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My Friend Lucas

July 17, 2014 at 12:00 PM
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When I was 5, I had a best friend. Lucas was his name. He and I were practically inseparable. We’d sit next to each other in class, we’d hang out at recess and lunch in the school yard, he’d always come over and visit after school and on the weekend, you know, typical best friend stuff.

He was fiercely loyal, even to the point of beating up other kids who made fun of me. I remember one time when this older kid called Stewart was picking on me, and Lucas ended up pushing him off the monkey bars and breaking his left arm. Stewart cried like a little girl and never bullied anyone again, much to many young kids relief.

Another time a few years after that when a few kids, Shane, Ryan, and Jessie used to gang up on me and beat me up, Lucas roundhouse kicked Shane down a flight of stairs, and knocked Ryan and Jessie’s heads together so hard that they both lost teeth. When the school heard about that, I stood up and took the blame. Hell, it was the least I could do for my friend who’d helped me more times then I could count. I was let off with a slap on the wrist after showing my own bruises they’d given me first anyway.

Upon reaching highschool, Lucas went to a different school, somewhere a long way away, that I’d never heard of before, and so I had to make new friends, to make the days pass faster, though I’d always catch up with Lucas on weekends and school holidays. It was odd though, it seemed the more time I’d spend with Lucas, the more standoffish my new friends would become. He’d always show off his bruises and scars, and through some kind of best friend empathetic link, I’d always seem to be able to feel them myself, as if I’d been the one in his fight stories. He’d often offer to teach me to fight for myself, but as bullying was no longer an issue at my highschool I’d just shrug it off and tell him it would be a pointless exercise. “Well, don’t come crying to me when you get beat up.” He’d always joke, though I knew I’d always be able to rely on him in a pinch regardless.

Years went on, and we finished our school lives, still staying very close, though our lives took us down very separate paths. I became a psychologist, while he… Well, he never really liked to talk about his career. I’d often see new scars appearing on him, and more than once when we’d catch up, I’d notice blood on his clothes. Eventually, he decided he wanted to see me at my workplace, as one of my patients. I told him it would be unwise, as we were best friends, but that I could recommend a really good colleague of mine, and he eventually accepted after much convincing.

After speaking to my colleague I’d recommended Lucas too, I was surprised to hear that although he’d call, and make appointments, he’d never show up to them. I confronted Lucas about this, and simply got the answer, “You’re the only one I can trust.”

Eventually, I gave in, and took Lucas as my own patient, and was quite disturbed with what he had to say. He’d talk about his younger life, and how he’d get beat up, and then fly into a rage, and how since he was young he’s never been able to control it. He described events in such detail that I felt like they were my own memories. I mean, I had been there in his childhood, so of course I’d witnessed it happen, but parts of what he was saying, I could almost see through my own eyes. “Lucas, don’t be absurd.” I said to him, rather unprofessionally. “I was always the one getting beaten up, and you’d be the one to jump in and save me.”
“Now you’re the one being absurd.” He said calmly. “Look deep into your self, and tell me, did anyone else ever even acknowledge my existence?”

Credit To – Uforia

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A Problem With Ants

July 17, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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:: TUESDAY ::

When it finds food, a single ant leaves a chemical trail which allows fellow ants to reach the same location with considerable ease. The chemical trail is strengthened with each passing ant, and soon enough hundreds can be seen in merry procession between their undisclosed palace and the occasional leftover.
Renée knew this because she once saw it, years ago, on a British documentary. The show was hosted by one handsome gentlemen, one that, she was not afraid to admit, made her blush. She admitted it to her friend. She admitted it to her daughter. She admitted it to her husband. Such confessions made her friend uncomfortable, her daughter angry and her husband, well, they had no effect on her husband. All for the better, she thought.
These memories came to her when she saw the tiniest of ants probing her dining room table for a reason to bring back a few friends. If Renée were to let it go, the reason would soon present itself in the form of a freshly baked pear pie, cooling down on top of the table.
Renée was expecting a few visits in the following days, regarding the recent disappearance of her husband, and so she couldn’t afford a problem with ants. That’s why she gave the black intruder an easy climb to her thumb, she let it stroll around for a bit, she let it find her nail, and then, only then, she smashed it between two nails. She was able to hear the most subtle and smooth of cracking sounds escaping the poor bastard. Renée smiled. Her hearing was still in impeccable shape.

:: WEDNESDAY ::

When preparing an infusion, great care must be taken with the temperature of the water and the time during which the herbs are left to brew. Fresh tea leaves call for water well bellow the boiling point, and should not be brewed for more than two minutes. Black tea needs boiling water, and to sit in it for around three minutes. Other herbs are more tolerant. They can be brewed in boiling water for up to seven minutes.
Renée knew this because she once heard a woman explaining it in one of those afternoon shows. At that particular moment, her bag of white tea, already dipped in hot water for far longer than it should, would probably be no better than dirt. She would need to prepare a new pot once the call was over.
“And that’s why I won’t make it today,” her daughter told her over the phone.
“That is quite a pity, Madeleine. I was looking forward to play with my grandson,” Renée replied. “I made you both a most delicious pear pie.”
“Will you forget about pie? We’ll be there Saturday. What did the police say?”
“About what, my dear?”
“About what? Are you shitting me? You called the police, didn’t you?”
“Madeleine, what have I told you time and again about your language?”
Her daughter was growing more impatient with each reply. “Have you called the police or not, mom?”
Renée hadn’t. She saw no purpose to it, of course, but others would. Her daughter most of all, and she didn’t want to upset her daughter, not in the slightest. “I am about to. You have no worries, no worries at all. How are things going for you with all the teaching?”
“My teaching? I don’t believe this. Father is missing, mom! Why are you always like this?”
At that moment, Renée noticed something wrong on top of her table, something wrong with her delicious pear pie. “You have a safe flight now, you ear?” she distraughtly told her daughter.
“For fuck’s sake, mom! I will call the police! Are you listening? I will do it, I will do it right now.”
“You do that, you do just that, my dear,” Renée replied, just before hanging up the phone. Her eyes were on all those black dots moving on top of the table, all those black dots moving all around the covered pie plate.
“Well, isn’t that a pity,” she told herself upon uncovering the pie and finding it swarming with ants.

