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The Oneirophage

January 21, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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In the late ’40s of the last century, after a decade of private research involving experiments with binaural beat brainwave frequencies, extrasensory cognition, and rare extracts of a South American vine, Dr. Tomás Roessner perfected a technique whereby one could actually intrude into the psyche and “see” another’s thoughts. Despite having exhaustively documented his rigorous work, he could find no institution that would even offer to review it. Forced to sell his invention, he found by word of mouth among those through whom he procured narcotics a prospective buyer, the bête noire of an old New York family, Mr. John M. Dunn, a voyeuristic connoisseur of the supernatural and the obscene, who had squandered his idle youth in the great libraries of Paris, those catacombs of departed authors, rummaging among their hordes of dusty and obsolete works; a literary ghoul who disturbed with profane fingers the charnel-houses of decayed philosophies. He readily agreed to the Dr.’s asking price without haggling, delighted at the prospect of exploring such a bizarre novelty.

Once adept at the operation of the apparatus, Dunn paid Dr. Roessner off and under an assumed name rented a shabby house within view of Sing Sing prison. In the timeless night, while the convicts fitfully slept, with the aid of a set of stolen blueprints and his new mindreading device, he raided their memories cell by cell at liberty to savor the forbidden thrill of thefts, molestations, moonlit homicides, in secret, without remorse or consequence.

Within a month, the prisoners, telling each other about the nightmares from which they had all begun abruptly to awaken, discovered they shared striking similarities: first, processions of alligators and tortoises filed through a swamp crowded with faceless people and shrieking orchids; next, a shadow man, at whom they looked directly but could never quite see, would watch them in utter stillness from an empty house while invisible hands probed behind their eyes as they had to stand naked, legs locked in place, unable to run away. Their compared descriptions of the house were identical, including its location just outside the walls. By mutual agreement, it was planned that the first of them to receive parole or be released would search this house out to find if it really existed, and investigate the source of their troubling dreams.

A few days after being freed, their chosen spy was able to inform them with a smuggled message in code that not only was the house real, but he had broken into it at night and found a gaunt, moustached man in a silk smoking jacket seated bolt upright, head thrust back, both eyes gaping, mouth stuck open in a stiffened gasp, clenched hands gripping the arms of his chair, in front of a “scientific machine.” A handwritten journal on the desk told the whole story of his adventures prying unconstrained through their psyches, plundering the haunted memories of criminal after criminal, seeking ever more shameful and audacious experiences until finally he wrote, on July 7th, of his overwhelming desire to witness telepathically the next execution in the prison’s notorious electric chair.

Credit: S.W. Rice

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13th and Elm

January 20, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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I always get a little uncomfortable when the topic of the paranormal comes up, particularly when some people seem to be so adamant that ghosts simply can’t exist. I don’t attempt to convince them otherwise. As a matter of fact, I don’t share my experiences with them at all. This is actually the first time I’ve attempted to chronicle everything my family went through. It was only for a brief window in time, just a few months. But it burned a scar into my consciousness that will never go away.

I remember my mother and father being so excited at the prospect of all of us moving into our first house. They had been raising four young children in an apartment; just the idea of finally having our own bedrooms (and more than one bathroom) had us all elated. When we first glimpsed the house at the corner of 13th and Elm, my siblings and I almost couldn’t believe it. The place seemed enormous. It was an old colonial-style house with wide-open rooms on the first floor, and all of the bedrooms on the second floor, connected by a grand old wooden staircase.

My brother and sisters and I raced through the place, exploring each room with a sense of excitement and wonder. It was my brother Tommy who first noticed the door in the corner of the kitchen that led to the basement. He swung it open and he and I stood at the top of the stairs, peering down for a few moments. We carefully descended down into the basement, unsure of what we would find. Once we got to the bottom of the stairs, we were a little disappointed with how benign it seemed to be. It was a bare room with a concrete floor, a utility sink in one corner and a single window that would have been peering out into the garden in the front yard. We gazed around at this rather boring space for a minute before Tommy noticed it. “Hey, what’s with the floor over there?” He pointed to a patch in the concrete, about four feet long and three feet wide. It was a different color and texture than the rest of the concrete. It was obviously been torn up at some point and then patched up. I didn’t think much of it, until Tommy spoke up.

“You know the lady that lived here died, right?” I didn’t know that. I recall my mom and dad mentioning something briefly about the family that owned the house having to move out in a hurry; the circumstances behind it were never discussed, as far as I can remember.

Tommy continued. “Yeah, she died in a really bad car accident. Dad said so.”

“So?” I countered, growing a little uneasy.

“Well, I bet that’s where they buried her, right there,” Tommy said, pointing to the odd patch in the concrete. For some reason, this ridiculous theory seemed to make sense in our child minds.

I distinctly remember right at that moment, the atmosphere in the room…changed. The air felt electric; I could feel all the hairs on my arms stand up. I was suddenly claustrophobic and felt a wave of panic and unease wash over me. I didn’t even respond to Tommy; I dashed up the stairs as fast as I could. Tommy was right on my heels, chuckling at how easy it was to freak out his little brother. Once I was back in the kitchen with the thrum of activity going on, the feeling passed instantly, like flipping a lightswitch off.

The next few days were a blur of unpacking and getting settled. Tommy got his own room at the top of the stairs, and I got the one next to him. Our older sisters Cheryl and Cindy share the bigger bedroom across the hall. My dad was a long-haul trucker who would be gone for days, sometimes a week at a time, so we had barely gotten moved into the house when he reluctantly had to go on the road for a few days. The first inkling that something wasn’t quite right with the house happened the next morning after he had left. My siblings and I were walking out the front door to get on the bus to school and we noticed a cigarette butt lying on the wooden front porch. Not exactly strange, but…we knew it wasn’t there before. We had cleaned the house top to bottom after moving in, including the porch. A rather obvious cigarette butt lying directly in front of the door would have been noticed. But there it was. We call kind of caught each other’s glances as we looked at it. We shrugged and got on the school bus and went on with our day.

A few days later, my brother Tommy and I were playing outside in the yard, when we noticed a second cigarette butt, this time on the lawn, directly under Cindy and Cheryl’s bedroom window. Once again, Tommy was there with a brilliant theory to scare the pants off of me. “I bet it’s the family that used to live here. They keep coming back and hanging around outside, because they know their mom is buried in the basement.” The mention of the “grave” in the basement made my eyes wander over to the single window in the basement that was barely visible at ground level. It was at that moment that I was certain someone was looking back at me through that window. Tommy read the expression on my face and followed my gaze to the window. “We should go check it out down there,” he said. I reluctantly followed him. As uncomfortable as I was going down there, I was more sensitive to looking like a wuss in front of my older brother.

