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Submissions Now Open + Author Tag Request System

March 30, 2015 at 9:37 AM

Submissions Open From March 30th 2015 – May 20th 2015

As a few of you have already noticed, yes – submissions have been re-opened. I meant to make this announcement earlier, but I got pulled away from the computer suddenly. I’m sorry if anybody was confused by the submission form suddenly re-appearing without any comment!

This open period will run until May 20th, 2015.

As explicit confirmation, since otherwise I’m sure I would get lots of messages asking: yes, this means that the prior submission period has been completely processed. All pastas slated for Crappypasta have been posted there and notifications sent to their authors, and all accepted pastas have been scheduled with their authors notified as well. This means that if you have not received any contact, it’s a safe bet that your story was rejected – you may visit the FAQ for further details on why this might be, as well as additional details on when/if you are eligible to resubmit rejected pastas.

For those of you looking to rework rejected stories or submit entirely new ones, the last two discussion posts may be of particular interest: in February, the community discussed their favorite creepypasta genres and topics, and this past month saw the inverse conversation – our least favorite creepypasta genres and topics. Please feel free to chime in if you haven’t already, as I will be using the feedback received in these posts as a barometer to help select which stories to let through when I’m on the fence. Additionally, if you’re not entirely certain whether your story idea would be well-received at this particular creepypasta community, you may find the responses in each post helpful.

Author Tag System

Tags for frequent authors have been requested enough that we’re finally going to do this thing!

As you can see on the sidebar, I’ve introduced a new way to browse tags – you can now use the sidebar widget to further narrow down your tag selection by clicking hierarchies and then seeing tags specific only to that selection. So, for example, clicking the “series” heading will display only tags for the various pasta series that we’ve featured.

For those of you who prefer the old-school all-tags drop-down menu, never fear: it will remain accessible on the sidebar as well.

The author part of the tag system will be opt-in, so any authors wishing to have a tag of their own must fill out the Author Tag Request form. This form will be permanently available under the ‘Write Your Own Pasta’ heading on the top navigation bar. I’ve placed a more in-depth explanation on the form’s page, but the most important things to know before rushing over to fill out the form are as follows:

  • You are only eligible for an author tag if you have AT LEAST TWO stories ACCEPTED AND PUBLISHED on this website, creepypasta.com
    • If your stories are all at Crappypasta, this means that you are not eligible. The two sites do not share a tagging system.
    • This should be obvious, but if you have stories published on other sites (the wiki, .net, .org, etc) but do NOT have at least two stories accepted and posted on THIS WEBSITE, you are not eligible. We cannot tag stories not hosted here, so there would be no point in your having an author tag! To further clarify, since I anticipate some people finding this confusing: having your pastas posted elsewhere does not preclude having a tag here, but in order to have an author tag at THIS WEBSITE, you must have two or more stories accepted and posted at THIS WEBSITE. If you send a request for an author tag and enter pastas located at websites that are not creepypasta.com, it’s not going to happen.
  • Since this is opt-in only, do not try to “help” by submitting author tag requests for other people. If they want a tag, they will submit a request themselves. I’m doing this as an opt-in so that authors can more precisely control their tags, what pastas they want tagged, and what name specifically they want on their tag. Having strangers submit tag requests for them would steal this layer of control from them, so while your intentions may be pure, please don’t do this.
  • Obviously, all tag requests will be double-checked and verified. Don’t waste time by requesting an author tag for stories that you didn’t write. If I can’t confirm that the person requesting the tag wrote the stories that they’re claiming, the tag will not be created. If you are flagrantly and obviously attempting to claim work that isn’t your own, I’ll ban you from future submissions (and possibly even the site itself, if I’m in a particularly grumpy mood) – so please, guys, don’t be that jerk.

If there is anything that I’ve missed that you feel needs to be explained or clarified on the form’s page, please let me know. Sometimes things can seem obvious to me, since I’m the one creating the system, but in reality it’s not quite so clear. Sometimes I make announcement posts when I haven’t finished my coffee and I’m still feeling a little zombie-esque. Things happen.

Here’s hoping that I haven’t confused everyone, and thanks for your time – I look forward to reading everyone’s new submissions!

 

 

And Mira

March 30, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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And Mira

And Mira, Part 1: The Chalky Child

I am telling you this story not by my memory, but in my memory. I must ask you to try to hear my thoughts, take whatever cues, and fill in the blanks. Like a dream you wake up and remember only part-way, and my whole life is like that. Because I cannot talk, at least not in the way you would understand. I do have language, but my spoken language doesn’t make sense yet to most people. While I don’t speak many words, I hear them and understand what many of them mean. I have a good sense of what has happened, but simply cannot tell you my story with the spoken word.

Because, you see, I am 18 months old.

The world turns and its happenings occur around me over and over. I process what the adults say. I interpret what the other children do. Yet I am unable to speak about what has happened to a child I knew not long ago. I can only remember, and hope that you too can find sense in my thoughts and my memories.

My very first memory is of a crying child. Not the child in my story. Another. The sobbing baby might even be me, but I’m not sure. I’m certainly quite unpleasant, if it is in fact me. This child is pale, chalky white, marred and miserable. I’ve never heard such a cry. Not from myself, or from any of my friends.

Well, I don’t suppose I have friends, but the other children in the nursery school. The truth is I do not like them very much, since they spend their days and mine stealing my favorite toys, and finding new ways to brutalize each other. They can’t talk either, and their thoughts, whimpers and memories are all focused on food, their mothers, and pulling hair. Often mine.

But I never have heard a cry from any of those little beasts that is the same as the child in that brief early memory. It is the cry of a trapped animal, sweet yet sad. It is angered, frightened, and frightening. It evokes pity, yet implies flight. An anguished, horrifying cry. While you desire to extinguish the poor child’s pain, there is also a foreboding to it. Attempting any sort of comfort to this little one would certainly lead to death. It is a fleeting memory of a chalky child in the process of having soiled pants removed and changed by an adult, who clearly hates and fears it.

Nothing in the chalky child’s features is any clue. In fact, there are no prominent facial features at all. But, memories are like that, and the fog is thick. The grey-white skin is barely visible through the thick fog of my memory. The skin underneath the diaper is the only to have any color, red and bleeding from the apparent digestive incompetence of this pitiful child. Miserable…and that cry! Part of me perceives that it isn’t the pain of the bleeding skin or rash that causes this child’s pain. It is the pain of having been born at all. An abomination born into a life of pity, and hatred by all in view. This child, will never have comfort, and never know love. Not even from its own mother.

That is all from my first memory.

I no longer see that child when my eyes close, and rarely believe it to be myself. Left to my quietest thoughts, sometimes, alone in a crib, I hear the cry still, while even awake. Or sometimes, I hear it faintly in alone times with Mother, when she sings to me. Mother seemingly never hears, never responds. Wait, did I see her eyebrow twitch in that moment? No. No. Perhaps not.

My father is, or was, a hero. I’m not sure what that means. I believe his job was to kill, but that he died while doing his job. I’m not sure he is actually dead, but I don’t remember seeing him or ever meeting him. My mother says he wept uncontrollably the day I was born. And she says he adored me above all things. And then he was gone. I remember feeling that love, even though I have no actual memory or picture of him in my life.

There is a photo among our few personals in the library. It sits on the highest shelf, bookended by Christie and Mitchell, and a beautiful album adorned with two large “M’s”, the first beginning to wear on the right side. The photo is of mother, wearing a beautiful white dress next to a hopelessly handsome man in a suit. I imagine that beautiful man in the photo, adoring my mother, must be my father.

That’s most of what I know and remember about my family. There is so much more to my story.

As much as I’ve absorbed over my little time on the planet, there is little I’ve been able to organize into what makes sense. Most of my memories are from the nursery school. Disorganized, those memories are rich and plenty. They make more sense to a child my age. The children at the nursery do bizarre, unusual things, but they are the bizarre, unusual things that children do so well. And the behaviors of the adults caring for us are all the things a caring adult will do. Intuitive to me. When adults talk to each other, it’s about guns and cinema and nasties and nations. But when adults at nursery talk to children, they say “Ellie, would you like your meal”, or “Bing, do not bite the other children” or “Andrew, give the toy back to Mira”, or “Good morning Mira”…

Oh. I suppose I’ve neglected to “Introduce” myself. My name is Mira.

It seems. Most people call me Mira, though I’m not sure what it means or whether it is my first or my last name. Some other people refer to Mother by that name, calling her “Ms. Mira” or “Mother Mira”, or some such. Hard to say. Harder to remember. The adults at nursery just say “Mira” while looking at me and attempting to give me direction. So my name must be Mira. The other children, well, they do not call me anything.

Ellie is always hungry. She only eats. She is a sweet, pretty girl, who rarely causes a fuss. But she stays in place much of the time, and waits for the world to interact with her. This of course rarely happens unless one of the other children runs by and pulls her hair. That, sadly, happens a lot. The adults seem to forget about her much of the time. I stop by her at least once in a while, to give her a quick smile or a hug. I would never want to be forgotten by all of humanity for hours each day.

Andrew is a funny little boy that only wants to do whatever I’m doing. He is the closest to a friend I think I have here. More factually, I suppose, is that Andrew likes to take whatever I am playing with. He doesn’t hurt me, and he isn’t mean. He just takes things from me. He often smiles at me, and will even give me a small hug, all while he’s absconding with my playthings. I do think he likes me because he tries to say my name. Or, it’s possible that he’s lazy and is just saying “mama”. He is the youngest in his family, with three older siblings, all girls. Maybe that’s why he likes me. He says something which sounds like Mira and smiles and hugs me. That’s why I like Andrew.

There is also a set of twins. I don’t know their names. They confuse me.

Then there’s Bing.

Bing, I do not like. The adults call him “Beautiful Baby Bing” or “Baby Boy Bing” but they should call him “Biting Bing”. That is all Bing does, is bite all of the children in nursery school, every day. The adults get angry with him when he bites one of us, but not for very long. Bing is in fact a beautiful blond boy with a cute name, and no adult can stay mad at him. So he simply never stops biting the rest of us children. He waddles around with a little hop, with his little grin, and never says a word. He just waddles, hops into their arms, and grins. And he bites. Us.

There is another reason Bing the Bastard won’t stop biting, I think. (I heard Mother call him that once. It made all the adults laugh. I don’t know what that word means, actually). I think another reason Bastard Bing won’t stop biting is that his mother is the mean, angry type. Mother uses another word for her that also starts with “B”. It might be her name.

This woman hates life, hates us children, hates our parents, hates the adults in nursery, and in all likelihood hates Bing too. When the adults in nursery ask her for help with his behavior, she only yells at them, embarrasses and criticizes them in very personal ways. She hates us all. I’m pretty certain it makes her happy when he bites one of us. She certainly thought I deserved it when he bit my face a few weeks ago. She said so out loud. She said something about Mother, and me, and then laughed a laugh that wasn’t at all a human laugh but sick. Her laugh was miserable like the chalky child’s cry.

She laughed that day. I went home that night and cried. I don’t usually cry after something happens. I’m just not that type of toddler. Bing and his horrid mother hurt parts of me that I cannot see with their words and that laugh. Bing had bitten my cheek, and it bled, leaving a thin line of open skin close to my eye. Mother was angry. With me! She said that I should never allow this to happen to me. She was certain I would never be able to perform some function in front of a camera, whatever that meant. I was bad, and I would never be beautiful. Bing caused Mother to be angry with me and that hurt in a way that made me cry, all night, in my little bed.

Bing made me bad, so I thought. I was a disappointment already in my young life. Bing and his B-mother must be evil. I wanted them to die, which I also didn’t truly understand. When I’m older I will understand that that isn’t a nice thing to wish on people. I didn’t wish them to die out of hate or fate, but out of fairness. My father, the man in the photo, died. And he was good. Why should he die, but they get to live, biting and spreading filth in the nursery and in the world. I would never have really wished my father’s fate on another if I truly understood. I just knew he was good, death was bad, and Bing and his mother were bad. Fairness. Not fate.

I finally found sleep with those thoughts, deeply and firmly planted in my memory, along with the cry of that horrible child. You may be surprised to learn that here my story truly begins. It’s about Bing, and what happened to him. Because that was the last day Bing bit anyone. Ever. And I’m not sure if fate or fairness was the cause. What happened to Bing, the very next day, and each day forward for nearly a month was…

He became…good!

He never bit or tried to harm any of the children in nursery again. He never again victimized poor stationary Ellie. He stopped attempting to consume the confusing twins. He smiled at Andrew and me and didn’t try to hurt us. He still wobbled and hopped and grinned. Now even the children could love sweet Beautiful Bing. And it wasn’t just what he stopped doing, but what he began from that day forward. He actually started being nice to the other children.

He would bring Ellie bits of food when she was hungry, even sharing his own when there wasn’t enough. He learned how to open the pantry to get biscuits and an occasional snack cake for her! Ellie was happy every day and smiled more than ever I saw her. And not only at meals, but all the time. She would get up and chase him all through the day, laughing, catching him and hugging him.

He wouldn’t let Andrew take my toys away either. He wouldn’t hurt Andrew, but just took the toys back. He would smile, and give me hugs and kisses. It always made me nervous when he’d try to kiss my cheek, because I was afraid he would bite. But he never would. And Bing learned to say “Mira”. I secretly knew he loved Ellie though.

I am thinking of a B-word for lazy old Andrew…

Bing never bit the twins again. He didn’t really play with them either. None of us did very much I’m afraid. I think they confused him too. They’re a little creepy.

Bing, Sweet Bing was suddenly a good boy! And everyone, including the adults in nursery, and all of our parents, just loved Bing that much more! They would all tell his mother about what a good boy he was, how nice he was to the children, and how wonderful we all thought he was. Sadly, Bing’s mother did not change. As always, she would just laugh and defile our ancestors yet again. She didn’t see any difference and she didn’t care to.

Nearly a month.

