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Adelaida and Kruv

August 27, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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The realm was beauteous and plentiful, its people more so. No plague touched its borders, no famine its lands. War was seldom seen in this kingdom, whose peaceful lords ran their fortified estates in harmony with one another. The only problem was that peasants were treated harshly, scraping to live on the scraps of land provided to them by their lords. Besides this, the nobles were amiable and open with their dealings with one another, with one exception.

In the southernmost castle of this bountiful landscape lived an estranged baron and his wife. Though seldom seen, they were both said to be startlingly beautiful youths, albeit rather sallow. Despite this, the Baron Kruv and his young wife Adelaida were a reclusive couple, only leaving their citadel in the utmost emergency. They never attended holiday feasts or tourneys held by the noblemen. The knights of their court were seldom seen in the festive jousts.

It was therefore a shock when it was said that the baron was to throw a jousting tournament in honor of his wife’s naming day. There was to be a feast following the events of the day, which would continue late into the night and into the early hours of the next morning. The noble men and women were ecstatic for the event. Knights trained, ladies gossiped, and nobles prepared their families for the festivities.

All the while the smallfolk would notice caravans of food, decor, lavish cloths, and other such things passing through their towns, bound south to the domain of the baron. This change was very sudden and new for the people of the land, who fantasized about the celebration to come. The day of the feast approached quickly. Those of higher birth donned their best attire, knights bore their armor, and everyone from the northern domains all the way to the south packed and left for the journey to Castle Kruv.

As the numerous families traversed through foggy wetlands and dense woods, a startling sight met their eyes: the dark and grasping spires of Castle Kruv. Each dark stone tower clawed its way into the sky, casting a gloomy and dismal aura about the battlements. While none could deny the macabre aspects of the castle, it also had an air of beauty, with its lush birch forest and surrounding grounds. And although the castle was undeniably unsettling, it too had aspects of beauty in its cold stone walls. It was these sights that greeted the ecstatic nobles and knights, as they completed the final stretch to the festivities.

Upon entering Castel Kruv, the revelers were led to various wings of the estate, in which they could clean themselves and rest from their travels for the evening to come. An hour after the last guests arrived, a servant of the house announced that the first of the jousts were to begin promptly. Lords and ladies greeted each other exuberantly in the decorated halls of the mighty, elegant fortress as the knights and squires proceeded to the field where the joust was to be held.

The pageantry of the Kruv family hung proudly from the halls and streamed from the tops of walls and towers. The heraldry of knights flew from tents, horses, and tabards, and the excited chitterings of near a hundred high-borns could be heard through the entirety of the arena.
Finally, another herald in the service of the Kruv’s announced that his lord and lady would not be attending the jousts. He apologized hastily on behalf of his benefactors, and swiftly departed. A small cry of dissent sounded from the amassed guests, but was swiftly silenced as the castle’s master of arms entered the field to commence the first match.

Horses charged, lances broke, knights rolled in the dirt. The crowd cheered their favorites and booed their rivals, all the while gossiping and chatting away. By the time of the final match, everyone’s voice was hoarse from over-use, yet their enthusiasm did not wane. After the sun had started to set and the winner of the day’s events had been announced, the noble families retreated to their temporary chambers to prepare themselves for the evening’s feast.

Lords and ladies clothed themselves in their finest raiments, planning to outdo each other in beauty and wealth. Long embroidered gowns of the finest silks and velvets were strewn about the shoulders of well-off women. Men in doublets of lavish textiles, decorated by the rarest gems, led their families through the torch lit halls of Castle Kruv, making their way to the heart of the fortified manor, the banquet hall. Rows of delicately carved tables lined with cushioned benches filled the room, save for a large central area serving for a dance floor.

Once everyone was seated, a loud musical flourish was played by the heralds of the castle to announce the entrance of the baron and his wife. The room became immediately hushed, all attention drawn to the ornately engraved door on the farthest wall of the room. The doors were pushed open, and in came a small stream of household servants, a few dressed in varying arrays of finery, handmaidens to the young baroness. A small escort of the castle’s resident knights followed behind, each sporting their colors on elaborately embroidered tunics. Finally came Kruv and Adelaida.

Lords and ladies alike gasped in stupor at the young nobles. Both were dressed in the colors of the Kruv family, red and grey. Both were also infinitely more stunningly beautiful in person than any of the stories had told.

Adelaida was a charming and spritely girl seemingly of around twenty years of age. Her hair fell in ebony ringlets around her shoulders and down her back. A circlet of silver inlaid with garnets rested lightly on the brow of her ivory flesh. Her dark lush ruby lips curved in a slight smile as she gazed over the crowd with stunningly pale green eyes. The long sleeves of her red gown almost brushed the ground, embroidered with intricate braided silver along the edges.

The other youth, Lord Kruv, was also pleasing to the eyes, causing the hearts of the younger maidens to skip a beat. His dark hair was worn short, though it still fell about his eyes. His strikingly pale skin mimicked his bride’s, unnatural for the location of their southern home. Kruv stood at an average height amongst his peers, yet he seemed to have dominating, almost feral air to him. His fine-boned, lupine face scanned the crowd of nobles assembled. He had no smile playing upon his lips, and bore a look of what seemed to be disinterest.

“My lords and ladies of the realm, I thank thee kindly for coming upon such short notice. My lady wife is very dear to me, and it greatly pleases both I and her that thou hast all arrived. It has been ages since we have had such a feast” rang out the voice of the baron, who proceeded to laugh deeply and unnervingly. Too late, the noblemen realized the knights of Kruv’s court had blocked off any means of escape from door or window. Lady Adelaida grinned fully now, revealing unnaturally sharp canine teeth. The handmaidens and servants of the baroness and baron began rushing through the crowds, snatching lords and ladies from their seats and dragging them to the corners of the hall to be fed upon. Surviving nobles fled to the exits futilely, blocked by the armed guards of the castle.

Many guests attempted to plead with the Baron and baroness, offering land, wealth, loyalty, and servitude. These attempts were made in vain however, and many of these whimpering lords and ladies became the blood-feast for the fair Lady Adelaida or her lover Kruv. Blood bedecked the banquet hall, and the court of Castle Kruv had a feast as none had ever seen before, nor ever had wished to see again. The peoples of the land reviled the southern realm of Kruv, yet no commoner complained to the liberation of the realm from their pompous liege lords.

It is still said amongst the peasants that any who wander past Castle Kruv on the darkest autumn night, shall hear the screams of those damned to a bloody fate amongst the vampires of Kruv’s court.

Credit To – Nefertam

This is a Crappypasta Success Story; it had a 100% upvote rate on its Crappypasta post (which can be seen here) and so it is being moved here with minor formatting/typo corrections. Admin Fail!

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In the Dead of Night

August 27, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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This is a video pasta. If you cannot see the embedded video, please click the link below and watch at the video’s YouTube page. Enjoy!

Credit To – Written & Directed by Chris McMahon and Michael Whitehouse

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Rose Rock

August 26, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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“Beatrice!” Hughbert yelled angrily from the kitchen table. “How many times I gotta remind you that I want my gravy on the mashed potatoes only? Never on my chicken!” Beatrice stood silently wide eyed near the kitchen sink, as her faded floral dress hanging loosely from her thin frame. Her tawny shoulder dull hair did little to accentuate her bland features as she continued to stare at her husband blankly.

Her mouth was always slightly agape and her eyes tended to exude a far off stare; often giving one the impression that she was not the “brightest.” Hughbert rolled up his soil stained shirt sleeves with annoyance. As he grabbed on to his overall straps he leant back in his cold metal chair. “Beatrice, look at this woman,” he said as he coolly grabbed a biscuit from off his dinner plate. “It’s cold! And my sweet tea which is supposed to be cold is warm!” He threw the biscuit on the plate in disgust as he snapped, “Can’t you do anything right?! Especially after I work so hard to take care of you! This is what I get – garbage.”

Beatrice gently padded forward across the linoleum floor. “I can throw it out to the pigs, if you don’t want it,” she said timidly. “I’m sorry,” she added as she dropped her head low. “Give – give this to the pigs?” snorted Hughbert. “What – and poison the animals? No way!”

Grumbling under his breath to himself, he leaned forward and picked up his fork and knife. He continued, “I’ll eat this trash. But if I ever keel over some day – you’ll know why Beatrice. Take some notes from one of those cooking shows or something. And for Pete’s sake – where’s the butter?!” Beatrice continued to wait upon every whim of Hughbert as he finished his meal under the pale fluorescent light bulbs.

This was a standard evening within the Wilkin household. Hughbert was a rather unsavory man to come across and often kept to himself. He refused to take part of society beyond the standard business on his farm. Beatrice herself was limited by him on when she was allowed to so much as leave the house for a trip to the local supermarket. Quite the controlling man, he allowed no one into their lives and never ventured outside of their small circle of privacy. To him, everyone was an imbecile and he had no time for idiots.

Later that same evening, chatter and laughter echoed from the small television set in the living room. Faint brown wallpaper splattered with little patterns of cacti adorned their living room walls. A small clock on the wall ticked on as Hughbert lounged in his favorite dusty armchair. Beatrice soaped and scrubbed away dutifully at the dishes in the kitchen all the while. Suddenly the doorbell rang.

“It’s 9 o’clock at night!” yelled Hughbert exasperatedly. “Who in their right mind would come all the way out here to bother a man within the comfort of his own home?” Beatrice had come to stand near the arm rest of the sofa out of curiosity. Hughbert lazily heaved himself out of his chair. Cocking and loading his shotgun, he sauntered to the front door. “What do you want?” questioned Hughbert as he threw open the door.
The porch light flickered as moths flew into the light, their frying in the heat emitting the only sound around them in the night air. Hughbert looked around and saw no one. “What’s that, Hughbert?” Beatrice was now by his side wearing a puzzled look upon her face. Directly in front of them sat a small black wooden box.

