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January 8, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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By the time Kevin made his way down into the subway station, there was no one else there but a solitary old man, sitting on a bench, using his cane to help him sit up straight. Kevin squinted at the schedule on the wall. From behind, he heard a grizzled voice say, “Whichever one you’re waiting for, you’re at the right station. They all stop here.”

Kevin turned to see the old man watching him. “Even the A6?” he asked.

“They ALL stop here,” repeated the stranger, who appeared to be dressed far too warmly for the season.

“I can’t believe the A6 stops here this late on a Tuesday.”

“Young man, this station is a major transfer point, and I’ve been taking these trains for many years. Believe me when I tell you, all the trains stop here.”

As if in answer, the sound of an approaching train came from deep within the tunnel. It sounded like it was coming too fast to stop. In fact, it sounded like it was running faster than subways usually do. It was only a moment before it went rushing past. But that wasn’t the shocking part. All the cars were jet black, but it didn’t look like they were painted, just…made that way. Every car was covered in the most indescribably horrific graffiti. Wild splashes of red paint decorated the windows. It was paint, wasn’t it? The lighting inside was very dim. All the passengers were shadowy figures who stood, unmoving. None of them were seated. Kevin couldn’t make out any of their features. So why did he feel like they were watching him?

“What the hell was that?” Kevin demanded as the mysterious black train disappeared into the opposite tunnel.

The old man hung his head, almost in shame. “I’m sorry I wasn’t completely honest with you. There is actually one train that doesn’t stop here. Only one.”

“Where does it go?”

“Pray you never find out.”

Kevin stood in stunned silence before the old man added, “By the way, if you’re taking the A6 you need to be on Platform 3.”

Kevin could barely gasp the word, “Thanks,” before walking quickly away.

As he was leaving, he heard the man call after him, “Also…”

He turned to see the man fixing him with a steely gaze that let Kevin know the stranger was about to give him the most important warning he would ever hear in his life.

“The next time you see that train. It WILL stop. Don’t get on.”

Credit To: E. Alan Rahn

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Wendall Lane Diaries: You Shouldn’t

January 7, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Disclaimer: I am not a paranormal investigator. I am an author. While looking for inspiration for a book, I came across a series of stories surrounding a home in the American Pacific North West. It is an extremely un-extraordinary looking house in an extremely un-extraordinary looking residential neighborhood, but the stories that have emanated from its former residents and the people who lived in the town that it’s located in are quite extraordinary.

Through my research of the house on Wendall Lane, I have come across accounts that range from the super natural to just plain bizarre. In order to protect the privacy of the people in the town and the current inhabitants of the house on Wendall Lane, I have not only changed the name of everyone in these stories, but the name of the street as well. Wendall Lane is just an alias for the true location of these accounts.

***

Alan Palmer lived in the house on Wendell Ln. from September 2002 to July 2003. After months of trying to contact him about his time there, I finally received an e-mail agreeing to set up a meeting. Quite a few of the house’s prior residents had turned down my requests for face to face interviews so I jumped at the chance to talk to him in person once the opportunity presented itself.

Palmer, who worked as a socioeconomics professor at the University of Washington, arranged to meet me and talk over drinks at a place of his choosing in downtown Seattle. The bar was called Oliver’s Lounge and was located in the historic Mayflower Park Hotel. Upon arriving, I was surprised to see just how crowded it was for 3:00 PM on a Tuesday. There were people seated at nearly every table while food runners and waiters dressed in white servers’ jackets and black bowties hustled and bustled about the room bringing people their orders. Windows stretching from floor to ceiling allowed for an ample amount of sunlight to illuminate the space, giving it a genuinely open and inviting ambience. I spotted Palmer in the corner sitting at a small high table and sipping on a glass of scotch.

He greeted me with a hearty handshake and a bright smile after I introduced myself to him. The man was greying a little around the ears, and I could tell shortly after meeting him that he was incredibly intelligent, but aside from that he seemed to have the demeanor of a fellow 15 years his junior. Palmer was a light-hearted gentleman who loved a good joke and he insisted on telling me a few of his favorites before I turned my tape recorder on.