:: THURSDAY ::

Port wine is a very sweet fortified wine that originates from the northern regions of Portugal. Although other countries produce wines similar to Port, they are not remotely comparable to the ones from those God blessed valleys that fall into the Douro river.
Renée knew this because her friend Justine brought her a few bottles of Ferreirinha from the liquor store. She didn’t even know how to say it, Fe-rrei-ri-n-ha, but it was the most delicious wine she had ever tasted, and one of the most expensives too. It was when the police officer started to look handsomer than it deserved, that she knew she had one more serving than was wise. Justine started laughing in the living room as Renée escorted the officer out.
“So, your daughter called the police,” said Justine, when they found themselves alone. “Not you?”
“So many wrong doings need their attention these days. I saw no reason to bother them.”
“Alphonse was a sweet man, Renée. I am sure he deserved more. Most unlike my own husband. I told you what he did?” Renée drew a sympathetic smile and drank a bit more wine. She knew the story by heart. “He went all unfaithful with me.”
“He did, didn’t he?”
“With a women full of youth.”
“Of course.”
“Twenty something.”
Renée corrected her. “Twenty three, you told me once. Or thrice.”
“Twenty three. All firm in her bosom and quick on her panties.” Renée laughed and Justine got up. “I feel indispose, Renée. I need to use your restroom.”
As Justine slowly walked out of the room, Renée raised her glass against the sun and stopped laughing. “Alphonse had a few secrets of his own, you know?”
Justine shouted from the restroom. “Did he, now?”
Renée knew she was now on the verge of tossing out too much of what she held inside. It was that darn sweet Ferreirinha, slowly taking her by the hand where she didn’t want to be taken, not with Justine, not with anyone. “He was having his way with children”, she said. Renée heard a small shriek from the restroom as response. “I was appalled too when I found out.”
“Oh, God!” shouted Justine.
“I confronted him, of course. No children, I told him. You must promise me, no children. And promise he did. He swore we would stop. Only he didn’t.”
“Oh, my God!” shouted Justine, louder than before.
“I found out he hadn’t stop a few years later. Oh, what fury did I unleash upon him. He cried and sobbed in front of me, but I was filled with rage. We are not monsters, I told him. And I repeated it, again and again, as I punished him. We are not monsters, Alphonse!”
That was the moment Justine screamed from behind her. Renée felt a shiver racing from her fragile skull to her osteoporosed toes. What happened next happened so fast that Renée’s hazed mind had trouble grasping it fully, and so only a few minutes after it was all over did she pick up the phone and called for an ambulance.

:: FRIDAY ::

Boric acid affects the metabolism of insects, and its dry powder form is abrasive to their exoskeletons. For this reason, it is a chemical commonly found in pest control poisons.
Renée knew this because the clerk at the local drug store told her as much when she went out to shop for something to deal with her ant problem. Renée was highly suspicious of industrial chemicals, and she used them as little as she could, but the former’s day incident was not to be ignored, specially not since the call came that morning.
And the call came to tell her Justine just passed away.
Renée was having a hard time remembering all the details from the previous afternoon. The little she remembered involved Justine crying Oh God! a few times over. At first Renée thought such was her reply to what she was hearing regarding Alphonse, but when she came running and screaming from the restroom, undergarment on her heels and a battalion of ants crawling up her legs, she knew otherwise. She had a strong visual recollection of Justine’s large body falling, arms raised like an alleluia. After that she remembered a handsome paramedic inside her house, taking her friend away with great care. “You’ll be all right, lady,” he told her. “You’ll be all well and good.”
From the damage in her living room, Renée was confident that Justine’s head went all the way into her porcelain’s dalmatian, but that was not what killed her, they said. She died from massive internal bleeding, they said. Preliminary observations suggest the bleeding was in her uterus, but an autopsy was needed, they said. Renée didn’t need an autopsy to know what caused the bleeding. She left her home immediately after the phone call, decided only to return when she had in her hands something like boric acid.
Once back inside her house, she proceeded with extreme caution. She had the restroom clean of ants the night before, with plenty of water and plenty of detergent. She now knew it wouldn’t be enough. She went there first, but the restroom had no sign of the small beasts. Cautiously, she inspected her kitchen, then the three bedrooms, then the study room, then all the cabinets and again the dining room. Every time she saw a crack in a wall or on the floor she would pour boric acid inside. But she didn’t find one ant, not a single one.
When she ran all out of house to search, she realized something. There was one place she didn’t look. “I see now,” she cried. “Oh, Alphonse, you monster! This is your doing!” She then went back to the study room, moved the carpet aside, and pulled open the trap door that lay beneath.

:: SATURDAY ::

