep. At least I would be sleeping my way to death.

“Take off the blindfolds,” they said as I started to gain consciousness once again. When they took it off, I shielded my eyes for a second to keep the blinding light out of my eyes. Once my eyes adjusted, I looked around to figure out what was going on. I looked at myself to see that I was on the ground—very sandy ground at that—and stood up to get a better look at the area.

Credit To – Mister Sister

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