Once he had his fun we started the interview.

“Believe it or not, you’re not the first person who’s tried to contact me about the time I spent living on Wendell Ln. Apparently there are all kinds of “ghost enthusiasts” out there who’ve heard about the house through the various online forums these types of people tend to frequent. Nerds and losers – you know the type – they spend their time sifting through thread after thread on the Internet, pretending that they’re doing something productive with their lives. Hell, most of them are probably overweight man-children sitting in their parents’ basement and conducting their ‘research’ in between anime cartoons.”

Palmer let out a laugh, seemingly pleased with his depiction of the paranormal research community. I decided to omit the fact that I first heard about him through one of the online forums he was talking about. He took a sip of scotch and continued on.

“So naturally I ignored your e-mails thinking you were another one of those ghost geeks. It’s strange. I probably wouldn’t have agreed to meet, but I came across one of your books by complete accident. My nephew mentioned your work in passing when I was over at my brother’s house for dinner a few weeks ago. I put two and two together and realized you were the same author who had been e-mailing me so I figured why the hell not? I’m game to talk about it if you are, all though I must admit my story probably isn’t as interesting as demons or monsters or whatever the hell it is you write about. Not a whole lot happened while I was living there. In fact, the only reason I lived in the house for such a short period of time was because an old colleague of mine offered me a full professorship here at the University of Washington not long after I purchased it and the commute was just too far.

My workplace at the time had no job security, I was on the chopping block every year so there was no way I could turn down the offer. This was before the housing bust in ’07. It was a sellers’ market; banks were giving away loans like there was no tomorrow so it wasn’t difficult to turn right back around and flip the place. Hell, I even made thirty grand! Plus, I love Seattle. The weather sucks, but this city has culture!”

We made small talk for a bit. He told some stories about work, his travels to Europe, and even asked me about some of the upcoming books that I’ve been working on. I was beginning to wonder if flying all the way out to Seattle to speak to him had been a big waste of time. After all, Palmer appeared almost completely uninterested in discussing any and all aspects of the house. I directed his attention back towards the reason why we had met when I asked him to describe the most bizarre encounter he could remember having in the short time he lived on Wendell Ln.

“Haha! Now you’re starting to sound like the Internet ghost geeks! Fine, fine, let me think. Like I said, nothing really strange ever happened, that’s why I –”

He paused for a moment and looked out the window towards the street.

“There was one thing. I had almost forgotten about it – the TV incident. It was a Friday night in June, about a month before the house sold. There was nothing on. You know how crappy television programming can be on the weekends, especially in the summer time! I was scrolling through channels on my TV’s menu looking for something to turn my brain off to when the title of a show caught my eye. It was called “You Shouldn’t Watch”. I figured with a name like that, how could I not give it a go? Also, the show was on a channel I had never seen before – Channel 732. To be honest, I don’t watch much TV and when I do, I don’t usually venture out of the HD channels so I wasn’t even sure if it was covered under my cable package.

Now, I don’t know what yours looks like, but the way my cable provider’s menu was set up different colors are used to distinguish between different types of shows. You get green for sports, purple for movies, and blue for everything else. However, the menu color for this particular show was black. The text was yellow, which was also unusual since the show’s title is always written in white. Even the font was different. Don’t ask me to describe what it looked like because I really can’t recall. All I know was I had never seen letters written in that way before. I know that sounds odd, but the best description I could give you is that even though the lettering looked completely alien in appearance, my mind could somehow interpret what it said – “YOU SHOULDN’T WATCH”. Now I’m starting to sound like the Internet weirdos. Ha!”

Palmer polished off his glass and called the waitress over to order another drink.