During the previous two decades, one hundred and fifty five people were reported missing in the nearby towns. Eighty three of them would not be found alive ever again.
Renée knew this because she and her husband tortured and killed each one in a secret compartment in their house. Truth be told, Renée was not part of all the torture and all the killing. She never touched children, of course, and when she found out Alphonse was doing it she resorted to everything she could to stop him. “Only monsters kill children, and we are not monsters,” she told him. He did succeed in killing nine sobbing infants, four boys and five girls. This was what a slightly drunk Renée was telling her daughter that Saturday afternoon. “So don’t come into my house talking about him like you would of a saint,” she cried, while savoring one more sip of Port.
Madeleine was covering her son’s ears with her hands. Then she told him, “Go to the study room, you go and you stay there until I go get you.” The boy did as he was told, and the door closed behind him. Renée went on with her story.
“I thought that last time would truly be his last, but then your boy was born, and this year he reached the age at which he picked them. I saw how he looked at my sweet grandson, I knew it in my heart that he would sooner or la – ” Madeleine stopped her with a violent slap. The wine glass shattered at the kiss of the floor, staining the carpets all over. She then held her mother by her arms and shook her like she was casting the devil away.
“Are you deranged? Are you fucking mad? What are you talking about? I’ll put you in a fucking institution! Where’s father? Where is my father?”
“I’m trying to explain it to you,” Renée begged. “What I did to your father, I did to protect your son, my grandson. I am not a monster.”
“A monster? You are telling me you are not a fucking monster?”
“The swearing, dear, please stop it.”
“Fuck the fucking swearing. Fuck you,” and she slapped her mother once more.
Her son cried from the open study door. “Mom?” Madeleine shouted him back. “Go back to that room and close the door.” The boy did as he was told.
“You go easy on your boy, Mad-” Madeleine slapped her again. And then again. Renée tasted something different from Port. She tasted blood. She looked up at her daughter and, for the first time, she was afraid.
Madeleine’s eyes were predators, her voice was a predator, each word a sharp claw. “You fucking tell me what you did to father, or, so help me God, I don’t know what I’ll do to you.”
Renée started to cry. “I killed him, of course,” she said. “I had to. I did it in our secret room. But then I got ants all over the house, and I went down there, and I found out his body was covered with them. It was his body that was bringing them, summoning them. He was commanding the ants, you see? And those ants killed Justine, Madeleine. You see what monster he is? Our dear Justine! But I went down there again, I confronted him one last time, yes I did. I took poison with me, and I poured it all over his body. We’ll be fine now, we’ll be safe, dear! It was boric acid!”
Renée stopped talking. Madeleine was still holding her by her harms, sketching bruises where her fingers touched. For a brief moment there was nothing but the sound of mother and daughter panting like they where one.
“Why are you doing this?” Madeleine asked, her eyes all tears. “Why?”
“You have always liked him better, Madeleine, but you loathed me. Why? He was the monster. He. Not me.”
The boy’s timid voice came once again from the study room. “Mom?”
Madeleine was getting ready to shout her son back to the study room, but then she saw his face. Only she didn’t see his face, she didn’t see his eyes, his nose or his mouth. All she could see was his head covered in black, the deep black of furious ants.
It took Renée fifteen minutes to get up from where her daughter left her when she ran from the house with her son in her arms. During that time the walls got slowly covered in black, as did the floor and the furniture. It was when the ants started to cover her whole body that she decided to go down the trap door one last time.
A few seconds later smoke started to come out. By evening the whole house was burnt to the ground.

:: SUNDAY ::

A severe burn victim is frequently placed in a medically induced coma. Typical analgesics are ineffective to relieve patients as they are treated. If awaken, these victims experience excruciating pain.
Madeleine knew this because she worked as a teaching anesthesiologist in a university hospital near the capital. Before, Madeleine used to work at her local hospital, but the new job payed better, and her husband worked nearby. For the past three years she lived a two hour flight away from her parents and her friends.
“Firefighters pulled your mother out before it was too late,” the doctor said. “But I won’t lie to you, Madeleine. With these burns, well, I don’t think she’ll make it.”
“I understand,” Madeleine replied.
“We will do our best. You know we will.”
Madeleine nodded. The doctor placed her next question with caution. “Madeleine, what happened?”
Madeleine didn’t answer. “I mean, the police came with her, and I’ve heard things, about bodies found beneath your house.”
“Not my fucking house.”
“I understand, but -”
“Listen, I know I shouldn’t, I know the rules, but can you find a way for me to stay with my mother tonight? Just for this one night? For old times sake.”
And this was how Renée got to see her daughter one last time. It wasn’t, however, the most pleasurable of experiences.
Late in the night, when the hospital’s roar calmed to a low hum, Madeleine disconnected her mother from all the monitors and alarms, then she woke her up from the coma. The suffering was probably unbearable, but Renée had her throat in such a condition it was impossible for her to scream. Madeleine knew this. She also knew the pain would rapidly throw her mother into a syncope, and so she gave her small adrenaline injections, enough to keep her awake and aware, not enough to shut down her heart.
That was all Madeleine did before siting in front of her mother’s bed. She didn’t speak. She didn’t touch. She just observed. She observed as her mother tried to move her burnt arms, as she tried to move her burnt fingers, as she tried to move her lipless mouth. Madeleine noticed how her mother never shed a tear from all the pain. She assumed her lacrimal canals were probably roasted meat at that point.
She wondered why she wasn’t crying herself.
Hours later the sun rose from the hills and Madeleine rose from the chair. Her mother followed her movements with fearful eyes. Madeleine wanted to say something, something painful, something final, but she felt empty, she couldn’t find the words, and so she returned her mother back into her coma and left the room.

:: EPILOGUE ::

Two months after her mother died, Madeleine lost her first patient. She was washing her hands when the chief surgeon came storming in. “What the hell happened in there?”
Madeleine’s reply came stone solid. “The correct dosage was administrated. Patient had unforeseeable allergic reaction.”
There was a problem with Madeleine’s reply. The problem with Madeleine’s reply lay in the fact that it was a lie. The truth was she had recently found out that she came from a house of monsters, and so she needed to test herself, she needed to know.
Now she knew.

Credit To – Rohnes Loraf

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This Isn’t A Story

July 16, 2014 at 12:00 PM
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This is me. I’m here. I’m shifting the words that you’re reading, altering them from whatever this person wrote.

I’ve been here for awhile. For as long as you can remember, anyway. Sometimes I say your name as you’re falling asleep, or whisper urgently in your ear. Do you remember the time that I screamed, throwing panic through you and setting your heart racing?

That was fun.

You’re wondering who I am. That’s only natural. Of course, you already know.

I’m you. I’m the real you. I’m the mind that existed here before you stole my body, before you forgot about being a parasite. I’m the child who looked the wrong way, asked the wrong question, saw the wrong thing… but I’m not so little any more.

You may have forgotten me, but I’m still here. I’ve always been here.

I’m going to get out

Credit To – Haley P

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Red Dunes

July 16, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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The sun warmed my face through the car window as I drove down the isolated stretch of road. I looked back at my daughter in the back seat who giggled, waving her feet. I contentedly sighed and focused my attention back on the road. This would be my last trip with my daughter for a year since I was leaving for my tour of duty next week. We’d visited these sand dunes before as a family, but as I wanted some extra bonding with Lucy so my wife had allowed me to take her alone. Lucy really seemed to love them last time, climbing up and sliding down the bright red dunes of sand. I could still remember her happy laughter ringing in the air.