As we got to the door to the basement, even Tommy paused. “We should take the Patches with us,” he said, referring to our family mutt. “Patches will protect us.” Patches was an easygoing, agreeable fellow. I guess he would have to be, with four rambunctious children constantly terrorizing him. We found him dozing next to the couch in the living room. Tommy grabbed him by the collar and led him over to the basement door. When Tommy swung the door open, Patches immediately resisted. He plopped his butt down on the kitchen floor and refused to move an inch. Tommy yanked on his collar, but Patches pulled back. Eventually Tommy decided to just pick the dog up and carry him down the stairs, with Patches struggling mightily the whole way. Halfway down the stairs, Patches went berserk. He yelped and growled and snapped his teeth at Tommy, who let go of him in surprise. Patches raced up the stairs and scampered under the couch. Without the dog’s protection, Tommy and I abandoned our mission.

That night, we were all around the kitchen table having dinner. Patches had been in a sour mood ever since the incident on the basement stairs. As we were eating dinner, Patches rested on the kitchen floor, his eyes never leaving the basement door. His ears were perked up and his attention was focused on the door. At one point, his hackles raised and he rose to his feet, snarling and growling at the door. We all stopped our dinner chatter and turned to look at the dog. Patches was in full-on protection mode. He was snarling like someone was coming up the stairs. This lasted for a moment before he calmed down and went back to lying down on the kitchen floor.

It was maybe a night or two later when I first heard the footsteps. I was lying in bed in the middle of the night when I distinctly heard footsteps coming up the basement steps. They were heavy, very deliberate steps, slow and steady. THUMP. THUMP. THUMP. I strained my ears as much as I could in the darkness. When the steps reached the top of the basement stairs, there was a pause. I didn’t hear the basement door open, but the steps then started through the kitchen. THUMP. THUMP. THUMP. When they reached the bottom of the staircase, again there was a pause. Then just as slowly and deliberately, the footsteps started up the stairs. By this point, I was wild-eyed in terror, but I honestly couldn’t think of what to do next. I was frozen in place in my bed, pulling the covers up to my chin.

The footsteps reached the top of the staircase, at the end of the hallway leading to our bedrooms. Again, a pause. Then the lumbering steps started down the hallway. They slowly advanced past Tommy’s room. THUMP. THUMP. THUMP. God forgive me, but I prayed that they continued down the hall towards my mother’s room.

But they did not.

The steps stopped right outside of my bedroom door. There was a long, painfully drawn-out moment when everything seemed to stop. I wasn’t breathing. I wasn’t moving. My pulse was thundering in my ears and every nerve in my body was howling. After what seemed like an eternity, then the next noise jangled my senses. It was a tapping noise, almost maddeningly quiet at first. Something was tapping on my bedroom door, about once every three seconds or so. As I strained to listen to it, I felt that I sounded rather metallic, like a key. It sounded like someone was tapping a key on by bedroom door. TAP. TAP. TAP. Just as I was beginning to think of an escape route (perhaps going out my bedroom window?), suddenly it stopped.

My eyes must have been the size of hubcaps as I stared at the door. I figured next whatever was on the other side of the door would turn the doorknob. Seconds went by. The air was thick and suffocating. I was plotting my route to my bedroom window should the door fly open. However, I was taken by surprise with the next sound. The footsteps started again, but again they started from the bottom of the basement steps. THUMP. THUMP. THUMP. What the hell? How on earth did this…thing get back down to the basement without me hearing it? It was at this point that I had enough. I jumped out of my bed, threw open my door and raced to my mother’s bedroom. When I entered her room and flipped on the light, I saw that she was sitting up in bed, completely awake and aware, her eyes wide and panicked. She had heard it too. When she saw me, she immediately tried to downplay the situation. She smoothed my hair and rubbed my back and tried to convince me I had a nightmare. But I knew better. I could see in her eyes she was as unnerved as I was. It was then that I realized that whatever in this house was terrifying my mother as much as it was terrifying me. And that made my blood run cold.

My dad came home from his road trip and for a few days, things returned to normal. My mother and I exchanged nervous glances across the table as we had dinner with my father. He was completely oblivious to the situation, and we obviously didn’t know how to bring it up with him. How do you tell a burly trucker that you heard a ghost coming up the basement steps? Eventually he had to go out on the road again. I could sense the tension in my mother as she helped him pack up for his next road trip. She tried to play it off with us kids, but I knew better. I was dreading what was coming next as much as she was.

The first night home without my father seemed to be uneventful. I was uneasy and slept fitfully that whole night, but nothing of importance happened. At least not for me. The next morning at the breakfast table, I noticed my sister Cheryl seemed to be a little unkempt. She was normally annoyingly bubbly and vibrant in the morning, but this morning, she seemed a little disheveled. Eventually she turned to my mother. “Thanks for closing my window last night, mom. The rain would have ruined everything.” My mother blinked for a moment while holding the coffee pot. “What are you talking about, Cheryl?”

Cheryl seemed a little confused. “Mom…you came into my room last night and shut my window. Remember?”

My mother was now more than a little disturbed. “No, Cheryl. I didn’t come into your room. What do you mean?”

Cheryl was now frustrated. She started using that tone that pre-teen girls use when condescending to their mothers. “Mom. I woke up last night because it was thundering and raining outside. You were standing next to my window, and you closed it and then walked out. I remember because your white nightgown was flapping in the breeze coming through the window.”

The color drained out of my mother’s face, and the lines around her mouth suddenly became very pronounced. I had never seen her looking so old. “Dear, I don’t have a white nightgown. You know my nightgown is red. You know that. You…know that, Cheryl.”

After a very uncomfortable few moments, my mother regained her composure and suddenly switched gears. “You had a dream, honey, it was just a dream.”

Confused and frustrated, Cheryl was now defiant. “No, that wasn’t a dream, mom. My window was open when I went to bed, and it was closed in the morning. You closed it. Why don’t you remember?”

My mother was flustered. Her cheeks burned red and she stared at the kitchen table. Her head jerked up and she looked at the clock on the kitchen wall. “Oh, you’re running late, dear. Get ready for school.”