“Anyways, from the very second I turned on the program, I knew I was watching something very strange – very strange indeed. The black and white picture on my television was of a mostly empty room. There were no visible windows or doors; the place seemed cold and uninviting – like how I’d imagine a jail cell in Bangladesh would look. Not dead center, but slightly off to the left of the frame was a man sitting at an old rusty table. He was shirtless and looked to be very malnourished. It reminded me of those old photos you see of the Jews who suffered through German concentration camps during World War 2. I remember wondering if he was a prisoner there. The frail man wore a pair of tattered slacks, but no belt or shoes. His mouth hung a gape as if his jaw was too heavy to close. There was no music or dialogue; the only noises radiating from my speakers were the sounds of his wheezy, raspy breaths. God! It sounded like he was suffering from emphysema or something. I followed his gaze down to an old rotary phone sitting on the tabletop. He just gawked at the thing like a buffoon while I stared at the screen, mesmerized by the odd scene taking place on my television.

I hit the info button, hoping to read a synopsis of what the show was about, but of course there was nothing so I just kept watching. For minutes he didn’t move. I giggled to myself for a bit – you know, the way you do when something makes you uncomfortable and your brain thinks laughing will ease the tension. The whole time I was waiting, hoping for something that resembled dialogue. Anything to prove that I was just watching some weird movie and had simply turned it on at the wrong time, but nothing ever happened. Perplexed and a little bit bored, I stood up from my couch and headed over to the kitchen to rummage through the fridge for a little late night snack. I was about halfway done making myself a sandwich when I heard the most terrible noise.”

Palmer paused briefly. At first I thought he had stopped his story because of the waitress returning from the bar with his drink, but he barely acknowledged her presence. The man was caught up in deep thought as though he had just remembered something important. When he finally began speaking again the tone of his voice had completely changed. Gone was the chipper upbeat persona I had come to know him by. Palmer was clearly distraught.

“It sounded horrible – like a dying animal. I remember an awful sensation of nausea washing over me; it was the strangest thing. There was an ominous feeling in the air too – death, ruin, calamity all hanging over my head. Once I realized that the noise was coming from the television, I put down my sandwich and hurried back towards the living room. The scene on the TV was essentially the same except now the sickly looking man had turned his head up towards the ceiling and was howling and groaning in the most unpleasant of ways. The longer I watched the more it made me feel like I was going to retch.

The whole thing was utterly abhorrent. The man would moan for 30 maybe 40 seconds at a time before stopping suddenly, then he would take another deep wheezy breath and the terrible sounds would begin anew. I cringed as I took it all in. My visual and auditory senses were being assaulted by the most disagreeable of stimuli and I was still fighting off the urge to vomit all over my living room carpet. Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, the man still groaning mind you, turned his head in the direction of the screen and stared straight into the camera. The thing is, I was certain he was looking directly at me. That’s what it felt like; it was almost as if we were in the same room. I probably should have turned off the show, but after minutes of nothing something was finally going on and I felt compelled to keep watching even though I was suffering immensely.

I stared into the glazed over eyes of the sickly looking man until he turned his attention down towards the phone sitting on the table –”

Palmer hunched over in his seat and removed his glasses. He seemed visibly shaken. The 42-year-old econ professor clasped the bridge of his nose between his thumb and index finger and let out a deep sigh. Beads of sweat had begun to form on his forehead.

“I’m sorry, forgive me. I haven’t thought about this night in a long time. I suppose it’s possible that my mind pushed this episode to the back of my consciousness and I forgot all about it – kind of a defense mechanism type of thing. I’ve read about case studies where army veterans who witnessed horrific events develop amnesia about their time in the military. It seems as though I may be going through something similar, except as I sit here and talk to you, everything begins to come back to me.”

I asked him if he wanted to continue. He agreed and then resumed his story.

“His hand quaked violently as he lifted the phone to his ear. His arms were rail thin and it looked as though he was struggling mightily to hold it in place. With his other hand, he clumsily started spinning the rotary dial. That’s when my cell phone started ringing.

A chill ran down my spine, my nausea got even worse, that ominous feeling in the air had transformed into full on horror. I prayed with every fiber in my being that it was a coincidence as I looked at my phone’s caller ID. You have no idea how bad I wanted the number to be one that I recognized. I didn’t recognize it of course. Hell, it wasn’t even a number. It was something else entirely. In that same strange, alien text from the TV’s menu were the words ‘YOU SHOULDN’T LISTEN’ written where the caller’s number should have been.