Then, after those few wonderful weeks, Bing’s miserable mother seemed to care. One morning she came into nursery in tears. She came without threats. She came without insults, and without her miserable laugh. She howled, a much less bestial version of her miserable laugh. I’m sorry to say I liked it better. It was easier not to hate her, or want her dead, acting so human. I had no idea.

What confused us is when the adults at nursery started to cry. What a sight! The children in nursery calm and quiet, while every adult carried on like someone took their favorite toy! They said strange things, like “but he was never weak” or “he had no cough” and “he couldn’t have had a fever I would have noticed”. They were all confused, all sobbing, all looking to each other, and sometimes to us, for comfort and an answer to an unsolvable puzzle.

Without any warning, any symptoms, something called pneumonia had taken sweet Bing in his crib. Fate. Fairness. Perhaps both. Ellie, seeing Bing’s mother, looked around for him to play. Somehow, she understood, seeing the adults cry and Bing missing, that she would not see him again. So she sat down where she was, staring ahead, eventually shedding tears she could not explain. I don’t remember when she finally moved again.

I didn’t cry in my crib that night. True, I would miss Bing, and the wonderful boy he had become. I would miss hearing him say my name. But I remembered my father, who also died unfairly. He too was wonderful and he too adored me. That’s fair, and that’s how it goes.

Bing had been nice, a friend to all, suddenly becoming a giving person to everyone in his world. Then he was lost. But Bing, sweet Bing received his just reward for his behavior up to that point. Fate, or fairness. Hard to say. Bing’s mom changed however. She finally became human. She properly began hating herself more than the world and everyone who had seen fit to love her child through his short life, both bad and good. Fate had replaced her hate for us. What a thing to have to happen, in order for one so foul to become human.

At that, actually, I cried a little, saddened at the thought that some adults needed such a motivation to become decent members of humanity. I hoped I would never become that way. And as I quietly sobbed, I heard the pitiful cry of the chalky child, for a moment, then drifted away to sleep.

And Mira, Part 2: Smoke

“Mira?”

“Hello Smoke,” Mira giggled.

“Don’t call me that. That isn’t my name…”

“Well then, what is your real name? I very well must call you something!” she asserts.

“Oh…well…sorry…I..I just can’t…”

“Mm-hmmm”

“But I don’t understand why you need to call me Smoke! It makes no sense, and it cannot be anything like my real name.”

He said this without being irritated, because she was right. He was unable to share his real name with her at this time. Her nickname for him made little sense, but was a mantle of mystery he had to admit he enjoyed.

It had been seven years since Mira had heard the cry of the chalky child. She still remembered the image of the pale child in pain, but no longer heard the terrible suffering in the back of her memory, or in her dreams. He had remained silent for many years after the passing of Sweet Bing. Almost as if both children had suffered and died simultaneously, the chalky child no longer found a voice after the unexpected passing of Mira’s childhood friend from pneumonia. The cry was palpable that night, almost as if mourning with her, then went away with as little warning as he came. For seven years the piteous child and the agonizing cry was absent. Until recently.

Earlier this month, in the twilight between awareness and sleep, he began speaking to her. At first she was frightened, of course. But it did not take Mira long to realize that this voice must be the miserable baby now grown, and able to speak. He too had replaced his cry with words she could hear, and respond to. She was certain that this was the chalky child of her infancy. They were known and unknown, strangers and friends, yet unseen to each. He seemed unaware of who he was, and did not know who Mira was, other than the one soul that could hear him.

Mira, as a baby, thought the chalky child was even a part of her own mind. But, this was a boy so she dismissed that fully. She thought, too, that it may be the spirit of sweet Bing back to haunt her, or bite her, or just lost in the next life. She wasn’t so quick to dismiss that, even though it was unlikely. The chalky child had been in her thoughts before death had taken Bing. So, impossibly, it seemed that Mira had friended a phantom in her quietest moments, most likely the auditory incarnation of a tormented baby from her memory! A lonely lost soul she called “Smoke”.

“You see, Smoke, you can’t tell me your name. Or you won’t! But I must call you something when I address you, when we speak. And, you see, I remember you from when you were just a baby. We never met, of course, but I knew you, and saw you, and…” She pauses here, not wanting to bring up the constant cries of agony she remembered. He doesn’t seem to know much about himself, and she didn’t want to upset him. If she made Smoke angry, he may leave her for another seven years or more! Though she had many friends, she enjoyed having this secret friend, and didn’t want him to go away. Particularly if by some chance it was indeed Bing. What fun!

“I don’t remember much of course, as I too was just a baby. But every time I saw you, it was as if through the fog of the deepest memory. In some ways I felt as though I was seeing you then, while at the same time as a distant thought. Which is silly, because of course babies don’t have deep memories and distant thoughts. But the constant was the dim fog separating us from existing at the same time, in the same room, or together in the same dream.

“So I call you Smoke! Would you prefer I call you Fog? Cloud, perhaps? Gassy?”

“No, gosh no. No. Fine. Smoke it is. I…actually like it. Well, what shall we play today?”

“Oh, Smoke, you silly, I have to go to school now. I wish you could go with but that never works. I’d love to talk more, but, I’m quite sure it’s time to wake up now.”

And, it was. As every morning, I awake, alone, in daze and haze. Unlike a dream, though, it isn’t just a vivid memory I have of speaking with Smoke. It is as though it just occurred while I was awake. As though it were real. I’m sure Smoke is some kind of spirit, perhaps of a child that died during war, or of pneumonia like Bing, or simply another child spared of another day as the child of Bing’s mother. Thankfully this ghost or whatever doesn’t seem to mean any harm to me. So, like most mornings I awake, very refreshed despite having spent much of my night in otherworldly conversation, and prepare for school.

I love school. I love to read, and learn about things of the world. At the beginning of class each day we pledge allegiance to our flag. “One nation, indivisible.” Teacher calls attendance in order, finally getting to my name. “Mira Mirras!” I say “present”.

So you see my confusion when I was young. Mira. Mira Mirras. That’s my name. Mira was both my first and last name. What a stupid thing for my parents to do. And I had to go to school to figure that out. My first year out of nursery school I thought all of the adults had a stutter! It explains the big book in our library adorned with two “M’s”, though. The first M has worn ever more each year at its farthest right leg. It’s my book of photos.

We study mathematics philosophies for a little while each day, reading, and handwriting. In Social Studies, we are learning about World War II and the split of Germany. This is probably my favorite class! I remember mom telling me we had some distant cousins in Germany. At one point, there were a number of people that needed food and such airlifted to them. What an adventure! I’m sure it was very difficult for them though. The German people are not always seen in a very favorable light, often considered gruff and harsh.

I’m still friends with both Andrew and Ellie. He prefers ‘Andy’. She prefers ‘Eleanor’. Despite that, I’m still friends with them. Andrew (yes, I still call him Andrew), is still my best friend. He was before, even when Bing was being so nice. But let’s face it, Bing was nice, Andrew stole my toys, and I liked the attention from both of them. Andrew didn’t seem to miss Bing very much at the time. Now, we both remember Bing. Fondly. Sadly.

You may remember the twins. They grew up with us, and became a little less confusing. There is a boy and a girl, named Frank and Kelly. They are still funny, as they seem to know what the other is thinking and feeling all the time. Weird. I understand that it’s normal for twins to be very sensitive to each other’s feelings and experiences. They have a lot of jokes and the like that only they laugh at. It’s a little annoying, but I see why they enjoy having that understanding with each other. I might enjoy that, having a sister that knew everything I was feeling! It would be nice if Andrew would occasionally guess what I’m thinking too.

Sorry, that’s another topic.

Kelly and Frank are very good friends to us, but they aren’t always good people.

Kelly is very energetic, perhaps a little hyper. She is pretty in the way that you could make a boy pretty, since she still looks like Frank. He is also pretty, though I would never say that to him. Kelly is very social and will be the one to invite others into a conversation. She works hard to get everyone to like her, but is easily wounded. She likes a lot of attention, but only when it’s positive attention. Her grand personality sometimes makes others feel small, and they let her know it. When that happens, she won’t talk to you for weeks. And when Kelly doesn’t talk to you, Frank does not talk to you either.

Frank is a bully. I’m not saying that it’s entirely unprovoked, but he is. Outside of Kelly’s influence, he is quiet, helpful, and very kind. He is in many ways Kelly’s opposite. Yet they’re twins. And because of that sensitivity, Frank disappears whenever she is upset, and “Angry Boy Kelly” appears. It’s true! Suddenly the kind, quiet Frank becomes as the direct mouthpiece to Kelly’s emotions, and he will lash out on her behalf.

One of the younger boys in school pulled his sister’s hair earlier in the year. I think the young guy actually liked Kelly, and just didn’t know how to talk to her. So he pulled her hair then ran away. Boys do that. Except Andrew. I’d kill him. He knows it.

Sorry, I did it again…

About a month later, Frank started beating the younger kid up, every day, before school. He would punch him in the stomach, and bruise his upper arms and legs, where adults wouldn’t see. He would shake him and threaten him. Some days he wouldn’t even hurt him, but would gaze at him with such menace that the little boy would wet his pants. One day he bloodied the poor kid’s nose and I thought for sure Frank would get in trouble. But the smaller kid told a story protecting Frank because he was scared. And he never spoke with Kelly either, because he was afraid of Frank. That part makes me angry, because otherwise Frank is a mild, friendly guy. I don’t like that she puts him up to that. The little guy learned his lesson. Let it go!

You may remember Ellie. I saved her for last. She is absolutely my best girlfriend, every day since nursery. She has grown to be very smart, and pretty. But she still has a large appetite, and she no longer chases boys. They chase her! I love Ellie, and frankly so does everyone else. She took Bing’s kindness to her, and shares it regularly with everyone else in her world. But Ellie, every day since Bing was taken from her, is sad. She doesn’t look sad, but I can see the missing piece of her soul, that only a friend can see. She shares the very best of herself with others. She saves her tears for me. In many ways I’m grateful to be that person for her. Almost like a twin.

Each day, Andrew walks me home. He doesn’t carry my books or anything. We just walk together because he lives so close. We are very good friends, though, and we talk about everything. He talks about a lot of things I could care less about, but I listen. It’s the least I can do, since he seems to sincerely care about everything I have to say.

Sometimes we talk about Frank, and whether we should make him stop beating up the smaller boy. We both agree that it’s probably Kelly putting him up to it. We both like the twins, especially Frank, when he isn’t acting that way. It’s very difficult to keep associating with him when he is harming a smaller boy though. Sometimes I’m even embarrassed to admit that I know him. Every day Andrew and I agree that the very next day we will make him stop. And every next day comes and we are too chicken to do actually do anything or say anything. I’m ashamed. I’m a coward when it comes to these things.

Most days, I make soup, wait for Mother to get home from work, and watch TV. It’s a little set showing the programs of the day in black and white. Not impressive. I think we will be able to get one in color someday though! Mom and I enjoy the quiz shows. The one where the host tugs his ear and the contestants play charades is our favorite! Mom and I act out the charades and try to guess along with the show. We both stink at it and laugh at each other a lot. These moments let me know that I have a very good life, for which I’m grateful.

Mother and I are very close. I’m all she has. Father is dead, so I’ve heard. It turns out though, that the photo of the man on the bookshelf is not my father. She doesn’t have a photo of Father. She feels bad about that.

The man in the photo is another man she married after she found out my father had died. He was the handsome one in the photo next to my album of baby pictures. Mother says that she loved him almost as much as Father, and that he was very good to her and me for a while. She says he loved me almost as much as Father did. Despite that, he left. What’s funny is that I never met either Father, or my step-father, and have only a photo of the latter. Something must have gone terribly wrong for him to leave the wonderful woman that is Mother. I have a hard time loving him back.

On this particular day, Andrew and I resolve to end Frank’s bullying of the little boy the next morning. For good. His terrorizing of the poor kid was just too much to bear. The child sat for an hour, under a tree, just shaking and shaking, afraid to enter the school that day. His teacher finally went out and collected him before lunch, and he said he fell asleep. As scared as I am, I think it’s just too much to witness day after day. And for once, Andrew was angry enough to fight Frank himself if needed. We’ll talk to Frank first, of course, but if that doesn’t work…

We never had to. The very next morning, out of nowhere, Frank went up to the little boy, and apologized to him. Profusely, and with tears. Weird. He was truly ashamed of his actions. Not only that, but he promised to protect him from anyone else that would ever try to hurt him the rest of the school year. And, he apologized on behalf of Kelly. They all became very good friends. In fact, the younger boy struck an especially close friendship with Kelly, who he liked. She, in turn, started being very nice to him, walking home with him from school every day. Just like Andrew and me, though I think she started, uh, liking the boy. And he carried her books for her. Lucky girl!

Sorry. I really need to stop that. How embarrassing…

I had always found Kelly to be a little unforgiving, so this was a surprise. She wasn’t a bully like Frank, but without her influence, Frank was more likely to be a close friend to someone than she. She was less likely to forgive a past slight. He, quietly, continued to be the young boy’s protector, as well as a good friend to everyone else. She was the same ebullient girl she always was, but without the easy wounding and vengeful tactics. They were a strange pair, each with two different sides, not quite complementary. Now, they were both showing their very best sides, great students and even better people, for nearly a month.

One day, Andrew and I decided to ask Frank what was responsible for the big change. Something had definitely happened, but what? We asked him to walk with us after school. Since his sister spent so much time with the other boy, he was happy for the company, and agreed. We walked a few blocks, keeping the conversation very casual. Then, at the right time, I asked Frank directly what had made him decide to stop bullying the little boy, and to befriend him. What was responsible for this wonderful change that made us all love him, and Kelly? Frank stopped, and looked at his feet, as if deciding between two different answers. He finally decided, and his mouth began to form the word “Kelly”.