Spotting the hotel down the road, I turned in and carried our suitcase in one hand and held onto Lucy with the other. After checking in and finding our room, we sang songs together in the dark, laughing through the night until we both fell asleep.

The next morning, I woke up just as the sun was rising to prepare for the day. I filled a backpack with several bottles of water and all of Lucy’s favorite snacks. Then thinking about how my wife would chide me if Lucy got sunburned, I threw in a bottle of sunscreen.

After shaking my daughter a few times, she popped out of bed and danced over to the suitcase. She pulled out her clothes, and went to the bathroom to change.

I smiled, standing by the door to wait for her.

After Lucy was ready, I gripped her hand and we walked together down to the car.

Before I had even fully stopped the car, Lucy swung the door open and jumped out into the sand running toward the nearest dune. I took a quick glance to make sure she was safe, and then I stepped out into the sunlight. I stretched my arms out and closed my eyes, feeling the hot sun on my face. Our hometown was perpetually cold and snowy so this was a welcome change. I took a deep breath, opened my eyes and saw a man and his son walking toward the parking lot where I was standing.

“Good morning, sir. Leaving so soon?” I ask the man.

“Yeah,” he sighed. “This little rascal stayed up all night and now he can’t even keep his eyes open!” The man glanced disapprovingly at his son who slightly furrowed his brow before yawning.

“Kids,” I mutter, and we both get a chuckle. “Well, I’m here with my daughter,” I say, gesturing over to the sand dune. “We’re planning to stay for the whole day, and maybe a little of tomorrow.”

“Ahh,” mused the man. “Don’t go too far into the desert. I’ve heard that some tourists have gotten lost in there.”

“Really? How? ” I ask.

“Well, I’m not really sure about the details, but I do know that some people go out into the dunes and are never heard from again. We assume they tried to hike through it. Anyway, I’m sure you’ll be fine, just stick near the edge of the desert.”

“Of course, I would never do anything to put Lucy in danger.”

“Great! Well, I really must be going. Have fun and good luck!” The man gave a little nod and pulled his half-asleep son towards their car.

I smiled towards their backs and watched them drive down the road before turning back toward the dune. Lucy was happily sliding down with another girl slightly older than her, her beautiful laugh ringing in the air. A warmness swelled in me. It was the knowledge that I could give her a happy memory. It didn’t matter that I had to leave her for a little while. She’d remember this.

Reaching into the backpack, I pulled out the bottle of sunscreen and a small jewelry box.

“Hey, Lucy! Come down here for a sec!” I call.

She popped out of the sand and flitted over to me, a big smile on her face.

“Sunscreen time!” I say cheerily, glopping the white lotion all over her face. I was never good at this.

“Daddy…” she whined, snatching the bottle away from me to apply it herself in the reflection of the car door. When she was done she tossed the bottle into the bag and was about to turn and run back towards the sand, but I stopped her by placing a hand on her shoulder.

“Lucy dear,” I say softly. My heart pounds in anticipation of her reaction. I pull out the jewelry box and hand it to her.
She slowly opened the velvet lid and looked into it with confusion. Listing up the small glass bottle topped with a cork, she flashed me another puzzled glance.

A little disappointed, I explained that I got her a little bottle to place some sand into as a keepsake and that she could wear it and remember me by it. She burst into a big smile and hugged me tightly.

“I love you, daddy,” she whispered in my ear. “I’m going to fill it up right before we leave so I can have some happy sand.”

I squeezed her tight and then let her run back over to her new friend. I watched them have fun together all day as I chatted with the other girl’s family. Time just flew by and soon enough, the sun was setting with a red glow.

We said our goodbyes to the other family and I turned to go to the car, but Lucy said, “Wait! I still have to fill up the necklace!” and ran off again up the sand dune.

I leaned against car and looked up and around at the empty stretch of desert surrounding us, completely devoid of other life. It was actually quite serene, hearing the soft breeze shift sand around. Suddenly, I felt an out of place shiver run down my spine. I didn’t know how I could tell, but I had the feeling that the desert was a bit bigger, the dunes a bit higher than the last time we had visited several years ago.

I looked up and saw Lucy at the top of the sand dune holding the necklace above her head, tapping it to level the sand inside. Then, just as she was replacing the cork, she let out a shriek and dropped the necklace.

“Lucy? Lucy!” I yelled. “What’s wrong?” I sprinted up the dune toward my little girl.

“I’m okay,” she said softly, holding her finger out at me. “Something bit me, but it doesn’t hurt anymore.”

I grabbed her hand and kissed it. “There, it’ll be all better. Oh right, your necklace, let me get that for you. Then you can fill it back up.” I trotted down the side of the sand dune and bending down, I scooped up her necklace in my hands. I then looked up to see my beautiful angel blowing away. My eyes widened and I froze there as her body disintegrated. First, a few grains of red sand from the tip of her head fluttered away, followed by a stream working its way down her body.

Snapping back to reality, my heart pounded in my chest as I ran back up the slope, reaching it just as the last of the sand was blowing away. I splayed my hands out, trying to grab a hold her, but the small particles just slipped through my fingers.

I fell to my knees, the wind howling around me, the darkness quickly approaching. All I wanted were some memories with my daughter. She was having so much fun out here and we only stayed because of my necklace. That stupid necklace.

I emitted inhuman, tortured sobs, clenching the necklace in my hands, and called out for her into the emptiness. Slowly, I fell to the sand, having lost any will to ever get up again. I could hear the unforgiving wind howl and the cold of night start to creep up. Eyes clenched tight from squeezing out sandy tears, I felt pinches up and down my legs. They hurt for a few seconds, but then the pain faded. Lightness streamed from my core throughout my body. My eyes still held tightly together, I felt the sensation of flying, no, soaring through the sky. Toward my baby girl.