That was enough for me. I hung up the phone and reached for the remote on the coffee table. I must have pressed the channel button a dozen times, but the picture never changed. I tried the power button and still nothing happened. The man began to dial the phone again. Once more my cell started to ring.”

Palmer had gone pale. He looked completely different from when I first met him – the polar opposite of the smiling man who shook my hand earlier.

“I tried to turn off the TV manually, I even unplugged it from the wall, but by this time I knew it would do nothing. The sickly, pale man continued to stare at me – his horrible, empty gaze felt as though it was tearing me to pieces. Stomach bile slowly started to crawl its way up my esophagus. I don’t know why I answered the phone, I couldn’t help myself; maybe I thought if I did then it would all just end. My finger trembled as I pressed the answer button. I slowly lifted the phone to my face.

I didn’t even need to say, ‘hello’. He just began speaking as if he was watching me answer the phone through the television screen – and perhaps he was.”

Tears began to well up in Palmer’s eyes. I tried to tell him that he didn’t need to go into further detail if he was uncomfortable, but he kept talking as though he never even heard me. By that point, he would have finished his story even if there was no one sitting across the table from him.

“He spoke to me in a terrible voice – it sounded like he was gargling shards of glass. His lips moved on the screen, but I could hear him clearly over the phone… he said…he said, “You shouldn’t tell”. Then in one horrible, inhumanly quick motion, he leapt out of the frame as the screen went to black.

Jesus Christ, he said, ‘You shouldn’t tell.’ Did I just tell? Vincent please, does that mean I just told!?”

Palmer fell silent and stared awkwardly into his glass for a moment. Then he apologized and excused himself from the table. It was the last I saw of him that night. He sent me a text message 15 minutes later explaining that he had to go home and instructing me to charge the bill to his tab. I tried to contact him once I got back to California, but he never answered my calls or e-mails. A few weeks later I found out what happened to him after performing a simple Google search of his name.

Twelve days after Alan Palmer and I met to talk about the house on Wendall Ln, he was found dead in his Seattle home. There was no sign of a struggle or forced entry, however, due to the horrific nature of his death, Seattle PD does believe that he was murdered.

Palmer’s body was discovered in front of the television on his living room couch missing ears, eyes, and tongue.

Credit To – Vincent VenaCava

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Frosted Mini Fears 6

January 6, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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This is a small collection of video pastas. If the embedded videos do not display for you, please click the links – they go to the individual video pages on YouTube.


The Gate


Modal Realism


“The Visitor” As told by Tito Boi


The Last Man Alive


Doorbell Ditch

For more Frosted Mini Fears, you may visit their tag here, or visit the FrostedMiniFears YouTube channel.

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I’m No Fool

January 5, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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“Daddy, there’s a monster in my closet.”

“No, there isn’t,” I reply in my half-asleep state, “we’ve been through this already.”

Now my wife is awake too. “Shouldn’t you at least check? It seems like ever since she got back from the hospital, all those bodies started turning up around the city. There was another one last night. It was in the paper.”

“Yeah, I can’t tell you how broken up I am over all those dead pimps and drug dealers. Somehow, I don’t think whoever’s taking them out is after our kid.”

“Just humor her, please.” She turns to Kayla. “Did you see the monster?”

Kayla nods. “He’s really tall and has long fingers and a big mouth with sharp, shiny teeth. He hides in the closet and peeks around the door. He says he’s coming for me real soon, and his name is Goregrinder.”

Now, I’m pissed. I throw off the covers and jump out of bed.

Susan grabs my arm and leans in close. “Would you please have some patience with her?” she hisses, “My God, she just made a complete recovery from a disease that kills children her age. It’s a miracle we even have her here to inconvenience you in the first place.”