Hughbert bent down and lifted the lid. Blue silk lined the inside of the box. An old parchment styled flyer gently rested upon the contents of the box. Raising the flyer to the light he read aloud:

‘In honor of the town’s favorite farmer with the best produce, you are cordially invited to The Blue Corn Moon festival as Guest of Honor. Your special night of honor shall be celebrated on Saturday the 22nd at 7p.m. It is the Night of the Wolf. The enclosed necklace is a gem passed down from our ancestors. It is reserved only for the most honorable of our society. It is to be worn during the celebration.

Warmest Regards.

–The Town of Rose Rock’

“Ya see that Beatrice!” exclaimed Hughbert as he withdrew the necklace from the box. “Everyone around here appreciates all my hard work. Guest of Honor,” relished Hughbert as he placed the leather strap around his neck. A smooth oval stone dangled round the center of his chest. “Hughbert, it’s glowing,” said Beatrice wide eyed as she gazed at his necklace. Swirling white and blue light emitted from the stone.

Hughbert smiled greedily as he patted the stone. A smooth breeze blew through the warm night air. Hughbert sniffed the air and shouted “Beatrice! I suppose ya decided burning my dessert would be a great way to finish my night off – right?! Get your butt in that kitchen and do it right this time!” Beatrice hopped at his shouting and was already in the kitchen before he had finished yelling. Leaving the box on the ground, the screen door creaked on its hinges. He slammed the house door shut behind him and resumed his place in front of the tv for the night.

The night of the 22nd had arrived, and it was now 6:30p.m. “Beatrice, move it!” Hughbert shouted as he started the ignition to his rusty old truck. The engine rumbled as he sat waiting impatiently. Beatrice hurried down the front steps and slid quietly into her seat.

Her hair had been neatly braided to one side, a purple flower adorning her ear. She had even had time to apply some basic makeup for once. It made a tremendous difference which made Hughbert feel slightly uncomfortable. She gave a weak smile with her pale pink lips as he eyed her floral lavender dress. “Well,” began Hughbert “you look nice.” He put the truck in drive and sped out of their dirt driveway as he added, “For once, you won’t be a complete embarrassment.” Her smile fell as they drove down the road toward the center of town.

A series of large elaborate streamers of blue, white, and silver were dangling from every golden glowing street light. A large decadent sign hung above the main street entrance to the town square of Rose Rock which read, ‘Blue Corn Moon Festival.’ Hughbert had parked the truck alongside the road, and Beatrice followed him as they proceeded on foot to the center of the festivities. Confetti littered the streets as they made their way towards the large crowd before them. The entire town of Rose Rock had gathered together.

Children laughed and chased one another about with blazing sparklers in their hands. Women in their finest dresses discussed recipes over a large spread of homemade pies. Groups of people bobbed for apples out of old washtubs, as old women sampled one another’s homemade preserves and jams. The men of the town had mostly gathered round the barrels of Rose Rock ale. Laughing raucously, the men clinked their mugs together in cheers. A clown on stilts cut through the joyful crowd as a group of jugglers followed in his path.

Hughbert smoothed his hair to the side as the mayor of Rose Rock spotted him and exclaimed for all to hear, “Mr. Hughbert Wilkin! Our treasured guest of honor! Please – follow me! We have a beautiful evening prepared in celebration of our community’s finest contributor!” Hughbert chuckled shyly as he shrugged off the compliment. “Oh no, truly only the finest candidates are even considered for such a special occasion. And you have been deemed worthy by the whole town as the Guest of Honor for tonight. Please, come,” motioned the mayor as he led Hughbert and Beatrice to their seats.
The awkward couple were seated on stage in the center of the festival. As the mayor announced Hughbert’s arrival via microphone, the town sounded with roars of joy from all sides. A cream colored awning dripped in decorative white lights and shaded Hughbert and Beatrice under the late night sky. They reclined peacefully in the plush cushioned chairs provided for them. Sumptuous town dishes and desserts were laid before them as Hughbert’s glass was repeatedly emptied and immediately refilled with the crisp cold ale.

A series of performances were held throughout the night as Hughbert enjoyed his place above the rest of the town. He was clearly the best man in town-he knew it- and now the whole town agreed he was too. Clown acts, children’s plays, frenzied eating competitions, strongest man barrel lifting, timed corn shucking, and best face paint competitions were all judged by Hughbert. The night stretched on and hours later all of the food, ale, and excitement had finally made Hughbert’s eyes grow weary. He was ready to go lay in his beckoning bed at home.

Hughbert stood stretched his legs and yawned. The mayor quickly made his way over to Hughbert’s side. “Is there anything I can get for you Mr. Wilkin?” “Nah,” yawned Hughbert again. “I’m just real tired. I think I’m ready to call it a night now and head on back home.” “Oh, no, no, no,” gasped the mayor as he gently pushed Hughbert down into his seat. Hughbert looked at the fat old mayor bewilderedly.

“There is one last ‘special’ performance which has been made specifically for you. Please, enjoy the show. Then you may go if you like afterwards.” “Well, alright,” Hughbert agreed with some annoyance as he remained seated. The mayor walked over to the microphone. “All right Rose Rock,” said the mayor. “It’s time.”

With that, the mayor walked off stage. Everyone grew silent, not a sound was made. Four men walked on stage and removed the awning. Other attendants removed the table and Beatrice was whisked off into the crowd. The town rock for which it was named was brought on stage; a red boulder that was smooth all along the top. Hughbert was pulled from his chair and guided by two men to sit atop the boulder. Baffled, Hughbert sat quietly facing the crowd.

The moon was at its largest, high into the night sky. The beams of light made the necklace around his neck glow an even brighter shade of blue. “Hey!” shouted Hughbert to the crowd. “What’s going on here?” Not even crickets chirping in the grass could be heard. “This some kind of weird joke or something’?” Silence met his ears. Then, the crowd stirred.

Far in the back, the crowd parted in two all the way to the front of the stage where Hughbert sat. He could see a lone figure walking slowly towards him. As he watched the figure draw near, he saw that it was an Indian Chief. The man wore a large hat and loin cloth of matching blue and red feathers. Green face paint smeared his cheeks and pointed nose. Looking solemnly up at Hughbert, the Chief’s deep black eyes bore into his.
The chief removed a dead chicken dangling from his side and slit its throat. He waved the chicken rhythmically back and forth as it sprayed blood on the rock where Hughbert sat. The Chief began chanting in a language Hughbert could not understand. The Chief removed kernels of corn from a small pouch and threw them into the blood at the base of Rose Rock. “What in the hell kinda show is this supposed to be?!” yelled Hughbert angrily.
“Long ago when our ancestors settled this land,” the mayor explained from a gazebo loudly for all to hear, “they had to make a deal. To appease the spirits that claim this land, a blood sacrifice is required once a year. The Night of the Wolf is the night of the required sacrifice. Ya see,” went on the mayor now facing in Hughbert’s direction, “you were the lucky candidate chosen for the job this year. It is quite an honor, Mr. Wilkin.”
Hughbert’s head had begun to spin and he felt unnaturally sluggish and dizzy. A thick purple mist had begun to creep in on all sides of the town. “Feeling a little lightheaded?” questioned the mayor with a chuckle. The whole town let out a loud peel of laughter. Hughbert grabbed his head as he slumped to his side on the rock. “No!” shouted Hughbert, “No!” The laughter continued to fill his ears.

“Oh don’t worry about the dizziness Mr. Wilkin, that’s just from all the drugs we put in all your food and drink tonight!” exclaimed the mayor wearing a grin from ear to ear. The purple mist had completely swallowed the town; Hughbert could only see the crowd now. Everything around had faded. Suddenly the crowd fell silent as the rumbles of growls could be heard.

Hundreds of glaring yellow eyes peered out from the mist at the crowd. The stone around his neck glowed brilliantly as the eyes followed the blue glow through the mist; like ships in a storm to a lighthouse. The crowd continued to watch as the army of massive wolves gathered on stage encircling Hughbert. A wolf jumped onto his chest and howled loudly at the moon as the mist immediately retreated. “Nooooo!” screamed Hughbert as the wolves tore into his flesh from all angles. Unable to move now, the farmer was utterly defenseless.

The now clear sky and bright moon lit the entire event as the crowd remained stock still. “Beatrice!” shouted Hughbert for he had spotted her in the crowd. “Beatrice!” he yelled once again extending a bloody hand. “Help me!” The wolves continued to snarl and rip away at him. Beatrice snapped the clasp on her purse open and reaching in said, “Well, I remembered the butter this time for you!”

She proceeded to throw some sticks of butter that hit him squarely in the face. “It felt like centuries waiting for this night,” said Beatrice as she rolled her eyes and nudged a friend beside her. Eruptions of laughter broke out throughout the crowd. The Chief turned and exited through the parted crowd quietly into the night. The town’s people watched on with amusement as they waited for the spirits of the wolves to complete their ritual feast upon Rose Rock.

Credit To – miss ivory

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This is How the World Ends

August 26, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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What does it take to destroy a universe?

A cataclysm? Apocalypse? Do those things destroy a universe? No. We assume that the collapse of all we know is due to the effects of some fated, predicted catastrophe that strips daily life of all its rules, laws, and foundations. But that is our mistake. You see, these things are the effects of a universe in freefall. We mistake effects for cause, and spend all of our life searching for “signs of the apocalypse” so we can prevent was has already happened. Trust me, once you see the signs, it’s already too late.

We can conceive of what a destroyed universe might look like, but the cause is far beyond us. It is terrifying in its utter alienness. Because for the universe to be destroyed, there must be a fatal flaw in the processes we so certainly depend on. Or, perhaps more chillingly depending on your religious bent, there is something far larger than any of us waiting to turn off the light.