But before he could utter that or any other word, he sunk to his knees. Tears began to well, slowly at first. Then, with a sudden frightening twist to his features, the tears fell freely, and he wept. He had gone completely mad, crying and whimpering out of control, his face a mixture of torment and fear. We tried to comfort him, but he couldn’t stop. Any approach brought ever louder screams. Other times his eyes would glaze and he appeared to forget we were even there with him.

After nearly ten minutes of persistent, even despair, he lifted his head and howled. This was a miserable cry, as though an animal were caught in a trap, breathing its last. We were afraid that Frank would die before our very eyes. But, Frank did not die. Immediately following the horrible scream, he was finally able to mouth the word, “Kelly” as he intended before, but this time he was certain of which word to utter. Then, he stood, and ran from us, as if from a fire.

We followed him. Frank isn’t normally a sure runner, but he seemed to know precisely where he was going this time. He turned quick corners and ran back toward our school. Just before reaching the storehouse of education we all shared, he rapidly bent his path, choosing a quiet block, with only a few houses to boast. It was the block that the little boy lived on; the same poor kid that he used to brutalize on a daily basis. And there, in the middle of the street was that boy, huddled down over a body, himself a mess of tears. Kelly’s body. She was dead.

Frank froze, viewing Kelly’s broken body. After empty moments had passed, the boy was able to ramble a few words. Kelly had apparently been hit by an automobile. She never had a chance, dead even before being flung in the air. It was clearly an accident, as no small boy could cause that kind of damage. Neighbors finally started to pour out to help and bring order to the situation. No one, including the boy had seen any car speeding down that road. In fact, very few cars ever traveled this road. One must have this day though. And at the very moment of the accident, and each second leading up to it, Frank had felt her fear, her pain and her death.

The little boy went into shock. He didn’t speak the rest of the school year, until his parents just kept him home. He would be absent from school entirely until many years later. That night, in my bed, I didn’t cry. I couldn’t cry for Kelly. I could feel sad for Frank, and for the little boy, I suppose. It was true that Kelly had turned around, becoming a good friend, and a good person. But, as you know, fate and fairness and all. Kelly, I’m sure, received her ultimate reward for her behavior the many months prior.

You know, even as I say that, and even believe it; it rings hollower than with Bing. I decide to talk with Smoke about it when next we speak.

“Smoke, why do bad things happen to good people?”

A pause

“You mean like Kelly?” he asked.

“Yes.”

Another pause.

“They don’t. Kelly was not a good person. She made Frank mean.”

I didn’t know how he could possibly know that.

“Smoke, how do you know that?”

“Bing. He wasn’t a good person either. He was mean.”

Oh…

I now know that Smoke was NOT Bing. I was suddenly afraid to know any more. I wanted to wake up.

“Mira, I’m going to try to tell you my name. Soon. You will help me. Then you will call me by my real name.”

“Smoke?”

This pause felt very uncomfortable.

“Yes?”

“Do you know how Kelly died?”

And with that, it was time to wake again. I suddenly shivered before opening my eyes to the new day. It was because I was already awake, and morning had not yet come. My eyes had never closed. I had the whole night yet before me.

“I will tell you my name.”

And Mira, Part 3: Andrew Lost

I decided today to look through my photo album. It’s been a while. Every time I open the book, the “M” on the cover, the first one, wears down more of its dangling right leg. There are two large “M’s” on the cover, signifying my name, Mira Mirras.

Yes, that’s my name. Redundant, I know.

I don’t want to damage the cover any further, so I rarely pull it from the bookshelf where it sits next to a photo of Mother and my former step-father. When I do take down the album, I’m quite careful. For twelve years I’ve managed to fill this book with brief glimpses of my life’s endeavors, keeping careful to protect my nameplate. Today, I am as cautious as ever, but intent on viewing each photo in detail for clues to the ghost that haunts me.

My ghost is “Smoke”, or so I call him as he hasn’t told me his real name. He started as a foggy memory from my infancy, so initially when he began speaking to me at age nine, I simply called him Smoke. It sounded better than “Smog”. I didn’t realize at the time that he was a ghost, as truthfully I could very well have been mad, hearing voices, attributing them to lost friends long gone. But, I was quite certain that the unhappy chalky child from my early memories was now grown, and speaking to me as a grown boy. He no longer demonstrated the agony of his difficult young childhood, and presented as a secret friend.

Now, I’m not so sure. True, there haven’t been any further deaths, and Smoke has been nothing but kind, even funny on occasion. But I cannot forget the night that Kelly died, and how much he seemed to know about her, inferring that her death was justified. And yet, he seemed unwilling to share about how much he knew about her actual death. Chilling!

Two children I have known have died in the time that I’ve known Smoke, or at least known of him. There is little to prove that Smoke was responsible, really. The one child, Bing, died of pneumonia – quite common in our day. And Kelly was an unfortunate victim of an automobile accident. Both deaths were very sad and untimely, but not at all unusual or unheard of.

But here’s the thing. Bing showed no symptoms of pneumonia of any kind. He simply died in his crib after a life of total health, so it seemed. And Kelly’s accident was even more bizarre, since there was only evidence of an automobile accident, but no evidence of an automobile. No automobile! The one witness to the accident, Kelly’s young boyfriend, went into shock and is now completely mute, at home, removed from society. All of these were completely normal deaths, under entirely abnormal circumstances.

Adding to the mystery of it, both had a complete personality change, for the better, for nearly a month up until their deaths. And Smoke…he seemed to know all about it, or enough to make me very nervous. He told me they were not good people, which he should not know. And why would he even say that? So I’m looking through my own history to see if I can find a clue about myself, Smoke, and why he would choose me to talk to, or haunt, or whatever it is that he’s doing.

My baby pictures are wonderful. Of course I have the bearskin cheesecake shot. Thanks, Mother. That of course will never be shown outside of this house to anyone not related by blood! There are photos of me eating, cake I think, on my first birthday. I giggle, because it’s all over my face, and because the sad fact is that I still eat cake this way. I see a more recent photo of myself with one of the young children in the neighborhood. He and I are playing with a potato-like toy, and I’m making him laugh with the funny faces I create. I like caring for children very much, like the adults from my nursery school cared for me. Like Mother.

There is a beautiful photo of me sleeping, covered in a homemade blanket, dark with lighter cross-stitches on it. I am sleeping on my stomach with my bottom up in the air and my cheek scrunched up against the bed. It’s funny because I see children sleeping that way now, so it must be how children sleep. But what makes the photo beautiful is the peaceful look on my face above all the scrunching. Whenever I am feeling depressed or down-trodden, I think about how calm and happy I am in this photo, and I feel immediately better.

There are a number of other photos of me at various ages and stages, playing with toys, swimming, running, chasing a ball or a dog, or a dog chasing a ball, and generally enjoying a wonderful life. My careful inspection of each photo brings warmth to my cheeks as I smile and remember happy times. None, however, offers a single clue to my ghost. In many ways, that’s a relief. At this point, Mother enters the room and turns on the television in order to watch “Today”.

Mother and I watch television together a lot. We laugh at the characters, play the game shows with the contestants, eating supper, or occasionally fast food while watching. Mother hates that she allows me to do that, but we both enjoy wonderful time together. We are very close. Since I’ve begun digging up my past, I decide to push a little further.

“Mother, what can you tell me about Father?”

“What would you like to know?”

“Well, everything, of course. What did he look like? Was he handsome? What was your favorite thing about him? How long were you married?”

“Mira, my goodness, slow down! Of course your father was very handsome. He wasn’t terribly tall, but had light hair, dark eyes, and a hopelessly infectious laugh. He and I laughed together a lot, like you and I do. We weren’t married for very long…he died shortly after you were born. Spending time with you reminds me of the fun he and I had, which is such a joy. It also is very sad. What I miss most about him is how much he loved you…”

It sounded as though she had more to say, so I pressed.

“How did he die? I’ve heard people say he was a hero. But what does that mean?”

“Your father was a soldier in the war. He killed a lot of enemy soldiers, and died protecting some of his own men. I don’t know all of the details, but yes he was very brave. His death allowed others to live, which is why you will hear our family often call him a hero.”

OK. One more.

“What was his name?”

A pause.

“Nathaniel. It was Nathaniel. I’m surprised I’ve never told you that…”

“Nathaniel the Brave,” I dreamed out loud.

“Yes”, said Mother, “Nathaniel the Brave, who loved me, and loved you, and his fellow soldiers and countrymen and…loved his family.”

Mother gets a very sad, quiet expression at this, as though she were losing Father yet again. Hearing those things about the father I never met gave me the warm, flushed, happy feeling that I felt looking at my sleeping photo with the dark cross-stitched blanket. I turned to it again to complete the feeling, but what I found left me cold. When I turned to it, the photo showed instead, in full color, a cherry-red box with a gold cross.

No! A coffin! I quickly skimmed through all of the other photos to find that in each I was no longer visible. It was as if my whole life had in fact happened without me! My absence was repeated through each photo on every page, all the way until the very first photo. There, on the bearskin rug, where previously I had had my very first photo, was instead a pasty white baby looking forward. That is, if you could call it a human baby. This child was an abomination! At the realization that my baby picture had been mystically replaced by the true visage, the disgusting features and mangled body of the chalky child, I screamed and lost consciousness. That is all I remember.

I woke up later that evening, the album still lying next to me, open, and apparently back to normal. Mother was quite concerned, but I couldn’t let her know what I saw. I couldn’t let her know that my photographs were being haunted by a creature from my earliest memory, or that this creature even existed. Even I would think I was mad if I heard my own story! Thinking quickly, I told her I must simply have been famished, and must have passed out from near-starvation, and would she be willing to get me the Colonel’s chicken for dinner? Yes, yes I feel fine. Of course I would be just fine to go to school tomorrow!

I am now twelve years of age, and in Junior High. I don’t love school quite as much as I did when I was younger. I don’t mind my classes, and I love learning, of course. But I’m afraid. You see, I make friends easily, which isn’t as good as it sounds. Because I have a ghost. And ever since I’ve had a ghost, my friends seem to have unexplainable, mortal accidents. So while I enjoy school, math, reading Anne Frank’s Diary, and pledging “one nation, indivisible” each day, it is always in the back of my mind that one of my friends may simply die!

It is always in my mind that it will be, somehow, my fault.

I am most concerned for Andrew. I will say that the best part of Junior High is the boys! They are many, and they enjoy talking to me. But my favorite boy, my favorite friend, is Andrew. He continues to walk me home every day, and while he’s never kissed me, he’s begun carrying my books for me. I can certainly carry my books myself, but I sure do enjoy when he does it for me! We talk every day about important things, like television, schoolwork, our friends, the President, Queen Elizabeth, the bomb, and the world such as it is. I enjoy our conversations, but I have to admit that it is Andrew’s presence, his words and his eyes, that make them the highlight of my day.

And then there is Frank. Frank is beautiful in his own right. He also has never kissed me, but I doubt he will ever kiss anyone. Frank lost his sister, Kelly, the girl that I referenced earlier. They were twins, and I have to believe that type of loss is different than losing a sibling in any other way. Frank is very cordial at school and even smiles at me sometimes. But Frank, unlike Andrew, doesn’t give me the time of day when classes are out. That isn’t fair, perhaps, as he doesn’t give anyone the time of day. He spends all of his afternoon hours, after school, standing outside of the little boy’s house that he used to bully. The one that was there when his sister was…when she died. Cooper.

Just before Kelly’s accident, Frank had befriended Cooper. He protected him at school, which was ironic considering that Frank was the one that had been bullying Cooper. Cooper and Kelly became very close friends largely due to Frank’s change of heart on the matter. Or, so it seemed. Our group of friends always felt that it was Kelly’s influence that made her brother bully the smaller boy. Then, suddenly, Frank apologized for having terrorized him, and pledged his friendship. After that Cooper began to spend a lot of time with Kelly, and they became close. Until she died.

Now, Frank would spend every moment after school, until suppertime, standing outside of Cooper’s home, just staring. Two young men on opposite sides of a glass, feeling the same inconsolable loss, unable to create any positive momentum toward healing. Both rushing toward death by standing still.

I would follow him on occasion, with Andrew, mostly out of concern. Most often, we would observe Frank staring at the home of the now mute child, with a very strange look on his face. I still don’t know if it was anger, or something else. Part of me believed that Frank needed to continue to protect Cooper, even more so now that his sister was gone. The more rational part of me knew that he was waiting for the chance to exact revenge on Cooper. For what? Surviving, I think, while his sister did not.

Andrew and I spoke of this at length. He felt we should leave it be. It wasn’t our concern. I felt that we needed to reach out and help Frank, at the very least, and possibly even Cooper. Andrew became increasingly irritated with me, which frankly I did not like. He was acting almost jealous of Frank! I wasn’t terribly impressed that he would leave our friend to such misery, and it wasn’t like Frank was carrying my books home every day.

Oh, Andrew, just kiss me you idiot!

But he did not. And our arguments continued to the point that he was becoming impossible to deal with, and I was not willing to let poor Frank go on like this. Eventually Andrew threw up his hands and just told me to go my own way. This made me sad, because Andrew was my friend, no, my partner, and I was disappointed that he wasn’t willing to help another friend with me. He stopped walking me home. He stopped carrying my books. And he…well, never mind that.

Lucky for me, there was Eleanor. Ellie. She continues to be my best friend to this day, and she loves more than anything else to talk about boys! True, she still loves to eat, and is maybe a little bigger than she should be, but she is the most loving, wonderful human being that walks the planet. She is very beautiful in her own way, and often captivates the boys herself with her wit and her sweetness. Actually, she has already been kissed! She knows that I love Andrew, and is disappointed every time he disappoints me. But she’ll never tell him. Because Ellie is loyal first to me, then to the boys, then to the world. My Ellie.

We would talk about how cute they were, how they made us laugh, and the many ways they would infuriate us! Andrew and Frank were so very different. Andrew was not a stout fellow at all, very slim, but with beautiful eyes and very light hair. He’s also had my heart since nursery school. Frank, on the other hand, was a very impactful fellow, big and dark, with even darker eyes. I wouldn’t call them beautiful, like Andrew’s eyes, but they were certainly mysterious and exciting! His stare was both terrifying, and captivating.