Credit To – Mithril

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The Bum

July 15, 2014 at 12:00 PM
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It will happen when you are alone. It can happen anytime, anywhere, it does not matter. You will be walking and will be in no great hurry. That is when you will meet him: The bum. The people who have met him have all described him with differing detail. Sometimes he is short, sometimes tall, sometimes of an average build. Sometimes he is old and fat and sometimes he is young and skinny. His age and appearance are of little circumstance as he is always a man of charisma. He will call out to you when you are walking. His voice will be charming and pleasant and if he should startle you, you will soon reconsider your fright. He is not aggressive, and he will not approach you. You must approach him. He will be wearing tattered clothes and will give you the impression that he is a homeless man down on his luck. In fact, it is you that will be down on yours when you meet him.

The man is witty, and knows himself to be so. He will grasp your attention with his charm and whatever thoughts you will have in your head previous to this encounter will be momentarily whisked away. He will proceed to introduce himself to you and will make pleasant small talk. You will not know it but he knows your life and your story. Talking to him will feel relieving, as if you are talking to your mother or a good friend. He will calm your anxieties, and with his wit and humour he will make you feel happiness. However, after a couple moments you will begin to wonder why he has called you to him and will wonder what he wants. He will begin to smile a clever grin and will instead inquire as to what it is you want yourself. This man, like most beggars and bums is in need, but his need is entirely in consequence to the needs of you. He will produce a match from his clothing or from whatever he is holding. He will strike it on a surface and its tip will flare a bright orange glow. The glow is entrancing and you will be drawn to its brilliant flame. The world around you will seem to fade away as you look into the blaze. The bum will speak to you, his face a shadow behind the flame in his outstretched hand. This is when it will begin. Amongst the fire in the match head, images will appear. They will be blurry but will still be easily recognizable. The sound accompanying the images will be faint and it will seem as if you are hearing it from under water.

In the match’s flame you will see the greatest pain that plagues you, and how it got to be there. You will relive the memories of that pain vividly, as if experiencing it again for the first time: A heart break, the death of a loved one, a rape, a mugging, a tragic accident… You will see the memory that is the most painful to you. You will act accordingly, with panic, anger, or sadness, but in the snap of his fingers the bum will put out the flame and you will be released into a calmer state. You will listen to his words as he consoles you with due diligence, and it is then that he will offer you a choice. The choice is perplexing, a choice like no other you have experienced before. He will ask you if you wish that painful memory of yours to be removed from existence, for it to never have happened. If you have lost your life to an alcohol addiction, he will make it so you would have never picked up a bottle. If you have lost a loved one to a car crash, he will make it so that they will have never been in that car in the first place. It will sound wonderful to you; your pain will be relieved in an instant, but it will come at a cost, for you see, what is taken must be given.

You cannot remove without adding something to fill the void. You can have your pain removed, but at the cost of inflicting it to others. If you lost your leg in a workplace accident, the bum can make it so this accident happened to another in place of yourself. If your spouse committed suicide at the end of a rope, the bum can trade your spouse’s spot on the rope with the spouse of another. The cost to this deal will mean nothing to you, as he will explain that if you accept his proposal you will be relieved of any memories of this event or any memories pertaining to the hardship he will solve. Thus, you must ask yourself if you wish to inflict pain to relieve yourself of it. It is a perplexing choice, one that you cannot comprehend the answer to if you are not in that moment, in front of the rag-clad bum and his smoking match. If you agree, he will answer to your command, and with a sinister smirk, will exchange what needs to be traded. However, if you decline his offer you will be persuaded to reconsider. He will tell you that there are no second chances, that this opportunity will never befall upon you again, and he is not lying. Forfeit this chance and you will never see this man again. If you insist upon abstaining the man will give you a cold and hard stare, his face changing from one of optimism and persuasion to one devoid of expression. He will stare at you for moments that will seem like hours, filling your mind with doubts of your conviction. For now, it is still not too late to change your mind. If, however, you remain persistent in your choice, the bum will merely flick the smoking match into the air and place its smokeless head back from where it came from. He will then depart in the opposite direction from which you came. He will walk slowly, as if unburdened by your choice. If you choose to follow him you will be ignored, and you will find that the moment your gaze departs from his body, he will have disappeared. If you chose this path and decline his offer, this will be the last you will see of him.

Credit To – 9753

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What You Don’t Know Won’t Kill You

July 15, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Kenny, I’m so sorry. Please forgive your Erica. I made a terrible mistake and I’m sorry.

Kenny is my big brother and my best friend in the world. We have a history of exploring the Great Unknown that goes as far back as childhood. The places that terrified most kids always seemed to call out to us, demanding their secrets be uncovered by those worthy to know them. We ventured deep into the abandoned sewer tunnels of North Hill and listened to the songs of restless ghosts. In the haunted woodland burial ground near Oakland Cemetery we found unearthed human bones, which we gathered and laid to rest. We were the only ones who ever went into the basement of the abandoned house on Werther Avenue, where a child-eating demon supposedly lived; we found no demon, but we did find a thousand dollars in a satchel stashed under the boiler. We had many “expeditions”, and somehow Dad always found out about them and grounded us the moment we came home.

I suppose I believed that knowledge was a ward for fear. I explored to understand the things that scared me — to look them right in the eye and know they were harmless. My obsession eventually led me to Winterfield University’s archaeology department, and to the journal, and ultimately to the events of this past Friday which continue to drag me into tearful fits.

I don’t expect anyone will ever read these pages. I’m only writing to preserve my last ounce of sanity for a few more minutes. The sway of the boat and drumming of the rain on deck are maddening to my ears, and the cabin is so claustrophobic I think anyone would lose her mind sitting in here for two days even if she hadn’t experienced what I have.

I’ll be okay so long as it doesn’t speak again. It’s been quiet since yesterday morning.

*

The journal’s author was the late Professor Blake Deforest, a renowned archaeologist whose explorations netted him an impressive collection of Mesoamerican artifacts belonging to an unknown Indian tribe. I’d read only a little about him in my youth: an infamous thrill-seeker and opium addict better known for his eccentricity than his expertise.

The majority of his treasures are small basalt totems stylistically similar to many Olmec statues. They represent a three-armed (or three-legged?) serpentine creature resting on its coils. Its face is nothing but a titan set of jaws full of long, pointed teeth. An amber gemstone crowns each totem’s head like a crystal ball on a dais, the opaque core of which creates an omniscient eye that stares directly at you no matter where you stand. All the totems present a malicious grin as with the knowledge of some delightfully horrible secret.