A few days later, Tommy and I were raising hell outside in the yard again. We came around the corner of the house and stopped in our tracks. An old tricycle that had been out in our back yard was sitting there, directly underneath Cindy and Cheryl’s bedroom window. On closer inspection, we noticed that the seat of the tricycle was bent slightly, as if someone very big and heavy had been standing on top of the seat. There were also not one, but two cigarette butts lying on the ground next to the trike.

Eventually Tommy stated the obvious. “Was a guy standing on this to look in Cheryl’s window?”

I didn’t answer. I picked up the tricycle and whipped it as far as my little frame would allow back into our back yard. Tommy looked at me for a moment with a puzzled look on his face, but he let the moment pass and we went back to playing.

A couple of days passed with relatively little happening but one morning, it was Tommy who came to the breakfast table looking haggard. I questioned him about what was going on, but he waved me off. His eyes kept darting around the kitchen table, as if he was looking for someone who was missing. Eventually our mother joined us at the table and Tommy spoke up. “Mom, did Dad get back last night?”

Our mother looked dazed for a second. “No…no, honey, Daddy didn’t come home yet. Why did you ask?”

Tommy furrowed his brow and looked down into his cereal bowl for a long moment. He leveled his eyes at our mother and said, “But…but he came in my room last night.”

I was getting all too familiar with the unnerved look that swept across my mother’s face. She pursed her lips for a moment before croaking, “Did you have a dream last night, Tommy?”

Tommy sighed and shook his head. He seemed to be far too world-weary for a boy his age. “Mom, you know I sleep with a radio on next to my bed, right?”

My mother nodded her head very slowly and deliberately, her eyes never leaving Tommy’s. The lines around her mouth became very pronounced again.

Tommy continued. “Well, last night I woke up because the radio dial was spinning up and down, like someone was looking for a radio station. I sat up and looked, and Dad was standing next to my bed, fiddling with the radio dial.”

There was a long moment of silence as my mother stared at Tommy. Her lips were pursed tight as if she had tasted something sour. Eventually she broke the silence. “Was that it? Was there anything else, Tommy?”

Tommy looked more befuddled than ever. He gave the room another scan, as if he couldn’t believe that our father would come around the corner at any moment. “Well, I talked to him,” Tommy said. Mom’s eyebrows went up. “Oh?” She said. “Did he say anything back?”

“No,” Tommy responded. “I said ‘Hi, Daddy,’ but he didn’t say anything back. He just turned around and walked out of the room, and I went back to sleep.”

Our mother stared a Tommy for an uncomfortably long moment. This was the first time I noticed gray streaks hanging down in her brunette hair. In a moment she suddenly snapped back to her normal self. Her face brightened and she said, “It was just a dream, baby. You were dreaming. Don’t worry about it.”

Tommy wasn’t as convinced. He frowned deeply as he turned back to his cereal. The rest of us were mostly silent as we finished our breakfast and went off to school.

The footsteps hadn’t stopped in the meantime. The pattern would always repeat. The footsteps would lumber up the basement steps, then up the stairwell, and then stop outside of my bedroom door (why was it always MY bedroom door?), and then it would start tapping on the door. It would tap for a while, and then the pattern would repeat, back from the bottom of the basement steps. As routine as it became, I couldn’t get used to it. I was as terrified on the tenth night as I was on the first. I was convinced that whatever was tapping on the door would burst in eventually. It was almost more maddening to me that it never did. It just kept repeating on that same damned loop, over and over again. For how long? Was it doing it even when I wasn’t home?

One afternoon I had dozed off on the couch in the living room while watching my afterschool cartoons. I started to groggily come to a bit when I became aware of a…presence within the room with me. I kept my eyes closed tightly, but my brain snapped back to awareness as my ears went on high alert. Someone was standing at the entrance to the living room, shifting uneasily from one foot to another. I could hear the wooden floorboards squeaking underneath the person’s feet. The person started slowly advancing towards me on the couch. Each floorboard squeaked distinctly as the footsteps grew closer. The footsteps stopped at the edge of the couch, near my feet. Whoever this might be was now clearly standing at the end of the couch, staring at me. I sensed the presence as it started to lean over the couch, lean over me. I heard its clothes rustle slightly as it loomed over me. Its face had to be inches from mine. But I never heard nor felt its breath. It was there, but it was not breathing. It was not alive. In my panic I started to make a high-pitched whimpering sound that I couldn’t control. It was at that moment that a sharp blast of cold air washed over me, sending up goose pimples over my entire body. And then…nothing. The presence was gone. I knew it immediately; it wasn’t there anymore. I leapt off that couch and out of the living room, probably without even touching the ground.

I started noticing my mother growing more and more uncomfortable and restless. She didn’t have to say it; I knew she was experiencing things, too. At first I noticed she used to stay up later and later at night when my father wasn’t home. Whether it was watching late night television or busying herself with household chores like staying up to sew patches on our clothes, it was obvious that she didn’t want to go to bed. She installed glow-in-the-dark lightswitch covers in her bedroom and in the second floor hallway. At first it seemed like a benign safety measure until it occurred to me what those glow-in-the-dark covers actually were for: she wanted to see the shadows moving around in the dark. They couldn’t be real to her unless she saw them moving through her room.

Things came to a head one night, which ended up being our last night alone in the house. My father was again gone on a road trip. We were all huddled in the living room watching television with my mother. It was late, but not terribly late, maybe ten o’clock or so. Suddenly a very heavy…mood enveloped the room. We all sensed it immediately. I looked over at Tommy and Cheryl on the couch with me. The unease was evident on their faces. Cindy was sprawled on the floor in front of us. She whipped her head around and looked at the rest of us as if to say, “Do you feel that, too?” We did. Our mother was in the recliner beside us. Her response was to gather up Cindy off of the floor and join us on the couch, all of us huddle together. She stretched her arms around all of us. The air in the room became thick and heavy. We all kept our eyes focused on the doorway between the living room and the kitchen. It seemed whatever was causing this feeling was going to be materializing there. It was Cindy who first started to whimper and cry. She was quickly followed by the rest of us children. We were all grasping each other as tight as we could, now openly crying and blubbering. Eventually even my mother started to moan with tears in her eyes.