Ellie agrees that Andrew is being a fool, and that it is right for us to help our old friend Frank, despite his history. I think Ellie may have liked him at some point. Perhaps even now. The loss of Bing hit her so hard. How wonderful it would be to bring Frank back from his malaise, as the solution to Ellie’s broken heart. Now, we will work together to bring him back.

The strategy is simple. For one week we will follow him from school, and simply stand with him. The next week, we would talk with him. This all worked great, except that Frank would never acknowledge that he had been spoken to, except to me. It was as though Ellie wasn’t even there, and she did not like that. It hurt her that he would only listen, and speak, to me. I am sure now my Ellie loved Frank, enough to let me get through to him if I could. Even without her.

So, by the third week, it was just Frank and me, standing outside Cooper’s silent home. Standing and staring. Over time, his stare would become softer, and he would gaze around, or down at his feet. I would ask him his thoughts about things, like school and the world, and slowly he would answer. I asked him many times about Ellie, but he refused to talk about her. I never shared that with Ellie, since I knew it would hurt her. Sometimes, I would lie and say he asked about her, which made her blush.

By the fourth week, Frank was a different kid. He would talk and laugh as though nothing else mattered, and more importantly he seemed to forget about silent Cooper, and standing outside of the house, gazing his death-gaze at the unseen Cooper. Andrew was still upset with me, and I at him, so Frank began walking me home, carrying my books. We would laugh and talk until reaching my home. Then, believe it or not, Frank would hand me my books, say a cordial goodbye, and go home. He would never even go back by Cooper’s neighborhood. It was as though he had forgotten his mania altogether.

At the end of the fourth week, Frank was holding my hand as we walked home. Oh damn. I didn’t want this. I do care deeply about Frank, but I love Andrew, and Ellie will kill me, and this was very very bad!

At the beginning of the fifth week, Monday, Frank noticed Mother wasn’t home, and wanted to extend his visit. Fool that I was, I let him. We entered our home, into the living area which was beginning to get dim from the darkness outside. My intent was to light the room immediately, but Frank stopped me, wanting instead to play a new game. I’d not heard of it before, but like everything else about Frank, it was dark and exciting! While standing by my photo album, and the photo of Mother and my step-father, he explained the rules.

“Mira, take a candle, and walk upstairs backward. I will be waiting for you at the top, by the giant mirror. When you get to the top of the stairs, turn, and quickly look in the mirror. You should then catch a glimpse of your future husband standing next to you in the mirror. But here’s the thing, if you see a skeleton or a phantom, well, that means that you will die before you marry!”

I should never have participated in this exercise. I know. Given my history of the past few years it was certain that I would see the ghost, chalky white in the mirror, and die on the spot. Perhaps the ghost would come through the mirror and take my life in front of Frank’s unbelieving eyes! But, here I was, with dark Frank, exciting, a wonderful game and a role to play. So, as only a fool would do, I lit a candle, waited for Frank to take his place upstairs, and began my ascent.

There was nothing to the game, the candle, or climbing the stairs. I stumbled briefly on the way up, nervous and not able to see where I was going, but quickly caught myself. Boys seem to like when girls are embarrassed, and Frank, no exception, kept encouraging me all the way up the stairs, before the large mirror where he was waiting. I took the last few steps, backward, into the hall, waiting for my doom to occur. At the precise moment that I looked into the mirror, I was certain that I caught a brief glimpse of Andrew, as my candle blew out, leaving Frank and me in total darkness.

But at the moment the candle blew out, I felt something grab at me. I was certain that this was the moment of my demise, and the chalky child had come; ready to take me to my well-deserved fate. I thought of all of the children I had known. Bing, sweet Bing the biter, with the wicked mother. I relished her pain! And Kelly, of course. I wasn’t pleased at her death, but she was wicked as well. And this was what brought Frank and me together! Certainly, it was my turn to receive my reward for all of the horrid thoughts I had had for those poor souls!

Hate, fate and fairness. I deserved this. I leaned back and waited for my final breath. And justice immediately stopped my lungs, and my airways, covering my mouth fully. And death felt like warm, wet lips on mine. What a curious way to die! I finally did realize that Frank, in the darkness, had decided in this moment to procure his first kiss and mine, in lieu of the visit of a specter and the reaper’s scythe. It was a short moment that lasted forever, and I almost laughed at myself for thinking Andrew would have been the one.

But, I had seen Andrew’s face in the mirror, hadn’t I?

I swore that Andrew should have been my first, evidenced by his appearance, on cue, in the mirror, and the guilt now tugging at my heart. Guilt for Andrew. And guilt for Ellie. The kiss ended, naturally, on its own. Frank had performed the perfect first kiss and made me swoon. There were no good choices to be made at this point. I pulled back to look upon Frank, who had me in his arms and in his control, his dark eyes evident more in the blackness. I relit the candle, coveting the darkness, but endeavoring to look into the dark eyes of this boy that had stirred first romantic feelings in me. My heart beating, I stole a second glance in the mirror, to see if the reflection of my true love had evolved.

It had.

As if in a nightmare, the boy holding me close, holding me tight, was not Frank. Frank somehow had disappeared, replaced by a pale monstrosity, recognizable from my early memories, now grown! Looking in the mirror, I saw my infatuation to be not Frank, and not Andrew, but a chalky, unclothed beast, with eyes closed, breathing short, heavy, foul breaths.

The creature was bald, gaunt, with one ear barely protruding from the side of his head, and the other missing. He had no hair, no nose, no teeth, and his leathery face seemed to continue into his pain-writhing mouth, as though sewn from a sack cloth. His fingers appeared attached to each other, stumpy and thick, almost webbed, but strong. The body, skeletal at best, gave no evidence as to its true gender, but I knew. This was the chalky child from my earliest memories. This was Smoke!

Smoke had somehow replaced Frank as the object of my first romantic encounter. As much as I needed to, I couldn’t scream. Instead, I lurched, and lost the day’s meals. I closed my eyes and fell forward, heaving, filling all before me with my bile. I cried. I shook. I threw off the last of my sickness and bore up to face Smoke, to scold him, and to accept the fate I had expected all along.

But Smoke, the chalk-monster, as well as Frank, was now gone.

Peering in the mirror, I saw Andrew again, but not as a reflection. I was standing in a field, with Andrew staring at me, face sad and head down. I put my hands up to the glass, to try to touch him, to bring him to me. I had no idea until this moment how badly I needed Andrew. He would briefly look up, shake his head, then turn away. I took a deep breath, desperate to scream for Andrew to come to me, to save me from this nightmare. And it was then I saw the light. It was then I looked down. Railroad tracks!

I wanted to scream for Andrew to jump out of the way, but no sound would escape my lips. Harder and harder I cried, with no result. Andrew kept looking down, sad, shaking his head. I was sure that the ugly chalky child, my Smoke, was going to kill the true love of my life, and I could do nothing to change that, as the lights behind me got brighter and brighter.

Wait. Behind me?

I looked down. Tracks, illuminated ever more by the increasing beam made it certain that there would be death tonight, where only moments before had been sweet romance. And as the tracks shone brighter in the glowing beam, I realized that it was not Andrew facing the power of the oncoming locomotive. It was me! I was stuck to the tracks while Andrew simply looked on, sad and shaking. I quickly whirled around to face my fate, staring deep into the spot of the oncoming locomotive. I braced for death.

Then my eyes opened to a new light, the light of morning. I awoke, in tears and in the sweat of having stared down the certain death of myself and the other most important to me. And then, I knew. I knew that I had not died, nor had I witnessed the death of Andrew. I had been the eyes and the emotions of Frank, as Smoke, my ghost, had placed him in the very center of harm’s way. I had just witnessed, and experienced, Frank’s death, with the fear and hopelessness that Frank must have felt.

I knew. I knew he was gone. The next day’s newspapers and the gossiping community would prove that to be true. Oh dear Ellie! She will be crushed.

“How…how could you?”

“Mira. I want to thank you.”

“Don’t you dare thank me you chalky bastard. How. Could. You. Kill. Frank? Tell me why!”

“Mira you have shown me my true name. I now know who I am. You searched and you questioned, and you found the answers to all of our questions, and you found my name.”

Silence. He is too calm. This is not good. I’m suddenly frightened of my secret friend, more than ever. What did he mean ‘our questions’?

“Yes. I am the chalky child. I am Smoke. But I also have a name. Others have called me…Nathaniel. That is my name.”

No.

My father was a hero. He saved lives. He couldn’t be this chalky bastard, this monster. He killed only in war, and was first a protector. How could this ghoul be Nathaniel Mirras? How? I needed to calm down quickly. It would not do to anger this ghost, so much more connected to me than I first realized. I walked downstairs. I was clearly awake, and able to speak with him while conscious. I needed answers. The rest of my life would depend on them.

“Smoke. Nathaniel…tell me why you killed Frank. Tell me why. Why?” But even as I demanded through tears his account of himself, I already knew the answer, and the consequence to me, to Frank, and to anyone I might ever love. I understood.

“Mira. Be patient. There is plenty of time for all of your friends. You don’t even realize how close you came to taking a different path altogether. You were supposed to play the game with Andrew, after all.” Though no longer visible, I could feel the evil smile spreading over his toothless face, eyes still closed as though still the infant he once was.

I understood that I would never be able to be with my partner, my best friend, and my true love since childhood. Ever. And as I looked over to my album I saw that the right leg of the first “M” was completely gone, now forming, in fact, the letter “N”. My life and the lives of those around me are in the hands of Nathaniel Mirras.

And he is a killer.

Credit To – MeGoMike/MeGoMirras

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Long Way Down

March 29, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Long Way Down: Part 1

Recommended Listening: Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy

I don’t quite know why I chose to drink my coffee black. I suppose the sweetness of sugar or its substitutes didn’t suit me, nor did I find that creamy beige colour that coffee turned once mixed with milk or cream appealing. Bitterness was my dark passenger, one I kept trying to shrug off like a heavy coat.

My throat tasted like melancholy, the caffeine doing absolutely nothing to wake me up. I felt nowhere near as alert as I needed to be. I wondered if I could wash away the feelings of fatigue and lethargy with another cup of the dark brown liquid that had left a thin film of regret on the inside of my favourite mug.

I stared down at the empty ceramic mug that lay on the small table in front of me, my vision blurring as I let my eyes focus on something off in the corner of the room. There wasn’t anything there, just shadow and wood walls, but I’d grown weary of watching the embers of the fire in my hearth die out.

The ancient, leather armchair I sat in groaned every few seconds, even though I myself remained as still as they dry, winter air outside. The pale blue fabric of my shirt was dyed bronze and gold in the light of the weak fire, making me feel warmer than I actually felt.

My cabin, my home, may have been tiny, but it was all I needed to keep myself content. Solitude was acting as my solace, but today, I’d decided to give my solitude a break.

I stood up from my chair, pulling my cell phone out of my pocket as I rose. I approached the fireplace while dialing a number with my thumb, my opposite hand working on dousing the faint, amber glow that still burned on within the fireplace’s stone confines.

The phone presented me with a dial tone that rang only twice before the agitated voice of a woman replaced the harsh sound.

“Lieutenant Moser, Homicide Department,” said the woman.

“Good morning, Lieutenant,” I said, clenching my jaw shut to contain the yawn I felt bubbling up from within my throat. “It’s Detective Vikas. You’re aware that I’m not going to be in for the next few days?” I asked with a cough as a small puff of ash rose into my face from below.

“Indeed, Detective,” she responded. Her tone was clipped with supressed annoyance, so I quickly decided to end the call before she chose to vent her anger out on me.

“All right then,” I said, walking towards the door, “that’ll be all. Have a good day, Lieutenant.”

I hung up, and pocketed my phone as I pulled my coat off of the hook by the door. I pulled the thick, fur lined jacket around my shoulders, shoving my feet into my boots at the same time. Within minutes, I’d grabbed my car keys, and was out the door.

The front yard of my home was layered with grey snow and dry leaves, the driveway speckled with a galaxy of salt stones. It was brisk outside, not so much as frigid. My lungs burned with the sudden chill of going from the stifling interior of my cabin to the near frozen wilderness that surrounded it. I watched, stunned, as my breath formed a cloud in front of my face, one that dissipated only seconds later. The moment soon passed, and I trudged my way towards my simple, black car.

I disliked driving to the city, much less so in the winter months. The sides of my car got coated with a thick mass of blackened slush, and my boots never went more than a day without being painted white with the stains of melting road salt. I never noticed how much those small things bothered me. I suppose I was bound to notice. It’s not like I had all that much to keep me occupied anyway.

It took me just under half an hour to reach the hospital district of my city. It shouldn’t have taken me so long, but the roads were packed and icy, forcing me to take a few side routes into the city.

I parked across the street from the hospital to avoid paying those ridiculous parking lot fees.

I sat in my car for a few minutes, my left leg bouncing in mild anxiety. I shouldn’t have been having second thoughts, not at that point. I’d had this appointment booked for over a month. I’d known the day would come. I’d awaited it. I’d longed for it, and now, it was here.

I volunteered for this experience because they’d told me it would help me move on. I didn’t want to forget, that would be wrong, but moving on was something I needed. I could achieve true peace. I could be free of all of the things that refused to release my fractured mind from its grasp. Traditional therapy never worked, and I was just tired of feeling this way. I wanted to be whole again, and this study was giving me the opportunity to become so.

I exited my car, slamming the door behind me with a dull thud. I hunched my shoulders as a sudden gust of glacial wind rushed past me, whipping my grey and chestnut hair across my forehead as the air dragged across my cheeks. I exhaled in the gale, scowling faintly as I headed towards the hospital.