So, what does it take to destroy a universe?

_

I worked for DelSanto Labs for fifteen years. I had high hopes of reaching some heretofore unknown peak of human intellect and advancement with my tiny projects, plying my hands at the great unknowns. It was all a pipe dream until Dr. Swanson asked me to be her lab assistant for her latest project. In conspiratorial whispers she told me about their goals to model the macro level processes of cosmic organization, tracing the development of the laws that held our planet spinning in place. She showed me the lab, rows of gleaming and pricey equipment meant to provide a safe haven for a universe all their own. I was hooked, drunk on the potential for new knowledge and discovery.

Despite my eagerness, I resigned myself to my position as a lowly cog in the machine, not privy to the secret underpinnings of how you create a self-sustaining universe. Still, I glutted myself on the scientific morsels that dropped from their table as I dutifully kept notes and monitored the myriad displays for any important changes. I was a glorified scribe, a sentient computer program that recorded rote data day in and day out. “But we need the human element,” said Dr. Swanson, her passion dripping from her words. “We’re breaking the laws of computing, so I can’t trust a computer to see it.”

The goal was staggering; we sought to create an environment that would evolve, exist, and balance itself out much like our own universe. Of course, it was trying. How can you create a blank slate and build a working universe of physics and nature? That was the first hurdle and the one no one thought we would actually achieve. I mean, we were attempting to shatter every law of nature ever known or thought of, and even a few we did not even know we were breaking yet. It is a miracle—though I feel that is the precisely wrong word to describe it—that we ever achieved it. But they did. And I watched on with childlike wonder at the power of creation.

I watched on as they verified again and again their first major breakthrough. They had created a magnificent void, suspended through the well-calibrated workings of a dozen different machines. It was ultimately artificial, yet ultimately the most real thing that had ever existed. There was nothing to misperceive or misunderstand; it existed as pure nothingness. I found myself lost in that nothingness more times than I would like to admit, and I’m certain it nearly cost me my job. Some days I wish it had. I could have held onto my wonder and innocence, cursing the missed opportunity that became such a burden.

This breakthrough alone should have been enough for fame, notoriety, and the next decades worth of Nobel Prizes, but Dr. Swanson kept a tight lid on any information leaving the lab. She would not breathe a word of the breakthrough until she finally had what she wanted—a living model of the universe to be picked and pulled and ultimately deconstructed into omniscience. If anyone else found out, she would whisper with a paranoid glint in her eye, they might try to sabotage them. There was more luck than perseverance in the first success, and she would not let any meddle in her work. I think she also feared others would discover more quickly than she did if she ever revealed how to create such an impossible space. I was sworn to secrecy and diligence; I kept my promise for those of those until today.

The nothingness, while impressive, was not her ultimate goal. She needed to see how this blank slate of universal principles would ultimately order itself, which meant there needed to be something to order. With the boundaries and limits of the void faithfully maintained, she provided matter.

You’d be amazed at quickly existence begins. In some ways, I knew even then that time in that space was not like time in ours, but the speed at which order triumphed over chaos was still startling. The few atoms we spewed into the void hung there, initially lost and confused. There was no set of unbreakable principles that arranged their structure or gave them a purpose. Yet existence has a way of fighting, and over the course of a week, the matter began to assemble. It began to set itself apart according to rules that were unknown to science up until they sprung into existence under our watchful eyes. That patch of matter coalesced, drawn together by a strange magnetism that at once resembled our gravity, even as it denied the very fundamentals we learned to trust implicitly. The atoms clung together like survivors cast upon alien soil.

On Day 16, it exploded. The tiny bits of matter we introduced had reduced down, crushing in on top of themselves, fighting to develop a hierarchy of rules and existence. Finally, it ruptured into a brilliant glare on our monitoring equipment, a dozen different readings spiking to unimaginable limits before settling back to a new level of activity. I saw it happen, shielding my eyes from the brilliance. No matter what else happens, I can say I was one of the handful of humans alive that ever saw a universe bloom into existence. That is a beauty worth fighting for. The Little Bang, as we called it, marked a new beginning. Suddenly, the universe we had created had a shape and a purpose.

I typed pages and pages of notes, observing ever minute alteration or fluctuation. The silence of the void was replaced by a flurry of activity, most of it beyond my limited ability to understand. We had every sensor you can imagine pointed at it, taking temperature, electrical, ion, weight, size, gravity, radiation, and a dozen other metrics. I studied the recordings, but it was not my job to make interpretation, merely to dutifully record what I saw. I also had the boring task of calibrating the equipment nightly, an endeavor that took up the scant hours of time I had left. While others were engaged with manipulating that data, breaking it open and reading its secrets, I was merely a scribe and technician. They were the gatekeepers of the profound secrets of the universe, walking hurriedly, wide smiles stitched across their faces even as their eyes hung heavy with fatigue. They rode the high of exploration for longer than I thought possible, and it seemed the bounty was endless. Yet I am the one unfortunate enough to carry its burden.

Day 97 was another day of relatively little activity. It had been about nine weeks since everything settled into an orbit. We had hoped for galaxies upon galaxies, but the matter we provided generated only a few spinning hunks of dust and pinpoints of impossible light. The energy output was startling, but manageable. I left the camera trained on the tiny plantelets as I went about my night calibrations. There was something soothing about watching a small collection of planet orbit their sun—something omnipotent and existential about it. When I had gazed up at the stars before, from out on a beach or mountaintop, I had always felt so small and insignificant. With the stars of my universe, I felt unstoppable.

Pausing in my task, an odd change caught my eye. One of the quarter-sized blips of the planetlets had changed. It sat there, spinning slowly as I tried to figure out what was different. Clouds swirled over it like a milky marble, obscuring the surface from time to time. And then, there was a sudden sparkle of light beneath the clouds. As I watched, a softly glowing trail rippled across the planet, lighting up the tiny sector of space.

I rushed to the console, zooming in as far as I could see. And then I immediately called Dr. Swanson on the phone.

She did not believe me, of course. But, to her credit, she rushed into the lab and looked down at the screen. There it was before us, a network of lights covering the dark side of the planet. Eve as we watched, the sun rose and the lights faded from existence. But we knew what we had seen. She demanded I investigate further, and so I dutifully dialed in one of the cameras, stretching it to its technological limit. The closer we got, the clearer the organization became, the more distinct became the arches and solid forms of buildings. Most importantly, the more terrifying became our ultimate creation.

I turned my awe-filled face to study her, see her break into the same joyous wonder that I felt swelling within me. However, her face was pale, bloodless, and drawn. She stared at the screen with quivering eyes, and her voice was just above a whisper. “Shut it down.”

“What? We can’t do that—“

“We can’t have done this,” she whispered. Her words were haunted, spoken more to herself than anyone else. I saw true terror as she considered the implications of creating a whole group of people built in a lab. Organisms had never been the goal; they had been a risk, potentially creating something that could destroy everything we knew. I had sat in on the rigorous meetings about proper decontamination should any infectious agents appear. But these were not single-celled bacteria or unique viral agents. No, our trial run as God had resulted in impossible outcomes. Despite all our monitoring, we never realized that the birth of beings would leave no discernible ripple on the universe. We had missed it. “Shut it down,” she commanded again, her eyes finally leaving the screen. They were grim and determined.

“I won’t do that,” I said with more surety than I truly possessed. I was here to take my stand. Unfortunately, all my bravery was useless in the face of her absolute terror. I have played this scene through again and again in my head. I should have grabbed some piece of the equipment—something heavy and sturdy—and slung it at her head. I could have knocked her out, bound her. Ultimately, I would have had to kill her, I think. I should have barred the doors and made my last stand, buying those denizens a few extra days on their world. Eventually, the others would have broken through and shut it down. It was protocol, after all. Biological agents discovered? Violent decontamination.

But those hours or days in my universe might have bought them a generation for all I knew. Maybe I could have even got a speaker rigged up, spoken into the great void in hopes they could hear me. I doubt they would understand my English, but at least I could have warned them. What do you say to a doomed planet? Hug your children, tell your family you love them, do that thing you’ve been putting off. Enjoy life while you have it. I think that’s what I would have said. I think that’s what you say to a doomed world.

But none of that happened. Instead Dr. Swanson pulled the plug herself, and I watched the laws of the universe fall apart beneath our watching camera. The fields that had carefully cradled our test tube universe disappeared, and its own laws tore it to shreds. It fell prey to a world of laws and scientific rules that were not its own. The computer display showed me how the tiny planet came unglued at its core, flinging red hot streaks of magma across its surface. The stars fell from the sky, the lights went out. Whatever had once kept tiny people and their tiny lives safely anchored on their home gave way, and I tried not to notice the tiny particles floating throughout the faltering universe. The sun at the core of our system finally succumbed, and white hot heat purified whatever could have remained. I watched the temperature readings spike, then resolve back to the carefully maintained 73 degrees of our lab. A pile of ash and sludge caked the floor, the only remnants of what we had created in our foolishness.

I left DelSanto that day, the ringing of the emptiness echoing with me, and began the years-long process of ridding myself of the unbearable guilt. It was trips to therapists who considered me delusional, trial runs of alcohol and drugs that dulled the senses but left a howling ache where they had been. Medications were mostly useless. We destroyed the nothing, but I felt I carried it around deep inside my chest, an emptiness that no law of our world could hope to fill. As much as I would like to say I found the cure, that I somehow saved some sliver of that world, I cannot. Instead, I carry their burden daily and hope that counts for something, some memorial of a forgotten race destroyed by fear. Some nights, I imagine I hear their screams.