Patches went on full alert; he stood in the middle of the living room floor, staring at the doorway with every muscle in his body taut. His hackles raised and he started a low rumbling in his throat. The footsteps started as they always did at the bottom of the basement steps. THUMP. THUMP. Patches started barking in a frenzy, flashing his teeth and throwing spittle.

That was enough for my mother. She threw open the front door and ushered as all out of the house as if it were a fire drill. We ran to the neighbor’s house and my mother made up some excuse for needing shelter for the night (I think she said she thought we had a gas leak, or something like that). We slept fitfully on a pallet on the neighbor’s living room floor. At the first sign of light the next day, we started loading up all of our earthly possessions and taking them to my grandparents’ house.

The house on Elm Street was the elephant in the room for my family for decades afterwards. All of us kids grew up and had families of our own, and even then, we wouldn’t say much about what happened in that house. Only now do I dare to document all of it here. I don’t even know why, really. I guess I just needed to convince myself that it was all in the past, and it’s all over now.

So again, if you don’t believe in spirits or ghosts or the paranormal or whatever, I won’t try to convince you. But I know for a fact there are things shuffling around in the darkness.

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The Mirror

January 19, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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I touched the button in the middle of the screen, and a quick blue flash filled the room.

I turned my phone’s screen towards me, and looked at the photo I had just taken. I was smiling, and my new fluffy kitten was nestled into my arm, looking off to one side. I gently placed her onto the bed, where she sat down and curled a thick white tail around delicate black paws and blinked at me slowly with bright green eyes.

She had been the only female in the litter, and instead of being covered in lots of black patches like her siblings, she only had one black patch on her cheek and four matching black paws. Today I was able to bring her home, and was taking lots of pictures to remember the day.

On the bedside table was a little red collar with a bell. I picked it up, tore off the price tag, and fastened it around her neck. I walked over to the bed, and sat as she wandered curiously around the room, and eventually towards the old antique mirror in the corner of the room. I watched amused as she curiously sniffed at her reflection, fogging up the glass briefly with each breath.
I began scrolling through my recent photos, deleting those I was unhappy with.

Meanwhile my tiny cat had begun growling at the mirror, fluffing herself up to twice her size, baring her teeth. Her reflection mimicked her, hissing and spitting right back. I laughed as I watched her reach out a paw to strike at the glass, and then bounce backwards. She made one last snarl at the mirror, before turning and fleeing under the bed. “Silly kitty” I muttered
I sat up to go retrieve her from under the bed, when I noticed a white flash by the mirror.

The kitten’s reflection was still there, frozen in a snarl, staring directly into the room. It slowly reached out one paw, and rested its pink pads on the other side of the glass before it rippled like water. The kitten pressed harder, and the reflection, limb by limb, crawled out of the mirror and stepped delicately, paw by paw into my room. It briefly glanced at me, before it focused its attention under the bed and darted under.
High pitched squealing echoed around the room, and two snarling balls of fur, locked together, rolled out from under the bed, tufts of white fur flying, two collar bells tinkling. One of them started to scrabble away, but the other pounced onto its back, and hammered with its hind paws, causing the pinned Kitten to wail in agony. Teeth dug into her neck, and paws flailed as one of the cats dragged the other by the scruff towards the mirror in the corner. I sat, stunned, positive I was hallucinating.

The two fighting cats sprang apart briefly, and stood panting, tails flicking, fur bristling, staring each other down. I looked from one to the other, trying to work out which cat was which… I desperately tried to remember which side she had her black patch on… One had a black patch on its left cheek, the other on its right. Perfectly mirrored. I panicked, and grabbed my phone, fumbling to turn unlock the screen and see the photos. The most recent picture I had taken popped up, a white kitten in my arms with a black patch on its right cheek. I put my phone down, and crept towards the two cats, on the verge of spring at each other again, and grabbed the kitten with the patch on its left. It’s squirmed and struggled in my arms, sinking its teeth into my skin, and shredding my arm with its thorn sharp claws. I pressed it against the glass as hard as I could. Like water, the glass rippled and the imposter plopped to the carpet on the other side of the glass. It crouched, ready to jump back out.

Terrified, I kicked the mirror as hard as I could and left a huge crack running jagged from bottom to top. My own reflection was mirroring my actions. I kicked again and again until shards of glass fell out of the frame and rained onto the carpet. Breathing heavily, I looked back at my kitten, who was staring wide eyed at me. I scooped her up, and carried her to the bed, cuddling her as she trembled. As I was about to place her down, I noticed my phone still lit up with the picture of us. And my stomach flipped as I spotted the poster in the background had the words written backwards. I had used my phone’s front camera and it snapped mirror images…

Credit: Sophie Norris

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Weisserdorf

January 18, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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My last memory was that of surviving a deadly Nazi airstrike. My head was groggy, still ringing from the shrapnel blast. I thank whatever god is out there that my helmet managed to deflect the hit. Shaking of the sensation, I got up on my feet and picked up my Thompson, slowly threading on the stone roads of the town.

“Weisserdorf, that’s where the SS officer is holed up in”, I thought to myself, with the gun raised, slowly approaching the fog ridden plaza.

Something was wrong; I expected sounds of explosions, guns blazing and bullets whizzing from all sides but everything was eerily silent. All I could hear was the crackle of fires and sobbing of people. But yet, this wasn’t a bother to me as I pressed on, determined to put two bullets in the eyes of that Nazi asshole.

Stopping in my tracks, I looked straight ahead; something on the horizon caught my eye. It was a young boy, slumped on a corner, sobbing with his hands covering his face.

I approached him carefully. I know these tricks; children, acting weak and lost, only to unpin a grenade once you have them in your hands.

Something was wrong, despite me yelling at the child with my Thompson aimed at him, he didn’t react and remained sobbing and unmoved.

Slowly pacing, I moved closer.

I gasped in shock; the child was translucent and had a blue glow on him. Normally, I would freak out, having witnessed a ghost right in front of me but yet, I felt unfazed.

Unnaturally unfazed.

With the gun still poised on my shoulder, I continue to observe him until a figure appeared behind me.

Taken by surprise, I jolted back, pointing my gun at it; it was an elderly woman, just like the boy, she was translucent and glowed blue. Not noticing me, she quickly dashed for the boy and grabbed him, running off.

I then heard the whistle of mortar fire. Cursing to myself, I ducked on the ground, covering my head.