“I know. I’m going already,” I growl back. I storm into her room and turn on the light. Nothing. The closet creaks open slowly. I throw it open. Nothing. Oh wait, I’m doing it wrong. I turn off the light and let the moon illuminate the room. There he is. So tall he would have to duck to come out of the closet. Wearing a coat that covers most of his body. It looks like it’s made of bearskin or something. His arms crossed over his chest, with his wrists bent and his impossibly long fingers pointing downward. Warty skin that looks tougher than leather. A mouth that looks too wide for his head, filled with steely blades for teeth.

I shove him against the wall of the closet and follow him in to make sure my wife and kid can’t hear me. “I already paid you with a fresh one last night, you bastard! You don’t collect her unless I’m at least a week late. That was the deal! You scare my kid one more time and I’ll kick the shit out of you!”

He grins, delighted by my righteous indignation, his mouth stretching extra wide. Even in the dark of the closet, I can see his bladed teeth glistening. He knows I can’t make good on my threat, but he doesn’t scare me either. He’s bound by the same rules I am.

I back out of the closet and he comes after me slowly, grinning defiantly. Whatever. I shut the door in his face. Then, I wait a few seconds and open it again. Gone.

I head back to our bedroom. “Okay, sweetie, the monster’s gone.”

Susan puts a finger to her lips. Kayla is curled up against her, sleeping peacefully, as if she knows how safe she is, and that I’ll do anything to keep her that way. Anything.

Fine. She can stay, but just for tonight. I squeeze into bed next to them, with what little room the girls have left me. I’m still too annoyed to sleep, not just at Goregrinder, but his master. Does he really think I’d sign a contract in my own blood on a parchment made of human skin without reading it first? How stupid does he think I am?

Credit To: E. Alan Rahn

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Blue Robe

January 4, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Long ago, there was a Buddhist priest named Kaian Zenji who always wore a blue robe. He spent his days travelling around Japan, meditating, praying and trying to help those who were in need. One evening, he came to a village called Tomita.

As soon as the people there laid eyes on him, they began shouting and screaming. The women and children fled, screaming and wailing, falling over each other in their rush to get away. The men grabbed their weapons and came running towards him.

“Kill him!” they cried in alarm. “Kill him before he kills us!”

“What’s wrong?” asked Kaian as he put up his hands. “You have no need to fear me. I don’t mean you any harm.”

When the men saw his frightened face, they threw down their weapons and laughed nervously.

“Sorry,” said one man. “We thought you were somebody else.”

“Yes, we apologise for the confusion,” another man said sheepishly.

“It’s because of your blue robe,” said another.

One of the men introduced himself and invited Kaian to stay the night in his house. He said he was the village blacksmith and offered him food and drink.

“When we saw you coming, we thought you were a demon,” he explained.

“Why would you think that?” asked Kaian. “Do I look like a demon?”

“Well, it’s a horrifying story,” replied the blacksmith gravely, “but I might as well tell you. On the mountain above this village, there is a temple and the priest who lives there wears a blue robe just like yours. This priest used to have a reputation for being highly intelligent and kind-hearted. He visited all of our houses and he was always nice and polite. The people trusted him.”

“All that changed last spring. The priest went to another village to perform a baptism. When he came back, he had a young boy with him. He was a very good-looking boy, about 12 or 13 years of age. The priest spent all his time with the boy and it was almost as if he was in love with him. Everyone thought this was very strange.”

“Then, the boy was struck down with an illness. His condition became very serious and a doctor came from the city to take care of him. Sadly, it was no use and the boy finally died. The priest cried and cried until he couldn’t cry anymore. He wailed and wailed until his voice gave out. Strangest of all, he refused to allow the body to be buried or cremated. Instead, he held the boy’s corpse in his arms and clutched his hand and caressed his cheek as if he was still alive.”

“We didn’t realize it at the time, but the priest had gone stark raving mad. One morning, some of the villagers visited the temple and what they saw made them run away screaming in horror. The priest was eating the boy’s flesh and licking his bones. They said the priest had become a demon.”