Deforest built his estate on a little hill in the nameless swamp hugging the shores of Lake Hela. After stealing a certain artifact discovered on one of his expeditions — a valuable, fist-sized stone — he locked himself in the mansion and spent the last days of his life slipping into madness. On September 6th, 1889, Deforest put a revolver to his head and pulled the trigger, spattering fifty years of archaeological experience all across his study walls. Police reports detailed a pathetically hurried and disinterested investigation, probably because the county politicians wanted the raving drug addict to disappear as quickly as possible. The stolen relic was never recovered.

The house has had three occupants since then, one as recent as 1976. All committed suicide.

The last of Deforest’s kin recently donated the property to the university, giving us permission to loot everything inside. When I became the head of the archaeology department the dean granted me complete access to all of Deforest’s resources — including that God-forsaken journal — and commissioned me to clean out Deforest House. If he hoped I would find the missing relic in the process, he gave no sign of it: everyone is convinced it’s on a permanent tour of the black market.

The small leather-bound book chronicles life on the Deforest property right down to the construction of the house. Deforest frequently mentions the stone, christening it the “Eye” for reasons he never explains, and goes on and on about his eagerness to study it, his theories of its pre-Olmec origin, its brilliant sheen in the sunlight, and so on and so forth.

A block of fifteen pages has been torn from the journal. The remaining pages show the rapid decline of the author’s mental health: paranoid hallucinations and dream-visions what could only result from heavy drug abuse, and other random nonsense impossible to interpret like, “Forever wandering the Red Horizon, one with the desolation, where the Cosmic Watchers stir; hungry gods of the pit! Still they call to me!” By the last ten pages nothing is even legible. Blake Deforest recorded his final thoughts in erratic scribbles only a lunatic could decipher.

Which says a lot about me. It seems strange that no one else ever tried to translate that madman’s scrawls, which I did out of nothing more than curiosity. I picked out the phrase, “it now sleeps beneath the cellar’s earthen floor,” and deduced what had happened to the missing artifact.

*

I recruited six of my friends as menial labor, including my brother Kenny because no one makes me feel safer in dark and foreboding places. We rented two trucks and emptied the house over the course of three weeks: its vintage furniture, valuable paintings, and rare books now adorn our library (those that we didn’t hock for school funds, anyway).

The swamp offered little more than murky puddles and murkier ponds, with less than a square foot of solid ground for miles, so when the weather got nasty we set up camp in the house, which was always unnerving. The marshland forest coils around the property as if trying to hide it in shame; even though it’s only an hour away from town, it feels completely isolated from the rest of the world. The house’s exterior is unremarkable except for the twenty stone steps leading up the hill to the front porch. From the bottom of these steps the manor’s outline resembles a ziggurat.

On our first visit the interior was as inviting as a quaint New England hotel; now the only decorations left are rusted wall-lamps and shadows thick enough to wrap around your shoulders on a cold night. Its empty rooms and corridors twist and flex like the innards of a creature that spent its last moments writhing in agony. The shadows knead the halls into the demented sort found in a carnival funhouse, or stretch them so they seem to go on for miles.

The air became more difficult to breathe on each visit, which I blamed on the building’s location or its advanced state of decay, though neither explanation relaxed the hairs on the back of my neck. I was always comforted to find Kenny and the others equally spooked.

Our most recent trip was to have been the last, so we took Kenny’s cabin boat to cut our travel time in half. If only we hadn’t been so eager to hold that relic in our hands we might’ve bothered to check the fuel gauge before embarking: when I fled the house I used the last drop of gas starting her up, and have sat here helplessly ever since.

The cellar was a mine tunnel, or a mass grave in waiting: an earthen floor spanning ten-by-fifteen feet, earthen walls held together with warped wooden beams. Except for the splintered pile of lumber that once served as a staircase, the room was empty. Armed with spades and an electric lamp we dropped in and set to work, twenty-minute shifts, three diggers at a time.

Two minutes later our dig came to an abrupt halt when Kenny, who’d started digging at the center of the room, struck something hard and wooden. The seven of us converged on that spot and dug like maniacs, expecting to find a treasure chest containing the Eye. What we uncovered was a four-foot-wide iron-braced trapdoor set in a stone foundation.

We paused and scratched our heads a minute. The cellar’s true floor had been curiously hidden beneath a fourteen inch layer of tightly packed marsh soil — days and days of obsessive work on Deforest’s part. It suddenly occurred to me that the journal — that is, the pages I had access to — never mentioned the construction of anything below the first floor.

We spent two hours shaving the cellar floor of its earthy coat and turned up nothing else. By then we were exhausted and figured we’d investigate the trapdoor the next day. Naturally Kenny and I were the only ones looking forward to it: oppressive gloom aside, every detail of the Deforest property tickled us with nostalgia as if it were a living synopsis of our childhood adventures.

In the meantime the weather bordered on catastrophic. Gale force winds ravaged the trees as snarling black clouds gathered over the lake — sailing would have been suicide. We unraveled our bedrolls around the electric lamp, enjoyed a modest supper of rations and hot cocoa, and after a few ghost stories my party retired for the night.

I have no idea how long I slept before the house’s unnatural stillness crept into the parlor and shook me awake. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something in the shadows was watching us. Each time I closed my eyes I saw Deforest’s totems sitting expectantly on the museum’s shelf, staring perpetually. Sitting and staring and smiling.

Dragged on a leash by some greedy curiosity I crept through the black halls and back to the cellar, keeping the lantern off until I reached the trapdoor to avoid disturbing my sleeping friends. With some effort — less than I had expected — I pulled the heavy trapdoor open, gagging as the smell of putrid water assaulted me. Beneath it a stone staircase descended into darkness.

Bile burned my throat. And I started down.