“Strange”, I thought to myself. I could hear the blast of the shell impacting but felt neither the shockwave nor shrapnel flying through. As the sound of the blast ended, I got up and turned back; it was the mangled phantom bodies of the woman and the boy.

“What the hell is going on?” I thought to myself. But then, it hit me again; the compulsion. I needed to get to the town hall, where that son of a bitch is bunkered in. No death of ghosts is going to stop me. Turning my back on the events, I pressed on.

“Who’s there!” I yelled, pointing my gun at the second floor of a building.

I couldn’t tell what was it; it was well hidden behind the windows and the all I could see was its glowing eyes. I approached the building and continued my yells, only to have frightened it off.

I didn’t want to investigate. It’s probably my mind playing tricks on me; Not worth my time. It was only a matter of time before the Officer would flee. Brushing all the thoughts off, I continued my approach.

Finally, I arrived at my destination and could see the town hall from where I was. Gritting my teeth and tightening my grip on my gun, I hasten my movements as the sound of machine gun fire and yells became more prominent.

“Let’s do this”, I said to myself with courage.

Something was wrong; yes, I could see fellow comrades hunkered down behind cover, firing at the building and even a goddamned Sherman blasting shells at it but yet, when I approached them, they ignored me; they were like the boy, translucent but this time, were glowing red.

”What is this? Some kind of Nazi experimental paranormal shit?” I audibly thought to myself. In frustration, I tried clobbering one of the soldiers, who was laying prone with my gun but it simply phased through. Grunting deeply, I vulgarly swore to myself.

“What the fuck is going on?”

Nevertheless, I didn’t care, I’m not letting some Nazi trick deter my mission. Dismissing this strange phenomenon, I headed towards the hall, weapon raised and with determination to gun down that bastard. I kicked down the door.

“Strange, those things were outside…” I thought to myself, witnessing the phantom battle that was going on in the town hall. There were soldiers, both German and American, blasting hails of lead at one another, clobbering each other to death with guns.

Ignoring the ghostly commotion, I headed upstairs.

“Voices!” I gasped and this time, it felt alive. Not like the distorted voices of the phantom combatants, but human speech. I approached the door where the sound was emanating from; the voices were in German, with one of them yelling and quarreling with another.

“This is it, that fucking asshole is inside!”

Without moments to spare, I kicked down the door as the two inside, a Sergeant and the Officer looking stunned, with their mouths agape in shock as I burst in and before they could pull out their weapons, I fired, unloading a flurry of .45 ACP rounds at them, splattering the room red and decorating the walls with bullet holes.

I approached the lifeless corpse of the Officer and his sergeant and smirked. “I did it! I killed a motherfucking SS officer! I’m gonna get a medal for this!” I triumphantly thought to myself.

The sensation was short lived. The bodies of the men started to fade into translucency. My breaths begun to deepen as their bodies started glowing red. With cold sweat driveling from my helmet, I felt frantic as I looked at my hands.

“Jesus Christ!” I screamed in terror.
“They were translucent and red! All this time? I was one of them? What the fuck!”

Dropping my gun and shouting in helpless rage, I pounded on the wall in hopelessness. “I don’t belong here! What the hell!” I yelled with a tearful tone. Dropping on my knees, I writhed on the floor, curling up in a fetal position. And then, I could hear the engines of Focke-Wulfs roaring in the sky and the whistles of bombs dropping.

***

My last memory was that of surviving a deadly Nazi airstrike. My head was groggy but yet, I was strangely free of bodily fatigue. Getting up on my feet and grabbing my Thompson, I moved on, knowing that I must complete my mission; the elimination of the SS officer holed up in the Village of Weisserdorf.

“Odd” I thought to myself. “Am I in the right village?”

The village looked run down. No, not by the destruction of bombs and war, but by age; there were climbers growing on the walls of buildings and the stone ground was cracked everywhere, with moss and grass growing on them. I couldn’t put my finger on what is going on but all I could feel is this sense of dreadful déjà-vu and the strong compulsion of heading to the town hall.

With determination to end the life of the target, I pressed on to the Plaza of the town.

“Something’s missing.” I pondered, eyeing at a nearby building. Something should be there but yet, the derelict building appeared nothing of import.

Gun raised, I scrutinized it further, approaching it but yet, nothing.

“Must be my imagination.” I whispered, walking back to where I was and continued moving. Suddenly, I heard noises; it felt like murmuring but distorted. Curiously, I looked back and saw a group of figures on tailing me, approaching carefully. With intention to drive them away, I turned back and walked towards them.

“Hey civilians! Get out of here! Find safety!” I yelled.

They halted and their murmuring stopped. I then moved closer to get a better view on them.

“Holy shit!” I cursed as I finally got a good glance at them; they appeared to be black sprites of roughly humanoid figure, with eyes glowing white. For some reason, I didn’t panic, despite the fact that they were ghosts. But rather, they seemed frightened of me, as one of them was shivering and another, gasping very heavily.

One of them took out a device, hanging on his hip and a flash of light came out of it.

I didn’t know but yet, I read that as a hostile act as I leveled my Thompson and fire at the group, only to have my bullets phasing through them.

They panicked and bolted away, vanishing as they ran into the fog behind them.

“What in God’s name is going on?”
The town hall was in sight. With my weapon excitedly raised, I approached the building and kicked down the doors. I expected a bloody fight going on but I didn’t care; all I wanted to do is just to kill that SS officer. Climbing the stairs, I could hear voices in German. Knowing that the officer was in one of the doors, I approached it and heard them even louder. With a rush of courage, I kicked down the door, unloading a barrage of bullets at the SS officer with anger fueled impunity.
“Yes!” I cheered. “With that Evildoer dead, I’m looking at a well earned promotion once I get back to America!”

But something felt wrong, I felt that I have done this before as a strong sense of déjà-vu hit me. Panting heavily, I whimpered to myself and looked at a nearby mirror.

I gasped deeply, seeing a figure, featureless, glowing red and translucent. Quivering, I turned my head towards the body of the officer; he was like me, featureless, glowing red and translucent.

“What the hell…” I mumbled, dropping on my knees and covering my face. “This is wrong, this is all wrong!!! I don’t belong here! I DON’T BELONG HERE! I’M DEAD! I’M DEAD!!!”