“Ever since then, the priest has terrorised our village, coming down from the mountain night after night and digging up the graves, in search of more corpses. When he finds a fresh one, he eats it. We’ve all heard the old stories about demons and the people live in fear. Every house is tightly boarded up at sundown and word has already spread throughout the area. People are come here anymore. Now you see why we mistook you for him. What can we do to stop him?”

“Strange things happen in this world,” exclaimed Kaian. “There are some people who are born as humans, but something goes wrong and they do evil and immoral things. This causes them to turn into demons. It has been happening since the beginning of time. In one case I know of, a woman turned into a snake. In another, a man’s mother became a ghoul. I know of another man who liked the flesh of children and secretly kidnapped youngsters in order to have them steamed and served as food.”

“A friend of mine who is a monk was passing through a village and he stayed the night in an old woman’s hut. It was raining and the wind was howling. He lay awake without even a lamp to comfort him in his loneliness. As the night deepened, he thought that he heard the bleating of a sheep and soon afterwards, something came sniffing around him to see whether he was asleep or awake. Quick as a flash, he lashed out with his stick and struck hard. The creature screamed and collapsed on the floor. The old woman heard the ruckus and came in with a lamp. They found a young girl lying unconscious on the floor. The old woman, begged him not to kill the girl because it was her daughter. What could he do? He left and went on his way, but later, when he came back to the village, the people were gathered around watching something. When he asked them what was going on, they told him they had caught a young girl who was a witch and they were about to bury her alive.”

“So what do you think happened to our priest?” the blacksmith asked.

“I think it has something to do with the young boy,” replied Kaian. “This priest’s weird and unnatural attachment to the boy led him down a sinful path and transformed him into a ghoul. Now that I know what we are dealing with, I may be able to help you and rid your village of this wretched demon.”

“If you can do that for us, all the people in this area would be eternally grateful,” said the blacksmith.

“I will just need one thing,” said Kaian. “A wooden staff with a long, sharp blade hidden inside.”

So, the blacksmith worked long and hard. Finally, he presented Kaian with the peculiar weapon he requested. It looked just like a wooden staff, but when you twisted the top and pulled, out came a long, sharp blade.

With the staff in hand, Kaian set out on his mission. By the time he had hiked up to the top of the mountain, the sun was already setting. The temple looked deserted and the gates were tangled with thorns and brambles. Spiders were spinning webs on the statues and the altar was covered in moss and bird droppings. The whole place exuded an eerie feeling of rot and desolation.

Kaian walked up to the door and knocked. For a long time, there was only silence and then, from the darkness, a man emerged, snarling and drooling and gnashing his teeth.

“Why have you come here?” he croaked hoarsely.

Kaian backed away cautiously, keeping a safe distance between himself and the ghoul.

“This temple is deserted and the people have fled,” he said. “In desolate places like this evil things sometimes happen. The people tell me it is because you have become a demon. They say that night after night, you go down to the village and feast on human flesh. Nobody feels safe.”

The priest was advancing towards him, growling like a feral dog. Saliva dripped down his chin and he looked like he was ravenous. Kaian kept backing away.

“What they say is true,” snarled the priest. “Human flesh is what I eat and tonight, I shall use your flesh to fill my stomach.”

“What if I told you there is a cure for your condition?” said Kaian.

The priest was surprised. “A cure?” he asked, eyeing Kaian suspiciously. “If you know of a cure then tell me now so I can escape my horrible fate.”

Kaian removed his blue hood and threw it at the vile and beastly priest.

“Put this on,” he said.

The priest snatched the blue hood off the ground, then sat down on a flat rock in front of the temple and placed it over his head.

“Don’t try to trick me,” growled the priest. “I can still see you, so keep your distance. If you don’t, I will be licking your bones by dawn.”

“Solve the following riddle and you will be freed from your misery,” said Kaian. “Listen carefully…”

He began to recite the riddle:

“Upon the water the moonlight glows,
Among the trees the wild breeze blows,
Throughout the night the darkness flows,
And why this is nobody knows.”

The priest pondered the words for a while.

“Can you give me a clue?” he asked.