So, do you see now what it takes to destroy a universe? I can only hope that whoever is out there observing us is not quite so cowardly and fearful. Hopefully, they are as full of wonder as I was, brimming with joy and appreciation for the tiny world on their screen.

If not, well, I’ve seen how the end plays out. At least it will be quick.

Credit To – Katherine C

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The Pit

August 25, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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It seems strange, now, to recall that place. Almost as if it were a dream, or some imaginary tale I once heard as a child. But the evidence is damning, As much as I like to think it did not, It happened.
I was a private investigator at the time, nothing big, we just tracked down missing people, caught cheating spouses that type of thing. Nothing too grand, but it made us a living. I say “us” because, of course, I had entered a partnership with another investigator, and my longtime friend George Wiles. I suppose really I should have introduced myself earlier, but my mind is trying to blurt forth too much at once, I fear.
My name is Henry Scott, and by this point, I had been in my field for little over half a decade. Our shared establishment held a “Wiles & Scott Investigations” sign painted across the door and window. (We had played cards to decide whose name would go first on the sign)

As is wont with such stories, the case started like any other. A middle aged man who’s name I can’t, or won’t give on both agreement and out of respect asked us to track down his wife and daughter. They had gone out of town for a few weeks, planning to stop over at a few towns on their way on a round trip journey that would bring them back here, to their home. The client originally had accompanied them on the trip but had been called back to work at a local car part manufacturers and had been forced to leave them. “They were gonna come back with me, But I told ’em no, you keep on goin’ an’ I’ll meet up with you soon as this is sorted out.” He had done what he had said, the clocking cards and employee stories told of how he had planned a two week vacation but had been called back after only three days, Two days later he had headed out again on the train to meet them at an agreed station, and arrived promptly if not a little early. His family’s train wasn’t due for another thirty minutes or so yet and having just recently travelled through the vicious weather himself was not at all surprised when the train appeared late.
Neither his wife or daughter arrived on the first train, And so he simply assumed they had arrived late at the departure station and missed it, When they did not show on the next train either is when he began to slightly panic and called the hotel he knew they had been staying at, the clerk that answered informed him (And later, myself and partner) That they had signed out at the front desk and handed over the keys at 9:34am, leaving plenty of time to reach the station at the next town and catch the train at 11:25.

He next called the departure station to find out if their tickets had been used, only to find they had not, He quickly booked himself a ticket on the opposite train to that he had been waiting for and waited rather anxiously for it to arrive.
He detailed the journey back as half full of fear and half of expected embarrassment when he would arrive at the station within moments of his family only to find their car had stopped with a flat tire and, As the road they had travelled was infrequently used, were forced to wait for a rescuer to aid them, and find all his worries were for naught.

Unfortunately, this was not the case. His arrival at the station did not spur any sudden relief, or let fate have his family suddenly appear at the station desk. Nor, once he had hired a car, did the drive to their hotel reveal any flat tired vehicle and stranded family awaiting a passerby. Their car was not at the hotel, and their keys were, as said, at the front desk.
It was as if they had all but vanished.

While it was true we could not discount our client as a suspect, neither could we prove any guilt on his part.
Our course of action was simple and obvious: To thoroughly retrace and investigate the steps our client and his family had taken, then continue along the route his family would have undergone.

It was no later than Mid-Afternoon when my partner excitedly bounded into the office clutching the two train tickets he’d acquired with a set destination of our clients first stop ready to leave the following Morning.
That afternoon we closed up the offices early to give ourselves the appropriate time to pack whatever we deemed necessary and make ourselves presentable come the morning. We had always found there was a certain amount of authority attached to an appropriate presentation and should we need to ask anyone questions they were usually a little more willing to answer.

Terrible, Foreboding dreams plagued me that night, Dreams of troubles long past and yet to come. Of Innocence and horrible nightmare things.
That these dreams were perhaps a warning or precursor of the events that were to follow, I still wonder to this very day.
It was not uncommon to have bad dreams for me back then. Not as common as it is now, but not at all uncommon.
I had spent several years as a police officer and a further two as a detective for the Los Angeles Police Department, which even then saw its share of terrible and violent crimes that haunted more than just myself.
However, those dreams ended that night. I can squarely mark that night as the point my old demons faded into normality and timidity whilst being eclipsed by the new current masters of my sub-conscious fears.

I awoke, hardly five hours later and despite my obvious fatigue found myself too restless to sleep.
With it still the early hours of the morning I decided to double-check my packed case and review the information we had at hand so far. A few brief phone calls the day before had confirmed that our client had returned to his place of work on the date we were informed, this was further proven by the clipped train tickets the client had provided.
The second call confirmed that both the clients daughter and wife had spent the night at the hotel marked as their last known location and that our client had turned up at the reception lobby later that day in some distress and confusion. When pressed a little more on the wife and child, the receptionist on the line stated that nothing truly seemed amiss between the pair, they had been courteous in handing over the room key and complimentary of the services on hand.
Although, she did recall that the child had seemed oddly distracted, quiet and sullen, spending much of her time standing near and staring out of the lobby window, twice ignoring her mother’s call in favor of watching the woods outside.
Whereas it isn’t uncommon for a child’s attention to be easily caught, I thought it best to run it by the father before leaving that morning.
I then called the train station and as luck would have it managed to talk to the same attendant that had been on duty that morning, I asked if he had seen anyone of the description our client had given me but he couldn’t be sure, he’d worked several shifts since then and had seen so many faces it would have been nigh on impossible to pick out one face from all the others. I also asked if a car had ever turned up at the station, or had been towed away from unpaid fee’s, and after checking the records for that week he told me that no, no vehicle had ever turned up or been towed.
After a final brief phone call to our client I went over what the clerk on duty had told me, and the father in turn told me that it wasn’t at all unusual for his daughter to wander off from time to time, she had quite an adventurous streak in her. What concerned him more was that she had been quiet as in his own words “I ain’t never known ‘er to be quiet for long. She’s such a chatty kid, y’know?”
I thought that this may just be a child’s behavior, which could mean just about anything, so I left it there and thought no more of it.

A few hours later my partner met me at the station, He’d run a little late but we still had plenty of time so I went over what I’d learned, as little as it was, and brought him up to speed.
‘Hm… So they left the hotel, but never arrived at the station? I guess that narrows down our search a little, if we go from the station to the hotel we’re probably gonna use the same roads as she would have. We should go slow and see if there’s anything noticeable along the way.’
I nodded my agreement as the speaker announced the arrival of our train, we grabbed our cases and climbed aboard.

The train journey itself was uneventful, but I did manage to use it to catch up on the sleep I’d lost that night. I must have sorely needed it too, the first thing I knew about our destination was my partner giving me a firm elbow to the ribs for a wakeup call.
‘Hey, this is our stop. Wake up.’
‘Jeez, be careful’ I yawned ‘How many times have I told you, you don’t know your own strength.’
‘I only gave you a nudge’ he mumbled, taking down our cases from the overhead shelf.
‘Yeah? Last time someone got nudged with that kind of force, a bus parked on them’ I rubbed at my sore ribs. He really didn’t know his own strength, He was strong as an ox, but he at least had some wits about him too.
We left the train and the station behind, my colleague’s frown bringing a slight smile to my face, he always took chastisement straight to heart.
We promptly hired a car, grabbed a bite to eat and a few bottles of cola to take with us and began the reverse journey of what our client’s family should have taken. As George said, we went slow and kept our eyes open for anything unusual.
It was only by chance we found it.

We pulled over for a brief rest stop and cracked open one of the few bottles we’d brought with us, by this point the sun had climbed high into the clear blue sky and by my reckoning it was around two.
‘Looks like a beautiful day, huh?’ remarked George
‘Yup, too bad we’re stuck in a tin can for most of it though’ I replied
‘At least we aren’t in the city, Henry. Can’t beat the fresh country air on a good day’ to emphasize the point he tilted his head to the open window and took a deep breath through his nose.
‘I guess, can’t really argue with that bud’’ I took a sip from my bottle and savored the sweet taste on my tongue.
We sat for a little while longer talking over menial things, before we got ready to set off again.
‘I’ve got to take a leak before we go anywhere’ George said as he opened up the passenger door and headed into the bushes.
I looked out the window and into the sky at the faintest wisps of cloud had started to form and slowly drifted in the breeze, and started thinking that maybe we were on a wild goose chase, maybe the wife had left the husband and taken the kid with her.
George came back with a rap on the window that made me jump right out of my train of thought and almost out of my damned skin.
I opened my door and stepped out ‘What?’
George smiled back at me ‘I think I’ve found something, Henry.’
He turned about and walked back a little way leaving me no explanation, so I followed his lead. All I could see from where I stood was more bushes and trees.

‘I was looking for a break in the tree’s or something so I wouldn’t just be taking a whiz on the side of the road, and I found this.’
It was so overgrown that without George pulling back the branches at the front, I’d never have noticed the dirt road that led off of this one.
‘Hm, Maybe, but surely if anyone came this way George, these branches at the front would have been broken off?’
‘I thought so too, until I stepped inside, here’ He waved me on in.
I took a step into what seemed another world, shifting from the bright warm afternoon outside the line of tree’s into the cool, damp, darker air beyond. The trees were so thick that looking up all I could see was the faintest trickle of light filtering through, the sun itself almost obscured.
The track beyond was clear, looking closer the branches that should have covered the road like the ones out front had been broken off.
‘And look here’ George bent down beside me ‘the dirt here is still a little soft from where the sun can’t quite dry it out, and there’s tire tracks heading down.’
‘I don’t remember seeing anything like this on the map though…’ I tilted my hat slightly and scratched at my forehead.
‘Worth checking out though?’ George could tell my curiosity had been peaked, he already knew we were going to be coming down here to check it out, even if it amounted to nothing and so he stood there smiling at me, just waiting for my word.
‘Alright, let’s go get the car.’