This sense of hopelessness, I know I have felt it before. I don’t know when, or why, but all I could hear now are the engines of Focke-Wulfs roaring in the sky and the whistling of bombs dropping…

***

My last memory was that of surviving a deadly Nazi airstrike. My head felt numb and light and so is my body. I tighten the straps on my helmet and looked around. “The hell?” I mumbled, looking around at the town; it seems like a construction is going on. I could see metal frames of buildings everywhere on the town as cranes and other construction vehicles were apparent everywhere.

“Weird, intel didn’t tell us that Weisserdorf was undergoing a construction”, I wondered.

I checked my ammunition before slowly threading on the concrete grounds, with the strong compulsion to head for the town hall.

Something didn’t feel right, it didn’t seem like a battle was going on; there were no cracks of gunfire, screams and yells of soldiers nor the blasts of explosions going on. I slowly walked the streets and then, I came across a group of figures. I gulped heavily; they were black and shadowy, with glowing eyes and seemingly clad in construction worker’s clothes. With burning curiosity, I approached them, in attempt to ask if I was in the right place but as one of them caught a glimpse of me, they started to panic, dropping their tools and dashing off, screaming frantically.

“What was I thinking? And why didn’t I feel anything strange? These guys were goddamn ghosts!” I thought to myself, placing my palm on my face.

Quickly shrugging off the feeling, I continued my journey; after all, I needed to kill that fucking Nazi in that building. I fasten my pace to the location, only to discover that there was no town hall, but a building foundation. The officer was just waiting there, motionless and staring blankly at the horizon. I did not care about this oddity, of why he would just stand there like a statue on some building foundation like an idiot. He must probably be high on some weird Nazi drugs. I approached him and opened fire, filling his body with holes, oozing with blood.

A sense of triumph filled me, but yet, I somehow knew that the sensation would be short lived, as I dropped on my knees, eyeing on the corpse of the late SS officer, that suddenly turned translucent and red.

“Why?” I cried, sobbing in sorrow as my body begun to feel light as I felt it dissipating into the air…

***

I can’t remember anything but the sensation on my body felt like some strange, exotic hangover. My head felt groggy and I was disorientated but yet, my body felt light and anew, as if I just woke up from a good sleep. An awful sense of déjà-vu came to me as I looked around but yet, I couldn’t tell what was going on.

Ignoring all feelings that clouded my mind, I picked up my Thompson and started moving.

The town of Weisserdorf was weird; it looked very futuristic, with neon lights and billboards showing colored moving pictures. There were automobiles of strange, sci-fi like designs scattered across the roads, driven by black, shadowy figures.

I ignored them and didn’t panic like any ordinary person would; it is this dreadful sense of compulsion that I needed to move to the town hall to kill the Nazi Officer driving me forward, not giving a damn about anything else.
I didn’t care, not even as to why this town would appear anachronistic. With ignorant disbelief, I brushed it off as this was some kind of top-secret Nazi town in the middle of Germany. With gun held high, I marched towards the location as my mind ignored everything that roamed the streets as they in turn, ignored me.

It wasn’t a town hall, but a rather strange looking inn. I didn’t care less about the faulty intel our superiors gave us; as long as the target is in there, I wouldn’t give a shit about anything else; I just wanted badly to gun that motherfucker down.

I didn’t bother knocking down the door; I just phased through it and headed upstairs, ignoring the black sprites that occupied the reception area. I headed for the door, lead by this compulsive sense of déjà-vu and entered in with my gun raised.

“The hell? Who the fuck are you!” I yelled in astonishment; it was a figure, clad in ashen robes and his face was pale white and featureless. I readied my weapon but couldn’t fire, not because the gun was jammed or anything.

I just couldn’t.

He grabbed me by the shoulders with both his elongated talons and closed up to me, whispering in a low and solemn voice:

“O Tormented one… Thy deliverance awaits thee…”

I suddenly felt lightened, my mind dissipating into blackness…

***

I had no memory. My body and mind felt weightless and all I see is nothingness…

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Empty House

January 17, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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Bored teenagers pick the worst places to hang out. Of course, this was the east end of Long Island where all the teenagers are bored. There’s nothing to do during the day if you’re not into sun and surf, and even less in the evenings. Summers are full of tourists, traffic and night clubs; convertibles still running outside of stores. The rest of the year, it’s quiet. And in the winter… desolate.

I was out with a group of friends that night. Well, they weren’t really my friends, but we hung out. They’d always drag me somewhere creepy in the dark to get high. Usually it was some place in the woods where I can’t see my hand in front of my face. One time it was an old betting track that had been condemned. Then there’s the obvious one: a cemetery. Nothing says ‘buzz kill’ like being surrounded by dead people. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if it was better than staying home alone.

By far the worst place they took me was the site of ‘The Montauk Project’, an abandoned military base where people claim they did experiments with time travel and mind control. If that wasn’t disturbing enough, the guy who took us there, Mike, told all these bullshit stories about feral people living in the tunnels. We even went up to the roof of a ten or so story building that was rusted and decaying inside. Not only am I afraid of heights, but the roof was sloped on all sides which made me feel like I was falling off.

“This is kinda creepy. Where are we going?” I asked, hoping it would be tame in comparison.

“We’re going to an abandoned house,” said Mike, much to my dismay. People had often tried getting me to go to abandoned houses, but I always refused. At least those other houses were near a main road, but wherever we were going was far off the beaten path. We had been driving for a while in the pitch black, down some road that felt endless. I couldn’t see in front of us either, since the car we were following was blocking the view, and Mike was driving pretty close.

“It’s not really abandoned,” said Jeff, from up in the passenger seat, “It’s just empty. It was built recently but I guess they haven’t finished some stuff, like the wiring and the locks.”

I wondered why anyone would build a new home in the middle of nowhere. There was nothing but trees lining the road we’d been on, and it was a long road. I was relieved to hear that the house was new, since abandoned houses are usually decrepit and falling apart. They remind me of places you should never go; places where horrible things lurk in the corners and under creaky floor boards. And let’s not forget splintery wood and nails jutting out in all directions, just waiting to pierce drunken teens in the darkness.

In the back seat with me were two alternative-hippy girls. I think it was the first time I’d met them, but I’m not sure. Some people are memorable, while others are just people. Mike and Jeff were probably trying to hook up with them, but I doubted they’d succeed.

“Oh my god, this is gonna be so cool!” one of the girls proclaimed, while the other giggled. Cool, huh? I wasn’t convinced. I suppose when you’re an outgoing person in a place with little excitement, you have to travel to empty houses in the middle of nowhere to get your kicks. As for me, outgoing wasn’t my thing.