It was refreshingly warm within the hospital’s lobby. Everything was white and blue, the floors stained with the partial muddy boot prints of each and every patron. It was loud, as to be expected, with the sharp trilling of landlines ringing, and the hacking, wheezing coughs of the physically ill. I heard children wailing, and smelled a sickly-sweet blend of cleaning fluids and body odor.

I fought the urge to scowl in distaste, and instead turned to my right, following an overhead sign that directed me towards the psychiatric wing.

Tan carpets and felt sofas is what greeted me in the waiting room of the psych ward. The walls were covered with an olive and beige striped wall paper, the colours faded and dusty. It smelled of stale air freshener and perfume, and was unnervingly quiet, though that could’ve very well been because I was the sole occupant in the waiting room.

The second I sat down in one of the green, padded chairs, a woman’s voice abruptly called out to me, causing my heart to seize momentarily in surprise.

“Mr. Vikas?”

I rose from my seat, turning towards a petite female nurse in long, white skirt, and a startlingly red cardigan. Her expression was soft, caring even, her hair long and the same colour as milk chocolate, tied into a ponytail at the base of her head. Though she appeared kind, there was something about her eyes that struck me the wrong way. They seemed too blank, too empty, for it to be considered completely natural. I realized all too quickly that dwelling on every oddity would only succeed in causing me stress.

I disregarded my thoughts immediately as I stepped towards the nurse, allowing her to lead me beyond a pair of sea green doors, and down a long hallway lined with offices that appeared to be vacant.

She knocked thrice upon the wooden door with a single, curtained window that lay at the far end of the hall, never once turning to look at me. I stared straight ahead, making eye contact with my reflection, consciously trying to work the semi-fearful expression I wore out of my features.

I began to feel minute vibrations emanating from within my chest. It took me a few moments to gather that I was feeling the by-product of my heart calming itself down. I pursed my lips in self-doubt, the crease between my brows becoming more defined at my distaste. I didn’t understand why I was so afraid. I was trying to get better, to move on. I shouldn’t have felt anything but hope.

A muted, “Come in,” resonated flatly from beyond the door just as the nurse turned the knob. She opened the door, stepping aside as she motioned for me to enter.

I nodded to the nurse, and passed through the doorway.

It was dim within the room. The light was musty, an orange glow that came from fixtures along the walls, streaking into the darkness of the room.

There was a huge window on the wall opposite to where I stood. The great panes of glass were shrouded by a sheath of deep green curtains, held back at the centre by golden tassels. The walls wore the same outdated wallpaper, the floors donning oriental rugs instead of a standard carpet.

In front of the window lay a massive, wooden desk. There were papers, file folders, and ornaments scattered like broken glass along the top of the desk. In front of the desk was a long, velvety couch in the same, deep green colour as the curtains, the fabric appearing to be remarkably new in comparison to the rest of the objects within the room. To the left of the couch was an armchair angled to face the sofa, its brown leather as aged as my own. To the right of the couch was a series of machines, all of them leaking a haphazard tangle of rainbow wires, all of them faintly beeping or subtly blinking.

Behind the desk was a chair, and in that chair was a man. He looked older than I was, wearing a plain, grey suit with a nondescript, blue tie. He sat upright, his round face placid. He wore a pair of round-framed glasses, the lenses so thick they made his eyes comically large. His nose was bulbous, his chin wearing a mottled, grey and black beard. His hair was black with patches of ash and snow scattered here and there, and his face was lined the markers of spending time with other peoples’ problems.

“Please, take a seat, Mr. Vikas,” he said, gesturing with one of his thick fingered hands towards the sofa.

I nodded distantly, and shakily approached the sofa. I sat down as the man came around the desk, taking a seat in the armchair.

“Mr. Vikas, I am Dr. Philip Jacobi. I am in very grateful for your participation today,” he said, extending his hand.

I took his hand, shaking it as firmly as I could manage. “Think nothing of it,” I said, my voice sounding oddly far away.

“I suppose I should explain what it is exactly that this procedure will entail, no?” he asked, his tone as carefree as if he’d been inquiring about the weather.

I simply nodded, my mouth unable to form the necessary words of affirmation.

“I’m sure you’re at least aware that this is an experiment of the mind, one to help you come to terms with some rather…unpleasant memories? Hmm?” he posed.

I nodded once more.

“Very well, then,” he said, leaning back into his chair. “Let me begin by telling you just a small bit about your own brain.”

I felt the corner of my lip curl for just a brief second in the slightest expression of annoyance. I swallowed, trying to remain patient and focused on Dr. Jacobi.

“Your brain is an incredible, incredible specimen, as are all brains,” he began, his eyes glazed over as if reminiscing over a loved one. “The human brain is divided into several different parts: the hemispheres, left and right, the fore, hind, and midbrain, the lobes, et cetera, et cetera. The only parts that we shall be focusing on today will be that of the hippocampus, and the amygdala –” he said, until I felt my own lips moving.

“The hippo-what?” I heard myself say, my throat forcing down another thick glob of saliva.

The doctor blinked at me, as if he couldn’t possibly believe that I was questioning him, much less interrupting him. “The hippocampus,” he repeated, “and the amygdala are both parts of your limbic system. This is where your conscious mind, and your unconscious mind reside. Your emotions, memories, fears, desires, and instincts all come from this area,” he finished, his eyes locking onto mine.

“Recently, my colleagues and I have developed a most spectacular drug,” he said, his voice making me think of a proud father at a soccer game. “This drug is targeted towards amnesia victims, but not quite in the reason you’re thinking. No, this drug isn’t meant to bring back lost memories, but it is to help the brain compartmentalize and accept the ones that it already has. This can be such an onerous and painful thing to do, but this drug has the power to soothe the minds of even the most damaged patients,” he finished.

I opened my mouth to ask a question, but Dr. Jacobi spoke before I could.

“Now, this drug isn’t the traditional pill or syrup or serum that you would receive from the emergency room,” he added. “The drug is in a gaseous state that, once inhaled, stimulates the olfactory senses, more commonly known as your sense of smell. Scent is the most effective way of promoting memory recollection since all scent related information passes through the hippocampus on its way to the temporal lobe, therefore, scent should more than be able to aid in the storage of memories as well,” he stated.

At that point, any and all words I might’ve wanted to say had long abandoned me. I was alone, even in my thoughts, and all I could do was breathe a faint, “Oh.”

“Today, you will be given a controlled dose of the drug via a nasal pipe, much like what you would wear if you were being given oxygen, while being connected to a few devices,” he said, gesturing towards the noisy machines to my left. “One will monitor your brain activity, the others your heart rate and oxygen levels. There is no need for you to feel worried,” he said, his voice sounding genuinely assuring. “After all, the only fears you have are the ones you’ve created for yourself.”

I felt my lips unstick from one another as I felt a question forming on my tongue. “When do we start?” I asked softly.

Dr. Jacobi smiled. “Right now,” he answered.

“Try and relax now, Mr. Vikas,” said Dr. Jacobi as he stuck a final electrode on my right temple.

I was covered in them, electrodes. They littered my face and chest like a pox, making the machines beep and whir rhythmically beside me. I was laying on my back, my eyes staring at the plain, unblemished ceiling above me, trying to focus on my breathing.

“Your vitals seem normal, so, if we may begin?” asked Dr. Jacobi as he slowly began to untangle a long, transparent tube.

“Sure,” I responded, my voice hollow and distant.

“Excellent, excellent,” muttered the doctor.

He approached me seconds later with what appeared to be a standard oxygen tube, the kind that rests just inside your nostrils. I let him place it on my face, working to keep breathing normally.

“I haven’t begun to give you the drug just yet,” he said calmly as he lowered himself back into the armchair. “First, I need to get you under hypnosis, understand?”

“Yes,” I replied, not wanting to nod for fear of dislodging one of the electrodes.

“Very well, then,” said the doctor. “I want you to close your eyes for me, Mr. Vikas,” he instructed.

I shut my eyes, my ears scouring the air for the doctor’s next words.

“In a few moments, we are going to count backwards from ten together. I want you to tap your right leg with your right hand to indicate that you understand me,” he said, his voice now holding a sense of gravity that hadn’t been there previously.

I patted my right thigh with the specified hand, feeling the weathered material of the jeans I wore beneath my clammy palm.

“On my mark, we will begin counting. By the time you have counted down to five, you will be inhaling the drug. You will not detect any change in the air you breathe. You will not feel as if you are being given anything. Please tap your right leg once more so I that I know you understand,” he said, his voice sounding significantly softer, quieter, than it had been, as if he was standing on the opposite end of the room.

I tapped my thigh once again.

“Once you have counted from ten to one, you will lose consciousness. You will awaken within your own mind, as if in a dream, and we will have no further contact until you next gain consciousness. I strongly advise you to proceed with caution from this point on. You will be alone with your subconscious, with the memories of what has driven you to come here today. You will confront whatever it is that may be haunting you, and it will not be easy. Now, I want you to begin counting down from ten… now.”

I pulled my lips apart, trying to calm the wild fluttering of my heart within my chest.

“Ten, nine, eight…”

My breathing was growing steadily shallower, as if I were succumbing to a panic attack.

“Seven, six, five…”

I wiped my damp palms against the tops of my legs, squeezing my eyelids tighter.

“Four… three… two…”

I took a deep breath.

“One.”

It was deafeningly silent, save for the haunting creaking of old wood. I smelled rot and earth, scents I’d normally associate with a coffin.

I was on my back, lying with my right leg crossed over my left, my hands folded neatly on my stomach. Wearily, unsure of what else to do, I opened my eyes, and felt my breath hitch in my throat.

I was in a grand, old home, a mansion or a manor. It was old, ancient, and decrepit, filled with signs of time passing.

I carefully worked my way into a sitting position, looking about the room I was in. I was very surprised to see that the drug had indeed transported me somewhere else, but why to a manor? What purpose did it serve? What did it represent?

I rose off of the floor slowly, blinking in mild shock, observing my new environment. I took a deep breath, only to cough loudly as the dust polluted air suddenly filled my chest.

I was in the foyer of the mansion, the floors made of a dark wood that had been stripped of its varnish. A layer of grime coated everything, making every surface appear luminescent in the light that streamed from everywhere and nowhere at once.

There were the remains of a massive chandelier lying in the centre of the foyer, scattering a mist of light fractals and glass in all directions. To my left and to my right was a pair of identical staircases, both leading to a single, open door on the upper level.

The walls were bare, except for the few empty picture frames that were hung every few feet or so. The frames were identical, each the same large size and design, each devoid of a photograph or painting.

I turned around, expecting to see a door, only to stumble back a few steps in shock.

There was an immense painting on the wall behind me, one that was impossibly big. It rose from the mid-wall nearly to the ceiling, the frame covered in bits and pieces of pallid cobwebs. It depicted a Renaissance Plague Doctor holding a single, crimson rose, standing amidst a sea of wheat stalks, staring off into the distance.

My heart was thrashing violently, as if it were a caged beast fighting to escape by body. Something about the painting was stupendously off-putting. I had no clue as to what this entity could possibly be here to help me confront. I had never had an interest in history, and I was only aware of the Plague Doctors because of a few short novels I’d read. I doubted the image was there to alert me that I’d simply enjoyed those books.

I began to feel a faint trickle of nausea creeping up from my gut as I continued to gaze upon the painting, causing me to quickly turn away.

I gasped sharply, feeling quite confused, and much disoriented.

I was now standing on the upper level, facing the open door that I’d seen from the foyer. I hadn’t climbed the stairs, much less even considered entering the unlit room, but as I stood before it, I felt a sense of morbid curiosity urging me to proceed.

I quickly glanced behind me, only to be greeted with the same image of the foyer, the chandelier’s corpse, and the colossal painting. I was relieved that something had remained static.

I faced the doorway once again, balling my hands into fists at my sides. I looked to my left, seeing only an empty picture frame. I looked to my right, and saw the same empty frame. I had nowhere else to go except forward.

I felt my breaths escaping my parted lips, the air dry and thin. I swallowed, and passed through the doorway.

Long Way Down: Part 2

Recommended Listening: Seven Devils by Florence + The Machine

The door slammed shut behind me of its own accord, filling the still air with the dead thud of heavy wood falling into place.

Instantly, I was bathed in blackness. There wasn’t as much as a single pinprick of light before me. It appeared as if I were made of shadow, my body non-existent in this realm of pure darkness.

Aside from the absence of light, I became quite confused when I noticed the scent of lavender wafting through the air. I felt something tapping at my memory, something trying to remind me what the significance of lavender was, but I couldn’t remember what it was for the life of me.

I wondered if there was a chance of finding a lamp or a flashlight somewhere within the room, so I choose to take a single step forward in hopes of locating a light source.

My shoe clapped against the barren, wooden floor, as a single gas lamp illuminated on the opposite end of the room, followed by a pair on the walls to my left and right, and another, and another after that, until the room fully came to light.

I suddenly regretted entering the room.

I was surrounded by mirrors of all shapes and sizes. They were all pristine, all appearing brand new. They ranged in height from as tall as I was, to as small as the ones found in women’s cosmetic’s products.

The most eerie thing of all was that my reflection did not appear in a single mirror.

I turned around, only to come face to face with a floor to ceiling mirror, also devoid of my reflection.

I stepped back, a faint, startled cry escaping my lips as I turned back to the room, hoping to locate an exit somewhere within it.

I was horrendously confused. I didn’t have the slightest clue as to what my mind was trying to help me understand by showing me these, quite frankly, creepy, images. I wanted to confront my past, but what purpose did these mirrors serve? Was I to reflect on my past, on myself? But, if that was the case, where was my reflection? How could I possibly reflect on myself without seeing myself at all?

Did it signify change? But, change in what regard? Change in my home life, in my mindset, in my personality? It was all so frustratingly obtuse.

I walked forward until I reached what must’ve been the centre of the room. I saw an expanse of mirrors in all directions, none of them housing a reflection. It was unnervingly blank, and uncannily muted within the room, as if I were underwater.