Fifteen minutes later we were creeping our way down the narrow track, I bent over the steering wheel trying to keep an eye out for anything that could cause damage to the car, George leaning over the dashboard to keep an eye on the tracks.
‘Hey, look’ George pointed ahead of us, nailed to a tree was an old rotten wooden sign that had clearly not been maintained. The front half was nothing but splinters, the second half read “ille”
‘Something-ville? Still nothing on the map about that?’
George pulled the unfolded map from the back seat and took a hard look at it.
‘Nope… Just… empty land on this…’
‘Well, at least we’ve found something, fingers crossed if there’s a town there’s people, and if there’s people we can ask a few questions. It could be nothing but since we started on this dirt road I’ve had a bad feeling.’
George left my last words hanging in the air, which told me he felt it too, like the whole world is pressing in on you from all sides and you’re trapped.
I eased my foot down and we crept on along the path.
It wasn’t much longer than that we came into the clear, the trees became better tendered and the sky gradually became visible again.
Perhaps it had just been the dark closeness of the path’s start, but our feelings of uneasiness faded as the sky opened up before us again and the road itself began to look more normal, even so far as eventually having asphalt.
Maybe twenty minutes later we eased into a small town square.
‘Well, I think we found something-ville’ George remarked.
The place looked deserted at first glance, there was no one wandering the streets as would be expected for the middle of the day, although the few stores on the street all displayed an “open” sign somewhere out front.
‘Well, it’s worth us taking a look around.’
George nodded his agreement and we pulled up and parked the car just a little way off the main street.
‘Hit the stores first? If they came through here, if they came through here they may have bought something to eat or drink.’ I suggested.
‘Okay, I’ll go check over at that place’ George nodded to a huge beaten down house with an old sign out front “Rooms for rent”
‘Good thinking, worth a shot’
We arranged to meet up at the car in a few hours and set off our separate ways.

I headed back to where I could remember seeing a diner, following the road in the reverse path of what I’d already taken.
On my right stood a row of houses, some with curtains open, some closed, one with a for sale sign, It seemed normal enough.
Except I’d still not seen a soul anywhere.
As I came to the end of the street, the first sign that this wasn’t just some ghost town finally drifted to me from afar.
The low steady hum of a motor engine grew steadily nearer until I could see it round a corner on the street I was about to enter.
I crossed as it passed and began to make my way toward it, maybe the driver could give me a few places to check out but mostly I think I just wanted to actually see another human in this town.
Children had begun stepping off and heading in their own separate ways, a few passed me and I noted they all had the same pale, sallow complexion and their lack of enthusiasm that the school day had ended and they were home free. There was no jostling, no jeering, no chattering, those that passed me did so without uttering a word and gave me no more than a passing glance.
I got to the door of the bus and put my hand around the frame to lean in.
‘Excuse m-‘
I got no further, the driver whipped about in his seat and wiped the words from my mouth with a look of utmost horror, as if I were holding him at gun point. The man had the same pale skin as that of the children, with dark circles around his eyes and light growth of facial hair, looking like he’d missed two or three shaves more than grown a beard.
He turned and slammed his foot to the floor, the bus lurched forward, and I, still dumbstruck at the driver’s reaction to my appearance almost sent me hurtling over.
I stumbled and recovered as quickly as I could, standing straight and running alongside the bus for a few steps, reaching up and giving the side a good whack with the palm of my hand. ‘Hey!’
The bus steadily increased its speed before it outstripped me completely, I slowed and frowned after it, left clueless as to what had just happened.
The sound of a door slam brought my back to my senses as I turned about, all those children that had gotten off of the bus were already gone.

Already my feelings of unease were steadily coming back and I began to wish George and I had gone about this together, as a team.
I tried to shrug off my feelings and go about my work, again making my way to where I remembered a diner to be.
It was a pretty small place, beaten down looking from outside and with one of those “Open” signs I mentioned on the door.
I pushed against it and found myself quite surprised that it was locked. I tried tapping on the glass and calling out, but got no reply.
It was only then that I got an answer. A woman who must have been in her mid-forties to fifties, pale as everyone else I’d seen in this town and with a few bald patches amongst her wiry auburn hair came into the main store from a back door and looked to me looking in through the window.
There had been some light in her face at first, but as soon as she saw me it quickly faded and by the time she opened the door it was an out-right grimace.
The door swung inward sending the bell above jingling.

‘Can I help you, Mister?’ I had been guessing that this town was a pretty poor place to live from the lack of activity on the streets and the complexion of everyone I’d come across, but being able to see this woman confirmed it to me.
Her t-shirt hung from her shoulders as if it were still resting on its hanger, her stick thin arms protruding from the sleeves ended with hands that were damn near skeletal.
In my mind, clearly, this was a place where money for food was scarce and the people were malnourished and struggling to get by.
‘Well, I hope so Ma’am’ I said reaching into my jacket pocket and pulling out my notebook and pencil ‘I’m detective Henry Scott. I’m looking for a woman and a young girl who went missing not far from here, I was wondering if you could answer a few questions that might help us out.’
She looked back at me for a few seconds as if I’d just started talking French.
‘I suppose I can.’ She said begrudgingly.
‘Thank you, we really appreciate it.’ I pulled the picture of the family I’d been given out of my notebook and held it up. ‘These are the two we’re looking for, do you recognize any of the people in this picture?’
She glanced at it for about half a second before shaking her head.
‘Right… Well, have you seen anything unusual? Any automobiles come through lately that you didn’t recognize?’
‘Mister, does this look like a town that gets many visitors?’
I looked down the deserted street ‘I can’t say that it does, Ma’am.’
‘Then I’ll stop you there and let you know you’re wasting your time, you’re not gonna find anything here.’
‘I’m sorry, Ma’am, I’m just-‘
‘Get out of here, Detective, You’re wasting everyone’s time.’ And with that she stepped back inside, closed and locked the door and went back to her back room.

I stood outside the store feeling more than a little insulted by the woman’s rudeness. Turning about, I marched back toward the car, passed it and toward the hotel where I knew George had gone, playing the conversation out in my mind again and again.
I got onto the street with the hotel when something clicked in my mind.
The woman at the store had acted suspiciously, that was obvious, but her wording only just dawned on me. ‘You’re not gonna find anything here’
Perhaps I was reading too much into it, but it seemed… odd to me.
I’d been so busy storming off, I hadn’t even put my notebook away. I opened it again and took note of the store name and what I presumed to be the owner’s words.
I put the notebook away and carried on my way, I mulled it over in my mind as I went on into the carpark of the hotel, and saw the first signs of life outside that day. Two cars were parked outside the hotel.
Again, I presumed George must be having better luck than me.

I checked my watch, He could well still be inside, there was over an hour before our agreed ‘meet-up’ time.
I mulled over going inside and seeing how he was getting on, but at the same time wondered if I was just giving up too easily. I opted against it and took a look around the hotel itself.
At this point, my luck in regards to our investigation began to change.
Leading around the hotel was a lane that went on into a secondary car park, and it was there I found our biggest piece of evidence. A broken license plate lay against the fence, the two halves placed atop one another. The top half was clearly visible to me though, and it struck a chord in my memory instantly.
It was the plate from the rental car that had gone missing with our client’s family.
I picked up the plates and took them back to our car, popped the trunk and left them inside.
My mind felt clearer, this was all I needed, the smallest piece of evidence had sent my doubts packing and I felt back on top form.
I looked back at the street that lead to the stores and thought to myself that maybe I’d have better luck going door to door.

Unfortunately I was met with almost the same level of luck as I had been with the stores, No answer from most of the houses, two young women, probably in their late teens and a young man answered. All of them saw nothing.
One encounter that sticks out in my mind most of all is knocking a door and seeing a small figure making its way to answer the door, it looked like a young child through the frosted glass of the front door, although its features were both obscured and warped by said glass.
The kid walked right up to the door then just stopped and stared at me.
I tried knocking again, no reaction. The kid just stayed stock still, staring at me through the glass.
So, I did the only thing that came to mind, I waved at the indistinct figure on the other side of the glass.
It garnered me a reaction alright but not the one I was hoping for.

The child moved right up against the glass, pressing its face against it and doing nothing more, keeping the same blank expression.
At this point, I’d decided that perhaps I wasn’t going to get much out of this house.
As a matter of fact, At this point I’d decided I wanted to get the hell away from this frosted glass door with the gormless, staring kid as quickly as I possibly could.
I think it would be quite accurate to say that that’s exactly what I did, too. As I moved down the street and away from that creepy child, I tried going over everything in my mind.
This town just seemed to make no sense. The locals here truly threw me off at every turn with their weirdness.

‘You’re asking questions in the wrong place’

I was so busy grappling with making sense of this town that I hadn’t even noticed the adolescent girl leaning over the railings of a house that was raised up from the street slightly and the sudden sentence may as well have been a sudden right hook for the effect it had on me.
I startled and stumbled sideways, tripping off of the curb and losing my balance even more.
I must have looked like a damned comedy sketch.

I tried to regain my composure and turned to face the girl.
She couldn’t have been much older than sixteen, maybe seventeen from the looks of her. She was pale like the rest of the people I’d encountered so far yet her eyes lacked the dark circles the bus driver and shop owner had carried and what threw me off the most was she was the first person I’d seen with even a hint of a smile since me and George had split up.