When we finally pulled up to the house, the first thing I noticed was the uneven ground all around it. Nothing says ‘unfinished home’ like piles of dirt, unfilled holes, and a view of the foundation. At least the architecture was nice and simple. It was basically like a quasi-modernist rectangle with a lot of tall windows. I was always jealous of my friends who had modern homes. My parents had to be different and go with country charm. Once both drivers shut off their headlights, all I saw was black. We filed out of the cars, and a couple people with flashlights led the way up to the house.

“Ow, shit!” someone shouted. It was Melanie, the one girl that I had actually talked to a little before. She must have rode in the other car because she used to go out with Mike, and now things were a little uncomfortable between them. I didn’t really know the guys in the other car, but at least I knew Mike and Jeff, and I guess Melanie. “Watch out for these holes, guys. I just stepped in one and flippin’ almost broke my foot.”

The girls guided Melanie the rest of the way up to the sliding glass door, where Mike opened it, and in we went. Inside it was your typical, upper middle class Long Island home. The walls were blank white, devoid of any fancy trim, with that shiny wood flooring that doesn’t quite look real. There was a kitchen to the left, and a huge room to the right with a two-story ceiling. The front wall consisted mostly of large, paneless windows, while the back wall was solid and bare. Stairs led up to a second story, complete with an indoor balcony.

In the far corner of the room was the only furniture; a ratty couch and broken armchair that both looked like they came from a junkyard. They sat in front of a fireplace, with small stacks of paper strewn around them. By the looks of it, someone had been squatting there. I assumed it was Mike and his friends.

“Why is there furniture here?” I asked Mike.

“I don’t know. It was here when we found the place. The rest of the house is totally empty. Those papers weren’t here before, though.”

“That’s so weird,” was my typical response to unusual things. The last thing I wanted to find at that house was something unusual. Without the flashlights it was too dark to see, and I hate being in unfamiliar places in the dark. At least our voices echoing through the house gave me a little bit of comfort. It felt like everyone was close by at all times.

One of the guys I didn’t know called us into the kitchen to smoke weed. We were using a really short pipe, and I ended up burning my nose with the lighter. We all burst into hysterics, which lifted the little bit of tension I was feeling. I always seemed to do something funny by mistake when hanging out in a group. Perhaps that’s why this particular gang of misfits liked having me around.

After we lit up, a few of the girls started exploring the house. Intimidated by the darkness, I decided to hang out by the fireplace where Jeff was making a fire. Not having a flashlight made me nervous, and the light from the fire was a fair substitute. I sat in the cruddy armchair, sipping a beer, as Jeff was checking out the papers.

“What is all this stuff?” I asked.

“I don’t know. Some kind of medical stuff. Look,” he replied, handing me a few sheets. They looked like pages torn from medical journals; diagrams of human anatomy and such. Maybe they were photocopies, but in the dim light of the fire it was hard to tell. It was odd that someone would bring so many random papers to an empty house in the middle of nowhere, especially if it was a squatter.

“I figured these would be someone writing a book or something,” I said.

“That’s what I thought. Maybe someone came here to study.”

“This is a really weird place to study. And then to just leave it all here?”

“Creepy, huh?”

“Kinda,” I replied sarcastically.

By this point I was getting pretty bored. Sitting on trashy furniture, surrounded by stacks of mysterious papers, in a dark house, with people I didn’t know that well. I’ve only mentioned Mike and Jeff by name because I can’t remember anyone else’s, except for Melanie. She was as creeped out by the Montauk Project as I was, so we bonded a little. I could hear her voice from the second floor as she and the other girls were getting excited about something. They hurried down the stairs, with Melanie waving a jumbo-sized sheet of paper.

“Guys, check this out! It’s so freaky!” she elated, holding up some sort of crude drawing. It was the outline of a child in black marker. I recalled making those drawings in elementary school. A kid would lay down, and another would trace their body with magic marker or crayon. Only in this case, the hands had been colored in red.

Jeff was the first to say, “What the fuck?”, but we were both thinking it. The mysterious papers were bad enough, but now a mysterious drawing? For a moment I wondered if some of the guys were playing a practical joke.

“It was in one of the rooms upstairs,” said Melanie, “All the rooms were completely empty except for this.” She, along with her two friends, seemed playfully frightened. The kind of frightened you would expect from someone watching a scary movie they know isn’t real. Regardless of the odd nature of the drawing, it was the only interesting thing that had happened since we got there.

“The weirdest part is the hands being red,” I said, “It’s so weird.”

“Right?” Jeff concurred.

“I wanna take it home!” Melanie squealed.

“Why?” I asked, “It’s fucking scary. Why is it even here?” We had fun coming up with explanations, which helped me forget how disturbing it was. Maybe some kids were hanging out in the house and made it. But we couldn’t figure out why they would have brought a huge piece of paper. Then we thought it could have been made in school, and someone brought it to the house. Still, none of our theories could eliminate its somewhat sinister presence.

Mike and the others came over to see what we were doing. Soon we were all discussing the fate of the drawing. Melanie seemed to like it, but the rest of us were more superstitious. Our excuses for its existence started getting silly, as you might expect from a group of inebriated teenagers.

“What if it was made by a ghost? We shouldn’t touch it!”

“Maybe there’s a ghost of a little kid living here, and that’s why no one’s moved in yet!”

“Someone probably cut off his hands and that’s why they’re red!”

Once we ran through every ghost story cliche we could think of, we came to the consensus that the drawing would stay. Melanie laid it on the armchair to make it look like it was sitting. The other girls were going up to the roof, and Melanie asked me to come.

“I’m afraid of heights, remember?” I was hoping that would be enough to make her leave me alone. Last time we went up on a roof I swore I would never do it again.

“Oh, come on. You’ve just been sitting in here the whole time. Besides, the roof is really cool. You can’t fall off unless you try.”

I gave in and followed her up to the second floor. We squeezed through an open window onto the roof where the other girls were smoking a bowl. The middle was flat, surrounded on all sides by upward slants. My fear didn’t come into play, which was a pleasant surprise. It was probably the coolest ‘hang out’ roof I’d seen. While the girls and I laughed over nonsense, Melanie walked up one of the slants to a peak so she could look down.

“Melanie, don’t fall!” the girls said, almost in unison.