I began to turn in place, trying to see a change in one of the mirrors, to see my reflection, perhaps.

I stopped, facing in some unclear direction. I shut my eyes, rubbing my face with my fingers, trying to just think about what exactly was going on.

I released my face, looking into the mirror immediately in front of me, and I screamed.

I finally saw my reflection, showing me in my pale blue shirt and black jeans, along with the expression of absolute horror I wore on my face due to what I saw. No, it wasn’t my own face that had gotten me so shook up.

Just beyond my right shoulder was the face of the only woman I’d loved more than my own mother: Vera.

I felt the air scraping past my lips as I inhaled, causing me to involuntarily step backwards, closer to my wife.

I remembered why lavender was so important. Vera grew lavender in our garden, and had sprigs of the plant placed all over the house. Whenever I embraced her, she smelled as if she were made of the plant itself.

I turned around, expecting to see her, standing in front of me, but instead I saw myself once more, and my wife just behind me, reflected in another mirror.

I stood still, listening to the weak rushing of the blood in my ears, the otherwise soundless room bearing heavily against the quiet noises my body made.

“Vera.”

Her name fled from my mouth like the dying breath of an elder. I stood there, staring at her, trying to see if the blank expression she donned would change.

Her soft, brown eyes remained glassy, almost as if she couldn’t see me. She blinked, once, twice, as a single tear raced down the side of her cheek.

I wanted to turn around, and wipe the moisture away, to try and be the husband I never was. I knew that if I turned once again, she’d simply be behind me again, so I chose to stay staring at her reflection in the mirror.

What good would a change of heart accomplish now? Years have gone by since the divorce. I doubted that making amends to a mental imagination of my wife would solve anything.

The second that thought crossed my mind, I watched, fear pulling my eyes wide, as my wife’s face transformed.

Her eyes filled with a thick, murky, dark liquid, as if she her eyes were being injected with a cloud of ink. The fluid pooled like tears at her lower lash line until it spilled over her cheeks, streaking her smooth skin with charred rivulets. Her jaw seemed to unhinge as a terrible, piercing cry ripped from her throat, making our reflections ripple in the mirror in front of us.

I felt my breath rush out from within me as I lunged forward into the mirror, shattering it, wanting to destroy the image of whatever I’d just seen. The moment her eyes began to grow black, I knew that the woman who I’d encountered was the farthest thing from my wife. It was a manifestation of my worst fears, embodied in one of the few people I’d managed to damage just a little bit more than myself. She was my guilt, my regret, my self-loathing, and my disgust. I needed to get away. I needed to overcome it.

I bit hard on the inside of my cheek to prevent myself from crying out in pain as I felt the shards of broken glass embed themselves into the flesh of my face, arms, and chest. I felt my blood soaking into the material of my shirt, staining it impossibly red. I tried to flee, screaming as loud as my vocal chords would let me, as the creature behind me raked her nails across my back, shredding the back of my shirt into tattered ribbons.

I lost my footing on a mirror fragment, and I felt myself falling forwards, almost in slow motion, as I collided with about seven other nearby mirrors.

The sound of breaking glass was nearly as deafening as the sound of our combined wailing. The burning sensations I felt radiated all over my body, even to places where the glass had failed to puncture.

I began to crawl forwards, using my forearms to drag the rest of my body away, towards the plain, wooden door I could see just a few feet in front of me.

I tried to ignore the thin streams of blood that I smeared along the floor as I moved, but the sharp red colour invaded my vision every time I tried to avert my gaze. The smell was too rancid to cast aside. The air reeked of sweat, metal, and bile, a combination which did my stomach no favors. I did my best to disregard the absolutely torturous feeling of something, something needle-like and acidic, pulling at the meat of my left calf. It felt like I was tugging a grand piano behind me by my leg, and the pressure did not let up.

A harsh scream erupted from my throat as the creature pulled violently against my leg, dragging me backwards, farther away from the door. I watched, my sight going blurry with unshed tears, as my fingers feebly tried to hook onto something, anything, along the floor, just to escape this nightmare. I couldn’t do anything more but watch as my fingers painted the floor beneath me in smears of my own blood.

The pain in my leg was becoming nearly unbearable, and I realized that my top priority should be to get that damn creature off of me.

I forced myself to roll onto my back, howling like a wounded child as I felt angular pieces of glass cut and dig into my back, each one breaking the skin instantly.

I felt the cup of coffee that I’d drank earlier in the morning churning within my stomach as I laid eyes on the sight in front of me.

The beast was at my leg, biting onto it. Its jaw was opened wider than any I knew possible, its teeth small, yellowed pinpricks drenched in the bloody streams that poured from the cuts on my calf. Though it couldn’t have possibly spoken, I heard it say, as clearly as rain on a sunny day, “You let me down.

I didn’t respond. I couldn’t have, but I thought to myself that no, I didn’t let anyone down, at least not that monstrosity on my leg.

I’d done wrong, I knew that. I had never been good at being there for others, but I knew, more so than anything else, how to be there for myself. When things went bad between me and Vera, I retreated, far, far away into myself, so that hopefully I’d be able to prevent myself from doing any more damage than I’d already done.

I never got to tell her how sorry I was.

My breath got caught in my throat then. I didn’t think after that. I just moved.

My free leg recoiled, and stretched out in a flash, slamming into the side of the creature’s head.

It roared in rage as its body rag-dolled away from me, its clawed hands clattering along the floor.

I blinked, and found myself on my feet. I didn’t care how, I didn’t care why. I wanted out, but there was something I needed to do first.

I stood there, watching the creature try and organize its tangled mass of spindly limbs, trying to slow the hammering of my heart.

I shut my eyes, and said aloud, “Vera, love, I’m so sorry. What happened to Christopher was hard on the both of us, not just me, and I shouldn’t have acted the way I did. I shouldn’t have hid myself from you, from us. I should’ve known that even when everything we knew fell apart, we still had each other, just like you made me promise back in college. It sounds stupid, cliché, whatever. It doesn’t matter. Vera, I loved you, and I still do, okay? I hope… I hope that one day I’ll be able to tell you this, and that you’ll forgive me. Please, I want nothing more than to make things right. Please, Vera, believe me!”

I didn’t realize that my voice was becoming louder and louder as I spoke, coming to a shout as I voiced the last sentence.

Tears slipped passed my closed eyelids, and I wiped them away before they had a chance to mix with the bloodstains on my face. I pulled back my hands, and opened my eyes.

I was staring a closed door, identical to the one I’d seen within the room of mirrors. I felt relief flood from my chest to my fingertips as I understood that I’d finally put that part of me at ease. I knew what I was supposed to do the next time I saw Vera. I knew how to make things right, not just in my mind, but hers as well.

 

Long Way Down: Part 3

Recommended Listening: What the Water Gave Me by Florence + The Machine

I turned around to see a long hallway behind me. The walls were blank, just plain white, save for the evenly spaced gas lamps that were hung every few feet or so. There was a door on the opposite end of the hall, which I took to mean that I was supposed to cross it.

I let out a deep breath, calming my body from the excessive amounts of fear that it had just experienced. I decided to sit, and take a moment to breathe before moving on.

I propped myself up against one wall, lowering myself gingerly to the floor. I then began to gently pluck any remaining glass fragments out of my skin, my face twisting into a painful grimace each time I pulled a shard free.

I went to examine my leg, where that monster had bit me, only the find the skin unblemished, and painless, as if nothing had happened.

Once I’d gotten all of the glass out of me, I leaned heavily against the wall to get back on my feet. I rubbed the back of my neck, exhaling slowly, and started forward down the hall.

I suppose I should’ve turned back the moment the gas lamps started to flicker, but I didn’t. I kept going, ignoring the almost undetectable gusts of wind that rushed past my body. I pretended that I didn’t smell the overpowering scent of stale seawater as I made it to the middle of the hall. That’s when I stopped.

The door I’d been heading towards was suddenly obscured by the presence of a shadow. It was humanoid in shape, and cast no shadow of its own, despite the numerous light sources that surrounded it.

I furrowed my brow, confused as to how I’d neglected to notice it from down the hall prior to this point. It wasn’t exactly hard to miss.

I took a step back, and saw the shadow blink out of existence.

It didn’t make sense, but despite my desire to cross the hall, I assumed it would be a wiser choice for me to just turn around.

Staring at the now clearly visible door, I began to back up, until I couldn’t. I turned around and was confronted by the sight of a wall. I didn’t know where it came from, but it was now very clear that I needed to go towards the door.

I pursed my lips, and turned back to the door.

As soon as I crossed the midpoint, the shadow reappeared again, but I kept walking. I neared it, watching as its fuzzy, black outline grew clearer and clearer, until I could make out the pale, cream coloured bird mask it wore on its face, the deep, black holes that marked its eyes, and the single, red rose it clutched in its hand.

I stopped, realizing that I was beginning to feel very, very nauseated. I was about five feet away from the Plague Doctor, watching it watch me, my vision growing increasingly blurry around the edges. The world seemed to tilt as I stared at it, unsure of what to do. It was so quiet, as if I’d jammed my fingers in my ears. My fingertips felt numb, my body shaking more and more violently as time ticked on. I couldn’t move, even though I desperately wanted to.

I could only watch, dread seeping into my gut, as it began to approach me.

The two lights to its left and right blacked out, dousing the entity in darkness. It came closer still, causing two more lights to wink out as it passed them. The mask it wore appeared to glow in the lamplight, making it appear ethereal as it continued its approach.

I felt my heart clench in my chest, my breath stop in my lungs. My legs tensed, and lunged back as I broke into a near sprint to get away from the creature.

The wall behind me was gone, but I didn’t care. I heard and felt the air scraping against the inside of my dry mouth, my palms suddenly sweat-soaked. I heard the far-away claps of the Plague Doctor’s feet as it treaded towards me, my own thundering footfalls not loud enough to drown out the sound completely.

I ran, and ran, trying not to think about the fact that the end of the hallway seemed to be just as far away as it was when I began running. The scent of seawater burned my nostrils, but I couldn’t afford to dwell on it.

I looked back over my shoulder, only to find that the Plague Doctor had disappeared. My eyes grew large in disbelief, but I didn’t stop running.

I looked forwards again, and screamed.

The Plague Doctor stood only half a foot in front of me, the rose missing from its hand. Instead, splashes of a violent red dripped down from above onto its robe, the colour almost too bright to look at.

I angled my body away from the Plague Doctor, getting ready to run the other way, when I heard the sound of rushing water.

It was a resounding roar, as if all of the feral beasts upon the Earth had chosen that precise second to cry out.

I saw it, a wave of pure red water speeding towards me, spraying blood-red foam along the walls as it passed. It was going to swallow up the Plague Doctor, but I didn’t give the idea much thought. By that time, I’d already turned and started sprinting down the hall.

I was panting heavily, though I wasn’t very tired. The thought of drowning in a bloody river was frightening enough to send my body into overdrive. Every point of sensation on my skin was alive, buzzing with my most primal desire: to survive.

I blinked rapidly, trying to keep the flecks of crimson water from getting into my eyes. It was between a few of these blinks that I noticed the Plague Doctor, once again barring me from accessing the door. I felt an enraged, frustrated sound burst from my mouth as I charged forward, not giving a damn about the Plague Doctor. I wanted out, and nothing was going to stop me from achieving that.

I wasn’t exactly surprised to find that the Plague Doctor was nothing more than a spectre, one I easily passed through in my desperate attempt to escape. I ended up barrelling into the thick wooden door, only to find the knob missing, and the door locked.

I beat and pounded upon the door, shouting out in fury to be free, as if the combined effort of my voice and my fists would manage to break down the door. The water was lapping at my waist, my blue shirt now completely reddened. It was so cold, the water. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t do anything except try to get the door open.

No matter how hard I punched, or how strongly I bashed my shoulder against the door, it wouldn’t so much as quiver under my battery. I was going to drown in a sea of blood, and there was nothing I could do about it.

As I realized my fate, I thought, is this what Christopher felt?

Seven years old, and left unsupervised during a trip to the beach, I remember losing Christopher every second that I continue to live. Part of that inability to forget led to the destruction of my marriage, along with a severe addiction to coffee and Valium. I figured numbness was a way out, the only way to function without feeling like I’d murdered a child.

PTSD, I think the shrink had called it. It was bullshit, but they just had to label me, to make me easier to treat.

I wish I could believe that I really wasn’t at fault, but I was.

I was the one who insisted on getting Chris in the water. I was the one who told him to wait for me while I got my camera. I didn’t pay attention to the screaming beach goers as they tried to alert someone that a child was being swept away by the tide. I didn’t even run to his side as the lifeguard towed his small body out of the sea, his pale, blond hair looking as white as the flowers we chose for his funeral. I couldn’t. I couldn’t accept that I was responsible for the death of my son, not that day, and not now, many years later. It’s an agony I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy.

If only Christopher knew just how much I cared for him, how much I regretted my actions from that day. If I could turn back the clock, I would’ve done it already. If I could speak to the dead, I would’ve begged for his forgiveness, but, Christopher was gone, only living in the memories and photographs I carried of him. It wasn’t enough to soothe me. It wasn’t enough to help me move on.

A large wave of red water splashed over my head, finally pulling me under. I looked up, watching the light stream in through a hazy, scarlet filter. I hadn’t gotten a chance to take a deep enough breath to swim to the surface. I doubt I’d even try to if I had.

Maybe I was getting what I deserved. I didn’t deserve the live out the lonely life I’d created for myself.

As I floated there in the water, my breath escaping me in pink and magenta bubbles, my eyelids began to droop. My chest was scalding me with the desire to just inhale, and breathe, but my instincts wouldn’t let me. I just remained still, allowing the water to slowly pull me down, deeper and deeper still.

My vision blackened at the edges, and I blinked, trying to see. See what, I wasn’t sure, but I held this urge to keep my eyes open.

Blinking rapidly, I felt my heart falter like a bird with a broken wing within my chest.