‘What was that?’ I asked, stepping back up onto the sidewalk.
‘You’re asking questions in the wrong place, no one here is going to answer their doors to you, and no one is going to answer your questions if they do.’
‘Oh really? What makes you think no one’s going to talk to me?’
‘Because no one here likes people turning up. What they like even less is people turning up and asking questions.’
‘You don’t seem so tight lipped, if you don’t mind me saying Miss.’
the young girls hint of a smile grew into a little more of a grin. ‘I’m not from around here, my mom moved here about fifteen years ago and I came with her’
‘Huh, so you’re mom had more manners than everyone else here.’
‘They weren’t always so bad. They used to be a lot friendlier here. Things just changed over time.’
‘I don’t suppose your mom would be around to be of any help?’
I nodded toward the house behind her, assuming that was where she lived.
‘No, she’s away, sorry.’
‘Well, would you be willing to help me?’
She looked up toward the sky and shrugged her shoulders. ‘Maybe.’ Her eyes fell back onto me and I could see a sparkle of playfulness in them, she was clearly reveling in the being able to give me such a vague answer.

I wasn’t sure if she was just going to give me the run around, but I felt like not asking anything would have been a betrayal of our clients trust.
I know what you’re thinking, my sense of duty didn’t seem so strong when I ran away from a kid practically licking a window and I have no real explanation there. The kid freaked me out, that’s it really.

I drew out my notebook and pencil and got ready to write anything I could get from the only willing person I’d met.
‘Have you seen anyone over the past few weeks come into the town?’
‘Yes, a woman and a young girl came into town a little while ago.’
I paused, my pencil still forming the “e” in “Yes”. I hadn’t expected that. I looked up at the girl with a raised brow and my mouth slightly agape. I pulled out the picture and offered it out to her.
‘Do you recognize these people?’
She took the photo and barely looked at it before offering it back to me ‘Yeah, that’s them.’

My pencil began jotting down whatever I could get from the girl. Yes, she’d seen them. No, she didn’t know where they went. Yes, she’d seen their car at the hotel. No, she didn’t know what happened to the car. Yes, she’d spoken to the mother when they arrived.
‘What did you talk about?’
‘I asked her how she’d found the pathway down here, I walk up there sometimes and unless you really look for it it’s almost impossible to find.’
‘You’re telling me, what did she say when you asked?’
‘She said her little girl hadn’t been feeling well and asked her to pull over, when she did the girl pointed out the lane and said they should go down there for some food, it would help her feel better. So she checked her map and saw our town-‘
‘This place isn’t on a map, we checked it before we came down the lane.’
‘Did you buy your map local, Detective?’
We hadn’t.
‘Because only the local maps have us down.’
‘I see… please continue.’
‘Well, that’s about it, they followed the path and ended up here, that’s pretty much all I know. I saw their car around for a few days, but then I guess they just moved on.’
‘I don’t suppose you know how many days they were around for?’
‘Not an exact number, no, but it couldn’t have been more than three I’d say.’
‘Great, Thanks for all of this. Is there anything else you can tell me?’
She was silent for a few moments and when I looked up she seemed to be mulling it over in her mind as to whether she should actually tell me or not. ‘Actually, the kid did mention something, asked about the woods, there’s a few old paths around there but it’s too dangerous for kids on their own so I told her mother about the lanes and mentioned that if they were around for a little while, they should enjoy the walk.’
‘Do you know if they took up that idea?’
‘Not really, the mother seemed to think about it a little, but like I said, I didn’t see them after that to ask.’
‘Okay, was there anything else?’
‘No, that’s pretty much all I know.’
‘Well, thanks for all your help anyway, Miss…?’
‘Vance, Lodette Vance.’
I frowned slightly at the unusual name, but jotted it down anyway. I took down the address of the house we were outside and said my goodbyes.

I made my way back to the car, elated to finally have some leads. I met up with George and we exchanged what we’d learned over a bite to eat at the hotel, he’d picked up a little more than I had and between us we managed to piece a few things together.
The mother and child had definitely arrived at the town, they had gotten to the hotel and eaten there, as noted by the hotel clerk on duty and the hotel register that they’d signed in to stay overnight.
I asked George if they had any pay phones at the hotel and he nodded, clearly having thought the same thing as me ‘Why hadn’t she contacted her husband?’ when he asked the clerk if she had tried the phones, he explained George that the night before there’d been a bit of a storm and the phone lines had gone down and that’s what he’d told our missing person too.
They’d made to leave later in the day, but had car trouble. They then waited a few days for their car to be fixed up before heading on their way.

None of it really seemed all that suspicious except for the fact that what had seemed to be a perfectly happy woman had up and left her husband for no reason we could find.
We decided to take a room at the hotel and stop over the night, continue our investigation in the morning and perhaps go on to look into where our missing people could have possibly gone from here.
Exhausted after our inquiries and our early start, it took me no time at all to fall asleep.

A second night of horrible dreams plagued me.
I dreamt of a dirt path, thick with bushes and tree’s either side. Running along this path while the light faded from the sky.
Something was chasing me, a pale, dog-like creature. I’d see it shuffling through the brush alongside me, then lose sight of it.
Its long face, human eyes, snarling muzzle and sloping forehead glaring at me with every step.
I’d run but no matter where I looked, there it was keeping pace with me. Toying with me.
I tripped and rolled and stumbled and as I turned and looked around through the leaves and the mud, there it was, slowly stalking toward me.
It’s long human face with its pale dog muzzle staring at me, it’s bony, thin body and limbs stretching up as it stood on its back legs.
I rolled over and tried to scrabble away, it lifted up its three toed paw-like foot and pressed it into my chest, pinning me to the ground with ease.
It’s long, skeleton-like body leaned in, doubling over until the face came down to within inches of mine.
The maw opened and milky white canines flashed before me.
“You’re asking questions in the wrong place, Detective…”

I leapt out of bed, my chest heaving, the spot where the creature’s foot had been felt like a great weight had just been removed.
I looked over at the clock, it had just gone ten past three. I ran a hand over my clammy face, tried to slow my breath as my eyes darted about the unfamiliar room, my brain trying to make sense of why I wasn’t in my home.
The past day’s events came back to me then, the trip to this middle of nowhere town, interviewing the shop owner, the girl.
I sat at the foot of the hotel bed and pressed the tip of my thumb and forefinger into my closed eyes.
I remember sitting there and thinking to myself ‘Really, God? Nightmares two nights in a row?’
If only it had been just two.

I made my way to the small kitchen and poured myself a glass of water.
The sink sat right in front of a window that overlooked the forest beyond, it was a beautiful night from what I could see.
No full moon or anything like that, it was about three quarters full but still wonderfully bright, enough to give me a decent view of the hotel rear parking area.
I stood there and looked up to the stars, I’d always been a little fascinated by space and the stars, etc., not enough to learn the constellations or anything like that, but on a clear night, ever since I was a kid, I’d go out and just stare up at them and wonder.

That’s when movement out beyond the parking area, near to the tree line, caught my eye.
Something white flickering as it passed behind trees and outside my view. I narrowed my eyes, straining them to see what was out there.
A person. I leaned over the sink and pressed a hand against the glass, my curiosity peaked.
It was a woman, her white dress had caught my attention, reflecting the moonlight and seeming to glow in stark comparison to the backdrop that was the night.
That’s when I noticed another shape moving, this one in darker clothes but now my eyesight had adjusted I could just make them out moving amongst the tree’s.
Then another.
And another.
As my eyes fully adjusted, I could see them all. The tree line was alive with shifting shapes, like a writhing mass amongst solidity, like maggots amongst a corpse was the impression that came to my head but being creeped out enough by my dream I tried to dismiss that image as quickly as possible.

What was going on out there? It looked like the whole town had gone out for a midnight treasure hunt.
I made my way across to the suit case at the base of my bed, my curiosity was peaked and everyone I’d come across in this town had made me more and more suspicious, I retrieved the clothes I’d put there but a few hours before and got dressed.
I left the room I’d been staying in and crossed the hallway to George’s door and knocked as hard as I could to try to rouse him, I’d stayed overnight before with George and knew full well how hard it was to wake him up. The problem being not that he’d sleep through the alarm so much as that he couldn’t hear it in the first place over his own snoring.
As a matter of fact, I was pretty certain I could hear his distinctive low grumble through the door.
I knocked again and called through the door until I finally got a response, George opened the door half asleep and half dressed.
‘Henry, what’s going on? Do you know what time it is?’
‘Yeah, Sorry buddy. Look, get dressed, we’ve got investigating to do.’
He stood there for a moment, looking at me with his half lidded eyes. ‘Henry, it’s three am.’
‘George, did you find the people around here odd earlier? A little bit suspicious?’
He yawned and nodded.
‘Well, how suspicious would you be if I just told you that from my room I just saw half the town wandering about the woods?’
He frowned then, his eyes unglazed a little more as my words kick started his brain.
‘They’re what?’
‘Yeah, you can come right over and take a look if you like, or you can shift your butt, get dressed and we can take a look ourselves.’
He sobered up completely over the course of that sentence and nodded. ‘Alright, give me a minute.’

Ten minutes later and we were heading out over the back parking area toward the tree’s, pistols in one hand and a torch in mine and George’s free hands.
‘Any idea’s how many people you saw?’ George whispered to me.
‘No, there were too many and it was too dark to count.’
We’d made our way out of the hotel with the hall lighting on and so our eyes took a little while to adjust again as we leapt the low wall at the back of the parking lot and landed on the grass.
The air had cooled since this evening and the night had gotten a little chilly, the hairs on my neck were already raised with my nerves on edge as we entered the tree line.
George clicked on his flashlight and shone it across the ground. ‘Look, you can see the footsteps leading in.’ he looked up to me and I could see a hint of a smile playing across his features. ‘Looks like you weren’t dreaming after all.’
I gave him a look and he let out a quiet chuckle. I’m glad he could still manage to laugh, I won’t lie, my dream had come back to me after we’d entered the trees and I was scared.
George must have sensed my mood, he clicked off the flashlight and said ‘I’ll leave it off for now so we don’t give ourselves away.’
We began following the tracks we could still make out in the moonlight, they converged and cross crossed in some places but kept the same general direction.
I tried to remember if there was anything out this way on the map, but it wasn’t until our path began to grow steeper we realised we were at the base of one of the mountains nearby.
We’d made good progress I thought, mentally working out the distance from the town the mountains had been from what I could recall of our map.