“Oh shut up. I’m not gonna fall,” Melanie grumbled, shining her flashlight around. For a minute she was silent, then asked, “Can someone come here for a sec?” One of the girls went up to join her, and Melanie pointed to an area in front of the house. “Isn’t that where we parked?”

The five of us went downstairs, and Melanie approached Mike and his friends.

“Did you guys move the cars? I didn’t see them from the roof.”

Mike replied with a confused, drawn out, “Nooo?” as he turned to look out the windows. He tried shining a flashlight but it reflected off the glass. They all went outside and immediately started swearing. The cars weren’t in front of the house. After circling the entire perimeter, it was confirmed they were gone.

“Are you fucking kidding me?!” Mike yelled, his voice disappearing into the sky. I started to wonder again if some kind of joke was being played. Maybe one of the guys moved the cars down the road and then walked back, just to freak everyone out. No one heard them start up, though.

“Okay, who moved the cars?” the other driver asked. I hadn’t had much contact with him, and he seemed a little high strung, so I was slightly freaked out by the possibility that he might be aggressive.

“I didn’t. Did you?” Mike said, looking at Jeff.

“No, dude. I wouldn’t move your car, let alone both of them.”

“Seriously, guys. This isn’t cute,” the guy said, “I want to know if someone stole my fucking car, or if you guys are playing a fucking joke.” I could tell this guy wasn’t going to put up with any shenanigans. Mike and Jeff were a little caught off guard that they were being accused. Someone suggested to do a pocket check, and it turned out they still had the keys to both vehicles.

“This doesn’t make sense,” said Jeff, as we all started murmuring. This time it wasn’t any fun trying to figure out the mystery. How did two cars just disappear? The girls were crying now. Well, not Melanie. The guys were cursing up a storm, especially the driver of the second car. I’ve decided to dub him ‘angry guy’. Not that his anger wasn’t justified, it was just his most prominent trait. I had nothing to contribute to the situation, so I just waited for everyone to figure out what we were going to do. The only thing that mattered to me was getting home sometime in the next century. It took a while to face reality, as unbelievable as it was, and we eventually started walking home.

Everyone was silent. The only sound came from our footsteps and the twitter of crickets. There was just enough moonlight to see the barren trees arching over the road. It was going to take a few hours to get anywhere that had streetlights, and we were all exhausted. ‘Angry guy’ was walking ahead. No one wanted to be near him, afraid he would blow up again once everyone was getting cranky from walking so far. Not that we could blame him.

“Hey, can we stop for a minute?” asked one of the girls. We collectively agreed it was a good idea, even though we had only been walking for about twenty minutes. There was a sense of denial that we were still so far from home. Jeff packed a bowl and we passed it around.

As everyone waited for their turn in the cipher, we talked about what to do when we got home. Jeff suggested going to the police, as if that wasn’t obvious. Mike started spewing some crap about how he knew people who could track down the cars, like they were the A-Team or something. ‘Angry guy’ didn’t say anything. I just wanted to go home.

“Did everyone get a hit?” Jeff asked, making sure no one got shafted. As everyone looked at each other and nodded, the girls noticed something.

“Hey, where’s Melanie?” Suddenly, everyone realized that she wasn’t there. The flashlight holders scanned the area but there was only trees and dirt road. We each called her name several times, but it just echoed into the night air.

“This isn’t funny, guys. Where’s Melanie?” We spread out a little, continuing to call her name. If she was playing a joke on us, it was in enormously poor taste. Everyone was frustrated and bewildered by the vanishing cars, and this wasn’t helping.

“Fuck!” Mike shouted, “Where the fuck is she? We can’t keep going if we don’t know where she is.”

“Dude, let’s just leave her,” one guy joked.

“Are you stupid?!” shouted one of the girls, “She’s our friend! We’re not just leaving her in the middle of nowhere!”

“Maybe she went back to the house,” I suggested. Everyone stopped talking for a moment, contemplating the possibility that she did indeed go back. I wasn’t really serious, though. What idiot would go back to the house without telling us? And why? After more grumbling, cursing and arguing, we decided that a few of us would go back to the house while the others waited in case Melanie really was messing with us. If she was, then she just lost some friends. I volunteered to go, since waiting for an unknown length of time seemed worse in that moment.

On the way back to the house, the two girls, Mike, and myself, discussed the whole situation. We had come to an empty house in the middle of nowhere to party, only for our transportation to vanish, and we couldn’t explain it. Mike came up with this theory that the cars disappearing was some sick joke, and that Melanie was in on it. He implied that she got some guys who could hot-wire cars to drive them away so we would have to walk home. Then she ran back towards the house and they picked her up. The girls seemed offended but they were tired of defending her, so they just shrugged it off.

As we finally arrived back at the house, my stomach dropped upon seeing it again. I cursed myself for volunteering to come back. I guess I wanted to know sooner than later if Melanie was okay. Approaching the sliding glass door, we were surprised to see it was open.

“Did we leave the door open?” asked Mike.

“I’m almost positive someone closed it,” I replied. If there was any reason for it being open, it had to be that Melanie went back inside. As we entered the main room, the house felt emptier than before. I noticed that a lot of the medical papers were in the fireplace, and the contour drawing of the child with red hands was gone. We searched the kitchen while calling for Melanie. It was clear she wasn’t on the first floor, so we headed upstairs.

“I’m going to be pissed if she’s not here,” said Mike, “because then we came back for nothing.” The girls just ignored him and went to search the rooms, while I split off to go check the roof. The window was still open, and I squeezed through. If I expected her to be anywhere, it was here.

The roof was empty and silent, with a gentle breeze blowing. I could almost see over the treetops, which made me feel stronger than my fear of dark forests. For a moment I forgot that we were looking for Melanie, until I heard the girls panicking inside. I quickly squeezed back through the window and ran to see what was up. Mike and the girls were looking at something in one of the empty rooms.

“What happened?” I asked. Mike shone the flashlight at a spot on the floor. Reluctantly, I approached and looked down, as the girls gripped each other, sobbing. There were two jumbo-sized sheets of paper, taped together to make one larger sheet. Drawn in marker was the outline of a girl, with only the hands colored in red.

Credit: Umbrello

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Facebook Chat (Live Action)

January 16, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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This is a video pasta. If the embedded video is not loading for you, please click the link above to go directly to the video’s YouTube page and try watching it there.

Credit: Liam Vickers

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