“No clues,” said Kaian. “You must concentrate hard and meditate on it, no matter how long it takes. Eventually, you will understand its meaning and find freedom from this horror.”

The minutes passed and the hours ticked by and as the priest sat thinking and thinking, Kaian began inching closer and closer. He moved almost imperceptably, shifting his weight from one leg to the other and sliding each foot an inch nearer to where the priest was sitting.

The night was coming to an end and a grey light spread out across the sky as dawn arrived. The priest sat motionless on the rock, murmuring in a thin voice, no louder than the buzzing of a mosquito:

“Upon the water the moonlight glows,
Among the trees the wild breeze blows,
Throughout the night the darkness flows,
And why this is nobody knows.”

Kaian watched silently, his hand firmly grasping the tip of his rod. He inched closer and closer until the priest was within arm’s length.

He heard a cock crow in the distance.

“Well, have you found the solution to the riddle?” asked Kaian.

“Not yet,” replied the priest

“That’s because there isn’t one,” said Kaian and with a gutteral cry, he pulled the long, sharp sword out of the wooden staff and swung it with all his might.

The sharp blade went straight through the priest’s neck like a hot knife through butter and sliced off his head, sending it rolling down the mountainside. His decapitated body toppled over and fell, lying prostrate among the weeds.

Kaian cleaned off his blade and slid it back inside the rod. Then, he set out on the long journey down the mountinside to tell the villagers their nightmare was at an end.

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Shadows of Bedzin

January 3, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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When I was young my grandmother used to tell me stories of her youth. When I was about the age of fourteen, she told me about her and my grandfather’s time in a Polish city by the name of Bedzin. She described Bedzin as a quaint city; it had been where she first met my grandfather, where they married, and where they planned to live for the rest of their days.

Their aspirations of a normal life were abruptly crushed in September of 1939 when Hitler’s armies invaded. By 1940 their beloved hometown had been transformed into a dirty ghetto where my grandparents were forced to work in German munition factories. By late 1940 my grandparents realized that there were fewer workers each day and decided it was time to get out. As soon as they had the chance, they joined about six others going into hiding.

They were welcomed into a local library were many others were supposedly hiding, the library had an attic were my grandparents believed some were hiding, but they were told that they would be staying in the basement with the other six. The basement was behind an old bookcase that covered a small door that was just large enough for an adult to crawl through. The space was made up of two rooms, one with a few cots and the other filled with stacks of books. They stayed in those two rooms for years, living in secrecy, never venturing out of that trapdoor. The librarian delivered food and water every night along with new books. They lived in relative peace for those few years, save for the occasional clamor of the war above seeping through the thin wood over their heads.

Eventually, the war caught up with them; the librarian had stopped bringing them food, fuel for their lanterns, and new reading material. There was no warning, only a loud blast, an earthquake-like shaking, and the sound of shattering glass and falling rubble. They had begun to ration what little food they had left, though the librarian had always brought them enough provisions to last them until the next night when he would return. After a day in the two room basement the food had run out and they decided that they would rather face the Nazis than stay down there and starve. They had tried the door but it was suck; they didn’t know whether it had been the bookcase still in front of it or if the building had collapsed and rubble blocked the door, but when they couldn’t open or knock down the door, some of their group began to panic.

Eventually they all returned to their cots, dejected and without hope, wondering whether they would ever get out of the basement. Their savior had become their damnation, and they had no way out. After about two days, the roof had begun to leak. The water was fetid and brown, but they had no other choice than to drink from the seemingly unending stream. The water had kept them alive, but it had also started give those who drank it symptoms of some kind of sickness. As they drank, my grandparents showed some concern; they had tried to convince the others to wait until they had filtered it and boiled it from the heat of the lantern, but they had been so thirsty that they disregarded her warnings and drank straight from the leak. As my grandparents cleansed their water, the others had become anxious, confused and agitated, constantly scratching at an itch that seemed to not cease and enveloped their entire body.