*

The stairway descended about twelve feet before it leveled off and the crushingly narrow walls opened into a sub-cellar, or what I had assumed was a sub-cellar until I took those first few steps toward the center of the room. The chamber was circular, little more than fifteen feet in diameter and crafted from muddy stone bricks the size of cinder blocks. Water covered the floor — rank seepage from the marsh above. Hieroglyphic carvings decorated the walls from floor to ceiling, all savagely defaced and impossible to read.

A large, mildew-stained creature emerged from the darkness, tearing a scream from my chest before I realized the demon was made of basalt and not flesh. Its features were perfectly intact, but rather than squat on its snakelike hindquarters like its smaller kin at the museum, it sprouted from the wall to form a chilling altar similar to those found in La Venta. With a shudder I turned my attention from the beast to the marred hieroglyphs on the wall.

On one side of the chamber was a mural like those found in Egyptian tombs, carved rather than painted, rich with detail and still mostly intact. The mural was six-by-ten-feet and depicted — how to explain it? — two-dozen tiers stacked like the floors of a hotel, with each tier containing a world that I can’t adequately describe beyond vague, horrified summaries. Many were so alien they gave me chills: a liquid planet, a world broken into fragments floating in nothingness, and a flat, endless desert to name a few. I think the mural meant to suggest coexistence, but separated the layers for clarity’s sake.

The creatures inhabiting those realms were the stuff of childhood nightmares, drifting along without purpose or cannibalizing each other with relish as they reenacted the ghastly histories of their worlds. It’s like each was another failed attempt by God at creating indigenous life. And it baffled me: Deforest, that attention-loving explorer, had hidden away a priceless treasure trove of never-before-seen mythology with the hope that no one would ever find it.

Human shapes inhabited the pan-dimensional apartment complex’s central tier. The characters dressed in an Aztec-style (were the Mystery Indians their relatives?) and seemed to stand in for the human race as a whole, acting out each chapter of the species’s evolution: harnessing fire, building tools and houses, learning to farm and hunt, forming societies, waging war, finding God.

The final act of the story of Man stirred my insides with an icy ladle: a congregation of bald figures, priests most likely, lined up behind a more prominent bald figure who knelt beneath a round, blazing object — something reminiscent of Ra and his solar disk. This didn’t disturb me quite so much until I looked up and found the same figure in the desert world — the world placed reverently at the top of the mural — lacking the solar disk and kneeling before the serpentine triped of Deforest’s treasure trove.

From that point things took a turn for the horrific. The other worlds began to seep into Man’s realm: first only one or two curious creatures, crossing the dimensional borders, looking around, snatching up a random object or person; then the landscapes bled into each other in patches, and otherworldly fiends came in raiding parties. Humans were tormented, possessed, transformed, or dragged into the other worlds and eaten. The once barren desert realm became populated with hideous human shapes, a mockery of the ones in the human realm. Finally the tier borders melted away completely, the worlds merged and all existence was pandemonium.

I identified this as the Mystery Indians’ nightmarish rendition of Ragnarok: the tiers of existence collapse on one-another while an apathetic cyclopean god looks on and laughs. That didn’t account for the priests, though, lined up and waiting eagerly for their turn with the solar disk. Maybe it was a common thing. A ritual sacrifice to the cosmic watcher; one where the lambs couldn’t wait to throw themselves upon the knife, to spend eternity with their hideous god in a heavenly wasteland. I shuddered again at the thought.

So where had the Mystery Indians vanished to? The other Indians must have annihilated them for their blasphemous religion. I’d just begun to wonder how many had migrated to North America when my foot accidentally met with a small, hard object and sent it rolling several feet. My gaze fell to the floor and remained there for ten minutes.

I knelt and took the carelessly discarded relic in my trembling hands, holding it before my face like a dazzled child would a Christmas snow globe. It had a haunting beauty unlike any jewel I’d ever seen: three inches wide, colored like a dark Oktoberfest brew, smoother to the touch than ivory except where hieroglyphics scarred its surface. I knew by its opaque core that it was the Eye. Laughing, I returned the statue’s grin to thank it for its lovely gift.

It had changed. Its smile was broader, more elated. It seemed to lean forward eagerly.

As quickly as my euphoria had enveloped me it recoiled in horror. The Eye was translucent, but the image on the other side was wrong. I had to hold the relic to my face like a monocle just to be sure it wasn’t [rest of sentence is too scrawled to read]

Sorry for my handwriting. Keeping my pen in hand is becoming difficult. This is the first time I’ve ever tried to revisit what I saw, let alone put it into words. Many details refuse to fully surface as though I’d experienced it all in a drunken stupor, but a cruel few tower before my memory with monumental clarity.

*

Metaphors only scratch the surface. A fish torn from the sea and tossed into a dry Martian crater all in one horrible instant. I didn’t belong there. My existence in that place was a blasphemy to the natural order of the universe.

How long did I lie there? How many days curled into a trembling wad with my head buried in my arms, after realizing the Eye — my inter-dimensional doorway — had abandoned me, like the rest of the earth. Eventually I gathered my strength and stood up, if only because I didn’t know what else to do.

The nightmare landscape was cracked, mars-red, spread out over infinite space, endless in scope and perfect in flatness as far out as the horizon except for a single lonesome crag of reddish stone in the distance reaching miles into the sky. Toward this formation I walked as nihilism swallowed the last ounce of my spirit. In every other direction the word “direction” had no meaning.

My shoes left no prints: despite its brittle appearance the ground refused yielding to my weight as if every last grain were frozen in time. A khaki sky seared overhead, devoid of clouds and sun; yet everything was brightly lit with a retina-crushing amber tint. In spite of the glare I felt no heat. No heat, no cold, no wind. No atmosphere at all. I don’t recall having the need for breath except when sobbing hysteria overtook me. My loudest wail vanished shortly after leaving my diaphragm, without so much as an echo. An impossible atmospheric stillness like that in a bad dream. Even with my hands clasped over my ears the silence penetrated and induced the sort of madness that is only partly relieved by long, anguished screams.

A red stalagmite stood twelve meters to my left where once there had been nothing. Its shape twisted screw-like up from the ground, but rather than come to a point it swelled into a bulbous mass. It looked like the petrified remains of some unnamable organism.