The trees began to thin out as the ground grew steeper, and the path became more dry dirt than mud. I wiped a light sweat from my brow that the exertion had brought up and looked back at George.
The difference between the two of us was clear as I watched him come up over the last rise not even breathing heavy and I wished I’d kept myself fit after quitting the LAPD.
I also wished God had graced me with the ridiculous strength and stamina that George had, but there wasn’t a whole lot I could do about that.
We followed the path on, it hit another thicket of tree’s a little way on and as we once again passed from the open air to darkness I began to get nervous.
The people I’d seen out inside the window had maybe had a ten minute head start on us and we’d been going pretty hard at this trail. Unless they ran the whole way, I would have thought we’d come across someone by now.

Doubts crept into my mind and I began to wonder if I had just been dreaming when I looked out my window, or if my imagination had gone nuts after the dream I had had.
‘Henry… Do you hear that?’ George whispered from just beyond my left shoulder.
I paused and listened. Silence. ‘No? What do you hear, big guy?’
‘Nothing, that’s the point… No animals, nothing…’
I worked my mouth slightly and chewed at the inside of my cheek, frowning around us.

Snap.

I froze, my eyes began to roam around what I could see without turning my head.
Just in the corner of my eye I could see George stock still, too.

Snap.

The right. I turned and drew my gun level.

Lodette stood there, her white dress trailing to the ground, looking much the same as she had when I’d seen her last. Right down to the playful smile.
Then my head exploded with light and all I could feel was a dull throbbing just above my ear.
Everything felt slow, my body went limp. It felt like an age for me to hit the ground, and when I did I barely felt it.
I could hear a scuffling and scraping behind me, then a thump thump.
Then everything went dark.

The darkness that engulfed me lasted for what felt like hours, I don’t know how long I was out or how far I’d been dragged by the time I came to, I recall my vision fading in after I first opened my eyes.
I was looking down toward the ground, grass and fallen leaves passed by as I was dragged along by the back of my shirt, I tried to raise my head a little but as I did my vision swam again, so I resigned myself to a limp, lifeless hanging while my head cleared. Everything I could hear around me sounded like it came to me from a long way off and muffled, like being underwater.

The world suddenly came rushing back to me.
I kicked and bucked, struggling to get free, quickly realizing my arms had been bound behind me, that earned me a blow to the back of the head that sent my body limp once again.
Slowly, I raised my head, managing to keep my vision this time, and looked ahead of me.
Lodette, maybe four feet away was walking through the forest.
Thinking back on it, it almost seems like she was gliding ahead of us but I know it’s just my memory fading.
Craning my neck back further, I could see through the branches ahead, the three quarter moon making its descent partially hidden by a cliff face ahead of us.

Finally, I turned my head to the side to look at what was carrying me.
Surprisingly, a man. His shiny bald head reflected in the moonlight, the skin of his face and arms as pale as anyone else’s in the damned town. I could just make out the checkered pattern on his shirt by the moonlight, sleeves rolled up and thin pale arms poking out from them.
Regardless of how fragile those arms looked, he was still carrying with one hand like I was nothing more than a bag of groceries.
Looking to the opposite side, another man, his hair receding with patches through the back and beard.
Over his shoulder was a gun, either or a rifle or a shotgun from the length, I couldn’t make out which properly though. In his hands he was carrying a baseball bat, probably what had been used to down me so easily.
I tried to look around behind me, but I couldn’t turn enough to see if anyone else was dragging George up behind me.

I looked ahead again as we left the tree line and approached the cliff face, before us was the entrance to a disused mine set into the cliff.
That dark hole growing wider and nearer, for some reason struck a deep fear in me.
Not the fact I was being dragged along by a bunch of crazy townsfolk, that scared me yes, but this was different. It wasn’t the dark either, it’s only since that night I’ve feared the dark and enclosed spaces.

But again, that was different. This was deeper, a primal fear, a fear of something I had no idea about, just the voice in my head telling me to get away, I had to get away.
Lodette disappeared into the black hole that was the mouth of the mine, her white dress staying visible for a few drawn out moments before she was entirely enveloped in the darkness.
The man dragging me hesitated, then stopped at the cave mouth, I managed to steal a look at baldy’s face and could tell that clearly he was almost as uncomfortable going in to the mine as I was.

There was a few moments of uneasy pause before there was a small orange flicker appeared far off darkness, then grew closer to us.
The flickering light grew until it lit up the entrance, another man carrying an oil lamp appeared before us.
At this point I feel it’s somewhat redundant to mention that this third man was also pale, the only defining features was that his chest was bare, his pale skin was blotted with patches of dirt and dust giving his skin a cow-hide kind of look.

Oil lamp looked down at me then up at baldy and spoke, it was the first time any of my captors had spoken, and it was nothing like what I expected.
I’ve tried writing down the words Oil lamp said that night, but they never seem to match up to what I remember. The ungodly sounds dragged from that throat sounded something like this:
‘glaf’ac k’ullac fug’akar, ia’gfar’asun’
Baldy nodded and gave what must have been an adequate reply because oil lamp began to smile then looked down at me once again before turning around and heading back into the mine, Baldy quickly began to follow him with baseball bat at the rear.

I don’t know how long I was dragged through the mine, it felt like hours, my mind racing through ways to try to get away, to get out of this mine.
The deeper we went, the more uneasy baldy looked in the flickering light ahead.
His eyes darting about in the deep set sockets, his nerves hitting a whole new level when the way the mine had been dug began to change, becoming more cave-like and rougher, with additional tunnels branching off into different parts of the mountain.

Time seemed different in those darkened halls. Some periods felt longer, others shorter, leaving me with no idea how long I’d been dragged down, my surroundings all seemed the same, dripping walls, sudden black spaces that were additional tunnels and old cart tracks beneath my.
The only true constant were the tracks and my feet bumping off of them.

Sometimes, when I think back on it I could swear there were faces in dark passageways, pale faces staring out at me.
Some not altogether human.
Some elongated and canine-skulled in appearance.
Sharp teeth, bright in the lamp-light.

Then our surroundings changed abruptly, the close-in walls fell away and I was dragged out into a huge cavern.
It stunned me, the walls being there, rough, wet and dripping, then suddenly all that’s around us is the darkness. I looked around, upwards, it was everywhere and felt like it pressed in more than the cave/mine walls had.
What the hell was going on? I begged that this was another dream, something I’d snap awake from any second now.

I looked up and beyond the flickering light ahead I could see one thing.
Lodette. Standing there, smiling, wider than I’d seen her smiling before.

‘Hello again, Detective.’
I glared up at her, I was scared, scared of what might happen, scared of how powerless I was.
I was scared of this fifteen year old girl and how she seemed to be the one in charge of all this.
But I was sure as hell going to do my best not to show it.
She nodded over my shoulder and baldy let me drop to the ground chest first, winding me a little. I lay there and gasped trying to catch my breath.
Face down in the dirt I could hear something in the distance, something out there in the darkness.

I lay there for a moment, my eyes closed, listening to the sounds that echoed about that cavernous chamber.
I could hear movement and footsteps, all around me.
Or were they just echoes? I couldn’t tell.
There was something else, too. Water and a lot of it.
I could hear it sloshing and splashing around nearby, but I couldn’t pinpoint where.

I felt a presence over me and held my breath waiting for the blow to come down.
Instead, I was untied. I rolled over and sat up, scuttling back.
The oil lamp had been left on the ground, Lodette stood near it but I couldn’t see anyone else.
I couldn’t see anything else. The small wavering circle of the oil lamp was a bubble of light in the ocean of darkness around me.
‘Sorry detective, I didn’t want them to be too rough with you’
I shuffled back, feeling out behind me.
‘You should be careful, there’s an awful drop nearby.’
I stopped and looked to her left, there, just beyond her was a difference in the darkness.

I kept looking around, trying to get my bearings, which way had I come from? Which way was out?
As I looked into the darkness I saw small pinpoints of light all around.
I narrowed my eyes.
No… Not lights, reflections, reflections of the oil lamp.
Eyes. There were hundreds of them. All around. Watching, staring, never blinking or wavering.
‘I’d not stare too long, detective, they’re only keeping back because the light burns them, but then again… they are very hungry.’
My head snapped back to look at Lodette, still she stood there, smiling all the same.
‘What are they?’
Her smile grew the faintest bit. ‘They’re the people of the town. They’re not as chatty as those that are left, but they’re still residents all the same.’

She looked to her left and over the ledge.
The water below sounding more turbulent than it had a few minutes ago.
‘Where… Where are we?’ I ventured, my prospects were looking pretty grim but if nothing else, maybe some answers would console me.
She didn’t turn her head, but continued to stare off of the ledge and into the deep darkness.
‘It’s one of the old mines… You know, the ones I mentioned earlier today.’ She then looked back over to me ‘I don’t even remember what it was exactly they were mining for anymore, but what they found was much greater…’ She held out her arms and gestured to the darkness around us. ‘This magnificent hall, they had no idea what they stumbled into when they broke that wall. We have since learned.’
She bent down to one knee and picked something up from beside the oil lamp, I hadn’t noticed it before but my mind had been slightly preoccupied.

‘What do you mean? It’s just a cave, isn’t it?’ keep her talking, I thought. Keep her talking and maybe you can think of something.
I had no way of knowing how far this ledge was, or how deep the water at the bottom was but I was beginning to think maybe throwing myself off would give me a better chance of living than up here.