They had drunk the water for two days, and the other’s symptoms had grown worse and worse over that short time. It was on the third day that the others had grown too hungry. One of the others, a young woman of about twenty by the name of Cecylia had pounced on an old women named Agatha. Almost instantaneously, the others had joined in and pounced on the poor old women. They tore into her with teeth and nails, biting into her jugular and spraying blood onto the floor around them. My grandfather had grabbed my grandmother and pulled her into the next room that had been filled with books and a single cot that they had moved shortly after they had first arrived. Knowing that they would eventually lose interest in the old woman, my grandfather began stacking the books against the door. Within ten minutes, hundreds of books that they had accumulated over the years were stacked against the door and what had happened had finally sunk in.

My grandfather held my grandmother as she wept, and tried to console her, though he had no idea how. He had been just as frightened as she was, and had no idea how he would get them out of this.

The sickening slurping and crunching of bones had ceased as suddenly as it had begun, leaving only the sound of my grandmother’s weeping and the sound of aimless footsteps from the other room. All of the sudden, the footsteps stopped. My grandmother’s sobbing ceased as she pulled her head away from my grandfather’s chest as they listened anxiously for the footsteps to continue. They sat in absolute silence for minutes, only the faint glow of the lantern providing them any solace. My grandmother sighed as she wiped tears from her eyes, and as soon as she did she heard rapid footsteps. They both jumped as something from the other side slammed into the wall. They heard another crash, and another, until the sound of splintering wood had begun to accompany it. With another loud crash, a piece of wood flew from the wall, and a large crack had run through the wall to the floor. The dim glow of the lantern on the other side of the wall shined through the hole, and though they waited for another loud crash, it never came.

After what felt like hours of sitting and waiting for another crash, my grandmother decided to stand and approach the hole in the wall. It was only big enough to fit a finger through, and gave a partial view of the next room. As she peered through the hole, she saw a mass of bodies lying near each other, their chest rising and falling. She looked down and saw another body, lying on the ground with an indentation in its head and a small river of red coming from its now closed eyes. It was Cecylia. She had caved her head in charging at the wall. In the very end of her field of vision, she could see an arm. Nothing else, just an arm. The arm was wrinkled and pale, missing a few portions and covered in bite marks where the arm still had skin to show them. She slowly backed away from the hole and sat on the cot, returning to the arms of my grandfather.

That night my grandfather put out the lantern in their room, wanting to conserve their fuel for as long as possible. Through the hole in the wall, she could see the faint glow of the other room’s lantern. She stood up and looked through the hole once again and saw nothing different; the others were still sleeping in a large pile and the two bodies were untouched. She looked back at the pile where the others were sleeping and saw that now only three were lying there. She gasped and stepped back. She knew that there should be four of them there. They came in with six others, two were dead, so where was the last one? She looked around the room but saw nothing. The lantern began to flicker and its glow began to die, but she continued to study the room. As the lantern gave off its final seconds of light, she saw a shadow in the corner, standing and staring at her. She watched the shadow until the lantern went out a few seconds later.

My grandmother never told me what had happened after that moment, just that they had pulled at the rotting wood above them, climbed out of the basement and saw a large pile of rats lying dead near a broken pipe spewing water. By the time they had escaped, the Russians had liberated Bedzin and freed them of the Nazi’s rule. My grandmother couldn’t see her hometown in the same light after she had escaped the basement, so my grandfather bought a house in a small village in Bosnia. That’s where they raised my mother, and where my mother raised me. My grandmother called them the Shadows of Bedzin, what she thought to be a fitting name. I agree, those people were no longer human, they were hosts to a horrendous disease, just a shell of their former selves.

I’m writing this because I now find myself in a similar situation. The year is 1993, and I am in hiding from the Scorpions Paramilitary organization who have begun to ethnically cleanse Bosnia. I’m hiding with eight others, and twenty minutes before I started writing this we heard a large explosion, followed by the sound of an earthquake, accompanied by the sound of rubble sliding and glass shattering. If I die, let it be known that the shadows of Bedzin, have become the shadows of Bosnia, but I was not one of them. I didn’t drink the water, I didn’t become a monster.

Credit To – Erik Clements

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