In the distance, I saw a shape. It was small, humanoid, and approaching me. My lungs were screaming for air, my limbs too fatigued to move. I stared ahead, watching my dead son swim up to me.

His blond hair was floating wildly about his small, round face, his brown eyes glowing in the water. He was smiling, as if he were happy about swimming in this sickeningly red sea.

I couldn’t speak, but my mind called out to him. I said his name over and over in my head, and I watched as his eyes lit up in recognition.

He surged forwards, his tiny hands extended towards me. He reached out in what seemed like slow motion, and placed his hands on my shoulders.

If I could cry underwater, I would have been. I had no air left within me to produce any sobs, and the tears that fled from my eyes got whisked away by the bloody water that surrounded me.

Christopher wrapped his thin arms around my neck in a faint embrace. My nerves were dull, and I couldn’t make out much more than the brilliant glow of his hair, but I felt it. I felt him grab onto me, and hold me. I wanted to lift my arms, but my body wouldn’t respond. I wanted so, so badly to say sorry, to say something, but my lips were frozen, and my voice was long gone.

In my head, I screamed apologies, I wailed, rambling over and over to Christopher. I told him I was sorry, that I shouldn’t have left him alone, and that it was my fault that he was gone.

Out of nowhere, Chris lifted his head. I felt the strands of his hair brush the side of my face, the feeling not unlike encountering seaweed in the ocean, as he spoke.

“It’s okay, dad. I’m okay. You don’t need to do this anymore. Just let go, daddy,” he whispered, his voice muted by the water.

I couldn’t see him anymore, and I couldn’t feel my body. I was just a thought, strewn about somewhere in an endless expanse of red.

“Just let go, dad,” he repeated, the feeling of his arms fading away. “I forgive you, okay? Just let go.”

“Remember,” he said, his voice echoing through the chambers of my mind, “I love you.”

I felt my lips part as water rushed inside, filling me with fluid as I lost consciousness.

Long Way Down: Part 4

Recommended Listening: Lurking in the Dark by Masafumi Takada

It was because I’d tried to breathe that I woke up.

The water in my lungs burned coming up, making me cough and hack and sputter until my body was clear of the liquid. I heard it splatter against the floor as I spat it up, the spray flying onto my fingertips.

My clothes were dry, and my socks and shoes were missing, but my hair still dripped droplets of the cold water onto my forehead, cheeks, and nose.

I suppose I felt more at peace, more free of what had been haunting me about Christopher’s death. I felt shell shocked, like I couldn’t believe that I didn’t need to dwell on what could have been any longer. I know that the Christopher I’d seen wasn’t really him, but I needed to see what I did, to hear what I did. There was a heaviness that was missing from within me, and I didn’t want it back.

It wasn’t until I’d calmed my breathing, and soothed my faltering heart that I tried to look at the world around me.

It was very hard to determine just where I was. I couldn’t see very well, considering that the lights in the room, a few fluorescent panels above my head, flickered on and off every few seconds. I couldn’t see for more than two seconds at a time, the flashing lights creating almost a strobing effect. From what I could see, I was in a room made entirely of stone blocks. The room appeared to have no doors, and no windows. Just walls of stone, frigid even through the clothes I wore. It smelled of mildew and earth, like the soil in my backyard when the snow melts each winter. There was a breeze coming from somewhere, but each time I turned to find its point of origin, I felt it against my back, as if its source was simply behind me at all times.

I carefully stood up, looking around the room for a way out. I wondered if this was a transition room, one that I simply needed to pass through in order to find my way out of this giant riddle of a mansion my mind had set up for me.

I tried turning about, looking for a change in the environment, but my movement accompanied by the irregular, pulsating lights were making me feel disoriented. I couldn’t tell what side I was facing, where I was looking, or when I was blinking.

I felt a small bit of anger working its way through my chest just as a drop of water fell from my hair, and into my eye, causing it to sting harshly. I rubbed at my eye with the palm of my hand, trying to work the pain out of it, while trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing.

As I pulled my hand away from my face, I looked up, and felt my stomach drop straight to my feet.

The lights blinked a few times, illuminating the stark black figure of the Plague Doctor, standing just a few feet in front of me. He still casted no shadows, and was still holding that single, damn rose.

I didn’t move, and neither did he. We just stood there, staring at each other.

As the lights continued to flash on and off, I noticed something peculiar.

The Plague Doctor seemed to be standing slightly closer to me, each time the lights stayed on for long enough for me to see.

I felt my heart thudding like the hooves of an army of horses in my chest, my attempt at calming down proving to be useless.

The lights flicked off, completely this time. The room was as silent as death, my own labored breathing making no noise. It was as dark as spilled ink, with not so much as a glimmer of any light visible.

The lights suddenly blinked back on, and to my horror, the Plague Doctor had crossed half the distance between us.

I gasped in shock, my feet carrying me backwards as the lights blacked out once again.

I didn’t care that I couldn’t see. I needed to get away. I knew that I’d run right through him before, but I was getting very different impulses about the entity now. I just knew that I wouldn’t be able to bypass him the same way I had before.

I turned around and began to run as fast I was able to, which wasn’t very fast at all. My body still ached and creaked from nearly drowning, and my lungs weren’t letting me breathe as I needed to.

The lights came back on, and I stopped as quickly as I could to prevent myself from running into the Plague Doctor that had appeared in front of me.

I screamed, caught off guard by the Plague Doctor once again.

I turned and ran once again, my bare feet slapping against the floor.

“Stop.”

The word echoed around the stone walls, and I felt my legs stop pumping until I stood still in the centre of the room.

I couldn’t move, even though my fight or flight response was making it very clear that I needed to flee.

I heard footsteps from behind me, getting steadily louder and louder, as they came closer.

“You can’t run from death,” I heard a hoarse voice say from my right beside my ear. I was startled by how similar his voice sounded to my own.

The need I felt to run was more powerful than the fear I felt in that instance. I doubted I was in any real danger, but there was no mistaking the animalistic instincts I was experiencing.

I felt moisture seep over my toes, and I looked down, wondering if I’d managed to soil myself in my fear. Instead, I saw that I was standing in a large pool of a deep, brown liquid. I wouldn’t have realized what it was if it weren’t for the unmistakable scent of coffee that wafted upwards from the floor.

I felt confusion replace my unease, trying to understand what the spilled coffee meant, what the Plague Doctor meant, what this entire room what trying to get me to understand.

“You can’t run from death,” the Plague Doctor repeated.

“Alright, shut up!” I shouted as I turned around to face him, my legs finally responding to my commands.

And then, it all made sense.

I had tried to run from Christopher’s death by staying up late, pouring cup after cup of coffee. I didn’t want to sleep, I couldn’t, because I’d see Christopher in pain, crying, calling for me to help him.

I understood what the Plague Doctor was trying to tell me.

He extended his hand, offering me his red rose, the petals unnaturally vibrant in the dim, gray room.

I took the rose from the Plague Doctor, starting as I pricked my finger on one of the rose’s thorns. I watched a single droplet of my blood fall to the stone floor beneath my feet, the coffee puddle suddenly all dried up.

I looked to the Plague Doctor, only to find him gone, and to see that I was back in the foyer of the mansion.

The rose in my hand was now wilted, its petals shriveled and dead. There were no more picture frames along the walls, just plain, white wallpaper. The door on the second floor was no longer there, but a single floor to ceiling mirror hung in its place. I turned around and saw that the painting of the Plague Doctor was gone as well, leaving only a darkened patch where the painting use to hang.

I dropped the rose stem from my hand, and slowly sank to the floor. I sat, my bare feet sticking to the dusty, wooden floor, wondering what I was supposed to do next.

I can say that I felt much lighter, as if I’d shrugged off a layer of waterlogged clothing. I could sleep when I got home, and my dreams wouldn’t be clouded by the screams of a broken child. I could call Vera, and settle the mess between us.

I was free.

As I sat there, I started to feel drowsy, like I’d suddenly been drugged. My eyelids fluttered shut as my breathing evened out, my body gently falling back against the wooden floor.

The world blacked out as I started to smell moth balls and air freshener.

Long Way Down: Part 5

Recommended Listening: Long Way Down by Gary Numan

I awoke to the steady beeping of a heart monitor. My eyes blinked a few times, the tendrils of lingering slumber retreating away from me.

I looked around, and saw Dr. Jacobi going over a long sheet of graph paper with erratic, spiky lines printed on it, coming from one of the machines I was connected to. His face grew briefly displeased with what he saw, and he promptly turned to look at me.

“Ah, you’re awake!” he exclaimed, dropping the paper to the floor.

He rushed over to me, and began plucking the electrodes off of my body. Once there wasn’t a single wire left attached to me, he shut off the machines, and took his seat in the armchair across from me.

“Tell me first what you saw before I tell you what I observed,” he said, his eyes glowing with an eager thirst.

Still feeling fairly tuckered out, I groggily relayed what I’d seen, what I’d interacted with, and what I’d managed to understand from it all. By the time I finished speaking, Dr. Jacobi looked about ready to leap up, and give me a hug.

“Remarkable,” he said, awestruck, “absolutely remarkable. Well, Mr. Vikas-”

“Walter is fine,” I said, rubbing the back of my neck.

Dr. Jacobi smiled. “Walter, let me explain what I saw here on these papers.”

He stood up, and hurriedly returned with his arms full of paper. He rifled through the pile until he reached what appeared to be the beginning.

“See here,” he said, pointing to a line with very small peaks and valleys, “this shows you falling straight into REM sleep,” he said. “That is the deepest level of sleep, where your dreams occur. It’s very unusual for someone to bypass the other levels of lighter sleep, and go straight into the deepest.”

He pointed out a bunch more different wavelengths, and told me about how the brainwaves I displayed during my sleep were nearly identical to the ones I’d experienced while being awake. He said it was usually normal for those waves to look similar, but he had trouble discerning if I was asleep or awake for a majority of the experience.

“You didn’t move a muscle while you were under,” he said, “in case you were worried about that.”

“How long was I asleep for?” I asked, stifling a yawn with my hand.

“Two hours,” he replied, “which was half of the time I’d estimated initially.”

I nodded as I got to my feet, feeling more rested than I’d been in years. I reached out my hand, and Dr. Jacobi shook it firmly.

“It’s been a pleasure, Walter,” he said, smiling.

“Thank you, Doctor,” I said, “Have a good day.”

“Likewise,” he responded as he released my hand.

I left the hospital ten minutes later, and got back home in another twenty-five. I threw open the door to my home, locked it behind me, and leaned against the door.

I felt like I’d taken a long shower, and had washed all of my baggage away. I felt slightly hollow, like something wasn’t quite right just yet, but I didn’t think much of it.

I kicked off my boots, and hung my jacket on my coat hook, taking a seat at my kitchen table. The moment I sat down, I felt my phone buzz to life in my pocket.

I pulled out the device, and inhaled sharply when I read the caller I.D: “Vera.”

The empty feeling within me disappeared the instead I saw her name. This was my chance to make things right for good.

I looked at the vase of roses that sat in the centre of my table. An image of the Plague Doctor flashed behind my eyelids.

I knew what to do. I always did, I just didn’t realize that until now.

Pulling a single, red rose out of the vase, I answered the call.

Credit To – Sabrina S.

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The Remover

March 28, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Author Note: Written by Kenneth Kohl (kowale). This is a long read that began as a single short story (Part 1). More parts of the series were provided and it was eventually combined into one large work. The Remover has gathered a considerable fan base since its original posting, and has since been incorporated into a full-length novel of the same name. What follows are the original posts that appeared on Creepypasta Wiki.

Admin Note: As this is a longer-than-usual story, I’ll be creating an index to aid those of you who may want to read this story in smaller portions.

Also, if you are reading this from an index page, please click the ‘read more’ button. For the sake of not stretching out the archives, main page, category pages, etc, this story will display only until the end of chapter one. Beyond that, you’ll need to visit the individual pasta page, which can be found here, or by simply clicking ‘read more’.

INDEX

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven
Part Eight
Comment Section

Part 1

When I left my office, I already had a premonition that something awful was going to happen that evening. I’m not psychic. I am quite perceptive, though, and the signs were easy to read. I had worked late – nine o’clock and already dark – and my ordinarily enjoyable walk to the parking lot struck me as a little bit menacing. I parked in a lot that was about a ten minute walk from my office. In the early evening on a crisp autumn day it’s a pleasure to stroll there and take in the sights of downtown Indianapolis. Occasionally I’d take a detour and walk along the canal, checking out the street art. This was past nightfall, though, and right in the middle of a hot and humid August. There were only two sorts of people in downtown Indy that night – those who had to be, and those who had no place else to go.

My walks always took me past the Wheeler Mission. There was a flashing neon sign reminding me that “Jesus Saves” every ten seconds. The mission was a magnet for the homeless. A lot of my sort of people ended up there, but some others as well. Addicts, mentals, criminals on the run and looking for a meal and a place to stay. According to the mission’s rules felons were usually turned in, so the police visited regularly. None of the city’s finest sitting outside that night; just a collection of bums waiting to scam some loose change off of whoever happened to be out on this humid night.

One of the panhandlers called out to me. “Hey! Can I talk to you sir? Can I ask you a question? Are you afraid of homeless people?” He was young, maybe pushing thirty. He was clean-shaven and had a number of tattoos running up his arms and neck and ending just shy of the bottom of his dirty red baseball hat. The design hinted at a former stay in prison.

Every one of them always has a story. It’s typically well practiced and smooth. A bum tells his story so many times that he begins to believe it himself. He gets into his character and will debate at length on the subject of why he needs money. The stories can get quite elaborate and sometimes amusing, if you have the time. But unless you want to be followed all the way back to your car or to the door of your office it’s best to just say “No” or “Sorry.” That night, I was feeling antsy and just wanted the conversation to end quickly, so I opted for “Fuck you.”