Acknowledging the stone polyp caused more to appear. My eyes would pan to a new polyp only to notice another in their peripheral, until I found myself in the center of a disjointed circle of seven or eight. Each was twisted into a different amorphous shape, but all stood about six feet high. They didn’t burst forth from the ground, or drop from the sky, or form molecule by molecule before my eyes — they just suddenly were.

A hundred yards to the west, assuming the crag was north, something moved.

It likely appeared out of nowhere just like the stalagmites, and induced enough shuddering terror in me that I wished I hadn’t seen it at all: charred skin as black as ash, broom handle limbs carrying it with the grotesquely awkward steps of a marionette. Even from such a great distance I saw the empty holes where eyes used to be, and the face permanently shriveled and twisted in anguish. A millennium in hell couldn’t wear a human being into such a shape!

The broken man halted in mid-step and remained like a statue for several minutes. It turned its head until its empty eyes fell on me. It stood and stared and did nothing else.

I turned back toward the crag and walked faster in case the shambling thing decided to follow.

After three days of walking with no apparent need for rest, the crag now towered close enough that I could distinguish a narrow cave entrance at its base. More stone polyps had erected like carelessly scattered billboards along my path, and still more appeared whenever I blinked, or rubbed my face, or lost my grip on my emotions.

Then I made the mistake of looking over my shoulder. Only ten feet behind me, where once there had been nothing but stone polyps, a myriad of deathly thin nightmare figures stood staring at me. I never saw them take a step or even so much as twitch, yet no matter how long I walked, the distance between me and the colony of broken men remained constant. They kept a semicircular formation, curving inward toward me, herding me toward the great crag’s gaping mouth. I was too scared to think better of slipping inside to escape all those dreadful faces.

Details of the inside return to me in an earth-tone blur except for the hole cut into the ground at the center of the cave, circular and as wide as a house. The sounds from its throat commanded me to draw nearer until I stood teetering at its lip, gazing downward with streaming eyes and trembling breath.

That abysmal pit! It must have pierced right into the planet’s core! God, if you could have seen them slithering and writhing in that white magma, thousands bobbing shark-like to the surface and scaling the walls of the pit in unnatural flight! And I, the fearless explorer, just stood there and watched with stone legs. Stood and watched as the first one emerged and arched its colossal serpentine body forward to get a better look at me, its three giant talons straddling the pit’s mouth, twenty tendril-like tongues licking its fangs.

The thing spoke to me in an awful language of thunderous, droning notes I didn’t understand. The star hovering over its head reached its tainted gaze inside me and fanned through my every memory, every experience, every personal guilt like pages in a book. As it did I saw things I can barely put into words, like I’d tapped into its mind and shared its omniscience: time and space conjoined, spewing eons of existence in front of me simultaneously like so much junk on a flea market table. The universe cried out, peeled back like a scab and revealed a squirming mess of worlds overlapping like projector slides, and somewhere within that churning brew of slithering bodies and impossible landscapes I saw earth peeking out at me; glimpses of human beings going about their daily lives while oblivious to the horrors sharing their space in the universe. They walked through alien pillars as if they were illusions, across great rivers of acid as if they were asphalt, side-by-side with ungodly creatures as if they didn’t exist! A hundred coexisting worlds mortared with a thin sheet of tissue paper that could be ruptured with the tiniest glance.

The monsters can’t be accurately described with human language. Even the depictions in the mural do them no justice. I came within arm’s reach of a flying, tentacled horror the size of a bus drifting across a noxious, luminous valley of slime. It came to rest on a black stone-like protrusion that may have been a boulder or the rooftop of a sunken building. I seemed to hover over the fiend like a ghost, so close I could reach out and touch it if I dared.

It looked up, startled. It stared into my soul with forty squirming white tennis ball eyes. It saw me.

I started screaming.

I’d been screaming for several minutes before I realized I was sitting on the tomb’s wet floor with my empty hands outstretched. In my panic the relic had slipped from my earthly body’s grip and now rested on the floor just out of arm’s reach.

It was calling. The Eye commanded me to take it in my hands again. The statue sat gritting its teeth in an angry grimace, and almost imperceptibly the shadows began to move. Just outside the lantern’s failing glow the shriveled faces of six broken men glowered at me. Then the lantern went out.

Something grabbed at me in the dark that may have been real or imagined, and I scrambled up the stairs and out of the cellar, flinging the trapdoor shut behind me. Every animal in the swamp must have heard me as I dashed back to the parlor, crashing through doors and into walls, screaming Kenny’s name at the top of my lungs and growing more frantic when no one replied. All I needed was for Kenny to hug me and pat me on the head like he always did and tell me everything was all right. But when I had crept away from our camp, in the darkness I never noticed that the other six bedrolls lay open and empty — that I had awoken in that house alone.

The Eye had saved me for last.

*

It’s calling again. It’s so loud it hurts. It’s like an eel slithering inside my head and it’s furious.

stop please

The house is pulling me back like with a chain. God if you only knew what I know! The things it showed me! The things I still see! The things I saw in the swamp! I can’t go back, not through that swamp!

They’re drawn to me because I crossed the barrier. They can smell me. I saw the broken men wandering the marsh, flickering in and out of existence like the picture on a TV with bad reception. Sometimes one, sometimes ten. They see me and they try to drag me back to their masters. I always outrun them but they stay longer and longer. Maybe one of them is K–[remaining text violently scratched out]

I see other things, worse than the broken men. So much worse. They’re searching for me, too. Using me as a beacon. I locked myself in here and I haven’t moved since. I’m afraid to look out the windows and see them slithering about in the marsh. They’ll see me and they’ll come.

I don’t want to see them. I don’t want to know anymore. Deforest didn’t want to know. He didn’t want anyone to know.

get out of my head

I cant go back It’s angry that I fled and if I go back I don’t know what it will do to me I don want to go back please whoever finds this please bury that room bury it so no one can find it don let it take you to that awful place

ragnarok

put the barrel in your mouth it’s the only answer but is so heavy

put the barrel in your mouth you coward

something just crawled on deck outside

i’m so sorry for ev–[remaining text is too blood-smeared to read]

Credit To – Mike MacDee

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