‘Oh no, not at all. That’s how it looked at first, of course.’ There was a faint click and her face was suddenly illuminated.
My torch, I hadn’t even thought about it since I’d come to. Obviously they’d picked it up from beside me when I’d been knocked out.
‘Why, this is a chapel, Detective.’ She held the torch out over the ledge. ‘And this, is the alter… atop it…’ she dropped the torch, it spun away further and further into the abyss, my eyes trailing after it.
‘Is our God.’
The light flashed, for an instant, over something.
An instant was all it needed to seal its image in my mind.
Dozens of eyes reflected from a gargantuan head, horns sprouting from the temples and sprouting back up and over.
Its circular maw, filled with rows upon rows of blade like fangs.
Thin, spider-like arms extended from its rounded body, webbed claws feeling away at the edges of the great pool of water it sat in.

My body froze, my mind blank. The torch hit the water and went out.
I continued to stare.
‘We are changed here, detective. We are… evolved.’
I turned back and looked around, the eyes around me now had faces. Pale, elongated faces.
Then, slowly, they all moved away.

I looked back at Lodette, She had picked up the oil lamp and took a step closer.
Her body grew with each step, her arms lengthening at the forearm, the fingers curling around the handle as they grew longer.
I looked at her face, No longer her face, the space above her eyebrows split and bled as they opened and a second set of eyes revealed themselves.
Her nose and jaw grew longer as they became a dog-like maw.

‘The mother… the child…’ I don’t know why those words came from my mouth, I couldn’t move for fear had rooted me to the spot. Some part of my mind must still have begged for answers and with the rest of it being blank that came to the forefront.

The creature that now stood before me paused and tilted it’s head, the long black hair fallen over its face as it’s elongated body hunched over and one clawed hand touched the ground.
‘The mother, for me’ it still had her voice, the voice of a young girl from such a creature unsettled me all the more. ‘The child…’ it nodded its head to the side, over the cliff ‘… Youth… helps to sustain him.’

It took another step.
Light burst out from our right, I and the creature both turned toward it.
The creature hissed, I covered my eyes, dazzled by the light,
Bang-Bang. Two shots. A gun. A sound like glass shattering and a sudden roar followed by a shriek.
I open my eyes again, the dress the creature before me was wearing had caught fire, it swatted at it with its elongated arms, stepping back from the light.
Instinct took over, I kicked out at its stick thin knee hard and heard a crack. I pushed myself up and grabbed it’s free arm, the skin cold and clammy, I hauled with all my strength and dragged the creature over my body and over the ledge.

Away it spun into the darkness, the flames flickering with the wind, its howl echoing out from the pit it continued to fall down.
Something grabbed my collar, I twisted and swung, snarling and spitting.
A strong arm grabbed my wrist and pulled me away from the edge.
The howl from the deep pit suddenly stopped, its echoes carrying on, up into the cavern around us and continuing on.
Then other howls began to ring out from the darkness, other inhuman voices echoing the pain.
The hand around my wrist tightened and dragged me up.
I opened my eyes and prepared myself to go down fighting with anything I could.

‘You’d better still be able to fucking run, Henry.’
George threw me ahead of him, his torch shining out before us.
‘That way! Fucking go!’

The next few moments are a complete blur, I recall a deep, resonating howl of pain coming from the pit and so, so loud the ceiling began to shake.
Chunks of the mine fell down around us.
I remember we broke out into the early morning sun.
The forest before us quiet. We looked at each other and fell to the ground, we were both covered in scrapes, cuts, bruises and dust.

We made our way back to the town, our car had been moved but not far.
It sat just outside the hotel, still running, the front seat covered in a strange yellow ash.
We climbed in, and drove away. Neither of us spoke a word to one another until we brought the car back to the rental place.

George explained to me what had happened when I’d been knocked out, they’d come up behind us and hit me first, underestimating George’s speed for his size. He’d managed to turn and fend off the second attacker before making a run for it, he’d then circled back to where we’d last been and followed the trail to the mine where he could see the lamp light in the distance.
He’d followed it at a distance, keeping as quiet as he could until he got into the cavern and used it as a marker. He’d been taking his time, he said he felt other things in the darkness, and could even see them against the oil lamp, but they were all so focused on me that they’d not even noticed him.
He’d shot the lamp when he’d caught the creature by surprise and set it ablaze.

It took some time for me to tell George what I had seen down there, what had happened to me. What I had seen.
I’m not sure he believed me, but he listened, and that’s all I needed. I think.
All I am certain of now, is I am glad we got out of that place alive.
And, that creature beneath the mountain, remains buried in the pit it sat in.

Credit To – S. Meek

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Scratch

August 25, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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I could say I was having a pretty peaceful life. I just graduated high school and is about to enter college in a week, to which my mom is really proud of because I decided to pursue something great for my life instead of just applying for McDonalds or something. Anyway, everything was going along pretty normal, until one day I overheard my mom talking to someone through the phone.

“Who was that mom?” I asked because she looked sorry for something, like a friend had a problem and she was feeling sorry for her.

“Oh, just our old neighbor. Remember that house we lived in many years back? He said the family that moved after us just left yesterday.”

My brows just furrowed, since I couldn’t recall living in a house other than this one. Then my mom softly laughed and patted my back. “You probably don’t remember because you were too little.”

“Really? Why did we move away?”
“We moved because of you, honey.” She chuckled as she waved it off with her hand. “You kept on bugging me about some monsters or whatever. To be honest, we wouldn’t have left there if your aunt didn’t offer this house for only half the price. A lot cheaper, and you kept on complaining back there anyway so I just agreed to move.”

I just nodded in understanding, though I still couldn’t recall what she was saying. Eventually I just let it go and continue with my business. Making sure my papers are complete, packing my stuff that I’ll surely need; you know, the usual things to prepare before you move away and enter a new part of your life. The next day, I guess I could say boredom and curiosity just attacked me out of nowhere, and the idea of visiting that old house crossed my mind. I asked my mom, and I was actually surprised when I found out it was just a 15-minute drive away. You guessed it right; I did go to the house, and as soon as I stood there in front of the empty driveway, the memories started flooding back like a light switch was flipped open. And I did remember the little me complaining about something almost everyday during breakfast, but I just laughed it off, thinking that it was probably just my wild imagination as a kid.

I carefully approached the door, just in case someone was still in there even though mom said the family moved out and the house is probably empty by now. I tried to opened the door, not really expecting it to be open, so I was surprised when it did open. Maybe I’m just lucky, eh? Anyway, the house still had a lot of furniture around, and I actually remember myself doing childish stuff on them like jumping on the sofa or scribbling on the cabinets. I could only chuckle as the memories flashed by my eyes like I was watching a movie. Eventually, I found my way to my old room, and my small bed was still there on a corner, like all these years it has never been moved the other way. The tiny amused smile on my face faded away as I started to remember what I was fuzzing about while we still lived here.

I kept on complaining about a monster under my bed. Every night before I sleep, mom would check and assure me that nothing is under there, but as soon as the lights are off and mom is gone, I start to feel those long, slow scratching right against the wood under my bed. I could even feel it vibrating through the mattress and the thick blanket I wrapped myself with in fear. Eventually, I’ll fall asleep despite of the incredible fear and wake up the next morning crying.

As I stood there at the doorway, this new surge of curiosity flowed right through me. I dunno; that “monster under the bed” was probably just the usual stuff kids tend to imagine, but I wanted to fulfill this silly curiosity so why not? I walked closer to the bed and took deep breaths. For some reason, being near it sent an eerie sensation up my back, but I tried to shake it away. With one heave, I lifted the whole bed and propped it against the wall. I was ready to laugh at myself for doing that for nothing, but horror washed all that away as I saw long, deep scratches against the wood. There were just so many to the point that some parts of the wood were already too thin and could break with just a single poke.

I couldn’t believe it.

Gasping, I scrambled out the room and out of the house. I was about to enter my car when an elderly woman from next door called out to me.

“May I help you?” She said with narrowed eyes. Darn. She probably thought I was stealing something from the house. Wiping the sweat off my face, I awkwardly approached her.

“I was uhh… I used to live here. I was just checking out what’s new.” I half expected that she wouldn’t believe me, but then her eyes widened as if she recognized me.

“Oh! Are you that little superman kid?” She made awkward little gestures that looked like dancing. “The one that always danced like this in the backyard?”

It was funny how the embarrassment was able to wash away the horror in a blink. Yeah, I remember that. “Y-yeah…”

“Oh my gosh you’ve grown so much!” She said all teary eyed and hugged me tight, then started mumbling things like she and mom were friends and they always came over. Only when she mentioned about a call that I realized she was the one mom was talking to yesterday.

“Did you decide to visit because I called yesterday?”

I glanced at the house, but this time, fear crept inside my heart instead of nostalgia.

“Yes, sort of… You said the family just moved out of here?”
“Yeah, they were such a nice family.” She said sadly as she followed my gaze. “Too bad they had to move away.”

“Why did they move away?”

“Quite silly, actually.” She chuckled, but the sorry look remained on her face.”But I guess they’re just ready to do anything for their kids. The mom told me that their youngest daughter won’t stop whining over something for months. It stressed the parents so much and even their older daughter. They had to endure the little one’s whining, but then I guess they eventually got tired of it decided to move away.”

The same eerie feeling started to crawl up my spine once again, but I pushed on my curiosity and asked another question. But boy, little did I know that I’ll only regret that I ever asked that.

“What was the girl whining about?”

The older woman paused for a bit, as if to try to remember, but quickly returned her attention to me with a smile. “You know, just some usual children stuff. Someone scratching under her bed or something.”

Credit To – Euwonlol

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