Red Hat responded in kind. At first he stopped in his tracks, looking sort of stunned. Then he started following me. “You think you’re better than me? Don’t you walk away from me.” Then he grabbed at the back of my shirt. That’s when I knew for sure that things were going to end badly.

I shrugged him off. I could have easily outrun him at that point, but I didn’t. I don’t know if it was pride or arrogance; or if it was due to the fact that I was tired, irritable and in an excessively bad mood. I did start walking faster, though. I hoped that he would tire of the game and go back to his roost outside the mission. I hoped that the situation wouldn’t go any further.

Then I saw a chance to end the game. There were two routes to my car – one being along a well lit, albeit virtually deserted street and the other a slightly shorter route through a small alley behind the Robertson Parks church. I aimed myself toward the alley. I could still hear Red Hat shouting behind me, but I was doing my best to ignore him. “Where you going man? Stop! I want to talk to you,” he said. I had a pretty good idea that when he saw me heading towards the alley, he thought that he had me beat. How stupid did he think I was? I knew that once we were alone, I’d have the upper hand. I could either disappear into the shadows or, if necessary, kick his ass. What I didn’t know, however, was that he had a couple of friends waiting for him.

They must have seen us head off and circled around the block. It’s like they were expecting me to walk through that alley. For them, it was the perfect place for an ambush. I’ll have to admit that I was startled when I first saw them. I had allowed myself to get too distracted. Not only by Red Hat, but by the anxiety that I’d been experiencing since leaving my office. The two buddies, dressed similarly and tattooed like Red Hat, stood at the far end of the alley. In addition to seeing their silhouettes I could smell them from where I stood. I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw them. Red Hat closed the distance behind me and pushed me further into the alley. Then the other two approached and boxed me in.

One of them pushed me and laughed. “What now, Chris?”

“Now we teach this little shit how to respect people,” Red Hat replied.

I had backed up against the wall of the church. “Trust me guys. Bad idea,” I said.

The one who had previously been quiet came forward and shoved me – hard – back into the wall. I remember feeling the back of my head bounce off the brick. Then he punched me in the stomach. As he drew back his arm to get ready for another swing, my arm flew out and I grabbed his head, palming his face like a basketball. I pushed backward and twisted his head as he fell. That’s when I saw Red Hat’s knife.

Red Hat had drawn his arm back as if he were going to pitch a softball underhand. He had the point of the knife aimed at me. He lunged, but I managed to grab his wrist and deflect his thrust. At this point I could no longer see the first of his two buddies – the first to punch me – but the other one landed another blow directly to my nose. That diverted my attention long enough for Red Hat to bring his knife around for another attempt. A thousand thoughts were racing through my mind. How could I have let myself get drawn into that situation? Why did they pick me? Why that night? How was it going to end? How was I going to handle the cleanup after it was over?

Between all of the distractions and the surprise punch to the face, I must have missed seeing the knife until the last moment. It sunk deep into me. Low, directly below my ribs and angled upward into the place where a normal man would keep his liver. The guy had been in fights before. He was a pro. I felt pressure, but not any actual pain.

Then I felt myself becoming very hot and my vision faded to white.

When the numbness went away, I surveyed the scene in the alley. One of the guys – the one who managed to land a punch on my face – was running around the corner of the church screaming. Around me, there was blood all over the ground and even sprayed up onto the wall of the church. The guy whose face I had grabbed was lying prone nearby, his head cocked at an unnatural angle. His neck was clearly broken. It was Red Hat who surprised me most. He was lying at my feet eyes open, mouth frozen in a perverse smile, and throat ripped open. He looked like he’d had a date gone bad with a table saw.

And all I could think of was how long it had been since I’d last eaten.

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The Mail Man

March 27, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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It all started as a message in my mailbox one morning. Having my morning coffee and cigarette, I decided to walk out to the mailbox and check my mail. I had bought this house from an auction for a very low price. It was out in the quiet country. I, being a city kid, had no idea what country life was like until I had made a few friends around the area. With the purchase of the house came 100 acres of crop land that, in the autumn, blossomed into golden produce that swayed beautifully in the wind.

I put on my shoes and headed out to the road, still slightly groggy. Upon opening the mailbox, I found a dead bird inside; at first, I thought it was some stupid kids playing pranks again – last week, they decided to toilet paper my lawn. I pulled the dead bird out and threw it on the ground; it was mangled to a pulp, almost as if a dog had gotten ahold of it.

Besides the bird, there was nothing inside of the mailbox. I started to think that maybe the kids had stolen my mail, but eventually I brushed it off and told myself I’d get up early in the morning and watch the mail come so I could catch the jerks in the act. The next morning arrived and the mailman came as usual. I walked out and got my mail, not thinking anything of it. The next morning was the same.

The next week came and I walked out to get my mail once again. This time, I was horrified at the sight; my white mailbox had blood smeared all over it. I opened the mailbox cautiously. Inside was a mangled cat. I gasped and covered my mouth, quickly choking back the vomit raising to my throat. I rushed to my garage, put on a pair of gloves, and pulled the poor animal out. Stapled to it was a note, fairly legible, but crude nonetheless. On the note was a simple smiley face. I was disgusted at that; whoever did it thought it was funny. I gave the cat a proper burial and continued with my day. The next morning, I woke up around 5:00 AM, walked out, and checked my mailbox again to see if it had been tampered with. The cat I had just buried in my backyard was stuffed inside yet again, this time another note attached to it. This one had a frowning face and under it, which read “You don’t like my present?”

Pissed off and finally fed up, I decided to bury it yet again and to stay up all night to watch my mailbox to find out who was doing this. The time rolled by – 12:00 am, 1:00 am, 2:00 am, nothing at all….then, at 3:00 am, I finally saw movement across the road, and out of the cornfield there came a figure into my yard. I watched it until it finally came under the security light I have in the middle of my yard. What I saw, I cannot begin to explain. It was a man…or at least I think it was. It was hunched over like an old man with long gangly arms that went farther than the average human, and its head bent downwards as if it was looking for something it had dropped on the ground.

The man, or rather thing, looked frail and weak, but it moved with great speed. I quickly and quietly moved to the back window and peered out as I saw it dig up the cat once again and hold it in its arms. It stroked the cat as if it were alive and quickly hurried around to the front of my house. I scurried back to the front window again and watched as it made its way to my mailbox, and once more put the cat inside, before disappearing into the darkness. That day I didn’t leave my house; I was too shocked of what happened. I slept a bit then decided to take a trip to the store; when I came back, I checked the mailbox again and there it was, the same cat I just buried. I went to take the dead cat out of my mailbox once again and bury it in a different spot, then decided to stay up again that night so as to see what happened.

With a flashlight in hand, I watched out of my front window and saw the long, spindly man come out of the field and jog into my yard, to the spot where I just buried the cat that day and started to dig it up with his hands. I slid open the sliding glass door and stepped outside, turning on the flashlight. I aimed it at the man, and yelled “What the heck are you doing?!” The man turned around to face me, and that’s when I saw the thing for the first time, in plain sight. Its body looked like it had been mauled by a bear, its clothes ripped, rotting skin showing through, its teeth completely exposed and jagged, and the eyes sunken in. I quickly ran back inside as it gave a shrieking
sound and hopped over in my direction.

I slid the glass door shut and locked it, and grabbed the pistol I had bought for self-defense from under my couch. Loading a bullet into the chamber, I shined the light at the door and waited. A glob of something hid the glass door, and I instinctively shot a bullet, which found its mark inside of my wall. I walked to the glass door and shined the light down to see what it was: a mess of entrails were scattered across the bottom and blood smeared across the glass. Sick to my stomach, I choked back the vomit that was rising from my stomach.

I quickly rushed back to the couch that was against the wall and sat there with my eyes fixed upon the glass door, my flashlight off. Outside, I could see the moonlight through the gruesome mess that was plastered upon the glass. I saw a figure approach the door, and stared in awe as its hands smeared the blood across the window. I was frozen with fear, waiting for it to break the glass and try to take my life from me.

After smearing the blood, it turned around and walked away. I swear I could hear a faint chuckle, like a smoker’s lungs laugh, but in a way that emphasized the rasp of deteriorating breaths. I sat in the sofa and didn’t budge; I don’t know how long I waited, but after a while the room became light as the sun rose in the sky. I looked around the house – everything was so quiet – then fixed my eyes on the glass door. Smeared across it were hand prints with unusually long fingers and a smiley, the same one on the letter. I sighed and tried to make myself comfortable, laying down and resting my eyes, but still remaining as alert as possible. A few hours later, I awoke from a nightmare and propped myself up on the couch.

After a short while, I got up and prepared to clean away the aftermath of last night’s encounter. I was, apparently, pissing whatever it was off, and I was getting more scared by the second just thinking of whatever was out there, lurking. I cleaned the entrails off the ground and went out to check my mail, then I came across a plain letter. Curious, I opened it up and felt a chill shoot up my spine.

The letter had no words – only a smile, the same, crude smile that was on the letter stapled to the cat and on my sliding glass door.

I quickly crumbled it up and tossed it on the ground. I left that night; I went to stay with my parents up in the city for a few weeks. Not explaining my situation to them, I simply told them that I had been sick of country life and needed a change for a few weeks. They happily let me in. When I returned to my home three weeks later, horror was stricken across my face, for my house was not as I left it. As soon as I walked in, the stench of rotting carcass hit my nostrils and I vomited on the floor. Covering my nose with my shirt, I proceeded to the light switch.

Turning on the light made me shriek in terror. Scattered throughout my house were entrails and carcasses of dead animals; some were propped up like humans on my couch, and all were staring at me as I stood, horrified, in the doorway. All over the white walls were smiley faces and the same writing over and over, “I’m very angry with you,” written in blood. I lifted up the couch seat to look for my pistol, but it was gone.
Just then, I saw something in the hallway moving steadily back and forth. Flipping on the hall light, there it was again: the creature who had tried to kill me the night before I had left. It snapped its gaze to me and moved its mouth into a sickening smile. It jumped up and started to walk in my direction. I quickly turned around and ran outside, slamming the door behind me. I got into my car, started it up, and proceeded to back out of the driveway and onto the road as fast as I could. Behind me, I saw a figure in my rear-view mirror running up to my car; its arms slammed into the trunk and it proceeded to hop onto the roof of my car.

I shifted into drive and slammed on the gas. I drove all night as far as I could away from the house, those dead animals, that thing. As soon as I was in the city limits, I decided to buy some gas, seeing as I was almost on empty. I pulled into a gas station and got out of my car. My eyes widened as I saw the trunk had been completely bashed in. I quickly pumped the gas and left for my parents’ house. Four months later, I am living in my apartment, dealing with occasional nightmares at times, but could never be happier to get away from that house and that monster that lives there.

I just checked my mail this morning and received a letter with no return address. Inside, written on crumpled up paper, was a crudely draw smiley face and the words, “You can’t hide.”

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Old Man

March 26, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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I don’t know how scary you will find this, but I can tell you that I was horrified.

When I was around 12 years old, my parents rented an old shingled house in Massachusetts, about a mile from the beach. We were staying there for the summer, and we were all pumped for 3 months in historic New England.

The house was previously owned by a woman named Virginia. She was unmarried and lived there for many years with her elderly father, whom I don’t know the name of. She was a perfectly normal woman who rode horses and kept a beautiful garden across the street. My parents never met her father, and we only talked to her a few times, as the rent transaction was done mostly through a realtor.

The house was quite nice. It looked small from the outside, but once you went inside, there were countless small rooms. There were many cupboards and closets and two slender spiral staircases leading up to one of four tiny rooms upstairs. One of these rooms was mine.

Being twelve years old and having an overly active imagination, I was terrified of staying upstairs by myself at night. My parents slept downstairs in a room that was a new addition to the house, and I hated the idea that they were so far away. Finally, after a few sleepless nights and plenty of power tears, my parents agreed to let me sleep downstairs in the old living room, which had a fireplace and two doors:one leading to the kitchen and one to the new living room.

I was extremely happy with this arrangement and I felt sure I would finally be able to fall asleep that night.

That night, after saying goodnight to my parents, I lay down on the pull-out sofa, contented. But not for long. Immediately after closing my eyes, I felt the weirdest sensation. I felt I was being watched, or like someone was just over my shoulder. I opened my eyes, fearing the worst, but no one was there. The room was silent. I was completely alone. A little unnerved, I shut my eyes again, and once again felt the presence. It’s hard to explain, but you know how blind people are more able with their senses? It was like that. Even when I opened my eyes a second time and saw no one, I knew there was a man in the room. I can’t really explain, but I felt certain that there was a man watching me sleep. However, since I had no evidence, I just shut my eyes, curled in a ball, and fell into an uneasy sleep.

Fast forward a few weeks. One of my friends was sleeping over and we were, of course, staying at the house. Despite her protests that we should sleep upstairs, I insisted we stay downstairs. Even though nothing ever happened upstairs, I was still a little wary.

That night, after gossiping for a few hours the way only two 12 year old girls can, we fell asleep. I should mention that I never said anything about the man in the living room (that’s where we were staying). I didn’t want my friend to panic.

I slept soundly that night. I guess it was probably because I had someone with me.

The next morning, when I woke up, my friend was already awake and staring at me. Katie, she said, I’m like not crazy. But like last night in the middle of the night I woke up and I felt like-

Oh my God, I said. Did you feel like there was a man watching you sleep?

At first, she said, her voice quavering. But when I opened my eyes, there was an old man standing in the doorway to the kitchen. He smiled at me and then he left.

Our eyes grew wide as we stared at each other in terror, and then slowly turned to the door. We had shut it the night before. Now it was open just a crack.

I told my parents about about this after my friend left and they disregarded it, thinking I was letting my imagination get the better of me. But at the end of the summer, when I went home and had internet service again, I searched the history of the house. Virginia lived there for almost 20 years with her elderly father, a registered sex offender who was diagnosed with dementia at the age of 83. He returned to the house with his daughter and died a few months later in the house.

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